Author Topic: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)  (Read 7154 times)

Offline PBaruch

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After six consecutive annual trips to the Big Island, we decided to check out Maui in 2016 to see what the fuss was about.  On the way, we stopped off in Honolulu for Shabbos.  However, we couldn't entirely skip the Big Island as we have many friends we wanted to visit.  We ended the trip with two days on the Big Island.  Spoiler alert: Maui has nothing on the Big Island!

First off I'd like to thank my good buddy for assisting in booking our airline tickets.  I'd also like to thank Something Fishy for his help and advice and several other DDF members who patiently responded to my questions about Maui.  Your help was greatly appreciated.

EWR to HNL

We flew UA J.  Either I forgot to request kosher meals or UA neglected to provide them.  Either way, we didn't care that much as meals provided in the past were largely inedible.  We brought along Pomegranate meals and the flight attendants graciously heated the meals up for us.

EWR - HNL by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20160121_083840 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20160121_083851 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 1 - Honolulu and Pearl Harbor

We arrived in Honolulu on a Thursday afternoon, rented a minivan from National (which only had about 100 miles on the odometer), and checked into the Ala Moana Hotel.  After eating dinner from Oahu Kosher, we decided to walk over to Walmart to pick up some drinks and snacks.  We went to bed early that night as we were all quite tired.

Early Friday morning we went to Pearl Harbor.  For those of you who are interested, you can reserve your Pearl Harbor tickets online in advance:

http://www.recreation.gov/showPage.do?name=landing&landing=/htm/pearlharbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369

We arrived at Pearl Harbor at about 7:30 a.m. for our 8:00 a.m. reserved tour to the Arizona Memorial.  Interestingly, we bumped into the family we met in Iceland last summer.

The Arizona Memorial:

Arizona Memorial by P Bryan, on Flickr

Arizona Memorial Oil by P Bryan, on Flickr

Arizona Memorial Oil Sheen by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4049 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4050 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We next went to the Missouri Battleship:

Missouri by P Bryan, on Flickr

Missouri Deck by P Bryan, on Flickr

Missouri Deck Gun by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4188 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Missouri Sign by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4157 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4156 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We wanted to go to the Pacific Aviation Museum and thought we had tickets.  However, after getting off the shuttle, we discovered that the museum we had tickets for was the Bowfin Museum.  Not wanting to add an hour and a half to our time at Pearl Harbor (we ended up spending six hours at Pearl Harbor), we decided to skip this museum.

We then checked out the Bowfin Submarine and Museum:

Bowfin by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4310 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4225 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4206 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4227 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4197 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4196 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Shabbos

The only reason that I can think of to stay at the Ala Moana Hotel is its close proximity to the Chabad House, which is literally right next door.  However, the hotel is not friendly to Sabbath observers.  I asked the front desk if I could pay someone to let us into our room twice during Shabbos but was refused.  I then asked for a manager, who told me that they "didn't have the manpower to accommodate my request."  Despite the jerks at the hotel refusing to accommodate our request, help came from a very unusual source through the Chabad rabbi.

Shabbos with Chabad was an interesting experience.  There was a strange mix of people but there were no issues with having a minyan and the food was good.  On Sunday morning we packed out for our flight to Maui.

Part 2 - Maui

HNL - OGG by P Bryan, on Flickr

We decided to stay at the Westin, which I booked with SPG points.  I booked 7 nights for us and 3 nights for our buddy Bruce Omori and his family from the Big Island (unfortunately he was only able to get away for 3 days). 

For those of you who may be interested, Bruce is an award winning photographer with a gallery in Hilo.  He gives tours (regular and photo) on the Big Island and information about his amazing gallery can be found here:

http://www.extremeexposure.com/

If any of you find yourselves in the Hilo area, please consider stopping by Bruce's gallery.  You will not be disappointed.

While the Westin has a gorgeous lobby, the rest of the hotel is sorely lacking.  The rooms are very small and the parking spaces are meant for compact cars.  (Valet parking is $25 a day and the fee is not waived for SPG Gold or Platinum members).  Many times when we returned in the evening I had to hunt for a space that was large enough to accommodate our minivan.  Further, some of the staff was not very friendly or accommodating.  For instance, the valet refused to allow me to leave the car in front of the hotel while I checked in.  Instead, I had to drive into the parking lot and then go back for our luggage after we checked in.  Upon check in, I was refused an upgrade because the hotel was "sold out."  We paid an extra fee of $40 to rent a second refrigerator and microwave for the week ($20 for each for the duration of our stay).  This might be a minor gripe but the complimentary in room coffee was disgusting.  Even my little guy wouldn't drink it.  I'm not sure about you but I expect decent coffee in Hawaii.  For those of you who might be interested, I was offered 8k SPG points (the standard offer is 6k) to sit through an hour long timeshare presentation.  I declined as I didn't have time.  Suffice it to say, our stay was unsatisfactory and we will not be returning to the Westin Maui again. 

Westin Lobby:

Westin Lobby by P Bryan, on Flickr

Westin Lobby 1 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding the fish in the pond:

DSC_4842 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After settling into the Westin, we drove to the Acid War Zone and Nakalele Blowhole.  The blowhole wasn't blowing too high when we went but I had a chance to fly my drone around. 

Picture taken using my drone:

Blowhole by P Bryan, on Flickr

Acid War Zone:

IMG_20160124_181210 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Monday we drove up to Haleakala:

DSC_4395 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4361 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4403 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way back from Haleakala we stopped by Hosmer Grove to eat lunch.  Hosmer Grove has a number of Eucalyptus trees and the entire area was deliciously fragrant.  As a bonus, we were able to view endangered native Hawaiian Honeycreepers.

DSC_4438 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4429 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4441 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After lunch, we stopped by the home of Mike and Toby Neal.  Our buddy Bruce is friends with Mike and we were lucky to be introduced to this amazing couple.  Mike is an accomplished photographer and wood carver while Toby is an author.  Unfortunately Mike was too busy with work to take us out to photograph.  My kids, however, received a signed Toby Neal novel, which they both enjoyed quite a bit.  This is the book they received:

http://www.amazon.com/Island-Fire-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00QVK415I

Here is Mike's website:

http://nealstudios.net/

Mike's amazing woodwork can be viewed here:

http://www.mneal.net/index_files/page0003.htm]=

On Tuesday DW and my older kids took Stand Up Paddleboarding lessons with Outrageous Surf.  For those of you who are interested, their website is:  http://www.youcansurf.com/

We found them to be a nice bunch of guys and they even gave us a free CD with some photographs.  If you are in Maui and are interested in SUP or surfing lessons, I highly recommend this outfit.  While at the beach, we saw two local surfing dogs and they both came over to my little one, who just couldn't get enough.  All went well until the little one tried to pick up the black surfing dog by its hind legs.  A little chaos ensued but all ended well.

DSC_4571 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4652 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4697 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4700 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bananas growing by the beach:

DSC_4711 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4708 by P Bryan, on Flickr

When we returned to the hotel, we relaxed and swam at the pool before heading out for a BBQ with Bruce and his family (at the first beach park south of the hotel).  We took some nice shots of the kiddos on the beach and had a great meal.

DSC_4740 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4763 PB by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4761 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4810 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4819 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Road To Hana

For some reason, when traveling with the entire mishpacha, it is almost impossible to get an early start and that is what happened on the day we left for Hana.  Despite our late start, we didn't really care all that much as we were staying the night at the Trava'asa Hana.  Also, Mr. Doughty (Maui Revealed) recommends a late start to this drive if staying in Hana to avoid the crowds. (He recommends leaving after 10:30 a.m. if staying in Hana when the "road's more empty").  Our first stop on the road to Hana was at the Twin Falls fruit stand.  We didn't see anything all that appealing and there was a sign warning people not to park out of sight of the fruit stand.

Fruitstand by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4853 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our next stop was at the Garden of Eden.  This was a perfect spot to stop with little ones.  There are nice restroom facilities and picnic areas.  In addition, they have a flock of ducks, geese, and peacocks that you can feed.  The kids had a great time feeding the birds.  We ate lunch and continued on our way.

DSC_4875 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4929 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Water Lilly at the Garden of Eden:

DSC_4931 by P Bryan, on Flickr

A few sights along the road:

DSC_4859 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4858 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Suffice it to say, we enjoyed the drive on the Road to Hana even though we were not able to make the typical stops that someone without small children might make.  (Dan - yes it is possible to have a good time with little kids on the RTH as some others have also posted).

The Trava'asa Hana

I placed the Trava'asa Hana under its own subheading because this hotel deserves it.  We pulled into the Trava'asa Hana after dark.  As soon as we drove up I instantly fell in love.  There is something truly soothing about this place.  We were expected and greeted with kukui nut leis and fresh fruit juice (which I politely declined as I didn't know if it was kosher).  The employees were very warm and friendly and went out of their way to make our stay as comfortable as possible.  If we return to Maui in the future, I will definitely stay at the Trava'asa Hana for several nights including for a Shabbos.  If you think I'm nuts for wanting to stay in Hana more than one night, then you haven't stayed there or you just don't get the vibe of the place.  However, I can't really blame anyone who thinks that way because I also thought that way myself before our stay.

Our room at the Trava'asa Hana was very large and the bathroom was almost as large as our bedroom at home.  When we checked in, I asked for a microwave and by the time we arrived at the room it was already there.  After check in, I wanted to go for a swim in the infinity pool and take a soak in the hot tub.  Instead, I was stuck doing laundry in paradise because DW discovered the machines were free to use (only had to pay a nominal fee for detergent).  In between loads of laundry, I was able to check out the pool:

DSC_4947 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4946 by P Bryan, on Flickr

In the morning, we went swimming in the pool and soaked in the hot tub.  For quite a while we were the only ones there and we felt as if the entire place was ours:

IMG-20160128-WA0004 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4998 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Relaxing on a hammock:

DSC_5040 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We checked out of the Trava'asa Hana at about 12:30 and continued on our away through the back side of the Road To Hana making our slow return to the dumpy Westin.  Before we began the drive, we stopped by Red Sand Pocket Beach:

Red Sand Beach by P Bryan, on Flickr

We topped off on fuel at a gas station in Hana.  The price of gas in Hana:

Price of Gas in Hana by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then tried to hike the Pipiwai Trail but after a half mile uphill of carrying the little one (to the first stop of a then dry waterfall) we all had enough and turned back.

IMG_0637 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On our way back, we stopped by the Chabad Rabbi's house in Kula (upcountry) where DW made some challah dough.  The Rabbi promised to finish it up and bake the challah, which he did.  We would have liked to visit "Jaws" to see the big wave surfers but didn't have time.  I still regret not going there as we were told that a number of big wave surfers were going to be surfing Jaws while we were in the area.  You do need, however, a 4WD vehicle to get there and we had a minivan.

Snorkeling at Molokini

On Friday we were booked to go snorkeling with the Four Winds II to Molokini.  Due to a mix up in the time of the tour, we arrived as the boat was pulling out.  However, not all was lost.  After some scrambling, we learned that the Pride of Maui was leaving shortly and we managed to get on their boat with just minutes to spare.  While Mr. Doughty seems to rate the Four Winds as the better boat, we really couldn't see a difference.  Their mooring spot was very close to the Four Winds and from what we could see the food looked pretty good (even though we couldn't eat any of it).  We first went to Molokini and then to Turtle Town.  While I thought Molokini was amazing due to the clear visibility, Turtle Town was a disappointment.  The visibility by Turtle Town wasn't nearly as good and there were way fewer fish there as well.  The kids, however, preferred Turtle Town for some reason.  DW and my older kids did snuba at Molokini (for an added charge).

Pictures taken at Molokini with my GoPro while snorkeling:

Molokini by P Bryan, on Flickr

Molokini by P Bryan, on Flickr

Molokini by P Bryan, on Flickr

Pictures taken at Molokini:

DSC_5336 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Along the way we saw many humpback whales:

DSC_5200 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5383 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5400 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5415 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Shabbos, we packed everything into the minivan so we could leave the hotel by 5:00 a.m. for our 7:30 a.m. flight to the Big Island.  At checkout, I was quite surprised to get our final bill from the Westin showing an overcharge of $1,000!  The manager was called and she quickly corrected the bill.

Part 3 - The Big Island

We took a flight from OGG with a connection in HNL because the only direct flight from OGG to KOA was on a prop plane and DW preferred to fly on a jet.

OGG-HNL-KOA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived in Kona on Sunday morning for our charter flight with Paradise Helicopters.  Once again, my buddy Cal (owner of Paradise Helicopters) personally came out to fly us.  Although we expected a two hour valley landing charter flight, Cal surprised us with a six hour VIP flight around the entire Big Island.  I could not express enough gratitude to Cal for this amazing flight.  My older daughter sat in the front co-pilot seat and of course my little guy came along for his second helicopter flight (third if you count when DW was pregnant with him).  We started off in Kona, flew to the valleys and landed by a remote beach, refueled in Hilo, and then continued around the Big Island back to Kona.  We saw the entire Big Island and it was truly epic.  One interesting tidbit I learned was that the helicopter we flew on was at one time used in Israel.  If any of you find yourselves on the Big Island and are interested in a helicopter flight, I urge you to consider flying with Paradise Helicopters (instead of Blue Hawaiian which for some strange reason I see a lot of people flying with). 

Information about Paradise Helicopters can be found here:

https://paradisecopters.com/

Here are some pictures taken during our flight:

DSC_5663 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5662 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_0886 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_0864 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Valley Landing by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW took a picture of Bruce and me setting up the shot:

IMG_0824 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5558 Beach Landing by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5628 Waterfall by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5707 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waipio Valley:

DSC_5725 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5732 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5767 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5795 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Puʻu ʻŌʻō:

DSC_5818 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Puʻu ʻŌʻō as it looked during our 2014 flight:

DSC_5906 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Skylight:

DSC_5839 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5859 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following picture shows the remains of trees stumps after the trees were devoured by lava:

DSC_5870 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5882 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following three pictures of lava are from our 2014 helicopter flight:

DSC_5796 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5840 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5876 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Flying above the  clouds:

DSC_5897 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Can you guess what this is?  We made our own rainbow and it is called a "glory."

DSC_5729 by P Bryan, on Flickr

South Point:

DSC_5902 by P Bryan, on Flickr

I bet you didn't know there is more than one green sand beach on the Big Island:

DSC_5912 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_5918 by P Bryan, on Flickr

GoPro pictures taken during our flight:

Heli 1 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Heli 3 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Heli 4 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Due to our epic helicopter flight, we didn't have time to stop by Greenwell Farms for our annual visit or to stop by the many amazing roadside fruit stands that pop up near Kona on Sunday.  After our helicopter flight we went to Falafel in Paradise for dinner.  We were all starving and the food was pretty good.  After dinner, we drove to Volcano, where we stayed the night at the Kilauea Lodge.  This was not our regular spot in Volcano because the owners of our regular spot as a policy do not rent out for just one night.  We arrived at around 9:30 p.m. and I just crashed.  We had all been up since about 4:00 a.m. and I couldn't' keep my eyes open anymore.  After a full nights sleep (approximately 3.5 hours), I awoke to the sound of my phone vibrating.  Bruce was texting me that he was on the way to pick me up to photograph Halemaumau Crater.  I jumped out of bed and started to get my gear together.  Within a few minutes, he arrived and we were off.  We stayed out all night and left the crater at first light.

Pictures taken of Halemaumau Crater over the years:

DSC_5568 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_2535 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day was our last on the Big Island and in Hawaii.  After packing out of the hotel, we drove to Volcanoes National Park for family photographs.  We then visited friends in Volcano and Hilo.  After parting with our Big Island friends, we drove to Hilo Airport for our inter-island flight to HNL and then back home on UA J.  I was sad to leave Volcano as it feels like home.

ITO-HNL-EWR by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20160201_210740 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We were thrilled to receive kosher meals from Oahu Kosher on our return flight.  We received steaks and roasted chicken for supper and omelets with a hashbrown cake for breakfast.  The food was very good.

Dinner:

Dinner Steak by P Bryan, on Flickr

Dinner Roasted Chicken by P Bryan, on Flickr

Breakfast:

Breakfast by P Bryan, on Flickr

Final note:  Maui was certainly beautiful and we would like to return at some point in the future.  On a future trip, I'd stay upcountry and in Hana and would skip the major hotels.  That being said, my family was pretty much unanimous (little guy doesn't get a vote yet) that everyone likes the Big Island way better than Maui.  Maui is a lot more crowded than the Big Island with less variety and no lava!  I can only imagine that certain people like Maui better than the Big Island only because they do not know everything the Big Island has to offer.  I even had several Maui residents admit to me that the Big Island was their favorite.

If the Almighty grants us another year of life and good health, we hope to return to the Big Island in 2017 with a seven day stopover in Kauai. 

Thanks for reading our trip report and I hope you enjoyed it.  Perhaps some of you might even decide to check out the Big Island.

PS: I have not yet had a chance to compile and edit my GoPro videos and will post the videos at a later date.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2016, 04:08:54 AM by PBaruch »
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Offline popcorn1508

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2016, 03:58:30 AM »
That was amazing

Offline TimT

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2016, 07:54:41 AM »
Enjoyed it immensely. Thanks

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2016, 07:56:21 AM »
That was amazing

+1, well written and lots of pics.

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2016, 09:15:36 AM »
Nice job

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 09:18:01 AM »
Unbelievable read! I love the details you provide including all the links.

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2016, 09:33:22 AM »
Awesome report and fantastic pics

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2016, 09:52:38 AM »
Delicious! Thanks for posting.
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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 10:14:13 AM »
Not only are there amazing pics in this but I love this well written TR mostly because it was done as a family and seemed to still have been a tremendous amount of fun. It seems that having travelled to Hawaii before with all of them helped the cause.

Again, amazing pictures. And how in the world are you friends with half the people that run the show on the island?  :D
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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2016, 11:25:49 AM »
Very nice TR! Thanks for taking the time and for including all the pictures! I love how defensive you are of the BI :P, perhaps you have finally won me over for the next trip.

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2016, 11:53:05 AM »
Very nice TR! Thanks for taking the time and for including all the pictures! I love how defensive you are of the BI :P, perhaps you have finally won me over for the next trip.

If the Big Island is good enough for Michael Dell and his buddies I suppose it should be good enough for you as well.  :)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/04/18/hawaiis-most-exclusive-community-inside-the-billionaire-getaway-kukio/#8c00d8980828

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2016, 12:14:35 PM »
If the Big Island is good enough for Michael Dell and his buddies I suppose it should be good enough for you as well.  :)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/04/18/hawaiis-most-exclusive-community-inside-the-billionaire-getaway-kukio/#8c00d8980828


Eh, I'm more of a Larry Ellison style guy :P
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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2016, 12:18:26 PM »
Eh, I'm more of a Larry Ellison style guy :P
:)

Offline tageed-lee

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2016, 12:53:52 PM »
Amazing TR! Thanks

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Twelve Days In Paradise: Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island by PBaruch (2016)
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2016, 03:11:42 PM »
Great write up!
How did you end up managing on shabbos?