Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seeking Zen

Being Mom to two boys is anything but relaxing. It's messy, it's loud, it's chaotic, it's frustrating, it's burgers and fries. It's not walking quietly through a Buddhist Temple and sipping Boba...until it is. 

Because today, even though it's their school break, we did what MOM wanted to do. First stop, Byodo-In Temple in Kane'ohe/Kahalu'u. We have been here several times through the years, but it's one of those places that you just come back to every now and then. Why? For me, if I really stop and take note, it's always during a time when I am seeking some Zen. Some peace from cluttered thoughts, a break from sibling rivalry, a hush from all the noise that living in a metropolitan area and being a stay at home mom can bring.

Today was the first time we had to make two trips to the Temple. Our first trip we didn't make it out of the car---there was no parking. No parking? No problem. This was when I had the brilliant idea to go to the new Bee and Tea in Kailua and hit up BookEnds bookstore in hopes of some folks clearing out of our Zen spot. Sure enough, when we headed back for round two, the perfect parking spot(s) awaited. 

Although Zen was what I was seeking...the first stop at the temple? A ginormous and excruciatingly loud bell. The kids were drawn to it like magnets. Wanting desperately to ring and re-ring that bell a bazillion times. Ugh! Hashtag Zen Fail!

When I was finally clever enough to persuade them away from the big bell (bribery might have been involved), we engaged with ginormous Koi. Somewhat more restful of an activity.

Next, glorious ginormous pink hibiscus. I'm noticing a ginormous pattern. 

We flattened a penny in the machine by the gift shop (cheapest souvenir ever) and looked for frogs (unsuccessful unless you count a concrete statue frog). 

We were once again in the land of mosquitos, but this time we were armed with our special Boba drink treats...they helped take our minds off of possible Dengue exposure. 😜

Byodo-In Temple is a great place to come for those on a budget ($3 for 13 yrs and over, $1 for 2-12 yrs, $2 for fish/bird food for feeding frenzy experience, FREE parking).

Clearly today's lesson was in patience and perseverance. And when there's time to kill, buy a book and some Boba! And that's how you find zen. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Oahu Exploration: Friendship Garden

This week, our "exploring Oahu" family outing took us to beautiful Kane'ohe (in Hawaiian: Bamboo Man). Kane'ohe, in my mind, is known for being lush (code for abundant in mosquitos), the O'ahu home of the Marines, the Ko'olau Mountains, and hikes such as "Stairway to Heaven". This was NOT that hike. Friendship Garden was a hidden gem to be discovered...with only a slight rise in elevation...and only a few stairs. 

Friendship Garden was a quick drive down Kane'ohe Bay Drive (past Castle High School) and up a residential side street (after we drove down H2, H1, and H3 from Mililani). 

Nestled at the back of a small Windward community is a sweet little family hike that provides opportunities for views of the bay, exploring, shade, and a lesson on botanicals. 

The Friendship Garden hike is not particularly hard or long, but it is uphill with switchbacks. The trade off is there are hardly any moments (until the end) that you are battling direct sunlight and there are many peek-a-boo views to keep you motivated towards the top. 

We saw several dogs along the hike...which led us to believe this hike is great for four legged pets...and two legged pets (aged 13 and 4). 😉

I've mentioned before that my green thumb is lacking, but I can still appreciate looking at flowers. This hike offered floral sights ranging from Coral Hybiscus, Ferns, and Heliconia (Lobster Claw) to name a few...that I never would have known the name of, if it weren't for the convenient signs labeling them along the hike!

Our entire family enjoyed this hike. It was the perfect length and difficulty for a Saturday that was filled with a previous walk, Primary Election Voting, Library Book Sale, and late summer kids room cleaning. The only negative was the mosquitos we tried unsuccessfully to keep away. Each time I scratch my legs, I'm reminded of our fun adventure though!

If you plan to check out Friendship Garden, plan to encounter few people along the trail (it was noticeably uncrowded), know that parking is extremely limited (we lucked out), be prepared for a few mosquito bites (especially if you are human and have blood), know that mans best friend is welcome (and friendly to fellow hikers...and may cause your kids to beg for a pet dog for the rest of the hike), and that everyone (from preschooler to middle schooler to mid-lifers) can pretty easily navigate this hike to enjoy Kane'ohe Bay views as their payoff. 

Extra side note: 
If you are extremely lucky, you can spot the elusive "Bamboo Man" along the hike like I did. (pictured in white shirt above)

Many thanks to Google---through you I was able to find where I first learned about 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Oahu Exploration: Diamond Head

Do you know your city, the town that you live in? I'm determined to discover and rediscover the place my family calls home. Sometimes that looks like trying different restaurants (and returning time and again to those we love). Sometimes knowing our island means seeing it through other people's eyes, exploring tourist destinations with friends and family who come to town. And sometimes it looks like hiking. 

Saturday, we explored Diamond Head Crater. We took our two boys inside a volcanic crater...and hiked it. Call us crazy.

Most folks can readily recognize Diamond Head. It is an image that pops into the heads of people who have ever given Hawaii a second thought. Since it is such a well recognized landmark, I thought it important for me and my family to explore what it has to offer---sunshine, sweeping views, stairs, sweat, and...shave ice!

Here are a few pointers on what NOT to do if you decide to hike the crater:

Do NOT...

think you can sleep in, get your day started late, and head over to hike Diamond Head---High Noon is NOT the ideal time for taking this hike...unless you are really into sweating extra, sunburn, and hearing complaints from those you are hiking with about how blazing hot it is. Just saying.

Do NOT...

forget to bring water. Seriously. If you arrive without it, turn around and go home.

Do NOT...

workout on the Stairmaster equipment at the gym before going on this hike, your legs will turn to Jello. There are stairs in the middle of a volcano people! They are serious stairs. Concrete. There is also a weird amount of space between each of the stairs for my short legs. They are steep and narrow stairs. And did I mention, there are a lot of STAIRS?! 

Do NOT...

forget your camera. The Pacific Ocean looks bluer than anything I could try to attempt to compare it to. There are mountain views, city views, ocean views, crater views, and of course whatever cute hikers you decide to drag along with you.

Do NOT...

leave your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen at home, in your car, or at the store where they can be purchased. I guess if you hike early in the morning like a normal person, you might be able to forgo one or more of these items...but the noon crew? No way. 

And the final piece of advice, which of course is the most NOT leave Diamond Head without getting your well earned SHAVE ICE! Cash only. Sometimes there's a line. But don't let this be a setback. Sweet treats taste all the better after a workout, some sun, and  being in Hawaii. 

We suggest the Rainbow and the Lemon-Lime Passion Fruit. 

The next time you have time and are looking for something to do, I highly recommend exploring something fun in your city. Try that restaurant you've heard so much about. Throw on your sneakers and walk through downtown. Hike a volcano! Be adventurous...