Leah bachhuber

Live, read, travel, explore, enjoy

Category: Travel

Travels to Paris

Bonjour from Paris! I write this blog from our Airbnb bed, it is 4:48AM and I have yet to fall asleep, which means today calls for a double espresso. Actually, make it a triple. On the plus side, I’m watching the Parisian sky slowly turn pink from my window and listening to the clear chirping of the birds grow steadily louder by the minute. It feels like a treat, especially because I have the luxury of no responsibilities today. No kids to look after, no work to go to, no agenda to keep, no place to be. I’m not sure I’ll get over the novelty of it all.

Daniel and I arrived on Monday afternoon and took the train into our Airbnb, which is located in the charming northern Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre. Despite varying degrees of extreme exhaustion, we cleaned up and headed out to explore the neighborhood. We walked up the some 300 steps to the top of Sacre Couer and were rewarded with expansive views Paris below, including the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We wound through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, stopping to take photos of the quirky street art and graffiti that seem to be a hallmark of Paris. We dined at one of the lovely street-side cafes, sitting at a table on the sidewalk, a lovely place for taking in the posh balconies wound with wisteria and bougainvillea, with carefully tended flower boxes – perfect private oases within the city.

Tuesday I groggily woke, thinking it must be around 8AM, as I knew Daniel had already left for his conference. I got quite the shock when checking my phone and it was 12:30PM! I had slept for at least 15.5 hours, I suppose due to catching up on jet lag, no sleep on the flight, and over 3 years of child-induced sleep deprivation. I spent the rest of the day wandering the city, walking all the way from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower. On the way I stopped at the Musée Cernuschi, an Asian Art Museum. The Museum is housed in the former mansion of Henri Cernuschi, the founder. At some point in the mid 1800’s Cernuschi made an inaugural 18-month trip to Asia (from what I remember) spanning from China to Indonesia and he returned to France with some 5,000 pieces of art. The main exhibit when I visited was showcasing Lee Ungno, a Korean artist who ended up living in France. I quite enjoyed his works, especially the combination with the traditional Japanese calligraphy-style aesthetic mixed with more modern colors and shapes, and his use of texture and unique mixed media backgrounds.

I met Daniel at his conference venue, just past the Eiffel Tower, and we dined on savory and sweet crepes with new friends Alain and Carole, from Luxembourg. Alain works on WP-CLI with Daniel. Carole introduced me to Kir, a traditional French drink that is crème de cassis (black currant liquor) and sparkling white wine. Quite refreshing!

This is my second trip to Paris. The first was in December 2012. We found cheap-on-miles flights to Paris, but stayed for only four days. During that trip I was six months pregnant, had a terrible respiratory illness the entire time, and was extremely jet lagged and couldn’t take a sleeping pill due to said pregnancy. It was my first trip to Paris, and to Europe in general, and I was hell-bent to not spent the trip convalescing in our room, but that being said, it was extremely difficult for me. So, I’m thrilled to have a second chance at Paris – not pregnant and not sick (though I’m still jet lagged). The mid-summer light at this time of year makes Paris even more magical than I remembered. The glowing pink skies at dusk light up the regal beige exteriors of the apartment buildings and make the city come alive. 

Paris observations and impressions

  • A lot more people smoke cigarettes in Paris than the US (at least the parts that I inhabit/visit). Smoking in Paris seems to be pretty normal, for all ages. I see teens smoking, young people smoking, old people smoking. People smoking with friends, with spouses, with their kids (teen kids, that is). People smoke unselfconsciously. Part of it is because you can smoke anywhere, there aren’t so many designated “smoke free” areas like the US. My initial gut reaction when I see someone smoking is, “don’t they know that’s so bad for you?” That reaction is probably thanks to some very successful public health campaigns in the US over the years. I think Parisians do know smoking isn’t good for you (how can you not know when there are pictures of corpses on cigarette packets here?), but they seem to simply not care. The obsessive trend of “wellness” that is present in the US doesn’t seem to be present here. The juicing-working-out-staying-fit-staying-pure-additive-free-organic-yogapants-lifestyle doesn’t seem to have caught on here. 
  • Coffees are smaller but people take a lot longer to drink them. Also, I think I’ve seem approximately no one walking around with a to-go coffee. The coffee culture here is one of slowness and connection. People drink espresso coffees in tiny cups (probably one to two ounces in size), and they drink them sitting at a cafe with a friend. No one seems to rushed to get their caffeine dose in and continue on-the-go, as is true in the US. They drink their coffees and enjoy sitting and talking with their friends. Parisians must be absolutely horrified by the idea of a “venti”.
  • Paris is so multicultural! That was my first impression upon alighting at Charles de Gaulle, and the impression has held true throughout Paris. The variation of people here is astounding, and quite refreshing. Portland area, where I’m from is quite homogeneously white. I’m pretty much guaranteed that anywhere I go within my normal life’s activities, almost everyone will look like me, look like my kids, and look like my husband. There are many redeeming qualities of Portland-area, but diversity ain’t one of ‘em. In fact, Portland is the whitest city in America. So, it is so refreshing to be surrounded by a diversity of people. There are people speaking all different languages, of all skin colors, wearing all types of clothes from hijab, to saris, to colorful kaftans, to kofi caps. In some neighborhoods, I might even be in the minority. 
  • People’s personal space bubbles are smaller here. I keep noticing this: people talk to each other, but they talk very close. Two friends sitting on a park bench, but they talk so close it lends a feeling of intimacy that I’m just not used to seeing in the US. Tables at cafes are quite small, so you are always sitting very close to the person you are dining with, and close to the people dining around you.

San Diego, California

Ahhhhh… 70 degree weather, palm trees swaying in the breeze, tank tops, sand between the toes: I could get used to this! Our long weekend in San Diego was a welcome change from the soggy (and sometimes frozen) Oregon winter.

Flying with the kids is always a wild card. Ava is at the stage I’ve been waiting for – she can easily plop in front of the iPad for a few hours and be entertained on a flight. Charlie isn’t there yet, and it took a bit more effort to distract him, entertain him, and eventually Ergo nap him. Overall, the kids did great though and the airplane flight was a definite highlight for Ava (read: biscotti cookies, orange juice, unlimited use of iPad, her own seat).

We met our friends Shane and Angela in San Diego, where we shared a lovely Airbnb rental with them. The rental, which had previously been lived in by the owners and their kids, was fully outfitted for kids, including a Pack’n’play, high chair, baby gates at the stairs and toys. This made the trip SO much easier. Definitely worthwhile to take into account when booking a rental home.

It was a treat to enjoy the weekend with our friends, who are equally up for a good, long city walk and a great adventure. Highlights include:

  • Playing in the sand at Dog Beach
  • Taking an absolutely epic San Diego city walk (according to Daniel’s phone pedometer: 15.5 miles), winding us through Point Loma, to Old Town, through Downtown, to Balboa Park and then back to Point Loma along the water.
  • People watching and enjoying the street performers at Balboa Park. I also loved the gardens at Balboa Park.
  • A personal highlight was walking through the neighborhoods, looking at the houses and taking in all the unique flora of this particular area of Southern California. Front yards are teeming with all variety of palms, cacti, succulents, colorful desert flowers and more. I could spend all day just wandering through neighborhoods, looking for unique details on homes and in yards. Ocean Beach neighborhood has some especially funky homes.
  • Just generally, it was so much fun simply going to a new place with the kids. It sounds cliche, but to be able to see things fresh from their eyes is a real treat.
  • Enjoying quiet time around the rental house with Shane and Angela, including some seriously delicious dinners (grilled pizza, fish tacos).

The Waiting Land: A Spell in Nepal

TheWaitingLand_Murphy

My collection of books set in various parts of Asia is now spilling from one to two shelves on our book case. Asia, especially South Asia, is an area of the world that continues to fascinate me. Learning about the history, religions, rituals, ethnic groups, food and language has held my attention for years now. I recently added The Waiting Land: A Spell in Nepal by Dervla Murphy to my collection. I had never heard of Dervla Murphy before I bought this book, but after some research and talking to a friend who has spent extensive time in Nepal, I’ve come to realize she is quite prolific and one of the great adventurers of our time.

The Waiting Land is published as a set of chronologically dated journal entries by Murphy during her time in the mid 60’s in Nepal. She was in Nepal not too long after the country opened up its borders to foreigners, so she was allotted an entirely different view and experience of Nepal that I had after the country had gone through decades of pressure to modernize and Westernize. This book is a true joy to read. Dervla Murphy has a quick wit, and I laughed out loud numerous times in this book. I appreciated her honest observations about the destitute poverty she saw, as I feel like some foreigners (probably myself included) have the tendency to romanticize poverty and focus on the people’s happiness at living “the simple life.”

The purpose of her trip to Nepal is to work at the Tibetan refugee camps outside of Pokhara. This was when the camps truly were camps, tents included, because the Tibetans had only recently fled from Tibet due to Chinese persecution. When I was there in the mid to late 2000’s, the Tibetan “camp” was still there, but the tents were long gone, and it had become more of a permanent settlement with concrete homes and lengths of prayer flags everywhere.

A few choice quotes:

“It would be futile to try to describe this region, for in exclusively mountainous countries every beauty is too extreme to be conveyed by any words that I might choose. None of the books or photographs studied before leaving home had even slightly prepared me for such majesty. Truly this is something that does have to be seen to be believed, and that once seen must be continually yearned for when left behind, becoming as incurable a fever of the spirit as malaria is of the body.” p. 91

 

“A seven months’ visit is too brief for the development of a real understanding of any country as alien and complex as Nepal; but it is quite long enough for the visitor to come to love what has been experienced of both the virtues and faults of this improbable little Kingdom. I am often asked, ‘Did you like Nepal?’ – to which I usually reply, ‘Yes’ and leave it at that. But no one merely ‘likes’ Nepal; Nepal weaves a net out of splendour and pettiness, squalor and colour, wisdom and innocence, tranquillity and gaiety, complacence and discontent, indolence and energy, generosity and cunning, freedom and bondage – and in this bewildering mesh foreign hearts are trapped, often to their own dismay.” p. 212

Trip to Boston/NY

Last week we took a fun, condensed trip to Boston and upstate New York with the Bachhuber family for Daniel’s cousin’s wedding in Goshen. I got a fun little taste of Boston (my first time!) and had a great time with Daniel’s family at the wedding.

We didn’t have a lot of time in Boston, but we got a good night walk in on the eve of our arrival to the Boston Commons, which had a nice, light dusting of snow on it. The next morning we walked part of the Freedom Trail, ending at Paul Revere’s house. That afternoon we left by car for Goshen, NY, where the wedding was. Unfortunately, we got stuck in quite the Friday rush hour traffic, but we had a lot of fun in the car.

Steven and Kristen had a small, intimate wedding at an Italian restaurant called Limoncello’s. Daniel and I both thoroughly enjoyed the evening and our table mates. We were at the so-called “baby table,” which was made up of two pregnant women (me and Kristen’s cousin), one gal with a 9 month old, and another who realllllllly realllllllly wanted a baby, she was just working on convincing her boyfriend.

Boston walk Boston Commons by night. f78af7bc6f2911e38831123b2cde59b1_8 Walking on the Freedom Trail. fe5682e26ea111e3a76e123c1d089085_8 Boston walk by night. weddingAt Steven and Kristen’s wedding.

 

Weekend in Maine

I’ve spent the weekend (since Thursday night, actually) in The Other Portland, in Maine, the namesake of the city I’m from. It’s been a quick trip, but a lot of fun exploring this city, which I’ve found quite charming.

I was here for a school interview, so I spent Saturday morning doing that. Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon were spent exploring. I was lucky enough to be here at the perfect window of opportunity when the leaves are turning gorgeous colors, but it is not yet raining, just brisk. To be honest, I found it quite refreshing to be in this Portland. I think the impression that I’ve come away with after these few days is that this place is remarkably unpretentious, which is quite nice. It also made me realize how, well, pretentious and self-aware Portland (OR) can be. Being immersed in it all the time, one looses perspective on what things are really like. But in comparison, to Portland (ME), Portland (OR) seems exhausting. Here’s what I’ve noticed, and remember that these are broad generalizations and observations I’ve made over a weekend.

*People in Portland(ME) just really seem to not care, and I say this in the best possible way. Current fashion or looking a certain way just doesn’t seem to be a priority. I think this is the opposite in Portland(OR). I live in the Pearl, so my world is probably more exaggerated than most, but the majority of people I see are very put together, stylish, have a “style” they are obviously trying to maintain. Even hipster people who are trying their hardest to look like they don’t care, obviously do, maybe even more than everyone else. Outfits seem perfectly picked and orchestrated to look cool. In Portland(ME) none of this seems to even cross people’s minds. People don’t seem to care what they’re wearing. There are a lot of jeans and t-shirts and flannel going on. If people are wearing outdoor gear, it looks like they actually wear the gear down to the bone, definitely not the “Patagoochie” types. Most women wore minimal to no makeup, didn’t have their hair cut stylishly or dyed. There was lots of “grunge” wear going on on the streets. While people say “the dream of the 90’s” is alive in Portland(OR), I think it is actually alive in Portland(ME), it’s not a dream. I’m not saying people here are a bunch of slobs. It was actually quite nice to be around a community that didn’t put a high priority on looking a certain way.

*I felt that Portland(ME) was much less self-aware than Portland(OR). In Portland(ME) things just are the way they are. In Portland(OR) everything is advertised as gluten-free, vegan, free-range, sustainable, local, eco-friendly, bike-friendly, diversity-friendly, welcome-to-all, farm-to-form, organic, green, etc, etc, etc… In Portland(ME) things just are the way they are, and you can get them or not. I found it quite refreshing. I realized that the self-awareness of Portland(OR) can be exhausting at times. You can’t just do X or buy Y without first knowing if it is locally-sourced or being made to feel guilty that it is from China, or that it isn’t made with organic fibers, or that it was not grown in ideal dirt.

*There are lots of nice cab drivers in Portland(ME). I had to take a lot of short cab rides this weekend going back and forth between the school I was visiting. Each time I also got a nice middle-aged man cab driver, always a Portland(ME) local, always wanting to talk about this, that and the other things or give me a tour (“Here’s where I was born” or “Here is where the first McDonald’s in Portland went”) always with a thick Maine accent.

*One of my first impressions of Portland(ME) was that it was a “working man’s city.” I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but it was my first impression at least. What I mean by that was that there seemed to be a lot of blue collar workers around, definitely more than Portland(OR). I felt that in Portland(ME), there were a lot of people doing “essential” jobs, like construction or electrical work, or running convenience stores, or roofing, etc… I compare this to Portland(OR) where a lot of people do non-essential work (maybe?) like running start-ups, starting artisanal kombucha stands, working at advertising firms, etc… I’d say, a lot of people around who strive to be the best, #1 at whatever they are doing, while in Portland(ME) people just were doing what they did.

*Lots of dogs. I mostly saw bigger dogs, hardly any of lap dogs.

*In Portland(OR) there are all these “Keep Portland Weird” stickers and signs everywhere and I feel like people go out of their way to be “weird” just because it’s Portland(OR) and they have to uphold the reputation. In Portland(ME), things are just weird and I don’t think anyone knows it or cares. For example, I went for a walk and passed a dog park on the beach and along with all the dogs, there was a human dressed in a white dog suit, rubbing sand and dirt all over his dog costume.

*Portland(ME) is very charming and it’s fun to be in a place that has so much more history. I found everything to be delightfully raggedy. Nothing really was “perfect”. On most houses the paint was peeling, things were rusty, the cobblestones were not straight, things were a little dirty, weeds were sprouted up all over the place on the pavement and elsewhere, but I enjoyed this. It felt a little more authentic.

*On a side note: the monumental thing about this weekend was that it was the first time that someone off the street asked me if I was pregnant. Given, it was a women who I am pretty sure was on meth or some other drugs, but still! I was pretty surprised because I still don’t think I look pregnant, more just a little fat. Obviously she wasn’t the “hold your tongue” type of person, because I very well could have just been a little fat. But, I told her she was right and that she was the first person who had asked me that. She asked if I knew the sex, and I said I didn’t, but we were finding out in a few weeks. She ran up to me, put her face right in front of my belly and said, “Hmmmm…. Girl!” and ran away after flashing a tooth-less smile.

photo-46 Love this house. I love the color and the yellow tree outside. photo 1-10 Haunted looking house on the coast. photo 2-10 Street scene. photo 3-8 Fallen leaves on Mulljoy Hill. photo 5-3 Great bookstore in Portland, Yes Books. PIcked up Himalaya by Michael Palin here.  photo 4-6 The colors! photo 1-9photo 2-9photo 4-5photo 3-7photo 5-2View of the coast.

And now… to Peru!

Well, I haven’t even finished up my Japan-trip wrap-up blogs. I still have to write posts about our nacho-making adventures in Osaka, day trips to Kyoto, and trip to Nara, where we met about a million friendly deer (except one, which bit me in the butt).

No time for that now, though! I’ve got to get a full night’s sleep because I am headed to Peru in the morning! I have been summoned to the south on a FACES trip. It will be me, Tom and Jerome on this one. We’ve got a lot cooked up for the trip, so stay tuned for updates!

As usual, we’re headed to Lambayeque. We’re going on at least three village trips, two with Cafe Femenino and one with the Lions. We’ll also be spending time with the regional President, as well as the Director of the Ministry of Health. Why? you may ask. Because we’ve got a full roster of cleft patients ready for surgery in January, and we’re ready to start expanding our trips to include 1) more cleft patients, and 2) more difficult craniofacial cases. I’m told that we’re going to begin doing prosthetic ear implants beginning in January on a few microtia cases.

I was only informed about the possibility of going on this trip about 5 days ago, so I am now scrambling to get into Peru mode. I’ve just about 90% recovered from Japan jet-lag, just in time to head to another time zone. Peru is not bad for time change, but we’ve got a packed schedule. After a rough 6-hour layover in Lima from midnight-6am, we’ve got a 2 hour flight to Chiclayo. Then, we are going STRAIGHT to a full-day village trip with the Lions. I am praying that I can find copious amounts of coffee somewhere. If only Peru were like Japan, with vending machines full of iced coffee on every corner.

Oh yeah, and we’re planning a wedding, I’m taking one class and I’m in the midst of PA school applications and GRE studying. When life is already going fast, it seems to only go faster and faster. It is Busy Baxton’s Law of Thermodynamics.

Anyway, now to finalize my packing and off to Peru! Catch ya on the flip side.

Journal Snippet: Varanasi, India

Inspired by reading through my Everest journals, I decided to poke around through my India journals a little bit. I didn’t publish much when I was in India, so I thought I would post an entry and some photos from Varanasi, which was one of my favorite places I visited.

December 28, 2010 – Tuesday – Eden Halt Guest House, Varanasi, India

“Hello. Boat Madame?” “Hello. Boat?”

Ahhh. Varanasi. I am currently sitting on the roof of my guesthouse, which overlooks the Ganges River. Monkeys are playing on the roof. Sanjay, the guesthouse owner, provided me with a stick to stave off the monkeys if need be. It’s about 4pm and the light of early evening is warm and comforting. The noises of the Ganges ghats below are calm. The whir, chug of a motorboat, women talking, children running, the monkeys squaking. So far I’ve found India is a challenge, but less so than I thought. I think if I came straight to India before all my time in Nepal it would be exponentially more shocking and difficult to travel. But, as it is, Kathmandu has been an invaluable preparation for this country. The male attention and harassment is more annoying than threatening. You quickly learn how to be blunt and to the point. “No.” “No.” “No.” I think India has the power to push people to their breaking point.

I arrived yesterday morning after a 12 hour overnight train ride from Delhi. The ride was mostly uneventful. Started getting a touch of Delhi belly on the train. At first I appreciated having an upper berth, but after that it became an annoyance to climb down from the top every time I needed to go to the bathroom. I was also paranoid the whole time about my stuff being stolen. Stepped out to the Mughal Serai Train Station somewhere around 9am. I was tired, disheveled, feeling sick. There were no signs, so I wasn’t event sure I was in the right place. Some guy almost immediately came up to me and asked if I needed a rickshaw. At first he tried to say 600 rupees to the Old City. I protested and eventually bargained down to 150 rupees, but had to share the autorickshaw with an Indian family. Was no problem with me. Made my way to Eden Halt and was exhausted to slept for a while. Began to feel really sick too. Woke up around 1pm and took a glorious hot shower. Went out walking on the ghats for a few hours. Felt sick so came back to the G.H. around 5 and laid in bed until this morning, in and out of fever, generally in misery.

Felt better today, but stomach still not good. Walked on the ghats all day. Watched the beginnings of a cremation on the ghat near my guesthouse. The woman was laid out on a wooden plan, covered in a red and gold sparkly cloth and loads of marigold garlands. Her face was visible and I couldn’t stop staring at her face and thinking: “She’s dead! An actual dead person.” Her family (the male part, at least) was standing around her. The whole scene made me think about death and the perceptions of death in India vs. the US. Here, I’m inclined to think death isn’t feared. It’s just something that happens.

Walked up and down the ghats all day, taking photos, taking in the scenes and activity and enjoying the vibrancy of life and colors. This city is truly fascinating. Winding lanes, ancient buildings, colorful, but chipping, paint. I could sit along the ghats and people watch all day and never get bored. It is awesome. If only people weren’t watching me back, it would be perfect. At first the male attention scared me, then it annoyed me, and now I don’t really care. I’ve been solicited, whistled at, yelled at, stared at, made horrible gestures at, asked a series of formulaic questions over and over. What to do? That’s the way it is and that’s the culture, I suppose. What can I do? As long as people do not touch me, I don’t feel too uncomfortable. Today, a junkie at the burning ghats did grab my arm, and that wasn’t cool. Yesterday, some creepy man was following me. So, I went up to him and said: “Do you have a question?” No reply. “Then STOP following me.” He stopped.

This is one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

Hiking Haleakala

On Thursday the Maui crew had our grandest island adventure yet – an 11.2 mile hike through Haleakala Crater, whose volcano makes up 75% of the island.

The day started before the sun rose, at 5:30am. We gulped down some coffee, packed our sustenance for the day and piled into our powder-blue rental car. The drive to the trailhead (actually for us, the end of the trail) was approximately two hours. The first half of the drive paralleled the Maui coast line, affording gorgeous views of the calm morning sea. The second half of the drive snaked precariously up, and up, and up through lush Maui farmland, comprised of fields of yellow flowers and open green pastures dotted with cows and horses.

We finally reached a parking lot, still five miles from the summit, where we would leave our car and end up at the end up our trek. But, we still had five miles to cover before the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail. To cover this final five miles, we planned on hitchhiking. We had all showered within the past 24-hours and, we thought, looked fairly innocuous. Half-a-dozen cars passed us and our protruding thumbs, before a guy in a pickup stopped for us. We piled in and we were off. He turned out to be a Maui local (by way of Los Angeles and Seattle) who was working on the construction of a new observatory at the Haleakala Summit. We chatted about skiing, island life and observatory construction materials before he deposited the four of us at the beginning of Sliding Sands.

Around 9am we set off. After walking over the outer crest, we quickly make our descent into the belly of the crater, which looked more and more like Mars with every step. During the entire hike we rarely passed another person, which added to the desolate feel.

Sliding Sands Trail begins at 10,000 ft and quickly drops 2,800 ft during the first four miles. Within five minutes, all our shoes were full of red volcanic ash and sand. As the trail leveled off, the terrain changed to a bit more rocky, with sharp volcanic rock spreading as far as the eye could see.

One thing we all became adept at during the day was putting on and taking off our raincoats quickly and with finesse. This was because the weather within the crater would change at the drop of a hat. Once we reached the bottom of the crater, a soupy cloud bank rolled in and began spitting rain on us. I was a bit disappointed for a moment, thinking I would need to wear my raincoat for the rest of the day. Within five minutes the rain had passed and we were once again bathed in sun.

Around noon we stopped at a suitable, yet windy, saddle for a quick lunch. In the hours proceeding lunch, the landscape markedly changed from desolate to one with a bit more brush and plants. The flora mainly consisted of low brush and Silverswords, one of Hawaii’s native plants. Silverswords burst from the ground as a bushel of metallic-looking spikes. When they are dead, as Leah aptly observed, they look like shaggy lap dogs.

After another hour or so, we reached the beginning of the end: the 3.9 mile ascent out of the crater along a series of jagged switchbacks. Almost immediately a cloud came in and totally engulfed us, making it nearly impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead. With the lack of visibility and the thick fog, I felt like I was hiking on the Oregon Coast.

Finally we reached flatter ground and heard the squawking call of the Ne-ne, Hawaii’s state bird. At last, our lovely powder-blue rental car was in sight. The hike, which Lonely Planet quoted as taking 10 hours, took us approximately 5 hours (though it didn’t seem like we were going particularly fast).

We piled in the car with a singular train of thought: fro-yo. 1.5 hours, several wrong turns, and one forlorn wander through a local mall later, we each sat with a heaping pile of frozen yogurt in front of us. A sweet reward after a day spent in the crater.

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Island Life

We’re currently four days into our tropical Maui vacation. Daniel and I are here with friends Andrew and Leah, staying at the Puamana condos near Lahaina. So far it’s been the perfect mix: two parts relaxation, two parts adventure and two parts good eatin’.

Our first full day here was Monday. After an hour lounging by the pool, I promptly burnt myself to a crisp, despite my attempts at sunscreen. My enthusiasm for sun rays ensconced my remembering that most of my body hasn’t seen the light of day in 6 months. Oops. After pool time we rented snorkel gear and snorkeled around Black Rock.

On Day 2 we started the day (well, after several hours of reading/coffee drinking/lounging) with a hike at Waihee Ridge. The hike was 5 miles round trip, the first half at a steady incline. The scenery was gorgeous – almost prehistoric feeling with shocking green, jungle-covered crags and bright red flowers on the trees. We picnicked at the top. Our meal was punctuated my the chopping sounds of helicopters flying through the canyons. On the way back home we stopped for a snorkel at Oluwalu Beach, where we spotted two sea turtles.

Today, we rallied a little earlier and headed to LaPerouse Bay for a snorkel. It turned out to be closed due to “resource conservation” so we headed along some amazing trails that paralleled the coast line. They wound through razor sharp lava rocks, which made up sprawling lava fields. It felt a bit like Mars. Also, we were almost the only people out on this particular trail. After an hour of semi-treacherous walking, we found an isolated beach. Andrew, Leah and I hopped in the water with our snorkel gear. We didn’t see a whole lot of fish (actually, Leah saw a puffer fish, but I missed it), but it still felt good to get in the ocean. On the way back to the condo we made a quick u-turn when we saw a pie shop. We ended up getting fresh juice smoothies instead. On the docket for tonight: steaks.

We’ve got to fuel up because we are planning a major hike around Haleakala Crater all day tomorrow.

Aloha!!

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Victoria: More Rain and Some Indian Food

This afternoon Daniel, Grandma and I went for a drizzly walk around downtown Victoria. We stopped by the floatplane “terminal” (I guess more like a dock), to check weather conditions for tomorrow. Apparently, they only know about one hour before the flight if it is actually possible to fly that day. So, fingers-crossed it works out and we make our connecting train in Seattle. I have to be back for a test on dermal tissues, so very important to make our train, indeed. 😉

We strolled about downtown, stopping off at Mountain Equipment Co-op so Daniel could pick up a new backpack for his upcoming Kenya trip. After that, we headed to the Sizzling Tandoor, for a massive lunch of Indian food buffet. Then Grandma took us on a brief tour of Victoria’s Chinatown, which is very nice, if only about a block long. There were several interesting little winding, narrow alleyways between the buildings, which Grandma said were once a bustling place for Victoria’s opium trade. There was a replica of these alleyways in the Royal BC Museum we saw yesterday, that had quite a few real-life scenes from Victoria’s past (mining scenes, fur trade scenes, opium trade scenes, etc…).

Now, we are all back at the condo, drinking tea, working, reading or studying. It is nice to be here and decompress after the last seven days, which included running the Portland Marathon, the FACES Auction, several tests at school, and lots of traveling for our Canada trip.

Below: Exploring the alleys of Victoria’s Chinatown.

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