Friday, September 19, 2014

Odile, You Tease

Remember the great storm of 2014? Remember how Hurricane Odile was heading straight for Tucson? She was going to clobber us with five to seven inches of rain. People all over town panicked. The City of Tucson distributed over 10,000 sandbags and people queued for hours to get their hands on the them. My husband's company sent him home early to beat the storm. We charged our electronics and gathered flashlights in case we lost power. We bottled water in case we lost water. We moved everything not nailed down out of our front and back yards.

And you know what happened?

Tucson Odile

Nothing. Every weatherman in town had to eat their hat.

Some pretty clouds that hid the mountains and that was it.

Odile Tucson

Odile missed Tucson completely. Other than some sprinkles of rain in the morning, we didn't get any rain. This may seem like a good thing, but in a desert, we needed the rain. Most of the city was excited for the storm.

It was fun watching all the news programs the next morning. They danced around, trying to avoid admitting they were wrong about the storm. The panic was for nothing.

Although, they're already talking about Hurricane Polo, so they may not have learned anything from this... 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Can Always Go Downtown

Usual weekends for us are fairly slow. We like to stick around the house, or at least our side of town. Since this past weekend was an anomaly for our system, it deserves documentation.

Friday started out fairly typical. I ran to the grocery store after work and bought the supplies to make up a double sized batch of Sriracha mac and cheese. We both have lunches for the week now. Round that out with an Amazon Prime showing of 'Beverly Hills Cop', which neither of us had seen before, and it was a nice, average Friday night.

After not being able to sleep, I leaned into it and got up early for a run. Have I mentioned before that I'm training for a run in the beginning of October? It's a five miler and I'm nowhere near that distance right now. My run Saturday morning was 3.1 miles total, but I did have two walking breaks. If I could do five miles with some walking breaks in under an hour, I'd be pretty happy.

Most of my afternoon was wasted lying in bed, finishing my book, Timeline by Michael Crichton. There are definitely some major plot holes, but I'd read just about anything from the man who brought me Jurassic Park.

Then we began our long, busy night. My sister was in a play! A play guys! A friend of hers wrote it and cast her. She had been rehearsing for weeks so we stopped and picked up some hydrangeas as a present when we drove all the way to downtown to see her perform. 

Before the play, we grabbed some dinner at a new place called Diablo Burger. I can't say I found their burgers particularly spicy, but the veggie burger was yummy, the seasoning on the fries was tasty, and I love a place with good condiments already on the table. {Sidenote: the place that we go to for Pub trivia never has any condiments on the tables, even ketchup. When you ask for it, they bring a little tub of it and it's never enough. It's just the worst.)

We timed it almost perfectly, just enough time to inhale some burgers before walking over to the play venue. I'd post some pictures of the play but 1) they all came out blurry and 2) my sister would probably kill me. She was great, though. So proud.

Instead of actual play pictures, how about one of the flyer for the festival?

After the play, my sister and all of her friends and family went out for drinks at the bar across from the venue. I never go to bars so I was excited to try something new. Except they wouldn't let me in. Womp womp. Something about a new law when it comes to driver's licenses. Realized afterward that I had my passport on me so I could have gotten in, but I was so embarrassed that that bar is now dead to me. DEAD TO ME!

Instead, we went to Hub Ice Creamery and I got my sorbet on. I'd never been there before, but it was quite good. We took our tiny cups of delicious, delicious ice cream and wandered around the INSANELY busy downtown. Downtown Tucson, which honestly has always kind of been a joke, is less of a joke now guys. There's actually stuff to do and see. I'm quite proud of my town for finally getting it together after all of these years.

And it had also been forever since I'd just hung out with people. Just strolled and explored and chit-chatted. And of course, took some selfies.

Shaking it up once in a while apparently isn't a bad thing. Who knew?

Monday, September 15, 2014


Over the last couple of months, blogging really hasn't been a priority for me. I've been telling myself that I have been neglecting this space because my life has gotten busy, but that's really not true. Yes, I have been busy, but definitely not so much that I can't take 20 minutes and an Instagram picture and form some sort of post.

Let's be real, this blog not exactly about quality for me. It's about just getting it out. Whether it's a journal entry as to what I've been doing or a crazy opinion rattling around in my brain or even a cat picture, I need to express myself.

I'm going to stop waiting to make progress on house projects and post about them as they lay because honestly, I think most people hate those people who can do a whole living room redo in just one weekend. Most of us (especially Sam and Rusty) can't even manage to put together a piece of Ikea furniture in that amount of time.

Anyway, I'll be here more. Hopefully I'll push my comfort zone a bit, even if it's just to have something to write about. I'm bringing back 'Fan of Fridays' and admitting to some loves that are incredibly ridiculous and uncool. I'm going to try some different styles of posts. Knock on wood, I'm even going to try making some videos. If anything, it'll be something to see, like a train wreck perhaps.

And I am totally open to suggestions. If you have anything you'd like to see more, let me know below. I can only run on my own ideas for so long.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calgary: the Tucson of the North

I mentioned it in my last post, but I did some more traveling!

One of the best perks of my job is the great places it sends me. This time? Calgary, Alberta Canada!

It was yet another whirlwind trip with flying Day 1, working Day 2, cushion Day 3, and flying back Day 4. Fortunately, the work went smoothly so Day 3 was for exploring.

My coworker and I stayed at the Delta Bow Valley in downtown Calgary. The view from my 21st floor hotel room was amazing. The blur of light at the bottom of the picture was a fire truck. My room was directly above a very active fire house. I probably wouldn't recommend staying here if you aren't an incredibly deep sleeper.

It is quite amazing how clean and artistic downtown Calgary is. I feel like it's what Tucson wishes it could be. Tall, beautiful buildings. Clean, polite pedestrians. Actual things to do and see. And lots of weird, large-scale art.

With our bonus day, we hopped in the rental car and drove an hour and a half west to Banff. I was really excited to visit Banff after attending their traveling film festival the last couple of years.

I didn't really knot what to expect, though. Is it a town? Is it a national park? Is it a tourist site? It's kind of all of them. We arrived in the town of Banff, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the visitors' center to figure out where to head. Such a quaint town, stuffed to the brim with tourists.

Our first stop was to head to the base of Sulfur Mountain to catch a gondola ride to the top. 

The views from the top were amazing. It was almost hard to believe it's real. Mind boggling.

Off in the distance, you can see Lake Minnewanka. After heading down the mountain, we crossed the town of Banff to the lake and signed up for a boat cruise tour. I had just enough time to get an ice cream cone beforehand and spill it all over myself. It was worth it, though. Delicious Rolo ice cream...


Before our flight left on Day 4, we had just enough time to view Calgary from 525 feet up. From the observation deck of the Calgary Tower. I can't say I like heights, but the glass floor was trippy in a fun way.

I can't say Calgary was one of those dream vacations on my bucket list, but it was a great place to visit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How I Survived the 30 Day Shred

You know what today is? It's Day 31. DAY 31! I officially don't have to work out today!

I survived Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred!

And in all honesty, by the end, it sucked.

Let's start at the beginning. After our vacation to Hawaii, I was feeling kind of gross. For five days, we ate our faces off without a care in the world because, hell, it was vacation. When we returned home, though, the pounds followed.

To kick start getting into shape, I woke up one morning and decided that it was time to do all 30 days of the 30 Day Shred. Ten days on each of the three levels of workouts. In a row with no days off.

The first ten days weren't that bad. Yes, there were times when it was hard to fit in a workout, but I got through. I stuck with it and I started to see progress. By Day 4, I was able to do more push-ups. Granted, still on my knees, but more of them. My stomach and arms felt firmer. My clothes fit the same and the scale didn't change, but I felt better.

Of course, this was only because I kind of liked Level 1. None of the exercises made me want to fly to Los Angeles with the sole intent of slapping Jillian Michaels.

Level 2 was different. I hate Level 2. About 40% of Level 2 is in plank pose. I hate plank pose. But, I was still so motivated from the first ten days that I pressed on. By Day 15, I could stay in plank pose a little bit longer without wanting to cry. It was still not my type of workout, but I pushed through and counted down the days to Level 3.

In the past when I'd done Level 3, it was hard, but it was better than Level 2. There was only one exercise in plank pose so I didn't hate the exercises as they tried to kill me.

However, I had never attempted ten days straight of Level 3. These last nine or so days of Level 3 have been draining. Mentally, I checked out. I know that every night, I need to suck it up, turn on the DVD, and jump around my living room, but my heart wasn't in it. I have just been going through the motions. My level of commitment and effort just wasn't what it was in the beginning.

A big hit also came from the fact that I traveled for work on Days 26 through 29. This is commitment, guys. I took the DVD with me. I did Supermans on a gross hotel room floor. Just going through the motions, but the motions none the less.

On Day 30, I did do everything I could to try my hardest. It's easier when the end is at most minutes away. I was a Natalie, not an Anita, for the first time in Level 3. Embarrassingly, when I finished, I sobbed. My face was wet with tears and sweat, a conflict in temperature as the salty water ran down my face.

I survived. I survived the 30 days. Here's what I learned on my journey:
  • Committing to a workout regime for 30 days isn't as challenging as I thought it would be. Right about the time it starts to really wear on you mentally is when change starts to happen physically. You get better and it gets a little easier. It pushes you through the next couple of days and then your on to the next level.
  • Finding 20 minutes every day to work out can be incredibly easy. And incredibly challenging. Some days, I'd get home from work and my workout would be the first thing I would do. Some days, I'd do it at 9PM, take a shower, and go to bed. On weekends, I'd do it right before lunch. Those were the easy days. The days before I left for my work trip, I woke up an hour early to work out since I knew I'd be busy all night prepping for my trip. One Friday night, I had a party to attend and an emergency after the party to help with, so I didn't get the chance to work out until very late. I was so exhausted that I thought I was going to sob through my work out. Anyway, point is, if it is important, you stop making excuses and you just do it. 
  • It is possible to see results. I don't know if I'd ever committed to a routine enough before to actually see results, but I can do more push-ups now. I can do more squats and lunges. My arms are stronger. 
  • It is also possible to work out for 30 days straight and not see results. My clothes aren't falling off of me now. The scale didn't go down. If anything, I think it went up. Probably in a 'muscle weighs more than fat' way, but my body looks the same. Granted, I guess that's not why I chose this goal, but it would have been a nice side effect. {Sidenote: I wasn't following the diet program so that may help you see weight loss if that's your goal.}
  • The only way to stick with something as boring and tiring as a workout routine like the 30 Day Shred is to make it enjoyable. Buy workout clothes you actually like to wear. Teach your cat to box with you. Mute the workout and play your own soundtrack. You don't have to hear Jillian mention 'cake walk', and therefore 'cake', yet again. The less you like it, the harder it will be every single day to make it happen.
I am incredibly proud of myself. I was able to stick to a work out routine. That fact alone boggles my mind. It makes me kind of sad, actually. Imagine where I could be if I'd stuck to every routine. At least now I know I can stick with it for 30 days. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Project House Update: An Adequate Paint Job

This project could really be called "how to paint a room that's good enough for now". In case you don't recall, a few weeks ago, I had the the afternoon off work and was dangerously productive. The object of my aggression? The in-wall toilet paper caddy in our master bathroom.

We patched it and it was okay, but it wasn't good enough. We debated on leaving the patch off-color from the rest of the wall until we finally got around to properly redoing the bathroom, but I just couldn't take it anymore. There are too many in progress projects in this house and I got tired of looking at something unfinished. Even if we have to repaint it down the line when we officially redo the room down the line, it needed to be a uniform color to hide the patch. Since with us, it could be decades until we actually get to this room. 

Here's what it looked like 'Before'.

And the 'After'. We chose to paint it the same 'Polar Bear' white we use for all the ceilings in the house. It's warmer in real life than in these shots.

We debated buying a new ceiling light/fan, but we couldn't find any we liked. As a temporary solution, Dan spray painted the old one clean white to match the new paint. It's actually kind of pretty in its new color. He also painted the ceiling vent grate clean white as well.

I tried my best to paint up in the sky light, but it was incredibly challenging. The skylight opening is one foot by one foot and about 18 inches deep. I simply couldn't reach the top of the skylight with a paint brush to cut in the corners. For now, I'm not losing any sleep over it because you can only really see it if you are directly underneath it.

And the drywall patch could definitely still use some work. My mudding skills are usually pretty good (it's basically the only skill I have), but the patch was just too much area to mud to blend it into the wall. However, keeping with the theme of this post, it'll do for now. The light switches and outlets were replaced clean white, but the intercom is still blah beige. Once we have a way to relabel the buttons, that will get a coat of fresh paint, too.

Of course, Zack Morris went back up in his rightful spot above the toilet. I'm a classy broad.

This room will eventually need tile floors (you can't see from these pictures but it is, in fact, carpeted) and a new toilet. Probably a new pocket sliding door as well. At least it's less ugly until we get around to all those things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Sparring Buddy

Somehow, I've actually had motivation to stick to a work-out routine for the past two weeks. Today is Day 10 of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. Yay! Last day of Workout 1.

Part of the reason I've been able to stick with it has been my little workout buddy. Everytime I get to the cardio boxing portion of the DVD, I spar it out with the Lil' Red. It's a workout for both the doughy little redheads in the house.


Don't worry. I never actually hit Rusty. I tap his paw once or twice to get him started and he just wants to hit me back. It's a fun little game to him. I did have to cut his nails, though, so I would stop getting hurt.

I've tried it with Sam, but he gets confused, then offended, then scared.

Also, let's pretend I didn't post a video of me working out, all sweaty and gross, on the internet. Just focus on the adorable cat, people.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What to Pack for Hawaii

This is my last post on our Hawaii trip, I swear. (I wouldv'e posted it last week but blogger deleted it after it was 99% complete, thanks for that.)

So, without further ado, the definitive list of what you should pack for your Hawaiian trip.

Hawaii packing

Suit Case
  • Clothes and shoes. Unlike most travel, don't plan on wearing the same shirt in multiple outfits without washing it. Between the sweat, sunscreen, and the saltwater, it's nice to have some spare shirts to change into. Bring extra shirts.
  • Swimsuits. At least two in case one is still wet from the day before.  
  • Water-wicking workout clothes. For hikes and watersports
  • PJs.
  • Socks.
  • Bras.
  • Underwear
  • Beach bag
  • Sun Hat
  • Glasses and case
  • Waterproof disposable camera for in-the-water activies
  • Non-liquid toiletries.
    • Make-up remover wipes 
    • Hair brush, comb, two pony tail elastics, stretchy head band, and at least ten bobby pins.
    • Toothbrush.
    • Contact case.
    • Hair straightener
    • Deodorant.
    • Razor
    • Make-up brushes and solids, like concealer stick.
Big Purse 
  • Beach books
  • Cellphone charger
  • Camera battery charger
  • Earplugs.
  • Eye mask, since you will most likely have a red-eye on the flight home.
  • Neck pillow
  • Scarf
  • Paperwork for the plane tickets, hotel reservations, rental car, directions, addresses, phone numbers, etc.
  • Water bottle (empty)
  • Ipod
  • A couple of granola bars in case you end up missing a meal.
  • Smaller purse
    • Wallet
    • Phone
    • Camera
    • Sunglasses and case
    • IB Profen
  • Liquids bag
    • Toothpaste
    • Face Lotion
    • Sunscreen
    • Liquid make-up
    • Contact Solution
    • Extra set of contacts
Most importantly, just make sure to pack (or buy when you arrive) the following things for your beach bag:

  • Waterproof beach bag
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Towel
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Cover up, swimsuit, and flip flops (if you aren't already wearing them)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses 
  • Some ziploc bags (to hold sandy things)
Alright. That's it. I promise. (Until our next trip...)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tips and Advice for Staying at Turtle Bay Resort

Although we had a great time on our six day stay at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu (you can read my recaps here, here, and here), it could have been knocked out of the park if I'd know a bunch of little tips. So, I present to you, my giant list of tips for the perfect Hawaiian vacation!

The Resort
  • The beach situation at Turtle Bay still boggles my mind. There's the beach everyone goes to, as you can see in the image below on the left. It's where all the lounge chairs live and unfortunately where all the small children live, too. However, just a three minute walk down the shore and it’s gorgeous empty white sand beaches, as you can see in the image below on the right. If you can walk five minutes in either direction along the coast, do it. You don’t have to worry about a wave slamming someone into you or someone walking off with your beach bag. [Sidenote: Turtle bay also has a ‘private’ beach that they will take you to for a fee. It’s the same beach where they teach paddleboard. So if you want to find it, take the class early in your trip and drive your own car back later to cut out the fee. I could point it out on a map, but I don’t feel comfortable doing that.]

Left: Main Beach  Right: Our Beach
  • When you check in, the front desk will give you one towel card per person. At kiosks by the beach or by the pool, you exchange these cards for beach towels. You should never carry around a towel card. If you’ve finished with a towel, just exchange your dirty towel for a new one. It will save you from having to walk back to the kiosk next time you want to head to the water.
  • Don’t waste your money on fancy coffees at the café in the hotel lobby. Each room comes with a Keurig, some K cups, and paper cups. If you need your coffee fancier, just buy a bottle of creamer (for the price of one cup of coffee) and keep it in the mini-fridge.
  • Traffic and driving on Oahu takes some getting used to. Locals have no problem just pulling out into traffic, whether there is a gap to pull into or not. It’s jarring at first, but you’ll be doing it, too by the end of your trip. Also, if you’re in one of the surrounding towns, park and walk. Try to find a nice, big parking lot and leave your car there until you are ready to leave. The towns are small enough that you can just walk everywhere.
  • If you are a West Coaster, consider staying on west coast time. There’s not much of a nightlife at the hotel and things are a lot less busy early in the morning. Go to bed early and wake up early to miss the crowds.
  • Know what events are going on around the hotel. We almost bought tickets to the fire dance show at the Polynesian Cultural Center for a minimum of $40 a person. Turns out, every Wednesday, the hotel had their own fire dance show, albeit it much smaller, for free. And, since it is much smaller, you can participate and learn some of the dances, too.
  • The wooden blinds in the room don’t block out much light. If you are a light sleeper, consider requesting a room with a sunset view, not sunrise.
  • If you are having trouble finding something on the Turtle Bay website, try their mobile version. I found it much easier to find times and rates on it than their regular site.
  • If you plan on trying out paddleboarding, don’t sign up for the private class. Just pick a 9AM group class a couple days out that is empty and odds are that no one will sign up with you. Much cheaper.
  • When we did the paddleboard class, we worried about where we would put our stuff. So, we didn’t bring anything, which probably led to my insane sunburn. Just know that they bus you in a van to the cove where you paddleboard and you can leave anything you bring along locked up in the van.
  • Visiting Pearl Harbor is a long day. We knew there would be a wait, but the internet didn't explain it to us properly. Tickets for the boat to the memorial are free and at assigned times, like the Fast Pass at Disneyland. You pick up the tickets and they tell you to come back at a later time. There are also only a scattering of tickets. We arrived at roughly 10AM and were lucky to get on the second to last boat of the day at 2:30PM. Fortunately, there are a lot of museums and displays to see while waiting for your ticket group.
  • If you are visiting Kualoa Ranch, know that you need to take one of the tours to see anything. I was afraid we would be wasting our money on a tour when you could just walk up and see the log from ‘Jurassic Park’. You can't. It's deep in the valley. Although the lodge is nice, you can’t see anything worthwhile without getting on a tour.
  • My biggest regret was not bringing a disposable underwater camera or getting a waterproof case for my phone or camera. There were so many great moments I failed to capture because I didn’t want to risk ruining my electronics. Find a way to take pictures in any condition.
  • If you are not checking a bag, just plan on buying a big bottle of sunscreen when you land. Don’t try and stuff your liquids bag full of tiny travel tubes.
  • Turtle Bay boasts ‘trails’ to local points of interest, like the WWII bunker and the large banyan tree where they filmed ‘Lost’. These walks are nice to take, but be aware the trails not well marked at all and you will get lost several times. Just make sure you have a map and if you get lost, just walk in the general direction and you’ll be fine.
  • Shop around for souvenirs. Most places you go will have a souvenir shop and most shops will carry the exact same things. Put some forethought into what you’d like to bring back and hunt it out, like my dashboard hula dancer Lelaini.

  • Along the same lines, if you’re hoping to bring back a big bag of sea shells as your souvenir, think again. The only shells we found on any of the beaches we went to were either teeny tiny or fragments.
  • The Turtle Bay website claims that you can check out a snorkel from them, which is true. However, only the first hour is free, so that kind of limits you to their busy, popular cove. Every additional hour will cost you $7. If you want to spend time snorkeling, bring your own (Amazon has kits for only $20) and heading to somewhere more scenic. Our paddleboard instructor recommended Sunset Beach, the beach across from the Foodland.
  • The biggest way we saved money was by not buying breakfast at the hotel. Their options were the café in the lobby, a la carte at North Shore Kula Grille, or the buffet at North Shore Kula Grille. These will easily set you back $10+ per person every day. Instead, we stocked up on breakfast food at Foodland, the local grocery store. Just a ten minute drive away, we bought a tray of cinnamon rolls, boxes of cereal, and a bottle of juice and kept it in the mini-fridge. A whole tray of cinnamon rolls was $3.99. I don’t think you could get a single cinnamon roll at the café for that amount. We did try the breakfast buffet on our first morning and it was not worth the $24 price tag ($18 for me since I don’t eat breakfast meats).
  • Apparently a lot of restaurants close early in the surrounding towns, like 8PM early. Plan accordingly.
  • Driving along, you’ll notice a lot of fruit stands on the side of the road. Save your money and just buy the exact same pineapples from the grocery store. They all come from the same Dole plantation in the center of the island, anyway. Go to Foodland, buy a couple of them (and a small knife to cut them up), and enjoy! Those pineapples were some of the best I’ve ever had. And it’s a great room air fresher for the days before you carve into one!
  • The famous place for shaved ice on Oahu is Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa (pronounced hal-eh-EE-va). Because it’s so famous, the line goes around the building and they’re only open until 6PM. An equal drive from the hotel is Wili Wili’s at Kahuku Grill in Kahuku. Just follow in the highway in the opposite direction and follow the signs. Yummy yummy.
  • Review of restaurants at the hotel
      • North Shore Kula Grille: the hotel restaurant. It's one of the few places that is open all day long. You can order off the menu or choose the buffet all day long. The food is pretty good and the cost is not ridiculously outlandish. Also, the dining area has an incredible view of the pool and the cove beyond it. 
      • Pa'akai: the fancy restaurant. It boasts local ingredients and decor is quite stylish. However, the food isn't that much greater than North Shore Kula Grille, the cost is more, and the view is worse. It's okay to skip this one.
      • Hang Ten Bar and Grill: the poolside grill. The drinks were good. The fries were good. The veggie burger was the worst veggie burger I've ever eaten in my whole life. No exaggeration. The one thing it really has going for it is the location. You can watch the sunset or the fire dance show or people learn to surf in the waves below.
      • Lei Lei’s Bar and Grill: the golf course restaurant. The food is kind of meh and the views are bad. I guess unless you want to just stare at a golf course. Feel free to pass on this one.
      • Lobby Lounge: the hotel coffee shop. We didn't have anything here. It wasn't worth the high prices.
      • Ola Restaurant: the beach restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't eat here because there wasn't anything I could/wanted to eat on their menu. Oh, the plight of the vegetarian.
      • Surfer, The Bar: the hotel bar. See 'Ola Restaurant' above.
  • Review of restaurants we tried in Haleiwa
      • Kua Aina: the burger hole-in-the-wall. This was Dan's favorite place. We went twice and he raved about their grilled fish sandwiches. Their fries are shoestring, which I'm not a fan of, but their avocado sandwich was yummy.
      • Pizza Bob’s: the pizza shop. We had our first meal on the island here and it was delicious. the place was chock full of locals and had great service. Since my dad's name is Bob, his souvenir was one of their t-shirts.
      • Luibueno’s: the Mexican joint. This was some of the best Mexican food we'd both ever had. And that's a BIG compliment coming from people who live less than 90 minutes from the border. Make sure to stop in here.
So, I think that's everything. Hopefully this helped you a bit if you ever think about visiting the islands yourself. It's so totally worth it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hawaiian Awesomeness: Days 4, 5, and 6

I'm almost done with recapping our trip!

Day 4: Pearl Harbor and the Arizona memorial. Visiting Pearl Harbor is a long day. We knew there would be a wait, but the internet didn't explain it to us properly. Tickets for the boat to the memorial are free and at assigned times, like the Fast Pass at Disneyland. There are also a very limited number of tickets. We arrived at roughly 10AM and were lucky to get on the second to last boat of the day at 2:30PM.

Fortunately, there are a lot of museums and displays to see while waiting for your ticket group.

Dan on the deck of the submarine Bowfin
Using binoculars to observe the Arizona memorial from the Bowfin.
The USS Arizona Memorial
The exposed sections of the Arizona
You can see the light oil slick from the oil slowly bubbling up from the sunken ship
On the drive back to the resort from Honolulu, we took a detour to stop at the Pali outlook. The view from the lush clifftop is worth getting stuck in traffic on the way down. And the wind is so strong, it's almost unbelievable.

Slightly windblown
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of pictures from our last two days, Days 5 and 6.

Day 5: Paddleboarding. This was the epic day of paddleboarding. Since we didn't have the forethought to bring a disposable waterproof camera or a waterproof case for either of our phones, there's no evidence that it ever happened. But it did! And I only fell in the water once!

If you know anything about me in the real world, you know that I am not athletic. Not in the slightest. However, when we were on this awesome vacation, I really wanted to take advantage of the amenities the hotel had to offer. Since surfing was out, I got up the courage early in the trip to convince Dan to try paddleboarding with me.

And I'm so glad we did. No one else signed up for our class, so it was just me and Dan and our instructor in the cove where they filmed 'Catching Fire'. (Image 1 Source, Image 2 Source)

That's right. I'm Katniss, now.

There were barely any waves, which made keeping my balance remarkably easy. The only time I fell over was because the instructor was trying to teach me a move to turn fast. Slow turning was working just fine, thank you very much.

There was also a moment of incredible panic on my part when I looked down and saw movement under my board. Movement in the ocean = sharks, in my brain. Turns out, it was just a big old sea turtle. Amazing!

Unfortunately, I did not apply sunscreen well enough and after standing in the sun on a board for two hours, I got one of the worst sun burns of my life. My shorts were shorter than I thought so I wound up with a fried strip across both my thighs. I couldn't sleep on my stomach for days.

The burn also kept the next few days pretty quiet, since I was in a lot of pain. We spent the afternoon at our section of beach and went to dinner in Haleiwa at Dan's new favorite burger joint.

Day 6: Flying home. This was probably the weirdest day of the whole trip. Our flight home was a red-eye, leaving Honolulu at 11PM. We had to check out of the hotel at 11AM, so we had a total of twelve hours to kill. The day was quite a hodge-podge as we worked our way across the island.

Until the last day, we hadn't purchased any souvenirs. The only thing that had caught my eye were some dashboard hula girls at Waimea Falls, so we went back and bought them. Three total, one for me and two as presents to my mom and sister for watching the cats. Then, we stopped in Haleiwa for a Mexican food lunch. Even though Tucson is 90 minutes from the border, this restaurant had some of the best Mexican food we've ever had.

By the time we arrived back in Honolulu, it was roughly 3PM. We were out of sites we wanted to see and my legs hurt everytime I moved from my sunburn. To kill time, we decided to visit the weird shopping mall in existence. It was like the stores were lego bricks and a toddler had smashed them together. A Chanel next to a Claire's. Weird. We filled as much time as we could without buying anything ridiculous. All we ended up with was a Dole Whip and some Hawaiian burgers. Yum.

It was a great and exhausting trip. I'm so glad we did it (even after Dan totaled up the cost, yikes). In spite of that, we need to do something like this every year.