Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 3- The North Shore

 This day was super packed. We rented a car and did a loop around the North Shore of Oahu, stopping at a number of places we had talked to our next door neighbor about who is from the island.

 First stop was the Dole pineapple plantation. It was touristy, but we still enjoyed it and learned a few things about pineapple while we were there. We took a ride on a train that showed us the fields and gave us the history of pineapple production at the plantation.

Pineapple plants. 

We walked around the gardens, which were interestingly landscaped. 

 
I took a picture of Steve in front of this same type of tree when we were in Australia. Harriet loved the crazy roots. We learned that the thing below, when dried, is peeled apart and each of those nubs have little brushes on the end. They used by indigenous people as toothbrushes. 

Anyone who asks Harriet what her favorite part of the trip, her answer is this -- finding an enormous snail.

 
 We also went through world's most enormous hedge maze and found little stations and stamped a card we had.

Next up, the famous north shore shrimp trucks. Very popular and quite good.

 We all ate a LOT of shrimp on this trip.

We had talked to someone who recommended going to Laniakea beach to see turtles. There were a lot people there who also wanted to get a glimpse of the turtles, but there weren't many to see. It was overcast and they didn't feel like sunning themselves. We did see a few out in the water, but no good pics of them.

 
We kept moving and went to my favorite site of the trip– Waimea Valley and Falls.  It was absolutely beautiful and Steve and I hiked up to the falls, while my mom and Harriet could a little trolley up there.
Along the way there are little gardens to walk through and people who are demonstrating different cultural things. Harriet and I made this lei bracelet at one of them as well as learning about instruments made from nature.


Waimea Falls at the end of the hike. I use the term hike loosely since it was, for the most part, paved.

 
A few days into being in Hawaii, Harriet asked what all those sticks were that everyone was carrying around. They were everywhere!!


  One of the little extra gardens to explore on your way up (or down, I guess)


We were given a brochure with all the different kinds of birds to look for, but this cool bird wasn't in it.


After that we went to another beach and hung out for a while and made sandcastles.

A fruit stand along the side of the road.

A rainy drive home with beautiful scenery along the way back to Waikiki. We had a fabulous day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hawaii Day 2- Pearl Harbor and Foster Botanical Garden


Harriet and Steve got up early and headed to Waikiki Beach for some ocean time. Then my mom, Becky and Raymond took Harriet for the afternoon so that Steve and I could go to Pearl Harbor. It was nice that we could go without her because she would not have liked it. She spent the day hanging out, sightseeing around Waikiki and swimming in Becky and Raymond's hotel pool.

We took an uber over to Pearl Harbor not quite sure what to expect. Looking online you would think you have to go on a 4-hour tour for $100 each (which is an option if you want that level of info about the sight). So we get there and turns out it is actually free and you get to watch a 20 min. movie and then take a boat captained by the Navy over to the memorial. While you wait for your time slot to come up for these activities, they have two nice museums to wander through. The movie prior to the boat trip was very powerful and informative.

 This memorial was finished in 1962 (21 years after the attack) and it definitely feels retro, but in a cool way. It is a building over the USS Arizona, which is still underwater.

 Inside there is a room with all the names of those who were killed on the attack on Pearl Harbor.

You can still see oil all around on the surface and part of the ship above the water. Apparently it is too risky to remove the enormous amount of oil still in the vessel.


This was back on land. It was pouring most of the time we were there so very little time for pictures. Except for the palm tree bark below.


Since we were kind of unencumbered without Harriet, we stopped at the Foster Botanical Garden on our way back from Pearl Harbor. It wasn't huge, or really tranquil for that matter since it was one busy streets and only about 20 acres, but it was enjoyable. Some of the trees there were just enormous. I am standing next to this one for scale.

Interesting designs in palm tree bark.

When we entered, we were given a little brochure with a map that told us were different species of trees were and then interesting descriptions of the trees. We really loved trying to find all the trees  listed and then learning about them since we had never seen most of them before. Its funny, at this phase of my life with two little kids, I never feel like I can leisurely do anything, but here we took our time and enjoyed it all. I loved this cannon ball tree. It had both beautiful flowers and these crazy cannon balls. 

 A close up.

Also this sausage tree was just bizarre with tons of "sausages" hanging from vines off the limbs. Most of the trees in the garden were not native to Hawaii and this one was brought over from Africa.

I love the brilliant colors of this plant.

We made our way back to Waikiki and met up with everyone for dinner at Dukes while we watched the sunset from the beach patio. It was a lovely end to a fun-filled day.
My mom, Harriet, me and Becky.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Aloha!

A couple weeks ago we headed to Oahu for our friends' Matt and Amber's Hawaiian wedding. We went with my mom and Harriet for 8 days. We decided only to take Harriet with us since the plane ride and general travel with Eloise would be too difficult. She stayed home with my cousin Kate and had a great time as you can see below. 
 

A couple things leading up to the trip were a bit stressful. Three days before the flight our airbnb cancelled on us due to plumbing issues and so we had to scramble and find a new place, which was a little nuts, but we got it sorted out. Then we get to the airport for our early flight (6:45am!) and I realize that my ID is my pants pocket at home. We scramble again and my dad was able to race it to me in time with the help of our neighbor Bryce. I'm surprised I don't have an ulcer after that. 

Then after a long, tiring day of travel, we check in early to our new airbnb and it is only just starting to be cleaned and it smells like rotten garbage/a corpse/cat pee. Highly unpleasant. The people before us had left many garbage bags with rotting food in the hot condo for half the day. It took many days for the smell to dissipate.  After all that though, we had an absolutely fantastic time! Harriet was truly an amazing traveler and had a great attitude the whole time. Each day we ran her ragged and, coupled with the time change, she couldn't even keep her eyes open the moment she hit the pillow. I was initially ambivalent about bringing her, but we knew it meant a lot to Amber and Matt to have at least one of the girls in the wedding so we went for it and I am happy we did. She had a lot of wonderful experiences, as did we.

So day 1 we took it easy, explored the lay of the land and dipped our feet (ahem, Harriet's whole body with clothes on) in the ocean.

We went to the grocery store and loved seeing all the new fruits and foods we don't have at home. This is a dragon fruit.

That night Steve and I went for a walk on the beach and met a few people over at the hotel where everyone was staying for the week (and we would eventually end up).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Honey extraction

A few weeks ago Bryce and I (with a kid each) went to Beez Kneez. They have custom-made extractors that are bike powered and it seemed like a fun way to end the beekeeping season (although there is still some winterizing to do). We put the frames in his basement for a few weeks and used a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the honey so that it wouldn't go rotten. Unfortunately, we reduced it too much and instead of 18% moisture it was 14.5%, which make the honey the consistency of molasses. Not bad to eat, but it made the extraction process longer. 

Our bees didn't cap much of the honey so we just used this tool on those few areas, instead of an hot ironing tool that shaves off the caps.

Then we loaded them into the extractor rotating them after a while so the honey facing the inside of the barrel could be extracted.

Then we pedaled and it all flew out onto the side of the barrel and then slowly dipped down into the reservoir. We all took a turn pedaling (except Harriet who was too small).

When we were all finished with the pedaling, we had to scrape the sides to make sure we got everything. It was rather difficult because of the consistency and also because you can't remove the cage thing where we put the frames so it got in the way a lot.

Harriet got a little restless because it took a while. You can see here there were two stations and another group was extracting at the same time.

Once scraped, the top barrel can be taken off. The honey goes through a screen to filter any wax or other partials from going into the bottom area.

In the end, it took us about 2 hours (you pay by the hour so it wasn't cheap) and we got 10lbs of honey, which we split. Five pounds is two-quart mason jars of honey (that's not including the weight of the jar). Considering we didn't think we were going to get any honey this year I am pretty happy with that. Also I really enjoyed going to Beez Kneez and I think they are doing great work in the community. That said, I think next year we can figure out a more economical way to extract it.