Journal: Lauren Ellis\' trip to Hawaii for USATF annual meeting

Submitted by Lauren Ellis

Photo gallery

Thursday, Nov. 22
We left Charlotte at 8:25 on Thanksgiving Day.  I am traveling with my family:  Dad, Mom, and my two brothers.  We changed planes in Denver and flew to Oakland where we had a six hour layover.  We finally arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii at 10:30 p.m. their time which was 3:30 a.m. South Carolina time.  We were greeted with flower leis at the airport and make it to our hotel at 11:30 p.m. Hawaii time.  What a long day………

LuauFriday, Nov. 23
We excitedly awoke after only a few hours sleep and went for a walk on the Waikiki beach.  The water was very cold because it was still early in the morning.  We then walked around the downtown area of Waikiki which is full of shopping options.  Downtown is a maze of fancy stores (Saks, Neiman Marcus, Prada, Coach, etc.) and small local stores and booths.  My favorite location was the Niketown store which had all of the newest Nike clothes, footwear, and bags.   

Since it was warm by then, we went back to the hotel and changed into swimwear and headed to the beach for the first “real” water play.   After spending two hours romping in the surf, we changed and headed to the Alo Moana Mall where we ate dinner at Bubba Gumps (from the Forrest Gump movie fame).  After my first full day in Hawaii, I am tired and ready for sleep………..

Saturday, Nov. 24
This was another day with a walk around the city and a walk to the beach.  I am anxious to see some of the USA Track and Field athletes, but the meeting does not begin until next Thursday, so most of them have not arrived yet.  My dad and brothers were looking for a place to watch the Carolina vs. Clemson game but did not have any luck finding a place with ESPN2.  We spent most of the day at the beach with my dad on the phone keeping up with the game.  He is a Carolina graduate and fan……….

Sunday, Nov. 25
We spent the day at the beach.  Our hotel has a view of the famous Diamond Head Crater.  It is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Hawaii.  We have a list activities that we plan to do, but we are enjoying the relaxation of the pool and the beach so much that we have been slow to resort to the activity list………

Monday, Nov. 26
We finally decide to begin our activities, so we spend the morning at the Honolulu Zoo.  It is our family tradition to visit a zoo every place that we go.  My favorite zoo visits have been the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and the Cincinnati Zoo.  

The Honolulu Zoo is smaller that most of the zoos that I have been to, but it was still fun.  We came back from the zoo and got ready for the “must do” event when one goes to Hawaii, the Luau.  We went to a Luau at a place called Paradise Cove.  

We arrived and were greeted with leis and were introduced to traditional Hawaiian games.  We went on a canoe ride in the canal, and learned how to make headbands out of leaves.  We had a traditional Hawaiian meal and watched an amazing Hawaiian show that featured music, dancing and an awesome fire dance.  This was a once in a lifetime experience………

Tuesday, Nov. 27
Today we decided to drive around the island perimeter.  It is 90 miles around the island of Oahu and there are perimeter roads right next to the water most of the way. We passed Diamond Head Crater and lots of beautiful beaches and rock formations.  We went to Kualoa Ranch which is a 155 year old ranch where the movie Jurassic Park and the television show Lost were filmed.    

It was getting dark, so we headed back to the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat and made plans to finish the island drive the next day.  Back at the hotel, the meeting participants are starting to arrive, and we are starting to see the athletes in the hotel.   

We saw Stacy Dragila at the beach and while walking around downtown we saw Miki Barber, Demetria Washington, Tiombe Hurd, Johanna Hayes, and Tiffany Williams.  We were on the elevator with Allyson Felix and Johanna Hayes and I got to take a picture with them…….

Wednesday, Nov. 28
We finished the driving tour around the perimeter of the island.  We started in the opposite direction from the day before.  On the North Shore, there was a surfing competition that we stopped to watch and the waves were the biggest ones that I had ever seen.  We stopped along the way and got out at various beaches to explore and take pictures.  We finally made it around the entire island.  This excursion was a very memorable Hawaii experience………

Thursday, Nov. 29
My parents had meetings most of the day, so we hung around the hotel and spent a lot of time swimming.  We waited around on the second floor of the hotel because that’s were all of the meetings were taking place.  While we were waiting we saw Dee Dee Trotter, Allyson Felix, and Johanna Hayes.  There were quite a few other athletes that I have seen on television, but I did not recognize them by name……….

Friday, Nov. 30
Today, was a really fun day.  We went to Haunama Bay.  Haunama Bay is a natural cove that is famous for snorkeling.  It was so much fun.  We rented masks, snorkels, and fins and headed to the water.  

We saw beautiful colored fish swimming in the coral reefs.  They were close enough to touch and it was neat to see them in their natural habitat right before my eyes.  It was like a seen from a TV show.  This was the highlight of my trip.  

Later that night we went to a social that was put on by one of the cities that wanted to host the Junior Olympic Championships.  We ate and mingled.  Lauryn Williams was there and we took pictures. ……….
Saturday, Dec. 1
We spent the morning packing and getting ready to leave.  That evening, my dad and brothers attended a wedding for one of my dad’s friends.  My mom and I went to the USATF Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet.  

The Hall of Fame Inductees were Calvin Smith, Jane Frederick, Glenn Morris, George Woods, and Elvin Drake.  The 2007 Jesse Owens Award winners for the men and women were Tyson Gay and Allyson Felix.  Other awards included the Masters Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Youth Athlete of the Year (William Wynne).   After this event we changed clothes and headed to the airport for an 11:50 departure back to South Carolina……..whew what a trip……