Monday, January 26, 2009

Gardening adventures

This fall Zac and I started our adventures in container gardening. We planted some vegetables and herbs back in October and I showed evidence of the tomato's progress back in December. Some of the herbs we initially planted have already run their course, but the tomatoes are just about ready. The two plants are over-grown and unruly and it takes a fair amount of effort to see how many tomatoes are actually there. I'd guess there are at least 25 between the two plants. Maybe more.

I suppose at some point I could read up on growing tomatoes to see if there are any tricks to the trade, but for the moment they seem to be coming along nicely and I'm daydreaming about how delicious they'll be.
Since the tomatoes seemed to be doing well, we decided to plant a few more things that we use regularly in the kitchen. Here are the jalapenos:
They're so cute. It seemed like it took forever for the plant to flower and then produce. But it's been worth it. Zac has heard that if you don't water a jalapeno regularly that the peppers get even hotter so we've been quite vigilant about watering this one regularly. The two peppers we got from it so far have a nice heat to them, without being over the top.

These are the latest additions to the container extravaganza. The two plants in the foreground are bell peppers. In the background you can see our spinach popping up. I'm going to have a hard time being patient waiting for the bell peppers to grow. I love bell peppers.

Once I get a shiny, red tomato off the vine you can be sure I'll be posting about that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blog for Choice

It's January 22nd and NARAL has asked supporters to blog about reproductive rights. The particular question they posed was:

What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

I was going to address their topic, but instead I got distracted by this article I saw today on

SUV smashes into Planned Parenthood in St. Paul

ARG! I get so frustrated when I read stories like that. I guess I should be grateful though, because this person's behavior reminds me how important it is to be vigilant about keeping reproductive choices available to all that need them.

I've been to the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul. I've been verbally assaulted by people as I walked in. It's not a fun experience. And really, it's more baffling than anything. To be judged, solely because you're walking into a clinic, to be condemned, solely because you're walking into a particular clinic, is bizarre. They don't know me. They don't know who I am, or why I'm there. But clearly they are there to terrify me, or "save" me, most likely both.

I don't want laws to go into their homes and bedrooms and tell them what my God thinks they should (or shouldn't) be doing with their consenting adult partner. I don't tag along to their doctor appointments to tell them that their blood pressure medicine is unnatural and is interfering with God's plan for them. But day after day, month after month, year after year, there are people that are trying to get into my bedroom and into my doctor's appointments. If I'm willing to give them their privacy, why can't they extend me the same courtesy?

These bullies, because that's what they are - bullies - are out there in the world trying to intimidate patients, doctors, staff, schools, government and insurance providers into making a safe, legal abortion impossible to come by. And, frankly, I think many of us younger people have become complacent because we grew up post-Roe v. Wade. We just assume that our rights are protected, that the option will always be there for us, our friends, our family, our children.

I hope everything our mothers and grandmothers worked for isn't in vain. If you support a woman's right to choose, which is really a right to privacy, don't sit idly by and let the bullies have the only word. Donate, volunteer, call your legislator. Tell them how you feel. And in case you ever need a reminder of why it's important, go down to the St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic and try to walk in the front door. You'll quickly be reminded that protecting our privacy didn't end 36 years ago with a Supreme Court decision.

Happy Anniversary, Roe v. Wade.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Seven of us hiked up Makapu'u this morning. It's the furthest East you can get on O'ahu. It was nice and cool when we started out this morning, I even had a long-sleeved t-shirt on with my shorts. But as the sun rose higher, and we climbed, I got warm and took off my long sleeves. Notice how I neglected to mention the part of the morning when I applied a protective layer of sunscreen? Yeah, I forgot to put it on today. I now have a nice pink burn to remind myself of my stupidity. Luckily it's not too bad.

Here are some of the views from the day:
You may remember when Bernadette and I hiked up Koko Crater last month. Well, this is the view of the back of the crater. When you look at the crater from the "front" it looks like a big hill. From this vantage point it is much easier to see that it is, indeed, a crater.

Looking down the coast as we move along the trail. The view is even better looking the other way when you get to the top . . .
Yeah, that's nice.
It was a really amazing payoff for a (relatively) minor effort.
Ocean - Vast. Zac - Impressed.
Bernadette's husband, pointing out to Zac where we'll be adventuring next.

Pretty nice out, eh?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Anniversary No. 1

On this day, one year ago, Zac and I got married in MN in -15 degree temps. Today we're celebrating in HI in 82 degree temps. It's been a long, strange journey. See any previous posts at your leisure.

We went out to Hideaway's last night to have a few drinks with some ATG friends. (ATG is where Zac works.) I'm pretty sure I'm going to have my Minnesota Card revoked by admitting this, but I was actually a little chilly last night. It was about 65 out, and all of us were a little surprised by the low temp. We ended up playing volleyball for a good chunk of the evening, just to warm up a little. I like playing volleyball, but I do it so infrequently that my arms sting and hurt the next day, detracting from the fun. I rolled over a couple of times last night, and the throbbing pain in my forearms woke me up each time.

Today was a day of lounging. We watched both football games and then went downtown for supper. Zac wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant that he liked from the last time we were here. We Googled the location and headed in to Honolulu. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found nothing but a boarded up old restaurant that apparently hadn't been open for awhile. Zac was a little disappointed but it's not like Honolulu is hurting for places to eat. We ate at restaurant overlooking Honolulu Harbor and were pleased with how the meal/evening turned out.

Now we're home for the night. Another low 60s evening. All the windows are open, and I'm comfy in a sweatshirt and jeans. The cul-de-sac is humming with activity since tomorrow is a holiday. (Well, at least for some people.) There are a couple of fire pits going in people's driveways and kids are out scooting around the street on skateboards and bikes. The adults all seem to be enjoying a beverage of choice. There are a fair number of wives on our block that have husbands in the Army who are deployed right now. Iraq, Afghanistan. They all seem to be pretty tight, and they're all out giggling over the neighboring fire pit. Husbands and kids seem to be the topics of choice. (Not that I'm listening in.) It's almost like a block party out there. I suppose I could go out and socialize, but I'm full from supper plus I'm tired and anti-social at the moment.

Instead I think I'll cuddle up with my honey on the couch and watch mindless tv for awhile. After all, a fun day of hiking awaits us tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Company, come and gone vol. 4

I'll make this the last post regarding Megan and Paul's visit. Four posts out of the trip is enough.

After The Great Volcano Disappointment of 2009 we spent the next day and a half in Kailua-Kona. The weather wasn't awful, but it wasn't great. That is, it didn't rain on us (for once) but it was pretty hazy out. We didn't get full-fledged sun until Sunday, late morning. Of course we left on Sunday, late afternoon. We got back to Oahu, picked up some pizza on the way home, got to the house and collapsed into bed.

Zac had to go to work Monday morning and I had errands to run, so Monday was more of a practical day. The two most important errands included dropping off some more paperwork for a job I applied for and also picking up Toivo from the kennel.

Yes, for the first time in the seven years I've had my one-eyed Finnish Spitz I had to kennel him. We couldn't bring him with us to the Big Island and I didn't want to impose on the (few) friends I have out here. Once again, Big Military comes to the rescue. MWR runs a kennel about 10 minutes from where I live. Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Aptly named - they're the military group responsible for all the "fun" things that you might want to do and some of the support things that make your life easier, like a kennel for your pet. I was really nervous about taking Toivo to a kennel but when I went to drop off the monetary deposit a few weeks ago I was really happy with what I saw. The kennels were nice and big, made out of chain-link fence. One dog per kennel, unless you brought two that you wanted kenneled together. They were open on all sides (except the roof) for lots of fresh air. There was a sheltered area in the back of each one that provided relief from rain if needed. It all looked well-kept and the other dogs (and there were many - I'd guess 50-60) looked happy.

Toivo ended up spending parts of five days there during our trip. You can only drop off and pick up your dog from 10-2 each day. Since we flew out at 8am and came back at 5pm, I had to take Toivo in the day before we left and couldn't get him until the day after we arrived. He seemed no worse for the wear. When I got him that Monday morning he was happy to see me, as much as I was happy to see him. One of the employees told me that they had let Toivo out with some of the other dogs to play (as they do with all the dogs there, unless instructed by the owners). Toivo had a couple of play dates with the old-timers dog group and the little dogs group. He did very well with both, I was told. [When I dropped off Toivo they asked about his temperament and I told him that because of his eye that he wasn't too keen on really energetic young dogs that wanted to tackle him.] I was really, really impressed by the MWR kennel and I would take Toivo there again in a minute if I needed to. Kudos to those folks.

So by Monday's lunchtime, I had run my errands. Megan and Paul decided that we should head out to the beach. The weather was glorious, so even though I really just wanted to sleep on the couch we all headed out. We decided to try a beach that none of us have ever been to, Barbers Point. Bad idea. We found it (after some poorly marked street signs made that tricky) in the middle of an industrial park. It was bizarre. You drive past the automobile junk yard and then it opens up into a beautiful view of the ocean. So as you stood there, listening to the waves, in the background you had the noise of the car compactor smashing cars. That wasn't very calming. Also, there was really no sand to sit on, and swimming was impossible, because the beach was really rocky. We decided to head somewhere else, but my lack of knowledge of the location of beaches meant that we were limited as to where we could go on the side of the island we were on.

I drove us to Nimitz beach where there was plenty of sand, but the water was still a little rocky for wading/swimming. Especially since Paul had sliced open his foot back on the Big Island. (We had just gotten out of the kayaks on our first time out and he stepped on a shard of a bottle that some jacka$$ had left, broken.) His foot hurt like a son of a gun and he didn't want to open it up again stepping on a rock or coral. So we all just laid on the beach, reading, dozing, watching the waves, for a little more than an hour. We headed back into town and had supper.

The next day was Megan and Paul's last. Their flight home didn't depart until midnight, however, so we had a full day left to enjoy things. Zac went to work again and Megan, Paul and I decided that we would head out to enjoy some snorkeling at a popular snorkeling spot. After breakfast we drove out to Hanauma Bay. We were excited - the weather was beautiful and we had lots of fun snorkeling on the Big Island. We came around the corner to the entrance and saw:

"Hanauma Bay - Closed on Tuesdays"

Are you kidding? Damn it all. This is one of those times had I just looked online, I would have found this out. But I didn't even think to check online before we left. Why would I? I don't really ever think of beaches being 'closed'. It's Nature. Nature doesn't 'close'. Our hearts sank. We decided to keep on heading up the coast towards Kailua. There is a nice beach there so we thought we'd give it a shot. The drive was gorgeous, but as we got closer to Kailua it got a little overcast. By the time we got to the beach, it was gray skies. Megan looked out across the water and said, "That is rain heading towards us." She decided not to get in the water, but Paul and I jumped in, determined to salvage some sort of beach time. We were in the water for about 30 minutes when the rain came.

The three of piled into the car and decided to grab some ice cream at Baskin Robbins as a consolation prize. We walked up to the door. Baskin Robbins was no longer there. They had moved somewhere else in Kailua. They just hadn't taken the sign down. Of course. Because that's they way this trip went.

We drove home on H3 (always a pretty drive) and once we got home Megan and Paul finished packing. After Zac got home we all got dressed up (some) and headed downtown for supper. Paul wanted to go to Duke's, so at least that was one thing that we could do right. We had a great final meal outside on Waikiki. We lamented the things that had gone wrong over the last eight days and toasted survival and family. Finally it was time to take them to the airport.

It was hard to say goodbye. Even though the trip wasn't stellar it was great to have them here. I miss them. I used to see them every two or three days. I hadn't seen them since August. And who knows when I'll see them again. I cried. It's hard to stay than it is to go. That's the way it seems anyway. So we sent them off with a loving Aloha.

And who knows? Maybe five or ten years down the road these stories about our 'bumpy' visit will be funny. Maybe.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Company, come and gone vol. 3

In this installment we take you to the Big Island of Hawaii. And this, Austin, is where Pele didn't play ball. (Actually, it wasn't her fault. She can flow where she wants. I blame the legal system. I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Rain. A recurrent theme of Megan and Paul's visit. This is what it looked like in Oahu when we departed on a Friday morning. Gloom Central. And you know what? It looked almost exactly the same when we landed in Hilo less than an hour later. Hilo is on the East side of Hawaii's Big Island. It gets an average of 200 inches of rain a year, so it wasn't a complete surprise that it was raining when we landed. (For the record, Kailua-Kona on the West side of the island only gets about 10 inches per year.) So we left rain to go to rain. Great. Also when we went to pick up our rental we found that they had given us a PT Cruiser. Zac wasn't pleased.

We headed towards Volcanoes National Park to see what there was to see. I was really amped up for this. I think we all were. We wanted to see volcanoes, in action, doing whatever it is that volcanoes do. Steam, crackle, fizz, erupt, etc. Kilauea is one of the most active, and most accessible, volcanoes on the planet so we had high hopes for this part of the trip. Once we got to the park we learned that there were two parts of the volcano worth investigating: 1. the crater, which has been releasing plumes of toxic fumes for months and, 2. the lava flow, which had actually flowed beyond the borders of the Park. More on that later. Here's Kilauea, powered by the goddess Pele, blowing off some steam:
And a friendly reminder from your Park Service:
A phenomenally cool Park Ranger named Jason (the trip to the park is worth his tour alone) told us that in order to see the lava flow we would have to go back out of the park towards Hilo. Here's the thing: You can't tell a volcano where to erupt or flow her lava. Yes, it would be nice if she'd do it within in the confines of the park, but Kilauea flows where she wants to flow. And for the last few years Kilauea has decided to flow beyond the park to the sea. (Don't argue with molten rock. It always wins.)

View Larger Map

Maybe this map helps a little with the narrative. You see the black flow with orange stripes culminating at the ocean? That's the current lava flow. It wiped out the road that used to run along the coastline there. You can drive up to where the road now ends (indicated by the letter A), park your car, and then hike the rest of the way to the lava. Sort of. Park Ranger Jason advised to go to the lava flow at sunset, because the fading light made it easier to see the glow. We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset and headed out across the older lava flow to get our look at Pele doing her thing.

Notice the reflective paint on the lava put there by the county to help people find their way back to their cars when it got dark out. Flashlights were a must on this hike.

So tantalizingly close. But so far away. Alas, whereas you used to be able to almost walk right up to the lava people are now kept away. Maybe a half-mile away. I cannot adequately describe how frustrated and disappointed the four of us were. We could see the plume of steam that the lava created when it hit the ocean. We could even see up the mountain where some peaks of red-hot molten rock occasionally peeked out of their lava tunnels. But we couldn't get near it. (Neither could the 100 other people who were there, but I was wallowing in self-pity at the time and couldn't muster sympathy.) The four of us sat there until the sun went down, staring into the black, waiting for the occasional surge of orange haze to light up the plume. We tried taking pictures, but we knew that without a super-duper zoom lens, a tripod, and greater knowledge of camera settings that our photos wouldn't be much.
This is looking up the side of the gentle slope of the mountain. A faint glimpse of the lava making its way to the sea. Most of the lava travels in tunnels that have formed. A lava super-highway of sorts, making it a nice and toasty flow downhill. The tunnels also mean that most of the lava isn't visible. I was grateful that I got to see something.
Ever 90-120 seconds there would be a splash of orange that lit up the plume of steam. It was mesmerizing. Soothing. At that point we were resigned to our fate that night. No fireworks from Pele. No up-close-and-personal with 1000 degree rock. Sigh.

On the way out Zac, who had been to the Big Island before and had been able to walk right up to the lava last time, asked a County employee why were kept so far away from the lava. The woman sighed, smiled sympathetically, and explained that yes, you used to be able to go almost right up to it. [I'm already cringing remembering her story. Not because it's gruesome, but because it's so damn frustrating.] When the lava flow used to be inside the park there were no issues with access, she explained. When the lava flow moved outside the park, i.e. onto privately owned property, for a time access wasn't a problem either. It was at that moment that a light bulb went on for the four of us. Privately owned property. For some reason when you are sitting there, looking at nature doing what nature does, watching the lava from a volcano create NEW EARTH before your very eyes, you don't even stop to consider that it could belong to anyone.

The County employee continued: For a while the landowners didn't have any problems letting sight-seers come up to the lava, but then someone got injured while visiting the lava flow. And sued. Yup, they sued the landowner. And WON. A jury actually awarded them damages. Now, I don't know the details of the suit, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. If I have ever, EVER, thought of a good "assumption of risk" case WALKING ON A VOLCANO WITH LAVA FLOWING UNDER YOUR FEET IS IT. I was well aware as we walked around on the Big Island that at any time Pele could command Kilauea to blow her top. And I would have haunted my family from the grave if they had sued. Seriously??? You got hurt at a volcano! I'm pissed at the Plaintiff, and I'm pissed at the jury that let this happen.

The County employee said that soon after that lawsuit the County (or maybe the State) passed a law limiting the liability of property owners with lava flow on their property from personal injury cases. But landowners were still wary and they all started prohibiting people from crossing their property to get close to the lava. So, in the interest of preventing lawsuits, we all now were stopped .5 miles short of one of the most spectacular natural occurrences on the planet.

In some way we all felt better for knowing why, but alternatively we also had a new thing/person/event to be mad at. So we made our way back to the car and decided to get a late supper before heading to our cabin. As we drove back towards Hilo a warning light lit up with a 'BING!' in the car. Megan and Paul scoured the owner's manual to discover that it was a tire air pressure sensor. At a stoplight we all got out and looked at our respective tires. Mine looked a little low, but I couldn't be sure in the poor lighting. We got to town and stopped at a bar/restaurant only to find that they had stopped serving dinner for the day. We got back into the car to go to the next restaurant where we finally got to decompress and eat dinner at 9:00pm.

We piled into the car after an adequate-at-best meal and Zac started driving out of the lot. Grinding. Lots of grinding. Zac: "Shit. That's a flat." We pulled into the 76 station and up to the air pump. We all got out and looked at the tires. The right front was REALLY flat. Paul looked at the station's air pump and announced: "The air pump is broken too." At this point, we started to curse. And laugh. And curse more. I was so beyond pissed, so beyond beaten, so BEYOND irritation that I thought I was going to lose it. Paul and Zac put the donut on while I called the 24 hour road-side assistance from our rental company.

The first guy we talked to told us to just change it ourselves. Gee. Thank buddy. I called back and got a gal who was much, much more empathetic and helpful. She said that because we were in Hilo (which is really just a big, small town and not the best place to break down at 10:15 at night) there was no road-side assistance available. Also, despite the fact we were only 1.5 miles from the airport and the rental car lot and could have easily swapped out cars, the airport closed at 10:00 and we couldn't get a new car til morning.

Needless to say, it was a quiet car ride back to the cabin. We were all defeated. Utterly defeated. And cranky. We all said a quick good night to each other when we got back and then we went to bed. The sooner the day ended, the better.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Company, come and gone vol. 2

More adventures from Megan and Paul's visit:

Remember back in November when Zac and I mixed up some wine and beer? Well, the wine was ready for bottling so we brought Megan, Paul, Bernadette and her husband along for the fun. Riesling. Yum. I brought some cheese and crackers and we sat around and chit chatted. Truthfully, this installment in the vacation didn't have any bumps to speak of. The only complaint I had that afternoon is that the Triscuits were too salty. I don't remember Triscuits being that salty. Good thing I brought Wheat Thins too.

Here's us on New Year's Eve down at Waikiki. We thought we'd be able to bar hop along the beach for the night, having a drink here and there, ending with us watching the fireworks display over Waikiki. The best laid plans . . .

This is one of those bumps where our ignorance was the culprit. We figured parking Downtown would be awful on New Year's Eve so we agreed to meet with Bernadette and her husband for an early supper, thereby ensuring a parking spot. After eating and talking, it was only 7:00. We still had five hours to kill. That's a lot of time. We walked along the strip for a little while and tried to go to Duke's for a drink. All the tables were full, of course, and the bar was packed. We managed to get a drink and stand out on the beach part of their bar. We decided that we'd try to move to the Shore Bird. As we were walking down the beach it started to rain. A lot. As you can see from the above photo, Megan is making a sad face. And Paul and Zac are wet.

We finally got to the Shore Bird, drenched, and found that place to be just as packed as Duke's. There was no good way to have drinks there. We decided to try the Hale Koa. We figured we were already wet and there was a break in the rain, so we headed further down the beach. We got to the Hale Koa's outdoor bar and found out that it's not a regular bar for the night. Instead they're charging $14 per person for cover. True, they had a DJ and party favors, but you still had to pay for drinks. We weren't too keen on paying that much so we headed to the Hale Koa's inside bar because we were getting tired of walking around. It was basically vacant with a couple of bartenders and a few flat-screen tvs playing SportsCenter. Not exactly the atmosphere we were aiming for on New Year's Eve. We forced ourselves to have a drink (second drink in three hours - I'm out of control!!) and finally realized that we weren't going to be able to stay awake til midnight (still two hours away) unless we went outside to listen to the DJ blare music.

We headed back outside, ponied up the $56 to get in, had one more drink (last of the night) and tried to have as much fun as we could. We danced a little and tried to lighten the mood, but frankly we were all pretty grumpy because the night had not turned out like any of us wanted. Instead of a fun evening of relaxing, tossing back some drinks and enjoying each other's company we instead were damp, tired, wandering nomads that were getting on each other's nerves.

Finally midnight came along and everything was okay. The countdown from 10 seconds, the kissing at the stroke of midnight, the fireworks going crazy over the ocean.

As soon as the fireworks ended the four of us looked at each other and just nodded. "Let's go." We were home, in bed, in less than 40 minutes. Not the best New Year's I've ever had, but not the worst either.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Company, come and gone

Megan and Paul arrived on Dec 29th and left last night. It was a full eight days and I was grateful to sleep in and putz around the house today, generally taking it easy while mixing in laundry, cleaning the kitchen and some other cleaning.

For those that don't know the back story, Paul and Zac served together on the Port Royal from 2000-2003. (I didn't meet Zac until 2006 at Megan and Paul's wedding. M & P both insist that I probably met Zac back when I visited Hawaii in 2001, but neither Zac and I remember that. Also, I was on the trip with my then-boyfriend so both Zac and I are confident that we would have paid each other no mind had we actually been introduced.) Ever since he left Hawaii, Paul has spoken of his time in Hawaii fondly and I think he was looking for an excuse to go back someday, even before I moved out here.

The week was filled to the brim with activities, so I'm not entirely sure what I want to address here. It would take a month to recap everything. Probably the best way to summarize the trip is . . . bumpy, but good. I don't mean "bumpy" as in "bad". Maybe I should clarify. There are two elements to the aforementioned "bumpiness":
  1. Many of our plans were thwarted by one thing or another: weather, poor research, bad planning, Pele (goddess of volcanoes), etc.
  2. Spending 24 hours a day for eight days, even with people you know, love and adore, will cause you all to wear on each others' nerves.
We spend the first few days on Oahu, then spent three full days on the Big Island, and then back to Oahu for the last couple. The trip to the Big Island was one of the highlights. Zac had been there before, but neither Megan, Paul nor I have ever been. It's almost easier to post a couple of pix to cover things. Instead of doing 25 photos here, I think I'll try to spread them out over a few days. Hey! A week's worth of blog fodder!

One of the "bumps"? The weather. It's the rainy season out here in Hawaii (yes, we have a rainy season) and the drippings from the sky always seemed to appear at the least opportune times. Megan and Paul had a half-joking desire to go to the beach every day. This photo was taken on our first attempt. We drove to the North Shore, then to Waimea. While it wasn't pouring, it was raining more than we wanted. We wanted to get wet in the ocean, not walking to the beach from our car.
One afternoon we decided to hike up Diamond Head. As you can see, the weather cooperated. The bump on this trip was that when we drove into the crater/park to park the car we were told that the lot was full. If we wanted to, we could pay our money and then go park in line behind four other cars and wait for a spot to open up. (Another thing - it's hard to get four people to agree on decisions. I don't know how the military does it, and I understand why Congress is such a mess.) We decided that Megan and I would get out of the car, Paul and Zac would take the car outside of the crater/park and go back down the hill to park it. (Resulting in an additional 20 minute walk for them back to the hiking trail.) Of course, because of the nature of our eight days, as soon as the boys left to park the car all four cars in line got parking spots, three or four MORE spots opened up and Megan and I couldn't call them back because we didn't bring our cell phones. Needless to say, once the boys got back Zac grumbled about the newly available parking as we crossed the lot towards the trail.
Parking aside, the hike was fun and, as usual, the views were awesome.