Thursday, January 26, 2012

Looking back: Road to Hana

At the end of last summer we went on a trip to Hawaii with Rob's parents. I posted about it, but had meant to post more - I especially wanted to post about our time on the Road to Hana. And now, in the middle of a cold winter, I'm thinking about Hawaii almost every day!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of the most popular things to do when you go to Maui. The road used to go only as far has Hana and that's how it got it's name. But the getting there is the attraction, not the city of Hana itself (although I know people who have stayed there and have enjoyed it). There is more to see after Hana, but we turned around and went back not far past it. Supposedly one reason to keep going is for the Seven Sacred Pools. Sounds cool, huh. I don't know if it is, though, because we had a baby to get back to (and, we were satisfied with what we had seen).

We left Henry back at the condo with his grandparents, so it was just a day to ourselves. It took us about six hours from the "start" to get to the point that we turned around and only about an hour and a half to get back. That's how much there is to see and do on the way! As these pictures illustrate...

Here is a look at the road from our GPS. The windiness of the road is pretty out-of-control. I can't imagine ever seeing another road with this many turns. In fact, that can detract a lot of people from going, yet for others (us included, I'd say) that is one aspect that makes the trip so cool! Rob wondered if, as the driver, he would feel like he got to see enough. At the end he said he felt like he didn't miss much.
Here is a view of the road that we just came from - can you tell from across where where we are standing how the road, cut into the hill, winds?
This picture is from the Ke'anae peninsula (there are a couple of places you can veer away from the main road to see). The shore of this peninsula is almost entirely made of these black lava rocks. That shows how "young" of an island Maui is. Weird, huh. It's hard to walk away from the scene of waves crashing onto these rocks - always wanting to see if the next wave is going to be "the big one."
A lot of homemade banana bread is sold along the Road. Eating chunks of banana bread grabbed directly from the loaf while traveling the most beautiful road in Hawaii? Count. Me. In!
This is Keanae Peninsula. I don't know if it looks like much in this pictures, but the view of this valley was quite stunning. We stood there for a while looking at the couple of churches, the farms and the houses and tried to imagine what's it like to live the way these people do.
This was the biggest waterfall we viewed - the Upper Waikani Falls, and it also happened to be the only one we got up close to. It wasn't much, but we were on the Road during a dryer season and I guess when it's at its heaviest flow it appears as one waterfall, not a few separate falls (divided by rock) as it looks here.
The next four pictures are also from the same falls. It was quite the adventure. It started with a sketchy steep descent from the road. We followed another couple down, letting them be the guinea pigs before we ventured. They offered to take our picture for us (the above picture) and us for them, but getting around the base of the waterfall was a little tricky, especially when it comes to exchanging cameras. Here is that guy and Rob slowly and carefully exchanging spots so we could take their picture (without dropping expensive cameras in the process).
 Does it look easy to walk in the swirling water around the slippery rocks? Because it wasn't.
And then... downpour! Just after taking pictures and saying goodbye to the other couple the rain came! The rain came and went during our whole trip that day. Another exciting aspect of the trip. In fact, I had dreamed of traveling the Road in a jeep so we could ride with the top down. What a waste that would have been! We would have been constantly attaching and detaching the roof! We got pretty wet.
This is the last picture from the Waikani Falls. First of all, the bridge. There are countless (well, I'm sure someone has counted them) of these one-direction bridges along the Road. They are beautiful and add to the general ambiance of the location. The spot where I am standing is where we came up from the falls. It looks like a drop-off from that exact spot, but once you're beyond that it's actually an easy path. Now, just to the right of the browned "grassy" looking bush near the right edge of the picture - do you see a drop-off that looks like a black hole? That's how we got down to the falls. It was kind of nuts. Our guide book told us how to get down to the falls. That black hole was what we thought it meant. It wasn't until our way back that we realized the path we were supposed to take!
These next falls and pool were also an adventure to get to. They are at Pua'a Ka'a State Park. There were a couple more accessible swimming pools that people were swimming in, but our guidebook told us to go further for an even better pool. So we trudged through some muddy paths for a little while and crossed a high-up aquaduct until we found the pool. It was totally secluded. And that actually spooked me. I had in my mind that I wanted to swim under a waterfall but once we got there I chickened out (I tend to chicken out when it comes to water). Just Rob went in. He said it was cold and agreed that it was a little freaky.
Then Rob got out and... whoops. The key to our rental car-the key that explicitly states on the keychain that it's not supposed to get wet- was in his pocket when he jumped in. Well, it all turned out fine. It ended up still working, but it could have been really bad. I was running our plan through my head as we ran back (we ran because another downpour hit us) of how we'd have to hitch a ride all the way back down the Road with someone heading the other direction. We'd then have to somehow get back to the airport to get a new key - then back to retrieve our car. I'm so glad we didn't have that adventure.
So fun - stopping at a roadside taco stand. There's not a ton of places to eat (there's not a ton of anything - besides amazing views and adventures) along the Road, but at one point there are a handful of food stands along the way. The longest line was at this taco stand. How cute is he ordering tacos at a stand in the middle of the tropics in his swim trunks and looking all sun kissed?
Tasty tacos. I don't even remember what meat we got on them. But I do remember them being worth the small fortune we paid for them.
I love this picture of Rob eating his tacos. I think when my dad saw this picture on facebook he said something about Rob being in his element. So true.
Our last stop was Wai'anapanapa State Park. We read about a fresh water cave and Rob wanted to jump in. I wasn't going to (remember me+water?). But Rob did and he promised me I could do it. The fact that I did is testament to how much I trust my husband. He knows and is sympathetic to my fears but still thought I could do it. So - I did! Cold! But not bad (as he promised) Freaky! But not too much (as he promised).
And the best part of the whole day - and one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip - was our swim at the black sand beach. This picture really doesn't show how gorgeously aqua the water was. What made it so much fun was how warm the water was. Bath water warm. All the water we swam in in Hawaii was warm (warmer than our condo's pool even), but only after getting used to it. The water in this bay was completely warm as you stepped in. The other amazing thing was how huge the waves were! So big, and everyone just waited around for a wave to come and ride. Oh man, so much fun! Even for me, the girl who's afraid of water.

So that's the (long) summary of the best parts of our trip on the Road to Hana. It was such a magical day. One hope I had when going to Hawaii for the first time was to see lush tropical views - and that was satisfied by our experiences this day.

Here is Rob's video of our Maui trip. The Road to Hana begins at 3:00 in the video. If you watch it you'll see the lava rocks at the Keanae peninsula, us at the Waikani falls, Rob swimming in the pool (with key in pocket), Rob jumping into the fresh water cave, and me jumping over waves at the black sand beach (and more!).

A Trip to Maui from rob nyland on Vimeo.

Friday, January 13, 2012

(easy) crafting: ceramic birds

Years ago I saw this idea in a Martha Stewart. Then years after that, but still some years ago, I purchased a few ceramic birds a thrift stores. The original idea was to spray painted them white. However, my living room (entire house, really) suffers from lack of color so adding white accessories would have been missing a chance to add some color.

Finally, I got around to doing something with these birds. I promise I never displayed them as they are here, pre-spray painted. 
And the finished product. I ended up not using the bird that's sitting on a branch because when it was all one color you couldn't really tell what the shape was.

Easy. Cheap. That's how I roll.

(special thanks to Monica for letting me have some of her leftover spray paint. I probably never would have gotten around to buying my own!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

looking back: Spring Break 2011

Last year we stayed around the area for our joint Spring Break instead of going on a trip like we had for the previous two years (Las Vegas in 2009, San Francisco in 2010). In fact, Rob's family all went to Palm Springs and we didn't even go with them. I can't remember exactly - but I think it was because I was big and pregnant and also because we were starting to practice spending less money (still practicing).

Instead, we decided to spend the week somewhere in the middle between a vacation and a staycation - in Silverdale at Rob's parents' home. It turned out to be really fun. Even though we did activities like:

washing the car
 and prepping baby's cloth diapers
But there were other fun activities. We invited my friend, TaVaun, and her family over for dinner. We made bbq chicken pizza, as we typically do.

Then we went to Port Townsend and Fort Worden. This was my first time at this particular fort. There are a few forts just like this, built to protect the Puget Sound during WWI and II. These forts are really neat places to visit and another thing that makes this area unique (one of my favorite places to bring visitors has always been to Fort Flagler, which is just like this fort).

One thing that is different about Fort Worden from the others is all the historic buildings that are still there. Barracks, officers quarters, blacksmith shop, etc. We couldn't exactly figure out their current uses, but we know that some are used as conference centers and you can even rent out some to stay in.

Rob took some photos around the fort. These forts usually creep me out and because we were the only ones visiting that day, the emptiness made it extra creepy. Oh, and add a drizzly day into the equation and you've got one creeped out Stephanie. It sure is beautiful, though.

(yeah, I didn't join Rob into the fort for these pictures.)
For those of you just tuning in... this is not a current picture! I must have been about 35 weeks pregnant during this trip. In this picture I am checking out the view. The artillery section of the fort is up the hill from the barracks, etc, and there are amazing views of the Puget Sound from up there. I guess there would have to be, seeing as that was the point of having the fort in that location!
I got tired and had to sit. I watched some deer for a while - you can see one not too far.

 It was a great last vacation ("babymoon") before little Henry joined us a month later!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Trip to Seaside

During the holiday break, I get the extreme fortune of having 3 weeks off.   Honestly, my job rules and you probably all should be for cutting funding for higher education because no one should have that much time-off (honestly, in my defense, I guess I am not paid for those 3 weeks off.)  Because we had this time off, we decided to take a couple of trips.  On the first week of our break, we headed off with my Mom to Seaside, OR.

Our first stop in town was a small Mexican place that my family has frequented called The Stand.  One thing that we learned at The Stand is that Henry doesn't like spicy food.  We gave him some rice, that was a little spicy and Henry wanted nothing to do with it.  Apparently, Henry also wanted nothing to do with his shirt (or it got all wet, I can't remember).

My dad was able to get us a nice 3-bedroom Condo with this pretty amazing view:

The next morning we took the kiddo and went on a little walk:

 Henry loved seeing the seagulls -- he gave the goofiest laugh whenever he saw them.

Henry spent time later looking out of the window, hoping to see some of those same seagulls flying by.  No such luck.

We took a drive down to Cannon Beach and walked out on the sand.  Stephanie captured this amazing shot:

We enjoyed a trip to one of our favorite lunch spots -- The Pacific Way Cafe.  My mom still laments the loss of their Tuna Melt which used to be on the menu.  The restaurant is very cool.  Definitely feels like you are eating inside of an old house -- but with much better food than you would expect from an old house.

Henry took an evening bath:


The next day we putz around town a little bit.  We hit the arcade where I got to play ski-ball (it was my birthday -- and a birthday deserves a ski-ball game) and Henry got to ride on a real train.  Laid back:

And the obligatory carousel ride:

Overall it was a quick trip to Seaside, but we are wanting to go back soon.  Steph mentioned to me that she had never been there during the summer -- and I guess I haven't been there during the summer in a while.  Maybe we'll have to go next summer (hint hint, family!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our holiday.

We did a lot this holiday season - I guess for Henry's sake, even though we are aware of the fact that he didn't know what was going on most of the time.  Here are some pictures of what we did. Mostly they are pictures of Henry being really cute.

Our holiday activities started out in downtown Kirkland with the tree lighting. It's a big tree in a parking lot.
 Next, we saw the Christmas Ship. We went to a nearby beach to watch and hear the carols being sung from the boat.
At the end of the night we discovered that Henry can't resist falling and staying asleep with his snowsuit on. He easily falls asleep in the car (if it's nap or bedtime), but to stay asleep even after the car is turned off. That never happens. Then asleep during the transfer into the house? I mean never.
And the best part... stayed asleep while Rob took him out of the car seat. Rob took advantage of this cuddle time. (he did it again - twice, I think).
Seriously dead to the world. (I think this picture is actually on a different night than the previous two).
There is a botanical garden in a nearby town that has the most amazing Christmas lights - all flowers and other garden-themed shapes. I loved it because it let Henry be right up close to the lights, closer than he gets in a car or when walking around the neighborhood even.
Henry met Santa. We hadn't planned on getting Santa pictures, and we probably won't do it again - but there was a Groupon or something and it wasn't an insane price, as it is without the coupon. The experience was pretty anticlimatic. I don't know if Henry even knew whose lap he was sitting on, actually.
Then, we saw Santa again. The same day, at our ward party. We were happy to see that Henry liked Santa, even while looking at him this time.
Some walks in our neighborhood. That snowsuit really came in handy - we haven't had any snow yet, but I didn't have to feel guilty about having my baby outdoors in the cold for all these activities.
We watched the obligatory movies. It really doesn't feel like Christmas for me until I watch White Christmas. Rob's dad likes to watch it, and the story as I understand it (which may be incorrect) is that it's one of those movies that the dad wants to watch and can occasionally convince the kids to watch with him (for my dad, it's The Third Man. b.o.r.i.n.g.). Then I came into the picture - and it's a movie I love to watch every year, as it's a favorite of everyone in my family. Maybe that's why he approved of me back when Rob and I were dating:) Rob's dad wanted to watch it Thanksgiving night, but it was too early for us to be starting the Christmas Season. So, instead, Rob and I sent an evite to his parents to watch it with us. We thought we were fun and clever. Not sure what they thought.
And this year we also watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas. This moving makes me sad. Old men make me sad. We watched other movies too - but just a small handful: Elf, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th St (both versions). 
We spend Christmas Eve in Silverdale with Rob's family and we went over a day early too. That day we went to the pet store in town. Oh my goodness. I am not a pet person - but I forgot how much of an animal person I am (ie., love animals, but never want to own one). We went for Henry, but I kind of died. A room full of puppies!? What!? Henry enjoyed them, as evidenced by his "heh heh" laugh that he gives to animals and other objects he finds amusing. Well, until the puppy discovered him and jumped up. Then Henry wasn't so sure.
I just saw this picture for the first time. Another picture of Torsten and Henry - the most adorable duo (sorry I used the word "adorable" in a sentence about you, Torsten).
My favorite part of Christmas Eve was playing bingo. It was hilarious - James kept winning and the other kids were getting so frustrated with him and blamed him for cheating, and James (who was not cheating) was just as shocked as everyone else. Even funnier was Simon who couldn't seem to win, even after everyone else won 2-3 times. In the end, I was the only one who never won - but Simon, once he finally won a couple rounds, gave me his prize.
Here is Henry with one of his stocking presents - reunited with Sophie the Giraffe! We lost her a few months back and weren't going to get another one, but then decided, "what the heck, it's Christmas!" Other stocking gifts he got: a cute tshirt, Fantastic Mr. Fox dvd, and a Curious George dress-up doll puzzle thing. Henry didn't open his gifts in the car seat, this was after, if you were wondering.
This is the only picture I took on Christmas Day (Rob just took video of the day - what video? This one.) How cute is this hat that he got from my mom? Of course, it only stays on him for a second before he takes it off (it's his new trick), but that one second is adorable!
And... the last celebration. The day after Christmas we get together because that's when our two other nephews, Aidan and Greyson are in town. They acted out the Nativity. This is probably most typically done on Christmas Eve, but ending Christmas with the story of the birth of Christ was perfect. Henry was a willing Baby Jesus. He loves all his big cousins, so he enjoyed just sitting in the basket and watching them.
Oh yeah, and then we went to the carousel in downtown Seattle - my favorite Christmas tradition! Here are my parents with 6/8 of their grandkids (8 grandkids because the two in bellies count as half, you see.)

And here's the video I mentioned earlier. Beautiful.

Christmas 2011 from rob nyland on Vimeo.