Hawaii Trip, Day 5: Surfing, Pali Highway, and Ko Olina Snorkeling

The next morning, we went surfing with one of Daniel’s little brothers’ teachers, who lived right on the beach in Kailua. No super waves, but there was good body surfing to be had, and it was just so beautiful and we hadn’t gotten de-sensitized yet. After lunch (at Burger King, where the trash cans say “MAHALO” instead of “THANK YOU” – awesome), we went on another hike. Noticing a trend here? This time we hiked along the old Pali Highway, which hugs the East side of the mountains that run through the center of the island. More great views here, and a lot more jungle scenery than the pillbox hike. At one point we had to climb down a rope to go under the current Pali Highway, which was interesting. The hike starts at the aptly-named Pali Highway lookout, and ends at a golf course at the base of the mountains. It is hard to imagine cars, and especially large trucks sharing this tiny road! The road is only two lanes, and barely even that – with rock faces on one side and dizzying dropoffs on the other, no wonder they built a new highway to replace this one!

In the evening, we drove over to Ko Olina to go snorkeling. Ko Olina is a big resort on the south west corner of the island, but since all beaches in Hawaii are public, you can get into the resort and use their beached for free. Also, they have a big Luau at the resort, and bus people in from Honolulu for it and everything (big $$). However, the luau takes place right by the beach. So, you can stand on the public beach and watch the luau for free. No buffet, but whatever! We didn’t stick around for the luau, though, as we wanted to get some snorkeling in before dark. While we were out, we saw a number of sea turtles, which was cool – I had never seen them in the water before. We would go turtle watching sometimes home in Melbourne when they come ashore to lay their eggs (always being careful not to keep them from laying those eggs), but it was good to see them in the water. Unfortunately, there was some sort of film all over the coral, and it was overcast, so it wasn’t spectacular snorkeling.

Hawaii Trip, Day 4: Kaena Point Hike

Continuing with the hiking trend, this day was spent hiking Oahu’s westernmost point. We left Daniel’s house early, caravaning up the East coast, along the North Shore, and to the West side of the island. That drive was spectacular – it was so picturesque, with gorgeous beaches every 5 feet, and the awesome mountains everywhere. The highway that follows the coast all the way around the island ends before Kaena point, becoming a dirt path that you really don’t want to drive on unless you have four wheel drive and a lot of ground clearance. Continue reading Hawaii Trip, Day 4: Kaena Point Hike

Hawaii Trip, Day 3: Honolulu Part 1, Diamond Head

The next morning, we all crowded into Daniel’s parents’ van (from now on referred to as the hula bus), and drove over to Honolulu for the morning. We walked around a little downtown, and checked out Waikiki. Even at 9 in the morning, it was already really crowded, and honestly, the beach was not nearly as nice as Kailua beach. The highlight of the morning was lobster man – some guy sunbathing that had the worst sunburn we had ever seen. It was really really bad. After an hour or two, we drove over to Diamond Head, where we hiked up to the top. Diamond Head is the most popular hike on the island, and it is easy to see why – it is very close to Honolulu, you get a really good view of Honolulu and the West side of the island, and there is a lot of remnant WWII construction you get to scramble through. At the peak of Diamond Head, you actually climb through an old lookout installation, climbing steep stairs and crouching in concrete tunnels burrowed in the mountainside. To reach the absolute top, you actually crawl through the front of a pillbox and out onto its roof. And the views of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki beach are unmatched. This was a fun hike, and if you have little kids, the scramble through the pillbox at the end would likely be their favorite – but as the most popular hike on the island, it was very crowded, and very hot. Since you are on the “dry” side of the island and also in a volcanic crater, there is little in the way of foliage to shiel you from the powerful tropic sun. Bring water and a hat for this one.

We drove back home through Hawaii Kai, and along the East shore of the island. Once home, we enjoyed spending the rest of the day on the beach. Quite relaxing, if I do say so myself.

Hawaii Trip, Days 1-2: First Impressions, Maunawili Falls, and Pillbox Hike (Ka’iwa Ridge)

A quick introduction – 5 of my best friends from college and I took a 10 day trip to Hawaii in May of 2008, after we all graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!). We viewed this as our last hurrah before we all starting going our separate ways. We had all met as freshmen living on the same floor in the dorms, and had stuck together since then, as roommates and great friends. Traveling with me (your humble narrator for this journey) were Daniel (“Neubs”), Danny, Chen, Sal, and Dave. We were staying with Daniel’s family, who had moved out to Hawaii from Tampa a few years earlier.

I don’t know if we could have possibly had a better first day in Hawaii. A secluded waterfall (complete with jumping platform) and the best view on the island, all in one day? Yeah, I will take that – with an extra helping of awesome, please. Continue reading Hawaii Trip, Days 1-2: First Impressions, Maunawili Falls, and Pillbox Hike (Ka’iwa Ridge)

Back Home

Just getting back from Washington now – and man it was a great trip. Although I did not take too many more pictures after the first few days, I should get the rest of them up soon, now that I have a reliable internet connection. Yesterday was by far my favorite day. We started off with a trip to the grand re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum in the old US Patent building, and then had some great Indian food uptown, followed by a Dave Brubeck concert at the National Cathedral. Amazing.

DC – The First Three Days

Here is a recap of the last few days –

Day 1

So we flew into Dulles around noon Friday, and we went to the new Air & Space Museum center right by the airport. This is where they keep all the planes that are not on display in the museum on the Mall, so they have a lot of really cool stuff. Off the top of my head they had a Blackbird, a Concorde, the Enola Gay, and Phantom, an X-35, a Shuttle (may have been a replica) and tons of smaller planes and old antiques. It was pretty sweet since they also had a lot of WWII era German and Japanese planes. After the museum we went over to my Aunt & Uncle’s house in Reston, VA. Continue reading DC – The First Three Days

Washington, DC Trip

I am currently in DC visiting family and hopefully will get pictures and such up as soon as I can get internet on my laptop. I am really looking forward to checking out all the museums (we went to the new Air & Space hangar near Dulles yesterday – really cool), plus maybe doing some hiking and other exciting stuff that is not available in Gainesville.

Jump In. (or How I Learned To Stop Sleeping And Love The Xbox 360)

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How I got here.

What follows is my recollection of the past few days as I typed it on the plane from LA back to Memphis earlier today:

Day 1: Saturday Nov. 19, 2005 – The Journey Begins

We flew out of Gainesville Airport at 7am, and our original itinerary called for a short layover in Memphis before continuing on to LA. However, when we arrived in Memphis, we learned that our flight to LA had been cancelled. After a lot of confusion on everyones part, we (Daniel and I – Chen, Dave, and Sal had different flights), we were booked on the next flight to LA…which was 6 hours later. So, Daniel and I had 6 hours to kill in the Memphis Airport. After a short search for playing cards (why does nobody sell regular playing cards in the airport?!) we acquired a deck of Elvis playing cards. Now, these were no ordinary playing cards – each card had a different picture of Elvis on them. So, Daniel invented quite possibly the greatest card game ever – ‘Elvis Poker’. Now, the rules of Elvis poker are very similar to 5-card draw, with a slight twist – the wilds. Instead of 2’s or 6’s or whatever, the pictures on the cards determined what was wild. So one hand would have Elvis in a hat as wilds. The next would be Elvis with a dog, or thoughtful Elvis. Just the fact that there are so many random pictures of Elvis made this game an instant classic. Anyways, after that looong layover, we finally get to fly to LA. Oh yeah, and since our flight got canceled and we had to be put in whatever seats were available, I got to fly first class, which was sweet. Continue reading Jump In. (or How I Learned To Stop Sleeping And Love The Xbox 360)

Xbox 360, Ninjas, and Los Angeles

So, yeah. I submitted a video I made of me and a few other guys to the Hex 168 contest, and, well, we WON. So that means that all SIX of us get and Xbox 360, 3 games, a year of Xbox Live!, AND a fully paid-for trip to a launch event. This launch event is supposedly being held in the ‘Mojave Desert’, and our flight plans have us flying in to LA this Saturday (the 19th).

Now, what we all will get to do is spend 30 hours playing all of the launch titles, as well as see some new previews of games that will come out after the initial launch, and spend lots of time basking in Xbox goodness. Plus, we will all get a ‘unique Xbox gift’. So yeah, I’m excited. Check out our winning video on the Hex website, or view the full version here. Also be sure to check out the music video. Expect pictures of the consoles when we receive them, as well as LOTS of pics from the event itself.

Oh yeah…..and we get the 360’s and games SIX DAYS before the launch.