Aloha from Honolulu: Natasha’s Highlights

While Bill was working hard, I was hardly working!  Here are a few of my highlights of the sabbatical!

I made a muumuu!
I made a muumuu!
Fun with kapa motifs in henna
Fun with kapa motifs in henna
The starting line of the Hapalua Half Marathon on Sunday, April 13, 2014
The starting line of the Hapalua Half Marathon on Sunday, April 13, 2014
The course for the Hapalua Half
The course for the Hapalua Half
My voice teacher, Kristian Lei, sang the National Anthem
My voice teacher, Kristian Lei, sang the National Anthem
I finished in 4:43!
They were still handing out medals when I finished.
I finished the race in just shy of 5 hours!
I finished the race in just shy of 5 hours!
And after the half marathon was over, I performed "Hanalei Moon" at the Manoa School of Music's annual recital
And after the half marathon was over, I performed “Hanalei Moon” at the Manoa School of Music’s annual recital
I got to perform with the amazing Keawe Ohana at the Marriott!
I got to perform with the amazing Keawe Ohana at the Marriott!
And I took a tree-climbing class at the Lyon Arboretum.
And I took a tree-climbing class at the Lyon Arboretum.
Whee!  I'm 40ft off the ground in a tree!
Whee! I’m 40ft off the ground in a tree!

Flora of Oahu

There were so many glorious flowers and exotic plants… most of which were brought in from other places… but the climate and the mix create the unique jungle of Hawaii.

Our neighbor's tiare plant, originally from Tahiti
Our neighbor’s tiare plant, originally from Tahiti
A cycad from Foster Garden
A cycad from Foster Garden
Breadfruit -- one of the original imports that the Tahitians brought with them when they settled the islands
Breadfruit — one of the original imports that the Tahitians brought with them when they settled the islands
A neighbor's plumeria
A neighbor’s plumeria
Hibiscus near St. Francis' School. This might be a native species.
Hibiscus near St. Francis’ School. This might be a native species.
Beehive Ginger from the Lyon Arboretum
Beehive Ginger from the Lyon Arboretum
Bromeliad
Bromeliad
Floating worlds in a bromeliad
Floating worlds in a bromeliad
Papaya Blossoms
Papaya Blossoms
Shell Ginger
Shell Ginger
The lily in our backyard pond
The lily in our backyard pond
Lobster Claw Ginger
Lobster Claw Ginger
Our neighbor's cat (Popoki in Hawaiian)
Our neighbor’s cat (Popoki in Hawaiian)

 

Aloha from Honolulu: Hanauma Bay

We love snorkelling and it did not take long for us to find a fantastic snorkel spot on Oahu: Hanauma Bay.  It’s a state park, so it is protected.  It is a sheltered cove made from a blown out volcanic caldera (many eons ago) and used to be a favorite fishing spot of Queen Kaahumanu. Now, it is a favorite snorkel spot for the same reason: the abundance of fish!

Hanauma Bay from the top of the ridge.
Hanauma Bay from the top of the ridge.
Aloha!
Aloha!
A sea cucumber
A sea cucumber
Rainbow parrot fish
Rainbow parrot fish
Fish feeding on coral
Fish feeding on coral
Basket Tang
Basket Tang

 

Aloha from Hawaii: Honolulu Festival

One of the highlights of March was the Honolulu Festival which spanned the week-end of March 6-8, 2014.  There were 3 venues for exhibits and performances — the Convention Center, the beach stage at Waikiki and Ala Moana Shopping Center. The culmination of the event was a parade down the heart of town, followed by a fantastic fireworks show.

The Aloha shirt contest: we got to vote for our favorite Aloha shirt uniforms -- shirts for banks, bus companies, restaurants, etc.
The Aloha shirt contest: we got to vote for our favorite Aloha shirt uniforms — shirts for banks, bus companies, restaurants, etc.
There was a quilting demo of traditional Hawaiian quilting.  This shows how the design is created using natural shapes.
There was a quilting demo of traditional Hawaiian quilting. This shows how the design is created using natural shapes.
A performance of Taiko drummers from Japan. Their energy was amazing!
A performance of Taiko drummers from Japan. Their energy was amazing!
Dancers waiting their turn for the parade down Kalakaua Avenue
Dancers waiting their turn for the parade down Kalakaua Avenue
A Chiefess waits for her group
A Chiefess waits for her group
A hula group in the parade
A hula group in the parade
Another hula group
Another hula group
Japanese dancers in the parade
Japanese dancers in the parade
Close encounters with a dragon float
Close encounters with a dragon float
Fireworks finale
Fireworks finale

Aloha from Honolulu: March visit to Kauai

Bill went to Tucson for a meeting in early March and I took that opportunity to visit a henna friend on Kauai.

Statue in the Banyan Meditation area of the Kauai Hindu Temple
Statue in the Banyan Meditation area of the Kauai Hindu Temple
Why did the chicken cross the road?  There are a zillion chickens on Kauai!
Why did the chicken cross the road? There are a zillion chickens on Kauai!
More chickens!
More chickens!
Taro field in Waipa
Taro field in Waipa
Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay
Hanalei in the rainfall...
Hanalei in the rainfall…
The Big Kahuna hanging on Catana's front lanai
The Big Kahuna hanging on Catana’s front lanai
Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls
Opaeka Falls
Opaeka Falls
Wailua River
Wailua River
A different view of the Wailua River
A different view of the Wailua River
Luau Kalamaku performance at the KiloHana Plantation in Lihue, Kauai
Luau Kalamaku performance at the KiloHana Plantation in Lihue, Kauai
Fire Dancers from the Kalamaku luau
Fire Dancers from the Kalamaku luau

Aloha Honolulu: Our House

We live in the downstairs apartment of a nice house in Manoa Valley.

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You walk down a path by the side of the house…

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Then you turn left and you have our lanai (aka a porch on the Mainland)

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On our lanai we have lizards…

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Inside you have to take off your shoes…

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We had a lot of work to do!

Our living room during our first week.
Our living room during our first week.
The living room space after lots of shopping.
The living room space after lots of shopping.
The dining area after
The dining area after. Note the homemade curtains (there are actually 4 windows in the living/dining room).
Nat's workspace before
Nat’s workspace before
Nat's workspace after
Nat’s workspace after
The kitchen is off the workspace
The kitchen is off the workspace

You may have noticed that the refrigerator is not in the kitchen but in the adjacent room.  That’s just the way it is.  We also don’t have a full-sized stove.  We have a burner and a toaster oven.  We also have a microwave, a coffee pot and a rice cooker.  In addition, there is a washing machine, but no dryer.  Clothes are dried  by hanging on a line outdoors — which can take anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days to dry, depending on the relative humidity.

 

Our bedroom is quite large.  The bed is comprised of two twin box springs with a queen mattress on top.
Our bedroom is quite large. The bed is comprised of two twin box springs with a queen mattress on top.  The bedroom has a huge closet.  We hung sweater organizers from the closet pole to create drawers.  It works. Note the home-made curtains…

There is a small but adequate bathroom off the bedroom.

Our total square footage is probably about 1000 ft.  The kitchen is larger than our kitchen back home, as is the bedroom.  But the living/dining space is smaller and we’re missing 2 rooms and a bathroom.  But as far as apartments go, it’s very roomy and well-lit.

It’s super-convenient for Bill’s work — only a mile from his office. We’re also a mile from the nearest shopping center. There are two major bus lines that are within a quarter mile.  It is quite easy to live without a car here.  The only drawback is a lack of sidewalks, but people just walk on the front lawns, so we now do that, too.

The tree on the corner of our street and Awapuhi St. Note the lack of sidewalks.  Most of the valley has no sidewalks.
The tree on the corner of our street and Awapuhi St. Note the lack of sidewalks. Most of the valley has no sidewalks.

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha from Honolulu: First Impressions!

Every seven years, Bill is expected to leave his university and go somewhere else to do research (which will bring fame and glory to SDSU in addition to re-invigorating his teaching).  It’s sabbatical time again!  And Bill is at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii-Manoa!  We will be in Honolulu through the end of April.

First Impressions

Hot.  The average temperature is in the mid to upper 80’sF and gets down to 70F at night.  The other night it got down to 66F at night and the TV weatherman advised folks to pull out their blankets…

Rainy. It sprinkles at least once a day.  And then we have enjoyed real rainshowers for 3-4 days once a week.  Despite the volume of water falling from the sky, the ground is not all all saturated and there are very few puddles during the rain and none at all when it stops.

Humid. All this rain which makes for very lush vegetation also makes the air extremely humid.  About 90% most days.  My hair has discovered ringlets it never knew about and both of us begin to sweat at 8am.  We don’t have A/C in our apartment.  It makes life interesting.

Here is a quick look at our neighborhood, known as Manoa. We are up the hill from Honolulu proper.  The Kuhina Nui, Ka’ahumanu had a palace in this area.  President Obama went to high school just down the hill where Manoa Road becomes Punahou Road.  At the upper end of Manoa Road is Paradise State Park, Manoa Falls and the Lyon Arboretum.

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An amazing tree on our corner
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A plumeria in our neighborhood
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The Manoa Mountains as seen from the campus path behind Noelani Elementary School
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Upper Manoa Road, one of three main roads in our neighborhood.
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The Manoa Mountains
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Manoa Road, the other end
The mist rolls down the mountains.
The mist rolls down the mountains.

One Sentence Saturday

For the Kickin’ It Old Skool Blogathon Challenge, I need to sum up today in one sentence.

Today was more about connecting with others than making back my booth fee… and that, sometimes, is way more valuable.

I did a Christmas Festival at River Valley Charter High School today. It was not a good day for a festival.  Rainy. Cold (for us… 50F!) Not a lot of customers, but we vendors had a good time talking with each other and we all won something cool from the raffle and we all went home with new friends. And sometimes that’s perfect enough.

 

Hawaii 2013: Volcano National Park

For the second half of our journey, we stayed at Aloha Crater Lodge, a lovely bed & breakfast, in Volcano, Hawaii. Only 10 minutes from the Park Entrance, this converted house boasts eclectic decor, very quiet rooms, homemade coconut muffins for breakfast and gracious hosts (and their friendly dogs).  In addition, Dan gives guided tours of the lava tube on their property every day.

Aloha_Crater_Lodge_sign

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Two of three happy dogs
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Me and Shannon Fisher, one of the owners of Aloha Crater Lodge — and the gifted baker of to-die-for coconut macadamia muffins!

 

In the Kazumura Lava Tube
In the Kazumura Lava Tube

We spent two days exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Currently, there is no access to view spewing lava (it’s going straight into the ocean across private property). But there is plenty of volcanic good stuff to see!

Our first stop was the Jaggar Museum to view the Halema’uma’u Crater at night. During the day, it looks kind of like a geyser — but don’t be fooled: that plume is not just steam; it’s a vent of volcanic gases and ash. And at night, you can see the glow from the lava beneath the surface.

Halema'uma'u Crater during the day.
Halema’uma’u Crater during the day.
Halema'uma'u Crater at night from the Jaggar Museum.
Halema’uma’u Crater at night from the Jaggar Museum.
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pahoehoe lava flow
There are 2 types of lava on Hawaii: the glassy, ropey pahoehoe and the rough a'a.  They are chemically the same, but texturally very different.
There are 2 types of lava on Hawaii: the glassy, ropey pahoehoe and the rough a’a. They are chemically the same, but texturally very different.

 

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In certain areas, olivine crystals form in the lava — known as the gemstone peridot when refined. When hiking the Kiluea Iki Crater, we found olivine crystals in almost every place we looked!
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A closer look at an Olivine crystal

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More olivine

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The amazing ohi’a lehua grows on freshly cooled lava

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The Ohi’a Lehua is the flower of the Big Island of Hawaii.

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‘Ama’u fern
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Pele’s hair — volcanic spun glass fibers

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A lei for Pele

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A lava tree — the tree itself was engulfed by lava, but the shape remains
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Lava creates beautiful textures and colors

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Steam vents in the Kiluea Iki caldera. This is true steam from water that seeps in through the rocks and is heated by the lava lake below and returns to the atmosphere as steam.

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Steam vents along cracks in the surface

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