seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Next comes bed

I'm sitting in front of my computer, listening to my bed calling me. After 3 weeks of infidelity, I return to my ugly neon green cotton sheets. The key word there is "MY." Sleeping in my own bed - the only pleasure I was denied on vacation. Not anymore. You ever try sleeping in a coach seat on a train? Easier than on a plane, but you spend 10x longer on the train, so it all evens out.

I worked my full shift at the bookstore, had dinner with my sister, Andrea, and Adam and watched The Daily Show. Unpacked and figured out my finances (spent more than I thought, but within acceptable limits). Hanging out with Kim was great - even though she beat me in Sorry! I hope that we both live in the same city soon - whichever city that may be.

Now I am contemplating how early to get up for a morning bike ride or run to start working off the vacation flub and such. Still have some unpacking to do, laundry, and hit the grocery store before I return to a fully normal life.

Vacation aftermath - all the above and watching your vacation bill total soar as you add in film expenses. You have to pay to enjoy thoes memories! I dropped off 10 color vacation rolls of 36 exposure rolls, 1 roll of B & W (from the reception) 36 exposure roll, and several rolls of semi-pro soccer I shot before vacation. Will have the negatives made and cut, but not printed. Cost is about 1.85 per roll. The B & W's will get printed with doubles as it takes longer - few places do B & W in house, almost all ship it out. Then over the next few weeks I'll be scanning them in and slowing adding them to my web site.

Don't hold your breath. As for me, I'm going to sleep. In the next few days, this blog will turn into more a political commentary / random rant and joke zone. Until my next vacation.

Home Again

I love Minnesota! It is Aug 17, 8:45 AM, and 62 degrees! I just got off the train and have to be at work in an hour. Weeeee.

Train Prep

Another good morning to sleep in. Woke up around 10:00 - still battling a headache I had throughout most of last night. So I decided to largely ignore the warning on my Excedrin bottle and take a little bit more than the recommended dosage since my earlier dosage didn't fully kill it off. I'm hoping it will be gone by train time.

Andrea is pretty much all packed and I'm about to start. Orf and I took a last run this morning - probably just over 2 miles at a relaxed pace, then we jumped in the pool to cool down. I'm gonna miss that pool for post jogging relaxation.

Looking back over the trip, it had many high points and damn few valleys (a bit of a pun, since we visited so many mountains). Andrea and I survived 3 weeks together (assuming we don't blow up at each other on the train ride home) with only a few tense moments.

If I had to pick the best moment though, it would be the one that caused the trip to happen: Russ and Lisa's wedding. This has been the most exciting event I have been a part of in a long time. We had a great bachelor party before we left Minnesota. The best part of the vacation was seeing how happy they were during the wedding and reception. It was a good time, and I'm very happy to have been a part of it. Russ and Lisa: I wish you both the best (as long as you don't move away) =)

Now I gotta pack.

Last Night in Redmond

Andrea, Orf, and I had another day of leisure. Quite. Slept in - which was quite nice. Orf and I played some Grand Theft Auto again and I eventually worked up the energy for an extremely short run which sucked. Not much energy due to the poor quality of food. Went swimming when I got back though, and that was nice.

Andrea, realizing that I was perfectly content to waste the day playing video games and chillin with Orf, took the initiative to say "Let's go to the Aquarium." So off to the Aquarium we went. It was cool - good fishes, learned some interesting facts. Sea otters are cute and playful.

We also checked out an Imax presentation of a documentary about the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens. It was somewhat disappointing, as it was about the changes to Mt. St. Helens over time since the eruption but the most current footage in it was from 1990. Doesn't seem like a long time ago, but it was 14 years now. I would like to know what it looks like now ... but don't think I can get Orf to drive down there. Next time it is on the agenda ... besides, since I've hit Mt. Baker and Ranier, Hood and St Helens are the logical next step.

At this point, we were quite hungry and looking forward to some good Seattle seafood.

Given last night's dinner, McDonald's would likely offer us better service than what we last had. On the advice of Nate, Lisa's brother who lives in Seattle, we tried a place called Chinook's. It is a local place, out of the way of tourists that has been critically acclaimed.

The food was good, service was good, and for a Friday night at 8:00, there was practically no wait. I decided to be adventurous and checked out the Oyster stew for an appetizer (let me spare you the jokes: Andrea did NOT suggest I get oyster - hahahaha). Turns out I'm not an oyster person. Now I know. I ate it all though to be sure. I'm sure now.

For the entree, I ordered Alaskan Rockfish - with a salsa like topping. It was quite good. Andrea had crab cakes which she quite enjoyed and Orf enjoyed his fish finger type meal also. So all around: quite good. Bonus points because they had root beer on tap.

Now we are back in Orf's apartment relaxing and preparing for our last night of sleep before the train. The long train ride home. Wish us luck.

Mount Ranier: Also Fairly Tall

Andrea, Orf and I slept in today, having staying up late playing Grand Theft Auto 3 on the PS2. We decided to check out Mt. Ranier and headed out around 11:00.

Arrived at the Sunrise area (Mt. Ranier has 5 different areas to approach from and each has multiple hikes) around 2:00 following a quick stop to Quiznos. I like to think I like Quiznos, but I never really find their subs satisfying. Oh well.

We decided to try a 6 mile-ish hike up to the Fremont outlook where an old fire watch tower stands minus most of its paint. The hike was easy in terms of trail difficulty - not very rooty and always well marked. But it was quite hilly - gained over 1000 feet total, but many more along the way when you figure out ridge traversals.

The view was incredible despite a heavy haze that often hangs around the area. Can't complain too much since it is often enveloped in clouds of rain that do not give you an idea as to how good it could look under ideal conditions. We got that idea, but not the perfect photo op. Well worth it anyway. I am inspired to return for more hiking - something more rigorous, perhaps with Adam if he is down for a 98 mile hike around Ranier via the Wonderland trail.

We took a slightly different, longer path back to the car which turned out to be fortuitous.

As we were walking, we came across a marmot. I don't think I have ever seen one up close before. Probably between 35 and 50 lbs, it was eating weeds and flowers (I doubt it distinguishes between the two) along the trail. Right along the trail. So close to the trail, it was practically our companion. I tried to quietly pull out my 300mm telephoto lens to get some good photos. Later I learned that these things don't really care how quiet we are.

Took some photos, moved closer, took more photos, move closer, spooked it, it kept eating, I moved closer, finally it started moving away. I was able to fully fill the frame with it though, so I assume I got some good photos.

Andrea, Orf and I parted ways with it - only to find another one chilling by the bathroom (wooden port-o-john) that was next to a campground we hiked by. Apparently, they are both common and tame.

We finished our hike against a starting-to-set sun that made everything look better ... and hazier. Still took a few photos but I doubt they will amount to much.

We left Ranier, and stopped in the first town we came to along the road, which was called Enumclaw. Stopped at a Chinese Restaurant on Griffin street called Oriental Gardens. Walked in and a young white girl was the hostess. We all had the same thought: turn around - I know of no one who has had a good experience in a chinese restaurant which is not run by an immigrant Asian family.

We stayed. Hrm. We ordered Peking Chicken, Szechuan beef, and Sweet / Sour Pork and some egg rolls. The Beef and Chicken were supposed to be hot. To be fair, I have a decent heat tolerance. Not great, but something better than most people. I have also been hit with a runny nose the last 2 days. This food was so far from hot that my nose actually stopped running. Hot food makes my nose run when I haven't thought of tissues for months. Now here I am, supposedly eating hot food, having had a running nose not 30 minutes ago, and it is dry as can be.

So the food wasn't spicy. It wasn't good either. Not bad - but we didn't bother boxing any of it either. News flash: when 20-something recently out of college guys don't take leftover chinese food, something is definitely wrong.

However, the fortune cookies were good. Not only in taste, but in message! If you haven't noticed, there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of fortune cookie messages over the last several years. Not so here. Actual fortunes - not proverbs or self help catch phrases: but fortunes!

That was probably the high note although a close contender is the entertainment offered by the poor architecture of the establishment. Many right angles with poor field of view leaves the staff often bumping into each other - sometimes while carrying food. So there is sort of a show with the food.

Overall: mediocre food at good food prices. Avoid it.

We returned to Redmond where I bought Andrea her first ever Slurpee. She enjoyed it. Rock on. A quick dip in the hot tub at Orf's complex later, here I sit. Waiting for a shower and yet another viewing of Eurotrip - a fantastic comedy I have seen 10 times.

One other thing I think I forgot to mention regarding the flight out of Hilo into Honolulu: we had an incredible view of Mauna Kea and Waipio Valley. On my next trip to Hawaii (fingers crossed), I will definitely plan to hike up Mauna Loa, and across the ridges of Waipio. They are stunning.

Redmond Again

Andrea and I have completed the Hawaii portion of our vacation. The plane ride was a little shorter than the one to Hawaii and Orf was at the airport to pick us up. So it was a fairly quick day with nothing much exciting happening.

Well, there was one highlight. The guy who was doing announcements at our gate before the flight from Honolulu to Seattle was entertaining. He would say things like: the plane is really long, a mile long. Or: we are boarding rows 41 and higher - if you board the plane before you are supposed to, we will slap your wrist and have you board last.

The highlight came after we were on the plane though when he announced it was a no-smoking flight and if anyone was caught smoking, they would be thrown out of a window while the plane was in motion. Very entertaining! His last quip was something along the lines of "On behalf of my 5 children, and my 5 ex-wives, thank you for flying Northwest airlines."

Good night.

Last Night in Hawaii

Alright, I can start by admitting that I am kindof ready to return home. Looking forward to Seattle, but starting to wonder if perhaps vacations of more than 2 weeks start seeming less like vacations toward the end.

I have definitely had a good time and have seen more interesting things than I expected to. I think I expected to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and tourists all the time. Fortunately, we have avoided that while still seeing some of the best that Hawaii has to offer. Staying with locals has helped quite a bit. Staying with incredibly hospitable locals who have made it their mission to make sure we have a good time has helped even more.

Since I last blogged, we have checked out some of the more touristy aspects of the island. The day after the reception, we travelled to Honoka'a (Hawaii pronunciation guide: if you want to pronounce things correctly, plan on spending some time here). Honoka'a is where Lisa's family lived until recently and the town in which Russ and Lisa got married. It is a nice little town with a good bakery that offers tasty banana bread bricks in the morning topped with macadamia nuts.

That day was pretty chill since a lot of people were feeling the after effects of the wedding. We visited Lapahoehoe which is a little town that has a park on the point. It is a beautiful little area where the wind always blows strong and there seems to be constant surf striking the volcanic rock kicking up salty sea spray which may be God's punishment to people who take too many scenic photos (by corroding their camera if you didn't get the reference...). At any rate, this is an area that was hard hit by a tsunami in the 40's. Several people died and there is a monument there to remember them.

I waded out a little bit and used some climbing/bouldering skills to climb up a little volcanic rock while Lisa took some photos of me posing against a dramatic sky. Weeee

Following that fun, we went to Honoka'a where we spent the night in the house behind the little church. Russ, Lisa, Andrea, Katherine (Russ' sister), Kristin (Maid of Honor) and Hannah (Bride's maid), and I walked down Honoka'a looking for ice cream (the ice cream shop was already closed for the day at 6:30 or so ... this is how it is in Hawaii - shops even close early in touristy areas ... which Honoka'a is not but you get the idea).

We decided to go to a local fast food place called 'Tex' for dinner. Typical truck stop type food for the most part ... onion rings, fries, burgers, malts. But also the home of a dish unique to Hawaii from what I can tell. It goes by the name Loco Moco. This is a layered food served in a bowl. Rice on the bottom, hamburger in the middle, and eggs over easy on the top. All of it smothered in gravy. If you are thinking that sounds good, then you are likely from the south. I tried a Chicken loco which is the same thing, replacing burger with chicken. It was fairly tasty although I couldn't take any more by the end.

Next we rented the Wedding Planner. Wow. J-Lo, you blow. I was not impressed with the movie, but it was fun to watch because we made fun it throughout. I think any movie can be enjoyable if you watch it with the right people.

The next morning we headed out to Hapuna beach again. More of the same at Hapuna although the waves were a little bit bigger so the surf was almost fun to be in. Not quite though.

After an hour at the beach we headed to Kona - the major tourist city on the Big Island. We checked into our hotel and wandered among tourist stands for awhile. I saw some cool shirts and such, but didn't much want to get a Hawaii shirt that was made in Haiti, Honduras, or China so I restrained my wallet.

There is a cool store called Hilo Hattie which is a local store (to the islands, not just this island I believe) that offers a lot of clothing manufactured in the islands. I may end up buying something off their website - the stuff I wanted to buy in the store was not Hilo Hattie brand and was therefore manufactured in countries known for sweatshop abuses.

I have been quite surprised at the lack of beach bunnies - I think I mentioned this before. Very few nubile young ladies in revealing clothing and lots of overweight folks in revealing clothing.

Random Kona observation, the closer you come to touristy areas, the more you hear bits of Hawaiian language like Aloha and Mahalo (thanks). While the locals do use both these terms occasionally, you hear them most often from people who are working retail jobs for companies that rely on tourist dollars.

Oh also, at no point did I attend a Luau. From what I can tell, Luau's are for people who come to Hawaii in Cruise ships, rich tourists, and of course, both. Locals shop at Wal-mart. Depressing? Yes. Wal-mart is where the youth hang out at night. Practically nothing else is open.

Back to the recap. That night we went out to dinner at the home grown Outback steakhouse. Like I said ... we were in tourist town. I got a kick out of the place that advertised fresh Maine Lobster. What a flight that must have been.

After the Outback, Kristin, Andrea, Lisa, and I lost all our change to Hannah in some two-penny ante poker. Sleep followed. Odd nightmare sleep for Andrea and I who actually slept separately in the twin beds of our room - space to stretch our legs!!!

Which reminds me. In a cruel joke, apparently the bridal suite in Russ and Lisa's room the night of the wedding had two double beds. That night Andrea and I had a king size bed which was HUGE. Lesson learned: Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is better for the gander than the goose(s).

Next morning: breakfast at a local joint on the tourist strip. After visiting 4 restaurants with more than 6 people, we came to the conclusion that no establishment in Kona can deal with that number of people. Poor poor wait service at most of the restaurants around here. So, if you come to the Big Island, there is lots to do outside of Kona and the service is better.

We stopped by a National Park on our way out of Kona and saw more endangered sea turtles chilling off the beach. They really are big creatures that do much better remaining stationary against crashing waves than I do.

That night we made it back to Hilo for a pizza dinner to celebrate the birthdays of both of Lisa's brothers. Good times, said goodbye to most of the relatives we have met along the way. We are now packing up our things and Andrea finally got to play her travel Scrabble game and beat Kristin. I hope she stays in this good mood during our travel day tomorrow.

Tomorrow we leave Hilo at 8:58 for Honolulu. By 9:54 PDT we should be in Seattle. Inshallah.

Hawaii has been incredible - due in no small part to Lisa and Russ' relatives who have demonstrated great hospitality and patience during a stressful time.

Thank you!

Russ and Lisa: Married

Saturday night: Walchka, Russ, and I talk until quite late. Sunday morning, we take Russ to Ken's House of Pancakes (the only 24 hour restaurant on the island it seems) for breakfast. I had the Kileaua breakfast which is a tower consisting of (from bottom to top) pancake, ham, pancake, bacon, pancake, scrambled eggs. I doused it in syrup and ate half before giving up.

Lots of waiting after that - small talk and driving. On to the church area. Russ, his dad David, Walchka, and I change in a little Sunday school room out of view of Lisa. Listening to FatBoy Slim. Techno grooves for those who don't know.

Ralph, our photographer for the day, takes some medium format photos of us and then Russ, Walchka, David, and I are playing hearts on these short benches in the Sunday school room listening to FatBoy Slim. I ask David if this is how he pictured Russ' wedding day when he was born 25 years ago in Arkansas. Not so much.

Time seems to start picking up speed here.

Suddenly it is time for the service. Russ is quite calm - duck on a pond in John Madden lingo. I walk Grammy Pearl to her seat (Russ' grandma) - we were the first down the aisle and Ralph wasn't quite ready so we had to stop and walk extra slow - extra slow for the wedding aisle walk being REAL slow - and take my spot in the wedding party line.

Suddenly I'm standing next to David and Lisa is walking up the aisle looking radiant. David and Ted (Lisa's dad) managed quite nicely to lead the service although it was a new experience for both of them (double Revs, their own children). Back up the aisle, signing the certificate, back down the aisle for photos in the sanctuary.

Then driving back to Hilo for the reception. The weather was exceptional. Great white clouds on the horizon surrounded by brilliant blues in the sky. Photos by the bay behind the hotel with palm trees and a setting sun sidelight.

Reception time: I'm on the Master of Ceremony. Uh oh! Let's get it started ... Thank you all for coming, thank the Hawaiian band for the music, let's get David up here to bless the meal.

Blessing over, I dismiss tables one by one to line up for the buffet. Dinner goes smoothely, time to introduce the families - Russ and Lisa take care of that. During a lull, Russ comically explains to everyone how he and Lisa met.

Slideshow - photos of Russ and Lisa throughout the years. Lisa younger brother Daniel set it up and runs it without problem. On to the toasts. Maid of Honor Kristin gives a speech talking about when she first knew Russ and Lisa were meant to be with each other.

Then it is my turn. I say this won't be the traditional best man speech since it isn't a traditional wedding. Lots of thanks. I thank Grandma Jo, Lisa's parents, and her brothers for planning such a wonderful wedding on top of planning a vacation, including lodging, for a bunch of mainlander folks. Thanks to the Grandgeorge's for getting a lagoon house in Kapoho so we all had beds to sleep in. Thanks to Daniel and Nate for showing us around for so many days. Thanks to Becky Grandgeorge for teaching Russ to cook since he has been teaching me. Let's remember the folks who couldn't make it but really wanted to (really really wanted to). A toast to the lovely bride.

Russ toasted his lovely bride next and then Ted and David toasted the couple. We then had a toast in an eastern style, involving the yelling of Bonzai! multiple times. Cake cake cake and some dancing.

Lots of people left and the rest of us watched Russ and sister Katherine teaching everyone else how to dance. I got a few dances in: one with Lisa, a couple with Andrea, and one with Katherine - who was quite patient with me.

The wedding and reception went off perfectly, I cannot imagine how it could have gone better. A beautiful ceremony with just the right amount of tears for the dashing couple.

The night ended with a King size bed for me. It is unfortunate I was so tired - a bed that big, you almost want to toss and turn all night just because you can. But I slept comfortably which is a silly thing to regret.

This morning we are catching a breath. Russ and Lisa opened gifts and we have gorged ourselves on the leftover cake. Today will most likely be quiet. Walchka leaves today for the mainland and Nicole is off tomorrow. I think we'll be spending the next two days on the other side of the island which is more touristy. I'll let you know how that goes.

Night before the Wedding

Russ and Lisa are getting married tomorrow. I'm not sure how ready everyone is - there is an eerie silence in the Lesnett house right now where nearly the entire groom's party is bedding down in the house of the bride's family. Silent except for some Hawaiian music. Silent except for Russ coming into the living area and announcing he has just finished his vows.

Today wasn't all wedding stuff though. We had our last morning in Kapoho this morning at the Lagoon house. One last swim, packed up, cleaned up a little (Lisa's brothers cleaned up a LOT - thanks guys), and headed out to see the lava field from a major 1983 flow. Russ's clan accompanied Andrea, Nicole, Walchka and I to the flow, driving on a narrow one lane road (as in if someone is coming opposite you, you both edge off the road while passing) which passes beautiful shore line and lush vegetation one minute, barren lavascape the next.

We checked out the volcanic rock and walked out to the beach on terrain they could easily use to test the Mars rovers for realism. One would think lava flows like water. It doesn't. It goes wherever it wants and it does it slowly. 8 miles a day is downright speedy for lava. It pools, cracks, solidifies, forms rifts, creates hills, moves hills - pretty much whatever it feels like.

The ocean's job is to pulverize the rock. Lava meets the ocean and seems to win in the short term. Steam and hissing - water loses the battle. Come back 20 years later - you see black sand and polished black stones.

In the afternoon, Walchka, Andrea, Nicole and I headed out to Hapuna beach against my wishes. I wanted to relax and give my feet a rest - they are battered, bloodied, and busted (in alphabetical order). I did not want the chill on a major tourist beach on a Saturday under the hot sun.

Silly me, I forgot that our little 4 person posse has to do everything together. After seeing the reaction to my announcement that I didn't want to go (especially Andrea) I realized I was going.

I wish I could say I was wrong in not wanted to go, but as happens once in a while, I didn't stick to my guns when I should have. Usually I stick to my guns when I shouldn't, so this was an interesting switch.

The ride to Hapuna was actually quite nice - from sea level to 2500 feet past a huge ranch outside Waimea. If I were knocked unconscious and awoke at this ranch, I would swear I was in Wyoming or Montana. Yet this ranch, and its 65ish degree rainy weather are located 45 min from the beach we were destined to be fried upon with its cloudless upper 80's weather. Nice. Scenic.

On to the beach! Waves? Not today - at least not during the afternoon. Must have been low tide. It appeared to be family day. Photographers on assignment from postcard companies were not to be found ... why? Beach bunnies had the day off - or so it seemed.

We pretty much all avoided burning with lots of sunscreen. Nonetheless - we spent 3 hours driving to spend 1 hr, 10 min on a hot bunniless beach with no waves. Again though, I am in Hawaii so things could be worse. Like if I was pretty much tired of our 4 person posse and ready to spend a day ALONE. I am having fun. But sometimes you (and by that, I mean ME) need time to chill solo. A bike would come in handy but that didn't work out.

Not tomorrow though - that is the wedding day. This is going to be a great service. Russ and Lisa are a great couple with fun families. As long as I don't lose the ring while walking up the isle, things should go well. Kristin, the Maid of Honor, and I both brainstormed ways of making sure we would not lose the ring. The best plans means of securing the ring however, are too... permanent.

If I don't have any more posts to the blog, it is because I lost the ring and couldn't tread water long enough.

Both Lisa's dad and Russ's dad are Reverends. They will be jointly conducting the ceremony which is interesting. I think Lisa's dad tends to be more nervous since he will be marrying his daughter in front of family, friends, and most likely his entire congregation. That's pressure. Russ' dad on the other hand seems to be more laid back - although I could be biased in my impression since Russ' dad could easily be a stunt double for the actor Rip Torn (who, to be honest, has no need of a stunt double which may explain why Russ' dad is not said double).

After the wedding comes to the reception in which I am the Master of Ceremony. Lots of trust here. A mic in my hands full of people I will likely never see again. Hrm. No political speeches - we got Hawaii dems, Kentucky liberals, Arkansas conservatives, religious folks, and an anarchist on the mic. I wonder if Russ and Lisa have someone stationed by the plug.

Russ seems somewhat nervous, Lisa seems anxious and the rest of us try to help out where we can, but this is a foreign environment. I feel like we should all just be continuously thanking everyone who has stopped their lives to serve as wedding planners / vacation planners for the 10 days most of us are in town.

I doubt I will find time to post in the next 2 days. We'll see.

Last night in Kapoho

I sit at the lagoon house in Kapoho watching Russ remind himself why he hates to play the card game Phase 10. After another eventful day, we are making the most of the last night in Kapoho. It is a little bit chilly and the tide is quite low so we cannot go swimming - which is probably fine so we don't wake the turtles.

Woke up early again - around 6:30 local time and came down to the lagoon house - I'm sleeping at a place up the road that Russ' parents have rented to avoid having 30 people sleep in one house. Got to the lagoon house in time to scare Nicole as she journaled and watched the sea turtle which was examining the lagoon floor 20 feet from the bench upon which she sat.

After some swimming, floating, showering, and such we left for Waipi'o beach. This is a pretty amazing place. You can hike down the road, or if you have a 4WD vehicle and some skill using it, you can drive down. It is pretty hard core though - 27% grade in some areas as it drops some 600 feet in under a mile. Once close to sea level, we stuck to the dirt path, avoiding some wild horses who were apparently freed by a tsunami decades ago. After some slow 4-low action, we approached the beach.

The beach was a postcard. Smoothe stones, sand beach and nice waves breaking. Well, I was happy with the waves as were the other mainlanders but the locals thought they were pretty tame.

Walchka and I did some swimming and some body boarding. I got bashed against a number of submerged rocks while trying to get the fins on my feet - takes a lot of work. I wasn't sure why I went to the trouble until I caught my first wave. I tried to catch 20 waves and ended up actually riding 3 of them properly. It was definitely worth it even though my feet are looking fairly rough. Nothing as bad as the blisters from the Acadia trip last year though.

While out there, I kept hearing my surfer friend Skrue's voice in my head. The reason sharks attack surfers (a rare occurrence that knowing the stats of doesn't lessen the fear) is because they look like turtles from below. I kept this in mind as I realized my paddling and body board made me look like a turtle. Fortunately, today I did not become endangered.

When the salt water became annoying, I returned the equipment to our pick-up and heading around the beach to check out a 400 foot waterfall which cascades into a little pool and runs into the ocean. I think I got some good photos - especially of Walchka, Andrea, and Nicole chilling at the base, but I don't know if they'll be as good as the postcards of the area.

After a few hours, we had to leave the lush valley for the wedding rehearsal - which is afterall why I am in Hawaii in the first place. On the way out, we all jumped into the truck - which was quite overloaded with 6 of us in the bed of the pickup and 3 in the cab. We slowly climbed out of the valley on the same road under Lisa's older brother's exception control. Not for the faint of heart - the Maid of Honor, Kristin was not really enjoying the ride, so I gave her Stitch to hold and she was comforted by his strong, if silent, presence.

The wedding rehearsal was interesting. The wedding will be in a lovely church in a small town along the northern coast of the island. The problem is that the church is entirely too small for the number of people expected to attend. I'm glad my spot is reserved - right over Russ's shoulder. I'll be the one gingerly wearing Lisa's wedding ring on my finger while sweating profusely. There is something to be said for taking summer wedding photos before the service - which will be Sunday.

After the rehearsal, we had the groom's dinner at a place in Hilo called Uncle Bill's. I had the Mahi Mahi and enjoyed it ... had some of Andrea's vegetarian pasta also which was pretty good. Lots of people, good mingling, and good conversation at our table - especially with Russ's younger sister, Katherine.

Lots of rain though - torrential rain during dinner. Uncle Bill's - like most buildings in Hawaii is not so much a building as a few walls which glass-less windows and a roof. So the rain was loud and impressive.

Now I am about to sign off and join the few who are still awake and drinking outside. Don't know what tomorrow will bring but it looks like rain will be a large part of it.

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