This is a picture of a Sophie and Annie with Billy, their surfing instructor. Annie said his hands looked webbed and she was sure he was breathing through gills on the sides of his body. They spent a morning with him this past week surfing the waters of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu Hawaii. It was their school’s annual Fall Break, a chance to get away when everyone else in Asia was still in school – namely their brothers who stayed behind with their Dad. The girls and I left Tokyo, hours after Tom and Hayden won their homecoming football game. The flight left Saturday night at 9pm and arrived Saturday morning at 9am – yes, we went back in time to start Saturday all over again. Its tiring living one day twice. We checked into the Hilton Hawaiian Village which lives up to its name with its 25 restaurants, 5 pools and a ridiculous amount of shopping opportunities. We spent most of the first day lying on lounges at the beach trying to adapt to the new time zone. It was the first time ever that I went away with Sophie and Annie with no other adults. We mapped out our week together, letting them make the decisions about how they wanted to spend their days. The next day, the girls took their surfing lesson and managed to actually get up a few times. They really enjoyed their time out in the waves and would definitely do it again. On Monday, we rented a car and drove across the island to the north side stopping at Kailua, an absolutely beautiful beach that was empty due to the off season and the fact that is was during the week. Back in the car, we spent a little bit of time trying to find the Kamehameha Highway, but once we did we cruised along with the ocean on our left. We pulled into the parking lot at Sandy Beach marveling at the size and strength of the waves. As soon as we hit the beach, the lifeguard jumped down off his post, came right up to us and told us not to go into the ocean. I didn’t need to hear it from him – we were not going anywhere near the water. We sat and watched as locals body surfed in the biggest waves I’ve ever seen. Next, we drove up the cliff to stop and watch the blow hole in the coral. To the right was the beach they filmed the famous rolling in the waves scene in From Here to Eternity. I tried to explain it to the girls but they had no idea what I was talking about. Back at the hotel, I showed them the clip on You Tube but they said they never saw it before. We ended our trip in the parking lot of Diamond Head. Annie remarked about man’s impact on the land – there was a bathroom facility and a truck selling hot dogs in the middle of the crater. Something must be sinking in from school! We ate a late lunch at Cheeseburger Waikiki, watching the pre-game Monday Night Football on the multiple flat screens. It was an amazing cheeseburger. We went from there to the Ala Moana Mall and spent a few hours shopping and getting manicures and pedicures. This was a huge treat as these are so expensive in Japan, its not an option for the girls. We visited friends from Tokyo who were staying at Kahala, a secluded resort outside of Waikiki. We went to a laua where Annie won a pineapple in the pineapple ring toss. Annie paddle surfed, mom had a lomi lomi massage, we ate at the New York Deli at least 8 times and then the last day we woke up at 5:45 am to get to the USS Arizona. This visit was non-negotiable. The girls were not too thrilled to visit a sunken boat where most of the soldiers went down with the ship but I forced the issue and off we went. The tour starts out with a 1/2 hour movie explaining the actions that led up to the morning of December 7th. It’s even more interesting for us due to the fact that we live in Japan. It’s hard to fathom how it’s only been 60+ years since that day. We took a public bus back to the hotel (a first for the girls) and after an hour finally arrived back home. Annie and Sophie agreed that they thought buses, and the people who ride them, were weird. They have been exposed to so much and yet had never ridden a public bus! How bizarre. We eeked out every last minute by the pool and the ocean – the girls swam in the ocean until 6:30 and the sun had set. We went to a late dinner down the beach at the Shore Bird restaurant, satisfied that we had done everything we set out to do at the beginning of our trip. We landed at Narita airport at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, got in our car and floored it to Camp Zama just in time to see Thomas and Hayden play under the lights and win to clinch the Kanto Plains title for the first time in 26 years. What a week!!!