Aloha! We had a wonderful cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. We had lots of beautiful scenery, perfect weather and lots of fun visiting. The twelve of us that went did everything together. The only thing that would have made it better was for the rest of you to have been with us. Melvin and Tami did a great job and had lots of fun activities planned for each day. We were on the Norwegian Cruise Ship named "Pride of America". We enjoyed lots of good food, sunrise every morning and fun productions and games together at night.
A nice beginning to the Cruise was the birth of Kasey and Emily's son, Jeffery Earl on February 1, 2013. I am so grateful that he is a healthy baby and has come into a home where he will be given lots of love. Miriam and Tony now have seven grandchildren to add to their seven children. Jeffrey is my 20th great grandbaby. We are so blessed.
Saturday, Feb. 2nd Miriam and Tony, Rauna and Fred, Joann and Robert, Kenneth and Jenni and Amy and I boarded the Cruise and enjoyed a wonderful reunion together. Everyone seemed to have a story to tell about their travel and connections to Hawaii. We ate together that night and every night on the Cruise. Melvin and Tami didn't join us until Sunday because their plane got out over the water and then had to turn back because there was smoke in the cockpit. The Cruise ship left from Honolulu and during the night arrived in Maui.
Sunday, Feb. 3rd we went to Church in Maui. We were so happy that Melvin and Tami arrived from their flight to Maui just as we were leaving for Sacrament Meeting at the Waiehu Ward in the Kahului-Hawaii Stake. Everyone made us feel welcome. We enjoyed hearing the different members bear their testimonies. Melvin arranged convertibles to rent for our Sunday afternoon drive around Maui. We went on the road to Hana. The road went past magnificent seascapes, waterfalls and rainforests. The were fun cars. One of them was a bright blue. We trade around so different people could have the fun of driving and riding in them with frequent stops to enjoy the beauty. On the way back to our Cruise Ship we stopped at the Keanae Arboretum where we enjoyed lots of beautiful tropical plants. I especially enjoyed the bamboo forest that reminded me so much of Indonesia. Sunday evening we went to the show put on by the Cruise that featured the music and dances of Tahiti, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and the islands of Hawaii. Afterwards we found a quiet place where we had a Family Devotional. Robert and Tony had prepared some thoughts. I planned what I wanted to tell my children for several weeks after Melvin invited me to participate. It was a great setting to bear my testimony and my thoughts about the beauty of God's creations, keeping Dad's memory alive and the power of Christ's atonement.
Amy had the goal to see the sunrise every morning. We still had our rented convertibles. Amy along with Joann, Robert, Fred, Melvin and Kenneth left at 3 am on Monday, Feb. 3 to ride to the top of the volcano where they saw the sun rise above the clouds at 10,000 feet and then took a 23 miles bicycle ride down the volcano to the beach. The rest of us enjoyed seeing a full rainbow and a double rainbow and breakfast together and a good visit. Our next activity Melvin planed for us was a Whale Watching Cruise. We were in Hawaii at the best time to see whales and we saw lots of them. Kenneth said that he thinks we saw about fifty whales in the ocean that put on a real show for us. Afterwards we had our group picture taken by a beautiful banyan tree and enjoyed ice cream at a little village where we saw them take two black pearls from an oyster shell. Our next stop was theMaui Tropical Plantation. We walked around the beautifully kept grounds where we saw where they grow sugarcane, macadamia nuts, taro, papaya, mango, guava and bananas. Our next stop in the late afternoon was the IAO Valley State Park. This was a beautiful valley with walking paths and a great view of the IAO Needle which is a lushly covered rocky spire that stands 2,250 feet high and is very spectacular. We were back to the Cruise Ship for dinner together and the show, "Salute to Broadway". This was a full day because it was formal night at the Cruise so we all dressed up in fancy clothes and had our picture taken. I am attaching our Hawaiian Cruise Family Picture for your enjoyment.
Melvin and Tami had another great day planned for us on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Our Cruise Ship arrived in Hilo on the Big Island at 8 am. We started the day by driving around Hilo and seeing the "Hilo Walk of Fame" featuring about fifty big banyan trees planted by celebrities in the 1930's. We saw the banyan tree planted by Amelia Earnhardt, Babe Ruth and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Melvin said that Heber J. Grand also planted a banyan tree but we couldn't find the tree with his plaque. They are now big beautiful trees. We went to the Rainbow Falls Lookout and Twin Falls. They are both beautiful waterfalls. Another spectacular thing that we saw on Wednesday was the Volcanoes National Park. We saw a movie about Hawaii's Goddess of Fire and then we drove along the 10 mile Crater Rim Drive. We stopped at the Kilauea overlook and saw where the lava had covered a vast area and we could see all the devastation. We also saw steam vents in one of the world's most active volcanoes and could feel the heat. One of the things that I found most interesting was the Thurston Lava Tube which was like a "journey to the center of the earth" made by the Kilauea volcano which eruption in 1959 and is still erupting. We took a short hike down to the tube which was like a big tunnel. Lava tube caves are formed when fluid lava passes through the earth's crust to the surface. Someone said that the Lavas Tube Tunnel reminded them of Hezekiah's tunnel in Jerusalem. Thank you Melvin for providing this experience for us. We stopped at the Volcano Store next to the United States Post Office in Volcano, Hawaii 96785. We had ice cream cones which we decided was our lunch.
Melvin had even more exciting things planned for us in Hilo. He took us to theMauna Loa Macadamia Farm where we were able to take a self guided factory tour. We saw the processing area, sorting area, salting, and the candy glazing and packaging stations. Afterwards they gave us samples and we bought some to bring home. I especially like the macadamia covered with chocolate. We stopped at aFarmer's Market on the way back to our Cruise Ship. We didn't have time to go to the Orchid Farm in Hilo so I enjoyed seeing all the orchids at the Farmer's Market. This again reminded me of the orchid I grew in Indonesia and all the many varieties they had there at the Botanical Gardens. Some of us made orchid leis with orchids provided by the Cruise Ship. We also received orchid leis when we checked into our ship last Saturday and enjoyed wearing them for dinner. We enjoyed a relaxing good visit as we ate dinner together. After dinner we played games together in the game room while we waited for another exciting event. In the evening the Cruise Ship gave us a close up view of the Lava flowing down to the ocean. It was dark but you could see the fire from the hot lava. This was an interesting sight.
The "Pride of America" Cruise Ship took us to other side of the Big Island to Konaon Wednesday, February 6, 2013 for Day 5 of our Hawaiian Adventure Cruise. After breakfast we met to leave the ship together on Tender Boats since the Ship could not dock at the Harbor. Early in the morning Amy and I watched them take the boats down from the ship and clean them ready to use. Our first sightseeing opportunity was to see the Oldest Christian Church built in Hawaii. We also saw a replica of the Thaddeus Ship that the first missionaries came in arriving in 1820. They built the Mokuaikana Chapel. Across the street from the chapel is theHalihe'e Palace. We didn't go into the palace but enjoyed the view of our Cruise ship from the grounds.
Our next stop was our beautiful Kona Temple. We enjoyed the peace we felt at the temple and the beautifully landscaped grounds. We wanted to go to a temple session but there was not enough time. Amy said that she wants to be married in the Kona Temple. Dad and I went to a session in the Kona Temple around 2002 when Vernon invited us to go with him to a professional seminar at a close by resort where he was presenting a paper. Melvin and Tami next planned for us to visit the Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park- "City of Refuge". We were able to learn about Hawaiian history and culture as we explored the ancient Royal Grounds reserved for the Kona Royalty. We were interested to walk onto the Pu'uhonua, where people found refuge after war or breaking a kapu (religious law). We also enjoyed seeing an ancient Hawaiian game called Konane that looked like a game of checkers. We especially enjoyed seeing the sea turtles on the beach. You had to look to find them because they blended right in to the rocks. We saw a giant Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle on the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach where we enjoyed snorkeling. The turtle was as magnificent creature and a fun photo opportunity of this endangered species. The beach was really like salt and pepper (black and white mixed) and interesting with the black lava mixed in making it much coarser sand that was easy to wash off. I didn't snorkel but those that did said they saw many different varieties of beautiful coral and fish in clear water. Tony rented a surfing board and went way out into the ocean for his water fun. We took the tender back to the Cruise Ship where we enjoyed dinner together and games after.
Thursday, February 7 and Day 6 of our Cruise was spent in Kauai which is rightly called the Garden Island. Amy and I enjoyed breakfast together watching the sun rise and the whales off the side of the ship. We had a beautiful drive through a tunnel of trees to the Waimea Canyon often called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific". I enjoyed the red dirt and the black and brown volcanic rock mingled with the blues and greens of lush tropical vegetation. The drive and then the view were spectacular. We could also see a glimpse of the cliffs of the Napali Coast that we later saw from the cruise ship. We stopped in a cute little village of Hanapepe where Melvin treated us all to ice cream at the Luppert Ice Cream Factory. They had lots of different flavors of delicious ice cream. Some of the group purchased spices at the Aloha Spice Company. Another memorable (and scary) experience was to walk across the Historic Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. It was originally built in 1911 and extensively rebuilt after as hurricane in 1992. It sways with your steps and rocks as you walk across this wooden bridge with cables holding it up. We stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of the Po'ipu Beach to enjoy the Spouting Horn Blow Hole on our way to the Wailua River Cruise. A flat bottom motor launch took us two miles up Hawaii's longest navigable river. On the way we were entertained with songs and dances by the natives. We especially enjoyed watching a little girl dance. The boat stopped and we walked a short distance through the rain forest to the Fern Grotto. This is a huge natural rock amphitheater and a popular place for weddings. We were entertained with the Hawaiian Wedding Song being sung with beautiful accompaniment. It was a romantic setting for the couples on our tour. We went back to the ship for dinner and then came back at night to the Garden Luau. The Smith's Garden Luau is advertised to be "the best luau on Kauai" and we were not disappointed. The Luau began with the torch lighting and followed with dances from Tahiti, Hawaii, Philippines, New Zealand and Samoa. I especially enjoyed the final fire dance where the performer danced with two lighted torches.
Our last day of the Cruise (Day 7) most of the group went Zip Lining. Amy said that the experience was "unbelievable". From all the reports Amy and Tony were very daring as they held out their hands and +turned upside down as they went down various zip lines across the beautiful tropical paradise. Jenni and Tami said that it was not even scary. Kenneth said that he went very fast across the zip line and they had a hard time stopping him. Joann and Robert like adventure and Melvinfound it for them with the Zip Line experience. Fred and Rauna enjoyed a quiet walk together on the beach. Miriam and I enjoyed breakfast together looking out on the beautiful coast and ocean and then found a quiet spot on the ship where we could listen to beautiful music. I read a good book while Miriam worked on wedding plans for their upcoming weddings. The ship left Kauai at 1:30 pm so they had to get the rental cars back and board the ship. We all had lunch together at the Skyline Dining Hall. The afternoon was spent relaxing and enjoying the view. We arranged to meet again for dinner. We enjoyed both the Skyline and the Lincoln Restaurant for nice meals with lots of good food. We also found that the Cadillac Diner was open until 11 pm so sometimes ended our day visiting there. After the Cruise Ship left Kauai to return to Oahu they took us up close to the NaPali Coast where we could enjoy a good view. We took lots of photos first on one side of the ship and then moved to the other side when the ship turned around to go back out to the open ocean. The view of the NaPali Coastline was breath taking and the scene of many movies. The only land access to this enchanted area is via the Kalalau Trail which Ray has hiked. The guide book said it is one of the most challenging which fits Ray and his love for hiking. We wish Ray and Jeannette could have been with us on our Hawaii adventure.
Melvin thought of everything to make the trip a lifetime memory. Melvin and Tami invited us to a Cruise Closing Ceremony where we recapped our adventures. It was sad to have it all ending. It has been such a wonderful trip. Melvin and Tami gave out the following awards with a story behind each award that will be appreciated by those of us on the Cruise. Miriam- The "Mary Pippins" Award, Tony- The "Not really on vacation" Award, Rauna, The "I Did it All Award" Award, Fred- The "Speed Demon" Award, Joann- The "Housewife Adventure Junkie" Award, Robert -The "Boy Scout" Award, Kenneth-The "I Deserve a Mustang" Award, Jenni- The "Bargain Fashion" Award, Melvin- The "Just in Time" award, Tami- The "Go Along with Anything" Award, Amy "The Most Excited" Award, and Me –The "Can't Miss Out on Anything" award. We played a few games before leaving to pack to leave our Cruise early the next morning.
Saturday morning in Oahu we all had different schedules to meet. Rauna and Fred were met at the ship by a friend and went to the Temple, Amy went with Kenneth and Jenni and Melvin and Tami. They went to the Swap Meet in Honolulu before taking Amy to the airport. Miriam and Tony invited me to spend the day with them. We drove all along the coast enjoying Waikiki Beach and all the other beautiful beaches on our way to Laie. I appreciate them taking me to see Cesear Siregar who we knew in Bogor and is attending BYU-Hawaii. We met his wife who he recently married from Taiwan. Another student I knew at BYU-Hawaii and the daughter of my mission president was at work at the Polynesian Culture Center so I didn't get to see her. We enjoyed walking around the Hawaii Temple and the sister missionaries (one from Mesa) gave us a tour of the Visitor Center. We also walked down to the beach by the temple and walked around the BYU-Hawaii Campus. We got back to Honolulu too late to see Pearl Harbor but enjoyed seeing the Iolani Palace and the statue of King Kamehameha. We were looking for a place to eat before our 11 pm flight back to the mainland. When Tony asked a man for suggestions he informed us that it was the Chinese New Year Eve. We drove to China Town and found a great street Chinese Festival. We ate at a very traditional Chinese restaurant where the menu was in Chinese and we were given chopsticks to eat with. Tony commented that we could never have a more Chinese restaurant experience. My Indonesian friends on face book were all wishing everyone a "Gong Xi Fa Cai" which I think says "Happy New Year".
Miriam, Tony and I all had different airlines that we went on to go home. I was blessed to be the last passenger on my US Airways Flight. Rauna and Fred were on the flight leaving 30 minutes later which ended up being overbooked because of other airlines sending people over because of their mechanical problems (Amy's Hawaiian Air Flight turned back after being over the water and she had to wait for maintenance. Anyway Rauna got money and a beautiful hotel room for being bumped. I would have got nothing had I been waiting for that flight so I feel blessed. I arrived home Sunday morning with just an hour to get ready for Stake Conference.