Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hawaii - May 26 - Hanauma, Duk Kee, Leonard's, Waikiki

We had seen Hanauma from the parking lot and from the air, but we had never actually gone snorkeling down there.  Given that the place is famous for reef snorkeling, that was an oversight that Melch wanted to remedy ASAP.  So we made our way down the coast and rented ourselves some flippers.

Hanauma is pretty awesome even before you get your toes wet.  Like most of Hawaii, it's filled with white sand and palm trees.

The snorkeling was pretty awesome too.  The masks wouldn't seal over my copious hair, but I could still breath for a while before the water filled up and I had to surface.  I saw many different kinds of fish and a bunch of reef.  It my first experience snorkeling as an adult and while I did enjoy it, I think next time I'll seek out some nose plugs and regular old swim goggles rather than the combined mask that wasn't working too well for me.

After working up an appetite in the ocean, we headed to Kaimuki to eat at Duk Kee, one of Kerry's old favorites.  We even got some of his favorite dishes, like the abalone.

After that, it was on to Leonard's for their world-famous malasadas.  This is another must-do tradition for myself and Melch and of course another new thing for Drayas.  Sweetening (heh) the deal: the Flavor of the Month malasada was guava!  I love guava and had more than my share of guava malasadas over our stay.

Sufficiently fat and happy, we made our way down to Waikiki to hang watch the sunset and have a round on a rooftop bar.  Pretty good way to wrap up an eventful day before heading over the hill to sleep.  The bar we went to had a pretty decent duo playing live music.

The central theme of their songs seemed to be around happiness I suppose ;)

Hawaii - May 28 - East and North Shore of Oahu

The north shore of Oahu is famous for a reason.  The northeast shore isn't, but I don't know the reason for that at all.  I think it's awesome.

We'd already been up and down the southeast side from Kailua, around Makapu'u and all the way to Honolulu - several times.  But Drayas had never been north of Kaneohe, except on our plane ride.

Time to fix that!

We had some breakfast at Moke's in Kailua:

After that we went to Kerry's funeral in Mililani.  I have some photos from that too, but that was his adventure and his family's, not mine.

The group gathered for lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Mililani-Mauka and then we all split off.  Val and her friend Karen headed straight north to Hale Iwa to look for turtles and hang out on the beach for the afternoon.  Melch, Drayas and I took the H3 to Kaneohe and began the counter-clockwise path north and westward towards the north shore.

Chinaman's Hat

I experience the ocean through a camera.  Melch uses her feet.

It was even prettier in person

If it's wrong to spend a bunch of time watching a puppy eat a coconut on Sunset Beach, North Shore, Oahu... then I don't want to be right.

So many wild chickens in Hawaii.  And chicks too!


Sea turtle at Laniakea Beach 
Setting sun on the north shore

We finally made it to Hale Iwa ourselves as sunset approached.  To me, Hale Iwa means two things - surfers and shave ice.  We didn't have time or boards for surfing, but we definitely had time for shave ice!  Matsumoto's is the famous location for that, but they were closed when we arrived.  San Lorenzo would have to do, and they came through just fine.

A Hale Iwa tradition

Once we had our sugar buzz solidly buzzing, it was time for the nighttime drive down the center of the island.  Melch wasn't feeling well, so we dropped her off and went to a pub for some real  (i.e., not sugar-water) food.  Their kitchen was closed, so we had a round and then went to Zippy's for some late-night burgers before heading to bed.

It was a very long, very busy day.  It wasn't all fun, but some of it was very fun.  And it was definitely another adventure.

Hawaii - May 27 - Plane rental, ultimate and Ala Moana Center

Really high atop the "things to do on Oahu" list was of course: go flying!  I found Barbers Point Flight School through Open Airplane (even though I haven't actually gotten checked out through Open Airplane yet).

Sweetening the deal was their tail number - not too far off of the 411BP that I fly so often back in Santa Barbara.

We actually went on two flights around the island - one clockwise and the other counter-clockwise.  That allowed for me to fit Melch, Drayas and Val (my mother-in-law) in with myself and the instructor.

So the extremely astute observer might notice that the photos below are actually sometimes from opposite sides of the plane.

The flight was phenomenal.  We flew around the entire island, twice.  The instructor was pretty friendly and helped when necessary but generally just let me do my thing.

The views were just awesome.  I tried to take photos as often as I could, but every reef, every valley and cloud, was just stunning.  I've been coming to Oahu for a while now and driven pretty much everywhere that one can drive and it was such a cool thing to see how it all fits together from the air.

I took stop-motion videos in both directions:

And of course the photos:

Dillingham Field 
Hale Iwa, looking south towards Honolulu

This is just awesome

Flying around some rain and under a rain cloud near Kahuku

Awesome Valley

Kaneohe Bay

Kaneohe Marine Base

Me, Melch and the Sam (the CFI)

Kaneohe/Kailua area

Kaneohe/Kailua area

Olomana Peak - where we hiked on Saturday

Approaching Waimanalo Bay

Makapu'u Point

Hanauma Bay, Koko Head and Hawaii Kai

Diamond Head, Waikiki, Honolulu


Aloha Bowl

Honolulu Airport

Pearl Harbor

Hangin' with my brother!

Val enjoying a new view of her old stomping grounds

Actual route of one of the flights
 After the flights and a bit of ultimate, we went to Ala Moana center for some Genki Sushi.  Genki Sushi is a "fast food" sushi joint like they have in Japan.  Plates are pre-made and move around on a conveyor belt.  If you want something special, you can order it.  It used to be that special orders would be brought out by the wait staff, but the more modern Genki experience includes little cars on tracks that zoom out and deliver whatever you requested.  Usually within a minute or two.  Tons of fun.

Spam Musubi! 
Each special order vehicle was different - race car, space ship, train, even a surf board!
Really, what a phenomenal day.  Got to see Oahu in ways we never had before.  Got to take Val up for her first small plane ride.  Sunset ultimate right along the ocean at Ala Moana park.  Fun Sushi and goofing off in Ala Moana center.  Great adventures from sunup to sundown.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hawaii - May 25 - Waimanalo, Makapu`u Pt, Hanauma Bay, Kona Brewpub, Ala Wai ulty

Our first full day on Oahu actually wasn't THAT full of a day.  We got up a little to late for it to count as that. ;)

No regrets though - the day before didn't have much in the way of sleep but did have a lot of travel, hiking, rain, mud and sweat.  A good night's sleep was in order.

We started late, but we started strong, with some epic crepes from Crepes Na Ka 'Oi in Kailua.  We had some stout savory crepes filled with meats and cheeses and that kind of thing, but split an awesome guava jelly crepe for desert.

Thus armed, we adventured down the coast.  The plan if we had time was to hike Diamond Head and then head over to Ala Wai in Honolulu for some ultimate, but we had gotten off to a slow start and had to deal with a long wait for a table at breakfast also.

I opted not to rush down to Diamond Head though and pulled over early and often for fun diversions.  The first of those was Waimanalo Bay, home of the famous Kaimana and Hopu ultimate tournaments.  Melch and I have attended both over the years, but Drayas never had so it was cool showing him where all the fun went down.  Naturally, we had to spend some time throwing a disc around, swimming, and throwing a disc around while swimming!

From there we continued down past the Oceanic Institute to Makapu'u point where we didn't quite have time for the hike to the lighthouse but at least got out of the car for the scenic view and some photos.

Next stop was Hanauma Bay, Oahu's most famed snorkel spot.  We were going to wait for Val before going in, but still took the time to scope the spot out from above.

With only a little time left before the scheduled ultimate game, we opted to carb-load at the Kona Brewery location in Hawaii Kai.  After a tasting flight and a quick call home to wish my nephew and his caretakers a happy birthday, we were off to Ala Wai.

How did ultimate go?  Well, we played 3 hours, savage, in the rain, with little water to drink.  We were exhausted, but victorious.  Melch and I won all four games that we played.  Drayas won his fourth after he joined us...  Santa Barbara represented extremely well, with me throwing Melch the final point - on an upwind - in the dark - with a full-on layout dive for the disc.  (Not that my throw was SO bad that it needed the dive, but it was so dark that she didn't see it until late!)

The ultimate crew gave us some recommendations - both for games later in the week and for evening eats.  We had more pressing business before dinner: we were soaked from sweat and rain, and we were beyond thirsty.  After changing into dry clothes, we headed to 7-11 where each of us purchased two big bottles of gatorade.  My first was nearly gone by the time I got back to the car.  It seems crazy that one can get that thirsty in the rain, but it can definitely happen.  As ultimate players, hikers and otherwise adventurous folk, we are no strangers to the demands of hydration, but had allowed things to lapse on this day due to not having enough water bottles in the first place.  We'd started the day all full but ran out quickly in the Hawaiian heat.  No matter - we now have six brand-spanking new gatorade bottles to fill with water and put in the freezer at the vacation rental.  Won't make that mistake twice!

Properly clothed and hydrated, we moved on to the next order of business - the highly-recommended ramen restaurant near the Don Quixote asian market in Honolulu.  The food was as good as we had heard, but the warmth of the soup let us know that our bedtime was fast approaching.  After a quick drive through Waikiki to show Drayas what the tourist center is all about, we hopped on the Pali Highway and made for Kailua.  The 25th ended as the 24th did - with folks sleeping as soon as their heads hit their pillows.