Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Extreme Beach Cruising

Posted from Honolulu, Hawaii at 11:03 pm, August 31st, 2012

Aaron and I got up for sunrise this morning, enjoyed a fine Mexican breakfast, then joined Ma and Pa for some biking on the coast. After a leisurely ride along a rocky shoreline the Holliday boys unsurprisingly found a way to make the return trip into a game, and spent the next thirty minutes playing beach cruiser tag. The game ranged along the bike path, next to cliff edges, around surprised picnickers, and generally anywhere where escape seemed plausible and death seemed at least somewhat unlikely. After much sweat and some laughter from onlookers Aaron emerged victorious at the bike rental shop, but next time the tables will be turned.

Following the bike ride, and after drinks, sunset, and failed chicken catching, Aaron and I took off for the airport, where Aaron managed to get bumped off of his flight in exchange for a travel voucher, a nice hotel room, and another full day in Kauai. Meanwhile my ticket takes me to Honolulu for a layover of doom and despair (from 11PM to 7AM) – sleeping on a bench in the ticketing area seems probable.

The six day vacation was a good one, with a nice mix of relaxation and adventure. The Napali kayak was obviously the biggest of those adventures, and the following snippet from a local travel magazine seems a fitting, albeit overly dramatic, view of the trip from another perspective:

Known as the “Mount Everest” of ocean kayaking, arms of steel are necessary to embark down the famed Napali Coast. This adrenaline pumping, action packed journey traverses the breathtaking northwest coast of Kaua’i, navigating the open ocean at the base of 4,000-ft cliffs. There’s nothing more physically demanding than this 17-mile voyage over the unpredictable ocean that will challenge your strength, endurance and agility. But the sights along the way are equally rewarding and worthwhile.

The Holliday Family in Kauai

The Holliday family in Kauai. Beach cruisers were a solid plan from Ma and Pa.

A Day of Many Turtles

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 9:13 pm, August 30th, 2012

Scuba diving in Kauai was definitely not a bad idea. All of my previous 27 dives were outside of the US, and the difference in a domestic dive appears to be higher costs, more paperwork, bigger boats, and much better equipment. The first dive site was OK, and a good refresher lesson on how to scuba dive. The surface interval included a visit from some bottlenose dolphins, and then it was off to Sheraton Caverns, aka sea turtle wonderland. We had a turtle in the water on entry, and then a turtle under every ledge once on the bottom – I was six inches away from a human-sized giant near the end of the dive. Overall the dive was great – underwater lava tubes, a white tip reef shark, turtles that didn’t care about divers swimming by, and a ton of brightly colored fish including a cleaner wrasse who was working on two much larger reef fish. To close things out in style a sea turtle followed us to the surface, and while it was probably just a coincidence, she paused her ascent at our safety stop, floating with me fifteen feet below the surface for a minute or so. Once back on the boat, a pod of spinner dolphins came in to visit us, including one tiny baby – maybe a foot long – who was leaping along with the adults.

The afternoon was less eventful – Aaron and I made a rush checkout from the Hyatt (so nice there!), grabbed lunch, then moved in with Ma and Pa for a night. It’s been a mighty good week.


Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 9:21 pm, August 29th, 2012

Life is definitely going good when you can look back at your day and be surprised by a thought like “I only went swimming once today”. After yesterday’s kayaking extravaganza today ended up being a rest day, with a fair amount of floating, a few more trips down the hotel’s water slide, multiple servings of fish tacos, and drinks at sunset with the parental units. Tomorrow morning is a scuba adventure for me and some eclectic yoga for Aaron, followed by a checkout from the Hyatt and a night at Ma & Pa’s timeshare before this quick adventure sadly comes to a close.

The ‘Squatch

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 10:31 am, August 29th, 2012

After a full day spent kayaking in the Hawaii sun, Aaron and I were both asleep within sixty seconds of hitting the beds once we got back to our hotel room last night, hence the lack of a journal entry. The Napali Coast kayak was pretty epic – it started at 5:45 AM at the kayak shop with everyone but the guides still half asleep. The guy driving the van (nicknamed the “Hawaiian Sasquatch”, because that’s exactly what he looked like) was jamming to reggae on the drive up and at one point failed to notice a lane shift, and after jerking out of the way of oncoming traffic the guide riding in the passenger seat nonchalantly commented “Yeah ‘squatch, they moved that lane”.

Within two minutes of setting out in the kayaks we were in the midst of dolphins, and had a second pod doing 720° corkscrews out of the water about an hour later. The seventeen mile kayak led along the base of three thousand foot cliffs, occasionally broken up by ridiculously awesome sea caves (see video below). One of the caves ended in a huge shaft that was open to the sky, creating the opportunity for a quick snorkel in water that was crystal clear for at least sixty feet down to the bottom.

Other highlights included kayak surfing whenever we could manage to catch a wave properly, one of the guides breaking out the “sail-brella” and coasting past us without use of paddle, the many light showers and high clouds that kept temperatures comfortable, a few monk seals, and many tropic birds, sooty terns, boobies, and frigate birds. Surprisingly the seventeen mile slog wasn’t deathly exhausting, and while I’m not excited about possibly having to use my upper body in any way today, aside from some soreness and a bright red zebra pattern sunburn (spray-on suncreen: bad idea) neither Aaron nor I are that much worse for wear.

Kayaking through a cave with a friggin’ waterfall coming through the roof. Most Tuesdays are not this exciting.

Preparing for the Kayak of Doom

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 8:13 pm, August 27th, 2012

Aaron and I are doing a seventeen mile kayak along the Napali Coast tomorrow, so if there are no further journal entries after this one, that’s the place to tell the rescuers to start searching for bodies.

After plunking down deposits for tomorrow’s eight hour death march we did a snorkel in murky, turbulent waters and followed that up with three trips down the hotel’s water slide – surprisingly a request from two grown men for the wristbands that allow repeat trips down the slide did not elicit even a raised eyebrow from the hotel staff, so they’re either really well trained or we weren’t the only ones who appreciated the mad g-forces on the turns. After the watersports Ma and Pa joined us for sunset and a few chases of the local chickens before we headed to bed at the late hour of 8PM.

Sunset in Kauai

Sunset in Kauai.

I Got Carded

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 9:05 pm, August 26th, 2012

Day one of the Hawaii vacation involved much legroom and warm cookies during the first-class ride over (note to American Airlines: if the first class ticket is somehow fewer award miles, don’t even both to offer the economy tickets). Post-arrival activities included some snorkeling with the Skipper and a handful of pretty fishes, followed by a tropical beverage on the beach at sunset. The conversation that led to the tropical beverage being procured was one that gets rarer with each passing year:

Ryan: "Can I have a piña colada?"
Bartender: "You’re twenty-one, right?
Ryan: "Do you want to see my ID (reaching for ID)?"
Bartender: "Are you twenty-one?"
Ryan: "I’m thirty-six."
Bartender: "That was a piña colada, right?

Aaron arrives tomorrow, and we’re staying at a separate hotel from the elder Hollidays in an effort to promote family harmony, and also because the stock market is up 1000 points so a fancy hotel became an option. We booked the super-snazzy resort down the road, and aside from some sticker shock there don’t seem to be any downsides – when you don’t get that much vacation, going big seems like a winning strategy. Scuba appears to be on the schedule for Tuesday (yes, we are for scuba), and undoubtedly many shenanigans will unfold over the coming week.