|May 8, 2010||
SARAH’S SECOND ALOHA VACATION AND TRANS-PACIFIC CRUISE
Almost exactly one year ago we went to Hawai’i with Sarah who was then just three months old. We decided to fly there again, spend some time on Oahu, and then take a ten-day cruise with stops in Lahaina, Kailua-Kona, and Hilo before heading across the Pacific home to Vancouver. However, this time with a toddler it was a very different travel experience. In fact, each time we have travelled with her (three months old, eight months old, ten months old, and now fifteen months old) has been an entirely different experience with completely new challenges. The most notable difference this time is Sarah’s new astute awareness of her environment and her newfound ability to explore it. In addition, her tastes have matured and she is interested in eating everything that we eat and oftentimes she will surprise us with what she will eat (olives, raw onions, ham) and at times what she won’t eat (her favourite chicken or watermelon that we specifically ordered for her!). This makes meals especially difficult since it’s a challenge to order the correct food to ensure that she is eating well and that was one reason a cruise vacation was a foolproof choice in this regard. Finally, Sarah has developed a mild toddler attitude where she will get frustrated more easily, say “no” a lot, and resort to throwing things on the ground. Thankfully this is not that frequent and she is fairly easy to distract although we are still working on correcting this behaviour.
To begin with, if you can believe it, we had even more stuff to bring! Partly this is because Sarah is bigger and her clothes are slightly larger, but we also had to carry a large amount of snacks for her and more clothes since she now refuses to wear a bib when eating (luckily she is a relatively clean eater). That combined with her diapers, wipes, stroller, convertible car seat (she’s too tall for the infant car seat now), booster chair, toys, books, etc. made our three bags and two carry-ons jammed to the hilt and bordering on slightly overweight (thankfully nobody at YVR cared unlike at U.S. airports)! After acquiring more loot shopping in Honolulu we actually came back with four bags jammed until the zippers were nearly broken! Luckily we were on a ship with no luggage number or weight restrictions!
We started our trip by arriving at YVR airport with just enough time to go through security and customs and then buy some food for Sarah. The six-hour flight was much longer than we had remembered! Fortunately, Sarah had her own (free!) seat again, was well-behaved for most of it, and we managed to force her to take a 30-minute nap during her usual bedtime (7:20pm). Upon arrival in Honolulu, it looked just like Vancouver with light showers! We managed to hijack a luggage cart from the departures level and then picked up our rental car and were soon off to our hotel, the Hawai’i Prince Hotel Waikiki.
The three hour time change didn’t bother Sarah when she was an infant and could only stay awake for two hours at a time but on this trip it was a huge problem initially. On the first night, by the time we got checked in, hurriedly unpacked, and gotten Sarah bathed and to bed it was already 8:30pm local time (11:30pm Vancouver time). We were hoping she would sleep her usual ten to eleven hours overnight but in a foreign room and crib our worst fear was realized at 2:45am local time after we had slept only five hours – Sarah started crying and despite an hour of trying she would not go back to sleep! We had no choice but to get her day started and hope that she would nap in the early morning. She did finally nap at around 7:00am local time (10:00am Vancouver time) for an hour and a half, but then refused multiple attempts to get her to nap again despite her looking obviously tired. We were so desperate we ended up taking her out for a stroll at 3:00pm local time (6:00pm Vancouver time) and thankfully she slept in the stroller until we had to wake her up to go eat dinner at 5:20pm local time (8:20pm Vancouver time). Sarah was so fast asleep in the stroller thinking it was her usual bedtime that we took her out along noisy Ala Moana Boulevard and she was still completely passed out! We felt quite badly as our poor baby had the routine just perfect – except we were no longer in the same time zone! By our second day in Hawai’i she adjusted a bit and slept through the night and had us up at 5:45am local time (8:45am Vancouver time), but on her third and fifth nights she woke us up crying at 11:15pm local time (2:15am Vancouver time). All subsequent nights on this vacation she slept through the night, although typically she would sleep less (wake up earlier) than if she were at home in her own bed. As a result, on most days she had to go back to taking two naps. However, by the end of the vacation, Sarah was able to sleep 12 to 13 hours on the cruise ship and then take a two-hour nap in the afternoon, which is even better than at home! Perhaps it was because of the small room being so dark; the ship’s constant rocking motion; and/or the white noise we played in her room. Regardless, changes of time zones are very difficult for toddlers who are very set in their schedules and we are truly glad we only had to deal with one flight and one abrupt three-hour time change (the cruise was a great gradual adjustment back to Vancouver time over five days).
Due to the uncertainty noted above, the first full day in Honolulu was a bit of a write-off. We did manage to (over)eat at Nico’s at Pier 38 where we enjoyed swordfish, marlin burger, and fried calamari on nalo greens and also we visited Costco (where we were pleased to see local Big Island strawberries). For dinner we ate at another of our favourites – Korean restaurant Shillawon. On our second day, our plan to eat Kyoto-style ramen at Yotteka-ya was foiled by the fact that they were closed for the entire week due to a “business trip!” Instead, we ended up taking the hotel’s shuttle (with grumpy driver) into Waikiki for tasty miso and shoyu ramen at Kiwami Ramen inside the Waikiki Shopping Center’s food court. We strolled through some of the shops along Kalakaua Ave. and then set ourselves down near the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Waikiki Beach where we hoped Sarah would enjoy playing in the sand (she didn’t). We got a nice cold drink at Jamba Juice and then tried to get Sarah to take another nap to no avail, so we “ate” dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at Waikiki Beachwalk (we didn’t get to eat peacefully as Sarah was overtired and uncooperative, so most of the meal ended up being packed to go). We hurriedly took the next available shuttle (with the same driver who was now in an even more foul mood) back to the hotel and put Sarah to bed early at 7:00pm local time (10:00pm Vancouver time).
On our third day, Sarah was up again at 5:45am and so we took TheBus, Oahu’s public transit network, to the Kapi’olani Community College (KCC) Saturday Farmer’s Market. Despite this being our fifth time in Honolulu together we have never found the opportunity to attend this market until now. Apparently it was once a true market for farmers to sell their produce and while there are still some fruits, vegetables, and orchids available for sale, the majority of the people milling around the market are tourists, particularly Japanese ones. In fact, tour buses and trolleys routinely drop off tourists at this market. As a result, it is now more of a large outdoor food court than anything else, with some truly delicious choices. Due to the crowds, we took Sarah in her stroller and found a nice shaded area to sit while we made rounds to line up to get food. We started with a delicious pesto pizza from North Shore Farms, sweet Kahuku corn on the cob with lilikoi (passion fruit) butter and herbs, salmon fried rice, and pineapple-ginger cooler drink. We then topped it off with Big Island abalone, Kalua pork sliders on taro buns topped with tasty slaw, deep fried green tomatoes, beignets (French-style donuts) and arancini (deep-fried risotto and cheese balls). We barely made it back to the hotel to get Sarah down for her nap (she nearly fell asleep in the stroller, on TheBus, and in our arms while we rushed her back to the hotel). After she woke up, we picked up our rental car and went to have lunch at Honolulu Book Chang Dong Soon Do Bu where we had wonderful tofu soup a year ago. The only problem was that it has since gone out of business! Therefore, we decided to try local favourite Kaka’ako Kitchen at Ward Center. Similar in concept to Nico’s at Pier 38, this eatery serves up delicious food prepared by a classically trained chef but on Styrofoam plates at an affordable price. We enjoyed the fire-roasted ahi tuna with spicy Cajun apricot cream sauce and a trio of BBQ meats with greens and rice. We found the food tasty but it did not come as hot as we would have liked, and the consensus was that we still preferred to eat at Nico’s. After lunch, we wanted to head to the Honolulu Zoo (for Sarah’s enjoyment) but it was already nearly 3:00pm and the zoo closes at 4:30pm. Instead, we stayed at Ward Center and did some shopping at Nordstrom Rack and Ross Dress for Less where we picked up some outfits and books for Sarah. For dinner, we ate at Yakinuku Migawon – reportedly the only Korean BBQ restaurant in Hawai’i that uses real charcoal. They are also famous for their Su Won a.k.a. Wang kalbi that is supposedly marinated in a different sauce than usual Korean BBQ (it tasted about the same to us; i.e., yummy). After dinner we were stuck in a bit of traffic heading back to Waikiki due to the annual Spam Jam – a street parade celebrating that Hawai’ian favourite canned meat, Spam, in which they shut down the main street Kalakaua to all vehicular traffic.
On Sunday, Sarah was again up early at 5:30am local time and we headed out towards the North Shore. Sarah fell asleep in the car by 8:40am while on the H-1 freeway. We arrived at the Dole Plantation at 9:00am as planned only to find that they had changed their opening time to 9:30am! We stayed in the parking lot while Sarah napped and when they opened, we enjoyed our Dole Whip and then went into the store to buy replacement pineapple knives (ours somehow disappeared at home) and a souvenir stuffed animal for Sarah. At the adjacent fruit stand we enjoyed sweet sliced mangoes which are just coming into season in April/May. Next, we headed off to Haleiwa in search of the Farmer’s Market but could not find it; instead, we ate butter garlic and coconut shrimp at Macky’s Shrimp, ate huli-huli chicken (rotisserie chicken coated with a special secret BBQ sauce made pineapple juice, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, garlic, etc.) at Ray Kiawe Broiled Chicken that was being barbequed over a huge charcoal trailer filled with kiawe wood in a parking lot, and enjoyed drinks and free Wi-Fi at Coffee Gallery. Leaving the North Shore, we spent a few hours shopping at the Waikele Premium Outlets where fortunately Sarah napped an hour in the stroller. For dinner we had Vietnamese at Pho One in Honolulu which was just average, but the restaurant was very clean for a pho place.
Monday morning started at 5:00am when some idiot called the wrong phone number and woke the whole family up! We had planned to take Sarah to the Honolulu Zoo first thing in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat, but we knew that she would be too tired and would need an early morning nap right about the time it opened. We had her asleep by 8:30am and she slept until 11:00am! When she woke up, we scooted out for ramen lunch at Tenkaippin, which is a franchise location of a chain with hundreds of locations in Japan. Their specialty is a kotteri-style ramen which is primarily made of chicken bone that is boiled for ten hours to release the collagen until the broth is so thick it has the consistency of a gritty and rich gravy. After enjoying our ramen, we headed to the Honolulu Zoo which, after hearing all the criticism about it in online reviews, was a pleasant surprise for us. While small in size (what would you expect of a zoo located on prime real estate at the edge of Waikiki on an island in the middle of the Pacific?), this is also a plus as we could see many of the animals quite close up. As this was the first time seeing zoo animals in person, we think Sarah was a bit shocked at how large the hippos, giraffes, zebras, and elephants are in real life unlike in her books! However, after the initial look of surprise she was obviously very happy to see the animals and would beam a big smile when we talked about them for the entire vacation. We rushed Sarah back to the hotel for a second two hour nap (she was running a huge sleep debt by this time in the vacation!) and for dinner we ate at Kua ’Aina Sandwich at Ward Center. Afterwards, we spent a bit of time shopping at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Tuesday was embarkation day and Sarah was up at 6:20am, having slept only eight hours overnight again. We jammed everything into our four bags and two backpacks and then checked out of the hotel. We made a brief stop at the Beard Papa inside Foodland at Ala Moana Shopping Center to pick up some strawberry shortcake éclair puffs which are not sold in the Vancouver Beard Papa stores. We had initially planned to go to the well-reviewed “hole-in-the-wall” Kahai Street Kitchen for lunch but when we got there it was still closed and there was nowhere to park or for Sarah to walk around. Therefore, we decided to go back to Nico’s at Pier 38 where we had swordfish, cuttlefish, and Kahuku corn chowder. Gloria and Sarah got dropped off at the cruise ship terminal and the rental car was then returned in Waikiki. Embarkation onto Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas was fairly quick although we were disappointed that stateroom upgrades were no longer available for purchase at the pier at a significant discount (we were hoping to move up to one of the Royal Family Suites!). Right before we got on board Sarah finally fell asleep in the stroller after having been up for nearly six hours but unfortunately our room was not ready until 1:00pm, so we wheeled her into the library where she napped for only an hour. We ate lunch at the Windjammer Cafe and then unpacked. Sarah refused to nap again and so we rushed through dinner as fast as we could and then put her to bed at 6:45pm. She was so tired that she slept through the multiple announcements and loud ship’s alarms to announce the General Emergency Drill (Muster) at 8:00pm! She did wake up at 10:15pm and was playful but we put her back in the crib and she cried for about ten minutes and fell back asleep until 7:30am the next morning.
We arrived in Lahaina, Maui on Wednesday and after breakfast we headed off the ship on one of the rockiest, slowest and stuffiest tender boats ever. Once ashore, it took an hour to wait for the rental car shuttle to pick up and then to retrieve the car, and by that time Sarah had fallen asleep in her stroller under the shade in the enormous Banyan Tree Park. We transferred her to the car seat and then headed north towards Kapalua where we stopped at to see (un)interesting lava formations called the “Dragon’s Teeth”. Sarah woke up after an hour of napping and looked a bit hungry so we ate at the nearby Honokowai Okazuya Deli. After lunch, we spent some time enjoying beautiful Kahekili Beach Park which had a nice breeze and shade provided by palm trees. Despite only being awake for about two hours, Sarah once again started looking sleepy so we quickly drove to the nearby Lahaina Cannery Mall (which has air conditioning and a Starbucks with free Wi-Fi for the parents) where Sarah napped for nearly two hours in the stroller! When she woke up, we found overnight parking in Lahaina and then returned to the ship.
We stayed anchored off Lahaina overnight and on Thursday morning we tendered back ashore and headed to Maui Ocean Center, the local aquarium. Sarah has never been to an aquarium before and we thought she would enjoy seeing different fish, turtles, and starfish and so on. By the time we got to shore via the slow tender service, retrieved the rental car from the overnight parking lot, and drove half an hour to the town of Ma’alaea where the aquarium is located, Sarah was starting to look sleepy. She fell asleep in the stroller shortly thereafter and napped for nearly two hours while we explored the aquarium. When she woke up, she enjoyed watching the sharks and colourful fish. As we were all getting hungry, we headed back to the ship and Gloria and Sarah went back onboard for lunch and then the rental car was filled up and returned.
On Friday, we arrived in Kailua-Kona, Big Island and once again we had to tender to shore. We didn’t bother with a rental car since we were only in port for about eight hours and also because we had already explored the west side of the Big Island on two previous trips. Instead, we figured we would just walk around Kona town. The weather was awful – overcast and rainy – and we almost decided to stay on the ship. However, since there wasn’t much of a line up for tender tickets we got off around 9:30am and walked along Ali’i Drive until we got to the Farmer’s Market. We bought locally grown Kona King mangoes, smaller Golden Glow mangoes, papayas, and Waimea (Kamuela) strawberries for only $11. By 11:00am, Sarah had fallen asleep so we decided to walk up Palani Street and we stayed at the Kona Coast Shopping Center until Sarah woke up. We had a small Vietnamese snack at Ba-Le, checked our emails and had a drink at Starbucks, and then headed back to the ship. When we arrived, we got busted at the security checkpoint with all our fruit and we were told that due to U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, we had to take the tender back to the shore to eat it (we weren’t even allowed to eat it on the gangway or on the tender) or else throw it away right away! Not wanting to waste our fruit, we managed to eat three mangoes and the strawberries “illegally” at the security area without much fanfare but had to throw away the rest. Friday evening we cruised past Kilauea volcano but unfortunately not until nearly midnight and we were already fast asleep. However, the video footage we saw of the flowing lava at night was definitely amazing and even the Captain reported that Madame Pele (Hawai’ian god of fire) put on the best display he has seen in ten cruise-bys in his career. If there is a next time, we will be sure to make a better effort to stay up to watch.
Saturday, May 1, saw us docked in Hilo, Big Island, one of the rainiest cities in North America (yes, even rainier than Vancouver!). The first day of May, also called May Day, is a holiday known as “Lei Day” on the Hawai'ian Islands in celebration of the tradition of lei making and the spirit of aloha (love) which they represent. Lei Day was made famous by the song “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai'i” written by Ruth and Leonard "Red" Hawk in the 1920s. Sarah was up at 5:00am and we had breakfast as early as we could (7:00am) and watched as our ship pulled into Hilo Bay. We walked off by 8:00am and luckily there were no motion sickness-inducing tenders to deal with today! The car rental shuttle was waiting for us and we took a short ride to the Hilo International Airport where we picked up our rental car and Sarah fell asleep shortly thereafter. Our first stop was the Lava Tree State Park with its large collection of lava trees (moist trees which were coated with hot lava and became tubes). Sarah woke up after napping only forty minutes when we opened the car doors so we cut our visit short and headed down Pahoa-Pohoiki Road (supposedly pretty but it was more narrow and treacherous than anything else!) and ended up at Ahalanui Warm Spring. The water there is from the ocean and streams and after the 1955 and 1960 eruptions of Kilauea the water became volcanically heated. We dipped our feet in and Sarah looked at the small fish and black crabs. We headed back into the car and drove to the end of the road (it was cut off by lava flows) and planned to walk along the new Kaimu Black Sand Beach but it was pelting rain and we decided to abort the plan. The old Kaimu Beach was regarded as the best black sand beach in the world but it was covered by lava in 1990 along with a traditional Hawai’ian town called Kalapana. From the end of the road, we turned around, drove through Pahoa Town, and then stopped at the Pana’ewa Rain Forest Zoo. This is actually our third visit to this zoo – the first was a rainout and we turned around; the second was a rainout but we decided to stick around to see the white Bengal tiger get fed his lunch; and now the third time was for Sarah’s benefit. Admission to the zoo is free and the price is just right because you get what you pay for! However, Sarah did enjoy seeing some feral pigs, some petting zoo animals, and the sleeping tiger (and yes, we got rained on for a third consecutive time!). Our final stop of the day was the Hilo Farmer’s Market. After yesterday’s experience, we knew that we could not bring fruit back onboard the ship so we bought what we could eat right there. We enjoyed two Golden Glow mangoes and a pound of lychees before heading back towards the ship to mark the end of our Hawai’ian vacation.
The next five days were spent cruising across the Pacific Ocean aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. The maiden voyage for this ship was actually in 1997 and we sailed on her as our first cruise together in 1999 when she was still a groundbreaking ship with many innovative features! One of Royal Caribbean’s six Vision class vessels, the ship design has of course since been eclipsed by the Radiance, Voyager, Freedom, and now the behemoth Oasis generation of ships and now the Rhapsody is starting to show its age (it’s probably due for a dry dock refurbishment soon). It’s hard to believe that a little voyage along the Inside Passage to Alaska ten years ago began our cruising history which now has reached over twenty cruise vacations, and stands as a reminder of how we are no longer young and free!
It was a rough first day At Sea with the barf bags out in all the stairwells by 9:00am in the morning but fortunately neither of us got sick enough to need to use them. The other four days saw much calmer seas and between days two and three the forecasted temperature changed from a tropical 26°C to a typical Vancouver 12°C with rain! Even though we have cruised quite a bit, we do experience different things each time and this time we enjoyed the seafood paella that was cooked on a charcoal grill on the pool deck, a backstage tour of the theatre, and a really neat show called "Fluorescence." Sarah also really liked the towel animals – especially the monkey that hung from the ceiling!
All in all, we had a fairly relaxing vacation and Sarah was pretty well-behaved and seemed to enjoy herself which allowed us to enjoy ourselves too. It was challenging in new ways but still a nice getaway. Now onto planning the next vacation...
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May 31, 2010
SARAH IS SIXTEEN
MONTHS OLD AND WE NOW HAVE A LARK
Sarah turned sixteen months old on the 11th and she weighed 9.35kg and measured 80cm long. She didn't gain much, if any, weight on vacation despite having eaten fairly well (we thought). She is now walking very fast (almost running) and for the first time ever decided she would crawl through a tunnel. In the past few weeks she's had a language explosion and we have lost count of her many words and phrases. She seems to learn two to four new words per day so we need to be more careful about our own potty mouths! When we came home from Hawaii we also noticed that she quietly erupted some new teeth – two molars and two canines have come out on top and it looks like two canines are on their way out on the bottom.
This update comes so late and without a photo because we have barely had time to even keep up with the house chores and grocery shopping while trying to juggle child care and work. For some reason, Sarah has turned into quite the lark since returning from vacation. Prior to vacation, we had transitioned her to one nap per day and she would typically sleep from 7:15pm until 7:15am and then take a two-hour afternoon nap. Her sleep was disrupted early in the vacation because of the time change but by the end of the vacation she was sleeping twelve to thirteen hours overnight and taking a single two-hour nap again. However, the minute we came home she cut her overnight sleep to between eight and nine hours per night and would have us up typically at 5:30am but never later than 6:00am. We had thought it might be teething and tried to give her some time to adjust but the early-morning wakeups have persisted and it has now been almost a month and her sleeping patterns have not returned to their ways of old. We have tried many different things including, but not limited to: blackout curtains, white noise, cooler clothes, later or earlier bedtime, ignoring her and letting her cry in the morning, tiring her out before bedtime, etc. but nothing has made a difference. After two weeks of this she became more and more sleep deprived and labile so for the last week we have reverted back to her old schedule of two naps to reduce her sleep debt and recharge her sleep bank. This has resulted in later wakeup times but only because she can't fall asleep until usually 9:00pm – the overnight sleep still has never exceeded ten hours! Sadly, we think that waking up before 6:00am might be the new normal for a while which means we go to bed really early and have much less time to ourselves.
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