Where to begin?
I am not Nicole Mueller anymore, though I have yet to change my name legally. I discovered that it is impossible to deposit 23 checks made out to Mr. and Mrs. Laskowsky when my legal name and the only name on my bank account is Nicole Mueller, and none of the checks are endorsed by this Mr. Laskowsky fellow. Suspicious. Time to get a joint account.
Our wedding was perfect. Apparently there were some minor snafus; I didn’t notice. I almost started crying while saying the vows at the rehearsal. But on Saturday I didn’t shed a tear. My friends and moms are another story entirely. They cried enough for everyone. When Jon said, “repeat after me,” in leading the vows, Michael responded, “after me.” He did it loudly at the rehearsal, and much softer at the actual ceremony. Those of us who heard him had a good laugh. It was beautiful. The message was great even though Jon was apparently feeling very sick. I didn’t even notice except for a few sniffles. The wedding was nothing like I imagined it. It was so much more real. We weren’t transported into some magical fairyland or other dimension. We were ourselves – exactly who we’ll always be. I let out a little whooping cheer as we turned to walk out as husband and wife. Forget formalities. This was a genuine celebration.
The reception was grand. Excellent music provided by Mr. Greg Worzel and his band, Rhythm of the Nite. Beautiful cake smashed on our faces. Family and friends from all over the country. How could we have been more blessed?
There were so many people to talk to and dance with. There was so much to do. Welcome, prayer, dinner, toasts. Cut the cake. Wash the cake out of Michael’s goatee. First dance, father/daughter dance, bouquet toss, garter toss. Dollar dance. Say hi to everyone. Thank everyone. Dance with your friends. Smile for pictures. Step outside – it’s so hot. Find your spouse. Goodbyes all night long as they trickle out. People told me it would be chaos. It was. They said I’d be so busy, I wouldn’t remember a thing. But I remember everything. I can’t wait to see our pictures, taken by photographer and friend Debbie Kertz of Ehlmann Photography.
We stayed in a king suite at the hotel our wedding night. The next day, we met up with friends for church, took Meredith to the airport, and opened presents. Monday, Michael packed up a load and left for Indiana. Later that day, I followed him after taking the twins and Shannon to the airport. We spent one night in Indiana, making our final prepartions for Hawaii. With less than 24 hours as an official Hoosier, it was go-time again. Driving through Chicago is always an adventure. It took us an hour longer to get to O’Hare than expected. A half hour of that time was traffic and another half hour was getting lost looking for the Park ‘n Jet. We got stuck in some place called “The Oasis.” It was anything but. Everything was one way and nothing was the right way. We got through security with about 20 minutes before our flight departed for Hawaii.
Everything was perfect from there. Except that United left my luggage in San Francisco for a whole extra day. And my waterproof digital camera quit being waterproof (and as a result, was completely destroyed) while we were snorkeling. And giant cockroaches tried to carry us off in our hotel room. And the resort fees and rental car “extras” added up to quite a bit. But seriously. It really was awesome.
Every trip has its troubles. Ours were minor setbacks. The lost luggage was an opportunity to show my husband that I’m still easy-going, despite having spent the last several months micro-planning every detail of everything. The camera’s destruction let me see everything with my own eyes instead of behind a lens and on a screen. And Michael got to impress me by salvaging all the pictures off my memory card. The cockroaches had a great payoff. We started out in a garden view suite at the Sheraton on Kauai. It was awesome. The gardens were beautiful – elaborate ponds, tropical plants, cute little bridges. The room had a sweet vaulted ceiling and a nice balcony. But then there were cockroaches. We laughed off the the first one. By laughing it off, I mean exclaimed loudly, took pictures and smashed into oblivion. After three more emerged the next night, it was time to complain. Michael was really nice about it, and the front desk lady was ready with the perfect solution. Upgrade to a larger, ocean view suite. Oh yeah!
Most couples probably spend Hawaiian honeymoons lying on the beach. We did that a couple times. We took a helicopter tour of the West Maui mountains with Blue Hawaiian and then decided to drive up and explore them ourselves. I navigated our rental Jeep up narrow, windy roads to countless lookout points and ocean bluffs. We stopped at every little fruit stand and hiked all the trails we could find. We took a snorkeling trip to Molokini Caldera and a spot called “turtle town.” We saw a sea turtle up close as well as a bunch of whales and tropical fish. I learned to drink ginger ale and hold ice cubes behind my ears for seasickness. Apparently the ice cubes numb your equilibrium so it doesn’t send distress signals to your brain. Thanks to the crew who work for Boss Frogs for that tip. We drove the famous Road to Hana, and returned in the dark by the infamous unpaved back road. Don’t tell the rental car company – it’s forbidden. Picture a few hours of jarring bumps, crazy curves on huge cliffs and random cattle in the road.
Kauai offered all the great hiking we hoped for. We did a few trails in Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” I honestly had low expectations for it as a tourist trap, but it was well worth our time. At the end of our trip, we tackled the big one: the Kalalau Trail. It’s worthy of its own tale, so check out my separate post about it. We also did a ziplining tour with Outfitters Kauai. It was awesome. They have almost exclusive use of a private piece of land that is the most lush cattle farm I’ve ever seen. We chose the Zipline Trek Nui Loa – if you’re in Kauai, I highly recommend it. We did several zips and enjoyed nice hiking in the rain forest of Kipu Ranch. One zip was a combination zipline/rappel that went down over a waterfall. The last zip was 1800 feet off a platform and over the canopy of trees. We ended the afternoon with picnic lunch at a natural swimming hole. The water is 30 feet deep all around the pool, so they had jumping platforms and a hybrid rope swing/zipline over the water. A water turtle surfaced and watched us as we splashed in. My camera was already kaput by then and Michael wasn’t about to take his nice Pentax dslr camera ziplining. Luckily we made friends with a nice Canadian family who took pictures for us and promised to email them to me in a couple weeks. Nice people, eh? We saw a lot of Canadians and Germans in Hawaii.
And now the honeymoon is over. Michael is back at the steel mill, working the 11:30 pm to 8:30 am shift this week. I’ve been amusing myself organizing all our new stuff in the apartment and cleaning up Michael’s stuff. I’ll be happy when he’s working days next week. I’m mostly staying on his sleep schedule, but it’s hard to sleep all day and stay up all night. That’s why I’m blogging at 4:30 in the morning. I asked the zipline guides (Deeds and Noosh) how hard it was to get their jobs.
“Why?” Noosh asked. “You wanna lose your return ticket and work here? You wouldn’t be the first one.” Apparently some people visit Kauai and never leave. One of their co-workers took the tour on his vacation, filled out an application, and called his mom to ask her to ship out all his stuff. “People are so worried about planning out their lives,” Noosh said. “But when you take a risk and just go for it; that’s usually when really awesome stuff happens.” She’s not a native-born Hawaiian herself. She and her husband both work for Outfitters Kauai…