We arrived at the Halualoa Inn (pronounced halualoa <smile>) the day of the wedding with a bit of apprehension and optimism.  The previous days had been very windy putting low probability on the small bit of choreography during the ceremony of lighting four candles in honor of the kids.  We also had never seen the Inn…relying completely on the internet and reviews to pick this secluded spot on the hillside above Kona.  (Then there was my knee.  Healing well, but still fidgety, my torn MCL seemed to be on the mend and all things pointed toward being able to go ‘braceless’ for the ceremony.)

Everything came into place perfectly.  The inn was fantastic – I would recommend it to anyone that would like a welcome break from the polished resort-chaos on the shores of Kona.  It was meticulously crafted with beautiful wood furnishings and open layout that let the tropical breezes waft through with a 180-degree view of the ocean and exquisite rooms.  The staff was charming and very helpful.  After feeling the zen-like vibe of the Inn that we were hoping for, everything else felt easy.

The week of tirelessly looking for a Conch shell for Gus to blow to begin the ceremony, was finally located the day before (whew!).  Nina, Marianne and I had time in the morning for a 30 minute mini-rehearsal just to finalize the flow and a few details. Nina and I put the finishing touches (in our seperate rooms) on our vows – writing them on paper to give over to Marianne before things began (image on right is a shot of my vows I took after I finally declared them done.)   Jennifer Reid was the perfect friend to Nina, helping her get ready and shuttling messages between us and the Inn staff for last minute logistics.

Flowers were delivered and picked up on time, cake came in perfect condition (also due to the great handiwork of our guests who we had sent out on errands in every direction that day).  The wind calmed down an hour before the ceremony began, all guests were accounted for and the photographer showed up on time (and to my delight with a second shooter)!

And, to my amazement, Nina did not second-guessed her decision to take the Simonds name (I dared not to mention anything for fear of jinxing it).

Marianne did a wonderful – fantastic – unbelievable job presiding over the ceremony.  It was filled with lots of Hawaiian ceremonial tradition and spirtuality and everything just felt perfect in every way.Her attention to detail and ability to mind-meld perfectly with what Nina and I wanted, created a meaningful ceremony. Gus started off the ceremony by giving four big blows (the fourth taking a couple extra tries ;)) on the Conch shell to honor the 4 elements – earth, air, water and fire.  Both Nina and I said a few words about the kids and lighted the candles without a hitch.  It was meaningful for us since we were very conflicted/sad about not being able to take them out of school to have them present.  We said our vows to each other, which we both hoped were personal and humorous at the same time.  Marianne moved things along with lots of great symbolism and Hawaiian tradition.  Jennifer had the audacious task of reading a great David Whyte poem – she did it perfectly.  A small Elephant statue sat on a lava rock to the side watching quitely in honor of, of course, the Elephants who we missed, but if they were there probably wouldn’t have been as quiet as the statue.

Gus even said that it was the first wedding he attended that he didn’t want to end!

We finished up with a Champagne toast pool side looking over the ocean then retired to the dinning room for a great dinner!  A playlist packed full of great, meaningful songs Nina and I shared with each other over the last few years played over dinner.  Toasts were made, we cut cake and enjoyed watching the sun set over the Pacific.  It was hard to see the evening end, but we enjoyed a relaxing and quiet honeymoon with the Inn almost completely to ourselves until Saturday morning when it was time to return to the mainland.

We are anxiously waiting to see the photos taken by the pro (a few weeks before we get them).  We also had a video camera sitting on a tripod recording the whole thing, so we should have a video to share too.

Great thanks to Marianne, Susan, Gus, Lisa, Mom, Dad, David & Jennifer for joining us in this remote location for such a special occasion.

Andy and Nina (Simonds)

Wedding Program


Michigan 2011

Been a while since I’ve posted anything here – but due to Chelan’s prodding I’m going to start writing again.  I’m mid-way through my sabbatical so I have very little reason to not have the time.

The annual Michigan trip is done.  Nina and I are back home, Chelan is at Purdue and the countdown to Dexter starting High School is underway.  It was a complex trip this year.  Dex, Nina and I, Zach and Layne all flew to Chicago then drove to Madison to drop them off for Nina/Layne’s annual camping trip.  Dex and I fit in a round of golf at the UW course, then Dex and I drove up to the UP, across the Macinac bridge and to the Boyne Highlands resort to drop Dexter off at his week-long golf camp.  Then after a slow trip down the state, playing a round of golf in Gaylord, I arrived drove down to the house.  Nina and the kids arrived the following day and Chelan also arrived flying into Grand Rapids.   Then a few days later Chelan and I drove all the way back up to the top of the state to pick up Dexter from camp and drive him home.  Then, the next week a 2-day trip to Chicago to see Taylor Swift and see Nina and the kids off (kids to Madison, Nina to teaching gig in SF).  After that Dex, Chelan and I drove back to Michigan for a few more days of relaxing and the arrival of the Elephants for some golf.  Then finally home.

In the end, I drove the equivalent of circumnavigating Lake Michigan 2 times I think.  Ok, enough about the pain and suffering.  Trip highlights:

  • Dexters Camp:  Wins the golf tournament and gets a hole-in-one on the par 3 course – wow, what more do you want??
  • Paddleboard:  We rented a paddleboard for the first time and found it to be a huge asset to beach activities.  Waves up – body/boogie-board surfing.  Waves down – paddleboarding
  • The Lake:  We experienced all types of Lake Michigan personality.  multiple days of high winds – almost too dangerous to swim in (2 people died up at Saugatuck Oval beach during the winds causing a lot of search-and-rescue helicopters and a C130 to fly up and down the beach front).  Complete flat waveless lake water for multiple days.  Very warm, very enjoyable water temperatures – and also a day where you could not put your foot in the lake for more than 30 seconds without pain shooting up your leg.  Also a great lightning storm when we first arrived capture in photos.
  • Nina and I get engaged on the beach just as the sun set on a clear evening.  I popped the question – she said yes.  What else could be more perfect.
  • Dune Scooners:  Took everyone on the Saugatuck Dune Scooner rides.  Same as it has been for the last 40 years.  Still learn something new and it did provide us with a great group shot of our new hybrid family.
  • Regular, traditional activities:  Cider donuts, laying on the beach, golf, movie in Holland, shopping in Saugatuck, visits with Pier Cove neighbors, seeing 9 wild-turkeys in the front yard, Nina, Layne and Zach got to exsperience the Art Barn,  my normal crazy allergic reactions to the mold/pollen that is omni-present,  annual Ravine meeting, etc.  Somehow we escaped Craigs Cruzers this year – yeah!!!
  • Taylor Swift:  Nina and I chaperone Layne and Chelan to the TS concert in Chicago.  Very exciting and impressive show.  I have to say that I was fully engaged in the show despite my role as chaperone.  Chelan was of course crazed.  Surprised she didn’t just black out.
  • Go Pro:  Dexter brought his Go-Pro video camera and we capture the first shots of boogie-boarding the Michigan surf.  The super-wide angle lens sort of makes the waves seem not that big, but it does capture the experience of the constant wave activity that batters you as you in the surf.  Videos up here.
  • Elephants:  Mark F and Steve made it up this year.  A short trip but a nice time with just one foursome of me, Dex and them.  We played the Ravines (course conditions disappointing) and a brand new course called Macatawa Legends in Holland that was formerly private and now opened up for public play.  It did not disappoint.  We dodged storms in the morning to just fit in 18 holes – well almost 18 holes as we had to pick up our balls on the 18th fairway as a wall cloud came baring down on us (photo).  Chelan and Christine came with us on both rounds, riding in their own cart, taking photos and filming our silliness.  Chelan promises to have a nice video for us in the future which I will post a link here too.

At the end of this trip the same question is always at the forefront.  It is almost impossible for me health-wise to stay there for more that 2 weeks due to my allergies.  How much is it the old house, or just the midwest?  Will we ever build a new place on the empty lot on the lake?  Will we retire there?  Still open questions.  But, it is a bad time to discuss this as I’m still feeling the effects 4 days after getting home.  Overall still a great trip.

As always lots of photos:

This photo in particular made the Explore page of Flickr which always is a joy:

Even though we go to the same beach everyday I always find it a good challenge to create a new, unique shot.  Tired of normal sunsets, I sent Dexter out on the paddleboard to pose as an interesting foreground object.  I quickly found that it was easier for me to have him just stay in one spot, and for me to move along the beach to get the right composition, rather than trying to get him to paddle the places I wanted him to be.  In the end a great shot.

Until next year.

Thanksgiving 2010

Another Thanksgiving is in the books.  A bit late posting this but have been crazy busy being very sick after the trip and still unpacking in the new house.  Pics and video are here:


  • Another football game tie with Colton winning MVP and Chelan playing the 2nd half with a lot of heart after a brief injury timeout
  • Pumpkins were shot
  • 2,000 foot sled run
  • New guests Mark and Hilary enjoying the Simonds splendor
  • Record cold 
  • Colton Trio
  • Amazing dinner + the famous refridgerator rolls of course
  • Zen moment at the ‘crazy store’
  • 5 Dogs!
  • Kinect bowling tournament (new tradition?)

Simonds Sites You Should See

Keeping you up to date on the Simonds family precence on the world-wide web.

Gus is now coming of age and franticly posting images on his new smugmug site:


And Chelan is keeping her bliphoto ‘college’ journal going with interesting tidbits of all things interesting at Purdue:





Dexter @ Gonzaga

Dex and I went to Spokane for a soccer game (that was cancelled due to frozen ground – so sad).  But the weekend was salvaged thanks to my friend Joe Roberts who gave us his pair of season tickets to Gonzaga’s opening game for the season.  The kicker was Dexter getting picked to participate in a quick skills competition during a time out.   He was amazing..not warm up draining basket after basket and winning a big gift basket with an iPod touch in it!!!   He’s hard to see at the far end of the court, but I was able to at least capture the event on film with my new phone.  

Watch the video here: