Hello everyone and welcome back. It’s been a while since we have written a blog (since September), not because we haven’t done anything exciting or think that we are too good for any of you but mainly because we had to catch up with life. Believe it or not, adventurers like ourselves also have a side that not everyone sees, you can call it backstage or downtime if you like. Many things have happened since the last time we wrote a blog and most of that time we mainly spent with family and friends and even more so now that the holidays are around the corner.

Being on the road is always exciting. That feeling of instant relief when you walk away from all of the professional aspects and responsibilities and turn your back on all the stress that builds up along the way feels amazing. That emotion is a momentary feeling of happiness and knowing that no matter what will happen to you within the next hour, day or week, that trip that you are about to take, will be, no matter what, a trip to remember. These last couple of months have been a rollercoaster of emotions just like the weather here in Iowa. It’s nice and warm and suddenly it’s brutally cold. What I mean by that is that our camping season was coming to an end, the days keep getting shorter, my daughter keeps growing and growing, the stress at work never diminishes or fades, the Denver Broncos are having a horrible season and our Winter appears to be crude and dry with no snow in the forecast before the holidays. But if there is something that I have learned throughout our adventures, it’s that we can’t control what I just mentioned but we can control the way we live our lives. We choose how we want to live. Of course everyone wants to win the lottery and be wealthy for the rest of their lives but both Abby and I are realistic and we have chosen a path where we can both enjoy our adventurer lives as well as our professional lives. Yes, I sound pretty ridiculous and very philosophical if that’s what you want to call it but even if I fail at doing what I like to do the most (travel) I can come home satisfied knowing that I’ve tried it instead of seeing someone doing it on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram while sitting on my couch thinking to myself that the people who are enjoying their vacation on the video are extremely lucky. In retrospect, we are all lucky, we just need to determine how we are going to get there. For some of us that may be easy but for the rest of us, that is a challenge that we must overcome. When Abby and I took on the idea of traveling throughout the 2017 year, I felt that we discovered a side of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. We took on a traveling adventure where our family of 3 came together better than I expected and while doing it, both Abby and I re-discovered what we can do on our own and awaken our spirits or curiosity and adventure and from there on, we were hungry or more.

Have you ever experienced frustration while planning for a trip? Waiting for lottery permits? Do you have enough vacation or PTO? Who is going to pay for the bills while on vacation? Let’s say that you are booking for a hotel room and after clicking on every option possible given to you, thinking to yourself that an epic trip is about to happen and only to find out 5 minutes later that the website either lost connection, the available room has been booked by another customer or the only room left is more expensive than what your budget is? Or my personal favorite, the next available room is any day but the day that you need to be there and let’s not forget that arranging an itinerary can be just as stressful. I’ve been there many times but not this time.

This time I really didn’t have to do anything and I couldn’t feel more blessed and thankful. The opportunity that both Abby and I got doesn’t come every day, in fact… Not any day. I’ll explain. Ever since I’ve had a smart phone, I downloaded an app that would give me the news, but this particular app that I downloaded was more than that. With this app, I could curate many stories from lots of writers and authors and I gathered their stories and articles and put them all under one curated magazine. I did that almost 5 years ago and that is something that, to this day, I still do. I have 2 curated magazines on the app called Flipboard, one about San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and one about my travels with Abby. An unexpected email came to me that I figured was nothing more than just a scam. A week later this email came to me again; same header and sender and with a similar message. By the way, you have to love technology. It appears that the age of private detectives is long gone because, my gosh! In less than 5 minutes I found out who the sender was, who she worked for and even what she looked like all from my computer. Yes, I am a creeper like that, but I was really just vetting the source! Turns out the email was legit. I have been a huge fan of 2 major companies since they started or I should say, since I became aware of them, Flipboard and GoPro. To make the story short, thanks to these 2 awesome companies Abby and I are sitting down by the beach enjoying a pineapple martini and a Bloody Mary from Hawaii as we speak and that’s what this month’s blog is all about. Again a huge shout out to Flipboard and GoPro for making this possible. You guys rock!

Iowa lately has been surprisingly warm, I am not talking 80 degrees, but by this time last year and the year before and so on, we should already have snow on the ground. But we don’t; it appears that everyone else does but Pella. I mean shoot, even Houston got 2 inches of snow and Iowa still a nice 45-50 degree days! We figured since the warm weather seems to favor us, we might as well go all out and spend a nice toasty 78-degree weather in Oahu before the holidays and when we get back to Iowa, it will seem like we weren’t even gone (weather wise).

Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with everything and anything that had to do with WWII. My younger brother, my neighbors that were our age and I used to re-create stupid homemade movies about WWII, which reminds me, ketchup in your eyeball really hurts so if your trying to make a homemade movie that involves gory scenes, avoid ketchup on your face and use something less harmful. That being said, visiting Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor day was on my list to do for YEARS!! Unfortunately, our tickets to visit the USS Arizona Memorial was not valid until December 10th but that did not stop us, besides, there is a visitor center after all, so that’s where we headed first. What happened next was actually kind of comical, we landed in Honolulu, got the rental car which by the way, thank you National Car Rental for the sweet upgrade! No one wants to ride in a sedan in Hawaii and a Jeep was more like it, besides they figure we needed the extra space for the surf boards (cough cough). We exited the airport and we instantly got lost. We took the wrong street (as suggested by Google maps) and found ourselves head to head with the military asking us what the F… we were doing. Luckily they were cool about it since apparently it happens often and told us where to go and how to get to the memorial. I would say that it was a peaceful resolution since we all lived to tell the tale.

We began our trip by visiting the original Avenger. Sorry Stan Lee, but it appears that the original avenger was not Captain America but instead the (SS287) USS Bowfin. The USS Bowfin was commissioned exactly 1 year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, giving it its nickname of the Avenger. Don’t get me wrong, this submarine was bad ass in every way, shape and form but I still don’t understand how 80 people could fit on this bad boy and with hardly any available space but where there’s a will there’s a way.

The sub was incredible in and out, both Abby and I were witnessing WWII Naval poetry. Every detail, gauge, pipe, valve etc. Had a story of its own.

Check out the details of this amazing submarine

Here are a couple more pictures.

One of the coolest details that I personally enjoyed was that you could see the USS Arizona from the stern of the USS Bowfin. Abby and I couldn’t attend the ceremony held on that day but we got as close as we could to pay our respects to the gallant men and women who served and died on December 7, 1941. It’s a site to see. The emotions flowing through me are still hard to explain and I wasn’t even close to being born at the time of the attack. I cannot imagine how the men and women in Pearl Harbor felt after experiencing that horrific attack.  Their sacrifice did not go in vain and during our stay we tried to be as respectful as we could.

After spending a couple of hours listening to our audio tours and reading plaques at the museums, both Abby and I broke the ice by playing with the 40 mm and the 20 mm guns. At least that’s what I think the guns were. Abby played with the periscope (always trying to figure things out, that nerd!) and we both walked around the marina before the park closed. And we did end up staying until the bitter end because the park ranger literally had to escort us out. We weren’t worried because we knew we were coming back and this time we were going the whole 9 yards.

I could not believe how bad the traffic was. Abby and I have gotten used to the traffic in Iowa (which is none). Driving from our town of Pella to Des Moines is 50 miles away and it usually takes us close to 45 minutes. So we were surprised that going from Honolulu to Kahuku (38 miles), which is where our hotel was, it took us an hour and 40 minutes (yeah, intense). We didn’t really care since we understood that most of the traffic had to do with people attending the Pipeline Masters surfing competition (maybe) or perhaps this is just how crazy the traffic always is. Anyway, we got to our hotel, checked in, grabbed some grub and passed out at 8:00pm which was 12:00am our time (Central). I am not going to lie, but both Abby and I were either so exhausted that we didn’t care how we slept or we actually did sleep great which doesn’t happen very often.

The morning was incredible. We hadn’t quite acclimated to the Hawaii time zone, so unfortunately we were both awake by 5 am! What did we decide to do? Well why not walk the beach until sunrise. Both Abby and I have witnessed the sunrise by the ocean on separate accounts but this time it was different. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t windy, it wasn’t loud and it wasn’t crowded. It was just right. The clarity of the ocean brought a picturesque atmosphere that put both Abby and I at ease, it felt like a warm hug. Picture this, the pink skies from the sunrise and the aqua color of the ocean, surrounded by vivid green vegetation, the smell of the sea in the air, the softness of the sand and the roar of the waves in the background (sweet music). Man! That will for sure be ingrained in my memory. It didn’t get any better than this. All that time stuck in planes was worth it. Stress from work was automatically removed and I felt like a new man. Isn’t crazy how a simple vacation can do that to anyone. It’s as if our happy level was constantly kept at 100%.  I cannot even begin to tell you how our schedule looked like since we were constantly on the move but I can tell you this, we had a killer time throughout our stay.

After our relaxing walk on the beach, we headed to grab some breakfast and gear up for our big event of the day. SURFING!!! Abby kicked my butt while surfing. What can I say, she is a natural, me on the other hand, I just wanted to get up close and personal with the coral beneath my surfboard. I have a couple of videos from our GoPro’s and I actually didn’t do too bad but in comparison to Abby, she nailed every single wave. We made some friends and just like that we were pooped! Man! Surfing sure takes it out of you, we headed back to our hotel, cleaned up and headed out on a hike that our surfing instructor Bobbie recommended. Bobbie! (Surf instructor) That hike was brutal man! But the view was worth it. While on our hike we met a local who was super nice and we began talking, he mentioned that a cold front was approaching the island from the Northwest. Abby pried and asked “How cold is a ‘cold front’?” The gentleman looked at us and asked where we were from. After hearing that we were from Iowa he said “Well, now I don’t even want to say!”. Both Abby and I cracked up and finally heard from him what Hawaiians consider a cold front. 65 degrees is their cold front according to him. We did notice a few locals with jackets later that afternoon while I was wearing shorts and a thin shirt and Abby was wearing a dress and flip-flops haha. It was funny to see.

We headed down from the Ehukai Pillbox Trail and headed straight to witness history. The Billabong Pipeline Masters. Quite the crowd but unfortunately the event did not happen on that day due to small waves that did not meet the surfer’s expectations. But hey, it was still fun to be a part of that crowd. It would have been cool to see Kelly Slater but we at least got to see his surf board at our hotel. If that is the closest thing we will ever get to see him, we’ll take it! That night was great, all we did was eat until our hearts content and seeing the sunset was just as impressive. You could tell that the weather was about to change (not for us) but for the locals. They were all wearing their puffy coats and sure enough, the weather did change. The following morning the waves by our hotel were massive and the wind was beginning to kick in. That morning was majestic. The sound of the pounding waves was what woke me up. We couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste and headed for the beach. That morning we were a bit slow since we were super sore from surfing the day before. My God! I haven’t been that sore in a while and I don’t consider ourselves to be that out of shape. We took our time, had a killer breakfast and headed to the one place that I was looking forward to go since day one. The USS Arizona Memorial.

There were a couple of spots that we enjoyed on our stay but I feel that we might be writing a book so I am just going to share a few pictures and you can be the judge on how majestic this place was.

Take a look at a few more.

As we entered The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, we killed some time by going into the 2 museums that tell the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There is a movie that is played before going into the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona and by this time the park ranger told us that our tickets were for the 12:00pm exhibition but if we wanted to go early, she (park ranger) could change it for us to 11:15am so we wouldn’t have to wait that long. What Abby and I did not notice was that we joined a high school group. The ferry could possibly carry 150 visitors, that is a wild guess and the high school group had at least 100 people on their group. In my mind I said, boy! This is going to be great… NOT! As we entered the theater, there was nothing but noise, laughter, jokes being told, selfies left and right. I am not going to lie, I felt a bit annoyed. The film began and everything changed from there. As soon as the movie was over, you could tell that everyone’s attitude changed. Their expressions were exchanged by sniffles and tears. Not a single word was heard in the theater and not much more soon after. This gives you an idea on how painful, sad and emotional this film truly was.

What happened next made me understand that perhaps I judged these students too harshly. As we entered the USS Arizona Memorial, the memorial was inundated by flower decorations given by many organizations and citizens in remembrance of the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack held a couple days before. The high school students all were wearing Maile leis on their necks and began cutting them in half and releasing the orchid flowers into the sea to pay their respects to the entombed members on the USS Arizona. A high school kid approached us and said, “I bought extra leis, please feel free to use them.”. I was shocked by the kindness of this random kid whom by no doubt has a heart bigger than the world. I thanked him and Abby was able to pay her respects by laying a lei next to the wall memorial where the names of all the members of the USS Arizona were engraved. It states “to the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona”. If you know me, I wear a hat for pretty much everything. I mean, I am surprised I don’t shower with it. My point is this, this place is so sacred, if you want to call it that, that I did not dare wear my hat, not even for a second while I stepped foot on that mesmerizing memorial. This place was even more impressive than what I could have imagine. By far this was my personal favorite during our visit.

As our vacation concluded we had to say goodbye to all the amazing good food and the personal salads (Massive Bloody Mary’s) but we needed to get home to our daughter, which by the way. It was our first trip in 2 and half years that we traveled without her. It’s all good, I will make it up to her. 17 hours later including a layover we were finally home and sadly back to reality.  What crazy place will we go next? Probably not a warm one like Hawaii. Ha! Stay tuned.

Just a couple more pictures.

To be continued…