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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Six for Saturday

1.  I love when you compliment me!

2.  I also love when I get extra time with you.

3.  I hope you enjoyed your Kiawe pizza I brought you!

4.  I love when you wrap me up in one of your awesome hugs.

5.  I hope you start feeling better soon.  I hate seeing you in pain!

6.  I love it when you share hilarious stories with me.  Let's face it, the one you told me today was spot on ;)

ily <3

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm so glad we took care of the porch.  It looks awesome now!!

2.  I'm sorry we were so rushed on Monday.  I'll make it up to you later!

3.  I hope you enjoy your giant book set you bought.  Happy early birthday, haha ;)

4.  I really hope we can work something out for our trip in June.  I'll be keeping an eye out!

5.  I love our conversation we had at lunch the other day.  You are truly my best friend and I love you so much!

ily <3

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

The Need to Knows:
  • The Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is located at 45-680 Luluku Road, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744.  Check out the Google Maps location below:
  • Hours are from 9 AM to 4 PM, and admission to the garden is completely free, including parking.
  • Restrooms are located at the Visitor's Center near the garden's entrance and possibly elsewhere (I think close to the lake), but I'll have to double check.
  • I would highly recommend sunscreen and bug spray (the mosquitoes can be fierce!).
  • You can spend as much or as little time as you'd like here, it just depends on how much you're willing to explore.  Our visit probably lasted between 1 and 2 hours.
  • Camping is permitted and free, just be sure to notify the Visitor's Center so they can set you up with the appropriate pass for your car.
  • Alcohol is not permitted in the park, and neither are pets.
  • Catch and release fishing is permitted on (I think) weekends from 10AM to 2PM, but I'll double check that as well.
  • Free guided nature hikes are available on Saturdays at 10AM and on Sundays at 1PM -- call (808) 233-7323 to register.
  • If you'd like any more information, please check out their website here or contact the Honolulu Botanical Gardens division of the Department of Parks and Recreation at either or (808) 522-7060.

On the road looking back towards Kaneohe Bay
The Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is a lovely and huge botanical garden located on the windward side of Oahu in Kaneohe, originally built to provide flood protection for Kaneohe.  It's nestled at the foot of the gorgeous Ko'olau Mountain range and has sections representing plants from all over the world -- Philippines, Hawaii, Africa, Sri Lanka and India, Polynesia, Melanesia, Malaysia, and Tropical America.  The different sections are actually quite large, so I recommend driving to each one you'd like to explore.  Otherwise you're in for a pretty long walk!

Visitor's Center

The visitor's center (which is also a fabulous place to take some pictures of your group!) offers water fountains, restrooms, and some information on the different areas of the park to help get you started.  On this day we took a stroll around the visitor's center and to the lake to check out what the grounds had to offer.

Beautiful statue we saw at the Visitor's Center

The lake on the property where you can do catch and release fishing on the weekends

While you're walking around the grounds, be prepared for LOTS of different kinds of flowers and trees along with those amazing views of the Ko'olaus to attract your attention.  Here's a sampling (yes, this is seriously just a portion!) of what we saw below:

There's such an enormous amount of gorgeous nature to keep yourself occupied, and if that's your kind of thing you will be more than satisfied!  And then, of course, there are the ever-present Ko'olaus residing over it all.  The Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden arguably has some of the best views of the beautiful cliffs!

After visiting the lake, we hopped in the car and took a little drive down the road to see some of the other parts of the park.  We didn't have enough time to get out and explore each area though, so hopefully we will do more of that later.  There are definitely plenty of places to spread out and get some privacy though, which is awesome.

We had a great time exploring the little portion of the garden that we got to see, and hopefully we'll go back a few more times before we say goodbye to Oahu especially since the atmosphere was so relaxing.

Are you a fan of botanical gardens?  Do you have a favorite?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Six for Saturday

1. Meeeow, meow meow meooow. =)

2. Thank you for taking care of last minute things with me!

3. I really love how adorable your smile is.

4. Thank you for always making me laugh.

5. I hope we are able to relax this weekend!

6. I'm looking forward to this summer SO much!!

ily <3

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Six for Saturday

Sorry this is going up late!  I still <3 you ;)

1.  I'm sorry it's been such a crappy week, both for you and for me at night.  It'll get better, I promise!

2.  Hopefully you enjoyed our activities yesterday =)  And we got you some gumbo, yay!

3.  You're a good doctor, haha.

4.  You're also a great dad to our pups -- thanks for stepping in to take care of them when you do!

5.  Thank you for mowing the grass!

6.  I love exploring this island with you.

ily <3

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: Hiking Diamond Head

The Need to Knows:
  • Diamond Head State Monument is located off Diamond Head Road in Honolulu, specifically here:
  • It costs $5 per car to park in the lot and $1 if you walk in.  Some people prefer to park outside of the crater (or get dropped off by The Bus) and walk to the trail head, although I'm not sure what the parking situation is like outside.
  • The park is open from 6 AM to 6 PM, and the last hikers are let in at 4:30 PM to be able to get up, down, and out in time for closing.  They start turning hikers away after that time and the gate is locked by 6 PM.
  • The trail is very clearly carved out for you (and if you go later in the day, just follow the herd of people!) but it can be uneven and rocky.  Wear proper footwear!     
  • It isn't stroller friendly (due to uneven terrain and stairs) and it isn't dog friendly either.
  • There isn't shade on this trail, so I highly recommend sunscreen, a hat, and a bottle of water.
  • The trail is just shy of a mile each way.  We personally budget about 1-2 hours to spend climbing, admiring the view at the top, and making our way back down.
  • Trash cans are around, but there aren't restrooms.  There are normally food trucks near the parking lot waiting for you to finish the hike and satiate your hunger and thirst though!

If you're planning on visiting Oahu, one of the things that's probably already at the top of your to-do list is to climb the famous Diamond Head crater.  I know it was at the top of my list when Mr. L and I first arrived here!

Diamond Head, also known by it's Hawaiian name, Le'ahi, is a 150,000 year old volcanic tuff cone and arguably the most famous landmark in all of Hawaii.  People all over the world recognize its iconic shape, especially when it's the backdrop for nearly every picture ever of Waikiki Beach.  Can you blame people, though?  It's pretty beautiful!

Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head via t.yukishita on Flickr
After you park your car or walk past the parking lot, you start off at the beginning of the trail with not much of a view, but that soon changes as you ascend upwards and eventually make it to the first lookout.

Trail beginning
Dirt trail before it becomes a rocky pathway
View from first lookout
Pillboxes on Diamond Head
Final destination!
 After leaving the first lookout and heading onwards for a bit, you'll eventually make it to a decision point -- a crossroads, if you will.  You can either choose to go around a longer path with a gradual incline and some stairs to make it to the top, or you can climb these bad boys instead:

We opted for the stairs, and let me tell you, I was glad to have them behind me when we reached the top!

The good news was that we were almost there!  We made our way through the tunnel and up the windy staircase to be greeted with these stunning views:

The crater in the foreground and Koko Head way in the back
Love the lighthouse!

View of downtown Honolulu

View of Waikiki -- the pink building is the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel
I love how the houses lining up the sides of the mountains look.  So pretty!

We were able to see for quite a ways all around us.  It was so awesome to be able to see from Koko Head to the lochs at Pearl Harbor!

The view of the reefs directly in front of us were stunning as well.  Makes you wonder how many millions those houses are worth!  (Answer: WAY too many, at least for my bank account, haha).

We also got to see a ton of boat action out in the ocean.  If you look at the picture below, you can see the famous Atlantis submarine going out for a spin:

And then if you look reeeeeally closely in this photo, you can see a REAL submarine going out for a spin =)

I can definitely see the appeal this hike holds for so many visitors that come to this beautiful island.  It's relatively short with a great payoff in terms of the view, but it can get really crowded really quickly.  We did this hike maybe around 8 or 9 in the morning and it already felt like there were too many people up at the top.  Jostling around and bumping into people just to get pictures isn't fun!  My advice is to absolutely go early, like as soon as it opens early.

We did it!  Ignore the red face, haha.
On this day, we also took a little side trip to see the lighthouse we'd seen from the top -- Diamond Head Lighthouse, which is located just south of the monument at 3399 Diamond Head Rd.  It's gated, so you can't actually access the lighthouse itself, but it sure makes for some beautiful pictures!

We probably will pass on doing this particular hike again on our own time since we have so much left to see, but we'll definitely do it whenever friends and family come into town to visit us.  After all, it is a "must-do" on Oahu, and we couldn't let them miss it, now could we?!

What are some "must-sees" for your neck of the woods?