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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…

 

 

 

 

 

Where I’ve been and where I’m going

It’s been a whirlwind week.

I visited a friend on Kauai and enjoyed the lush, green scenery. So many wonderful waterfalls!

Opaeka Falls in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii

Opaeka Falls in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii

We ate, we pinned (mutual Pinterest junkies), we worked, and we played.

At the Hanalei Bay scenic overlook

At the Hanalei Bay scenic overlook

She did jagua (a body art dye made from the South American Genipa plant -- lasts 1-2 weeks) and I did henna (from the Middle Eastern henna plants, stains the skin and lasts 1-2 weeks)

She did jagua (a body art dye made from the South American Genipa plant — lasts 1-2 weeks) and I did henna (from the Middle Eastern henna plants, stains the skin and lasts 1-2 weeks)

I got home Sunday, and today I finished my muumuu…

I made this muumuu in sewing class!

I made this muumuu in sewing class!

And tomorrow I fly back to the mainland for 8 intense days.  I have a day in San Diego, then Hubby and I will fly to New York on Thursday.  We pick up Java from the pet hospital on Friday, and the fly back to San Diego with both cats on Monday.  The cats will stay in San Diego and we will return to Honolulu for the final 4 weeks of sabbatical on April 2.

I will try to post from the road, but given that I’m leaving the laptop in Honolulu and I find the iPad an awkward tool for blogging, there may or may not be many posts.

I leave you with a view of Anini Beach on Kauai… amazing to find a secluded beach on such a crowded island! It was so beautiful and peaceful that I could have stayed there for days.

Lovely Anini Beach on Kauai, Hawaii

Lovely Anini Beach on Kauai, Hawaii

 

 

Honolulu Festival Fun

It was a mostly rainy week-end in Honolulu, but when the skies cleared on Sunday morning, we hopped on the bus and headed downtown for the Honolulu Festival. It was so large that it was held in 3 venues — the Hawaii Convention Center, Waikiki Beach Stage and Ala Moana Center.  Because we only had a few hours, we decided to go to the Convention Center first.

The Hawaii Convention Center is a gorgeous building with tall palm trees both indoors and out.  There were 3 performance stages there along with several exhibit halls full of information, crafts and hands-on cultural exhibit booths from around the Pacific Rim.  The theme of the event was Pacific Harmony — and there were exhibits from native Alaskan groups, Filipino groups, Chinese and Korean groups — but the majority of exhibits and performances were from Hawaiian and Japanese groups.

The first performance we saw was the Japanese Taiko Drum Ensemble, Wadaiko Mamezakura.

They were a very dynamic and energetic group.  It was impossible to doze off during the performance!

CSJ_HonoluluFestival_TaikoDrummer

After the performance we headed into the main exhibition hall.

The variety and quality of the Hawaiian quilt exhibit was amazing!

The variety and quality of the Hawaiian quilt exhibit was amazing!

There were a lot of educational booths, such as this one that gave one-on-one kanji instruction.

There were a lot of educational booths, such as this one that gave one-on-one kanji instruction.

I didn't know that Japan had log-sawing competitions!

I didn’t know that Japan had log-sawing competitions!

Say hello to the Taiwanese Techno Gods -- they walked, talked, and played funky music!

Say hello to the Taiwanese Techno Gods — they walked, talked, and played funky music!

After the the end of the exhibits, we headed down Kalakaua Avenue to watch the Festival Parade.  There were more than 64 groups marching!

A Hawaiian Chiefess takes a few pix with her iPad before her group's turn in the Parade.

A Hawaiian Chiefess takes a few pix with her iPad before her group’s turn in the Parade.

This is just one of many hula schools who performed.

This is just one of many hula schools who performed.

This was one of many groups of delightful Japanese dancers.

This was one of many groups of delightful Japanese dancers.

This dragon bowed and swayed and greeted its adoring fans.

This dragon bowed and swayed and greeted its adoring fans.

This dragon boat brought up the rear of the parade with a bang!

This dragon boat brought up the rear of the parade with a bang!

And then, after the parade, everyone walked down to Waikiki Beach for the fireworks display orchestrated by Nagaoka Fireworks company in Japan.  The music was broadcast on a local radio station, but very few people in our section (including us) had fm radios… but the show was amazing even without music!

Here is the finale of the show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Labor Day!

It was a great week-end — the last hurrah of summer (although technically, summer lasts until September 21, the Autumn Equinox). I started the week-end by walking in the All American Hero’s Race on Pt. Loma, a lovely flat course along the harbor. I quickly found someone who was going about my pace so we walked together. It was her first 10k! She did awesome! It was my 2nd 10k and I was thrilled at how strong I felt. And I finished in 1:40:05!  My best time, ever!

Just finished the All American Hero's Race -- with my anonymous walking buddy from Corona.

Just finished the All American Hero’s Race — with my anonymous walking buddy from Corona.

On Sunday and Monday (the actual holiday), I set up my booth at Spanish Village in Balboa Park.

My little booth at Spanish Village

My little booth at Spanish Village

The weather was hot and muggy for us San Diegans, but most out-of-town visitors thought it was perfect. There really is no better way to round off the summer than hanging out with a bunch of artists in such a beautiful setting. And with smooth jazz from guitarist, Elliott Lawrence, it just doesn’t get much better!

The Patio at Spanish Village

The Patio at Spanish Village

2013_Sept1_glitter_henna

A few doodles in henna and glitter

Elliott Lawrence

Elliott Lawrence

Studio18 Alleyway

Snapshots from Heaven…

We got in on the red-eye yesterday morning… and are still adjusting to our regularly scheduled lives…

Here are a few pix from the other side of the Big Island…

Lizard2

Gold dust day gecko

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Bee in Ohi’a Lehua

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Heliconia Lobster Claw from the World Botanical Garden in Umauma.

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Where the a’a meets the pahoehoe — two distinct types of lava

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The Kiluea Iki caldera… a “bathtub” that was once filled with molten lava

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Steam vents in the Kiluea Iki caldera

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Glow from the active volcano vent at the Jaggar Museum…there is no spewing lava (that’s happening down the road at pu’u-o’o), but there is a constant plume of volcanic gasses which is most clearly seen at night.

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The amazing purple Uluhe fern

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Sunday Pictures: A trip to Zion (Market and Taegukgi BBQ House)

One of our local Korean grocery stores recently reopened after a major expansion project. Zion Market was once a small, specialty grocery with a cramped parking lot, but now boasts a mega-store complete with K-Pop kiosk, a Korean cosmetics kiosk, a Paris Baguette shop and The Face Shop as well as a travel agency and a jewelry shop — in addition to a super-sized grocery store with tons of fresh produce, meats, tanks of live fish, a whole aisle of kimchee and tons of other Asian specialities.

It’s like a quick visit to Seoul without leaving San Diego (except for the meat department where all the butchers spoke Spanish, but the signs were in Korean).

2013-07-06Zion_crabs

Live blue crabs only $4.99/ lb!

Since shopping on an empty stomach leads to bad decisions, the Hubby and I decided to check out the restaurant attached to grocery.

Taegukgi Korean BBQ House (All You Can Eat) — what an great name!  The interior made us feel as if we were in a nightclub with its lighting and big-screen K-Pop on one side and big-screen baseball on the other. Each table has a gas grill in the middle and you are served little dishes of vegetables: pickled radishes, hot pickled cucumbers, bean sprouts in sesame oil, an interesting apple-potato salad (definitely NOT traditional).

2013-07-06Taegukgi_kimchee

Traditional kimchee, fermented pickled nappa cabbage and hot peppers

The waitstaff fires up the grill and brings meat for you to cook right there at the table.  A huge exhaust hood sucks up most of the smoke, but by the end of our third entree, we had to have a new grill plate because the smoke was getting too much.

Cooking spicy squid over the tabletop grill

Cooking spicy squid over the tabletop grill

Everything was so tasty; we especially liked the spicy squid which was flavorful but not overly chewy.

아주 맛있었어요. a-ju ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo.

아주 맛있었어요.
a-ju ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo.
< It was delicious. >

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!  And if you want to visit Taipei instead of Seoul, 99 Ranch is just down the street!

Holiday Monday: A day in the Park

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial-Day-Slider2

And while we paid homage to the service men and women who served our country in times of war, it was also the official first day of summer for most places.

And it’s the first day of henna season for me. From now until Labor Day I will work at one or more jobs every day, six to seven days per week. It’s intense, but fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way… well, maybe without the day job… but I need that in the winter so I stay during the summer… so it goes.

For the past 6 years I have spent Memorial Day at Spanish Village in Balboa Park (where I am a juried member of the group of patio artists). It’s a tough job… but somebody’s got to do it…

Here I am at my table on the patio

Here I am at my table on the patio

Don Strandberg soothed us with his mellow guitar playing

Don Strandberg soothed us with his mellow guitar playing

Only in San Diego can you find poinsettias and jacarandas blooming together...

Only in San Diego can you find poinsettias and jacarandas blooming together…

The hibiscus were in full bloom

The hibiscus were in full bloom

A fun design

A fun design

Look up in the branches of the jacaranda tree...

Look up in the branches of the jacaranda tree…

 

I discovered this little gem in the tree next to my table!

You never know what is sitting just above your head!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Pix: Patriot’s Run!

On Saturday, May 25, 2013, I got up extra early… so early that my husband was still sleeping soundly.

I fed the cats (imperative first morning action if you live with cats), made the coffee, got dressed and laced up my shoes.

I put on 2 layers of a few different sunscreens.  Although it was cloudy and cool at 6am, I knew that by race time, the sun would definitely be out and at my race pace of extremely slow, I burn to a crisp without sun precautions. I haven’t reviewed these products yet — stay tuned next week for sunscreen smackdown results…But this is what I wore to the race…

What I wore on my legs

What I wore on my legs: Sunology for Body SPF 50. It’s pretty greasy everywhere else, but my thirsty legs LOVE this stuff!

Then I grabbed my keys and small fannypack (for MP3 player and keys) and headed off to Lake Murray.

It was a cloudy start....

It was a cloudy start…. photo by Jennifer Theroux

Although I left in plenty of time for the race, I had not anticipated the lack of parking near the park… and ended up about a mile away. It was a good warm up for the actual race.

After a 400 meter dash for the young runners (one was a toddler!), it was time for the National anthem and the the start of the 10k.  I quickly found another walker at my slow pace and we spent the next two hours chatting amiably about life, racing, visiting tropical countries and California history.

patriot_run-86_RyanDaley_small

Photo by Ryan Daley

What a fabulous way to “race”… we were the next to last finishers… but we finished in almost exactly 2 hours (although racewire.com had stopped clocking results after 1 hour, 48 minutes so we are not included in the official race results)… and we collected our flags and race medals from the volunteer booth.

After a quick rehydration stop at the only booth still left, Zico Coconut Water, I walked back to the car, which was a mile away… then returned home to a champion’s breakfast cooked by my handsome hubby (Huevos rancheros with green chile sauce and hash browns). The perfect end to a fantastic morning!

My bib and finisher's medal

My bib and finisher’s medal

The returning champion!

The returning champion! (For you fashion mavens out there, the t-shirt is a hand-drawn Natasha original depicting a Dia de los Muertos style skeleton with a champion’s bouquet and 2 cobalt-titanium hips…

What a feeling of accomplishment to finally achieve what I set out to do 5 year ago!

And the best part! I wasn’t wiped out for the rest of the day.  I was at a Farmer’s Market doing facepainting by noon and then worked at Bat Mitzvah that evening.  My plantar’s fasciitis complained some, but with ice rubs and orthotics, it was totally manageable for the rest of the day with no residual pain the next day. But the hips worked just fine with no pain at all. And that’s the real victory!

 

 

 

Oh the places you’ll see…

Seuss_Truffula

from Dr. Seuss
Wiki

It’s spring and
for reasons beyond me I have been obsessed with trees.

Truffula
trees.

Every morning as I walk I see trees that don’t talk, but
if they could talk would they balk if they knew I thought they
could be… just maybe… truffula trees?

Dr. Seuss’s adopted home was San
Diego… actually La Jolla… which puts star-bellied sneeches on
pristine beaches into perspective, since La Jolla has one of the
more upscale beaches in the area… and I can’t help but wonder if
his fantastical creations were based in the truth of this strange
landscape.

Take the
Truffula tree. Fantasy, right? But…

What about this?

What about this?


And what is this?
I found this blooming in my
neighbor's yard...

I found this blooming in
my neighbor’s yard…

And…
These make an appearance every
spring...

These make an appearance
every spring…

Could it be? Could it be? Could this be a truffula tree? That fluffy top made me stop. That fluffy top made me hop…I saw that tree and felt such glee and went upon a rhyming spree. I need to stop this silly bop and get back to my little shop. But I think that I will never see something so silly as a truffula tree… .