A Wonderful Hawaiian Vacation

An escape to a warm tropical place in the middle of a northwest winter is really a treat. When it is a fancy vacation paid for by Wheel of Fortune and spent with the one you love, it is ever better! Such was the case on our recent Hawaiian trip. And while there was hiking, exploration, friends, and more, what will really stick is how nice a true relaxing vacation can be.

The hotel they put us up in was quite fancy, the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, where our balcony was right on the ocean (from which we even saw whales!). The hotel had a manta ray viewing deck*, a free trolley to town, and, possibly most exciting, a wonderful pool with waterslide! We took part in the daily speed races (even training in between). I never achieved the glory of a first place finish*, but Della did.

As part of the package, the Sheraton also treated us to an all out luau. Held outside against a beautiful sunset, we were treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional fare and lovely history and storytelling through dance and music. They even had some demonstrations of traditional activities, like tattooing which Della took full advantage of (process/result).

As luck would have it, we had lots of friends on the Big Island, either as locals or who happened to be visiting at the same time. Almost every day, we got to do some visiting, and, with the help of the locals, some exploring. My friend Becca* took us on an epic hike that included adventurous climbs and culminated in a hunched hike through tunnels carved through mountains. She even made a video to document it! Later, we were led on a hike down a lavatube by another friend. At the bottom, in the pitch darkness, freshwater filled the caves making for a place to do some epic (albeit a bit eerie) snorkeling.

After our week at the Sheraton, we headed over to the other side (courtesy of our "ugly" rental car) for more exploration. We had some serene beach time, saw some fun waterfalls, power-hiked Waipio Valley, and snorkeled in some of the clearest water I've ever been in. We also got to check out Bellyacres* and even attend a juggle club!

With everything from relaxation to adventure, this Hawaiian vacation was a wonderful prize. During the trip, we sang the praises of Wheel of Fortune, often wearing our custom shirts to spread the word (leading to some wonderful conversations*). And that's how I'll end it here, with a big old thanks to Wheel of Fortune for an incredible trip to Hawaii.
Wednesday March 11 2015File under: travel, hawaii, wheel

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Hawaii Food Post

On our recent trip to Hawaii (thank you Wheel of Fortune!), Della and I had enough great food related experiences that I figured it deserved its own post. From new I've-never-even-heard-of-that fruits to delicious all-you-can-eat luau smorgasbord, it was a treat.

The logical place to start is at the farmers market, of which there seem to be lots of on almost any given day of the week. But somewhat to our surprise, of the 3-ish markets we went to, we weren't blown away by the selection. We did manage to score some star fruit and Della found a giant avocado*, but otherwise I guess there wasn't much in season. Luckily for us, however, a friend scoured the markets and put together a local fruits tasting that we enjoyed on the beach as the sun went down. The new fruits included lilikoi, chico sapote, dragon fruit, and a couple others I totally forget the name of. Super yum!

Then, of course, there were the coconuts. I first had a go at my traditional blood, sweat, and tears way of opening one using only my wit, my bare hands, and a conveniently sharp rock (see how-to here). Later I tried a new technique that I had heard about which I shall call smashy-smashy. Besides losing the delicious water inside, the smashy-smashy technique works amazingly and I might never go back*.

Continuing with the theme of culinary adventurousness, I stumbled across a uniquely Hawaiian dish called loco moco. After hearing the description, I couldn't pass it up: a huge pile of rice covered with 2 eggs, spam, and all drenched in gravy. Um, yes. The verdict ended up being meh on account of the gravy tasting like it was from a mix and the rice to everything else ratio being a bit high. But I'm glad I had a go!

Lastly, fittingly, comes dessert. I tried a shave ice with ice cream inside, which was quite nice. And our wonderful host* made us a delicious no-bake mamey sapote pie on macadamia nut/coconut date crust. But just as often as the good stuff, it was gas station ice cream and fast food milk shakes. After all, it's vacation and sometimes you just need some sugar.

Yep, it's fair to say the culinary portion of our trip was a success. Exposure to new eats has not only expanded my palate, it has expanded my waist line as well.
Monday March 2 2015File under: travel, hawaii

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Postcard From Hawaii


Hawaii is fun. Look at all the fun we are having. Fun fun fun!*

Monday February 23 2015File under: travel, hawaii

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Appreciating Photographers - Maui Hat Draw Edition

Much of this blog is about chronicling events of my life, both to share with you, dear readers, and to have for myself when I am old and grey. And while it occasionally turns out okay to have a words only post, everyone knows that posts with pictures are way better. But if I'm busy doing, I don't have much time to take pictures of those doings. I do okay when I'm diligent about it, but it's fair to say that many posts lack in the photo department.

Enter other photographers, people who know what they are doing, have great equipment, like doing it, and do it prolifically. I'm so appreciative when someone like that is 1) around and 2) willing to share their photos with everyone. And it makes creating a decent blog post that much easier.

Case in point: Kurt at the Maui Hat Draw Frisbee Tournament. Without the awesome photos he took, I'd have 2 or 3 photos Della captured on my not-a-phone to share*. Instead, I've got a whole gallery to choose from to create a post that conveys the experience in a much more efficient way.

And since pictures say much more than words, here they are:
The Action:


The Off-Action Fun:

Big hanks to Kurt and all the other photographers out there that share their art!
Wednesday March 20 2013File under: travel, hawaii

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Maui Transit Review

Never does everything go right on a trip. Every traveler knows that. But with some preparation, the number of hiccups tends to go down. This recent trip to Hawaii seemed to have more than its fair share of hiccups, at least from the get go, starting with a 6 hour plan delay that put us into Maui in the middle of the night, long after our hotel's shuttle stopped working forcing up to sleep in a homeless camp on the beach. But those things happen.

The big hiccup that altered our trip severly was one I never saw coming. We were quite rudely refused service on Maui Public Transit due to the size of our luggage(which I would have been happy to carry on my lap). So all the planning of figuring out the schedules/routes to get us to the frisbee tourney, to campsites, and back out to the airport was lost. I was stunned at the this rule and the rudeness with which it was enforced.

An inquiry to the transit agency after our trip was rather unhelpful as to ascertaining the reasoning behind such a limiting regulation. "The rules regarding luggage size are from City and County of Honolulu." I, personally, suspect that there is a more underhanded motivation behind the rule, to discourage tourists from using the service, instead pushing them to car rental to help boost the island's economy. Call me a cynic, I guess.

So where did that leave us, all transportation plans shot? At the whim of strangers, that's where. But luckily, we found quite a few friendly ones, specifically ones associated with the Maui Hat Draw frisbee tourney* who toted us out to tournament site and helped us find a nice campsite afterward. It also pushed us to the time-honored tradition of hitchhiking, something neither of us has done much but took too rather easily.

While in the end the trip turned out awesome despite the epic fail of the local transit agency, I can't help but have my faith in public transportation slightly shaken by the experience. If I can't believe in the bus, what can I believe in? Am I going to have to become a car-renting, gasoline-burning tourist like the rest of them? We'll see, I guess, as I've got another adventure just around the corner.
Thursday March 7 2013File under: hawaii, transportation

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Hawaiian Vacation Overview

How do you summarize a trip where you didn't really do anything? I can't say "we went to a luau, surfed, and ate fresh coconut every day" because we didn't. But that doesn't mean we didn't have a great time, because we did. And I suppose it would be a bit of a stretch to say we did nothing. While most of our time was spent lounging at the campsite or meandering around Lahaina, we had a few noteworthy experiences.

We saw many breaches of the humpback whales (often right from the beach at our campsite), ate some of the local cuisine, hitchhiked*, hiked to get a geocache, saw the largest banyan tree in the U.S., were warm, reveled in fun yet insignificant discoveries, and just enjoyed hanging out together.

And in terms of bang for our buck, I think we did pretty dang well. The whole concept behind the trip was let's go hang out somewhere warm and not spend oodles of money (hence the camping, hitching, spam, etc.) And while the final receipts haven't come in yet, I know we did amazingly well.

Yep, Hawaii ain't such a bad place to hang out for a week. In fact, I might just have to do it again next year.
Saturday March 2 2013File under: travel, hawaii

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Hawaii Mini-Post

It turns out that 1) Hawaii is pretty dang neat 2) keeping current with blog posts is hard when you are camping and 3) sno-cones are delicious. I'll get some better posts up soon.
Wednesday February 27 2013File under: travel, Hawaii

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