Archive for travel

Aloha to y’all!

Sunset in Wailea – looking much better than in my phone picture from the last entry.

I’ve finally uploaded a few of our many pictures from Maui, from which we returned last week. A vacation was wonderful and much needed after having to handle the emotional fallout from the passage of Proposition 8.

Yes. Proposition 8 sucks. We went to a protest in the city that gave me a bit more energy about the whole issue (I’ve put some video up here) and I’m relieved to see that the courts have decided to take up the issue as well. I’m beginning to find my hope again.

Now it’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m counting my blessings, which includes the blessing of another short work week. I’ll use some of that time to post more Maui pics.

Catching up

Ellen and Kyre’s Wedding

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, I guess because this has been a really busy few weeks. In the last few weeks we’ve traveled out of town two weekend in a row, had lovely house guests, sold a scooter and bought a new one, and both of us have had changes to our jobs. There’s just been a tremendous amount of stuff going on.

But now I’m back on track and posting again. And I realize the thing I really should have posted here are that our (legal) wedding pictures are up on Flickr. Many thanks to Xande, who did a such a great job.

Wedding is today, oysters were yesterday

K and I will be legally wed this afternoon at San Francisco City Hall. Wow. (PS: No gifts, please. If you must do something, please make a donation here.)

I borrowed a Flip Ultra video camera from the office to film the occasion, and I tested it out yesterday when we headed out with our weekend visitors from NYC to Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Unfortunately, the wind kind of screwed with the sound, and of course, I’m just wandering around with it my hand, and it doesn’t really correct for that — it’s a little like the Blair Oyster Project. Nevertheless, I think it’s a pretty good depiction of our day.

My Birthday Weekend

Damn, if I only had a PSP!

For my birthday, K. took me to on a surprise trip to Guerneville, to a lovely new little place there called the Boon Hotel. It was really a wonderful relaxing weekend. We’ve been there before — our honeymoon was in the same area, the Russian River Valley, and the place we stayed then was a vacation rental house in the neighboring town of Monte Rio. And we’ve been back since, taking visitors, since it’s only about an hour and a half away, there’s some good restaurants and wineries on the way. Guerneville is home to Armstrong Woods State Park, which is a great place to see redwoods if you’re not interested in fighting the crowds at Muir Woods.

So, it’s a place we were familiar with, and sometimes it’s really nice to go someplace familiar where there’s less pressure to explore and you feel totally at ease just sitting by the pool. And, although not all the dining options in Guerneville are perfect, we already have some places in there we like to eat, too: Andorno’s, a pizza place that has an great seafood salad and a little French bread pizza thing called a “Garden Loaf;” and Pat’s, a diner where we can get really yummy diner-style sandwiches and soda-fountain treats like this:

Happy Birthday to me!

Oyster adventures north of city

a successfully shucked oyster

This weekend we went to Tomales Bay to eat oysters for K.’s birthday. This was a little intimidating, as I was concerned about the shucking process — Would we be able to eat any oysters at all, or would we just end up tossing ours back into the bay in frustration? — and that perhaps I would be a bit squeamish about the whole situation.

As it turned out, with a little practice, shucking oysters isn’t that hard, and, mostly, I wasn’t squeamish, although I did mention to K. that this was as close to hunting as I’d ever come. But the whole thing turned out great. In fact, I’d say that this was one of our best daytrips yet.

We hung out at Tomales Bay Oyster Company, which we’d heard got pretty hoppin’ with with families picnicking in the afternoons. And it was crowded, but we found table right away and set up shop. And, in a nutshell (or make that an oyster shell), it was awesome. Here are the pictures.

I’d also be willing to try Drake’s Farms Oysters, which we visited, as long as we took the oysters to a better picnicking spot. We like the idea of going to Hearts of Desire beach or the Vista Point picnic area in Tomales Bay State Park, too, so maybe that’s what we’ll try next time if we want a bit quieter dining experience.


At Murphy’s to have a hot hamburger with gravy over all.

Weddings, exploring, and carpet

In Haylee’s absence, Tex mans the grill

It’s been pretty busy since we got back from Hawaii. For example, J&C got married in New York the first weekend in May, so we went to City Island for the big event. On the weekends we haven’t been traveling, we’ve been making it a point to explore the city like tourists. We utilized our San Francisco “stairway walk” guidebook and had an exhausting climb through Eureka Valley the last weekend in April, and last Saturday we walked along the edge of the bay from Chrissy Field down to Fort Point, which is directly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. On Sunday, we decided on the spur of the moment to head to the Napa Valley and do a little wine tasting.

Sometime in the middle of all that Haylee unravelled a piece of carpet and swallowed a bunch of yarn. The result was a big fat scary expensive mess. Long story short, Haylee spent a couple of nights in an animal hospital having surgery and spending my 401K contribution. Tex got the run of the house for a while, as you can see from the picture above. Haylee is back at home today, although not tremendously perky. Keep your fingers crossed.

On another note, today is Matthew Wood’s birthday, so I’ve been thinking about him a lot. I wish, for example, that I could tell him we finally bought some good knives, and that he was right, they really do make a huge difference.

Our Guide to Kauai

After we got back from our vacation last week, K. wrote about the stuff we did for some friends who are planning on visiting Kauai later in the year. I got her to let me post them here. I’ve added a few selections from our Hawaii Flickr set for spice.



The author is one hokey dude, but this is the book to use. Our friends Joseph and Jen sent it to us, and seriously everyone we saw on our trip had the same one! Every time I mention “the book” here I am referring to this one. It’s incredibly detailed.



The last one before the Na Pali coast starts. The trailhead for the Kalalau Trail is here – that’s the trail that goes along the Na Pali coast. The beach is gorgeous and cozy feeling because the left side ends in the cliffs and volcanic rocks, making kind of a cove thing. You can snorkel here, but we found there was more marine life and stuff at Tunnels Beach, which is farther east on the north shore, pretty close. People said they saw sea turtles here on the day we went, but sadly, we didn’t. Oh and there’s shade here, which is awesome. Parking can be tight at the lot right next to the beach entry, so either go early or late, or park at the public lot before the beach and walk (not too far).


Another gorgeous beach with a larger and more expansive feeling. Great and easy snorkeling – just wade in and go! Awesome reef with beautiful underwater vistas. Go early (10 or 11?) if you can, because there are just a few parking spots by the beach access point. I think you can also park some other places, though – check the book. We rented prescription snorkel masks (not expensive at all) from this place Pedals and Paddles in Hanalei, so we could actually see.


Super beautiful and also cozy feeling because there are rocks on both ends. You have to hike down a pretty steep path but it’s not too long, and it’s worth it because it keeps most people away and isn’t crowded! They say you can snorkel here but it was super high surf when we went so we didn’t even go all the way into the water. Shade here too. Also, we apparently settled too close to the shore because a wave came up and OVER all of our stuff (mats, towels, magazines, etc.) with no warning! It was nuts.


A nice resort beach environment on the south shore complete with lovely tropical landscaping, pool, outside bar, bathrooms, and beachfront. Park on the road and walk in through the lobby or an outside path. I think all HI beaches are public access, so you don’t really have to sneak. A definite, but nice, change of pace from the wilder, authentic, non-commercial beach option. We went on a day that they have local music and a hula dancing show at 5p for people staying there, and we weren’t asked to show a room card as long as we didn’t try to get a free mai tai. Their bar has an amazing view by the way; it’s called The Point. (I think this is also called — or part of — Po’ipu Beach.)


Not a beach but a swimming hole. A crazy awesome large pool formed by volcanic rocks on the edge of the ocean. !! A gorgeous spot – ridiculous really. The hike in (part jungle, part rocks once you get to the ocean) can be really slippery if it has just rained etc. so if possible, get those reef shoes the book talks about. Sneaks or Keens will work too, but if it has rained, be careful. There is a beautiful waterfall on the path in – very Hawaii feeling. Also, bring your mask because it’s fun to snorkel here. Can be scary if the surf is high – check before going with someone who would know (we asked our hostess, maybe this info would be online also?)


On the east shore on the way back down to Lihue etc. We stopped there for a few hours on our last day on the way to our night flight. It was fun in a state park kind of way. It’s kind of retro – there are bathrooms, an outdoor shower, and a big protected pool part surrounded with rocks to swim in because the surf is high. People were snorkeling. We walked down to the part of the beach that has a hotel on it — the Aloha Beach Resort — and went to the hotel bar; it felt like we were in South Padre (TX) kind of, but with a way nicer beach. The drinks were awesome though – mai tais, mudslides, etc. Yeah! Perfect before our horrid red-eye back to SF.



Super beautiful, although we were lazy and didn’t do any hikes. We just stopped at the lookout the book recommends, as well as the regular lookout the book says isn’t as good. The Koke’e Lodge for lunch was odd but good (see below).


Crazy beautiful spot with a lookout all around. Nice birds and wildlife (it’s a refuge also). This is a pretty quick stop – could do it on the way to or from the airport if you have time to kill. Worth going regardless.


Impressive … just a lookout at the side of the road, actually. I think the book says how to get down there maybe if you want to, but it looks scary.


I was really excited to see the Na Pali coast by boat, and this is the company the book recommends. We were originally booked on a whale-watching tour (April is the change of season, so snorkeling isn’t guaranteed). But they called us before we arrived and upgraded it to a snorkeling trip ($20 more). While we would have LOVED to snorkel, it was unfortunately pretty rough the day we went, and I tend toward seasickness on the best of days. I should have remembered to take Dramamine or something. That being said, I was irritated with Na Pali Catamaran because they obviously know you really can’t snorkel when it’s that rough – and 5 out of 15 people on the boat got sick, so it was kind of a bust all around. We saw no whales and went back to shore early. I don’t think they put our safety at risk, but one of their staffers admitted they don’t usually go when the waves are 8 feet or higher, and that’s what the Coast Guard has estimated the wave height at that day (we later found out). I realize they can’t control the ocean, but they also didn’t offer any sort of apology or to, say, refund the 20 extra snorkeling bucks as a small gesture (we had to ask for that). Kind of tacky, in our opinion (especially since they charge $150 per person).



A nice spot that’s open-air with tiki torches at night, next to a little stream or something. A cute, fun, good going out to dinner place — not super fancy or anything – but the one nicer place we went to on the north shore. We read reviews of all the really fancy places around Hanalei and nothing really sounded worth it, given that we now live in a foodie city. This place was perfect though for a fun dinner out — super-yummy family-style salad that comes with entrees, a fine pina colada, and geat grilled fish. Oh, they also have an attached fish market at which we bought fish for grilling at home. That was delicious (they recommended something local).


A chill lunch spot that is in the old Hanalei School and has a few tables on the porch that are nice to sit at. Yummy salads with grilled fish, chicken salad in a papaya, delish fish and chips, etc. Good people watching if you sit outside – you’ll see a lot of unfortunate tropical fashions! A solid lunch spot, pretty reasonably priced even though the guidebook hates on it a bit.


A surfer-y, open-air breakfast spot. Decent. Nice to sit on the porch and good if you want fried spam and eggs, or something more than, like, a coffee and muffin breakfast. Cash only.


The coffee place. Yummy brownies. The one in Kapa’a (should you be there) has amazing cinnamon rolls and a weirdly good breakfast burrito. It also seems more like a local spot and has really good mango iced tea. The cinnamon rolls at the Hanalei one weren’t the same and the iced tea was just regular. But it’s still a fine coffee place.


This is the shave ice spot if you’re into that. It’s super cute and has picnic tables on grass. According to the crazy guidebook, it’s superior to the one in the middle of town (the one by Hanalei Gourmet and all that stuff). It also has some rules and regulations for ordering, so beware. I got yelled at when I asked to taste of the Kona coffee ice cream.


The only thing for lunch on the way to Waimea Canyon lookout, etc. Sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. I enjoyed my Greek salad and Ellen had the Portuguese bean soup and cornbread. The cornbread was OK, but has nothing on Jiffy – I’m actually not sure why they think it’s so special. This joint has crazy souvenirs.


Weird but good local spot for breakfast. Open early. Counter service. Good people watching. In Ching Young Village in the heart of Hanalei.


We opted to do our one true fine-dining meal at this place on the south shore the day we did Waimea Canyon etc. It’s kind of famous — right on the water with great sunsets and food. (The south shore is the spot for sunsets because there are no mountains blocking the views.) It’s big and busy, but the food WAS as high-quality as it was supposed to be, and the service was good as well. We watched surfers as we ate. It was a gorgeous spot – ask for a window table and go at like 6 if you want to experience the sunset hour.


This is where Ellen got her fresh chilled coconut. It was the kind with soft meat you can scrape out with a spoon after you’re done with the milk (water, really), as opposed to the crunchy kind. They also had smoothies, water, etc., and it’s a great stop on the way to or from Ke’e Beach (it’s west of the turn-off for Tunnels). This is the only beach we saw on the north shore that had something commercial really near it.



We loved our lodging. There are several pics of it in the Flickr set, inside and out. We actually forgot to take a pic of the outside shower, which was lovely, but it’s on their website ( It wasn’t the cheapest option, but it wasn’t the most expensive, either – there are seriously expensive hotels there that I doubt offer the amenities that Jungle Cottage did. Also nice was that it was 100% as nice as it looked online, and worth throwing down for, in our opinion. (I hate when you decide to pay extra and then you get there and feel it’s not worth it.) It was great to have a kitchenette, a deck, a grill, a living room, and a closet, and they thought of everything you might need – even providing beach towels, snorkel gear, a beach bag, and random stuff like a drying rack for your bathing suits!

Fresh Chilled Vacation Pics

fresh chilled coconut milk

If you’re one of the many folks who can’t wait to dive in to the pictures of our Hawaiian vacation last week, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve sorted and titled them and they’re now available for your viewing pleasure. K. has also written up a recommendation list for some friends of ours who are planning to hit Kauai later this year, so I’ll post that here soon too.

Back from Hawaii

Our feet, on the beach at the Sheraton

Aloha! We just returned yesterday from Kauai. It was our first visit to Hawaii, and quite sensational. We have a lot of pictures, which we need to edit and filter a little, but we’ll be posting them to Flickr soon. This first one is just a start.