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2010 January | Ryan's Blog

Archive for January, 2010

Diamond Head Hiking Trail – Honolulu, HI

A group of friends went to Hawaii over Thanksgiving this year.   While going for a casual drive, we came upon the Diamond Head Crater.   Feeling adventurous, we decided to give it a shot. 

If we had it to do over, we would have definitely wore tennis shoes (not flip flops) and brought along some water.    It is a relatively short hike (about 40 minutes up, and 20-30 minutes down).  As you ascend the side of the crater, beautiful panoramas of the entire island come into view.  We had an absolutely perfect day, and snapped some amazing photos.   If you are afraid of stairs, you will want to avoid this.  We actually saw one person look at the larges series of stairs and head back.  At the top you actually get to see some of the WWII gun turrets at the top of the mountain.  One of the best views is that of Waikiki beach, where you can see a modern city with every amenity imaginable meet the crystal blue waters of the Pacific.

After you are finished and back at the parking lot in the base of the crater, don’t forget to try some shaved ice.  I don’t know if it was the fact we forgot water, but the shaved iced was the best I ever had!  I’d definitely like to repeat this hike the next time we go.  

Official Website:
http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu/Index.cfm?hike_id=2

Contact Information:
Off Diamond Head Road
Between Makapu’u Avenue and 18th Avenue, Honolulu, HI
 (808) 984-8109

Trail Head:
 21°15’48.19″N
157°48’18.97″W

 

Dixie Crossroads – Titusville, FL (Orlando Area)

On our way back from Kennedy Space Center, we stopped at the Dixie Crossroads seafood restaurant off a recommendation from my Aunt.   Even though she gave great directions, there was no trouble finding the place with its huge red neon sign. 

We arrived at around 6:30PM on a Sunday evening and the waitress was quoting us a 40 minute wait.  From the size of the waiting area, 40 minutes seemed to be pretty quick.   They have a beautiful outdoor waiting area set in a lush park-like fashion.  While you’re waiting, you can take a look at the Dixie Crossroads merchandise, or head over to the bar to get a drink.     

The wait was well worth it.  We were actually seated in about 30 minutes, so that was a nice surprise.  The Rock Shrimp was absolutely amazing.  You could tell they were very fresh and were seasoned to perfection.   We will definitely be coming back next year!

Official Website:
http://www.dixiecrossroads.com/

Contact Info:
1475 Garden Street
Titusville FL 32796
(321) 268-5000

Restaurant:
 28°36’54.78″N
 80°49’14.30″W

 

Dixie Crossroads on Urbanspoon

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center – Cape Canaveral (Orlando Area), FL

We got a late start to Kennedy Space Center, but were glad to find that they reduced their rate in the afternoon.  We just missed the last bus to the launch pad the day before an Atlantis launch!  There were still plenty of things to see. 

New in 2007, the Space Shuttle Launch Experience was an A+ attraction.  Even though it was quite busy the day before the launch, the wait wasn’t very long at all.   The simulator actually raises you to a 90 degree angle and shakes you like the real thing.  On its own it was worth the price of admission.

Next to the simulator is a full size replica of the space shuttle you can go inside to explore.    

Also notable was the 3D IMAX movie of the International Space Station.  It felt like you were really there!   It uses the same 3-D technology the new movie Avatar uses, which is a bit more realistic than the old fashion red and blue cardboard glasses.     

After the movie, of course we had to stop at the gift shop and stock up on souvenirs. 

The next day we saw the shuttle launch from the airport.  Hopefully we’ll be able to come back before the end of the program to whitness it closer. 

Official Website:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html

Contact Info:
State Road 405 East
Cape Canaveral, FL 32899
(321) 449-4400

Kenedy Space Center - Entrance

Kenedy Space Center

Kenedy Space Center - Astronaut

Kenedy Space Center - Shuttle

Kenedy Space Center - Launch Experience

 Shuttle Launch from Airport

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando, FL

While in Orlando, we debated what Disney park to go to.  Since we were all adults, we shyed away from the Magic Kingdom and opted for the Animal Kingdom (even though we had already been to the San Diego Wild Animal Park earlier in the year). 

While both parks have their advantages, Disney’s Animal Kingdom stood out as the clear winner.  The attention to detail was absolutely amazing in all aspects of the park.  You could tell a lot of thought went into making the experience be as close to the native habitat as possible.   Also enjoyable was the native entertainers who actually come from the region each area the park was representing.  

At first we were a little taken back at the admission price, however once inside we thought the price was well worth it.  We only allowed a 1/2 a day for the park, and we didn’t get to see everything.  You could easily spend an entire day here.  One other suggestion – ditch out of the end of day parade early to avoid gridlock in the parking lot (if your kids will let you).   

Official Website:
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/animal-kingdom/

Contact Info:
2901 Osceola Pkwy.
Bay Lake, FL 32830
(407) 938-3000

Park:
28°21’16.09″N
81°35’23.49″W

Disney Animal Kingdom - Entrance

Disney Animal Kingdom - Elephant

Disney Animal Kingdom - Hippo

Disney Animal Kingdom - Gorilla

Disney Animal Kingdom - Tiger

Disney Animal Kingdom - Giraffe