Posts Tagged 'photos'

Big Island: Friday, December 11, 2009

After another evening sleeping with the slider doors open to the soft island breezes and sounds of the ocean waves, we awoke and made our way down to the hotel’s lagoon area. We spent all day there and it felt GREAT! We enjoyed a shady cabana, cool tropical drinks and even went out for a little kayak ride. Terry got some snorkel gear and was able to see some really cool and colorful tropical fish. We read, listed to our iPods and just generally lazed around. Seriously, my butt was even sore from just being sat on all day. And I don’t feel guilty, nope not one bit!

We enjoyed a fabulous romantic dinner at the hotel’s restaurant Brown’s Beach House. What a delicious meal and beautiful atmosphere! Once again we left stuffed and turned in for the night. Lazy day, but that’s what vacations are for, right?

Maui to the Big Island: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our last few hours in Maui were spent on the beach for a quick dip then after checking out we drove to Lahaina Town for one more Maui meal. We ended up at Cheeseburger in Paradise and enjoyed a couple of Kobe Beef Burgers and fries. Terry also had some of the local beer (Longboard from Kona Brewing Company) and I had a fresh pineapple smoothie with rum. When we left we were stuffed!

We made it to the airport with a little time to spare. We finally got to return our god-forsaken rental car. Yay! A short airport transfer from Maui to the Big Island and upon our arrival we picked out a nice red Mustang convertible for the rest of our stay here. On top of my sister’s generous employee discount at Enterprise, the convertible ended up being the same price as a mid-size, so why not?

We hopped in the sporty little coupe (top down of course!) and sped to our hotel, the Fairmont Orchid. On the way, Terry remarked about how the lava rocks along the land looked like big piles of poop. The jagged brown boulders lined the highway for as far as we could see – well, at least up until where we were able to see the volcano mountains in the distance. I pointed out to Terry how people like to take white rocks and arrange them to make messages along the roadside.

It was only about a half hour drive to the hotel, and even though the rental car shuttle driver got the directions wrong, I remembered enough about it to get us there OK. We were greeted with kukui nut leis and shown to our room. I know a few people at the hotel, and they upgraded us to a beautiful suite on the Gold Level. After a quick unpacking, we gobbled up some pupus in the Gold lounge, went down to the pool and had a little dip in the “hidden” Jacuzzi under the stars. The evening ended beautifully with a glass of Pinot Noir on the lanai.

The view from our room at the Fairmont Orchid.

Maui: Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We’ve done so much in such a short time period, today we decided to take it easy. We drove about 40 minutes south to Wailea Beach, where we just spent the whole day doing nothing but laying in the sun, enjoying a few cold beers, and hopping into the water every so often.

The water in Wailea was much calmer than the beaches by our hotel. Still rough at times, it was at least swimmable. Terry rented a boogie board and had a lot of fun with that while I read my book and occasionally jumped in myself. Literally all we did all afternoon was lay around on the beach, and it was awesome!

About the time I figured we should be going soon, I decided to go in one last time. The water temperature was just so nice, and I needed a cooling off. I was just enjoying the water, minding my own business when I looked behind me and HOLY SHIT saw the biggest wave all day making its way to me. And no, it didn’t look like I would be able to bob up with it like and avoid the crest like many of the other waves. Nope, it was going to crest right on top of me. Unfortunately I was right.

Yeah, OK, it was fun. Fun to be doused with an ocean wave, providing it doesn’t slam you against the beach (it didn’t) or carry you off to sea (obviously it didn’t). Yep, the water went up my nose and seemingly came out my ears. I can still remember the flash of whitewater in front of my eyes as I was engulfed. I emerged from the water, laughing at how stupid I must look, and glanced over at Terry who was just checking his email on his Blackberry.

But wait – what’s different? Everything looks different. Hey! My sunglasses! My super-expensive pair of Maui Jim sunglasses are NOT on my face anymore! Honestly I had totally forgotten I had them on and truthfully had never planned on getting wet above the waist anyway. I actually put my hands up on my face, my head, my neck, in disbelief. Damn it! Why did I have to wear those sunglasses today? I could have on my cheap ones, but no, left those back at the hotel. Crap.

Well, they’re gone for good. Swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean. Se la vie. At least I emerged with both contacts still in my eyes – that would have been a much worse problem.

I gave up looking for the sunglasses and we took to the road, soaked and sandy, back to the hotel. Showered the sand out of all the crevices in our bodies, enjoyed a few Tropical Storms and then headed out to the Hyatt Maui for a Luau.

The food was good, and the mai tais were fabulous (though as the night went on seemed to get weaker). The show itself was fantastic. The girls dancing the hula were so lovely, and the Hawaiian folklore they told for each dance was interesting too. I did enjoy the male warrior dancers, the beat of the drum and watching the women sway their hips in fast motion. The best part for both of us though was at the end, when the fire dancer came out. It’s amazing what this guy could do!

After the show, we decided to stop at the Westin again for a few cocktails before heading back to the hotel. We met a guy at the bar who seemed nice at first, but then once we knew him for about 2 minutes he started telling us how much he loves going to Maui’s nude beach. He told us exactly where it was too, I’m guessing he was hoping to see us there the next day. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing, OK, more power to you. I don’t have anything against it. But if I just met you, that’s something you need to really keep to yourself. K?

Maui: Monday, December 7, 2009

Today we woke at the crack of dawn – well, 6:30 isn’t so hard I guess when you’re still used to Phoenix time. Being Pearl Harbor Day (and the 2nd consecutive year I’ve spent this official holiday on the Hawaiian Islands) it would be fitting to go visit the Arizona Memorial. However we weren’t staying on Oahu and an expensive day trip there just didn’t seem worth it, so we’ll have to do that on our next visit instead. :)

We jumped in the car and drove up to Haleakala Crater. If you’ve ever made that drive, then you know that it’s lovely. With a lovely drive often comes a nail-biting, cliff-edge-with-no-guardrail experience, and this was no exception. Additionally, the drive was a lengthy 2 hours, though only about 45 minutes of it was so harrowing.

Once we finally arrived at the trail head on top of the volcano (elevation 10,000 feet) we met our guide Ra, who helped us and three others in our group mount our horses. Mine was an appaloosa named Lucy Liu. Terry rode a beautiful and stocky Belgian draft horse named Chuck. We learned from Ra that Chuck is a big fan of beer, which seemed fitting.

Ra, on Flash, led us on the 2-hour ride down the crater wall to the very bottom. At times even our horses didn’t want to step down the rocky ledges and admittedly sometimes I had to close my eyes. Even the smoothest paths were lined on one side by a steep, rocky hill and on the other by a steeper, ashy descent to the crater floor.  Just one slip of a horse’s hoof and both horse and rider would easily plummet down the crater wall with nothing to stop them until they get to the very bottom.

Some of the path was smooth, rocky steps that the horses had to use as a staircase to the next portion of the trail. I could always tell when we were coming to a scary step because Lucy just stopped on the path and made me wonder if she might be part stubborn donkey. Many kicks and sometimes a crack of the reins got her going but it seemed strange to me that I had to coax my horse down a path I myself really didn’t want to go. At one point she even kept looking back at me as if to say, “are you serious?”

Terry was much more fortunate – Chuck was a good horse and seemed to be predisposed to the Hawaiian laid back, take it as it comes philosophy. Didn’t have any qualms about going where he was supposed to, didn’t try to eat any bushes or wander off the trail. The only time he gave Terry any trouble was when Terry forgot the guide’s implicit instructions not to remove his hat. Horses have a 360 degree line of vision and when they can’t immediately identify an object they are “hard wired” as Ra says, to assume it’s a predator. Well Chuck did freak out, causing quite a ruckus, enough for Terry to meet some fortunately soft volcano ash on the crater floor. Lucky Terry, it happened on the softest and widest part of the trail – no sharp lava rocks (which resemble ocean coral) and no endless slope to slide into oblivion as in most of the rest of the trail. Terry was up, unscathed and back on Chuck within minutes with nothing hurt other than maybe his pride.

The scenery from the crater was very strange. Lava rocks were the overall appearance of the moon, but the colors (blacks and deep reds due to iron) were more like what you’d expect on Mars. The mountains were smooth and soft, and puffy white clouds gathered among them in the distance.

Finally, 2500 feet below our starting point, we reached the volcano’s floor and enjoyed a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips and fresh pineapple. It doesn’t sound like much but we were ravenous and that combined with the atmosphere just made it a lovely experience. We did have to fight off some pesky nene (birds) who greeted us immediately upon our arrival. I had a feeling they knew it was chow time and any time one of us turned our backs on our food there were upon it, ready to feast on whatever they could.

Aside from the birds’ coos and our own chatting the crater floor was nothing but silence until we were just packing up and heard some hikers coming down in the distance. The acoustics were incredible – the shape of the slopes, along with the lack of wind and other noises allowed us to hear them when they were in the far distance.

We packed up our stuff, visited the mens’ and ladies’ bushes and headed back up the long trail for another 2 hour ride. Although it was easier for us going up than down, I think it was harder on some of our horses, especially Lucy who was sluggish and even more stubborn than before. Poor girl. As we neared the top of the trail our guide told us we only had about a mile left to go. It was about then that I started feeling ill, as if I was going to throw up and something else I can’t describe other than I just didn’t feel “right”. That on top of the extreme pain in my ankles, knees, calves and thighs made me very glad that end was near, but that last part of the ride was definitely the longest. At one point I thought I might have to jump off the horse and puke onto the side of the trail, which was really gross because there weren’t any bushes or anything to hide behind.

Finally we made it back to the top but both Lucy and I were more than ready for it to end. I had a hard time dismounting and then immediately felt the need to sit down. I noticed my hands were shaking and had that sick feeling worse than ever. Ra recognized it as elevation sickness, something I never experienced before, but then never had the occasion to. He recommended we leave and get down to some thicker air before it got worse, so we said farewell to Ra and the horses and made our way down the curvy road.

As we descended the volcano mountain, I started feeling better. The view was lovely – we were high above the cloud line and at one point I even saw a jet plane flying lower than us. It was a long drive back to the hotel but we made it, very tired and very sore. We decided there was no way we wanted to get back in the car so we just had dinner at the overpriced hotel restaurant and called it a night.

Great day – and Friday to boot!

Great day today. For one, I got a lot done at work. Then as I was on my way to an event, I drove by the construction site for the newest Phoenix Culver’s – only about 1/2 mile from the office! Actually this is both good and bad – good for the tastebuds, terrible for the waistline!

The event I went to was the National Speakers Association’s Fall Conference. One of my associates from Meeting Professionals International asked me to be on a panel of meeting planners, and I was very flattered. The session was fun to do – not the first time I’ve been on a panel, but our moderator was exceptional which made the 90 minute session literally fly by. After the session, one of the attendees – a very well-known and esteemed meeting planning colleague – sought me out to compliment me on my speaking voice. That comment literally made my day!

Today Terry stayed home to drain the pool – something we desperately needed to do. I guess when the water is “old” it’s more difficult to balance, and according to the pool store who analyzed our water sample, it hasn’t been done for a long, long time. At any rate, right now we have an empty pool – which is kind of weird. Tomorrow it will be full again, and hopefully easier to maintain as well.

Of course I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving. This year we will not have a huge group but there will be 7 of us. My brother Damian is coming for a short visit, and I’m really excited about spending some time with him. I haven’t seen him in about 3 years, most of which he spent in Japan (he’s in the Navy). Also coming to dinner will be our friends Todd and Barbara, who of course are like family to us.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I really need to work on organizing the menu and my shopping list – tomorrow I will be joining the masses of home cooks and stocking up for the big day next week. Woo-hoo!

Blessed be dog forever

Justin, Duke and Fr. Greg Schlarb

View more photos by clicking here

Justin and I took Duke to church today for the Blessing of the Pets – a tradition some Catholic churches observe in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I think this might have been the first time St. Anne’s had it, but years back we took Lady to our old church’s ceremony.

We’ve seen lots of dogs, cats, mice, lizards, birds, guinea pigs, snakes, tarantulas and all sorts of creatures in the past. This year someone brought a sheep, which got spooked by some dogs (just doing what they find to be natural) then broke its leash and ran away! Fortunately a couple dozen people were able to help round it up before it got out into traffic.

Duke made a lot of new friends, but I think he kind of expected it to be like the dog park where he can run, jump and play. It was hard to keep him restrained but overall he was a good boy. He even laid down a couple of times, surprisingly enough.

It was a beautiful morning, and a lovely ceremony.

A prayer for our pets

O God, you have redeemed all creation
through the incarnation of your eternal Word;
Protect our pets, your creatures,
who provide us with joy
and nonjudgmental companionship;
Give us respect
for all of your Word-redeemed creation,
that we may care for creation
as just and humble stewards;
We pray this in the name of the same Word, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
~David Bennett

Birthday media

First, a digital scrapbook I did with Smilebox:

You can view all the photos on Flickr.

We punk’d Justin with relighting candles. I know it’s an old trick, but really, it’s funny every time.

To get an idea of how the evening progressed, I set up a time lapse camera using my laptop. Here’s the result:

I’m really diggin’ the time lapse thing, but now wish I would have left it on all night instead of turning it off when I went to bed. It would have captured the boys playing poker and noshing til 4am.