Tuesday, January 27, 2015

41 hours in Hawaii

What do you do when your best friend, who lives in Japan, comes back into the country for 10 days? You take two red-eyes to spend the weekend in Hawaii, of course.  Those of you who know J know her story. Those who don't, don't really need to any more than this: Her husband is also in the AF and they are stationed in Japan. She needed to go to Honolulu for some medical appointments. I needed to see her because I miss her face every day. So off I went. 

I had been wanting to come see her since I knew they had appointments scheduled. But the problem was it had to be over a weekend. There was so much uncertainty in schedule and T wasn't in a position to try and push for leave at work both because of what he's been working on and because he's going to need a lot of it in the future for life events. She wasn't sure if she'd be there over the weekend - all that depended on what the doctors she saw during the week wanted to do as far as further appointments and follow-ups went. It was a roller coaster for sure, and I really didn't tell anyone what was happening until I was confident that I was going, which was like 10 hours before leaving, haha. 

So I slept Friday night on the airplane and landed in Honolulu at 6 in the morning. J & K came to pick me up at the airport and we went to breakfast before heading up to North Shore. We went and saw Turtle Bay (well-known golf course) for K to play a round. I don't golf and J didn't feel like brining her clubs on the trip so we just drove around in the cart. We had coffee and talked golf with K, who I think over all played a pretty good round. It was just nice to be together, and be fairly relaxed since I was running on only a few hours of sleep.  We had hoped that day to see a lot of surfing, but the weather didn't cooperate. We did find this rocky inlet type thing and see some crazy waves crash into it as we were trying to scope out the Pipeline. 

We drove back to the city, got cleaned up and went to dinner.  We tried a modernized Mexican restaurant on a rooftop. The ambiance was pretty cool. The food was fine. There was nothing wrong with it, it just was underwhelming - especially when compared to what we ate on Sunday!

I made it the whole day without a nap! We were all really tired by the time dinner was over and were happy to go to bed to rest up for the next day. I can't remember the last time I fell asleep that fast. 

We got up the next morning and packed our stuff to hike up Diamond Head and finish the day in Waikiki on the beach. We started with breakfast. If you are ever on Oahu, please do yourself a favor and eat at Koko Head Cafe. It was unbelievable. We ate brunch like fine dining style - we ordered two plates as starters and then all chose our meals.  Food is important to me, okay?

Our "appetizer course" - Breakfast Bruschetta & The Dumpling of the Day. J & I might've ordered a second bruschetta at the end of the meal. . .  

UDON!!! For Breakfast! There is a poached egg on there and bacon.  

After really fueling up we went to Diamond Head - which is a volcanic crater on the coast. The hike was pretty short and manageable - although there were some flights of stairs that were beastly.  It was much more crowded than I had anticipated, but the views were beautiful. 

We stopped off to get some snacks & drinks and took a scenic drive along the coast. We were heading to explore the eastern coast and find a less populated beach, but the weather was misty and cloudy so we just finished the drive and headed back to Waikiki. We spent a few hours drinking beer and relaxing on the beach. It was perfect. We went in the water a little bit; we stayed for the sunset. 

The sun was at a horrible spot for this attempt at a selfie, but I love this pic of J mid-laugh :) 

 So much love for these two

Sunset in the ocean

After the sun went down, we stopped off to have some of the most amazing tacos. Spicy Sesame Poke tacos. I want to eat them all the time. Unf. I told you. I love food. I could've eaten them all night. But it was time to get back, take a shower, pack up, and get back to the airport. 

It felt longer than 2 days. We packed a lot of stuff in without feeling run-down or overexerted. I'd love to go back to Hawaii for a vacation some time. Some time when I have approximately eleventy-billion dollars because it's expensive, ha. And I want to eat my way across all the islands. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ringing in 2015

As I mentioned in our 2014 wrap up - this new years was a big milestone for me, and we celebrated in style! We got a room on the strip for NYE and the night of the first. We got all fancied up. We ate, drank, and gambled. It was a heck of a good time.

We started things off with wine while getting ready. Jenn had been lamenting about the lack of Chinese restaurants now that she has moved on base, and I hadn't eaten Chinese in weeks. Walk out on to the hotel balcony and see the P.F. Chang's in the shops at Planet Hollywood. We take it as a sign and decide to go there for a quick bite to eat. We almost sent T there for takeout while we got ready, and we probably should have. We got there at about 6:55 and starting at 7pm they switched to a fancy 5 course NYE fixed menu. We decided to stay anyway because at that point most restaurants would be doing something similar and we'd have a longer wait. At least it'll be quick, we thought. It wasn't. Our server was clearly overwhelmed. Poor girl ended up dropping an entire tray of champagne (a glass with dessert was included in the menu). She was really slow. At least we had good company. And the food was delicious as always. Plus with all the courses we all had leftovers to eat at 2 when we got the munchies. 

After dinner, The Cosmo was already fenced off and being checked for either a room key or concert tickets. I started to get a little stressed about the growing crowd and getting everyone up to the room in time so we walked down to Bally's and gathered my family to get everyone into our hotel. We decided to just gamble there so when it was time for the countdown no one got stuck outside. That's actually where we found our new favorite game - a fish/mermaid themed penny slot we have called the "Bubble Guppies" machines. 

After a drink from the cocktail lady, but not enough time for a 2nd we just decided to go upstairs. When we checked in they said after 6pm anyone going up to the rooms needs a key OR to be on a pre-approved guest list. So we made sure to put everyone's name on the list - given, drivers license matching names - and they said make sure everyone has a key or an ID. My dad came up with T. Jenn, Kat & I went up together so key's were covered. When the rest of the crew tried to get up, the security guards wanted a key and claimed there was no list. Thank goodness for Mary. She showed them the text I sent with room number and tower info and was like yeah we're gonna go up now, and so they made it without escort. 

We had a perfect view and I was certainly happy to be out of the crowd.  We had champagne. I have the Lolo's anxiety about never running out of anything while hosting so I had 5 bottles for 9 people. In my defense I was prepared for others who ended up not making it and also I splurged on my favorite kind which T & I can finish an entire bottle just the two of us. We only had 1 left I think so it wasn't that ridiculous. 

 the crowd


Midnight Kiss

We hung out in our room for a couple drinks waiting on the crowds to break up and then everyone made their way back to their hotels for the night. 

I really am obsessed with that crazy chair.

T went down to the cafe in the hotel in the morning for pastries and coffee. We lazed around a bit and then turned on football. We checked in with the rest of the crew but they were just in bars watching the games. We all elected it was much better to stay in comfys and watch it in the room. Kat had placed several bets on the bowl games for her husband and we all got really involved in his picks for the Baylor/MSU game. It was an exciting game on it's own merits, but we all became super invested in him winning his bets! Plus we are all parents of toddlers and there was no one demanding attention or milk so honestly lounging around needlessly without real pants is a dream day for us all.

We met up with the rest of our crew for a late lunch and vegas things before heading back to The Cosmo to get ready for dinner. We might've stopped at our lucky machines before going upstairs. I mean it was kind of on the way. 

We all were winning! All three of us ladies were up and having a blast but we had to get ready for dinner. 

Dinner. You guys. It was DELIGHTFUL! Everything everyone had was incredible. We went to Cut by Wolfgang Puck at the Palazzo. Everyone got a starter and I don't think anyone was disappointed. We ordered several different sides and then just passed them around family style. We had wine and cocktails and amazing food. I was bummed that some local friends we invited couldn't make it, but it worked out because the smaller reservation allowed us to all be at one table. 

We thought the picture of Wolfgang would make a memorable background, but no one really noticed how we blocked half of him and now it's just creepy, staring eyes out from behind us. Now it's just perfect in a different, good story kind of way. The staff was very attentive and accommodating. They actually called the day before to ask about any allergies which was perfect because they were prepared to answer all information about gluten for my mother-in-law who has Celiac. We were well taken care of without being hovered over. They were polite but not in that forced, uncomfortable way I've found - like the restaurants that make sure all the staff uses your name every time they address you. I highly recommend this restaurant for your next date night or special occasion. 

There was a joke about everyone going around the table saying one thing they love about me - no repeats to entice people to go first. It was all in humor and I'm glad it didn't happen because I would have definitely blushed and probably cried. It's evident they all loved me just by the fact that they traveled in to celebrate with me. But still, it's nice to hear what things you might not even know about yourself that are endearing to others. I welcome your compliments in the comment section of this post, LOL. 

After dinner we sat down at a Caribbean Stud table - it's a poker game that was really popular about 15 years ago, but these days it's hard to find. Mom & Mary were excited to play again, and I wanted to learn it so we played. We were so silly and it was hysterical. I don't even know why or how we came to being doing and saying the things we did but there was such laughter radiating from all of us we kept running with it. Finally just before 1 we had to quit and get back at least to our own hotels. Of course we stopped at Bubble Guppies again. They weren't as kind as before dinner, but I still had fun stopping. 

Everyone but our parents flew back on the 2nd. It was really a fantastic holiday, and an unbelievable birthday. Plus now we all can say we've done crazy vegas for New Year's Eve. Bucket list item checked off!

Love & Hugs