Ensen enjoying his small...yes that's a small...rainbow shave ice ($3) at Shimazu Store on School Street with Grandma Kam.
As I compose this long overdue blog post, I’m simultaneously trying to recall the last time I had a true spring break vacation. The kind where you leave work and all your worries behind and focus on relaxing and having fun with family and friends. I’m drawing a blank. My guess is it must have been more than 16 years ago way back when I was still in high school.*sigh*
With Ensen‘s preschool out for on break a couple weeks ago, I had no choice but to ditched the office in favor of spending five days watching with my son. It was incredible. We had so much fun exploring Oahu and doing everything we could to fill our days. The only thing that would have made it even better is if Kelly and Avery were there with us, but work and the sitter kept each occupied the entire week, respectively.
My goal was to make each day a new and memorable learning experience for Ensen. Let him experience things that would excite him mentally and physically. Do things that he would anxiously want to talk about with his teachers and friends when he returned to school. I believe we accomplished that. Here’s a photo recap of Ensen and His Daddy’s Uber Excellent Adventures:
MONDAY, MARCH 21
Ensen and I headed to Bishop Museum to check out the new “Dinosaurs Unearthed – Feathered Discoveries” exhibit running through September 5, 2011. We had no idea dinosaurs had feathers. Did you? This place has become a family favorite over the past few years and we’ve taken advantage of the great membership rates which has us coming back frequently. So much to see and do. Nice exhibits. The kids always have a great time here.
Getting ready to head in and check out the rest of the dinosaurs.
This guy was our favorite. A cross between a chicken and brontosaurus.
More feathered friends inside.
We spent quite a bit of time digging for fossils in this discovery box.
TUESDAY, MARCH 22
Before heading to the North Shore to check out the big waves, buddy and I made a quick stop at Shige’s Saimin Stand in Wahiawa for some onolicious saimin and a cheeseburger. It was the perfect “brunch” before we hit the road towards Haleiwa.
The waves were pretty big this day at Pipeline, but windy conditions made for lousy waves and no surfers out in the water when we got there. That didn’t stop Ensen from getting his toes in the sand and picking out some nice shells for mommy and Avery. We also had a nice conversation with some visitors from Michigan and Iowa who were happy to be on Oahu. Ensen told them all about his love of Transformers, showed them how to transform the one he had, and they as they patiently listened and watched.
Ensen loves his shrimp, so we made a lunch stop at the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck for some Garlic Butter goodness before heading back home. Soooooooo ono!
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23
I figured by day three, Ensen would be getting tired of just hanging out with me, so we called Uncle Kevin, Aunty Sherrie, and Aunty Erin and asked them to take us fishing. They agreed! We all met up at Heeia Kea Pier, one of Uncle Kevin and Papa’s favorite fishing spots, to cast our lines into the sea. Ensen caught five fish. Daddy caught three. And poor Aunty Erin (not pictured to protect her identity…hehehehehe) caught ZERO! Ensen got a kick out of that.
Uncle Kevin and Aunty Sherrie help Ensen reel in his first catch of the day!
If this beautiful place looks familiar, it’s because Pirates of the Caribbean was just filming here not to long ago. The Queen Anne’s Revenge was set here during filming in on Oahu.
Ensen with another fish on the line. I think he’s got a great future as a fisherman.
After a few hours of fishing, we headed to Windward Mall for lunch. But there was more fun ahead. A train ride around the mall ($3/person) was just what Ensen needed before his nap on the car ride home.
THURSDAY, MARCH 24
Aunty Erin (my sister) had so much fun with us on day four that she tagged along with us on our visit to Pearl Harbor/World War II Valor in the Pacific and the USS Missouri Memorial (aka The Mighty Mo). I should note that the Mighty Mo is a client of the agency I work for, so they were kind enough to host the three of us at no charge. But honestly, the $20/person adult and $10/kid (4-10 years old) admission for the Mo is still a deal to see a piece of history.
This entire facility was recently renovated and is beautiful. It’s FREE to enter the general area here and explore the museums (which are beautifully done), grounds, theater and gift shop. That alone is worth the visit to Pearl Harbor. Once you’re in, then you have the option to buy single or multi-attraction tickets. While we also wanted to see the Pacific Aviation Museum, I had a feeling Ensen would be tired after looking around the Mighty Mo for a few hours, so we decided to just do one activity this day. I ended up being right about the tired part.
To get to the Mighty Mo, unless you drive over to Ford Island yourself, you have to take this coach bus from the main entrance.
Photo opp before boarding the ship. It’s huge.
The guns are huge. Can’t imagine being on this thing when they were being fired.
Ensen took his turn as a gunner.
Lunchtime at the Sliders Grill on the dock which serves up burgers, hot dogs and the like. The food is expensive, but it’s the only place to grab a bite near the Mighty Mo. Word is if you can get to the cafe at the Pacific Aviation Museum, there’s some better options there. Nonetheless, we gobbled down a couple of dogs, drank some water, then…
…had Dippin Dots ice cream and made a custom dog tag ($5). We went back on the Mo for a little while after this but Ensen was fading quickly, so we boarded the coach bus and headed back to the main gate. A wonderful day on the Might Mo and at Pearl Harbor. We’ll definitely be back to explore the rest of the sites. There’s just so much to see and do here. I’m estimating two days would be needed to fully enjoy everything.
FRIDAY, MARCH 25
Our last day of spring break began with breakfast at Cafe Kaila (at Market City) with Uncle Regan. I’d been hearing a lot of good things about this place and I’m glad we gave it a try. It was packed and we waited about 30 minutes for a table. But the food and service was great. I had the Italian Sausage Frittata which was the size of my head and very good. Ensen went for the waffle which was yummy. A nice breakfast before we headed off to meet Aunty Erin and Grandma Kam for lunch.
Following lunch, Ensen and I took grandma to National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl to visit my grandpa. Hard to believe it’s already been eight years since his passing. Seems like just yesterday. It was nice to be able to share this moment with Ensen, tell him a little bit about how my grandpa was quite the handyman and all around nice guy, and have him help my grandma with the flowers.
And for his help, Grandma Kam rewarded him with a shave ice at Shimazu Store. Quite possibly the perfect end to a very busy, fun, and memorable spring break vacation.
This whole experience made me realize I need to get away from the office once in a while to kick back, relax, and enjoy this island paradise we call home with loved ones and friends. I’m already looking forward to spring break next year. But hopefully, Kelly and Avery can be there with us as we create more family memories together.