Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sun, Shopping, Surfing and Sand!

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We awoke to that beautiful sunrise over Diamond Head. It was awesome sharing it with Montana! Unfortunately it was too dark to take great pictures.

But here is Waddles and Mr. Quack on our balcony over looking the beach and Diamond Head.

Another Tip – If you aren’t big breakfast eaters or are looking to save some money, make sure your room has a fridge – if not use your ice bucket. We aren’t big breakfast eaters and knew we would be waking up early, so we bought cereal and milk from the dozens of “ABC stores” in the Waikiki area. (It really is incredible how many there are – more than Starbucks!) We had our breakfast had some Internet time (uploading pictures to Facebook etc.) and decided to go for a walk.

All the stores were closed (It was 7:45 am by this time) so we hit Starbucks and sat out on their patio watching the people go by.
We then went for a walk along Kalakaua Ave (the main strip along Waikiki Beach). Most of the stores were closed, but

the city was waking up by this time and we watched the joggers and thought – wow they must be dedicated and HOT!!!) It was already 83 F and very humid. We were amazed at how the temperature varied 10 F from Sun to Shade.

We found the story teller Hawaiian God Stature and had to take pictures with her.

Shopping and Turtles!

We started to walk back and did some shopping. We made it made it back by 10:30 am and were starving. We found a Coco Cove store that had the salads like we like in New York – the one where you choose the lettuce and then the ingredients and they toss it for you – they also had Panini’s. So we decided to take some food back to our room and enjoy our balcony and view. It was perfect! We even got a picture of the turtle! By the end of the weekend we saw 4 at one time!

More Shopping at the Ala Moana Center

We then took a taxi to the Ala Moana Center. It is the largest outdoor mall in the world and the largest mall in Hawaii. Montana wanted to use her gift card she got for her birthday (THANX MOM) so we headed straight there. She did quite well and was really excited!

We went into the humongous food court with foods from every part of the world and were all amazed at the size of it and the variety! What was funny was that we all decided that a hot dog was all we wanted. So a Nathan’s Hot dog it was! Montana also had a bubble tea – well at least one of us enjoyed the ethnicity of it all!

We also found a lulu lemon athetica store! It was awesome to see a piece of home (lulu lemon is a Canadian company).

It was time to return for our afternoon swim and I promised Montana that we would go and find out about surfing lessons. So back to the hotel and onto the beach.

We found a great guy to give Montana a lesson in the morning – Corbin – he asked us to be there by 7 am for a lesson in the morning. We knew we would be up!

We went for our swim and then got ready and went for sushi – our favorite place in Waikiki – the Restaurant Suntory in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Area. We sat at the sushi bar and were excited to see it was the same Sushi chef as last year. It was a great dinner.

Montana then wanted to “pick a pearl” so we wandered through the International Market Place and she picked a stall to pick a pearl. She was really excited, and chose a larger than average pearl. She chose a silver ring setting, and was really happy with how it turned out.

We were in bed by 10 pm – afterall it was 4 am at home!

First Surfing Lesson!

We woke early again and Montana was excited to go surfing. I was a little nervous about it but I felt good about the instructor that we chose the day before. There was a large long board surfing competition going on. So there were a lot of surfers out there.

We paid for a group lesson but there wasn’t any other participants so Montana ended up with a private lesson. They did a quick 5 minute on land lesson, then an hour in the water.
The lesson included the use of a surfboard and surf shirt to wear.

Out they went and before you knew it Montana was up on her first wave! I was amazed at how easy it came to her. Corbin would set her up and then off she went!

Needless to say she had a blast!

As the hour went on I could see how tired she was getting. When she finished the lesson she said her arms were killing her! I can see why – It looked like a lot of work!

We decided to spend our Sunday as a “lazy day” so we got showered and went for an early lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. We had a great table overlooking the street and we could watch the people go by. As usual the portions were huge so we took the leftovers back to the room for dinner.

We wandered around the shops again and then went back to the room to watch “The Matrix”. This is Warren’s absolute favorite movie and it was shot in Sydney Australia (where we are heading to while I write this!).

We have arranged to do a movie tour that is mostly a tour of the locations that the Matrix was filmed in on Thursday. Montana had not seen it yet, so it was a perfect idea to have a lazy afternoon watching the movie. I think she liked it – I was glad to be refreshed as I hadn’t seen it in a few years. Warren has seen it a dozen times!

We sat out on the balcony and watched the masses of beachcombers, surfers and swimmers. It was the day before school started so it was really busy on the beach! This time we saw 4 turtles in the same spot. In fact there was a man swimming quite close to one but couldn’t see it, the turtle came up for air and scared the man half to death! It was hilarious to watch him swim away fast and furiously. I am not sure if he knew what it was! I think he scared the turtle just as much as he was scared!

We then went for our afternoon swim and looked for the turtles to no avail. I guess it is easier to see them from 18 floors up!

Dinner consisted of leftovers, and another salad from the salad place – it was yummy and not too much! We were all tired, but had to pack up as we had an early morning flight to catch – this one on JetStar – the Qantas charter airline. They have a star class service and section which is a little more money but worth it! We each got an individual movie player with a pretty good selection of movies. And meal service. In the regular section of the cabin you can rent a unit and pay for meal service before you get on the plane. I think it is a great way to do it.

Ok so we have 4 hours to go on a 10 hour flight – hmmm now what? PSP? Another movie? Gossip Girl (I promised Montana I would catch up so we could talk about it!)

Well Waddles and Mr. Quack are excited to be on their way to Australia and we are about to fulfill on a life long dream for Warren!

I am not sure if every blog entry will be this detailed as it took over 2 hours to do. But we will do our best!

Leis, Limos, and Waikiki Beach

Side Note: I wrote this on the plane from Hawaii to Australia and was unsure where I left off on the first post - so you may read some similar stuff.
I am writing this at 38 000 feet on Way to Oz!

Wow, where to begin, Right now we are again hurdling back in time – oh wait no - now we are going forward in time – in fact we just went over the equator and are about to pass the international date line. – So it is 8:00 pm in Toronto on July 28th – HAPPY BIRTHDAY APRIL!!! And it is 2:00 pm in Hawaii (where we just came from) and we are on our way to Sydney Australia. Where it is 10:00 am on Tuesday July 29th ! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANNY! - It’s hard to wrap your head around sometimes.

Leis and Limos

So where did I leave off on the last blog entry. I am not sure if I shared with you the rest of our flight and our limo ride from the airport to the Westin Moana Surfrider in Waikiki. I had arranged for a limo to pick us up as last year when Warren and I arrived in Honolulu, we had a heck of a time renting our car and then maneuvering our way to Waikiki. The traffic at 3:00pm is unreal – apparently Honolulu has traffic all the time, typical city that grew before it’s infrastructure did.

So to make it easy I found a company that was recommended by a contributor on TripAdvisor that offered an airport transfer with lei service.We used ABC Limousine Service. So yes we got leied at the airport! (clean those minds up!) We didn’t tell Montana – we thought it would be a great surprise to see a limo driver holding onto a card with her name on it and welcoming her with a lei in the traditional Hawaiian way. She was excited in a 13 year old way. She said “SICK!” We are getting that people react different ways to new experiences at different ages. LOL!!!

ABC Limousine Service also picked us up to take us back to the airport - arrived on time and were awesome - It really is great not having to worry about transfers to the airport and getting there on time!

The driver took our bags and while we waited for the driver to get the car (Yes we felt important) another limo (that I thought was ours came up)

I panicked as I thought – ok I guess that I should have done more research on this limo company! – But when I went to talk to the driver it wasn’t our driver! Thank goodness – So my recommendation is to use Martin Kims ABC Limousine - This was the car we actually had!

We had a wonderfully relaxing transfer into Waikiki with Montana bartending

Ok maybe she was drinking as well!

Arriving at the Westin Moana Surfrider

We arrived at the Westin Moana Surfrider and were greeted by 2 lovely Hawaiian ladies that gave us a cold cloth, some lemongrass iced tea and another lei. The hotel itself is beautiful! It is one of the original and had lots of class and history. Everytime you walked in the lobby you could imagine ladies in full dresses from the turn of the century walking with parasols.
We got a glimpse of the ocean and Waikiki Beach as we walked to the front desk. It was exciting to see that beautiful blue and turquoise ocean again.
Waikiki was busy. Really busy. This is why we only stay in Waikiki for a few days. The beach was busy as were the stores.

We booked with our points for the room we were to stay in and decided to spend the extra to upgrade to a one bedroom suite. This was one of our better choices. With a little extra money and “relating to the world of the front desk person” (always be friendly to the people who check you in – make sure you get what is going on for them – be interested in how their day is going – not only is it great to meet new people but it is a great way to get extras) We ended up with one best rooms on all of Waikiki Beach. It was absolutely amazing! We could see the whole beach from the Sheraton Waikiki to Diamond Head. It also had one of those celebrity toilets! It had a built in bidet, seat warmer etc. Montana and Warren thought that was just really cool!

We spent a lot of time in our room as we were adjusting to the time difference etc.

Waikiki Beach, Surfers and the Turtle

As we were overlooking the Beach and the water – we could see all the swimmers, surfers, beachcombers , the sandy areas under the water and the rocky areas. As we looked out I saw a turtle! A huge one! It was great watching him (yes all you SBI’rs! I couldn’t believe it a Turtle!!!) – In the whole 2 weeks we were in Hawaii last year we never saw one turtle! The people that were in the water had no idea that he was there!

We were hot when we arrived and were excited to be in Waikiki so we chose to go swimming right away. Now this is where I messed up – I didn’t make sure we bought a waterproof camera to take pictures of us bobbing around in the water. Boy was it fun!

We were tired but needed to eat. Last year we never made it to the famous Dukes for a meal. So I pre booked it for our first night. The meal was ok. But I think it was hard to tell as we were so tired. So we had their salad bar and a few appetizers. We requested a table by the water and were not disappointed. The view was beautiful.

By 8 pm we were exhausted. I never even realized I had fallen asleep until I woke up at 4 am! By 5 am Montana woke up, so we decided to let Warren sleep and we went out on the balcony and watched the sunrise over Diamond Head. It was beautiful!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our First Day! - Our Travel to Hawaii!

It’s 3:02 pm as I write this. Let’s see that is Toronto Time (our home town), It is 3:03 pm in Chicago and 10:03 am in Hawaii. We are hurdling back through time. Well ok not really, just through time zones!

We arrived in Chicago with 12 min to spare. Thankfully our gates were only 3 apart. Enough time for a snack and a washroom visit. Then they announced boarding! We took advantage of the few hundred dollar difference and decided to fly business class.

Boy what a difference. Sitting in seats 1F,1H and 1J. Now we are flying United, which if I were really honest, I would say that it really is an old airline and certainly not as nice as Air Canada (yes all you Canadians – I said it!). The equipment is old and tired, but they offer a good rate on “Domestic First Class” that we are willing to take. It is much better than being in economy class for a 9 hour flight. I just went for a walk back there and the configuration is 2 5 2 – they look squished and not comfortable at all. So I won’t complain.

We arrived in Chicago with 12 min to spare. Thankfully our gates were only 3 apart. Enough time for a snack and a washroom visit. Then they announced boarding! We took advantage of the few hundred dollar difference and decided to fly business class. Boy what a difference. Sitting in seats 1F,1H and 1J. Now we are flying United, which if I were really honest, I would say that it really is an old airline and certainly not as nice as Air Canada (yes all you Canadians – I said it!). The equipment is old and tired, but they offer a good rate on “Domestic First Class” that we are willing to take. It is much better than being in economy class for a 9 hour flight. I just went for a walk back there and the configuration is 2 5 2 – they look squished and not comfortable at all. So I won’t complain.

More excitement, once we were on the plane and started to settle in, the flight attendant served, orange juice, champagne or water. Warren made a mimosa (orange juice and champagne), and as we were settling in I managed to do what I do and knocked the glass all over my leg, the floor and the table. So I started off a little wet. Later the flight attendant offered to take our picture, the 3 of us. Warren picked up his wine and it spilled on my tshirt and pants! So I don’t drink, and I smelled like I had just been at a booze up in a brewery (as my mom would say).

Mr. Quack got a tour of the flight deck as they were boarding the plane. He (and Warren) were very excited!
Here are Mr. Quack and Waddles enjoying their “First Class” seat!

The food was ok. Montana was excited to “experience” the meal service. You know food you don’t have to pay for and the white tablecloth and the real glassware and cutlery.

Warren had a couple of drinks and had an hour nap. Montana is happily watching the last episodes of Gossip Girl she missed during the school year and at camp.

I don’t sleep well on planes, so I worked on a page for the website and then thought – I should do our first official entry for our blog!

So only about 5 hours left. Hmmm maybe I will try for a nap – most likely not – more PSP time or maybe a movie – ahhh vacation!
Oh by the way, I haven’t seen Warren this excited or relaxed in awhile! It’s like our wedding day! He can’t stop kissing me!

Love to our families, and if you are a reader of the blog or a visitor to, stay tuned – our adventure has just begun!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Waddles and Mr Quack are getting ready for their Vacation!

Waddles and Mr. Quack are packing away and tying up loose ends.
Their trip is fully booked and they are off to see and experience many new things in Hawaii and Australia!
Here they are packing!

Waddles found his sunglasses!

And they just bought new hats!

Keep a lookout for updates!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waddles and Mr. Quack's (and our) Big Hawaii and Australia Trip is Fully Booked!

I can't believe it! The big trip is finally booked! Everything that has to be booked is booked. The binder is ready with airline e-tickets, Hotel confirmations, car rentals and tours booked! Our Calendar is done! Extra health insurance is topped up, and we have even started packing!

Not long now!

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We look forward to having you on our adventures and the adventures of Waddles and Mr Quack!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our trip's planning is completed and ready

Congrats to Melanie who has completed the planning section of our trip.
30 days
8 cities
3 countries
1 very excited family!!!
Stay tuned to get the full update on where we will be and what we will be doing.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Melanie and Warren's Windsor and Detroit Adventure!

Detroit River and Caesar's Windsor at night.

Whew, what a great weekend! It had it's ups and downs, wins and losses, great food and not so great food! We met a great new friend from SBI, the site building company that I use to build the sites, - Tracy from Tips to Organize Life and had some interesting issues at the US/Canada border.

Happy Canada Day!

Warren and I took a mini break to Windsor, Ontario Canada this long Canada Day Weekend. We like to go to Vegas for our mini breaks, and usually stay at Caesar's Palace. However, due to other work issues, we didn't want to be too far from Toronto in case we had to come back quickly. (which thankfully we didn't!). The casino in Windsor was recently bought out by Caesar's and their mother company Harrahs Entertainment. They invited us to come down for the weekend and see their changes. Wow what an improvement!

The New Lobby, Front Desk and the Vu Bar

We stayed 3 nights in their new Augustus Tower. The rooms are beautiful and really make you feel like you are at Caesars. It was kind of neat. We ate at Nero's Steakhouse the first night (everything but the steak was great - they have to do something about the food on this property). Warren won some money so we were all set to go shopping on Saturday. Michael Bolton was playing in the property's new entertainment centre, the Colossium, so the Casino was packed.

Bedroom of a Junior Suite

We were stunned at how long the line was to cross the border through the Windsor Detroit Tunnel. It was a Sunday and all the Michael Bolton fans were returning home. Also we heard that the Detroit Tigers had a home game that many Ontarians were going to see.

We went shopping at Sym's, a discount shopping store - and found out it was closing :-(. Then we went up I75 to the Great Lakes Crossing Mall in Auburn Hills, MI. When we arrived we found a Costco and decided to check it out. Being from Canada we saw many cool things that we can't get at home so we picked up a few things. We then went over the the Great Lakes Crossing Mall and spent a couple of hours wandering through it. The mall is a great enteratinment destination as it has shopping, movie theaters, great restaurants- including a GREAT sushi restaurant- and a Gameworks.

Yes that is Warren's Head in the Picture!

That night we took it easy and played in the casino a bit. We went over to Summerfest - Held at Windsor's Riverfront from Jun 19 - to July 1. It was a carnival and looked like fun, so we went over there for a little while. We have been looking for a mascot for our Excellent Vacation Ideas website, and as we walked by the ducky pull game - Warren saw them! So we just had to chance our $10 and pull some ducks to get our mascot!

We won! - Actually we won a larger prize, however we couldn't imagine carting the larger stuffed animal all over the world. So the wonderful girl Jessie gave us Mr. Quack and Waddles! She let us take her picture and we told her that she was the start of the internet stars Waddles and Mr. Quack!
So let me be the first to introduce you to Waddles, and Mr Quack!

I think we need a better picture - look for them throughout our blog in the future!

On Monday, we went over to Detroit to check out the MGM Grand Detroit and to meet Tracy at Wolfgang Pucks Grill for dinner. We decided to leave early to check out the casino etc before we met Tracy for dinner. It was a good thing we did. We took the tunnel over and when we got through it they had closed the border and were doing random searches of cars. A lady 2 cars in front of us in a Suburban, had her most of her car taken apart! This went on for a good 20 minutes. When we arrived at the border crossing agent, he asked us where we were going. It is always a good idea to be truthful - especially when they are being this careful at the border. So we told him we were going to "check out the MGM property". He asked why we weren't going to the Caesar's Windsor - we said we were staying there. He then proceeded to write up a slip and told us to pull over - the worst words to hear when you are crossing into a US border these days!. So of course we did what we were told and pulled over. They told us to get out of our SUV and leave all electronics and take ourselves into the office. So we did as we were told. We went in and they took their time going through our things and "writing us up". As we were sitting in the office (feeling like we were either criminals or in a movie), we decided then that we weren't going to bother coming over to Detroit anymore! It was getting to be too much trouble - especially as we were honest the whole time! But alas they let us go on our merry way and one of the "searchers" of our car opened a compartment in the SUV that has been stuck for 3 years - we joked with him and he said "we are a full service operation here!" We arrived at MGM and the new property is beautiful, until you walk in the doors and smell the smoke. I forgot what that was like as we don't smoke and the casinos in Canada are smoke free. We walked around a bit and found the baccarat lounge (Warren's Game) - I call it the big peoples lounge as it is always hidden away and the supposed "High rollers" go there. It's quite interesting who you may meet in there. A lovely casino host, James Daniels, came over to introduce himself. He was awesome to talk to and he made us dinner reservations for the Wolfgang Pucks. He really made us feel welcome and made us feel better after all the hassle at the border. I then went to meet my new friend Tracy, that I met online. We had an awesome dinner, talking about building our websites, getting to know each other, and the food was amazing! It was the best dinner and desserts and company of the weekend by far! Thanx for a great dinner Tracy!
Our deserts at Wolfgang Pucks Grill!
All in all it was a great weekend and I would highly recommend visiting Caesar's Windsor and the Windsor Detroit area for a great weekend away. Especially if their is a show you are interest in. Check out the schedule here.
Thanx to Mom, Dad, April, Dave and Diana for taking such great care of Gracie!