Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hawaii... Part 3 (And 4. And Maybe 5)

Well, my Hawaii adventure is officially over.  I seriously think I'm having withdrawals from the beach and the sunshine.  And I'm already agonizing over losing my tan.


Part 3: No one told me to bring long johns.  

What they should really put in the Big Island guidebook is that you probably won't see any actual lava.  Don't get me wrong... seeing the glow of lava at night was pretty darn cool.  But besides the illusion of lava, we really didn't see anything but rocks.  A lot of rocks.  So. Many. Rocks.

Walking the lava rock wasteland.
The other thing that should be in the guidebook?  How bloody, freaking cold it was on the volcano side of the mountain.  At least we brought sweatshirts and wore yoga pants.  It could have been worse - I saw people grossly unprepared.  That gift shop must make a killing off of sweatshirt sales.  It's probably the only place in all of Hawaii that sells more sweatshirts than anything else.

We saw almost every major volcano site on the Big Island.  We even saw where the lava flowed into the transfer station. For those of you who don't know what a transfer station is - it's a dump.  We saw hardened lava at the dump.  That's not in the guidebook either.  

Bucket List Item #394: See a volcano.  


Part 4: We would have been terrible Vikings.  

Let's just get back to the fact that the ocean is terrifying.  The creatures that swim in the ocean are ginormous and sneak up on you.  I'm prepared to handle the predators of land - I can hear a bear crashing through the woods a mile away (okay... that may be a little exaggeration) but you get the idea.  Sharks?  Those suckers sneak up on you.  Urchins?  They just sit there like silent jagged rocks.  Manta rays?  Don't even get me started... 

While my first snorkeling experience didn't exactly go swimmingly (pun intended), my second was much better.  We look a sea kayak tour that included some snorkel time -  and after a serious internal battle (one in which my body was pretty adamant about remaining in the kayak and my brain was saying 'stop being a baby'), I jumped out of the kayak and snorkeled around a bit.  Actually... it went something more like this: put feet over edge of kayak. Pull them back in. Get yelled at by Paige for being a weenie.  Put feet back out - touch them to the water and try not to think of the story of the guy having his legs bitten off by a shark out of a kayak (thanks for that, Maui guy).  Fling self into water (yup... just as graceful as it sounds).  Immediately try to curl up into a floating version of the fetal position.  Realize I'll drown if I don't swim.  Tentatively swim.  Finally... snorkel.  I definitely never let the boat get more than 20 feet away from me.  But I did it.  And I didn't cry.  

Proof that I was, at one point, totally submerged in the ocean.
And not because I was drowning.  Two thumbs up!

Sea kayaking on the other hand was something COMPLETELY different than what I've gotten used to doing around here.  This was for several reasons:  
  1. There are waves.
  2. There is seasickness.  
  3. There are shadows under the water that you are convinced are manta rays (and come on, at least one of them must have been something slightly more terrifying than a rock). 
  4. We were terrible at rowing in tandem.  
Oh well... you can't be good at everything. 
When no one else is on the water to take your picture - selfies become your only option. 
We're in a sea cave. (If you sing it to the tune of 'I'm On A Boat', it gets way more exciting) 
Things we learned while on our kayaking adventure?
We would have made terrible vikings.
 Rowing in tandem?  Not our thing. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hawaii... Part 2 (Or... How I Puked in a Hawaii Costco Parking Lot)

I realized as I typed 'Part 2' that there may be many parts to this series... I'll be like the never ending Fast and the Furious franchise that is already up to like 18 or something mind-boggling like that. Although I legitimately would like to see the newest edition to the franchise - mostly as a tribute to  Paul Walker, who I had a gigantic crush on after the first movie - which I saw at least 5 times in the movie theater and totally fan-girled out over the cars at Universal Studios when I was a senior in high school. I almost wish I had access to those pictures just so I could share the total dorkiness that was me at 18... almost.

Anyways... back around to Hawaii...

Hawaii is still beautiful and I am still a shade of cherry tomato red.  Apparently my ability to rock a tan abandoned me when I became a Seattle resident. Fingers crossed that the latest in my battle with the glowing orb in the sky is a tan tomorrow.

PBR smells like college.
In other news... I SNORKELED!!!  And I didn't drown, cry, or freak out.  Okay... maybe I freaked out a little bit.  But the lifeguard didn't have to swim out to get me - so we're going to go ahead and call it a win.  I'll be the first to admit that I didn't love the general snorkeling experience.  There's something unnatural about breathing through a plastic tube with your face in the water.  My depth perception was all out of whack and so fish that were 20 feet away looked like they were right in my face - it's freaky.  When I saw a sea urchin that was no less than 12inches across, I was done.

So while yesterday started with some innocent snorkeling - it ended with a night out on the town.  For those of you who are familiar with my schedule - you are aware that generally my bedtime is early.  If I'm up til 10, I start to get concerned that I'll be all yawn-y the next day.  And I wish I could say that this only applies to 'school nights' but it doesn't.  It's all the time.  I like bed.  And sleeping.  It's a thing.  8 hours of sleep and I are a match made in heaven.  

Let's just say that I didn't get 8 hours of sleep yesterday.  I probably didn't even get 4.

We shut down the bar.  We made friends with locals.  We convinced a guy who wouldn't go away that we were a lesbian couple here for our wedding (to which he still didn't get the hint and hung around telling us how beautiful our love was and getting teary eyed over the fact that he isn't married. True story.).  We played giant Jenga.  We drank all the beers.

Today we went to one of the beautiful white sand beaches near Kona. (What I have learned is that Hawaii is the newest of the Hawaiian Islands and is full of lava.  Most of the beaches are really rocky because the rocks haven't broken down over hundreds of years into sand.  Just a quick knowledge bomb for you.) And I woke up this morning feeling like I had been hit by a Mack Truck.  Apparently 72 IPAs and two Gilligan's Girl coconut cocktails will do that to you.

So a little known fact about me is that I get terribly motion sick - the back seat of cars, rides at amusement parks, probably boats on the ocean - all of them make me want to hurl.  Well.  Today I did.  In the parking lot of Costco.  Awesome.  Vacation high point.  But, like Paige pointed out, at least it wasn't in the parking lot of a Walmart.  Touché.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hawaii... Part 1

First off, I know that I've been a terrible blogger for the last year.  I've had a lot of personal things going on that have made it hard for me to be collected and put my thoughts down on paper and definitely, I have not been funny.  So... moving on. 

Hawaii!!!  The land of secret beaches in the middle of lava flows. 
I have been talking with one of my best friends for at least two years about taking a vacation somewhere - we've talked about London and Paris, all over the United States, and finally, Hawaii.  Paige is one of my sorority sisters from college and we are very much like two peas in a pod - minus that she carries a gun for work and I'm typically accessorizing the crap out of myself.  Well... she turned 30 this year, and I never took a 30th birthday trip - so we decided to make Kona, Hawaii, our big trip.  It's perfect - her family has a condo here and so basically all we had to do was get here.  Perfect.
She brought me a lei at the airport!  HAWAII!!!!
I've never been to Hawaii.  Growing up, our family vacations consisted of wherever we could go in the camper (i.e. NOT Hawaii).  I did get to spend a lot of time camping on a beach in Mexico - something that most people will never get to do (namely because now people get beheaded for even stepping foot in parts of Mexico).

Even growing up in California, I was never much of a beach kid.  I can't remember ever spending much time there (with the exception of Mexico).  I'm sure we went, but I just can't really remember it.  I have a vague memory of camping near the beach with my parents and my cousin and it being cold and rainy the entire time.  That being said - this could just be some dream I had once and it never actually happened.

Moral of the story?  I haven't spent much time in the ocean.  One time, in Mexico, a kid camping near us stepped on a sea urchin and impaled himself with no less than 70 quills in his foot (that's why you wear water shoes kids!).  It led to my first child-sized anxiety attack - in a less than ideal location - a boogie board in the middle of a deep tide pool.  There's some debate in my family about what happened next - but the general consensus is that I screamed my head off until my mom crawled out on the rocks and rescued me (thanks Mom).  I was 8. Add in the discovery of movies like Jaws and the ocean has been ruined for me since.

I am now 31 and am generally consider myself to be relatively tough. Well... tell that to the sea turtle who scared the shit out of me yesterday.  (And yes, he was 20 yards away - something I didn't know when Paige said 'Oh look - a sea turtle!')  Here's the thing about the ocean:  it is TERRIFYING.  For those of you who think sharks are the only scary things out there - you'd be wrong.  I have discovered my new greatest fear: manta rays (no - not manatees - I've conquered that fear - or at least laid it to wait until my next Florida or Puerto Rico trip).

See.  Terrifying.  And no, I didn't take this picture.  I will never in this lifetime be that close to one of these sea monsters. 
Manta rays are like the giant bats of the sea (and I don't particularly love the bats of land either) and here in Hawaii, they grow to a wingspan of something like 12 feet (sometimes bigger).  12 feet.  12 FEET.  We saw one at a distance yesterday - I mean a LONG distance, like 100 yards - and while it was beautiful, it also made my stomach jump into my throat.  People do night scuba diving with these creatures here and let them swim all around them - they are attracted to the flashlights.  Hell to the no.  Those people be crazy.

I'm looking forward to trying snorkeling (yes, I'm 31 and haven't snorkeled since I was probably 8) but I'm also terrified that I'll have a full fledged freakout in the water.  Water creatures are squirrely and the current adds to the mystery of where they are going.  On top of that, I'm not a super great swimmer - I can swim to save my life and the life of someone who is drowning - but besides that - not really great.  I didn't grow up swimming... that's not a thing we did in Montana a lot.  Floating the river?  Yes.  Jumping off the bridge into the river?  Yes.  Swimming?  No.

Turns out that I'm much better with scary land animals.  Maybe it's because we're on the same playing field.  When I get into the water, I very much feel how a fish out of water must feel.  I have been raised to know how to handle running into a bear in the woods - but put me in the water with a sea turtle and I have no idea what to do.  And before you say it, those suckers bite - I've seen it on NatGeoWild.

So... fingers crossed for my impending snorkeling experience.  I've borrowed an underwater camera so I can chronicle the entire experience - complete with scared face underwater selfies. Maybe I'll even get a picture or two of fishies.

I should be off - Hawaii is a land where everyone gets up at the crack of dawn and sitting out here on the lanai (can I please start calling my patio that?),  I'm pretty sure I just saw a small child out jogging with her parents. That probably means its time to get my butt in gear. Unfortunately, no one that I'm staying with understands the importance of coffee like I do.  At least Paige knows that I'm much more amenable to life in general after a cup of coffee. That's the joy of having a friend for 10+ years.