Back in May when I found out that Curtis was going to be gone for an undetermined amount of time, I immediately texted my brother Grant to see if he could come visit me. He was the only one in my family who wasn’t able to come last year during their spring break trip, and it had been over a year and a half since I had visited him in Oregon. He wasn’t able to come out while Curtis was gone — which was fine, since he ended up coming home sooner than expected — but we worked out a time when he could come out here and experience Oahu.
That’s honestly become my favorite thing about living here — giving our friends and family the chance to come see this island for the first time, give them a place to stay, and show them the best things that this island has to offer. Since we haven’t been able to go home or travel at all this year, these weeks being with family have been the highlights for our time on this island. While Grant’s visit was less than a week, we still managed to pack in a lot.
He arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Curtis was on duty that day, so I picked him up from the airport. Right away, we were able to do something none of our other visitors were able to do: take a tour of Curtis’ submarine! We drove over to base and Curtis escorted us on and gave him the grand tour.
The next morning, we went to the beach to see the sunrise, then picked up Curtis from work and drove up to the North shore. We hiked to Kaena Point and saw a monk seal at the end. Curtis and I realized we hadn’t hiked it from this approach during the summer, and enjoyed seeing the tall yucca plants — a reminder of life in the desert. We noticed that the ocean waves were significantly quieter than they are in the winter. We were surprised to see a few albatross — we thought they only hung around here during nesting season. And as we were beginning our hike back, we looked out and spotted two sea turtles out in the water. It was the first time I’d ever seen turtles on Oahu! (Curtis has seen them on base and swimming around his boat while out at sea.)
On our drive back, we stopped at the Dole Plantation for both Grant and Curtis’ first ever dole whip. We then drove around the entire North shore through on and off rain showers. We also stopped at Laie Point for beautiful coastal views. That night, I made our favorite garlic shrimp recipe for dinner.
On Monday, Curtis went in to work for a few hours, and Grant and I hung out around Kailua. When Curtis came home, we drove down to Koko Crater Botanical Garden to hike the loop trail, immediately followed by Makapu’u Lighthouse for sunset. Like I said, we really packed in all our favorite places into a few full days!
Curtis had a test on Tuesday morning and was able to have the rest of the day off, so Grant and I drove with him to base in the morning and took the Arizona Memorial tour. After that we hung out around central Oahu and on Ford Island waiting for Curtis to be done before making our way to the Windward side. We picked up some poke and malsadas on our way, then sat in the shade at Makapu’u beach and had lunch.
Afterwards, we were finally able to do the one thing that everyone that has visited us has wanted to do or tried to do unsuccessfully: swim with sea turtles! I suppose it’s not so much a matter of where you go as it is what time of year it is. If you want to swim with sea turtles on Oahu, summer might be the best time to do so!
On Grant’s last morning here, we got up early and hiked Ka’iwa Ridge to see the sunrise. Controversially this was also Curtis’ first time hiking this popular sunrise trail at sunrise. It was probably my favorite sunrise I’ve seen up here, with the hills and clouds behind us reflecting the red light. But then again, every sunrise I see is my favorite.
Also, while hiking the ridge we saw something we hadn’t ever seen before — all the cactus plants were in bloom, with big white flowers covering the hillside. Curtis suspects that these could be a variation of dragon fruit, so we’ll have to return in a month or so to see if there are any fruits growing! If he’s right, then the cacti only bloom at night, so we were lucky to see them.
We wrapped up the visit with pancakes from Boots and Kimmo in Kailua, then said our goodbyes. This visit was so special to me — I loved being able to spend one on one time with my brother and be able to talk and relate to each other as adults, and as friends. Thankfully it shouldn’t be another year and a half before we see each other again!