Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Bye Bye My Sweet Island Family

Bye Malia!
Mahalo and Aloha to my sweet Hawaiian family.  Our final day, the girls and I piled in the car to take the cousins to school in the morning.  I was the embarrassing aunty taking their pictures as they got to school.  I love my nieces and nephews!  Jayden went to school with his mom, so I didn't get his picture.
Bye JJ and Maizie!

Bye beautiful green mountain of Manoa valley!
When we got back to Joe's home to pack our things, Joe pointed out these beautiful white mushrooms that pop up overnight in his woodchips.  They don't last long, like only a few hours, but they are beautiful, tiny, delicate and intricate!

Joe took us to a beach near Diamond Head so we could touch the ocean one last time.  This beach was a perfectly peaceful scene, where the sky meets the sea.

The waves come from two different directions.  Cool!

My footsteps in the sand

Amara found some coral.

Beautiful beach!

Family selfie with the ocean!

Some of the shoreline was actually rock, not sand.

I don't know what this is, but it came from the sea and it's very intriguing.  It is to me a testament of God's glory, imagination, and creativity.

Look!  The bushes here are all flowery!

Joe took us to Nandings Bakery to enjoy some fresh Filipino delights.  There were many gorgous offerings and we ended up purchasing a half dozen of them.

Look at all those confections!

I loved the ube silang.

These were so very good and a great snack for the airport and for our flight, too.
 I wasn't sure I was going to like them as much as a donut, but honestly, they're way better.  The bread is so tender and delicious!  You gotta eat it fresh for that heavenly experience though, otherwise it reverts being on par with a donut (which is still good).

For lunch, Joe took us to Steve's favorite place on the island, Costco.  Steve legitimately loved the ice cream there which was wonderfully creamy.  He also legitimately could enjoy his food knowing it didn't cost a premium.

Hawaii was the perfect family vacation.  Hanging out with Joe's family was bliss. Seeing the tropcial landscapes, tasting the local flavors, paying the supreme prices (ok, not that), added charm to our experience.  I'm so glad we were able to make this happen!  

We said goodbye to Joe as he drove us to the airport after lunch, and ended up flying across the ocean in the evening and arriving in Sacramento at 11pm.  We pretended to sleep at the airport, then boarded our plane to Vegas at 6am and then we finally boarded our flight back to Salt Lake around 9am.  

It was A LOT of traveling and a bit annoying to have that many stops.  And we were exhausted.  I'm so glad my sister picked us up from the airport and drove us back to her house where we picked up some burgers, ate, and took a bit of a nap before we hit the road back home.

The snow by Strawberry Reservoir, so different from the sand along the ocean.



Monday, November 28, 2022

Pines in Paradise & Good Local Eats

Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area

Straight up the cliffs from my brother's house is a forest unlike any I've ever been to.  We drove up some really steep streets to get up there.  The streets were akin to the vertical inclines in San Francisco.  Because there is a dense population on those steep hills, the roads are packed with parked cars, basically turned into one-way streets.  There are signs posted that uphill traffic gets the right of way.  I think it's good that they don't get snow there or else the cars would have a hard time getting home.
Tall trees
Once to Waahila Ridge, we had the forest all to ourselves.  It was a cool place.  Joe told me that the sailors needed tall straight trees to make masts from, so this variety was introduced to the area.  The pines are perfect for masts!

FYI- "The beginning of this hike is in a cook pine forest. Cook pines (Araucaria columnaris) come from the Cook Islands. The name is misleading, as they are not pines at all but in the family Araucariaceae, a genus of 18 or 19 species found from New Guinea to New Zealand and Brazil to Chile. Interestingly it's one of the few plants only natively found in the southern hemisphere." (http://www.explorebiodiversity.com/Hawaii/hikes/waahilaridge_about.html)

I love the cool nubs left on the trees from the branches that have dropped.

I thought these "pine cones" were really cool.

Good Eats

Uncle Joe and Aunty Kathy were so generous to invite us to dinner at Kam-Bowl.  This is where you go to get good local Hawaiian food, with a diner-style ambiance. 
I got the Teri-beef plate, best Teri beef I've ever had.  I tried Uncle Joe's Oxtail soup and loved it.  It has a rich broth somewhat reminiscent of pho.  Amara liked her gyoza ramen. I can't remember what everyone else got, but I know that if I go back to Hawaii, I want to go eat here again. ;)

For dessert. we split up and got ice cream treats.  The boys went to SomiSomi.  Joe recommended their ice cream because it is really good and creamy.  They also serve it with a cute fishtail-shaped cone on top.

Lily found a shop just for her.

The girls went to Sweet Creams to get rolled ice cream. YUM!

My rolled ice cream was a hot cocoa base, biscoff cookie and Nutella mixed in, with a pocky stick and roasted marshmallow on top.  Very good!

Waiting for our crew outside of Sam's Club/Walmart.  Lily making an important phone call.  She was attempting to find a date for when she returned home.

Fancy Local Fruits

On our bucket list was to try fresh guava.  We got lucky and Joe found us one last guava (it was the end of the guava season).  We loved the color of it.  The seeds were not my favorite (a little big and annoying to chew).  Flavorwise, I liked it.  Amara thought it was somewhat bland.  Then my brother introduced me to his guava jelly he made, and I've decided that's really how I like guava.  No seeds, just a nice sweet tropical flavor.  I had that on toast for breakfast almost every morning.

Joe also introduced us to a Hawaiian papaya.  I've had papaya before and didn't like it, but these were different and WAY better!  I really liked Hawaiian papaya.  It's almost like mango, nice and sweet.
Hawaiian papaya


Joe's Hawaiian Oranges are almost in season.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Church, Honoring Family Graves, and Legit Chinese Food

My brother's ward meets for church at the "Tab." It's a beautiful building.  I love how there's open air hallways and courtyards instead of foyers.  They also had a huge mosaic mural of Jesus, an outdoor water feature in front of the presidents offices, and giant banyan trees on site.
The look of the place was only one of the sweet things of attending church there.  The congregation was welcoming and they gave me a lei in Relief Society with a big hug.  

I loved the upliftment from the meetings.  In sacrament meeting a youth speaker spoke on forgiving others who hurt her.  A sister who got up after her spoke of her testimony that God sees us through hard times as she was wrongly imprisoned and went through great trials because of it.

In our Relief Society class, I loved that we learned of a man who help carry Christ's cross.  It hit me hard that it's important to step up and help others.  "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

family pic under the gigantic banyan tree.

And us a little closer to the camera.

Me and my brother, Joe.

The courtyard at the Tab that connects all the classrooms, offices, chapel, and gym

Visiting the Cemeteries

I loved that Uncle Joe and Aunty Kathy were able to come with us to visit the gravesites of our family.  We went to 3 separate cemeteries and left flower arrangements at the grave sites.  Aunty Kathy and Uncle Joe had picked up a bunch of flowers at the swap meet earlier that day.

My Grandpa's grave, Vicente Ramiro Guting

Agapito Pascua was a 1/2 brother to my grandpa.  They called him Pete.

The Gees, my mom's godparents.  I was named after Elizabeth Gee, and she passed away on my 14th birthday.  She was very special to my mom.  She loved her dearly.

I keep taking tree pics.  Smile tree! Hawaii has cool trees, what can I say?  

I heard about this island.  It's where my grandpa Guting used to work construction overseas.

Our crew getting a pic at the Punchbowl Cemetery.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but that place is stunningly beautiful.

The cemetery overlooks Honolulu

Pali Highway Scenic Lookout

I'm so glad we stopped at this amazing lookout off the Pali Highway.  It was amazing to get such a grand view of the island and the ocean.  We took some pics before we headed on to the other gravesites.

Uncle Joe and Aunty Kathy

Hawaiian Memorial Cemetery

What a treasure of beauty this place was.  It was absolutely serene, garden-of-eden-like.  This is where my Grandma Linda, my mom's mom, is buried.  She was a beauty in life and this was a fitting place for her to be laid to rest.

Maizie helping Aunty Kathy create an arrangement for grandma Linda's grave.

Our crew at Grandma Linda's grave

Leaving the Hawaiian Memorial Cemetery.  The views are spectacular.

Valley of the Temples

The grave of my great-grandpa

The grave of my great-grandma

Brother and sister to my grandpa.  These two lived together many years at the end of their lives at their childhood home in Honolulu on Prospect Street.

Chinese Restaurant in Kaneohe

This place was really good Chinese food.  Everything we ordered was delicious. Everyone loved the charsiu pork with the steamed buns.  I also loved the cold ginger chicken, cashew vegetables with noodles, and spicy eggplant.  The kids also had orange chicken, beef broccoli, and a second order of charsiu with the steam buns.  I know I'm missing other dishes we ordered, but I just remember that everyone loved everything.  It was also fun that there were giant lazy Susans in the middle of the table for people to pass food around.

The kids table at the Chinese Restaurant.

The adults table.  Sorry for the distorted image.  I was trying hard to get everyone in the pic using my wide angle and it really does a number to those on the edges of the photo.

Yum!  Everything was delicious!