50th Wedding Anniversary
Jim & Claudia Payne
January 26, 2013
Cruise to Hawaii


Jim and Claudia Payne were married on January 26, 1963 in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in El Reno, Oklahoma. We were both 18 years old and most people that attended, probably gave our marriage very little chance of success. We were just too young to know what we were doing!

However, God had different plans in mind. He gave us three wonderful children - David in December of 1963, Lauri in September of 1966, and Michael in March of 1973.

They in turn have given us seven truly exceptional grandchildren. Tyler-22, Kyle-21, Hailey-20, Blake-19, Nathan-18, Madeline-11, and Andrew-9.

Last week, as a surprise anniversary gift our kids and grandkids presented us with these two professional photographs. There is no way they could have given us anything more precious. Thanks to each of you from the bottom of our hearts!

Then, to celebrate our 50 years together, we took a two week cruise to Hawaii and back. It was absolutely AMAZING! We both hope that you will enjoy visiting our site!


Back Row: Andrew-9   Tyler-22   Blake-19
Front Row: Madeline-11   Nathan-18   Hailey-20   Kyle-21



When we add in their parents we add in the best daughter-in-law God could have found, that would be Bridgette (Mike's wife). I think you can probably identify David, Lauri, and Mike.



We left Tulsa on 18-Jan with frost on the grass, and a beautiful sunrise. We flew Southwest Airlines to LAX with one stop in Phoenix. We then checked in at the Westin - LAX. We had gone a day early to make certain that we would not have any flight delays or luggage issues.



Princess Cruises handled our transfer from LAX to the ship on a bus. Our first view of the ship was from that bus. After a short wait, Claudia and I took an elevator to the Aloha Deck - 12th floor, and then made our way to our beautiful suite. The Acapulco Suite was the first stateroom from the front of the ship on the port side. The suite was beautiful and the balcony was unbelievable! We were immediately under the bridge. We looked straight out over the crew pools and the front of the ship.



After posting the above images and comments about our trip, Claudia woke me up at 12:30 am this morning with concerns she had about my postings. Specifically, she feared that posting references to the quality of our suite/ship/celebration, that some might be offended and think that we were bragging or prideful in inappropriate ways. I decided to meet her concern head-on with this post.

First, the domain name where you are seeing this link is one we have owned and maintained since 1999, ourfaithjourney.org.

It was intended to be a site where we would eventually document our walk with Christ through the years. We have included links to two different pilgrimages, one with Fr. Matt Gerlach to the Holy Land and Rome during the 1999-2000 Jubilee Year, and a second with Archbishop Emeritus Beltran to Israel and Jordan in 2008. We feel very stongly that anything "good" we have ever done was not because of anything we did, but rather, something God provided! We pinch ourselves every single day and give praise that He has provided us with these opportunities. We had never taken any cruise, and had never been to Hawaii, even though we had planned to do both over the years. In fact, we had really planned to go to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary, but just never got it done. Apparently, God was not ready back then. So, please view this site as nothing more than it was intended to be, a place to share these events with our kids, grandkids, other family, and good friends.

We just chose to celebrate this amazing milestone in our life (50 years of marriage) by checking both cruising and Hawaii from our bucket list while we still had our health. All credit for how we were able to make such a trip goes directly to God, with our gratitude!

Now, back to the trip. At about 4:00 pm on Saturday, 19-Jan, the tie ups were released and we started moving through the Port of Los Angeles. Claudia and I stood on our balcony and watched it all play out. For the next four days and nights we enjoyed all aspects of cruising the Pacific. After leaving the California shoreline we traveled 2300 miles at about 23 miles per hour without any sight of land.



For the next 5 days, we took advantage of much pampering offered by the crew of the ship. Great meals, a little time in the casino, twice daily presentations by Dr Sharron Faff about our ports of call, the history of the how the islands were formed, and the sea life we would most likely be encountering. We had no problem at all with the movement of the ship. We both slept like babies being rocked to sleep each night. We were scheduled for three formal nights during the cruise and we added a fourth formal night on our anniversary evening. Probably, because of the family portraits gifted to us by our kids and grandkids before we left on our trip, one of the things we did on the ship was to collect a variety of professional portraits of the two of us. For this next one, our thanks go out to Maria, the photographer with the Platinum Studio on deck 16. That portrait, and pictures from our first four days at sea - follow. Notice the way Claudia decorated our home at sea to take Christ with us on our journey. The sunrises and sunsets at sea were amazing. The Pacific Ocean is really big!




The Islands of Hawaii

Even though Hawaii has been a state since 1959 - (54 years ago), Claudia and I really knew very little about the islands. We knew there were more than one, and we knew many friends who had traveled to Hawaii had their own favorite island, but we had no idea why. As we planned our trip we learned a little. We knew that we would be visiting four islands in this order, and hoped to see the following things:

Oahu - Downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and the Battleship Arizona Memorial, Waikiki Beach, and hopefully, the North Shore

Maui - Whale Watching Excursion

Kauai - Helicopter ride and lighthouse tour on 26-Jan (which was our actual anniversary).

The Big Island of Hawaii - Active volcano and Volcano National Park.

On average, we were only going to have about 8 hours on shore at each island, so we pretty much had to limit our expectations to a very small slice of each island.

As I mentioned earlier, Dr Sharron Faff had presented us with two lectures per day during our outbound days at sea to prepare us for our visit and it really helped, but we still really knew very little.

Wikipedia provides the following summary information about the state;



Imagine that it is 5 million years ago and the Hawaiian Islands did not exist. What did exist was the little HOTSPOT shown in the picture above. However, at that time the HOTSPOT was several miles below the surface in about the middle of a very large Pacific Ocean. As the eruption continued, the lava flow was in the process of building a very large mountain, and eventually, it made its way to the surface and started building the first Hawaiian island. That island was Kauai - the oldest of the islands. As time went on, and as the plate shifted under the Pacific ocean, Kauai moved northwest away from the HOTSPOT and the HOTSPOT began working on the next island, Oahu which is believed to be between 2.5 and 3.5 million years old. The same process continued and a few more islands including Maui were formed about 1 million years ago. After another half a million years, the HOTSPOT started working on The Big Island of Hawaii - now thought to be about 400,000 years old and it is still growing every day as the lava flows down the mountains of Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa is a mountain that if measured from the sea floor is approximately 56,000 feet high. That would be more than 27,000 feet taller than Mt Everest. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984 and sent flows towards Hilo. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. It has added about 500 acres of new land to Hawaii. Disclaimer: I am no scientist and what I have written here is a very simple and probably not very accurate description of what I think I heard about the origin of the Hawaiian Islands during our visit.


Thursday, Jan-24 - Honolulu on Oahu


Early on Thursday morning on 24-Jan, we started seeing the lights of Honolulu on the horizon. After docking our ship immediately adjacent to the iconic Aloha Clock Tower we disembarked the ship. Hawaii Five-0 was filming within a block of our ship. We had pre-arranged for a City Tour and a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial. Our guide did a good job of showing us most of the things we were hoping to see in spite of a cloudy and rainy morning. I found our visit to the Arizona Memorial to be much more emotionally impacting than I had expected. I think it helped me realize what a huge event that was for my parent's lives and how that then changed the beginning of my own life. They used great museums and videos that brought all of us back to the early Sunday morning events of December 7, 1941.

By the time we returned to the ship at around noon, the weather had changed from rainy to beautiful. Claudia and I then took a taxi to Waikiki Beach and the very high-end hotels and stores associated with that very popular location. The photos below document our day on the island of Oahu, and the city of Honolulu!




Friday, Jan-25 - Maui (Whale Watching)

Before leaving on our trip, we had chosen to use most of our time in Maui in the hopes of seeing Humpback whales. While many of our fellow passengers were being tendered into the port of Lahaina we stepped directly from our ship onto a small whale watching boat. That boat took us out about 2-3 miles from our ship and away from shore looking for Humpbacks.

Humpack whales are an endangered species. Overfishing had reduced their numbers to only a few thousand in the mid-1960s, but they are now making a very good comeback. The worldwide population of humpbacks is now thought to be approximately 60,000. They all spend the summer months - May thru September in the polar regions of the oceans and then the winter months they migrate to the southern or equatorial oceans. About 15,000 humpbacks spend summers off Alaska and their winters in either Hawaii or the Baja regions off the coast of Mexico or southern California.

Adult humpbacks are about 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons (80,000 pounds)!

The whales feed all summer in Alaska and put on weight. Then in early fall they migrate about 3,500 miles south to the warm waters off of Hawaii or Mexico, where the females will give birth to a baby that will be approximately 12 feet long and weigh around 3,000 pounds. The mother will nurse and train the baby to breathe develop its swimming skills, and teach it to breach as a way of preparing it for the long swim back to Alaska in May. Only about 50% of the baby calves will survive the trip north. The mother feeds the baby calf a very thick and rich type of milk that is more like cottage cheese. She will not eat anything during the 6 months in the southern waters and will lose a significant percentage of her own weight trying to feed and develop the calf. Then they make the trip to Alaska where they will eat krill and small fishes like sardines to put on weight for the spring migration back south.

We saw hundreds of whales on our trip. In general, you look first for a BLOW which mean when the whales come to the surface to breathe, they blow a small amount of water out their blow hole. Some of those then show themselves further by FLIPPING their tail or flippers, and some then BREACH meaning that they come up out of the water and then splash back down. We had the good fortune of watching a mother teaching her baby to breach. Then near the end of our excursion we saw the mother with calf followed by two male escorts. A group of whales as described here are called a pod. Click on the link below to watch a 6 minute video selection of what we got to see.

Whale Watching Video


After our very successful whale watching experience, our boat took us back to the port of Lahaina. This is a favorite port for those hoping to do charter fishing, a submarine excursions, etc. We took a few pictures, did a little shopping, and had a great gelato before heading back to a tender which took us back to our ship. We would both really like to go back and see a lot more of Maui. A few photos to follow:




January 26, 2013 50th Wedding Anniversary in Kauai


January 26, 2013 - Jim & Claudia Payne - Married 50 years today!

When we realized that our actual anniversary would be the same day that we would be on the island of Kauai we knew that God had something very special in mind. Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiaan Islands at 5 million years. It was there for 2 million years before the second island, Oahu made an appearance. It's land area is about the same as Oahu (both just under 600 square miles), but Oahu has almost 1 million inhabitants and Kauai has only about 65,000.

Kauai has been the choice for literally hundreds of movies and televsion shows; including, South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, Jurassic Park 1 and 3, King Kong, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Amazing Race, Fantasy Island, and many - many more.

The north shore of Kauai is considered one of the wettest places on earth. with as much as 647 inches of rain in a single year. It is virtually impossible to appreciate its rugged beauty, its mountains, its canyons, its waterfalls except from the air. So, we chose to begin "our special day" with a 45 minute helicopter tour of the island. It was absolutely spectacular. Because each flight is taped and offered on a DVD, you can choose if you wish to see exactly what we saw by watching our video of our special day.

Helicopter Ride on Our Special Day


Our day began with a very special champagne breakfast in our stateroom followed by a dozen beautiful red roses from Jim. We disembarked the ship and were met by our guide. He took us straight to the local airport where we boarded our helicopter. After the helicopter ride our guide took us on a tour of the north shore of the island which included waterfalls, a valley where the Jurassic Park dinosaurs were grazing in the valley was filmed, the Kilauea Lighthouse, and then to the end of the road which is in Hanalei. Hanalei Bay was chosen in 2009 as the most beautiful beach in the world. Our guide had brought sandwiches and chips and we had lunch beside the beach. It was absolutely beautiful. If you remember the lyrics - Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee. The reference to Honah Lee was inspired by Hanalei Bay. After our time on shore, we dressed up and enjoyed a wonderful meal in our favorite restaurant on ship - Sabatini's Italian Restaurant where the Matre'D Alice and our waiter George took very good care of us and helped us in our celebration. It was truly a magical - magical day that neither of us will ever forget. A selection of photos follow.



January 27th - Big Island of Hawaii


Early in the morning of Sunday, January 27th, our ship docked in Hilo - The Big Island of Hawaii. Again, we had pre-booked an excursion to the Volcanoes National Park. The day started out with some rain showers and some low hanging clouds, which made viewing or photographing the island difficult. The Visitors Center allowed us to see what we could not see outside. I have included just a few pictures. On the way back from the park, our bus stopped at the Macadamia Nut Farm and Factory. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday so we again went straight for the gelato! Photos follow:



January 28 thru February 2nd - The Trip Home


Very soon after we returned to the ship from our day in Hilo, we got a call asking if we would like to meet the Captain of the ship on the bridge. Along with one other very nice couple, Bill & Ruby Kettenhofen from Fredericksburg, TX we were escorted to the bridge where we got a really nice tour, first by an officer and then by Captain Marco Fortezze. What a treat! Also, thanks to Ruby for snapping the photo and sending it to us when they got home.


The Cruise Home


After having spent 9 days at sea, Claudia and I felt like we had been cruising all our lives. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip back, we spent some time in the casino and we both won money. Claudia and Ruby both won at the Bingo game. We spent some time just looking into the beautiful water of the Pacific and saw a huge pod of dolphins one day. We attended the shows each evening and several additional presentations by Dr Faff. One day we attended a cooking skit by the chief chef and the head matre'd and then they took about 300 through the ship's galleys. On the last night of our trip, the ship spent a couple of hours docked at Ensenada, Mexico but we did not even leave the ship. We had been invited to a reception for suite passengers and then got started with the packing of bags and offering the staff our thanks for taking such good care of us. I have no idea how we are going to get along back home without Rauchy and his great turndown service and without those beautiful menus and the really amazing wait staff. A few final photos follow, including some nice photos of the rockies as we flew into Denver on our way home! It was a truly, a trip of a lifetime, and we enjoyed every minute.



Ensenada Seal


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