At Waimea Bay…Every Body’s Gone Surfin’

We have been pretty active on the beach front over the past two months. Here is a list of some of our favorite beaches. 

Kahana Bay: Probably the most bucolic beach that we have been able to find since we arrived. Features a great sand beach, without a lot of wave action. This is the best place to spend a sleepy day with a book. The long stretch of sand is bordered by Aussie Pines and is relatively quite.
Laie Beach (Pounders Beach): Lots of shade trees to lay under and watch the waves. If the surf is up, this is a great place to learn how to body board. Some parts of the beach are rocky near the shoreline, so be careful. The park has a regular parking lot, with a shower. Laie is also close by the North Shore Shrim Trucks, an added bonus!
Sunset Beach: A great place to watch surfers! Since we have been here the surf has almost always been up, but this should calm down during the summer months. A high ridge, causes an extreme shorebreak and undertow. 
Shark’s Cove: This cove is a fantastic place to go snorkeling if the time of day and the tides are right. When the tide is out, it turns into a big wadding pool. Lots of sharp rocks and coral though so be careful!
Waimea Bay: One of the most famous beaches in all of the world! Great sand beaches rounding a cove. The waves here can be variable, from light to very choppy with a large shore break. We anticipate jumping off one of the large cliffs this summer when the weather gets better. Features a parking lot (which fills up quickly) and bathroom and showers.
Laniakae Beach: Probably one of our most favorite beaches. This is a great place to relax on a Friday and just watch the surf role in. Sometimes the beach here can be very choppy, especially with a rocky coastline. If your timing is right, you can see seals and turtles. Because of this though, you will be inundate with tourists wanting to take pictures of the beach. Also, there isn’t a lot of space. 
Haleiwa Beach Park: Located just outside the town of Haleiwa, this park has a narrow strip of beach, along with a parking lot, restrooms and showers. Not the greatest place to go for a swim, but if you are looking for a nice quite spot near restaurants and bars, then this is the place to go. 
Mokuleia Beach: Found on the far northwestern end of Oahu, these beaches are extremely private, but a little sun exposed. Little tree cover and the remnants of many a bon fire party can be found here. An offshore reef makes the beach a great place to swim.

Smackers

My cousin Megan helps care for her boyfriend’s three year old daughter Kailey. Kailey is a really cool kid, much better behaved and articulate than your average toddler. Because Tom and I spent Christmas Day with Megan’s parents, we brought gifts for the kids there. Since Kailey is only three and kids are notoriously destructive, we didn’t want to spend too much on the gift (lest you think I’m a total miser, my kids are getting three gifts each for Christmas, because if it was good enough for Baby Jesus, it’s good enough for them). So Erika and I bought a little purple zippered case and put a small beige (almost skin-tone) eyeshadow, a small bottle of nail polish, and six Lip Smackers brand lip balms. Differing in color and flavor, these were Erika and my first experience with “lipstick” as kids, and we wanted to pass on the tradition. There is really nothing like asking to wear makeup for the first time and to have your mother hand you a tube of 99 cent almost-colorless lip balm to wear on special occasions; it’s a rite of passage.

Kailey. Went. Nuts. While we didn’t end up getting to see Kailey on Christmas day, Megan gave her our gift and she absolutely flipped. Five dollars worth of little kid cosmetics and you’d have thought that we had dipped the whole thing in solid gold and covered it with chocolate sprinkles. 

We went to Walmart today so I could get a few things, and I found myself wandering into the Health and Beauty section. I noticed a three-pack of Lip Smackers in the Root Beer, Cherry, and Dr. Pepper flavors, and I was overcome. Had to get them, couldn’t leave without them.

Putting on the Root Beer lip balm in the car, I was instantly in a much better mood–the less said about my first ride on the Hawaiian public transit system, the better–and surprisingly, slightly giddy. I thought about Kailey. We should all be that excited over the simple things–watching a good movie with your partner, getting excited every time you see a rainbow (every day around these parts), playing in the sand on the beach. Stop and smell the roses, it’s the little things, insert your favorite cliche here. It’s a good way to live.

But the best way to live life? Getting as excited about every little so-called “nothing” event as a three-year-old girl gets over a tube Lip Smackers.

North Shore Shrimp

Ever since I arrived in Honolulu in January, I have been refining a one day tour of the island for any visitors that decide to make it out to visit us. Of course any tour of Oahu requires a stop at one of the many Kahuku shrimp trucks on the North Shore. Now I have to say that I am a big fan of shrimp and an even bigger fan of places that look run down and dilapidated that serve food. I figure that if a place looks so run down that you wouldn’t want to eat there, but it is still open, then there is a reason why. The shrimp trucks fit that mold. Any drive along Kamehameha will bring you past dozens of trucks that are either plastered with graffiti or look as if the trunk hasn’t moved in over two decades. 

The first shrimp truck/shack that I visit is Romy’s. You can pick easily pick Romy’s out on Kam Highway when you drive past a small shack structure surrounded by tour buses and rental cars. In my opinion, it is the premier shrimp shack on the North Shore. They have a limited menu of either shrimp or prawns in either butter & garlic, sweet or fried, but they do each well. My favorite is the butter & garlic, which is well seasoned with garlic cloves. All meals come with a heaping scoop of rice. I have never had a bad meal here. The only downside is that you will have to wait in line for a long time if you go during the weekend. 
Fukumi’s, directly down the road from Romy’s is also decent option when looking for shrimp. Fukumi’s offers a variety of shrimp dishes and all meals come with pineapple, rice and a small green salad. Despite a more all around meal, I wasn’t impressed with Fukumi’s. Don’t get me wrong the meal was good, but the spicy garlic shrimp wasn’t that spicy and the shrimp seemed a little over cooked. Another positive to Fukumi’s is that you will get your food faster if you are in a hurry to get around the island. 
That said, eating at a shrimp truck is an great experience. It is one of the places that I have found so far where locals easily mix with tourists. Eating shrimp on the North Shore is also contact sport, so understand that you will get dirty and bring extra napkins and hand sanitizer!

BANZAI!!!!

The last two Fridays have all been about relaxing. So normally we head up to the North Shore for some later afternoon swimming and unwinding on the beach. Last week, we were looking for a place to eat on the way back home and decided to take a detour through Hale’iwa. It was a good thing, because we came across Banzai Sushi. An initial look makes one a little wary that you are going to be eating sushi at a place like this, but looks are deceiving. Although there is a traditional “sushi bar,” the main part of the restaurant is a deck area, with regular tables and floor tables with cushions, which makes the dining experience unique. The sushi is exceptional, although sometimes cut a little irregular. In all honesty though, the presentation makes up for the fact that sometimes one piece of sushi is a little too short. Most days there is a Happy Hour menu, featuring California Tempura Rolls, Goyoza and beer. We normally settle on an appetizer of poke (pronounced po-kay) and a selection of maki or sashimi. Poke, which consists of onion, scallions, sea salt, sesame oil, red pepper and ahi is fantastic and apparently my wife could subsist on it. I would also recommend their Philadelphia rolls, California tempura rolls, Banzai rolls and poke rolls. Aside from the great food, Banzai Sushi also has another positive, it is about as far away from Honolulu as you can get, which makes the dining atmosphere far more local and less touristy. 

Word.

“The Puritans vs. The Prostitots”

This blogger is blogging for RAINN this month, so you should check it out.  Excellent commentary on double standards in America.  And the early sexualizing of children is why I die a little inside when adults say of babies “Aw, look at the little flirt” about a child who’s just being friendly–smiling, cooing, batting eyelashes, etc–or says to a five year old boy “Aw, you have a little girlfriend” about his female playmate.  If someone wants to say that kind of thing, fine, but they shouldn’t assign adult behaviors to children’s actions and then bitch about how kids grow up too fast.  Where do these people think the kids are *learning* that kind of thing?  It can’t all be blamed on the media.

The Bright Side

Cross fingers and nothing definite, but we juuuuuust might have enough flier points for a single free plane fare to Sydney.  If the stars align properly and there’s a conference there that Tom can attend, that’s two free fares.  Be still my heart.

We also just booked a sweet bed and breakfast in the Haight neighborhood of San Francisco for our trip and we’re camping in Sonoma.  Going on Mark Twain’s advice on summer in San Francisco, I’m keeping my favorite fleece jacket handy.  In a serendipitous twist, our team leader for the Avon Walk works for his family’s Sonoma-based winery and has generously offered to show us around.  That, right there, is worth the plane fare fiasco.

San Francisco

Tom and I are, if I may say so, relatively seasoned travel pros, but we made a big-time misstep.

Thanks to ATA and Aloha Airlines’ recent closures and our own bad timing, we missed the $500 flights to San Francisco while waiting for our new reward-friendly credit card to come through.  There is a certain window where flights are relatively inexpensive in between normal costs and then the last-minute price jumps, Friday was the day, and we thought we had a little more time to wait and use the new credit card.  (Note to Dad: for reward point building only!  PSA: Do not use credit cards unless you can pay for the item in cash up front, use credit cards only to build reward points and, ya’ know, credit.  Considering the state of the economy, we are going to be sitting somewhat prettily throughout this recession with our combined credit card debt of $0.)  So we took a considerable bath on the increased fares and paid about $670 for each flight instead of $530.

Join me in a rousing chorus of “ouch.”
So the bad news is that Kauai is out for this spring, as the San Francisco trip takes priority and we aren’t willing to allocate any more money to the travel budget for the first half of 2008.  But one assumes that Kauai isn’t going anywhere, so we’ll look to Columbus Day for our long weekend on Kauai.  And the good news is that we found FANTASTIC hotels and campgrounds for California, and at least two nights of our lodging will be covered through our participation in the Avon Walk, so that’s even better.
San Francisco and Sonoma, here we come!
(Edited to add: was anyone else’s bracket screwed by North Carolina’s loss?  And did anyone besides Tom benefit from Kansas winning?  I suspect I might have placed higher than fourth–possibly even second or third–had I not been so poorly advised on Xavier.  Harumph.  But congrats to Tom, who took first in our NCAA pool!  A shame it was not a betting scenario, but a win’s a win!)