Browse Month: August 2017

Hawai’i – Day 8

Our beachfront hotel in Hana was amazing. It was sort of like a villa with around a dozen rooms, so it was cozy but really nice. Here’s the view from our balcony at sunrise:

The day started out grey and rainy, which isn’t surprising given the amount of rainfall this part of Maui receives. It was a warm rain, and varied between a light drizzle and a downpour. Conditions changed every few minutes, it seemed.

We headed along the road, this time touring the southeast curve of Maui. Like the Road to Hana along the north and northeast coastlines, this “highway” is barely more than a single-lane road with crazy sharp curves and blind corners, including long stretches that aren’t even paved. It’s certainly an adventure driving here!

We stopped at a beautiful waterfall alongside the road, somewhere near Mo’omo’onui Gulch (not a beautiful name).

After a few more quick stops, we found ourselves at Haleakala National Park, where the steady morning rain continued. Laralee and Megan decided to don their ponchos, and they looked quite fetching:

Kurt and I decided to hike in the rain, and within a few minutes the rain stopped, so we had the last laugh. We took a two-mile out-and-back trail to the Falls of Makahiku. The trail was fairly easy, and included a long stretch through a bamboo forest. I found that I just love hiking through bamboo: it’s so tall and dense and green, and in the breeze, the tops of the trees a hundred feet above sway gently while the wood knocks against other trees. The sound is haunting.

Although the rain had stopped, the air was so incredibly humid that everything was just dripping wet. That included my skin. I suspect there’s a point where there’s so much water in the air that sweat isn’t very effective, because the water on your skin simply doesn’t evaporate. I was covered with a sheen of water that was a mixture of sweat and rain. It was a weird sensation– sort of a feeling like you’d never be dry again.

At the end of the two-mile trail, we were rewarded with the most amazing waterfall we’d seen to date. Makahiku is an astounding 400 feet high, pouring over a sheer cliff face that’s teeming with vegetation. I feel like I keep using the word “breathtaking”, but this was… breathtaking. A simple camera can’t really capture the majesty of this scene.

We headed back and went to Ohe’o Gulch, which isn’t a very glamorous name. Apparently many moons ago (before this was a national park), a guy wanted to drum up some business for the area, so he named it the Seven Sacred Pools. In truth, there aren’t seven pools, and there’s nothing sacred about them at all– it’s just a clever marketing ploy. And it worked. The Seven Sacred Pools became legendary, and people traveled along the crazy Maui highways to see them. Unfortunately they were closed due to a rockslide earlier in the year, so we couldn’t swim in the pools, but we could still scramble around the surrounding rocks for some photos.

It’s beautiful, and I can see how it would be a cool experience to lounge in them.

As we continued along the southern highway, the landscape abruptly changed. In the lee of the mountain, there isn’t much moisture, so southern Maui is actually a desolate brown land. All of the moisture– more than 400 inches a year– falls near Hana, and when the clouds blow over the mountains they have no rain left to give. Everywhere you look, the land is peppered with black lava boulders. The difference from the lush green jungle just a few miles away is astounding.

The highway bends north in the middle of the island, and a long climb brought us to the other side of Haleakala. Here, you can go to the top of the mountain and look down into a “crater” that isn’t actually a traditional volcanic crater, but rather the result of erosion of the mountain, which was once much higher than it is now. The mountain is sort of enclosed in a perpetual cloud, and although the road goes above one cloud layer, up at the top it was pouring rain. We couldn’t see any of the incredible views over the vast crater and the faraway beaches.

We drove back down and had some dinner before heading to the airport for our long flight back home. We were all tired after so many packed days, but this was truly the most amazing place I’ve ever been.

Aloha, Hawai’i, until we meet again.

Hawai’i – Day 7

Today we went to Hana, which meant we had an opportunity to take the Road to Hana a second time. We’d intentionally covered only about half of it yesterday, leaving us time to enjoy the second half today. Once again, it was breathtaking and amazing.

Our first stop was Honomanu Beach, which is one of three “black sand” beaches along the northeast corner of Maui. These beaches are relatively rare, and also short-lived (meaning only a few hundred years) because the black lava rock that’s ground down by the force of water eventually disperses into the ocean. It’s really cool to see so many smoothed pieces of pumice, and walk in sand that’s jet-black.

From there we stopped at Ke’anae a second time– we didn’t spend enough time there yesterday, and there’s a famous little shop that offers legendary banana bread. Sadly, they’d sold their last loaf of bread just before we arrived. But the surf was still pounding the rocks, and I managed to capture some fascinating shots of splashing water frozen in flight.

Along the shoreline, there are little jet-black crabs that scuttle along the rocks. The waves pound on them, but somehow they manage to hold onto the rocks. It’s pretty cool. One of the crabs is visible just left of the top edge of this rock:

Nearby is a century-old church that survived a tsunami in the mid-Twentieth Century. It’s beautiful in this island setting, surrounded by waving palms and the incredible shades of green that pervade this area of the island.

We continued our journey along the road, stopping at a few notable waterfalls. Here’s a triple set that I really liked:

Right around that time, the mist that we’d been enjoying turned into a full rain storm. This is the part of Maui that averages more than an inch of rain every day, and apparently today was just another average day. (Humorous side note: later in Hana, I saw the seven-day weather forecast; every day said “showers likely”.) Everything is basically damp all the time, which means things like bridges are covered in moss, and guardrails are rusty.

Pua’a Ka’a Falls are gorgeous, even in the rain.

Near the falls was this rooster. He just sort of stood around, walking slowly. It’s funny to see the wild chickens and roosters that seem to pervade the island. (They were on O’ahu as well.)

Our next stop was the tiny village of Nahiku, which is apparently known as the “most beautiful place in the world to live”. It’s basically about a dozen homes– most looking pretty worn-down– but indeed, it’s a stunning place. The road to get to the village is, like the Road to Hana itself, a series of crazy switchbacks along one-lane roads. It’s funny to see a bunch of mailboxes at the end of the road.

There’s also a school bus stop, with a note that instructs visitors not to park there because it’s the only place a bus can turn around to head back up the road.

A familiar site in Maui is the abandoned car. I’m guessing that it’s prohibitively expensive to take a junked car and ship it somewhere for disposal, and it’s also expensive to get a tow truck up in the mountain roads to haul the car away. So people apparently just drive them off to the side of the road and walk away. It probably doesn’t take long for the jungle to completely overgrow the vehicle.

As we walked through Nahiku toward the ocean, we found what can only be described as the most amazing swimming hole in the world. It’s a little pool of deep, crystal-clear water that’s fed by a small waterfall. One can jump from a twenty-foot cliff into the water (I would have done it in a heartbeat if I hadn’t been fully clothed). We hung around there for a while, and Laralee commented that it was the best place we’d visited thus far. Here’s a shot that really doesn’t do it justice:

(Notice the rope swing at the top right of the picture, which is handy for leaping out into the middle of the pool.)

As the sun was setting, we arrived in Hana on the eastern shore of Maui. We hiked around a couple of beaches and celebrated another day in paradise.

Hawai’i – Day 6

Day 6 dawned crisp and clear, and we decided to head to the beach to catch some waves and ride boogie boards. None of us are surfers, of course, but this is an easy way to coast along the surf near the shore. To our disappointment, the sea was very calm. Laralee insisted on giving it a go anyway, but she pretty much just floated in place on her board:

Since that was a dud, Kurt and I donned our snorkeling gear and headed out into the ocean to look at some nearby rocks and reefs. It was another great display of schools of fish, colorful coral, and a handful of sea turtles. It’s very relaxing to just float on top of the water, letting the waves gently push you to and fro, and watch all the activity on the ocean floor below. That said, after three days, I was finding snorkeling to be a little monotonous. It was time for something new.

So we sat on the beach for half an hour, watching the (small) waves wash ashore, chatting about various things, and generally enjoying a lazy morning in the sand.

After washing off the sand, we piled into the car and headed for the north shore of Maui, for what is perhaps the most famous “attraction”: the Road to Hana. There’s a 34-mile stretch of road that runs from Kahalui along the northern edge of the island, eventually arriving at a little village called Hana on the east. Supposedly it’s so beautiful, with so many waterfalls and forests and ocean views, that you actually get insensitized to all of the gorgeous scenery. We put it to the test.

As it turned out, we weren’t disappointed. After a mediocre lunch in a weird tourist-ey town called Paia, we pulled off for a trek through a bamboo forest to a few waterfalls. The forest was an amazing place: the bamboo was incredibly dense, and everything was green in every direction. In some areas the trail, such as it was, became a narrow path through walls of bamboo.

Looking up, the trees shot skyward and were basically a hundred feet or more of long, straight sticks with some leaves at the very top. It was so cool.

After maybe a mile of this, we arrived at the first of several waterfalls. It was gorgeous, perhaps thirty or forty feet high, spilling into a pool.

It’s too bad we didn’t wear swimming gear– it would’ve been fun to paddle around the pool a bit, and maybe dip into the falls for a moment. We moved on, and soon arrived at another waterfall that was around twenty feet high:

At this one, a few people were cliff-jumping from the top into the pool. Again, I wished I’d been wearing my swim trunks, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in soaking wet clothes. After a bit more hiking, we came to a third set of falls, roughly forty feet high:

We wanted to go on, but at this point the trail required a scramble up a twenty-foot cliff (there was a frayed rope to help), and a hundred-foot swim across a pond before arriving at the final waterfall. We opted to turn back, and enjoyed the trek through the bamboo again. La and I thought it would be cool to bring back a piece of bamboo– perhaps a foot long– so I looked for a fallen tree I could hack apart. I had my hunting knife with me. Although it’s deadly sharp, it’s not useful for cutting through the incredibly hard bamboo wood.

I discovered this the hard way, as I applied some pressure but slipped. The knife sliced through my little finger, cutting straight through to the bone. Blood was gushing out, and I was able to squeeze it shut and apply pressure for the rest of the hike back to the car. Once there, I prepared to apply a bandage to it (I carry a knife in my pack but also carry bandages– good thing). Unfortunately the wound was too deep, and the blood ran freely, so it would’ve soaked right through the bandage in seconds. Instead, I wrapped it tightly in a tissue and just held it for the remainder of the afternoon. Good times.

We continued on the Road to Hana, which soon changed from a small two-lane highway to a single-lane hairpin-turn road much like the one we’d experienced the day before. Kurt was driving (I was still holding my finger together) and he grew to appreciate the joy of navigating these half-planned Hawai’ian roads. We managed to avoid any head-on collisions, though, and eventually turned off at Ke’anae on the north shore. It was late afternoon, and the waves were pounding the shoreline. It was even more impressive than yesterday’s waves at the blowhole, and once again pictures fail to capture the sheer power of the water.

The beach was all lava rock, but the incessant pounding of water has smoothed the normally sharp pumice down to rounded beach rocks:

We all stood there for a while, watching the display of water versus rock. Of course it seemed like the rocks are immovable, but we all know that over time, water always wins. This is a place where the battle is fought all day long, every day.

We turned back on the highway and headed for dinner and our hotel. A quick stop at Walmart procured some bandages, medical tape, and super glue. I pulled the bloody tissue off my finger (reopening the wound, yikes) and in the midst of blood pumping out and running down the sink, La poured super glue all over the gash. It took a couple of applications, but eventually we staunched the wound and were able to wrap it in a bandage and tape. I shudder to think how all of this will turn out when I eventually have to tear the glue off my finger. We talked about whether it would’ve made more sense to head to an urgent care facility, but in the end I’m guessing they would’ve done much the same thing anyway, so instead of paying five hundred bucks for some glue on my finger, we accomplished it for about five. I suspect I’ll have an interesting scar when all is said and done…

Hawai’i – Day 5

We spent the day on Maui, which has a very different feel than O’ahu. It’s much more “natural”, it’s lush, and the water is crystal blue. We managed to experience all three of these in different ways…

The morning started out with more snorkeling at a few beaches in the southern part of the island. The visibility in the water was dramatically greater, allowing us to see a lot more of the coral and fish. Sea turtles abounded:

There were big schools of fish zipping around, and such a variety that I lost count of the number of different fish I’d seen.

In the afternoon we went to the Iao Valley. It’s part of the mountainous area on the northwest part of the island, and receives over 360 inches of rain a year. Doing the math, that’s an average of an inch a day! It shows, too: the valley is an amazing mix of green. The slopes are really steep, rising into the sky and often disappearing in low-hanging clouds. It’s magical.

After hiking around there a bit, we decided to head to the northern edge of the island to see the renowned Nakalele Blowhole. It’s a naturally-occurring lava tube where seawater rushes in from the surf and blasts upward through a hole. It sure sounded cool! We started the drive (well, to be clear, I was the lucky one driving), and we cruised along the Kahekili Highway. It was, without a doubt, the craziest scariest road I’ve ever driven. In most places it was one lane wide, it had no shoulder, every corner was a blind corner, and there were sheer drop-offs down hundreds of feet of cliffs. You have to honk as you approach curves because cars coming the other direction can’t see you at all, and you’ll have a head-on collision if you meet. (We narrowly avoided at least two such collisions.)

Despite the madness of the highway, it eventually wound its way to the top of the island, and granted us amazing views of the hills and green cliffs.

As usual with this trip, the photos really don’t capture the breathtaking scenery.

We continued along the road and dropped back down to sea level, where the blowhole is located. Apparently it’s a bit of a fickle beast: at times it barely bubbles as water drools out of it, and at other times it can be a powerful fountain shooting seventy feet into the air. We arrived about an hour before sunset, and the surf was pretty ferocious. I think we were lucky, because we saw water thundering out of the hole and easily going seventy feet high. It happened every couple of minutes, sort of like a quick-fire geyser.

Frankly this photo doesn’t look all that impressive, but it truly was. The ground would tremble and there would be a thumping mixed with a dull roar as the water skyrocketed from the hole. Kurt decided to climb a little closer, and he was rewarded with a blast that drenched him:

We watched it for a while and then turned our attention to the surf and rocks nearby. The waves were absolutely pounding the shore, often exploding into towering walls of water. From what I understand, it’s even more impressive in the winter months (I’m not sure why, but it probably has to do with science).

The rocks themselves are basaltic lava (like all of the Hawai’ian Islands) but here the constant pounding of surf water, and dripping from the blowhole’s geyser, have somehow eaten into the rock to form intricate and fascinating patterns. The entire area looks like another planet.

There’s a little heart-shaped hole in the rock, and I couldn’t resist a cheesy pose:

As we hiked back to the car, the sun set behind Moloka’i in the west for a beautiful finish to our day. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Duke’s (named for the surfer guy) and called it a night.

Hawai’i – Day 4

When you go on a cruise, they have occasional downtime that’s listed on the trip itinerary as “Fun Day at Sea”. That’s marketing-speak for “Boring Day as We Go to the Next Port”.

Today was our equivalent of a Fun Day at Sea… we didn’t really do much that was exciting. In the morning we did laundry (because who has nine changes of underwear?) and re-packed all of our things so we could check out of the hotel.

We had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport for our island-hop to Maui, so we decided to have lunch at Benihana. As always, it was amazing, and remains in my list of top ten best restaurants. Oddly enough, this was the third time we’d been to Benihana with Kurt and Megan, and in three different cities (Honolulu, San Diego, and Superior).

Afterward we went to the beach where we’d seen some kind of surf competition earlier in the morning. It was called something like “Duke’s Surf Competition”, and as everyone on the island knows, many things are named for Duke Kahanamoku, who was a surfing legend back in the early half of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, when we arrived the competition was over and the waves were down, so most of the surfers looked like this:

I guess surfing can require a lot of patience, because we watched for maybe ten minutes and no waves appeared, but these guys just floated out there waiting for the big one. There was one guy paddle-boarding with his dog, which I thought was fun:

After a while we wandered along the beach and found an amazing banyan tree. This thing was massive, and had a huge network of “trunks”.

Eventually we headed to the airport and took a 40-minute flight to Maui. The sun sets surprisingly early here (around 6:30) so when we landed it was dark. We were looking for dinner and stumbled across a place called Monkeypod, which from afar looked like Monkeypoo. It was pretty happenin’, with live music and a huge crowd, but the wait was 45 minutes and we were pretty hungry. Across the parking lot was a little place called Fabiani’s, which sounded Italian, so we headed over there. It was indeed Italian, and we ended up having a really good dinner– we all agreed it was probably better (and certainly quieter) than Monkeypoo. Hah!

I’m excited for our next four days in Maui, because we’ll be doing more snorkeling as well as some hiking. The weather forecast is almost comical in its consistency:

The temperature swings about 10 degrees every day, and the wind is always southwest and varying between 10 and 20mph. I guess you know what to expect if you live around here!

Hawai’i – Day 3

Today was a long but fun day. We started out by driving to the north shore of O’ahu to do some snorkeling. There are a lot of beaches along the shore, but we headed to a place called Shark Cove. Because, hey, who wouldn’t want to snorkel at Shark Cove?

As it turns out, there really aren’t any sharks in the area. But there are several areas where the sea has carved out a cove in the lava rock (which is, by the way, the sharpest rock I’ve ever walked across). That keeps the waves down and makes for amazing snorkeling.

We donned our gear and jumped in. There were all sorts of fish cruising around, although my trusty old underwater camera didn’t really do justice to the scenery. Honestly I think part of the problem was my ability to take good photos while swimming.

Here’s a cool shot where you can see the surf crashing into the rocks on the shore. In this particular cove, the rock drops off precipitously and the water is immediately twenty feet deep, so when the waves collide with the rocks, there’s a lot of churning water.

We walked to a few nearby coves as well, checking the conditions at each one. I saw about a gazillion sea urchins, which are basically little black spiked balls of evil. They inhabit almost every little crevice and hole in the rocks, waiting for an unsuspecting foot or hand to hit them and suffer their wrath.

After a couple of hours, we decided to head up the coast a bit to a place called Turtle Bay. Unlike Shark Cove, which has no sharks, Turtle Bay is famous for its sea turtles. After a stern warning from some random older woman about how we shouldn’t touch or feed the turtles, Laralee and I had close encounters with two of them.

Again, the underwater photo isn’t that impressive. This particular turtle was around three feet across, although it sort of looks miniature here. Also, the water at Turtle Bay was actually kind of silty, so it was murkier than the clear blue water back at Shark Cove.

Then we drove to a couple of other gorgeous sand beaches. Wow, the north shore is beautiful.

Continuing along the coast, we stopped in for a visit to the La’ie Temple, which is absolutely stunning. The temple grounds are lush and green, with pools and fountains that accent the white marble.

We would’ve loved to go inside, but we were on a tight schedule and, quite frankly, still a bit sandy and seawater-smelling. So we continued on to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Wow, this place was a ton of fun. There are areas for each of the major Polynesian nations, including Hawai’i, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, and (for a limited time only) the Cook Islands. In each area, there are people from those nations– mostly college students from nearby BYU-Hawai’i– who talk about the culture of their country and perform native dances and ceremonies. It was a pleasant mixture of talent and humor. We could easily have spent a full day there, but unfortunately only had about four hours to tour the different areas.

Later in the evening we settled in to watch “Ha: The Breath of Life”, which is the showcase event at the Center. It’s presented sort of as a play, but really it’s just an excuse to have a loose plot that ties together all of the islands and gives a different set of performers an opportunity to show their talents. There was some incredible dancing: Tahiti women have unbelievable hip movements, Samoans are super-high-energy, and the Hawai’ians finished with a breathtaking display of juggling fire sticks.

By the time we returned to our hotel, it had been a fourteen-hour day and we were pretty tired. I thought about taking a solo midnight walk along Waikiki Beach, but apparently it’s closed after 10pm. Oh well… we might head back there tomorrow.

Hawai’i – Day 2

Our adventure in the Aloha State continued today. We started with an early-morning trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. We ended up spending about half of the day wandering the museums and memorials. Of course the U.S.S. Arizona was a highlight.

Inside the memorial, which was constructed directly above the sunken remains of the great battleship, you can look down on the rusted, barnacle-encrusted ship.

There’s also a room dedicated to the 1,400+ men who were killed when the ship sank. The tour guide pointed out that unlike many national monuments, this one is more than a monument or tribute: it’s an actual cemetery, because those men are still beneath the water. The crowd– easily a hundred people– were very quiet and respectful. It added to the reverent gravity of the atmosphere.

After a few hours learning about the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, we took a tour of the U.S.S. Missouri (a.k.a. the “Mighty Mo”). It’s hard to describe the size of this battleship: it’s simply huge. It has the distinction of being the last battleship in the world, finally decommissioned in the 1990’s after being reactivated for duty twice during its five-decade lifespan (it first set sail in 1942).

As they say, “Sun’s out, guns out!” Kurt and I modeled our guns alongside the 14-inch main turrets of the Missouri:

It was cool to see where the armistice with Japan was signed on the main deck, and then explore the lower decks for a while. Unlike submarines, which always feel cramped with terribly low ceilings, the interior of a battleship is comparatively roomy.

That is, until you see the sleeping quarters for most of the 1,600 men who served aboard the ship:

After we finished learning a ton about Pearl Harbor, we took a trip up through a banyan forest to Pu’u’Ualaka’a (oof!), a state park overlooking Honolulu.

Then we headed over to Diamond Head, the famous rock formation– actually a long-extinct volcanic caldera. The hike to the top was rated “very strenuous” and included more than 200 steps. Here’s one stretch of 99 stairs (I counted):

At the top, the old military lookout post commands an amazing panoramic view of the city and the ocean.

Finally, we decided to head over to Waikiki Beach again to watch the sunset. We arrived at the perfect time, just as the sun was sinking toward the horizon.

Here I am with my best friend:

There were several sailboats (and surfers!) on the distant horizon, and I managed to capture one passing beneath the sun. Sailor eclipse? Hah!

Just another day in paradise.

Hawai’i – Day 1

It was twenty-one years in the making, but I finally took Laralee to Hawai’i for a belated “honeymoon”. Due to a lapse in judgement, I completely missed the fact that we’d be taking off on our flight from Denver to Honolulu during the solar eclipse! Unfortunately our seats were in the middle of the Boeing 777, which means this was quite literally my view of the eclipse out the window:

So all we could really see was that it was slightly more dim outside. What a bummer.

Still, we made the best of the seven-hour flight. Here we are as our journey began (this probably isn’t my best side):

And here are Megan and Kurt, our awesome friends who decided it would be kind of cool to spend a week with us:

We landed at 2:30pm local time, which was 6:30pm Denver time, and since airlines don’t provide food any more (unless you want to pay $12 for a mostly-burnt “cheeseburger”), we were pretty hungry. But we had to pick up a car and drop in on the hotel. Here’s the view from our balcony, overlooking downtown Honolulu:

And yet another selfie:

We hopped in the car and started navigating Honolulu looking for a restaurant, but soon realized there’s pretty much nowhere to park. Since there seemed to be a gazillion restaurants and tourist-ey shops within a half-mile radius of our hotel, we decided to drive back and leave the car at the hotel while we explored the city on foot. It was a beautiful evening, and we eventually settled for a meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

After dinner we walked along a half-mile of Waikiki Beach. The sun had just set (although it was only about 6:30 local time) and it was gorgeous. When I’ve walked in the Pacific Ocean in the past, the water’s always been cold. Not so here… it was nice and warm.

Behind Laralee is the curve of the beach, including some of the densely-packed hotels that line it, and far in the distance is Diamond Head, which we plan to hike in the coming days.

The surfers who’d been floating a bit offshore early in the day had left, and the water was mostly calm.

There was a catamaran just coming ashore, and I liked the backlighting of the now-vanished sun:

I can see how this place could grow on you. I’m looking forward to another week out here!

Second best

Today was the summer league ultimate tournament. After a three-month season, we found ourselves securely in second place. The top team in the league hadn’t lost a game during the entire season, beating us by a single point in two different games. We’d more or less crushed every other team in the league. So we went into the tournament pretty confident we’d be seeing them in the finals.

Because our team color was black, we’d decided at the start of the season that we’d be the Dread Pirates (as in the Dread Pirate Roberts, of course!). It was a hoot, because there are so many cliches and sayings related to pirates. For the tournament we went all out.

Julie made skull-and-crossbones cupcakes:

Kate brought a sword:

Ethan had a jolly roger flag:

Joe put on a fake beard (well, sort of a beard):

I made black bandannas for everyone, which we wore during the games to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents. I even brought my captain’s hat, although it’s not really visible in our team photo:

Oh, and of course we had to give “the hook” sign:

Since we were in second place in the rankings and there weren’t sixteen teams for the tournament brackets, we started out the day with a first-round bye. That’s often a bad thing, because every team who has a bye ends up facing a team that’s just won a game and is warmed up. It’s well-known that in every ultimate tournament, one of the top teams with a bye ends up losing in an upset. Sure enough, one of them did (fortunately it wasn’t us). We traded points with our first opponent as we got into our groove, but then pulled away for a handy 13-6 victory.

I took about a hundred photos of the games, and handed my camera to a teammate for a few points. This is pretty much the only shot of me playing:

I particularly like the outhouses in the background… nice composition.

We headed into the semifinals and played the third-seeded team. Now that we were warm, we rolled over them and finished 13-5. Things were looking good.

As expected, we faced the undefeated team in the championship game. We went into the game with confidence, telling ourselves we’d come close to beating them twice, and this time it would happen. Alas, we were mistaken. They pushed out to a quick 5-0 lead, and at half we were down 7-1. We came out strong in the second half, but it’s always hard to recover from a point deficit like that. The game ended 13-5 in their favor. For some reason, we played particularly badly– several solid players made bad throws, and we just seemed to be dropping a lot of discs. I may not be the best thrower on the field, but my hands are steady and I’m generally able to catch anything in reach… but I dropped two easy passes. I could blame the wind, but honestly I think we simply weren’t mentally in the game.

In the end, it was okay because we all agreed this was one of the most fun teams ever. We sat on the field for half an hour talking and laughing, then went over to Ethan’s house for a post-season party. I really enjoyed the season, and although I would’ve loved to win my fourth championship of the year, I still had a great time. What’s more, most of the team will be playing in the fall league and I’ll be co-captain with my friend Jamie again, so we’ve decided to do our best to draft as many from this group as we can.

On to fall league!

It’s not so bad

There are days when I feel pretty cynical about our country and its leaders, or when I lose my faith in humanity because of yet another senseless act of violence or revenge or bigotry or racism. But on the whole, it’s important to remember that when all is said and done, we live in a much better world than the generations before us.

Take, for example, this chart showing deaths resulting from combat. This includes not only soldiers but non-combatants. There are clear peaks during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the incessant religious wars in the Middle East, and even recent African conflicts (civil wars and genocide).

Notice the tail end of the chart, which is the 21st Century. There are fewer deaths related to war now than at any point in the past six decades. While it’s still tragic that war exists at all, and that thousands of people are being slaughtered needlessly for political or religious ideologies, it’s encouraging that as a whole, we’re making progress.

Yep, that’s my class

As teachers, we’ve been asked to take pictures of our students so we can upload them to the online seminary site. Parents can use the site to check their kids’ attendance and such, and I assume my “boss” and other church leaders have visibility into each class so they can make sure things are running smoothly.

This morning informed the kids I’d be taking their photos at the end of class. There was a lot of groaning, and a couple of the girls complained that they just didn’t look their best at 6am. Never fear, I replied: I had a bunch of costume wigs (mostly from my old Halloween costumes). The results were hilariously satisfying:

I’m wondering how long it will be before a parent or church leader contacts me about what the heck I’m doing in my class…

Deep thought

The only time “incorrectly” isn’t spelled incorrectly is when it’s spelled “incorrectly”.

So it begins…

Well, tomorrow is the first official day of seminary. This will be my third year teaching, and I’m excited about a new class and an opportunity to spend my (early!) mornings with 18 awesome high schoolers.

My classroom is ready.

I’m not sure I’m ready, but as always, I’ll take it a day at a time. I usually prepare my lessons the night before, and in fact I’ve found that preparing a few days in advance doesn’t help because the material isn’t as “fresh”. My brain isn’t running at full power at six in the morning!

Spur of the moment

Some realtor/sales guy just called and said he has a buyer who’s interested in purchasing a home in my neighborhood. He asked how long I’d been living in my house, and whether I’d be interested in selling it to this buyer.

It makes me wonder how often this little sales technique is successful. Does he really expect people to say, “Gosh, I’ve been living here for 15 years and didn’t have any plans to move, until you called and convinced me to make a major life decision right now. Let’s do this!”

Welcome to 1988, Equifax

I was out all this week on Trek, with no phone service whatsoever. When I returned to civilization, I had nine voicemail messages from different people at Equifax. In every message, they were asking me to provide a fax number so they could send me a form to use to verify employment for one of my guys.

Fax? Really? Equifax is one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies, and since personal credit is such a sensitive thing– witness millions of consumers who have to go through a herculean process to “fix” their credit after identity theft– I’d expect that they’d use a little more caution handling that data. Faxes are horribly insecure, of course, but not only that, it’s the Twenty-first Century now. We have this nifty thing called the “internet”. Can’t they use a secure web form instead? Sheesh.

Now that I’m back in the office, I expect it’ll only be a matter of time (probably an hour or two) before they call a tenth time to ask me for my fax number. That’ll be a fun conversation!