Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hawaiian Adventures - Day 4

My last day at the North Shore was spent geocaching!

I first navigated my way to where I had been snorkeling the day before and found an easy "cache & dash" near a power line. It was in a black plastic cylinder casing. I logged my name and moved on.

I decided to take a quick break to see what the Hawaiian Sea Turtles were up to so I went back to their beach and saw about 7-8 of them near the shore swimming around and feeding.

I navigated my way to the next geocache which took me a good 45 minutes to find. It was just outside the entrance to Waimea Valley and there was a cool duck that decided to be my geocaching buddy. He kept following me around as I roamed back and forth trying to find the proper coordinates. I finally found the cache in a small cave-like cubby hole surrounded by plants and greenery. There were a few cool things that people left behind - keychains and such. I left behind a Catalyst flyer, logged my name, and moved on.

The third cache of the day took me on about a half mile hike along the Bay. This one was very difficult to find! It's considered a micro cache which means it's really small. I even enlisted the help of a cool couple that I met and talked with that lived there on the island. He had heard of geocaching and had never really done it before so he was happy to join in the hunt. Actually he was the one who found it! After about an hour of hunting around for this thing (and also pissing off a homeless guy trying to get his post lunch nap in) we found the cache in a small black 35mm film case. We both logged our names in and I'm sure he's now hooked on geocaching!

I hiked back to my car and took a drive around the perimeter of the island clockwise - saw the rest of the North Shore, then followed Kamehameha Hwy down the east shore of Oahu.

Then I went to go find a well known lookout called Nu'uanu Pali lookout. This was the site of King Kamehameha's victory on Oahu against the warriors of Maui. An estimated 400 warriors died in the battle. This lookout was where the men were forced off the cliff! Talk about craziness! This final battle at Nu'uanu Pali on Oahu led to Kamehameha's victory of becoming King over all the Hawaiian Islands. It's funny how history really is written by the victors.... it's said that he wanted to unite the islands because all the tribes and islands were separate. I'm sure it wasn't because he wanted to be king of all. Hmm..... no disrespect though. Hawaiians have a proud history about it all and in the end, a united Island nation made the people stronger - especially when the Europeans, Westerners and other Island tribes (Tahiti, Samoa, etc.) negotiated trade.

Nevertheless, it's an amazing lookout!

After my trek around the island and overlooking it, I went back to Waikiki to have dinner with my dad and some of his friends. It was really cool meeting them and seeing how they all interacted. Wow, I hung out with my dad's gay friends today!

First time experiences:
-First time completely driving all the way around Oahu
-First time visiting the Nu'uanu Pali lookout
-First time having dinner with my dad's gay friends

Check out photos of the day here!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hawaiian Adventures - Day 3

This was a full day at the North Shore!

I was staying at a hostel called Backpackers Inn and I stayed at a place called Plantation Village that was across the street from the Pupukea Beach! I met lots of really cool people at this hostel, particularly a guy on vacation from the Army currently serving in Iraq (and returning there for two more months), a lady from Cambridge, England who had quit her job to travel the world for several months, and also a guy from Switzerland who happened to be doing the same thing - quit his job to travel.

I met this really cute guy from Colorado who is literally on a personal journey and going where ever in the world his nose takes him. He was a resident at the hostel two months ago then decided to work for the hostel. We had a really awesome conversation about "the journey". He's got a lot going on inside of him and I think I catalyzed some good ideas in him. He was processing quite a bit. He's at a fragile place right now because he's met some not so nice people along the way while also dealing with whatever he's running away from. I hope we'll be able to stay in touch along his nomadic journey throughout the world. My heart really goes out for this guy!

So I started this day having breakfast at this really cool pancake house that turns into a sports bar at night. Good stuff!

Then I went Shark Diving. OMG! It was AMAZING! Actual time in the cage was about 20 minutes and there were 20-30 sharks swimming all around! I met a cool family from Portland, Oregon and I also met these two cute gals vacationing from Scotland.

Afterwards, I went hunting for Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Well not really hunting. They go to one particular beach to feed then surf onto the shore to bask in the sun for warmer temp. I met this (cute) guy from Toronto, CA and his girlfriend who were on vacation. Very friendly!

Then I went to Shark's Cove to go snorkeling for the first time! Soooo much fun! I met a cool filipino family from the San Francisco Bay area that go here twice every year. Super friendly folks!

I decided to do some geocaching and so the GPS coordinates took me to a Hawaiian sacred place called Pu'u o mahuka Heiau. A "heiau" is kinda like an altar. At this site, there were actually human sacrifices that took place here. Away from the altar but along a trail, I eventually found the geocache which also included a "travel bug" - that's something that travels from cache to cache. This one was an "anytown, usa" journal and so its entries are full of cities and descriptions of where's it's been found and taken to. I'll be taking this one back to my hometown of Long Beach and i'll stash it in a geocache here to be found by some other geocaching traveler!

By evening, I met up with a new friend (friend of my ate Jayson's) for dinner in Waikiki - which is on the South Shore (about an hour's drive from the North Shore). He took me to this Japanese restaurant where they had this hilarious conveyor belt system that had newly prepared sushi and various dishes set on it to go to customers. It was funny! You just pick out whatever you liked!

After dinner, we danced the night away at this club called "Hulas". It was a loooong drive back to the North Shore late at night but it was a super fun day!

First time experiences:

-First time shark diving
-First time seeing a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle up close
-First time snorkeling
-First time geocaching on Oahu
-First time at a human sacrifice altar
-First time eating sushi off a conveyor belt
-First time dancing at a club in Hawaii

Check out photos of the day here!

I've got videos from shark diving and snorkeling posted at Facebook so check them out there. If you're not on Facebook yet, get on there and add me as a friend so that you can see all my photo albums and more! I've been posting more stuff on Facebook regularly as compared to this blog so find your way over there. If you've got it and haven't done so, you're welcome to send in a Friend request! =) My profile is here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hawaiian Adventures - Day 2

After spending day 1 with my dad, I got a car rental and ventured off on my own for the rest of my vacation. So I had lunch at a sweet restaurant that overlooked the beach. I had a hawaiian pizza, no less, and enjoyed the fun and the sun!

Then I went to the spa at the very top floor of a hotel - the penthouse - and got my second deep tissue massage of the trip! It was amazing! They had me wear a robe and slippers while serving me green tea flavored water. After lounging for a bit, they escort me upstairs into a private room with the massage therapist. I got an 80 minute massage that was amazing! Afterwards, they brought me more green tea water and then had me lounge on the outside penthouse patio in the sun and breeze while looking out into the ocean. Wow!

When I had thoroughly relaxed, I went downstairs and took a long shower in the most amazing shower anyone has EVER invented. It had it's various shower head settings, but also had shower spouts all throughout the walls of the shower and so it was like a full-on water fest! Fun times!

Once I cleaned up, I took a stroll through the International Market Place which was just a bunch of vendors and kiosks and stuff. I met this really cool (cute) guy from Poland. (Sorry no pics for you!)

Then I found my way to Diamond Head crater. It was a good hike to the top and there was an amazing view! I also met another (cute) guy from Denmark. Cool guy. He'll be studying on the island for four months.

I took a leisurely drive around waikiki while the rain showered off and on. It was kinda nice actually.

Then i drove up to the North Shore and found the hostel that I'll be staying at for the next couple days. There was a dinner BBQ so all the residents from all the cabins were together. I got to meet some cool folks from Venezuela, England, Brazil, Italy, and some locals. Yes, cuties here too!

Tomorrow is gonna be a fun day in the North Shore!

First time experiences:
-First time at a full service spa (in Hawaii, no less!)
-First time driving on my own in Hawaii
-First time hiking up to Diamond Head crater
-First time at the North Shore

Check out photos of the day here!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hawaiian Adventures - Day 1

I left for my Hawaiian vacation on Tuesday and had a 12 hour layover in the opposite direction! I went from Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth and stayed there at the airport from midnight until noon the next day. I didn't get ANY sleep at all at the airport, however, I thought it was kinda fun to hang out in a quiet airport all night. Haha, fun? Well, okay so I prefer to see the brighter side to things and make fun out of ugh! Hey, I'm on vaca! No sour grapes allowed!

I arrived in Honolulu after about a 7 1/2 hour flight, and was met by my dad at the airport who gave me a wood beaded lei - something men traditionally receive. We took the bus back to his place in Waikiki and he made me dinner. The plan was to go out and walk around through Waikiki but I fell asleep and didn't wake up til morning!

My first full day and a half visiting the islands was spent with my dad. He lives out here and it was his birthday so it was fun hanging out with him. We went to the Arizona Memorial together. That afternoon, I got a massage. Then that evening my dad and I went to a luau!

Afterwards, he took me to two of his local gay bars that he sometimes goes to. Yep, you read that right! It was rather..... interesting to see him in these environments. The first bar was pretty dead and so I just ended up talking with one of his friends at the bar and also talking with the bartender (who kept giving me sample drinks). I was pretty buzzed by the time we went around to the second bar which had a lot more activity. It was kinda weird seeing him watch strippers. OMG! Actually, I had a moment of freaking out. But after texting a friend or two and a mai tai I was fine.

First time experiences:
-First time at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport
-First time having a 12 hour layover and spending the night at an airport
-First time seeing my dad's condo apartment in Waikiki
-First time getting a massage in Hawaii
-First time going to a luau in Hawaii
-First time having a drink with my dad
-First time going to a gay bar with my dad
-First time seeing my dad checking out other guys

Check out photos of the day here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Catching Up on Old Times

Okay, maybe not "old times" as in years ago... but how about catching up from the Summer since I haven't posted a blog since mid June! It's been crazy busy! But this will give you an idea of two things: (1) why I haven't blogged lately and (2) why I seriously needed the vacation in Hawaii that I'm on right now as I write this! (I'm back dating this post though so that I can blog about the vacation.)

I'm just going to keep this brief and mention some of the things I've been juggling because I'd like to write a separate blog post for many of them. Here's the nutshell version:

I've been working on the new Catalyst Web site literally all Summer and we had a "soft-launch" of it on July 1st. I've been spending crazy hours til the wee hours of the morning trying to crank it out. So it's in beta version now and we launch a full-on campaign in September. I've also been working with the new Catalyst Board of Directors to hammer out details like our new branding and logo, direction for the organization, and developing our strategies. We have officially submitted our Federal Tax Exemption application to secure our 501c3 status and so we'll get that in a few months (hopefully!)

In the midst of all the Catalyst stuff, I've also been a part of three collaborative projects. The first project is an unnamed "Hot Zone" project but we're a "coalition of bridge builders" working to see the broader Church engage in a safe and productive dialogue regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals within our community. Essentially we're trying to bring the two groups of conservative mainline pastors and the progressive inclusive pastors to the same table to talk. We've got a different approach, I think, and it's very exciting. The second project is the HIV/AIDS Collaborative of Long Beach. I've been on this core team since it started a year ago and we've been working to develop authentic community and meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS. The third project is with my friend Dr. Becky Kuhn who founded Global Lifeworks and they are putting on a seminar for GLBT individuals that will provide tools to help relate with self, others, and community better while overcoming many of the perceived barriers that come with being gay, in the closet, social rejection, and other relational issues. I'm going to be one of the small group leaders in this highly interactive seminar experience.

These are kind of the bedrock things I've been working on outside of my day-job. Oh yeah, the day-job! It's been crazy busy there too. I've rebuilt their Web site from scratch during the Summer while organizing logistics for the biggest event of the year.

So my typical days has been working fully during the days, then swimming or working out with my personal trainer (yep!), then either having dinner meetings or collaborative meetings or trying to relax post-work, then working on the Catalyst site until 2 or 3am before getting up for work the next day! It's been a crazy summer but it's been very exciting for me to be living out my passions. Now for a much needed vacation in Hawaii!