Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Blogging Home

For anyone interested, I have started a new, less family centered blog at www.ryansrapierwit.com. I will still occasionally post here with family specific posts, mainly for my journal-like endeavors.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break Fever

There's a phenomenon that occurs here in Thatcher that I haven't truly experienced before. When the week of Spring Break arrives, by at least Thursday, the town has emptied like a cruise ship preparing to slip beneath the ocean. It seems as if nobody is here. As Shannon and I heard from person after person regarding their plans and then looked at our uneventful week laid out before us on the calendar, we felt a small amount of guilt for our sheltered and boring family.

Thankfully, Shannon's mother works for the Marriott here locally and so before all was a total loss, we were able to formulate some plans and join the mass exodus out of town.

Rather than break it down by days, I will recap the entire trip in one setting:

Thursday, March 22 - 8:17 a.m. - A mere seventeen minutes after we had anticipated leaving, we are ready to go. Shannon and I pile everyone into the car and I turn the ignition...That didn't sound good. I turn off the car and start it again. It takes even longer than last time. So, instead of Tombstone being our first destination, we set out for O'Reilly Auto Parts and a new battery for the van. I suppose it's better here than at that outpost on the outskirts of death located in Texas Canyon.

8:57 a.m. - Pick up our parents and the caravan to Tombstone begins. The iPad is showing Despicable Me and Abby volunteers to hold the iPad up for all the children to see.

9:04 a.m. - Being the designated iPad holder gets old and Abby hands the movie back to the boys and begins reading her book.

11:12 a.m. - Arrive in Tombstone, AZ. First stop, The Birdcage Theatre. The Birdcage is the original building that held Tombstone's roughest, tumblinest pitstop west of the Mississippi. Nothing has apparently been restored including the 140 some odd bullet holes that mark the walls throughout the building. We listen attentively as the gentleman working the counter begins to regale us with the history of The Birdcage. As talk turns to its bordello history, I'm suddenly aware of how intently my 10 and 7 year old boys are listening. We gotta get out of here.

11:30 a.m. - We have to decide whether we will do the comedy gun fight first or go to lunch. According to our children, they are "dyyyyyiinnnggggg!!!!!" I guess we will eat lunch.

We choose a place called Cafe Marguarita's. Best part of our Tombstone experience. The food was fantastic and not terribly overpriced. We would soon discover that is not the norm here in the town where highway robbery has evolved into charging exorbitant rates for very little in return. I got up to take a picture of our party and discovered that our camera battery was very low. Thankfully there was outlet nearby and I plugged in the recharger.

1:00 p.m. - Attend a "comedy" gun fight next to the restaurant. We are a long ways from Hollywood. One guy's "comedy acting skills" included and are limited to staggering around attempting unsuccessfully to portray drunkenness and sticking his tongue out to draw laughter. The others aren't as bad, but...Eh. The kids enjoyed it though, and Abby even got to hold a real gun filled with blanks. I guess that was worth it if nothing else.

2:03 p.m. - The one thing I'd been looking forward to, The Haunted History of Tombstone is...closed for the day. We continue to peruse stores and make our way to...

2:35 p.m. - The O.K. Corral. This bastion of old west history and we are finally there. I walk in ready to show my kids a true historical spot. Admission: $10 per person no exceptions for age except for those 3 and under who are free. Fifty dollars to get my family in to walk around a dirt patch where some people killed each other a hundred plus years ago, except it didn't even happen there but rather in the photography studio next door? I think not. I point through the doors where we would have gone had we paid and said, "There's the O.K. Corrall, kids. Who wants ice cream?"

2:48 p.m. - We are all sitting on the sidewalk in Tombstone enjoying an ice cream cone. Suddenly, Kate comes up to Shannon's mom and starts wiping her ice cream covered hands on her shirt. When pressed for an explanation, she replies, "I'm cleaning up."

3:30 p.m. - Our Tombstone adventure has come to an end and we are back in the van and on our way to Tucson. I decide to take a back road that leads to Sonoita rather than going straight back to the interstate. This route is definitely one of the most underrated in Arizona. Much more scenic than I10 just twenty miles to the north. We tell the boys they can't watch another movie on the iPad so they start clamoring for the book tape they've been listening to with Mom. Plum Pudding Murder. These books cause me literal pain. For one; the heroine of these novels is a woman who has spent years trying to decide between two men, one the perfect man in a woman's eyes and the other a dashing ne'er-do-well. Both keep hanging around waiting for her to make her decision while continuing their strong friendship with each other. I am convinced this woman had no boy friends in high school and is probably still unmarried, not by choice. Two; Any food item mentioned in a chapter has its recipe listed at chapter's end. I'm not even going to comment on that except to say that I have to admit one of our family's favorite desserts came from one of these novels. That still doesn't make it ok. I pull out my iPod and despite the possible illegality, I put both earbuds firmly in place and enjoy Chris Isaak for the next several miles rather than 'Plum Pudding Murder'.

5:00 p.m. - Arrive at the Marriott Starr Pass resort. Holy crap!!! This place is pretty amazing. A slight improvement over the Silver Nugget B&B back in Tombstone.

5:23 p.m. - We have been here for twenty minutes or less and are already in the lazy river. Kids are going nuts. This is why we came.

6:50 p.m. - I get out of the pool and look longlingly at the beautiful golf course located just next to the pool and our room. Sadly, this is not why we came.

7:42 p.m. - Braden, my dad, Marilyn and I head into town to get Chipotle for dinner. Highlights include: Almost jaywalking right in front of a police officer, a massively long train speeding through town right in front of us and contemplating a derailment and finally, navigating the streets of Tucson at night. That's more of an old west adventure than anything else we'd experienced that day. I'm reminded yet again as to why I despise Tucson in general.

10:04 p.m. - Time for bed. We put the two boys in one bed, Abby in the Roll-away, Kate on some pillows in the corner and Shannon and I take the second double bed. There was a time in our marriage where this acceptable. Those days are long gone. I need my space and so does she.

11:07 p.m. - Due to the tight confines, massive moving by everyone else in the room and other various and sundry noises, I get up and leave the room to seek solace in the lobby. I nap on and off for two and a half hours before trying once again for sleep in our room. I think my total sleep time for the night topped out at 3.7 hours.

Friday, March 23 - 6:30 a.m. - Can't lay in my bed another minute. Get up, shower and take off. After walking around the resort, I take off for the grocery to get milk for breakfast.

8:02 a.m. - Arrive back at the room only to find everybody still asleep. Unacceptable. I wake everyone up and hurry them along so we can get started on our hike. Shouldn't take too long, right?

10:07 a.m. - Finally leave for our hike. The resort is right next to some hiking paths through the foothills. Here are some of the things we learned on our two mile hike: 1. While it may be exciting for people not from Arizona, hiking through the desert amounts to little more than walking through the desert which can be done right outside our front door at any time we choose. 2. Two miles is a lot longer on paths filled with jutting rocks and that change elevation quite often. 3. Two miles is even longer when your three year old refuses to walk where ever an elevation change (up or down) occurs and you end up carrying her three quarters of the two mile hike. 4. Abby is not a hiker. Once we were back to the hotel, she vowed never again to hike in her life. A bit premature? Maybe.

11:37 a.m. - Back at the hotel and the family is ready to swim again. Everyone but me. I choose to try and get a nap.

11:43 a.m. - On the way to the pool, the entire family gets out of the elevator except Kate. She dawdles and the door ends up closing on her. Shannon immediately pushes the button to open the door and it opens after a couple of seconds, but those seconds are enough to cause a major emotional breakdown when the doors reopen.

11:56 a.m. - My nap is cut short by housekeeping. I give up and go get lunch for the family at Subway.

1:30 p.m. - Abby and I leave to go watch The Hunger Games. I will not engage in a lengthy review. I will suffice it to say I have read the books and give the movie an 8 out of 10. I give the book a 10 out of 10. Good Father/Daughter time except for a couple of the previews that caused me extreme embarrassment.

2:00 p.m. - While we are gone, Shannon and the kids decide to tour the entire resort and they walk it from one end to the other. That is not a short walk. When they stick their heads in to see the ballroom, an employee asks if they need anything. Upon their explanation that no, they are just looking around, the employee volunteers to show them the behind the scenes of hotel catering. Braden is in seventh heaven. Meanwhile, Logan is captivated by any stairs he comes across. They come across a lot of stairs.

5:20 p.m. - Abby and I return and rejoin the family in the lazy river. Trying to walk against the current in a lazy river is not easy. Just an observation.

7:10 p.m. - Tonight, we decide to eat at The Signature Grill located at the resort. Once our orders were taken, the waiter brings out a basket filled with their bread selections. Included is a paper thin bread covered in pecans and sesame seeds. It is as brittle as...well, peanut brittle. It is amazing. Other highlights include: The kids' buffet. It consisted of Mac and Cheese, mini-corn dogs, chicken fingers and french fries. To top it off, they had cookies and delectable little cupcakes. I almost wished I was eligible for the kids' buffet. Admittedly, I added some items to their plates and devoured them (three cupcakes) when the waiters weren't looking. Also, we're fairly certain the couple next to us got engaged while we were sitting there. Very sweet. At least Shannon thought so. I honestly didn't notice.

9:30 p.m. - Got the kids to bed and then Shannon and I returned to the patio area and sat near a fire pit overlooking the lights of Tucson. It was very relaxing and a nice way to end our last evening at Starr Pass.

1:30 a.m. - Kate wakes up screaming. She is exceedingly frightened of the "snoring monsters" in our room. Due to my extreme exhaustion and the effects of my allergies, I probably have to admit I may have been one of those snoring monsters.

8:30 a.m. - The next morning consisted of checking out and heading over to Reid Park Zoo. It was sad for the entire family to say goodbye to this beautiful resort.

10:30 a.m. - Arrive at Reid Park Zoo. Very nice little zoo, but I can already tell this will be a short visit. We are all dragging from fun-filled days and nights not so filled with sleep.

12:40 p.m. - Lunch at Applebees. I am highly saddened by the fact that my oldest daughter no longer wants me to order for her. In fact, she takes major exception to it.

1:52 p.m. - Thankfully, Shannon says she can drive as a full belly has put me over the top and I don't even make it out of Tucson before I am falling asleep. It must have been pretty bad as I generally struggle to sleep in cars.

Overall, a very enjoyable weekend getaway.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wedding Of The Century

After months of preparation and planning, Shannon's brother, David got married to Jillian Curtis this past Wednesday evening, December 28, 2011. I'm not sure what this says about my social circle or level of life experiences, but this was by far the biggest event and party I have ever been involved with in my life. And if it was the biggest event I've ever been to, it goes without saying it surpassed anything my children had ever experienced as well. I can't speak for Shannon as there's always the possibility she's been hiding her secret past as a major player in the Gila Valley social scene prior to my meeting her in college. Listed below are the highlights of our exciting trip to Tucson and the enjoyable time we had at David and Jillian's wedding.

-Woke up at 7:00 a.m. with the express purpose of getting out of town by 9:00 a.m. We left at 10:00 a.m.

-My new work iPhone led us directly to the closest Applebee's upon reaching Tucson. The voice of Siri, the phone information system, is so nice, polite and helpful I couldn't help but commend her on her amazing abilities. She responded that my wish was her command. How do I get Siri installed in Shannon?

-While we were at lunch, David called us to invite us to his room at the Arizona Inn to get ready. He was hanging out by himself and would welcome the company. I was worried we were still quite far away from the hotel, but Siri calmed my fears and let me know that we were a mere four miles away. She can be such a comfort.

The hotel was clearly older but it was pretty impressive. The grounds were beautiful and once we got back to David's room (Honeymoon Suite) my jaw dropped. His room was larger than our first apartment. Ok, the box my daughter's boots came in was larger than our first apartment so maybe that isn't a good comparison. The room was bigger than our condo we lived in after our first apartment...and gorgeous. All the furniture was antique and the fire place made the whole thing feel quite cozy.

We relaxed for a bit and then Kate decided she needed to see the pool. So she and I went for a walk and found the pool, the tennis courts and the fountain. It was a pleasant walk.

-When we got back to the room, the photographer and the videographer where there to document the getting ready portion of the day. Logan, Braden and Kate did not disappoint in providing several great shots althought Kate was not thrilled about being part of that process.

-Picture time! No matter how fancy or nice the occasion, no wedding seems to be able to avoid the death trap of picture taking. Fortunately, our family got off easy. The same couldn't be said for those in the wedding party including Shannon's brothers Clinton and Cody and our parents.

-The actual ceremony itself took place on the grounds near the fountain. It was very nice and both David's and Jillian's vows were very sweet. During the ceremony, Kate was a typical three year old and had to be cajoled/restrained/bribed at certain points. At one particular juncture, my sister-in-law, Danica, tossed me some gummy treats. In the dead silence of a wedding as the officiator spoke, I began my assault on the most vicious cellophane wrapper I've ever encountered. I would have stopped immediately, but Kate was now determined to have gummy treats and would have made even more noise had I stopped. Finally, Shannon took the package and beat the wrapper into submission.

-At the end of the ceremony, music broke out and the bride and groom broke into dancing as did the bridesmaids and a couple of groomsmen. My two brother-in-laws, Cody and Clinton, broke into extremely uncomfortable facial expressions and the tiniest movement that resembled swaying. Once everyone was back down the aisle, David and Jillian hopped on bicycles in lieu of a car to drive off following their wedding. Major props to my new sister-in-law for pulling off riding a bicycle ride in her wedding dress.

-Back to the front of the hotel and while everyone else got to retire to the open bar and finger foods, the families and wedding party got to...take more pictures. Unfortunately, the sun had slipped below the horizon and the temperature had dropped about 15 degrees in 10 minutes. Not a problem for those in the reception area where the heaters were located. Big problem for those located out front taking pictures. This was where Kate had her one major meltdown. She was cold and she wanted a jacket that fit her, or a 'tiny jacket' as she kept saying. We didn't have a tiny jacket and that was a concept she couldn't accept. Major hysterics ensued.

-One of my lifelong dreams was fulfilled as we finished with pictures and made our way to the reception area. The open bar included Dr. Pepper. Now think about this: An entire evening with as much free Dr. Pepper as I could ever want. Too bad I quit drinking the regular stuff six months ago. DANG IT!!! I gave in and had two or three anyway just so my dream would not die in vain.

-Dinner was one of the most amazing steaks I've ever had. Shannon said hers wasn't cooked enough which means the steaks were perfect. To top them off they were stuffed with mushrooms. Add this to the free Dr. Pepper and I wasn't quite sure I hadn't died and woken up in the alternate universe where perfection resides. Then my kids got served their meals which included tiny ketchup bottles all to themselves and I was reminded that no, this was not heaven after all.

-We toasted the bride and groom several times and Logan and I had a ball tinkling our glasses.

-Start the dancing. The Claridge side of the family represented well and we learned that new generation of Rapiers will be carrying on the tradition of uninhibited expression through dance. Abby, Braden and Logan all had a blast dancing until the wee hours of the...well ok, eleven o'clock. There were some single girls in their twenties that work with Jillian in Flagstaff there who were not dancing. Shannon told Braden, Bryson and Logan she would give them five dollars each to ask them to dance. Bryson marched straight up and earned his five dollars immediately. Logan started toward them and got five feet away when he chickened out. He came back and told Shannon, "I just couldn't do it, mom." Fortunately, the young women were very nice and one of them came and asked him. He looked at Shannon and said, "What should I do?" She told him to start moving and so...he totally got moving. All three boys continued to ask the females to dance for the rest of the evening.

-Somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00, Kate decided she'd had enough and laid her head down on the table and went to sleep. Probably for the best.

-At 11:00, we decided we really needed to get headed back for Thatcher and so we informed our children we were leaving. We might as well have told them we'd cancelled Christmas for next year. Much weeping and wailing.

It was a beautiful day and one that will live in our memories for the rest of our lives. Congratulations David and Jillian and good luck in your new life together.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hawaii Trip Day 8: I'm In A Tin Can In The Sky

It's been several months since I posted last and my wife is very concerned that I am not going to get us home from Hawaii. The problem is that I didn't take notes on the last day and there are no photos from that last day as we had to pack everything into the suitcases before leaving the hotel. Since I can't give a blow by blow account, I will bridge the gap between day seven and arriving home with some of the highlights that happened during our last day on the island and our flight home. So without further adieu, and most in order I think, highlights from day 8 of our Hawaiian vacation.

-Saying goodbye to one of the most perfect places on earth I've ever been was brutal. Shannon and I woke up and went straight down to the beach for the last time. We played a bit and I finished our making our souvenir bottles of sand. I've never been so sad to leave a place that relentlessly put sand down my pants.

-Most of the day we spent shopping in Lahaina. As mentioned before, it is the neatest little town and we spent hours just walking from store to store on Front Street. We bought several last minute items for everyone back home and eventually we decided to eat in an upstairs cafe overlooking Front Street. Everything in Maui is open air and this cafe was no exception. It was themed as an old 50s style diner with all of the menu items named after old TV characters. Very cliche, but very good food.

-One observation about the shopping options in Lahaina. Shannon and I were both astounded at how much extremely expensive jewelry is apparently an impulse purchase in Hawaii. We must have passed 15 different jewelry stores minimum. It was very likely over 20.

-After shopping, we had a couple of hours to kill and so we decided to drive over to Wailea, which is other area on Maui that is a major resort area. Lahaina and Kaanapali beach, where we stayed, is referred to as the West side and Wailea and Kihei are the south side. There is a major resort that we wanted to see called the Grand Wailean. It is very deserving of its name. That had to be the grandest hotel I've ever been in. However, we were both struck as to why such a ritzy place would choose to decorate with sculptures of naked, fat Japanese midgets. To us, it didn't really add to the decor.

-The Grand Wailean had its own church. It was a little chapel for weddings and it sat a mere 20 yards from the beach. Now I think I understand why the Church doesn't build a temple right on the beach. It would be overwhelmed constantly with weddings. How could you beat wedding pictures taken at a temple on the beach. Short answer: You couldn't.

-All beaches in Hawaii are public and so in between the Grand Wailean and some other ridiculously large resort hotel was a little public bathroom building. Shannon had need of such facilities and went in. She came out almost immediately due to the topless woman taking up most of the area inside. That was just a little too much info for Shannon and she decided she could wait.

-We went to a little mall area next to the Grand Wailean and learned two things: One, Wailea is where the extremely wealthy must vacation on Maui and two, we are not extremely wealthy.

-We arrived back in Kahalui with about 30 minutes before we needed to be at the airport. We didn't want to eat at the airport itself so we searched for anything else. Keeping in mind that our first breakfast in Hawaii was at McDonald's, it seems rather sad to realize we never learned anything over the week we were there and ate our last meal in Hawaii at Wendy's. At least we got the Hawaiian experience of staring at chickens wandering through the parking lot while we ate.

-For whatever reason, we got to the airport about thirty minutes late and it was quickly apparent we were cutting it way too close. It was the first day that we experienced heavy humidity and the airport was packed. We got to baggage check in and we were over the 50 lbs. limit. I've never been so grateful for humidity in my life. We pulled the bag off to remove some items and try to stuff them in our carry-on when the airline lady said to forget it. It was just to hot to be worrying about that kind of stuff and she took our suitcases with out charging us extra for the additional weight we were over.

-When we were making our souvenir bottles of black and white beach sand we didn't take into account one somewhat important item. That would be that black sand resembles explosive gun powder. Already running late, we got pulled aside again at the security lane because there were four bottles with a suspicious substance inside them. It took about 20 minutes to get them out, explain what was in them and then get the ok to put them back. We were now within five minutes of our flight boarding and still had not reached the gate.

-Walked up to our gate and had enough time to tie my shoe before they called our boarding pass numbers. That was too close.

-The idea behind taking an overnight flight was that we could sleep. Yeahhh, that didn't work out so much. Shannon dozed here and there while I sat staring at a movie I didn't care about. At one point, I looked out of the window and stared out at an endless void. The moon was full and it was reflecting off of the clouds below us and that was all I could see. I've never been afraid of flying, but in that moment, I got a little scared. I was thousands of feet in the air with a couple hundred other people somewhere over the vast endless Pacific Ocean. I don't know how to describe it except to say, so many options of death seemed to surround me. I quickly went back to the movie I didn't care about.

-Landed in San Francisco at 4:00 a.m. local time. Not sure whose idea it was that the airport should be kept at a constant temperature of -10 degrees, but customer friendly it was not. At 5:00 a.m. a couple of food options opened up and Shannon and I got egg croissants.

-Our plane from San Francisco takes off at 6:10 a.m. and while we are ascending, Shannon's breakfast decides it doesn't agree with her. After arguing with me for several minutes on whether she should use the barf bag or chance running back to the restroom, she finally jumps up while the seat belt sign is still illuminated and makes a mad dash for the rear of the plane. The stewardess begins to chastise her as she approaches, but within seconds realizes what is happening and allows her to proceed. Shannon pukes.

-Landing in Phoenix, my lack of sleep coupled with the changes in time are really starting to affect me. Danae picked us up and we make it back to her place where I can't take it anymore and I pass out on Bryson's bed.

-We had a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory and so before heading home, we stop and have one last meal on our vacation. When we tell Abby where we ate, I'm not sure if she was more jealous of our trip to Hawaii or our lunch at Cheesecake Factory. Oh the priorities of youth.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hawaii Trip Day 7: What's So Great About Snorkeling...Oh That!

8:02 a.m. - I wake up and head straight for the shower. I guess some things are such a habit you do them without thinking. As snorkeling was the only thing on the agenda all morning, I'm still curious why I felt the need to shower. At least I would be at my non-offensive best for the tropical fish and sea turtles later.

8:47 a.m. - First order of the day, breakfast. We drive through at McDonald's. All the fresh fruit we could ever want available within seconds of our hotel room and we've eaten at McDonald's twice now. They should revoke our Hawaiian passports immediately.

9:04 a.m. - We stop in at a place called Snorkel Bob's where you get...wait for it...snorkel equipment. I'm sure your surprised. They tell us the best way to get to Napili beach and we are off.

9:13 a.m. - Napili Beach is about half a mile down from Kaanapali Beach where we are staying. Napili Beach has a much steeper entry into the ocean and is...well, let's put it this way. We are on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale at Kaanapali and quite a bit higher at Napili. I feel as if I am one of the more fit and trim people on Napili Beach. Not so at Kaanapali. For my over all self-confidence, we should have been hanging out here the whole week.

9:30 a.m. - Finally get into the water. Being as how I hate swimming, I am using a noodle to snorkel with. So much for my self-confidence gains. To make me feel better Shannon also uses a noodle. However, we are the only ones snorkeling with noodles. I would have stopped immediately out of embarrassment if it weren't for my overall paralyzing fear of death by drowning.

9:36 a.m. - All week I'd known today was about snorkeling. I was not looking forward to it. I couldn't get what the big deal was all about. Now I do. We are seeing some amazing fish. Once we figure out how to use our newly acquired waterproof camera, we get some incredible pictures.

10:21 a.m. - Been at this a while and I find I'm having my best luck seeing the most fish if I stay near this area filled with rocks. Seemed like a great idea until I got pounded into those rocks by the waves several times. I get out of the water and realize I'm bleeding in several places all over my legs. Ah well, it has been worth it...Except now the salt water is getting into the cuts. I'll get back with you on the worth it thing later.

10:34 a.m. - I had a falling out with the fins we rented right from the get go. I can't understand how to walk in those things without tripping all over myself once I got in the water. Decide to try again now that I have a little bit of experience under my belt.

10:36 a.m. - Nope, fins are just as stupid as I remember them to be. Meanwhile, Shannon has realized what her version of heaven will be. She is having the best time.

10:46 a.m. - Decide to just float and see what I can see without coming up for a while. Eventually I hear Shannon yelling and I look up. I have drifted about 50 yards from the shore. Not a big deal for most people. A huge deal for me. I do everything in my power to avoid panicking and begin to make my way back. It is slow going with the waves, but eventually I made it. That is probably my least favorite thing about snorkeling. The constant visions of me drowning and my body never being found.

11:01 a.m. - Get out of water and leave Napili Beach to head to a cove where there are apparently a great number of turtles. Nothing as comfortable as walking the streets in wet clothes and water shoes.

11:14 a.m. - We find the bay and begin looking for a way to get in. Where we are at is a possible entry point, but it requires you to slide in from slippery rocks into a small area filled with more rocks. Looks a little dangerous. The other option is to walk all the way around the cove and get in on the safer other side. We ask a guy who has obviously been there a while and he tells us getting in where we are isn't that bad. In hindsight, I can only assume this gentleman's favorite pastime is taming Cobras with an east Indian flute. I felt sure death was arriving at any second as we tried to enter the water with out bashing our bodies to bits on the rocks.

11:39 a.m. - How do you describe perfection. We swam with turtles all around us. I looked down and saw a turtle that had to be half the size of a car. It was amazing. It was one of the few times I truly wished I was a stronger swimmer. I was enjoying what I was seeing, but it was tempered by the constant fighting of panic attacks. I swam the full lagoon once and then stayed fairly close to the exit point where I could still see some quite amazing fish. Shannon swam the entire cove three times and got to swim between no less than 30 turtles or more. Truly amazing. The only downside was even though she was wearing sun screen, she spent so much time with her back exposed that she got a pretty good sunburn.

12:48 p.m. - Shannon would have stayed all day. I on the other hand was now ready to start preparing for the thing I had spent all week looking forward to. So reluctantly, I pull Shannon from the water and we head for lunch.

1:12 p.m. - Eat lunch at Maui Tacos. Incredibly good. They have a salsa bar with over 10 salsas. A couple of them I could do without, but they had a green salsa that was to die for and a pineapple salsa that was sweet but also incredibly good. However, the best was their corn salsa. How can we get one of these in Safford?

1:57 p.m. - Arrive back at hotel. I get showered and Shannon heads back to the water for a while longer. Upon further examination, I am cut up even worse than I realize. Oh well, the scars will make for a great story later.

2:35 p.m. - Leave to go play golf. All week I had seen golf equipment rental stores everywhere I looked. Now that I am ready to see if I can get a golf glove before we get to the course where it will undoubtedly be three times what I want to pay, I can't find one anywhere.

2:50 p.m. - Stop to drop off our snorkel equipment at Snorkel Bob's. Their closed for...no reason. In Maui you don't need a reason. We wait ten minutes and she eventually arrives. In the meantime we meet a nice couple from Southern California. Shannon loves the woman's swimsuit cover and asks if she got it locally. Nope, a Ross special.

3:10 p.m. - Arrive at Kapalua Golf Club Plantation Course. Now I know what my version of heaven looks like. This is the most amazing course I have ever seen.

3:17 p.m. - Check in and it looks like I will be able to get out a little early. I have to buy a hat. I just do. Also, I had to rent their clubs. They gave me two free sleeves of balls for renting their clubs. That was nice. It also happened to be the most expensive free stuff I've ever gotten.

3:41 p.m. - After warming up, I step up to the first tee box and we are off. This course is where they play the first PGA tour event of the year. It is amazingly difficult. It is so hard I put up a score on the first hole of...par? Who said this course was difficult?

4:01 p.m. - Hole 2? Double bogey. Oh yeah it's hard. I'm fairly certain the first hole may have been a fluke.

4:39 p.m. - The elevation changes on this course are amazing. One time I had Shannon drive the cart up to meet me. She misunderstood and went too far. I had to pull a Family Von Trapp hike just to meet up with her again.

5:02 p.m. - That's a first. I have never seen a course with a sand trip on the side of cliff. If you swing too hard, you are likely fall to your death. I've heard people say sand traps can ruin your day, but this is a bit ridiculous.

5:56 p.m. - We arrive at a par three hole that you have to hit over a 200 foot deep gorge to get to the green. On Maui, the trade winds blow constantly down those gorges and that makes this hole pretty tricky. I hit my tee shot and it is beautiful...until it gets half way over and then it appears to hit a wall and drop straight down. I fell victim to underestimating the trade winds. I'm pretty sure I am not the first.

6:06 p.m. - The ninth hole is so steep coming up to the green that I am forty yards away and still can't see anything except the very tip top of the flag. I hit my chip shot and it lands, I'm not exaggerating, six inches from the lip onto the green. Close, but not close enough. That ball rolls all the way back to me. I wish I was kidding but I'm not. I was able to hit again without even moving my feet from the shot before.

6:22 p.m. - For the third time that day, I get so caught up in looking at the beautiful course around me that I run into the curb and nearly wreck.

6:30 p.m. - The course has backed up and so I start playing with the twosome right in front of me. Jeff and Mike are really nice and they are on Maui with their wife and girlfriend respectively. Not that they'll being seeing much of the ladies as they have at least four tee times scheduled over the next few days.

6:41 p.m. - Poor Jeff. It seems like every time we've seen him take a shot over the whole round, he's been hitting out of sand traps. Now that we are playing with him, I can see that he hits pretty good shots, they just gravitate to sand like nothing I've ever seen.

7:05 p.m. - Now too dark to play anymore. I managed to get in 16 of the 18 holes and it was amazing. I also managed to lose 10 balls in the jungle surround the course. That sounds bad, but I'm actually amazed I didn't lose more. What is even better is that Shannon seemed to have such a good time as well. She had brought a book in case she got bored and never opened it once. I appreciate her efforts in taking so many photos of this neat experience for me.

7:12 p.m. - I'm so excited I have to call someone. I call Heath even though it is 10:12 in Arizona. When I tell him what I've been doing, he doesn't even seem that upset at me. Finished with four legitimate pars. Pretty proud of myself.

8:03 p.m. - After a very full day, we spend our last night in Hawaii eating Panda Express in our hotel room watching Hawaii 5-0. While that may sound pathetic, as tired as we were, it was perfect.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hawaii Trip Day 6: That Guy Looked Just Like My Mortician

8:00 a.m. - Sunday is a day of rest right? Well, we finally slept in and rested until 8 o'clock in the morning. Problem is church is at 9.

8:50 a.m. - Shannon's sister Danae is next door neighbors with a very nice family that spends six weeks every summer on Maui. It's a tough life I know. She told us that there is no turning lane to the church coming from the direction we were coming from. She said all the tourists miss this and you can tell who they are because they turn when they shouldn't. She encouraged us to drive down until we could turn legally and then not appear to touristy. We failed. As we came up on it, we were running late and I said the heck with it and made an illegal left turn. Again, this state's issues with turning lanes are quite severe.

9:01 a.m. - Church hasn't quite started as more and more people continue to flow in. You can certainly tell the locals from those of us who are not. They are wearing leis and greeting each other with kisses. One little boy who we found out later in the service got baptized that week was wearing a beautiful grass skirt and palm...necklace doesn't even begin to describe it. It was palm lei that was just huge. He looked amazing. I seriously was starting to wonder why we couldn't have a dress code like this in Thatcher 1st ward. Oh yeah, Thatcher 1st ward is in Arizona. Just as the 1st Counselor gets up to start the meeting, I look up and see Jason McDougal and his wife walk in. They say the world gets smaller within the Church, but this is ridiculous.

9:11 a.m. - We are eleven minutes past the hour and still have not had the opening hymn. The counselor giving the announcements appears to be in no hurry whatsoever. If I were ever to conduct and still be on announcements at 11 after the hour, Bishop Nicholas would lasso me with the extra microphone's cord and send in Rhett with specific instructions to get the meeting back on track.

9:26 a.m. - The conducting counselor took his same laid back approach to ward business and so we are just barely getting started with the sacrament. It is fine and no problems on my end, but I can't help comparing it to our ward and chuckling at the visual of Bishop Nicholas sitting on the stand with this particular counselor conducting. That is good entertainment right there.

9:31 a.m. - There is a Hawaiian version of my cousin's son Harvey passing the sacrament. Nothing spectacular about that, it is just weird to see a native Hawaiian boy who looks identical to my cousin who is blond haired and blue eyed.

9:37 a.m. - The great idea I had to put the Lost siren that goes off when they don't push the computer button on my phone as the signal that I have a test message suddenly doesn't seem like such a good idea now. It goes off right as the youth speaker begins and almost sounds like a fire alarm. Fortunately, I get it stopped before it gets out of hand. Jason hadn't seen us very well when he walked in and so he had the thought, "Wow, that guy looked almost just like Ryan Rapier." When he realized it was me, he texted my to say Aloha. They came up and sat by us for the remainder of the meeting.

9:44 a.m. - The youth speaker just gave an amazing adult talk. He went ten minutes strong but his talk was outstanding. I think I have an idea for next year's super activity. We will bring the boys to Maui and have them take speaking lessons from the bishop's son. I'm sure we can get that passed by President Kartchner.

9:58 a.m. - The first adult speaker was also amazing. This Sunday was Mother's Day and her talk was really good. Unfortunately, there is one more speaker and he has exactly no time left. His outfit however is totally worth mentioning. He is wearing a white shirt with a patriotic tie and a dress sarong which is kind of like a skirt only manly. But by dress sarong I mean it is made out of the same fabric as traditional slacks. His was navy blue with a place for a belt. It was totally awesome. Again, wish we could get some of these clothing items approved for church wear in Arizona as we head into June and July. He does a good job of giving his 20 minute talk in 7 and we get out relatively on time.

10:16 a.m. - There is a mass exodus from the church building just prior to Sunday School. A little ashamed to admit we know this because we were part of the exodus.

11:26 a.m. - After getting back to our hotel, changing and relaxing for a moment or two, we head into Lahaina and look for a place to get lunch. We generally try to avoid Sunday purchasing but we have no food. The first place we walk into, they hand us menus and after look for two minutes, we realize: A) We don't like anything on the menu and B) This is way overpriced for food we have no interest in. We got up and left quickly. This was one of those moments where we were extremely grateful that everything is so open air. Our escape was made much easier by the multitude of open doorways.

11:43 a.m. - We decide we like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. so much and we had had such a hard time deciding what to get the night before, we went again. In a slightly weird twist of events, we were seated at the exact same table as the previous evening. Had the same waitress walked out we would have started an immediate search of the joint for Rod Serling

1:01 p.m. - After lunch and a leisurely stroll back to the car, we drove past our hotel up to the Kapalua resort and golf course. I had a tee time the next day at the Plantation course and I wanted to see what it looked like. The best description I can come up with for my reaction would be imagine Augustus Gloop when he sees the chocolate river. Anybody nodding their heads while saying, "Ryan as Augustus Gloop, yeah I can see that" can kiss my grits. This course is gorgeous. I was excited to play before, but now, I am like a kid on Christmas Eve. No, that is not an exageration in any way.

2:16 p.m. - We were now back at the hotel and had changed into our beach wear. It was time for our first serious block of time on the beach. For a Sunday afternoon with perfect weather, it was unbelievably uncrowded. I sat down my beach chair and brought out the four bottles of Black Sand that I had collected the day before and filled the other half with the cleanest, softest sand on earth. The contrast was amazing.

2:31 p.m. - We head for the water and have the best time just letting the waves pick us up and carry us back into the beach. Not once did our legs or feet come in contact with seaweed, trash or errant hotel keys. The water temperature was very different than Los Angeles or even San Diego. Much warmer without being too warm. We had so much fun, two hours went by before we really even knew what had happened.

3:08 p.m. - During our time in the water, we met a nice older couple from Argentina. They were very friendly, but they couldn't speak much English so after he agreed to take a picture of us with our waterproof camera (which didn't turn out so well) our conversation didn't last long. A little bit later, a young family that ended up being from Brazil showed up and they were very nice too. What was refreshing was she was wearing a one piece bathing suit. A little modesty, I'm impressed. Oh wait, she just turned around and the cut on the back is...high to say the least. Other than what has to be a young Mormon couple a ways down the beach, modesty is still a pretty hard commodity to come by. When we discovered the family was from Brazil, we introduced them to the Argentinians and they were all able to communicate with each other much easier than they had been with us.

3:41 p.m. - Speaking of modesty issues, a man that had to be in 60s walks by with a skin tight pair of swimming briefs on. Our imaginations were completely useless when it came to this guy. Shannon was fascinated that a person would be seen in anything like this so she tries to get a picture of him on the sly. She doesn't do so hot.

4:09 p.m. - Two younger guys start a game that is highly entertaining and something I want to do if I ever come back with some of my male friends before I need a walker. One would throw a football out toward the ocean and the other would run toward it and try and dive to catch it. More often than not, an incoming wave would take out the receiver before he could get close and we saw some awesome spills. I watched them out of enjoyment for 15 minutes.

4:38 p.m. - We head back to the room and clean up so we can walk the length of Ka'anapali Beach on the sidewalk that borders each of the hotels. There were some really nice hotels and some that we were glad we hadn't stayed in. We originally booked in a condo unit called The Whaler, but changed when a deal at the Sheraton opened up. We were glad we had made that change. However, the idea of a time share ownership in the Marriott was admittedly appealing as we walked by their time share only property. It was pretty amazing. Especially if you have family. Finally, at the other end completely from our hotel was the Hyatt. Their grounds were unreal. They had gardens with flamingos and penguins among other animals. It was pretty neat. But in the final evaluation, we preferred our hotel because the beach by the Sheraton was much better than the beach down on this end of Ka'anapali.

6:07 p.m. - We talk to one of the people manning the time share station for the Marriott. Actually just one of the people. They had folks at every possible location so they didn't miss anybody. We asked them how it was going and they said it was really slow. They backed up what we had been hearing all week. May is dead. Great, if we ever come back, May it is.

6:46 p.m. - I go pick up a pizza for dinner and head back to the room so we can watch the season finale of The Amazing Race. We were a little sad as this has become a family favorite to watch together each week. And here we were thousands of miles away from our kids for the final episode of the season. We opened the balcony door and felt the ocean breeze, listened to waves just feet away and got over our sadness pretty quick.

8:21 p.m. - After the Amazing Race, we walked down to the Whaler's Village and got some frozen yogurt at a place like Ocean Blue. It was awesome. Perfect way to finish our relaxed day on the island.