Saturday, June 6, 2015

Aloha, Hello and Goodbye

In Hawaiian language, as I understand it, Aloha can be both hello and goodbye. So this is my second Aloha post, finishing up my trip as I had to say goodbye to Kauai and return home. I attended the University of Hawaii for undergrad and feel a special connection to the islands. It was so special to visit and see the island of Kauai the way I did, and also gave me a bit of the blues to leave. But no gloom here, I want to tell you about the rest of my awesome trip!

My last full day in Kauai my friend Heidi and I had a very relaxing morning (during which I wrote my last blog post). We eventually got moving, heading out to the Waimea Canyon (also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) to take in the natural beauty of it all. I have been to Kauai twice before and am embarrassed to say, I'd never been to the Waimea Canyon.

Look at that waterfall!
I stopped at the fruit stand and purchased some fresh coconut, so yummy.

So the drive-up vista lookouts were breathtaking, but that's not how we roll. Heidi had a plan for us to hike the Nualolo Trail out to Lolo Vista, a roughly 7.5-mile trek round trip.

The first portion of the trail was wet and misty with lots of large ferns and other greenery. Just beautiful.

Heidi on the trail
It was mostly downhill on the way out, which was tedious given my calves were sore from the other hike we did. After a mile or so the trail became more dry and dusty, but still lots of downhill, some fairly steep.

After about 3.5 miles and 2 hours we neared the vista point.

And then the trail and views started to take my breath away.

The sight of that trail above made me nervous to hike on, I get vertigo sometimes when I can see a drop in my peripheral vision while hiking and, also, I don't want to fall off the side of a cliff and die. But I just kept my eyes on the trail and Heidi distracted me so I made it just fine.

And then we were standing on what felt like the edge of the world, looking down the Na Pali coastline, and I was totally overcome with the beauty of it. And so grateful that I can do something like this. I was so taken away that I filmed a short cellphone video to share it.


Heidi and I enjoyed a snack, a Clif Bar and a pear, before heading back. Check out the Garmin info from our hike.

Believe it or not, we were faster on the hike out (and up) then on the way in, even with the (very welcome) light rain that started falling on us. We made it back to the car muddy and soaking wet for a total hike time of 3 hours, 52 minutes. And of course, we were starving! So back to her house to clean up and head out for a nice dinner at Eating House 1849, a restaurant by famed Hawaii chef Roy Yamaguchi.

I was very happy to have a martini and we started our meal with a crispy fried cauliflower and brussells sprouts appetizer. Another martini and then I had the "kamameshi" entree, a hot pot rice bowl which I ordered with salmon. It was a very clean entree choice and I felt so good enjoying it. Of course we had to have dessert...the chocolate souffle was an easy sell on us.

And then, sleep, sweet sleep. The next day, my final day on the island, started with breakfast. I had an egg-white veggie omelet with hash brown and toast.

Then some gift-buying and another meal. I wasn't actually hungry yet, but I really wanted a bowl of Saimin, a Hawaii noodle soup dish that, when I was at UH, I practically lived on.

your basic Saimin w/ hot mustard.
And then to the airport to wait for my flight home. The return flight was, well, I was seated next to a couple with an 18 month old. Such is life. At least the baby helped me to stay awake so I could sleep well when I got home near midnight.

Back at home and up in the morning for my last day of vacation. I rode the ferry into SF for a Giants baseball game. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed the game. What an entirely huge change of pace, though, from the surrounds in Hawaii.

On the Larkspur to SF ferry

Go Giants!
Unfortunately the Giants didn't win, but I did. The weather was gorgeous and I was happy to sit on my duff for a few hours, also enjoying an IPA and a sheboygan hot dog for lunch. Yum.

Well, that's the end of my vacation. The welcome home hugs and kisses from the kids were so appreciated. I missed those little buggers. But the trip was so needed, I felt refreshed, revived, re-everything and ready to take on life, feeling a little less weight on my shoulders (no pun intended). Well, maybe not if I'm speaking literally. I think I'm up by a couple pounds. Yes, even with all that hiking. But I'm not too worried about it, I know I'll manage to get them off. I'm a maintainer, that's what I do.

I'll close with one more pic from my trip.

The Na Pali coastline and I taking a selfie together

Monday, June 1, 2015

Aloha from Kauai

I know what you're thinking, what?? Kauai?? It was a somewhat impromptu trip, coming together in just the past few weeks. One of my backpacking girlfriends, Heidi, moved here last year and she's had an open door since. Here's a pic of she and I on our Desolation trip in 2013.

Look at that smile, I just love her. Why did it take me this long to visit? No matter, I'm here now.

So Heidi is as crazy active and fit as they come. She's a yoga instructor, among other things, and road bikes, runs, swims...she does it all. I arrived on Thursday morning to beautiful weather.

Before too long we were sitting on the beach, Salt Pond beach, watching the waves.

After some time in the sun we headed to her house and had dinner with she and the family. Up and at 'em Friday morning to head out to Hanakapi`ai Valley for an amazing waterfall hike. Here's a description I found at
Cool Because
You get a river, a beach and a waterfall in an ancient pristine valley
Trail begins at Ke`e Beach traveling along high ocean-side cliffs.  Narrow path passes in and out of several valleys with steep inclines and declines.  Trail conditions may range from muddy puddles to dry, crumbly rock.  Path leads to Hanakapi`ai beach with option to follow along Hanakapi`ai river to waterfall that drops into large, deep pool.
Not Good For
Those that do not have strong endurance and are not in good physical condition.
Extreme inclines and declines on uneven, narrow footpath on high cliffs.  Loose rocks underfoot and from eroding cliffs above.  Trail is slippery when muddy.  Strong sun, little shade.  Heavy backpacks can cause overexertion.  Filter all water.  Strong currents and flash flooding can occur at the river.  Dangerous shorebreak and riptides at Hanakapi`ai beach - use extreme caution.
Oh my can't imagine the pristine beauty of it all. The pictures just don't do it justice but I'll post some anyway.

The first vista point after 2 miles, looking down at Ke`e Beach

Heidi and I loving life

Glancing down the Na Pali coast
Girls on the move

One of the many river crossings on the way up the valley
The hike was challenging but not hard. I wore tennis shoes but changed into teva sandals at the first of 5 or so river crossings. And then, after 4 miles of beautiful hiking, we came to the falls.

And we made it! This is just a tiny part of the falls, they are huge!
It's hard to give you a sense of how tall this waterfall is but this pic comes close.

Look how tiny the man is in the foreground
After a lunch of PB&J, and a bag of lychee fruit we started back on the 4 mile return trek. It started to rain and the drops of water felt just perfect. And it made the trail muddy, changing the hike altogether. I was scooting along, stomping in mud puddles, feeling like a kid at Disneyland!

On the return trek 
My mud-covered legs
At the 2-mile point we stopped at Hanakapi`ai Beach to take in the scene and snap a few pictures.

Hanakapi`ai Beach
Cairns at the beach, this IS the way

Our muddy toes

After the hike we headed to Hanalei. As we pulled into the parking lot at the beach I was awestruck. I've seen some beautiful spots in my time but this really blew me away. So picture perfect, I felt like I was on a movie set.

Sunset at Hanalei

Heidi and I having fun!
We swam, sat in the beach chairs, solving all of life's problems by realizing we didn't really have any that needed solving. Just be. And in this moment, being is perfection.

After the beach we drove home, starving, and Heidi cooked up some black bean and cheese quesadillas while I made homemade pico de gallo. I wish I'd taken a picture but I think hunger took over. That and a shared cerveza and we slept like the dead that night.

So that was Friday...Saturday we packed up to head to Polihale Beach for a night of camping. Yes, camping on the beach. And I mean on.the.beach. Heidi's boyfriend has a truck and we drove right up and slept feet from the waves. The Polihale beach is on the other side of the Na Pali coast from where we'd hiked the day prior.

Driving in

Our setup. These people know how to do it.
Pupus (appetizers) on the beach.
Sipping tequila (thanks Andrew!)

The beautiful sunset

And sharing it with Heidi made it all the better

More sunset
We played in the waves, sat in the sun, sipped tequila and laughed. Life doesn't get much better than this. The moon was so bright and the company so good, it was hard to settle down for sleep but we did eventually. The next morning was more of the same before packing up to head home for a much needed nap! I slept like a rock for a couple hours before heading out to The Beach House for a martini and some food.

The view from our table
I had a wonderful evening, enjoying the moment just as it was. I am the luckiest girl alive. I could go on and on about how grateful I am to have made the changes I did, that I got up and did it, that I continue to live it every day, in every choice, with every step and every breath. If you doubt yourself, stop doing that, if you are afraid you won't make it, do it anyway. Just take the next step. And after that, take the next one. You don't have to see the way to start the journey. Like I said, I could go on and on, but I don't really need to, this post does it for me.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

On the Road

Ok, I'm going to split this into two posts. First, a quick catch up since my last post, and then I'll do a Kauai post.

Going back two weeks already!...I went on the big road ride I was planning with a fellow road-cycler. We started near San Geronimo golf course in West Marin and rode out to Point Reyes. We hung out there for a bit and I ended up getting cartwheel lessons from a little girl. I could not do a cartwheel to save my life but the little girl was generous in trying to teach me and I felt like a rock star for trying. After a while we hit the road back. I got a side stitch during the return ride, which was annoying, but I made it. Here are a couple pics from that ride, which turned out to be about 28 miles.

My snack during our Point Reyes break

Suffering a bit from the side stitch but managing a smile
After the ride we went to Lagunitas Brewery for a beer. There was a band playing on the patio so I enjoyed a couple IPAs while listening.

What a spot, if you're ever in the area and love beer, this is a must see. So that was my Sunday. The following weekend was the Memorial Day holiday so I packed up the kids and drove to Palmdale to visit one of my dearest girlfriend and her husband and daughter. It's been WAY too long since we've had a visit (Marek was a baby).

We all had the best time, catching up, hanging out, and just generally enjoying the splendid company. I'm so grateful to have great friends. Here are some pics from that trip.

On the drive south.

All 6 of us heading out to go bowling

My girl Kelly!

And her beautiful family.
Bowling fun...

And it's a strike!
We all had so much fun. The kids spent time in their pool and Kelly and I managed to sneak away for a girls' lunch.

My we shared two desserts.
I had a grilled fish taco (had them hold the cilantro aioli (another word for mayonnaise)) and a couple martinis, my new favorite drink. I should probably post more pics of my routine meals, lest you get the idea all I do is splurge and somehow manage to maintain my weight. Speaking of which, I went to my WW meeting after that weekend and, as you can imagine, I was up by a couple pounds. Probably still am but I'll deal with that when I get home.

Oh, also during the trip to see Kelly I got out for a run. I planned to run three miles but things were feeling so good, I did five. I can't tell you how good it felt to run after all the driving, eating, drinking and whatnot.

Post-run selfie. I'm alive!
My workouts are all out of whack with all these trips I'm doing, and it won't change for a couple more weeks as there's more on the horizon. Anyway, I weighed myself this morning on my girlfriend's WW scale and I was 146.8 so that's reasonable. I'll work on those couple extra pounds before too long.

Ok, that's it for this post, I'm off to write a quick Kauai post and then we'll be all caught up.