Category Archives: Adventures!

Trips, Travels and Adventures

Hawaii Bucket List

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We lived in and near Washington, DC for just over three years and like idiots, we didn’t accomplish a third of our DC bucket list.  It is silly!  How does a person live in such a historic place and not take advantage of all it has to offer. Before we moved to DC I grand intentions and started researching things I wanted to do while we lived there.  How sad is it we didn’t even make a dent in that list; epic fail.  Even as the last months/weeks/days ticked away I mourned the list but still did nothing about it.

Now we are in Hawaii and there is so much to do, so many adventures waiting to happen.  To clear my guilt of missing so much in DC, I have made a goal to write and keep a ‘Hawaii Bucket List” and actively work towards checking things off regularly so when we leave these beautiful islands I will not feel the guilt I did before.

In no specific order and not limited to, here is my Hawaii Bucket List:

Stairway to Heaven aka. Haiku Stairs

Stairway to Heaven
aka. Haiku Stairs

•   Go to Big Island
•   Go to other islands
•   See lava flows/volcano
•   Historic Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona
•   Dive with sharks
•   Whale watching/diving
•   Koko Head hike
•   Stairway to Heaven hike
•   Parasail
•   Disney Character breakfast
•   Luau
•   Hula lessons
•   Surf lessons
•   Paddle board
•   Camp on the beach
•   Waterfall hike
•   Historical Hawaii tour/museum/sites
•   Hawaii marathon
•   Deep sea fishing
•   Pro Bowl
•   Scuba
•   Snorkel Hanauma Bay
•   Black Sand beach
•   Explore Chinatown
•   Turtle beach
•   Cliff jump
•   Byodo-In Temple
•   Sunset sailing
•   Skydiving (Scheduled for May 18th)
•   More as we discover it!
That is just what we have been talking about doing since coming to the island.  I have made this list into Word.doc and printed it!  It now hangs in our kitchen, a place where I can see it often so it reminds me to get off my ass and do stuff.  This adventure in Hawaii (thank you Army!) is a gift and I’ll be damned if I let it pass without taking full advantage of every second we are here.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.unrealhawaii.com, an AWESOME site that can get anyone pumped up for adventure in Hawaii.

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Momentary Freak-Out!

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Let me set the scene for you.  I am sitting at the counter of our hotel kitchen, the wall-to-wall sliding glass door is open letting in the soothing sounds of water and a fresh breeze and I have a hot cup of real Kona coffee within arms reach.  So why is this post titled what it is?  Why would anyone in my situation have a freak-out?

After a long day of travel, as we are driving to our hotel, my heart falls from my chest.  We were just in the air for more than fifteen hours before we land in a place we know very little about, without a home or a car or a single familiar face.  The first thought that runs through my mind is, “what did I do?!”  I was the one who said Hawaii when Kyle asked my input on next duty station.  I was the one ready to travel into the unknown without a second thought.  I was ready for this……wasn’t I?

I usually don’t let my fears get in the way.  I don’t like the fact that we are so far away from our family and I don’t like that it may be a while until we can see each other again.  But when we decided Hawaii was going to be our new home I didn’t have any fears.  None.  I realize that that is not normal.  People don’t just pack up their lives, travel across the world and start somewhere new without feeling a little bit of fear.  But I didn’t.  That is, until last night.  I was ready to hop back on a plane and head home.  To Florida, where we are around family and friends we grew up with or to DC, where I have some family and friends and familiarity.  I didn’t like the feeling of being so lost and alone.

It didn’t help that it was dark when we left the airport and drove to the hotel.  I couldn’t see what Hawaii had to offer; what I pictured when we learned we were moving here.  It looked like any other city in the dark.  I expected this lush, tropic landscape and all I saw was chain restaurants and highways.  The mountains were hidden in the dark and palm trees are nothing new to this Florida girl.  I just didn’t get the ‘Hawaii’ feeling which, I felt, would have covered any fears I had with excitement.

However, this morning we woke up at 7am local time -funny how the kids know 7 no matter which time zone they’re in-  and we opened the big glass doors to see our new home for the next few years and all my fears melted away.  The views are beautiful, the weather is beautiful, the sounds, smells and tastes are all beautiful.  We are living in paradise thanks to Kyle’s job.  My freak-out was normal but I am so glad it is over.  I am excited to start our adventure here and I can’t wait to share it with our family and friends who come to visit.  Yea, there are some things that suck (ie. being so far from home) but we’ll make it work like we always do.  My little family is strong and we’re in this together.  We got this!

Hurry Up and Wait

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If you are in, have been in or know someone in the military you know we practically live by the mentality ‘hurry-up and wait’.  It is always ‘we have plans for you but until you have orders -and still, that is not a guarantee- just try to plan and get ready.’

We know where we are supposed to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) by the end of the year.  We know where we are supposed to be going.  We even know the unit he is supposed to be assigned to.  However, in the military nothing is set in stone until it comes time to report.  Our close family and friends know what is going on but Kyle and I are not posting anything on Facebook -or anywhere on the internet for that matter- because it seems like as soon as we start making arrangements and plans things fall through.

I am fine with packing the house and moving cross country on a moments notice but there are some things that take time to take care of.  I want to prepare.  I want to plan.  I want to get the ball rolling but I have done all I can do until Kyle gets official orders.

This next assignment requires a laundry list of things to complete if we plan to take Mac when we move; which we do.  Besides the usual, we have to get a few extra shots and have blood-work done on a specific schedule.  If everything is in line Mac will be immediately released to us once we arrive and we won’t have to pay and arm and a leg for quarantine.  We also have to acclimate him to his box.  Mac has had severe anxiety for just about as long as we’ve had him and like idiots, we didn’t crate train him from the get-go.  Now we are in a situation where he needs to get used to his box so he can be in it during the flight and I’m not entirely confident he won’t loose his mind being in it for so long.

We have also never used movers during a PCS.  The three moves we’ve made have all been done with our muscle and a moving truck.  From what I hear it is super easy.  We call, set up a date for them to pack and a date for delivery and they take care of the rest.  It will be awesome for someone else to do all the heavy lifting -pun intended- but I like doing things myself.  Can I trust the movers?  What if they break or loose things?  How long will we be without our stuff?  When should I call to schedule?  What will they not take?  I can’t get the answers to any of these questions without talking to the office that takes care of PCSing but they won’t talk to us until we have orders.  So I google.  I am not sure how much I should trust what I read but for now, it is all I have to go on.

Next, we are thinking about leave/vacation before the big move.  Kyle and I want to go to Florida to see our family and introduce Kylee because we’re not sure when the next time we’ll be able to make it down there.   Fact of the matter is we can’t secure vacation plans without a solid report date, which is on the orders we don’t have yet.  I want to tell people when we’ll be home but for now all I can give is an estimate.

I am super proactive.  I have done all I can do in preparation for our move but I can only do so much.   I can’t get Mac’s requirements started, I can’t talk to housing or schedule the movers and I can’t plan trips.  Right now we are waiting.  Waiting on the all important orders; the physical piece of paper that opens so many doors.  I know things will get hectic once I can get the ball rolling so I am grateful for the calm right now.  I am just no good at waiting when I feel I could be preparing.

Pairplanes!

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Today’s adventure took us to the Joint Open House and Air Show at Andrews AFB.

Let me start by giving a little background information to our interest in all things aviation.  For me it really started when my dad began flying small planes -four seat, single engine- as a hobby.  Occasionally he or mom would wake us up long before sunrise and we would fly to some random city for breakfast.  It was awesome!  Our current duty location has us in the direct path of flight landing at a busy airport.  The planes are so close you could wave to the pilot and check the tires for wearing tread.  The planes are coming and going before Reece wakes up and continue until long past his bedtime.  He stands at our kitchen windows yelling ‘PAIR-PLANE!’ and if I happen to be busy he will grab my hand and drag me to the window to watch with him.  We also see a lot of helicopter traffic and he now calls out to the ‘COPPER!’ too.  I knew he loved airplanes but really didn’t understand how much until we were in the store and I showed him a toy of Air Force One. It wasn’t long before he was pulling and biting at the packaging to get the toy out.  He carried that pairplane -that is the ‘Reece accurate’ pronunciation- everywhere he went for two strait days and although it isn’t attached to him anymore it is still a top favorite toy.

Reece fell asleep in the car on the way to the show and slept through parking and being shuttled to the entrance.  He woke up as we first walked in and his mouth dropped.  I don’t think he even knew what to think.  He began to point at every pairplane he saw.  Pairplane over there, pairplane over here, PAIRPLANE in the sky!!!  There were so many he didn’t know where to look.  Big pairplanes and little ones.  Loud ones and quiet ones.  We sat in a few and Reece enjoyed walking through but for a toddler, he was excited to see them up close.  He would run under the giant wing and just point up.  I think he made the connection of the things in the sky to the things he can walk up and touch.  He just smiled and pointed the entire time we were there.

Besides the desire to see everything they had to offer I manly wanted to see the Osprey, a Marine helicopter/airplane hybrid thingy.  I made sure we arrived at the show and hour before it’s scheduled performance time.  These things are crazy.  They have two props that are upright for take-off and landing but switch to forward facing to pull it forward like an airplane.  Four flew over our house a month ago and nearly shook every picture frame off our walls.  They are massive and loud.  We were able to see it take-off and perform; the whole time my brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around how it works.

We saw jets that could hover and reverse in-flight and old bomber planes.  There were stunt planes and sky writers too, and we all stopped to watch as the Golden Knights dropped in from the sky.  We spent three hours at the event and were able to see everything it had to offer.  Everyone saw the things that interested them but then the heat and crowds became a little overwhelming and we called it a day.

Here are some pictures from our day.

Arlington National Cemetery

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There has never been a time that I have visited Arlington and not cried.  I have only entered the cemetery through the visitor’s area once, in the eighth grade.  Every time I have been since has been through the Fort Myer (Military) side.

This time, like many times before, we happened to arrive just as the Caisson Platoon was taking another Hero to his/her final resting place.  Seven black horses.  Six were pulling a flag draped casket on a black artillery caisson with one leading the way.  The band began to play as the family of the service member came out of the old chapel.  They loaded up into their cars and lined up to follow the casket down the quiet and winding roads of Arlington National Cemetery.  We, along with a handful of others waiting to enter, paid our respects at a distance until the family’s convoy made it past the gate.  The entire time I cried.  Something about the band playing, the black horses and the bright flag framing the casket leaves me mixed with emotions.  The perfection of the ceremony, the respect of the fallen and the beauty of the grounds  hits a person deep in their ‘American Pride’.  

After the procession had passed we made our way into the cemetery through a portion the public doesn’t visit much anymore.  The weather was in the mid 60s with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky;  you couldn’t ask for a better day to take a stroll in such a beautiful place.  We followed the lonely road as it rolled up and down the famous hills and simply took in the aura of our surroundings.  It is hard not to be awestruck by everything.  Reece was quiet, pointing out birds, trees and shapes while Kyle and I strolled along taking in the amazing views of our Nation’s capitol.  DC is so busy with the hustle and bustle of city life, but Arlington feels like it is miles from any rush.

We made our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we met up with Kyle’s cousins who were visiting DC with their eighth grade class.  The soldiers of the Old Guard are on another level of perfection.  They are precise, polished, clean,  impressive and noble.   Kyle and the girls watched the Change of the Guard ceremony while I took Reece away so his playful screaming wouldn’t ruin it for the rest of the audience -I have seen the ceremony many times on my own adventures to the cemetery before Reece was born-.  We were able to spend a short amount of time with the girls before their tour was headed in a one direction while our baby’s impending nap was pulling us in another.

As we walked back to the car, Kyle and I pointed out headstones to one another, but mostly we took in the quiet.  Arlington is a such beautiful place it is only fitting that our nation’s finest are laid to rest there.  The estate originally belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, biological grandson of Martha Washington who was most notably married to our first President, George Washington.  When Custis died the property went to his daughter Mary Anne Custis Lee, wife of Robert E Lee.   The estate was annexed during the Civil War as a Union stronghold then transformed into a place to bury the Union dead.  Since then, if they so choose, service members -all ranks, active or retired- from every war have been interred at Arlington.  It is an overwhelming place.  If you have never visited I suggest you do at some point.  You need to walk around and take it all in, from the memorials to the tombs, to the amphitheater and the mansion.  I believe every American should see the ceremony -from start to finish- that is held when burying a service member.  It will humble you, but it will also make you feel pride in being an American.  You will leave wanting to shake the hand of every service member you encounter, to give up your first class seat on a plane and send care packages to someone in a war zone you have never met.

To give credit where credit is due, I got my facts from a book I am currently reading, On Hallowed Ground by Robert M. Poole.  ISBN978082715494. Copyright 2009.  Walker Publishing Company, New York.