Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fun Photos of our Stay in French Polynesia

Next Tuesday we plan to leave Tahiti and set sail for Suwarrow in the Cook Islands.  I am excited to get on with our travels but sad to leave Tahiti behind.  We had such a wonderful stay here.  The people are so kind and giving.  The scenery is intoxicating with it's lush, green peaks, beautiful waterfalls and perfect climate.  Throw in the lagoons with their turquoise waters and this makes it a dream-like setting for any traveler chasing the sun.  I can see why this is the destination hotspot for many honeymooners…  and me.

It's not going to be easy to leave paradise behind.  However, I say that "tongue and cheek" because our trip for the next four months is going to bring us more tropical settings and even more beautiful waters and views that will be just as noteworthy.  So maybe it's the people that I'll miss even more.  Maybe it's the fact that I spent a lot of my time here with my family, and family makes it all the more memorable.  I start to think about my family leaving and it makes my heartstrings tug a little more than usual. I have really loved sharing this time that Martin and I have had here with them.  We'll have these memories forever and many of them are unforgettable and stories will be shared for years to come.

I wanted to do a little "recap" of what made our stay here in French Polynesia so memorable.

First, there was our meeting up with Jeff and Morton Palmer and Jeff's family.  We loved his family in the Tuamotu's and then meeting Jeff and Morton in Papeete solidified our friendship with this wonderful family.
IMG 1928Pictured is Morton Palmer (top left) and Jeff Palmer (top right). At the helm are Jeff's boys, Mananui and Henere.
Going up the mountain with Jeff is an experience we aren't going to forget for a long time.

Other highlights and photos that I haven't shared...
Getting provisions for the Kimball clan to come for a visit.
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Hiking to all the amazing waterfalls.
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The beauty of Moorea.
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Lily spending time with her cousins.

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...and with her mama.
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My sister, Courtney, and her lovely girls.
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Lily enjoying the beach at Huahine.
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"Island Night" on Amara.
Lily's love of coconut water.
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Leah at the helm.
Our next boat... Dreaming.  This is boat is owned by a russian billionaire and we were mesmorized by how beautiful it was.
We made it to Bora Bora!!

Trent, Courtney and Lexi taking in the beauty of Bora Bora.
It got a little cold on the trip into Bora Bora, so I pulled out my foul weather gear.
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Hanging out on Hilton's private island.
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Bailey and I ready for a day of snorkeling.
Courtney and me stealing a few moments together.
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Spa day.  Let the real fun begin.
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Martin and me switching roles with David and Sue and fixing our own dinner.  It's about time.

The kids beachside at the Hilton.


Our friend Gael, who we met in town and became our new best friend.  She leaves for a LDS (Mormon) mission in September to New Zealand.


Courtney and Trent rented a home on a Motu (island) and this dinghy came with the deal.  Pretty sweet ride if you ask me.

More photos tomorrow about our day at the Bora Bora Stake activity and other fun photos.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Beauty of Bora Bora

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After fighting the wind earlier this week, we made the call to pull up anchor and head for Bora Bora.  I mean, if we are going to endure some less than favorable weather, it might as well be in the number one honeymoon destination in the world!

The seas were ROCKY during our 20 mile passage.  In fact, they were rocking and rolling so much that we all started to feel its effects on us.  Poor little Bella may have suffered the most.
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Captain Dave doing far and above his call of duty.
When coming into the harbor of Bora Bora we were greeted by THREE whales just outside the atoll of the harbor's entrance.  We stayed there for an hour just watching as the whales played freely in the water, breeching and flipping their tails.  We finally had our chance to see whales and it was more than magical.
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Once we made it inside the big lagoon, we were finally able to enjoy Bora Bora.
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In one word, Bora Bora is beautiful.  It's definitely a destination resort kind of vacation, but the island itself has been pristine to wake up to each morning.

Yesterday, we discovered Hilton's private island just off of the main island and got permission to go over to it after 3:00.  A couple on their honeymoon had booked it until then and we were told it would be empty after that.  I think we were there at 3:01.  It was lovely and manicured and the kids loved playing in the turquoise water while snorkeling.
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My sister, Courtney, and her husband, Trent, enjoying our own little "private island" experience.
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Lily took advantage of the cabana's where she was able to strike her all too familiar pose.  We like to call it, "The Supermodel."
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Lily also loved playing at the water's edge in the sand with her dad.
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Today, we plan to do a few dives to see more sharks and then maybe take a walk around the island and try and discover some new adventure for the kids.  It really has been so fun looking at all of this through the eyes of the kids.  I am going to be more than truthful here; having six kids on board has proved to be a challenge only in that I want to keep them entertained at all times.  Having less than ideal conditions up until two days ago has upped that challenge.  However, after the past few days, the water has been calm, the sun has been shining and the temperature has been a cool 90 degrees.  I can't ask for a better setting for these kids.  Each day I arise early in the morning anticipating the days events with my family.  I have sure enjoyed this time with them and already miss my sister even though she still has 5 more days on AMARA with us.  It's been that fun with all of them.

More to come now that I have found wi-fi… All is good.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Times, Bad Weather

Beautiful Moorea.
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How the kids spend their time when not in the water.
What laundry for 11 looks like.
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Enjoying our time under the sun in Moorea. 
On Sunday, we got up early and joined the Huahine branch at the local Mormon church. Martin even helped teach Sunday School.

When we got back to the boat, Sue had laid out a spread.  It's amazing what it takes to feed a brood like us on a Sunday afternoon.

Again, I am being a bit overly dramatic.  We didn't eat ALL of that in one sitting, but we were close.

On Monday, we decided to climb to a beautiful lookout high up in the mountains of Huahine.  The guidebook made it sound so easy to get to, so we jumped off our dinghy and started the hike trying to find the trailhead.  It was a little more difficult than we first thought with 7 kids in tow and we soon realized that the hike was going to be a little more lengthy than we anticipated.  Knowing the kids weren't going to last, we decided to hitchhike to get to the mouth of the trail. After a few failed attempts, this lovely family saw us in peril (they mainly saw all the children) and pulled over and offered a ride to the start of the hike.

Once we got to the mouth of the canyon, we quickly realized that this wasn't going to be an easy hike, yet we knew we were now invested.  "Maima and Frederick" soon became our very best friends because there was no way that Maima was going to just drop us off seeing our situation.  Instead, what was just supposed to be a trip for them to the grocery store to buy a local newspaper, turned into a trip up the mountain to let us take in the view.  We all laughed because there was no way that we would have made it to the top since it was a good 4 kilometers up, and our small children were already getting tired.
The next day proved to be fun because Sue issued an invitation for "Island Night" on Amara.  That was enough to get the kids more than excited.  Their costumes went on for hours before the official night began... because who can resist a little island wear?

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My sister and her family, ready for the festivities to begin.IMG 3018
Lily all decked out for Island Night.
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This special night calls for pulling out the fine china.
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There is always a kids table for the littles.
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The next day, we went on a hike to see the three waterfalls that was a "must see" in our guide books.  Instead, we found ourselves halfway up the mountain, stuck in a bamboo forest and it was getting dark quick.

We never saw those waterfalls, but it did make for a good memory in trying to get there and getting lost while realizing we had gone off the path somehow.  Of course, when that happens in my family, instead of us getting scared, the jokes start to come out.  I never get too nervous about getting lost because Martin has an impeccable sense of direction and truthfully, he knew where we were the entire time.  The problem is, we left the map to the waterfalls on the table back on Amara, so it had turned into a guessing game.  So, instead of finding the waterfalls, we chalked it all up to making a fun memory.