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Prepping the food for our Hawaiian pupu party. On the menu tonight: Spam musubi, fried rice, macaroni salad, pork sandwiches and chicken long rice. It will truly be an authentic Hawaiian experience.

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Besuboru

Baseball: the great American pastime. Living in Hawaii, it’s rare that I get to go to any professional games, but last night, I found myself in the Sapporo Dome cheering on the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters with a bunch of crazy Japanese fans. I believe that the season is about ready to end and I’m not sure where the Fighters are in the standings but the stands were about half-full and that could have been because it was a Wednesday night or because the team may be out of the playoff race (or maybe it was another reason altogether). But we didn’t let that dampen our spirits as we cheered our hearts out.

On the mound for the Fighters was their star pitcher Yu Darvish. From what I hear, he may be the next pitcher to break into the Majors in the next couple of years. He pitched a great game but he didn’t get much run support and if he caught a few bounces here or there, he may have been the winning pitcher instead of losing a 3-1 pitcher’s duel.

On a side note, we were having a hard time figuring out how hard the pitchers were throwing because they display the velocity in kilometers/hour. Luckily Kristin figured out a conversion formula for us and Darvish was throwing in the low 90s.

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Banners everywhere walking into the Sapporo Dome

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The sign welcomed us

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the stadium was how seriously they take cheering. I mean we cheer on our team, but these guys were organized and they waved huge flags and had trumpeters and it seemed like everyone in our section had Fighters jerseys and noisemakers.

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The flag wavers stand on the concourse

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Those plastic bats provide the noise

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The guy in the orange leads the cheers

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Not to be confused with the actual cheerleaders

If you want to get a good idea of what I mean by organized cheers watch the video below. There are about 10 cheers or so that we yelled over the course of the game. It is interesting because when your team is up to bat, everyone in the section stands throughout the entire half inning and cheers. When your team is in the field the section becomes quiet and the opposing team’s section takes over the cheering. Of course the visiting team has a smaller cheering section, but they were loud nonetheless.

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I don’t think anyone mistook me for the real Darvish

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Dural and I were matchy-matchy

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Despite the loss we had fun anyway

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“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8

A little for over five years ago, I remember a young, good-looking couple walked into the Friday night service. When I first saw them, I remember staring at them because they may have been the best looking couple to walk through the clamshell doors. Much to my surprise, my friend Gabe walked up to them, gave them a hug and then showed them to their seats. To this day, I’m not sure exactly what surprised me about their greeting. Maybe it was because I thought I was Gabe’s best-looking friend and I felt threatened that they just may take my title or maybe I just didn’t know Gabe knew such good-looking people. Either way, after church ended, Gabe introduced me to his friends from High School. That was my first introduction to Kawika and Pua Del Rosario.

Since then, we have become close friends and even though we’ve only known each other for five years I feel that they have always been a part of my life.

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Keao with Sarai, Isaiah and Pua in 2006

When I first met them, Kawika and Pua had two beautiful children, Sarai and Isaiah. Since then, they have added two beautiful little girls, Aliya and Tayani and I got married and had a daughter of my own. Our families grew closer as our families literally grew. They were there when I got married and started having children and they were even there when Keao and I lost Rory and Allison. They shared in some of our highest highs and our lowest lows.

Earlier this week, however, tragedy struck them in a way that no one would have ever expected. On Tuesday morning, Kawika and Pua, our dear friends, lost their 8 year-old son Isaiah.

Even now, just thinking about not having Isaiah around is simply unbelievable. I have never encountered anyone, adult or child, that loved life the way that he did.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Isaiah had the most pure heart and I believe that he saw God in everything. He viewed the world like no one else.

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Isaiah with Sarai and “pretty lady” Keiko

Pretty early on in our friendship, I remember coming to church and seeing Kawika scolding Isaiah. Being the nosy guy I am, I enquired as to what he did to deserve such a scolding. Kawika confided in me that Isaiah had a problem with talking to strangers. Actually it was more than just talking. It was hugging as well. If I didn’t witness it with my own eyes, I would have never believed it, but Isaiah would go up to strangers and announce, “Hi! I’m Isaiah! Can I have a hug?” And then he would stretch out his arms and wait for a hug. Never once believing that anything bad could come out of his gesture, all he wanted to do was share his never ending supply of love.

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Father and son

For a child with as rich an imagination as Isaiah everyday held a new adventure. He would come over with his family and go in my back yard and be an adventurer in my mango tree. Left to his own devices, he didn’t need a television or anything to entertain him. He could entertain himself because his mind constantly came up with new plans and new adventures.

When the movie WALL-E came out in theaters, Keao and I took the kids to see it. I could sense Isaiah taking it all in as the movie mesmerized him. As we were leaving the theater we asked the kids how they liked the movie. Isaiah answered by exclaiming, “You only like me when you need me!” Utterly confused, Keao and I looked at each other and asked him to explain himself. He responded by saying, “You just use me to keep the rain off!” As we got into the car, we realized that we weren’t talking to Isaiah anymore. Rather, we were talking to one of the umbrellas in the movie. Isaiah transported himself into the world of WALL-E and became one of the characters.

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Isaiah with his mom and many of his uncles

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A rare moment of a still quiet Isaiah

It’s always tragic whenever anyone dies but is is even more tragic is when someone passes away that didn’t have a chance to reach their full potential here on earth. I grieve along with the Del Rosario family because they will never have a chance to see their son grow up to become an adult.

When I think of all that could have been my heart simply breaks. I would have loved to see what path his life would have taken. Not content to be ordinary, I would have bet money that Isaiah would have been extraordinary. His love for life and adventure compounded with his imagination…there would have been no stopping him. I would have loved to read some of his creative writing assignments in school or watched him as he starred in a local drama. Whatever it was, it would have been good. Literally, the world was his playground.

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What’s better than playing in the rain and the mud?

As difficult it was for me to write this, it is infinitely more difficult for Kawika and Pua. Please be praying for them as they need to deal with this tragedy and yet remain strong for Sarai, Aliya and Tayani. It will be especially difficult for 5 year-old Aliya, she lost not only her brother, but her best friend as well.

If you would like to help or contribute to this family you may do so through our church Hope Chapel. You can send your contribution to:

The Del Rosario family
c/o Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay
45-815 Pookela St.
Kaneohe, HI 96744

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Ta-daaaah!

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Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my, what a wonderful day

Sorry for the long lay off dear blog readers. Things got very busy in my life. Still that’s no excuse. I know some of you have been wondering what happened on our third day on the Garden Isle. Well wonder no more! Here’s the recap!

Sunday was probably the day many of us were looking forward to because Sunday was the day we were going to go ziplining! If you’re unfamiliar with ziplining you’re basically attached to a harness which is attached to a long line that’s hanging over some span. Then you zip down the line and arrive at the other end. I know, I know. That’s a poor description but take a look at the pictures and the video and they will give you a better idea of what’s happening.

Anyway, day three started off with one of my favorite breakfasts. It was an authentic “moons over my hammy” prepared the exact same way Denny’s makes it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. YUM!

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Doesn’t that look ‘ono?

Of course thanks to Russell (who lent us his killer house) we woke up to this incredible view. Can you imagine being able to wake up to this every day? This must be what Heaven is like.

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If this is not a million dollar view, I don’t know what is

After breakfast we then headed down to Princeville Ranch Adventures for our day of fun and excitement.

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Starting the morning with a large cup of complimentary coffee

So once we signed off on the necessary release forms and paid our money we were taken up a trail to the ziplining course. Over the next few hours we would zip along nine different lines. Safety is one of their primary concerns so we all wore helmets and were strapped in tightly. Aside from skydiving this is probably the closest I will ever come to flying. It’s different from jumping off of rocks because here you takeoff and land in a somewhat controlled fashion (as opposed to jumping off of things where you don’t alway have too much control on the way you land).

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Our instructor Drew preparing us for takeoff

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Lon got the hang of it rather quickly

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Some of us were more graceful than others

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Here I am launching myself off the platform

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By the second line Dural was already a pro

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Our other instructor Kanoe in front of King Kong. The longest and highest line.

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This is the view from the platform (the tiny speck in the distance is the landing station)

Now King Kong is the last line of the day so of course it’s the longest, highest and fastest line of the day. It’s so fun that this is the only line in which they let you go side by side. That’s right, it’s a race. You go off and see just how fast you can go. The catch to this line is, however, there is no one on the far end to catch you. As you’ll see in the video below, there is usually one of the instructors at the far end that will brake you and help you come in. But because you go two by two and there is only one instructor you are responsible for stopping yourself and landing.

As the following pictures will show, not everything went according to plan. Dina and I went first and she was freaked out by the height. But like a champ she didn’t chicken out and went for it. Unfortunately for Dina she didn’t exactly grab the stopping rope at the end and therefore she started falling backward. After yelling for help, she slowly backpedaled her way off the platform to no man’s land.

Poor Dina, who was scared to begin with and had to be convinced to even go, ziplined backward out to the middle of the line. When that happens all that can be done is for one of the instructors to go out and perform a rescue (in this case Drew). He then attaches another line to her and we all pull her in.

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Here’s our hero Drew in action

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We all lend a helping hand pulling in Dina

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Poor Dina was so exhausted she just let it all hang loose!

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Here are Dural and Lon coming in for landing

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The zipliners with our guides Kanoe and Drew

So in a nutshell that was our Kauai trip. Come join us next year for another fun-filled outer island adventure. Which island are we going to? Maui? Big Island? Kauai again? Who knows? Stay tuned for more details!

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When you see Hanalei by moonlight you will be in Heaven by the sea.
Every breeze, every wave will whisper, “You are mine, don’t ever go away”.

Day two started nice and late (we didn’t leave the house until 11am) and since we were already pretty far up north we decided to visit Hanalei and continue until we hit the end of the road. Again, growing up I spent many a day on the Hanalei river (if that’s its name) fishing and crabbing. We also used to jump off the pier and swim and just cruise. Since I didn’t drive at the time, I never realized how far away Hanalei was from Lihue. All these places my uncle used to take to were freakin’ far away!

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Some of the boys posing in front of the famous taro patches of Hanalei

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The Hanalei Pier

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We really wanted to jump off the pier but the water was very shallow (like chest deep) and then we saw this sign

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So I just had to settle for contemplating my life from a pier

So after hanging out there for a while, we decided to see where the road would take us. Wouldn’t you know, the road took us to the wet and dry caves. Aside from the obvious wetness and dryness the caves are also very different. Well, never mind. The wetness and dryness are what really sets them apart. Other than that they’re very similar.

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Can you guess which one this is?

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I think Dural was pretending to be Captain Morgan

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Now do you see why they call them the wet and dry caves?

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Swimming here didn’t look too appealing either

And then we hit the end of the road and turned around to head back (I mean, what else are you going to do?)

One of my good friends, Tiffany, moved to Kauai three years ago so we decided to meet up for lunch in Kapaa. She suggested a place called House of Noodles (she had never eaten there, but apparently it looked good) and since we were all hungry we were all game.

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I’m not sure what kind of restaurant this is (some Asian country I would guess)

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This large phallic symbol hanging from the ceiling also added to the mystery

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Their special saimin was good, but it was no Hamura’s

After lunch we walked around and looked for kulolo. I always thought that Kauai was known for their kulolo, but I swear either the locals are hiding it from the tourists or there is an extreme shortage of it. Everywhere we went we asked for kulolo and the reaction was of utter surprise. One person suggested we try out Pono Market. They have everything they assured us. If there was kulolo to be found it would be a the Pono Market.

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This nondescript store really did seem to have everything

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You can pick up a marriage license but unfortunately for us we couldn’t pick up any kulolo

Disheartened we left Kapaa and headed toward Wailua. I’ve been told the Wailua River is the only boat navigable river in our state. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it is a pretty wide river.

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That’s the boat that takes you to the Fern Grotto (which I still haven’t been to)

Since we still didn’t go swimming anywhere yet, we convinced Tiffany to take us to a nice river we could take a dip in. She knew just the place. Now on a side note, the weather had kind of been overcast and chilly so we knew going in that the water would be freezing.

Now earlier Dural had agreed to “take one for the team” in Hanalei by jumping off the pier first, but due to the shallowness of the water he kind of went back on his word (something that Clinton wouldn’t let him forget). So when it came time to brave the ice bath of the river, Dural wanted to make good on his claim.

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It was real shallow here

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Trying to judge the temperature without actually getting in

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“Ah c’mon guys, don’t make me jump in!”

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I don’t think the Russian judge was very impressed (he only scored it a 4.6)

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Jasen went in with a little more flair

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It only looks like they’re smiling (they’re really grimacing)

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They somehow convinced me and Lon to jump in too

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Tiffany and I before she had to go home to her family

After our refreshing dip in the water we cruised around a little bit more and then headed for dinner with my Uncle Alan and Aunty Audrey. This is the family that I stayed with when I used to go to Kauai. Since we were already out in the Kapaa/Wailua area they suggested we hit the Bull Shed. I had also never eaten there either, but I remember it because of its almost dirty sounding name. I think we used to giggle every time someone would mention it.

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It’s shed. The Bull Shed

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Lon and Dural splurged and had the steak and lobster plate

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Me with my Aunty Audrey and Uncle Alan

After dinner we were all tuckered out from our busy day of exploring so we headed back to our beautiful home in Kalihiwai (remind me to tell you how we even got that awesome place) to turn in for the night.

Stay tuned for for a report on our last day of fun and adventure on the Garden Island.

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There’s an island across the sea, beautiful Kauai, beautiful Kauai. And it’s calling, just calling to me, beautiful Kauai, beautiful Kauai.

This year for our annual Ignite trip we decided to go to the beautiful island of Kauai. Growing up my father (and mother) worked for Aloha Airlines so we spent many a day on Kauai with my Uncle Alan and Aunty Audrey. In fact, during the summer between my freshmen and sophomore year I even spent the entire summer there working as a dishwasher at Hanamaulu Cafe. But I don’t think I’ve really been there in over 10 years (except maybe one time to play golf for the day) so I was very excited to go back.

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Jasen and Lon smiling way too early in the morning

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Notice how happy I am

Upon arrival we picked up our car and went straight to breakfast. Now I mentioned that I spent choke small kid time on Kauai with my dad and uncle so of course I went to their favorite breakfast spot, Dani’s. I’m not sure why they always went there, they just always did. And, without fail my dad would always order the same thing: tripe stew and pipikaula. Of course, not wanting to break tradition I ordered his usual dish (when I had dinner the next night with my Uncle Alan and Aunty Audrey they even asked if I had the tripe stew for breakfast because that’s what my dad always ordered).

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Even the sign looks the same!

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The rich tripe stew with the side pipikaula can’t be beat

Then after eating we headed toward the Kauai Marriott to meet up with Dina and George as they had been on Kauai since Wednesday. We got there just in time for the daily Koi feeding. I must say I don’t think I’ve ever been to pond where there were so many Koi. Not only that but those Koi were rabid. I mean really rabid. They practically jumped out of the water just to get the food. Don’t believe me? Take a look.

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Look at that feeding frenzy

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They even climbed on the stairs to get the food

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And they were tame enough to pet

After fetching George and Dina we swung over to Hanapepe, “the biggest little town on Kauai”. Hanapepe is a quaint town that is home to the famous swinging bridge and apparently the westernmost bookstore in the United States.

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You can’t tell now, but the bridge is swinging pretty hard

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And there’s the westernmost bookstore in the US

After that we proceeded to go at break-neck speed to Waimea Canyon. Now, truth be told, I really appreciated Jasen driving, but after taking those turns faster than we should have and all of us in the car getting small-kine carsick maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let Jasen drive.

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Waimea Canyon aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

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Some of the boys hanging out

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It was slightly overcast that day

Now the smart thing would have been to head back to town since we were all feeling a little ill, but someone, I’m not saying who (but he was the driver), insisted on pressing on. So we drove another 15 minutes or so to Kalalau lookout. I would imagine that this lookout would have been spectacular if it weren’t for the heavy fog. When we arrived we could barely see anything the fog was so thick. But God came through and sent a wind to blow it away every now and then so we could see Kalalau below us.

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Can you even tell there’s an ocean down there?

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The camera doesn’t do it justice, but we got quite a view when the fog blew away

Finally after seeing all that we saw a sign that beckoned us. It was a sign for lunch.

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What really caught my eye was Kauai’s BEST Lilikoi Pie

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Jackie Wong’s “Hot B!tch Sauce” was pretty funny too (it is A$$ Whooping)

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Here’s Kauai’s BEST Lilikoi Pie!

The pie was just okay. It was good, but I can’t say it was the best (it’s pretty hard to beat Hamura’s). Luckily for us we were right across the street from the Kauai Kookie factory. Had to stop there and sample some of their wares.

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Now there’s a sign I can follow

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It’s a store inside a warehouse…how clever

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This is what cookie heaven must look like

After driving some more we headed back to Lihue for dinner at the always popular Hamura’s Saimin. This is another place that I remember eating at while growing up so I made sure we stopped there at least once.

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This sign might be the newest part of the whole store

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A perfect bowl of Won Ton Min

With a warm, full belly we decided it was time to turn in and we headed toward out place in Kalihiwai. Stay tuned for our day two adventures later.

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