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    Archive for March 2008

    This weekend rules...

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    I just had to quickly write to say that so far this weekend has been awesome! Right now Benjamin is all snuggled up with Mike on the recliner watching Snow White while I am checking my email, etc. We've had a busy Saturday so far. Mike and I ran the Get Your Rear in Gear 5k, benefitting colon cancer prevention, this morning. Mike came in 7th place overall and 2nd place in his age group! I came in at a respectable (?) 95th out of 130. Benjamin spent some time with one of his best buds, Ethan, our next door neighbor. After the race, we all headed over to Soccer World where Benjamin went to his very first birthday party by himself!! His friend, Amanda, turned 5 and all of the kids enjoyed some games, treats and gift opening. I think he had a good time! He tried to tell us all about it, but could only keep telling us about how he "ran REEEEEALLY fast!" We spent the rest of the day cruising around town and doing errands. It was nice and relaxing and we had so much fun! We really enjoy weekends that are full of seeing family and being busy, but there is something to be said for those weekends where you just get to hang out and do your own thing! This is one of those weekends...and we are loving it!!!!!!

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Spring is supposedly somewhere around the corner, but that is hard to believe since we are under yet another winter storm watch. But our spring fever has been encouraged by other things besides snowy weather. We celebrated Easter amid the bad weather with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Andrews. Benjamin really enjoyed hunting for his Easter basket. We also hopped over to the neighbors' house (The Posts) for a little neighborhood Egg Hunt (inside, of course).

    Baseball season is coming up soon, so Mike has been preparing Benjamin for all of those games on tv and trips up to the Metrodome. He came home with a new fancy baseball tee on Monday night. Benjamin has been in batting practice ever since. I've attached a video of his progress:

    As you can see, he's really on his game this season!

    I have posted a few new pictures on our flickr site as well, so check them out!

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Okay, here it is: our Hawaii blog entry!

    We had an absolutely amazing time on our trip. We were able to see and do just about everything on the big island, it was great. We had so many adventures. I’ll do my best to describe some of them here.

    Because we “bought” our plane tickets by cashing in miles, we had a pretty drawn out itinerary. We flew from Minneapolis to Dallas to San Jose to LA to Kona. We left Minnesota at 9am and didn’t arrive in Hawaii until 11pm (3am CT). Needless to say, we were exhausted but excited when we arrived. We picked up our rental car, a bright blue Chrysler Sebring convertible, and called Jeanne to say that we were on our way to her home in Hilo. If you aren’t familiar with the big island of Hawaii, Hilo is directly on the other side of the island from Kona. There are two options for traveling between the two cities. 1) a nice highway that goes up and around the northern edge of the island through a few small towns or 2) a dilapidated old death trap that is flanked on either side by a volcano called “Saddle Road.” You’ll never guess which one we took! Good old, dependable MapQuest.com told us to take Saddle Road. At midnight. In a rental car we have never driven before. After 15 hours of flights and stopovers. Since it was dark, we didn’t have the opportunity to document this trip with photos, but I feel the need to share our adventure with you. The photo below is a shot of the condition of the road:

    After driving the first 15 or so treacherous miles, I decided to pull out our Big Island Revealed guidebook to read about this Saddle Road. Let me quote the book directly, “Rental car companies do not allow their cars to drive on Saddle Road. If you do take Saddle Road and something happens to your car, your Rental Agreement will become null and void.” “Some locals don’t even use the road and you would be a fool to drive Saddle Road at night.” HA! Great. At this point we have only been on the island for one and a half hours and our guidebook is already calling us fools. We knew then that we were in for a very adventurous trip.

    We made it to the Bayola home safe and sound and in record time, actually. We spent the next couple of days hanging out with our gracious hosts, the Bayolas, along with my cousin Kelly and her boyfriend, Mike. The weather in Hilo was surprisingly dry and warm, just perfect! We visited ‘Akaka Falls and Volcano National Park, which were highlights of the trip for both of us. At Volcano, we were able to hike out over the lava rock fields at night to see the current lava flow from the most recent eruption of Kilauea. It was amazing to sit and watch both creation and destruction happening at once!

    Pu'u O'o Lava Flow from Volcano National Park trail

    Next we ventured back over to the other side of the island (this time we took the highway!) to Kona, where we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort. The resort was very nice, we really liked it. We spent our first full day on the Kona side by driving up through the mountains to the small town of Hawi where we shopped around and had lunch. Near Hawi is a trail down to a beautiful black sand beach called Pololu Valley Beach. We spent a lot of time there just watching the waves and sitting in the warm black sand.

    Pololu Valley Beach

    Then we traveled back east to a location that our guidebook deemed as “not to be missed.” The road to the Mo'okini Heiau was a small dirt road that was meant for a 4WD vehicle, but could be attempted by cars if the road is dry. We took a chance and went along our merry way until we got to a huge puddle that looked too deep for our car. So we pulled over and decided to hike the rest of the way up to the Heiau. However, when we pulled off the road we noticed that we would have to park next to an abandoned car that looked pretty rough. It isn’t unusual to find abandoned cars in Hawaii, but this one was different. Someone had decorated it with a stuffed parrot – it was creepy. We hiked up to the Heiau (a temple built by Pa’O’o to be used for human sacrifices) and we were the only people around anywhere, it was actually very peaceful.

    Mo'okini Heiau - Sacrifical Altar

    After our day of driving, we decided to just stay at the resort the next day. We walked down to the Kings and Queens shops (like outdoor malls) and just lounged around. The next morning we had a kayaking excursion planned, so we were up early for that. We happened to be the only 2 people scheduled to go on the trip that day, which departed right from the resort, so we had our own private tour. The guides took us out into the ocean where we paddled for about a half hour or so to a black sand beach. At the beach we went snorkeling and we saw amazing coral and beautiful tropical fish. It was just like being in the movie, Finding Nemo!

    Later in our trip we took another driving tour down to South Point, the southern most point of the United States. We also took a tour of the Kona Brewery, where we tasted nearly all of their beers. While shopping in downtown Kona, we asked a storekeeper about a good place to get local sushi and he recommended “You Make the Roll,” which turned out to be our favorite place. It was just a little out-of-sight place tucked away, but it was so good. You can choose any number of ingredients to put into your roll. We went back twice!

    BEST Sushi rolls EVER - You Make the Roll in Kona

    Even though we had a great time and loved every bit of Hawaii, by the end of our trip we were ready to come back home. We missed Benjamin. I’m sure he missed us too, but he also had fun staying with all of his babysitters. I swear we left behind a 2 ½ year old and came back to a 5 year old!! We can’t believe how much he has been maturing lately. In only 4 months he will turn three. Crazy!

    Check out all of our trip pictures on Flickr, they turned out great!