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Showing posts from August, 2010

Sunday afternoon humor

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Video: The Road to Hana

My final video from our Hawaii trip: Some clips from the Road to Hana. See the related blog post here.

Where to watch UFC 118 in Edmonton and Calgary

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It's been a while since I've done one of these, due to both inattention and vacation.

So, if you're interested in finding a bar to watch BJ Penn regain his lightweight title from Frankie "The Fluke" Edgar and Randy Couture destroy James Toney (now watch me be wrong on both those predictions), you can find the link here.

Star Wars novel rant

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While on vacation, I read Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, an older Star Wars novel that I more or less picked up randomly off the shelf of a bookstore on Maui.

It was fine - a little strange to be reading a novel where the "hero" is actually the villain, and, in fact, all of the actual heroes end up dying in the end. But it was a fun - if dark - little romp.

But I had one major nitpick with the plotting.

It's established very early on in the novel that Darsha Assant, the Padawan apprentice of Anoon Bondara, must complete her Jedi Trials in order to become a full Jedi Knight. Her trial? "Assant was given the task of recovering the Fondorian informant Oolth from Coruscant's undercity as the trial for her Knighthood."

Amazingly, her Jedi master frets about this task, wondering if it will be too difficult for her.
"It is a most ... arduous mission," Master Bondara said. "I am surprised at Master Windu's choice of this particular test."Yet, wh…

Fire dance - Royal Lahaina Luau video

The finale of the Royal Lahaina Luau presentation. What you didn't see in the second clip, just out of the left frame of the video, is the dude accidentally setting the stage on fire with his torch and frantically putting it out.

On top of Halealaka, watching Akaka Falls and the big Banyan Tree

A grab bag of videos:

This is at the summit of Haleakala, Maui, 10,000 feet above sea level. It was cold and very windy.



This is Akaka Falls on the Big Island:



And the giant Banyan Tree in Lahaina that takes up an entire city block:

Volcano helicopter tour video

The take-off, landing and an ocean shot from our helicopter tour. We bought the DVD of our flight, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time shooting video knowing we were going to get the entire tour on video.

Skyline Eco Adventures Zipline tour video

This was probably the single best thing I did during our trip. I was a bit apprehensive about it going in, but had so much fun!

Hiking Mordor video

The video for our walk through the lava lake at Volcano National Park on the Big Island.

Video: Maui Ocean Center

This is the walk-through aquarium at the Maui Ocean Center. One of the stingrays was a real camera hog.



Here's my older daughter's video of same:

Hawaii video - Hilo condo

Slowly but surely I'll be uploading video from our Hawaii trip. Here's the first one - the view from the deck of our condo in Hilo. Really, nothing else on the entire trip compared to waking up to this for 5 mornings.

Random thoughts

As you read this, we're on a plane (or perhaps stuck in an airport waiting on a delayed plane). So here's some random thoughts from our Hawaii trip, compiled as we went along.

* On our last Hawaii vacation in 2007, the girls found the Game Show Network and watched it constantly when we were in our condo. This trip, same thing. Personally, I have absolutely no idea what our channel selections were like on the 2 islands because the only channel we watched was GSN. On the flip side, I'm now a pop culture expert in 25,000 Pyramid.

* "Aloha" is one of those multipurpose words that means "hello," "goodbye" and "crush those baseball players from Edmonton!". At least, that's my conclusion based on the PA announcer at the Maui baseball game encouraging fans by yelling, "Come on Maui! Show them your Aloha!" whenever the Maui team needed a rally.

* The Kamaole Sands condo complex is very nice and clean, to the point they rake dead…

Sitting at SFO

We're all at the San Fran airport right now where we've got a couple of hours until our flight to Edmonton.

Departing Maui was fairly smooth - if immensely sad - except for our plane departure being delayed. Yup, we're batting a thousand so far. It was a 20 minute delay and it had no discernible impact on us. But we were shaking our heads nonetheless.

The most pleasant surprise of our arrival here at SFO is that they've got their free wifi operating ahead of schedule. Makes my life easier.

Next stop: Edmonton and home.

Luau and farewell

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Way back when we started planning this trip, we decided that we wanted to finish it with a luau. That turned out to be a terrific decision.



Because what better way to celebrate our Hawaiian vacation? My daughters loved the hot guys.



There were lots of pretty girls.



Not that I noticed, mind you.

And the food was plentiful and delicious. I wanted roast pig and I got a huge helping of roast pig. Yum, yum.

The show was a lot of fun, particularly when one of the dancers set part of the stage on fire. (Sorry, I didn't get pics of that. It happened so fast.)
Still, the fire dancing was awe-inspiring.



So ... that pretty much wraps it up here. Our plane leaves tonight (or, if our flights back turn out to be anything like our flights here, our plane will leave Saturday mid-morning) and we get back to Edmonton early afternoon (or, perhaps, Tuesday).

Doing these blogs has been fun (and in the case of the Road to Hana, therapeutic). We've enjoyed sharing our experiences and I hope you've …

Random Wednesday

With nothing formal on the agenda today, it was an opportunity to do some little things we hadn't had the chance to do yet. We went down south to a different snorkeling beach, where we saw gobs of fish. Best snorkeling spot we've been to so far, which includes Molokini Island.

Then we went to the Shops at Wailea. That was interesting for 2 reasons: the stores included really high end places like Gucci and Tiffany where I'm pretty sure we couldn't afford to breathe the air, and we were still dressed from snorkeling in our wet, sandy bathing suits looking like drowned rats. Needless to say, we didn't go *in* the stores...not that they would have allowed us in anyway...

From there we continued south to Big Beach which is a, um, big beach. Yeah. Truth in advertising. Actually, it reminded us of Grand Beach, which is a good thing. What was really impressive, however, were the gigantic waves wiping out anyone who came within 10 feet of shore. Even Nicole, our lifeguard,…

Feeling froggy

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We had heard from a few folks here that there were big bullfrogs on the property, but we had never gone to look for them in earnest until tonight.



There...



... were...



... a lot ...



... of frogs.



Nicole lost count at 17.

It was, uh, ribbitting.

Groan.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

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We went to the Maui Ocean Center today whe-

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! It has come to our attention that the shark-like fish that the author of this blog encountered yesterday while snorkeling was not, in fact, a ferocious tiger shark. It was, in fact, a harmless reef shark.


We apologize for any inconvenience or misplaced feelings of wonder and amazement created by yesterday's blog entry. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Uh... As I was saying, we went to the Maui Ocean Center today for an afternoon outing. Aquariums are alway fun, and not just because it's easy to roll off hundreds of fish pictures.



I joked that today was going to be, "Figure out the names of all the fish we saw while snorkeling" day. But more than that, there were fish! Have I mentioned the fish?



This is the Mary Kay fish.



Grandma, what big teeth you have!


Awwww!



No, really... Awwwwww!



Special appearance by Jabba the Hutt.



Jellyfish. Grape, I think.

But the r…

Fin-tastic!

I'm bobbing in the Pacific Ocean, in front of Molokini Island. Below me is a volcanic reef, teeming with fish. I blow the air through my snorkel, and plunge my head underneath the water again. My eyes focus on the bottom, about 15 feet below, where the reef turns into flat sea floor. My eye catches the movement right at the seam, swimming below my feet: a tiger shark!

I pointed to my daughter Nicole, swimming beside me and then pointed back at the shark. We watched the shark swim silently below us, disappearing into the deep....

And how was your day?

OK, truth be told, at the time we didn't know it was a tiger shark. We thought it was just another large fish swimming by. We were told that later by other people on our snorkel cruise who also saw the tiger shark swim by. But I needed a dramatic opening to the blog....

That was our first stop on the Molokini Island cruise tour, which saw us show up at the dock at 7 a.m. for check in and continental breakfast before being taken by boa…

Beachy keen

The loose plan for the day was to spend it at the beach. That worked quite well in the morning as it was sunny and warm. The kids and I tried boogie boarding with mixed success but it was still fun. And when we weren't in the water we watched the myriad of sand crabs that scuttle across the beach.

But when we went back to the beach after lunch, it had clouded over and the wind had really kicked up, making anything not nailed down - sand, dogs, small children - airborne. This was slightly less fun than getting a root canal so Char and Nicole retreated to the pool. Michelle insisted on making a sand sculpture, so she did that as I inhaled 27 metric tonnes of sand.

The weather didn't really improve much in the afternoon: windy, cloudy and "cool" (by Hawaiian standards - it's 28). This is the worst weather we've had so far, but no complaints.

In other news, I've finished the Dave Barry novel (the most fun I've had reading a novel that contains multiple g…

Saturday in Lahaina

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We're just back from a long but very fun day in Lahaina, where we shopped, ate and then ate at sea.

Today was dinner cruise day. When Char and I planned this trip, one of the big things the two of us wanted to do was take a sunset dinner cruise.

It was, in a word, fabulous.



The food was good, the company was splendid and quite pretty and the scenery was fantastic.



Prior to that, we spent the day in Lahaina shopping the main street. Lahaina reminded me a lot of Georgetown on Grand Cayman Island - touristy but with an old school charm.

Lahaina also features this monstrous banyan tree that's something like 150 years old and takes up an entire city block. Pictures don't do it justice because you can't photograph the entire thing in one shot.



Plus, we got to see a guy surfing with his dog.



All in all, a really fun day out seeing new things.

Sunday: the kids want to head to the beach. Works for me!

A novel idea

Today was an "off" day with no scheduled activities. So we spent the morning snorkeling at the beach, which was great. Lots of fish. And the afternoon involved hanging out at the pool.

The big discovery of the day was me going though the small collection of books at the condo and finding a novel from Dave Barry. I'm nearly 100 pages into it already. Very funny. I had no idea Dave Barry wrote novels.

Tomorrow: Heading across the island for some activities, including a sunset dinner cruise.

Mr. Trip Advisor's Guide to the Road to Hana

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Mr. Trip Advisor here with your guide to the Road to Hana.

The Road to Hana is spoken of by people who have taken it in hushed, mystical tones. "Oh, if you're on Maui, you must take the Road to Hana," they say. "It's wonderful!"

They say this because they were passengers in the car on the Road to Hana. They marveled at the lush rain forest, the birds singing, the crystal clear ocean waters. For them, the Road to Hana is a spiritual journey of wonder and amazement.

But there is another experience on the Road to Hana - that of the driver. For the driver, the Road to Hana is a nerve-wracking, white-knuckling, sweat-staining, terror-inducing nightmare.

That's because the actual Road to Hana is barely wide enough to fit two hummingbirds side by side. And it contains more than 600 sharp mountain corners, curves, and hairpins, all of them blind; many double blind. Some entire sections of road are only wide enough for one car. Plus more than 50 one-lane brid…

Life's a beach

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One of the things we've discovered about Maui is that it tends to get quite windy in the afternoon, so we decided today to go snorkeling in the morning when it was calmer on the water.



The beach across the street from the condo has some nice volcanic reefs with lots of colorful fish in it, quite close to shore and in water maybe 6 feet deep. Good stuff.




Very nice snorkeling for not a lot of effort.

In the afternoon, we walked down the street mainly to see what amenities were in the neighborhood. On the way back we stopped at another beach (Ok, another part of the same long beach, but around a bend) where Michelle splashed in the water some more and Nicole and I stalked sand crabs and pondered why there were so many dead wasps on shore.



Our wannabe fashion model strikes a pose.

After that, it was off to the pool for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow: The Road to Hana.

Feeding a bird

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From the day we arrived, a very tame and tiny bird has been showing up every morning when we've been eating breakfast on our deck. Of course, being total softies, we feed it.



Just bread crumbs, mind you. No crusts. The bird is picky.

This afternoon, it showed up when I was eating watermelon on the deck. I didn't think it was possible for a bird to beg, but this bird begged for watermelon.

And the instant it realized it was going to get watermelon, it ran up my arm to get it.



And the it decided to get a more comfortable perch.



Yes, I look impressed.

Of course, five minutes after it had chowed down on watermelon, I saw it on another guy's deck sitting in a man's hand eating something from his palm. I feel so used!

On top of the world

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I'll confess that Tuesday morning's activity was the one on this trip that made me the most apprehensive. I'll snorkel with fish without a second thought. I'll climb into a helicopter and fly over an active volcano without batting an eye.

But the family had to talk me into going ziplining. It wasn't that I was scared, so much as I don't like rollercoasters and the idea of strapping myself into a harness hooked to a wire and careening down a mountain seemed to make rollercoasters look sedate.



Nonetheless, I manned up, put on the gear and then proceeded to love every moment of it. This was AWESOME!



We did five ziplines in total, with each one getting progressively more challenging. When it was over, I wanted to do it again and find a more advanced course.



Char and the kids had a blast, too. We had some great instruction from our two handlers, Kent and a girl named Kamara or Kamana or something like that (on the off chance she's reading this, sorry, but I'm…

Maui Monday

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Monday started out with good news: Char got on the phone with Air Miles, explained the
rental car situation, and while we were on hold, they called Budget, and located our reservation. It was in their system all along. The reason they couldn't find it was because it was under Michael - the name I go by, which isn't my first name. And when I travel, all of my documentation is under my first name.

So why this reservation was under Michael is a mystery, particularly since the Kona reservation, made at the same time, was correct. But after a quick jaunt back to Budget to deal with the paperwork of voiding out the screwup and returning to our existing reservation, we were back on our way with a rental car that isn't going to cost us hundreds of dollars.

We spent the morning at the pool, where Char met up with a dental hygienist from Toronto. They had a great time swapping stories about their work. I chatted up the husband, an architect, and we talked a lot of politics. It was…