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Archive for October, 2012

For Halloween this year, I get to work! Not the best way to celebrate it but after working several in my life, I’ve learned to adapt my need for the spooky to times that suit me better.

This year, I’ve chosen to experience the holiday in the form of movies. Last weekend, I saw Silent Hill: Revelation in the awesomeness that is 3-D. I’m overselling the 3-D aspect of it because I’ve never been much of a fan of it except for a few select animated movies. But I digress.

The movie itself was okay. Being a fan of the games, I approached it with more of a fanboy’s eye, so I could tell where they were being true to the world of Silent Hill and where they were pandering to the fans. One of the more difficult things when translating a known property to the big screen and one that the first movie was able to pull off. At least better then the Resident Evil movie which barely resembled the game it was based on.

Anyway, Silent Hill: Revelation –

The good:  Closely follows the story of the third game of the series, several of the characters from the games make the transition to the screen (although some have some different personality traits), the settings look just as creepy as the game

The bad:  The acting is tough to watch in parts, the directing seems almost boring at several points when another camera angle would be scarier, the story seemed very stitched together (I know I praised it above but since I know the story from the game, I felt I could connect some of the gaps where a person who knew nothing of them would be lost)

Overall, I would say I liked this movie but a lot of that has to do with my love of the games. I could tell that the writer/director Michael J. Bassett knew the source material and either loved it or really listened to the fans when writing it. Even so, it got me my Halloween fix this year.

Agree? Disagree? Or have a favorite Halloween movie that you think I should see? Let me know what it is and I’ll make sure to watch it and review it here!

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Oahu was the last leg of our trip. We had both been there several times to visit Desiree and her family and this was no different. Lots of family stuff but we also did some touristy things, the first of which was hiking up Diamond Head. It was a gorgeous day for it as there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Image

The hike was relatively easy since it was all paved with stairs, handrails, and even a tunnel at one point. There were also plenty of tourists there like us, and also locals who used it for their daily exercise. Since it was paved and such, the hike was fairly uneventful but the view was spectacular.

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We were both surprised our five-year old niece made it up the whole way with minimal complaining. She did crash pretty hard later that day though, taking a good three-hour nap a few hours before her bedtime.

Another place we visited was Ko Olina with our niece and nephew. There are a series of lagoons in between the ritzy hotels there that are free to the public. Parking can be tough but once you do, the whole day can be spent enjoying the manicured grass, calm waters, and picturesque scenery.

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There was also a funny moment when a wedding party showed up to take photos and my niece was entranced by it. Too cute!

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Next, with the kids in tow, we stopped by one of the botanical gardens in downtown Honolulu. The park was informative and labels all the trees and plants. After paying a small fee, we followed the complimentary map. The kids were obsessed with finding the flora numbered on the map, so we followed the little treasure hunters around the park.

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From there, our goal was to meet up with Desiree and her husband Landon when they finished with work down in Waikiki. It was what most people think of when they think of Hawai’i. We tanned on the beach, swam a little, and relaxed in the sun.

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And that was it. We had lots of family time after that, good times and good food and our trip home came much too soon. But, we did do a lot on this trip and there’s no doubt we’ll do even more next time. Aloha!

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As a parting shot, I leave this photo my niece took of herself when I was unaware. Turned out good but I hope its not ongoing behavior. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

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Our next day started slowly since our midday flight was hanging over our heads. We went to breakfast at a local coffee shop before packing up all our things and getting ready to go. Kona was already awake and the streets were filled with locals, tourists, and athletes training for the Ironman competition a week later.

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There was also a pillar of smoke coming from somewhere close by. We couldn’t see the source but I imagined it was a new volcano and we were in a race to get to the airport before lava and ash rained down on us. It could have been true.

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So, our first trip to the big island over, we boarded our flight to Maui to visit our cousin. After spending our vacation thus far driving around and seeing things, it was nice to relax a bit and visit with family.

We did end up going on a great hike in Io Valley. It’s a state park with a small fenced off area but the adventurous can go through the metal bars at the top and continue up the mountainous trail. It was a more strenuous hike than the other ones we had done in Hawaii but our cousin-in-law Paul bounded up the trail like a mountain goat. The rest of us took our time, picking guava and strawberry guava along the way. The strawberry guava was very tasty and later, my sister made juice out of a jar-full of them. Delectable!

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It was a beautiful hike and we only passed a few people along the way. The area was filled with all kinds of vistas and tight trails. When the trail passed near the edge of the mountain, there were great views of the other mountains close by that no doubt had trails of their own. Even the peak of the trail was surrounded by higher peaks, making it seem like we were in the eye of the valley. Great views!

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Along the trail, my sister Desiree also gave us a lesson on the Awapui, a local plant that was red and spongy at the top and smelled like shampoo.

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The trail took a couple hours, mostly because we were taking our time with it, but it’s certainly worth going behind the gate on this one.

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I started day three with a walk. I noticed the small park and waterfront next to our hotel in the moments between our car and our room and wanted to take a stroll but hadn’t had the chance. With my internal alarm still on PST, I woke early, threw on my flip-flops and walked. Hilo, where we were staying, was constantly overcast and a warm misty drizzle permeated the town. It reminded me a lot of the Pacific Northwest in tone.

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After another hearty breakfast, we drove to Akaka Falls. It had been raining too hard the day before to see the falls but this day proved better. We parked just outside the gate to avoid the parking fee and entered the small park. The path here was all paved with stairs and handrails and as we soon learned, a popular stop for tour buses. It was a short walk but had some gorgeous plant-life to see and the falls were great!

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With the falls thoroughly enjoyed, we decided to circle the island and visit the City of Refuge as recommended by a friend. This proved a small challenge since it was listed on our map as its Hawaiian name Pu`uhonua o Honaunau. After a brief history lesson from the nose flute playing ranger, we embarked on the walking tour. In ancient times, the city was, along with a few other scattered locations, a place where a person who broke the sacred laws, the Kapu, could go for refuge. No one could be harmed if they entered the area and walking around, I could really get the sense that it was a place to get away from everything.

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We also went off the beaten path to the nearby beach of Two Step and enjoyed the beach.

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With the day winding down, we drove the rest of the way to Kona and our hotel. After checking in, we searched for places to eat and found Da Poke Shack just next door. Poke sounded great so we went over and it was amazing! I highly recommend eating there if you’re in Kona or anywhere on the big island. Lau lau and fresh poke! Yum!

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Before settling into our room too much, we drove down into town for some coffee and dessert, taking in the much more touristy nightlife of Kona. We looked at the works of some amazing local artists, watched people training for the upcoming Ironman competition, and enjoyed the warm night air. A great time for our last night on the big island!

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We got up early the next day and after stopping at a modern life staple McDonald’s, we drove south to the black sand beach. The beach itself was gorgeous, the black sand an interesting change on the whole white sand beach thing. I found the sand to be a little rougher since the individual grains were a little bigger than regular sand. Most of the coastline was dominated by the same volcanic rock but there were small pockets of sandy beach that we were able to walk through. At one point, we came across a small cove and saw a few turtles! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch them when they poked their heads out of the water to breathe. It lives in my memory though.

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From there, we made our way to the southern most tip of Hawai’i which is also the southern most tip of the US. The drive out there resembled Midwest farmland more than a tropical paradise except for the hills and windswept trees. While being at the most southern tip was cool, our main reason for making the trek down there was the green sand beach, only a short two-mile trek through 4x dirt roads.

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The beach was small, nestled into a cove surrounded by cliffs on all sides save the ocean, which was clear and a tropical blue. A true sight to behold and the water felt awesome!

Back at the southern most tip, two young men were jumping into the ocean – from about 40 feet up while a group of people gathered round to watch. I would have joined in if we had come prepared but between that and already being in the water, I decided to pass. Next time will be different.

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With all our activities that day, we were started to feel the effects. We still had plenty to do so some coffee was in order. We drove up to Kona and stopped at a place called Kona Joe’s Coffee and enjoyed their amazing view.

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Sweet caffeine in our systems and conversing about writing and Stephen King novels, we drove up the big mountain to the Mauna Kea Observatory visitor center. It was too late in the day to risk the drive up to the big telescope so we stayed at the center and hiked up the small hill to watch the incredible sunset.

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The visitor center also had several smaller telescopes set up for stargazing for the small cluster of tourists to look through. We also stayed for part of the constellation lesson one of the workers gave but by that time it was getting late and our necks were getting sore from looking up so we left. Even leaving early it was still a great experience and one I’ll remember for a long time.

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“You’re going to wish you were staying on this side of the island.” – Lady at Hertz

 

Our single goal for our time on the big island of Hawai’i was to keep busy. Since our hotel room was going to be used only as a place to shower and sleep, the side of the island we stayed on made little difference. I take that back. The side of the island we were staying on, the east side, got much less sun. It was more humid but that helped us stay cool during the day and sleep at night. Wrong Hertz lady!!

 

After getting our rental car (free upgrade!), we only had time to drive around and get settled. It was also an opportunity to get to sleep early so we could wake up early the next day. We did so, beginning our day by eating at Ken’s House of Pancakes. So good! Try their coconut syrup. You will not be disappointed unless you have no taste.

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With our bellies full, we took a drive to the Volcanoes national park to watch steam flow steadily from the crater and numerous vents. The landscape was like something from LOTR and the land of Mordor; cooled lava flows dominated the landscape with brownie like pads and demonic looking shapes curved from years of weather beatings.

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From there, we made our way south to the beach where the hardened lava flows created sheer cliffs against the ocean. The waves beat against the rock and had carved out all kinds of indents, even a large arch that was difficult getting an angle on since I didn’t want to risk being that asshole that falls in the ocean.

 

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Driving around seemed to take up most of the day and after eating at a great Thai place called Sombat, we turned in for the night in order to get ready for our next day of adventure.

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