Saturday, June 26, 2010

turf and surf

Took the loooong bus ride to climb Olomana. The bus system here is pretty great. I was amazed that I could take a bus that basically dropped me off in front of the Olomana trail head. It is very slow though. We waited 10 minutes for the bus to come, then it took 30 minutes to go across Waikiki to the Ala Moana shopping center. If you are leaving from Waikiki, get thyself to the Ala Moana shopping center (which just looks like/is a gigantic multilevel parking lot) and then take the #57. Tell your bus driver that you're going to Olomana or Maunawili Falls. The bus will then randomly stop in the middle of a intersection on a busy road and you will get off thoroughly confused. However, look to the west and you will see a little road running parallel to the big road. Walk over the bridge and towards the guard station of the fancy golf course. Talk with the guard there. He'll point you to the trail head and tell you to be careful of the wild pigs and suggest you carry some metal with you to ward them off.

This was all gleaned by experience. None of the native islanders we asked really knew about the trail, so we were kind of winging it. It is the same stop that goes to Maunawili Falls. Basically the stop is at an intersection of a very busy highway. Once you get off immediately turn left and go down what looks like an access road. Keep walking down the road and you'll pass by the guard house for the golf course. We stopped and talked with guard there and he gave us some good information about the trail.

The trail was beautiful, starting in forests, with roosters crowing in the distance, and passionfruit vines flanking the trail.

It soon opened up to a clearing revealing the red clay underneath:

Here is where it started to get quite steep. There were some old ropes to help you climb up but it was pretty scrambly. I was actually really happy to climb up some rocks. Haven't done it in so long.

And Oh! the view:
After a while there is a breezy shady little pine grove to rest in

After the hike, it was time for the beach! With our transfers in hand, we hopped back on the 57 and got off in the town of Kailua. Unfortunately, Kailua beach is about a 20-30 min walk from the town which was annoying. But when we finally climbed over the dune and saw the beach, it was worth it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stupid island

You know what really bugs me about Waikiki? This:

and this:

For crying out loud, I'm trying to finish my dissertation and start making my defense presentation. I just got a room and time reserved so I can't back out now. But how am I supposed to concentrate when the sun is rising over the palm trees and the water at the shore is warmer and clearer than an indoor pool? Here's one of the irritatingly gratuitous views I had to deal with:

Apparently, they "flatten" the beach every night. I don't know why I find this so amusing. Shows what a newb I am to beaches and islands.

Someone's been busy digging a hole to lay in... oh, that would be me. My fellow defenders have also made their own holes.


I'm in dissertation hell. Two weeks before my defense I end up here:
It's only a 10 hour flight from the East Coast island hub, Charlotte. Let's see, that would be 10 straight hours of writing and editing dissertation after waking up at 3:30am.

I splashed a bit in the water before heading over to Rainbow Drive In for BBQ pork (delicious but so much meat) and see this along the way.
Okay, the mountains look dumb in this photo but they are, in real life, enormous and towering and majestic and made me go "oooooh!" Must come back here to climb.

And no island would be complete without some cheesesteak. Philly represent!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

paring down

The past six months has been an intense time for me. I was finishing up the last pieces of my research for my dissertation, working on a journal paper, writing my dissertation (well, it's almost done) and spending too much time inefficiently looking for jobs. My activities were pared down to doing these four things at least 12 hours a day and maybe one or two small adventures a week like rock climbing and tango. Then things heated up even more in the last month as I was getting incredible amounts of new data and learning more than I ever have in the same time period. Back in December, when I was just starting all this, I felt a dread in me. I didn't know if I wanted to do all this or if I could or if I would be completely unhappy and if so, how the hell would I be able to work a job as a post-doc or in a solar company? And it turns out that I... have been doing just fine. I've been really really surprised by this. I work crazy hours, I'm exhausted, I'm on a continuous roller coaster of feeling stupid one minute and very clever the next. I have had to ask for so much help which I usually shy away from doing and it has been stunning how willing people are to help out and how much I have learned from other people. I haven't been unhappy. I'm not always happy either. I guess I'm feeling focused and okay with being so focused. The little amounts of time that is usually distributed between lots of activities is now mostly focused on one big chunk. I'm making a plan to keep this focus for a while, even after I defend.

In the past month, there has also been another big change in that our lease ended for the house I've lived in with wonderful roommates for the past 4 years. I was incredibly sad about moving out as it was such a clear delineation defining the end of a period of my life and foreshadowing the changes that will also come in a couple of months. It was a great time to start paring down the things I carry around with me too. I gave away a lot of things and it felt great. I moved into a sublet for the summer and haven't unpacked much from my boxes. I've been trying to live very simply, only unpacking a small subset of clothes and still putting many things in the "give away" box. This simple idea has also carried through to cooking. I don't have much time for the elaborate desserts that I dream about making. But I've always been interested in seeing if I could eat just very simple foods, mostly produce and things not from packages. This week has been so interesting. I've cooked without salt or pepper, onions or garlic all week and find that the food tastes just as good. This morning I made a tofu scramble that tasted so fresh. Another pleasant surprise. Here are some things I've made. These are all single servings.

Pepper, corn and pine nuts
- 1/3 cup pinenuts
- 1 cup sweet corn kernels
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 T oil

Toast pinenuts until fragrant and light brown. Heat oil over med-high. Add pepper and corn. Sautee until peppers started to get a little browned. Stir in pinenuts.

Simple Tofu Scramble
- 1/2 block firm tofu squished between my fingers
- 1 carrot grated
- 2 big fistfuls of spinach
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 T oil

Heat oil over med. Throw in carrots and tomato. Cook 3 minutes. Add in spinach and tofu. Cooked until tofu loses the beany flavor (5-10 mins?). Eat.