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Friday, November 30, 2012

Five for Friday

1.  Long travel days suck, but you make them better.  Thanks for letting me take up the row and actually get some sleep!

2.  I really am looking forward to us taking the initiative on a few things =)

3.  Football this weekend, yay!!

4.  I love when you randomly kiss me on the cheek or forehead.

5.  I had fun walking the dogs today with you!

ily <3

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six for Saturday

1. I love how good you look in jeans ;)

2. I am so thankful that we spent Thanksgiving at home this year.

3. I'm sorry that I can be so moody sometimes!

4. I love how much Cici loves you! Haha.

5. Winna winna chicken dinna!!

6. I wish I could make today better for you =(

ily <3

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Ka'ena Point Trail

The Need to Knows:
  • Ka'ena Point Trail is located on the leeward (western) side of Oahu, all the way at the very end of Farrington Highway.  You can't miss it because you literally can't drive any farther, unless you have some wicked 4WD!  Here's the Google Maps link:

View Larger Map
  • There is a small dirt parking area at the head of the trail, but just like every other hiking trail/tourist spot on Oahu, do NOT leave valuables in your car or you'll risk getting your windows smashed to bits.  I've personally seen way too much broken glass in this area!
  • If you take a leisurely pace, this trail will probably take you a couple of hours or so if you don't spend too much time at the albatross sanctuary.
  • I'd recommend doing this hike in the morning to avoid the brunt of the sun since the trail has very little vegetation cover (it's literally just walking along the coast).  In the afternoon the sun comes over the mountains and can get pretty blazing, especially if you're not wearing hats/proper clothing/sunscreen.
  • Don't forget to bring water!
  • If you do go all the way to the end of the trail to the albatross sanctuary, please keep in mind that dogs are not allowed here.  They technically aren't allowed along the whole trail, but in particular the gate and beyond into the sanctuary since albatross are considered endangered.

One of my favorite "hikes" so far (I say it in quotations because it's not exactly a hike, but more of a walk on a dirt road!) on Oahu has definitely been the Ka'ena Point Trail.  It's very easy, relatively quick, and has some amazing views along the way that are really just gorgeous.

Along the way you will have plenty of chances to see the surf pounding the side of Oahu into smithereens as well as a little bit of vegetation and wildlife here and there.  If you're lucky, you'll even get to see a rainbow in the valleys like we did one day!

And don't forget to keep your eyes peeled on the tide pools below as you walk along the road -- you might get lucky and see something as awesome as this:

Can you see them?  There are two Hawaiian monk seals sunning themselves on the rocks!  Here's a closer view:

The monk seal was on our "big three" list of animals to see while here on island (the other two being humpback whales and green sea turtles, or honu!) so we were beyond excited to catch a glimpse of them!  I've also heard that during the winter months, this trail is a great place to spot whales playing off in the distance.  I'll definitely be going to check them out here this season!

While some people come here just to look off the cliffs into the Pacific Ocean beyond (and maybe see a seal or two), the main goal for this hike is to get to the albatross sanctuary at the northwestern most tip of Oahu itself.  It doesn't take too terribly long to reach it, and it is absolutely worth the walk!

Albatross are here in good number, and you'll see plenty flying around or walking on the ground near their nests.    You may be familiar with this particular seabird already; it's mentioned in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and is considered a good omen:

"...a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

The two types of albatross that live in Hawaii are considered rare and endangered, so please stay on the path and do not disturb the nests or the birds themselves (and definitely do not bring your dog here since they aren't allowed).

Albatross nests -- they're in the ground because of how windy it is on this exposed corner of Oahu and any traditional nest would literally be gone with the wind.
 If you keep walking through the sanctuary and turn around, you will see that you are on the most northwestern point of Oahu.

On your left, you will see a good portion of the North Shore, in particular Mokuleia, and on your right, you will see the trail on which you got here, which is on the leeward side of the island.

As you can also see in the picture above, the hard rock and little bits of vegetation give way to sand within the sanctuary, and continues until you reach this beach made of bleached coral...

...and then the tide pools and Pacific ocean beyond.

This area is actually a breeding ground for the Hawaiian monk seals that we saw earlier, and I'm told you can often find them here sunning, although we didn't on this day.  If you do see them, please don't disturb them either and remain respectful!  You can definitely go down and explore the tide pools as long as you aren't disturbing the peace though.  They're beautiful, and many of them should be safe for swimming if you opted to bring along your bathing suits.

I love checking out the pools and all the little fish and creatures that make their homes here.  Plus they're really just stunning to look at and admire.

If you're planning on visiting Oahu, I definitely recommend doing this hike for two reasons.  One -- it's a good activity to do as a way to see pretty much all of the leeward side of the island on your drive up there (from what I understand tourists rarely see this side other than the resorts at Ko'Olina, which is a shame); two -- you get to say that you hiked to and stood on one of the corners of Oahu, and maybe even spotted some awesome wildlife along the way!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Six for Saturday

1.  I am BEYOND ecstatic that we were able to smuggle you back home to Alabama =)

2.  I love how thoughtful you are in how you treat me.

3.  Thanks for the multiple Hobby Lobby runs so far ;)  You know I've been deprived, haha.

4.  Can I just say snuggling with you in this cooler weather is amazing?!  'Cause it is.

5.  You're the cutest.

6.  I love that no matter where we are in the future, home will always be wherever we are together.

ily <3

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Nu'uanu Pali Outlook

The Need to Knows:
  • The Nu'uanu Pali Lookout is located off of Pali Highway in between Honolulu and Kailua; it isn't difficult to find at all, just look for the signs pointing to it off of Pali Highway.  Check out the Google Maps link for more info:

View Larger Map
  • It is open from 9AM to 4PM daily
  • Parking is free for kama'aina; otherwise you're stuck paying $3 and dealing with the ridiculously complicated parking ticket machine that is super picky on what kind of money it takes.  I think the day we went it was only accepting change even though technically it could take bills and credit cards -- definitely kind of frustrating.  The parking lot is also very tiny, so you may have to circle a few times for a spot depending on what time you get there.
  • Do NOT leave valuables in your car; break-ins are unfortunately very common in this area, and chances are you will see shattered glass in the parking lot itself.  Just don't let it deter you; as long as you practice caution and common sense and take your valuables with you, you should be fine.
  • Be prepared for wind, wind, and more wind!
  • There is a trail located here at the lower end of the lookout that follows along the Old Pali Highway.
  • There are no facilities here (restrooms, etc.) but you probably won't stay for too long regardless, unless you do the trail.

The Nu'uanu Pali Outlook is a fantastic place to get one spectacular view of the windward coast of Oahu.  On a clear day, you are able to see all the way from Chinaman's Hat past Marine Corps Base Hawaii and beyond.  It is a fabulous way to take in much of the eastern side of the island and is a great spot for photo opportunities.

The Pali Lookout is the site of a great battle between King Kamehameha I and defenders of Oahu during the island's conquering.  Wikipedia describes the battle in the following excerpt:

The Nuʻuanu Pali was the site of the Battle of Nuʻuanu, one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oʻahu, bringing it under his rule. In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaiʻi with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokaʻi, he moved on to Oʻahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nuʻuanu Valley, where the defenders of Oʻahu, led by Kalanikūpule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. More than 400 of Kalanikūpule's soldiers were driven off the edge of the cliff to their deaths 1,000 feet below., Nu'uanu Pali

View towards Marine Corps Base Hawaii
View towards Kailua
The Pali Lookout was also where a hang gliding record was set (number of hours in the air), if I'm not mistaken, which makes sense considering how ridiculously strong the wind gusts are here!  It isn't exactly chilly, but if you're just coming from the beach, it may be a good idea to at least wear a jacket/long sleeve shirt.
The H-1 along the base of the Ko'olau Mountain Range
Chinaman's Hat and Kaneohe Bay (the green spots in the water are the reefs!)
If you plan to take the trail here along the Old Pali Highway, I'd probably take along bug spray just like on many of Oahu's other hikes since you'll be in a forested area.  I'm not sure exactly how long the trail is (when we go, I'll be sure to give this section an update) but I do at least know that it is kid-friendly.  Hopefully we'll get around to hiking it soon!

If you are just going to take in the views at the lookout, you really only need to spend a few minutes here -- most likely not more than 20 total (not including parking time).  Use it as a stopover if you're coming from Honolulu and heading to the windward side of the island.  It's definitely worth it, even with the potential parking hazards!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ornament Swap 2012

This year I've decided to participate in an ornament swap this Christmas!  Laura from Luckiest in Love's is hosting her third annual ornament swap, and she's also teaming up with a few cohosts, including Whitney of Mr. & Me, Stephanie of Modern Vintage Wife, and Jessica of Jessica Lynn Writes (the blogger from whom I heard about this swap!).  I am very excited -- I haven't participated in this swap before, but it sounds like a lot of fun!

The sign ups will remain open until Saturday, November 17th, and the ornaments themselves will need to be shipped on or before Monday, December 3rd to give people plenty of time to receive and admire them.

If you'd like more information or want to know how to sign up, click here to head on over to Jessica's blog and check out her Ornament Swap post!  Here's to a Mele Kalikimaka for everyone this year!  =)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five for Friday

1.  I'm excited to get one last lazy weekend with you for awhile!

2.  I hope the puppies behave for you while I'm gone, haha.

3.  I'm glad we're "enhancing" the care packages for the guys out at Christmas this year.

4.  I'm starting to get back into vacation planning mode and am ridiculously excited about it.  Other islands, 2013 is your year =)

5.  Thank you for so proudly serving our country for over NINE years now.  You're amazing!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Five for Friday

1.  I'm so proud of you for getting your warfare pin!!!!!  You are AWESOME!  Congratulations!!

2.  I'm so thankful to have you around the house again to help me do stuff, haha.

3.  Man, it is going to suck flying home without you.  And being there without you.  =(

4.  I love it when we watch our shows together!

5.  I hope you're getting excited about Christmas at least, even if we can't spend Thanksgiving together!

ily <3

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Photo Challenge 2012: Day 29 through Day 31

Day 29:  Hope

Gorgeous sunsets like this that just happen to show up the day your husband gets home from a deployment give me hope for my and Mr. L's future.  Also, iPhone, you are forgiven, because I love this picture.

Day 30:  Goal

I absolutely WILL have our Christmas stockings finished by December!  Last year I had the fabric...and didn't even do anything with it.  =(  This year will be different!  And as you can see, the green one (Liam's) is already made, so I'm 1/4th of the way done!

Day 31:  Self-Portrait

I found a really nice pin with photo editing instructions over on Pinterest, so I decided to put it to good use with this picture.  I really like it!


I'd like to thank Our Wired Lives for hosting yet another awesome October Photo Challenge!  It's been great seeing everyone's pictures, and I can't wait until we do it again next year!