Monday, November 27, 2006

Week 1
So I lost the journal, so you can expect this rendition of my month in Hawaii to be similiar to James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. (He's the dude that pissed Oprah off by lying about rehab).

All right so I get Honolulu and spend a couple days buying camping shit and chillin with Scott. Nothing special. But I did buy the most awesome backpack and Teva hiking shandals. And I did go to Ala Moana Beach, the place that I couldn't swim thanks to the raw sewage.

After that, it was off to Kauai. I left on the 5:25 a.m. flight with my 40 lb. backpack packed and ready. I decide to walk a mile to Walmart to see how this thing is gonna ride. Then I bussed to Kapaa, stuck my thumb up, and started walking 8 miles straight towards the trailhead of the secret tunnels. Yeah, I'm a compulsive bastard, but there was nothing I wanted more than to get through that 3rd tunnel. I got picked up by some surfer dude for a couple miles who had recently dropped everything to move to Kauai. He had actually completed the hike himself.

Here's a reservoir I stopped at for lunch along the way. And by lunch I mean a can of beans.

Well, I made it to the trailhead at about 1:00 p.m. I must of walked 6 miles already, and I don't want to bring my gear along so I camp ouit at the trailhead. A little side note for Scott. I looked for the trail after the first river crossing and got just as lost as we did the first time. Basically you cross, go upstream for a bit before entering the bamboo forest. Then there are a million trails in the forest, but you should see those logs within 20 feet of leaving the bamboo forest. If you don't go upstream and try the next trail.

So the next mourning, I start at 5:30 a.m., and I make it to the third tunnel by 9:00 a.m. I ditch everything but my flashlight, and my bottle of water. Scott's lucky that we didn't find this thing the first time because in one place it was so deep that I was on my tippy toes to avoid getting my balls wet, and I was ducking down to try not to hit my head. I wish I had pictures of this place, but unfortunately my camera got wet during the hike. After I get out the third tunnel, I ditch the trail and start running straight for the river and hike upstream (BAD IDEA cause I got crazy lost trying to make my way back, and I was alone in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a flashlight.) Since I don't have a camera I'll just say, basically your dumped out into a piece of terrain that would be virually inaccessible by land if not for these mile long tunnels in the mountain. You come across a huge river water fall and surrounded by red inward cliffs that are dripping water. When I went, it was very dry, but a day with rain would turn this cliff into an unbelievable water fall.

So then I make it back to the tunnel, and not to my surprise, my flashlight isn't working, and my backup flashilight is on the other end of that mile long tunnel. I make a go for that small dot on the other end, but after about 10 minutes I realize my only bottle of water fell out of my pocket. I've gotta find this thing. I decide to walk back to the entrance and try my flashlight one more time. After toggling with it a bit, it turns on, and damn, it was a good feeling. I even found my water bottle.

Now I'm on my way back, and for some reason, when I'm hiking, I always think it's a good idea to hop on rocks downstream and find the trailhead. Of course, I got the landmarks between the two rivers confused and ended up spending an hour hopping up and down the river. It really was a great time. Many people in their daily lives get to practice froggers trip across the street, but it's the rare occasion that you get practice his ominous journey across the river to his home. As fun as it was, I could have gone without the empty hoplessness of being lost in the woods, and the awful ankle scratches from slipping on the rocks. It was just one of those falls, where you can get up and keep going, without a problem, but instead you figure that while you are on the ground, you might as well just stay and relax for a bit.

Here's a picture of the trail that I took before my camera broke. I can see the trail only because I've been there, but it's where there is grass instead of ferns. When you're there, it's actually the obvious path to take.

I just Love the views during sunrise. It's my favorite time to hike.

So my third day in the woods, I decide to go on the Jungle hike, which is right next to the secret tunnels hike. BTW, they aren't so secret, but it is nice to go on a trail in Hawaii where you'll only see one other group all day. Anyways, I don't know if I stayed on jungle hike trail, and I don't care. I basically walked through numerous dirt roads with in use water tunnels, empty water tunnels, old ditches, broken bridges, and old bridges. It was good fun to come across all the different man made things. I saw nobody but a couple of hunters skinning a pig. It was just really nice to not have a destination, and just take whatever path I came across. I would stop for a swim, and I even felt secluded enough for skinny dipping. There is nothing better than feeling sore from head to toe and then diving butt naked into some freezing cold water. It was also nice to not have to worry about being lost except on the way back it wasn't too easy to remember whether I took a left or a right.

That day I found a broken lighter, and even though I had my own lighter, I decided to try a trick on that I saw on Survivor Man. (Survivor man is a TV show about this CRAZY fucker who gets dropped off in some of the most rugged terrains, left to survive for 7 days.) So I tried to get a flame from the flint in the lighter, toilet paper, and lent peeled from my sock. Although it fizzed, after several attempts, it just wasn't flaming. So I put the toilet paper right by the flint, and started ferociously sparking it until the toilet paper combusted. How do you like me now, Survivor Man! I'll do it myh own way! Yeah, yeah, three days in the woods. I'm crazy.

So the next day I head out stick the thunb up and make it all the way back to town. The very first truck that passed me on a dirt road took me 8 miles all the way to town, but fuck if I could find a person to take me 2 miles to the hostel on the busiest street in all of Kauai. That day I met Nikki, this skinny tall hippy chick with dreads. This girl was absolutely gorgeous, and she had this ratty head of hair, and a real raspy voice. She would say the craziest shit, and then just let out this subtle smile and bob her head up and down. She had like diamond shaped eyes. They were pointed at the ends like an asian's, but they were wide open. I just loved hearing her say "Aloha" because she knows what it means and she always said it with that meaning. Anyways, more on her later.

That day I ended up eating a crapload of food. I had a three entre meal from Panda Express followed by an entire pint of ice cream. All and all, at least 1600 calories in that one meal. Followed that up with pizza buffet in the evening. At the Hostel, I had surveyed everyone there to get a hiking partner for the Na Pali Coast. Although I had no success, I befriended a dude from Vegas who did sound work for filming. He had miked every pro poker player that you could name. He met this one pro who lost a bet and had to get a boob job for a year. The funny thing is that the year had long passed, but the pro just chose to keep them right in there. That's where I see myself 10 years from now.
Week 2 continued
So that evening I get back to the hostel and I meet Marc. Marc was a 6'1" 250lb Swiss dude that was pure muscle. Marc was a mechanical technician, and part time bouncer at a club. For fun, he was a professional swiss wrestler, and for his job, he was in the UFC. I never understood his logic. He didn't like ultimate fighting, but he thought it was best to keep his skills sharp for when he got into fights at work. I had a hard time believing anybody was gonna give him trouble. Well, Marc and I clicked right away. I would always make fun of his size, and when he'd eat a pound of steak, I'd smirk and ask him if he enjoyed his snack. It was funny because this guy that could kill me in a split second, would just laugh, and shyly reply "Shut ahp" in his strong german accent. He had only spent 3 months learning the language, and I often had to define things or rephrase things.

So for the weekend I chilled at the hostel because I couldn't get a camping permit until Monday. Went to the beach and relaxed. With only a couple notable events. One night Marc, Nikki, Carolyn, and I make it out for some drinks, and happen across a bar with karaoke night. (There were only 2 bars in town. Kauai is country.) Every time I leave Karaoke, I swear to myself that I will never do it again. I make the most awful racket known to man, but somehow I convince myself that I actually had fun. Anyways, Nikki and I dueted 4 different songs, and one of the songs, we wrote down the wrong number so neither one of us had ever even heard the song. Somehow, Nikki did quite well. I, on the other hand, was actually told to stop singing. Pretty embarrassing, but I didn't stop.

Sunday evening, Maikiki, the general manager of the hostel, put on a cooking show. Maikiki was a 40 year old hippy/recovering alcoholic. His goal was to turn the hostel into a place where artists/musicians come to travel, but he had a really weird way of going about. Whenever he would check people into the hostel, he would be complete ass to them, and tell them they could go to the other hostel if they want. Then, the rest of their stay, he's the nicest guy, willing to help out with any problem. Nikki worked for him for a month, and now she hates his guts. Anyways one of the guys staying/working at the hostel was a very talented chef. So Maikiki decides they should start a live streaming internet cooking show. He envisioned relatives of the travelers tuning in, but at this point, it was just Maikiki recording the videos and watching them himself. It was a real trip. They invited a group of four travelers to be guests on the show, and the guy actually had all the different cooking steps prepared just like in a real cooking show. And Maikiki was real anal. He would position people and their plates in just the right spot for his shot. He encouraged people to talk and ask questions. Everybody there just wanted to crack up laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing.

So that Monday I get a camping permit, bus out to the west side of the island, but I still have a 20 mile walk ahead of me. I wanted to do the Honopu ridge hike, and get a view of the beach from the Kalalau valley. I also wanted to check out the forboding Alakai swam and determine how realistic it would be to make it to Wai'ale'ale, the worlds wettest spot. I've been before on the boardwalk, and I know it's not realistic, but I wanted to at least experience walking in the mud before giving up. Well, anyways, I stick my thumb up with 20 miles to go, and after an hour, I get no help. So I'm sitting there, hips still soar, cuts and scratches on my feet, and I decide to just give up. It would have been a great 5 days, but my body just didn't want anymore of it.

So I bus back to the main city, and I catch the movie, Pirates of the Carribean II. I decide not to go back to the hostel, and stay at a campsite that's less than a mile from the airport. I figured I could make an earlier flight. I've got a 2-3 mile walk from the theatre to the airport which I originally thought wouldn't be a problem. But I was BEAT, and it was night, and I was on a main road. I had to jump across this little ditch every time a car passed by. It sucked. I finally get to the airport, and I have to keep walking a mile to make it to the camp site. Well it starts raining, and I find the first secluded place I can find, and pitch my tent. I wish I would have just passed the fuck out, but all the aches, pains and scratches kept me up for a good hour.
week 3 4 hawaii

Well Even though I've been back for about two months, I'm gonna write something up on the last two weeks in Hawaii so I can go back and read this shit and reminisce.

Week 3
So I make it to the Hostel in Oahu, and try to meet up with Marc, but he's island hopping somewhere, so I make it to my room where I meet Mike, Josue, Laura, and Kaye. The good thing about the Hostel was that I just showed up to my room, and these guys were automatically my best friends.

Mike was an English bloke who really got me wanting to start using words like "bloke" and "proper." He just used his slang with such enthusiasm, ad every time he told a story he made sure to tell it with exact detail. Always the right number of people, who was there, the exact time down to 15 minutes. He'd always say "quarter past" or "quarter of." Usually a story told to such detail would be quite boring, but the amount of enthusiasm he put into telling the precise times made the story quite interesting.

Then Josue. Josue was a spanish surfer who lived in the Canary Islands which is a Volcanic chain of Islands in the Mediteranean known as Europe's Hawaii, but really it's closer to Africa. He had a thick Spanish accent, but he had lived in London for the past year, so every once in a while, he'd spit out a line that sounded like a dorky English dude. Cracked me up every time.

Kaye was a hairdresser from England. I typically hate all tatoos, but I liked every single one of her tattoos, and she had several. I particularly liked the vines running up her legs. Laura was Kaye's Irish friend. Those two girls insisted on calling me "Texas." I would always jokingly yell back "My name is ROB!" They didn't get the hint.

Well that was the crew for the next week. Spent several days sitting around, shootin the shit. Went to Hanauma Bay. Then I tried to get the group out to Kailua, but it ended up being just Josue and I swimming out to flat island.

After a few days Nikki, the girl from Kauai, showed up. She was in Oahu to party, and used it as a pit stop to the lava flows on the big island. She invited me to go with her, and after about one minute of consideration I was up for it.

We all party all weekend, and we decide to hit the Big Island on Tuesday. So on Sunday, we decide to finally buy our tickets, and on the way to the computers, we run into Marc, also from Kauai. Excited to see the big oaf, we invite him along, and within a minute he agrees to go. Then Mike and Josue are coming downstairs, so we decide to invite them along, and sure enough they are down for it. In the about 15 minutes, a group of 5 people have randomly decided to go to the Big island. (Kaye and Laura later tagged along.)

So we make it to the Big Island at about 8 a.m., rent the car, check out a couple waterfalls, and hike through some lava tubes. Lava tubes are huge tunnel-like caves that were carved out by flowing lava that's no longer present. Then we go to Volcanoes National Park. We get to the trailhead for the hike to the Lava flows just in time to make it for sunset, but we have to practically run the whole way on lava rock. Mike, Marc and I were the only ones up for the physical exertion. The last half mile was pretty much an all out sprint. The lava was pouring into the ocean and huge clouds of steam rose from the ocean.

We make it to our "destination" where we look back at the mountains, and see a huge lava river on the mountain side. Well, we all agreed that that was the place to be. Armed with flashlights, we hiked up the mountain. (I say mountain, but it wasn't steep nor very high in elevation.) Unfortunately that lava was a lot further than it looked. We prolly spent three hours going up hill. I fell a couple times thanks to the rock breaking from under my feet. We wet non-stop, and we went fast. We were on a mission to make it to these flows. We finally get to a point where we could see red hot lava rock only 20 feet away. The air was quite warm, but we still had quite sometime before reaching the actual lava flow. At one point we walked on a rock where you could see red lava in the cracks underneath the rock. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I wanted to keep going. Luckily the crazy fuckers around me were sane enough to turn aroud, and I followed. At our highest point, we turned around, and could see the light from the lava extending all the way to the ocean. It looked like the city lights of Honolulu.

Well that hike, that day, that view, was my most amazing experience in all of Hawaii. We made it back to the ocean to meet up with the rest of the crew. They all wanted to see the lava flow in the ocean. I wanted to die from exhaustion. Mike and I took a nap on the lava rock while the rest of the crew REALLY pushed their luck by getting quite close to the lava. It turns out they were on the bench. The bench is the newly formed land mass created by the lava. The only thing is, this land mass occasionally falls into the ocean several acres at a time. People have died on the bench. People have also died from the steaming hot waves. I guess they had fun, but they all agreed they would never do it again. Josue, the dark-tanned hispanic dude, turned completely white when he found out what the bench was.

Got back to the car at about 4:00 a.m., and that was our day in the Big Island. After that, the crew pretty much split up, all going their seperate ways. Marc and I went back to Oahu.

The group of us makes it out to the volcanic rock. The lava actually flows over a road that I'm guessing was constructed in the 60's. Imagine being so exhausted that you look at this rock, and think about how confortable it would be to lay down it.

This is where the lava flows into the ocean

This was the most dangerous point. Time to turn around when you can see lava under the cracks. I held my pee in for such a long time, but I didn't quite make it to this point

Week 4 - pictures to be added later
Spent most of the week unwinding from that hike. Got a nice little sinus infection from the lack of food, rest, and the toxic fumes. I'm assuming they are toxic, but it might just be water vapor. That week I buddied up with Kevin, Jade, Gianna, and Shawn. Kevin was from Essex, England. He used a lot of english slang, and he would snap his fingers all the time. Jade and Gianna were two Aussie girls. They were both half italian, and had an elegant beauty to them, but then they would shout out "Drink up" in the worst australian accent. And boy were they loud. A conversation with them was like a yelling contest. Crazy fun girls.
And Shawn. Shawn was an enlish teacher from Indiana. His girlfriend talked him into moving to Hawaii, and within one week, he had a job in Kailua, but his gf couldn't move until September.

I finally muster some energy and do the Stairway to Heaven hike which is 4000+ steps straight up the side of a mountain. Never have I stopped so often from exaustion on a hike, but never have I stopped so often on the way back to take in the sheer beauty. On one side the mountains where the highway tunnels out, and on the other side, a view of all of Kaneohe Bay. China Man's hat. Everything.

The next day I'm crazy enough to try to take on Mount Ka'ala, the highest point on Oahu. Kevin tags along, and boy was he pissed at me, but I warned him he would be pissed. We didn't make it to the top, and at the trail head, we cross three old hawaiians who are just drunk off their asses. They have a car that won't start, and they offer us a ride downhill, that's hard to refuse in our exhaustion. We want to get back to the Hostel and relax ASAP, but this crazy hawaiian keeps stopping at all these viewpoints, and takes us to three of his friends houses. The whole time we need to catch the 2 hour bus ride back, and don't want to be driving with this waisted dude. Anyways I could go on and on.

Finally, I swim out to Flat Island, and come back to make my flight. I damn near missed my flight, and wish I would have.

There might be stairs but it's not cheating.

You get to the top and get to smoke a doobie with Jesus. . . Actually I recollect seeing yet another huge flight of stairs.

View from Stairway to Heaven

This is a sattellite dish at the top. Apparently they're the reason for these stairs to nowhere. Unfortunately the view sucks from here thanks to the clouds. Yeah that's right. Heaven's overrated.
The original week with thomas

So I spent a week at Thomas' place because he wanted to hit up a casino with me. On Sunday, we made it up to Riudoso for a day of playing some AWFUL players.

The next day I went to white sands. (pictures to be added later) And I spent the night at Riudoso. I did quite well at the poker tables that night, and ended up spending $140 on my own room. It seemed like a good idea when I was tired. The next day I made up to Albuquerque, and played at the Sandia, where I got my fair share of headaches from playing against pros, but I ended up making money. I slept at a Rest Area that night and the next day, I went straight to Denver. Denver is freaking awesome, and I can definitely see myself coming back here one day. Mario and I went out a couple nights, but I was driving both nights, so things didn't get to crazy. Then we made it out to Rocky Mountain National park. We hiked the twin sisters, 4 miles and 2300ft in elevation to a 11.4k ft peak.

Long's Peak. 14k ft. in Elevation.

Mario and me at the top.

It was Elk mating season, so all the elk congregate in the plains. The males were making mating calls that sounded like a horn.
Took off from Mario's, crashed in my car at a rest stop one night, and the next day I made it to Arches National Park. This place was f'in sweet. I'd love to take Naledi and Tao here. On one hike I saw this 10 year old girl complaining. I later saw her awestruck by the arch at the end of the trail. Arches is like a big playground.

Tomorrow I'll be headin out to Canyonlands, and then it's VIVA LAS VEGAS. If all goes well, I won't be allowed into any casino in Las Vegas when I'm done.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

That's Right, I'm From Louisiana

This is in response to Scott Pliszka's Post "That's Right, I'm Not From Texas" which was in response to Andy Pace's post, "Texas."

Yeppers, Louisiana. The first seven years of my life and every summer till the age of 16. Yeah the swamp lands. When I go home to Louisiana, the first thing to go are the shoes, and then the accent. I suddenly forget how to conjugate verbs, use pronouns, and I start talking like I'm singing a freaking song. Half of all conversations consist of filler phrases such as "What you been doin' good?" or "I tell you what" or "IIIIIII Mean."

Yeah when I go home, most of my family drops the "N" bomb despite the black brother-in-law. My uncle constantly warns me about the end of days. And my other uncle always has a new farm animal - be it fightin' roosters, huntin' dogs, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, etc. Right now, maybe you're thinking what's so odd about owning farm animals? Well, my uncle isn't a farmer. He's been a construction worker for 30 years. I mean, they buy dogs, just to tie them up. Every time I visit, they have a new dog tied on a leash, and I'll be damned if I ever saw one person in that part of the family spend more than one minute with the dogs, yet they keep on buying them. And don't get me started on "collectibles." My family will keep a pair of hanes underwear for 20 years if they think it will be worth something one day. (Not that they don't do that already for other reasons.)

So what do I tell people when they ask me where I'm from? I proudly reply Texas. Then we exchange a couple Bush jokes and a couple good laughs. Every once in a while, I come across a preacher, in which case, I quickly plan my exit strategy. Typically "check out that chicks ass" works.

Now, I would gladly tell people I'm from Louisiana, but I really don't care to give anybody a geography lesson. At least Texas gives me something to talk about. And then everybody starts calling me "Texas," because it's easier to remember than my name. I have no problem being called "Texas." I actually kind of like it. As a matter of fact, I would be pretty jealous if somebody else showed up and stole my Texas nickname. My only problem is when I've known someone for a week, and they are still calling me Texas, and go as far as to refuse to call me by my real name. It bugs the shit out of me.

As far as being stereotyped, it's pretty obvious from the second that I say, "I'm from Texas" that I don't fit into any preconceived stereotype. After I utter those three little words, I've blown their minds as to what is possible in the universe.

As far as Texas being my home. I don't really know about that, but I do think it will be my home base. I see my self running in circles my whole life, always coming back to Texas. Ideally, I find a job that lets me run in really big circles rather than fartin around the U.S. Although that U.S. rode trip far exceeded all expectations.