ten years.

You guys. You. Guys. It’s over. Done. Finished. Finito. Caput. I am a college graduate.

A completely unconventional college graduate, but I did it.

I began college fresh out of high school, ten years ago. I went full time for ~2 years and then took a break. I felt like a failure.* I felt like a drop out. I technically was a drop out. Three years passed and I went back. This time, part-time while working full-time. FIVE YEARS of that (summers included!)…and I’m done. The longest break I have had was the first summer when I didn’t take classes. 14 weeks. That’s it. Now I’m going to have a break for 14 years!

It feels impossible. It feels like I should be gearing up for summer classes. It feels like I should be scouting amazon for my fall books. But I’m not. I am done. I’m not registered for any more classes. I did not fill out a FAFSA. I did my student loan exit counseling.

I am done.

The past 5 years were hard. They were trying. It was the most stressful time of my life.

But I’m done! I did not attend graduation because I don’t know anyone else graduating and I didn’t want to sit alone. I also didn’t want to buy a cap and gown. Instead, I took the money I would have spent on the cap and gown and treated myself to a hot stone massage and it was the best decision I have ever made. I need another one, right now. I also treated Keith to a regular massage for putting up with my schooling for the past 5 years. Lots of dinners alone and hanging out alone while I did homework and I’ve missed at least 4 of his birthdays due to being in class. But no more!!!

 

(Although grades don’t come out until Thursday so I’m terrified that I somehow failed. If I fail my GIS class, fine, no biggie. But if I fail my Anthro class, I cannot graduate.**)

 

*College is not for everyone. If you dropped out, you are not a failure. My dropping out would not have made me a failure, but I am insane, so I felt like one.

**I really don’t think I failed, but see above: insane.

2015 Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event #PghGBE

Today’s post comes from Sean of Sean’s Ramblings, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on In Pursuit of Happiness, where I get a little deep on happiness and unhappiness. It’s a bit outside the realm of what I post on this blog so hooray for guest blogging! As always, a HUGE shoutout to Alex at everybodylovesyou.net for arranging this even every year and the countless other cool things he does throughout the year. Head on over to his blog for a list of all the other blogs participating today, there’s some great stuff coming your way! Now, take it away, Sean!

Inspired by Katrina’s recent honeymoon posts, I thought I would share a never written about story from my not-so-recent honeymoon. Unlike most normal people, we decided that we didn’t want to go to the beach for our honeymoon. That’s what happens when you get married in August after dealing with several months of hot and humid weather. Instead, we went north and west to Vancouver and on an Alaskan cruise. I won’t get into the entire 10-day trip, how I came to appreciate boxed wine or the fascination of going to a grocery store in Skagway, Alaska. Today, I’m going to share my story of a bike excursion in the town of Hoonah, Alaska.

In the summer of 2004, Hoonah and Royal Caribbean reached some type of partnership to allow Royal Caribbean cruise ships the exclusive right to stop in the town of less than 1,000 people. Hoonah was able to cash in on the growing tourist industry while Royal Caribbean found a place to call their own. Hoonah rolled out the red carpet for the tourists and offered dozens of excursions for the Royal Caribbean passengers. My wife and I signed up for a bike ride in and around the town. This sounds like fun except for one small problem…I don’t know how to ride a bike.

As a kid, I was Lance Armstrong (minus the drugs) on training wheels. However, I fell off the bike soon after the training wheels were removed and decided not to ride anymore. I went through childhood walking or getting rides to where I needed to go, and when I got a driver’s license, who needed a bike anyway?

Back to Hoonah (which works well in the chorus of OutKast’s Hey Ya!), you may wonder why I signed up for a bike excursion when I don’t ride. Well, there’s a common expression “it’s like riding a bike.” So even though I didn’t know how to ride a bike, I figured that it wouldn’t be too difficult for a 29 year old male in reasonable shape. I figured wrong. I was still unable to keep my balance and fell or almost fell multiple times. 

Eventually, I told my wife to go with the rest of the group as I stayed behind. This ended up being great as I got a 1-on-1 tour of Hoonah with one of the guides. I met the mayor and police chief as I pedaled on the pavement and walked the bike on gravel. I learned a lot about the town and the tour guide and her friend, both students at the University of Alaska. Meanwhile, my wife and the rest of the group encountered a brief downpour outside of town and came back soaked while there was no rain in “downtown” Hoonah. 10 years later, my wife and I have not biked together again (well, except for 1 spin class).

The morale of the story: Not biking together leads to a happy marriage!


 

Hoonah Inlet by flicker user: slashvee 

ahhhhhhh

Oh. Hey. Just gonna stroll in here like nothing is different and I haven’t taken 4+ months to blog about my honeymoon. Still one installment left! I know you are waiting with bated breath!

 

But that’s not today. I just need a brain dump. 

 

My life has been cah-razy lately. I have never been this busy…or maybe I have and I have just completely blocked it out, but life is kicking my butt. 

 

Work is so busy. Every day is a race against the clock and I never win. My boss was out of the office for 4 days last week and I had grand plans to catch up on everything. And I didn’t. I did get maybe 75% done, so that’s pretty good!

 

And in breaking news, I was just elected to secretary of the safety committee today…so that’s great. Something else to find time for in my day and I don’t even like safety!

 

But! Enough about work. 

 

The real thing culprit of stealing my free time is school. One month left. Four weeks left. Four CLASSES left. 10 HOURS of class left. I have four classes, a final paper and a take-home exam annnnnnnnnnd a giant independent study project for the other class. 

 

The actual class, Ethnoarchaeology, is great. I love it, I love the professor and since it is my last Anthropology class, there are no new concepts, just building on everything, so it has been rather easy. (But still time consuming, lots of reading.) The midterm, I got an A+ on and I wrote it (6 pages) in about 3 hours, so I’m not concerned about the take-home exam. The paper…well the syllabus said a rough draft was due yesterday so I worked my little fingers to the bone all weekend typing one up and then HE NEVER MENTIONED IT. I took it to class just in case and he never said a word, never collected it….and I wasn’t going to be that jerkwad who says “Hey, wasn’t something due today?” screwing over my fellow classmates. 

 

But! At least the draft is done and I can take my good old time editing it before the end of the term. I wrote about graffiti, because why not. 

 

My independent study project, I have had all semester to do…and I started it last weekend. In my defense, no one would return my emails about it…then I couldn’t get any data…then Windows (through our Mac) wasn’t working…and then I still couldn’t get my data…and then the program is SO SLOW on our Virtual Windows…

 

But this past weekend, I buckled down and spent a day on it. I made some progress but I have a lot farther to go which is what this upcoming weekend is entirely devoted to. Because it’s due the week before finals week…which only gives me 3 weeks!

 

I may have to take the computer and go to the library or something because getting stuff done at home is so hard sometimes. There is either the siren song of “a quick nap!” or Daisy bugs the crap out of me…or it suddenly seems like a good time to clean the baseboards…I am pretty sure I have adult-onset-ADD. 

 

But! 4 weeks! Then I will be done! Forever! 


 

A picture I took of a strawberry massacre and ran through the Waterlogue app. 

 

honeymoon part 5: hilo part 2

Our last full day in Hilo was another rainy, drizzly day. I really should have planned better and planned things that wouldn’t have been ruined by rain but it’s Hawaii! Who wants to be inside!

One of the things I was most looking forward to was only about 5 minutes from the house…Ahalanui Park. I was most looking forward to it because there was a geothermal pool! The pool butts up to the ocean, so it doesn’t get that hot, since there the cold ocean water splashes over and mingles. It still was about 90 degrees. And on a cold, drizzly day, it was pretty much the only kind of swimming I’d want to do. You could seriously miss the place, it’s a very small/unassuming park. There were probably only 5 other people there the day we were there but there were two lifeguards, so I can imagine on a nicer day it would get a few more visitors.

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I only got ~5 pictures with our point and shoot because the battery died and I couldn’t find the charger…but look at the lovely green tinge of the water. (That’s Keith out there, the little girl photobombed him.)

We hung out in the pool for a bit…if it had been 5 degrees warmer, I would have stayed all day…but we had bigger plans.

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I can’t imagine anyone having the chance to see a volcano and skipping it…unless it was actively erupting…but this was pretty much a life dream come true. Before we hit the actual volcano, we stopped at Volcano Winery for a tasting. I think we paid $7 each but got to try 7-8 wines, including an awesome tea-wine fusion. Tea and wine sound like they’d be really wrong together, but it really worked. I was a huge fan of their Pinot Noir and I never like red wines and never ever like dry wines. It was just so bright and crisp.

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We ended up buying a bottle to take home. We had packed a lunch and they had a nice little picnic area where we sat and ate. If we hadn’t had plans to do the volcano, it would have been really nice to have bought a bottle to enjoy with lunch!

We left the winery and drove to the park. We headed in and spent the next few hours exploring. Since the volcano was erupting, part of Crater Rim Drive was closed (due to fumes) but we still were able to drive the Chain of Craters Road. It’s a 2o mile drive that winds you past all of the old craters and it was just unbelievable. You drive through all of these lava fields and then suddenly you’re in a forest. And the back to lava, and then more forest. The scale of the craters was also unbelievable. You could fit football stadiums into some of them. These photos will not do it justice.

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At the end of the Chain of Craters is the Hōlei Sea Arch, and a very angry sea.


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Apparently, the best views of the crater are at night…but it had been a long, cold day so we only stayed until dusk to see the glow before we peaced out. Still pretty awesome.

We had some mediocre thai food and then headed back to Pahoa and bright and early the next day we headed off to Kona.

honeymoon part 4: hilo

On black Friday, we left our hotel in Maui to travel to the Big Island. As we were packing up to leave, we realized we had ~6 beers and half of a bottle of vodka that we couldn’t take with us. Our suitcase had already been overweight on the way in so I knew there was no way we could swing it. We decided to just leave it for the cleaning lady and hope that she would either take it or give it away. As we walked out of our room, Keith spotted a guy lugging a case of beer, so he stopped him and explained that we were checking out…want some free beer? The guy was super excited to take our beer off our hands, he said that he was getting married that week, so he’d need it. Haha. So that was nice. Win/win.

We got to the airport obscenely early and ended up sitting around for probably close to 2 hours for our 30 minute flight. It seemed like such a waste to go through all that damn security to be on the plane for that short of time. I don’t think I even finished a chapter in my book!

But by 1:00 p.m. we were on the Big Island.

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Kona airport is open-air. It was very weird. This was taken from baggage claim.

The first part of our Big Island stay was going to be in Pahoa on the opposite side of the island…so we grabbed our rental car and made the 2 hour trek.

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You take the Saddle Road from one side of the island to the other and it was just unreal. So stupidly gorgeous. And then it started raining. And pretty much didn’t stop for the next 3 days. Hilo is basically a rainforest, so I should have expected it.

We stayed in Pahoa, which is where the volcano is/was actively erupting. Luckily, it missed the house we were staying in and honestly didn’t affect us at all. There were a few roads closed nearby but nothing we needed.

The place we were staying was a good 5 minute drive off the main road. I made this video to upload to instagram, but it was too long…so here you go. It was 5mins sped up to 27 seconds. And like I said, it was intended for instagram, so it was going to be square and vertical/horizontal didn’t matter.

And this was the hale (ha-lay) in all her glory. IMG_0633

I was so excited about this place. I kept calling it the spaceship, but in reality it was more like a treehouse. There were screens all around, it was basically like sleeping outside. Which, when you have a husband with pretty severe allergies who accidentally left their allergy medicine in the hotel…maybe not paradise for everyone.

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But this is my blog and I loved it. The outdoor shower was a little strange and the bathroom was a real bathroom…but also outside and 30 yards away, so that took a little getting used to as well. But there were horses outside and little lizards inside! There was solar power and no wifi. There was a small cooler that ran off a generator and we had cellphone service. It was about as off-the-grid as I’m comfortable with and again, only for a few days!

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We didn’t do too much in Hilo, because it did rain every day. The sun was out in full force on our last day, naturally. By the time we got in on Friday, we didn’t feel like doing much of anything so we just stayed in and relaxed. On Saturday, we woke up and it was pouring. We went and got some lunch at Hawaiian Style Cafe and I had my first taste of poke (poh-kay). Poke is basically cubed raw fish…covered in a sauce (soy sauce, oil, etc) and it is magnificent. I got that as a side to a really terrible burger. Keith got some kind of meatloaf and for his side they offered him fries or pancakes. He went with pancakes and when they arrived we found they were bigger than the both of our heads put together. But they were fabulous.

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If I could go back in time I would have just gotten the pancakes and the poke, which actually sounds like a pretty gross combination, but play to your strengths.

After leaving there, we headed to Mehana Brewing Company since it was only a few minutes away. They had a small, informal setup (think East End Brewing version 1.0) but we were able to try all ~8 beers they had on tap and had a nice chat with the lady working.

From there we went to the movies. Hey, it was raining! All of my planned activities were outdoors! So we sat in a dark movie theatre and saw Mockingjay. And I don’t regret it at all. (Loved it.)

On our way back to the house we stopped at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center which was completely overrun with 2 busloads of Japanese tourists. They store had these gift packs of ~8 cans of nuts for ~$35 and I am not exaggerating when I say that these people were cleaning them out, buying literally hundreds of dollars worth of nuts. It was insane. It was like Black Friday, except on a Saturday and people only buying nuts. Nuts. We finally were able to elbow our way through for some samples and there was a self-guided tour but apparently it didn’t work on Saturdays because none of the tvs would turn on. So we bought a bag of nuts and went on our merry way, stopping for some completely forgettable sushi on the way back home.

And I thought I could roll all of Hilo into one day, but I’m not done yet so I’ll stop here. Hilo Part 2 next.

 

honeymoon part 3: kāʻanapali beach

So! Two months later, still trying to recap this honeymoon. It’s times like this where I miss my old job when I could totally sneak in some blog time. I would never dream of doing that at the new job and thusly, lil jelly jars suffers. Oh well.

When I last left off, we were leaving Upcountry Maui and heading to the Sheraton Maui. This was the fancy part of the honeymoon. We bought a package through Pitt which included the hotel stay, basketball tickets and transportation to and from the basketball games. We got in on Sunday and our room wasn’t ready yet so we changed in the bathroom and hit the beach. Gorgeous white sand, definitely one of the nicest beaches I’ve been to. They had a welcome reception for us the first night, all organized through the Alumni Association and I was very impressed. There were apps and drinks and they gave us free Pitt shirts. We ate so well we didn’t even have to eat dinner that night. But we did go out for shave ice in Lahaina, because when in Hawaii…. We also went to the grocery store to load up our mini-fridge.

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Keith jumping!

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Not-Keith jumping!

Monday was more beach time and then we went to Maui Brewing for lunch. We had seen it on an episode of Drinking Made Easy and a few years back they had an onion beer that I was dying to try…but no such luck. We did have a pretty tasty lunch though and some beers and then headed back to a pre-game reception. This one ALSO had food, so it was unfortunate that we had just paid for lunch, but whateva. After the little reception, we caught the shuttle to the game and proceeded to win against Chaminade. Poor Chaminade.

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We got back, high off our win and split some overpriced hotel bar nachos and then mixed ourselves up some drinks and took them to the hot tub.

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The next day, we had another game in the evening, so more beach time! Then the shuttle to the game…which we lost. :( It was sad. We were too sad to go far for dinner, but our hotel was next to Whaler’s Village which is not a Village at all but a shopping plaza sort of thing. We ate at Hula Grill in the barefoot bar…which was basically outside seating…in the sand. It was weird. I would not like to be a waiter there. Sand in your socks and such. But it was a mile away from our hotel so we were just able to walk home.

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Wednesday was our final game and luckily we won! It was such a fun, exciting game. After that we decided to go back down to Lahaina and ate at Lahainaluna Cafe which was one of the best meals I had on the trip. We got tacos and crazy fries and chicken bites and it was cheap and filling and tasty. When eating in Hawaii you can have two of the three and cheap is usually not an option.

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We did a bit of walking around and saw the giant banyan tree. It was giant, alright!

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Back to the hotel, back to the hot tub.

Thursday was Thanksgiving! and we had a luau planned, so we ate breakfast at the hotel. We had been given two days of free breakfasts with our stay, so that was nice. Another day at the pool/beach.

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Keith eventually had to leave because he was getting too much sun, but to me there was no such thing…I felt like a lizard, I wanted to soak it all up. He went to the gym and I skyped my family at dinner, which was fun. I kept spinning around my phone to show them the view and they kept getting mad at me, haha. :) And then I took a walk up to where the gym was, because it had a way better view.

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Our luau was at the Hyatt…which was a mile down the road, so we walked. I thought our hotel was nice…but the Hyatt…wow. There was a freaking Macy’s in the bottom of it. I think if I went back to Maui, I’d try to stay there. So fancy. The luau was a lot of fun. We had VIP tickets through Pitt so we got to sit in the front and had waiters bringing us our drinks and other fancy things. I went to get a drink before the waiters appeared and the guy asked me “What is the year of your birth?” I was so thrown for a second I didn’t even know what to say. Then I realized what he was asking and told him, haha. So that was nice. I haven’t actually been carded in a while.

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The luau was great, my favorite part was the fire dancing, of course. The food was good too, at the very end of the buffet they had turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, which was really nice for all of us missing our turkey dinners. We strolled back to the hotel and called it an early night since we had to check out the next morning.

 

nerd alert 2014

This marks the 3rd year I’ve recapped my reading adventures, like a proper dork.

In 2012, I read 100 books.

In 2013, I read 114 books.

I had secret hopes to read more than 114 books this year, but with the first half of the year dedicated to the whole wedding thing, I didn’t stand a chance. I still came in at a very respectable 104.

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Within those 104 books, I read 31,617 pages which comes to 86 pages per day. The longest book I read was World Without End by Ken Follett which clocked in at 1,014 pages, coming in not far behind were Fall of Giants at 985 and Winter of the World at 940. Also by Ken Follett. That guy likes to write…

Some of my favorites this year in no particular order…

1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

3. Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey

4. The End is Nigh by Various Authors

5. The End is Now by Various Authors

6. World Without End by Ken Follett

7. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

8. Winter of the World by Ken Follett

9. Silo 49 Series by Ann Christy

10. The Runner Series by W.J. Davies

11. The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan

12. Humanity Gone Series by Derek Deremer

I guess the theme of this year was a lot of series. I love a good series. Why read one book on a subject when I can read 3+!

I also got into fan fiction a bit this year. The Silo 49 series and The Runner series were based set in the world of Hugh Howey’s Wool, still one of my favorite series of all time. It was so fun to jump back into that world with different characters and perspectives.

Oh, and one audio book. It was okay. Someone recommended Amy Poehler’s book as an audio book so I may try that next. I just read too fast, audio books slow me down. Unless I can figure out how to read a book while listening to a book. Now there’s a thought!

No huge disappointments this year, I didn’t rate anything 1 star! There were a few 2 star books but they were all amazon freebies.

I still have about 15 new books on my kindle that I didn’t get a chance to read this year. I put 14 new books on for our honeymoon and only got through 3-4. Lots of reading to catch up on in 2015. Since I will only be in school for 4 months of 2015, maybe I can crack 125 books! Happy reading!

2014 / age 28 review

Today I turn 29! Last year I went to Ikea and got my hair done, so this year I planned on doing nothing and I have mostly accomplished that! I did do some cleaning and laundry because I am insane but I took a nap and sat on the couch a lot so that was nice.

Here is my 2014 / age 28 year in review. You can see 27 here and 26 here.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Got married! Got in a car accident. Acquired a car payment. Got a promotion! Went to Hawaii! (more posts to come..)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


Well, I failed at all of them except the get married one. Phew.

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Same as last year: a ton of facebook/internet friends had babies, but no one I’m super close with.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

No other countries, but we did go to Nagshead and Hawaii!

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More free time? Another dog? A college degree.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 24! We got married!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


I got a promotion, that I didn’t even apply for, so that was pretty awesome. I also have continued to do well in school.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Last year my biggest failure was that I got a B-. This year I was OVERJOYED to have gotten a C+. Haha. Biggest failure was probably not finding/making time to work out.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a sore neck/back from my car accident, but thankfully it wasn’t any more serious than that. I had double pinkeye over Christmas, so that was a blast.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A marriage license? Loretta the Legacy.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Wedding, down payment on my car, Hawaiian honeymoon, tuition.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Getting married! Getting a new job! Going to Hawaii!

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Adele – One and Only. It was the song we danced to at the wedding and the song Jason put as backing to our wedding video.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Just as happy!

– thinner or fatter? fatter. I am up 6lbs from last year, so I need to work on that….

– richer or poorer? So much poorer. Need to work on that this year as well.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Socialized. Worked out.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Worried.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas eve at the in-laws. Christmas day brunch with Keith’s grandma and then my grandparents’ house.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Orphan Black, Shameless, Game of Thrones, Parenthood, The Walking Dead, The Good Wife, Orange is the New Black, Broad City

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Sand Omnibus

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I am like 7 years behind on music, so I have no idea.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Maybe Mockingjay part 2. I am woefully behind on movies.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 28. I went to Ikea and bought 2 dressers, I got my hair done.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time off work. Less homework.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Well I now have to dress like a grownup for work so lots of cardigans, pencil skirts, black tights.

26. What kept you sane?

Keith and Daisy and the internet.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.


Even if you’re miserable, keep kicking ass and eventually someone will notice.

honeymoon part 2: upcountry maui part 2

My last post left off with us about to leave Oheo Gulch. Now there were exactly two ways to go once we left…back the way we had come, or we could continue around the southern part of the island. The place that we wanted to go for dinner* was toward the southern end, so we headed that way. About 15 minutes in to our drive Keith said something about “Don’t you need 4 wheel drive to go on this road?” And I said, “Of course not!” And then we drove a little further. And the road turned to dirt.

And then we spent the next 2 hours twisting and turning along cliffs.

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The road appeared to be about 1.5 car widths. And some portions had vertical cliffs on either side. Once or twice a gigantic truck/tour bus came at us from the other side and we had to inch closer and closer to the wall in order for them to be able to pass. Luckily we were inching to the right, not the left.

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These pictures don’t do justice to the grade of the road. It seriously felt like we were on a roller coaster. You’d come to the top of a hill and just be looking straight down. I have re-occuring nightmares about out of control vehicles and this road was pretty much those nightmares come to life. IMG_0985

Keith was a little bit unhappy with me. I never thought I had to research the ROAD we were taking, but apparently I should have. Along with the chance of plunging to your death…we had zero cellphone service. A few cars passed us…but if anything had happened, we would have been waiting quite a while for help. But man…it sure was beautiful.

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I desperately wanted to take my real camera out, and desperately wanted to ask him to stop, but I knew the first would annoy him and the second was definitely not going to happen, so I just kept snapping away on the iPhone telling him, “Maybe you’ll want to look at these later?”

Finally, we hit paved road and after another ~45 minutes of that we hit civilization. We had some great pizza at Serpico’s and then went back to the house and crashed.

Oh, I forgot! On Friday, between the beach and the basketball game we went to Ocean Vodka. We had a few brewery/winery tours planned so we threw in this distillery tour. I think it was $5 per person and we had the entire tour to ourselves. We got there a little early, so we walked around a bit, enjoying the grounds and the wildlife.

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Ocean vodka is 100% organic. So instead of using pesticides on their sugar cane…they use chickens! We had a very nice ~30 minute tour and got to see the sugar cane, see all kinds of machines, see the bottling process. It was really interesting and informative and at the end, we got to taste some vodka! Hooray! One of the coolest things was they have a “martini garden” that has all sorts of different herbs that you are welcome to cut and take home to mix with your vodka. Such a great idea!

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And then we come to Sunday. Time to leave upcountry Maui. But one more stop!

Well, two more. First, one of the coolest things, all over the island, people have fruit stands at the end of their driveways. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of one, but they range from simple to elaborate. And they are all unmanned. They just have a little bucket for you to put your money in. The house next to the one we were staying in had such a stand and we spent $5 (because I had no change) and loaded up on fruit. Starfruit for 25 cents! Passionfruit for 50 cents! Breadfruit for $1.00! (I thought breadfruit was something completely different. Apparently the way to eat it is to cook it. We tried to eat it raw. It was like a sticky potato.)

 

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So, all loaded up with fruit, we headed to Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. We had actually passed it on our way back from the Road From Hana the previous day, but it was late and they only do tours at 10:30 and 1:30 so we traveled back.

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The tour and tasting were completely free and there were probably 20 people taking the tour. It was very neat hearing all about the ranch and how they starting making wine. Apparently they had some trouble with grapes at first so they started making pineapple wine just for something to do and now it makes up 80% of their production. And it was delicious! I’ve never been on a winery tour and it was really interesting, though we didn’t actually see any grapes. Or pineapple. I especially liked how the explanation of how they bottle the sparkling wine and there was even a neat demonstration.

 

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The grounds were beautiful and they had all these enormous and crazy trees. One of the first owners of the ranch had collected trees from all over the world.

 

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This was my favorite. It looked like something from Dr. Suess.

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A camphor tree.

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I can’t remember the name of that one, but it was from New Zealand.

Then we left and were off to Kaanapali Beach.

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That little squiggle should be on Hawaii’s state flag. They are everywhere.

 

*HAH, except the road it was on and the road we were on never connected so we never got to go because it would have been another 2 hours of driving to get there. Ugggghhh.

 

honeymoon part 1: upcountry maui

Keith and I were engaged for almost 3 years before we got married. We had tossed out some honeymoon ideas early on (I was pulling for Greece), but then kind of forgot about it. Until it was announced that the Pitt basketball team would be taking part in the Maui Invitational.

Keith has always wanted to go to Hawaii. I would never turn down a trip, but it wasn’t really on the top of my list…but when this happened, it was settled. It might be Keith’s only chance to see Pitt play in Hawaii. (I actually did complain for a little bit at first until Keith said, “You do realize you are complaining about a trip to Hawaii?” Whoops. #firstworldproblems).

I told Keith that he had to plan the honeymoon since I planned the wedding but then once the wedding was over, I just took over. About a week before we bought our airline tickets, it was announced that Pitt was going to play the University of Hawaii a few days before the tournament started, so luckily we had time to tack a few extra days on.

We flew into Maui on November 20th. We left Pittsburgh around noon and had two layovers, one in Minneapolis and one in LAX. We landed in Maui at 9:30 p.m. their time…which was ~2:00 a.m. Pittsburgh time. For 14 hours of travel, it really wasn’t bad. We were excited and the two layovers helped. We had time to get some food, go to the bathroom, (I have never used an airplane bathroom – I am afraid) stretch our legs, etc. Once we landed in Maui, we collected our bags and went to pick up our rental car. And I found out Keith had rented us a convertible! Woo!

For the first few days of our trip, we were staying in an AirBnB in Haiku, which is upcountry Maui. It was about ~30 minutes from the airport. As we drove there the first night…my first thoughts were “Wow, it’s dark!” “Wow, it’s flat!” “Look at all those stars!” The stars were incredible. I had fully planned on taking some sort of time-lapse star photo but never got around to it.

Woke up bright and early (I think 6:00 a.m.?) due to a rooster crowing merrily. Decided to get up and not waste the day. Our first stop was breakfast. We headed to Colleen’s  and it was great. Keith ordered a smoothie which was the best smoothie I’ve ever had in my life. He had a breakfast burrito and I had a breakfast scramble and it was all top notch. Super cute place too.

After that, we hit the beach. We had been on the island for almost 12 hours now, it was imperative to get to a beach! It was actually pretty difficult to find beach towels, our host didn’t provide them and I didn’t want to take her bath towels to the beach. We tried 3-4 shops before spending $20 per towel. Yikes. But then…beach!

And were greeted by this sight:

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And then greeted by some rain. It was sprinkling on and off the entire time we were at the beach, but who cares! We were at the beach! In Maui! And I met a dog!

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After a while, we left and headed back to the house to get ready, we had a basketball game to go to!

Keith and I are big fans of Three Sheets and Drinking Made Easy and one of the DME episodes was in Maui. They went a kava bar and so that was at the top of Keith’s list. Luckily, it was right near the basketball game. So we headed to Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar

 

From wikipedia on kava:

The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. (See canoe plants.) Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity.

 

From Katrina on kava:

It tastes like dirt. And makes your mouth numb.

 

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Needless to say, I was not a fan. Keith was though, so more for him. Instead, I got excited about trying loco moco. Loco moco is rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and drenched in gravy. It was delicious. Keith was not really a fan. I said I liked it so much I wanted to make it at home. But then I said “I’d probably leave out the egg. I’d probably even leave off the burger.” Keith said, “Then you’d be eating a bowl of rice + gravy.” “Exactly.”

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We left there and headed to the gym for basketball. Pitt lost. It was sad. I had to use a port-o-potty in the dark. That was even more sad.

The next day was a day Keith will never forget….

We traveled the Road to Hana.

I did basically no research on this, I just knew it was a big thing to do. The GPS said it was ~30 miles to Hana and would take 2 hours. Which seems insane until you start the drive. Lets just say you see a lot of these:

We drove all the way to the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. There was supposed to be some kind of lava tube tour but I never found it, so we just checked out the beach for a bit. It was a tiny beach and the waves were super intense so we didn’t go in the water. But it was incredible to see.

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We left there and traveled to what was supposed to be a red sand beach…but it didn’t look red at all. There was some kind of festival going on so there was nowhere to park…so we left and tried to get lunch. Drove up and the place was closed. Decided to keep going and find somewhere else to eat…and never found anywhere. But we did find our next stop….Oheo Gulch. We paid $10 to get into the park and then started our hike to the gulch. Except I just sort of followed people and after ~15 minutes of hiking up a mountain…we realized the pools were probably not up there. So we turned around and went the other way…and found the pools.

 

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It was gorgeous here, and not really crowded at all, but the bottom was all rocks. It really hurt to walk around…Keith got all the way to the bottom waterfall, I only got partway there since I knew as far as I went, I’d have to go back. The water was also pretty shallow in the pool in the foreground so it wasn’t really possible to swim. I would highly recommend going there but I would highly highly highly recommend water shoes. But the rocks were also mossy and slippery so I saw a lot of people fall, regardless. Still gorgeous though. At this point it was late afternoon and we were starving thanks to missing lunch, so we decided to leave.

And then the real adventure began.

…to be continued.

 

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