Friday, July 16, 2010

Window or Aisle???

Isn’t that the impossible question? I usually go for a window on a long haul flight. Not because I’m concerned with seeing the view, I just know I can lean against the side of the plane and rest a little better, it also helps not to have to worry about everyone else’s bladder control problems. My mind has changed today – On any flight that has three seats on the window instead of just two go for the aisle. Yes, you may have to wake for everyone’s bathroom break, but you’re not stuck in an invisible walled prison. Plus, on the window is impossible for everyone to be on the same bathroom schedule and you’re going to feel horrible waking everyone when you need to go. Go for the aisle!

Also, I’m not trying to be mean here or pick on anyone and I know being heavy and flying must be a nightmare. Still, I need to state that EVERYONE needs to be conscientious of the very little space we all share on the plane. Just because you are bigger than me does NOT mean you can flow into my space as well as yours. The space is tight, as we all know, and when someone starts taking more than their fair share I get really angry. 16 hours next to someone who doesn’t realize that the armrest delineates the difference between your space and mine almost drove me mad! I started off with soft nudges, but it didn’t work… just minutes later each time my space was constricting once again. If I’m stuck in that kind of tiny prison I want clear plexi walls to keep everyone out of my space!

The flight today was really hard. I think my flights to India actually took longer all together, but it’s been at least 6 years since I had a single flight as long as today. The first 5 hours I sat and read and ate and watched a movie before I looked at the flight map – I figured we had to be about half way there… when I looked and saw nearly 11 hours left I was so sad!!! Tried to sleep for a bit, but needed to use the rest room. The next two hours (that felt like at least 6) was the most uncomfortable “sleep” I’ve ever had – even for a plane. With 8 hours left I got up, I walked a bit, used the restroom and ate a snack, read a bit more and then I was finally able to sleep. I passed out for the next six hours and woke with just a couple hours to go… VERY long flight, but glad to be here and excited for what the week holds.

Now I’m stretched out in a huge king bed at the Intercontinental Johannesburg. I took a long bath, brushed my teeth and feel like a million bucks – a clean million bucks. Love how good washing my face and brushing my teeth and hair feel after a long flight. I will try to rest now and then, tomorrow, on to the Kruger.

(I have lots of back posts to do, but they’ll have to wait until after Africa :) )

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gross Out!

Don't use airplane bathrooms. If you have to, then use them right as you get on. They are cleaner at that moment than at any other moment and probably a little more hygienic too. I know it can't always be avoided, but should if possible. As I stood in the bathroom today and listened to the sticky noise as my shoes caught on whatever disgusting cesspool of disease and germ and filth was there, I was taken back to Cambodia and our boat ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Phen. Awesome experience. Would recommend the trip to anyone at least once, but the one tiny bathroom on that speedboat for the approx 100 passengers for 6 hours was insufficient and disgusting to say the least. Of course there was no toilet paper - there never is in Asia, but that wasn't the bad part. No sink, so no hand washing or even water to make you feel better. Also, imagine any airplane, sporting arena, basically the grossest bathroom you've ever been in and multiply the gross factor by about a billion and you'd be getting close. The smell the filth it was tangible.
I was having tummy issues, so I had to frequent that smelly little room more than I would like to mention during our trip, but I was smart and brought toilet paper. I also could hold my breath long enough to last through most of my trips in and I had hand sanitized in my bag for as soon as I came out.

The real story here is my friend Jamie. She's a little of a germaphobe - had to be she's a Dalton and it's in the DNA. Anyway, I can't remember the exact why, but she went in there with no shoes on... I'm not kidding NO shoes. I think she had come in from being on top of the boat and left her shoes outside. She had to make a decision whether she wanted to go in without them or go back up the scary ladder thing to retrieve them. I don’t think I would have gone in without shoes and I’m a pretty tough girl, but remembering that bathroom can almost make me gag. Jamie said when it came to that point she was trying to prove to herself she could do it (and I think she really had to use the bathroom). Now, I'm not a doctor, but I do know lots of stuff can come through the thick skin on your feet and I don't think somebody could have paid me enough to do that.

Not sure what she gained except possibly some really nasty bacteria or virus or worse, and a really cool story that not many can trump, but she did move up a notch in the tuff girl book – that was gutsy!!!

Full Circle

It ended where it all begin… next to a swimming pool in the warm spring sunshine… on a small island in the pacific… and I LOVED it! Today Krista and I woke up late after my 4am conference call with work. We packed our bags and delivered them to the bell desk and then we went poolside. We basked in the warmth and the idolness for nearly 5 hours. We ate some fruit and drank some ice water, read a little and listened to a lot of itunes, but other than that we did nothing. PERFECTION!

When we felt sufficiently kissed by the sun we borrowed the hospitality suite to shower and get ready. We still had a few hours before our late night flight. The plan was to head north again to have one last taste of Jo Jo’s amazing shave ice… little did we know it closed at 5:30 and we got there at 5:35. We decided we’d try the cheap knock off version, but when we got there the server was rude and they were out of haupia sauce anyway so we decided to skip our last shave ice and savor the flavors from yesterday. We did however want to repeat one other favorite thing from Kauai…so, we drove to Kalapaki Joe’s and ordered – you guessed it – seared ahi tacos – YUM! What a way to end the day. Oh, and don’t worry, we didn’t skip dessert. We shared a huge slice of mud pie to top off the evening before the flight home.

I was lucky and my flight was fairly empty. I ended up with a full row to myself and took advantage. As soon as the door was shut I pulled on a blanket, spread across the three empty seats and drifted into Hawaiian dreams for the next 5 hours. LA was a bit of a blur; except the creepy married guy who was rude to his wife on the phone and then hitting on me as I charged my iphone. Exhaustion over came me on the last flight and then I woke in Utah to 40 degree weather.

Oh well, I’ll hold on to the lovely weather and fun adventures in my heart! Until next time!!! Kauai, you will always be my favorite Hawaiian island! I heart you!
Damage done to my legs in the past week.... the bruises are more impressive in person...
Headed home :(

Top of the World

I woke this morning and I was so sore from kayaking and so tired from lack of sleep that I almost didn’t go on our planned hike. The call of the pool and the sunshine was great and with Kristin opting out I almost gave in, but I decided I wanted to go on this hike and I knew that I had tomorrow to be out at the pool. Krista, Lizzy and I headed north to meet Brandon and stopped to get some drinks and food for the cooler for lunch. We all drove to the Kalalau Lookout and as we did I slipped in and out of consciousness along the way… I was really exhausted, but as we came to the top of the mountain to start the hike I took a deep breath and we walked out to the lookout. We got to the railings and instead of a stunning view of a canyon, we saw…. white, lots and lots of white. There was a thick fog over the whole valley :-(. Trying not to let the lack of enticing views thwart us, we followed Brandon over the railing and down the beginning of the narrow trail. As we hiked down the path the clouds would move and sway like swirls of cotton candy, but it took about 20 minutes before we had any measurable clearing of the clouds. Finally it happened, slowly the clouds danced away and we could see the huge green hills on the other side of the lush valley below. We could see waterfalls and sharp peaks below us and we knew…. we were on top of the world, and it was captivating!

As we walked all we could say was “WOW”, with every step. Literally I think Krista, Lizzy and I said wow somewhere near eleventy billion times in the 2.5 hours we were on that ridge. After about an hour we hit the peak and had some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. The huge green mountains were below us and then even lower was the beautiful vibrant blue ocean. It was stunning! The things we saw on that lookout very few are ever fortunate enough to see – even the locals. It was spectacular. We sat quietly and enjoyed the view for a few minutes before we headed back up the mountain.

As we sat there looking down on the Napali Coastline, from the mountains we had watched above us from the sea at the beginning of the week, we took in the beauty. I remembered that on the catamaran as I looked up at some of those extreme peaks I thought how smooth they looked and how fun it would be to slide down them. I know that sounds very strange, but from so far away they looked like they were these inviting rolls of dirt covered in a lush green carpet. I imagined sliding down them like we had done on our stairs as a kid on a piece of cardboard or some manner of sled. It’s the same sort of thought I used to have as a kid whenever we passed the old Reams building in Provo. For those of you that grew up here you know the one I’m talking about… it was large and green with rolling curves – it looked like a huge turtle shell and I used to imagine skating up and down the large swerves of the roofline like a mini rollercoaster. Maybe I was just a weird kid and now I’m a strange adult. I realize the impossibility of these things and the danger each would pose but something in my imagination sees such a thrill in either and at that moment the idea of hoping on something smoothing and flying down the some 3000+ feet of green mountain sounded fun. Ok – enough crazy talk…

We headed back up the ridge and did to our legs what we had done to our arms yesterday. This wasn’t as severe as the kayaking was to my arms. Likely because my legs aren’t as weak as my arms, but it was a good work out. As we hiked back up, the clouds came back in over the valley and hid the amazing views from us again. We had hit the summit at exactly the perfect time to see the whole vista before us. As we hiked it got pretty hot and loved standing at the edge of the white abyss and feeling the breeze as the clouds blew by. It’s pretty amazing to be above the cloud line on an extreme cliff like that. A little scary to think one faulty step and you’d fall thousands of feet with nothing to stop you (especially with my record over the last couple days), but exhilarating too. I would stand on the edge and let the breeze blow up from the ocean and up my body and out through my hair. There was a slight mistiness to the breeze that would cool my skin and instantly take the heat off my body in tiny kisses of moisture. It was an amazing sensation.

We finished the hike and headed down the valley again. We stopped to look out over the Waimea Canyon – the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – and its vast valleys of trees and waterfalls. Another stunning view. We even treated ourselves to some fresh pineapple and mango from a local vendor. One the way back to Poipu we stopped to get some shave ice at Jo Jo’s shave ice. Now, I don’t usually think shave ice is all that impressive… usually; I just get it with no flavor because I love ice and the flavoring is too sweet for me, but this time was different. Brandon took us to the “real” Jo Jo’s. This place was incredible. All the flavors are homemade and the ice is as fine as power and packed tight to hold in all the flavors. The best one was called the Double Haupia special – YUM!!! It has the most incredible macadamia nut ice-cream at the bottom of the cup then all the shaved ice is first covered in a clear coconut flavored syrup and then topped off with what I can only call liquid heaven, haupia. It’s a coconut cream syrup that is the perfect amount of sweetness mixed with the perfect amount of creaminess. I could drink that stuff straight from the bottle (and would have if they offered it that way). Unfortunately I asked them not to put too much sauce on mine thinking it would be the sickeningly sweet stuff they usually have at a shave ice place. After tasting mine and realizing I was wrong and should have let them just go for it I was really grateful that Krista would share hers, since hers had the proper dosage of this magical substance. Lizzy even stumbled a little on her diet and had bit of this heavenly mix – well worth it :).

After all this excitement it was back to the hotel and a relaxing evening for me. Lizzy and Kristin headed to the airport and I sat and listened to the birds coo as the sunset on the pacific. AHHHH – another perfect day in paradise.
I have loved being so active and I’m so glad that Brandon was kind enough to take us on all these fabulous adventures, but I’m pretty excited to do nothing tomorrow. I need a vacation day before I head home.

These pictures dont do it justice, but enjoy:

Waimea Canyon

More memories tomorrow…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Row, Row, Row your boat... and then row some more

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day “they” say, so we started it off right with French toast again only this time Nephi brought coconut syrup – my favorite – and we made fresh whipping cream for the strawberries and blackberries – so tasty! (side note: I know lots of space on these Hawaii blogs has been dedicated to food, but we have eaten some amazing stuff!!!!) After breakfast we headed out for today’s activity – kayaking!!! We drove to the head of the Wailua River and got started. We had four kayaks and one was a double, lucky for Kristin and I because together I think we made up just about one fairly decent kayaker :).

As we started out we all felt strong and excited… Lizzy even insisted on singing “just around the river bend”, but as we rounded the third or fourth river bend and didn’t see our destination our enthusiasm faltered a bit. We did however make it to the first stop, fern grotto, in fairly good time. A stretch of the legs and a look at the ancient site and we were off. Stop number two was really fun! We pulled up to the swimming hole and we were the only folks there for a bit. We hiked up and were able to take our turns at the rope swing. My arms aren’t strong anyway, but after an hour of kayaking I was “rubbish”. I could barely hang on long enough to make it to the center before I fell off. We got great pics of everyone else holding tight, but my strength was gone (not a good sign since we weren’t even half way done kayaking and the way back was supposed to be the tough part). After my weak showing on the rope swing I had to do something that I felt I could conquer, so I headed up the side of the cliff for a little cliff jumping. Bingo – so fun and not scared. We had a great time and it was a good break for our arms. We sat and ate fresh pineapple right off the core as Brandon cut it, it was delicious! Lizzy ate her apples and cheese, her diet for the day.
Failed attempt at the rope swing

Next it was farther up the river and around a few more bends to the trail head. We hiked about 20 minutes in to see Secret Falls, a beautiful waterfall deep in the canyon. Krista and I decided to go for a swim. The water was fresh and crisp (actually cold, but crisp sounds nicer). It really was invigorating to stand in this powerful tropical waterfall and have the falling water massage your shoulders, amazing. As we headed out of the canyon I had accident number two for the trip…. As I headed up a large rock my wet flip-flop started to fall off… I had two choices – one, fall backwards and crack my head open on the rocks and ground below; or two, crash my shin into the jagged lava rock in front of me to catch my balance. I went with option number two, thinking that option one might equate to never doing anything again and option two would likely just tear up my leg. Happy to say my leg is pretty bruised and torn up, but I’m alive to fall again tomorrow ;). The hike down was less than comfortable, but I’ve hiked down a mountain with much more severe injuries (when I was in high school I fell and cut my leg open and had to hike down the mountain and drive for 45 minutes before I could get the necessary stitches… that sucked… and I still made it to the MORP dance – haha).

Back to the kayaks for the trek back. The first part of the trip wasn’t bad. In the narrow part of the river the winds were calm. As we headed back into the main channel and toward the sea the wind picked up and it was horrible. We fought the winds with our already tired muscles and it was a struggle for each stroke. As Kristin put it, most of the strokes felt like we were “rowing into and through concrete”. If we didn’t keep rowing the wind pushed us backwards and its pretty demoralizing to watch yourself slip farther and farther away while your muscles ache and burn already. It was tough, but in the end we all made it and we’re happy to have had such an awesome day. I think in total we kayaked about 4-5 miles total (best I could tell on the internet), but I think I’m claiming about 15 miles due to the tiredness of my muscles. I have to mention there was no singing on the way back.

Of course dinner was the next thing on our minds so we headed to the best local spot in Lihue called, Marks Place. it’s a little dive located in a strange industrial part of town, but the food was great. Brandon got some amazing teriyaki beef and my herb crusted swordfish was nothing short of mouthwatering (it was no ahi tacos, but very very good ;) – yes, I’m still talking about those tacos). I also bought some cinnamon macadamia nut shortbread cookies… oh, my, gosh!!! I ate three and I think they were about 10,000 calories each. Mark’s gets an A in our book!

Back at the Hyatt we decided the perfect end for our sore muscles would be a dip in the jacuzzis. The jacuzzis and pools here are open 24/7 – AWESOME! We tried to wait for Brandon to get back, but couldn’t. We headed down and enjoyed the heat and some girl talk. When Brandon did show up I couldn’t do anything but laugh! He had been so nervous about getting into the pool with us. He said that they are very strict about kicking locals out that are not staying at the property. As I saw him come down the path toward us with his hoodie on and a backpack on his back I realized why he always gets kicked out… he looked like a local sneaking in. My suggestions was – next time try it without the hoodie and back pack you might actually end up blending. Haha – he’s so funny! But THE BEST tour guide (and friend) in all of Kauai!

Fern Grotto

Tomorrow we’re all set to hike!!! (at least I don’t have to use my arms – I don’t think I’ll be able to move them in the morning)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bikes, Floaties, and Tacos!!!

Today was a GREAT day!!!! We did my favorite activity so far, and likely my favorite for the trip… we rode bikes :). The Kapaa Bike Trail is amazing! The trail is about 2.5 miles so the trip was just over 5 miles, but each second the scenery was stunning! The beautiful blue ocean to one side and the mountains on the other. Every once in a while I would get a little misting of sea water on my face as I rode. It was fantastic! The sun was shining a few fluffy clouds in the sky and our bikes. This could be my happy place too... the same amazing feeling of open air and freedom and some kind of mind-clearing effect just like riding back home (only on a much more leisurely pace).

It was heaven… until I fell…yes, I fell! I’m such a dork!!! I wish it was a cool story, but it’s not. Krista and I were getting pictures of us riding without any hands on the handle bars. I already had my pic done and it looked fine…. but, I couldn’t let that be it. I had to see if I could actually do it, for more than 2 seconds. Seriously what 32 year old needs to prove to herself she can ride a bike with no hands… me, I guess ;) maybe there is something wrong with me. Anyway, as I jerked back to grab the handles I grabbed the break at the same time and went head first over the handlebars. It was all very slow motion for me and I actually had enough time to think “this is what it’s going to feel like when I fall on my bike at home… only worse”. I was lucky enough to get my hands down so I didn’t hit my head and ended up with some cut up hands, a few cuts on my right leg and a couple road burns on my knees; nothing too major. I’m sure it looked hilarious from Krista’s view… too bad we didn’t get it recorded.
Proof that I can actually do it - this was the original pic... way before the fall :-)

After our ride we stopped and got shave ice and a TnT Burger. Amazing burgers and fries from a roadside cart. YUMMY! After lunch we met up with our new friend Brandon, a local, who was kind enough to show us around for the next few days. We headed up the canyon and met up with his friend Nephi. We transferred into Nephi’s car for an awesome 4x4 ride up the rest of the canyon. We had 6 people squeezed into the cab of his truck which made for an interesting and jostling ride. We saw the gates that were used in the movie Jurassic Park as the entrance to the park (and took a pic of course ;)).

After our drive up the canyon we got to the Loop Road Area. The plan was to float through the tunnel on the river to the clearing on the other side. Kristin was terrified – she’s claustrophobic and had no interest in going through a dark tunnel filled with water to get anywhere. Nephi and Brandon talked her in to coming… well, tricked/coaxed her into it and we headed down on our floaties. It was so much fun! Freezing cold river water and a pitch black tunnel. The whole ride only took about 7 minutes, but it was great fun. The tunnel started off with smooth sides and I could touch both sides and guide myself down the creek, after a few twists and turns it turned into a really rough tunnel straight through the jungle walls and it was too wide to touch the sides any more. Very fun, but a little creepy when you don’t know what’s coming right in front of you. Nephi had a flashlight to help Kristin feel better, but without the light it was complete darkness – fun :). There were two moments we wished we had on film today – me endoing over my bike and Kristin basically getting carried into the water. We all survived and even Kristin loved it. We spent about an hour back in the grotto on the other end of the creek and tunnel. There was a beautiful little waterfall there where we took tons of pictures. We even did a little cliff jumping! When we were done we hiked back out to the cars and headed down the 4x4 trail getting Nephi’s newly cleaned truck significantly dirty.

After our days adventures we headed home and grabbed some dinner on the way. We had THE most AMAZING fish tacos EVER!!! Yes, I am confident enough to say they are the world’s best fish tacos!!! These tacos, that can be found at Kalapaki Joes in Lihue, were incredible. They’re not just fish tacos; they are Seared Ahi Tacos with a special chipotle aoli sauce… I wanted to drink the sauce all by itself! Have I mentioned that I loved the tacos??!!?? We talked about the tacos for the next 4 hours until we fell asleep and I’m pretty sure I dreamed about them too…. AWESOME!!!!

Back to the condo for a little jacuzzi time. We met the sweetest old man in the jaccuzzi who was there for his son’s secret wedding. He told us the story and how excited he was. He and his wife have been married for 56 years. Of course our bunch of singles asked what his secret was and he said “yes, dear”. So cute! As we got out of the jacuzzi he was talking to his new hot tub partners about us and called us “enthusiastic young people” – ha I doubt that this group of early thirty something’s gets called young people very often, but I guess it’s all relative. After a quick trip to the local Coldstone (as if we hadn’t eaten enough for the day) we settled in for scrabble slam and picture fest. Another amazing day!!!!

… Did I mention we had amazing seared ahi tacos ;)?

More of these moments tomorrow please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Na Pali Coast

Today we woke to a rain storm, but not to worry; rain in Hawaii usually blows over by mid morning. We made a great breakfast of french toast and fresh fruit and took our time about it. The plan was to bike around the east side of the island (very leisurely like), but plans changed when we found out that most things were closed tomorrow, Sunday, and we couldn’t get on the catamaran we wanted…. So, we arranged for the catamaran today and headed north. On our way out of town we got the great idea to rent bikes tonight so we’d have them tomorrow even though the shops were closed. We found a local shop willing to let us do it and the deal was done – biking tomorrow :-)

We found our pickup spot for the catamaran a little early so we decided to explore the area a bit. We stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse. Pretty over look and cute lighthouse, but we were not interested enough to pay the $5 fee to go out to it (I know, cheap, but we were spending $$ on everything else, and it’s a lighthouse… really?). We headed on to the Hanalei Valley. The valley was incredible and the town was so cute. We drove through to Hanalei Bay and then had to head back for our catamaran ride.

The trip was fantastic! This island is beautiful! So lush and green! The cliffs off the North shore that surround the Na Pali Coastline are harsh and jagged, but covered in beautiful green plants. There are so many incredible waterfalls and hidden beaches dot the shore. Someday I want to hike the NaPali trail, but we won’t have time on this trip, plus it would be fun to hike in and camp for a day or two before hiking back out. This is one of those places where just by seeing it you know that there is a higher being out there – things this beautiful don’t just happen they are sculpted and created and given to us as a supreme gift of beauty. It was a bit overcast for most of the trip, but as the sun would break through there were moments of perfect beauty. The sun on my skin the breeze of salt air through my hair and the stunning scenery – gifts for all my senses. After a quick snorkel (I was WAY too cold for too much longer) we headed back up the coastline. On the way we were fortunate enough to see a pod of dolphins. It was so fun to watch them jump and crest the waves. There was one smaller one who keep jumping and spinning over the top of the water… I think he knew we were watching and was showing off – we loved it :).
After the tour we went back into Hanalei and walked around town for a bit. Enjoyed the local scene and listened to some island music in the park for a bit. We stopped off at a little bakery and pizza shop on the way back. The pizza was great, but the baked goods… YUMMY! Kristin got the macaroon, I got a butter macadamia nut cookie and Krista had the coconut cream chocolate ├ęclair – oh, my gosh!!! Perfect end to the day. Lizzy is on the tail end of a diet so she has had to really watch what she eats and we are not helpful at all… sorry Lizzy!

Here is the pictorial proof, enjoy:
Hanalei Valley

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Day 1 was great! Full of blissful nothing :)…. After my short work meeting and some emails we slowly got ready for the day, all that meant was that we put on swimsuits and headed to the pool - YAY. With a yogurt and some banana bread for breakfast we were set. The plan was to do nothing… not like we hadn’t just slept for 8, 10, and 12 hours respectively, but being lazier was on the agenda.

We took lots of pics, read a little, napped a little, saw the beach and walked the property a little. In the afternoon we check out of the hotel and went to Puka Dogs for lunch – SO amazing!!! I recommend the mango and pineapple relishes. We picked up Lizzy at the airport and headed to our new home for the next 3 days. Quick dinner at a local joint, where the service was 100% local (no preservatives like deodorant) and the mahi fish tacos - amazing!!! Then an early sleep since we’re still on Utah time. Beautiful perfect start to a fun and relaxing vacation!!! Here are some pics for a little photo journaling…

PS – I did it again… the packing trauma. Was I hurt as a child packing? Was I left to be the only one packing for a large group… what happened to make me so astronomically against just packing … what is wrong with me? I got all my errands done by 8pm on the night before I left. That was a great start. I figured if I started that early I would be done by 10 and have time to watch some TV before going to bed… instead, I procrastinated and did anything I could think of except pack… and the result was the same… I got 1.25 hours of sleep before I had to head to the airport… wonder if I can ever break that cycle. I sure hope so… I travel too often to keep doing this…. And I way over packed, but that’s not really a surprise either ;).

Bring on more sunshine!