Category Archives: Best Things We Learned, We Learned from…

Adventures in a Dormant Volcano

On a nice summer weekend, I presumably lost my wits, thereby consenting to a 20-mile backpacking trip with a group of friends through a dormant volcano on the tropical island of Maui. Haleakalā crater has been dormant since the late 1700’s. For those of you who may not know, a “dormant” volcano is one that is sleeping, but not dead. Yes, that means it can awaken at any moment. Thank God it decided to continue sleeping while I was hiking through it.

Our adventure started with a treacherous descent from an elevation of 10,000 feet through loose cinder and sharp lava rocks, through an area referred to as “Sliding Sands.” It’s not typically what people envision when they think of Maui, as it is more reminiscent of another planet entirely. We weren’t wearing Sharon Stone-like bikinis and sipping mai tais on the beach (sorry to disappoint you Paul Turney at Woggins Writings): we were wearing incredibly un-sexy G.I. Jane-like hiking gear and sucking liters of water down, while focusing on not spraining an ankle. All I had in my emergency kit was baby wipes, a tweezer, and some band-aids, so a rolled ankle would have constituted a major disaster, considering I am no MacGyver.

SlidingSands

Above the clouds, hiking into Haleakalā crater through Sliding Sands.

SlidingSandsTrail

Hiking the trail into Haleakalā crater through Sliding Sands.

ValleyThroughSlidingSands

Hiking through lava rocks at Sliding Sands.

After Sliding Sands leveled off, we enjoyed the unique terrain and started to see quite a few amazing, native silversword plants. To our surprise, many of them were in bloom, which is a rare sight to see. I know this is one of the favorite places of Liza Pierce at A Maui Blog, so I’m sure she’ll enjoy these photos.

BloomingSilversword

Gorgeous silversword plant in bloom.

Being about 5 miles into our adventure at that point, it was time to stop for lunch. I unwrapped my sandwich and peeled a banana. As I began devouring my meal, a huge wasp started doing laps around me like a shark circling a wounded seal. I froze and watched in horror as the gigantic bee got closer and closer. At one point, it looked like it was going to land on my arm, and I screamed and started flailing my arms around like a back up dancer for Justin Bieber.

One of my fellow hikers shouted to me “They are attracted to moisture! Drop your banana and stay still!”

Since I’m so good at following instructions while panicking, I chucked my sunglasses, sandwich and the banana into the cinder and started running in the opposite direction as the bee. Hey, at least it worked. The bee began to hover over the banana peel, and I was able to get away. Phew. FYI- the crater was full of wasps, so although I dodged a bullet that time, bee mania was pretty much an ongoing theme. I know Michelle Gillies at Silk Purse Productions would completely empathize.

The journey continued. We made the rest of the trek down to the Palikū cabin, where we were greeted by lush mountain ranges and a nene goose (a friendly, native bird that inhabits the crater).

Paliku

The rugged ranges at Palikū.

PalikuMist

Palikū, where the clouds come up Kaupo Gap and meet the steep cliffs.

PalikuSunset

Beautiful sunset at Palikū.

Nene

Greetings from a nene goose.

We were just so excited to finally arrive at the cabin. Our legs and feet were ready to give out, and muscles were hurting in areas we didn’t even know existed and could feel pain. Unfortunately, there were no hot showers or mineral baths awaiting us. The cabin had fresh running water and bunk beds, but that was about it with regard to amenities. The Ritz Carlton it wasn’t, but after hiking for 10 miles, we were just thankful we had a place to sit down and stretch out.

If you look closely at the picture below, you can see our tiny Palikū cabin toward the middle left of the photo. It’s that miniscule white dot at the edge of the open meadow at the base of the mountain range. Yeah, that thing. That was home sweet home for a few days. And the lovely outhouse next to it that smelled like a freshly baked manure cake was ours to call home for a few days too.

LookingDownPalikuAndKaupoGap

Looking down on Palikū and Kaupo Gap.

Our luxurious Palikū cabin.

Our luxurious Palikū cabin.

The nights in the wilderness at Palikū were definitely an interesting experience, where being the city slicker that I am, the others had a good laugh at my expense. I used at least 30 antibacterial towelettes and baby wipes to scour the outhouse toilet seat, my mattress cover, and parts of my body which inevitably got coated in cinder dust. I also found myself highly skilled in holding my bladder for hours at a time. There was no way I was going to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning in the pitch black for a long haul to that dreadful outhouse.

And truthfully, we wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. We felt fortunate to get the opportunity to go on this trip. The experience forced us to get out of our comfort zones and abandon modern conveniences like technology and electricity. After spending a few relaxing days gaining appreciation for the natural world, and being able to bond and socialize with others without interruption, we mentally prepared ourselves for what lay ahead: the 10-mile hike out of Haleakalā crater… uphill. We had to go 7 miles steadily uphill, and then finish with another strenuous 3 miles up a steep and narrow trail called the “Switchbacks.”

LavaRiverMars

Lava fields that made us feel like we were on Mars.

SunnyScottSwitchbacks

Our friends making their way up the Switchbacks.

Surprisingly, we made it, and all in good time. We survived our adventure in a dormant volcano, despite not having pack mules, internet access, or hot tubs. Shoot, my friend didn’t even have soles on her shoes, as they separated and fell off before she even made it to the Switchbacks.

All things considered, we hiked like champs out of that crater, setting our minds on the frosty beers that awaited us in the cooler in the car. Nothing motivates parched and exhausted hikers like ice cold beers. I motored out of that crater like a Clydesdale going after a dangling carrot. As if I was Wyle E. Coyote chasing The Road Runner with my newest ACME gadget. When I got to the car, I slumped into an Eddie Bauer camping chair and popped open a brewski. And that was all, folks! Until next time, Haleakalā!

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One Smart Sister

Although my big brother would argue that I’m really just a sister of average intelligence, alliterative blog titles are so much more catchy. Besides, “One Retarded Brother” just didn’t have as much of a ring to it. Yes, critics, I know that the term “retarded” is no longer politically correct and is considered derogatory. That’s kind of the point.

This, my friends, is the face of a genius little sister. 🙂

First, I’d like to say mahalo to Michelle Gillies over at Silk Purse Productions for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (check out her blog… she is very witty, and I like witty). Michelle, the doggies are so excited to receive another award. If you were here, they would lick your face (and smell your butt). Luckily you live in Canada and will be spared such frivolities.

sisterhood

After receiving the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, I had some time to reflect upon sisterhood and what it means to me. I don’t actually have a sister, so everything I know about being a sister, I learned from my brother. I adore my older brother. He is the best big brother anyone could ask for, and I just can’t say enough about that dingleberry.

In the spirit of the lovely Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, I’m supposed to share some things about myself. Instead of telling you how much I detest socks with sandals, or how I frequently choke on my own spit for no apparent reason other than a defective epiglottis, I figured I would share some things I’ve learned from being one mean mischievous smart sister.

  1. You can resort to violence (when no one is looking), and capitalize on your cuteness. During a fight with your sibling, hit as hard as you can while no one is around. Pull hair if feasible. When someone discovers you both, act like an innocent fawn tiptoeing through the tulips. Pout. Make your eyes as large as physically possible. Make your bottom lip quiver. Try to get tears to well up in your eyes. Think of something terrible if you need a crying prompt, like the time your cat died.
  2. You can always blame it on your sibling. Be smart about it. Don’t just point at your sibling and triumphantly yell “It’s his fault!” after an incident. Cower away from everyone and act as if you are having an anxiety attack. When everyone rushes to you out of concern, stutter “It-it-its hi-hi-his fau-fau-fault!” and then burst into tears if you can manage it.
  3. You can use blackmail to get what you want. When you see your sibling smoking with his friends, make a mental note. The next time your sibling refuses to let you have a bite of his cheeseburger, nonchalantly say “Do I need to tell dad about the time you…” Trust me, you won’t even need to finish that sentence before you are savoring that cheeseburger.
  4. You can use the child abuse hotline to your advantage. If your sibling starts to yell at you, and threatens to hit you, simply shout “I’m dialing!” If your sibling looks confused, clarify that you’re now old enough to know how to use the phone, and you have the child abuse hotline on speed dial.

I bet Michelle Gillies is really regretting passing me this Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award now, eh? 😉 Don’t worry, I’m redeeming myself by passing the honor to one of my blogger sisters, Addie over at Betwixt and Between, who happens to be way cooler and nicer than me.

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Shark Bite Media Mayhem

One of the best things we learned, we learned from all the shark bite media mayhem. We learned that the media regularly blows shark attacks out of proportion, thereby resulting in mass panic.

Recently, a California girl was standing in shallow water offshore at one of Hawaii’s beaches, and a small, 4-foot reef shark swam up and bit her calf (it was like a 4-inch bite mark). After the incident, one of the news stations reported this blurb:

Reef sharks are normally timid, but are known to mistake human legs for food.

Then, they featured a photo like this to go with their story:

I’m no expert, but that’s no timid reef shark.
Courtesy of: dailymail.co.uk

We can imagine that it was a very traumatic and scary experience for that poor girl, but it’s even more scary how the media comes up with this stuff.

How is a 20-foot great white synonymous with an itty bitty reef shark? And, how does the media know enough about a shark’s behaviors and choices to make generalizations?

Did an anchorman actually go out into the deep blue ocean to interview this elusive creature for information on its food preferences and personal life?

Anchorman: Um, yes Mr. Shark. What do you like to do in your spare time?

Shark: I swim around all day. I scare people. I eat a bunch of crap. I swim around some more. I scare more people. I eat some more crap.

Anchorman: That’s fascinating. What type of crap do you like to eat?

Shark: Personally, I love old license plates and car tires. When I can’t find any of those, I go after whatever I can get. Sometimes I mistake human legs for food. My bad.

Anchorman (biting his fingernails): Are you serious? You mistake human legs for food? How is that even possible?

Shark: It’s murky out there. Gimme a break. Sometimes I think it’s a seal, and it just ends up being some unappetizing, gristly human leg. By the way, quit biting your nails. Watching you chew on your fingers like that is making me hungry.

Anchorman (nervously): Okay, I think this interview is over. Camera crew, let’s wrap up here. I said let’s go, people! Chop, chop!

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Remembering Dad’s Wisdom

As I remember my dad on father’s day, I thought I would honor his memory by sharing some of the classic things he used to say to me when I was growing up.

  • There’s nothing that an aloe vera plant can’t heal. I know what you’re thinking, and no it can’t heal your report card. Get to work.

 Evidently aloe vera sucked. And so did Calculus.


  • Never let a plane pass you directly overhead, because you never know if a screw will fall off a wing and hit you. It could kill you falling from that height.

 Apparently when I was a kid, aeronautical engineers put planes together with Elmer’s glue and screws from Home Depot.



  • Quit complaining and eat your peas and lima beans. They’re healthy for you. Besides, there are starving kids in Cambodia who would love to have those.

I regularly tried to make haste to mail those poor kids my legumes, but dad always refused to let me seal my dinner in an envelope and give it to the post office for delivery to Cambodia.


  • If your nose itches, that means you’re going to get in a fight. If your palms itch, that means you’re going to get money. If your ears itch, that means someone is talking about you. If anything else itches, you have to see a doctor.

I think that was pretty sound advice, actually.

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Fortune Cookie Fridays: Part 1

Our first official “Fortune Cookie Fridays” post (because Fridays are even better when fortune cookies are involved). Enjoy!

If you have any ideas for “Fortune Cookie Fridays,” please let us know! We might feature you and your blog in our future posts! Have a wonderful Friday and weekend everyone!

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