In May of 2005, my family and I flew out of Anchorage for two glorious weeks on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. We stayed at the Hale Koa, right on Waikiki Beach. It was the most fabulous two weeks of our lives. We swam, sunbathed, walked endless miles on the beaches, climbed Diamond Head and watched surfers on the waves. We ate shaved ice and pineapple every day.
We drove up to the North Shore and took in the breathtaking vistas. We climbed on the rocks and visited Hanauma Bay. We saw a beautiful black Labrador that reminded us of our recently departed sweet Sara dog and we watched our son skateboard at an outdoor park in Kailua, We walked the streets and took in the nightlife of Kalakaua Avenue and ate at Duke's right on Waikiki Beach. We drove through the Dole Pineapple Plantation fields and body boarded at Bellows Beach.
My husband and I spent an entire afternoon watching and photographing outrigger canoe women teams practice at Ala Moana State Recreation Area. We came across street musicians and watched the sailboats come in and out of the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor with Diamond Head perfectly poised in the background.
Our first night there, I photographed the night skyline of Waikiki and we watched fireworks both Fridays we were there. I photographed the sunsets, the sunrises and everything I could in between. We visited Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. It was a very somber visit and I was so grateful to be able to go and pay my respects for those who gave their lives that day. We went to a lua and we smelled beautiful plumera and it really was almost too much to take in.
One night shortly after we arrived, we were having dinner and talking about all that we had seen in the first few days and how beautiful and wonderful it was, except of course the traffic during rush hour. We were only caught twice in it. We thought how amazing it would be to be able to come back here and live and we all sort of shook our heads at the improbability. After all, my husband had been in the military for 22 years and we knew we probably had one more move before we retired. And since we were already in Alaska, the odds were that we would be moving back to the lower 48 states. So we decided we would come back every so often as this was our most favorite vacation ever.
Three years later, the orders came and we were off to Kentucky, to spend 18 months before we were to retire. We packed our house and off we drove; up through Alaska, through the Yukon Territory and down in British Columbia, back into the United States and across to Kentucky; 3,942 miles!
Then as we planned our first trip to the Carolinas to scope out possible retirement spots and jobs; we got a very exciting call that changed our lives; my husband was promoted and we had to leave Kentucky - no job for him here any more. A month later, while he was in Washington, D.C., he called me and asked me what I thought about Hawaii. I said I LOVE Hawaii, why are you taking me there for Christmas? No, they want me to take a position there! I screamed and thought NO WAY, too good to be true. This just doesn't happen to the McDonells! And for the last 8 months, I have held my breath waiting for someone to wake me up and tell me it was a joke.
It's not, our house is packed up and on Monday, June 8th, exactly one year to the day we signed for the keys to this house, all of our belongings will be crated and shipped off for their long distance voyage to the Hawaiian islands. Three days after, on June 11th (my 45th birthday), we will once again get in our trucks, load some suitcases and our beautiful baby grandson and our gorgeous daughter and our two happy-go-lucky black Labs, Minnie and Daisy; and we will all begin the trek across the southwest United States to Los Angeles, Ca. We will ship our trucks at the port on June 17th and early the next morning we will all board a flight to Oahu. We are scheduled to land at 11am local time so we figure we should be at the beach for our first sunset on, ironically enough, Sunset Beach on the North Shore.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited we all are to be able to have this opportunity to live in Hawaii, visit it's beautiful islands and experience the Hawaiian culture like no visitor can in two weeks. I promise to blog about our adventures and share with you all the wonderful things we see and experience in Hawaii and until then, I leave you with some of my favorite memories of our visit 4 years ago!