Saturday, May 25, 2013

Into the Clouds - Goodbye Hawaii

I read recently that Hawaii was again voted the 'least stressed' state in the U.S. It's not surprising; things move slower here and you either get with the program and get on Hawaiian time or you get frustrated.

For our final day here, the Mestman family decided to go hike Waihee Ridge trail while the Moyers opted to stay behind and get in a final snorkeling trip. We had a really hard time finding a consistent set of directions to the trailhead and were already kind of nervous to return to the area where we'd been foiled by a locked gate earlier in the week. Inevitably we got lost and had to pull over to ask directions twice. The second time we drove down a narrow dirt road toward a sign pointing toward a farmer's market. The "farmer's market" turned out to just be a guy at a card table in the middle of a road surrounded by maybe ten houses. Jacob parked the car and walked up around a bend to get directions while Vaughn and I stayed with the car.

After maybe fifteen minutes I was hot, antsy and maybe a little worried. Where the heck was Jacob? There were a bunch of trees blocking my view so I couldn't seen where he had gone off to. Was he being axe-murdered at that very moment (faithful readers of my blog will remember that axe-murdering is a logical conclusion in my mind)? He finally came back with directions and a small bag of groceries. Apparently the farmer had to go into his house to retrieve the laptop to hunt down directions. Then there was the pouring over various reviews of the trail we were going to hike. When Jacob bought papayas, he had to stop him from leaving the stand to go chop down new ripe ones for him. Jacob mentioned that we had been a little confused and frustrated by the lack of signs to which he just smiled and shrugged saying, "This is Hawaii dude."

The trail was 2.5 miles up 1,500 feet to the top of the ridge and it was every bit as thrilling and idyllic as we hoped. Though he started off apprehensive, Vaughn really got into it and carried his own pack the entire way. The top was packed in fog and so our valley views were obscured but the damp breeze felt heavenly after the steep climb. When we got to the top there was a family with several young Hawaiian children picnicking. We had already decided we wouldn't linger at the summit and would instead eat on the way down. As we turned to go I heard one of the little girls say, "That was quick. They must be on their way to a party." Ahhh, Hawaiian life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hawaii Days - Pt. 3

Jacob and Vaughn are taking advantage of the time difference from home and getting up every morning at 5:30 to drive down the road and play basketball for a couple hours. I admire their dedication. I'm also up at 5:30 each morning but I just lay in bed and wonder if I'll really eat the kale we bought today or if it will be another day of Costco mai tais and dark chocolate.

We've seen three different groups from Oregon here. I know this because, unlike other states, people from Oregon seem to like to wear shirts that signify we are from Oregon (confession: I brought my Portland shirt). Apparently the weather in Portland is miserable right now and it's a good time to be away.

Today we decided to brave the road to Hana - as much of it as we all could tolerate anyway. The road is super narrow and windy and if the carsickness doesn't get you, two 11 years old occupying themselves with repetitive rhyming games will. Plus, that awesome spot you read about in the guidebook? Yeah there's good chance the three available parking spots for that area are taken.

We stopped off at a great bamboo lined trail that had so much promise but after about 15 minutes of hiking we had to admit that it seemed unlikely there would be a waterfall anytime soon. Back in the car we went and shortly we came to a great little waterfall and pool area where we hung out for about an hour of swimming. It definitely felt like what we were looking for and so when the next spot up the road was a bust, we decided to turn back around and make a short pit stop at a state park to eat lunch and then head down the road in search of gelato.

Tonight Jacob and I have a date night and we are going to see a comedy/magic show. Normally this is not my cup of tea but the reviews have been great so I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic.
A Jacob Fish

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hawaii Days Pt. 2

Now I've done it. It's only Wednesday and I'm burnt. Oh to have genetics that translated into "sunkissed" instead of "Tan Mom's Twin - the pink one" (a comparison driven home by the fact that my hair has become like straw with the salt water and pool). Still, it was a pretty epic day. We found a fantastic beach for boogie boarding, a sport I've come to term "extreme neti potting" based on how many times I bail off the board (one time losing my bikini bottoms down to my knees, mercifully while deep in the drink).

Here is a picture of my sweet guys tuckered out after hours of sun and surf.

My Afternoon with Oprah

On the plane ride over to Maui I read an article in a magazine that featured celebrities talking about their favorite "magical place." Oprah was in there and she said that her favorite place was sitting beneath one of the large oak trees on her property. There's a lot of time to be reflective on a six hour plane ride and I instantly thought, I'd like to spend a day with Oprah! I'd show up and Oprah would graciously give me a personal tour of her expansive home, during which time I'd be careful to notice the little details like, "Oooh! I love the ceramic hounds you've placed over by the bar in the game room!" Then we'd go into the kitchen and have a light snack and maybe do some sort of craft project (here is where my vision gets murky because I can't tell if I'm blending it too much with My Time with Martha Stewart).

The real magic would happen though when we'd retire outside to her property, possibly to kick our bare feet up in a shared hammock under those oak trees while her Cocker Spaniels ran around and barked at squirrels on the grounds. We'd laugh and chit chat about various things from her past and mine until suddenly, Oprah would say something particularly poignant and without realizing it, I'd get a faraway look in my eyes. Then shit would get real. All of a sudden I'd be seeing things in a new light. "Wow, I never thought of it that way - but you're absolutely right!" I'd say, shaking my head.

With the afternoon growing long, Oprah would escort me to the door herself, both of us laughing over some silly thing Stedman did. At the front door, Oprah would take my hands in hers, look into my eyes and remind me to stay true to what we discussed. I'd promise I would and she'd say, "Oh I know you will!" because Oprah and I just kind of get each other - which we'd acknowledge was weird since neither one of us usually have other people we don't know well understand us so intuitively! We'd promise to stay in touch and I'd promise to send her the recipe for my vegan carrot/zucchini muffins (which I do as soon as I fly home, trying not to have my feelings hurt when she doesn't respond since she's Oprah after all and very busy).

PS - For those of you who read the title and thought this would actually be about me getting to spend an afternoon with Oprah - keep up that magical thinking!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hawaii Days Pt. 1

Jacob and I have wanted to go to Hawaii for pretty much our entire relationship but could never dig up the vacation time or the funds to go. This year, with Annalee, Jacob and myself all turning 40, we decided that even if the trip had to go on the credit card, we'd be going.

Luckily the funds are not that tight and splitting the cost of everything definitely helps. We are on Maui in a town just north of Lahaina. I'm writing this on what we've decided is day three, since Saturday was an all-day travel day and shouldn't count as vacation. Luckily our group is fairly like-minded and we have decided to have everyone list the 'one thing' they want to make sure we get done before leaving.

Each day has included quite a bit of swimming - either in the ocean or in the pool at the condo. This has been either the greatest or Vaughn's worst nightmare depending on how he's feeling (today we swung from "I'm done with water for the rest of the trip!" to "I still have five whole days to go swimming!" in a matter of hours- ahhh, the tween years).  We're still in search of the perfect boogie boarding spot and snorkeling was a bust for my relatively new swimmer (Jacob's not a fan of breathing through the tube either). I had a bit of an incident myself the first day when I misjudged a wave and got tossed under not once but twice, smacking hard into the ocean floor and getting a sore rump.

Yesterday we went in search of a hike that was highlighted in the guide book. We wound our way up a narrow, hilly road; past packs of tiny stray dogs and even a random goat leg in the road with the hoof attached. Unfortunately, we reached the entrance only to find the park gated shut with no explanation, only a warning that trespassers would face a $250 fine. Undeterred, we made our way over to Iao Valley State Park with the famous Iao Needle. It wasn't much for hiking but it made up for it in beauty and history.

Later that evening we went into Lahaina for a trip to the famous banyan tree and dinner. Gluten free (Annalee) and vegan (us) isn't easy but we surprisingly found a little mediocre something for everybody at Paradise Burger. A gray-haired crooner with an electric guitar delighted the crowd with predictable hits like Escape (the Pina Colada song) and Purple Rain. It turned out our server was from Gilroy (up until a month ago) and while it was fun and novel to run into another alum (although 7 years younger), I was completely caught off guard when he started pressing me to name high school teachers I could remember (not many, as it turns out - at least not after a Mai Tai).

We closed out the evening gawking down from the restaurant patio at a woman blowing a conch shell at the water's edge. A nightly visitor, she arrives every evening at sunset to the same spot to blow her shell and then wade into the ocean to perform a solo water ballet of sorts. The waitstaff at the restaurant rolled their eyes and scoffed at her. One server pointed out that she was swimming in 'harbor water', the most polluted kind. Still, I have a feeling that they'd miss their odd little mermaid if one day she stopped showing up to honor the spirit of the island in her own awkward way.
Vaughn and Sten at Iao Needle

Vaughn Turns 11

Yesterday was Vaughn’s birthday party and we splurged and had a bunch of boys over to the house for backyard laser tag. Everyone appeared to have a great time, despite the fact that one team kept dominating the other.

For party snacks, Vaughn requested both Cheetos and the holy grail of forbidden snack foods - Doritos. I don’t understand the obsession with Doritos but near as I can tell, 5th grade boys go bonkers for them. At the beginning of gift opening, Sten interrupted to say, “Guys, I just have to warn you - Doritos make me cranky. I don’t know why but they do.” No one paid much attention to Sten’s Cheesy Hulk warning and he stayed in good spirits throughout the remainder of the party.

Update: After school today a couple girls in Vaughn’s class brought over a couple younger sisters and were trying to get Vaughn to stop playing basketball long enough to talk to them. After a couple times of calling his name elicited zero response, they gave up and wandered away. As we were walking to the car I asked Vaughn what that was all about. Vaughn said that he thought they were trying to get one of the younger girls to wish him a happy birthday or something. I gently chided him for ignoring them completely to which he responded that he had to because he was the defender in basketball. Hrishi, who at 8 months older is much more savvy in these things said, “Vaughn, I don’t care who you are defending - even if it is the greatest basketball player in the world you ALWAYS stop if girls want to talk to you.”

Biggest Fan

Today Vaughn told me that he was talking to a classmate about Portland Trail Blazer and Rookie of the Year, Damien Lillard. “That’ll be me someday,” Vaughn apparently said confidently (it’s worth noting that Vaughn is so technically smart about basketball, I almost think this is less a case of Vaughn actually believing he will be Rookie of the Year and more a case of Vaughn knowing through careful study that the best basketball players are a self-aggrandizing and cocksure force to be reckoned with and one must act the part - a sort of fake it before you make it). His Doubting Thomas (Ben) friend replied, “Maybe.” Sten, the ever loyal and best friend/sidekick that a future anybody could ever hope for piped in, “Oh no- I know Vaughn and whenever he puts his mind to anything - he does it!” With friends like that, who needs Rookie of the Year.
I took this picture today on the way to school. Vaughn was particularly chatty and gave me a whole dissertation on the importance of matching your clothes. Not just in color combinations, but also how if it was a “Ducks” day - the clothing should all be Ducks (likewise for Blazers and Sharks).

Hearts and Bones

Yesterday Jacob and I stopped into a store on Mississippi Avenue called Paxton Gate. The store’s tagline is, “Treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences” and it’s filled floor to high ceiling with vintage taxidermied animals, plants, art, geodes, magnifying glasses and bones of all sort. It’s not for the squeamish- there was a container of dried peacock feet on the counter, a box of cow legs with hooves attached and even a dead puppy floating in a jar of formaldehyde for the girl who has everything. Sort of as if the Natural History Museum gift shop was doubling as your local distributor for VooDoo paraphernalia. Jacob bought a human anatomy coloring booking and I came away with a beaker that I fashioned as vase to hold a pheasant feather and two porcupine quills. I was kind of tempted to splurge and spend $50 on the monkey paw so that the next time I go into a work meeting where there is a difficult decision requiring consensus, I can take out my paw and set it in the middle of the table and say, “Let’s let the paw decide.”

Update: Jacob got me a quail skeleton for Mother’s Day! It’s a real special man who hears, “I want new pajamas” and says, “I’ll see those pajamas and raise you a quail skeleton.”