I’m back!

Well I made it to my tropical vacation on Saturday and spent 4 days in pure paradise. Drum roll – I went to Hawaii! Since I fly standby I never know if my travel plans are a sure thing, so I didn’t want to write anything and jinx my chances of making it! But Saturday morning, bright and early, my friend/neighbor P and I flew to San Fran, then onward to Oahu – with plenty of open seats to spare!

Wow – what a trip. Everyone says Oahu is the least gorgeous of all the Hawaiian islands; if this is true, I cannot imagine how it’s possible. The ocean was various shades of beautiful blue, the palm trees provided gently canopies, and the flowers were so fragrant and vibrant. And with the Diamond Head mountain in the background, the natural scenery was just gorgeous.

We arrived late Saturday afternoon, just in time to grab a walk on the beach, drinks, and dinner before crashing really early (it was a long day of travel!). On Sunday morning we were both up early with the time change, so we took a sunrise walk along the beach, then came back to the hotel for yoga by the pool. That was one of the best things about traveling with P – we have very similar travel personalities. We both crave a blend of activity and relaxation, and we definitely got it!

After yoga (which was great, by the way – I assumed it’d be really simple stuff since it’s catering to tourists but there were some great poses in there!), we ran to Diamond Head and then climbed the mountain. The run itself was challenging – lots of hills – and the climb was too. Not impossible by any means, but enough where we definitely felt that we got a great workout. And of course the views from the top were spectacular. Afterwards we ran and walked back to the hotel, grabbed lunch, and finally made our way to the beach – and spent the afternoon soaking up sun and relaxing. It was perfect.

Later that evening we walked to the only 5-star resort on the island to meet up with one of my colleagues and enjoy authentic hula music and dancing and the best mai tais on the island. Like, literally, the BEST.

The next day we rented a car and drove to Pearl Harbor – which was wonderful. Really somber, of course, and just really well done. You take a ferry out to the USS Arizona wreckage and it’s a timed entry, so you’re never overcrowded with too many other people. Afterwards we explored more of exhibits – we were there a good two hours, if not longer.

Then we went on an excursion to the North Shore, the part of the island where all the real surfers go because the waves are gigantic! We found some food trucks along the way and had fish tacos, all while sitting outside on picnic benches overlooking the ocean. The waves were a good 10-feet tall – there was definitely no swimming that day! The surfers were just incredible, and there were a ton of onlookers with us – people just packing picnic lunches and sitting on the sand and watching the show! Later we got back in the car and scouted out another beach – this one had much calmer waters so I could actually go swimming a bit, all with the same beautiful blue water.

On Tuesday morning I had a work call at 6:30 am Hawaii-time, so I got up at 5:15 so that I could get in a workout ahead of time. I believe I deserve big points for this. šŸ™‚ I needed to do weights and strength stuff, so I just went to the hotel fitness center and designed some Tabata exercises and it worked out really well. After my call we took another yoga class and then walked to the cutest restaurant for breakfast. So many of the places we walked by were crowded, but this place (P had a recommendation from a friend) was just a few blocks off the beaten path, and that made all the difference. I tried a pitaya (dragon fruit) bowl for the first time and LOVED it! Kind of like a tarter (and pinker!) version of acai – I would have that every day if I could!

Later that afternoon we boarded a bus and went to a luau! I cannot say it was an entirely authentic experience (or at all!), but it was definitely fun and we had our fill of pork. šŸ™‚

And finally it was Wednesday – our last day already. I went for a GREAT 5-mile run, we had breakfast, and then it was time for the piece de resistance…we went SURFING! Our hotel had a surf school on site, so after about aĀ  half hour of “land lessons,” we went out to sea with the instructor and another student. It was so much fun!!! I definitely thought I’d be terrible at it (and by no means was I actually good), but I wasn’t as bad as I’d feared! I got up on that board every time – at first only for brief periods but by the end of the session I was able to stay on there longer and ride the waves just a bit! Our instructor was awesome and I’d absolutely recommend this to anyone who wants to try something exciting!

Sadly after the lesson it was time to shower/change/pack/store our luggage/have one last lunch (and two last drinks) on the beach/and head to the airport. Luckily we quickly got seats on the direct flight back to Chicago, so that was great. Holy cow though – when we left Hawaii it was about 80 degrees or so, and it was 12 when we got here. We landed around 5am, so I had just enough time to get home, unpack, and go back to bed for an hour before getting up at my usual time for work. I don’t know if it was the arctic blast or settling back into my usual routine so quickly, but I honestly felt like those past few days had just been a dream. But as P said, we have the pics to prove we were there!

Now for the real-life details. šŸ™‚ In general I was super happy with my activity level – in 4 days I took 2 yoga classes, went for 2 runs, hiked a mountain, and surfed. Monday morning was the only day I slept in, which I’m chalking up to jet lag. I felt guilty about it that day, but now I’m thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal, or that detrimental. I was just looking at my spreadsheet, and I’d gone 12 days before taking my scheduled rest day for the flight over on Saturday, so having another one on Monday is hardly the worst thing.

Food-wise I am more or less pleased…I think I ate more at every meal than I typically do here, but I definitely wasn’t snacking, so I think it balanced out. And one night I was actually too tired to get dessert, which NEVER happens to me! I had my fill of fish tacos and pork and pineapple, which is exactly what I wanted.

I probably didn’t need as many tropical drinks, but hey, I very rarely drink cocktails and I was on vacation. It felt nice to live it up for a change!

And I went back to my treadmill class yesterday and to yoga and my dance class today. Already back on track. šŸ™‚

And there you have it -my super wordy vacation recap – I’m sure you expected nothing less! I actually have more to say but I’m going to save it for another post – yup – two in one day! Stay tuned.




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