Honolulu Hikes

On our recent visit to Honolulu, Eric and I made it out on two hikes. One I’d done before, and one was new!

The one I’d done before – actually, now that I think about it, probably the only hike I’d done in Honolulu in the past – was up Diamond Head. Which is iconic, so of course super touristy. The trail is also pretty exposed, but we went early, so were in the shade much of the time, and it wasn’t too crazy busy – although on our way down it was pretty obvious from the groups going up that several busses had arrived.

When I’d been the last time I visited in 2012 the trail had been concreted at the start, which I’m pretty sure was a change from when I was a kid, it is now hard-surfaced all the way up, and there is an alternate route of stairs and trail outside so you don’t have to go through the bunker at the top. There is also lighting in the bunker so you don’t need a flashlight or good night vision and a bit of faith.

The 360 degree views from the top – one of the reasons why it is so popular – are worth braving the crowds, and at least at the time we were there we were able to find a quiet spot just down from the tippee-top where we were able to hang out and enjoy watching the ocean. The colors were beautiful, and the wave patterns formed in the water from the wind and underwater topography were mesmerizing. That sort of view from above is not one I get too often. Anyway, it’s a bit cliché, verging on theme-parkish, but still worth doing.

The second hike, Wa’ahila Ridge, was also listed in the tourist magazine I picked up, but it was MUCH less touristy. (Well, not that it’s hard to be less touristy than Diamond Head.) In fact, although there were a number of cars in the parking lot, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail until we turned around! Which – our turnaround – wasn’t quite to the “end” of the trail as described here, but it was at the point we’d had about half as much fun as we wanted, and since it was an out-and-back (although other places online I did see mention of being able to link up to other trails, but then you end up in a different place than your car, but I digress) I didn’t feel any particular compulsion to continue on.

There was a variety of vegetation, including a forest of semi-Suessian trees at the beginning. Parts were under tree cover, others were more open, with views over Honolulu toward Diamond Head and the other direcion toward the airport. There was also a bit of rock scrambling, and some spots where it looked like it could get really messy muddy. It wouldn’t be the place to go during or after a big rain. I hadn’t thought of that, but the trail was in good condition the day we went.

It was nice to get out and see a new place. In some spots under the trees it felt almost like you were back in old Hawaii – or at least not quite like you were just minutes from the largest city in Hawaii. I also really enjoyed that we had it almost to ourselves!

more pictures: Diamond HeadWa’ahila Ridge

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2018 Columbia – Day 8

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Again I woke up before the alarm, although it had been somewhat arbitrary time for that as I hadn’t heard anything about a time for breakfast. I had figured I’d hear people but had set the alarm just in case.

I went to the bathroom, then walked the porches and looked out the front, and then out the back. We were in a huge place, but without a boat your world is pretty small… I went back to the room and Ohnoes! Eric was not feeling well. He took some medicine and went back to sleep.

Some others were up and about – sleep (or not) and the snorers were the big discussion topics. And the approaching cold front. I watched the ducks and vultures and the egret hunting around the “yard”. There was a kingfisher, and some sort of hawk over the river.

Breakfast! Arepa pancake and eggs with peas and carrots, meat (didn’t do) and a beverage approximating coffee + hot chocolate = amazon mocha. There was also bread, and randomly – popcorn?! Then packaged cookies and crackers – which, wtf with the crackers?

And… Off to fish for piranha! the morning’s activity. So, back in the boat. We saw some dolphins on the way to the fishing spot. We snuggled into the trees a couple different places, and the guide showed us what to do. The fishing gear was your basic stick with a string with a hook on it. You’d stick a piece of raw chicken on the hook, use the end of the stick to agitate the water (to get the piranha’s attention), then drop the chicken in. When you felt a nibble then a quick – but small – jerk up. Not – the guide pantomimed the rod sweeping up and over head.

Dan got the first piranha, and then others were successful as well. Someone also caught a catfish and I think a sardine – oh and a stick! When it was my turn I did as instructed, and was surprised how I could feel the nibble of a fish at the bait. It was my first time fishing. I pulled several times and no fish, and then also no bait – they’d gotten a snack without getting hooked. Then SURPRISE a pull and the hook came out with a piranha on it.

It wasn’t that big – maybe the size of my hand, and really didn’t look like much until the mouth was opened and you could see alltheteeth. We were not keeping them, but I felt bad when the hook was hard to remove. It didn’t look like there was much meat, but some other folks did try piranha at a restaurant later. Didn’t sound that exciting or that any of them would have it again, but I guess they could say they had tried it.

I saw another dolphin on the way back, but no one else was looking the same direction so I kept it to myself.

When we got back there was some more hang out time before lunch. Eric had slept all morning and thought he was maybe a little better, at least he was not worse. He very nicely listened to my report about the morning.

Lunch was fish (maybe the ones we’d seen caught out of the river?) and rice and beans. Angela talked about the upcoming election, a little discouraged, but matter-of-fact that “neither candidate is good.” And more of the outside world, there was Spain vs. Portugal in the World Cup on the satellite TV. There were also some other guests, including a very cute little girl who said “hello” whenever we saw each other.

Then it was time to load into the boats and head back to town. Once we were out in the water a ways we stopped and Angela and Jon had one more swim, cold front be damned. No one else joined them.

We did a bit of wending through some of the side channels that will disappear in the dry season, and saw monkeys(!) and some big blue bird.

Then we were out on the big channel, going the direct route. But somehow it seemed like it took longer than the trip there, maybe since it wasn’t “new” and there wasn’t so much to look at. It was also choppier – oh, maybe that we were going faster – and I was closer to the front – there was quite a bit of spray. I was getting a bit damp then in last bit there were a couple of whumps and waves coming in. “Is your butt dry?” Frankie asked. Uh, nope.

The boat docked and we squeeped up to the Anaconda. I noticed as we were checking in that I had that still moving like on the water feeling. I hoped that would clear up before sleep time…

Much more my speed than the resort place we had stayed. Basic hotel, but clean and totally adequate. The shower was a “suicide shower” – electric water heater mounted directly on the head – but it didn’t kill either of us. Funny how that is even though we were already wet the first thing we did was shower. Then I started to dry my clothes, but the hair dryer overheated after a while.

Anyway, it was Parrot o’clock!

When we went downstairs, Dan, Erin, Jon and Angela were in the lobby but didn’t join us on the parrot expedition. Eric and I went to the grocery store on our way to the park. While we were there Dan and Jon come in for cookies and beer.

We continued on to the park. The flying in was just as mesmerizing as the first time I’d see it. But wait, are they parrots? Some looked kinda swallow-y… Hmn. Yeah. But I had seen some that had yellow coloring, which seemed parroty. And some sounded parroty.

There was a football (soccer) game going on. We sat and watched for a bit. It was a concrete court, and some of the players were playing barefoot!

And oooooooooooo crescent moon!

Neither of us felt like a sit down meal, but I wanted to try the softserve, so we moseyed over to the other side of the park. I had the vanilla – at least that was what I tried to ask for. It was good but slightly different than I’m used to. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the difference, perhaps a bit of coconut? Or maybe I hadn’t actually asked for vanilla…

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a bakery we had noticed on the way out. I realized again how much I take for granted the language thing – that is, being able to communicate. I mean we were able to pretty much get what we wanted with pointing, but I wanted to ask if two items were actually the same thing (they looked like the same flavor but were different shapes.) My “not-English” tried to help out, coming up with the Japanese word… yeah not so much. Although who knows, maybe I should have tried. I couldn’t even remember the “please repeat, slowly” phrase, but I guess I appreciated the being spoken Spanish to. When I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t really seen other Western tourii.

When we got back, the other folks were still hanging out in the lobby, so we scored beer and cookies! They were working up to go out, but we went up to our room and relaxed. Ohand I was able to dry out clothes some more – the hair dryer had cooled off enough to reset from earlier overheat. Good times.

more pictures

June 15, 2018

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Waiola Shave Ice

Another food to eat box I must check when in Hawaii is shave ice. Which, I know you want to say should probably be shaved ice, but we’re not going to go there. And this is NOT your American fair nasty old sno-cone. Sure it’s also just ice and flavored syrup (well, more on that later), but shave ice is cloud like melt in your mouth lusciousness, not little icey pellets.

We didn’t make it to the OG – Matsumoto, but did find Waiola Shave Ice – which(!) turned out to be just a couple blocks from Leonard’s Bakery, how about that for axis of deliciousness?! They had a wide variety of flavors, classic and modern, and add-ins and toppings. There was a flow chart to follow for how to order. I went deluxe, adding adzuki (red bean) and vanilla ice cream, and the classic POG (passion-orange-guava) flavor. In addition to the yummy shave ice, there is a little shop with snacks and trinkets, and historical memorabilia that was fun to look at.

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We walked over to the Farmers’ Market at Kapi’olani Community College – which, at least on Saturday mornings, is a bit touristy, with lots of “value-added” products, although there is still produce available – and I remarked on a man’s cute t-shirt, and he and Eric got to talking about making bread, and then he (the man) recommended going to the Breadshop. Which turned out to also be within walking distance of where we were staying! Again the Universe speaks…

It’s a small store front, just off Waialae, the main drag in Kaimuki. The heavenly smell wafted to us as soon as we turned the corner. There were a couple of folks already at the counter, giving us time to eye the offerings.

Eric decided on a country loaf, I was tempted by the brown butter oatmeal, but then asked about an unlabeled item behind the counter that turned out to be furikake focaccia. Which they did not sell by the piece, but the woman at the counter convinced us it was not really all that much and so we bought one. And ate at least half of it on the way home… SO GOOD.

They would be open again some of the other days we’d be there, but I had the thought that maybe they didn’t do the same flavors every day, so got back in line and checked and got a loaf of the brown butter oatmeal. We didn’t end up going back, but I would have been sad to not get that. Although I’m sure other options would have been just as tasty.

It was fun to see how – like at my neighborhood bread bakery back home – everyone came out carrying loaves and had big smiles on their faces. After eating the bread I know why they were smiling!


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Pipeline Bakeshop and Creamery

We were on our way to Bread, but were walking, and when the Universe puts a combination Bakeshop AND Creamery in your path, you go in. Or at least I do. And was glad that I did. There were all sorts of yummy looking baked treats, and malasadas, and a bunch of great ice cream flavors. OHAND wait, what?! Malamode! Malasadas with ice cream inside. Why did I not think of that?! So obvious once I heard it. And apparently it’s a Thing now – my aunt mentioned she saw them at another place down at Ala Moana Center.

Alas it was not to be. First, not all the ice cream flavors are available as malamodes, and then, we were too early – they are only available certain hours. Not sure why either of those things is the case, we ended up making our own – that is, ordering a malasada and some ice cream and eating them together. It all ends up in the same place…

Anyway, it was super tasty, and the place is super cute, and they have a great logo and mascots (which we did not see in person, but there are pictures in the shop.) The Universe definitely knew what it was doing when it lead us here!

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beginning to look a lot like

Saturday, December 1: San Francisco Center for the Book Holiday Fair, Arion Press (San Francisco) Open House

Saturday, December 1 and Sunday December 2: Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair and Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Holiday Open House (both Santa Rosa)

Saturday, December 8: Dickens Holiday Celebration at the International Printing Museum (SoCal)

Sunday, December 9: Northbay Letterpress Arts Holiday Open House (Sebastopol)

Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9: Occidental Holiday Crafts Faire

Sunday, December 16: Holiday Crafterino (Petaluma)

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Angel Island Immigration Station Museum

Although I’d been to Angel Island before, I’d not been to the Immigration Station Museum (current State Parks’ site, also more info at this page from the 150th anniversary of the California State Parks in 2014.) Housed in the detention barracks of the station, the museum tells the story of the site’s 30 years as the West Coast’s Ellis Island. Those years: 1910 – 1940 featured many policies which were actually focused on excluding immigrants from Pacific Rim countries, and Angel Island was a point of enforcement.

The site was also used as a detainment center during WWII, but then abandoned and fell into disrepair, eventually being slated for demolition in 1970. Fortunately, before this occurred, Chinese poetry was rediscovered – carved into the walls of the barracks by the immigrant occupants, leading to renewed interest in the site and its preservation. Bay Area Asian Americans banded together and created the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee (AIISHAC) to facilitate historical preservation and interpretation.

Due to these efforts, the California state legislature designated the site as a state monument in 1976, and appropriated $250,000 for restoration. The barracks opened to the public in 1983, and members of AIISHAC created the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) to continue preservation and educational efforts. In addition to preserving the poems, the AIISF has collected oral histories of immigrants who came through the station and developed educational resources. Their history page includes a number of the poems and translations. The Station was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1997. The AIISF has spearheaded addition fundraising for a major restoration of the barracks (2004 – February 2009) and the hospital, which is slated to open as the Pacific Coast Immigration Center in 2020, along with other site enhancements.

The Museum is well done, and I found the rooms with bunks and belongings particularly evocative of the experience the immigrants had. Seeing the carved poetry, and reading about how it would get filled in by the authorities and new poems would be carved was also very moving. Although I cannot read Chinese, the characters seem to reach across the years. It’s wonderful that this site has been preserved as a historical resource, and well worth a visit.

more pictures

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