Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

What a fantastic day, the best birthday ever. Sorry mom and dad, I know you gave me some good ones when I was a kid. And when I turned 40, Dan took me to visit one of my best friends Julie, in Nashville. That was a lot of fun too, but now I have a new all time favorite!
Birthday card from mommy, I love it!

We were scheduled to meet Mike in Hanalei Bay at 8am. So, again, we were up before the sun. It's ok though, it's not like we're getting up to go to a job that drains us, we are getting up early to have fun! We made what is becoming the traditional Java Kai stop, thus armed with coffee and pastries, we hit the road. Pushing down the butterflies, I focused on positive feelings for this morning and the 30 minute drive went by quick. Windows rolled down, a cool, moist breeze tossing our hair about, and a clear baby blue sky. Widespread Panic (you like them dad) on the iPod, Dan and I singing Ain't Life Grand, feeling on top of the world.

The coffee and apprehension were getting my viscera roiling while we pulled into Hanalei Bay. When I saw the high, crashing surf, I almost pooped!

Luckily, there are several sections to surf and Mike, our teacher, pointed out the "bunny slopes". After a quick trip to the bathroom, we were off and learning. Mike, a life long waterman, owns a company called Kauai Island Experience they provide adventure and services (even child care) based off word of mouth. He doesn't want to advertise in the tourist publications because he doesn't want to be that busy. We spend a good 20 minutes on shore, taking in a lot of information. Looking at the water, he teaches us how to read it, showing where a channel of calm water is, the direction of the current and where we'll be. I learn that a set is when rows of waves are coming in and an interval is when they are not. Usually waves come in sets of 2 or 3 and then there is about a 5 minute interval. Next, we learn how to get up. We are learning on 10 and 11 foot boards. He shows us where we need to be positioned on the board, how to lay on it for paddling, how to get up and the proper stance for good balance. He is so calm and he makes it look so easy, I'm excited to practice. Dan and I alternate while he watches us, giving us constructive tips on corrections we need to make. It took me a few tries to get my lead foot (left=normal) into the center of the board which is clearly marked with a line going down the length of it. After we practice, he goes over things that can hurt you. Never be between the beach and the board, you can get whacked with the board really bad that way. Always; beach, board, you. Walk into the water until you are about waist high, pointing the board directly into the wave and pushing down as you go into it, once you are waist deep, get on and paddle out. If for any reason you get anxious, out of breath or in any way lose your focus, sit up on your board, like you are sitting on a horse. This allows you to expand your lungs and breathe better. If that doesn't do it, go back to shore, get a drink of water, regroup. When we fall and it looks like we could be in trouble, he will raise his arms up high and form a big O. We are to give the big O (for ok) sign back, any other hand movement means we need help. He looks at me and asks if I'm ready, I'm ready! His last bit of advice before we hit the water is that most people think the goal is to get up,  and I nod my head in agreement thinking why yes, that is the goal! Not so, he says, once you get up, you want to stay up! Yea, that makes total sense!


The waves on the right are the ones I saw when we pulled in, the ones in the front center are what we surfed on or the bunny waves, and behind those are the middles.

The water is cool and super salty as we navigate the tranquil channel and go to our private bunny slope. There are a lot of people about 500 yards behind us, in "the middles" a section where sets of 8' or higher waves break. Waisting no time, he has me get ready and pushes me into a wave. He is such a good instructor, I get up on my first try, but I lose my balance and don't stay up. He reminds me that the goal is two fold get up and stay up. Dan and I alternate turns and soon Dan is getting up and staying up, not every time but he probably stuck it 5 or 6 times. I end up "riding" to shore and have to go back in through the channel and paddle all the way back out. After 2 failed attempts of finding the interval, I drug the board back to shore waiting so the waves wouldn't pummel me. He congratulates me for having the brains and patience to wait for the interval and not force my way through. I'm exhausted and gulping in air, he can see it right away and has me sit on the board while he holds it in place, I immediately feel better. He points out how much easier it is to breathe in this position and I totally agree. I tell him I don't think I can do this, I'm not strong enough. Mike says it doesn't matter how strong you are or how old you are. Everyone can get overwhelmed with waves crashing around them and being out of breath. Sometimes, when he's surfing, he freaks out and thinks "oh my god! I could die! This water is so deep and if I hadn't caught that wave, I would have died!" Then he sits up on his board, watches the other guys go, and regroups. It happens to everyone, it's perfectly normal. He tells me to look forward. Sitting on my board and looking out, I notice we are surrounded by a mountain range and take a deep breath from the beauty. I feel much better and tell him I want to keep going. He pushes me out, I get up, lose my balance and fall. I'm starting to have fun, falling is fun. The water is warm to me now, it's yielding, not too deep, not too crazy. Just a short fall, a soft splash, briefly underwater and I'm up. I repeat the same thing and Mike tells me my problem is that I am not committing to getting up, it's like I am waiting to fall. That rings true, I was waiting to fall! Dang he's good! The next several times I get up (I got up, every time) and stay up for a second before I fall, he complements me on my commitment. Mentally, I feel like going some more, but I can tell physically I am spent. I have never been one to try to push past exhaustion, I just get sloppy and end up getting hurt. I ask him if he will ride my board back so I can watch him and he says that's cool. Dan stays out for a good 40 minutes more, getting up, staying up and getting some good personalized time in with Mike. I take pictures from shore. As we leave Mike tells us that we did really good for our first day and to remember surfing is supposed to be fun. If it's cold, if it's raining, if the waves are too big, get out! Just say "this isn't fun anymore" and get out. We think this may be our sport (canoeing is out, too much of a commitment for a couple of people who need to find jobs) so we rent the 11 foot board for a month.

Dan getting instruction and someone surfing the middles behind him.

Dan catches a wave on the bunny slope while someone shreds behind him.

Looking south, towards Princeville

center, Dan and Mike are behind the center wave that is breaking


Blurry Dan

It's a process, getting good balance is part of it!

Mike shreddin the bunny slope

coming in

Mike's board is 8'

We stop by the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant for burgers and head home to get the dogs. I love watching them on the beach, they really love it and it brings Lucy alive more than anything else I know of. She runs as fast as she can, up and down the beach, her tail wagging in a complete circle. Pouncing on fallen  nuts, digging in the sand, running into the water. She is just having the best day while Baxter plays fetch the whole time.
Waiting for burgers feeling tired but invigorated! 

I had to wear my snowboarding t-shirt, surfing is more fun because it doesn't hurt as much when you fall and you aren't wearing a ton of clothes! 

All 11 feet! There is a horizontal line about a foot below the logo, that's the spot you don't want to go past when you are laying down. You want your weight in the back, if it's in the front you could do a nose dive or what surfer's call "pearling" where you and the board get smashed to the bottom, under the wave, then the board pops up and you get bonked on the head. If this happens it's a good idea to stay under water for a second or two so the board has time to land before you come out.

back at Lydgate beach a storm is rolling in

Clean and tired 

Dan surprises me with dinner reservations back in Hanalei at Bar Acuda, a place we've been wanting to try. This is my new favorite fancy place to eat. Well, I shouldn't say fancy, it's really casual, but it's high quality which translates to expensive. It's a tapas bar and about 95% of their food is local and organic. Sharing 6 tapas and having desert each, we have a really good time eating, drinking, and taking pictures of the food and each other.

Ilissa sent me some new hair clippies for my birthday, I love them!

Bar Acuda kitchen, just off the bar

Dan enjoying a cocktail before dinner

The best bread ever! Seriously, I could live on this bread.

Local North Shore Honeycomb with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Crisp Apple, one of the best tapas of the night.

Whole Roasted Tomato Brushcetta with balsamic vinegar and leeks, it was good

A fabulous Rioja

Me enjoying the Rioja and Dan having fun with the camera

Bacalao Portuguese Salt Cod with Garlic, Potatoes and Cream, it was good

House Cured Chorizo Sausage with Grilled Apples, it was good (the light started to change here, and a flash kills the shot - and people look at us even weirder - so the following shots have a yellow wash to them that was not part of the food, it gets worse as the shots go on)

Seared Sea Scallop with Mashed Potatoes and Truffle Reduction, it was excellent!

Pizzetta with Sweet Onion Sofrito, bacon, apple and gorgonzola cheese, YUM!!

Honey and Pine Nut Tart with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream (and a candle for me) YUM-O

Brilliant, delicious food makes this our favorite special occasion restaurant. There are 2 more we'd like to try. If you are wondering, we are saving the gift certificate that our Starz Ohana gave us for our anniversary in June. We didn't forget and we definitely didn't loose it!

Really happy Dan

Really happy me!

We walked around Hanalei afterwards and window shopped.

On the way home, we jam out to Santana's Supernatural album, crooning along with Dave Matthews on Love Of My Life and Rob Thomas on Smooth. I've had the best day, I have the best husband who loves me, and shows me by spoiling me all of the time. From little things like listening to me even when he doesn't feel like it. Putting up shelves for my cookbooks. Assembling little roller islands for me to store things on and increasing my counter space to surprising me with nice dinners on special occasions. Single ladies, you need to make sure you get yourself a man like this, it makes going through life so much better!  Back at home, I put on Santana's Moonflower album and we chill, reflect and get sleepy.

The fragility of our lives seems to freak me out and then bring me joy in 12 hour intervals. Usually (except for Monday night) the anxiety keeps me up at night. I have not, not had a job since I was 16, this is weird, uncomfortable. There are so many adjustments being made it's unreal. let me count them: 1. new environment, 2. small home, 3. neighbors on same property who sometimes like to party loudly into the night, 4. a queen size bed, 5. not smoking, 6. not working, 7. no plans for the day, 8. no routine, 9. no friends, 10. a lot of money going out, none coming in, 11. a strong desire to not get a 9 to 5 job and get stuck in a rut but this time it's in paradise, 12. ideas running in and out of my mind about working for ourselves, 13. what type of physical activity do I want to commit to...on and on and on, round and round my brain. The sugar from the alcohol started metabolizing at midnight, two hours after I went to sleep. My heart pounding and my mind spinning, I lay in bed until 1. I get up and play on the computer till 2, tried to sleep again till 3 and am still wide awake, blogging at 8am! Dan is peacefully sleeping, yea! We were going to snorkel today, active but not tiring, and then do laundry but who knows now!

When I get outside and play, I love it, I come alive, buzz with joy and feel absolutely great about the decision we made and never want to leave. I'm sure once we settle in, start making money, make some friends, I'll get more sleep. In the meantime what? Ride the wave of life...these are the things I be take be stimulated...I definitely have all that!


  1. I think it sounds WONDERFUL - please tell me how you managed to bring your dogs with?
    You probably don't know who I am but I work at Starz for Debbie Egner and work with Nicole Dunhill. I vacationed in Honolulu last September and really fell in love with Hawaii although I know Maui is very different than Oahu. Best of luck and congratulations on living your dream!

  2. Thank you! My husband Dan spent 6 months working with the Dept. of Ag in Hawaii making sure all of there requirements were met, shots, paperwork, etc. It cost about $1000.00 per dog! If you are considering it let me know, I'll put you in touch with him, he's an expert now!