Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hawaii!!! Day Five

All good things must come to an end, so I've heard, and while I don't necessarily believe that is true for ALL good things, it definitely is true for vacations.
When I woke up, I was so dang tired. The night before had been really fun, but I was sore and exhausted from all the running and jumping and climbing and swimming, plus I was a little sunburned. I got up anyway, being the good chaperone that I am (I had to set a good example) and got ready for the day, which would begin with church.
We were all to meet at the hotel waterfall (our regular meeting spot) at 7:45, and Jed left about 15 minutes earlier than that to help gather the students. I was finishing up getting ready, and got to the waterfall at about 7:40 but no one was there. It was all very weird, because I was sure that I had the right time and place. I waited around for a bit, texting others trying to see where they were, but what had happened was this: Everyone was there early enough that when the students counted off and were all present, they all walked to church. They had forgotten to count chaperones too. Luckily I was able to quickly find out what had happened and I already knew where the church was, so I just walked the 3 blocks and made it with time to spare.
I was with a Catholic high school group, so, naturally, church was Mass. I'd never been to Mass before, but my friend Fiona sat by me and walked me through the whole thing. Brennon, Jed's friend, whom I met at the PCC, came to Mass too, and I think he was as new to it all as I was.
It was all pretty new to me, obviously, but it was good. I liked the message that the priest gave, and I liked the "peace be unto you" part a lot too, where everyone greets each other and shakes hands and stuff. It was all very friendly and smiles were everywhere. It was also a treat to see the students all in their nicer clothes and at church. They really are such great kids. I hope my future kids have friends like these students when they are growing up.
After Mass, it was time to tidy up our rooms and check out of the hotel. That was all easy, but our flight wasn't till 9 at night, so I was worried about getting hot and sweaty and gross without a place to clean up. Oh well, there was nothing to do about it.
Brennon came back with me and Jed and we chatted and stuff while packing up. The three of us decided to go to the LDS church too, which was at 11, but we had to eat something for breakfast first.
While waiting for our food, I was talking to Brennon and he mentioned his mission, which was the Puerto Rico, San Juan East Mission - the same mission as my brother, Tyler! They totally knew each other! It's a small world after all!
We then drove to the LDS church for Sacrament Meeting, which was in a church building unlike any I've seen. It looked almost like a mosque, and the interior was huge and open. We stayed for the Sacrament and then for one talk before we had to leave to get back to our students. Brennon dropped me and Jed off near our hotel and he went back home to Laie. He'll be moving back to my home ward in Utah later this year, so it will be fun to see a friend I made in Hawaii again.
When it was time for lunch, we all did our own thing, and I got really good and cheap udon noodles, and afterward I got [yet another] smoothie at a Vietnamese place with my two favorite chaperones/teacher/friends, Jed and Fiona. It was also cheap and so good! I got a jack fruit smoothie, even though I didn't know what a jack fruit was or what it would taste like. I took a chance and loved it!
Our last activity of the day was the aquarium! It was not very big, but I really enjoyed it. It was nice to be in the cool, dark indoors and just look at fish. It was fun to see some of the same kinds of fish that I saw while snorkeling. My favorite, though, was the huge tank of moon jellyfish. they were translucent, but also glowed. They are mesmerizing. Here's a picture I took of the tank:

After the aquarium, we were ready to get on the coach and head to the airport. It was bittersweet - we were all pooped from being so busy all the time and thus ready for our vacation to come to a close, but it was sad to leave one of the prettiest, relaxed places in the world. I can see why so many people want to live right there near the beach! I could relax there everyday and never grow tired of it.
The airport was a little more crazy than it should have been, but that was because the Honolulu airport wasn't quite as prepared to handle our large group like the SLC airport was. One of the kids got a pat-down because the machine detected explosives on his hands(!), but of course everything was alright and that was that.
The airplane was packed, but since it was a late flight, most people were sleeping. I wrote my previous post on the plane, and then tried to sleep, which I did for maybe 3 hours. Our flight landed at 7:15 am local time, and we all rode to the high school, where parents picked up their kids and took them home. I was the last chaperone to leave, since I carpooled with Jed and Fiona, and when I got home, I showered and took a long nap - I think we all did -  then woke up later and went to work.
I am officially back from one of the best trips I've ever been on.
Even though this trip kept me busy making sure the kids in my group were safe, it was so fun for me. I made friends with all the other chaperones, most of the students, and even some new people in Hawaii. I am blessed to have such good friends who care about me and helped me to have a wonderful time. My kids were all awesome too. They made my job so easy, and I'd happily chat with them if I ever see them in the grocery store.

I will someday return to Hawaii and surely enjoy that trip just as much, but until then, this trip holds the ace!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hawaii!!! Day Four

If any readers of this happy blog have been worried that I fell into lava or stepped on an urchin, I can assure you, I'm safe and sound. I was so tired at the end of day four that my brain gave up. I've been blogging from my kindle, and the smart-text typing thing looked like the ravings of a lunatic. I finally gave up and went to sleep.
Now, I'm sitting on the airplane, waiting to take off and head back to Utah, so I thought now was a good time to write some stuff before I forget. 
So - on to day four!
The first thing on our schedule was snorkeling! The morning was probably the least warm morning we had, with overcast skies and some wind. I was a little worried, but right at 9:00 the sky cleared and the sun shone through. It was perfect. 
We rode to Hanauma Bay and got our snorkeling gear, had a marine biologist tell us about the bay and what not to do, and then we were turned loose.

First off, the bay is so pretty! It's about as picturesque as you can imagine, with lots of reefs and fishes of all kinds and crystal blue water. 
After jumping in, I realized how shallow the water was ! The reefs were often only two or three feet below the surface. That made looking at stuff really easy but it made swimming hard. They told us to avoid touching the reef to keep it healthy, but the reef was sharp enough that I wouldn't want to touch it anyway. 
Snorkeling was pretty cool! I hadn't been before, so it was a totally new experience. It's spooky to be swimming along when a huge fish comes right up close. It's also easy to get lost in the maze of the reef - I swam out a ways and when I turned around to go back, it was like the path I'd taken was gone. There were deep pits between the coral and eels were down there, along with lots of urchins and other fishes.
I spent the rest of my time at the bay enjoying the shallow waters and the sandy beach.
Throughout the day I'd think of that text and start laughing to myself. Sometimes I crack myself up. 
Here's a picture of my snorkel gear, along with my friends' stuff too:
After Hanauma Bay, we all went to Diamondhead State Monument for lunch and a hike. Diamondhead is an extinct volcano and the park is in the crater. It looked like an African savanna there in the crater where we ate lunch. The hike was to a high peak along the rim of the crater and even though it was only .8 miles, it was a step climb! There were lots of switchbacks and some really steep stairs, but the view from the top was so amazing. I could see all of Waikiki and Honolulu and tons of the island. Here are some pictures:

After all that hiking, I was glad to go back to the beach and go swimming again. I was sure to really cover myself in sunscreen a couple of times, but somehow I still got burned a little on my ankles. At least my face is normal. :-)
For dinner, we had a catered meal at the Kapiolani park at sunset. It was fun and the students got to tell a little about what they liked about the trip. They all became pretty good friends and I'm so glad they got along so well. 
I also got to watch the sun set on the ocean, and it was so pretty. It's crazy how fast the sun disappears as it gets closer to the horizon. After the sunset, we were right by a frozen yogurt store so I got the best pineapple froyo ever. I'm already wanting another one!

Because they had all been doing so well with being on time and keeping all the rules, we told then they could go swimming after dark if they stayed within a certain part of the beach. A lot of them had been wanting to go night swimming, so this was a nice chance to do that. A couple of us chaperones stayed with the students to make sure everything was safe and that they were making good choices, but I ended up having as much fun as the kids!
I didn't have my swim stuff on, so I didn't get back in the water past my shins, but Fiona and I played games with the kids, built sand castles, did hand stands, and even had running long jump competitions - of which I was the clear champion. 
We had the whole beach to ourselves, and it was one of of the best moments for me on this trip. Everyone was having old fashioned fun at the beach. 
When it was time for the students to go back to their rooms, we all went back to the hotel, but I was pretty sandy so I walked barefoot. It was around then that I realized how sore I was getting. All the fancy footwork of hiking, swimming, climbing stairs, walking everywhere, and running through sand had really started to get to me. A couple other chaperones and I decided to hit the hotel's Jacuzzi while it was still open. It was really hot but made my legs feel better. 
After the Jacuzzi, we still weren't done having fun so we went out for ice cream! I've had more ice cream and smoothies on this trip than I have had in the last year. 
There was a prom nearby so there were lots of young couples wearing insane dresses - like, red carpet and limousine level of expensive dresses. We also saw several of them travel up the hotel elevator to the rooms together...yikes.
After all that fun, it was finally time to go to bed. Now, I've been blogging daily about my trip, and I was going to blog that night too, but like I said, I got a little crazy with my sleepiness. My friend texted me, asking if I would be blogging that day, and in my weird sleepy stage, I texted her back saying I was too tired to finish writing. 
When I looked at my phone this morning, I saw that my friend had replied saying that my text was silly and that I should go to bed, so I checked my previous message to see what I sent that was silly. I now share with you what kind of text I send when sleepy, unaltered:

"So I'm falling asleep writing my blog. Should I just write it tomorrow, I even me tattoos."

I have NO idea what was going on in my head. I remember writing the first part of the text but dozing off, then waking back up and finishing the text. I also remember proofreading my text for typos - my phone is old and has a button keyboard, so I actually typed those words. Proofreading while sleepy doesn't work, kids.

The day was long, but so great. Be sure to read my next post about my fifth and final day in Hawaii. See you soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hawaii!!!! Day Three

Today was the "music day" of the trip for the students and we did a bit of traveling for it all. Early this morning we went to The Star of the Sea Elementary School, which was one of the main points of the trip. That school is working on a new music program that should start up next school year, so they were happy to have our students give a mini concert to help get their students excited and more interested in picking up an instrument.
Our kids did great! The elementary kids seemed to have fun too, and the school generously provided lunch for all of us. We got to eat in their cafeteria and it was a fun time.
Here are the kids at the school:

When we were finished there, we took our fancy bus through mountains and a tunnel and along the beach to get to BYU Hawaii so the students could participate in clinics. I wanted to see if I knew anybody who might be attending BYUH but I couldn't get on Facebook to send the word out. If you're reading this, and you are at BYUH, sorry I missed you!
While the students were in their music clinic at BYUH, I decided to make a trip to see the LDS temple nearby. I set out with a general idea of the direction to go, but I quickly lost confidence and asked two girls for directions. They were super cool and helpful! After I repeated back the directions to make sure I knew the way, one girl was like, "want us to just drive you there?" and I said sure. The temple was on the way to their dorms, so it was really nice of them. They were super nice and I didn't feel like they were going to kidnap me, so we all chatted and made acquaintances on the way to their car. They were from Payson and Hurricane, Utah, and named Alexis and Josie. It was great how friendly they were! If everyone were as awesome as those girls, then the world would be a better fun happy place.
They drove me the little ways to the temple and I thanked them sincerely. I'll probably never see then again and they'll probably never see this blog, but they made my day!
At the temple, I wandered around and took some pictures. The grounds were nearly deserted. As I was walking, another girl caught up to me and we chatted for a bit. Her name is Alli and she's a BYUH student. She was going to worship at the temple so we didn't have much time to chat, but she told me she ran the spotlights at the cultural center.

After a few more pictures and feeling the sun bake my neck, I stopped into the visitor center for a moment of shade. The missionaries were on me in seconds and we chatted for a bit. They convinced me to stay for a two minute move called "Because He Lives," which I hadn't seen before. It was a good little message and I admit that I got a little tight in the throat while watching it.
Afterward, I went back to campus, but stopped partway to reapply sunscreen to my neck -it was hot today! - and then made it back to the music building just in time to hear the students pound out the song they had just learned on the Tahitian drums. It was loud and really fun to listen to.

After that, we all walked over to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we could look around and eat before going to the show. My friends, Jed and Fiona, and I went for a Tongan boat ride that was fun. We were the very last group that got to go. The center seemed pretty empty tonight, but I think it was just because most of it was closing down around 5:00 when we got there.
Fiona and I and some statues of heads.
Jed had a friend that used to live in our neighborhood back in Utah, who was now attending BYUH and working at the Cultural Center, so we stopped by to say hi. His name is Brennon, and we all made plans to meet up again before our trip ended. After that, we ate at a big buffet and I had fish that was so good!
The last part of our day was watching the show "Há: Breath of Life". It was a production that highlighted the dances and culture of the islands of Polynesia. The Tahitian part of the show was really fun, and the drums they used were the same ones that the students got to play with earlier! The fire dancers were my favorite part. The students seemed to really like it too.
This is the stage after the show with the cast posing for pictures. Sorry it's so washed out!

On the hour long trip back to Waikiki, I showed Fiona photos from my trip to London a few years back, which helped pass the time.
Today was busy busy, but really good. I made three new friends and accepted a ride from strangers and got to see the temple and the most green and beautiful scenery. I'm so tired.
Tomorrow I'm going smirking (Ha! My auto text thing put 'smirking' but was supposed to say 'snorkeling' - I'm not changing it) and hiking, so be sure to check back for pictures! See you soon!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hawaii!!! Day Two

Another day in paradise has come and gone. This morning I woke up way before my alarm went off (which hasn't happened before and will probably never happen again) but I was able to enjoy my big comfy bed for a while before I needed to get up.
After I got up and ready for the day, we all met and then traveled to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It was pretty cool, and the mini documentary they showed us before we ferried over to the memorial was, in my opinion, very well done. It did a good job utilizing footage from the bombings, but also gave a lot of context to the event.
At the memorial itself, which is built almost like a bridge over the sunken ship Arizona, everything was white and there was little decoration or information signs there. It was a good thing to see and I'm glad I got to go.
We went on a trip around Honolulu on the way home and drove to a national cemetery on a mountain peak that had "punchbowl" in its name.
After that, it was time to go to the beach! My hotel is right on the beach, which is awesome! Here's a picture from the hotel lobby:

I went swimming in the blue ocean for almost two hours but I wore sunscreen and my skin is as white as ever. I get to spend more time at the beach on Saturday so maybe I'll get some color to my skin after all...
There was a farmers market in the evening, which was fun and had lots of food and souvenirs. I tried peanut butter with coconut in it and was so yummy! The sales lady let us try ample amounts before we bought anything, and she kept yelling "No salt, no sugar!" over and over. I mean, that's nice to know, but it was tasty enough that I'd happily eat it even if it were nothing BUT salt and sugar.
The last thing we did today was have the students rehearse for their program tomorrow - it's the whole reason we came here.  It was so fun hearing them play together. They have a lot of talent.
After that, a couple of us grownups went looking for food and ended up with pizza. I'll never stop loving pizza. I wasn't too hungry so I only had a little bit.
Tomorrow is a big day, with a trip to the north side of Oahu to visit BYU Hawaii and the Polynesian cultural center. I think everyone's excited for it - I know I am!

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hawaii!!! Day One

A day on an airplane tires me out more than just about anything. Today, 6.5 hours was worth it though, because now I'm in Hawaii! I'm blogging from my nicely big bed doing my best to stay awake long enough to finish this.
So, I'm a chaperone for a high school band and orchestra that my roommate teaches, and here we are! There are 37 high schoolers and about 10 chaperones. The kids are fun and I think they're as happy to be here as I am.
My plane ride was way smooth, but the guy next to me was rather big and snored a lot. When we landed, we each got a fun lei and a coach ride to our hotel. Here's my lei, telling you how I feel about my trip so far:
We are in Waikiki and like a block from the ocean! The weather is ideal. We all went to a mall down the road from our hotel and watched part of a little show with singers and hula dancers. It was a nice sit-down thing to enjoy. I had sushi for dinner with a couple other chaperones and it was so good! I got so full, it was awesome. At this point my body feels like it's 2am. At least I'll be adjusting to the time difference quickly.
Tomorrow I'm going to the Pearl Harbor memorial and then spending the afternoon at the beach. Did I mention my bed is big and comfy? Come back soon for more!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Updates and Stuff

For months now I've been thinking that I should write a post, but every time I think, "there's so much to catch up on and I will do it later." That's probably why I haven't written in my real-life paper journal since I lived in Korea. (Okay, actually, I just pulled out my journal for fact-checking and it's worse than I thought: I wrote in the airport on my way TO Korea, and once about 6 months after I got back. I didn't even write in it ONCE while I lived abroad! I'm ashamed. I really need to just copy all my blog posts from that time and stick them in my journal...that would at least be a good start, right?)

Okay, so what's happened so far this year....Here are some highlights:
I turned 28! Not that big of a deal, but it still happened. It's funny, I often thought that "28" sounded so natural, like, it's be easy to say that's how old I was whenever asked, even when it wasn't true. Well, now I'm 28 and I still have to think about how old I am if I'm asked.
My baby brother got married! He and his wife are super young and totally in love and like video games and nerdy stuff, so they are basically made for each other. The wedding and reception were both held in my hometown, so I got to go home for that, and that same weekend my first nephew was blessed. It was a busy weekend for sure, but I really like my family, so it was all good.
My Auntie is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and she's been able to hook me up with tickets a few time, which I've very much enjoyed. She had some extras for a non-public concert that was part of the American Choral Directors Association (?) conference about 2 months ago, and it was so great! There was a downside though, and it was that my car kept dying! I'm not exaggerating when I say that my car died probably 15 times, and in stop-and-go traffic around temple square. It was a nightmare. The other people in my car were jovial and not too concerned because my car would always start right back up, but I was freaking out inside. I couldn't take my mind off it the whole night, and when we left the concert, I was nervous that it would continue to die at every stop light. After dealing with that problem (which continued to happen afterward), I finally took it to a mechanic to figure it out. The sudden-death problem had been happening for around 7-8 months, but only recently it was happening every day. The car-people had my car for like 6 hours, and everything seemed perfect. They couldn't figure it out. They even called me to ask some more questions. I don't doubt their integrity - they've got a good reputation and we've been customers for a long time now. They really couldn't solve the problem.
With that not-good news, I decided it was time to start car shopping. Bring on the stress!
To make a boring story short, I took a half day off and went car shopping with my best friend, and I finished the day with a red 2014 Altima! I honestly love it. I even traded my old car in, which made the whole situation even better. I got a pretty fair deal on my old car, considering its problems.
Just the other day a friend told me that there was a Legend of Zelda symphony concert coming to Salt Lake in October - I can't believe I didn't know about it sooner. Anyway, I looked it up and decided I really needed to go, for the sake of my own fan-boy-integrity, but I couldn't go alone, that would be kinda sad. My Zelda-loving brother's birthday was fast approaching though, so I thought I'd treat him as well! I'm so nice! I had to make sure he could ensure time-off from work and make a commitment 6 months out before I bought the tickets yet, which gave away the element of surprise, but he didn't know what I had planned, mua-ha-ha! I made a Zelda-styled card for him to let him know what his present was, but I had to email him since I only had about 3 days from the ticket purchase to his actual birthday. The toughest part was waiting the 2 days to send him the email because I was so excited too! Anyway, all is in order, and we're going to the symphony!
Here's the card I made for him (I used Canva.com -  they are SOOOO cool and free! I love their program!):

What else is new....
Oh! I'm going to Hawaii in a few days! I'm chaperoning the high school band/orchestra that my roommate teaches. I need to go buy sunscreen! I have a little tablet, so hopefully I'll be able to blog when I'm there. I seem to to my most productive blogging when I'm out traveling.
Lastly, I watched/listened to today's sessions of General Conference, and it was pretty good! I liked Elder Oaks' talk quite a lot. I'm not as knowledgeable about the New Testament as I should be, so it's awesome when I hear really amazing talks on the parables of Jesus Christ - it gives me motive to be more diligent in my scripture studies.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and I hope that it's peaceful and enriching. Stay tuned for Hawaii updates!