Common Mom Rotating Header Image

Travel

Oh The Places They Have Been

Lovin’ this photo of Keira hiking at Independence Mine in Alaska – July 2012

AlaskaMine

Hawaii – 2.16.16

Day Six – 2.16.16 – Surfing Lessons and Red Eye Home

Our last to do item was surfing lessons! We chose to take lessons from Ivan at Hook Up Surfing. Their lesson meet place was a short walk from our hotel, so it worked out perfect.

The bonus was it was close to the hotel. The bummer was that we had to be checked out of the room by 10:00 a.m. Our lessons were at 9:00. So we went down early and found a breakfast place on the beach. Then we headed back to the room and stashed our bags in the “day room” that the hotel offered for bags. We had a great time in our lesson! It was the 4 of us plus one other lady with Ivan and Jenny. Keira did the best out of everyone – she did the most actual surfing. Jason was second – thankfully his elbow held out and did not hurt! Dan and I each got up a couple times – so we’ll call it a success :-)

After our lesson, we had literally ALL DAY to wait. We had the red eye out of Honolulu back to Denver. Yuck! We walked around the shops again, hung out on the beach, played in the lagoon, and still had hours to go. It started to rain a bit, so we covered up under towels and each took a nap on the beach in the drizzle. When we woke up, there was a beautiful rainbow. At least that was a little bonus to our long annoying day!

Beach Rainbow

Dan was awesome and got us 90 minutes in a room starting at 4:00 p.m. so we could shower and clean up before getting on the plane for the long ride. We enjoyed finally having chairs to sit in and being able to rinse off all the salt and sand and put on actual shoes.

Our flight home was very uneventful. Same awesome first class seats with all the food and drinks and movies, except this time we actually laid back the seats and slept – the kids had to go to school when we got back on Wednesday!

We thought we’d get them to school by noon since we were supposed to land at 9:00 a.m.

Turns out, we had a CRAZY tailwind and arrived at 6:45 a.m.!!! We got our luggage, got home, they showered, and we got them to school by 10:00. Not bad :-)

Hawaii – 2.15.16

Day Five – 2.15.16 – Travel to Honolulu

We had an early afternoon flight out of Maui to Honolu, so we spent the morning drinking Starbucks on our lanai and watching some people learn to surf :-) It was a great ending to our stay in Maui!

We got to the hotel on Waikiki Beach quite early, but they had our room ready, which was awesome. It was a beautiful 2 bedroom suite with a view of the ocean. Not a bad place to stay on our last night in Hawaii! We spent the afternoon walking around the resort while trying to decide where to eat dinner.

Ultimately, Dan and I decided on The Chart House. Our wedding dinner had been at The Chart House on Maui (now closed), so we decided to take the kids here for a nice dinner before we left Hawaii. We had a table that overlooked the marina. The food was amazing and the sunset through the marina was stunning!

A great way to spend our last evening in Hawaii :-)

02 Chart House Sunset

Hawaii – 2.14.16

Day Four – 2.14.16 – 20th Vow Renewal and Feast at Lele

Our 20th Anniversary day is here! I’d been in contact with Anita at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Kihei since August. She had it all set up for us to renew our vows on our anniversary, which just happened to be the first Sunday of Lent. I called when we got to Hawaii to make sure everything was good, but didn’t get any return calls. Just to be safe, we showed up to the church about an hour early to make sure everything was set and to find out if we needed to anything specific.

They had NO CLUE we were coming! Turns out, Anita had left and moved to Texas in November and didn’t tell them anything about our vow renewal. Of course I had all the information with me, so they found Candi, the church administrator, for us. She was AMAZING and got everything set up and ready to go.

The mass was crazy long because it was the start of Lent, there were tons of visitors, they introduced the Catechumens that morning, and there were lots of announcements.

Finally, after Communion and what seemed like the longest mass ever, Father Watanabe told everyone he had one more announcement. You could feel the near silent groans from the congregation – they’d already been there FOREVER. Then he announced that they were doing a wedding blessing for a couple celebrating their 20th anniversary. More near silent groans as I’m sure they all thought we were just some couple vacationing over Valentine’s Day and decided to renew our vows for an anniversary that was happening sometime this year.

We all 4 walked to the front of church, and when Father Watanabe introduced us and mentioned that we had been married right there at that church exactly 20 years ago to the day by Father Jack, the mood changed. People got a little more tolerant, and the older people got all happy and clapped and smiled that we had the kids with us.

The rest went off without a hitch :-)

2014 01

 

After the ceremony, we spent some time in Kihei, shopping and eating awesome lunch at an outdoor joint before heading back to the house to relax. Jason was content hanging out in the hammock in the backyard watching the waves. Dan, Keira, and I walked into Lahaina to do some shopping at all the beach front shops. It was a lot of fun! We found some cool stuff nestled in among the tourist things. Of course Keira found ice cream to enjoy 😉

That evening, we had reservations for the Feast at Lele, which was the same location as the luau we went to when we got married. It was only a block from the house we were staying in, so that meant we could walk and enjoy the evening. We got cleaned up headed out early so we could enjoy the pre-party. As always, mai-tais for adults and kids were free.

 

All drinks come with live flowers in them – which Jason had to give to Keira so he didn’t DIE :-) And of course Dan had to give her bunny ears in the photo. Can’t take him anywhere!

2014 02

 

Not long after we arrived, we were given leis, which Jason respectfully declined, and shown to our table. It was in a great spot so we could see everything – the stage, the water – it was perfect! We were ready for our feast – five courses of food from five different cultures, each accompanied by song and dance of that culture.

2014 03

 

Drinks were included, so the kids tried one of everything. Yes, we are THAT family!

2014 04

 

2014 05

 

Dan and I enjoyed our first mai-tais.

2014 06

 

Then we tried something else from the menu – a yummy blended something or other.

2014 07

 

We just celebrated 20 years of marriage. We have our kids with us. The house is less than 2 blocks away. The meal is five courses, and we figured why not enjoy?! So we did. We topped off our evening with some embellished coffee drinks served with dessert just for us.

Here’s to 20 more years, Honey!

2014 08

***I’m pretty sure the kids walked a good 50 feet in front of us the entire way home!

Hawaii 2.13.16

Day Three – 2.13.16 – Snorkeling Molokini Crater and Turtle Town

This was Keira’s must do, even though she does NOT like snorkeling. I feel like an entire day on, near, by, in water was appealing to her. We all LOVED it! Got up fairly early to be there on time. We had yummy Kona coffee and continental breakfast while we waited for everyone to board. It was a BEAUTIFUL morning!

There are definitely worse places to be :-)

01 Boat

 

On the way to Molokini crater, we saw a TON of whales! We were even fortunate enough to see a giant whale fully breech and then do a black splash on the water. VERY cool to see! Definitely do not have to pay for a specific whale watching tour if you go out on the water for any other thing. It took us awhile to get to the island because we had to slow down for whales, but it was totally worth it.

The snorkeling was really  neat! Molokini is a volcano crater that is just out of the water. It’s a HUGE drop off, which is perfect for snorkeling. It’s calm and the fish like to hang out in there. Jason and Dan liked to actually dive under while Keira and I were content to just float on the top and look down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

While people finished the snorkeling time, the kids decided to have some fun on the water slide off of the back of the boat.

Jason loved it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Keira did it, but I can tell you that is definitely a look of regret on her face!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

We enjoyed an awesome BBQ lunch on deck while we drove from Molokini to Turtle Town for the second half of our snorkeling adventure. On the way, we all saw a Coast Guard helicopter circling something in the ocean. We thought maybe it was protecting some whales or something. There are very strict rules about how close boats and people can get to the whales.

 

Jason and Keira watching the Coast Guard helicopter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Everyone onboard was oohing and aahing and taking selfies with the helicopter in the background. Then the captain got on the loud speaker and announced that we’d be making a detour. Turns out, there were a couple kayakers in trouble and the helicopter was out there for a water rescue! Our boat and a half dozen other boats cruised on over and kind of circled around the rescue operation just in case.

 

Dan decided he’d like to help, too :-)

08 Coastguard Hand

 

We could hear the Coast Guard radioing about the rescue through our captain’s bridge. We were also close enough to see the guy jump out of the helicopter and catch the basket as it lowered. It was pretty cool to see people get put in the basket and hauled up to the helicopter.

 

Not something you get to see every day!

 

When everyone was safely onboard the helicopter, they left. Another boat went to pick up the kayak and haul it to shore with them. At that point, we were off to Turtle Town for more snorkeling! The sea turtles were way cool and big and fun. They’d swim right up to you! You could’ve reached out and touched them if you wanted – but apparently they don’t like that, so we didn’t press our luck. We’d had quite enough snorkeling for one day, so we hung out on the boat, where it turns out you could see more turtles from up there than you could from in the water! It was pretty cool :-)

A great snorkeling trip, for sure!

We got back around 2:00 p.m. Keira LOVES the water and the ocean and kept saying she just wanted to play on a sandy beach and in the water. We all chatted and figured we’re wet, we’re fed, and we’re close to the beach – so we headed over to Kihei to the public beach to cross that item off of Keira’s list :-)

Despite what he may say about the beach, it looks to me like Jason did indeed enjoy himself!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Keira ALWAYS loves being in the water. She definitely takes after her Mom on that one!

 

Despite all the sunblock he used, Jason was DONE with the sun for the day. We had the top off of the Jeep, so he put his hoodie on and wore his hat crooked so he could block the sun from hitting his face :-)

12 J Car Ride

 

We decided to walk into Lahaina, check out the largest banyan tree on the planet (fills an entire city block), and find some yummy food. But first Dan and I had to enjoy some Longboard beer on the lanai!

13 Jodie Dan House

 

Another great day! Another great meal! Looking forward to Day Four – our anniversary!

Good Night :-)

14 Goodnight

 

 

 

Hawaii – 2.12.16

Day Two – 2.12.16 – Road to Hana

My “must do” for the trip was driving the Road to Hana. I remembered it from way back when we got married and loved it! I wanted the kids to experience it, and I also wanted to hike all the way through the Bamboo forest in Haleakala National Park. It was raining too hard last time and we didn’t get very far.

But first things first – we got our first morning view from our Lanai. It definitely did not suck!

0212 01 Lanai

 

Jason LOVED watching the water and the waves. I think he could’ve stood there all day.

0212 02 Lanai

 

Ku’au Store in Paia for breakfast sandwiches and to grab some water and snacks for the drive. May or may not have been the best breakfast sandwich ever! They also have the coolest fence ever :-)

0212 01 Kuau Store

 

Hookipa Beach was supposed to have great surfing, which we really wanted to see. We stopped to check it out, but it turns out the waves were too big so the beach was closed.

Dan decided to “relax” at the beach???

0212 01 Hookapi

 

Next up, Keanae for some amazing views! Jason could’ve stared at the waves all day – again.

0212 01 Keanae

 

Keira, on the other hand, was always on a mission to find the largest snow cone possible (and banana bread – always banana bread – cuz it’s everywhere in Hawaii – fresh and warm and awesome).

0212 02 Keanae

 

Spelunking in the Hana Lava Tube anyone? It’s tough to photograph a dark cave-like thing, but it was really cool – believe me :-)

0212 01 lava tube

 

Waianapanapa State Park – so beautiful and so historic. The black sand beach was awesome!

0212 01 black sand

 

And our final destination – Haleakala National Park! The hike was fun and the views with all the bamboo were so cool! Walking through the forest is pretty eerie – if you stop and listen, the wind blowing the trees together makes music.

Big Ol’ Banyan Tree

0212 01 Banyan

 

Got Bamboo?

0212 01 bamboo

I have to say that living at altitude was a definite plus when hiking a 2.5 mile trail uphill on vacation. At sea level, easy peasy!

And it was worth the hike to the end to see the 400 foot Waimoku Falls.

0212 01 falls

 

There wasn’t a lot of water on this day, but it was still pretty awesome. We had left pretty early in the day, so we decided to high-tail it home, as much as you can “high-tail it” on a narrow, winding, two-lane-but-sometimes-one-lane road with a speed limit of 30. We got almost all the way back to Ku’au before we had to stop and put the top on the Jeep due to rain. We stopped, conveniently, at a store where we got snacks and Dr. Pepper – who doesn’t like a Dr. Pepper on a long-ish drive?

Hawaii 2.11.16

A long long time ago, the Boedies went to Hawaii :-) Why did we go to Hawaii?

  1. The kids had February 12th and 15th off of school.
  2. Our 20th anniversary was on February 14th.
  3. We were all ready for some kind of beach vacation.

Ultimately, we decided to take the kiddos to Hawaii and renew our vows in the church we got married in. I don’t think I ever got around to actually blogging about our trip (which was fabulous, btw). So here goes . . .

Day One – 2.11.16 – Travel Day

We pulled the kids out of school one additional day on each end of the trip. Dan went all out and got us awesome tickets for the flight to and from Hawaii. Non-stop, comfy seats that reclined all the way into a bed, all the drinks (and food) we wanted, and free movies for the entire flight. The flight was amazing and comfortable and right on time!

Are they actually smiling, at each other, and visibly enjoying themselves in the presence of their parents out in public?

0211 01 DIA

I made the awesome decision to have a Lei Welcome when we got to Hawaii!

0211 02_01 Honolulu

Great idea until Jason had an immediate allergic reaction and had to take off his beautiful living flower lei :-) I’m giving him “the look” because I was trying to take a picture of me and Jason and he was using my phone as a mirror to make sure his hair looked OK after the flight!

0211 02 Honolulu

We had a bit of a layover in Honolulu before our connection to Maui, so we had some lunch and some fun with the leis.

0211 03 Honolulu

 

Jeep rental picked up – success!

Drive to rental house in the dark – success! (Well mostly – we only tried to enter the wrong house once.)

Trip to grocery store for food and drinks – success!

Settled into the house listening to the amazing waves crashing on the shore just a few yards from our back patio – success!

Good night’s sleep before our drive to Hana on Day Two – success!

Get Your Kicks . . . Day 1 – COS to Amarillo, TX

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
370 Miles

Day One    Day Two    Day Three    Day Four    Day Five    Day Six    Day Seven    Day Eight    Day Nine    Day Ten

Hubby and Dude were headed out on a 12-day backpacking trip while Princess and I headed out for a 10-day road trip of Route 66 with QT and Ed. We may have packed a little more than the boys! They each had their one hiking backpack – about 45 pounds each.

 

We, on the other hand, had the entire cargo area of the FunRunner full!

 

In our defense, we had to pack for tenting, staying in cabins, and staying in hotels. After a quick stop at Starbucks (required for every girls’ trip!), we met up with QT and Ed at 9:00 a.m. and headed out for Amarillo! This day was a driving day to get us to Route 66. We made the requisite stops at each state sign – Oklahoma and Texas – for photos on the way.

 

QT and Ed are pulling their 1964 Shasta camper on the trip. They were leading our caravan of 2, so this was the view Princess and I got to see the whole day J

Pretty fun! They are staying at RV parks on the trip while Princess and I are staying at a bunch of different places – we brought the tent to camp with them a few nights, we’re staying at a luxury resort and spa, at a couple hotels along the way, and in a Wigwam.

The drive to Amarillo was uneventful. Princess and I checked into the hotel, QT and Ed got the camper set up, and we checked out the awesome cactus at the campground.

 

After we cleaned up a little, we all headed out to The Big Texan Steak House for dinner! Have you seen the movie The Guilt Trip? Barbra Streisand eats the 72 oz. steak dinner in an hour? Yup – THAT’S the Big Texan Steak House!

 

None of us were brave enough to try the challenge, but we did get to see a couple people try complete it while we were there! BTW – the record time for eating a 72 oz. steak, a salad, mashed potatoes, and a roll is just under 5 minutes! The record time for eating TWO steak dinners? Just under 15 minutes! Both records were set by the same 120 lb. woman in May of 2014. Yikes! After dinner, we had fun in the gift shop before heading back to the campground and hotel for the night.

Um yeah – QT and Princess decided to buy a chicken head and a horse head in the gift shop. They also feel the need to have their picture taken in them – often!

Day One was uneventful, but fun! Check back to see what adventures we had on Day Two of our Route 66 trip!

We chose . . .

While walking the seedy side streets of New Orleans last week, Mom and I were faced with a decision…

 

We chose . . .

FUN, BOOZE, MUSIC!

 

Enjoyed my time with Mom at the Spotted Cat in New Orleans :-)

Caving

Long long ago (Spring Break in March of 2013) and far far away (Carlsbad, NM), we camped for 5 days with some other families from Dude’s Scout troop for a spring break trip. We had 3 campers and 5 tents . . . it was a BLAST! We stayed at an RV Park that had an indoor pool, so the kids had lots of fun in the evenings.

This was our first time camping with the troop as a family, and we had a blast! Hubby planned the entire trip, so we brought all the food while some other families brought the troop supplies (tables, double-burner propane stove, patrol boxes, etc.). It as 80% scouts and 20% modern camping. We divided into two patrols, and within those patrols, each family had a meal responsibility. It worked out VERY well! I’m an early riser, as is one of the other Dads, so each morning we were out in the chilly mornings. He was heating up the coffee and water for hot chocolate and oatmeal while I was getting out all the other breakfast food and setting up a table with lunch food so everyone could assemble their sack lunch for the day.

Here’s Princess on the first morning, enjoying some Cheerios out of the wind in the back of the 4Runner :-)

 

And the rest of the folks milling about trying to wake up, stay warm, eat breakfast, and pack lunch before 8:00 a.m. departure!

 

The first day, our patrol got to go on a cave tour that required a 45 minute moderate hike up quite a hill. It wasn’t too difficult, but it was nice that they gave us a lot of time so we didn’t hate the tour before it even started 😉 We stopped at the visitor center first for our briefing and to get fitted for gloves (to protect the fragile cave) and a helmet with a headlamp.

Our patrol on the way up:

 

The cave was VERY neat! There is a locked gate to block people from getting in and vandalizing. The really crazy thing? After we all go in, the lock the gate behind us! Sure hope the guides don’t get hurt or sick! :-) We got a briefing at the top while we were still in the light. Then we hiked down the trail following one guide and having the comfort of the other guide at the end of our group. Here’s a view of the cave entrance from just a couple yards down the trail. Thank goodness for headlamps!

 

Our guide was awesome and very knowledgeable. He was so good with the kids and so patient with all of their questions. Here they are listening while he explained the mining that had taken place and talked about all the trash and litter that the miners had left behind (samples were still there) and how it affected the cave.

 I don’t have many more photos from inside the cave because it was DARK! :-) We had to use some ropes to climb up hills and try really hard not to touch the fragile stuff. We got to see the largest pile of bat poop (guana) ever – it really was amazing, if you can believe it. In the guana pile you could see bat skeletons! Ewwwwwwww! There weren’t any bats that used that cave anymore – thank God! We also go to experience the total darkness when everyone turned off their headlamps, then the guide moved his hands and we saw a naturally fluorescent rock shining. Very cool!

We got to climb to an area of the cave where they actually shot some movie scenes, which was also very neat. While the cave tour was great, it was also nice to be back outside in the light and feeling a bit less vampireish. The boys give a thumbs up for an awesome cave tour!

 

 

I like this photo and hate this photo. It looks like a graduation picture!

 

 

The hike down the hill back to the vehicles where an awesome picnic lunch and much water and Gatorade awaited!

 

 

None of us wanted to go back to camp yet, and nobody was really interested in starting a hike at 2:00 p.m. on a hot day, so some of us decided to go to Texas! Why not? It was only a 10 minute drive down the highway :-)

Dude and Princess “run for the boarder!”

 

 

Look, Honey! It’s part of an alien spaceship that must have crash-landed here!

 

Back at camp, we all had an awesome dinner and an even awesomer time watching the boys clean up, do dishes, and dig a sump for the gray water :-) Apparently it takes 4 scouts to find the right spot and 3 to supervise while 1 digs :-)

 

 

As I look closer, I see the supervising scouts are young scouts, so I will say this is my Dude “training” the younger scouts on the proper location and technique for digging a successful and useful sump while camping :-)

We had 3 days to do “stuff” in Carlsbad, 2 of which had cave tours planned. On our patrol’s day off, we decided to once again shun some awesome hiking opportunities and drive to Roswell :-) We had a blast! I’m not sure I believe in aliens as much as I believe in ghosts, but the evidence is hokey and compelling at the same time. Here we are seeing what it would be like to be an alien landing on Earth.

 

The Scouts took a turn. Yes, that’s my very weird child acting like some kind of disco dancing dorky alien :-)

 

We all spent a good couple of hours at the museum before heading next door for a yummy taco buffet lunch. Then we were off to town! We’d seen some fun aliens on the side of the road on our way through town going to camp, so we decided to go check them out while we were there. On our way, we ran by the airport to see the giant 747 graveyard – one of the scouts is a huge fan of plans and flying and was beside himself when he to be so close!

On our drive thorugh town, we just couldn’t resist this guy – outside the Holiday Inn :-) ET phone home!

No, Princess! Don’t let them take you!

 

Another night of campfire cooking and swimming in the pool was enjoyed by all before a VERY windy night of trying to sleep :-) On our 3rd day, our patrol go to go on the Left Hand Tunnel tour by lantern-light. The tour itself isn’t quite as exciting as the previous tour, but it’s very cool because you carry candle-light lanterns as your only source of light just like they original explorers did.

 

After the tour, we spent a couple hours walking around the show cave – especially the Big Room. It was VERY cool! I took a bunch of photos, but they just don’t come out well. It’s like the Grand Canyon – you just have to be there in person :-)

Our final night at the campground was a fun one! The boys made camp ice cream:

 

And dutch oven peach cobbler for dessert:

 

While it was all awesome and wonderful, one of my favorite parts of this whole trip was watching the boys work together with everything, including doing the dishes:

 

All while the adults use the leftover coals from our pocket meals to warm their hands on a very chilly evening :-)

 

We’re really looking forward to the next family Scouting event! It’s always fun to meet people outside of the meetings and get to know them on a more personal level.