Saturday, September 2, 2017

Disneyland's MaxPass

Before school started this week, we took our kids on an end of summer trip to the happiest place on Earth! 

Not too long ago, I wrote this post about the amazing Fuel Rods at Disneyland. Today I want to tell you about another awesome thing Disneyland added that improved my experience at Disneyland last week drastically! 

We are Disney obsessed! We have had annual passes for several years and go pretty often. Last week we were there and tried something new that ended up being totally worth it. It is the Disneyland MaxPass

You can read all the official Disneyland MaxPass info here, but here's the basic run down from me.

It costs $10/person/day and makes it possible to get fast passes on your phone through the Disneyland app. You also get all your photo pass photos through MaxPass. (all you have to do is put in your picture code from rides that take pictures or photographers around DL can add photos they take to your max pass). 

Honestly, if you want to really utilize your time at Disneyland to the best of your ability, fast passes are the PRO TIP to make that happen, and Max Pass makes that easy to do. (Plus-pictures guys!)

(The price does seem a bit steep-for my family it is an extra $70/day-but it was SOOO worth it to for us based only on the fast pass experience. The fact we got all those awesome pictures as well was icing on the cake! I really wish it was a free service, but I guess it never will be if people like me are willing to pay...and I am willing to pay for this!)


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Beckee's Deal with Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park

I would go out on a limb and say that visiting Kilauea, an active volcano, was probably the highlight of this trip. Not to downplay the awesomeness of everything else, but this was just SUCH a cool experience! Before I play show and tell about our day spend at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, I am going to just throw out yet another plug for this book: 

And once again, I have nothing to do with the writers or company printing this book, I just really love it. (Honestly, I wish I had a relationship with them, like maybe BFF's?! But I don't.) :) So this is #NotSponsored. Just Beckee's obsession. 

That being said, I just want to say that this book has a particularly helpful 20 page section all about the Volcanoes. We used it for our day there and it was like having an incredibly helpful tour guide with us. I think we #NailedIt on our day at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park! 

Here's what we did:

1- First we stopped at the Visitors center to use the potty's and to check out all the available activities. Then we started our real adventure by crossing the street down to the Helema'uma'u Trail which led us to the back of the Volcano House where we had our first look at the Kilauea Caldera. Wow-even in the light we could see lots of steam rising from the lava below!

2-Next stop-a short stop at the Kilauea Steam Vents. That was pretty awesome to see all the steam rising all around and to feel the heat from them  when we were close. They can be really hot! Careful of getting too close when you are checking them out! Do you know what causes the steam vents? They are areas where rain has seeped into the ground then been heated by Kilauea and they come up as steam. We went when it had just been pretty rainy, so there were LOTS of steam vents! It was cool!

3-We stopped at the Kilauea Overlook to see more of the caldera rim. You can also see the Halema'uma'u Crater from this view point.

4-Jagger Museum-this is where the best views of the crater is for sure. Plus the Museum itself is cool and full of awesome info (and of course some awesome souvenirs to purchase). We came here this time during daylight hours. It was cool, but trust me-it gets even cooler at night!

5- Next Up was the Kilauea Iki (Or little Kileaua). Kilauea Iki is a small pit crater next to the main summit caldera.

6-We walked through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was much shorter than I thought it would be but a totally worthwhile activity to do. Really cool! (Sadly, my phone was charging in the car during this activity, so I don't have any pictures-I will see if anyone in my group took any I can share here!) 

7- Mauna Ulu Crater Overlook was the next stop.

8-We drove to the End of Chain of Craters Road. There is a 7 mile hike from here down to see where the lava is currently flowing into the ocean. It is a rough walk over old lava, so not one we could do with our group, but if Wes and I are able to go back sometime when it is still flowing, we will for sure do this one. If you do want to try this hike-bring PLENTY of water and plan for a long, somewhat rigerous hike (from what I have hears). From where we went though, we could see the Holei Sea Arch

And the steam from where the lava was hitting the water:

SOOOO cool!

9-By this time, the sun was setting

10- So we headed back up to Jagger Museum to try to see the caldera in the dark. By the time we got up there, they were sending most cars to lower parking lots and forcing people to hike 1-2 miles up to the museum. But guys, the "bus" paid off in this moment! When they saw our huge 15 passenger van coming up, they let us through to the main Jagger Museum parking lot where we got just about the last parking spot and just hopped out and saw one of the most amazing things I have ever and likely will ever see. 

The pictures are awesome, but they still do not do it justice!!!

Holy cow! Everything about this day was so amazing, but I will never forget the absolute beauty of the Kilauea caldera lava at night! Do not miss this if you are heading to Hawaii's Big Island! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Beckee's Deal with Hawaii's Big Island (Activities)

Hawaii's Big Island is an amazing, diverse place to travel. There are 13 different climate zones in the world. While we were there some people told us they had all 13 on the island, but I am not sure about that. But I know it has a lot-rain forest, active volcano, deserts, beaches, etc. They even get snow and have winter sports in the winter! That makes for a pretty diverse vacation spot. To do it all, you would need FAR more than a week, but we tried to pack in as much fun as we could! 

Here's a summary and a few notes on the activities we did each day:

Saturday July 22: Travel Day

Our flight left Seattle at 3:30PM local time and arrived in Hawaii at 6:30pm Hawaii local time. My 13 year old son had to sit alone on the back of the plane. Here he is coming off the plane in Hawaii:

We got our cars (Well, as I mentioned in the last post, ours was more of a bus LOL): 

Then we went to Walmart where we purchased some snorkeling gear, some food, and a booster seat to replace the one we left in my car is Seattle. (***Good tip here-buying a booster at a local Walmart costs less than ONE day renting one from the car rental places...even in Hawaii!!!***) Then we ate a late dinner at Denny's (because it is right by Walmart, it was late to us, and it could accommodate our huge group). AND late that night we finally checked in to our condos at Halii Kai 

Here's a picture my dad took from my condo balcony:

Sunday July 23: Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Laupahoehoe Point, and Condo Pool

We all piled into the car and drove across the island to Hilo.

1-Rainbow Falls was our first stop-we hiked up to the banyan trees and took some pictures at the falls.

(This picture is just to prove I was really there)

We even had a little fun with the pictures LOL:

2-Laupahoehoe Point has a bit of a sad history (April 1, 1446 a Tidal wave came through and a whole elementary school class of kids, their teachers and a few others lost their lives), but is a beautiful spot and guys-it was PACKED full of locals this day! We stopped for a while, read about the the sad history of the point, and enjoyed the immense beauty here.

3-Halii Kai Condos pool: We relaxed a bit tonight in the pool and hot tub at our hotel. Somehow I did not get a picture of the hot tub, but was awesome with a rock/sand bottom! Here is a shot of the pool itself:

And the view of the ocean from the pool:


Monday July 24th: Snorkeling at Kahaluu Bay and a stop at Hapuna Beach State Park

1-Kahaluu Beach Bay was a fun stop for snorkeling, but it was super packed! Tons of people were here! But we still spent quite a bit of time here today.

2-Hapuna Beach State Park: We stopped here for food, but they would not serve a group as big as ours (yes, seriously), so we just hung out at the beach for a while, snorkeled and my daughter went Boogie Boarding. Then we headed back for some food at the Condo.

Tuesday July 25th: Puako Beach and Petroglyphs, Walk to Hilton and LUAU at Mauna Kea!

1-Puako Beach Petroglyphs walk first. Actually, we accidentally walked along the beach first:

Then we went on the real Petroglyph path/walk:

2-We walked from our hotel past the golf course and over to the Hilton Waikoloa Village. That hotel is like the Disneyland of resorts! Holy crap! We may have to stay there sometime when I can get a good deal! It was beautiful!

3-Luau at Mauna Kea Resort. So great! Great show, great food! Actually, it was my favorite Luau I have been to so far in my life! I definitely recommend it!

I even went up and did the Hula with a couple of my kids:

Wednesday July 26th: Armour's 11th Birthday, Hilo Farmers Market, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Akaka Falls, and Night walk at the Hilton

1-We gained an 11 year old today! He wanted cheesecake for his birthday, so we went and bought some at Foodland and we celebrated the birth of our middle child! The Big Island is a great place to celebrate a birthday! What a lucky guy!

2-We wanted to check out the Hilo Farmers Market in all it's glory, so we went there today since it was a Wednesday. It was the perfect place to pick up some local foods, grab some sweet souvenirs, and hang out with lots of other people! We even met a guy from Aberdeen! It was crazy! :)

3-My FAVORITE stop on the Big Island back when I visited Wes there 11 years ago was to the Imiloa Astronomy Center. The planetarium was the best part. Sadly, this time, the Planetarium was closed, but we went and enjoyed the rest of the Astronomy center. It was so fun and educational for the whole family! It was great!!!

4-Stopped and hiked down to Akaka Falls.

4-Walk to Hilton Lagoon:

Thursday July 27: 49 Black Sand Beach/Honoha'ope Beach, Walk to see Dolphins at Dolphin Quest, and Hawaii's Volcano's National Park.

1-Wes, Armour (11 year old) and Wesley's parents walked over to 49 Black Sand Beach/Honoha'ope Beach this morning (Early):

2-We walked over to see the Dolphins at Dolphin Quest on the Hilton Property.

3- We went to Hawaii's Volcanos National Park-there was SOOOO much we did here today that it will have it's own post. I will put a link to it once it is posted! Here is a couple pictures to whet your appetite:

Friday July 28: Swimming with Dolphins, Chilling around the hotel

1-Today Wes and the kids swam with Dolphins at Dolphin Quest. It was amazing for them!!!

Saturday July 29: Mauna Kea Onizaka Visitor's Center, Hilo Farmers Market (again), Botanical Garden drive, Red Eye home!

1-Mauna Kea Onizaka Visitor's Center with the family-the bus barely made it there, but it was fun and interesting to stop!

2-Back to Hilo Farmer's Market!

3-Scenic Drive near the Botanical Garden-we took the scenic side drive and it was so worth it-look:

4-Off to the airport to return home on the Red Eye.

What an amazing trip! We did so many amazing thing, and there is so much more for us to do next time!!! I cannot wait to get back!