Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Oahu Trip (Days 6 & 7) -- End of Trip!

Day 6: Monday, March 20 & Day 7: Tuesday, March 21
Diamond Head + Work + Shopping & Return Home
I did my favorite YouTube hatha flow video in the hotel room before Mr. E and I headed off on our jog/walk towards Diamond Head. Great views as always, and we were appreciative of the cloud cover to help keep the temperatures down and the sun exposure lower

We took the return route round the other side of the crater and fueled up with food and coffee at the Starbucks near Kapiolani Park afterwards.

Both of us needed to do some work today, so we brought our laptops down to the lovely open-air lobby to work for several hours. Much nicer than the usual office environment! We then completed a few more souvenir purchases and settled in at Moana Terrace for Happy Hour drinks and snacks and a game of Rummy 500 (Mr. E eventually won a few days later once we finished the game!). Dinner was at the Royal Hawai'ian Food Court again, where I had an excellent yakitori and Mr. E opted for the familiar and satisfying Panda Express.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Honolulu Coffee for some [pricier-than-Mr. E-expected] kona coffee beans to bring back to the mainland. The evening finished up with packing and TV in the room.

The next morning, I did a final 40 minute swim and then some YouTube yoga on the pool deck. We used our final breakfast voucher for the buffet, and Mr. E procured his own honu necklace. Then we were off to the airport, with no first-class upgrade this time. Darn! Our flights were on time, and we spent the long (2.5 hour) layover in SFO at the wine bar. We finally got home to the kitties just after midnight and were both welcomed and scolded by the fur babies.

Another great trip. Aloha!

Oahu Trip (Day 5)

Day 5: Sunday, March 19 -- My birthday!
Snorkel with "Guaranteed Honu" + Open Houses + Top of Waikiki
I started the day with another 40-minute swim followed by a great Vinyasa Flow outdoor yoga class on the pool deck. I'm glad I brought my own mat with me so that I could double up on the hard stone terrace surface!

Mr. E and I returned to the buffet breakfast for a quick meal before getting ready for our Hawai'i Nautical catamaran tour, which included snorkel time out over the reefs with "guaranteed sea turtles." We ended up over the same reef where we had scuba dived two days ago! This time, we saw about half a dozen of the wonderful honu, including two that surfaced nearby to breathe and another lazing near the surface as we headed back to the marina at the end of the tour. We also cruised out around Diamond Head and caught a quick glimpse of a whale as it breached the surface.

We got back to the hotel in early afternoon (lunch was included with the boat tour) and changed quickly so that we could go check out some condo open houses in and around Ala Moana Boulevard. Mr. E had been in touch with a realtor from Hawai'i Life, and she provided us with a list of properties within our desired location and price range. We decided to set a minimum of 700 square feet to help filter the list, so we prioritized three locations and set out on foot, trying to keep to the shady side of the street as much as possible!

Finding the entrance to the first listing was a bit tricky, since the residential side faces away from the street. The condo had a great panoramic view, but the building isn't pet-friendly, and we also learned about the concept of a "leasehold," which is relatively common in this area but presents a more risky investment. So... on to the next viewing a couple of blocks away. This spot was pet-friendly with restrictions, but we weren't impressed with the listing agent, who almost got us stuck in the elevator when he forgot that he needed to use his fob for us to exit the property. We had just enough time to find the final condo, a great place in the Villa at Eaton Square. Clearly, we saved the best for last, as this condo included covered parking, a rooftop deck with BBQ area and pool, and no limits on pet companions.

We're definitely not yet ready to make an investment in another home, but it was very helpful to get a sense of what we might find within our price range as well as to learn about more questions to ask for the next time around.

To celebrate my birthday, we went to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant and managed to get seated at a table in the bar area, where we enjoyed some yummy cocktails and snacks and eventually ordered dinner. Yummy scallops for me! Mr. E also conspired with our very friendly and personable waiter to bring a surprise dessert to finish off the special sunset-view meal.

On our way back to the hotel, we did a bit more shopping and then wrapped up the evening by watching the last bits of "Dr. Strange" and catching the new episode of "Elementary" on TV.

Oahu Trip (Day 4)

Day 4: Saturday, March 18
Rainforest Hike
I did [real] Pilates in the room before we grabbed breakfast at Subway and coffee at Starbucks prior to our 9am pick-up by Bike Hawai'i for our rainforest hike adventure. Our guide, Terrii, was a third-generation local, so he had lots of great insider knowledge to share with us along the way to the trail-head, including pointing out various spots associated with Barack "Barry" Obama and his family. Terrii led our 12-person group along a 1.3ish mile trail in the Manoa Valley, across a couple of streams, and through two bamboo groves on our way to a rather anti-climactic waterfall, which was the turnaround point. Just a trickle of water due to the recent drier weather, but that also made the trail drier and easier to navigate.

After we returned to the hotel, we split the leftovers from dinner plus some sushi from the ABC store and enjoyed lunch out on our small lanai facing Diamond Head. We then refreshed with a dip in the larger pool and dried off in the sun.

Later, we went out for some more browsing along Kalakaua Ave. and then backtracked to Kuhio Beach for the free sunset hula show:

We finished the day with a return trip to the Royal Hawai'ian Food Court for dinner followed by two unsuccessful attempts to check out a working copy of "The Arrival" from the DVD kiosk. In the end, we got "Dr. Strange" instead, which Mr. E had already watched during a plane trip, but at least it was new to me.


Oahu Trip (Day 3)

Day 3: Friday, March 17
St. Patrick's Day & Scuba!
I got up to enjoy a 40-minute swim in the larger of the two pools and then joined the free "Pilates" class on the deck area near the Fitness Center. The class wasn't really Pilates, more of a mix of some yoga and body-weight strength training, but it was still a good workout and so lovely to be outside. Mr. E and I used more of our vouchers for the breakfast buffet and then set off to have "second coffee" at the Starbucks on Kuhio Ave, which has a special Reserve bar where you can get exclusive beans and blends. Mr. E had the Jamaican Blue, and I tried the Guatemala.

After we finished sipping, we walked a block up to Kalakaua Ave. to check out the St. Patrick's Day Parade. The lead-off bagpipers were particularly impressive!

After some essentials and souvenir shopping at Long's Drugs, we got lunch at the Royal Hawai'ian Food Court on our way back to the hotel, where we got ready for our first-timers scuba lesson. We took a taxi to Kewalo Boat Basin, just past the Ala Moana Mall, where we managed to find our boat and crew from Oahu Diving. We had two instructors, Brad and Eric, and the boat was piloted by Captain Dan. Six other first-timer divers were part of the group as well. Brad got us all suited up in the appropriate gear -- wet suits, masks, and fins -- and then we got strapped into our vests and tanks once we were on the boat and headed out into the harbor. Eric gave us instructions for all of the equipment basics as well as some underwater hand signals, so by the time we reached the first dive site after about 15 minutes, we were ready to take the plunge!

We all made it successfully to the sandy bottom near the reef, about 30 feet below the surface. Our group set off to explore, led by Brad and Eric, who also took lots of great photos of the divers and the marine life. We saw some beautiful fish, an eel, a small shark, and lots of HONU!!! Oh my goodness. It was so incredible to see these amazing creatures so close up in their natural setting and to swim with them. Honu, honu, honu!

We got to have a second dive, which was a bit deeper, but this reef didn't showcase as many honu, so I'm glad the first site was such a popular spot for the turtles.

And remember, don't touch the turtles! That can be harmful to them, and the penalty is a pretty significant fine, for good reason.

Instead of taking a taxi back to the hotel, we decided to walk the 2.5ish miles, enjoying the path through Ala Moana Park and along all of the resort hotels at the western part of Waikiki. After we got cleaned up, we had dinner at the nearby Wolfgang Puck Express and made a final stop at Cookie Connection for dessert treats. We opted for post-dinner cocktails at the Moana Terrace, and I got a chance to see the 7:45pm fireworks from the Hilton Resort, but Mr. E missed out since he was getting some stuff from the room. We finished up our evening by checking out the DVD "Passengers" with our free DVD rental card and watching the film in our room.