After traveling to Branson on Monday to drop the offspring at grandma’s, returning to Little Rock on Tuesday, and rising early on Wednesday for our skip-hop-jump trip to Hawaii, I was a little worn out by the time we completed the skip and hop legs of our trip and found ourselves confined to terminal #4 in LAX airport for five hours.  Craig returned from one of his wanderings through the terminal with cups of hot green tea for both of us.  Craig’s tea had a “tea fortune” hanging from it.  I’m not one to put a lot of stock into fortunes, but when I turned over his tea fortune tag and read, “your next vacation will be a doozy”, I got a little shiver.  For those of you who don’t know, our previous trip to the 50th state was not one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.  Nonstop rain, sewer-flooded beaches, and multiple trips to the hospital for Craig’s brother’s eternal nosebleed are the primary memories that come to mind.  So, when I’ve got a teabag tag telling me my next vacation will be a doozy, I’m thinking the worst.

One six hour plane ride later, we made it to the conference hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  When we checked in, the receptionist said, “Just a minute, I’m going to see if I can get you a nice room” and walked away.  She returned with a coupon for a free robe, so we thought we’d be headed to the standard “garden room” view we booked.  However, when she finally handed us our room keys, she informed us that she had upgraded us to an oceanview suite.  We weren’t sure what that meant, but we thanked her and headed for our room.  When we opened up the door, we couldn’t believe our eyes, and Craig said, “Whoa, is this a doozy?”

View of Waikiki Beach from our upgrade!

View of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head from our upgrade!

Looking down at "our" beach

Looking down at "our" beach from the balcony

The next day, Craig took care of conference business and then we looked around the resort.  It was very nice, although everything is very expensive in HI.  In the late afternoon, we grabbed our snorkels and masks and headed out.  After trying out the swimming pools and lagoon, we headed toward Waikiki beach, which was right in front of our hotel.  Craig has always said that he does not like snorkeling, so I think it was with reluctance that he swam out toward the reef next to me.  However, he was jarred right out of his reluctance when, at about 20 feet from shore, I nearly tore his arm out of socket trying to get his attention to show him the HUGE sea turtle swimming immediately to my left.  I’m pretty sure I squealed through my snorkle.  The turtle surfaced once and then headed back to the ocean floor.  Because the tide was coming in, visibility was not that great, so we decided to leave Mr. Turtle alone and head on to the shallower and easier to see coral reef. There we found a surprising array of tropical fish, anenome, and sea urchins.  One black spiny urchin we saw was literally the size of a basketball.  We were already quite pleased with our little snorkeling trip when we turned back toward the beach, and so were super stoked to find Mr. Turtle waiting for us when we got to the end of the reef!  This time, he surfaced multiple times, swimming in a direct, straight line toward the far corner of where the reef met a man-made surf break, and it almost seemed like he wanted us to follow him.  Suddenly, he dropped back to the ocean floor, and when we turned right to go back to the beach, we were met by a wall of silvery, dancing fish.  A school of maybe 2 or 3 thousand, they darted away and toward each other endlessly, creating a kaleidoscope of sunlight glint, translucent fins, and beady eyes.  It made me feel like I was swimming inside an exploding firework.

The dark circle in the middle of this photo is the school of fish we swam with.

The dark circle in the middle of this photo is the school of fish we swam with.

Later, we sat on the beach trying to keep the sand out of our mouths because we couldn’t pick our jaws up off of the ground. Craig joked, “Did you see the Hilton logo on that turtle’s back?”  All I know is, I had more fun on that (free!) snorkeling trip than I’ve had on many a $100+ scuba dive.  Is that a doozy?

More to come from our trip to Hawaii soon!