Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lessons Learned

In a previous post, I said that I had wanted to learn something new this summer, but was not sure what exactly that would be. I learned a lot about being comfortable with different kinds of people and what I like to do. There were also many "now you know" kind of lessons, like when I tried to start a fire with pine needles that seemed "dry enough." Here are a few highlights:
  • You don't have to keep in touch with people to call them up out of the blue and have a great time, though that great time is often a source of inspiration to keep in touch.
  • Having friends all over the country makes traveling much easier (no hotels and the best tour guides!)
  • Pittsburgh has personality, who knew?
  • Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. I forgot this. I especially love strenuous hikes that resemble obstacle courses (crossing rivers, traversing tree bridges, swinging on vines tarzan style).
  • Don't wear rings while using a machete, unless of course you want blood blisters.
  • If you put peanut butter on both sides of your pb&j and the jelly in the middle, the bread will not get soggy.
  • When weeding, get them all or it is a total waste of time.
  • Playing in the ocean is the fastest and most effective way to get dirt out from under your fingernails.
  • I love soft boiled eggs (thanks Uncle Keith!) and eating vegetables with breakfast makes me feel like I've already accomplished something.
  • Thermarests don't look like much, but make a huge difference when camping. In other words, camping without a thermarest sucks.
  • I am physically capable of much more than I thought before this trip. I was incredibly active this summer without really noticing it. It doesn't have to be yoga OR running unless I want it to be. I certainly didn't skip swimming in the ocean just because I had already gone hiking.
  • It's much easier to decide what to wear when you only have three tshirts and a pair of jeans.
  • As much as I love New York, I also love being a big fish in a small pond :)

Monday, August 16, 2010


Last Thursday I went with 4 others from the farm on the most spectacular hike. We started by crossing a river (I made this much harder than it needed to be by crossing through the roughest spot) then hiked up a steep, rocky Z trail out of Waipio Valley, through 13 winding, wooded gulches, down into Waimanu Valley and aross another river to the camping spots. A 5 hour hike in, two nights there and back out. The Waimanu Valley is incredible, tucked away, and radiates something special. I'll let the pictures tell the story, though they don't even begin to capture the experience.

What I do not have documented is the amount of ramen noodles we consumed, the size of the roaches (about the size of an iPhone?), the thrill of swimming in a raging waterfall and the power of an intense yoga session on the beach between two massive cliffs.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Saturday was a pretty big deal. Living right on the edge of my comfort zone. I had to see the volcano before leaving and I really only have one weekend left here, so Saturday I packed a bag and set out on my own to go see it. I had a few possible plans, but decided to see where the day took me. I figured as long as I had a knife and a rain fly, it didn’t really matter where I wound up.

I stuck my thumb out at the top of the farm's driveway and got picked up by an Australian who was driving around the perimeter of the island for the day. Since he didn’t really have a plan, he took me all the way to the farmer’s market in Kolani (about an hour and a half away from the farm). The market was in an open, colorful building and filled with hippies and surfers and other colorful personalities. I found some free kitties in a box and was told to go walk around with them. So I did. As I wandered around the space, picking up papayas, an avocado and some banana bread, I developed a trail of 10 year old kids following the kitten that was sitting atop my backpack. I passed the kitty of to them and went to sit on a stump and people watch.

I hitched a ride to go see the lava flow, but was discouraged from going during the day- too much effort and not really worth it unless its dark out. So, I rerouted to Volcanoes National Park, where I got cell service WHOO HOO! I took the advice that my ride gave me and walked through the Kilua Iki crater. I’ve always gone hiking with the Anderson clan or Zach. Hiking alone was a new and exhilarating version of a familiar activity.

The crater floor was a wild expanse of broken sheets of lava and the trail was marked only by those little rock pyramids. I bounced along, snapping pictures and climbing on rocks. I really couldn't have asked for a better afternoon, except maybe for a pink Jolly Rancher from mom's fanny pack a la 199. After the crater, I cruised through a lava tube, checked out the sulphur vents (cool, but nothing compared to the crater) and made my way toward the observation deck at the Jagger Museum.

It started getting cool as soon as I got to the Jagger Museum (a 4+ mile walk from the lava tube/crater that I misread as closer to 1 mile on the map). I was toying with the idea of leaving the park and heading to a beach, where I knew I would be warm and sleep comfortably, but doubted that I would be able to get a ride out of the park.

I changed my mind about ten times as I walked, checked the weather (low of 60 degrees) and threw a mental temper tantrum. I felt stuck and was definately not prepared to camp in the cold. I grabbed an extra sweatshirt in the gift shop and decided to make the best of it. I spent the next few hours snacking on my delicious farmers market buys and the bag of lychees one of my rides gave me. I watched the sun go down (not fantastic) and the volcano begin to light up (fantastic).

I listened to some impressively smart 10 year olds name constellations (Scorpio, Summer Triangle and the Souther Cross were all new to me) before hiking through the pitch black night to the campground. I slept for about three hours that night. I was about as layered as I could have been, but didn't have a warm sleeping bag. I wrapped myself in my rain fly to try to cut the wind and keep in my body heat. Realistically, I was in no physical danger. But WOW! what an incredible excercise in mental vs. physical! I finally decided to "get up" at about 4:30am and watch the sunrise over the volcano. As I did, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment that set the tone for Sunday. Needless to say, it was a good weekend :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pretty things

that would look fabulous as a print on a throw pillow or sundress

A series of MOST fortunate events

I flew from Maui back to Hilo on Saturday afternoon and planned to hitch hike back to Honoka’a (where the farm is). Hitch hiking is a common practice on the Big Island, especially since most people get around in pick up trucks. I was a little nervous at first, but got a ride within about ten minutes of having my thumb out. I did some quick profiling and got good vibes from these people. Instead of going home, I switched my plans and accompanied my new friends, Robert, Mark, Nathan and Diane to a neighborhood party in a lychee orchard outside of Hilo. There was a guy at the party who was hacking open coconuts with a machete so we could drink the milk through bendy straws. I got a lesson about harvesting coconuts and making ice cream from coconut cream (mmm!).

After the party, we went to the Garden Snack Club and got the most delicious Thai food I’ve ever had. We got pineapple and curry stir fry with huge chunks of pineapple and Opakapaka (tasty local fish) and Thom Kah soup (coconut milk broth, ginger, lemongrass, kabocha squash, carrots, asparagus, celery, hearts of plam). The soup was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Fresh, colorful, and bursting with flavor.

Robert offered to let me spent the night at their place in Puna, a town that I’ve wanted to visit (next to where the lava is flowing into the ocean). Puna is the yoga/artsy/farmer's market part of town. I definitely plan to make my way back there before leaving the island. I took him up on his offer and stayed in a Bali hut (below) while it poured during the night, which was a fantastic way to sleep (outside, but dry and warm). In the morning, I cleaned out the linen closet in exchange for my night’s stay.

On Sunday morning, we went to the beach (1st and last pictures on this page) and then to a dance. I almost bailed and went back to the farm, but realized that I was just nervous and had no idea what to expect. So, I decided to go and find out. At 11:00 am about 150 people showed up at a greenhouse to dance, do yoga and listen to a dj play music. Before the dance started, everyone sat in a circle for a welcoming and a few announcements. One woman pointed out that she brought a statue of Pele, the volcano goddess, and had put it at the back of the room. Puna is located in volcanic zone 2 and as the lava continues to flow, is in more danger of being wiped out. This woman mentioned that Pele was very present and wanted to acknowledge her. I was blown away at how calmly this woman was speaking. She was basically saying, we are totally powerless, could lose everything and are at the mercy of the lava. Whoa. Big stuff. Let's dance it out. For the next hour and a half you could meditate, do handstands, dance, sit, roll on the floor, anything. Just no talking. It was totally ridiculous and absolutely wonderful.

We hit the beach again (where a drum circle had formed) before grabbing some lunch and heading back to the farm. Good people in Puna. Great to be back at the farm.

Surfin' USA

While in Maui, we also took a surf lesson. Possibly the highlight of the trip. I was able to stand up, but didn't usually last long. See below.

Vacation from vacation

On Thursday I puddle hopped over to Maui to see my friend Joey, who was in from NYC for a wedding. Her friend from LA was getting married, and I went with her as her plus one since I was just an island away. I had a blast celebrating with a really welcoming and fun group of people. The (gorgeous) wedding was a great way to kick off a totally luxurious 48 hours in Maui.

When you don't have much time, it is easy to pack the agenda with too many activities and wind up exhausted. This is a mistake I try not to make when people come to visit NYC. Joey and I had a great balance of activities and down time. We made sure to have time to soak up the sun (got burned for the first time since being here), enjoy silly fruity cocktails (finally got a pina colada in a pineapple, though it was covered with ants) and gorge ourselves on ice cream. With flavors like chocolate macadamia nut and lychee sorbet, how can you not?

On Friday, we rented snorkels and swam with turtles. Sounds like a great idea, right? It is a great idea. Unitl you are in the water, forget what you are looking for and just about run into a giant turtle. The thing was huge and looked like a dinosaur. I panicked, shreiked into my snorkel, and swam as fast as possible in the opposite direction. During my little time out, I gave myself a pep talk. Hello self, you are swimming with turtles. This is so cool! They don't bite and you are being a total sissy. Get it together. I went back over to the turtle, who had since left, but continued to search for others. We swam out quite a ways and followed two other turtles on their path along the black rocks and coral.

Maui was awesome (easy, clean, fun filled) and I'm so grateful for the invite. It was great to see one of my best friends, who brough an element of the familiar to a summer filled with new, wild experiences. It reminded me that as much as I love exploring and meeting new people, I love my friends and family at home :) xoxo everyone!