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Archive for April 19, 2014

Fitness Friday: Whirlwind!

It has been a whirlwind few weeks!  And smack dab in the middle was the Hapalua Half Marathon!

After we returned from the Mainland (cats are still doing well at the cat hotel — we check in on them daily via webcam — I know, we are cat nerds…), we rented a car for the week.  The hubby does not want to waste the rent of the car by letting it sit parked for more than overnight, so we did a *lot* of sightseeing… and then, after a couple days rest, we rented a car again!

Some highlights:
Manoa Falls, just up the street from our place and a hidden gem.  The hike is steep and somewhat slippery, but it’s rainforest lush and  the reward at the top is a beautiful waterfall.

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls

Inside the Atlantis Submarine

Inside the Atlantis Submarine

We took a ride on the Atlantis Submarine and splurged for the premier sub with the giant windows.  It was a delightful ride past 3 manmade reefs, two sunken ships and a sunken airplane (all deliberately put there to create artificial reefs for the Atlantis company — no-one was hurt in the sinking)

Turtle alongside one of the sunken ships

Turtle alongside one of the sunken ships

We saw schools of fish, a couple manta rays, a group of puffer fish and this graceful honu who hung around one of the sunken ships to our delight.  Since we were more than 100ft down, it was difficult to see colors other than blue — which makes picture-taking challenging.  Our only complaint about the submarine ride was that it was too short!  Only 45 minutes at depth.  I could have easily spent 2 or more hours watching all the variety of life at the bottom of the bay!

Hanauma  Bay

Hanauma Bay

We went back to Hanauma Bay twice!  And each time we saw tons of tangs, parrotfish, sea urchins, spotted puffer fish, triggerfish of 3 varieties (including the state fish, humuhumunukunukupua’a) and a sea turtle!  Hubby saw an octopus, but I missed it.  I saw a moray eel and he missed that.

There is nothing better after a full morning of snorkelling than shave ice, a Hawaiian specialty.  We found Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha Shave Ice through TripAdvisor, and were not disappointed.  The ice is truly snow-like (not granular like a snocone); they make all their syrups in-house, and the toppings are super-fresh.  Picture here is a Mango-Passionfruit Shave Ice with pineapple topping.  We met Uncle Clay himself after our second visit — and he is full of joy, pride in shave ice and pure aloha!

And there was a day devoted to taxes in there somewhere…

Then, on Sunday, April 19th, at 5:00am, Hubby drove me down to Waikiki and I walked to Duke Kahanamoku’s statue for the start of the 3rd Annual Hapalua Half Marathon.

The starting line of the Hapalua Half Marathon on Kalakaua Avenue

The starting line of the Hapalua Half Marathon on Kalakaua Avenue

Kristian Lei (my voice teacher) sang both the National Anthem and the Hawaii State Song

Kristian Lei (my voice teacher) sang both the National Anthem and the Hawaii State Song

Then we were off!

After the first thousand runners or so went by, us walkers started out.  I quickly fell into pace with a couple from Hilo who did lots of half marathons, including one in Las Vegas and one in Portland last year.  However, when I needed a pitstop at mile 4, they decided to pick up their pace and I found a slower walking buddy.  And for the next 9 miles, I got to know Carol from Arizona as we plodded down Ala Moana Blvd, back to Kalakaua Ave, down Monserratt and up Diamondhead Drive and back to Kapiolani Park for the finish.  As some of the slower walkers, we witnessed the take-down of the bands just before we arrived (so we never heard any of the music along the course) and also missed water stations because they were taken down early, too.  But the first aid station at Mile 11 was still open and had ample water and well-stocked porta-pots.  And then the last 2 miles were some of the most scenic I’ve ever walked — Diamondhead on the right and the ocean on the left.  Stunning!  The last mile was just a matter of willpower.  But we made it! 4:42:43.  Less than 5 hours and way less than my goal of finishing in under 6 hours!

Passing through the Finisher's Shoot and accepting my medal

Passing through the Finisher’s Shoot and accepting my medal

And then I saw Hubby at the finish line!

And then I saw Hubby at the finish line!

Fortunately, although the bands were all finished, the malasada booth was not!  And we chowed down on fresh malasadas made on-site!  And then the rains started pouring so we went home.

And after a quick lunch with lots of fluid replacement, some ice on the feet and a well-deserved shower, it was time for my ukelele recital at the Manoa School of Music and Art. Most of the other students were in grade school, but there were 2 other adult students in the performance.  Despite the informal crowd, I was nervous, but managed to remember both my song (Hanalei Moon) and the chords. Everything fell into place and the music just floated.

Playing my ukelele at the student recital.  I have taken lessons for 6 weeks.

Playing my ukelele at the student recital. I have taken lessons for 6 weeks.

In the week since Super Sunday, we have been to Chinatown…

Statue of Kuan Yin in the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown

Statue of Kuan Yin in the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown

Foster Botanical Garden:

Corpse Flower at the Foster Botanical Garden -- fortunately, it had bloomed 2 days before our visit and had no lingering odor... apparently it smells incredibly horrible when it's in full bloom..

Corpse Flower at the Foster Botanical Garden — fortunately, it had bloomed 2 days before our visit and had no lingering odor… apparently it smells incredibly horrible when it’s in full bloom..

Koko Head Marina

Koko Head Marina

and snorkeling in the lagoons at Ko’Olina.

Sunset from the deck of AmaAma Restaurant at Disney Aulani Resort in Ko'Olina.

Sunset from the deck of AmaAma Restaurant at Disney Aulani Resort in Ko’Olina.

The beaches at Ko’Olina are all public and free.  There is limited free parking, but with the holiday and the LPGA golf tournament at the Marriott, we ended up parking at the Disney Aulani parking garage.  We spent the afternoon snorkeling in a manmade lagoon with perfect, calm water, then rinsed off and decided to splurge for dinner at the Aulani.  There was no pressure to buy anything (except $30 worth of food or gifts in order to get free parking) and in fact, other than the Stitch statue, and the giant volcano waterslide, it was hard to tell it was a Disney resort…. it definitely doesn’t look like Disneyland!  After our dinner, we strolled down to the beach to watch the sun set, our first in Hawaii! (A clear view of the western horizon is blocked by mountains in Manoa).

And tomorrow!  I get to climb trees at the Wahine Tree Climbing workshop which was postponed due to gale force winds last month.

I may not be losing weight (in fact, the scale back home told me that I’d gained 10lbs in February and March), but we are active and I feel stronger.  And I finished a half marathon!  13.1 miles! My feet were sore for a day, but other than that, I had no aches or pains due to walking that distance!  Now that’s fitness in my book!

 

Turtles and Warriors… yes, all in one day!

Yesterday was a great day!  We got up, put on a zillion layers of sunscreen, then headed to the North Shore to a small cove called Turtle Beach.  It’s just a pull-off from the highway and you park on the side of the road then cross over to the beach.

But that small area is magic!  It’s named Turtle Beach for a reason!  Turtles love to hang out, swim and sun themselves right there — next to the highway and among the throngs of tourists.

Turtles and snorkellers both like the waters at Turtle Beach.

Turtles and snorkellers both like the waters at Turtle Beach.

Heading back to the water after a morning sun nap...

Heading back to the water after a morning sun nap…

We spent about an hour at the beach, but since we had reservations for the macadamia nut farm up the road, we couldn’t stay longer.

The Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Outlet is nestled in the valley of the Kualoa Mountains.  It’s a stunningly beautiful place that has been used as the setting for LOST, the wedding scene in 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park, Fantasy Island, and many other movies and TV episodes.  It even was cast as a Korean concentration camp in an episode of Hawaii Five-O!

Our tour took about an hour as Chief Laumoli (which he translated as Mauloli, always hungry) was our witty and knowledgeable host.  We took a quick tour through the flower fields.  The ladies from Wisconsin were enthralled to see bananas up close along with torch gingers, heliconia, and birds of paradise… and even after 2 months of living with all these plants in our backyard, I still find them amazing and beautiful.

Red heliconia beds at the farm

Red heliconia beds at the farm

Then we stopped in the “Coconut Grove” for a short entertaining section.  Our guide showed us a traditional method of creating fire from rubbing 2 sticks together and putting the embers into dried coconut husks.  Then another guide emerged from the hut with 2 poi sticks and took the fire and deftly lit his sticks, tossed the firestarter somewhere safe — and danced!

Poi dancing in the coconut grove

Poi dancing in the coconut grove.

When that concluded, we took a short boat ride around Moli’i Pond, which is the largest manmade fishpond in the world. The ingenious system of rocks to block in the large fish, but let the smaller ones pass in and out, allowed for an ample stock of milkfish, crabs, barracuda, and other fish for the ruling elites in the old days.

View of the Kualoa Mountains from Moli'i Pond.  The boat on the shore was used in a Hawaii Five-O episode.

View of the Kualoa Mountains from Moli’i Pond. The boat on the shore was used in a Hawaii Five-O episode.

The tour concluded by a quick trip through the fruit groves of mango, guava, custard apple, starfruit, jack fruit and coffee trees.

A glorious coffee plant!

A glorious coffee plant!

I took this selfie in the bus with my cellphone...

I took this selfie in the bus with my cellphone…

Today we plan to head back to Turtle Beach and then stop by Shark Bay.  Unfortunately, our underwater camera died yesterday so we will have no photos from snorkelling.  But so it goes.  It will still be an amazing experience… even without photos…

 

 

 

 

 

Back home in Honolulu!

We went.  And now we’re back.

The cats are at the Purring Parrot, a specialty cat hotel with lots of climbing space, toys, and a webcam.

CATS_purringParrot

They were a little hissy-faced yesterday, but considering that they had just endured a ride in the car to New Jersey, disorganized TSA screenings, and a 6 hour plane ride, then another ride in a car where they were left in an interesting but new place *without* the comforts of their usual human staff.  When I checked in on them via webcam this afternoon, they were both napping peacefully.

And now I can relax and start to really enjoy our last month in Honolulu.

I did manage to pick up an interesting product at a Duane Reed drugstore during our whirlwind trip to New York — and will review it soon.  And I’m planning on creating a Hawaiian spa-in-a-box to send to my sister-in-law (who works way too hard and drives too much and needs a day at a spa.) So, of course I will have to try things out myself before I pass them along to her — and I’ll share my views with you!

Champagne_StockPHoto

So let’s raise a glass to the end of winter, the beginning of spring, and a lovely month of April!