Things that make me smile

15 06 2010

Daydreaming. Scott picked up a tuscan cantaloupe at the store on Sunday. I just sliced it and it was perfect. I love a perfect piece of fruit. It made me daydream about our first meal in Rome. We were really intimidated by the language as it was both our first trip to Europe. We arrived in Rome at 11pm so we went straight to bed that night and woke up around 11am to take on the day. It was about 98° and we were pretty jet lagged. We decided our first adventure should be food. We roamed around, looking for places that might be friendlier to jet lagged American tourists because we knew we’d stumble and end up using a lot of spanish instead of italian. After peeking in several places we settled on one.

I ordered buffalo mozzarella and tomato, Scott ordered proscuitto e melone. Oh my goodness, my world was changed forever. It’s like the juiciest, sweetest Pecos melon you’ve ever had with the most perfect thin slice of salty ham/bacon you’ve ever tasted. My mom salted her cantaloupe when we were growing up and I thought she was weird for it. I so get it now. We looked at all the tables around us and the business men, ladies lunching, mothers with older daughters were all drinking carafes of chilled white wine. We ordered one too. It was such a perfect meal and opened the door to some of the best food either of us had ever eaten.

When we drove from Rome to Corsanico (a very small village up north, in Tuscany), we passed fields and fields of cantaloupe. The smell was intoxicating.

That time may qualify as my favorite 3 weeks in life.

our "clean out the fridge" feast for our last night at the villa

Hot Water? Meet Colder Waters!

12 06 2010

Despite all the hooplah in Hawaii about pregnant women not being able to boat, we took Hot Water on her maiden voyage in the Pacific Northwest last weekend. In between some major storms and cold weather, we got a blast of heat. Mid-70s, virtually no wind and total sunshine! We took advantage. We gave the marina a quick call in the morning and told them we’d come to the boat around noon.

We showed up a little later than expected (shocking) and pretty much no one was there. The owner of our marina was there picking up his old wooden 40 something foot luxury to go hang out off the shores of Seward Park in Lake Washington with his family for the day.

When we call, they use a crane to pull Hot Water off her dry storage rack and put her on an elevator of sorts and into the water. The crane operator has a full set of plugs and makes sure the boat is plugged/unplugged with each in/out of the water transaction. It was a small point of “oh, crap” for us when Scott found Hot Water’s actual plug in a cup holder. We later learned of the plug system. Whew! Crisis #1 averted.

unsnapping the canvas, looking for the plug

There were no pictures of getting out of the marina. That could be considered a crisis scenario. You basically have to learn how to wedge a boat out of a tiny spot with little to no steering power. You thought parallel parking when you were 16 was rough. In all reality, Scott was amazing and with just a few little pushes off the dock by me and Ollie, we were out of there, but alas, no pictures.

We are basically parked at the very tail end of the ship channel. Just before you hit the salt water of the Puget Sound. We have a speed limit of 7kts for several miles to get to the open water. You come across many kayakers amongst the ship docks.

some good perspective

And then there’s the famous Seattle houseboats. That’s my kind of city living. Their houses float on a dock, they have to be proven sea-worthy once per year to be able to stay on the lake.

typical. boat is bigger than the house

We have to go under many bridges on the way to the lake. The smaller bridge is the Fremont Bridge, the taller being Aurora.

fremont and aurora

Pretty much the whole shipping channel is lined with the unique houseboats. Some are absolutely giant, others are little 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottages. One of the partners at my old firm had a mansion on the south end of Mercer Island (we’ll get you some pics of Mercer Island on our next boating journey) and a cottage on Lake Union for the summer. My kind of city living!

city the pac nw

The dogs in Seattle LOVE to boat. We saw tons of them at the bow barking away with their tails a-wagging.

captain of his ship

Once we hit Lake Union, we did a small circle to check out what restaurants around the lake had mooring. Planning our future excursions or thinking of one night where I say “hey, sun doesn’t go down till 10, let’s take the boat to dinner.” 🙂 Lake Union has some interesting complications. First being it’s a freaking runway.

float plane coming in for his landing

…for all the float planes of Kenmore Airlines. Kenmore goes to surrounding islands and a few other locations. Their “hub” so to speak is Lake Union. You kind of hear their roar and go “crud, where do we go?” Before our next trip, we will do a little reading to make sure we are following all of the rules, but the pilots appear to be quite well versed in maneuvering the pleasure boats on the water.

talk about squeezing in to tight spaces

Lake Union is another 7kt zone, so we decided we were ready to stretch Hot Water’s legs and hit Lake Washington. We had to go through the Montlake Cut, under the University Bridge, past Husky Stadium (will the Aggies be playing there soon?????? Go Pac10???)  and into the deep glacier fed waters of Lake Washington.

university bridge

The cut is basically owned by the University of Washington crew teams. They paint the retaining walls with motivational sayings and each class gets something fun to paint. I liked the one below best.

hard work pays off

One of my absolute favorite parts of boating: laughing at the lubbers sitting in traffic on 520. Many of you have received many phone calls from me while I sit in this trainwreck of traffic daily. Scott drives it twice a day too, it’s pretty darn miserable. I usually curse under my breath at the skiers and wakeboarders having fun in the water while we just sit. And sit. And sit. On our way to sit. And sit. And sit at a computer.

ha ha. who sits in gridlock on saturdays? not i.

Even Miss Rainier came out to play last weekend!


We made a stop by my old place to see if any of my buddies were hanging out on the dock. Only one person was out, maybe they just don’t hang out there anymore since I moved? Probably. My friend Jeff still has my noodles and blow up Orca, I hope he’s taking good care of them.

my old digs at madison park

Once we got into Kirkland (the east side of the lake – where Microsoft is and Bill Gates lives…), we tucked into a little area called Cozy Cove. It’s pretty quiet and off the main channel of the lake, keeping the waters a little calmer. We’ve decided it’s where the lucky ones who were working at Microsoft before Microsoft was the giant it is live. Beautiful homes, most with a large motor yacht and a “small” ski boat. Many with their own float planes. We heard some rattling and turned around to find this coming out of someone’s dock.

cozy cove taxiing

I guess he was taking advantage of the weather as well.

picking up speed

He just cruised right past us and took off.

cozy cove take off

Maybe he was off to the San Juan Islands for the night? That’s 100% what I’d do.

wonder what's going through the pilot's head?

Bye! Say hi to Friday Harbor for us!

probably "c u l8tr seattle"

Scott then needed to take a conference call for work. So we appropriately pulled up to his office. We moored (for free) at his office where I went to get a cold drink at Starbucks and Scott took his meeting. His office has the little plant in the yellow pot in the window.

where my husband usually is

We had dinner at a little lake front restaurant and decided the clouds were rolling in, the winds picking up, and it was time to hit the water to get back to Seattle for the night.

clouds are rolling in

Our little break of sunshine was coming to a close for the weekend.

later rainey, catch you next weekend

We had one last shot of downtown before heading down the ship canal.

city boating is fun!

Don’t feel sorry for us. The rain came in and stuck around all week. But guess what? Today it’s going to be 80°. EIGHTY!!! So, we’re going to finish up on our computers, clean the house and hit the water for the afternoon. Have a great weekend everyone!

Things that make me smile

11 06 2010

Abby’s unabashed love for Scott.

a quick goodbye from one of our visits

Day 5: Parasailing and a Lū‘au

5 06 2010

Our last full day on the island, Scott wanted to parasail. I thought I’d be able to ride on the boat and take cool pictures. Apparently, pregnant women are too broken to ride in boats (oops, don’t tell anyone what I did today) so I sat on the beach while Scott went parasailing. It was fun to watch from the beach with my half caff americano in the morning. They took him by dinghy out to the parasailing boat.

dinghy. no, not my husband, the boat!

He said it was really peaceful and relaxing and not at all scary. On my next trip to Maui, I am so going parasailing!

going up!

He went 800 feet above the ocean to soak in the island. 

a third of the way to the full height

in front of the west maui mountains

They even dipped him in the ocean and let him go back up. It’s all wench driven from the boat you saw right off the beach. 

when i dip u dip we dip

 This is my view of it all from the beach. 

thankfully, he came down safely

We spent more time hanging out on the beach and at the pool reading our books. That evening we had reservations at the Old Lahaina Lū‘au. It was surprisingly good. We went in with low expectations for both food and entertainment, but the food was actually fantastic and the entertainment was nice. We shared a table with a newlywed couple from New Jersey who were on their honeymoon. They were really nice and the setting was perfect right on the water watching the sunset.

old lahaina lū‘au

They do a traditional smoking of a whole pig underground and unveil it for their guests. The gentleman in the sarong was telling us all about how it is smoked and telling cheesey jokes. As you can see, there were a ton of people waiting there. We got there a little early so we could see the pig. It was hot and crowded and annoying. A young british girl was standing in front of us and decided she’d rather partake in a fresh, frozen lava flow (pina colada with strawberry purée) than stand around looking at a pig in the ground. She looked at her mom and said *put on your best british accent now* “it’s just a pig, being dug out of the ground?” Her mother nodded her head. The girl said “Bugger. I can just bury some bacon in my backyard and see this at home” as she wandered out of the crowd for her rum fueled cocktail. We have been cracking up and saying “I could bury bacon” in our best british accents all week.

story telling

 The pig was uncovered. The skin looks crispy and yum. Like a smoked turkey. 

piggly wiggly

They carried him away for our dinner. I suspect that pig did not feed all few hundred or so of the people there, but the ceremony and show was funny.

off to the buffet

The sunset was spectacular that evening.

perfect sunset

A perfect end to our week in paradise.

taking it all in

We got back to Seattle late Tuesday night to storms, gusty winds, and chilly weather. It was quite the shock to the system. So were our inboxes. We’ve readjusted to real life and even got a spectacularly sunny, warm day in Seattle, so all is good!

Day 4: Relax

5 06 2010

Many people told us of a little breakfast spot called The Gazebo. We simply must have breakfast there every day! Well, our hotel reservation included a free giant breakfast buffet every morning (a $60 value). It was hard to pass up free given the expense of food for all the other meals. But we couldn’t miss the Gazebo. We hopped over for breakfast and only had to wait in line for about 30-45 minutes. It’s a tiny little place with 12 tables and some really tasty macadamia nut pineapple pancakes. Scott really liked the coconut syrup they served with the cakes. Thanks for the recommendation, folks, it was awesome!

the gazebo with kapalua bay beach in the background

Just outside the breakfast spot is this funny sign. Scott yelled “whale ho” all day when he saw me. I tried not to take it personally. (I’m kidding, my husband never yelled it AT me, he just yelled it a lot and I pretended to be offended). We saw no actual whales, we missed them by a couple of weeks.

ding ding ding whale ho

We then spent the day at Kapalua Bay Beach. Scott did a lot of snorkeling and saw tons of great stuff. I hung out in the shade and read my book.

snorkle master

We hung out by the pool at the hotel for a little while after the beach as well.

he's so handsome

The coolest thing we did this day was the “astronomy tour” at our hotel. There is a small observatory on the roof of the hotel. We got to go up and see stars we don’t typically see at 47° N (Seattle’s latitude). We watched the moon rise over the West Maui Mountains. There was also a powerful telescope where we got to see the rings and four of the moons of Saturn. It was really fun. Even if I wanted to go to sleep half way through.

Day 3: The Road to Hana

5 06 2010

We heard and read much about the Road to Hana and decided that it was definitely something on our “approved” list, despite the many stops I would probably require. We started out by going back through Pa’ia and stopped off at a coffee shop recommended by one of Scott’s coworkers. It was a quaint little coffee shop, and they would even pack you a picnic lunch for your trip to Hana if you wanted. We passed, figuring we’d find something on the road.

he's an espresso addict. italy 4 years ago created a monster.

They sell much more than coffee here as you can tell when you peek inside.

cute indoors of anthony's coffee house in pa'ia

The concept of the Road to Hana is that you stop off along the way at places that sound interesting to you. There are many hikes, waterfalls, viewpoints, and places to picnic along the way. Our mission was to see beauty, stay comfortable, and avoid crowds. We avoided places that were loaded with cars (45 Sebring convertibles anyone?). Our first stop was at Keanae Peninsula.

keanae peninsula

The water was rough and crashed against the beautiful black lava rocks. Given we were staying in West Maui, the more jungle-like flora was a fun change for us.

a little hut or house hidden in the jungle

I found some handsome man with a nice camera. After taking this picture, I wandered off to a different part of the peninsula where a family stopped me and asked me to take their picture in front of the rocks and water. I obliged. I found out a few minutes later, that my lovely husband posed as “The Captain” (captain morgan spiced rum) like in all those dumb commercials and billboards in the background of this poor family’s picture. I’m so embarrassed. You’d think he’d had a couple mai tais for breakfast (I can confirm he did not).

o captain

I was an absolutely terrible blogger and didn’t take any pictures at the road side stand in the jungle outside Hana where we stopped. I got the most delicious loaf of bread (still warm from the oven). It was puréed pineapple bread with toasted coconut flakes on top. I also got a fruit smoothie with papaya, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, and pineapple. No ice cream. No yogurt. Just good old fruit and ice. Awesomeness. We also watched some other tourist take a machete to a coconut and bust it open for the little brown papery nut we know. A sleeping dog nearby was terrified and scooted away quickly. We probably should have as well.

I did a good job and took pictures of our next stop in Wai’anapanapa (glistening waters) State Park.

stone bridge at wai'anapanapa state park

This is by far the best black sand beach on Maui (at least the ones outsiders know about). Most of the ones I saw looked more gray. This one looks really black. And the water is a beautiful blue.

black sand beach in the jungle

When the waves crash up on the beach, it’s just the color of sea glass contrasting with the black sand.

black, cobalt blue, emerald

There was a group of people climbing up the rocks and jumping off into really rough, rocky waters. I thought they were bananas. And just like the paparazzi, I just took pictures instead of being ready to call an ambulance when they crack their heads open.

crazy jumpers

there he goes

No heads were cracked. They came back for more.

off the cliff

I got bored and took pictures of my feet. My puffy, puffy feet. They took a few days to recover from the six hour flight.

puffy feet cooling in the sand

Black sand is a result of lava flowing into the ocean and shattering immediately upon hitting the cool water. The beach was fairly crowded, but at some point everyone got up and made their way into the lava tubes.

i couldn't get enough

Which we of course did too. You have to duck pretty low to get in, but it’s pretty spectacular when you do get in there.

just entering the lava tubes

 One opening breaks to the sky.

bright blue sky

The other breaks to the ocean. Apparently once a year the water flows in red in color. There are ancient polynesian myths about the blood of a queen, but it’s really some microshrimp that come in and make the water tinge red.

no red tide today

On the hike back up, we noted a cool swimming hole. Apparently down here you can swim into a lava tube similar to the one we walked in. 

wai'anapanapa swimming hole

If you haven’t driven the Hana Highway, I suggest you do. But drink a can of patience before you go. The road can be a little stressful at times. The road is only 68 miles each way, but there are 59 bridges. 46 of them are one lane. We saw many hilarious mishaps along the way. A convertible mustang with it’s back tires off the ground because it tried to make a too-tight-turn to one of the sites/hikes…a truck towing a truck passing on one lane bridges…people stopped in the middle of a one lane bridge around a blind curve because they wanted a picture… it could go on. We had a great time though! I thank my patient, master driver.

the beardless driver

Maui Day 2: Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours

5 06 2010

As we started planning the week, we realized Hawai’i was chock full of a bag of don’ts for me. I’m not used to being told “no” on any kind of adventure, so it was a little hard. Also, most of the fish in Hawai’i is on my “absolutely don’t touch it” list. Mai Tais by the pool? Fogeddaboutit. Fun 🙂 At first, it was a little frustrating, but we found ways around my limitations (man, it makes you feel broken, not pregnant) and still had an absolute blast.

If I can fly in a plane, I can fly in a helicopter! We did a little research and found a very reputable company to give us a tour of the islands via chopper. It was the first helicopter ride for both of us, and it was tons of fun.

bluest water ever

We were traveling at about 150-200 mph above the water and instantly made way for the island of Molokai. We got pretty close to these waterfalls, but it was hard to get good pictures. A lot of the other people on the chopper were wearing white shirts and light shorts so their reflection was in most of our pictures.

waterfalls on molokai

These waterfalls were from the previous night’s rainfall. It rained pretty much all day every day on the mountains of Molokai while we were there.

fresh rainwater falls

What was amazing to me was the sheer cliffs of Molokai. Apparently much of Jurassic Park 3 was filmed here (and filmed using the helicopter crews we were flying with).

sheer cliffs of molokai

Then we headed on over to Lanai. This is the very isolated leprosy quarantine area of the island. Many folks inflicted with the disease still live there. I know where I’m headed if I ever develop leprosy.

leprosy colony

We flew through some of the valleys to take a shortcut back to Maui.

valleys of lanai

And then into some of the drier parts of the island.

drier lands

These are some ancient pools built by the Polynesians. They dug them out of the reef so fish could swim in, but never swim back out. They make for pretty photographs.

fishing pools in the coral

We made it back on the ground safely. It was a fun adventure, I recommend using Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours if you go to Hawai’i anytime soon!

chopper experts now

We freshened up and headed over to a highly recommended dinner spot called Mama’s Fish House. It was just outside a little town called Pa’ia. Pa’ia is a charming little town with a lot of great restaurants and gelato, espresso, and gift shops. We stopped in for some tropical and pineapple gelato. Charming little place.

ono gelato in pa'ia

Mama’s was everything people said it was. Expensive, but worth it. Delicious fish (even some on my safe list!!!), great service, beautiful views in a relaxed environment.

mama's fish house under a full moon

Their specialty drink was of course, the Mai Tai. Scott had one while we waited for our table to be ready. Every drink (everywhere, not just here) was always served with a big chunk of pineapple and an orchid. They left the pineapple off his drink, which was usually immediately devoured by me anyway, so it wouldn’t have made the picture.

angry polynesian

Scott had the hawaiian sampler platter that had Ohno, grilled bananas, poi (he was not a fan), sweet potatoes, and a tea leaf with steamed pork inside. They served it with a cracked coconut that you poured over the top of the dish. Quite tasty, if I say so myself! For dessert we had passion fruit mousse topped with chocolate ganache, dipped in coconut flakes and served in a little clamshell cookie. Adorable and tasty.

delightful little pearl of goodness

We rode back to the hotel with the top down in the evening breeze. It was a perfect night!