An Introduction To Owling

Today I decided that I would ascend Koko Head Crater – one of three volcanic craters on the island of Oahu. I’m no stranger to this particular hike, and even though it is quite strenuous (1,048 total vertical steps), I’ve become very accustomed to it and have been using it to train for much more difficult hikes. This morning I decided that I would try and go super early and try to reach the top to see the sunrise over Honolulu. Unfortunately, the sun beat me up. Needlessto say, I did learn one new thing while on the top of Koko Head. While I was expressing angst over the planking movement, a friend of mine told me about the recent owling movement. As I mentioned on Facebook, both owling and planking are seriously retarded – but hey, I think owling > planking.

Of course, there is a T-Shirt for those owling fans which you can pick up from Crazy Dog Tshirts for $14.99.

And here are some photos of me owling on the top of Koko Head Crater. By the way, if you dig the views then I think that you would LOVE my new blog, Exploration: Hawaii. It basically chronicles the adventures that me and my buddies have around Hawaii. It’s good stuff!

Plastics Bags: Should They Be Banned?

So there’s been some talk in Hawaii about the possible ban of plastic bags in Maui, followed most likely by the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. Do I think plastic bags should be banned? Yes, I definitely think that plastic bags should be banned. Plastic bags are carcinogens to Mother Earth. They clog waterways and pose a threat to marine life. Plastic bags are no good. 

Some retailers argue that a plastic bag ban would be impractical and would cause retailers to use paper bags, which costs more to produce, thereby leading the added cost to be passed on to the consumer. This, however, does not need to be the case. If the plastic bag ban did take place then retailers should suggest that consumers purchase reusable bags (these are already available at many markets for a buck or less), a practical solution that consumers can use for infinite trips to the supermarket. If, for some reason, a consumer chooses not to use a reusable bag then they should be given the option to purchase a paper bag. Forcing consumers to purchase paper bags will increase the likelihood that they will use a reusable bag in the future and in doing so they will be doing their part in helping out Mother Earth. 

This paper bag ban is really a non-issue. Make it happen, Hawaii. Be an example. Kokua. 

PS: For the doggie lovers wondering what they’ll use for poop bags, many pet stores offer biodegradable alternatives. Or if you want to be 100% green, leave the poop. It might not be good for your shoe but it does make for a natural fertilizer. I’m kidding, we all need to be responsible pet owners so get those biodegradable poop bags or teach your dog to use the toilet. 

Guerrero and Shimabukuro Cover The Beatles’ Something

Here’s a great cover of the Beatles’ “Something” featuring YouTube Ukulele star Aldrine Guerrero and International ukulele superstar, Jake Shimabukuro. Credit goes to Ryan for sending me this Beatles cover, I guess he was inspired after seeing that post I did last week on the Korean kid sing “Hey Judge.” 

Anyhow, some history on this splendid song. “Something” was actually featured on the 1969 album, Abbey Road. And even more interesting, “Something” was the first Beatles single written by the late George Harrison. “Something” is second only to “Yesterday” as the most covered Beatles song. 

Something in the way she moves,
Attracts me like no other lover.
Something in the way she woos me.
I don’t want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

Somewhere in her smile she knows,
That I don’t need no other lover.
Something in her style that shows me.
I don’t want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

You’re asking me will my love grow,
I don’t know, I don’t know.
You stick around now, it may show,
I don’t know, I don’t know.

Something in the way she knows,
And all I have to do is think of her.
Something in the things she shows me.
I don’t want to leave her now.
You know I believe and how.

Tasty Crust

We didn’t plan on going to the Tasty Crust but because of some changes in the itinerary we found ourselves on Mill St. in Wailuku at this little old diner of yesteryear. And what a pleasant surprise this unexpected visit was. The first thing you think of when seeing the Tasty Crust is old school diner. And old school it is. From the tattered building to the worn out interior this place screams vintage.

 

I had a short stack of banana pancakes to supplement a traditional breakfast (2 large eggs and 5 pieces of linguesa) and a side order of hash. You get to choose form six different meat items (linguesa, bacon pork sausage, Spam, luncheon meat, Vienna sausage, or corned beef) when ordering the traditional breakfast. Having no idea what linguesa was, I decided to go for that as my meat. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked the waitress what linguesa was and she said that it is just Portuguese sausage. I didn’t feel too bad once she sad that most people ask what about the mysterious linguesa dish. The over-easy eggs were cooked to perfection, the hash was ono’ and according to Ryan was “buttery but so good!”

Mark had the veggie omelet stuffed with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and potatoes. He also had a side order of corned beef hash and a short stack of banana pancakes. Mark, being the pancake connoisseur of the group, proclaimed the banana pancakes at the Tasty Crust as the “best banana pancakes” he ever had. I’d have to agree with Mark, the pancakes were out of this world good. These aren’t just the basic pancakes topped with bananas, instead, they incorporate the bananas into the batter at the Tasty Crust leaving your with an ordinary looking pancake that packs a banana punch with each bite. 

The prices at the Tasty Crust were very reasonable, in other words, cheap! The traditional breakfast only cost $4.25 and the banana pancakes were $2.25 for a short stack. The omelets range from $5.35 to $6.75 and you can even make your own omelet starting from $4.85. If I ever go back I’m ordering a regular order of banana pancakes, no short stack for me!

The Tasty Crust is definitely a must visit if you’re searching for cheap eats in the Valley Isle. It makes for a great early morning stop if heading to Iao Needle (we were the first customers at 6:00 am). The food is cheap, the pancakes and linguesa are tasty and the service is very friendly. The Tasty Crust is definitely worth checking out!

Tasty Crust
1770 Mill St.
Wailuku, Maui
808-244-0845

Hawaii Superferry

And so the Maui journey begins by catching the Hawaii Superferry. We’re about 20 minutes into the 3 hour journey and so far no “Aloha Spills”, apparently Aloha Spill is Superferry talk for barf. OK scratch that, a kid a few feet ahead of me is being led to the barf zone with a barf bag. Might this be the Aloha Spill I have been waiting for!

Boarding the ferry was quick and simple. No line and all we needed were our boarding passes and ID’s. They should just skip having us print out the boarding pass and just cross check our ID’s with their computers. It would be much greener that way.

We chose not to bring our car which ment that we paid just 49 bucks each way. Not bad considering a flight would have cost about 20 dollars more.

One mistake we did make though was assuming that coolers were not allowed. They are allowed. And so now were are stuck with a warm 12 pack. Our bad.

The fascilities are clean and the staff is quite nice and friendly. And they have an abundance of flat screen tv’s throughout the cabins playing Sportscenter. Awesome!

Update:
OK, we are two hours into the Superferry ride. I fell asleep for about an hour. I’m gonna head to the outer deck to see what the view is like.

The outer deck on the Alakai is quite nice. The sides of the ships are a bit windy and the rear of the ship will you get you wet. If you do ride the Superferry I would suggest stepping outside once a while. First of all, it’s not as cold as the ferry interior and secondly it is a calming experience, at least for me it was. If you step out just after the ferry departs Honolulu you’ll get to see a nice view of Honolulu Harbor and Diamond Head.

The restrooms are small with just one toilet and one urinal. I could imagine lines during peak peeing periods like just after departure.

The concession stand was stocked with lots of goodies like sandwiches, musubi’s and saimin. You also get a good selection of pastries to choose from. Beware though, prices on the Superferry are at a premium. $2.50 for a musubi. Ouch!

For those who fear getting sea sick, the Superferry offers free Ginger pills and Dramamine for purchase. I didn’t have an issue with the too and fro motion but others did. If unsure as to whether or not you’ll get sick, take the pills.

All in all the journey aboard the Superferry was a pleasant one. The downside for me was the speed of the journey, or should I say the lack of. Other than that, I’d definitely recommend it as a means traveling to and from the islands.

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Off to Maui Wowwie

Off to Maui, Wowwie Wowwie
Taking the Superferry, will it be merry?
Afraid I’ll barf,
If I do I’ll turn to Mark.  

Only going to be there for two nights,
Enough time to see the sights.
Road to Hana, Ryan’s going to drive.
Twists, dips and turns,
I hope we all survive. 

Mark wants to see the top of Haleakala,
He hasn’t seen silver swords, halaka!
At five miles per hour,
he said he’ll drive.
Afraid that he’ll see an apparition by his side.

The aquarium, the aquarium,
That’s what Joel wants to see.
Turtles and sharks swimming with glee,
Maybe we’ll see one of them pee.

So off I go to pack my bag.
Surf shorts, sun screen and maybe a hat.
And let’s not forget a bag full of snacks.

Manoa Falls

I’ve done the Manoa Falls trail twice now and it never disappoints. The trail leading up to the falls is relatively short, only about 1.5 miles, but as you make your way towards the falls you are greeted at each twist and turn with spectacular jungle like fauna. Imagine Jurassic Park like scenery but on a less grand but more manageable scale. You’ll make your way past bamboo trees as you pass through rainforest as well as some nasty mosquitos so be sure to bring bug repellant.

Like Kaneohe, Manoa is it an often wet location so remember to dress appropriately. Shoes will definitely help when walking through the well worn-out paths. As I made my way through the trail I crossed ways with two angry tourists, both of whom were complaining about the “slippy-ness” of the trail, and of course, they were wearing slippers (flip-flops for you mainland folks). The trail is easy enough for both young and old to do as it consists mainly of straight-a-ways with minimal difficulty and absolutely no areas that involve crawling or climbing.

At the end of the Manoa Falls trail you be treated to a stunning 60-foot high waterfall that flows year round. Although not suggested, many people (not me) tend to gather in the pool directly below the falls. It’s not deep but just enough to allow you to waddle in the water. The main issue with relaxing in the pool under the picturesque waterfall is the danger of Leptospirosis, so be forewarned.

To get to Manoa Falls, head towards Manoa onto West Manoa Road. You’ll drive through residential area and then reach the driveway of the old Paradise Park. The Manoa Falls parking is just below the Lyon Arboretum. The parking area is considered a high theft area even though it costs an expensive 5 dollars to park your car in the lot with an attendant present. It might be more feasible and safe to park in the residential areas and then walk up to the trailhead. 

Koko Head Crater Trail

95% of the Koko Head Trail Hike is climbing and sometimes crawling along an abandoned military track that was previously used to transfer supplied from the bottom of the crater to the top. The last 5% of the trail more than makes up for the challenging hike up the 1,100 steps of beaten up train track. Once you   reach the last track on the trail, follow the dirt path and that will lead you to an abandoned Helipad as well as a beautiful view into Koko Head crater and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll also get great views of Makapu’u, Diamond Head, and the Honolulu skyline. It will take about 90 minutes to reach the end of the track and less than 5 minutes to get to the part of the hike with the beautiful scenic views. We ended up spending about 3 hours total on this trail with most of the time spent lounging at the top of the crater. Be forewarned that this hike is entirely an uphill climb, as you can probably tell by the pictures.

About midway though the trail you will encounter the track trestle that spans a ravine. This is the part of the trail that is a bit daunting, especially if you are afraid of heights. Carefully maneuver yourself across the worn out bridge and try not to think about the steep fall you’ll experience if you miss a step. Cross with caution!

To get to the Koko Head Trail take H1 toward Hawaii Kai and continue on to Kalanianaole Highway. Continue driving down Kalanianaole Highway towards Hanauma Bay. You will see the Hanauma Bay entrance on your right, once you have passed the Haunama Bay entrance take the first left. This road will take you to a parking lot and the start of the hike.

It’s probably best to do this hike during the morning hours since the trail provides no shade and the sun can be harsh during midday. Speaking of the sun, the day after I hiked Koko Head I was pretty sun burnt so be sure to lather yourself up in lots of sunscreen! Most importantly, bring water and maybe an energy bar or two. 

Nobu Waikiki

Noted Chef Nobu Matsuhisa recently opened his 15th restaurant at the Waikiki Parc Hotel this past year in Hawaii. I’ve been wanting to visit a Nobu’s for over a year now, ever since I researched eateries for the east coast trip that I took last year.

Having wrapped up teaching my first course at UH, Michelle thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the milestone with dinner at Nobu’s. Never one to turn down fine dining and fine company, I said yes.

After a little trouble locating the Waikiki Parc Hotel (It’s across the street of the Halekulani Resort) we finally found our way through the doors of this trendy new fine dining eatery. We had a 7:45 reservation and made it just in time. The restaurant was filled with a mixture of tourists and locals (okay, maybe more tourists than locals). The ambience was nice and the restaurant had a contemporary Japanese feel to it which is fitting since they do serve “new style Japanese.” Once we checked in with the concierge, we were immediately seated. We sat in the couples section, meaning, all tables within our proximity were for seating for 2. The tables were parked closely to each other, especially the tables for 2, but I guess this goes with the Japanese experience. In Japan, everyone and everything is shoulder to shoulder! We could clearly hear the conversations of the couple seated to the right and left of us. The food more than made up for this slight annoyance.

Less than 5 minutes after being seated we were greeted by our very friendly and knowledgeable waiter. We decided on some edamame as a starter along with some spicy tuna, California rolls and a platter of oysters. For my entrée, I had the organic chicken with anticucho and teriyaki sauce (I couldn’t decide on the anticucho or teriyaki so my waiter gave me both, score!). Michelle chose the tempura plate for her main entrée. Both of our entrées came with a hearty serving of miso soup, a bowl of rice (nice serving of rice but might not suffice those who are used to plate lunch portions) and tsukemono (vegetables such as daikon pickled Japanese style). Other vegetables that are traditionally pickled in the tsukemono style include umeboshi (ume plum), turnip, cucumber and cabbage. To supplement these wonderful delights, I ordered some Kirin Ichiban. I love Japanese beer!

Service was quick, our edamame arrived a few minutes after placing our order as did a surprise serving of greens with Matsuhisa dressing. Kitchen staff (and not our waiter) deliver the food, so you know that your food is served as soon as it is prepared. The edamame was served just the way I like it, slighted heated and with a dash of salt. Next came the miso soup and tsukemono. The miso soup was indeed tasty, and to my surprise was not flooded with green onions! I’m not the biggest pickled vegetable fan, but I did have a taste of the daikon, again, not the biggest fan. The oysters, oh the oysters. I love raw oysters, and these oysters were splendid.

Our appetizers shortly followed the miso soup and tsukemono. The California rolls were as good as any that I have tasted. Of course, it was far superior to Cal rolls served at Genki Sushi but on par with the cheaper Sushi Man (located on King Street). I didn’t get a chance to taste the spicy tuna (raw fish is not a favorite of mines) but Michelle did say that it was tasty.

We were both stuffed by the time our entrées came out, but like the good eaters that we both are, we trucked on! The tempura plate was quite a large portion. It was filled with a variety of tempura items, from the large pieces of shrimp tempura to the crunchy asparagus and the always interesting lotus root. Finishing off the tempura plate was a challenge, albeit a tasty one! The organic chicken with anticucho sauce was such a delight! I love my chicken and the chicken at Nobu’s did not disappoint. Again, the serving was plentiful. It was grilled to perfection. The jalapeno on the side was unnecessary for me.

No fine dining experience is complete without dessert. We sure did dessert! Rather than settling on one desert we haphazardly splurged on two delights, the milk chocolate “cremoso” (based on the waiters recommendation) and a pistachio desert whose name evades me at the moment. The milk chocolate cremoso came with a lilikoi curd and gelee, Nobu cabernet caviar and peanut butter powder. The cremoso did not disappoint. The finely grated peanut butter powder was amazing when combined with the cremoso. If heaven exists, then they must serve Nobu’s cremoso.

We left Nobu’s both satisfied with the service and stuffed with the food. The restaurant validates so parking is free if you park in the hotel lot. No valet service at the Waikiki Parc, but that’s no biggie.

If you’re interested in tasting great food in a nice ambience with good and fast service then definitely give Nobu’s a try. And don’t forget to ask for the cremoso when its time for desert.

Nobu Waikiki
2233 Helumoa Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
808-237-6999