Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Why look!

It would appear that I just bought a pair of brand new American Eagle jeans.

But I didn't. (Teehee....)

If I don't find a thrift store back in New Jersey that are as good as the ones in Hawaii, I will weep. For you see friends, every time Katie buys something at full price, an angel dies.
Okay then. Thrill over. I've reported the big news of the day and you can go back to your regularly scheduled lives.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hiking Manoa Falls

As much as I love (and when I say love, I mean LOVE) Hawaii, lately I've been craving to get out of Honolulu and nearby areas. They're great, don't get me wrong. But Honolulu has certainly become very city like. It's not Manhattan city like, but it's a different experience here now then when I last came here 10 years ago. (although granted, that was only for a week and I was 17) There's TONS of traffic, a lot more traffic then my last visit. There's throngs of people, and lots of car horns. It's still beautiful and the pace continues to be much slower then at home, but my heart's been sinking at every new shopping mall I come across. I wanted to get away from the attractions and touristy traps, and see Hawaii as it was meant to be seen: for it's true beauty.

I began looking up various hiking trails that were easy and were feasible to the best of my ability. The Manoa Trail was listed as easy to moderate. It's about a mile, and not TOO hilly. It's located in a rain forest and a bamboo forest. The downside is that there are a lot of rocky areas, and flat muddy hills that are very slippery when wet. Which is most of the time. I was determined to do it though, so I decided company would be best in case I fell. Auntie agreed that she would love to take me, and we waited until she had the day off on Wednesday to do so. First we did a detour and she took me out to lunch at The Wai'oli Tea Room in the Manoa Valley. I'm saddened to say that I did not take many pictures of the area because it was raining, but it was beautiful. The  Wai'oli Tea Room is surrounded by an awesome tropical setting, and most people have breakfast and lunch here. You can have afternoon tea here as well, but it's best if you make a reservation for that. I'll tell you what though: The food? WAS AWESOME. I had a roast beef sandwich (YUM) that was so good I'll probably be going again. I also had a mango mixer, and chocolate mousse cake. Thanks Auntie. :)

After that, we headed to our Manoa Falls hike.

If you ever come here, a few rules before you come out on your Manoa Falls hike: 1) Load up the bug spray. A LOT. I went on Yahoo Travel to research the trail and read the precautions on the swarms of bugs. I am quite proud to say that I only got two bug bites because of this, and Auntie didn't get any when I sprayed her down as well. I'm quite pleased with the results. Make sure to get your face as well, and wear a hat. Spritz the hat a couple of times on the top of the rim and the base. The bugs will swarm around the hat, then retreat quickly because of the spray. 2) Don't drink any of the stream water, or swim in it. Some Hikers have gotten very sick this way (or worse) due to a bacteria called Leptospirosis. It's really rare in humans, but, you really don't want that. Bring Purell. (Hearing this of course triggered my own recurring disease. It's called the Worry Wart disease and has affected my great Aunt Nancy, my Nana, my Momma, and myself. We're cool like that)  3) There are wild pigs on this trail. You'll rarely (if ever) see them, but just an FYI. I did hear one of the way back down the trail. They're usually spooked of you, and leave you alone. 4) I kept seeing hikers wearing shorts and sandals, (or "slippers" as they say out here). I guess you could, but I'd wear good sneakers at least. And I wore jeans. The idea of anything on my bare legs gives me the jeebies. 5) If you have balance issues, make sure you bring someone who's familiar with the trail. And of course, always stay on the trail. (I can't tell you how many times I heard "Lets go off the trail!" from others) Okay? Okay.

Auntie brought two walking sticks with us. I ended up using both of them for better balance. Again, thanks Auntie. With the walking sticks, I was able to begin my journey up to the falls.

The trail started off pretty flat. I was under the misconception that it would be easy the whole way up, but that thought was quickly dashed. The trail (after crossing the bridge) starts off wide, then narrows considerably. Random curves begin to appear. I managed to get around the bends with no problem, and Auntie was behind me to assist. Eventually, we came to roots and high stairs. Aunt Lynn would grab my waist, hoist me up off the ground, and I would use the walking sticks to bring myself up the rest of the way. The trail was supposed to be 45 minutes, but I think that's the timing accessed for an experienced hiker. Every once in awhile, I became tired, so I would step off to the side and take a break. In the meantime, I captured some pictures.

This is where branches became more apparent in the trail, and roots just grew bigger and bigger.

Auntie offered to get some shots of the stream for me with my digital. She's a good photographer. I'll have to add her shots in another entry, since I have no clue how to upload her pics from her camera.
After clearing another bridge, Aunt Lynn wanted to take a hiking picture of me for proof of our adventure and to let the dad know I was still alive. What a good auntie.
Eventually, we came to the Bamboo Forest. I loved the scene. I'd never witnessed anything quite like it before. My aunt said it used to be thicker, but sadly, some Bamboo has been cut down.Why on
Earth such a thing would be done I have no idea. There are pictures of the Bamboo Forest on her camera, since I put mine away when it began to rain. (her camera is waterproof. Alas, mine is not) As the trail went on, Aunt Lynn pointed out areas where scenes from the show Lost were shot. There are quite a bit.

Suddenly, we came to a dead stop in the trail.
I hate to admit that I uttered these words:
"I don't know if I can do that," I told Auntie. "I think I'm nearing my end of the trail."
Ahead of us, were a lot of rocks, some boulders, and a tree trunk. With my aunt's assistance, she was able to point out where dirt was that I could safely step on. I used the big boulder to hold onto as I walked around and over the rocks. I thought the tough part was over, only to find steeper stairs and more rock piles.

On January 10th, 2002, a huge landslide went over the end of the trail. Luckily, it happened when the trail was vacant, so no one was injured or killed. It shocked everyone, since this type of incident does not occur often. While no one was hurt, it did change the landscape ever since.

Auntie said there was no pressure over how far I wanted to go on the trail."I'm leaving it up to you," she said. "No pressure at all, but I think the falls are just up there." I looked at the rock piles. I thought for a moment. I decided that I came all this way, I might as well go a little further. I was determined to see what I came to see. After struggling with the walking sticks, I handed them to Auntie, rolled up my sleeves, and grabbed onto the rocks. I proceeded to climb on my hands and knees up the muddy boulders. Finally, I reached the clearing. Covered in mud from chest to toe, I reached this sight:

Many hikers had long since turned back at this point. There was a bench on the left hand side that I was grateful to sit on. Finally, the Hawaii that I came to see.

Sometimes in certain seasons, Manoa Falls is as dry as a bone. I came at the right time of year. Auntie and I sat and talked for a little while. Then that's when I recorded my video blog to all of you.

Then, we decided to turn back before it got dark. I felt so accomplished. It was easier going down the trail then going up. When the going got tough, I just sat on my butt and slid down the hills. I wouldn't recommend it, but it worked for me. Auntie and I took turns alternating between the walking sticks and holding on to each other. Before I knew it, we were at the bottom again, sweaty, muddy and tired.
But not defeated.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vlog at Manoa Falls!

Yup, I'm alive.
This was supposed to be a much prettier post, but since embedding a video to Blogger has become a huge hassle (along with everything else on this site lately) I can only post the link. Anyway, Auntie and I travel to Manoa Falls. More details on the hike to come.

And....apparently I'm struggling with posting pictures now too. Seriously Blogger? EAT ME.
I'm about to switch to word press since blogger is making me quiver with rage. POSTING A YOUTUBE VIDEO SHOULD NOT BE THIS DIFFICULT.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

National Cemetery of the Pacific, Part 2.

Once I arrived in the monument, I took pictures of most of the plaques on the walls, explaining the chain of events that occurred with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and it's aftermath, and the Battle of the Pacific. This blog is mostly going to contain photographs of what I saw at Punchbowl. I'm afraid I really can't explain what I witnessed accurately into words.

After viewing the maps, I went inside the chapel.

Finally, I viewed the cemetery. I shockingly noticed the beauty of the area. The same people I saw in the monument earlier were now down here as well. I took in as much information as I could. Every man of service had a different story to tell. Here were just a handful:

I'm unsure what the significance of the candy is. If anyone knows, let me know. I've tried looking it up with no luck.

I know there are people who will shy away from Punchbowl and Pearl Harbor, afraid that it might be too somber. (In fact, I overheard another traveler saying these words) Is it somber?  Yes. However, both landmarks also rich with history. Without getting political, and regardless on where your politics lie, this is a history that needs to be discussed with all generations, especially younger people and children. We need to always remember the selfless acts that our men and women of service have done for us, then and now. They have made the sacrifice of being away from their families and friends for months (sometimes years) at a time and traveled dangerous terrain. They wake up in the morning not knowing where they'll be at night, or if they'll see another night at all. They do this for our freedom, so we are able to learn and grow, and obtain whatever our hearts desire. I don't believe our soldiers expect our thanks, but they do deserve it, and I don't believe they are thanked enough. If anyone of service is reading this, thank you. Thank you for all you have done for us. If you are still serving, much love to you. May you return home safely. If you are home, safe and sound, your tour of duty will not (and should never) be forgotten. Be well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

National Cemetery of the Pacific, Part 1.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone with my grandfather who was asking me about my travels in Hawaii. I told him everything I'd seen so far, from surfing to my thrift store finds. He enjoyed listening, but one thing struck out at me:

"Have you been to Pearl Harbor or Punchbowl yet?" He asked. I admitted that I hadn't, but that I would go for sure.
"I think it would be a great honor if you could go visit," he said in that gentle way only Pop could. I promised I would.
I realized that it wouldn't just be an honor to pay a visit to those who were lost while serving, but it would honor Pop as well. Pop is proud man who has a love for literature, classic movies, and especially history. He was also a high school teacher for decades and although he retired two years before I began my freshman year, I could tell the love he had for his job was inspiring. All of my teachers remembered and spoke fondly of Pop. He's never stopped teaching really, since I learn something new whenever I visit him. I realized visiting Punchbowl and Pearl Harbor would not be an easy trek for Pop. I decided the best way to take him along would be though my writings and camera. And so, we begin our journey here.


Punchbowl is a cemetery that also serves as a memorial to our US Armed Forces. Thousands of people visit each year, and it is considered one of the most popular attractions in Hawaii. It's a little difficult to find though because it's on a mountainside above Honolulu. You have to travel up many winding roads and the bus that picks you up only comes hourly, so make sure you're on time for it if you ever come here. I set out early in the morning, since I knew I would probably have to make a day out of it. I remember visiting Punchbowl when I was 17, but not really comprehending what I was looking at. I wanted this time to be a completely different experience.

After I boarded the bus and went up the winding hills, I realized that the area surrounding Punchbowl was incredibly different than downtown. Full of luscious green hillside, clear blue sky, tropical flowers in full bloom, and beautiful homes, it was like heaven. The bus dropped me off at the nearest area to Punchbowl. Roosters were across the street from me. "When you're done, just come back here to the bottom of the hill." The driver told me. " I thanked her, and she drove off.

I was warned by a friendly passenger earlier that I would be doing a lot of walking up hills and stairs. She was worried. I'll take a quick detour here and describe what life is like with the locals, since this entry will make more sense that way. It's really shocking to me that passengers have begun to notice my travels everyday, and I have gotten to know them. I've never said anything about my walking difficulties and I've never let my guard down or told them much about me (most don't even know my name), but they've let me know when some travels will be challenging. They recommend places to me. They tell me the places to stay away from. They remind me to stay safe and smart, and sometimes they just say good morning. It's not something you see in New Jersey, and I'll admit it's taken me a good three weeks to adjust. Everyone knows everyone around here and you have to be ready for just about anyone to sit on the bus and strike up a conversation with you. I haven't realized just how "East Coast" I've become over the years I have lived in New Jersey, where you don't talk to people you don't know, and people don't take pause to notice others. (Not in a bad way, it's just how it is.) We're so busy rushing from one place to the next, saying "Good Morning" is forgotten. "Stranger Danger" is never far from your mind either, so it's foreign to me when I see everyone waving to one another here. I've had to remind myself to smile at people, or wave back. A couple of locals have joked I have "mainland face" (The face that doesn't smile) or they ask me why I'm sad. It's thrown me, since I'm not sad at all.

Anyhow, I quickly discovered what that passenger meant by "lots of walking."

I stayed smart and did what she told me to do, which was to rest when I needed to and take pictures in the meantime. Let me tell ya, pictures were necessary here:

Finally, I reached the front entrance. I could already see the immaculate grounds in the distance, as well as members of the military.

What little you could hear of the city life below us was now gone completely. There were no car horns, no buses, no swarms of people, loud laughter or jolly conversation. As I neared closer, I could see tourists on the monument surveying the scene around them. Some took pictures. Some were in awe. Others looked somber. Different accents echoed in the distance as they quietly conversed with their friends and families. Some of the accents were British, some Australian. I noticed different languages as well. Some German, some Japanese. What we all had in common was a mutual respect for the place we were in. We were surrounded by sacred company, a company most of us would probably never be with again. Before heading to the cemetery area, I decided to make that steep climb up the monument and take a good look myself.

Here's the view from the monument:

After that, I went inside the monument, the chapel and down to the cemetery below. I will continue our journey in my next entry. Aloha for now friends.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

festivals, festivals, festivals.

A couple of days ago, I planned to go to a bunch of places where (some) activities were only taking place in May. First, I decided to go to the Honolulu Swap Meet. The Swap Meet takes place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, but I couldn't pass it up any longer. It's a huge event at Aloha Stadium. From 8am to 3pm, booths are set up chalk full of new and used goods that you can buy or trade. Bargaining is FIERCE and you have to be good at it. I'm not really, but I consider myself a beginner. Besides, it's so much fun to explore anyway.

You can buy just about anything. From purses, to shot glasses, clothing to baby gear, plants, fruit, food. You name it, they have it. It's kind of like the biggest garage sale ever.

Aunt Lynn was speaking to someone at work about my wish to go. Her colleague's advice? "If you want the good stuff, you gotta go when they're setting up at 5." Five. As in, five in the morning. YEAH RIGHT. I may love this sort of thing, but I don't love it that much. Getting up that early means I'd probably have to board the bus by 4, which means I'd have to get up at 3am. I just don't have the strength, but I admire how hardcore some people are. You have to pause and marvel at the motivation. Because of my insanity, (What is wrong with me? It's crazy to get there by ten) I missed out on the garage sale items. That's okay though, I wasn't TOO interested. I made out like a bandit anyhow, and all of the stuff I bought came at a bargain. Can't tell you what those said items are right now friends and fam, because they're going home to you.

Don't worry. I'd never keep stuff on a bench like that on purpose. One of the bags broke.
As for me, I found these:

Finally! Rings that fit my fingers! I'm not a fancy girl. I don't care for fancy rings or diamonds. (These are made of stone or something) I just want costume jewelry that fits. I would like to take a moment though to say to that future guy in my life that I am a size 3/4. And if you happen to propose, I'd prefer it if you got me a big drooly puppy instead of a big rock, but I would really, really appreciate the added bonus of said puppy included with non fancy ring. Just sayin. What? No I haven't thought about that. Not at all.

After the swap meet, it became too sweltering hot to walk around the statium, so I left for the Honolulu Book and Music Festival.

I love books. I always have. As I've gotten older, life has gotten in the way of me sitting down for 5 to 6 hours at a time with my nose in one, but I still enjoy a good novel. The Honolulu Book and Music Fest takes place once a year in May for two days. There's all kinds of genres to look at. From books on Hawaiian culture, spirital books, fiction and non fiction novels and the Hawaii PBS kids tent.

Yeah, y'all. Clifford was there. Don't tell my nephews Dean and Matt, but we're BFF. We go WAY back. In fact, I remember reading his books when ~*I was their age*~ Caillou was there too, but I didn't want to talk to him. I hate to tell you this boys, but he's kind of annoying, and frankly, he's just weird. Don't play with him. His giggle will drive you up a wall, he whines till he gets his way and his sister Suzie ALWAYS seems to be sick. I think she may have leprosy.

After bidding adou to my PBS friends, I grabbed some lunch and listened to a live concert. I have no idea who was performing, because the schedule on the Hawaii Book and Music Fest is incorrect. The music was pretty and engaging though. I'll try and find out who was playing for you guys.

The musician was onstage was also pretty funny. When one of the strings on his steel guitar broke, he just quips: "That's okay, I got plenty more," making the audience laugh.

I should add that over at the Barnes and Noble tent was Roseanne Barr, signing her autobiography. I'd have taken a picture for you, but she left pretty quickly, not staying for the entire event. (In fact, the schedule said she'd be there from 3pm to 4pm, but she left a little before 3:30.) She did buy a book and stand next to me though. (I know, I know, wow.)

My most favorite part of the day though? Heading back on the bus with my treasures and going home to relax in the pool. Pretty rad weekend, if I do say so myself. I managed to get one of the musical performances on video for you to enjoy. Sorry for the shaky camera quality. It evens out after a few seconds. It was pretty windy. Aloha all!