Saturday, December 31, 2005

Great Hawaiian Vacation Part 4

So, when we last left off I had just picked up Koki. Well, it turned out that Koki really wanted to go the the Volcano. Oops. So, since we were unable to make the minimum 4 hour drive to Volcano, see Volcano and come back on the same day, I decided to take everyone to a different Volcano. I thought at first we would go up Mauna Loa, but when I learned that the road to the top of Mauna Loa was a Jeep trail I concluded that the poor old RAV4 "Studmoblie" was not going to be able to make the trip. Instead, I decided to go to the summit of Mauna Kea, a trip which I knew the RAV4 could do.

It is always a chore to get Takaya and Koki up in the morning. They will never wake up on their own, and even after Manabu and I wake them they sometimes spend nearly an hour making themselves look pretty. Great habit for Japan, but not for Hawaii, where you are just going to either go in the ocean, sweat in the jungle, or be wrapped in blankets in the mountains. Oh well. So even though I wanted to leave at 7:00am, we ended up leaving at 8:30, and just as I predicted, I had to drive with the sun in my eyes. Anyway, we got to the 6000 foot level and stopped at that cool Pu'u that has the forest on it. In the picture below, Mauna Kea can be seen in the background.
Here is the view of Hualalai from the Forest Pu'u.
After adjusting to 6000 feet, we went up to Hale Pohaku and spent a half an hour adjusting to the air at 9000 feet. Here are Manabu and Koki talking to the ranger, who, as it turns out, had done the JET program also. I am beginning to worry about this, because it seems like 10% of the people that I meet have done JET. Does everybody move to Hawaii after doing the JET program or something? And I also have to say that, while many of the JET participants I have met have been neat people, there are some real slackers. Wait, you applied to the JET program simply because you liked the bar scene in Osaka when you visited? I think I know why you didn't like working in Japan, pal.
This was such a good picture I had to include it.
I then drove to the 14000 foot level. To my great pleasure, this time I felt no ill effects, aside from the standard difficulty walking. It was a beautiful day on the summit, but the wind chill was really really bad. Here is everybody, plus Subaru on the left and the two Kecks on the right.
After ascending the summit, I drove down, went to Foodland, bought a 2 pound squid and spent the rest of the day cleaning and cooking it.

The next day my dad was kind enough to take our three guests flying on a round the island sightseeing tour. Here they are flying over the house.
Mom and I picked them up in Waimea and then headed down the hill to the Alkire's party. Here the early people at the party watching the sunset.
John dancing the Hula (making it up as he goes, but doing quite well, actually).
The band. I love the live Hawaiian music, but I didn't know any of the songs this year.
So, last year I was the official photographer for the party, and when the Alkires got the CD made I got full photo credit on the bottom! Very exciting for me. This is the first time my pictures have ever been used on something that was not of my own making! And now I can say that I have done a CD cover! Sorry this is only the back, I had major problems getting the front cover onto this site.
The next day was simple. We went to the beach and got pounded by the surf for 2 hours. About half way through getting totally mashed by one wave, I realized that I still had my cell phone in my pocket. I went onto shore and removed it. It looked cleaner than it had ever been, and weighed about 50 grams more than usual. It goes without saying that it was broken beyond repair. Most electronics that get smashed in the sand in salt water tend to never work again. Oh well. So we went to Kona to pick up supplies and see if I could buy a new phone, which I could not. Instead we went to K-Mart for the 5th time this trip, where I bought this little girl's T-shirt (a bargain at $2.99) for Takaya as a joke. Who knew it would not only fit him, but look good on him!
We then went to a party at Alice and Leala's house where I met some pofessional photographers and proceeded to pummel them with questions about photography. Then we went down to see the Manta Rays at Mauna Kea, and as he stood on the wall infront of the spotlight that looks out into the ocean and attracts the plankton which the Manta Rays eat, Takaya learned from Manabu what it means to be "pantsed".
Tonight we have the New Year's Party, which somehow we ended up hosting again. So all day we will probably be preparing for the 50 or so people we expect to show up.

Not related to my doings, and mostly for my own purposes, here is what I accomplished this year: I found the courage to speak comfortably with people, regardless of differences of language or interest. I found that I am capable of dedicated study. I got a crush for the first time in 4 years. I tripled my number of friends. I finally learned to tell people when I have a problem. I became comfortable with being naked.

What I am going to work on: Becoming closer to my friends. Learning to ask people the personal questions that I really want to know. Figuring out how to Live Aloha on a permanent basis, regardless of where I am. Staying physically healthy. Being naked more often, especially with other people.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Great Hawaiian Vacation Part 3

Well, I have basically run out of ideas of what else I can do on the Big Island. We did all the long trips, and the only thing left to do is hike the trails that I know or do things that would require the ocean to be a little bit more calm. We have been getting, I would say, 6 to 7 foot swells in the Bay, which is highly irregular. Anyway, yesterday we took a trip to North Kohala. Our first stop was Pu'u Kohola.
The coolest thing about Pu'u Kohola Heiau for me was the woman who worked in the visitor information center. She was an elderly Hawaiian lady who was very polite and stated that she would be happy to answer any questions. My mind is full of questions about ancient Hawaiian customs, religion and history, and on this particular day I had the courage to ask them. We basically stood there for 20 minutes as she explained ancient Hawaiian cosmology to me. After seeing the temple I returned to the visitor's center and we talked about spirituality, one of my favorite topics. Then Manabu finished going to the bathroom and we set off for lunch with my mom at, where else, the Harbor Grill. After a good lunch we drove up to Hawi and saw the original statue of King Kamehameha the Great.
Next on our tour of North Kohala was Pololu Valley, where we were greeted by a very friendly mule.
Hiking to the bottom of the valley was kind of fun. However, we have been sharing 2 pairs of my dad's shoes between the three of us, which has been a major obstacle to hiking more often. So for the Pololu hike I wore sandals with straps. However, this started to be a major annoyance, so I took them off and just went barefoot.
Pololu was rather full on the day we went, which was a little strange, since most people cannot make the hike.
So after the hike we returned to Wailea and ate take out Thai food, which everyone else seems to have thought was spicy.

On Tuesday the 27th Koki was scheduled to come in, and in the morning the waves looked good. I figured that we could ride waves until we had to pick him up. However, our body board equipment was in terrible shape, we only had two sets of poor quality fins, and some of us were not at the level of swimming required for a day as big as it was. Instead of body boarding in the bay I decided to take everyone to Mauna Kea, only to find that Mauna Kea was closed due to dangerous surf. So we sat in the Mauna Kea pool for an hour as I tried to work on our swimming skills, with limited success. Eventually we finished and decided to go to Kona. Ali'i drive was very popular with Takaya and Manabu. It appears that more Korean visitors are coming to Hawaii as well.
Here is Manabu buying bargain calendars and other gifts at the ABC store.
The Palace on Ali'i drive.
A great sign that was posted in one of the shops. You would never see something like thing on the Mainland, I think.
After finishing up with Ali'i drive we went to Ba Le for lunch, and I have to say, I was unimpressed this time. Ba Le has great food normally, but this time it was really, really bad.
Ok, so then we went to the Airport to pick up Koki. We had not heard anything from him and so we didn't know if he was coming or not. He came on time and everything was fine. It turned out that he had not been dialing 1, and so his calls had not been going through. He had called Takaya 9 times, but Takaya had left his phone in the house. Here I am giving a hammer fist to Takaya as he calls for help.
I returned home and gave Koki the standard tour. One particularly funny Dialouge occured when I introduced him to Grandpa Clay. Koki: "Hi, I'm Koki." Grandpa: "You're quirky?" Koki: "Yes." Grandpa: "Well I'm Clay." Koki: "You are kowai (means "scary" in Japanese)? " Grandpa: "Ha ha. But you can just call me Grandpa."

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Great Hawaiian Vacation Part 2

So, where did I leave off. I think it was December 23rd. Well, on the 23rd I really needed to finish my Christmas shopping, so the guys and I drove over to the King Shops, parked and walked to the Hilton. Needless to say, the Hilton was impressive. Most Hotels don't have boats, trains, dolphins and water slides. The Hilton does. It was very crowded, being 2 days before Christmas. Here are dolphins.
Takaya and Manabu also got to pet a turtle, which I didn't have the heart to tell them is highly illegal.
Anyway, finished my shopping and we went home. I went up to the Wessel's Christmas party and made an appearance for 45 minutes. We had dinner with Bobby (Lisa's boyfried's family). Kira did a hula for us.
The next morning was Ryan, Kira's boyfriend's last day in Hawaii, so my dad and I put on loud Xmas music and ran around the house screaming to eachother that we were going to breakfast as soon as everyone was up until we woke everyone up. We then went to the Harbor Grill for breakfast. Here is Takaya drinking a breakfast mango smoothie.
After breakfast we returned and surfed with Ryan and Jim.
Here is Manabu bodyboarding. Although he has injured himself every time he has gone out in the water, he is a great sport, fast learner and loves being in the water. I think that if Manabu lived in Hawaii for about 2 years he would become a local, no sweat. His attitude is great.
The next day(Christmas) Kira, Dad and I were the first ones up, and we repeated the racket of the previous day.
When mom opened her door, she found two cameras staring her in the face. Hee hee.
Here is Dad opening up one of my gifts to him: a day old sandwich from the Puako General store. Hee hee.
Here is Kira with Manabu's present. Hee hee.
And Manabu. Hee hee.
Me and Dad. I decided that I would wear a piece of whatever was used to wrap my presents until I had unwrapped them all. Hee hee.
Me and kira playing in the wrappings. Hee hee.
If you haven't noticed, our Christmas are wacky. The big feature of Christmas is being with family and for us it has little religious significance. Well, then I cooked eggs, and they were so bad I could barely eat them. Then I made smoothes that were so bad I poured them down the drain.
Afterwards we went up to "bother" Grandma and Grandpa. Here is Grandma showing us her finger exercises.
Well, after returning home, Kira sneezed and somehow cracked a rib, soshe and mom went up to the ER and Takaya, Manabu and I went to look at Petroglyphs.
We returned home at around 2pm, and Manabu got a surf lessonfrom Ryan and Jim.
Heading out.
Catching a wave.
Starting to stand.
Then basically everyone from Wailea as well as most of my family came over for Christmas dinner. Here is Manabu in his Yukata.
Uncle looking cute in his little red apron.
Everybody on table 1.
Everybody on table 2.
In all we had over 31 people come for dinner. It was total chaos, and parts were less than fun, but in all I'd say it was nice. Afterwards the McManus clan sat around and opened up our presents to each other. Here is Bobby using the massaging turtle I gave to Lisa.

So, it was during this round of opening presents that I announced to Grandpa, who has been thinking of buying a digital camera for years, that I am giving him my camera. I plan to buy a cheap point and shoot digital when I return to California. My Nikon has taken every picture that I have posted on this blog and has been a fantastic camera. It has been through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Japan, Korea, Hawaii and California. I have taken over 10,000 pictures with it. It has helped me record the most interesting years of my life so far. However, it is time to get myself something more portable. Also, who better to give my camera to than one of the men who encouraged me to take up photography in the first place,Grandpa Clay.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Great Hawaiian Vacation Part 1

So, this will probably be my most eventful post from Hawaii. Let me give you a little background. This year Manabu, Takaya and Koki are visiting me in Hawaii, and as a result I will be doing and seeing things that I have never done and seen in Hawaii before. The best part of having friends come to visit you is getting to see all the things that you can't take to time to see normally because you live so close that you could see it anytime.

Anyway, I got in on Monday and spent some time in Kona waiting for Manabu to arrive. After one of his flights was late, we ended up staying at the airport several hours longer than expected. We then drove home to introduce Manabu to everyone and served him a Hawaiian dinner. It was great, and I ate too much. I went to bed right after eating.
After a restless night of too much food digesting to actually sleep, I woke up with an intense desire to do exercise. Manabu and I walked to the gym, then walked through the Prince and the Mauna Kea before calling Kira and getting a ride. We returned home and went body boarding. However, we only had one set of fins, which I gave to Manabu since I thought that if he did not have them he was likely to hurt himself. It was, after all, his first time. He learned very quickly and caught several large waves, and always pulled out at just the right time. I, on the other hand, did my best to stay afloat and didn't catch a single wave. After an hour I suggested that we go in because I was beginning to get hammered and could not really body board without fins. He then insisted that I take the fins because his legs were tired. I reluctantly agreed, but told him to be careful without fins. I immediately caught a wave. Then Manabu caught one. However, this time he washed right into the rocks and began to be pounded against them. I went to get him out, and we successfully extracted him from the water. Here is the suprisingly bloody injury which Manabu sustained, post first aid of course.
We then went to pick up Takaya, but I budgeted too much time. We spent 3 hours in Kona looking for something to do. This is near Pine Trees.
So we got Takaya, returned home, ate, had a very embarrassing conversation at dinner, and went to bed.

So, early Wednesday morning we set off on a round the island tour. Our first stop was K-Mart, then Kealakekua Bay.
Followed by Pu'u Honua o Honaunau.
As we drove south, I began to enter a part of the island where I have never been before. We started to head to South Point, but I decided that we did not have enough gas. Instead, we went to the sweetbread factory! I had no idea how cool this place was! Next time someone comes I'm going again!
Here is Takaya at the sweetbread factory. Such good food.
Here we are at Black Sand Beach.
So after almost 4 hours of driving, we finally reached Volcano National Park. This is Kiluea Iki, one of the many craters. Notice the smoking vent in the middle of the lava lake.
This is a giant sulfur deposit.
Here it is close up.
Halemaumau Crater, the home of Pele.
Steam vents.
Me in front of Kiluea Caldera. This shot was taken from the Jagger museum, where we spent a long time listening in on Japanese tour group.
Thurston Lava Tube.
Inside the tube.
Alright. So, I forgot to tell Takaya and Manabu to bring strong shoes. As a result they only had nice shoes. So we went into the garage and found some of dad's old shoes. Well, the shoes held up OK for most of the day, but about half way through our hike to see the flowing lava, Takaya's shoes started to fall apart. That made the rest of our 4 mile hike across black lava in the dark a little difficult. Needless to say, when we finished we were pooped, and dad's shoes were destroyed.
Here is the lava. This was about the closest we could get. Zannen da ne.
On the way back, we happened to encounter Amy, Jodie, Kira and Ryan. They tried to explain where their camp was, and we set off to find it...with no success. Instead we waited in the car near the camp and slept until they were done with their hike.
Here is the camp.
The next day we set off, traveled through Hilo and ended up at Akaka Falls.
The falls.
And here is a beautiful trash can. After Akaka falls we drove to Honoka'a, went to Tex's for lunch, and then went to Waimea. Stopped at HPA to talk to Auntie Joni and Mr. (I guess I should call him Andrew now, but it feels so weird) Kelsey.
We got home at about 1:40. Then we took a nap. I slept for one hour, and Takaya and Manabu slept much longer. Aren't they cute together.