Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Year's Eve - Hawaii Day 10

We decided to give the North Shore another try as seeing the big waves was on more than one person's list of things we had to see while in Hawaii. We had been checking the surf report and they were reporting good size waves on the north side. Amber & Andy headed out before us so they could make another stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Anaki wanted more of that Pineapple ice cream. The rest of us headed for Waimea Bay but again, it was FLAT! What the heck?? We headed up a little further and finally spotted a few surfers so decided to stop and get out and see what was going on. The waves were good and we watched some surfers for a while but as we looked up the beach to the north we could see a bigger crowd gathering. The sand on the North Shore is really hard to walk on. It's coarse and really deep. You just seem to sink and that makes for some tough walking. Tyler and I decided to head up the beach and see what was going on. We ended up at the Banzai Pipeline and the waves were about 10 feet but lots of surfers were trying to catch them.

We called the rest of the family to tell them where we were and how great the waves were so they went to pick up some lunch so we could stay longer.

Also, let's just say that someone parked somewhere that someone else told them not to even though a "local" said it would be fine and someone got a ticket and someone was very unhappy. But then someone got over it very quickly (much to their credit) and things were just fine. Speaking of fines, someone had to to pay one but it wasn't as much as someone thought it was going to be. *Note to self, (and anyone visiting the North Shore) don't trust the locals* (The names have been changed to someone to protect the innocent (and the guilty.)

While it was great to find bigger waves and some surfers I was disappointed that I couldn't see the really big waves. I can't even imagine what that might have looked like. It was great though to finally see some surfing!

On the way back we stopped at a popular shave ice place as that was one of the things we heard about that people said not to miss. It's really just like the snow cones of my youth except the ice is smoother. They were tasty!!

I also saw these guys in the parking lot. I had seen chickens all over the island but never was able to get close to them until we stopped for the shave ice!

We left the North Shore and drove back to Kailua and shopped in a few shops and then it was time to head back to the house and make dinner. We wanted to finish eating up what food we had left as our time in Hawaii was winding down. We had our final cookout of hot dogs and chicken and then ate out on the deck. At the end of our lovely dinner things started to go downhill. Apparently New Year's Eve is bigger than July 4th in Hawaii and the locals love their personal fireworks. Surprisingly they were even legal, at least from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. I guess the locals figure they can just add on to both ends of those times because the fireworks started around dark. The guy across the street had warned us that people would be shooting off fireworks but his warnings came nowhere near the reality. I've never heard so many firecrackers go off in my life. At times if felt like you were in a warzone, for hours and hours, until well after midnight. I think a downpour around 1:00 a.m. slowed things down for a bit but I heard more firecrackers and a couple big bangs around 2:00. We all just wanted to get some sleep but it was impossible. We just tried to get through it the best we could. We all agreed it was probably the worst New Year's Eve ever.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hawaii - Day 9

This day started out very rainy on the Winward side of the island. Andy and Amber headed off to the beach anyway because they really wanted to kayak off Kailua. The rest of us stayed around the house either sleeping in or doing laundry. You can guess who was doing what!! Amber called shortly after they left to say it was too rainy in Kailua too so they were heading over to Waikiki. Howard and I had been wanting to find a day to visit Tyler's campus on the Winward side so we decided this was the day! It was a pretty short drive from our rental house to his campus. He led us up the main steps into the building where classes are held. The only other buildings on the campus are for housing. We walked all around inside and Tyler showed us where his classes were held and where the library was. We couldn't resist a trip to the school store where Howard bought a HPU golf shirt and I picked up a tank top for Amber.

Since it was still raining when we left the campus, we decided to head to the mall since we also wanted to buy Tyler a few shirts and other necessities. We stopped for lunch first where Scott and Howard had another steak plate and Tyler and I opted for Chinese Buffet! We shopped around for a couple hours, finding some shirts and board shorts for Tyler and of course Scott had to score a couple of things for himself. We were finished shopping and heading for the car but the rain was still coming down. A quick call to Amber confirmed that it was nice and sunny in Waikiki so we decided to head over there. It absolutely poured on the Pali Highway on our way across the island. When we got to Waikiki the weather was great, not a rain drop in sight. We found Amber and Andy and walked along checking out the shops. We stopped in a sports bar for a quick drink then headed back outside for more shopping. We walked along the beach for a little while and then decided to stop into another bar, on the beach, and wait for the sun to set.

Geez, it sounds like we are lushes, two bars in a couple hours time. After 9 days on the island this was only the 3rd sunset we had seen since we arrived in Hawaii. This one was a very pretty one.

After sunset we were heading back to the car with the intention of going to a Thai restaurant Tyler knew of but instead someone suggested this Mexican/Carribean (strange combo, I know) place we were passing so we went in there for dinner instead and ate out on the patio. When we finished dinner Andy came up with a new game called "guess the name of our waitress". We went all around the table and no one got it. I don't think you could play this game every time you eat out as usually the waitress or waiter tells you their name when they come to your table but it was fun trying to guess.
After dinner we headed back to the house where it was still raining! I guess we were just fortunate that it wasn't raining all over the island, just on one side! I suppose you have to put up with a bit of rain, even in paradise. After all, it is Hawaii's rainy season!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yea, Happy Day Two

I got my camera back from Sony Repair today! It's all fixed, the broken screen replaced completely and the most amazing part to me; it was absolutely FREE! There was no bill, no charge, no questions even though I'm sure they knew it had to be an accident that caused the broken screen! They just fixed it and sent it back, good as new! All it cost me was the $6.00 to send it via UPS. Now that's how things should be.
It's still cold here, still cold and will continue to stay cold. They reported on the news the other night that we've had 42" of show so far this winter! That's already our average for winter. We've also had the coldest weather I can remember for the longest spell I can remember too. What the heck happened to Global Warming?? At least the kids at school got to go out to recess today. They really needed it and so did the teachers!

Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day!!

Even though I had to work today (Teacher's Record Day) no kids were at school(not many teacher's either as they can do their records from their home computers if they choose) so we got to watch the Inauguration and festivities that followed while we caught up on paperwork. What an exciting day.

So many people on the mall, just incredible. The weather was incredibly cold yet so many people turned out. What an exciting day for our country. I can finally take down my Countdown of Bush's Days Left in Office. Adios Jorge!! I have so much hope that better days are ahead, even if they are a ways down the road. There is so much wrong that needs fixing, it's going to take time but at least now it can begin.

In other happy news, the sun shined all day today.

It was cold, only in the 20's, but when the sun is out it seems so much warmer. Apparently we have had some kind of thawing because I spotted this icicle today in the back yard.

And this is a sight I've never seen in my house before; icicles on the windows. I've seen pictures of these before but never the real thing. Aren't they pretty? Like feathers!

Today this little scrub was at my bird feeder.

I call him Stumpy. A couple months ago I saw this squirrel on this same feeder. He sat up there all afternoon. Into the evening he was still sitting up there. I went out before dark and tried to shoo him away by shouting at him and throwing snowballs at him but still, he wouldn't budge. I would have taken the broom to him but I thought he might be sick or something and I didn't want him to go crazy and chase me or something. I figured he was bound to get down sooner, rather than later. The next morning the crazy critter was still up there! When I returned from work I found the bird feeder with a hunk of hair attached to it on a table in the garage. When I went inside to ask Scott what had happened he said when he got up that morning he could see from inside the house that the squirrels tail was somehow stuck in the metal holder that the bird feeder was hanging from. After he discovered this he went across the street to ask our neighbor if he could help him get the squirrel down. This guy is an official "critter catcher" for a living so he had all the right equipment. Scott said he had to unscrew my holder from the wall and then detach the squirrel and he scampered off into the woods. You can see, while he survived, he's very distinct now and the only squirrel in the neighborhood, maybe in the State of Michigan, who has no tail. Hence the nickname, Stumpy!

Wow, I'm watching the Inaugural Parade right now and President Obama looks so genuinely happy. With what he has waiting for him, things he knows and things he doesn't, it will probably be the last time we see him this happy. It will be time to get down to business, time to turn things around, put an end to things that have gone on far too long, bring back hope and respect to this great land we live in.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 8 in Hawaii

We had to get up super early this day. I was up by 6:00, got myself ready and got everyone else up shortly thereafter. We were packed and in the car by 7:30, as planned. We were on our way to Hanauma Bay!

Tyler said we had to get there early as the parking lot, which is small, fills up early and there is no place close to park so if you don't get in the parking lot you have quite a hike, with all your stuff. Once we got to the visitor's center they have you watch a short film about how to treat the reef before you head down to the Bay.

As soon as we got down to the beach we staked out our spot and everyone but me got ready to start snorkeling.

I decided to wait with our stuff. When everyone came back Tyler and Amber went back out with me.

It was just amazing how many fish we saw! We saw parrot fish, a baby puffer, a unicorn fish and many others I didn't know the names of. The water wasn't very deep in the whole bay and the reef was huge. Tyler and I found this one rock where fish would come in and have another fish clean them. The larger fish would just go in and out like a car wash! We ate our lunch there at the beach, took a little rest, got a little sun and everyone went out again.

The last time I went out with Tyler and Anaki and we were out quite a while. When we got back to our spot on the beach Amber and Howard and Scott told us about a whale they had seen breaching at the edge of the Bay!

Exciting stuff! Everyone agreed this was a really great day. The snorkeling was amazing! At one point Tyler took Scott out past the buoys where it was a little deeper and the current was strong. Scott said he saw really big fish out there. The ones I saw were big enough! It was amazing how close they came to you but they had no interest or fear of you at all.
By 2:00 we decided it was time to get going as the beach was really getting crowded.

Tyler suggested we hike Manoa Falls as we still had lots of afternoon and light left. Manoa Falls is just north of Waikiki, up in the mountain. As soon as we got to the parking lot a light rain started falling. The sign said the hike was only 0.8 of a mile but it got tougher and tougher as we went up.

The trail became muddy and slippery with all the rain. Without Howard and Tyler and Andy helping me I probably wouldn't have made it as some spots were hard to climb up. There were some amazing sights along the way like huge ferns and a bamboo forest.

We saw a few flowers and one little bird but not much else. It was hard to look around too much as you had to watch where you were placing your feet!

When we got to the top the waterfall was pretty.

Tyler said the falls was bigger than he had ever seen it, probably due to all the rain we had.

After the hike we headed back to the house as everyone was tired and dirty from the hike. Our shoes will never be the same. Now we know why Tyler's shoes were orange! We cooked chicken on the grill and just relaxed around the house for the rest of the evening. It was a really good day thanks to our great tour guide, Tyler and his knowledge about where to go and when to get there.