Monday, January 9, 2017

KKs Vacay: Of All the Places to Meet a Surfer 10/26/16

Tokyo to Hakata

We had booked a bullet train from Tokyo to Hakata in Kyuushuu at 630 AM. We have to transfer at Shin-Osaka station and get on another bullet train to make it to Hakata by noon.

Our mom had scheduled us to stop by her home town of Yahata for a couple hours since "we have a few hours to spare," but we were not visiting her home town. We had to be in Hakata and be at my dad's friend, Mr. Harada, Thank You banquet for his company by 1630. However our mom thought her plan was feasible, we were not going to Yahata.

We grab our medium sized trunks and backpack and head out into the cold Tokyo morning. We check out of our hotel room, and schedule a limousine bus for our departure date nine days in advance from this hotel to Narita airport. I inquire if I can cancel our hotel reservation for the last days of our trip since our Auntie was adamant about us staying with her. They replied that since the reservation was made through a third-party site, we have to cancel it through the third-party site.

We make our way across the street to Shinagawa station. There is a hefty crowd walking with us towards the station. Hard to believe these people do this commute every day, this early, with precision, without hesitation. We get on the escalator, and the rule in Japan is to stand on the left side and walk up on the right side. We hug the shoulder on the left side, as busy businessmen and businesswomen scurry past us up the escalator.
Pops posing in front of the bullet train as it comes in to Shinagawa

I tell my dad to keep his JR Rail Pass out. He is unable to walk and unzip his backpack at the same time. He manages to find his Rail Pass once we are at the check point. I wait for him to produce the Rail Pass to the Ekisho-san, the train ticket manager. Once he produces it, we walk through the office, only to ask which way we should be going. He examines our bullet train tickets, and tell us that we have to actually go to a different station around the corner. So, we thank him, exit, and make our way down the long station and make it to the right station.

We wait for our train, and I buy a drink from the vending machine. I miss these vending machines in Japan, since they are everywhere. Any time at all, if you need a cold, refreshing drink, or a warm, cozy coffee, you can find a vending machine located along the streets of Japan. The train station is no exception, and I buy a drink full of electrolytes called Pocari Sweat. Yes, the naming sucks, but it is exactly what I need to make our trek down south for six hours in a bullet train.

Our bullet train arrives, and we find our seats. We are seated behind each other. Businessmen,  businesswomen, students and travelers sprinkle the seats. Some go back to sleep. Others read a book. The man next to me flips open his laptop and starts working on complicated looking graphs and reports.

I keep to myself and put my headphones on. I re-read certain parts of Peculiar Children. After I finish my favorite parts, I take out my notepad and start to write.

After an hour or so, the man on my right closes his laptop. The man on the left of me stares blankly out the window. The man on the right opens his iPhone, and starts looking at his instagram. I peak over his screen and see that he follows a lot of surf accounts. The latest news is that John John Florence had won the World Title.

"Do you surf?" I ask him.

"Why yes, do you surf too?" he asks me.

And from there we talk about surf for a good half an hour.

"I'm usually on the North Shore this time of year, but I'm here to accompany my dad to his 50th High School Reunion. So, I'm missing the North Shore winter for the first time in five years," I explain to him.

"Oh! I was there last year around December."

"Really? We must have missed each other. Where are you from?"

"Kanagawa," he says.

"Oh, do you know a famous surfer named Wakita? Takayuki Wakita. He is super famous on the North Shore."

"Yes! I actually was helping him at the store he works at in Haleiwa!" he exclaims.

"NO WAY! I surf with his wife and kids almost every winter at Velzyland. They are so nice and fun to be with!"

"Really? Wow small world isn't it?" he says, astonished.

We exchange information and he shows me some photos of where he lives. "Next time when a typhoon comes, you have to surf with us! It will be fun!" he tells me.

"Ok, that is a deal!" I tell him, handing him my business card.

He exits the bullet train as I wave bye to him.

"You always make friends wherever you go," my dad says, smiling.

"Who would have thought that I would meet someone that surfs that knows the same people I know?"

While I was talking with my neighbor, Mr. Watanabe,  my dad was asking the bullet train Chief of different ways to get to Hakata. Initially we couldn't get reserved seats on our next train, but the bullet train was slower at arriving at Hakata station by two and a half hours. The Chief informed us that if we take a different bullet train fifteen minutes earlier, we could arrive in Hakata by 1230. We decided to take that route instead.

Mr. Watanabe shows me on his iPhone where he lives and where he surfs. "Please come to surf with me in Japan next time!" he said enthusiastically. "We can bike down there easily from my house. You must come." I agree to surf with him in Japan the next time I am here, and a typhoon lines up in our forecast. Where he surfs, in Kanagawa, there are only good waves when there is a typhoon approaching. We also talk about family life and work life, but the most memorable was to talk to him about surfing.
Breakfast in a bullet train is gourmet af

He takes the next exit as he has to make it to the office. "See you again!" he says.

"See you in Hawaii! Or in Kanagawa!" I say to him.

He smiles and bows as he exits.

Our stop in Shin-Osaka is the next stop. The bullet train is like a plane that never takes off. One sees the far mountains passing by steadily, while the closer scenery blur within seconds. When another bullet train comes from the other way, there is a momentary vortex WHOOSH as the wind resistance of both bullet trains collide with each other. Then, the bullet train passes, and it is back to green scenery for kilometers.

As we arrive in Shin-Osaka, we get ready to run to the next train stop. Because we do not have reserved seats, we have to essentially be first in line to get a seat. If not, we are stuck standing in the bullet train for another two and a half hours.

The train stops, and everyone gets out in an orderly manner. However once people are off the train, the rush begins. Some people walk slowly, as they are in no rush. Others, like us, start walking quickly to the stairs. There are stairs going down, while the escalator only goes up. We carry our luggage in our arms as we watch our steps going down the stairs. We make it to the bottom, then rush to Station 5, once again carrying our luggage up the stairs, not using the escalators, and finding the line for unreserved trains. What is great about Japan is that the bullet trains stop exactly at the indicated stops, and each train line, whether it be Nozomi (the highest end, fastest bullet train) or Hikari (the 'low-end" bullet train) has the same designated reserved and unreserved car trains. So, we line up at the unreserved car for our train line. And as sure as clockwork, the bullet train arrives on time, and stops exactly where indicated. Not even a centimeter out of place. The people inside the train first get off, and then we start to board the train.

There are several train conductors all along the various entrances, and they all have to give the "clear" signal in order to close the gates and bullet train doors. Yes, there are actually sliding gates to protect people from getting too close to the bullet train. 

My dad and I find seats, and make our way towards Hakata, where his childhood friend is waiting.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

KKs Vacay: Japan Trip with Pops 10/25/2016

Flight to Japan

My dad and I started out early in the morning with way too much stuff: two over-sized luggage for check-in, two mid-size luggage for check-in, and two back packs.

What is in the check-in luggage, you may ask? Well, they are filled with gifts! Christmas decorations, Christmas wrapping paper, a wonderful assortment of teas, See's Scotch kisses, festive wrapping paper, two large packs of corn tortillas, corn tortilla baking pan, a bottle of tequila, pistachio nuts, various books and magazines, four body lotions, three Michael Kohrs bags, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

We check in smoothly, and directed by the oh-so-wonderful TSA to a different line. The lines are all backed up, and they are diverting us to another TSA line. We wait. And wait.

And wait.

The TSA finally opens the gate and there is a K-9 unit sniffing at all of the travelers. He is a cute brown bloodhound. A lady traveler ahead of me switches her luggage from her left hand to the right hand, as if avoiding the dog on her left. the K-9 unit sees this, and makes eye contact with the lady. The lady recognizes this and switches her bags back to the dog side in order to give him a sniff.

We are finally able to relax and have some food near our gate. I always start my vacations with an alcoholic drink, This vacation is no different, and I start with Jameson straight.

My dad and I head to the gate, and we fist bump.

"Let's have fun!" I tell my dad.

"OK!" he replies firmly.

It is the first time in over ten years for him to travel to Japan. His high school is having a 100 Year Anniversary, and his high school class is having their 50th Reunion. There really is no other opportunity like this trip to see all of his childhood friends. At first my dad was hesitant to go, but I told him I would accompany him on the trip and so he agreed to go on the trip.

"You should keep your passport out," I tell him.

"Why? They are already checked at the TSA check point."

"Ok, you do what you want, but you'll want to have it out."

"May I see your passport and ticket, sir?" The airline employee asks. I had her both my ticket and passport. My dad scrambles to open his backpack and pulls out his passport.

We board the plane and play musical chairs. My dad talks to the flight attendant, and the flight attendant allows me to sit across from the aisle from him. My original seat was a few rows back across the aisle from him. It turns out that my dad told the flight attendant that he is sick and he needs me by his side.

I find this fact out later when she talks to me during my in-flight stretches. She talks to me asking if my dad is ok, and if there is anything he needs to please let the attendants know. I give her a puzzled look.

"Should I speak to you in English?" she asks me politely.

"No, Japanese is fine," I reply. "I am a bit confused on why he would need anything though?"

She replies, "Well, he said he was sick and needs you close by."

I laugh. "Oh, no... I think that is a white lie. He's healthy as a bull. He wanted me to sit next to him so he said that. Please don't mind him. I will slap him later."

She chuckled a bit under her breath, and says, "Well, if you do need anything, please let usk now." She bows politely and walks away.

I watch Tomrrowland on the flight, and a few episodes of a Japanese drama/thriller series called Galileo. Then, I crack open my new book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculair Children by Ransom Riggs.

The book opens with a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem, and I was emersed into the novel immediately. I blasted through the whole novel by the end of the flgiht. What a riveting, exciting and fantastic read! Peculiar children with "gifts" from all around the world gathering together a la X-Men, World War II history, a Hollowgast (no doubt a play on words for Holocaust), and time slips from the present to the past, with great character development. The character-driven novel develops from chapter from chapter, with accompanying photographs relevant to the novel. Apparently, these are photographs Riggs found through swap meets, flea markets and yard sales. He collected them over the years and wrote this novel to accompany the photographs.

We get to our destination of Narita in 11.5 hours. There was a lot of turbulence on the flight, but nothing to deter me from my book.

Once we arrive, we get through customs without any hassle. We get our dollars exchanged for Yen, got our JR Rail Passes, and took a limousine bus to our hotel in Shinagawa. Here, we are greeted by our beloved Auntie Makiko (my mom's younger sister.)

We lead her up to our room and start unpacking our luggage. The suitcases are full of omiyage (gifts) to her and all of our other family members. She is astonished and horrified of all the omiyage we bring to Japan.

She takes us out across the street to a yakitori (skewers) restaurant. We are treated a wide assortment of yakitori and we rant about our travels, how much stuff our mom made us carry, and how Uncle Fred is doing after surgery on his left foot. My Auntie orders way too much food and we are stuffed beyond comprehension as more food arrives on our table. We leave some bits on the table as Auntie pays for us.

Once we part ways at the hotel, my dad and I go to our room, take a shower, and knock out on our beds.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

KKs Vacay Day 3: Off to Kauai!! 111615

Surf Report: Kinda flat

Water: Warm

Winds: Trade winds

Atmosphere: Clear

I wake up and walk down to Bogarts cafe. It has been my go to while staying on the South Shore. I get the coffee and acai bowl. The day is slow, and I move along with the speed of Hawaii.

I talked to Hawaiian Airlines yesterday, and finally got a live person today. I'll have to get an invoice from the shaper and send Hawaiian Airlines the copy of the invoice.

B-sauce is up, and we talk about what to eat for breakfast. De-Roy invites us into his room, and we play some Capcom vs. Marvel. B-sauce kicks our asses again.

B-Sauce says he has a spot to show me that is right down the street.

The phone rings as I am trying to make a left. The traffic is backed up with a bus, and we are blocking the intersection. It's Hawaiian Airlines again. I'm on the phone, blocking the intersection, damn it. I go straight, pull into the gas station, finish my phone call, cut through the traffic and get across the street to a food truck.

The Banana Banan truck is open for business! This spot is run by 2x World Champion Carissa Moore's boyfriend. He greets us, and takes our order. I ordered a turmeric banan. B-sauce gets a green banan. A Banan is the puree'd soft-cream style treat of tropical bananas grown locally on Oahu. They are combined with various other flavors like coconut, turmeric, ginger, carrots, and many others. It was a great tasting treat to have before my flight from Honolulu to Kauai.

My flight. What time was my flight?

While eating Banan, I think my flight is at 1130 AM. I look at my itinerary and the flight is at 1110 AM. I had to be there thirty minutes ago!

I accept the fact that I am late, and drive back to the Dojo with B-sauce in tow. I gathered my stuff: clothes, hydroflask, ukulele, supplements, and snacks. I jam to my car, and start driving to the airport. I know I'm late. Oh well.

I get to the rental car return and forgot to fill the car up with gas. Oh well.

Checking in, the teleprompter says the flight is departing. The check-in kiosk tells me I am too late. I check with a kiosk attendee. She says line up there, pointing to a customer service line. Oh well.

So, I get a ticket on the next flight. They tell me to go to the gate, and NOT TO GO TO THE BAR. I politely oblige.

I text my sister on what had happened. She told me, "Classic KK move! Missing your flight for some hilarious reasons."

Then, I get a call from my future landlord. He asks me some questions about my job, and some things that were illegible. He says thank you and we hang up.

My flight to Kauai is smooth. I have to pee badly, so I am eager for the fasten seatbelt sign to turn off. Once it turns off, I rush back to relieve myself of the pressure in my bladder. A girl gets up too, and she races on ahead of me... Damn it. She closes the door behind her with a smile, as if to say, "I'm gonna pee before you~"

As soon as I pee like Seabiscuit, I return to my seat, only to find that we are descending. The seatbelt sign turns back on, and the flight attendants are collecting empty juice cups and water cups handed out. Did we even lift off the ground? I'm not even sure.

 Arrival on Lihue is smooth. I grab my uke, hydroflask, and backpack and head off to my car rental. The car rental aunty is a rather Rubenesque, heavy-set lady with dark shades on. Her large body and hidden face screams authority but is accompanied by a sweet voice. She tells everyone who brought more than one piece of luggage, "You guys tryin too hard! You're on vacation!!"

She helps haul in the last couples' luggage into the shuttle. The door slams behind her, and we are off. She explains to us where to go to check-in for our car reservation, where to return, how to return the car effectively by dropping off luggage and other passengers at the airport before returning the car, and for us to have a nice time during our stay on Kauai.

I get to the car rental, and line up at the counter. I get a sweet girl to help me out. She gets me my car, and wishes me a nice stay.

There is a dent on the car, and I mark the paper. But, no one is at the attendee's podium. I drive around, and no one is out. Da fuck? Did everyone take a break? I drive off the lot without handing them the ticket.

I think of a plan. My place that I rented is on the North Shore of Kauai. I'm not even sure how far that is at this point. One thing is for sure, I am hungry. So, I drive to the nearest town, Kapaa.

I stop into a few random places that have restaurants, Foodland, and another grocery store. I am getting hungry, but nothing tickles my pickle. I yelp a poke place close by, and there is a poke spot in a shopping center if I back track 0.2 miles.

I drive down and find the small shopping center. The shopping center is under construction, so I walk around to find the poke place. I peep into a few stores out of curiosity, including a local t-shirt shop, and go to the visitors center. They guide me to the right place.

I don't recall the name of the place, but it was near a hotel. The poke was $17.99 a pound. Damn that was expensive as fuck! So I get a pound, and a side of brown rice. The hot sun is glaring down at us as we try to find solace under the shade. The cold poke tastes great with the hot brown rice under the hot sun. The ahi is fresh, and the sauce is perfect: not too salty, a hint of sweetness, and a well-balance finish of sesame oil, sesame seeds and chives. One can tell it was made fresh since the shoyu hasn't soaked into the tuna, yet the taste of the sauce and fresh fish is equally delicious.

I drive up to a Foodland and buy some apples, some bananas, a small, "super sweet" pineapple, two avocados, a six pack of beer, and a pound of poke. I wanted to get some rest in tonight, and decided to head straight to the place I was staying. So far this Hawaii trip, I haven't been sleeping on a bed, let alone a whole night. Tonight, I had to rest.

I drive following signs that read North. I don't want to use my GPS for two reasons: sheer cheapness (data is expensive, man!) and I wanted to choose my own adventure. I wanted to get lost and to make a wrong turn. I wanted to find my Kauai.

I drive through Kapaa town, and it is CROWDED WITH PEOPLE. Holy shit, there are a lot of people, and cars!! It is all man-made traffic though. Much like that stretch of Kam Highway right by Chun's reef and Jocko's, because everyone is rubber-necking the break, jay walking the street, finding parking, leaving parking, and jacking off in their car. Kapaa was like that. Ok it wasn't that bad, but what followed after the exodus from Kapaa burns in my memory.

The drive up north was breath-taking. BREATH. TAKING.

The beaches were mostly empty. I couldn't believe it. There were waves out there, lifeguards on duty, and only one or two people out. Da boyz from the Dojo told me that Kauai will be empty, but I didn't think this empty. I couldn't believe how beautifully empty the beach was.

There was a stretch on the highway where the highway is covered over by gargantuan trees. The trees towered over measly humans and their concrete roads. Small gleams of light sparkled through as we drove forty miles per hour.

Driving forty five miles per hour was noticeably fast over in Kauai. I was stunned and also pleased to drive slowly, enjoying the serenity of the scenery. I had my iPhone connected to the cars system, so I had it going on random. There were some songs that I had always skipped over but I listened to them here in Kauai. They were songs of love, of rock and rolling, of Marvin Gaye.

I pay attention to the stores on my way to the North Shore. People have told me that everything shuts down at 900 PM here. So, if they are right about the empty beaches, I trust they are right about the 900 PM thing. So, if I need something and I know this before 900 PM, I should come to this spot.

Further down the road, I get enthralled by the rows of trees covered in symbiotic vines on their entire body, from trunk to branches. The dark green vines have huge leaves on them that fan over the branches. These trees have been here for hundreds of thousands of years, maybe even millions of years. It dwarfed the human ego inside of me. We humans seemingly act as though we know everything after a few decades of life. Mother Nature is and will continue to be living, thriving, striving, progressing, evolving, and overpowering. The mana of the Hawaiian islands is alive in the soil, the air, the trees, the mountains and the water. We humans must learn from Mother Nature. We must protect Mother Nature.

I near Princeville and start to read the instructions of where this vacation rental place is located. The instructions the manager wrote can only be seen on pdf, so I am having difficulty reading it. I realize that I had missed my turn, when I get a call. The phone reads, "Aisa."

Aisa and I met through a dating app called Coffee Meets Bagel, and we hit things off through our conversations in the app. I was myself, and she was herself. I made suggestive inappropriate innuendos in our conversations about life, traveling, and careers. She matched with equal passion in response. I got her number, and started to text her through t he phone.

Then our conversations halted. I thought to myself, "What the fuck? Ok, well, if she ain't responding... I can't do anything."

And here she is, calling me. I pick up the phone, driving the wrong way still.

She first apologizes about not responding to texts. She has been going through some tough times, and haven't been available. Understandable, since we all have been there. We talk, a bit while I drive around, make a U-turn, and head back to the right direction. Our conversations are breaking up because of the poor service available in Kauai. We agree to text each other back and forth, and we hang up. Perhaps the poor service is a blessing. We kept the conversation short, succinct, to the point, and agreed on texting each other while I was on vacation. Actually, it was me who asked if it was ok to text food pictures, hiking pictures, and the occasional sexy selfie to her, and she said that was ok, with a laugh.

I punch in the address of the place and give in to GPS technology. My GPS leads me through a gated community full of old, retired white people. Talk about a homogeneous population! There is a fucking golf course here... Fuck, where am I staying? The fucking retirement housing complexes??

I arrive at my place. It's across a fancy shmancy gated community. That's right, there is a gated community within the gated community. Way to out-yup the yuppies, Yuppy McYuppy. The complex I am staying in has a top unit, and a bottom unit. I don't understand how or why there is a bottom unit. Wouldn't that make the units underground?

I get to my unit, and the instructions are hard to follow in the dark. I can't open the key lock, and struggle to punch in the right numbers. Even after punching in the right numbers, I pull the tab and release it before the cover comes off. I finally manage to coordinate my pulling of the tab with the cover popping off. I am so smart! Ess emm are tee!!

I get inside the unit, and the living room is an open space taken up by the bed, a round dining table, a sofa, and a coffee table. The bathroom looks nice, but where is the cooking area? I start opening the closet doors inside the bathroom. Extra towels in one drawer, books displayed on an empty compartment. I open another closet, next to the living room couch, and therein lies the poorly put together "cooking area." The small closet had shelves in it with bowls stacked on top plates stacked on top of cutting boards, various utensils and bottle openers, some mugs for coffee, and a mini-fridge. Well, paying $100 a night in a gated community does have its pitfalls. I throw my snacks, fruit, poke, beer, and avocado in the fridge. I crack open a beer and start reading the manual. It says to make sure to keep the room clean, and move any furniture that we move. I immediately move the coffee table that had this manual on top out of the way. Finally, some open space to lay on and foam roll!

I unpack my backpack and set up my living space. My laptop and ukulele are out, and I start chugging my beer. It's been a long few days.

I see the balcony outside, and there is a huge drop into a valley of greenery that does not allow for any visibility to the ground. The lush valley is filled with chirps of birds and croaks of frogs. Across the valley, there is another few acres of lush green grass and more houses.

As time tick-tocks away, I decide to go for a walk. I might as well try to exercise before the sun sets. Perhaps I can find a way to get to the water. I walk down the street, passing by scenic overlooks from the cliffs to million dollar houses and condominium complexes. Jennifer Lopez once tried to buy out a few complexes to put her own mega-mansion on the land, but the people of the Land said no, and insisted she sell her properties at once. I'm not sure if she did or not, but the message was clear: Don't build anymore.

I see that there is another gated community further, but there seems to be a dead end. I walk along the sidewalk, and see a small walkway. Two surfer girls, probably in middle school, wait for their parents to pick them up. I back track a few steps and take the small walkway. The walkway is red dirt, wet with the previous rain. The concrete wall on the right side separates the iron gates on the left side. The concrete wall turns into iron gates too, covered thick in vine. I can hear the voices of four males talking on how fucked up they got last night, and how fucked up they will be tonight.

The path leads through a brush area, and there are small stairs. A surfer dude and his chick walk up. He is carrying a rental longboard. We exchange hello's and continue on our paths. I can see the Hanalei peak way off in the distance. The sun is setting over it. I make my way down the path, to see a rope along the red dirt path. The rope is there to help travelers of this path to travel safely without slipping. I am in my slippers, and try my best not to slip. I make my way down, not knowing where I am going to end up. The path keeps leading down, through huge trees that have overgrown the air space but still reach for the heavens. There is an area of brown, dead tree leaves scattered all over the ground. A senior couple walk up the path. The gentleman is wearing shorts and a polo shirt. The woman is wearing a black dress with blue shawl, holding her shoes in one hand and walking barefoot. The gentleman thanks me for sticking to the side and letting them pass. I smile and say, "You're welcome."

I finally get down to the sand, and it is a small, secluded beach of brown, grainy sand. There are two surfers out in the line up, and the waves are at most two feet, California scale. I sit, and breathe. I bury my hands and feet in the sand, letting the grains run through my fingers and toes. I sit and enjoy the moment of solitary freedom.

The water slowly crashes inches beyond my sand covered feet. It has been a long day… I should go for a swim. I take off my hat, my shirt, put my phone and keys under a fallen, yellow leaf, leave my slippers on the rocks and head for the bosom of Mother Ocean. I crawl into her warm, inviting arms, and start floating.

The sky was still a light blue, glowing with a tinge of red and purple. I start to swim around, going out to see. I open my eyes under water and watch the coral dance. They undulate with precise synchronization, never moving too fast or too slow. I float head down for a while and come back for air. I swim more, going between the coral reef below me. My hand catches the reef as I paddle since the coral is shallow. I get some small cuts on my left hand as a result. I keep swimming out to the reef, thinking maybe, just maybe, I can body surf one of these waves.

I see a girl paddle back in with her longboard. I can only see her cute butt from behind. She walks up the sand, and disappears into the woods.

I swim for a while longer, and head back in to shore. I sit again, contemplating about nothing. Soul searching on Kauai, and keeping my mind blank. This feels good.

Now, the sun is quickly setting, and darkness is falling upon the land. I gather my things, and head back up to the trail. I climb slowly, not cautiously but at my own pace, uphill. I don’t need to use the rope on my way up, even though my worn out slippers have lost their grip. I finally make it back out to the grassy clearing, and find my way back between the iron gates and concrete wall. I make it through the pathway, and start walking back to my place.

As I am walking, I see in the distance a group of tourists stopping and pointing at the sky. I look back, and see a gorgeous purple sky tinged with orange and violet red. I start walking back to an open area where I can soak in the view. A retiree walks by and says, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I never get sick of it,” I replied.

I head back to my place and it is almost too dark. There really aren’t any lights around this place. Inside my humble abode, I turn on the Laker game and crack open a beer. I cut some avocado and eat it with poke.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into Princeville, eat some food, and head to Waimea Canyon. Maybe I’ll do a hike before I leave?

Mahalos Mother Ocean and Kauai!

Monday, November 23, 2015

KKs Vacay Day 2: Hawaii Has More Than Just Surf 111515

Surf Report: Flat everywhere
Winds: Windy everywhere

"You wanna jump in the water real quick?" B-sauce asks me.

"Yea, I need to," I reply. "I still feel tired from the flight, and last night was late too." I had woken up at 500 AM and couldn't go back to sleep. I watched the sun rise over the horizon, and did my yoga routine.

The Pioneer Wall
We decide on where to go to eat and jump in the car. We head down to Town and find a parking spot. We walk down to the sand, set our stuff down, and jump in the water. Instantaneously, my body feels rejuvenated and tired. We swim around for a few minutes, and go back to the car to head to Pioneer.

Pioneer is a new restaurant right down the street from the Dojo. I would describe it as Japanese style plate lunches. Justin and I order Miso Butterfish, Ginger Pork a la carte, and garlic salmon. The restaurant itself is set up like mess-hall style. Grab a table and sit with some strangers. There is wonderful decor of vintage tid bits in book cases, all for sale. There are old books from libraries, still sticky on the top and bottom of the spine, where the sorting stickers used to be. They sell postcards and stickers at the front near the register. The overall vibe is very calming and homely.

The Miso Butterfish, which costs $13, is a fucking steal. You get three pieces of delicious buttery Butterfish, hot off the grill. Their macaroni salad is off the hook. I'm not a big fan of mac salad, but this one is no joke: I eat the whole thing and wish there was more. The Ginger Pork is super juicy, and the garlic salmon is delicious. What a great, quality find!

After we eat, we serve it up with ping pong again. And once again, I fucking lose straight games. I can't get B-sauce to lose. He starts talking shit, and I fire back that I will get him back next time.

Alex is back home from dropping off his dad, and he wants to take me out to a quick hike. We go on a hike that is straight up hill, with some areas still a bit slippery from the rain. The trail itself is sheltered from the winds, but once we get into the opening, we are faced with gale force winds pushing us against the cliff.

"Glad this wind is blowing us against the cliff and not away, huh??" yells Alex. The wind is so gnarly.
Topple Off the Cliff to Become Ali'i

"The King used to bring up peasants as sacrifices, and toss them over that cliff," he points to a cliff we are facing. "If you survive the fall, you automatically become Ali'i. So when winds are blowing like this, there is a chance for the sacrificial peasant to live. Wanna find out if you're Ali'i?"

"Um, no, I'm ok not being royalty. I'll be a peasant," I reply with a smile.
Windy but great view!!

We continue all the way up to the top of the trail, and we rest for a bit. Francis wants us to come through to his house for a BBQ tonight, so I suggest we head back.

The way down, as I had feared, is extremely steep. I spend time on my ass at some points in order to stay low to the ground and not lose balance. One tumble and I tumble down for a while, I thought to myself. Alex is more used to this hike, so he is cartwheeling off the trails.

The path is still slippery from the previous rain, and I slip on the last part of the trail. My ass is brown with dirt.

"It looks like you shit your pants," Alex laughs.

We get back to the Dojo, and Alex jumps into the shower. We head over to Francis's house, stopping by Tamura's to pick up some poke.

"He never invites me to his house for a BBQ!" Alex complains on the drive over. "He moved up outta the hood man."

I didn't know that he moved up out of the hood. His house is half way to the North Shore. We park in front of his house. Francis and Nicole's house is HUGE! It looks gorgeous. The garage has all their surfboards, a washer and dryer, the rooms are filled with light and warmth, and the backyard has been redone with well organized plants. The dining room has pictures of shorebreak waves.

We eat, talk story, drink beers, and laugh our heads off. Nicole is taking an online test so she couldn't kick it. We stay until 1000 PM, and head home.

Friday, November 20, 2015

KKs Vacay Day 1: Gettin Served 111415

I'm back... Finally. Back on the islands of Hawaii. In light of the Paris attacks, the security was a bit higher. Everyone had to go through the X-ray machine. I got padded down, and my hands were checked for bomb residue, or whatever the fuck they check for with those wipes and machine.

The flight landed 30 minutes early, and we had tons of wind messing with the plane. The other passengers were a bit frazzled by the shaky landing, but to me, it was smooth. The pilots did a great job maneuvering through the turbulence. I started the round of applause on the flight, and the passengers seemed relieved and happy to finally be in Hawaii.

There is no surf on the islands right now. So, naturally I keep myself busy at the Dojo. Justin, aka B-sauce, is waiting for me at the Dojo. I had brought over three Chevapchichi (Serbian sausage) sandwiches, and one portobello mushroom sandwich from the Metro Cafe. We all devour them. Francis stopped by after his twelve hour shift, and we catch up. I hand some of the gifts I brought from LA, which included Stance socks for the boys at the Dojo.

B-sauce and I immediately get down on some ping pong games, and he serves me up donuts. I can't get a fucking win on him. I get close to beating him, but he gets game point, and he still beats me!

I check on my surfboards... and my biggest board, a Nezzy, has been damaged. I'm kinda pissed, but at the same time not. I'm in Hawaii. How bad could it be? I'll do a report tomorrow... 

The evening goes on and Kev, along with Ivan, and D-Roy, drive us up to the North Shore to Clara's house. There, we have a few drinks and great conversations. The girls, about four or five of them, want to go to the Surfer Bar to have more drinks. I am down, but most of the boys have work tomorrow morning. We all agree to go to the Surfer Bar, and get into the car. Ivan, who is driving the car, is hesitating to go to the bar. We see Clara's car veer left, and Ivan doesn't follow. We all give a long "Ohhhhhhhhhh," and laugh it off.

We should have gone, but hey I ain't drivin'.

The night ends with me knocking out at midnight.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Back At It 110715

Surf Report: 1-2 feet
Water: Cold
Wind: Off shore
Atmosphere: Sunny

I have been fighting a cold since Monday. Monday was the worst of it, but I wasn't able to shake off the cough and the body aches, so I haven't been surfing since Sunday. I get up feeling relatively well, with minimal soreness in my throat. I go to the garage and look for 3/2 wetsuit.

"Is it this? No... it must be this...?" I pick one out and feel the thickness around the wrist. "It's probably this one," I tell myself.

Matt and I are sending messages through the morning. He has a job interview today. I wish him good luck and that he will nail that interview.

I pull into the parking lot late. Chad, his daughter Maddie, and her friend Sunny are changing into their wetsuits. I pull out my wetsuit, flip it back from inside out to outside out, and pull my legs through. Something feels tight. It's my 4/3. Not my 3/2.

Oh well.

I throw on some sunscreen, and the metermaid, Kurt, is ticketing people. He goes up to one car and Bruce yells, "Stop! That's Mark's car!" Kurt stops.

"Is he one of your friends?"

"Yea, lemme feed the meter," Bruce replies, running over with a handful of change. "It's Mark, he's fishing right now. He should know better! He comes here all the time."

"Well, let me leave an empty envelope so he freaks out when he gets back," Kurt smirked, leaving an empty envelope on the windshield.

"Yea! That will get him, that will be good!" Bruce laughed.

"You gotta have some fun when you work!" Kurt beamed, looking at me. We both laughed.

I fed my meter, and headed down to the lower parking lot. There, Stocky Jon, Orlando, Jose, Robert, Ted, and Kim were gathered around. Orlando hugs me and tells me the news that his friend, Doug, has passed away.

"I'm trying to do a paddle out for him," Orlando said, in his thick accent. "Will you be here on Saturday? We doin a paddle out for him man."

"Aw, yea, I heard from Matt. I'm sorry to hear that dude. I won't be here though, since I'm going to Hawaii," I told him.

"Oh okay then that's ok. Bring me back one of those license plates yea?" he replied with a bright smile.

"I'll look for one," I told him.

The surf is small as fuck. But it's my first day back since Sunday, and I am happy to be here, burning up in my 4/3 under the hot South Bay sun. I am sweating beads in my warm ups, and jump in to icy water. It hasn't been this cold all summer, or fall. It went from summer to winter. El Nino indeed.

Chad and his girls are all riding foamies and longboards. They are further south of the tower. I stay a little north of the tower.

There weren't too many notable waves. I caught some one shotters and small waves that were fun, but the thing that stuck out to me most was the vibe. Everyone was chill, sharing waves. We were all cheering on Maddie and Sunny, and even the kids learning to surf from the Austrailian guy who has been teaching all year. Bruce was giving pointers to Maddie on how to go switch stance, and she attempted three times on her backside to switch stance. She got it twice! And her friend Sunny was going for waves that she usually wouldn't go for. The Aussie guy was on a left, but pulled out half way through his ride so that Sunny could have the rest of the wave. What a perfect day to have people of all abilities and ages to surf together and enjoy these little, fun waves.

Mahalo Mother Ocean!!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Snaking a Local 071915

Surf Report: Small and clean
Water: Warm enough
Winds: Somewhat onshore
Atmosphere: Gloomy as fuck

This day was memorable because it was my last good day surfing on my Neckbeard. There was barely anyone out, and the waves came in clean if you were patient enough.

However, I remember that I snaked Toby's wife, the one with the blue streaks in her hair. Toby and his wife, whom I don't know the name of, are locals here, and I always let them have waves. Today though.... I felt greedy. And upon me snaking her, I had to leave. I didn't feel good about it, and I still don't feel good about it. I wish I hadn't snaked her on a left, but it was so clean! I got one good pump to separate us, and then went for broke on a rock n'roll floater. I didn't stick it, and ate shit right in front of her.

She had to ditch her board too, which made the situation even more embarrassing.

I had ordered my board from Don Kadowaki six weeks ago, and so I am starting to feel anxious....