One Last Hoorah!

Thursday was my last full day in Hawaii and to be honest, I spent most of it writing my final report for my internship. I worked hard on it and I think it really paid off. I learned so much from being on and off the job and I know that I have a new perspective on quite a few things in life.

I worked on my report, browned a little more, and we took a break to get more local food at the Rainbow Drive-in. I should have gotten the Loco Moco dish, but I had been craving a cheeseburger for a long time.

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We ate outside and enjoyed the sunshine, before cruising to find the best shave ice in town. Of course, I had to have some famous Hawaiian Shave Ice before I flew home! We had to search for this little place for longer than expected because they moved to a bigger, nicer location, but it was totally worth it!

First, we were greeted by these two adorable (obviously, boy and girl) shave ice characters.

IMG_6966Second, the extensive menu…

IMG_6969Third, the… spam?

IMG_6967And last, but (seriously) the best, SHAVE ICE!

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From looking at their menu, you could tell they had a lot of choices. I chose the flavors haupia (white side) and POG (orange side) ((POG= passion fruit, orange, and guava)). I got lilikoi cream on top which explains the seeds. AND ice cream on the bottom. The ice was so fine and smooth that I couldn’t even compare it to snow cones I had seen on the Mainland. It was ridiculous how different this tasted. Also, you would think that the ice cream would be watery from the ice melting on top, but it wasn’t. It was literally perfect, and I want more 🙂

We drove back home to finish all our business and soon enough it was time for my cousin to pick me up to hike one last time. We were going to hike… Stairway to Heaven.

We went to the Koko Head Stairway which is shorter but more physically intense than the more famous Stairway hike. I was ready! People were really excited when I heard them talking about it. Some even sounded intimidated, but I wasn’t afraid at all. I thought it would be a good workout if anything.

Oh what a workout that was.

That was the most physically intense thing I’d ever done. We walked straight up the side of the crater on train tracks.

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My cousin said there are approximately 1,000 steps to the top. The steps are the pieces of wood built between the rails. A long time ago, before this was a hiking route, there use to be a military bunker at the top, and the train would bring any supplies back and forth to them. I don’t know when that operation stopped functioning but it did. And now people walk the tracks weekly, or daily, to stay in shape.

It’s VERY steep.

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The “steps” are unreasonably far apart and high, and I could feel it!

There is not a tourist station or water or city workers or nothin’. Any maintenance to this area is voluntary, so if you want it fixed, you have to do it. The main people using it are locals, mostly athletes that are in training or post-college grads looking to stay in shape or get ripped.

Thankfully we went later in the afternoon so the sun was not shining on us the entire time. Even without the sun’s heat, I was burning up! It was challenging! You had to lean into it almost the whole time. I felt the need to go fast so I didn’t feel the burn so much, but then I’d get worn out and have to catch my breath (a lot more than I anticipated). There was even an area where the train tracks were elevated off the ground, so someone could easily slip through and fall. At this point in the tracks, a volunteer had made an alternate route ON GROUND for those who chose to take it instead. I chose the thrill.

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It was actually a little easier than walking up the normal steps, except for the fact that you had to lean even more into it the whole time. I’m glad I did it though. “Do one thing a day that scares you” is a quote I saw almost everyday here, and I’m going to try to live by that now.

We finally reached the top and it was beautiful. You could look inside the crater,…

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Over the city, and at Hanauma Bay!

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At the top a lot of people just relaxed and listened to music while the forceful winds blew the sweat off their bodies.

We didn’t rest long because we had to clean-up to meet my aunt and uncle for dinner, so we starting making our way down.

I followed some other hikers’ example by walking down sideways. I found this a lot easier on my knees and thighs, so I alternated sides all the way down. The no-ground area was a little scarier though because I had to lean backwards to walk down. By the time I reached the bottom of that section, there was a dog and her owner ready to walk up it. Wow, brave animal.

By the time I reached the REAL bottom, my legs were so sore. I knew I would feel this over the next few days (and I did).

We showered and drove to Roy’s, a fancy-schmancy place. The waiter even put my napkin in my lap for me. It was very loud, but I liked that our table was right beside all the action.

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We split a few appetizers, i had my main dish, and then we split the desserts.

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Our appetizers were a mix of things, and I honestly don’t remember what everything was. But it was definitely good. Very good. I had a mixed seafood plate, which included scallops, opa, shrimp, and crab cakes. Our desserts were pineapple upside down cake (I think our homemade one was better, but I may be bias) and a chocolate lava cake, both served with ice cream.

Wow, so grateful. It had been a wonderful day with my cousin, aunt, and uncle, but I can’t wait to see Mississippi soil again.

I was stuffed and exhausted by the time we were leaving that I just wanted to go to sleep. I’ll finish packing tomorrow.

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We left the house nice and early (7am) to drive to Hanauma Bay for my last big Hawaiian adventure. This place is known for being snorkeling heaven. People even see honu by the dozens. Honu are sea turtles, and I’m kind of obsessed with them.

I’m glad we got there early because we actually snagged a parking spot and then met our friends at the entrance. As we entered the gates to the new visitors center at the top of the crater, you could see the beautiful blue green water and the reefs not far from the shore.

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We all had to watch a video explaining how important safety is in this area for us and the fish. Obviously you can look but don’t touch the marine life. Be safe. Etc. So we walked down to the shore, found a spot to put our bags, and didn’t waste a moment putting on our snorkel gear.

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The mountain in the far left is Koko Head that I hiked last night.

The mountain in the far left is Koko Head that I hiked last night.

We started off center of the shore and headed toward the left end, the side further from us. Right off the bat I saw tons of fish! I had a few exposures left on my underwater camera but they didn’t turn out quite as I expected. And it’s a shame because this water is SO CLEAR. I could see everything within probably ten to fifteen feet in front of me.

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The Hawaii state fish!

The Hawaii state fish!

(Don’t ask me about the dot or bars on my pictures. The people in my area that develop pictures are incompetent, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.)

The water was shallow so the reef was ridiculously close to my body at all times. I was so nervous that I was going to brush against the coral that I pushed myself away from it a couple times (Sorry fishies!).

The fish were unbelievably beautiful! They were so colorful and lively, swimming all around me, some within a foot or two of me. I wanted so badly to reach out and touch them because this experience felt so unreal. By this time I had become pretty skilled at snorkeling, so sometimes I just stopped swimming to stare at the reef and the communities of fish. They dug into the sand, ate off the reef, and even came out of their hiding places.

After snorkeling for about 45 minutes we were nearing the end of our path. My aunt paused for my uncle and I to catch up to her. She pointed to where we were going to snorkel and then end soon. I bluntly said that I wasn’t getting out of the water until I saw a sea turtle. Then we kept going haha.

As we were going along the end of our path, LITERALLY less than a minute later, we saw a honu!

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I was ecstatic. It was nibbling on the reef that was close to my feet and it was such a magnificent creature. It was so chill, not minding at all that we were there watching it. It swam so smoothly through the water and popped its head out of the water once to mimic us I suppose. I tried to just stay there until my fingers shriveled up like prunes, but once again we had to keep moving.

We turned around to head to shore and as the water became more shallow, we came upon several schools of fish.

First I saw small silver fish (no longer than my fingers) swimming in packs. But then I saw average sized white fish whose eyes were on the sides of their heads traveling in intimidating packs toward the same direction as me. As soon as they saw me they just stopped to stare and I guess try to figure out where to go since I was about to intercept their path. Wow, the large number of them almost blinded me, and I actually was tempted to swim straight through them just to see how they would freak out! I imagined a bad version of Finding Nemo occurring, so I decided against it and let the school make the first move. They turned around and creepily watched me, so I swam away.

Soon enough, we reached the shore and walked back to find our friends. It was still so early but it already felt like I had experienced a full day of activity. We left to see a couple more tourist attractions…

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"Sandy Beach"

“Sandy Beach”

another blowhole

another blowhole

…and then ran home to wrap up my stay. Of course, there was weight trouble with my bags, that’s no surprise with me. We packed up the car and headed to airport. Check-in was fine, and I gave a hearty farewell to my aunt and uncle.

I am beyond thankful for this opportunity to work and explore in such a great place, and I will really miss it. People have asked me if I plan on returning or moving out here, but I haven’t really decided yet. I hopefully have many years ahead of me giving me lots of time to live in different places and experience different cultures. I would love to return as much as possible, but I don’t think I want to live here. Another quote I’ve always lived by is “Nothing gold can stay.” I don’t want to live in a place that is so beautiful that I have nothing to look forward to. I love getting the chance to see and experience new wonderful, beautiful, exciting, daring things, but I don’t want to be surrounded by it permanently, in fear that it would not be special to me anymore. So for now, no, I do not plan on living here, but I really want to visit again someday to share this with the rest of my family.

…so then after my aunt and uncle left me, I had an ordeal because I forgot my coconut syrup in my carry-on bag and my first flight was delayed. I don’t even want to talk about being picked up from the airport.

I’m just really glad my older sister was there for me at home and that I was also able to call my best friend between my early flights. Thank you. It means the world.

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