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8/5/2015 It's always something

Sometimes things just never seem to go as smoothly as they should, even if they seem very easy and straight forward. I don't really feel like elaborating, but something to that extent came up Monday night and I had to spend a while yesterday trying to get things back on track. Though it could be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks before I find out whether it worked or not. Best case scenario, it all works out and I just end up with a slightly late start and a bit of wasted time. Worst case, it still falls through and I have to go with my backup plan. I can't imagine that one failing, but it's not my first choice and will probably delay things a bit (not to mention all the extra time needed to switch gears).

So yeah, that's annoying, but it could be worse. I just hope the other major projects I have in progress right now (such as Connie's fiance visa application) go more smoothly than this one is.


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8/3/2015 More hiking

Time for another hiking related travelogue entry.

August 2nd (Sunday): Koko Head Arch Hike
Since last week's hiking Meetup went well, I decided to try another one. There are a few this week, but one of the more interesting ones involved going up Koko Head the back way. I was a bit late to sign up and ended up on the wait list, but manage to secure a spot Saturday afternoon.
Anyway, Koko Head is a mountain on the east end of the island. The main trail is rather popular and known for being short but very strenuous (it's literally a straight climb up, following a old and steep railway track like a staircase). I did it a while back (see the entry for December 19th). However, there's an alternate (but not very well known) route that goes up the back side as well.
We started at the regular Koko Head parking lot. For one thing, there isn't any parking at the start of the other trail. And that way, we were able to make a loop of it. Avoiding the regular trail, we walked around Koko Head, past the nearby shooting range (for about half the hike, it sounded like we were skirting around a battlefield), and to the road by the coast. Turns out there's actually a small lava tube going under the roadway and out onto the coast. As you can tell from the photo, there's no beach at that area, it's all rocks worn away by long exposure to the waves. It made for an extremely pretty walk, though not one you'd want to take at high tide. The tide was low when we were there, but we still had to watch out for the rare big wave on a couple of narrow sections.
As a note, there was actually no reason we had to walk along the coast like that. It was just more fun and scenic than following the road. And, after a while, we climbed back up and crossed the road to begin our ascent of Koko Head. After a bit of climbing, we neared the arch. Can you see it? Here's a closer shot, but it's still a bit hard to tell that it's an arch from that angle. At that point it went from a hike to more of an actual climb. While it wasn't especially difficult (I've done that kind of thing plenty of times when hiking in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona), I wouldn't recommend it if you're afraid of heights or not in decent physical condition. Here's a panorama I took from on top of the arch.
The top of the arch didn't mark the end of the climbing, since we still had to gain a lot of height to reach the ridge. From there though, it was fairly simple to follow the ridge for the rest of the ascent. Here I am about halfway along the ridge. If you hadn't noticed from the previous photos, you can probably tell from this one that it was really windy. The wind kept up for nearly the entire hike (start to finish). It did make the climbing slightly more difficult (and made a total mess of my hair), but it also kept things from getting too hot, which is nice since otherwise we would have been in the sun pretty much the entire time. According to the hike organizer, we got pretty lucky in that regard, since there's usually no wind and it can get very hot.
In the end, we reached the same place the regular Koko Head hike ends. Here's a panorama from the top and here's a close up of Hawaii Kai and Honolulu. From there it was a quick and simple walk down the regular railway trail back to the parking lot. Between the coastline and the arch climb, I'd say this is one of my favorite hikes on the island (at least so far). But, while it's not especially dangerous, you do need to be careful climbing over the arch and pay attention to the tides if you walk along the coast.


7/31/2015 Hiking trip

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July 28th (Tuesday): Pillboxes and Likeke Falls Hikes
I joined a hiking Meetup group a while back but nothing ever seemed to fit my schedule. Well, I finally spotted one that worked, and it involved two hikes I'd never done before, both in the Kailua area
The first hike was Pillboxes, which is a fairly well known one. It starts in a Lanikai housing development and, after a relatively short but kinda steep climb, follows a ridge to a couple of pillboxes (old military bunkers). While the pillboxes themselves aren't much to look at, the views are great. There were some interesting plants up there too. The hike itself isn't very long (you can make it to the pillboxes in under 30 minutes if you keep a decent pace), though you can keep following the ridge for quite a while after that (I heard it eventually loops back down into a different part of the town). Not too strenuous either, though the very beginning is a bit steep. Definitely a nice shorter hike.
After that going to the pillboxes and back, we drove to the Ko'olau Golf Club, which is the start of the Likeke Falls hike. One end of it, anyway (someone said the other end of the trail connects to the Pali highway somewhere). Hiking from the Paili could have been kind of long. From the golf club though, it was a really short (if a little muddy) 10 or 15 minutes to the falls. The only tricky part was spotting the turn off for the falls (it's by a big tree that lots of people have carved on). Unlike the Pillboxes, this trail was in a thick forest. Really thick at spots (like where I took that photo). The falls themselves are nice. Not amazing, but nice. And one advantage of hiking with others is that there's always someone to take a picture of you. As a note, considering how short the hike is, it's hard to say if it would be worth driving out there just for that. But it makes a nice combo with other hikes or activities.
After we finished the hikes, some group members, myself included, decided to get lunch (see the review, below). It was a fun morning, and I'll definitely do some more hikes with that group if I get the chance.

Restaurant Review: Mike's Hulihuli Chicken
I've driven past Mike's a few times in the past, and could always smell the chicken roasting. Now, I finally got to try it. Mike's used to be a food truck but got popular enough to upgrade to a more permanent setup, though still with a very strong food truck vibe. They've got a good variety of plate lunches (all meat based, of course). A little on the expensive side for a food truck, but you do get a pretty big serving. I got the chicken plate, which is their signature dish. Got to say, they really know how to grill a good chicken. Crisp skin, tender meat, for rotisserie chicken, the texture was about as good as it can get. Nicely spiced too. I can't comment on their other meats, but you can't really ask for a better chicken. I'll be sure to go back next time I'm in the area.


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