After leaving Australia around 9am December 23, we got back to Oahu around 9am December 23! I guess it's only fair since we lost December 16...
At the left is Jeff and me with Gilbert. The background is fake, but the koala is real! He is full-grown, warm and soft and smells like eucalyptus. The picture was taken at Dreamworld, a theme park in Queensland. In the continental US, we're very spoiled as far as rides go, but I can't think of many US zoos that would let you snuggle the animals!
Speaking of, they also let us feed the kangaroos! Before we went to Dreamworld, Jeff and I did a bit of bushwalking in the subtropical rainforest - the Hinterland area that is just west of the posh hotels of Surfer's Paradise. The first day we saw the Natural Bridge, which is on the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park. Just beyond the waterfall is a glow worm cave. We were there during the day, so it wasn't dark enough to see them fluoresce, but we did see a bunch of bats flying around!
As you can see from the picture to the right, Jeff loves Spongebob.
We rented a car, and Jeff enjoyed driving on the other side of the road. Australia was a lot like America except some little difference...for example the sign to the right that perplexed both Jeff and me at the public toilets at Mount Tamborine. The water was definitely discoloured, by the way. Ew. And just so you know, you can't tell whether the water swishes the other direction in the toilet because they flush pretty much straight down!
I'll close with the picture Jeff took of the flying tiger at Tiger Island at Dreamworld. They had a tiger show that really reminded us that tigers really are just huge cats with big claws and sharp teeth. If you look at our photo album, you can see a white bengal tiger climbing a big post as well as a few other animals like emus, the leech that vampired my left foot (I didn't get the one that got my right foot), mullets, etc. We saw Wallabies when we were hiking around in Binna Burra, but the pictures were very dark - suffice to say that they are little kangaroos and very cute. I wanted to take one home with us. I don't think customs would know how to handle that though!
Beside Jeff, I am actually there with my head stuck in the sand, much like an ostrich, but we cropped that part out!
After Thanksgiving, I hit the landslide into finals, so I've pretty much had no life since then. We've also lost two part timers at the office, so I am picking up more hours. After my finals we're heading to Australia, so our next entry will most likely be post Australia, maybe before Christmas and maybe not. So Mele Hamikimaka from Jeff and me!
I returned from underway the day before Thanksgiving. Jess had been entertaining my parents and Scott, of course, but due to the lack of preparation time, we ate Thanksgiving lunch in the Paul Hamilton Wardroom with the Captain and his family and a few other of the ship's Officers. Afterward we went to Kaena Point (below) and enjoyed the sunset on the beach. We spent Friday on the North Shore prior to taking the folks to the airport; it was sad to see them go, but I think we all had a good time together.
The past couple of weeks have flown by; I think we are using the time to get used to each other, and this is the longest stretch we've had together since August. With the exception of a brief trip this weekend, it'll be the longest we'll have together prior to me deploying. We are, of course, looking forward to visiting Gold Coast, Australia in the next few weeks, but since we will be back before the holiday, we're thinking of spending Christmas on the beach. This is a flower we saw on a black sand beach on Hawaii back in October. It was isolated, and I thought it was amazing to survive where it was.
John, Leslie and Scott arrived safely Friday afternoon and have been thoroughly exploring the island!
Saturday I had to work and get my phone taken care of - it was quite inconvenient having a phone that didn't work consistently when there were visitors on the island and I knew Jeff was coming back sometime Wednesday (today!). So the fam hung out at the Hale Koa in Waikiki, which has some fantastic swimming pools.
Sunday we took an awesome North Shore excursion. The picture at the left was taken at the Audubon Garden at the bridge near the waterfall. We took the Old Stream Trail to get there, which is a natural trail up the hill on the other side of the stream from the paved trail at the garden. Scott ran ahead, and John and Leslie enjoyed the scenery. The Old Stream Trail comes out pretty close to the waterfall, which was bigger this time than it was the last go round. John and Scott took a good beating in the falls while Leslie and I chatted on the shore.
Scott claimed the banana trees aren't all that enormous, so I took the photo to the right at a worm's eye view.
After the Audubon, we enjoyed the shrimp trucks and shaved ice near Turtle Bay and shared our leavings with a family of chickens. I didn't take pictures - if you're that interested, you'll have to come out and experience it for yourself!!! Scott wants to live and work in the blue shrimp truck; he still has yet to call a family meeting with John and Leslie to discuss the idea.
Last we checked out the tide pools at Pupukea. It was a very full day!
Monday I had to be a square and take a chemistry test, so everybody else went to Kaneohe, and Scott found a skin board. And yesterday, I worked all day and got updates from the Punchbowl, the Dole Cannery, and the North Shore, so it sounded like they had another full day before we had dinner in Mililani. I'm picking up Jeff this afternoon, so the next entry will probably have more of everyone! I'll close with a picture of the moth John found at the Audubon garden.
Yesterday I volunteered at the North Shore Makahiki festival. It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be - a lot of it was very commercial, people seeing how much they could get away with charging for a surfing t-shirt. But I met some interesting people. Butch (pictured below right) is on the board for several nonprofits along the North Shore. He also is an incredible artist - the things on the table (it's not a very good shot, I know) are all things that he carved himself with, with the exception of a few ancient Hawaiian artifacts in the koa bowls at the end. He also hand carves the trophies for the OP Pro competition (which started today), and they are gorgeous.
I ended up helping out with a group called Hui Malama O Pupukea-Waimea, which is a group that watches a bit of protected shoreline between, you guessed it, Pupukea and Waimea, to make sure that people are using legal nets to fish, not hurting the turtles, etc. They do several snorkel outing per month to count fish. I met a nice couple in the group who were from, small world - North Carolina (Cary!) and Pennsylvania. They now live right on the North Shore with a view of the ocean.
The food was pretty good, local grinds. I had some lau lau (chicken wrapped in a ti leaf and steamed), various flavors of macademia nuts (there's a plantation on the North Shore where you can get mac nuts and kona coffee samples for free), and, of course, Hawaiian shave ice. We finished up just in time for a bit of live music and a sunset over Haleiwa Harbor.
I can do Halloween, etc. because Halloween wasn't all that interesting out here - the kids trick-or-treat from their parents' cars, and I had a grand total of three! They were dressed as "terrorists" in black hoodies and sweatpants, faces covered. Nice to know that terrorists are so easy to recognize. It made me miss Columbia, because every year I had something to do that involved getting dressed up and seeing lots of *creative* costumes, like "Roy gets attacked by a tiger."
Jeff headed out again on Monday, so we didn't get a whole lot of time together, especially since two of the days he was back, he had duty. But the time we had was very good, and he'll be back again soon for Thanksgiving. His parents and brother, Scott, are also visiting around that time, as are Annie's parents, so Annie and I have been compiling a list of things for visitors to do while we're at work/school/everything else. Hopefully John, Leslie and Scott won't mind being the guinea pigs, but if the list works out, we'll use it for whoever decides to visit us on Oahu.
This go round, I've been spending more time in Haleiwa because it is *relaxing* and full of nice locals - a great break after commuting to Honolulu during the week. I haven't taken any pictures yet because the weather's been bad, but tomorrow should be a prime day for that, and since it is a state holiday, I have the day off! I am thinking I'll get up early and take a drive along the North Shore to walk around and take some pictures. Surf's supposed to be up 8-12 feet on the North Shore tomorrow.
Speaking of surf, I'm working at Makahiki Festival 2006. Makahiki is the Hawaiian new year, and the festival is going to have some surf films, local music, a keiki (kids) area, and lots of opportunities to learn about Hawaiian traditions. It's also the official start of the surf competition season, even though a competition is currently taking place at Sunset Beach, the 23rd annual Xcel Pro Competition. I don't know what kind of turnout the festival will have; it didn't seem like many people knew about it, but I'll be hanging out with people from the Audubon anyway.
Jeff and I took a trip to the Big Island for the Ironman World Championship in Kona this weekend. This is a picture of the athletes checking their bikes as the sun came up.
We had all day Friday, most of the day Saturday (we decided not to stick around for the entire 8+ hours of Ironman racing) and all morning Sunday to explore the island a bit.
We took A LOT of pictures, but I am going to post just a few. You can look at the rest by clicking on this link. Jeff and I are really looking forward to going back when my parents visit in January - they have a room booked at the lodge at Volcanoes National Park!
Akaka Falls, over 400 feet! This is near Hilo, just a little drive and a short hike at the state park.
Jess climbing a tree near Hilo. View on a trail near the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
Jeff climbing rocks at an unnamed black sand beach at the end of The Road to the Sea.
Deserted black sand beach!
Check out the link earlier in the entry for more photos, and feel free to give me an email if you want to know what anything is! It was a terrific weekend, and I think Jeff particularly enjoyed getting our 4x4 Jeep very, very dirty. That was definitely a good move; most of the interesting stuff on the Big Island is difficult to get to! We didn't get to see nearly as much as we'd like, but at least there's next time! Personally, I think the Big Island is much cooler than Oahu.
I returned yesterday from six weeks of training for deployment. USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) was conducting a variety of training exercises with Carrier Strike Group Three, which includes the USS Okane, USS Antietam, USS Preble, and USS John C Stennis. Unfortunately, I'll only be in the area for a week before I'm headed back to continue training.
Jess didn't mention that we rehomed Kitsune. Unfortunately, with her busy schedule and my not being around, we weren't providing him the sort of attention he needed to learn to be a good dog.
For those of you who haven't heard, either from the news or from Leslie or my mom calling around (they were two of four people I was able to talk to today because the phone circuits stayed busy), Hawaii was hit by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake around 7:07 this morning. I was already awake; I'm used to getting up around 5:20 to get ready for the bus during the week, but Sundays I take my time. Only today was different because Zeke started freaking out around 20 minutes before the earthquake hit. It was very unlike him; usually if he's mad at me because his litter box is nasty or because he's out of food, he'll cry for 2-3 minutes before he gets distracted and leaves me alone, but today he cried louder and louder, and when I came out of the bedroom, he was pacing all over the place. I think he probably felt something strange.
I was in the process of emailing Jeff when it hit, and when the first little shakes hit, I deleted the first message to write something along the lines of "Waitasecond, was that an earthquake?" before the house started shaking to the point that I was wondering if I'd gotten on the bus, fallen asleep and dreamed I was inside the house. I leapt from the couch and ran for a doorway - isn't that what they always tell you in middle school? - and waited there for the shaking to stop. After that, I had just enough time to send the email to Jeff and do enough Googling to find out that earthquakes are often a natural tsunami warning...then the power went off!
I didn't think it was that big of an earthquake; then again, I had nothing to compare it to. I heard some of my neighbors moving around, so I went over to my neighbor Jan's house to see what was going on - she grew up here, so I figured if anyone knew about earthquakes in Hawaii, it'd be her. No one really knew anything at that point, but we checked on each other from time to time. She got a little crack in her wall from the shaking. Our place appears to be completely fine. While it was shaking, the biggest thing I was worried about was the enormous, heavy Dali print that was a real pain to hang up, but Dali made it through just fine, as did Zeke, Kitsune and me.
The house was pretty dark all day because it was pouring rain; I think that probably had a lot to do with how long the power was off. So while I had daylight, I studied for the chemistry test, and once it started getting difficult to read, I cleaned the house some, well, as much as I could do in the dark and without using much water. Jan had lent me a little radio, so I knew that we shouldn't be using much water because the treatment facility wasn't running at capacity, people weren't leaving from the airport, etc. This was the hardest I've missed Jeff since he's been gone; I was thinking about what people did to entertain themselves in the evenings before there was electricity, and things came to mind like checkers, chess, poker, bridge, maybe some crossword puzzles, live theater... That stuff's a lot better with two! I kept listening to the radio; the numbers kept crawling up, "Power's been restored to about 5% of the island...10%, 20%, 35%..." So now I know we're toward the end of the line when the power goes out and has to be turned back on methodically!
I dozed off aroudn 35% while reading some biology with a flashlight. It hardly seemed like the sort of reading you would sneak after lights out at camp, but that's what it felt like. From what I understand, class isn't canceled tomorrow except for at ten schools on the Big Island (I hope this doesn't affect our trip next week!), but I am one of those rare people who is happy about it; if the test were rescheduled, it'll probably be Wednesday, which is when I am picking Jeff up - and needless to say, I would much rather spend time with him than take a chemistry test!
Jeff's going to be back Wednesday, for those of you who don't know!
As for me, I have a chemistry test Monday and a biology test the next Wednesday, so I've been diligently preparing for both so Jeff and I can have fun for the brief time he is here.
I'm not sure if I've written anything about our travel plans:
Jeff and I are going to Kona on the Big Island next weekend for the Ironman World Championship! We are staying at an interesting place called Pineapple Park, which is basically a hostel with some private rooms. So we'll be sharing common areas (bathroom, kitchen, lanai) with other travelers on the Big Island. I stayed in a hostel before in Washington D.C. and loved it - I was there for a weekend last year and met a friend I still keep up with who loves in Oklahoma. It's usually a bunch of foreign backpackers, but I figured it would guarantee an interesting experience. We'll be leaving early Friday morning (yes, I am a bad girl skipping class) and coming back Sunday evening, so in addition to the race Saturday (where we'll be volunteering in the transition area), we'll have a little time to explore the island in a rented 4x4. I'm thrilled to be getting away from Oahu for some quality time with Jeff!
The BIG travel plans are that we are going to Australia! Everything is worked out - my parents gave us an extremely generous wedding present of a week of their time share, which we traded in to get a resort in Gold Coast, Queensland. There are lots of interesting things to do around there. We're leaving Oahu December 16 and departing Australia on December 23rd, which means we're going to be back in Hawaii, wait, I am not sure if I have this right...about the time that we'll be hoping the plane doesn't hit Santa's sleigh. So Jeff and I will have gone from never having flown together to two trips within a couple of months, and I will have the first stamp in my passport! And I am sure most people would argue that living in Hawaii is a 18-month honeymoon, but really, I think Australia is more of the official one.
I'm considering getting involved with a second nonprofit here on the island, Hawaii Cat Friends . Basically the group tries to control the feral cat population on the island by catching them, spaying or neutering them, and releasing and monitoring them. There are so many feral cats and dogs here, something that dates back to the Polynesians bringing them on their ships when they first got here. This wouldn't be as regular of a thing as the Audubon, which I am doing weekly; it would be meeting up monthly to search for and trap feral kitties so that they can be neutered and released. Being a cat detective in Hawaii sounds like way too much fun to pass up!
Sorry for the gap in posts - lately things have been pretty routine with work, school and transit!
Today was my first day volunteering at the Waimea Valley Audubon Garden. By far the most interesting thing today was being practically swarmed by Hawaiian moorhens (or 'alae'ula, which stands for something along the lines of "red skull" because of their beaks), which is the guy at the beginning of the post. They are very endangered (there are only about 500 left) and native only to Oahu and Kauai - but we saw a bunch of them at the park today! The tags on its legs tell you two things - the blue and silver ones on the left leg tell you that the bird came from the Waimea Valley, and the colored band on the right leg is unique to that individual bird, like its name. After I snapped the shot of this one, we were joined by a bunch of his/her (you can't tell the birds' sex visually; males and females look exactly the same and sex is determined by a blood test) buddies. Two of them were "posturing" which is a behavior similar to chickens preparing to fight - head down and feathers ruffled. Sure enough, there was a moorhen brawl just feet away from the volunteer coordinator and me.
This next picture is of a jackfruit tree. I drank a snapple or something like that that was made of jackfruit, only I had absolutely no idea what a jackfruit is. So those enormous fruits in the tree are jackfruits, and they are delicious. If you have ever had a fruit beverage that you have never heard of, it is probably from here, things like breadfruit, star fruit, dragonfruit, etc. Dragonfruits are interesting looking, but I would have absolutely no idea how to eat it!!!
Last but not least, the tree at the end was my favorite thing that I saw today. The formal name is entada monostachya, and it is from the West Indies to Guiana, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. This one was planted from a seed in 1977.
I am keeping up with the online album of Audubon pictures, and they aren't all posted here - so if you want to see what I am seeing, you can always go to this site.
When Annie called early this morning to see whether I was up for a trip to the Waimea Valley Audubon Park, of course I said yes. I mean, who in their right mind would give up an opportunity to go somewhere and drive really, really fast?
I had a much shorter trip than they did, and they found parking at Waimea Beach Park, which is pretty much impossible because it is the most popular beach on the North Shore. I started looking around on my own and instantly noticed that I loved this place, so I looked into volunteering now and then. Some highlights:
This is a 2,800 year old extinct species of tree. I don't remember the name of it, but it's just awe inspiring that when they cut this tree down it had 2,800 growth rings, and someone, maybe even several people, counted them all. I am not sure what the Japanese means; maybe someone who knows their kanji can translate it and send it to me!
There was an awesome waterfall at the end of the trail where you can borrow life jackets and float lazily in crisp, cool freshwater. This is Dan, Annie and me doing exactly that!
The hibiscus hybrids were pretty spectacular. This one was my favorite because of the shape and the vibrant color.
Last, but certainly not least, this photograph is not zoomed! In fact, this guy rather rudely gave me the brushoff he was exiting the dining area. But in his defense, one of the waiters was irrate at him and his lady friends for disturbing the customers, so he was forcibly asked to leave.
This is a pretty tree I pass every day on the way into school - it is near the Sinclair Library on UH campus. I think it is a rainbow eukalyptus. The photo doesn't really do justice to all of the colors that are in the bark, lots of yellows and pinks and oranges. The bark is very smooth, and I've read that they are one of the fastest-growing trees in the world - they can grow up to 100 feet in seven years!
This is the building where I work. It's on Nuuanu (you pronounce both of the U's in that) Avenue in Honolulu. Strangely enough, right across the street is a 7-11, and two blocks down is another 7-11. It's a residential area about a ten-minute brisk walk from the bus stop, which is between Chinatown and the capital downtown. As you can see, the building looks pretty small and old - and that's an accurate description. Dr. Pang is probably one of the hardest working doctors I've ever seen - the office is open six days a week, and he often even sees patients even on days the office is closed. This is the first office he had when he split off from his father's practice, and he admits that he outgrew it years ago - but this is one of a lot of things he does so that he can keep costs low for the patients. He's very big on not wasting anything - and that includes time and money looking for different office space!
These are pictures of the buildings on campus where I have class - chemistry is on top (did the word "Chemistry" written over the door give it away?) and biology is below. Go ahead and pick on me for getting a much tighter shot of the chemistry building; biology was giving me so much grief this week that I didn't want to risk being struck dead in my tracks by a ray of pure evil originating from that building. Luckily everything is worked out now; it just took multiple frustrating conversations.
This is the Queen Liliuokalini student services building. I don't think the buildings on UH's campus are anywhere near as nice as the ones at USC, but you have to keep in mind that Hawaii was very, very poor before it became a state. The mountains are nice...there's usually a pretty decent breeze on campus, but most days start out with the rain when there isn't a cloud in the sky. So, just like Mililani, there are a lot of rainbows in the Manoa valley.
Last but not least, this is a mural at the Campus Center (I know, original name for a student union, right?). I just think it looks neat. There are a lot of stairs going up from this direction, but there are something like four different entries to that level. It's a weird building.
So now you guys have an idea of what I see on a daily basis. Sorry I don't have anything more interesting to report - I do have two tests next week, after all!
I definitely like the blogs with photos better, so I guess that means I need to have some adventures while Jeff is away!
Jeff left for six weeks underway on Friday. He should be pulling into San Diego sometime next week, where he'll visit some of his buddies from when he lived there before. We looked into flying me out there to meet him, but unfortunately I have tests in both of my classes next week, so it won't work.
Tuesdays are long; I work the entire time the office is open, which meant I was away 12 hours yesterday with commute time. This is definitely a tough schedule when a new dog is in the picture. I don't know why I always thought going back to school would be the best thing ever. I think it'll be great once I am learning something, but at the moment, it feels more like I have to prove to everyone that I already know it because the classes are so easy. It feels like high school.
Needless to say I am learning much more at work than I am at school these days!
It's going to be a very busy week for me due to a screw up in biology lab - the lab met on Labor Day when the rest of the university was closed. An email was sent out two days before, but my email address was incorrect on the list. So I showed up Monday prepared for the lab they did LAST Monday. I am a little peeved about their resolution - I can't make up the lab because they no longer have the materials I need, so now I have to find a bunch of things they looked at through a microscope *online* and draw them - completing a lab report as if I were actually there. This is on top of the lab report that will be due next week and the lab report for Chemistry. It hardly seems a fair resolution that I should have to do more work than the students in the lab did when the instructors were the ones that messed up!!!
So my exciting plans for the rest of the week are doing three lab reports, Thursday, taking Kitsune on an outing or two (hopefully) and studying for tests in both classes next week. Fun stuff, huh?
Time for me to attempt to restore a bit of chronological order to the blog... Jeff and I had a pretty amazing Labor Day adventure and I've also started another job - and right in the middle, bam, my train of thought was derailed by some crazy person hauling a crane through an H1 overpass!!! (In case you were wondering, I have elected to stay on this side of the island today because I don't imagine the problem was resolved overnight)
Mini adventure Jeff and I did mostly home improvement over the weekend, but I really wanted to fit in some beach fun time - especially since he is going underway for a month later this week. So Monday we bought boogey boards and set off in the Mini searching for the perfect wave. We mistakenly chose the North Shore, which is glassy and perfect for swimming this time of year, so we ended up going west along the North Shore toward Kaena Point from the other side. It's really an interesting area! From the road, we saw some white swells at a decent pull-off spot. The sand seemed a little loose, so I was just starting to say, "Jeff, we're going to get stuck," when, you guessed it, we got stuck! Unfortunately I didn't have the real camera with us - just my cell phone - and I'll come back and edit this entry with pictures of our beached Mini once I figure out how to get those pictures from my phone onto the Internet. Luckily there were some pidgin-speaking locals there to help us get it out - we pushed and pulled and managed to get the car out without having to get a tow truck. Thank goodness the car is so light!
Jess's new job As you could probably gather, I am pretty happy about it. The commute is pretty horrible (well, especially on days when it takes seven hours), but it's worth it because I've learned more in one day on the job than I have in two weeks of school. The staff are nice and extremely helpful, and the doctor is efficient and a notorious grammar fanatic, according to the staff (I think my writing skills helped me get the job). I can tell this kind of work wouldn't be for everyone, because part of it involves cleaning medical instruments that get pretty gross. I always thought there was some magical, never-ending supply of clean supplies in examination rooms. Definitely not the case! It would have been a huge sign that I am going in the wrong direction if this job grossed me out or made me uncomfortable, but it looks like all systems are go!
I'll start on a good note by saying that my first day on the job was pretty excellent. I am sure I will write more about it later...
It is 11:35 at the moment, and I just walked in the door at 11:17 after getting on the bus at 4:30 this afternoon. After getting on the bus at 6:30am, it made for a long and frustrating day, but apparently someone who probably should have been chlorinated out of the gene pool decided to drive a truck towing a crane under an H1 overpass, knocking it out and shutting down the only cross-island intrastate around 3:40 this afternoon (RIIIGHT during rush hour, of course). So there were millions of people trying to cram on a closed highway, onto detours in various places, and when that didn't work, they started going circle island and cramming that, also. Various radio stations were suggesting everyone who was in Honolulu just stay in Honolulu for the night; needless to say, it was too late for me, as I was already on a bus that wasn't letting me off any time soon - it felt like the stuff bad action movies are made of. I finished the Salman Rushdie book I was reading and was disappointed I hadn't packed Jeff's GameBoy - luckily some of the folks in the back of the bus were good conversation. The bus wasn't as packed as usual, so no one stood up the whole time; however, it was a 4:30 bus and most people hadn't eaten since lunch, so people were cranky, tired, hungry, thirsty, and pretty much everyone had to urinate. A few people didn't make it, which made sitting in stopped traffic for a few more hours very, um, aromatic. I was definitely happy to get home and definitely not as happy as I could be about living in Hawaii - it doesn't really bode well for any kind of disaster situation if one accident can shut down half the island.
Kit and Zeke were just as happy when I got home as I was; they were both out of food, and poor little Kit was bored outside all day, but I was too beat to play with him much before putting him to bed. But I am not too beat to relate my little story as it's happening...and now, it is time for me to go to bed as well!
I just received a job offer as a medical assistant for an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist in Honolulu. The pay is a bit better than the coffee shop, the hours are pretty reasonable (although I will have to work half days on alternating Saturdays), and the experience will be fantastic for getting me into a graduate program. The job is mostly medical records, patient histories and some office work, but occasionally I'll be aiding in surgery. I am pretty excited about that part - not about the work itself, which will be holding retractors, but about being able to be right in the same room observing. And the Saturdays won't be so bad when Jeff's gone; at least it'll be something to do!
Today we went surfing with Dan and Annie. The title is a misnomer - we didn't go surfing at Barber's Point. In fact, this is a picture of Jeff at Barber's Point beach park - which has a very cool lighthouse, but isn't, in fact, a very good spot for surfing - but the area where we went, which is technically White Plains Beach, has the cabins that people in the military can rent for next to nothing, and those cabins are often referred to as being in Barber's Point. I imagine Jeff and I would have badly maimed ourselves had we tried to surf at Barber's Point!
Where we actually went surfing - which also could be a misnomer since we both spent most of our time paddling out and getting smashed around by waves - was actually a very nice beach where you can rent surfboards, boogeyboards, etc. for pretty cheap. It was a fairly popular spot for surfers. We got there just in time to see Annie catching a wave (she was a natural!). We all wore out pretty quickly after swallowing that much salt water and hung out at a beachfront bar watching football!
After our failed attempt at surfing, we did a bit of shopping for "the kids," during which we purchased THE KITTYDOME, an elaborate litterbox with a staircase inside so that Zeke won't trek kitty litter all over the place. He, of course, is amazed and fascinated by it.
And of course, we came back and played with the kitty and the doggy and hung out around the house a bit. This is probably what they do the entire time we are gone:
I survived my first day of classes at UH Manoa yesterday (just barely). I took the 6:08am bus across the island, expecting it to take an absurd amount of time to get there, and made it to campus at 7:01am. I think I will be sleeping an extra half hour or so from now on! Both of my classes are enormous, 400 people each and mostly freshmen. So of course, the first day of class was professors trying to scare them into studying fifteen hours a day, having no social life, keeping the coffee shops in business and never drinking. Both classes seem pretty easy, which is probably a good thing since I haven't been in school for three years. The chemistry professor is this glamorous European woman with a practically incomprehensible accent who reads directly from her PowerPoint slides - which are posted on the Internet - so I have a feeling that most of the unruly, lazy, or slack students will elect not to attend. It is obvious that she knows her stuff and probably is teaching introductory level because she has to... Since we are paying for me to go back to school, I plan to force her to teach better by asking lots and lots of questions - I just don't see the point of paying good money for yet another crappy teacher who forces me to completely reteach myself.
After class, I got on the bus and tried to do the transfer downtown the way I was told to do - only to see the bus I wanted go whizzing by! So I ended up walking to the next kiosk, which wasn't that far - but I had been running around campus all day carrying books, so it was a lot - to catch the bus I took for the chemistry exam. This was definitely interesting since I still don't know my way around Honolulu, but luckily I got home in one piece - about 12 hours after I left yesterday morning. Needless to say, I was pretty beat! Luckily I have no class today and nothing to do other than prepare the house for Zeke and give Kitsune a bath (if I can wake him up long enough to do so...poor little guy has been tuckered out and snoring all morning!)
We picked up our doggy this past Saturday. After thinking through various names and having several suggestions (original adopted name: Braveheart; Jess's preferred name: Nanu; My Mom's prefered name: Zack; My recommended name: Yargh! (with the ! as part of the name)), we settled on Kitsune (which means devious fox in Japanese) or Kit for short. During our trip home, we realized just how well behaved his is; over the weekend, I think I heard two yelps and one bark; he waits to go outside (with one exception, which I think was him marking his territory, but resulted in him spending a good amount of time in his crate); he has started to respond well to "sit", "down", and "come;" and we left him outside for some of the day today with no problems.
We also snapped this picture of a chicken while we we out walking Kit yesterday. - Jeff
I passed the placement exam with 100%, so my class schedule for the semester is:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 0830-0915 Introductory Biology Monday 0930-1215 Introductory Biology Lab Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1430-1520 General Chemistry I Thurday (GROAN, special trip just for lab!) 0900-1145 General Chemistry I Lab
Which means there will be pretty enormous spans of time between biology and chemistry that I will have to find something interesting around campus to fill...
Another highlight of the day was that I managed to take the bus from Mililani to UH Manoa without ending up somewhere weird. I can get a cheaper bus pass as a student, and it will be worth it to avoid the wasted time and energy in downtown traffic, the expensive parking permit, and the hassle of parking the car on campus. Honolulu isn't nearly so bad if you aren't the one driving! I think almost being forced to study by the long bus ride will do wonders for my grades.
There were some very interesting characters on the bus. There was a hippie from the North Shore who told me stories about snagging MREs from the dumpsters at Bellows and claimed the chicken soup was by far the best. He had long straggly hair, big glasses, and an old concert ticket stub encased in plastic (maybe a backstage pass) around his neck. When we made the transfer at King Street, he greeted the most distinct-looking man I think I've seen - he was very, very tall with black hair cut like the Beatles and a pencil-thin mustache. He conversed with the hippie guy about his latest sighting of Elvis on the North Shore without even the slightest hint of irony. When the Elvis/Beatles guy caught the bus, he hippie guy told me, yeah, he's a cool guy, but he believes Elvis is still alive. All this while he was eating a chicken soup MRE with his fingers and rolling a cigarette. Then the bus arrived. "Man, I always have just about enough time to take two puffs," he said.
I was finally allowed to register for my classes today. I don't really have the best feeling about UH's chemistry department. Biology was great. I wanted to register for the class one above the "this is a frog, this is a human being, and we all have cells" class, which I needed department approval to do. Easily enough, I called the department and spoke to a nice man named Derek who lifted the online restriction after I gave him a short explanation, and then he gave me an override into a lab that was full - luckily, a lab that starts shortly after the lecture is over, which means at the moment, I only have to drive to Manoa Monday, Wednesday and Friday (for 8:30am class, which really stinks, but there isn't much I can do about it. It looks like I'll be waking up the same time as Jeff this semester!). Derek gets a gold star.
Chemistry was the same sort of deal - they have "Chemistry for someone who has no idea what a beaker is" as introductory level - and I am not sure this class would qualify as a prerequisite for a physician assistant program (but if it does - SIGN ME UP!!!) and then "General Chemistry," which was the one I wanted to sign up for, especially since "CFSWHNIWABI" lecture and labs were already full. So I called the department around 8, no answer, and left a voicemail. It was returned around 9. I took the same route - "I have already graduated from college and don't need this class for a degree. I took three chemistry classes in high school and aced all of them, so I'd prefer starting with something a little more challenging." I got told "You'll have to take the placement exam." So I called back and said, okay, give me an override into CHEM 151, of course, on their voicemail, and now it's 10, and I still have no word back.
WHAT? Placement exam? I think I could understand that, maybe if I were an undergrad seeking a degree; however, what difference does it make to a university which classes I take as an unclassified student? They're going to get paid whether I pass or fail, and it's not like I need "CFSWHNIWABI" to graduate (although, like I said, if I can get away with taking elementary chemistry as one of my prereqs, give me an override and I am there!!!)! So after a few minutes of being slightly irked at the concept of graphing calculators and #2 pencils all over again, I decided I'll head up to UH on Thursday and give it a whirl. I'll probably pick up a chemistry for dummies type book at the library to brush up first...
We had a pretty slow weekend - we decided to try to bring unnamed doggy home Sunday, but he isn't ready yet. He'll be joining us next Sunday - the people at the rescue wanted to make sure he had plenty of time to recover from his surgery.
Which means we will get the dog two days before Zeke gets here! He will be arriving at the Honolulu Airport Tuesday, August 22 at 1:50pm. This is an old picture of him terrorizing my computer desk in Columbia - his head looks huge because he was trying to attack my camera strap.
We threw a little dinner party with Dan and Annie Friday night and experimented with some delicious Greek recipes - stuffed grape leaves, marinated chicken, Greek salad and hummus and pita. The island lacks both Mexican and Greek restaurants, so Jeff and I have decided we're going to have to learn to cook both!
Obviously, sometime in the future I will be retaliating with something along the lines of an extreme close-up of Jeff's back hair, but for now, something equally furry that is much, much cuter: This little fella is the newest addition to our family! Well, in two weeks at least - he still needs to be neutered. We picked him up from Friends for Life, which is an animal rescue in Makaha run by a very nice couple named Lanny and Yamit. We were told little "Braveheart/Scrappy" (we're going to rename him after we figure out something suitable for his personality) was abused and probably dropped off at the beach park - which is why his right eye is squinty. He is a very affectionate little dog, and Jeff and I are very excited about providing a happy home for him! We should be getting him in the same timeframe Zeke gets here, so they both will be adjusting at the same time. We were sold on him almost immediately because he is little and has been living around a whole bunch of cats. After that, Jeff and I decided to play on the leeward side of the island for a bit. We went out to Kaena Point (left) to visit where our little fella came from. The terrain there is volcanic and very rocky. My flip flops survived the rockiness; however, I blew one out in the sand and gravel on the way back to the car. It reminded us of a Jimmy Buffett song!
Oh, and speaking of the car, I am finally delivering on the promised Mini photo. Jeff's in the car but you can't see him that well, and no, he wasn't preparing to drive it over the cliff. Not that I know of, anyway.
We drove back toward Makaha beach to check out Kaneana, the cave home of the shark man, Nanaue. The cave pictures didn't turn out so well because it was dark in the cave and a flash only goes so far. But suffice to say, the cave was very cave-like, kind of drippy, a little cooler than the outside temperature, etc. We did not see any shark men, unfortunately; now, that would have made for a good picture! The picture to the right is just of the marker and description of the cave, which is across the street and behind some ugly yellow cement blocker things. As we were taking the picture of the marker at Kaneana, we were adopted by the little brown dog to the left. As I was getting in the car, she decided she was also getting in the car and just jumped right in! Jeff and I were surprised at how good-natured she was, but she had no collar - just a chain around her neck - and no owners in sight, as we were alone on the side of the road. So after only a moment's discussion, we called back Lanny and Yamit to see if they had room for one more - they, of course, were happy to take here, so we gave her a ride. The dog looked like she'd possibly been hit in the face, was a bit smelly and red around one of her eyes. We dropped her off at Friends for Life, realizing that we probably would have kept her if we hadn't adopted a pooch just a couple hours before. So we ended up rescuing two doggies instead of just one, and we hope "Jessi" ends up finding a good home! I'm posting a picture of her because she's our almost dog - but we definitely wouldn't have room for two in our tiny place!!!
After that, Jeff and I were famished and ended up eating at Southern Swell Barbecue in Waianae. It was a little hole in the wall place with a screened in porch right on the beach, perfect for watching a sunset - and they had delicious burgers and "plantation" tea (which I thought would be good old fashioned sweet tea, but I think they probably could have called it DOLE plantation tea because it had yummy tropical things in it). Then we hung out on the beach as the sun set and watched some kids playing in the waves.