Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hawaiian vacation recap (Cardboard in Paradise)

Aloha! I'm back home after a week in Hawaii. And while this is a big "showing vacation photos" post that some might find boring, don't worry, there are some baseball cards in it that you can scroll down to!

In fact..

One of the best things about going on vacation is coming home to a sweet mail-hold mail-day. Some eBay buys and unexpected trades. Not pictured, a blaster of 2016 Diamond Kings and a couple PS3 Sonic the Hedgehog games. Look for these cards to be featured in upcoming posts.

First we went to Maui for a couple full days. Maybe you remember several months back when I talked about going through the ordeal of listening to a timeshare presentation? That was to get our lodging in Maui. But the place they original gave us was a freakin' barebones hostel. We weren't feeling that, so we paid to upgrade to get a nicer hotel. And that cost of upgrading basically negated anything we were "getting" from our timeshare presentation experience. So lame. Never again! Just a warning to you guys if anyone tries to talk you into sitting through a timeshare presentation in order to get something, punch them in the nuts/tits and briskly walk away!

Let me state it clearly for search results: Casablanca Express sucks! They screwed us. Do not trust them. The vast majority of timeshare companies probably suck, but I'm specifically talking about these guys. Big waste of time and money. The hotel we ended up getting wasn't terrible, but not great. For one thing there was no AC and it was hot and muggy there. Tough to get a good night sleep. Also, the tap water tasted terrible. Oh, and while I'm complaining, not related to the timeshare place, but the flight really did a number on my ears; for a couple days, it was like I was wearing ear protection or something as I waited for my ears to "pop" or whatever.

Ok, with that negativity out of the way, let's get back to the positive vibes.

Our first adventure out in Maui involved snorkeling at Honolua Bay. Really pretty bay with beautiful coral reefs.

Lots of neat-looking fish around there, though the highlight of the stuff we saw was an octopus who would swim around for a bit then change color and camouflage on the coral with only his blinking eyes (or gill things maybe they were?) giving him away. (Underwater stuff not pictured in this post, as we didn't get an underwater camera this time around.) No turtle sightings, unfortunately, but I saw so many last time we were in Maui a couple years ago on our honeymoon that I was ok with missing them this trip.

There are a lot of wild chickens around.

Gotta include some obligatory sunset photos.

More sunsets later.

Not pictured was a hike down to Olivine Pools, which are some natural pools by the ocean. My wife wasn't up for the treacherous hike down volcanic rock to get to them, but I didn't want the twisty drive to get there to be in vain, so I went myself at her urging. It was pretty cool, though I did get a couple small booboos from the sharp rocks.

Here's something for the beer guys out there. We hunted out a few breweries on our vacation. This place was tricky to locate, but I'm glad we did.

Wallet Card Tony makes an appearance here with a flight of beers from Kohola Brewery, all of which were tasty (I think the lager was the only one of the ten that I wasn't really into). They had various games at each table. My wife beat me 2 games to 1 at Uno.

On our last night in Maui, we caught the sunset from lounge chairs at the hotel.

Gorgeous! (#nofilter on any of these either.)

Oh, and one fun card-related mission was to send a PWE to the Tim Wallach guy so he could finally check the state of Hawaii off his map of places that've sent him Wallachs. Hopefully my envelope successfully made it to New Mexico. I'll be intently keeping an eye on his blog!

Anyways, that was Maui.

We took a puddle jumper flight over to the island of Kauai for the second half of our vacation.

We arrived a couple hours before check-in at the hotel, so we found a brewery and grabbed lunch. My food doesn't look all that appetizing in the pic, but it was a very decent bowl of mac & cheese. To drink, I got the Kauaibock and later had a Beer Co IPA, both very tasty.

Then we did a little shopping for our stay. Not to sound like a snob, but I go to Walmart like once a decade. Seriously, just 3 or 4 times stepping foot in one in my life. When my wife suggested there was one close by and could be convenient for our needs, the thought of "baseball cards!" jumped in my head and I was happy to go along with that plan.

The card section was really small, and as for baseball, all I saw were a blaster or two of Gypsy Queen and Series 1. I wasn't temped by either, and it's a good thing, because my one piece of luggage was a carry-on backpack that was already stuffed to the max. But what I really had on my mind was some cheesy breadsticks.

Success! Though our hotel room didn't have an oven, I was able to convince my wife to give it a go with the microwave. She kicked it up by wrapping bacon around the breadsticks. Not the best meal, but hit the spot for cheap vacation eating.

As for the cards, well, I was bummed I didn't get anybody I collect. Still though, Noah S. and Donaldson are solid names to pull. I'll at least hang onto one of them as a cardboard memento from my trip. Wacha's available.

The Kauai hotel was way better than the Maui hotel. The AC was very appreciated! They had 2 pools in addition to being right on the beach. I amused myself in the pool for about 45 minutes throwing a bottle cap and trying to swim after it and catch it before it hit the bottom. Unfortunately, that day I forgot to put sunblock on my forehead (thinking, oh, I'll wear my hat today, no need). So I got a little sunburnt on my forehead, but it wasn't too bad. And thankfully, I made it off the island otherwise unscathed (my wife wasn't quite so lucky, getting a bit burnt that same day, though it could have been worse).

This is the beach at the hotel. We played in the water our first evening there and had an incredible time getting tossed around by the waves.

This was a different beach we drove to. We did some boogie boarding then hit the man-made "pond" near the middle of the photo.

Some more beach photos from by the hotel.

Had some awesome boogie boarding there.

A brief break from marital harmony, my wife and I had a little spat and ended up taking some respective alone time. I spent an hour or two enjoying the beach and observing several little sand crabs do their thing. This brave guy was the closest to me. I named him Rodney and we had some laughs. I'd throw a little rock or something by his hole in the sand and watch him scurry over and check out the rock before retreating back near his hole.

Some of the more interesting "rocks" I found on the beach. The top one feels/looks like it used to be a little plastic sheep toy (I'd like to think it dates back to the 60s and washed up from France, but what do I know). The one on the left almost looks like it could be a petrified shark tooth. The one on the right is just a skull-looking thing (ghost shark tooth!). I didn't take these home with me, but rather returned them to the beach from whence they came.

Full disclosure, I wasn't listening to a cool band like Rocket From the Crypt on my iPod at the time, but rather guilty-pleasure material such as The Simpsons Sing the Blues and Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl. My wife soon joined me, met Rodney the crab, and all was right in paradise again.

The hotel had a restaurant with a worthwhile happy hour. The live music in the evening was nice too.

Hawaii is pretty.

Our big adventure on Kauai was an off-road tour. You can pay extra to drive the ATV, but we were perfectly content to just enjoy the ride. The tour included a couple stops at great viewpoints.

That's my lucky shirt I'm wearing. It used to be white, but now it's a nice mud brown. I've had it since high school. I dyed it blue once back then, so this isn't the first time it's changed color. Anyway, yeah, this tour was on our 2-year anniversary, by the way. In addition to the ATV ride through mud to pretty views, the tour included a decent little hike through the forest and to a couple ziplines (hence our gear in the above photo). It was a first for both of us, and we had a lot of fun. My wife's a little afraid of heights, but she was ok on the line. The suspension bridge between the two ziplines was the scariest part for her, funny enough.

There are many feral cats in Hawaii. This girl was a sweetie, well-known to the tour guides Nate and Wyatt. She basically lives near the spot where the tours stop for lunch, so she probably gets plenty of scraps and petting from tourists.

After the zip lines, the tour took us down to this cool swimming hole with a waterfall. On the right you can see a little platform for jumping ~8 feet into the water. I got in a few fun jumps off it. I'm not really afraid of heights, but it's still a little freaky. There were also innertubes for those who'd rather just wade around lazily while the guides prepared the lunches on a nearby picnic table. In all, there were about a dozen people in our tour group. Most of the other folks were fine, though there was one annoying family that induced a few eye rolls from the rest of us.

This, our last evening in Hawaii, also included a swanky anniversary dinner at a place called Cafe Coco. We did a lot of drinking on this trip, btw, as my face seems to indicate. ("Hey, we're on vacation ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ") I'm going to need to dry out for a few days!

So there were the bulletpoints from our vacation.

The flight home provided one last great sunset. Oh, and the in-laws sprung for first class tickets for us, so the 5.5 hour flight wasn't bad at all. Lots of booze and entertainment. Movies I watched during the vacation (either on the plane or in the hotels before bed) included Hail Caesar, The Revenant, Dirty Grandpa, Hateful Eight, Zootopia, Zoolander 2, Ride Along 2. They were all fine/good.

We got back into Portland late Sunday night but there was still one more bit of excitement before arriving to our house. Our friend Eli picked us up from the airport, and on the way driving us home, she got distracted and accidentally ran a red light. Another car came mere inches from T-boning us. One of the freakiest moments of recent memory for me.. seeing it coming and just bracing for impact (that thankfully didn't come thanks to the two cars just barely maneuvering away in time). My poor dog Annie (Eli was dog-sitting for us) got thrown around a bit, but she's tough and was able to shake it off. Very nearly could have been a gnarly collision. That really would have put a damper on our vacation. But thankfully everyone was ok, just a little shaken up. Got home pretty tired, but still stayed up past 1 a.m. to watch an incredibly brutal episode of Game of Thrones. Great way to wrap up a hell of a week. I also had taken off Monday from work, so I had a day to decompress.

Gotta admit this post was largely for myself, as I tend to forget details about the places I go and things I do. My wife is the opposite of me as she remembers crap like this for years, yet frequently misplaces her keys and stuff like that. I'm a lot better at remembering where I put stuff, rarely losing things. So anyways, this is a post for posterity that I can use to refresh my memory years down the line (Knock wood my blog doesn't get hacked, or Blogger goes belly-up, or something like that causes this post to disappear), remembering this vacation celebrating my wife's grad school graduation, and our two-year anniversary, and our new jobs/promotions, and my late grandfather's birthday, and you know, whatever else. My 3 year blogoversary was in there too. With the exception of most of the first part, those Archives Adventures posts were written at the end of a long Hawaiian day (though I obviously took the photos before I left). Didn't get a lot of pageviews (probably partially due to being published at the middle of the night), but were fun to write. If you missed them.. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

But hey, I hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading and take care.


  1. Great post, We were in Hawaii 2 years ago, almost the same time of year, and it brought back a lot of great memories. I meant to post a similar travelblog but never got to it. All I have is a great sunset picture in Kauai and a list of stuff I meant to post about http://phungo.blogspot.com/2014/06/on-road-2014-06-08-kauai.html

  2. Aside from the time share part, sounds like it was a great trip!

  3. All in all, looks like a cool trip and a good time.

  4. Nice post and love all the pics. Looks like you had a good time.

  5. Thanks for posting. I'll NEVER get to Hawaii so it was cool to see the pictures.

  6. Hawaii is my favorite vacation spot... and Kauai is easily my favorite island in terms of chilling and soaking in the beauty. I haven't been back there (Kauai) in two decades, since we're always visiting family on Oahu... but one of these days I'll make it back there.

    P.S. I spy an unopened box of Topps Gold Label. First Hawaii. Now Gold Label. Life is good for defgav.

  7. I've got an extra J.Verlander and F.Freeman for any two of your Marketside cards.

  8. Great story! I think Rodney was my favorite part.

    The last time I was in a Walmart, there were half-eaten slices of pizza hanging out on the shelves next to all of the merchandise (toy section) that looked like it was hit by a mini hurricane. I've managed to snag a few packs of Marketside (including the Wacha card) but I've stayed away from setting foot in one of those stores. I still need to track down the Molina card.

  9. My local Target has a better card selection than Walmart so I'm able to avoid it for the most part.

    What a great trip. My wife is fantastic about documenting our trips. When I travel by myself she will send me reminders to take pictures. Plus I usually post a few on the blog here as a way to document.

  10. Just did Hawaii I February. Without the whole family. Did the same two islands as you did. We didn't zip line but did some tubing in the old sugarcane canals. It's my wife an i's favorite pace on earth. Cool pics.

  11. Hawaii is great, been once and hope to go back. Rodney looked like a cool dude and I think you should have have introduced him to your wallet card. Maybe he would have held it for you so you could take a nice picture?
    Thanks for sharing all the beautiful pics!

  12. Looks like a great time. I am intrigued to see how that Gold Label break goes and any Griffeys that pop up....