Lama pa'ipa'i on the Lanai – an Aulani TR -Aloha and Mahalo Aulani! Link to PTR 11/5
Welcome to the latest eandesmom trip report!
Notice it is not an "and gang" report. For those of you that know me, this is not my first TR and usually we have a gaggle of folks along whether it is some or all of our 4 kids, or in laws but this report is about a much needed couples only trip to the magical place known as
I believe this is something like my 10th TR if you include PTRs however it is my first one in the DVC TR section. Given that, I think some proper introductions are in order! This trip would be just myself, and my DH Jeff. I am the Disney Freak in the family as Jeff likes to call it but the reality is that the whole crew is pretty into it (thankfully).
Here we are!
First up, me
Cynthia. Certified Disney nut. I fell in love with Disney when I was 10, thanks to my mom. Who is technically my stepmom but holds the full mom ranking in my heart and every way that matters. While dating my dad, she somehow convinced him to take his 4 kids, in one small car, on a road trip to California. We camped on the way down and in the days before seatbelts, I sat on her lap the entire way there and back. Not only did we all live, she survived the whole thing so well he proposed on the trip and I fell in love with Disney. You can read about it here:
A blustery day
I am a full time working mom in sales and marketing for an engineering firm. Which may explain a lot. While not an engineer, I like the geeky side of things and like to think I combine that aspect, with the marketing stuff and as a result have special affinities for things like fuzzy Disney math, spreadsheets and a little graphic design on the side. Ive been to DLR 5x, WDW 8x and on DCL twice now. Ive been known to ditch the family and do Disney girls trips on my own with other DISers. Oh and I like coffee. In cups. A lot. I have a thing about it, and pick my mug for the day based on my mood, the weather, the season. I especially like it on the verandah. The balcony, patio, deck and lanai also work pretty darn well!
While reportedly not the Disney freak he says I am, he's been known to suggest retiring to Florida, getting jobs as CM's and recording Disney documentary type shows on TV (for me he says) that I didn't even know were on. For a guy who says a trip every 3 years is enough, hes managed to stomach a trip that has some kind of Disney element (be it WDW, DLR or DCL) pretty much every year since 2009. I have him beat on the WDW trips by several trips but he grew up in CA and went to college there and has me eating his dust when it comes to DLR. He is an aerospace engineer who is building a seaplane in our garage. I support him in this&which gives me a LOT of quid pro quo when it comes to Disney!
Jeff's idea of nirvana. Margaritaville and the Hemisphere Dancer (BIG Seaplane, owned and flown by Jimmy Buffet) at the Lone Palm Airport in Orlando.
Between the 2 of us, we have 4 kids, "his and hers" if you will though we don't think of it that way. No "ours", it would have messed up a good thing and besides, 4 is plenty! We met in 2002, our first date at a local Jazz club as we share a love for music. Fast forward a couple years later and we got engaged at that same club. He survived his first trip to WDW in 2004 with my entire family (20 of us) and I knew he was a keeper! We married in 2004 and have been blessed with 4 kids that truly do act as siblings and no step drama. I'll introduce them all but they play a very minor role in this trip, other than we did bring the younger ones back presents (older ones just aren't into it at this point) and have spent some time plotting to get all of them back to Aulani with us for the next trip, the younger ones at a minimum.
First up, Taylor (20). Taylor is a sophomore (digital music major) in college and as a result, hasn't made the last few Disney trips. He was busy bumming around Europe last summer! This is more recent photo of him. Music is his life and passion, whether it is the guitar, singing, writing or mixing. He plays locally here and there and recently did a week as a roadie! Hes also a pretty darn good photographer and takes some pretty neat photos of his own, usually of the outdoors as he is an avid hiker and snowboarder. Technically as of tomorrow he will be a junior which is a bit mind boggling He goes to a private college in our city so we do get to see him occasionally. About as frequently as I saw my parents in college that is (and I too went to school 15 min away from my folks) which means holidays and the occasionally spur of the moment coffee or meal. We should see him for Fathers Day.
Then the lone girl, Kendall (16). Currently a junior in HS shes our soccer player and is in the midst of college craziness. As in shed like to play in college so its a whirlwind of ID camps, showcase tournaments, etc. Its not for everyone and I couldnt do it but shes got the drive and the passion and thankfully the grades to hopefully get a spot somewhere. So far shes had 4 schools express interest, one at the transcript level, so&we will see. Summer will tell. Our last family trip was really all about her. She turned 16 on it and we put together a 16 year old girls dream trip, knowing then that with soccer it was likely our last big family trip while she was in school. Heck at 16 it would have been my dream trip too! Lots of beach and pool time, a cruise and then a very special backstage safari (she is very interested in life sciences as a college major though is leaning away from veterinary school at the moment). She has an exciting summer between soccer and a trip to France with her school (French Class) but we are hoping to get at least a long weekend with her and Taylor, hopefully in Denver to see their grandma. Her instrument is her voice and she is very involved in the school vocal music program.
The E's in the eandesmom user name
Evan (13). Evan is just finishing up middle school (8th grade) and will be off to HS next year, scary! He is a jack of all trades, interested in many things but a constant in his life is music, specifically the trombone both concert and jazz and has competed a local festival with a couple of small groups. This year he discovered a love of the theater and we expect to see more school play/musical activity and come fall, plans to give tennis a try at the HS so that should be interesting. He also happens to be a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do though middle school hasn't allowed as much time for him to continue and work on that 3rd degree belt, he does plan to get back to it. Currently hes busy plotting ways to earn money and attended a caddy class last week with the intention of doing that as a summer job. In his free time, hes a bit of a budding chef which is fun for me and also loves to design things although where I use the computer, that kid can sketch like no ones business. He is the one who gives me the most grey hairs but despite all of that, he manages to pull it all off and even made honor roll for the first time. And for a kid who we put in honors classes with the simple thought that hell go for B whether hes in honors or regular (not one to go the extra mile historically) we've been pleasantly surprised to see that his year, he started to care. And it shows.
Last but not least Eric (12). Eric is also moving on, in his case from elementary to middle school. He is our most serious kid with life being fairly black and white¬ much grey in Erics world. Its a pretty happy world most of the time, as long as it doesnt change to abruptly. He is arguably our biggest Disney fan, hes got a countdown calendar going for our next trip that he made back in February&and the trip isnt until 12/29/13! He will take it the hardest if that trip doesnt happen or gets postponed/pushed back. He is a planner, big time, and is busy plotting the ADRs for that trip. He is currently in a self-contained highly capable program which has been absolutely wonderful for him. We hope that middle school will continue to keep him challenged in that way and that he wont run into social issues, he is the one we worry about on that score. Hes very involved in boy scouts and is constantly on a hike or a camping trip, which makes him very happy. As with the rest of the gang, music is also a big part of his life, in his case piano and trumpet (yes&there is a theme here!).
As you already know...we did NOT take the kids on this trip. Previous experiences have really taught us that the family is only as strong as the couple. To keep that intact, date nights and date trips as we like to call them, are key. It isn't always easy to pull off with busy kids, work and all the scheduling logistics that go along with it. We usually manage at least 1-2 long weekends a year but getting a whole week (or more) away is tricky. Our last long trip was in March of 2011 and was also to Hawaii, the Big Island for an amazing week. We are lucky, with where we live, Hawaii is about as accessible as it can be and we have been lucky enough to go there multiple times, both together and separately before we met. We have not taken the kids yet. The older ones have been once, with their mom, when Kendall had a soccer tournament there. When Disney first announced Aulani, we really considered buying there as wed been looking at DVC for some time. Ultimately we decided that with the flexibility we had, owning there wasn't critical, 11m booking advantage was more important to us elsewhere and wed take our chances at 7 months. We finally bought into DVC back in January of 2012..so not very long ago at all! We used our points for a magical first trip, staying at OKW, Vero and AKV. When we bought, we started small. I wanted THV advantage but didn't necessarily want all our points at SSR. So a small contract met our needs with the knowledge that wed be adding on within a year. And we did, this time at Boardwalk. Id had the opportunity to stay there in October on a girls trip and had been about to add on at SSR or OKW (which we LOVED). I changed my mind about the add on once I fell in love with the Boardwalk, it just felt like home. Wed needed to add on to have enough points for a planned larger trip for NYE 2013. However as our UY is Dec, our new contract came with 2011 points that we would have to use before that trip started. Not a lot of points, not enough for a 1b trip (and well, with the kids...I am not staying in a studio...thats why we bought in the first place! That and a family of 6 really dont fit in resort rooms as all of you know). Jeff was not keen on a long weekend at DLR though we could have pulled that off. That meant...date trip! yeah we could have rented the points but really, I'd rather use them! We looked into an RCI trade as an option and could have easily done a week in Cabo. Seriously considered it. I was not considering Aulani, feeling like it would be wrong to go there without the kids. As I looked at our options, especially our flight options, it became clear that Aulani was a bargain. At least a bargain to get and stay there...costs once there was of course a totally different issue! A bargain you say? Yes. A bargain. For the 2 of us to get there, using miles for 50% off one way and booking 2 separate one way tickets we spent a whopping $548 TOTAL to get there. Jeff was concerned it would be too "Disney" (aka too many little kids running around...too many characters) for his idea of a couples trip but he couldn't argue with the price and well, it was Hawaii! Even if it was Oahu, definitely our last choice island. Not that there is anything wrong with it, just spoiled west coaster thinking. I was able to book at 6.5m out, 6 nights in an ocean view studio. I also booked one night in an island/garden view studio and then waitlisted for standard. Our flight didn't land until 8:30 pm HST and it seemed silly to spend the points on the OV to just to sleep. It wasn't a huge point difference, 3 if the waitlist didn't come through, 6 if it did but 6 points is 6 points! About 2 months later, the waitlist came through.
I confess. I did very little planning for this trip. Wed both been to Oahu before, though never together. I have family there, quite a lot actually. As a result we were pretty laid back about the whole thing. A lot of the typical things that folks might do, we had already done and didn't feel the need to do. I read a few TR's, saintstickets, podsnel and lurkyloos probably being the ones that I paid the most attention to. I made a few reservations. The weekend before our trip, I knuckled down and did a bit more research specifically on the types of activities we were interested in and then changed some reservations, crunched the budget and packed. This left us with the following itinerary which honestly had very little that was set in stone; it was mostly full of ideas so that wed have options. I also got the kids schedules all mapped out for my folks who would be watching the younger boys, thats never fun. Kendall would be at a college ID camp and Taylor&studying for finals!
C work, Jeff day off (brat)
Flight to HNL, eat dinner on plane, get car and check in.
Breakfast at AMA AMA. As we'd be moving today and would not have hit the store yet, going out for breakfast seemed ideal and I didn't think Jeff would be up for a character breakfast on day one of a couples trip. Check out/in. Enjoy resort. Hit grocery store. Dinner in Villa.
Spa for both of us, Breakfast and Lunch in villa, Starlit Hui and dinner at Monkeypod
Breakfast in villa, Ka'ena hike, lunch on the Northshore, afternoon on the Northshore, dinner in villa.
Breakfast in villa, Waimea Valley/Falls or hang out at resort or do a Northshore bike ride, lunch TBD, dinner at Makahiki.
Breakfast in villa, Diamond Head hike or bike ride, Hanauma Bay, lunch at villa, dinner at Roys.
Breakfast in Villa, Koko head steps, Memorial Day BBQ at my cousins
Breakfast in Villa, Lunch in villa, check out, enjoy resort, dinner at Aloha Beer or Gastropub, return car, fly home L
Land in Seattle, C possibly go to work, Jeff day off (brat).
Oh and the title of this TR?
Here's a clue
Day 1: Departure Day
I dream of cutlery
Day 2: Aulani
Up and at 'em pal!
A room with a view
Day 3: Aulani
Hui, Hula and Hops
Day 4: Ka`ena
Monks and Tradewinds
I'm sorry, we can't do that here
Oh no. ONO!
Day 5: Northshore
Surf Fail and Killer Tacos
Kites, Dives and Planes...with a side of Wind
Just another sunset
Day 6: Haunama Bay and Koko Head Steps
Catching a wave with Crush
A wedding, a photo shoot and to Infinity and Beyond!
Day 7: Mahalo Mingle, Diamond Head
Mahalo Mingling and Hawaii Ohana
Day 8: Aloha Aulani
The last lama pa'ipa'i
Day 9: Souvies
Aloha and Mahalo, something to remember Aulani by
NYE PTR Updates
ADR Time - The Disney Experience Dining Debacle
Running to a DISmeet
Trip Updates, NYE, DL Marching Band and Girls F&G!
Down to only ONE extra ADR!
Almost live from Honolulu
Almost live from Waikiki
Jill in CO
I am here!!! :goodvibes
And now I have also read your long introduction. Which was quite wonderful!
I must say that I absolutely love the story about your mom - and feel very privileged that I have met her and truly can appreciate what a wonderful person she is. When you mention your parents I always remember our dinner together very fondly! That was a great evening!
Me too. :goodvibes
Yeah! I am in!
Found you! Can't wait to read all about it... popcorn::
Wooo Hooo! I'm in on this one nice and early! You are fast on these things girl!
I actually made it to one of your TR's before I'm 20 pages behind! :cool1: :rotfl2:
I look forward to following along and seeing the awesomeness that is Aulani. :thumbsup2
Coming back later to read....
When I read "Lama pa'ipa'i" it is pronounced "Cynthia's Aulani TR." :rotfl2::rotfl:
Can't wait to hear about this trip!! Hee-Hee!
Whoo hoo I am here!!!! If I am lucky I may be stealing this itinerary. :goodvibes
Cynthia, thanks for the heads up. I'll be back to read later (probably Monday as going out of town for bridal shower this weekend).
***Intros read and enjoyed, as always. You truly have a beautiful family.
And happy to see I made Page 1!
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