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so long box (2004-2009)

Yo. I’m closing this box and from now on will write here:

If by chance I’m actually in your reader, you can update the feed to this new one.

Ah new fresh excitement yay.

biking along the sunshine coast

Last Saturday morning we loaded our bikes up and took a ferry to Langdale for a ride up the sunshine coast. We were vaguely shooting for Ruby Lake after hearing rumours of beauty and a great Italian restaurant but once in Madeira park I had my foot on the ground that we would stop at Katherine Lake instead (my whole body was almost on the ground and Ruby Lake would be another 20 or 25 kilometres away).

The sunshine coast is kind of cool because it’s this little strip of highway only accessible by ferry. It was not too busy and the people who were around were all really friendly.

The one thing I didn’t like was how so much of the coast has been developed. Houses and houses up and down. At least the lakes are wonderful.

Funny story: We biked from West Vancouver to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. I had taken tent poles from Faron’s trailer and strapped them to the back of my bike because I wanted to help out with the weight (I’m always scared to sneak a lift of Faron’s packs because he usually takes everything for us). About 5 km from the ferry terminal we stopped on the side of highway 1 and I had unstrapped things from my bike to get a snack from my panier. Then I put everything back together and we continued on.

Around 10:35am and after buying tickets for the 11:10am ferry I looked at my bike: “where are the poles?” “Faron did you take the poles?” “Yeah I have them.” (Does he know I took them to carry?) “Do you really have them?” “Yes…let me check.” No poles. Crap. Poles flew off my bike. I can buy new set. Tent company no longer exists, poles irreplaceable. Crap. I’ll bike back and maybe they came off somewhere around the terminal. Ferry boarding in 25 minutes. Seems hopeless. Crap.

I felt so horrible. Horrible enough to get in a cab and drive my shameful face away. And then I realized that was our only hope. I got into a cab and had him drive me back down the #1.

How happy I was to see a long purple sack laying on the side of the road!! We picked them up, return to the ferry terminal, still caught the 11:10am and had a tent to camp in!

The food highlight of the trip: President’s Choice White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. It had been too long since the last time I ate it:

Food runner-up: breakfast was pancakes made with rehydrated dehydrated saskatoon berries and shavings of a Fruit & Nut Cadbury chocolate bar, topped with saskatoon berry / chokecherry syrup.

Some things I learned (other than the moral of the whole tent pole ordeal):
- Pedal “cages” are not cages but clips and this is why clipless pedals can be called clipless. (Even though they’re quite clippy no?)
- Translink may refuse to let you take a bike trailer on the bus. Something about it having wheels. Yeah…sure. (Boo.)
- The coffee crisp ice cream at the shop on the boardwalk in Sechelt is not Coffee Crisp as in the chocolate bar but ice cream with crispy coffee flavoured bits.

kauai: sleeping

We chose camping over a hotel. At $3.00 per night per person how could you not camp? The only difficulty was having to apply for permits to camp a few months before our trip. Well, not really difficult at all – you send in a form and money order – but there was some anxiety while we waited for our permits to come back (I admit some lack of faith in the postal system).

The first three nights we stayed at Salt Pond Beach Park (with the cats). The area behind our tent is where salt is harvested from the ocean (the only natural salt pond left in Hawaii):

Campgrounds were different from the ones we are used to here. You don’t get your own private nook in trees with picnic table and a place to pitch a tent. Instead you park off the road and choose any spot in a grassy park area for your tent. The campgrounds were not very busy so we had a lot of room but it was by no means private room.

It was quickly obvious that the public campgrounds are where locals come after work and on holidays to BBQ, play cards, drink, watch tv (somebody brought one to entertain a group at one of the picnic tables), and so on. This was a little unsettling because before going I read and heard so much about how the Hawaiians are not particularly fond of the tourists running around their islands. Driving up in a PT Cruiser and stepping out with marshmallow-white legs, there was no way I would blend in. But during our second night and morning a few men came over to chat with us and that was really good. We were from totally different worlds and lifestyles but they were interested in us and they seemed to enjoy telling us about themselves.

One came to our breakfast table around 8 a.m. We were eating pineapple and mini wheats and he had a beer in his hand. He told us that it’s really tasty to cut up pineapple and put it in your cereal. Then he told us that when they eat pineapple they often dip it in salt (from the pond) to subdue the sweetness so that you can taste the pineapple’s real flavour. You can’t buy the salt in stores but he brought some over for us to try. It was…salty. I think I may have over-dipped but I could taste what he was getting at.

After Salt Pond, we stayed one night at Haena and the rest at Anini Park. All three parks were next to the ocean.

Spending the whole week outside with the exception of car driving time, grocery stores and sitting inside restaurants a few times made sure that we saw most of the early sunsets. From Anini:

And from Polihale Beach:

The Polihale sunset was cool to experience because it’s the furthest west you can go in Hawaii and you really get the impression that you are at an edge, saying goodbye to a day that millions have already had their last words with.

kauai: creatures

Kauai didn’t have too many crazy creatures like monkeys and alligators and panthers but it did have visible creatures. Ones that seemed used to co-existing with humans and didn’t hide in trees and ground holes. Maybe this is because all the creatures we saw are descendants of pets brought to the islands a long time ago.

First – the rooster (and chickens).

They say hurricane iniki (1992) took down farms letting all these chickens and roosters loose. Now they are everywhere. There was not a single place we went to that didn’t have a rooster strutting around. Quite entertaining actually, until you’re waken up at 5 in the morning by 3 roosters cawing over and over and over again.

But I got used to it. And then I met the chicks. I even rubbed one on its little head and then was worried that its mother might smell my scent and eat it but I was assured that wouldn’t be the case. So the chickens and roosters were great.

The second creature was more localized. Wild cats roamed the first site we camped at – Salt Pond Beach Park. By wild I mean stray domestic cats. Or maybe they are pets to the park. They would certainly be given food and water and be able to stay familiar with the same locals who come every day for a beer and/or game of poker.

We spotted the third creature while driving the dirt roads from Polihale at nighttime. Faron noticed one on the side of the road and then another and another. Toads. Frogs? I never know which. But they sat on both sides of the road, all the same distance from the edge of the road with their backs to cars and about 2 feet between each toad/frog. Had the king frog decreed that this be the best spot for road sitting? His decision would be reinforced by the splattering of the few unfortunate enough to sit closer to the middle of the road.

We had pulled over and Faron walked up to this guy and easily picked him up. As we looked at it, it started to inflate itself. The inflating then turned into a high pitched panicky whining sound that I didn’t know toad/frogs could make. It was really interesting but we also felt bad for it and let it go quickly. Saved by whining – heh.

The last creature that I have a photo is the gecko. But I’m not positive it’s a gecko. I have a feeling that it could be some lizard that’s always mistaken for a gecko but is really a salamander…or something like that. Anyway, I liked seeing these guys because I was told about a cockroach problem on the island but that there was also a gecko (problem?) and the latter took care of most of the former. Most of my sightings were in the campground bathrooms at nighttime. Those geckos had turned a pale browny-yellow to match the plaster walls. The first time for me to see an animal do its camouflage thing and it was pretty cool.

Other honourable creature mentions (I wish I had pictures) are:

The common myna that looked like the most awkward bird walking around but in flight was gracious with beautiful red and white plumage under its wings.

The red-crested cardinal is an awesome bird to watch. It is comical looking but smartly so and if I were a super hero maybe I’d want to be red-cardinal girl.

The rock dove that was about as interesting as a pigeon but had a really weird sounding call that had me and Faron referring to “the laser bird” before we figured out who it was coming from.

That’s it for creatures. But wait – I’ve said nothing about fish and things in the sea! That could be a whole other post and, not having a waterproof camera, one without pictures. I might get to it…for now – off to my grandma’s 90th birthday party in Humboldt, SK.

kauai: food

I lose the right to talk about my Hawaii trip at the end of this month so I’d better hop to it! I continue with my presentation of Kauai in categories. Today we talk about an exciting one: fooood.

If you forget the overpriced Mexican food our hungry souls settled for as a first meal and the cheese and cracker supper later, our first real Hawaiian meal was pineapple for breakfast:

(…and mini wheats with soy milk.)

All winter we looked forward to fresh tropical fruit and we were not disappointed. We found fruit stands on country roads operating on the honour system and masking tape prices:

I learned how to eat lychee (not whole like below):

and was astounded by how bananas grow:

We went to the Kauai Coffee Company to buy green beans for friends that roast their own. The samples we tried were good. Surprising given the coffee served by cafés on the island. It was pretty bad and made us proud of what we could produce with store-bought grinds and a coffee filter held over a travel mug.

On to cooked food…

The first distinctively Hawaii meal we had was the teriyaki burger from Duane’s Ono-Char Burger. Note: when I say Hawaiian in reference to food I don’t mean Hawaiian as was originally on the island but Hawaiian mixed with Japanese and American. Hence the teriyaki burger. We waited for 20, maybe even 30 minutes at the small road-side kitchen with order window. It wasn’t waiting in a line-up, just for a delicious burger to cook so it was worth every minute.

That would have been my fill of burger for the trip but I had promised myself that I would try the loco moco. Oh boy. Rice topped with two hamburger patties, gravy, and two friend eggs. It came in a plate lunch so there was the traditional side of macaroni salad (I substituted a regular salad that was essentially iceberg lettuce swimming in macaroni salad mayo-dressing) and a side of noodles. I ate wondering what people on the island do to burn these calories. Probably something that I wouldn’t be doing that day so I saved half for dinner. My conclusion was that loco moco was tasty and satisfying in a carb-meat-fried-sauce way but I felt really out of character eating it. Like I do if I eat chicken pot pie or other meat and pastry combinations.

Later in the trip we tried plate lunches from Fish Express (a place you have to try if you go to Kauai). I had the kalua pig:

Kalua means to cook in an underground oven and Kalua pig is shredded pork from a salted pig cooked underground all day long (think luau pig). To me Kalua now means the best pig you will ever ever eat.

Faron had the Laulau. This is pork wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in the underground oven. It was tasty but if you try it, don’t eat kalua pig first because the laulau will not compare.

The pink cubes on the side are salmon and tuna poke: an appetizer of marinated cubes of raw fish. Common marinade ingredients are salt, soy sauce, nori, and sesame. Another must try in Hawaii.

A final dish of note was the saimin, a noodle soup dish much like ramen. We had it at Hamura’s Saimin Stand so I assumed it was mostly from the Japanese but it did have wontons in it. Wikipedia: “The dish is composed of elements taken from each of the original sugarcane and pineapple plantation laborer ethnicities of the early 20th century: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Portuguese” Ahh. I was worried that I’d compare saimin to ramen but it stood strong as a noodle soup of its own. Plus the atmosphere at Hamura’s was great. U-shaped counters and closely packed stools always occupied by tourists like us or locals.

Okay! That was a lot of post. I guess we ate a lot of food in a week. And still made room for dessert:

Shaved ice. I think this is the Japanese kakigori but in Hawaii, particularly at JoJo’s Shaved Ice in Waimea (not the newer one run by the punk white guy but the one around the corner), they have perfected ice shaving so that the treat melts in your mouth (of course) but like butter. I can’t remember the name of this combination but it had vanilla ice cream on the button, strawberry cheesecake, vanilla, and banana syrups, and sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top.

I’m waiting for a plane in Calgary. Michael Jackson died and when they show news reports everyone watches. That’s impact.

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