August 10, 2015

Spencer's Butte

 The other week, I went up to Oregon with my family to help my sister move into a new apartment. We made the trip, thinking that we'd have time to do a little sight seeing and take a day trip over to Crater Lake. As it turned out, we were busy bees up until the moment that we left! From moving her stuff to furnishing the new apartment, it was a jam-packed couple of days.

And that doesn't even include the craziness that were our drives up and back again. A grueling 14 or so hours on the road, made even longer due to car complications (our tire blew out in the middle of nowhere, and then our spare decided to fall to pieces).

Even if we didn't have the time to make it to one of the many places I had wanted to check out while in Oregon, we did make it to Spencer's Butte. It's popular amongst the locals, given that it gives you an amazing view of Eugene on the way up and you get to hike through beautiful forests.

As you walk into the wall of trees, you slowly find yourself lost to the world outside. The sky hides above the canopy of trees and you're surrounded by a different shade of green.

We made it to the hike really close to sunset, so the sun was far from shining through the leaves. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to catch that!

They were doing constructions on the trail, so we treaded carefully along narrow, uneven paths marked by machines and bags of what looked to be sand. It all looked so out of place, almost like they had been abandoned by construction workers long ago, waiting to be taken by the foliage surrounding it.

I was glad when we made it to the end. After having not done any real strenuous activity for months (not really since Hawaii, and before then, not since what I think may have been May), the hike took a toll on my body. Though it wasn't that difficult at all!

The sunset was beautiful, and it was such a reward after having sweat and trudged up the mountain with my teeth gritted. We raced back down to get out of the forest before it became completely dark, and made it just in time.

Also! Before I forget, I wanted to let you all know that things will be a little slow around the blog for a little while. I have applications and what not coming up, and I need to spend my time outside of work to make sure all of that is ready. I'll try my best to keep updating, but I wanted to throw that out there.

On the up side, I am hopefully going to be taking a few trips this fall: another to Oregon, New York, and Michigan. Or Chicago! Either way, I'll take you all with me.

As always, thank you so much for reading!

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August 6, 2015

Malasadas and the North Shore

Remember how I said that Manoa Falls was one of the only things I wanted to do while I was in Hawaii? Well, my last days were filled with doing the other things I wanted to do (which mainly consisted of food...)

My friends had told me high tales about malasadas, otherwise known as Portuguese donuts. I had shamefully never heard of them up until a year or two ago, and I knew I needed it as soon as I heard about it. Light, airy fried dough covered in sugar.

What's not to like?! We went to the standard, the classic: Leonard's. If you ask anyone where a good place to get malasadas is, they'll tell you Leonard's. And I wasn't about to mess with that kind of a recommendation. We ordered an assortment of different ones, but I went for the original. Just good ol' plain sugar.

Can we get another close up?

Ah, much better. If you drool a little bit, I don't blame you. My mouth watered while editing the photos and now, once again, while writing this post. I'm going to need to find some of these here in LA as soon as possible.

Then, finally, it came to my last full day on the island. I still had so much I wanted to eat and so much I wanted to do! Caitlin and I geared up, along with her friend Trelaine, and we made a plan of things we wanted to tackle that day.

To start? We stuffed ourselves with breakfast in Kailua, which resulted in another meal related to kalua pork and butterfish. We tried out some chocolates which I don't have photos of, unfortunately. But! It's called Manoa Chocolate, and it's pretty fantastic. I highly suggest the Hawaiian Sea Salt.

Feeling almost sickly full, we headed over to the Lanikai Pillboxes for a hike that kicked our butts.

A photo posted by Skim ⚡ (@dearskim) on

While a challenging hike, I'm not sure if it was again the humidity that got to us, or if it was really that steep. The way down was much more strenuous than the way up, if for nothing else than the fact that it's loose dirt and gravel that required a ridiculous amount of thigh work.

Thankfully, I didn't slip -- but I can't say the same for some of the people we passed! Totally worth it for the views, but this one's not for the out of shape.

Once we made our way down, we kicked off our shoes and slipped our sandals on, eager to get up to the north shore. The weather was somewhat unpredictable that day. While it was bright and sunny during our hike, an hour later we found storms had rolled in and were pouring over where we just had been.

We drove through lots of rain, somewhat concerned that it wouldn't clear up by the time we got to our destination. But, by the grace of God, the clouds broke and we saw streams of sunlight guiding our way forward. And just in time for a late lunch!

Since a trip to Hawaii is not complete without a plate lunch, we opted for Giovanni's Shrimp Truck. On a scale of one to holy smokes, this was a holy smokes. The shrimp was good, but what made this unforgettable was all of that delicious garlic and lemon butter.

Say it with me now, garlic and lemon butter! Yes! I never want anything else in life. I could eat that straight up with rice and call it a satisfying meal. We shared a plate between the three of us, anticipating needing room for some of the other food-related items I had on my list.

At last, when it seemed like we would be driving forever, we made it to our destination. A place that really would be difficult to find without someone who had been there before guiding the way, Caitlin took me once more to her favorite beach.

And I'm not surprised that it's her favorite. We. Saw. Sea turtles.

Hey buddy! Thanks for peeping up!

After I had thoroughly squealed over the turtles near their feeding area, we all made our way further down the beach to where we could swim. One thing I discovered about Hawaii beaches (and love) is that they're, for the most part, pretty open. There's so much beach that it's not difficult to find your own little stretch of sand. 

It's very different from my California beaches, that's for sure!

We raced towards the water and jumped in with cameras in hand, only to see what may have been the highlight of my trip.

Sea turtles in the water. You can also read that as: I swam with sea turtles!!! This was the other thing I told Caitlin I really, really wanted to do. While snorkeling would have been fun, my reason for wanting to snorkel was so that I could see turtles. And there they were! They came and found us.

This guy came the closest, but you can see his buddy in the background. He sneaked up on Trelaine, which made for a real test of speed. I don't think I've gotten a camera to do what I wanted it to do as quickly as I did in that moment.

There was no way I was going to miss out on capturing these guys.

Can we talk about how clear this water is? Once the sun really came out, the water looked like it was a sea of glitter. Everything underwater sparkled, and I spent most of my time trying to soak it all up.

Tired and ready for some more food, we grabbed our stuff and jumped back into the car. We made our way over for another round of acai bowls (which was another favorite of the trip). I don't ever need to try another bowl from anywhere else. This one was all I ever needed.

A photo posted by Skim ⚡ (@dearskim) on

Afterwards, we made the long drive back to Caitlin's house. We stopped at Foodland along the way for a final treat of spam musubis and poke. I wish I could have gotten the whole shebang for a poke bowl, but it was a little too late in the day. I got my little container and enjoyed it nonetheless.

And that was my Hawaii trip! I know that this post was awfully long, but I wanted to share with you all the special things that I had on my last day. Again, such a big thank you to Caitlin for showing me her Hawaii. Her recommendations were so spot on, I don't think I would've had as amazing as a time had it not been for her.

If you haven't read all of the Hawaii posts, feel free to check them out! I promise none of them are as hefty as this one, ha. Go see Manoa Falls, some epic tide pools, a drive around Oahu, and my video blog of the trip.

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August 3, 2015

Manoa Falls

One of the things I really wanted to do while I was in Hawaii (and one of the only things I asked Caitlin to make plans for) was to hike up Manoa Falls. I had read a lot about it online during the weeks following up to my trip -- I scoured the Internet for cool things to do around the island and was completely set upon hearing that Manoa Falls played backdrop to Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park! Dinosaurs! Yes! I was in. I knew I'd love it.

We tried to go a few times, but Manoa seems to be a mystical place where it rains more than it shines. The first time we attempted a trip, Caitlin and I geared up for a hike and went to breakfast. When we got out, the entire area was pouring rain. We drove a couple of miles through torrential rain before realizing that it wasn't going to let up, and there was no way we'd be able to go that day.

Keeping our eyes on the weather for the rest of the week, we made other plans and set aside this hike for the weekend. Thankfully, after a week of odd showers here and there, we were able to finally set off for the waterfall.

Needless to say, the hike is extremely muddy and unpleasantly humid. The air feels thick against your skin, weighed down by the heat of summer. I broke a sweat just getting out of the car! We treaded carefully, making sure to avoid puddles and slips at all costs.

It's easy to forget the very few negatives about this hike, though. As soon as you walk through the entrance, you're throttled into what looks like another world. Massive trees surround you and it goes as far as the eye can see.

When you look up, it almost seems unreal. Thickets of branches and leaves hover over you with bright blue sky peeping in between. While some parts seem wide open, there are a few areas where you feel like you could get lost if you stepped off the path.

The variety of plant life was crazy though! The trail is dotted with different types of flowers and trees, including what seemed to be a bamboo forest.

After sweating half of my body weight, we finally made it to the falls. The sounds of people laughing and the water crashing down were signs of hope as we reached the end. When the falls finally came into sight, Caitlin and I staggered forward, happy to have finally made it.

Though there's a rope telling you not to enter, it seems a bit silly not to duck under and make your way to the water. Everyone goes, and it's refreshing to sit by the water, even if you're not inclined to go in. We set ourselves up on a couple of rocks and ate sandwiches that we bought pre-hike.

When we couldn't take it anymore, we peeled off our sweaty clothes and laid them out to dry before taking a dip. The water was frigid at first, but I couldn't wait to get up close to the waterfall. I hadn't seen a full-fledged fall in a long time! I waded over, slipping on rocks in the process, letting the cool water beat down on my back.

It was refreshing and much needed. It gave us all the energy we needed to make our way back.

This is how muddy the trail is! It gets progressively worse as you get closer to the falls, mostly because those parts of the trail don't see as much light and are dirt, unlike the first part of the trail which was mostly rock and in the open.

It can get slippery and dangerous, but be careful! And don't forget to take shoes. We saw a ton of people in sandals and/or white pants, and we cringed every time we passed them, knowing what they had to look forward to.

Manoa Falls was everything I thought it was going to be. It's totally worth checking out if you're in Oahu, though from what I've been told, there are bigger and better falls with larger pools to swim in if you know where to go. There are a few that I'm eager to check out next time I find myself in Hawaii, but for now, I'm pretty pleased with this one.

The hike itself isn't too strenuous -- the humidity killed us more than anything (can you tell how fogged up my camera was in the beginning?). It's more of something that's fun and easy for everyone. And if you don't have any open wounds or are feeling lucky (we had cuts from the tide pools earlier that day), you can suit up and take a dip!

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