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

Catching Up, Part 4

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:06 pm, December 29th, 2014

Here’s an attempted wrap-up of the events that have occurred in the two months since knee surgery:

  • Two days after knee-surgery I returned to work for Bodybuilding.com. After seeing the amazingly tough working conditions faced by people in Africa, and seeing them face those conditions without the slightest complaint, it doesn’t seem bad at all to be back to the grind in front of a laptop at a table in my comfy kitchen each morning.
  • Thanksgiving was again spent in the Bay Area with the family. Audrey and I drove up north a few days early, and I worked from a hotel room in Redwood City while she got to spend a couple of days with her best friend. Aaron and I also had a night to visit not-Ramen Dojo and the old man band bar in San Mateo. For Thanksgiving, Ma Holliday did her magic and prepared an amazing dinner, after which Audrey walked away with the Balderdash crown, much to my dad’s dismay.
  • Audrey had many singing gigs during the holidays, including a performance with the De Angelis Vocal Ensemble that took place at St. Basil’s Catholic Church in downtown LA. Following that performance we asked the always-interesting Brett and Susie about any fun spots nearby to grab a drink, and since they know every cool bar in LA we were soon at a German-Korean pub eating shortrib nachos, bratwurst, edamame, and massive steins of beer. Making things even more interesting was the girl at the next table, dressed in a full elf costume, and handing out some very impressive balloon animals (“I just finished working a party” she said. “And she’s really, really bored now” noted her tablemate).
  • After a glorious night spent sleeping in the back of the Subaru in a truck stop parking lot, I made the annual pre-dawn visit to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, then it was on to Ma & Pa’s house for the Christmas festivities. Aaron arrived with Superman and Batman costumes in hand, and a bewildered Ma wondered how she ended up with two boys who, in their late thirties, were still wandering around the house in superhero outfits. Pa then came home, games were played, and on Christmas day we unveiled a new receiver and soundbar for the folks. A surprisingly lengthy amount of setup time later, and Casa Holliday now has a fairly solid home entertainment system.

And now, after four entries spread out over a full month, the journal is again current and ready to ring in 2015. More than twelve years since the first entry, what was originally just a way to avoid writing emails has turned into a record of nearly one-third of my life, and I’m grateful to the twos of readers who continue to check in regularly to share it.

Catching Up, Part I

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:01 am, November 29th, 2014

A lot has happened since the return from overseas, so this will be the first of probably three entries about the past six weeks…

Shortly after returning from Madagascar I had to fly to Pittsburgh for a funeral – my last grandparent died while I was in South Africa, and a memorial service was held on October 28, although it wasn’t a sad occasion since she was an awesome lady, and lived a great life that lasted into her 90s. During the service I saw two cousins who I haven’t seen in 20 years, an aunt I haven’t seen since I was a teenager, and other folks that had faded to just memories but were suddenly transformed back into flesh-and-blood. Following the service Aaron decided that when in Western Pennsylvania one should shoot guns, and our cousin obliged and met us at our aunt’s farm with a selection of firearms, after which many targets and clay pigeons were missed completely.

Prior to the memorial service I had flown into Cleveland, and shockingly had an amazing day roaming around in the Mistake by the Lake. In the morning I met my former prom date for breakfast; having not seen her since 1994, it was like one of those movies where you get to see what someone will be like twenty years in the future, except for the fact that twenty years into the future is now. From there it was off to my high school track to relive the glory days, and from there off to a few of my favorite teenage hangouts amidst some impressive Fall color. Afterwards I made a visit to my college campus, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History – as I was looking at the exotic animal collections, rock collections, and human history exhibits it was clear that this museum was at least part of the inspiration for many of the crazy trips I’ve done in my life.

Following the cultural events I decided it was time to go lowbrow, so I jumped on the NFL ticket exchange, and ten minutes later had procured a ticket in the seventh row behind the Browns bench for $75. As if going to a Browns game for the first time since the 1980s and being spitting distance from my favorite team while wearing a Bernie Kosar jersey wasn’t enough, they actually shocked everyone and won a game, something that has been a most improbable occurrence in recent history.

The next day involved a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and two days later Aaron and I made the trek up to Holliday Rd to visit our candy-making uncle and aunt before heading down to Amish country to see our parent’s alma mater and do some imbibing at the Fractured Grape.

On the departure from both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh I was given a thorough check by security – apparently it will be a while before my name is taken off of the terrorist watch list – with the security guy providing play-by-play on everything he was doing (“I am now going to run my hand up your inner thigh until I encounter resistance”). All in all an eventful trip down memory lane and through the land where I spent most of my formative years.

Shooting guns in Western Pennsylvania

Only one of the people pictured knew what he was doing with a gun, and it wasn’t either of the ones named “Holliday”. Also, I was a deadly man-weapon while firing the Cricket.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Posted from Los Angeles International Airport, California at 6:33 am, July 15th, 2014

This will be the last entry written on US soil for quite some time – I’m sitting at the Air Canada gate at LAX watching the sun rise, and will most likely be writing the next entry from Istanbul (Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople). In the next two weeks I’ll be setting foot on four different continents, which is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever been able to write in this journal. With that ahead, however, a quick recap of the fun times over the past couple of weeks still needs to be recorded for posterity.

For the Fourth of July Audrey arranged another group trip to the amazing Hollywood Bowl to see Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The show this year was with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and included post-show fireworks, and while I preferred the version without the accompanying orchestra (more banjo and fiddle, less French horn), it was still pretty damn fun. As an added bonus, Paul Simon made an appearance to join his wife onstage for one number, and my thought at finally seeing a musical legend whose songs I’ve heard thousands of times was “Wow, that guy is SMALL”. Big talent in a tiny package, apparently.

The following days were filled with many errands as I made a valiant effort to verify travel arrangements and acquire appropriate gear for the trip – Audrey was displeased when I suggested I might take only two pairs of pants on a three month trip, so the pants quota was increased fifty percent, among other last-minute changes. In the midst of the packing extravaganza I made a two day journey up to the Bay Area to visit younger Holliday. A day spent hiking on the Peninsula in search of banana slugs was followed by an evening of adventure, gyros, and albino alligators at the California Academy of Sciences, followed by a day of beer, ping pong, and giant breakfasts, and there was much rejoicing.

And that’s it for my time in the US – future updates involving attempts to avoid accidentally causing international incidents, being chased by dangerous animals, and barfing in foreign countries to follow.

The Holliday Brothers in Half Moon Bay

No one understands what mutated gene in the Holliday DNA is the cause, but taking pictures with wooden people will never, ever stop being fun for us.

Meet the Parents

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:08 pm, June 28th, 2014

Three days left in June and a three-journal-entries-a-month goal, but as the saying goes “if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.” Here’s the quick recap of the month:

  • Ma and Pa came to LA for a visit over Father’s Day weekend. The Skipper wanted to see fossils, so we went to the La Brea Tar Pits so that he could pretend to be a paleontologist while taking in all of the dire wolves, mastodons, and saber tooth tigers (RAWR!). Lunch was from a truck serving lobster rolls, and then it was off to dinner at the Saddle Peak Lodge. Ma got to enjoy the fancy settings, Pa got to enjoy elk and venison, and I think everyone went home happy.
  • I’m down to my last four days of work with bodybuilding.com before taking a break for the great African adventure. My last trip out to Boise happened a couple of weeks ago, and beers were drunk, board games were played, and Grant very nearly landed a front flip on the trampoline. Vintage arcade games at Grinkers rounded out a fun work visit.
  • Prior to the visit from the parents there was a disco bowling birthday bash that involved many shenanigans. Watching the (drunk) birthday boy go through an entire dance routine prior to releasing the ball directly into the gutter is an experience that one does not easily forget; John Travolta has nothing on Brett McDermid.

The Skipper at the La Brea Tar Pits

A saber-toothed tiger, a giant sloth, and a happy Skipper.

Mastodon at the La Brea Tar Pits

I would totally ride a mastodon if I could.

Carry On

Posted from Boise, Idaho at 8:07 pm, April 29th, 2014

Here’s a riveting recap of the life of Ryan over the past two months:

  • At the end of February / beginning of March I made a quick pilgrimage up to the Bay Area to see Aaron and the folks. Good times were had as always, with much ping pong, the Napa Valley regional cornhole championships (which I officially lost, although there were some questionable circumstances), delicious prawn tacos, and a chance to enjoy Aaron’s new casa in Livermore.
  • Earlier this month Audrey, her LA Times and fellow-Alto friend Martha, Meghen (another Alto), and I visited the Queen Mary in Long Beach for a performance by the Christ Church Cathedral Choir. I thought the music was OK, but getting to see it on a historic 1930s passenger liner was pretty awesome. Before the show started I had an hour to roam around, re-enacting scenes from Titanic, although sadly the bow was roped off so I had to forgo “I’m the king of the world!” and instead settle for “You jump, I jump” at the stern, and “Full speed ahead Mr. Murdoch” in the bridge. The Queen Mary is another addition to the list of good things about LA™.
  • In medical news, after more than two years of waiting for Obamacare’s rules against declining coverage due to pre-existing conditions, I finally switched insurance and visited an actual sports medicine doctor at UCLA. Two weeks later I was inside of an MRI medicine-tube-spaceship-time-machine getting 3-D pictures of the inside of my knee taken; we totally live in the future. I’m meeting a physical therapist this weekend and have a follow-up with the doctor in a couple of weeks, so hopefully soon it will be clear what exactly causes my knee to throw a tantrum and swell up to impressive size whenever I try to run, and with luck I’ll be able to resume the one sport I’m good at again some time in the near future. I know it’s a touchy issue with some people, but for a self-employed person like myself Obamacare has proven to be a massive, massive improvement over the former system.
  • In other news Audrey and I continue planning the grand adventure for this July-October; more details will likely follow in the next journal entry.
  • Last of all, we’ve now lived a mile from the Marina for over two years, and this past weekend we finally went sailing. Audrey’s friend has a decent-sized boat and invited us to join him, his wife, and their friend for a short afternoon on the water, which was a great way to spend a few hours. At one point he told me to take the wheel and just drive around the Marina for a bit, either not realizing or not caring that nearly all of my boat navigating experience was done holding a paddle. Luckily, despite some tight turns and various individuals in kayaks or other rentals criss-crossing all over the place with no realization that a novice captain was doing his best to avoid running them down, everyone emerged alive and well. After Adam again took over we raised the sail for a short jaunt outside of the breakwall to enjoy some decent-sized surf and the company of dolphins.

Ryan sailing in Marina del Rey

I dominated at sailing straight, but turns in the tight confines of the Marina were terrifying. Photo by Audrey.

2014, so far

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:46 pm, February 23rd, 2014

Here’s a recap of adventures in 2014 thus far:

  • Last weekend I had to make a very quick trip to the Midwest for a funeral, the first return visit to Cleveland in five years. Cleveland in February is not the best of months, but it was still both fun and sad to re-visit. The Cleveland Museum of Art has been significantly expanded and rivals any museum in the world, Case Western has upgraded everything from student housing to campus buildings, and Shaker Heights still feels like it would be a pleasant place to live. On the flip side, the economic downturn has not been kind to Cleveland, and the potholes were scary, the downtown was a ghost town after 5PM, and many buildings that weren’t vacant ten years ago are now shuttered.
  • After visiting Cleveland, I picked Aaron up at the airport at 11PM, and we then braved snowy roads in a Chevy Skidsalot for the two hour drive to Erie, slept for a very short time, and then got to see a bunch of people we’re related to. We’ve got some fun relatives who most definitely fall on the “good people” side of the spectrum.
  • Aside from expeditions to the Midwest, 2014 has mostly been about enjoying living in Southern California. Audrey got treated to lobster for Valentine’s Day, we took advantage of nice weather during a visit to the Getty, and there have been a few trips to the ocean to see what birds are visiting.
  • In homeowner news, a crack team of plumbers came to install a gas line and other hookups last Friday, and my first ever appliance purchase is now operational: the Samsung Future drying machine from space. It has knobs and LEDs and settings and musical tones and dries good. Removing the old, 320 pound stackable unit from its previous home in a hallway closet made for some good times, but I emerged (mostly) unscathed and much wiser in the ways of appliance disassembly.
  • One last minor note, but my iPhone battery was having trouble holding charge for more than a few hours, and rather than pay $80 and send my phone away for a week I figured I’d replace it myself for $25. After an hour, much stress about screws the size of dust molecules, cable connections smaller than fruit flies, and screen removal instructions that involved a suction cup and the admonition to “pull harder than you might think necessary”, my phone luckily turned on again and I am now completely certain that bomb disposal technician is not a wise future career choice for me.

Not the most exciting of starts to the year, but planning is underway for grand adventures that begin in July, so while it is slow now, there should be many, many days worthy of a journal entry during the latter half of 2014.

Shortly after landing I texted Audrey to let her know that I had just seen both of the buildings, and she was jealous.

Holidays

Posted from Paso Robles, California at 6:56 pm, December 27th, 2013

December totally flew by. Wow. Here’s the recap for everything prior to the current road trip:

I haven’t had to make the trek out to Boise since October, so work has consisted of the bedroom-to-kitchen commute, eight work hours that may or may not involve getting dressed, and the agonizing decision over what to eat for lunch – there is a good sushi restaurant that delivers in our neighborhood, which is a very, very dangerous option to have available. On paper, my life is extraordinarily good, and in reality it’s pretty swell, too.

Christmas and birthday gifts are usually something I do only when there’s something good to give, and 2013 was such a year – if you haven’t been to beardhead.com then you are a more mature person than me. The Holliday men spent Christmas Eve sporting new looks and laughing a lot. Aaron’s contribution to the madness was nerf dart guns, so Ma and Pa got to endure their 33 and 38 year old boys rampaging through the house with plastic guns and fake beards.

Christmas day saw Ma and Pa receive a new TV from the boys, and saw some very happy folks from craigslist getting the old TV – everyone won. Ma made a scrumtrillescent turkey dinner, and following that Pa nearly cracked a rib from laughing during a game of Balderdash – it got to the point where if anyone even began to read a definition he would go into spasms, so this game may need to be revisited frequently during future visits. Meanwhile, back in Culver City Audrey hosted her mom, sister, and three others in our fully-decorated house. I’m told the highlight of the meal was her pie with a likeness of Cthulhu made out of crust on top, since it’s not a Wiechman Christmas unless there is dough made into the shape of a human (or part thereof), animal, or mythical cosmic entity.

Post-Christmas, Ma and Pa took me to the Lafayette Reservoir to look for white pelicans since I’ve been chasing all over California trying to get a glimpse of these odd birds. After numerous road trips and no success, of course there were a dozen pelicans twenty minutes from my folks that were practically swimming up to people. Following the visit with the birds and a delicious lunch it was time to depart on the annual post-Christmas road trip, which barring surprises will be covered in subsequent entries.

Holliday family beard heads

The men of the Holliday family. Photo credit goes to Aaron.

Thanksgiving Recap

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:55 pm, December 1st, 2013

The Thanksgiving holiday started with Audrey and I making the long drive up to the Bay and paying a visit to my brother at his brand-new townhome. While it was distressing to see a guy who once scored three Turkey Bowl touchdowns with a busted head now enthusiastically discussing window coverings and throw rugs, he saved face somewhat by putting snowboarding videos on repeat on his new giant flatscreen. The following day we arrived at Ma & Pa’s, and Aaron and I immediately set off on a hike on Mt. Diablo followed by some basketball and a photo op on the giant digger that was parked next to the court. Ma did her usual stellar job with the Thanksgiving dinner, and pants had to be loosened before the night was over.

The next day Audrey and I set off for Moss Beach to see her friend Kris. Along the way we got to make a trip over the ridiculously cool new Bay Bridge, and while Audrey was better about containing her excitement than I was, I have no doubt that somewhere deep down inside her inner engineer was jumping and cheering. We paid a quick visit to the sea lions at Pier 39, checked into our posh room at the Seal Cove Inn, then joined her friends for drinks on the coast followed by dinner. Sadly, at some point towards the end of dinner the men in the brain sent a sudden signal that something had gone very wrong, and things reached defcon five just before I could pull into the hotel parking lot, and I had to make a mad dash to refund my dinner on the side of the road. Audrey spent the remainder of the evening with her friends, while I slept off the after-effects of my forced weight loss.

The following day was Audrey’s birthday, and after a fancy breakfast at the hotel we joined her on her annual birthday trip to the library before embarking on a tour of the peninsula. She flew home late that night, while I shacked up in the back of the Subaru and woke up before sunrise to head off for a return visit to the cranes, hawks, and geese at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. That was followed by a quick trip to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, and then lots of time to partake in the joy of stop-and-go Thanksgiving traffic on the long route back to LA.

California quail

California quail that showed up in the garden outside of our hotel room to greet Audrey for her birthday.

Black-necked stilt

Black-necked stilt at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge.

August Recap Part 2

Posted from Culver City, California at 11:03 pm, August 28th, 2013

Following the wedding, the concert, and the working, August got a bit more nature-y.

Aaron had two bobcat sightings on Mt. Diablo recently, and since I didn’t want to be the only Holliday child not to see a bobcat in 2013 we did a couple of twilight hikes during the Bay Area visit. After some turkeys, bats and a few deer, the bobcat made an appearance on the trail ahead of us. You haven’t seen an annoyed cat until you interrupt a bobcat on his nightly rounds, but despite the attitude we were both pretty stoked at the find. The next night we took another hike in the same place, and while the bobcat stayed hidden the turkeys and bats were out again, and we also managed to spot a skunk and a tarantula. With Aaron having spotted the tarantula (two points) I negotiated for five points if I could get it to walk across my hand. The evening’s final score: Ryan 6, Aaron 3.

With a full weekend available for the drive home, the trip back to LA was via the scenic route. I’ve done a lot of road trips through the Sierras, but after scanning the map realized I’d never been through Sonora Pass and set off for the second-highest mountain pass in the Sierra Nevadas. It’s been far too long since this grown man slept in the back of a car, so after a late-afternoon bushwhack up a small peak the evening was spent sprawled out at high elevation in an automobile. The next morning the road led over the Sierras and to the ghost town of Bodie. During the gold rush days Bodie was a den of sin and hard-living, but today the sin has mostly gone elsewhere and the California park service maintains the town in a state of “arrested decay”. Another man might have walked through the deserted streets pretending to be a cowboy, but I’m 37 and clearly too mature for such shenanigans.

After leaving the ghosts the highway led to Mono Lake, and beyond that a pilgrimage was made to Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light photo gallery in Bishop; his photos are some of my favorites of all time. After that it was a straight shot south to LA, but Mother Nature intervened to make things interesting – a dust storm brought visibility down to almost nothing for a short time, and that was immediately followed by a lightning storm that struck a town next to the highway, setting something ablaze. Lightning has been rare during my time in California, so to not only see a huge storm but to also see it set a fire was pretty insane.

There are two weeks of vacation scheduled for September, so journal entries should be plentiful as Audrey and I head out on a couple of (brief) adventures, and provided UPS delivers on time they will be done with a new camera in hand.

Bristlecone Pine near Sonora Pass

I decided to do some hiking in the high mountains, and pulled off the road by a smallish granite dome. My trailblazing was less-than-impressive, and I emerged three hours later with cut feet, torn pants, and this photo.

Bodie Ghost Town in the Eastern Sierra

The ghost town of Bodie. The park guide notes that “by 1879 Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000 and was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and ‘the worst climate out of doors’“.

Mono Lake Tufa Towers

The tufa towers of Mono Lake. These should be underwater, but diversions for the city of LA have dropped the level of Mono Lake by more than thirty feet.

Photos of Iceland

Posted from Boise, Idaho at 11:08 pm, July 31st, 2013

Five years ago this month my dad and I were in Iceland taking pretty pictures of pretty things. I’ve still not managed to process most of the photos from that trip, much less get them online in a gallery, but here are a few that seemed nice to look at as I was browsing through them tonight.

Waterfall on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Lesson #1 on this trip was that rain and generally crappy weather (both of which Iceland provides in large quantities) is ideal for photographing moving water.

Skip on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The Skipper modelling typical Icelandic beachwear.

Razorbills at Latrabjarg

Razorbills at Latrabjarg.

‘Sup

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:01 pm, February 28th, 2013

There hasn’t been a generic status update in a while, and I’ve got less than three hours to meet my three-entry-a-month goal, so that’s as good of an excuse as any to write one:

  • The job at Bodybuilding.com is in its nineteenth month and is scheduled to run through the end of the year. Shockingly, after spending more than half of my days between July 2002 and August 2005 on one adventure after another, I’ve now been working more-or-less solidly for almost eight years.
  • In yet another sign that I’m becoming a grown-up (at age 37), last Friday we hired tree trimmers to take care of a ficus that was attempting to eat the back office, as well as a star pine that made the Leaning Tower of Pisa look straight. With significantly less vegetation now blocking the western edge of our yard Audrey and I stood outside on Friday night with the sound of sea lions barking a mile away in the marina clearly audible. Our house is awesome.
  • Younger Holliday is working again, this time selling houses in the Bay Area for Shea Homes. With the real-estate market heating up I may not be the only Holliday boy who owns the roof over his head much longer.
  • Audrey’s favorite band of all-time is getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so she scored tickets for us to go to the Nokia Theatre on April 16 to see Rush at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. There are some downsides to living in LA, but there aren’t a lot of cities that regularly host events that you can re-watch a few months later as an HBO special.
  • Speaking of the girl, our adventures have been mostly culinary lately. We accidentally hit a food truck extravaganza on Abbott Kinney a few weeks ago and enjoyed massive lobsta rolls for dinner. On Valentine’s Day lobsta was again on the menu as the girl cooked steak and lobster tails. The following night I took her to a fancy dinner at a restaurant that had lights made out of underpants ’cause I’m all about ambiance. The weekend prior to Valentine’s Day saw us making a pilgrimage to the ridiculously delicious Sadle Peak Lodge, which is now by far number one on my list for French toast – the homemade-bread-and-bananas-foster delight that was served to me at Saddle Peak puts them so far ahead of anyone else that the competition can probably be declared permanently over.
  • And that is all. Things have been slow, but with luck there will be baby bird videos to share soon.

Dante's View, Death Valley

Dante’s View in Death Valley. Sponsored by Nike. Just do it.

The Giving of the Thanks

Posted from Culver City, California at 5:31 pm, November 30th, 2012

This year’s Thanksgiving saw Audrey and I make our annual trek through traffic and up to Ma & Pa’s residence in the Bay Area, arriving Wednesday night with pies (plural) in hand after more than seven hours on the road. Aaron is again living in the Bay Area and working at Nordstrom, and by “living in the Bay Area” I mean “living with my parents” and doing so by choice since economics are not really an issue. Dolphins and parrots supposedly stay in family units for years and years, so younger Holliday’s living arrangement is apparently not without precedent.

Aaron and I set off on a muddy hike up Mount Diablo on Thanksgiving morning, saw two flocks of wild turkeys on the trip home, ate the world’s largest biscuit, and then joined everyone else in lounging the day away before eating massive quantities for dinner. The following day Audrey and I were off to meet her best friend Krissy in Moss Beach, with a stop along the way in the Marin Headlands to fight for parking and enjoy a view of the Golden Gate. The next morning Krissy took us up into the hills to hike amongst big trees and banana slugs before a very tired pair made the long journey back to LA.

Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands

Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands.

Shuttle Endeavour in LA

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:09 am, October 21st, 2012

The shuttle Endeavour arrived in LA a short time ago, and last weekend was moved from the airport to its new home at the Science Center. The route involved a maximum speed of two miles per hour over twelve miles, with numerous stops, massive numbers of utility workers on hand to pull down electrical wires and traffic lights, and enthusiastic crowds all along the route. Aaron was in town, so of course the Holliday Boys set off on an adventure, eventually finding a spaceship parked next to a donut shop.

The Holliday Boys and the Shuttle Endeavour in the streets of LA

The Holliday boys next to the business end of the shuttle. Photo by Aaron.

Shuttle Endeavour in the streets of LA

Shuttle Endeavour in the streets of LA. The “oversize load” banner is necessary for those who might have otherwise been confused as to whether this was a normal-sized delivery.

Shuttle Endeavour in the streets of LA

A sight that no astronaut would have ever foreseen.

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.