Friday 24 January 2014

Dead Man's Catwalk

When you read about a hike being forbidden, banned and guarded by a ticketing officer, you ask yourself why you would even think about going. Other than the amazing views, there's something about the skepticism and rebellion that makes this hike an adventure. Don't let the death-defying nickname "Dead Man's Catwalk" fool you into not going, because the views from the top of Kamehame Ridge are spectacular!

When we left our car, we left it all. The further we trespassed onto the property the more my adrenaline began to rush. First, we came to a gate stating entry would result in a fine and possibly jail time, but this didn't stop us. A second fence covered in barbed wire had us maneuver around the edge of it but we still didn't think twice about turning around. We followed the paved path all the way up until we noticed some painted arrows taking us into bushes and trees just tall enough for us to duck under. We came to a final fence that has been cut and pulled back, creating a hole just big enough for one person to squeeze through. We leaned forward into the next crazy adventure beneath these skies, and as we lifted our heads, graffiti covered walls and buildings greeted us with clever quotes and artwork. 

We ascended high enough to the banks of the clouds. Perfect clouds cool with mist and closer to heaven. I could see the whole Earth from up here, blue and white and spinning around in terrifying magnificent space. No people, only hearts, countless hearts beating and the sound of breathing. A bold kind of holiness hung in the air as we leaned our heads over the edge. My hair was spinning around in my ponytail. I stared up to the bright sky where there was no war, how peaceful I thought, why can't every place in the world feel like this. Then I closed my eyes and kicked my legs to the heavens.

There were no birds, not even a single plane on the horizon, just earth, air, wind and sweet views. I watched as the brilliant sea glittered under the sun. We arrived at the summit just before sunset. We watched the sun vanish into the sea, sending up the last flashes of its fireworks display, almost violet this time, and then at once it was night. 

Mad props to the artist who has turned this platform into one of the most picturesque places in all of Hawaii!

Saturday 18 January 2014

You and Me and a Cabin by the Sea

It had been a long week of carefree adventures, during which strangers became friends. But all good things have endings. The boys left to go to Maui and we were left with a week of exploring Oahu. The time had come for us to fend for ourselves. It was an interesting couple of nights in our car. We'd park at beaches or camp sites that were state owned, where we weren't welcomed after hours and were especially not allowed to camp without a permit. But who would have known we were sleeping in our car? We bypassed areas labeled "Kapu" (sacred, keep out) and parks that stated no camping. I would much rather upset park rangers than the Hawaiian Gods. Luckily we stumbled upon the Friends of Malaekahana camp site! Privately owned and open 7 days a week, this place is an Hawaiian mecca for camping! Our little grass hut was ocean front with all the amenities we needed. Who knows how many hundreds of miles we were away from home, this was bliss!

I could close my eyes and concentrate. It was as if my own body had kept the scents of my childhood summer camp simmering on some back burner. At the most unexpected moments, the aromas would rise up and join with the fragrance of my current life to make a new-old perfume. The soft smell of the old worn cotton of our sheet, the lingering smell of salty mist and bonfire, lotion, the sweet nutty smell of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the oaken smell of cheap bourbon and rum. A combination of the surrounding valleys, cedar, vanilla, and wild orchids, these smells are older than any thought. I stood at the edge of the ocean watching the local surfer kids, and felt suddenly young and terribly open, as if I were waiting for something.

Our cabin by the sea was perfectly situated under a tree and over looking the windward side of Oahu. The wind was so intense it was as if not only our bodies were shaking but the earth and sky were too. The very air we breathed was almost a juice and I was devouring it. Moonlight spilled down into our cabin, onto our shoulders and knees and over the tops of our heads, so that our hair seemed to have little sparkles shooting off it. If the sultry heat, the rum, and the late hour were not enough to put us in a trance, the magnitude of the moonlight was. Every night we would climb into our berth and dream while the waves rolled on. The moonlight bathed me in my slumber, and the sunrise woke us from our bed every morning!

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest of wilderness." - John Muir

Thursday 9 January 2014

Oahu's Infinite Possibilities

Coincidence - (noun) a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection. Are the events of our lives ultimately objective or subjective? Is there a deeper order or an overarching purpose to the universe? Or are we the lucky accidents of evolution, living our precious brief lives in a fundamentally random world that has only the meaning we choose to give it? Whether coincidences are meaningful is a mystery. But one thing is certain about them, their phenomenon to fascinate believers like myself.

Greg and I planned our trip back to Hawaii as soon as we returned this past April. We fell in love with Maui last year and planned to move back after a two week vacay in Oahu. We weren't certain about the date of our arrival but we knew it would be some time during the holidays. We booked our flight for December 5, it was affordable and gave us enough time to organize our lives in San Diego while providing enough time to explore the islands! Just so happens, the EXACT day we fly into Honolulu, Greg's old neighborhood buddy he grew up with was flying in with his family and staying for a week.  His oldest brother was running his 50th marathon in Honolulu to complete a marathon in all 50 states, so the family flew in to celebrate and stayed in a condo on the beach. Not only did we get to spend quality time with him and his family, they provided us with a place to stay, and we provided him and his brother with a car for adventures around Oahu! We had an absolute blast, made up for lost time, and we all got to see our first Oahu waterfall together! Coincidence? Synchronicity? I'd say it was a purposeful occurrence of two seemingly unrelated events!

Whether it was coincidence or not, Oahu provided us with an endless landscape of adventures. The must see Waikiki Beach is quite overwhelming compared to our small tourist town of Lahaina, but it's bursting with culture. It's not just a famous landmark, it's the vibrant epicenter of Hawaii! We walked the entire beach from one to end to the other then back down the flourishing strand of downtown Honolulu. We hiked to the top of Diamond Head crater, cliff jumped at Spitting Cave where we swam with an endangered monk seal, snorkeled Hanauma Bay, grubbed on some of the best fish tacos I've ever eaten and drank ourselves silly watching the Michigan State Spartans kill it!

A short drive takes us away from the kitschy tourist traps of Honolulu and into the mountains of Ko'olau or to the the laid-back beach town of North Shore. When paying a visit to Oahu's windward side, be sure to start early because the sunrise alone is worth the morning drive, and the earlier you go, the quicker you get to experience some of the most mouth watering fish tacos, shrimp plates or road side food truck grubs. Whether you've worked up an appetite after a 6 mile waterfall hike or are craving something small to refuel after a day of sun bathing, Oahu's windward side has it all!

And let's not forget a day of pro surf competitions and 10-12 foot waves on the infamous Banzai Pipeline! Once again, these things are never planned, they somehow always seem to fall in our lap. It JUST SO HAPPENED to be the Billabong Pipe Masters finals in North Shore with the best and most well known pro surfers from all over the world, the week we planned to be in Oahu. Coincidence? Maybe.

As we make our way towards the surfing capital of the world, the gradient two-lane road takes us through Oahu's last sugar plantation town, Hale'iwa. Charming wooden store fronts line the streets of this two block town, full of art, food, but mostly supporting the local surf life. Just down the road, you can hear the thunderous drumming of the Banzai Pipeline, home to the most famous surf breaks in the world. Enchanted by some otherworldly hippy and surfer deity, we find ourselves facing rows of what look like two story name brand surfer houses and brightly colored surf boards arranged like freshly painted canvases. This area of North Shore is home to the world's biggest surf companies and its surfers. From the street, the houses are hard to distinguish, cut off from the world by thick hedges and intimidating gates, but from the beach these houses share something special. 

It's just after noon, and an influx of cars are appearing from every direction. It's a good thing we got an 8:00am start! We left our car at a local park where we took a refreshing dip in the tide pools, then took a mile walk along a beautifully paved bike path to get to the competition. The faint murmur of shuffling feet grew in sounds, and the number of parking spots diminished. Our butts hit the sand front and center during the third round, right when God and Yadin Nicol granted us with a perfect 10! We got to witness Kelly Slater taking home his 7th win, local boy John John Florence come in a close second and tons of other local boys rip it! This perfect turquoise barrel is not just a wave, it's a lifestyle, as you can see here!

Already drunk off the satisfying sweet and salty air, we decided to pull into another beach for a quick cliff jump at Waimea Bay!

Island life is about living the dream, challenging yourself to do things you wouldn't normally do, meeting people who inspire you to be a better person and and making memories.

So you can either dream it...

Or you can live it...