Monday, December 19, 2011

My 2011 Christmas Card

Y   S !
Festival of Trees Triptych

These Christmas Card blog posts have become something that I probably look forward to more than anyone else does. Why? I guess taking time to look back at the last 12 months and see where life has taken me.  Also, as I get older and time seems to fly past faster and faster each year, looking back over the course of twelve months allows me to realize that there really was a lot that happened and that I didn't just blink and another year had gone by.  Would you believe I wrote the first one of these five years ago? Back when some people didn't even HAVE blogs yet? :)

Just by way of updating the major details of my life, it doesn't seem like TOO much has changed this year. I am still living in Murray, almost 3 years in the same house, which I still love living in, though I DID move down to the basement this year, so I guess that's a bit of change. Especially in terms of temperature in the winter (brrr!) and summer (ahhh!) Still single. Still done with school and still working for Intermountain Healthcare. But I AM a year older, so I guess that's different, right? :)

As usual traveling was a big part of the "highlights" of my year (went from Washington state to Washington DC and from Hawaii to Florida and back to Hawaii, and slept in 9 different states plus the District of Columbia), but I wanted to break up the travelogues and photos with various other non-travel highlights of the year, so watch out for those as you go.


1st Quarter

Definitely as I get older, I feel like memory is not what it once was, and January was a long time ago, but as best as I can recall, with the help of my blog and pictures I've taken, I did not travel anywhere in January.

Narrows Trailhead
In February, Alicia and I talked our way into spending President's Day weekend in St. George with Laci's family.  The hope was to get away from the cold and find somewhere warm, but apparently it's still pretty chilly in St. George in February.  We did go on a neat hike in Red Rock, and got to see Zions blanketed in snow and ice. Related blog post.  More photos on Flickr.

Family photo

Diamondhead from Kapiolani Park
In March, we had a wonderful family vacation to Hawaii.  Given that in the months since then, I've suddenly become the only one of my siblings left in Utah, it was really nice to have the whole family together, and to do so many fun things.  Perhaps of everything that happened, the most notable was that Ben opened his mission call. To Hawaii of all places. He headed to the MTC in early June. More on that later. I wrote a whole series of posts on this trip, that can be found here. Lots of photos here.


The Year that was 2011: Media

I used to write reviews of every book I finished, here on the blog, but at some point this year, I got tired of doing that, so I stopped. I do still try to keep up the list in the righthand column of what I've read and what I'm reading up to date, in case anyone is wondering. In addition to the 14 books I've finished so far this year (I imagine I'll finish at least one more before the end of the year), I also read a fair number of graphic novels (aka comic books) that I don't generally deem blog-worthy. :)  Of the books I finished this year, my favorites were "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball and The Blind Side) about the crash of the housing economy, and "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich about the founding of Facebook.  There was also a chapter in Dmitri Martin's "This is a Book" about an anti-cat calendar ("Cat-astrophe") that was fantastic. :)

Some other favorites from this year:
Movie: X-Men: First Class
TV Show: Parks & Recreation/Breaking Bad
Song: "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO
Album: "The Head and the Heart" by The Head and The Heart
Video Game: Batman Arkham Asylum


2nd Quarter

April was another non-travel month, which was fine. Good chance to rest up prior to what turned out to be a very busy summer.

Orlando May 2011 006
In May, I made trips to two places I'd never been before. Both in the same week!  I went to Orlando for a Public Health Informatics conference where, together with one of our collaborators at the state health department, I gave a presentation on our partnership in developing the death certificate tool I've been working on for the last 3 years. Now in pilot testing! (yay!) For the last 8 months. (boo!)  I was only there for a couple quick days, and didn't make it to any of the Disney parks, but did go to Downtown Disney one night. Blog post. Flickr.

Jon's Wedding Road Trip 054
Part of the reason I was only there for a couple days was that I had to hurry and get back to Utah so that I could drive to eastern Washington for my good friend Jon's wedding.  Alicia, Matt & Marti, and I loaded into Alicia's Murano and drove to the Tri-Cities area and back over the course of just 3 days.  I think we literally spent as much time in the car as we did in Washington. :)  But it was great to be there for Jon's wedding and to see some of the country that I'd never seen before. And we were even home in time for Memorial Day. Which I don't remember anything about. Maybe I spent it being lazy and recovering from a hard week of traveling (Florida to Washington!). Read more. See more

Family Stuff June 2011 001

Family Stuff June 2011 022
June was another stay-at-home month, but with plenty going on.  Ben entered the MTC on June 8th, and I was lucky enough to be able to be around for most of the festivities surrounding that event.  They've changed the MTC a bit since I was there, and the dropoff process is pretty quick now.  You just pull up to a designated spot on the curb, a missionary comes to help with luggage, you get a quick hug and that's it. So long. Sayonara. See you in 2 years.  Probably less emotional than the old way, and maybe that's for the best.  It was nice having Ben in Salt Lake for a year before he left. We managed to go out for dinner a couple times, and hit a Jazz game while he was at the U.  And a couple times Natalie was even able to come up from Provo for a "sibling dinner" (Sorry we didn't invite you George!).  And as it turned out, she would also be heading out for warmer climes less than a month later as she got a reporting job in El Paso and moved at the end of June.  So in the span of a month I went from being one of three kids here in Utah, to being the lone representative here in the state.  Things definitely can change quickly.  In many ways, its been fun to have Ben out on a mission, and to see how much he's changed and grown already (or maybe we just know more what he's thinking now that he writes us an email every week).  Anyway, definitely makes me appreciate the times that we can get together as a family more now that we're spread out.


The Year that was 2011: Concerts

The Head and The Heart
I was lucky enough to catch three concerts that I quite enjoyed this year. The first, in April, was "The Head and The Heart" at Kilby Court, and I have to say, they were fantastic, and I can't imagine them not doing big things.  They're a folky rock group and their debut album has so many great songs. My friend Emily, who has her own show on KRCL (in addition to being a geneticist!), recommended them and hooked me up with free tickets.

In August, Jeff and Sica Glauser and I went down to Pioneer Park (as yet un"Occupy"ed) for a free Lupe Fiasco concert. The opener was not really to my liking and the free nature of the concert led to a lot of people who I wanted to punch when they tried to crowd in front of us, but it was a fun show. Always like me some Lupe.

Finally in November, I once again got to see They Might Be Giants, this time with ex-programmer/still-nerd Jonathan Coulton. I convinced my fellow nerd, Randall, to come down from Ogden and go with me.  Definitely a fun night.  Would definitely pay to see TMBG again.

3rd Quarter: Part I

That's right. July-September was so jam-packed with stuff that it needs to be broken up into two parts!

Ray Barrus 5K

Austin watching fireworks
Speaking of getting family together, George and Kimi and the kids (including new addition Cole!) were all able to come for the 4th of July holiday, and Natalie was able to hold off starting her new job enough to come back and party with us. Among other things, I ran the Ray Barrus 5K with mom, George, and Natalie. We watched the parade. Ate BBQ. Threw snaps with the kids. Watched fireworks at the park. Definitely a fantastic 4th. More words. More pictures.

Castle Valley

Delicate Arch Group Shot
Our 4th of July celebration would have been sufficient for any normal July, but this year, July just kept right on rolling.  A week or so after the 4th, Melissa invited me to come camping down in Moab, so after a few years or really wanting to go down there and check out Arches National Park, I finally made it.  And I was so glad that I went. Not only did my friend Garrett find us a campsite with a phenomenal view, but Arches was also fantastic.  Delicate Arch definitely lived up to the hype, and our day long hike through Devils Garden was really cool, too.  I'm sure there's plenty that I've yet to see, so I hope that I get down there again soon. For those who love to read. For those who just like to look at pictures.

Cliff jumping trio
The very next week, right after Arches, was my 3rd annual "Sweat running down the back of my knees at Tuacahn" St. George trip with most of the same great friends as the other two times.  Once again we hit up Sand Hollow for some cliff jumping and swimming, and despite the massive ear/head ache that I managed to acquire in the process, it was still a fantastically fun trip.  We jokingly told Kellen and Mel that they can't come next year now that they're married and Mel didn't seem to find our joke too funny. Words with friends. Pictures with friends.

3rd Quarter to be continued...


The Year that was 2011: Health

For nearly the last 3 years Type II Diabetes has been a part of my life, and I guess it's both good and bad that I'm not longer as scared of having my legs amputated or going blind anytime soon.  Good in the sense that my blood sugars continue to be in a "controlled" range (HbA1c's for the year: 5.1 and 6.1), and all of my tests have been fine.  Bad in the sense that I'm not quite as motivated as I once was to exercise several times a week and be pretty strict with my diet. Wasn't thrilled to see my A1c go from 5.1 to 6.1 in 6 months, even though both numbers are below where I'm need to be. Hopefully by March I can get back down a bit toward where I was before.

For somewhat non-health related reasons (kinda just wanted a goal to work toward) I did make a goal for myself to run a complete 5K (i.e, no walking) this year and made steady progress toward that goal (ran nearly all of two 5Ks, my times were 30:03 and 28:40) until my knee decided that it wasn't as excited about that goal as the rest of me.  So the last couple months I've been doing my best to take care of my knee and hopefully get back to where I can at least play volleyball a couple times a week and do plenty of low impact work on the elliptical machine. :)


3rd Quarter: Part II

...and now we're back.

Lava group shot
Guess what? We're STILL not done with July! The NEXT week after St. George, I went up to Lava Hot Springs, in what also seems to be becoming an annual tradition of camping at the trout haven and then risking life and limb tubing in the Portneuf River.  Amazingly, after 3 trips down, I had managed to avoid even a single scar (Just ask me and I'd be happy to show you one of the two I've got there on previous trips. The second one...well it's a little more personal).  So at that point, I decided to not press my luck further and call it a day.

Tea Cup Madness
At this point it was finally August. And I managed to stay home for a couple weekends in a row. Which actually was pretty easy.  I had plenty of catching up on life maintenance things (laundry, grocery shopping, oil changes, etc) to do, and it was nice to have a Saturday or two for recharging after a crazy July.  After taking most of August off from traveling (there was a quick overnight road trip to Bear Lake in there somewhere -- sorry no photos), we sent the summer off with a bang.  My roommate Brandon needed to take some vacation before his no-vacation season started at work, so with a little help from myself and others, he put together a week packed with road tripping.  We started with quick trip to California.  That's right, quick. Meaning we left our house on Sunday morning, drove to Los Angeles, hit Disneyland on Monday, Knotts Berry Farm on Tuesday, then back to Vegas on Tuesday night, and then the rest of the way home on Wednesday.  Crazy, right?  But also tons of fun.  My friend Val, who I probably hadn't seen in person in at least 7 years, was kind enough to host us at her house and even come with us to Disneyland.  We had good times playing Cash Cab on Brandon's iPod while we drove, and by the time we had our late dinner in Vegas Tuesday night, I think we were all a little punchy.  I know we definitely laughed until our sides hurt that night.  More Cali photos.

Whitewater Rafting on the Snake

Loving the Tetons
After taking a day and a half off to recover (and by recover, I mean, go to work Thursday and Friday), we (Brandon and I, plus 7 others that we traded Julie for) were back on the road, this time heading north to Jackson Hole (another first). Thankfully I did not have to drive. (We took my car to California and I drove the whole way there and back by choice. Oh and another first! My first speeding ticket.) We spent the first night in Rexburg, and then in the morning drove the rest of the way to Jackson.  We had a fantastic time rafting on the Snake River and enjoyed the dinner and musical stylings of the Bar J Wranglers in the evening.  The next day we drove up past the Tetons and into Yellowstone and took a whirlwind tour of the south half of the park (same half I saw on my first trip) and then back again.  And then we drove home on Monday, and I swore to never take another road trip. :)  Ok, not true, but it was nice to be home again and settle in for fall and football without any more road trips planned.  All the blog posts from my crazy Week o' Vacationing are here.  Wyoming photos here.


The Year that was 2011: Church

As the year started, I was beginning to wonder if I ought to consider switching out of the singles ward I was attending in Holladay, partly because I didn't actually live in the boundaries, nor was I within their official age range, and partly because I sometimes felt a lot older than most of the ward.  But as I was serving in the Elders Quorum Presidency I didn't exactly feel right about just cutting out for my own personal reasons.  Then in late April there was a reorganization of all the singles wards in the valley and it seemed like the right time to be moving on, though it was definitely hard to leave behind my friends there, and especially the fantastic men I served in the presidency with.

After vacillating for a couple months between the "mid-singles" ward (31-45) and the regular or "family" ward for my neighborhood, I eventually decided to try the family ward for a while, and that's where I'm at now.  Fun to be in a ward with kids again (the primary program was one of my favorite weeks), and while I'm not exactly meeting girls to date there, I have made friends and have been able to serve in the Elders Quorum (shocker!) as one of two guys over activities and service coordination.  And of course, church is still church, whether you're in a room full of single people, or a room full of crying kids and old people.  The gospel is still true and I still learn a little bit each week about how I can live better.


4th Quarter

Old Ebbitt Grill
In October, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Annual Fall Symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association.  Always great to catch up with friends from school that I don't see much any more, especially the ones who live out of town. I also took an evening to go down to the mall with an old friend from Salt Lake who lives out there to check out the new Martin Luther King memorial, and eat dinner at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill. Blog summary. More photos.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 005
And if you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know that I just barely finished wrapping up a discussion of my most recent trip, a Thanksgiving week trip back to Hawaii with my parents to hang out with George's family.  Certainly less of a "Hawaii" vacation, and more of a "family" vacation, that just happened to take place in Hawaii. Yes, I know this means we're probably spoiled, but it was nice to relax for a while and get plenty of quality time in with family.  All the details. Just the pretty pictures.


The Year that was 2011: Dating

I always like to include this little summary of my dating life, if for no other reason then to let the world know that not all single LDS men are not dating, despite whatever you might have heard to the contrary. :) Last year I was lucky enough to get a bit of a break from the crazy world of dating, inasmuch as I was dating the same person for most of the year.  I was not quite so blessed this year, but I certainly had a lot of great dating experiences. I was able to go on 41 dates (and counting, the year's not over yet). Which is definitely a personal best for a year when I didn't have a steady girlfriend.  Given that I stopped going to a singles ward halfway through the year, I feel glad to know that it doesn't have to mean that I can't still have opportunities to meet new people to go out with. There were even a couple great girls that were willing to take a chance on me for a month or two, and though things didn't work out, for a variety of reasons, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know them, and myself, better in the process.


As I look back on all that's happened in the last year, I am truly grateful for the many wonderful people in my life, and the many wonderful opportunities I have to travel and see so many amazing things. I'm grateful to have a good job in a time when many are still struggling, and above all grateful at this Christmas season to know that our Savior lives and knows and loves each of us.  Wherever you may be, I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Friends Collage 2011

Previous years' Christmas cards can be found here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 8.5

I know I've already covered all of my recent Hawaiian Thanksgiving, but as a coda of sorts, I wanted to share the story of my redeye flight home.  Generally I am pretty good at sleeping on an airplane.  When I went on my cruise, I think I was the only one of my friends who got a decent night's sleep on our redeye to Miami, and I've redeyed home from Hawaii at least once before.  Generally the hardest part of it is turning down free inflight movies in favor of getting some rest.

Unfortunately this trip was not to be so.  My parents were in two seats together on one side of the plane, and I had a window seat more or less across from them on the opposite side (2-3-2 seat arrangement). I got a window seat with the idea that it would be easier to lean against the wall and sleep than to just sleep sitting up in my chair.  I even brought my sweatshirt with me to use as a makeshift pillow, given that the brillo pad airplane pillows aren't exactly made for sweet dreams.

When I got to my seat there was an Asian businessman seated in the aisle seat next to mine, and we exchanged a minimum of pleasantries as I got seated.  I saw he was trying to turn on his reading light and I showed him that you have to do it now using the touchscreen on the seatback in front of you.  His light still didn't turn on, and he expressed some concern because he was planning to do "a lot of reading" during the flight and wouldn't be able to do without the overhead reading light. He flagged down one of the flight attendants to explain that his light wasn't turning on, and she said that it could just be because the cabin lights were on, and that if it didn't work once we were in the air, they could look into a solution.

Once the plane was loaded, we pulled away from the jetway and were taxiing toward the runway when someone hit their attendant call button a few times, and a few minutes later, we were taxiing back to the gate due to a medical emergency. Being no stranger to on-plane medical emergencies, I was able to look at this delay with the silver-lining view that "Hey at least we weren't in the air already" and "At least I don't have to worry about making a connecting flight in Los Angeles." Because both of those complicating factors can really make a slight delay into a big mess. We parked at the gate for a bit and some medical personnel came on, and it wasn't entirely clear what else happened besides that. I didn't see any passengers come down my aisle, but I wasn't paying too close attention.

At some point, while we were waiting they enabled the movies and I found something to watch while waiting to take off.  Meanwhile Asian businessman was still unable to turn on his overhead reading light, but was able to get some reading done with the cabin lighting. As far as I could tell, what he was reading was some sort of local Hawaiian business newsletter, something like Pacific Business News that looked like the Murray newsletter that gets dropped off at our house once a month or something.  Like a small newspaper.

Eventually our flight did take off, and they dimmed the cabin lights.  When his overhead light still did not turn on, the flight attendants sadly informed the passengers that they would need to reboot the computer system that runs the seatback systems, meaning everyone would have to restart their movies.  They did this (FYI its a Linux system), and eventually everything was up and running again.  Except for Mr. Pacific Business News's reading light. So they rebooted the system again.  Finally, his light was working. Oh joy! :)

At this point I was pretty much ready to get some sleep (it was probably getting close to midnight Hawaii time), but I was surprised to find out that the overhead reading light is actually REALLY bright. Ugh.  I struggled for quite some time to fall asleep, thinking that eventually my seatmate would finish up his reading and catch a few z's himself.  I eventually took some sly glances to see what was so important that he needed to be catching up on it in the middle of the night.  As best as I could tell, he was meticulously poring over bankruptcy notices and tax notifications and other really small print items, the back pages of the newsletter.  And then I noticed they weren't even recent newsletters. The one he was working on then was nearly two months old!

In a desperate attempt to get some sleep I ended up putting my sweatshirt over my head to block out the glare of the megaspotlight shining down on us, and tried that for a while. Not that Senor Asian Business took any notice of my struggle for sleep.  He just kept on staring at his newsletter.  Until, what's that?! he nodded off himself.  I wasn't sure if he was really sleeping or just resting his eyes for a moment or something, but after a minute or two, I decided he really must be asleep.  So I carefully reached over to his touchscreen and turned off his reading light! :)  All those years of sneakily writing on sleepy classmates' notes in college was really paying off.  I then tried to hurry and get to sleep, but sadly I did not find dreamland before he reawakened and turned his light on again.  At least two more times during the night, when I caught him dozing, I turned off his light. And always he would wake up again and turn it back on.

Eventually I did fall asleep for a while. Maybe an hour or two. At one point I awoke to the sound of him ripping out newspaper articles that he had found fascinating, or perhaps were destined for the "My Trip to America" pages in his scrapbook. I'll never know.

When I finally gave up on sleep for good, I roused myself to find that he'd given up on reading up on the best of last month's Pacific Business bankruptcy notices, but certainly had not given up on his overhead light.  He'd pulled out an ipad from somewhere and was meandering his way through the settings screen.  Not sure what he was looking for, but it was immediately apparent that his iPad was not in "Airplane Mode". I considered calling the flight attendant to complain about our security, but worried I might not have the best ground to stand on, given my secretive light turn offs. It seemed like maybe he was trying to connect to the internet and frustrated by the absence of free in-flight wi-fi.  And despite the iPad's built-in lighting, the cursed reading light continued to shine down on us.

We landed safely in Salt Lake (despite any danger presented by a non-airplane mode iPad) and we got our bags and headed for home.  And I did get some sleep that morning, and eventually caught up on my sleep.  But I just wanted to share this cautionary tale for the benefit of my readers. If the guy sitting next to you on a redeye informs you early on that he's brought a lot of reading material, you might try to find someone to trade seats with you. If not, you might be in for a long night. :)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 8

The big day had finally arrived. Thanksgiving was here!  Food had been preparing since the day before, and it still had a few hours to go in the morning, so we strapped a kayak to the roof the van and cruised over to Kaneohe Bay for some sea kayaking. One of George's coworkers (his boss maybe?) at the clinic has a place there with a nice launching spot, and also another kayak that they were kind enough to let us use.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 195

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 196
Kaneohe Bay

Mom was a little nervous about the whole thing, probably after watching us tip over a bunch of times trying to get in at Bellows Beach in March, so she got put on the wider, more stable kayak with Lucy and me. As we were loading up in the shallows, and there weren't really any breaking waves, it was easy to get in and start paddling out.  George and Dad took Austin and Elise with them in a longer, slightly more narrow kayak.

As Mom was pretty nervous, I just told her to sit tight and I'd handle the paddling.  Lucy was having a good time up in front, getting splashed occasionally.  George and Dad cruised out a little farther given that they had two paddlers instead of just one. Eventually they turned around and came back toward us.  We were about ready to turn around, and they offered to come help us make sure we didn't tip over as we turned around (probably the most likely time to tip over is when you're perpendicular to the waves).  We managed to get turned around just fine, just taking it easy, but as they were attempting to come back and help us, somehow they tipped over their kayak, dumping all four of them out in the ocean.  The little kids were obviously shaken up, but as everyone had their life jackets on, no one was in any serious danger. They got the kids back up on the kayak, and then swam it back to a shallow spot where they could also get in and eventually made it back to where we had launched from.  The kids were still a little traumatized, but after a few minutes of hanging out on the shore in the sun, they were back to their happy selves.

Fully recovered :)

Kimi showed up around that time, and her George went for a little paddle out and back, and then we headed back to the house.

Our Thanksgiving feast was delicious.  We had two kinds of turkey, one cooked conventionally, and one cooked underground in a Hawaiian imu oven.  I could never remember which was which by the time I sat down at the table, but they were both really good.  We had good rolls, and mashed potatoes and gravy, but I think my favorite dish was Kimi's sweet potatoes. They pretty much tasted like candy. Really good stuff.  We ate until we were all stuffed and then took a few hours off before eventually getting back together for dessert. Kimi had made 3 different kinds of pie/cheesecake/goodness.  I didn't try them all, but the ones I had were also really great. It was Austin's birthday a few days later, so we celebrated that night opening presents and singing happy birthday, while we ate our dessert.

I didn't really take too many photos of the Thanksgiving festivities, but Kimi got some great ones from the day, that you can see here.

Sadly this was our last night together, and over the course of the day we were slowly working on getting packed up as well.  Eventually the time came for us to say our farewells and the Hawaii Tripps came out and sat on their front wall and waved goodbye to us.  Until next time...Aloha!

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 7

Wednesday seems like it must have been a fairly laidback day as I don't remember much from the morning. Probably more playing with the kids.  Mancala with Elise or Connect 4 with Austin. All with their own sets of rules of course. :)

Around noon, Lucy had her school program, so we all walked over to watch it.  Rather than do a Thanksgiving-themed program, for whatever reason her teacher had chosen a program about a garden. With aliens. Who need fuel for their spaceship. And compost happens to be their fuel.  Also there were some tabloid reporters who offered cash for alien photos.  Didn't quite get me in the Thanksgiving mood, but not too painful to watch. :) Lucy was one of the gardeners and had a few lines and a couple songs that she sang with the other gardeners.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 171

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 175

The highlight of the program came after it was over: Hawaiian potluck! :)  So many good things to choose from. I even got to try some chicken katsu, which Ben says is one of his favorite dishes.  As we ate, the kids got to play on the playground, so it was fun to watch that as well.  Austin was pleased with himself and being able to climb all the way up to the big slide and go down.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 179
Austin "swinging like a monkey!"

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 185
Crossing over to the big slide

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 186

Eventually we made our way back to the house, where most of the adults busied themselves with food preparation for the big meal the next day.  I have to say that I don't think I did much of anything to help with Thanksgiving dinner.  What I did instead, I can't really remember.

At the very end of the night, George and Dad and I watched Captain America. Well Dad and I watched it. George fell asleep at some point.  I thought it was good, but maybe not as good as I'd been led to believe.  I think I'm keeping X-Men: First Class as my favorite superhero movie of the summer.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 6

We decided that on Tuesday we would (eventually) head up to the north shore and see if the big winter surfing contests were any good. One of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing contests, the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, was going on, and while they had waited about 10 days without any decent waves, they finally started some surfing on Monday. While it wasn't the big waves they expect on north shore, it was at least enough for them to get some surfing in.  So having read that report we figured 1) it might be worth checking out, and 2) might not be crazy crowded as the waves weren't as good as they are some years.

But before we went north, we made a stop down in Kailua at Boots & Kimos, a restaurant I've had recommended to me by a few friends.  Apparently my friends aren't the only ones who've heard about it, as it was a 45 minute wait for breakfast. Eventually we did eat though and the macadamia nut syrup was pretty delicious (or "onolicous" if you prefer).  After we ate, we headed on up to Haleiwa, only stopping once for damage control on the kiddos.

We got to Haleiwa around 11 or so I think, and we able to find parking by the big grassy park near the beach, and walked over to where the surf contest was going on.  The contest worked as follows: 4 surfers would go out at a time and they'd have like 20 minutes or so to get their best surfing in. The 2 best surfers then advance on.  I'm not sure what constitutes good surfing, nor do I know any of the surfers. But it was still fun to watch them catch waves and do some cool moves on said waves.  We took lots of pictures even though they were far enough away that my little point-and-shoot doesn't really do justice.  Here are some of my favorites:

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

There also were a few turtles hanging around near the shore right in front of us, and you could often see them below the water and every few minutes or so, one would poke his head up.  I waited for a while and managed to get at least one shot of one with its head up:

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa

After an hour or two of watching the surfers, Kimi loaded the kids up and headed home to be there when Lucy got out of school, and Dad, Mom and I hit Matsumotos for a shave ice.  We also stopped at BYU-Hawaii on the way back and eventually found the bookstore in the hopes of finding a DVD that Ben was looking for and had heard could only be found, at least in Hawaii, there.  They were sold out though. So after a bit of looking around, we headed back to Kaneohe, with a quick pit stop at McDonalds for a late lunch.

Reef Hawaiian Pro @ Haleiwa
Hang Loose!

That night, George and Kimi had arranged a babysitter for the kids, and the grown ups went out for a fancy dinner at a place called Haleiwa Joe's. (But in Kaneohe, not Haleiwa).  It was a very nice place, with a fantastic patio kind of eating area, overlooking a pond and some lush greenery.  The food was great too. I got a chipotle pork chop. We had some good shrimp for appetizers, and even got dessert.  Overall a great dinner and great atmosphere. I didn't take my camera, so you'll just have to imagine it, I guess. :)

Update: Looks like Kimi posted a few pictures from our day on their blog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 5

Monday morning, mom and Kimi had signed up for a class at a botanical garden over in Honolulu somewhere, so Dad and I got babysitting duties for the morning (minus Lucy who had to go to school).

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 055
Hanging out with Coley Moley

After a nice relaxed morning, we eventually loaded up the kiddos and drove over to the much closer botanical gardens in Kaneohe with our objective being to feed bread to ducks and fishes.  The gardens were super lush and beautiful and we kind of had the place to ourselves for the most part. We found what we thought to be the right path down to the lake, and we were certain we'd found the right spot when a herd of ducks and other birds approached us and followed us around until we found a table to sit down at and commence with the feeding.  Along with the ducks there were some coots and one large goose.  All very tame and friendly, though the goose was a little scarier than the ducks, perhaps just because of its size.  We had such a good time feeding the birds that we never actually ended up feeding the fish. Once our loaf of bread was gone we headed back to the house.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 062
Feeding the birds

In the afternoon, after Mom and Kimi were back, I convinced Mom and Dad to go for a little hike with me, to a lighthouse at Makapu'u Head.  Not a super long hike, but we were grateful for the overcast sky as the whole hike was unprotected from the sun.  Definitely interesting scenery, as we were over on the deserty side of the island. Lots of cactus, and it was interesting that people have taken to writing "graffiti" on the cacti.   Not sure what means they use to go about it, but lots of love notes and class of 2011 rules, etc.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 087
Cactus Graffiti

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 090
The Lighthouse

Eventually we made our way up to the end of the trail, and probably the best view of the hike, looking back toward Kaneohe from up on the point.

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 107
Looking back toward Kaneohe

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 106
Rabbit Island aka Manana Island

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 111
Rebecca + Kristian 4Ever

Don't remember many specifics from that night, other than just hanging out and playing and having a short Family Home Evening lesson.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 4

Day 4 of our trip was Sunday, and it was an extra special Sunday because we got to go to church, not just once, but twice! :)  Lucy goes to school at the Lutheran school next door to their house, and sometimes the school kids get to sing at the church's Sunday service. So we got dressed and walked over to the Lutheran church for their Sunday meeting. Pretty sure it was my first time at a non-LDS church. I was complemented by the greeter on how "classy" I looked in my white shirt and tie.

Definitely a different meeting than an LDS sacrament meeting. The pastor (preacher? reverend?) would say some prayers and sometimes we (the congregation) would join in by saying some of the lines. There was a projector screen with powerpoint where the words would be for us to say.  We sang some hymns, one of which was "How Firm a Foundation", but with somewhat different lyrics, and totally different music. Another was a hymn I didn't know, but the tune was one that we use in the LDS church for a different hymn. So that was interesting.  Lucy sang a couple times.  For a while, they took all the kids in the congregation over to one of the other buildings for a while. Someone got up and read some scriptures.  The pastor gave a bit of a sermon.  There was an opportunity to make a donation. Kind of a mix of all the stuff I'm used to in 3 hours, condensed into 1.  There was a potluck afterward where I had a cookie or something, I think.

Then it was back home for some more hanging out while we waiting for the LDS church meetings.  Which was pretty much what I am used to. Fell asleep for a bit during Sunday School.  One interesting thing was chatting briefly with the full-time missionaries that were there, as they seemed to know Ben or at least had heard of him.  Kind of weird that he's in the same mission where George lives. Definitely different than my mission experience, but I imagine that every mission is different in its own way.

After dinner, we went home, had dinner, and spent more time hanging out and playing. I spent some time hanging out with Elise and Austin while they rode their bikes. Austin has a "helmet" that's actually a deflated kickball that he wears while he rides. Its good that he's happy with it, because apparently they only have one real helmet and Elise wears that. :)

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 037

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 046

Hawaii - Thanksgiving 2011 047

Monday, December 05, 2011

Hawaiian Thanksgiving, Day 3

Well the good news is that my last post may have actually inspired George to post some of his better pictures from  Hanauma on his family's blog.  The bad news is that I only have 1 picture from Day 3:

View from our room at Hale Koa

And yes, it's pretty much the same view I posted for Day 2.  But I'm sure we still had fun on Day 3.  We got up and started our day with a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel.  They had an omelet station, a place to make waffles, some of the best sausage links I've had, a variety of pastries and other things. Anyway, it was a great breakfast. And then we went back to the pools.  George and Kimi rented some stand-up paddle boards while we watched the kids at the pools.  Eventually I made it over to the big pool with Lucy and we had a good time playing there.

We finished up at the pools in time to get back to our rooms and get packed up in time for checkout.  Then we headed back to Kaneohe and had a fairly lazy afternoon.  Through the magic of the internet we were able to watch Utah's snowy game against Washington State, as well as Utah State's game in the office in George's house.  Both games ended up going to overtime and both Utah schools ended up winning, so that was pretty fun.

I think after that we must have eaten some dinner (navajo tacos? that was either this night or the next) and hung out and played games with the kids and eventually gone to bed, since I don't really remember any specifics.