Monday, June 14, 2010

A Wedding in Hawaii

My beautiful cousin Karmen got married on the beach on Oahu last week and Mom and I went down for the festivities. Jeremy wasn't able to leave work for an entire week, so Mom reluctantly (editor's note: sarcasm) agreed to go with me and be my plus-one. While I was disappointed Jeremy couldn't go, it was nice for Mom and I to have a girls' getaway. We stayed at Turtle Bay Resort (which is where they filmed Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but by the time we got there Tuesday night it was 11 and we were beat. So we quickly unpacked and passed out. But when we woke up the next morning and stepped out onto the lanai... So this is what we looked at every morning while sipping our coffee...

The next day we met my cousins at Kailua Bay Beach to just hang out at the beach and soak in the fact that we were finally in Hawaii! Karmen was the bride and she wanted to spend as much time as possible on the beach - and what the bride wants, the bride gets. It was so hard on us all. Here's Mom at the beach being forced to enjoy herself at the beach. Poor Mom...
Katy, the bride's sister had thoughtfully organized a few activities for those of us that wanted to add a few bruises and aching muscles to our vacation experience. First up was surfing lessons with Sunset Suzy. Yes - surfing lessons. Me. We started with lessons on dry land - this is where I really excelled. I'm the one in the middle here - please ignore the blinding white legs (I even spray tanned before I went - stupid genetics, thanks Mom, thanks Dad).
I did manage to stand up and it was a lot of fun. The surfing itself wasn't too hard - the paddling out was killer though! I mean seriously, the third time I paddled out I thought I was going to just drift out to sea and die because I didn't have the energy/strength to get back to Suzy - and I was okay with that because I was so freaking tired. My shoulders were so sore that just washing my hair was even a chore that evening.On my last wave, I was paddling with the wave and just as I started to get up to my knees I felt my wedding ring slip right off my hand. So stupid to wear it surfing, I honestly don't know what I was thinking. I was really upset about it, but Jeremy just laughed it off - thank goodness. Anway, I turned to grab it (yeah right - like there was a chance in hell - but it's instinct)... and of course you're not supposed to turn 90 degrees while getting up to your knees just as you get to the top of a wave... so I wiped out and the board hit me in the head. So I had a battle scar - I'm pretty cool, ya know. It was a teeny tiny bruise next to my right eye - but still, I was injuring while SURFING people. See?

Okay, so you can't really see it. But it was there. I could see it and I could feel it and my shoulders hurt. So I rock. Shutup. Here I am posing with the surfing board I the resort asked me to sign after my successful surfing lessons. It's signed by all of the Pipe Masters winners and is on display at Turtle Bay... Okay, maybe that's not true, but if they'd known about my bruise, they probably would have asked me to sign it. 
After we'd wrapped up the surfing lessons, one of our instructors took us out to see a beautiful hidden beach as a potential site for the wedding. The instructor, Bobby, had worked on the crew for Lost and the beach was next to the banyan tree that was used in so many Lost scenes. Charlie is strung up in the tree and Kate hid in it and it was a meeting place or something... I don't know - I didn't watch the show and I don't even know who tehse peoplea re, I'm just repeating what Bobby said. As you can see, they're building a set in the tree right now, it's going to be used in the filming of Pirates of the Carribean 4. So I have walked will Johnny Depp will soon be walking!

We had dinner that night at Haleiwa Joe's Seafood Grill and it was scrumptous. Umbrella drinks and ahi - mmmmm. They also had Spicy Edamame, which was kim chee flavored and served cold. I'd never had edamame served cold before, but it was addictive.

Friday Mom and I decided it was time for a little shopping, so we headed down to Waikiki Beach. The first time I went to Hawaii was in 1989 and the trip was a graduation gift from my Aunt Anita. Best graduation gift ever, by the way. There's a pic Anita took of me in front of the Royal Hawaiian during that trip, so Mom took the same pic this time. Isn't it amazing how little I've changed? Why - it's like the last twenty-one years never happened, right? RIGHT?

Too bad I don't still have the same "jams", huh? Like they'd fit...

This is a self-portrait of Mom and I at Waikiki Beach. We ate at Duke's and had sashimi, smoked marlin and poke. Delicous, of course. I couldn't get enough raw fish while I was there!

We did a little shopping and I bought myself a nice Hawaiian ring to wear in place of my wedding ring - it just feels to weird not to have a ring on there. And since I lost it in Hawaii it seemed appropriate. Crappy picture, but you get the idea.
And then it was back to the resort, in to the pool and a few umbrella drinks to calm our tired nerves. I'd gotten a little sun on my nose, so when Mom took a picture I suddenly looked like Karl Malden. So I made her retake it. Much better, huh?

Finally it was wedding day. Karmen decided the wedding would be at the remote little beach Bobby'd shown us a couple of days earlier. It was beautiful and the sun was just starting to set.

Jared, the groom, and his best man as they walk through the banyan trees toward the beach.

The bride, Karmen, getting some last minute adjustments from her sister, Katy, and her mom, Karen.

And here are the ladies of the bridal party. Katy (bride's sister and matron of honor), Karmen (bride - duh), Angela (groom's sister) and Cagney (bride's cousin).

The guys had cleared an aisle on the beach and one of Karmen's friends had strewn flowers on it.

The wedding ceremony itself was officiated by Matt, Karmen's dad. There were only about twenty of us there, so we all stood in a circle and were a part of the ceremony. Jared and Karmen went around the circle during the ceremony to thank everyone individually for being there - and of course hug. It was one of the most touching weddings I've been a part of. I was really honored to be there and be a part of the day.

Katy is a little over three months pregnant with their first child, so I told her she's going to have to go back when she can have sushi and umbrella drinks!

Another self portrait of Mom and I right after the wedding.

They'd rented a placed called The Plantation Estates - it was beautiful! So of course that's where we all went for the reception afterwards. Pizza and sweet corn buffet!

Here I am with my Bennett cousins - Katy, Karmen and Matty.

How cute are the cake toppers?!?

So the next morning, we were back in adventure mode. Katy, Jeff and I went on a four hour (SIX MILE) ocean kayak trip with Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks. They took us from Kailua out to the Mokulua Islands - did I mention that we were in kayaks and my arms were sore from surfing three days earlier? And it was "much windier than I've ever seen it out here"... And we made it. I'm a rock star - just sayin. 

This is a self portrait from Moku Nui with Moku Iki in the background over my right shoulder (on your left). These two islands are Hawaii State bird sanctuaries and have lots of very cool tidepools on them.

Here is one of the tidepools. (That's Jeff in the background and Katy in the foreground.) One of our guides was a marine biologist major and this is his summer job and he was really excited to teach us all about the animals in the tidepools. For example, did you know that there are small fish called blennies (paoo) that range in size from just under 2 inches to about 7 inches and they can jump as far as eight feet? They jump from tide pool to tide pool once they've eaten all the food out of it. They can hold droplets of water on their gills so that they can live for up to three minutes out of the water and hop as far as 100 feet to the next tidepool! Cool, huh? The ones we saw were so dark that I just couldn't get a picture of them.

After we left Mokulua Islands, we KAYAKED back to Lanikai Beach and had sandwiches and did a little snorkeling. Then we headed back to die. Okay, not really - but it felt that way. Did I mention that I'm a rock star? And also - this was while I was doing Week 2 of Couch to 5K so I was also running every morning before all this hard work having fun.

Mom spent that day with Matt and Karen and Marilyn (Matt's mom) hiking Waimea Falls. So they were ready for nice big dinner, too. We all met at Jameson's by the Sea for dinner. Mom and I had been there previously and ordered the exact same thing - it was too good not to! We had sashimi, salmon pate and seafood chowder.

Sigh... and that was our last night in Hawaii. The next day we were headed home. No more drinks on the beach at sunset. No more coffee on the lanai watching surfers and paddle-boards. No more paradise. However - we were in for a pleasant surprise on our flight home. I had cashed in all of my frequent flier miles to upgrade us to first class for this trip. The flights from StL to LAX and from LAX to Hawaii were nice. But on the way home we were going through Chicago and we were on a 767-300, which means we were on a much bigger plane. Which means first class was MUCH nicer. There was so much space between the seats that my feet barely reached the divider in front of me.

The seats reclined almost all the way to a flat position and was totally adjustable - you can see the controls there in front of my glass of champagne. So while we weren't happy to be leaving paradise - the flight home certainly wasn't bad.

So now we're back and my freckles and starting to fade and my bruises are gone. But we had a wonderful time and I really enjoyed being there with Mom. The wedding was wonderful and I'm extremely grateful that we were able to be there. What a wonderful way to start a marriage!