spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Flights and Mice- Part 2

on April 20, 2017

WE LAUGHED, WE CRIED, IT WAS BETTER THAN ‘CATS’

This is a combo post.  My sister’s words are bolded, and my comments are in RED again.

I think I speak for most of us when I say that it’s hard to be friends with your sibling when you are young, simply because of forced togetherness.  My sister and I shared a room our entire lives until she went away to college.  We went to the same small grammar and high schools, just one school year apart.  We lived in a bad neighborhood and our parents did not let us play outside unattended.  In short, we couldn’t ever get away from each other.

While we wound up going to the same college (a HUGE relief for my parents), the campus was so huge there was almost zero chance of seeing each other without expressly planning to.  And…that’s exactly what we did.  We planned to meet up one day about a week into my freshman year, and (at least I, personally) had the unexpected reaction of being pleased to see my sister and realizing that I had missed her, even though I had just seen her all summer.  So we became friends.  All we needed was a little distance.

In one of life’s quirks, we now have too much distance and miss each other terribly, lamenting that fact that our kids are not growing up together.  Thus, this trip!

We had several goals:

  • a successful solo-parent voyage for my sister and niece (Inbound flights = √)
  • plenty of primo (cousin) time
  • touristy and local fun

Out first activity was decidedly touristy: Sea Life Park.  You might recall I shared the Times Supermarket deal for admission tickets.  This worked very well, and we had a good, but very hot day.  Hurricane Niece liked the dolphin show and was bopping along to the music.  The sea lion feeding was OK, a bit too much talking for a toddler to sit through.  The playground was a hit, as was the small aviary.  She noped out during the sea lion show, and rightly so.  Why in there world is there no shade over those aluminum bleachers?  We had lunch there- they now sell Pink’s Hot Dogs, and provide this lovely photo op to boot:

pinks

My son’s photography skills are…developing.  Ba dump tiss.

We left and got home to hit the pool at home after a short nap.  Refreshing.  Had a nice dinner at home and relaxed.  Hurricane went to sleep, and we felt it was safe to do pick up DD from an activity, leaving Hurricane and DS home with DH.  We were almost home when DH called my sister and before he could even get a word out you could hear the crying through the phone.  Hurricane had woken up, in a strange place, with no Mami to be seen.  She was understandably upset, and we made our way home quickly to soothe her.

The next day (Sunday) was very important!  DD is a theatre kid, and had a featured role in a local production. This was my sister’s first time watching her perform live in a big show (having only watched the home videos I would share with her and my parents), and Hurricane’s first live theatre experience.  If I do say so myself, DD knocked it out of the park and all were happy and impressed.  Hurricane loved it and was singing and dancing along.  It was a great day.

The next day we headed off the Windward Mall, now nicknamed The Best Mall Ever by my sister.  Why?  808 Bounce (a bounce house place), that cute little mall train, a yummy meal at Buffalo Wild Wings, a Fun Factory arcade, and very, very few crowds owing to it being the very beginning of Oahu’s public school spring break.  This visit marked only the 4th time I had ever been to that mall, and my sister’s perspective on it did make me think differently of it.  All the kids had a fun day, with 15-year-old DD gamely boarding the train with her little brother and niece so that my sister and I could take pictures of their ride.

Tuesday saw more relaxation.  I went to work on this day, having some important calls and meetings to attend to.  My sister grabbed all the kids and went to the nearby playground, where they lasted for approximately 15 minutes before declaring it hotter than the surface of the sun.  Back to the house, and pool.  The rest of the evening consisted of watching Moana and plenty of Disney Junior while my sister and I packed for Aulani!

me aulani

So Hurricane’s first Disney experience was Aulani, which my sister has more experience with and will surely be doing a more extensive blog post on (and here it is). All I needed to do this time, was tell her “YES LET’S DO A NIGHT AT AULANI!!!” and she handled the booking.  You’ll recall that I rented DVC points for this stay, which had an unexpected benefit…

We went mid-week, checking in on Wednesday and checking out the next day. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Honolulu, just me, sis, and the kids (brother-in-law had to work). Check-in time wasn’t til later, but you are welcome to use the Pool area and Beach until your room was ready; they even hold your luggage. Knowing this, we packed “pool bags” to keep with us, and let Bell Services keep the rest of the luggage.

In the pool bag, I had everything I thought I’d need: swim suits, sunscreen, cover-ups, hat. Aulani provides guests with towels and life-vests for the little ones. The only thing that I didn’t anticipate was that we would have to kind of roam around until we found an available chair (my only complaint about Aulani, the “chair reservation” situation; people leave towels there as soon as they open the pools in the morning, even though they’re not supposed to do that- grrrrr, indeed). So you’re liable to wander and with pools every few feet, when you get separated from the rest of your party, you really do need one of these waterproof phone pouches.

floating phone case

They do float!

They sell them at the gift shop of course, for a significant mark-up ($30, ugh), but you pay it, cause otherwise, you’re sunk. All those cute videos of her swimming (!) and pool fun-with-primos pics won’t take themselves. But definitely get your own before you pay resort prices for a thing you can get significantly cheaper literally anywhere else.

aulani collage

Top right: a priceless canoe on display in the lobby that she almost destroyed.  Good times. That’s a beautiful model of the world-famous Hokule’a.

Much frolic and play and exploring of the pools (and beach) later, our room still wasn’t ready. But it’s Disney, so they more than made up for the delay by upgrading us to a 2-bedroom suite. Our original reservation was for a 1-bedroom villa.  We “checked in” with the front desk around 10:15am.  Rooms are usually not ready until 4pm, but letting them know we were there doesn’t hurt, plus, it means Bell Services can hold onto the luggage.  At around 2p, I went back to the desk to check on the room.  Still not ready.  At 3:30, we were all pooled out and ready to get out of the sun and bathe.  Still not ready, and the lady at the desk seemed very upset that we hadn’t been assigned a room yet.  She brought a supervisor out who promised to take care of us as quickly as possible.  She noted that it was a DVC member reservation and that the delay was not acceptable.  I pointed out that I was not the owner but had merely rented the points- full disclosure as I didn’t want to receive anything I wasn’t entitled to.  The supervisor replied that even though I wasn’t a direct owner, I was a repeat visitor, and deserved good service.  To that end, she upgraded us into a 2-bedroom Ocean View villa, available immediately, and placed a $75 credit on the room account for the inconvenience.  I was blown away.  I made sure to say so via the Contact Us link on their site.  The room was huge, there were 3 bathrooms, 2 balconies, and any number of luxurious plush robes:

aulani robe

We made full use of every part of those rooms & kitchen, and planned our next day, but not before enjoying a lovely dinner at the Makahiki buffet (where they already had DS’s strawberry allergy listed in the computer- nice touch) and doing a little luxury resort shopping.

childfree retail

We wound up not having time for the Teen Spa or the Menehune Adventure.  But DD and I did go down the 2 big slides, with me having a similar incident to Pool-tastrophe 2015 at WDW…we were in a double inner tube, me in front.  As we burst out of the slide and into the pool, I flipped right out of the inner tube.  It was my own fault.  I let go of the handle because I felt my sunglasses falling off and grabbed them.  DD and the tube slid right over my head as I was underwater.  I almost drowned via laughter again.  What is it with me and Disney Pools?

Before we left the resort, Priority #1 was meeting Moana, so I called the Character Line (how fun is that) and set out to meet her. Mission accomplished! Not only that, we got a great group picture later on with Mickey & Minnie as our last hurrah before departing back to Honolulu. 

5ofus aulani

Anyway, this visit to Aulani really made me think seriously again about DVC ownership.  I’ll be doing lots of research on that in the next 18 months, now that my main reason against the purchase (us not traveling to Florida frequently enough to justify it) may be mitigated (if my sister and I share a DVC contract, switching off the usage years).

Ok, somehow a full week had passed, and there were only 3 days left before our visitors had to go home 😦  We resolved to sacar el jugo out of the rest of our time together.  Friday saw us in Ala Moana Shopping Center.  Our mission was to go to the Disney Store (of course), and finish up a bit of souvenir shopping (the usual chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and sundry) at Longs and Hilo Hattie.  We also ate at California Pizza Kitchen, and lost a rubbah slippah at Jungle Factory (another arcade).

Saturday was a much-anticipated visit to the Honolulu Zoo.  It was better than I remembered.  Still super hot, though.  The elephants seemed pleased by their new enclosure, which is MUCH bigger than it used to be.  The Keiko Zoo was nicely interactive, but the group photo in front of the sign proved unsuccessful.

keiki zoo

Luckily, my sister is quite photogenic.

We ordered and picked up dinner from Irifune to eat at home.  This is my favorite local restaurant of all time.  A while back, the lease got too expensive for them to maintain the kitchen, waiting area, and dining room.  So they made the waiting area the dining room (just 3 tables!).  Instead of eating there, we pick up and eat at home.  Mmmmm, garlic crab.

Sunday= train time!  This was new to all of us, and quite enjoyable.  We drove out to Ewa Beach (quite near the new Ka Makana Ali’i shopping center) with enough time to buy our tickets for the 3pm train ride and eat lunch before getting on the train.  From their site:

We have the only historic railroad on the island of Oahu and the only operating railroad museum in the state.

Come ride with us along a historic stretch of track west of old Ewa and listen to stories about the history of railroading in Hawaii. Train rides are available year round…

The 3 pm rides are Ice cream rides. We stop at “Two Scoops” in Ko’Olina and riders can purchase ice cream to enjoy on the return trip.

This was well done.  The ride was narrated, and halfway through there is a musical-chairs type moment where passengers in each car switch sides so no one group is in the sun/shade the whole time.  The ice cream shop was directly across the street from Aulani.  I tried not to look, lest I be tempted to run back in and never leave.  A nice time was had- my husband, noted lover of trains, really enjoyed it.  I bought a souvenir magnet, of course.

train collage

We made a shopping stop at the Target in Kapolei after this, where I stocked up on more children’s chewable Dramamine for DS, and the kids slept the whole way home.  My sister and I stayed up late watching collegiate men’s gymnastics, because we could, dammit!  She also got a lot of her packing done, since they were leaving the next day, booooo.

Next up, the final chapter as my sister describes her voyage back to NJ.

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4 responses to “Flights and Mice- Part 2

  1. gina says:

    love the idea of two sisters sharing with no fights!

    Like

  2. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    Your opening paragraph is how I’ve described our relationship, VERBATIM, to everyone. Sisters! 🙂

    Like

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