Maui 2015 – The last full day

My last day on Maui was pretty relaxed. I started by driving to Maalea Harbor again to check out the aquarium and its seafood restaurant1 and was pleasantly surprised.

The aquarium was fun, educational and a nice place to just sit down and relax. I honestly just spent half an hour sitting on a bench and reading, just enjoying myself.

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When it was reasonably lunch-timey I went to check out the restaurant and damn! For an inside-tourist-trap2 the service and price range was actually amazing.

And the food! Delicious!+ Just look at this beauty!WP_20150528_12_35_01_Pro

 

The rest of the day was spent driving around a few places that I’d had recommended for swimming, snorkeling, etc, but I guess traveling alone I should’ve prepared for those things differently. I didn’t regret it though. In the evening I went back to Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s again and decided to splurge for one last time.
It was glorious. I did have a very good waitress and probably was just way to comfortable for my own good, so I got a Mango Flow, got talked into trying the best sword fish tacos I could imagine and finished up with their sorbet trio, strawberry, mango-papaya and dragonfruit. That and the scenery made for a nice final evening of my vacation. Oh, and I also got to help recently arrived Australians to plan their time on Maui, confirming what the waitress told them about it being rather chilly up on Mt. Haleakala. That was fun!

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And that pretty much wraps up my vacation. I mean, yes, I checked out of the hotel the next day, had a rather nice breakfast in Lahaina, got rid of my trusty rental jeep and flew back to San Francisco. I also got really lucky because my baggage had arrived with an earlier flight since I had checked in so early. That way I managed to get the last of the free shuttle buses to the hotel. It was after midnight, after all. The nearby McDonalds being closed put a dampener on things because I WAS kinda hungry, but what can you do?

The next day ways spent getting from San Francisco to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to my parents place and from my parents place to mine. The next week was filled with the mother of all jetlags, and after a while I started blogging and BOOM, here we are, see you next time!

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Footnotes
  1. no kidding []
  2. zoos, aquariums, amusement parks etc usually have interesting ideas about food prices []

Maui 2015 – Sunrise on Mt. Haleakala

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When going to Maui, bring gloves, a sweater, a jacket and a warm hat. You’ll need it. Trust me. Also book a trip up to Mt. Haleakala at sunset, it’s worth it. Also I’m not kidding about the temperatures. You’re roughly 10.000ft above sea level, it will be around freezing and there’s windchill to consider.

If you drive yourself, which I don’t recommend, leave at roughly 1am. Drop off your car, go to the wall on the right side of the visitor center/shelter thing. Gloves. Don’t forget gloves. Wait. Enjoy.
Seriously, though, book a bus tour. It’s a lot safer, we passed an accident on the way back down, you don’t want to be those guys. Also the bus drive I had was rather fun. I almost missed pickup though, because my travel voucher/confirmation said 2:45am and the phone in my hotel room rang at 2 sharp. Can’t remember the last time I got dressed this fast, luckily I had everything laid out. The bus trip (picking up people at various hotels included) up to the national park and the parking lot near the observation place was roughly 2 hours 30. Our bus driver chatted away happily, told stories, dropped us off, drove us back down again, told more stories, stopped at photo opportunities and restroom breaks. And of course for the really nice breakfast that was included. And he chatted A LOT, but it was fun. Even if all of us were dead tired. Apart from that there’s not really much to tell, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures, right?

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Naturally I didn’t do that much for the rest of the day. What I did do was have dinner at the Hula Grill in Whaler’s Village. A Mai Tai, flatbread and a ginormous Hula pie. Dying just thinking about the tastiness.

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Maui 2015 – Road to Hana

I guess after leaving the continental states, the roadtrip title format won’t work anymore. And yet on my first day after arriving on Maui I did what? The famed Road to Hana trip. Staying at Kaanapali Beach I had to cross the island first, or I probably would’ve had to take two days for this thing.

Word of advice for everyone planning this trip: Leave early. Really early. Also don’t do it on Memorial day or any other holiday. It (probably) was more crowded than normal, and not being able to stop at some of the beautiful places, because the turnouts are already crammed with cars, will put a dampener on your mood. Still, driving almost all around Maui is a fun thing to do, and rather pretty. Especially the part after Hana, where the road gets adventure-y in some parts, and maybe not all that advisable with a non 4×4 car, depending on the weather. Even when it’s full of tourists, there’s plenty of places to stop, do a brief hike or check out a waterfall, beach or park like the Garden of Eden Arboretum where you might even find something you’ve seen in Jurassic Park.

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Oh. And when on Maui, rent a Jeep. Because sometimes the road can be…adventurous.

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You might also be persuaded to turn off at Brudda Hutt’s in Hana, for a traditional plate lunch cooked in a food truck. If you want cheap food, and lots, and have a robust stomach, go for it. If not, well it’s not something I would go out of my way to eat. At least I didn’t feel bad about eating an expensive steak at the hotel while watching the sun set that evening.

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So that was kinda nice….

Roadtrip 2015 – No whales. Again.

After my disastrous experiences with trying to see whales up north I’d booked a whale watching boat trip for one of the days in San Francisco. The trip was pretty nice.

We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge twice1 and coming back the weather was pretty good.

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I saw plenty of birds, seals, sealions, even a few dolphins briefly.

Not.

A.

Single.

Whale.

To be fair, just before we got back into the bay, someone (even several people) allegedly saw a whale spout. We hung around a bit, someone saw it again, but I didn’t even see that.

So there’s that. The crew was nice and knowledgeable, though, explained a lot of stuff about the animals we saw and all that. But after a few hours I was seriously tempted to throw the captain overboard. Every now and then he’d go on the PA and shout “LET’S FIND A WHALE” followed by some other motivational bullcrap, always in the same, forced eager tone. Given my whale-related frustration on the trip that got old preeeetty quick.

But here, have a digest of the animals I did see. I liked that part, a lot of birds you usually don’t see and all that.

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And that was it. Since Maui2 was out of season my3 chances of seeing a whale on this vacation where crushed. Again. But the day wasn’t over yet. In fact it got really awesome. I went back to the hotel to relax a bit. And, basically, wait. Reading. WP_20150523_001While that is always nice, it wasn’t the point. The point was, today wasn’t only my last full day in San Francisco, it was also the day I was scheduled to meet up with the lovely, awesome and delightful4 Amira Makansi. If you don’t know her, she’s co-creator of the SEEDS book series, which you should check out.

Anyway, she took it upon herself to meet up with me, despite fighting off the remainder of what sounded like a pretty nasty cold and picked me up to have dinner in Japantown.

It.fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

Was.

Ramen.

Ramen.

So.

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green tea crème brulée

Good.

And I’m not only talking about the food.

I really enjoyed spending time with Amira and hope to get to do that again. On either continent.

Bye, see you on Maui!

Footnotes
  1. obviously []
  2. I’ll take you there in a few days []
  3. realistic []
  4. you should hear her laugh. ;-) []

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip.1

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

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Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

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The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Footnotes
  1. It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Yosemite

While Cairn’s cat continued to shun meEosRoadtrip 755 I got a big dose of hospitality today. After starting the day with a berry big breakfast at the Black Bear Diner, my awesome hosts drove me all the way to Yosemite National Park to take pictures of rocks and waterfalls and squirrels and stuff. We had tons of fun on this road trip within the roadtrip even if the weather wasn’t ideal at times. Vanity Plates and bumper stickers provided some entertainment as well, but the main attraction was the quite beautiful scenery of the national park itself. And some of the fattest squirrels I’ve ever seen, darting around between the visitors protecting their sandwiches from them at the visitor center. I didn’t take a picture of those, though. No fatshaming squirrels.1

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, Yosemite is worth a look even when it isn’t bright blue sky all around, so here’s what we saw gallivanting about the park itself!

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After seeing all that we drove back Sacramento-wards, only stopping to pick up our well-deserved dinner at this place:

EosRoadtrip 898“Wait, what?” the non-US ones of you will say. Wiener Schnitzel? In the States? As fast food, by the looks of it?

Nope. It’s a hot dog chain.

“So what?” the Americans not “in-the-know” will say.

Let me explain.

THIS is a Wiener Schnitzel.

click me

 

Footnotes
  1. also my camera was in the car at the time []

Roadtrip 2015 – Smokejumpers and Redwoods

Today started with the most adorable surprise. I decided to have breakfast at my motel, because…well, it was included and I was hungry AND curious. And I wasn’t disappointed. Nothing special, not at all, but they did have waffle makers and batter. I made my waffle, stabbed at it with my plastic fork when one of the more native people indicated to me that using a waffle stick would probably be easier. Yay, waffle stick!1

Disappointment followed! No butter! Eh, whatever. I grabbed some syrup and made my way to my table. Munching happily on my waffle I probably made a rather funny face when a little kid, 6-8 years old walked up to me and said something not quite comprehensible to me. I can understand a lot of English accents across three or four continents, but kids often elude me. He repeated twice and pointed into the general direction of buffet. Well, table laden with foodstuffs. At that moment a women, I assume it was his mom said “He says there’s butter again.”
I thanked him and went to grab some, overhearing assumed mom saying to her kid: “That was nice of you.”

Yup. That kid, barely out of kindergarden, decided to be nice to this random stranger without being prompted to.. Lady who had breakfast at the Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass on May 16th of 2015, you are raising your kid right. While there’s people like you left in this world, not all is lost. I salute you with the oddly specific waffle stick of respect and admiration!WP_20150516_08_30_43_Pro

 

Thusly invigorated I made my way South towards Cave Junction, home of Great Cats world which I didn’t visit. I did pull off at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum because it looked like something to do with planes and I’m kind of a nerd for those.
If you ever are in that general area I can only recommend you do the same. After I got out of my car and looked at the sign to see what this place was about, an elderly but very alive looking man came out of a building and asked me if I was interested in a small tour of the museum. Of course I was.2
He asked me if I knew what smokejumpers were and I admitted that I literally had just seen the sign and randomly pulled off to check it out.

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the mid 50s. Someone spots a column of smoke rising above the forest in the distance. They radio it in, the column is triangulated. At the same time a siren sounds, phones ring. Men in their 20s rush to the base, suit up, grab food for 3 days, a few tools, no water and board a plane. They parachute out of the plane in the middle of nowhere, no roads, no GPS, no cell phones. They look for the fire and maybe a cargo drop. Before the fire spreads they cut fire lanes around it and save thousands of acres. Those are smoke jumpers. The man who gave me the tour and told me stories? Donald Thomas, veteran, used to be a smoke jumper in 1957, loved every second of it until he got married and his wife would rather not have him jump out of airplanes. He told me about their gear, procedures, planes, special incidents and his second training jump ever. When he got dropped over a herd of cows, tried to evade and practically landed on top of one. He could hardly move, there was a bull, his buddy tried to literally just “shoo” it away before he made a beeline. Then his instructor (I forgot that one’S name) literally kicked him in the ribs, screaming “You’re not in pain, get up and run!”
He also took a picture of me in front of the plane that got donated at some point. The same model as one of the later smokejumper planes, not an actual one, though.

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After this unexpected but actually really awesome3 stop I made my way towards the coast, right through the Redwood National and State Park, following Redwood Highway. I made a few stops to hike a short trail, take a few pictures or just look at the scenery. Have you ever been in a place that is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s almost physically painful not being able to stop at a particular spot? That place is just like that.

Also the corndog at that one rest stop was rather tasty. Here’s a gallery of the few times I actually managed to stop on the way to Eureka, California. Particularly bad and odd was the Trinidad Scenic Drive at the end of this day’s trip. A road…well, no a street or actually a path that felt barely wide enough for my small rental car, cliffs and the Pacific ocean to one side, winding along…suddenly turning a corner and you see those large birds, a dozen of them, hanging around in a tree. Remember how happy I was to see those two turkey vultures I saw on Rogue River? There was a dozen taking flight there and I just slammed the brakes excitedly. Then watched helplessly as they took flight before I even thought of grabbing the camera from the passenger seat. Anyway, here’s the pics, enjoy those!

 

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Later that day I arrived at the Motel in Eureka, and the less we say about that, the better. The steak at Adel’s steak house was okayish, the Sierra Nevada Ale was good, there was no free wifi and the rooms and location where subsubpar compared to the other motels I’d stayed in on the trip. But hey, one night, who cares? In retrospect, of the days I spent driving along the coast (and on Maui), this was the most beautiful and interesting day of the whole trip. I had fun, and a corndog!

Footnotes
  1. you guys have the weirdest specific tools []
  2. It would’ve been rude to just say no, also I WAS interested []
  3. please check out their website []

Roadtrip 2015 – One hell of a whale fail

As many of you know, I ‘ve been a little obsessed with whales (and aquatic life in general) since I was a kid, and I might have been trying to go whale watching a couple of times. On my third day of vacation I had booked another attempt. A seaplane flight from Lake Union to San Juan Islands followed by a whale watching cruise. Sounds good, eh?
I’d booked it in advance, so I took a taxi to the terminal to check in, had breakfast and we took flight to the encouraging words of the attendant: “There’s a bit of fog but don’t worry. Worst case you’ll have to turn around and try again in an hour.”
Didn’t happen, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. We took off, had an actually nice flight around. I was watching the compass quite anxciously and after 30 minutes or so we’d returned to Lake Union. WP_20150513_09_12_34_Pro KopieA muffin and an hour later they told us that they still hadn’t got clearance to start, so I called the whale watching tour to tell them. No way I’d make the boat. They assured me they’d do a full refund, which was nice, but I still was in one hell of a mood.
I started a little call to arms on twitter, to see if I could do anything else to take my mind off my more than miserable temper. Since there was no taxi in sight, I decided to walk towards the hotel, cursing under my breath. Pretty much non-stop, the whole 4 miles.
Back at the hotel I remembered there was another whale watching opportunity up near Seattle, but guess what: The one tour my schedule would have allowed ended their season on May 1st. This was May 13th. But my twitter call to arms had worked. Sara, who I’d met the day before in person for the first time had managed to get off work early. She’d told her boss about my day going bust and basically got told “Go cheer him up!”

Sara, I have to say this again: You saved not only my day, but probably the rest of the week. I don’t think I’d been a fun travelling companion for myself if not for the awesome afternoon that followed. Ever been on vacation, on a roadtrip, all by yourself, in a foul mood? I haven’t, and I don’t like myself in a foul mood on other occasions.

We decided on the Tacoma Zoo, met up on the parking lot and tried to find animals, more or less successfully. Had a great time chatting about animals, travel, work and other stuff.

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The awesome didn’t stop here. After our slightly wet zoo adventure we went to the Anthony’s nearby, had bread with shrimp/artichoke dip, oyster burgers abd Rhubarb Slump for dessert.
ALL THE TASTY FOOD! With a side of more awesome conversation about various topics which I’d love to repeat some time. My Scuttlebutt Pale Ale1 was pretty nice, too. Sara’s Whiskey Sour was more wiskey than sour, though.

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After that it was time to part ways, but not before taking goody selfies and enjoying a hug.

Again, thank you Sara! And Sara’s boss! Thanks for making this the best day of all the days that so cruelly denied me whales! It was awesome even by non-whale-standards!

 

 

No murdercorns where harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Footnotes
  1. I adore that name []

Roadtrip 2015 – tweeple against humanity

After a successful day one of my vacation it was time to crank it up another notch. Time to meet more people, as scheduled. I started out by walking all the way from my hotel to the Space Needle. About 4 miles. Yeah, I’d planned to take the bus, but I had an early breakfast1 and too much time on my hands. So why not?
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I did well, too. I arrived just in time to meet up with the great and awesome KariAnn who wouldn’t have time in the evening but agreed to take me to the EMP Museum where we saw C3PO, took pictures together and played with musical instruments.

Look:

After that we went down to the market, ate at a crab cake, listened to tourists bang their crustaceans with wooden hammers and giggled. We also took the monorail!2

Unfortunately Kari had to return home after that, so I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at fish in the aquarium, buying stamps and sitting around at Starbucks, getting asked for money about three or four times just that day, just to kill some time.
The evening was devoted to twitter people again. I turned up on Jackie‘s doorstep after negotiating that fun combination of hallways and elevators leading to it. A bit later Jill, Carey, Megan and Sara arrived by various means of transport. We did a pretty good job of decimating the wine and cheese Jackie provided, only to move on to Carey’s wine.
Lots of wine. Tasty, tasty cheese and wine. We also talked a lot, about people we all stalked on twitter, ourselves, travel, writing, reading, books, words (I guess that’s what you get when you put people together who mostly write and/or read whenever they can), The evening went by far to quickly, though. Since we hadn’t planned on how long the evening would go, Sara went rather early to catch her ferry back home and Jill left soon after that as well. The rest of us took it upon us to endure the hardship of playing Cards against Humanity. We had to explain “smegma” to one of us and I’m not saying it was Carey. Thankfully the wine helped along and we managed to reduce Megan to tears and gasping, as well channel Sara in at least two rounds.

You guess which was which.

 

I am not ashamed of playing this one. Or winning that round.

Great minds…

Another highlight of the evening:

We all wish we’d be living it. We all do.

But even this part of the evening had to end some time, so we left Jackie in a pile of empty wine bottles and cheese rinds. Carey was nice enough to get me back to my hotel AND show me THE BRIDGE TROLL on the way, even though we almost didn’t find it. Nobody died on the way, but not for lack of trying.

 

Footnotes
  1. crabcakes benedict. YUM! []
  2. It’s more of a Shelbyville idea. []

Olli’s Saturday School – German cookery

Hey, no worries, I’m not going to make you learn how to make Sauerkraut. Not in the least because I don’t know how. :-D

Instead I’ll let you tag along with my impromptu lunch today and maybe teach you a few kitchen and food-related terms.

Here we have:
Schinkenwürfel – diced ham
Champignon
– apparently you guys call them button mushroom. The generic term for mushroom (and all kinds of fungi) is Pilz
Paprika –
bell pepper

Now what to do with that? I poured some Olivenöl in a Pfanne. some olive oil into a pan, turned up the heat, threw the ham in there, added the diced Champignons after a bit and topped it off with a cut up Tomate.

Since I don’t cook every day I stopped keeping fresh Zwiebeln (onions) or Knoblauch (garlic) around unless I plan for something specific. To be honest, gefriergetrocknet ( freeze-dried)  or powdered works as well. I added both to the pan, sprinkled generously with Salz and Pfeffer1, some freeze-dried provencal herbs and started preheating the oven. Or den Ofen vorheizen.

Kräuter = herbs
Gewürze = spices

Time to deal with the Paprika.

In a spur-of-the moment decision I cut up a ball of Mozzarella (same word in German) into small pieces, leaving a few larger slices.

The small pieces I filled into the ham/mushroom/tomato mix. The Füllung (stuffing) for gefüllte Paprika!

I put the larger slices of Mozzarella cheese on top, put the peppers into an Auflaufform or casserole dish to bake it for about 20 minutes at 200°C or roughly 390 Fahrenheit.

Guten Appetit!

Literally “good appetite”. A way of saying “enjoy your meal”.

Footnotes
  1. you can probably guess what these words mean []