Aloha and Mahalo, Hawai’i!

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

It is a bit warm outside as I sit in the airport typing this entry waiting for my flight to go back home. My rental car had 82 on the thermometer when I dropped it off, and with the humidity it is getting pretty warm to me.

This has been a great trip. I accomplished my goals of getting my boating certifications, and I had some time to explore the island. I also made a few new friends in a beautiful place that I had not been before.

The food was really good. That Spam sushi was something I am going to have to figure out how to make. I am hooked on that stuff. And Leonard’s… had one last visit (my seventh, I believe) for breakfast this morning and got a pineapple roll for the plane.

Most everyone I met were very friendly. For a touristy place that is busy, traffic runs pretty well.

The weather… What can you say about 75-80 degrees every day? It got pretty warm due to the humidity when it got to the 80s. That is why they make air conditioners, though. And the ocean.

I accomplished a few firsts – first trip to Hawai’i, first time snorkeling, and my first time in a tropical location.

Every place you visit has its own downsides. Here it was expensive for things at the grocery store. Want a gallon of milk? Plan on a fiver and change. Cheap old white hamburger buns? That’ll be three bucks, thank you. Gas was $3.75-4.00 a gallon. Luckily I got to stay in the Service’s bunk house or that would have been maybe $140 a night.

I can definitely see coming back here at some point in the future and revisiting some people and places and exploring another island or two as well.

Pearl Harbor, Pt. 2

Adventure, Outdoors, Travel

Today I went back to Pearl Harbor to see the rest of the things I had not seen yet.

First, I went through the displays and stopped to read some things more closely. I watched a film about the attack. It was really a surprise attack of epic proportions. Afterwards, I went to the Arizona memorial again.

After that I took in the U.S.S. Bowfin, a retired submarine. That was very interesting, but I damn sure would not want to be on one of those things. The newer ones are bigger and probably more comfortable, but still…

Next up… The U.S.S. Missouri. That is one bad-assed piece of hardware. What an impressive ship. They have several parts of it opened for tours, and it is amazing how big it is inside. I don’t know how the sailors on those huge ships can ever find their way around with all of the compartments and passageways in an emergency situation.

The last stop of the day was the Pacific Aviation Museum. They had a lot of interesting planes on display and an area where they are doing restorations of old planes.

I have always been interested in the old WWII stuff. It was pretty special to be able to see these historic ships and planes, and in such a historical place. It really is quite something to see it all in person. I would definitely recommend seeing all of the historic sites at Pearl Harbor.

First Full Day in Hawai’i

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

As suspected, I woke up early due to the time change. Never mind the exhausting day before… I still woke up at 5 AM this morning. I laid around until 6 or so and took a shower. Most everyone else was up and heading to the office. Time for a road trip!

I was not sure where I was going to go. I first ventured to Leonard’s again and afterwards I drove toward Waikiki Beach. I eventually stumbled upon Diamond Head and I ended up driving in. I wanted to park outside and hike up to the top so that was a buzzkill to accidentally drive into it. Oh well… onwards.

The North Shore came highly recommended to me. It was on my list of places to go, and I just decided I was going to go today. One thing that helped my decision was the wind was picking up it looked like it might blow little storm, and the North Shore is notorious for its giant waves. That’s what I wanted to see.

I drove along a beautiful two-lane highway heading north. Lots of twists and turns; it would’ve been great on my motorcycle. Oh well, at least I wasn’t stuck driving a little teeny Chevy Spark. When I had gone to pick up my rental car the kids out in the parking lot gave me a Subaru. No complaints on my part!

I made a few stops along the way. I stopped by some tidal pools but the pounding surf was a little too much to get down too close to. It would be a bad thing to get sucked into that undercurrent, but the other thing is you would get thrashed against all the volcanic rock. There wouldn’t be anything left but hamburger.

The highway headed north through bunch of small towns and villages on the waterfront. There are lots of parks to pull over and have picnics in, parking areas to stop in so you can get out and check out the beaches. There were people fishing, and of course quite a bit of surfing.

Several people told me to check out the shrimp trucks on the North Shore. I went to one of them and it was different than what I imagined but I was going to stop back by at lunchtime and have myself a plate of shrimp scampi.

While I was out, I just kept driving and driving almost this far you could drive. I thought you said Karen and come back and start heading back towards the bunkhouse. On the way back I passed a fruitstand. But of course I had to stop.

There were several people in there with booths selling all sorts of different things. The first thing I tried was a deep-fried banana. I know, I know, it sounds strange. But it was very, very good. It was a banana sliced in half lengthwise and put into some sort of thin wrapper like a tortilla type thing. I believe they may have had a little cinnamon or something sprinkled on – some sort of spices were on it. They were delicious.

The next thing I saw intrigued me. Amongst the Ziploc baggies full of pre-sliced and peeled pineapples and Pallesi mangoes and all the other obligatory fruits of that ilk, there was a fruit with a bright pink outside and white inside with little black dots. I asked the guy what it was and he told me was a dragon fruit. I used to drink an energy water that had Dragon fruit in it so I knew the taste somewhat. I bought a bag of it – it was a little expensive but it is fresh Dragon fruit. I opened up the bag and took a big bite and it was really, really good. I may have to find more before my trip is done.

I stopped back by the shrimp truck and there was no way I was going to get any food within the next hour because it was so busy. So I decided to just head back and miss out on the shrimp. Bummer. Oh well, I hear they are not native anyway. I do still have time to get back up there though.

I decided on my return trip to take a different route. I decided to cut down to the center of the island. It was a beautiful drive and then I saw the sign for Pearl Harbor. Since that was where my class was going to be I decide to head over that way and see if I could check out the trip home from there in order to get an idea of the route.

I ended up going to the Pearl Harbor visitor center to see what all was there. I ended up going on the Arizona Memorial and I’m going to go back sometime over the weekend and see the USS Missouri, a submarine, and the aviation Museum and hopefully spend some more time checking out the displays.

It was really a unique experience being in the middle of Pearl Harbor like that. This is the place I read about in the history books and saw in all the war movies on television. It was pretty incredible. Heading out towards the Arizona Memorial you can see the battleship Missouri standing there in all her glory. Quite an impressive looking piece of hardware. Yes, I will have to go back.

I ended up heading on to the H1 highway to come back to the bunkhouse. There’s a hell of a lot of traffic in this city. I believe is about a 12 mile drive, and it takes me about 45 minutes to get that far. The drivers are all very courteous, unlike Denver, but there are just so many cars.

I got back and got to bed early preparation for my big day tomorrow – the first day of class.

Off to Hawai’i!!!

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

I am writing this as I travel to Hawaii for the first time. I have been on a plane this size before, but it is still odd being on a plane that holds nearly 300 people and it is full. I will update these entries when I can, but they will possibly and probably not be in real time. I am also writing this between periods of studying my manual and when I get thoughts to jot down.

We left about 45 minutes late between de-icing and some “paperwork” that had to be done – whatever that catch-all phrase entails. According to the in-flight map we are over the water right now but there is a lot of cloud cover so I cannot tell.

I have wanted to go to Hawaii for a few years now. This makes 47 states I will have visited when I land there. My goal is all 50, and then I thought I might shoot for state capitals. There are states, quite frankly, I will not go back to so I won’t seriously chase that one.

I am going over for training for boats for my job and squeezing in some leisure time. I am covering most of my expenses and the training will be taken care of. It works out good for everyone. This is training I need to be the island caretaker for my next gig in April. One is a certificate class; the other is for open water, such as oceans. Needless to say this trip is very exciting in many ways for me as you can well imagine. Plus, it is important and it will look really good on a resume, too.

The excitement never really hit me until two nights before I left. I stayed in Seattle last night to avoid a 3:00 A.M. drive, but it didn’t help much. I didn’t sleep for shit with the excitement and with the fear of missing my flight.  The last part happens to me whenever I fly. Since I do not plan much, when I do have a timetable it is a really big deal for me.

I got on the plane and have an exit row seat I paid extra for. I figure on a six-hour flight I want room so I sprung the extra $ for it. I sure got room… plenty of room to stand in front of me by the rear exit bulkhead.

Sitting here it is surreal to think that you basically go in a locked room with 299 other people, and six hours later you are transported elsewhere. If the windows are shut (as mine is since I am on the sun side of the plane and there is nothing to see but clouds anyhoo) you have no real sense of movement.

I am now over four hours into the flight and the guy next to me has slept the entire time so far. Quite reassuring given the fact he is sitting in an emergency row and won’t be worth a damn if something happens.

I was able to catch a couple of naps myself, and I really needed it. It also helped to pass a little time. I did some studying for my course, anxiously waiting to land and see the island.

Finally! Hawaii!

We landed, and then had to walk what seemed a half mile to the baggage claim. But the walk was outside, and that was pretty odd. The weather was really nice, and I got my rental car and headed to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife bunkhouse where I was going to be staying.

On my way I got a hankering for some food. I had not eaten since some fruit and crackers on the airplane and I was starving. I stumbled upon a place called Leonard’s bakery. I decided to go in and see what they had. I was thinking they might have some sort of sandwich or something like that. But they had something even better… malasadas. 

Malasadas are a Portuguese pastry – pretty much it’s a deep-fried doughnut but it’s different and so much better. They come rolled in sugar, one is something called “Li hing” which is a sweet and sour sugar that is indescribable (but delicious as I later discovered on my THIRD visit), one with a coconut cream filling, a chocolate filling, and this month the special is banana. And pastries a-plenty.

When I got there the resident volunteer greeted me at the door. His six-month stint is up the same time mine is at the Spit. He is also from Washington will be heading back there after he gets done here.

Later on the facilitator of the bunkhouse showed up with some other people. One is a volunteer here in Hawaii at their refuge, and the other two are from Portland. The three of them were taking off early the next morning to go to Midway Island to do some research. The bunkhouse I am staying at is a stopover for the researchers going to and from the remote Pacific islands. The bunkhouse has four bedrooms. There are three creams with eight para bunkbeds in them two people in each room, and before three single bed. As these people come and go they can come here and stay for a night or two go on to their next destination. People are always coming and going. It is like living with a bunch of constantly-changing roommates.

Some of the islands are areas where they are fighting invasive species that are already there, and others they are trying to keep invasive species out. They even quarantine all the stuff that goes to and from the islands in plastic tubs to keep them from carrying any insects, plant seeds, etc. and taking them to the islands were they become invasive species. Is actually quite fascinating to hear him talking about all the places and how and why they do what they do.

I would love to go out to one of those islands to see what it is like. I do not know if I will ever get that chance, but I would still love to go.

Updates – 11/27/13

Just things, Music, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I know… it has been a while since I posted so I thought I would post an update with my glass of wine. Tonight’s choice is a 2011 merlot-cab blend from Two Vines. Quite delicious.

It has been cold here lately, and some colder weather is on tap next week. The weatherman has already issued a “Brass Monkey Warning”, which means cold weather is probable so be on standby to bring in the brass monkey.

We have gotten a lot done around here lately. We did a trail reroute and closed the old entrance and did a rehab on it to restore it back to nature. It really came out nice. Signs had to be put up along with a couple of sections of split rail fence. We also worked on a couple of fences and the finished products look very nice. One was a repair/replacement from last year’s car fire in the parking lot. The other one was to block off an area to protect the vegetation.

We are out doing some bird surveys on the Spit, checking out what has migrated in and getting counts on the different species here on the refuge. It is pretty interesting to see thousands of birds at once. It really shows you the importance of places like this when you see vast numbers of a variety of wildlife species.

I am going out birding with a friend next week. He is going to show me some local birding spots and maybe see a few new birds I have not seen yet.

My training in Hawaii is back on for next year so I will be posting pics when I get them taken! I am pretty damn excited to go!

I re-upped my rec center membership and have been working out nearly every night (except for the night I had a pissed off hamstring… I think it just wanted to get in the whirlpool and took me with it). I took off last night since I forgot my gym shorts but did some walking today to make up for it. Tomorrow is just going to be written off being Thanksgiving and all, plus the rec center is closed. I may try to get out and do some walking to atone for my food sins. Friday I will be back at it again.

I might have some more music posted soon… if I would just get my ass in gear and get it done. I just wrote lyrics for one song I had already recorded a rough demo of and had some ideas for. I just started lyrics for another as soon as that one was done. I do not have the music for it yet, but I have some ideas for what to do with it. I think it might be interesting if this all comes together like I plan. What I want to do is pretty ambitious to do and it will take some time to get it put together. I do have individual bits and pieces that I have already recorded so it is just a matter of a few more lyrics, organizing, recording, and more organizing.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!