Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"Looking out on an open sea / I think of home and what it means to me / Shores of Maui are so far away / Often wonder 'bout you every day"
Dusty, Diana, and I had a lovely time on Maui. We enjoyed eight glorious days of sun, sand, and sea. It was a rejuvenating vacation and we could've stayed a few more days. Alas, the real world, and more snow flurries, awaited us back here in Edmonton. Some snapshots of our Hawaiian holiday:
  • For the first time in 10 years of traveling together, our luggage is delayed. We swelter in long-sleeved shirts and jeans while waiting in line to talk to a United rep. Diana has been an excellent traveler, mostly sleeping or charming our fellow passengers, but it is WAY past bedtime at home. There is Wailing and Rending of Too-Warm Garments. United lends us an infant car seat and we pick up our rental car: yet another PT Cruiser. We drive straight to Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina for dinner. Succulent lau lau and kalua pork washed down with a $3 Happy Hour mai tai makes everything better. Diana's mood improves when she has her first taste of poi. Our vacation officially begins.

  • Marika, the sweetie-pie apartment manager at Hale Maui, picks a condo for us that has a great view of the ocean. We watch many sunsets from the balcony. Diana immediately charms the silver-haired groundskeeper, a spry and friendly gent who keeps calling her "Diane". She smiles at him anyway.

  • Our internet connection is spotty at best, forcing Dusty and me to curl up in the evenings with our books instead. We share the small couch, our entangled legs draped over the back, while we read to each other from our tomes. Dusty looks up from Guns, Germs, and Steel to ask me vocabulary questions and we marvel at how much we didn't know about the development of agricultural societies. I recite laugh-out-loud-when-I'm-not-supposed-to dialogue from Twilight and we feel grateful Diana is not yet its target audience.

  • The Kona coffee we got at Foodland was all crap, but we found yummy Passion Fruit Na Pali black tea and enjoyed some fine Kona Brewing Co. beers. We willingly paid $7 for a liter of milk. We unwittingly paid the same amount for a box of crackers. And those were the best daggone crackers we have ever had.

  • While waiting in line for breakfast at the tiny, 15-table Gazebo restaurant [great diner food with even better ocean views in Napili], we have a lovely chat with a family doctor from Seattle named Chris whose colleague went to school with Ray and Greg. It's a small, small world.

  • At Sansei sushi restaurant in Kihei, Diana makes friends with a sweet woman in the next table named Pixie, who is a peek-a-boo afficionado. Pixie's boyfriend reminds us of a nicer, friendlier Shrek.

  • One of my favorite afternoons of the whole week starts with a trip to the Honokowai Farmers' Market to pick up some amazing garlic olive dip, gorgeous fresh and candied papaya, and our fave eco-friendly g diapers. I walk home leisurely, cutting through Honokowai Beach Park. The sun is just about to set and my mind wanders as I watch the waves wash over my feet. I wish I could walk home from the grocery store like this all the time.

  • At the beginning of the hike in the Acid Warzone in Kapalua, we can find no discernible trail down to Nakalele Blowhole. Dusty suggests we climb down the cliff's rockface, assuring me that he could safely look for foot and handholds while balancing the baby carrier on his back. He starts going down the cliff and declares, "It's not that sheer a drop." The baby carrier teeters slightly to the side. Ok, hi. Yeah, no. We eventually find a grassy trail down to the shoreline and the blowhole. Since we came at low tide, the blowhole itself wasn't that impressive, but the surrounding tide pools were teeming with life. Crabs and sea anemones and fish, oh my!

  • We had the best takeout from the tiny holes-in-the-wall Okazuya Deli and the Fish Market Maui in Honokowai, located nearly next door to each other and both just one block from our apartment. Okazuya Deli had good-sized portions of delicious dishes from chow fun noodles to grilled ahi in lemon caper sauce. The Fish Market had boss mahi-mahi tacos with fresh guacamole and Dusty's favorite seared ahi sandwich with wasabi mayo. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

  • Watching the keiki hula performance at Lahaina Cannery Mall made me miss my old halau, especially when the keiki danced "Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai." Unconsciously, my toes tapped out the steps I remembered. I resolve to get back to dancing hula as soon as humanly possible.

  • Highlights of the Road to Hana:
    1. Driving through Honokowai at 7:30 AM just as the town is waking up. At the gas station, I spot a police officer putting a papaya in his backpack before getting on his bicycle to pedal to work.
    2. Making inappropriate comments about the Wiggles, who like to "make food [to put them] in the mood." Dirty buggers.
    3. Diana falling asleep a mile outside of Kahului and napping for a solid hour. We finally got to listen to something other than the Wiggles.
    4. Driving through bamboo forests. The smell of green, growing things was intoxicating. We drove almost the whole way to Hana with the windows down.
    5. Rounding a corner and catching a glimpse of the mighty ocean before us. Rounding another corner to see the valley open up and picking out the taro fields next to the beach. We exclaimed "WOW!" a lot.
    6. Touring Kahanu Gardens before the crowds got there. Nursing Diana in the shadow of the massive Pi'ilanihale Heiau.
    7. Getting the sea cave next to the black sand beaches at Waianapanapa State Park all to ourselves. Diana had much to say about the waves thundering into the cave.
    8. Discovering the Ono Gelato Company in Pa'ia, on the way back from Hana. The best flavors were liliko'i and Sea Mist, which Dusty describes as "tastes the way soap smells . . . in a good way."
    9. Enjoying the gorgeous Road to Hana, thanks to judicious ignoring of Preston and Drew [who both told us to skip the drive, as the carsickness was not worth it] and good planning. We left for Hana early and bee-lined it to the sites we had agreed upon as our only stops. As a result, we had an average of only two or three cars on the road with us, making the journey rather like a Sunday drive.

  • We spend our last afternoon on Maui relaxing at Honokowai Beach Park, our home beach. Aloha 'oe, Maui. Until we meet again . . .

"Maui" by Island Riddim Band

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Long Way Down

"Remember me my love, I'm the one you're dreaming of. / Going for a ride, I'll keep you warm inside . . . / Sooner or later, I'll get me off this track. / Gotta do what it is that I do and then I'm coming back."

Dear Ewan,
How are you, Smoochums McBeautiful? I know it has been a good long while since my last note to you and I'm terribly sorry, but I've been busy with motherhood and stuff. I did, however, finally manage to watch Long Way Down a couple of weeks ago and um, I...ugh, there is no easy way to put this. It bored me, okay? I WAS BORED WATCHING EWAN MCGREGOR. Are those the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse I see thundering towards us?!

I'm sorry to tell you this, my darling, but I have always been honest with you, haven't I? And I'm as stunned by this as you are. You know how much I loved Long Way 'Round and this was following the same formula: You! Talking! IN A SCOTTISH ACCENT! Oh, and traveling on motorcycles with your buddy Charley Boorman and having adventures lalala. I watched every minute of LWR enthusiastically, even if it was essentially Folding Laundry TV. But I fast-forwarded through some of the earlier bits of LWD when you were preparing for the trip because most of it seemed like the same kind of drivel from the prep part of LWR. I suppose motorcyle enthusiasts would care about fixing up the bikes and testing out the gear, but I'm part of the group that doesn't give a shit. I mean, you're traveling from Scotland to Africa! That's a whole lot of countries to see and people to meet and yummy food to taste! Sweet Zombie Jesus shut up already about your bike and get on the bloody road!

Once you did get on the road, I had high hopes that things would pick up. You started in John O' Groats, Scotland, and I quite enjoyed that bit. Not only were you talking in a Scottish accent, EVERYBODY was talking in a Scottish accent. Even your Nana! I just wanted to bake everybody a pie, you were all so adorable. You and Charley were adorable on LWR, too. So full of joy for the open road and wide-eyed wonder at the adventure of it all. But I should have known LWD was going to be a totally different animal when you whipped off your helmet to reveal That Hair.

Oh, Ewan. Why? I will concede that this particular photo* of you is blurry and squashy. I will also concede that you needed a haircut that would withstand helmet head. I will even concede that even the most gorgeous person might look a fright after long days of motorcycle riding and no showers. But even at your worst, most tangled-beard-tattered-drawers-bike-funk-smelliest on LWR, you did not look like you had taken a pair of safety scissors to your head. Don't you have a hair stylist like other movie stars? Baby, you are EWAN FUCKIN' MCGREGOR! May I just remind you how achingly beautiful you are?

Look at that! You're so pretty even you can't resist touching your own face! So why would you inflict a Motor Mullet on your person? If you were so concerned about helmet hair, why didn't you just shave your head? It would have looked better. See?

Not to belabor the point, but I think the hair became, for me, a sort of metaphor for what you and Charley had done to yourselves. You planned to ride 15,000 miles from John O' Groats to Cape Town, South Africa, in just 85 days. You yourself said you didn't realize at the time what that schedule would mean. Basically, you and Charley didn't really experience Africa; you just rode through it. You mentioned quite a bit that you didn't really get to see Africa because you had such a tight schedule to keep. Okay, let's be honest. You didn't just mention it, you complained loudly about it, among other things.
Holy Moses, Ewan. You were a whiny bitch throughout the whole show. You admitted as much, but that didn't make it any less annoying. You whined about the weather and how tired you were of riding and how you didn't get to seeeee aaanythiiing! Dude, you're getting paid to make a documentary about your motorcycle travels through Africa with your buddy! Before that, you got paid to make a documentary about your travels through Europe. You cut that mullet into your head without much forethought about how pointedly uncute it would make you. You planned that rigorous schedule through 20 countries without much forethought about how you would make it work. So suck it up, princess.
Wow. I didn't realize I had this much pent-up vitriol against LWD, but there you have it. I had really hoped to vicariously join you and Charley on another fun, exciting road trip. Instead, I got Whiny McAngstypants and his buddy Cheeky Boorman [He sort of lived up to his last name in this one, eh?] going eeeeehhhhhhh and waaaaahhhhhh through two continents.
Anyway, the trip and the DVD is long over now, and don't worry; I still love you. In fact, I will probably go see Angels and Demons when it comes out, even though I hated the book. The movie looks like it could be entertaining mind candy and you looked kinda fierce in the trailer. All I ask is that if you do Long Way Up or Long Way Sideways, please bring back the joy, the adventure, and the pure love for the open road. And please, I beg you, put away the safety scissors. Otherwise, I may have to run away to Aruba with Hugh Jackman instead. Seriously, he was fantastic on the Oscars and have you seen the Wolverine trailer? MAMA LIKE! Ehem. Sorry. Lovvve youuu.
"Long Way Round/Down" by Stereophonics
courtesy of ohnotheydidnt