Monday, September 22, 2008

being back on the mainland = bittersweet

Well, can rest peacefully now because we are back home, safe and sound, from our vacation in Hawaii. Anyway, it would be near impossible and just ridiculous to load all of our 600+ photos into one blog, so I made some collages from our different island experiences. Enjoy!


We flew into Honolulu last Friday (9/12) and stayed in a hotel on Waikiki Beach there. Honolulu was crazy and, if I may be so bold to say, the traffic there rivals that of Boston on it's WORST day. While Joe was at dialysis on Friday night, my family and I ventured to the Punchbowl (which is a national cemetery where a lot of veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam were buried). We were even fortunate enough to find the grave of my mother's uncle (my grandma's brother) who died in WWII and was buried there. It was a beautiful way to start our vacation. The trees were amazing and it was so green there. Saturday morning we had breakfast on the beach and then we hiked the Diamondhead Crater Trail, which is an extinct volcano that offers amazing views of the Oahu coast. We had enough time to relax and explore a little of the Honolulu area before boarding our ship, the Pride of America, Saturday night.

Punchbowl National Cemetery

Breakfast on the Beach, Waikiki-style

Diamondhead Crater Hike

The Pride of America


On Sunday morning, we arrived in Maui - which was the first destination of the cruise and, after the craziness of Honolulu, became the favorite island of pretty much ALL of us. We drove around the coast a little and found Hookipa Beach, which is world famous for surfing, windsurfing, etc. It was so gorgeous and BLUE there! We even saw a monk seal taking a nap on the rocks. After Hookipa, we went back to the ship to get ready for the night time entertainment - a REAL Hawaiian luau!! We drove out to Lahaina and saw the United States's largest banyan tree before heading over to the Old Lahaina Luau. The luau was one of the greatest nights to date. On Monday morning, Joe had to head over to dialysis in Maui and, afterwards, we spent some more time at the beach before heading back to the ship to sail on to our next destination.

Hookipa Beach, Hana Coast

Old Lahaina Luau

Morning at the Beach, Maui


We anchored in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, on Tuesday morning and had a big day in store for us there. We took a wonderful tour of some very "Hawaiian" things. We got to tour Rainbow Falls (which earlier in the year flows faster), the Mauna Loa (macadamia) Nut Factory, and Volcano National Park where we saw Kilauea Crater (which has been erupting since 1983), Devastation Trail and even walked through an actual lava tube! On our way out of Hilo on the boat that night, we got to see (from a distance, of course) actual lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean. My snapshot of the lava flow isn't the greatest since we had to zoom way in, but just imagine orangy-hotness oozing from the earth and splattering hot lava into the ocean, creating an enormous cloud of sulphuric smoke. We even used my dad's binoculars to take a closer look and actually saw the lava splashing up into the air. Words can not describe how cool it was! The next morning we arrived in Kailua-Kona (the other side of the Big Island). My family went on a snorkel and raft excursion while Joe and I spent the day walking around the little town and snorkeling on Turtle Beach. The only turtle we saw was out of the water on a rock, but we also saw some really amazing fish.

Rainbow Falls/Macadamia Nut Factory/Orchid Gardens, near Hilo

Hawaiian Volcanic Action

Turtle Beach, Kona


Our final island on the cruise was Kauai. On Thursday, we took a drive out to Poipu Beach, where the water was blue and a monk seal swam within a couple feet of my mother. So freakin' cool!! Joe even thought I was joking when I said, "Hey! There's a seal!" After Poipu, my family went on a zipline excursion while Joe and I hung out at Kalapaki Beach before his dialysis that evening. The next day, we spent our finaly beach hours at Kalapaki Beach again, before sailing out of Kauai and back to Oahu to disembark. On the cruise out of Kauai, though, the captain steered the boat along the breathtaking NaPali Coast before sailing back to Honolulu - an awesome way to end our time at sea.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Kalapaki Beach + Cruising by the NaPali Coast, Kauai

Once I upload all of our photos to a gallery, I'll let you know the link so that you can see all of the fun we had on our trip. Joe and I were half-heartedly discussing "accidentally" missing the last sail out of Kauai and just staying there. But we had to get home to our little Lucy (who we missed so FREAKIN MUCH!!!) and, plus, housing prices are pretty astronomical there. So we thought better and decided to come home. Still thinking about going back someday but, for now, responsibility and Joe's upcoming transplant prevent us from becoming a Hawaiian at this moment. But don't just take our word for it - GO THERE! Besides being a backdrop for some of Hollywood's most popular films (From Here to Eternity, King Kong, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Waterworld, 6 Days 7 Nights, 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park - to name a few), Hawaii is just an amazingly beautiful place. So just go. In fact, GO NOW!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vacation !!!!!!!!!!

Here's Joe:
Lucy has already been dropped off at Dog Days in Tempe, and T and I are just doing some last minute cleaning before we go. As I type T is vaccuming and the dishwasher is going. All we have to do is shut everything down and leave. All our bags are packed and waiting by the door. We are officially on vacation until Sunday 9/21. I had kind of a morbid thought earlier, if this plane goes down, it's gonna wipe out the entire Kolberg , and McGowan Families since I'm the only son.

Here's T: that I'm officially freaked out, thanks to Joe, I'm just gonna have a SWELL trip! I'll have to make sure we all read those emergency pamphelets a million times while on the flight over the Pacific so that we know them backwards and forwards with our eyes closed. he he he Kidding. It's gonna be a blast!! Sadly, I already miss our dog. Having never had a dog before, I've kinda got hooked on the little four-legged beast. And, yes...embarrassing, I admit...I even shed some tears after we dropped her off. What?!? You gotta problem with that? She's my child, all right? The most I've spent apart from her is one night. How am I gonna do TEN NIGHTS?? I will miss her like crazy and can't wait to pick her up when we get back, but I have a feeling I'll survive. She'll have a ball with the other dogs....and, I mean, come on! We'll be in HAWAII with the family!!! YIPPEEEEEE!! It's gonna be a blast! We'll have to make sure we are frugal and don't go bankrupt while we're there, but we're so EXCITED! And we'll be sure to take tons of pictures and post some as soon as we get back.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

it's about time!

Finally, finally, FINALLY Joe and I are able to travel somewhere! Ever since we moved back last year ('s been a year...CRAZY!!!!), set back after setback has happened and, especially with all the airlines going under, flight prices to the Northeast have been pretty terrible. So the only travel we've done is camping here and there within a couple hundred miles of Phoenix. Which is fun, don't get me wrong. We LOVE to camp! But this will be our first real "vacation". In a year.

Starting this Friday, we will begin our trip to lovely Hawaii where we will be cruising around the islands with my parents, sister and a few family friends. Money is extremely tight right now and I don't start training until September 29th (which means I don't get paid until October 15th) this next month will be interesting, to say the least. Is there ever a time when money isn't a worry? Because I'm honestly getting a little sick of it.

But, if there was ever a time to get out of town, I guess it would be right now. Besides the fact that we have to leave Lucy behind (about which I am completely heartbroken), and besides the fact that Joe will have to go to dialysis several times while we are there, it will still be an awesome and most welcome vacation. We'll have to count our pennies, of course, and keep track of everything...but it'll be a nice break from Phoenix and the perpetual summer heat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What's new in Joeville ?

I just wanted to represent the Y Chromosome and post some stuff. T and I were chatting the other day about changes we're gonna make when we rule the world. First off, we want to do away with the electoral college and let popular vote determine the president, but we also want to see more than two choices. We feel each party should have a a few candidates. Also, we'd finish the border fence...and dig a moat. All the dirt taken out of the moat could be used to fill in New Orleans. Theresa also expressed interest in filling said moat with hungry pitbulls. I think this would help with overcrowding at animal shelters. I'd also abolish that damn law that says if you can sneak in and have a kid here, the kid becomes a citizen. No more of that crap. You'd have to present proof of citizenship within 24 hours or you, your baby daddy and the kid would be deported. In our dictatorship you'd also have to apply for a licence to procreate, to stop stupid people from breeding.
Not much else going on, work is still work. I go because I have to, not because I want to. If it weren't challenging, I'd probably be even more miserable. Not much you can do when you need the insurance. Less than 2 weeks to go until we leave for Hawaii, Sept. 12th, I'm uber excited to go. After that my favorite sister is going to be giving me her left(over) kidney a few weeks later, Oct. 7th. Sorry other two sisters, you guys are gonna have to step up to match Jens level. Lucy is still a PITA sometimes, we take her to the dogpark on tuesdays and thursdays to play with Scooter, a Black Lab / Beagle mix. (wouldn't that be a lab-bea ?) I also found an adorable 8 month old lab-bea on, but T has talked me out of it because it's really bad timing. Nothing too exciting.
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