Adventures at sea

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We’d made arrangements to accompany Erin & David on their dive boat excursion and do some more snorkeling. The downside was that it meant getting up early (well, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about the snorkeling after yesterday’s outing… ) But we set an alarm and got to the dock with plenty of time to spare. It reminded me a little bit of pre-race, with the nerves and the check-in process et al. But before we knew it, we were heading out to sea:

LeavingHarborOur first destination was Molokini, but we saw a bunch of humpback whales, who come to Hawaii to give birth and then recuperate for their migration back to Alaska. We came very close to a mama with a tiny baby, which was INSANE. Some of the divers were grumbling about our stopping to look at whales, but the general consensus with the boat captain and a lot of us was: TFB (Too F***-ing Bad.) It was incredible. Meanwhile, the Molokini crater went from this:

Molokini

To this:Molokini1To docking in the crater:

Molokini2We let all of the divers go out first and then it was T, myself and another guy snorkeling. I was nervous, but the captain was basically like “Look down” and I put my face in the water and it was like a beautiful aquarium. I immediately relaxed and enjoyed the view. I’d bought a waterproof case for my old iPhone, but I couldn’t really see the photos while I was taking them, so most of my photos looked like this:

MolokiniExample2 MolokiniExample1 MolokiniExample3Although that last was a pretty accurate photo of what the water looked like when you looked away from the crater – crazy beautiful wall of blue.

T took our old waterproof digital camera and got some great pictures:

Underwater OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIncluding one of my snorkeling:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(The picture that I’m taking here did not come out at all, unfortunately.)

It was so beautiful to just float there looking at the fish and coral. There was so much to see, it was crazy. We could even see Erin & David down below, diving. Far more enjoyable than my last experience. But eventually, it was time to come in and head out to the next spot. Ironically, it was pretty close to where we’d snorkeled the day before, just further out. As we were pulling into our spot, there were a few honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) bobbing on the surface.

Right out of the gate, T pointed one out to me, nestled in the coral on the bottom. He eventually decided to leave his little hiding spot and T got some great pictures of him:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere weren’t as many fish at this spot, but the coral was beautiful. I saw another turtle a little while later and followed him around for a bit. It was just fun to feel so comfortable bobbing around in the ocean, looking at fish. It was a totally different perspective than my usual open water swimming. (And if I had all of this stuff to look at, I’d do a lot more open-water practice.)

Afterward, we got back into the boat and headed back to shore. We had the captain take a group picture of us before taking off: BoatPhoto(I particularly like how T looks like he’s naked in this picture. He’s not, btw… )

We saw a few more whales on the way back, but not nearly as many. It had also clouded up quite a bit, so we decided that it was probably also harder to see them. We got back to harbor safe and sound and while I  was in the restroom, T made a new friend:

TandFriendT really wanted to keep him, but he seemed pretty happy with his Hawaiian lifestyle.

We headed back to the condo for a simple dinner from stuff we had in the condo and some poke that Erin & David had picked up when they were returning their tanks. All of us were happy, but definitely a little tired from the day’s activities.

 

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Second day of paradise

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Thanks to the time change, both T and I were up early. We decided to go for a walk on the beach while Erin & David were still sleeping. It was a beautiful morning and there weren’t a ton of folks on the beach. We saw a stand-up paddle board yoga class and some runners, but it was mostly other folks strolling along.

MorningBeachWe ended up walking for quite a while, all the way to the swanky Wailea section. As we headed into their beaches, I saw this sign. I like the implications of it – if you’re rich enough, you need to be told that the ocean is still dangerous. Plus, you might encounter the poor people. 😉

BeachSignSomeone summed up my feelings on the moment quite perfectly:

BeachHeartWe met a nice beach cat at one of the resorts:

BeachCatI was impressed by the diversity of beach features. We passed a really cool part with lava and potential tide pools:

LavaBeachAlas, there was nothing cool enough to venture further onto the lava barefoot. But it was very pretty. We got back to the condo just as Erin & David were waking up. We whipped up some breakfast and planned our activities for the day. First on the agenda, a shore dive for Erin & David while T and I did our first attempt at snorkeling. Unfortunately, while we were securing tanks for their dive, the wind really picked up. Which made my initial foray into snorkeling a little more stressful than I would have liked. At one point, I found myself much further out in the ocean than I expected and I had a full scale panic attack where my brain basically started having a conversation with itself:

Brain half 1: OMG! I’m going to drown!!!
Brain half 2: Dude, you can swim. If you drown right now, you’re a freaking moron.
BH1: But I’m SCARED!!! And I can’t breathe in this snorkel!!
BH2: Just take the stupid thing off and swim back to shore.
BH1: TOO SCARED!!!
BH2: I’m outta here…
***random doggy paddle/whimpering
BH2: Hey, genius. Why don’t you flip on your back and just kick (with those giant fins) for a while? Do you think you can manage that?
BH1: That’s a great idea. (does)
BH1: So much better! I can breathe and I’m making progress!

I did manage to see some fish and coral, but on the whole, I can’t say it was super fun. Hopefully, the trip we’d already booked (and paid for) to Molokini tomorrow would be better.

After the great snorkeling fail, T and I got ourselves cleaned up and headed out to Mama’s Fish House (the other place on my list to go in Maui.) I’ve heard a lot about how great this place is, and I must say it did not disappoint. Everything about it was amazing, starting with the view from the parking lot:

PLviewThe service is amazing. You check in and then walk through a gorgeous pathway past the pretty restaurant:

MamasExteriorWe had a five minute wait (without reservations) so I had T take my picture on the outrigger that was parked in the courtyard area

M_outboardBefore we knew it, we were being seated. Our waiter was fantastic, the perfect blend of competent and personality. We were in the bar area, but he made it feel just as special as the tables with the better view. T ordered a mai tai at his recommendation:

MaiTaiT(And the waiter was right, it was the best mai tai I’ve ever had… Delicious!) We had plenty of time to contemplate our selections without feeling like we were being ignored. I also enjoyed the ambience:

MamasMenuAt one point, the waiter brought over this incredible fresh flower lei, which smelled heavenly. He didn’t do it for all the tables, so I felt very special:

Lei-ed

We started with a delicious ahi poke dish:

PokeAppThen we moved on to our main courses. On the menu, they tell you the name of the person who caught your fish and where they caught it. Like a Maui version of Portlandia’s Colin the chicken sketch.

MamasMCAnd we got a beautiful banana crisp with a macadamia nut crust for desert.

MamasDesertIt was such a fantastic meal. Everything about it was wonderful: the food, the service and the ambience. En route to the bathroom, I couldn’t resist snapping this shot of the interior:

MamasInteriorIt’s hard to tell from the picture, but there are propellers on the ceiling and on the columns. It was impressive that they could have so much personality in the decor and still maintain an elegant dining experience. Even the parking lot had a nice quirky tiki:

ParkingLotTikiAfterward, we headed back to the condo and chilled out for a while. As the sun started to set, we decided to watch the show from the downstairs lanai, since the view from our condo wasn’t that great 😉

CondoSunsetMuch better:

Sunset1

A drunk couple from Calgary came and sat near us, which sort of killed the romance. Then the sun disappeared behind a weird stripe of clouds, so we didn’t get the full sunset experience, but it was still pretty nice.Sunset2

Aloha, bitches!

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We’ve been planning a hawaii trip for nearly a year. And especially since T’s heart attack, we’ve been REALLY looking forward to it. Finally, the big day arrived and we were on our way to the aloha state. Jenn & Bryan have a friend who owns a house on Lana’i, where we’d be spending a week. But first, we’d be spending four days on Maui with Erin & David. To say we were excited was an understatement. The flight felt like it took forever, but eventually we were getting off the plane into glorious warmth and sunshine.

We picked up our bags and some snacks at the Whole Foods near the airport and made our way to our condo. It was fantastic. Right next to a gorgeous beach:
CondoViewWe unpacked and organized for a little while and then headed out for a little beach time:

Beach1 Beach2The boy:

BeachBoyWe were pretty well situated:

CondoLocatorGive Erin a glass of wine and she’s usually good for an amusing picture:

ErinRambutan

Afterward, we got cleaned up and headed to Star Noodle for some dinner. This was one of two places I really wanted to go while I was here and it did not disappoint. The food was delicious, as were the cocktails. And both were accompanied by friendly and helpful service. Highly recommend.

I would have included some photos of the food, but it disappeared too fast:StarNoodle

When we got back to the condo, everyone was full and happy. Then we saw some beautiful fireworks in the swanky resort section of the harbor. (Apparently, Maroon 5 was playing over there.) So far, this vacation is off to a great start!

Chilly Hilly: the truth in advertising edition

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It’s been four years since I’ve done this ride. But our friend Luke texted about it and since it actually meant that he’d visit us in Seattle, I agreed. The boy asked his Cardiac Rehab people and they said he could do the ride if he kept his heart rate under 130. The only downside is that we were double-booked with houseguests, as Susan was in town picking up the dogs, who will be staying with her for two weeks while we’re in Hawaii. (Get excited about some super obnoxious vacation posts!) So, it was a little crowded in our tiny house.

Unlike the previous times I’ve done this ride, it was actually quite chilly (and drizzly) on the morning of the ride. I had the brilliant idea of parking along a multi-use path that was a few miles away from the start, rather than dealing with trying to find parking downtown. It was great except for Luke forgetting his bag of helmet and shoes, necessitating a race back home to get them and forcing us to rush to make packet pick-up at 10:00. We made it in time and had plenty of time to make the last ferry. If we do this ride again in the future, we are totally taking a later ferry. It was so much more civilized!

FerryCoffeeIt was chilly and starting to drizzle, but thankfully the warm coffee helped. We boarded the ferry and took the obligatory ferry selfie:

PreRideSelfieBefore we knew it, we were arriving in Bainbridge:

CHArrivalIt was so much nicer leaving the ferry with a smaller group of riders. There were still a few asshats, but it was fairly civilized. We told Luke to go ahead without us, as he’s trying to get in shape for an upcoming bike tour. Plus ‘leisurely’ is not really in Luke’s repertoire. The first part of the ride was enjoyable and we noodled along. The boy’s heart rate cap was only a problem on the bigger hills, but he was having fun on the new bike.

Then the rain started while we were at the half-way point aid station. And the fun sort of stopped. We were soaking wet and so cold. Thankfully, they had a short-cut option which was perfectly timed for us. We ended the ride right at the point where we were going from “this is an adventure suffering” to “actual suffering”. We headed to our usual post-ride stop of Blackbird Bakery. Someone had apparently given the bakery a bunch of money to buy Chilly Hilly riders stuff until the money ran out, so our coffee was on the house. How rad is that? Luke had just finished as well, so the timing was perfect.

We scarfed down some baked goods/free coffee and hustled to catch the ferry. There were a ton of cyclists and it was still cold and rainy. For a little while, it looked like we weren’t going to make it and the mood of the crowd was ugly. But thankfully, they loaded more bikes and we were good. I’m glad I made us do before and after pictures, look how cute we are:

CH_BeforeAfterEven though it was cold and wet, it was a fun adventure. The three miles back to the car in the pouring rain super-sucked, but we made it. And then rewarded ourselves with so many calories at Uneeda Burger. Then we sent Luke on his way and crashed on the couch for the rest of the night.

 

White weekend

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Life is slowly returning to normal. The boy had a follow-up with the cardiologist and it sounds like he will make a full recovery. There was no damage to the heart muscle and no expected change of his life expectancy, at least from this. Which is a huge relief, of course.

We had a nice Saturday evening hanging out with M & J. T even bonded with his nemesis Mushroom:

GrumpyCatTWhen we went to leave, we were greeted with this surprise sight:

SnowT drove home and I took pictures/cowered in the passenger seat:

DriveHomeWhen we got home, we got to introduce our Texas dog to his first Seattle snow. You can tell he’s a lab by his initial reaction (MUST EAT ALL THE SNOW!!!):

AustinSnow

But he and Wally also had fun romping around in it.DogSnowChaseThe next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland:

SnowyYard2 SnowyYard SnowyHouseT’s “special” tiny snowman:

SnowmanI walked over to the supermarket to pick up some breakfast supplies. Green Lake was so beautiful in the snow:

SnowMontage SnowLake SnowDucksWhen I got back, the boys greeted me with some more snowy hijinks:

BoysChasingI love this shot of Austin’s ears. He looks like Dumbo!

AustinSnowEarsBest of all, the snow started melting in the afternoon, saving me a trip down to my office to get my laptop. Instead, we spent a nice cozy evening watching movies. I like snow just fine when it only lasts for one day.