Family Friday: May 30

Johnnie's parents have flown back to Seattle after a two week visit.  CC had a great time interacting and bonding with them.  Wherever we live, we tend to only see our families once or twice a year so we treasure that time together as much as we can.  Despite the distance, I wouldn't trade our life for anything.  I love that CC is experiencing different cultures, people, food, music, climates, etc, in the most formative years of her life.  I really believe that it will help shape her into a well-rounded, open-minded, and understanding person.  It has certainly changed me.

I was going to include photos from all of last week but decided to stick with our recent weekend getaway.  Johnnie and I took advantage of having live-in babysitters by sneaking away for two nights over Memorial Day weekend.  We love CC to pieces but we haven't had any alone time (other than a few dates) for about a year.  Short trips and date nights are things we have to do more often - it's good for our minds and our relationship.

I once read the advice somewhere of how it is especially important to nurture your marriage after having children, to always keep it a top priority.  Kids grow up, move away, and live their own lives.  If you don't keep your marriage strong while your kids are there, what will you have left after they leave?

We spent the weekend at Bellows Air Force Station, between Kailua and Waimanalo on the east side of the island.  Bellows AFS has the same baby powder sand and turquoise water that you see in Kailua.  There is a section of Bellows Beach that is open to the public on weekends.  The rest of the beach, the lodging, and amenities are only accessible to military ID holders and their guests.

On Bellows AFS, there is a Subway restaurant, and 24/7 convenience store, a snack bar, and a pub for all of your food and drink needs.  There is also a gas station, a launderette, and recreational equipment rentals.

For recreation, there is a miniature golf course, basketball and tennis courts, disc golf, sand volleyball, golf driving range, paintball, and the gorgeous beach complete with bath houses.

There are tent and RV campsites, rustic camper cabins (with no electricity or water), furnished cabins (with a kitchen and all basic amenities), and condo units (like a hotel which includes air conditioning).

We rented a furnished cabin for our two-night stay.  It was a little like upscale camping.  The cabin was clean and the bed was fine but the rest of the furniture (there wasn't much) was uncomfortable.  There was no air conditioning but there were ceiling fans.  Towels, linens, and kitchen supplies are all included but so were many insect roommates.  There was no luxury but it was certainly good enough for lounging around and enjoying the weekend together.

We had an oceanfront cabin near stairs that led down to the water.  There was a small sandy beach below the stairs during low tide that disappeared during high tide.  The large recreational sandy beach was only a short walk away.

We live on the north side of the island where we can't see the sun rise over the ocean.  So despite being on vacation, we woke up very early both mornings to watch and photograph the sunrise.

Johnnie had fun making time-lapse videos each morning with our GoPro camera while I took photos with my big camera on a tripod.  We both took some photos with our iPhones as well and ended up with two different views of each of my favorite photos:

Early Morning at Bellows Beach:

17mm, f/22, ISO 100, 0.8s

Sunrise at Bellows Beach:

19mm, f/22, ISO 100, 0.5s

Sunrise over the Mokulua Islands (the Mokes):

20mm, f/22, ISO 50, 5.0s

We had absolutely nothing to do all weekend and it was glorious!  Johnnie went kayaking, I sat watching the ocean and doodled in a sketch pad, we ate and drank, we went for a walk, we played in the water, and mostly we just relaxed (physically and mentally).  It was a fantastic getaway!

After checking out of our cabin on Monday, which was Memorial Day, we stopped by the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl Crater on our way home.  It is always an incredible place to visit but was extra touching to see on Memorial Day with a flag and a lei placed at every grave.  The cemetery is the resting-place for almost 53,000 veterans (and eligible family members).  Veterans from all over the country, from all the different wars, some known and some unknown - we are thankful for their service and sacrifice.

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
~Robert Orben

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