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A Road Trip (part 2)

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For the second part of our road trip, we crossed the border at Creston and entered Idaho for the first time. First on the agenda was Silverwood Theme Park, where we wasted a good hour standing in line for a three minute tube ride in the water park but made up for time by riding a few crazy roller coasters on the park side. I even went on the upside down rides, which I usually avoid at all costs. Our adrenaline needs satisfied, we hopped back into Pattypan (our car) and continued on to Spokane. We had dinner at Dick’s Hamburgers, a classic drive thru joint with skinny fries and thin burgers that we ate out of a paper bag at a picnic bench in the parking lot, watching the other customers with amusement.

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We had brought the tent along to take advantage of cheap accommodation and just barely made it to Riverside State Park before night fell. The campground ended up being full but we were directed to the spillover site, which also happened to be the park’s equestrian camping. We pitched our tent by the car’s headlights, deer bounding away into the darkness, horses whickering softly nearby.

We were up early the next morning, packing up the tent and heading for a funny diner we had spotted on our way into town the previous evening. Frank’s Diner was set in an antique train car, and we sipped tea and coffee at the bar, listening to the line cooks bantering as they cracked eggs and flipped hash browns on the sizzling flat top. Incidentally, the food was delicious, partially in thanks to the perfect atmosphere.

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The highway soon become a straight line cutting through a limitless expanse of yellow fields. This was the Idaho I imagined, agriculture and azure skies and golden horizons. Even though it was monotonous scenery, it was also strangely hypnotic, speeding past the perfect colours of a hot August day in our little car.

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The biggest surprise of our trip was the Methow Valley. We had never even heard of it, but suddenly we started noticing things– a coffee roastery, serving excellent espresso, off the side of the highway. A small pub brewing local beer, with a shelf stacked with personalized mugs for the regulars. A co-op corner store, selling beautiful books and locally made goods, all with a hippy flair, where we picked up toasted breakfast sandwiches alongside outdoorsy men and women with happy, shaggy dogs at their heels. It was like a little paradise with everything I love, set in a magnificent wilderness.

As we drove through the valley, we passed a place advertising Rolling Huts, and Jordan suddenly recalled reading about it, so we turned around and went back to check it out. The Rolling Huts are beautiful, stylish little cabins, done in modern design with fireplaces and views of the woods and mountains beyond. We thought we might splurge on one but they were booked for the night, so we settled for one of the large canvas tents set in the back of the property. The spacious tent, with two cots, was much more comfortable than our little one, especially since my air mattress had blown out a coil and now featured a huge lump right under my shoulder. After a wade in the property’s icy creek, we ate dinner at yet another brewpub in nearby Winthrop, a western themed town that was surprisingly charming. We finished the evening on the porch of our tent, watching deer pick their way through the trees in the site, and enjoyed the fact we were the only ones back there.

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My parents had recommended we take a route home through the North Cascades and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. The mountains were jaw dropping and we stopped often to take photos of the peaks jutting into the sky. Diablo Lake was an incredible turquoise, dotted with islands, and lined with a beautiful campground that I would love to visit in the future. We stopped there to check out the campsites and stared with envy at the lakeside sites, wishing we had a few more nights to stay.

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Our final stop was in Bellingham to visit Jordan’s Uncle Greg. He had a charming little house filled with all things canoeing, one of his foremost passions. Him and Jordan have done canoe trips together in the past and it was really nice to see his canoes all lined up in the garage. Keeping with the theme of the trip, we had a lovely lunch at Boundary Bay Brewery and wandered the nearby farmer’s market.

We decided to make a Costco run before we hit the border and laughed at all of the Canadians filling their carts with jug after jug of milk, especially after a recent article in the news about how Bellingham residents were tiring of Canadians making the lines too long, with their tireless desire for cheap dairy and gasoline.

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I loved our little road trip though British Columbia and a few states too. It was so nice to discover some new places and see our families as well. I will always have fond memories of watching the scenery roll by, my hand in Jordan’s, listening to good music and just enjoying each other’s company. What more could you want from life on the road?

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Seattle Supper Club: The Urban Oasis

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It was Tina who found the marvelous house where we stayed in Seattle, on a trip spent exploring the city, with an emphasis on its culinary delights. The house was called the “Urban Oasis“, which seemed quite fitting for the role it would play over our holiday. The house itself was a large Craftsman-style heritage home, the kind of place with creaking wood floors and something still resembling a parlour at the front of the building. It had been thoughtfully updated, with a gorgeous modern kitchen and comfortable couches and chairs scattered throughout the main floor. There was a unique, twisting dining table that could seat a dozen and enough bedrooms and sleeping spaces that everyone could sleep comfortably. The eclectic decorating (the owners live there part time) gave the house a comfortable, familiar feel, so when everyone was home in the evening, hanging out in the living room, it felt like being at your best friend’s house.

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The funniest thing about the house was its vaguely erotic vibe. There was sensual art hung everywhere, posters for Erotic Film Festivals, a large inviting hot tub, and, the icing on the cake, a shower that I swear was big enough to comfortably fit at least five people (everyone would have their own shower head too). The weird orgy vibe became a running joke and it became a game to see who could find the most erotic objet d’art in the house. We also really enjoyed reading aloud excerpts of a strange book we found called Sand and Foam. 

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After the hot tub, the front porch was our favourite hang out. Well sheltered from the rain, there was a comfortable couch, chairs and wide railings on which to recline. The house was slightly elevated from the street, lending the front yard a private feel, and we spent many hours wrapped in blankets, people watching from our high vantage point and exchanging easy, relaxed banter. Occasionally someone would wander home from some food adventure, bearing a box of doughnuts or treats, and everyone would grab a sample, then settle back into porch life to nibble and watch Seattle go by.

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Here’s a travel tip for anyone deciding to rent a cabin or a house in the Pacific Northwest at any time of the year other than August or September: get a place with a hot tub. It rains so much and sometimes you just want to be outside but still be warm and still have a great place to hang with friends and chat. The beautiful sunken cedar hot tub was an indispensable part of the trip, as the weather we experienced varied from sunny blue skies to unrelenting downpours. When the skies opened up and the heavens poured down, we would simply grab a cold beer, slip into the tub, and let the rain cool our faces. When one tired of the steaming waters, there were thoughtfully provided robes and a sheltered area in which to cool down.

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Seattle Supper Club: Eating and Exploring

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Back in May– yes, this is long overdue!– a group of friends rented a house in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle, and set out to explore the city, so close to our homes in Vancouver and Victoria, but so often overlooked for places like Portland and Los Angeles. In fact, the majority of my time spent in Seattle were transfers from the bus to the train on my way down to Portland to visit Anja. I’d pop into Zeitgeist, grab a tuna sandwich and be on my way.

Of course, anyone who has been to Seattle lately can tell you that we were fools to overlook what the city has to offer. We settled on a goal for our trip: in addition to hitting up as many happy hours as we could (happy hours are ILLEGAL in BC, can you believe it?!), we were to visit and try some of the city’s finest eateries and drinking establishments. As there were up to 12 of us at times in and out of the house, we relied on a “divide and conquer” strategy, in which we never overwhelmed a business with our entire posse (with the exception of one pre-planned group dinner), and instead explored in small groups, returning to the house at the end of the day to share reviews, recommendations and, of course, to drink copious amounts of craft beer, purchased nearby at the well stocked Thomas St. Market.

Prior to the trip, we prepared a comprehensive google doc of Seattle restaurants, so that when it came time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, all one had to do was consult the list and then whoever was interested would head off for another fantastic meal.

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A definite highlight was the wonderfully decorated Oddfellows Cafe & Bar. I was equally taken with its clever Masonic theme and the enormous hunk of French toast smothered in rhubarb and marscapone that I devoured for brunch. Jill (who wasn’t staying at the house but happened to be in Seattle at the same time) reported that the happy hour was also divine. One could scoff that Oddfellows’ reclaimed wood/mason jar/exposed brick-look is becoming passé, but I must confess, long before the old timey-theme took off, I’ve always loved places that celebrate  and reference history. I even bought a tote, so enamoured was I with their lovely antique imagery.

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The coffee enthusiasts in the group were especially happy to be in the city known for its coffee culture, and visits were made to Stumptown, and Victrola, in addition to numerous cups in the morning made by AeroPress, brought from home as a certain necessity.

I think our first happy hour experience was at the small Pike Street Fish Fry, where we enjoyed free fries with our fish, washed down with cold beer in a near should-to-shoulder standing room only space.

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I suppose any food-related trip to Seattle has to eventually end up at Pike Place Market. We indulged in some Beecher’s macaroni and cheese, but due to some ill timing, we missed out on happy hour oysters at the Athenian and while I was happy to wander the aisles, checking out exuberant bouquets of flowers and stacks of gleaming produce and local seafood, I admit the market’s incessant bustle made me miss our digs in Capitol Hill.

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Melrose Market was another fantastic spot walking distance from our house. The market is a collection of small businesses, including cheese shop Calf & Kid and Rain Shadow Meats, where Jordan and I stocked up on snacks and bought amazing local sausages for a BBQ at the house. One rainy afternoon we ducked into Taylor Shellfish for platters of oysters and glasses of crisp vinho verde, a refreshing wine that became the casual sipping drink of the summer for many of us (the name of the particular bottle we tried at Taylor was Calamares).

I was really intrigued by Sitka & Spruce‘s super-local menu, practically prepared in your eating space, but didn’t get a chance to try it myself. It did, however, receive good reviews from other people in our group.

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For our “family” dinner, we chose Indian-influenced Poppy. It was a warmly lit space that easily accommodated our large group, and the “thali” format, a meal that comes with several small dishes, worked really well, allowing everyone to try a good variety of tastes. We enjoyed fantastic service, a few creative cocktails and went for a wander in the thoughtfully designed patio and garden space in the back. I’d love to return there in warmer months and take advantage of the space.

Another day’s wandering brought Jordan and I to Bimbo’s Cantina, drawn by its all day happy hour and the promise of delicious Mexican.

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We had all brought our bikes over from Victoria, believing it would be the best way to see the city without cars. However, many of us were unprepared for Capitol Hills’… well, HILLS, and our house was so perfectly located that we walked to most of our destinations. A few of us, however, were determined to put our bikes to good use, and we spent the day circling Lake Union, visiting cafes and boutiques in Ballard and Fremont, and, to my great excitement, checking out Gas Works Park, where Heath Ledger and Julie Stiles play paintball in 10 Things I Hate About You.

The ride was pretty mellow around the lake but the climb back to Capitol Hill was challenging. I put my best effort into it, reminding myself of the earl grey tea ice cream I had devoured at Molly Moon’s, the thin salty hamburgers from Dick’s Drive-In and black bean-smothered tostadas at La Carta de Oaxaca.

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I’m almost ashamed to delve deeper into our food adventures in Seattle– it was truly a trip of indulgences! Food was at the centre of many of my favourite memories: semi-drunken rabbit tacos at the (now closed?) Taco Gringos, dashing from an unrelenting downpour into the welcoming wooden booths and carefully curated beer menu of The Pine Box, walking miles for warm bowls of pho at Ba Bar, Tina and Sean’s pilgrimage to Katsu Burger (and one well worth it, they reported), a hearty breakfast involving gravy at Skillet Diner, a family-style BBQ dinner grilled dutifully by Jordan in the pouring rain, and Kim’s surprising dexterity at preparing crab, bought fresh from the market and consumed in a buttery, delicious mess.

Seattle Supper Club was one of the best mini-trips I’ve experienced. The pleasure of dining out with your friends, trying out new tastes and spaces, and then retreating to the comfort of your own home a short walk away made for for a truly unique way to explore Seattle. (Our house in Seattle ended up being such a vital part of the trip that it will get its own post!)

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My only regret is that I have no documentation of the nights we spent at the nearby Crescent Lounge, the homey kind of dive bar that for whatever reason just doesn’t exist back in British Columbia, where people from all walks of life gather to drink, socialize and sing unpretentious, non-ironic karaoke. For me, that’s paradise, and who knew it could be found only a few hours over the border? I think Seattle and I are in the bloom of what might become a beautiful friendship.

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Hiking on Oahu

My Mom is crazy about hiking and there’s no denying it’s a great way to see another side of any place you visit. We went on a few different hikes on Oahu but it was interesting to notice that there didn’t seem to be very many official hiking trails on the island. Most places we went had signs indicating private property, despite the fact we would run into many hikers beyond the warning signs. Hiking in Hawaii’s tropical conditions can be treacherous– our firefighter friend told us more than a few harrowing tales of search and rescue– so we stuck to well beaten paths that still all led to incredible views.

The Pillboxes are a very popular hike where we ran into families with young children, dogs and the kind of intense hikers who would look comfortable on the Grouse Grind (a steep hike in Vancouver not unlike climbing a set of stairs up a mountain). Named for the two WWII concrete bunkers that greet you at the top, it’s a fairly steep hike out of a neighbourhood and up to a set of ridges that run above Kailua and Lanikai. At the top are sweeping views of Kailua and Kaneohe to the left and Waimanalo and Bellows Beach to the right. So accessible it can even be climbed by drunk teenagers celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

An interesting and very short hike (more of a walk, really) was through a dense bamboo grove to the ruins of King Kamehameha III’s summer palace, a skeleton of crumbling stone that once hosted 10,000 revelers.

One hike we did not do was the Ha’iku Stairs or the Stairway to Heaven. Originally built by the military in the early 1940s, the steps are a vertigo-inducing slender metal staircase that runs up the side of a verdant green cliff in the Ko’olau mountain range. When you drive by on the elevated H3 highway, you can get a relatively close view of the stairs going straight up the ridge of a very steep cliff. It’s unreal to see and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to hike. It’s actually illegal to hike the stairs– it’s been closed to the public– but a friend advised that if you get there early enough– say, 4:30am, which is what he did– and are past the first section before the guard arrives, you’ll be allowed to come down from the mountain without issue.

This photo (Johan Vincent Lidner) from this great post gives you an idea:

Puts the Grouse Grind to shame, actually. There’s more great accounts and photos of the hike here and here too.

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Waikiki, Honolulu and the Leeward Side

Waikiki was full of many surprises. Its easy to picture the largest city on Oahu with its hotel towers, ribbon of beach and the familiar silhouette of Diamond Head in the distance, but what I didn’t expect were the dense neighbourhoods clinging to the hillside above the city, the wave of kitschy nostalgia still hanging about the 1960s resorts and hotels or the entertainment strip lined with staggering revelers and luxury stores heedlessly blasting ice cold air out their open doors.

We visited Waikiki several times, driving the jaw dropping highways through the mountain range that cuts through the island and emerging on the dry, hot leeward side, first going through the suburbs of Honolulu and down to the core of Waikiki. We visited on Lei Day, the first of May, where the statues of Hawaiian royalty were draped with fresh leis and Kapiolani Park was filled with live music and visitors lined up to view the results of a lei-making competition.

We gawked at intimidatingly stylish Japanese tourists, peeked into fabulous and entirely unaffordable shoe stores and watched a man dressed in a poor imitation of traditional Hawaiian garb run down the main strip lighting the tiki torches that lined the boulevard. My parents wistfully told us that in the past the men doing that job had been much better looking and had worn much less clothing too.

For a great view of Waikiki, you can either hike Diamond Head or you can drive to the Punchbowl Crater set above Honolulu and pay your respects at the beautiful National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the same time. When we went the place was quite empty and it was a peaceful way to see the city and reflect on the unescapable events of Pearl Harbour, away from the crowds at the actual site.

One day we went to Honolulu’s Chinatown and my Dad led us into a cramped indoor market lined with stalls selling a variety of Asian cuisine, produce and unfamiliar looking seafood fresh from the waters around the island. We walked down Kapahulu Avenue to buy hot malasadas, round sugar-coated donuts, from Leonard’s Bakery and browsed the incredible selection of vintage Aloha shirts at Bailey’s just down the street. The 1960s not only produced many of Waikiki’s resorts, but also the best looking Aloha shirts!

We also went to the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium, where one could spend almost an entire day wandering through booths selling everything from ukuleles to jewellery to beach towels to plumeria hair clips to t-shirts. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs for the folks back home and definitely one of the cheapest places to buy vacation t-shirts and the like. I ended up with one of the hair clips pictured above and a beautiful Hawaiian-style gold pendant with my initial on it.

On another visit, we wandered through beachside hotels, my Mom recalling the many nights she danced hula and sang Hawaiian songs to tourists as part of the Kailua Madrigals, and we stopped to gaze at an enormous tree set in a moonlit yard set against the beach where the Madrigals had performed.

Sandy Beach was just a short drive away and there we watched surfers and boogie boarders tackle the waves. The surf wasn’t particularly high when we visited but my Mom shared another memory, telling us how her and her friends used to go down to Sandy to watch the tourists attempt to swim and get smacked down by the waves. The average crowd there was young, good looking and more often than not hanging out in the beds of their backed-in trucks blasting reggae and watching the action down at the water.

Finally, here’s my recommendation for Waikiki: Yardhouse Restaurant. This place definitely would not have been my style back home (think Cactus Club/Earls/Joeys) but its Happy Hour was well worth multiple visits. The beer list was extensive and featured local breweries (I’m a big fan of Kona Brewing’s Waimea Wheat) and their appetizers, pizzas and beers were 50% off, making for an extremely affordable food and drink session. The food was REALLY good too. I could have eaten 10 of the Poke Stacks. I wish I had somewhere cool and off the beaten path to recommend, but sometimes you really just wanna jam in a big booth with your family and eat and drink your face off for cheap.

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The North Shore

I was really surprised by how much I loved Oahu’s North Shore. I have very few memories of visiting it as a kid and locals speak about it with the sort of tone that implies it’s on the other end of the earth. To be fair, most Hawaiians seem to spend a lot of time driving, but not necessarily driving very far– my Mom said when she moved to Canada from Oahu and did the drive from Vancouver to Castlegar (a more than 8 hour trip that nearly spans the width of BC) she thought it was never going to end.

The North Shore, as far away as it may or may not be, resonates with a certain familiarity that greatly appealed to Jordan and I. Its relative ruralness, sweeping landscapes of field, mountain and ocean shore, and penchant for using old surfboards to decorate homes and businesses recalls British Columbia’s own small coastal towns.  Most of Oahu seems to abide by the popular bumper sticker that good-naturedly chastises “Slow down, this isn’t the mainland!”, but a particular kind of island time seems to prevail on the North Shore.

Our first foray to the North Shore was an early morning drive through the centre of the island, through coffee farms and fields of waving yellow grass, to Haleiwa. Jordan has registered for the Haleiwa Metric Century bike ride, and armed with a bike rented in Kailua, he completed a 100-km ride up and down the coast while I lingered over tea at the Coffee Gallery, followed by a seriously delicious breakfast burrito and pineapple iced tea at Kono’s. Jordan ended up making great time on his ride, although when I picked him up I burst into laughter at his mud spattered face– I guess fenders aren’t really a thing in Hawaii.

We took the coastal route back, stopping for lunch at one of the many shrimp trucks lining the road around Kahuku. The shrimp was served drenched in garlic butter with the ubiquitous “two scoop white rice” and eaten at picnic tables with the ponds and fields of shrimp farms as a backdrop.

When my parents asked what our favourite day on the trip had been, we unanimously responded, “North Shore!” Determined to give Jordan his first snorkeling experience, we researched online and polled friends for a good place to snorkel (that wasn’t Hanauma Bay). We settled on Shark’s Cove, which turned out to be a perfect little bay with a small beach and plenty of calm water teeming with schools of brilliant fish and even turtles! Swimming near a turtle, watching it glide gracefully through the water, was definitely a highlight. As with the windward beaches, Shark’s Cove was hardly busy and we spent a few hours alternating between time in the water and sunbathing.

Of course, no trip to the North Shore is complete without a visit to Matsumoto Shaved Ice, located in Haleiwa. Although Matsumoto’s was lined up out the door, it was well worth the wait for a cheap, generous treat. We had shaved ice at the swap meet earlier in the week for double the price, and one taste of Mastumoto’s ice confirmed that our previous purchase was both clumsily shaved and overpriced. I had lilikoi and mango with a scoop of ice cream in the bottom– Hawaiian kine screamer!

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On both trips to the North Shore we noticed that traffic seemed to slow to a crawl in some spots. We learned this is because of TURTLES!! People spot the little buddies resting on the shore and slow down for a glimpse. We saw this guy taking a little snooze and went down to the beach for a closer look. It was so cute but also unreal– when it moved it definitely looked more animatronic than alive! I spotted four different turtles over the course of our trip: the swimming turtle at Shark’s Cove, this little (big) guy, a turtle swimming off shore near Waimanalo and a turtle surfing through the crashing waves with surfers and boogie boarders at Sandy Beach.

When my Mom remarked that she couldn’t remember seeing turtles in her youth, a friend told us that the turtle population had surged in recent years due to new laws protecting the species. However, the increased turtle population meant that sharks were now being drawn to Hawaii’s beaches… something to consider when swimming at Shark’s Cove?

We finished our North Shore day at Waimea Bay, a stunning beach with the best swimming conditions we encountered on the trip. The shore dropped off quite steeply right at the water line, creating a gentle swell in which one could float and bob all while never straying far from the sand. (To illustrate, in the first photo on this page, my brother is standing at full height in the water!) The irony of course is that Waimea is well known amongst surfers as the place on Oahu for massive winter waves, waves that helped define the sport of big wave surfing in the 1950s. All winter, surfers eagerly check surf conditions, waiting for reports of monster waves that can swell up to 50 feet. As exhilarating as watching those waves can be, I was glad for our mild conditions, a relaxing end to a perfect day.

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Hawaii Supermoon

On the night of the supermoon, Jordan and I walked down to Lanikai Beach to watch it rise over the Mokalua islands. To our surprise, the beach was bustling with all sorts of people, some hunkered down with picnic blankets and bottles of wines, kids running and playing, and a small horde of photographers armed with tripods and enormous lenses to put anything I own to shame.

We sat in the sand for about 30 minutes before a thin slice of the moon appeared over one of the islands, prompting cheers from the spectators lining the shore. It rose slowly, an unbelievably enormous disc that I was unfortunately unable to capture with much success. It was still a beautiful moment, and I felt really lucky to watch it from such a beautiful place.

Later that night when the sun had set we grabbed flashlights and headed to the popular Pill Box hike, conveniently located near our vacation rental. It was so bright from the moon that we went most of the way with the flashlights off. From the bottom we could hear bongo drums echoing from the top, celebrating the lunar event. Soon, smiling people clutching drums passed us on their way down, assuring us that the view from the top was well worth the hike.

We set up our cameras just past the first pill box to capture the supermoon revelers on the second box in the distance. The clouds sped overhead and on the horizon a cruise ship passed by, gleaming like a candelabra in the night.

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Windward Beaches

Despite the fact we managed to visit many of Oahu’s beaches during our two week stay, my preference would have been for even more beach time. Alas, while I am content sitting with my toes in the sand and a book in my hand, my parent’s penchant for continual movement thwarted my ultimate goal of moving as little as possible, but at the same time meant we did plenty of exploring. Here’s a humble guide to some of the beaches we visited on the eastern side of the island, also known as the windward side, where the environment is lusher, greener and tends more to cloud and rain than the hot, dry leeward side.

Bellows Beach was definitely our favourite, and, from what we heard from our friends, a local favourite as well. It was hands down the most recommended spot and it was easy to see why, with soft white sand, views of surrounding mountain ranges and the Mokalua islands, and a shady forest of pine-like ironwood trees at your back. We returned to Bellows several times, and Jordan and Jeremy found it be a good spot for boogie boarding, with easy, shallow waves. It’s important to keep your eyes peeled for jellyfish, however, a fairly common occurrence on windward beaches. Signs are posted to alert visitors when Portuguese Man o’ Wars are prevalent, and Jordan learned the hard way that their stings are anything but pleasant. He did get a bad ass whip mark on his arm though!

The crowd size definitely varied from day to day at Bellows Beach. One important thing to note is that this beach is only open on the weekends– it serves as a training base for the military for the rest of the week. On a quiet afternoon there, we watched small crabs scuttle in and out of tiny holes in the sand, and on a busier day we watched people boogie board, surf and tried to count the number of military men present based on their distinct buzz cuts. There are also camp sites available at Bellows, and I have a vivid memory of a Hawaii trip as a kid, visiting family friends camping under the ironwoods.

Kailua Beach is consistently rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but as you can see from the photos, it’s hardly busy. I wish we could have spent more time here but the day we chose to relax on Kailua, the weather put the wind in windward, and we ended up eating a lot of sand. Still, it’s an undeniably beautiful strip of sand, and eventually turns into the equally gorgeous Lanikai Beach, where you can peek at enormous mansions with enviable ocean views. Did you know all beaches in Hawaii are public? That’s why an incredible beach like Kailua can be right on the edge of town and still be accessible to everyone.

While we didn’t spend any time at Makapu’u Beach, we got to hear several stories of my Dad getting pummeled by its waves during his year as a Hawaiian beach bum in the early 80s. It’s supposed to be great for boogie boarding and body surfing, and there’s a popular lookout here, with views of “swimming” Rabbit Island (doesn’t it look like the profile of a swimming rabbit with its ears trailing on the water?) and the coastline extending back towards Kailua and Waimanalo.

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Aloha Meow

Epic Hawaii Cat is here to announce that Hawaii photos exist and will be shared shortly. In the meantime, did you know that Hawaii has a serious feral cat population? We stopped at a view point overlooking Hawaii-Kai and were surprised to see at least 30 cats hanging out in the bushes. It was really weird but also unbearably cute.

Adorable formerly domestic felines are the most fearsome predator on the Islands. Cats probably came to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1700s with early explorers and have been noted as living in the wild there since as early as the 1840s. The mild climate, transient population (seasonal workers, military families, etc.) and lack of other predators make Hawaii a kitty dream paradise. The little darlings aren’t exactly doing wonders for the local bird population but they sure are cute compared to the cats we have to think about encountering in the woods in British Columbia (by the way, was anyone else totally terrified of the “panther” in Little House in the Big Woods?).

We also saw some cats hanging out around the shrimp trucks in Kahuku, but I think those guys actually belonged to someone.

My favourite Hawaiian cats are the Kliban Cats, as seen on Crazy Shirts, a Hawaiian t-shirt company that started in the 1960s. My parents had a few from back when they lived in Hawaii in the early 80s and I wore them out wearing them as night shirts as a kid. I ended up with a sticker that found its way onto my guitar.

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Likeable Things: Upcoming Events Edition

I like events! I like vacations! Here are some things I’ve done or am going to do in the near future!

First Aid Kit: Jordy and I saw First Aid Kit at Venue in Vancouver. Like everyone else, I fell in love with the Swedish sisters’ cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”, but Jordy and I have been particularly taken with them since reading “Kids” by Patti Smith and subsequently sobbing watching the video of Patti well up with tears as First Aid Kit perform “Dancing Barefoot” for her. Unfortunately this video appears to have vanished off the internet or I’d recommend you watch for a good cry too. First Aid Kit sang with effortless harmony and brought some great 60s vibes in their matching dresses (a mini for Klara and a maxi for Johanna) and long shining hair. Highlights included their gorgeous cover of The Knife’s “When I Grow Up” and, of course, Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”, and an unplugged sing-a-long version of “Ghost Town”.

Openers Peggy Sue were also quite good, in particular their layered harmonies on a cover of “Hit the Road, Jack”. I was surprised to recognize one of their songs from Kate Miss’ excellent mix, Harmony. Me and Jordy coined them “Al & Kath” because they reminded us of our friends Alana and Katherine (I think it was their hair).

Jesus Christ Super Star: Last year my friends in Victoria blew me away with their production of Jesus Christ Super Star (or Cheesus Crust Pizza Store, as it was more subtly known). I had a grin on my face through the whole show and was totally stoked to hear they were mounting a second production this year. If you’re from Victoria, chances are you might know someone in the show or recognize some local musicians. JCSS is running April 19-21 and tickets are still available!

Island Chefs Food Fest: Another amazing event I attended for the first time last year, Food Fest was a sunny day spent sampling local food and drink, including beer, cider and gin. We rode our bikes to Fort Rodd Hill in a huge group organized by Habit Coffee and were rewarded with first crack at the sample tables. I can’t wait to see who is there this year!

Victoria Tweed Ride: I just registered for the Victoria Tweed Ride, which involves dressing in dapper finery and riding bikes in an equally handsome crowd all over the city. Basically I will take 1000 photos of this event.

Hawaii: As a kid I spent a lot of time in my Dad’s hometown of Castlegar, hanging out with family. While Castlegar is charming in its own small town Kootenay way, I wish we could have spent an equal amount of time in my Mom’s hometown of Kailua, Hawaii. We’re finally heading back at the end of the month on a family vacation. I can’t wait to sit on Kailua beach, eat plate lunch and shave ice, wander the swap meet and hopefully learn a Hawaiian song or two from some talented family friends.

Seattle: I’ll be spending May long weekend in Seattle, staying Real World-style in a crazy beautiful house on Capitol Hill with a big group of friends. We’ve got a sunken cedar hot tub!!! I’ll unfortunately be missing Doukhobor Festival, but sunken cedar hot tub!!! Basically the plan is to try some of Seattle’s best restaurants, ride our bikes everywhere and sit in that sunken cedar hot tub!!!

Finally, here are my most liked things at the moment:

TNG Season 8: The most genius twitter account that summarises episodes of an imaginary eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sample tweet:

Arrested Westeros: Games of Thrones/Arrested Development mash up. It works so well.

Annnnnnd #whatshouldwecallme is basically ruling my life right now. This tumblr is relevant to everything. For example, my fears about backpacking in SE Asia.

(First Aid Kit photo from here)

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