Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yo Ho Hopu!

(I wrote this post a long time ago, but I guess I forgot to hit the "Publish" button...)

This past weekend (Nov 12-14), we went to quite possibly the best Ultimate tournament I've ever attended. It had all of the key elements to make a tournament great: A great level of competition, a lot of spirit, games, costumes, excellent weather... Plus a few bonus elements to make it just incredible: the mountains, the ocean, a pirate theme, camping.

Here are some pictures:

Our team: the Electros!

Camping at the Waimanalo Beach Park across the road. 5 Minute walk to the fields, and 30 second walk to the ocean.

After each game, we'd "Walk the Plank".... harder than it looks.

Couldn't resist the urge to take a panoramic of the fields. It was just too beautiful.

The Honolulu Ultimate community has two tournaments like this a year-- a co-ed in November, and a men's and women's tournament in February. Goal: Have enough funding in the future to be able to come back to Hawai'i and play, bringing more Sneetches and Donkeys with me, of course!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Head in the Clouds

This is how I watched the sun rise yesterday morning.

With school off for Veteran's Day, we decided to hike the Haiku Stairs, known by most as "The Stairway to Heaven." These stairs were once used for military purposes, but were closed several years ago because they were broken down and deemed unsafe. After about $900,000 in repairs, the state of Hawai'i decided to keep the stairs closed because the tenants living near the entrance didn't like the hiker traffic.

Now, the stairs are repaired, sturdy, but still off limits. It's still one of the greatest and most popular hikes in Oahu, but the trick is to get there before the guard in the morning. (He doesn't mind seeing you leave, but won't let you in...)

So, Thursday morning, after waking up at 4:15am, The Haverford Boys, Micki, Merete and I all piled in a car, and made it to the site. It was absolutely incredible. The stairs are essentially just bolted into the side of the mountain, and we could see EVERYTHING (well, at least, until we got into the clouds and couldn't see anything but...)

Enough words! PICTURES:

3,922 stairs in total!

The whole group-- Isaac, Rudy, Aubrey, Me, Merete, and Micki!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Hiker

Hiking! Finally! After weeks of rain, interrupted only by a few sunny days spent at the beach, I was able to hike non-stop this weekend. It felt good to be both active and outdoors, exposed to some of the real and natural beauty of Hawai'i.

Saturday morning, I went with my friend Merete over to the windward side of the island and hiked the Makapu'u Lighthouse trail... or at least hiked near it. After the long bus ride to that part of the Island, Merete and I were eager to hike up this beautiful mountain, overlooking the ocean and towns below.

We couldn't quite find the trail, so we instead just hiked straight up the face of Makapu'u, which was a great deal of fun all on its own. It was great to be climbing and putting effort into our ascent rather than taking the very tame and paved "trail" on the back side of the mountain.

Merete making the climb up!

We also passed some actual rock climbers! We have friends from frisbee who do this climb-- I'm hoping maybe they'll bring me along before I leave!

The views from the top were stunning. Makapu'u must have been an old military lookout post, because there were several of these pillboxes at the top.
A view from inside one of the pillboxes

Merete and I at the windy top!

The vegetation too was breathtaking and incredibly interesting. The wind and dry air reminded me of the climate on Koho'olawe. With time, and more work, I hope that Koho'olawe will be able to retain the moisture of the winter rains to a point that life like this can flourish there as well.

This last photo was my favorite one I took of the day. This rock structure could possibly mark a haeau, or a sacred place.

From the top, we took the trail down the backside of the mountain, and switched extremes from the windy heights of the top of Makapu'u, down to the ocean where the crashing waves caused these deep tide pools, and also this blow-hole:

I'd like to go back and spend more time at this spot on a warmer day and swim in these pools. They were actually extremely deep!

After an incredible day out with Merete on Saturday, the next day became Sunday Fun-day: hiking edition. Kristen, Merete and I went to the Judd Memorial Trail, which was more of a jungle-type, muddy hike as opposed to the dry, seaside hike from the day before. The scenery was incredible, and constantly changing. We started out in a thick bamboo forest, and continued through pines and then Guava trees as we ascended to the ridge.
Kristen and Merete climbing through the bamboo
A "waterfall"? Water trickling down over rocks from a stream up-mountain.

This was the most incredible Banyan tree I've seen since being here. We spent a long time climbing it, hiding in it, and exploring it. Banyan trees are incredible as they have branches shoot straight down and re-root into the earth, causing more braches to grow upwards. Over time, the tree becomes this endless network of growth...

Hiking with these women felt effortless, despite the steep, muddy incline. Between good conversation and stopping frequently to admire the natural environment around us, the day and hike went extremely fast!

Kristen is a biologist, and frequently was able to tell us about different plants we saw, like these mushrooms.
A view from the top!

After hiking back down the muddy trail (many slips occurred along the way), we looked for the swimming hole located nearby. After getting a little lost and doing some bush-whacking through the forest, we finally found it! I didn't get a picture here, but it was a beautiful (slightly crowded) spot, complete with a small waterfall and a rope swing to use to jump into the stream.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I'm a little bumped and bruised and mosquito-bitten, but of course, it was worth it! I'm excited to do more hikes on the island in the weeks to come!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween, Huge Waves, and other updates

I know it's been a terribly long time since I've posted last. I think that this is not a consequence of not wanting to write, but feeling more like there's been nothing to write. The more time I spend here, the more I feel like the things I'm doing are routine, and not exceptional like they were at the beginning. I'm still doing incredible things, and appreciating them in the moment, but just haven't felt like anything's been important enough to post about...

That being said, this past Sunday was Halloween in Honolulu, and the whole island went crazy for the entire weekend. Saturday night there was a huge street festival in Chinatown, and every road, sidewalk and building was packed full of people in ridiculous, incredible costumes. There was music, food, dancing-- everything! After that crazy evening, I spent Sunday with the Sunday Fun-day ladies relaxing on the beach and then preparing for "real" Halloween in Waikiki. We went to the Honolulu production of the Rocky Horror Picture show, and then continued into town, where, again, all of the streets were completely packed. Most of the fun was just walking through the crowds and seeing all of the amazing costumes. Here are some photos from the weekend:

The Sunday Funday women! (Left to right) -- Micki as a devil, Merete as a mime, Kristen as a Pirate, and me as Prince (the artist formally known as...)

Isaac as a fairy, Baily as the tin-woman, and Rudy as a unicorn

The crowded streets of Chinatown Saturday night

This week, too, has been a great one so far. Tuesday, there were no classes because of Election Day, and so the Haverford boys and I decided to travel up to the North Shore for the day. This time of year, that part of the island gets HUGE waves, and there are dozens of surf competitions. I'd only been up there once, and so spending the day there seemed like a great idea.

The ocean there is so dramatic compared to what the ocean looks like on the southern part of the Island. As Isaac said, "It's just all white-water..." Above the ocean is just a haze of mist coming off the turbulent water. In the morning, we went to Hale'iwa, and spent time napping in the sun, exploring the surrounding areas, and listening to the waves crash.

After a few hours, we grabbed a late lunch in town. One of my favorite things about Hawai'i is the Poke bowl. Hot rice with cold, flavored seasoned raw fish.... SO good. And it's fresh at every grocery store on the island!

From here, we went to Sunset Beach to -- guess what-- watch the sun set. The waves here were also incredibly tumultuous, but there were some areas where we could play in the water a little.
(Rudy, Aubrey and Isaac left to right)

And, the sunset was incredible:

It's crazy to think that the weeks here are becoming limited! I'm hoping to make a list of things I still want to do and then DO THEM in the small amount of time I have remaining...