Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last Day in Hawaii, Following in the Trail of Obama

We (sadly) left the condo Friday morning after doing everything we could to clean up the messes left behind by a family with three boys, said our goodbyes, and went into Haleiwa for one last shave ice! Here the family stands getting ready for one last treat!

We also stopped by Romy's shrimp shack one last time to treat ourselves to lunch. It was a beautiful day to drive down south around the island.

During our second week in Hawaii, Obama had already left nearly a week before, but we still felt like we were following him around the island. This feeling was even more intense as we stopped by the Macadamia Nut Farm as recommended by our hosts Suzanne and Bob. Chief Sielu, a real Samoan chief and native Hawaiian, leads regular tours around the property, pointing out the interesting botanical features and showing tourists where several TV shows and movies have been filmed. They highly recommended this tour, so we thought we'd check it out.

The store had loads of different kinds of macadamia nut samples, as well as macadamia nut coffee. The boys were very concerned about me sampling the macadamia nuts, because it is one of the few allergies I have. (I actually sampled a few of them to no adverse maybe my allergy has gone away!)

Waiting for the tour

The tour consisted of a ride on a very rickety old bus (our family were the only attendees outside of a couple of University of Hawaii students) through Hawaiian plants and orchards, down to an area where Chief Sielu proceeded to do what I found out later was an encore of his time performing at the Polynesian Cultural Center. He made fire rubbing two sticks together:

And then did a fire dance demonstration:

He cracked open a coconut and let us sample the coconut water, and then presented each of us with a headband made of palm fronds:

Then he took us out on a canoe across a bay to see "Coconut Island" and showed us spots where several TV shows (Lost, ER, Fantasy Island, Gilligan's Island) and movies (Joe Vs. the Volcano, Fifty First Dates) were filmed.

Mike and Chris posing with the guys at the end of the canoe
(again, the Samoan guys were very flirtatious--
see how the one next to Mike is holding his stomach!)

The beautiful Kualoa mountains

As I mentioned previously, I felt like we were trailing Obama. Just the week before, he had visited the Macadamia Nut Farm and had photos taken with the chief. I asked the chief about his visit, and he told me that it was a complete surprise. The place was crawling with secret service agents, he said. you know what that means? I touched someone who touched Barack Obama!!! ;)

Barack Obama with Chief Sielu (the week before we were there)

One of my favorite things about the tour--which probably would have been more memorable if we hadn't been to the Samoa performance at the Polynesian Cultural Center--was that the chief went to a starfruit tree and picked a bunch of starfruit for us. I hadn't tasted fresh starfruit since I was in Thailand in 1987! Delicious!! He gave us a bunch of fruit, but we ended up throwing them away at the airport because we weren't allowed to take them to the mainland.

The kids with their starfruit

After leaving the tour, we drove back into Honolulu and had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Waikiki, the Shore Bird. It's right on the beach in an Outrigger hotel, and for a very reasonable price, you get the salad bar and a piece of meat or fish to grill yourself. It's an experience!

One of my all-time favorite photos of Nicholas!

After dinner, Nicholas and I walked out on the beach and put our feet in the Hawaii ocean one last time. Then we took a brief trip to the mall so I could visit Macy's in the Ala Moana Mall where they have a nice Hawaiian jewelry collection.
The kids' favorite spot in the mall is a place called Jungle Fun, where they have loads of video games and rides.

Nicholas LOVED the rides!

Chris and Kieran liked the drumming games

Then it was off to the airport for our 10:40 p.m. flight, which was uneventful. Kieran fell asleep before the plane took off and slept until after we landed! Everyone slept for hours except for me, and I snoozed off and on after watching the pretty bad but enjoyable "Made in Honor" (enjoyable because of Patrick Dempsey!). We arrived at 7:00 a.m. Portland time, a bit over 5 hours after we left Hawaii. We went home and slept for 4 hours before awaking to try to get used to the 3-hours-later time zone.
Even though it felt good to be home, we miss Hawaii! For the first few days, Nicholas kept saying "Honolulu airplane!" I wouldn't want to live there, but our family trips there are always very enjoyable.

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