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Thoughts on ordinary and not so ordinary adventures in the life of one Mom

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just the Two of Us

Yes, we've been working out
        It really hit me while Steve and I were driving back to our apartment.  I was singing along to More Than a Woman by the Bee Gees when I realized we were actually alone.  The combination of the lack of bickering, the sound of actual music (which replaced our typical children's audio book on the stereo) and the view of Diamond Head  triggered a most welcome relaxed, vacationy feel. We were returning from a great snorkeling trip to Kahe Point Beach Park (nicknamed Electric Beach) while the kids were in camp.  

        This week marked the first time since we have arrived in Hawaii that Steve and I got to spend time alone.  It was fall intersession here, a break from school which allows families to spend quality time together.  Luckily there's another option, with a number of camps offered during these breaks.  It was the perfect opportunity for our family to spend just a little time apart.  I signed the kids up for 3 days of camp: a science camp at the Bishop museum, a "Hawaiiana" camp at the YWCA, and a magic camp at a local elementary school.   While they were having fun and maybe even learning something, Steve and I got to have a little "vacation" for ourselves.

        As our children made poi and learned some more Hawaiian words, Steve and I went snorkeling at Electric Beach, which is across the street from an electrical power plant.  Aside from the obvious aesthetic value of having a beach near an electrical facility, this is a great place to snorkel.  As in most electrical plants, water is used to cool down the generating equipment.  This clean water becomes

hot and flows through large pipes into the ocean a few hundred yards off the coast of Kahe Point Beach.  The result is a warm(er) water oasis for fish and dolphins.

You can see the jacuzzi-like swirls in the water to the left of the boat
The fish, especially juveniles, love the warmer water, and the pipe provides a convenient structure for the growth of coral.  This was an ideal setting for a snorkel sans kids.  The swim out to the swirling hot water is a long one and the current is particularly strong.  The current forces you east surprisingly fast if you happen to take a little break, perhaps to turn on your new underwater digital camera to capture a school of fish.  This location is known for clear water


and a large variety of fish and even dolphins.  We saw plenty of Hinalea'i'iwi, Mamo, Lauwiliwilinukunuku'oi'oi, the standard Lauwiliwili, O'opu Hue, Kala, and of course, Humuhumunukunukuapoa'a.  While we didn't venture directly in front of the pipe, I did get a chance to experience the warmth of the water in this section of the ocean.   The strenuous swim due to the distance, current and negotiating of several large breaks, left me tired, but relaxed and happy at the same time.  This is a feeling I have been lucky enough to experience many times here in Hawaii, especially after wonderful new experiences. 

        On another camp day, we took the time to explore downtown Honolulu,  particularly, 'Iolani Palace, which is the only royal residence on U.S. soil.  It was the home of King David Kalakaua, his wife Queen Kapi'olani, and his sister and future Queen, Lili'uokalani.  The palace is beautiful and, as with any fancy home, a perfect place to visit without children.   The palace itself was gorgeous, and our guide's stories provided us with a Hawaiian history lesson.  A tale of a kingdom of islands united by King Kamehameha I in 1810, which ended in the arrest of Queen Lili'uokalani in 1895, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, and subsequent annexation by the U.S. in 1898.  The restoration of the palace, which began in 1970, continues to this day with an effort to reclaim furniture and artifacts which were sold at auction after the overthrow of the monarchy.

        After a lovely lunch at Cafe Laniakea which is in the historic YWCA (yes, the YWCA - a gorgeous 1927 architectural treasure), we listened to the Royal Hawaiian band on the grounds of 'Iolani Palace in front of the Coronation Pavilion, and we visited other historic sites such as the Justice building and Aloha Tower.

Justice building and Statue of King Kamehameha I
       This week was a nice break from our normal family togetherness timed perfectly in the  middle of our four month stay.  It was a chance for Steve and me to experience a "vacation" of sorts, because even when you are on vacation with your family, you never really get a break.  Parents are always on duty, planning family-oriented activities, packing snacks, and mediating fights.  For a few hours this week, we had the luxury of spending time together without all the work.  Likewise, the kids had a break from their parents, a chance to do fun things with kids their own ages.  Plus, they were spared the embarrassment of listening to their mom sing along to the Bee Gees.

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