Saturday, July 11, 2009

Last full day at Maui - sniff, sniff......





























We declared today another beach day and just hung out at the beach across from our condo. After all this running around, we needed to just sit and stare at the ocean. haha Dennis did take his snorkeling gear and checked out the fish for about 15 minutes and then he sat in his chair with a towel over himself, like a little tent. After he got sunburned yesterday, he was afraid of any additional exposure! I alternated between sitting in the sun, swimming in the ocean, and reading my paperback. Only my back was a little sunburned so I guess I am immune! There was what looked to be a local cub scout troop that showed up and set up right beside us so we had plenty of entertainment. The guys in charge thought it would be a good idea to let some of them paddle these big, plastic ,sit on top kayaks only these kids had no experience! They were just going around in circles with waves knocking them over, hitting the rocks, and floating out to sea! Finally, a life guard showed up and said they should have an experienced adult in the boat with them. They were having a lot of trouble with people getting blown out to sea! So then they just gave them a bunch of those stryofoam noodles and they started hitting each other with them and then they went and dug in the sand the rest of the time! Most entertaining! haha After that, we went to the Mexican Cafe down the street for lunch. I had a chicken burrito the size of a football. Then we on the search for a T-shirt for Dennis. We came back to the condo and Dennis played on the laptop while I read some more. Dennis then looked up some geocaches nearby and I agreed to go as long as I didn't have to hike 20 miles up some hill. My knee has yet to let me forget what I did to it on Fuji! I have had to go easy on it this whole time but if that's the worst I got from it, I'm lucky! We found two caches and the wind was crazy today! I was having nightmare flashbacks of Fuji! We decided to head to Denny's this evening for dinner and it was yummy! We had to walk about 5 blocks and on the way back, there was an ambulance, cops, and a fire truck at a park near us. We stopped and rubber-necked like good West Virginian's but never did figure out what was up. They were all shining flashlights in the trees looking at something for about 15 minutes then they just up and left. I guess the person was dead and there was nothing they could do for him so they took off! Too much excitement for us! So tomorrow, we are here until 7:00 at the latest and it's a night flight back home. Yawn! Sure would be nice if they could upgrade us again but that's soooo not likely! Darn!

Friday, July 10, 2009
















After snorkeling, we rushed back to the condo and got ready to head to Lahaina for the luau. We'd never done a luau and since the "The Old Lahaina Luau" is supposed to be the best in Hawaii, we had to see it! We sat right in front of the stage on the traditional mat seating with the short tables and pillows to sit on. They had regualar tables and seating behind us and there were a TON of people there too. It was buffet style and they dismissed us by sections so there wouldn't be a giant stampede to the buffet table! Dennis I tried a little bit of everything there and it was delicious! They even showed us how they dug up the steamed pig in the pit wrapped in leaves. I thought it would be really disgusting but when they unwrapped it, it was just cooked meat falling off of bones. You could see the skull though which was rather gnarly. I tried to ignore that. Don't like my dinner grinning at me.......... We had chicken, pork, steak, salad, mahimahi, tuna, Hawaiian sweet potato, banana bread, rice, a ton of food. And, oh yeah, octopus. Our server was listing everything on the buffet and I said ," Oh great! I was so hoping there would be octopus!!" (Snarky of me) So I have to include a picture of me eating that tasty tidbit! They had all the traditional hula dances which were awsome and made me feel like I should be able to do it when we left. But no, I can't shake it like that! The metal plate in my hip would get bent beyond repair! haha So check out my previous blog on our snorkeling adventure this morning! This is what I would call a "do-over day". One you'd like to relive many times....

Woweee Maui!





























What a great island Maui is!! We decided to go do some snorkeling this afternoon at Papa' Anui and saw sooo many beautiful fish plus several green sea turtles! They were huge turtles that just swam right beside us like no big deal. I think they were as curious about us as we were of them. I could have watched them all day if not for the cold water currents that would go by every now and then. Dennis got a really nice sunburn on his back, of course, even after I warned him he needed sunscreen! I didn't get it too bad. Dennis says I am immune after all these years.....haha I am including some pics of the neat fish and turtles we saw.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Me Zipping!

video

This is a short video that Dennis got of me riding down the lower line. It's kinda' hard to use the camera when your are told to watch the guy on the deck down below! He tells you when to slow down and when to put your hands on the bar to prepare to stop! Your rail "trolley" at the top slams into the braking mechanism at the bottom and you have to be ready!

This video uses windows media player to see it. See my previous blog for the rest of the story!

Graet day in Maui!
















We had a great time visiting Lahaina today and doing our zip line adventure! We traveled 250' in the air over a bamboo gorge at 60 mph+ -Wheeeeee! It was us and a family of 6 from California and Larry, our guide and instructor. I only wished that the zip lines could have been longer. We had signed up for the upper mountain loop but they couldn't do it because of high winds. (What is it with us and the high winds on vacation this time??!)But it was still a blast and the Kapalua Resort was beautiful. We actually did the 18 hole baby golf course that was complimentary with the tour. (I beat Dennis, by the way...haha) After that, we had lunch/dinner at Mama's Ribs 'n Rotisserie (no quail was on the menu -yay) at the Napili Plaza. From there, we drove the hour long drive back to the condo and headed to the beach park across the street. The ocean sunsets are beautiful and I have a bunch of pictures of that! Dennis tried snorkeling and actually saw a bunch of big blue tangs the size of dinner plates. I didn't want to go in the water without the sun high in the sky to keep me warm. Tomorrow we will do some snorkeling and then take in the Old Lahaina Luau. Yummy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What happened to my pic's??







What happened to my pictures?! Must have been some issues at the Kansai
Airport, I guess. It has been a loooong day! But I guess our climbing Fuji and visiting all those temples and shrines and bowing must have made Buddha happy because out of a 747 full of people, we were granted a magical upgrade! First class from Kansai to Honolulu! That was going to be a really long seven hours too because there were about 15 kids/toddlers all running around the waiting area! We actually had seats that fully reclined, fluffy feather pillows, blankets, champagne, food, drinks, slippers, etc. etc. It was so totally awesome and I have NO idea how they chose us. Maybe they said, "Look at the poor, tired Americans. They look like they could use an upgrade." God bless 'em!



But then, of course, our next flight from Honolulu to Maui wasn't late enough and we missed it. They stuck us on another flight a half hour later for an additional 60$ of course! It's really something how we can travel by plane, train, and automobile all over Japan without a hitch, then get back to good ol' US of A and it hits the fan. Security was crazy here too. I kept setting off the alarm and had to take off my earrings, belt, watch, until I finally offered to just take off my pants! Then I said "I have titanium in my legs!" He looked relieved to have found the offending metal at last and let me through! I said their detector must be really sensitive and he said a big yes on that one!!! Geeesh..... Japan was so easy! So our condo here is beautiful. Lots of traffic though- yuck. We are about a half a block off the ocean and have an excellent view from our rental. We are just resting now and plan to veg out this evening after such a crazy past 24 hours! Mahalo!

SOME PICS FROM KANSAI!

Since I'm bored waiting, here is a second addition to my previous blog! Some photos Dennis and I snapped at the airport!

On our way to Maui! woo hoo

  • We have spent a lot of time at the Kansai Airport today! The nice man at Granvia told us it would cost an extra $150 to stay until 3:00pm so we opted to just leave there at 12:15 this afternoon. Our flight doesn't leave until 10:30pm! So we have spent time eating, shopping, eating, talking to some NC Navy guys, and eating some more! haha I did play my Nintendo some too and of course, this little computer has gotten a real workout. Hopefully, we will be able to get some sleep on the flight over because Dennis has to drive the rental car in Hawaii when we arrive. No falling asleep at the wheel, Dennis!!! It's a cool Mustang convertible which should be nice. It's funny, but we didn't really have much trouble with jet lag this time. Unlike, Australia where we wanted to sleep all afternoon. I guess we got enough sleep on the plane over it helped with that. The sun in Japan rises at about 4:30 am and sets at 7:30- ish in the evening. I'm glad we will gain our day back that we lost on our way here. Some final thoughts on some odd things I noticed in Japan:
  • They don't know what great food they are missing out on in the US, like sugar and fat!!! haha That's why they are all so skinny
  • Weight lifting must be taboo - I could take half the male population one handed
  • No one owns a dryer. All their clothes hang out on the line of the apartment balcony
  • The women get dressed with their eyes closed or in the dark. They mix patterns and fabrics with reckless abandon
  • The younger female crowd like to dress like prostitutes and wear shirts with English words on them. I don't really think they know what it says unless that one girl really was "A Nasty Girl". Also, you must wear 3 inch heels + or you are a total loser.....The more make up the better too....
  • Japanese have 3 hair colors: black, gray, and rust........if they are blonde, it's a wig...
  • There is only one style of toilet tissue dispenser. I don't know why. It just is.
  • Kids here ride the public transportation system. There are no school buses.
  • They don't wear sunglasses. They are already squinting, I suppose.

So, we had a wonderful time in Japan. The people of Japan made it very special with their patience and kind demeanor. We never heard anyone raise their voice, anywhere. They recycle everything. They are hard working. They want to make their visitors feel special. And we did!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Last day in Kyoto!
























































Today, we got an early start with our Kyoto Day Tour! We met our guide at 8:30 am and it lasted until almost 6 o'clock this evening. We got to see several temples and shrines (the first is for Buddhist and the second is for the Shinto religion). Our guide was an English speaking Japanese lady named Miko and she was great. She talked non-stop and kept all 30 of us from getting lost! The tours through the places went at a pretty fast clip because we had 7 places to visit. We hung out with a mother and son from Atlanta and it was nice to have some English speaking friends from back home to share it with. They are staying here at the Granvia too and we just saw them again! I really loved the Golden Pavillion and yes, it is covered in 22K gold leaf. So many people were there to see it. Also saw the palace of the Emperor, and the hall of the Kanon figures. (there were 1000 carved figures to protect the people of Japan!) Several places did not allow photography inside, of course, they want to sell you the photos, I'm sure! We had lunch at this place that was just floor after floor of Japanese crafts. Lots of neat stuff there and I bought a few things, of course. The lunch there was yummy too! We watched an approaching storm at our last temple visit and it rained like crazy. We were lucky to have had a dry day considering it was raining when we got up this morning too! I guess we're off to Hawaii tomorrow night. Our flight doesn't leave until 10:00 pm so were are going to try to leave our bags here for awhile . Otherwise, we would have to drag our luggage around Kyoto for hours and that would be totally weird! haha So we'll see how that goes. I am sure it will be a long day and I will be falling asleep in the airport, waiting to leave! Got to try green tea ice cream and finally, the Japanese got something right!!! It was great! We had pizza for dinner a bit ago and it was like soup on a really thin crust. Paper thin. Oh, well, they tried.........If there is some enterprising soul out there, open a Gino's here and you'll be rich!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What a day! Hiking around Kyoto again!
























































Sooo, today proved to be a very interesting one! We decided to take in another couple of temple tours on the other side of Kyoto in the mountain area. We got on the train to get there and it just kept on goin! I assured Dennis it was OK, there's always another train! It ended up going about 4 stops past where we needed to get off! There is a difference, turns out, between the local and express trains! We figured out where we needed to go and got on the correct train and made our way back to Nara. The temple there is the one you always see with all the orange and black tori gates!!! Like a bazillion of the things and I think we walked under all of them. Dennis was looking for a geocache and we went off on some long trail through a bamboo forest with mosquitoes eating us alive. What fun! I was not a happy camper. So we turned around and back tracked about a mile and figured out which path we needed to take - all UPHILL under those toris! My legs still have not recovered from Fuji and my knee hurt but we found the cache and Dennis was satisfied. We made our way back - 3 HOURS later! By then we were tired and hungry and we passed a bunch of teeny shops. One had Bar-B-Q out front with some old Japanese lady cooking. It looked tasty enough and we saw the sign that read "BBQ Quail". I told Dennis "I eat birds. I eat turkey and chicken, OK" So she motioned us in and we were handed a menu in English and I figured she forgot about the quail. We got a big bowl of rice, chicken , and egg with chopsticks for 8$ a bowl. Then here she came with the quail-a-bobs! Dennis took a bite of one of the pieces and made a face. "Bones!". he said. I tried it and about gagged.... It was like eating salmon with all those little bones in it. "No way am I eating this stuff," I said and I started looking for a plant or a hungry cat. What was even worse is it was 8$ more each and when I got back out front for a closer look, the heads were still attached!!! Yikes! I told Dennis there were beaks in there! (Dennis said he would probably cough up an owl pellet later tonight as a result.) Anyway, we walked another 2 miles to another neighboring temple, Tofukuji, and we walked around that one some more. It was pretty with all its Zen gardens and nice bridges so that was fun. We saw some young girls taking pictures of each other and they would make the peace sign and smile. I have seen that alot so I asked "are you making a peace sign??" and she giggled and said, "That make us look cute!" I said, "I'll have to remember to do that...alot." hahaha Weird.
Then we were done there and tried to find the train station to get back. The streets are like alleys. Really small and cramped so we missed that! Ended up walking alllll the way back to the Granvia. I felt like I had hiked Fuji all over again!!! Anyway , it was fun and we were so tired we got punchy. At the Zen garden where they rake all the gravel in circles and swirls, I told Dennis we should jump the railing and run through it! I could drag my heel through it and spell "Lee Ann (heart) Dennis" really big. We payed 16 bucks and didn't even get to see a Budda! We've laughed a lot today. I think we are losing our minds.......