We spent our last few days exploring the North Shore. We lucked out because that just so happens to be where Grandma Young is serving a mission, at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We loved the chance to spend time with her as she toured us around her back yard. The temple is absolutely beautiful. I mean, all temples are beautiful, but this setting is just so peaceful and serene.
My brother's girlfriend's family lives here as well and she just so happened to be home for the summer so I was so excited to finally get a chance to meet her. We all loved her! After a gluttonously delicious lunch at Five Brothers (I still dream of those fries!) we headed to the PCC.
What an amazing place, and it had so much more meaning after our time spent in New Zealand and Fiji. We felt such a connection whenever New Zealand was represented. It was just awesome, especially the night show with the fire dancers. The kids were mesmerized. I was too. BYU-Hawaii is definitely one of Kylie's top picks for school (but let's not talk about her leaving the nest in a mere 5 short years). The weather here is just as unpredictable as NZ. Hot and muggy one minute, cold and rainy the next. We were sitting here melting into puddles watching the boat parade, then they sky opened up and we were soaked as we scrambled for cover. But the rapid change in weather guaranteed us a rainbow every single day we were there.
They were determined to make a fire.
With some help, they did. The look on Maddox's face says it all.
Hawaiian shaved ice was a must. Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I think Bahama Bucks at home still has the edge.
The swap meet is also a must. Cheap junk and souvenir trinkets is like heaven for kids. They spent hours deciding how to spend their $10. Sweet Maddox used some of his to buy a bracelet for Ava, his best friend and betrothed. He made a bucket list for life. "Marry Ava" is right next to "enjoy my childhood". We walked away with t-shirts, shark tooth necklaces, jewelry, wooden tiki men and Jayden found this cool conch shell. Everyone would sneak turns using it when he wasn't around. But he always found out. They had Pali sandals every where but Kylie didn't like them until after we moved back to AZ and everyone was wearing them so she just HAD to order them on Amazon and pay twice as much to get them shipped. Go figure.
We headed up to Waimea Bay on a rainy day, but it didn't stop the boys from doing some cliff jumping. It was a pretty good sized jump and I love that Jayden is always up for a good challenge.
Maddox decided he wanted to get in on the fun too
After assessing the situation he opted for a smaller jump off point. I was happy with his choice.
The waves were so fun to play in. The way it sucks you in then spits you back on the shore. I don't get in the water much, something about cold water and sand all up in my business, but it was seriously a blast. We stayed out there until the rain started coming down harder, then I took the little boys back to the car to warm up while the others pushed their luck just a little longer.
You know they're always giving me a hard time about lofty promises of wild animals in nature. Laniakeai beach is nicknamed "Turtle Beach" and I was so excited for the chance to see giant sea turtles in the wild, but it was getting cold and late and the kids were hungry and we couldn't find parking and the chances of seeing a turtle were pretty slim and the kids didn't want to stop and there were a million different excuses, but at the last minute Jason flipped a U told us to hop out and he would figure out a place to park. I'm so glad he did because what we saw was amazing. These gentle giants playing in the water and sunbathing on the shore. The sun came back out and everyone's mood quickly changed and I wanted to say "I told you so", but instead we just sat there admiring it all.
I wanted to make our last night memorable. The last night of our two year adventure before we headed home for good. I had envisioned setting off these Chinese lanterns and sharing memories as we watched them gracefully disappear into the night sky. Actually I had originally wanted to do it at Taylor's Mistake before we left NZ, but it was too cold. Then we were going to do it in Fiji with Grandma Judy, but it was too windy. So this was my last chance and after dragging these things around for the past month I wasn't going to let it go to waste. We picked up Malasadas at the famed Leonard's Bakery and resisted the urge to devour those deep fried cinnamon goodness while we drove for a while trying to find a secluded beach, which believe it or not is impossible to do in Hawaii during peak season. After a few failed attempts we found a public access walk way to a beach in an upscale neighborhood. Besides the teenagers making out that we scared off, we had it all to ourselves. The lanterns proved to be quite difficult to light, burning in our hands then desperately getting thrown into the ocean. We finally got one lit and we stood there on the shore admiring the beauty as it gently lifted into the air. And then the beauty turned into sheer panic as the wind picked up and sent it straight into the path of a multi million dollar mansion. I didn't know if we should pray or book it out of there before the police came. We started to do both, but then thankfully the wind died down and it dropped into the ocean instead. We had a good laugh, packed up our things, threw away the rest of those dang lanterns, then licked the cinnamon sugar off our fingers as we headed back the car with the kids seeing who could do the best impression of me freaking out. We decided that was enough excitement for one night and a very fitting way to end our story. Things haven't always gone the way we had planned. My "vision" usually never plays out the same as the one in my head. But time and time again the most memorable moments are the ones that haven't gone as planned. After all, it's all part of the adventure. And what an unforgettable adventure it has been.
We had some time to kill the next morning before our flight. Jason searched the beach front boutiques for overpriced flip flops since Ryder's broke, and I picked up some float rings at the corner drugstore then watched the boys float around Waikiki beach in the beautiful sunshine. We lost track of time, which I'm sure is a common occurrence in Hawaii, and almost missed our flight. Like for reals. We were that family running through the airport, yelling breathlessly at the kids to keep up, then making it to the gate as they call our name over the loud speakers right as the doors are closing. We got a few dirty looks as we boarded, then settled into our seats for the flight home. HOME.