Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Into the Wild Blue Yonder...

When asked to pick a Waikiki-based activity for the day, the kids decided on Parasailing. They did the research and found an outfit that had a discount coupon, provided transportation to/from the boat launch, and hadn't killed anyone in the current fiscal year. We hoofed it on down to our rendezvous point, the Duke Kahanamoku statue, arriving early enough for a couple of pictures. The shuttle bus whisked us off to Kewalo Basin, and by whisked I mean, of course, crept through Waikiki for 40 minutes with the air conditioning turned off.

Our parasailing boat was waiting for us, engine running, and we were soon motoring out of the boat harbor. Past Kewalo's and Point Panic and heading for deep water. The waves were up and when combined with the hot, winding, bus ride I was feeling a little queasy. I wasn't the only one, as Aaron was starting to look a little green around the gills as well.

The crew began outfitting the pairs of riders and explaining the operation: When called, sit here on the stern, we'll clip you in. Don't unclip yourself. Don't unclip yourself when up in the air. Rides were all tandem, and everyone paired up: The other three couples on the boat with each other, Sue with Rae, and Liz with Aaron. Since we had an odd number of people and I have a bad back I elected to sit out. It had nothing to do with my white-knuckle fear of heights.

As each couple took their turn the boat would race into the wind, raising them up, and making Aaron and I feel much better. Then we'd stop and rock, and we'd feel queasy. Everyone who went up had a great time and eventually it was Sue and Rae's turn followed by Aaron and Liz - the last team. Sue took her camera up and captured a great video. When Aaron and Liz were coming down the crew had great fun dipping them over and over into the water - the price of being a cute teenage girl.

I had been able to make pretty good book on Aaron being the first one to lose his lunch, so as we headed back to shore and the Indian woman began heaving over the side I collected a pretty penny. Aaron and I made it back to shore incident free and we all elected to walk back through Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island, rather than take the winding bus back.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aloha e Fred!

Fred's time on the island finally has come to an end. He's off to cycle in RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier Or Die), and then some kind of Tour de Montana. Of the people on this trip who haven't lived here, Fred would probably drop into life here more easily than anyone; with the possible exception of Rae. I know the kids will miss his uncanny ability to appear at any time bearing Napples.

We took him to the airport, pried him out of the car (picture taking a puma to the vet), distracted him long enough for the rest of us to jump into the car and lock the doors, and bid him a very fond aloha. I have no doubt Fred will return to these sunny shores again someday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our Family Adventure

We picked up a car on Sunday afternoon, following our usual routine of riding TheBus down to the airport, grabbing a car from Alamo, and raiding CostCo on the way home. The next morning we packed up the car with snorkels, masks, fins, boogie boards, teenagers, and beach towels. Everything one might want for an island excursion. The weather was poor; windy, cool, and rainy, but we had hopes that we could find better conditions somewhere.

Our first stop was Haunama Bay. We got there early enough that there were plenty of parking spaces available. But then, it might have been the wind and rain, rather than the hour, that kept the crowds down. Standing at the top of the cliff, we took a vote and unanimously decided to keep on driving (with the proviso that we would eventually get back to the bay on this trip).

Continuing along Kalaniana`ole Hwy we stopped at Sandy Beach. Being a Monday morning, with school back in session, the beach was fairly empty and the surf was cranking. There were a handful of people in the lineup, dropping into 6 foot barrels that broke on wet sand. The kids (Aaron) wanted to get out in the water, but I didn't relish anyone (Aaron) breaking their neck, so we piled back into the car and continued on.

Sightseeing didn't seem to be too popular with the backseat crowd so we pressed hard for Waimanalo. The single car in the parking lot gave us the first indication that we weren't going to be battling crowds. We walked out into sunny skies shining on an empty beach. 2'-3' waves were breaking on the shore and Aaron, Rae, and I wasted no time getting into them. Waimanalo is a great beach for body surfing and boogie boarding. The waves break very close to shore on a sandbar, so fins aren't necessary; just walk out and hop on.

After a few hours, our hunger for waves sated, we showered off and continued our trek. We stopped briefly at the Pali Lookout where the winds were blowing hard enough to lift some of the smaller tourists off their feet. Many theorize that it was these same winds that led to the eradication of the Menehune, blowing them off into Waikiki where they were eventually sold as garden gnomes at the International Market Place.

On we continued to the North Shore where we supped at Pizza Bob's. For you old timers out there, Pizza Bob's has moved to the former location of Steamer's. We sat outside and enjoyed sandwiches and pizza, all the while being entertained by a feral chicken who wandered about the tables terrorizing anyone with an irrational fear of poultry.

From Hale`iwa we pointed the car towards Ka`ena Point with the vague notion that the set of Lost was somewhere out there and maybe we could find it. We made it to the end of the road without spotting any of the lostaways, but we did see an abandoned VW van and a YMCA camp that looked vaguely familiar.

Working our way back towards civilization we stopped at the Dole Plantation where everyone enjoyed a refreshing pineapple-based treat. While the kids tried to find their way out of the pineapple maze we had shoved them into, Sue and I wandered through the pineapple hall of fame. Eventually Liz and Aaron solved the maze (Liz winning by 10 seconds) and we waited around for Rae to find her way out. When the plantation closed down and she still hadn't emerged we were faced with the decision of sending the two surviving kids back in to find her or setting the maze on fire to flush her out. We decided to gamble with the two we had left and sent them back in. They returned a short time later with their missing sibling.

We went back to the house as the sun was setting. Tired, but enriched with new vacation memories.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Breakfast at The Hau Tree Lanai

There are few restaurants on O`ahu that I just have to visit when I come home. Time takes it's toll on businesses and the list of places that used to be becomes longer than the list of those that still are. But the ones that remain become that much more precious.

A bite of a Kua `aina Ortega Burger can transport me back in time and space. I'm sitting at Sunset Beach watching Dane Kealoha in the Duke Kahanamoku surf classic. A bite of fries and Michael Ho is getting spit out of huge barrel with a cast on his arm at the Pipe Masters.

Lunch at Keo's triggers memories of the old restaurant on Kapahulu. Meals spent with Gerry and Lori Ackerman in a time and place long gone. Yet those dinner conversations still reverberate in my head, summoned by an Evil Jungle Prince.

The Hau Tree Lanai still sits on that dwindling list. The prices have crept upward and the linen napkins have been replaced by paper; but the old lady can still conjure the ghosts. Swells long past arise again at Old Man's, waves are reridden, for a brief time I am a twenty-five year-old surfer again.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Na keiki o ke kai

Sue and the kids took the boogie boards and underwater camera down to San Soucci for some wet playtime...

Liz finally learned to make a 'Shaka' sign instead of some weird heavy metal thing.

"I want all of the boogie boards! All of them!!"

Ladies floating in the sea.

And under the sea.

Gentlemen too.

"Yes! Another board! Soon my plan for ocean domination will be complete! Bwahaha"

"Can I let go now?"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Surfing

We've been doing a little wave riding over the past few days. Sue and I finally replaced the broken paddle and took the two-person kayak out for a spin. It was late afternoon heading towards evening. We paddled way outside of the lineup - clearing a five foot wall of water on the way that gave Sue a bit of a scare. It's a great view, way off shore, with the hotels aglow in the beginnings of a sunset. We won't be sharing it with you since we didn't bring the camera out with us. But Chris was waiting for us as we came in and snapped a couple of shots.

On Thursday I took Rae and Aaron out for separate, morning surf lessons. It went pretty well. Rae was able to catch one wave on her own and is starting to get a feel for which waves to paddle into. Aaron did very well - catching the very first wave he paddled for. He paddled back out and proceeded to catch wave after wave, riding the first few on his stomach but then getting to his feet for longer periods of time.

On the wave in he challenged me to a race and actually beat me! Paddling! I retract what I said in one of the posts from our Whistler trip: Aaron doesn't have far to go to catch up to me at surfing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Boogie Boarding

A few shots of the kids and me going boogie boarding at graveyards...

"This is a boogie board. It may save your life someday"

"This is the ocean. It may threaten your life someday"

Paddle paddle paddle paddle
And a little video to show what riding a wave looks like from a boogieboarder's perspective...

Hau`oli Lä Hänau e Sue!

A very Happy Birthday to the absolute love of my life!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ua Hö`ea Na Keiki!

The kids have arrived!

We picked them up at the airport, bearing the traditional greetings of leis and napples. At least we tried to pick them up. We received a text message from Liz announcing that they were on the ground just as we were driving in. We told them to proceed to baggage claim and we'd meet them there. I dropped Sue off at the airport and waited until Homeland Security asked to see my papers; at which point I began the curbside pause-and-skedaddle routine that is an integral part of keeping our country safe from another terrorist attack.

On one of my orbits Sue appeared with Rae's checked bag, but no Rae. Unbeknownst to us, the kids had been spirited off to a Hawaiian Airlines safe room which had no cell phone coverage, thus preventing al Qaeda, or their parents, from claiming them. Liz eventually convinced them that, being 17, she was not an unaccompanied minor and slipped out to call her mom, who also had no cell coverage being in the same terrorist-free zone.

Finally we were all re-united. We brought everyone back to the house, unloaded, and hopped back in the car. We had spent so much time at the airport that the car was now due back. We dropped off the girls at Ala Moana Shopping Center and Aaron and I wen holo down to Alamo. We got the car back in time and took a bus back to Kua Aina where we all had well-earned cheeseburgers and fries.

Hau`oli Lä Hänau e Janice!

Today is Janice's birthday!!

We'll be celebrating hers and Sue's tomorrow with a big dinner.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunset at Waimea Bay

Since the kids will be coming in tomorrow, we rented a car to pick them up. Alamo had a good deal on Sunday pickup / Monday dropoff. I did the on-line check in so all I had to do was proceed to the fullsize cars, pick one I liked, and drive it off the lot. It would have worked great had there been any fullsize cars on the lot. We waited for awhile and then the attendant said "Want a convertible instead?". Well. Okay.

We made a CostCo run and stocked up and then Sue, Clay, Fred, and I dropped the roof and took off for the North Shore. We drove up to Waimea arriving a little too late, but in time for a relaxing sunset. On the way back we had dinner at Hale`iwa Joe's. I had the Ono, which was quite good. Fred had a nice looking salmon salad. Sue and Clay each had the grilled spear fish and neither seemed too thrilled with it.

He`e Nalu

We've had good surf this trip. Nothing huge, but fun-sized waves almost all the time. Last week started with a surf report that called for "diminishing 2-4' surf" on the South Shore. The next day the report was for "diminishing 2-4, occ 5' surf". That was followed by "diminishing 3-5' surf" and then "diminishing 4-7' surf".

I had a really nice session at the peak of the swell out at Tonggs. The tide was high, the waves were clean, the 5 people in the line-up were very friendly, and the waves were pumping. I caught a couple of really nice set waves - big drops, but not much shoulder.

Sue, Fred, and I paddled out after the swell had dropped off a few days later. I was on the boogie board with the camera, ready to capture their best efforts. You'll notice, however, that there are no pictures on the page. When I turned the camera on, it told me I should charge it soon, and then shut off. A pity since Sue actually paddled into a nice wave and stood up - the first wave she's caught all on her own!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


For Dan's last lunch on the island we wen hele up Kapahulu to Zippy's. I think it may be the first plate lunch we've had this trip, a rather amazing statistic given everyone's love of meat, rice, and macaroni salad. But I guess it's a testament to how well we're eating at home, that we haven't been going out that much.

Chris and I each had a Kalua Pig plate, Dan and Sue each had the Mahimahi sandwich, and Fred and Clay each had a Hawaiian Plate. Afterwards, it was napples for everyone! Apparently Napolean's bakery is discontinuing the napples, so we may have picked up some of the last on the island. Good timing I guess.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Aloha e Bruce!

One of these people is dressed for the airport, can you guess which one?

Yes, here we are putting Bruce on a bus for his trip home. Dan and I rode along to see him off. The group decided to keep Dan until Bruce pays us the $7.00 he owes. ;-)

Mahalo nui loa e ka`u aikäne. E hui hou mai ana.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He`e Nalu

Surfing. Capitalism has made surfing into big business. Corporations are selling a lifestyle. Part of that is telling you how you should dress, what music you should listen to, and what board you should ride. It's that last that always amazes me; not that some corporation would make a business of it, but that any surfer would fall for it.

'He`e Nalu' translates to 'Wave Sliding'. There's no mention of equipment. It's all about riding the wave. A waterman in Hawai`i is comfortable on a variety of equipment, choosing the board, if any, to fit the prevailing conditions or mood.

Put some surfers together in a house that has various water toys in the backyard and eventually they'll have ridden all of them. We've already been out on the surfboards and the boogie boards. Yesterday Bruce and Dan christened the two-person kayak. We watched them paddle out to Tonggs from the wall. They had a pretty good rhythm and were outside in pretty short order. They caught a couple of nice waves and Sue captured a part of one on video from shore.

This morning they decided to do it again, paddling out into slightly larger conditions on a slightly lower tide. Amazing what a difference those changes can make. They caught one wave and were paddling back out when a large set started to roll through. They cleared the first two, barely, and then, in what can only be described as a re-enactment of the Andrea Gail's final scene in The Perfect Storm, did an amazing back flip in 8 feet of whitewater. We watched from shore as the kayak, upside down and presumably unoccupied, caught three waves in a row. Eventually they managed to swim to their watercraft, right it, and paddle in. There were some cuts and scrapes and a broken paddle (we'll replace it, Amelia), but they were still smiling.

Maybe if we get a high surf advisory we'll finally get to take those inner tubes out. ;-)

Getting caught up

A number of little things have been going on...
  • Steve has left for the Big Island.
  • Fred has arrived on island (and has already been out surfing and attended a spin class)
  • Sue and I went over to the driving range at Ala Wai golf course - $10 for two large buckets of balls and two club rentals!
  • I took Sue out for a surf lesson. Unfortunately the conditions weren't great for it - the tide was high and the surf was cranking, so we couldn't go outside and the waves weren't really breaking inside. But still, being out in the surf with Ku`uipo makes for a great day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hau`oli Lä Hänau e Bruce!

Bruce is 49 today!!! Happy Birthday Bruddah!! We're all so glad you're here with us!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ua pi`i Leahi kakou

There are only so many times you can look out your back window at Diamond Head before you say "We've got to go climb up that". That desire to climb up things and howl at the universe has been with us since we were climbing trees and howling down at the animals trying to eat us. There are a couple of approaches to the peak. The full frontal assault usually concludes with a helicopter rescue and Joe Moore making fun of you on the evening news.

We decided on the more lengthy, but ultimately helicopter-free, approach of walking to the entrance on the backside of the crater, paying our $1 entrance fee, and joining the stream of ill-prepared tourists heading for the top. Not much has changed since our last trip up here. It's still a desert, still has a lot of stairs, and the view is still wonderful. We made it to the top, howled (inside) at the universe, and began the descent. We had come up via Montsarrat, so naturally we came down Diamond Head Road, making a nice 7 mile loop.

Diamond Head Hike - Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Happy Birthday Mom!!!!

Today is my mother's 70th birthday. So, I'd like everyone out there to click the comment button and wish her Hao`oli Lä Hänau!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Da Kine Grindz

I notice that I haven't been posting about food as often as last time. It doesn't mean we aren't eating or aren't eating well; quite the contrary, the food has been both good and plentiful.

For the most part breakfast is coffee and cereal and fruit. Bruce made waffles (from scratch!) one morning - very tasty. There has also been the occasional spam and eggs and fried rice.

Lunch is usually left overs (no shortage there) or a plate lunch while out and about.

Dinner is where we really shine - we've had smoked salmon, smoked chicken, and a rather huge plate of smoked ribs. We're definitely satisfying the daily allowance of hickory.

Tonight Mark and Judy are coming by to grill some animal or other and Steve has promised us a rack of lamb. Yumm-o!

Friday, July 11, 2008

He`e nalu hou kakou

As mentioned in an earlier post, Dan has arrived on island. We paddled out this morning to Tonggs to introduce him to Hawaiian reef surf. The waves were chest high and very clean. We each caught a few waves but the crowd picked up pretty rapidly. We paddled in, content if not entirely fulfilled.

Later in the afternoon we decided to launch an attack on Graveyards. Sue, Chris, Bruce, Dan, and I took the bodyboards down to Makalai Park, put on our fins, and puttered on out to the break. There was a decent sized crowd out, but unlike the morning session people kept paddling in, not out. Soon there we were able to abandon the crumbling rights and move into the long screaming lefts.

Sue acted as videographer and was able to catch Dan on a nice little right.

Ki Ho`alu

The sound of slack key music is the back drop to all of our Hawai`i adventures. Because of the degrading hell that is travel in empire America no one brought guitars on this trip, so we feared that our music would be limited to CDs. A bit of a bummer for the aspiring slack key guitarists among us. But this house always seems to have what you need. Upstairs in the solarium were two guitars sitting behind the piano, keyboard, banjo, and what appears to be either a large ukulele or a small lute.

One guitar was a small travel model, the other a rather sad old classical with a couple of broken strings. We cleaned them up and attempted to tune them (or at least the one that had 6 strings), but the strings were rather old and didn't want to come into tune. A trip to the music store was obviously in order. Off we (Sue, Clay, Bruce,and I) went up Kapahulu to Good Guys music. I looked at strings while Clay was having a conversation with the fellow behind the counter. When I glanced up a little while later, cash was changing hands and suddenly Clay was holding a Martin. It was rather beat up and missing a peg, but we had acquired a beach guitar!

Back at the house Clay strung his new guitar while I put a new set of nylon strings on the classical. Mine still wouldn't hold a tuning, but his did and soon kani ki ho`alu was ringing through the house.

In a fitting end to the day, we all met down at the Rum Fire lounge in the Sheraton to celebrate Dan's arrival on island. Makana was playing. This kid has really come a long way since we saw him as Matt Swalinkavich in a little bar in Manoa. Back then he was already a phenomenal guitarist, but he has since matured his presentation and has a great stage presence. He is the future of Slack Key.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ua He`e Nalu Kakou

Chris, Sue, and I paddled out to Tonggs on Monday. This was the first time Chris and I had been out in the water together in 17 years. We shared the first wave and it was like we were in our twenties all over again.

Sue got her first chance to try out her new waterproof camera housing. You can probably expect quite a few more action surf shots this trip than last. The housing worked quite well, although it's very easy to bump buttons when you're bobbing around on a boogie board. We ended up with a couple of movies that were the video equivalent of someone leaving you a 5 minute voice mail when the phone in their pocket accidentally speed-dials you.

A deliberate video, this 360 degree shot that gives you a view that few non-surfers ever get to see.

Pictures of ka hale

The views from the street.

The view of the street. Many surfers will recognize the gingerbread house that marks the public access way to Tonggs.
Views of the Solarium. (Kinda cool to even have a solarium, yeah?)

Views from one of the lanais.

View of the kitchen - pasta creation occuring in the foreground.
View from the dining room with Fred's surfboard sneaking into the picture.