Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Waikiki Sunset

From Oahu - Our First Few Days

(Wordless Wednesday is a day when participating bloggers post only a photo. I have decided that I want to participate, so this is my first Wordless Wednesday post. If you'd like to learn more or would like to participate visit Wordless Wednesday. I first discovered Wordless Wednesday from An Island Life.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Week Fun: Waimea Bay

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

We can’t have all work and no play, right? Jim and I decided to take some of our time during our first week to be tourists.

The first out of town trip we made was up to Waimea Bay Beach Park on the North Shore, and the country town of Hale’iwa. We had lunch at Breakers in Hale’iwa, a yummy kalua pork sandwich. Not quite stuffed to the gills, we stopped for a shave ice at Aoki’s. Yummy stuff, but don’t get the large size unless you are super hungry! I highly recommend getting the shave ice with the ice cream on the bottom – some of that yummy syrup drips down through the ice and forms a nice topping on the ice cream.

Next we made our way to Waimea Bay Beach Park to see some of the legendary big winter waves. While the waves we saw probably weren’t of legendary size, they were pretty darn impressive. Lots of body surfers (experienced ones), tried their luck with the waves. Looked pretty brutal to me!

Here are some pictures from Waimea Bay, including the rainbow we saw as we left:

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

From Wiamea Bay, Jan 2009

Follow the link under the pictue to the Picasa alubm with more photos from our day at Wiamea Bay.

We have internet access!

Yea! We finally have Internet access! Thank goodness - I start classes Tuesday. However, we are now experiencing spotty power outages due to extremely high wind gusts (60+) today, tonight and into tomorrow. They've actually closed beaches on the North Shore and Leeward side of the island, as well as a couple on the Windward side (where we are). And, they have closed all public schools, already tonight, for tomorrow. UH-Manoa and lots of private schools are also closed (on all the islands).

So - the plan is to catch up on this blog tomorrow - so long as I have power!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just a quick update...

We're moving into our new apartment today, and we will probably be without Internet access for a while (perhaps until the 18th). So if you don't hear from us for a while, that's why!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Move Day 3: Jan. 1, 2009

Jim writing here, so this might be a little different style:)

The new year started with us in yet another hotel packing up our luggage and once again forcing the kitties into crates for transportation to the airport. (Which included us drugging them again, poor little things.)

We were still undecided about how to get back to the LAX, whether taxi or hotel shuttle. Despite my reservations about taking a shuttle with all our luggage the hotel staff encouraged us to since the airport was so close. So with all our luggage and our cats in hard crates were boarded a shuttle for our last day of travel.

Upon arrival at LAX we were surprised once again by several procedural events with Hawaiian airlines and TSA. First the guy checking in our cats seemed to have little to no experience checking animals and actually had to leave the check-in area several times to get forms. We spent a good 45 min. checking in with Hawaiian Airlines.

Then once that was complete we had to carry our own checked luggage to a TSA screening machine further down the complex!! Since we had to check the cats as well this was not helpful. Once again TSA required us to take the cats out of the crates in the airport so they could sweep the interior with patches to check for explosives. Jasmine was so scarred to be out in the open of a busy airport that she unfortunately had an accident when I put here back in her crate. Not a good start to the day or year at all.

With the cats checked all Becky and I could do was be nervous pet parents on the 5 1/2 hour flight to Honolulu. There was a movie on the flight, but Hawaiian airlines charged to hear the sound, even if you used your own headsets!!! So Becky and I mostly just tried to sleep or we watched Wall-E on our Ipod. We were so high up and it was mostly cloudy so we really did not see the ocean much.

Here's a photo of the island out our window as we approached the airport:
From The Move

Upon arrival at Honolulu we gathered our luggage on carts, with the friendly help of an Hawaiian Airlines employee who gave us a free cart, and made our way over to animal quarantine. It was not connected to the airport so Becky and I had to trundle along the sidewalk and then a service road with all our luggage until we reached the facility. Once there were kept our fingers crossed that we had all the paperwork needed to get them out of quarantine right there and then! We were lucky and after about half an hour we soon had our cats on top of our two carts of luggage and working our way back to the airport proper. Since it was the 1st we had to then hunt down a Taxi and then we were on our way to the vacation apartment. Upon arrival, with the help of a hotel employee, we managed to get all our luggage and the cats into the apartment.

Both cats were still a little groggy and poor Jasmine needed to be cleaned up after her accident and the long ride in her crate. She was also still really sore from having torn out two of her nails so it was a slow process. However, we promised them only one more move until we reached our new home.

Here's the view from our vacation rental. You can see the mountains and the Ali Wai canal. We found our vacation rental through It's an apartment at the Waikiki Banyan, a really nice, two-tower hotel two long blocks from the beach.
From The Move

With the cats settled as much as they could be Becky and I then walked down to the beach. What a surreal feeling to walk out of the hotel and see all the big buildings end just two blocks away! The beach in Waikiki is beautiful and the weather was great, about high 70s. It is so weird for us to see a beach and people surfing in January. The area also has a very heavy tourist feel to it, so it felt like we were on vacation instead of moving to the island for several years. While we were both exhausted and worn down by jet lag we had to take off our shoes and put our feet in the Pacific.

From Oahu - Our First Few Days

We did, however, call off our meeting with my new colleagues because we both feared our first impression with them after the ordeal of the move would not be impressive. So after visiting the beach, grabbing some Subway, and taking a deep breath of warm clean air we headed back to our vacation apartment to crash and cuddle with the kitties.

Here's some pictures from Waikiki:
From Oahu - Our First Few Days

From Oahu - Our First Few Days

The Move Day 2: Dec. 31, 2008

Today was our day of travel from Chicago to LAX. We drugged the cats more than an hour before we were due to leave, but the drugs didn't seem to help all that much. They were still really freaked out and upset. For this flight the cats had to go in the cabin with us, and were in smaller, soft-sided carriers. We got to the airport and got ourselves and our cats checked in in good order. I can't believe that we had to pay $100 per cat to have them in cabin with us, and they still counted as one of our carry-on items. Damn airlines squeezing us for every penny.

Worse was to come. We had to take the cats OUT OF THE CARRIER and carry them through security in our arms. SO not kidding you. As if the poor cats aren't freaked out enough, we had to take them out of the carrier (which had to be e-rayed) and walk through the metal detector with them. This was not in some secluded side area - this was the main security area with everyone else trying to get through. I was so terrified that one of the cats would struggle and that would be it - we'd loose them in the airport. So not happy with TSA - nothing on their website prepared us for that! We would have put a body harness on them so we could have had a solid grip, had we but known.

We were both really worried that one or both of the cats would cry the entire 5 hours, and that our fellow passengers would kick us off the plane at 30,000 feet. They did make some mewing noises, but the sound of the engines and the crying baby drowned them out. Did you know one infant can cry at the tops of his lungs for 5 hours? Yep - amazing stamina for such a little creature. Ugh. Fierce headache by the time we landed.

We flew over the Grand Canyon. Pretty cool sight. The picture is pretty hazy - it was fairly overcast.
From The Move

We arrived at LAX on time, and gathered all of our luggage and headed out to find a taxi. We found the people organizing the taxis and got in line. We ended up with a van, which we needed with all of our stuff. Then I endured the scariest cab ride of my life (and it was less than 5 miles to the hotel!). The driver sped into this parking lot and down a back ally behind the hotel. I seriously thought we were about to be mugged! He dumped us and our stuff off in the alley behind the hotel - no joke! Damn scary.

Jim's sister Branda (and her friend) stopped in to see is for a little bit before they went to a New Year's Eve party - it was so good to see her!

We discovered that night that my cat had pulled two of her front toenails completely out sometime during the flight. Her paws were still bleeding. Oh, I cried and cried - I felt responsible and so terribly guilty. (She seems to be doing just fine now. She is not favoring either paw, and will let us look at her feet if we are careful). Combine that with the fact that the drugs only seemed to make them punch drunk and not relaxed, and well, it was a traumatizing day for the kitties.

Needless to say I didn't really sleep that night, plus we had to be at the airport super early.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Move Day 1: Dec. 30, 2008

December 30, 2008 - Day 1: Leaving Ohio
or “why my New Year’s resolution is to have less stuff in my life.”

I owe my mother and my mother-in-law the world. Without their help we never would have made it out of the apartment. My mom stayed for a few days around Christmas and helped pack, and Jim’s mom spent a couple days packing and cleaning (and cleaning!) with us. No exaggeration – we couldn't’t have done it without you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We underestimated the time it would take us to pack out and clean the apartment, and didn’t end up starting our dive to Chicago until about 4pm. The cats (poor things!) were less than amused about being stuck in their cages, and they cried most of the time. We elected not to drug them for the car portion of the journey so that they wouldn’t be drugged for three days straight. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our journey to Chicago was fine, until we actually got to Chicago, at which point we were overwhelmed with construction, pothole-filling and some random traffic issues (at 9-10-11pm at night!). With all the traffic problems we didn't end up getting into our hotel until about 11pm. It turned a 5.5 hour trip into an 8 hour trip. Ugh! Not what we needed right before this huge travel journey.

Here’s a picture of the sunset as we were leaving Ohio:
From The Move

And here is a picture of my cat Jasmine taking in the dramatically different view from our hotel room in Chicago:
From The Move

We stayed at the Hotel Sofitel in Rosemont (right by the airport) - and we were really impressed. The beds are comfortable and the sheets are nice. If you need to stay overnight before heading out on a flight out of Chicago, I highly recommend the Hotel Sofitel.

We did our best to get some sleep that night, but I couldn't sleep much - too worried about the next couple days.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Brief update

We’re here! And it was quite the adventure, but we made it (and on time, too) and have settled into our vacation rental apartment. Still having jetlag issues (waking up at 3am and being pretty darn tired by 6pm), but we are slowly getting adjusted. Unfortunately we’ve both managed to pick up head colds, which is making it difficult to completely enjoy our circumstances. The weather is gorgeous, 78 and mostly sunny, although there has been quite a bit of rain and haze of late. It’s still pretty darn nice!

Jim and I are still trying to come to terms with the reality of the situation – that we’re actually going to live in Hawaii. I am going to break up the story of our journey here into several different posts. I’ve also taken oodles of photos, and I’ll post the best and give you links to the rest, once I get them uploaded. Thank you all for your well wishes. I’ll begin my story of the Big Move tomorrow!

Oh, and Happy New Year!