31 December 2007

Kayak Na Pali: Part II, Take II

Okay, okay, okay. I’ve kept you in suspense for long enough and I’m sorry for doing that. However, you should know that suspense was my second choice, after water torture. But I soon realized it wasn’t possible to water torture my readers (actually, James is a reader and he’s being water-tortured by that leak in our kitchen).


This was during our lunch (and nap) break at Milolli State Park, somewhere around eleven or twelve miles into the kayaking trip.


I’m trying to bring my experience to paper, but the fact of the matter is I’ve spent a whole lot of time thinking about Na Pali, reading about it, looking at pictures, taking notes – all of this is called conceptualizing – but the problem is, I can’t recreate the experience.

You see, kayaking Na Pali induced such a wide range of incredible and foreign emotions that it isn’t possible to capture such an enlightening experience in words. It's left me speechless and I've given up trying to verbalize my feelings.

It's anti-climatic, I know, but instead you'll just have to check out this great photo-journal.

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Listening to: Nine Inch Nails - Down in it
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Running Late

Yeah, I know... I've barely posted anything for the last two weeks. And I really need to finish my kayaking story.

I'm working on it.

In the mean time, check out this performance by Amy Winehouse. I came across it the first time I googled her (okay, technically I you-tubed her) and it's still one of my favorites. She sings and plays guitar. At the same time. Not to mention that her voice is amazing.

Regardless of her fantastic singing abilities, Amy is sadly becoming well-known because of her drug problem and incidents like the time she got into a bloody brawl with her boyfriend because he busted her in a hotel room cutting herself and doing coke with a call girl. Craziness.

Not to promote her bad behavior or anything, but for curiosity's sake you can watch her snort coke on stage during a concert.

I gotta give it to her, at least she was trying to be sneaky... as if the hundreds of people watching her, you know, while she was she performed on stage, like they wouldn't notice what she was doing.

It's sad, really.

And totally cool to see. Check it out.

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Listening to: My neighbor yell and yell
(Dude, take it down a notch.)
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What I'm trying to listen to:

26 December 2007

Let’s see, where was I?

In case you’ve just tuned in, last week I left everyone on the edge of their seat when I failed to finish my kayak Na Pali story.

In case you’re not interested in reading the story in its entirety, here are a few excerpts:

…Just after 5 am, or midnight
…a surprising number of quasi-homeless people
…organized on the beach.
…And let’s be honest,
…I might have had one too many Mai-Tai’s.
…Apparently, this is kind of common.

You may want to go ahead and read the story because I inadvertently left out some important details.

Let’s see, where was I?

Oh yeah, I’m still working on it.

Sorry, folks. You’ll just have to keep waiting.


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Listening to: Led Zeppelin – Going to California
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22 December 2007

Brouhaha

I discovered Rogue Mocha Porter while James and I were visiting DC in April.

Described as Ruddy brown in color, a bittersweet balance of malt and hops with a light cream finish, it's one of my favorites.

If you're a fan of dark beer, this one kicks ass.

I've looked for it everywhere and although I've bumped into a Rogue brew here and there, I've yet to find a Mocha Porter outside of the DC area.

Until tonight.

Dierbergs had one six-pack sitting on the shelf.

Dude, how lucky am I? What did I do to deserve such a wonderful treat?

Wait, wait, wait. When fate intervenes and drops an awesome surprise in your lap, don't ask questions. Just shut up and drink your beer.

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Listening to: Les Claypool - Cosmic Highway
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19 December 2007

Kayak Na Pali

Six months ago today, James and I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime: seventeen miles of sea kayaking along Kauai’s rugged and beautiful Na Pali coast.

Before this experience I had never kayaked. I had never even been in a boat on the ocean. Sure, I’ve canoed the Current River a variety of times during the last few years, but there’s really no comparison. ‘Kayaking Na Pali’ and ‘floating the Current’ are nothing alike.

And let’s be honest, it was James’ idea.

I was clueless about what I’d gotten myself into.

Known as the Everest of sea kayaking, it’s been the most physically challenging and rewarding experience of my life. Not to mention that it ranks second on National Geographic’s list of America’s 100 Best Adventures, after rafting the Colorado River and just ahead of dog sledding the Brooks Range in Alaska.

It was a Tuesday.

Our kayaking journey began when we walked out the door just after 5 am, or midnight if we were still in St. Louis.

For me, it certainly felt like midnight since we had only been on Kauai for about 36 hours – not long enough to adjust to the five hour time difference. And since we’re being honest, I’ll admit that I might have had one too many Mai-Tai’s at Tahiti Nui the night before. (Tip: avoid Mai Tai’s the night before. Hat Tip: Tahiti Nui is a must-visit while you're exploring Kauai.)

An hour later we met our group at Kayak Kauai in Hanalei, loaded into the van, and headed to Ha'ena County Beach Park where our sea kayaking adventure would begin. (There were a surprising number of quasi-homeless people living in makeshift camps around the park. Apparently, this is kind of common on Kauai and Maui.)

Our group organized itself on the beach and we securely packed our gear into our kayaks. After brief paddling instructions by one of our guides, Doug, we were in the water.

About three minutes later, James and I flipped over.

It wasn’t bad at all. The worst part was trying to use my weak-ass arms to pull myself back into the kayak. Yes, climbing back in to the kayak sucked more than falling out.

And that’s the reason I only took one or two pictures the entire day. Even when we’d take a break from paddling, we stayed in our kayaks. I had no idea when or if we’d flip again and I didn’t want to take any chances of ruining my camera. (Tip: pack a waterproof camera.)

One mile into the voyage our guides gathered the group together for the last chance to bail out: Ke’e Beach. After this point there is no road access until Polihale State Park, sixteen miles (of paddling) away. Between here and there stand cliffs of lava rock interrupted only by sea caves, waterfalls and pristine beaches, some of which are off-limits to kayakers.

There’s a reason Ke’e Beach is nicknamed “End of the Road” by the locals – it’s the point of no return.

…To Be Continued…

(I have Christmas responsibilities, yo.)

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Listening to: Gorillaz - New Genius (Brother) [Mix]
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18 December 2007

12 Random Christmas Facts

I was tagged to write 12 random things about myself relating to Christmas. The tag included three other rules:

2. Please refer to this tag as ‘hoopla’.
3. Specifically tag others.
4. Do this as quickly as possible.

I’m breaking the rules:

1. In lieu of 12 boring facts, you're getting one interesting story.
2. No, I won’t.
3. I feel weird doing that, so I’m not tagging others.
4. I’ll take my sweet ass time, thanks.

Sorry, Charlie, it looks like I’m not doing anything remotely similar to what I was originally asked.

Oh well, here goes…

I believe it was 1991. I was a freshman in high school and it was Christmas Eve morning. My dad took me to this little hole-in-the-wall movie rental place, Q-mart, with a specific mission: return home with Faces of Death IV (for us) and A Muppet Family Christmas (for my mom and probably my brother because he was 8 – a little too young for Faces of Death).

My dad walks up to the counter…

My Dad: You got ‘Faces of Death IV’?

Clerk: Yes.

My Dad: CooOOOoooolll!

Clerk (to himself): Dude. It’s Christmas. WTF?

My dad: You got that ‘Muppet Family Christmas’ bullshit?

Clerk: Yes.

My Dad (disappointed): FUCK!!! (pause) *sigh* We’ll get both.

There is nothing cooler than being with your dad on Christmas Eve while he rents Muppets and Faces of Death, then defends the Muppet movie rental (as if it's weird) by saying, “my wife wanted it.”

Meanwhile, the guy is staring at my dad like, “Dude. It’s Christmas and you’re renting Faces of Death. I don’t mean to be rude, but what the hell?

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Listening to: Nil8 - The Insanity of Drayton Sawyer and His Hallucination of Love Brought on by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II
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17 December 2007

Recent Photo Activity

I’d really like to get all of my pictures (from the last few years) uploaded to flickr, but it’s going to take the better part of an eon to accomplish that feat.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon uploading about 80 pictures. For those of you who were there on Friday, the answer is no, I did not take any pictures. I had my camera with me but for some odd reason I never took one picture at the Blogger gathering. If you’re interested, you can read about it and/or see photos here, here, here, here and here.

While a few of my newly-uploaded pictures are snow pictures from Saturday, the majority of them are either snowmobiling pictures or MySelf Portraits.

I’ve been working on the “MySelf Portraits” project for a while now, so it’s nice to see they’re finally starting to come together in one place. It only motivates me to take more pictures of me.

How egocentric?

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Listening to: Modest Mouse - She Ionizes & Atomizes
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16 December 2007

The Aftermath

You’re probably not wondering what has become of me since being named Local Blog O’ the Week.

You: But why would you say such a thing?

Me: DuuUUuuhh. I don’t think enough people cared for it to put a dent in my fifteen minutes of fame.

But really, what did I expect?

---Fame and fortune? (Yes and yes.)

---Sex, drugs, and rock & roll? (Yes, yes, and yes & yes.)

I didn’t get any of that.

I didn’t even get 72 virgins.

Sure, I battled the devil and kicked his ass on my very first try. But that’s a whole other skillz set.

All I got out of the experience was an f-word explosion followed by a short-lived ego boost and this lousy t-shirt.

14 December 2007

Guess what?

I ate a meatball for breakfast.

12 December 2007

Jim and Lynette

According to our dentist's receptionist, we are Jim and Lynette. Time and time again, I've corrected this and I can't get her to stop calling us by those names.

After tomorrow they'll remember who I am because I'm having a cavity filled. And I am terrified of the dentist.

I'll probably freak out, cry and overall make a scene.

Afterward, I plan to give them one of my blog cards, tell them I'm going to write about my experience, then they'll see this "Jim and Lynette" blog, remember who we are, and start calling us by our given names: James and Jeannette.

Bloggers around the world

The cool thing about blogging is that I’ve met lots of interesting people from all over the world. Since I’ve met other bloggers in person only once, technically I “meet” people via a brief online conversation in the form of comments on each other’s blog.

This morning I woke up to a comment from some dude in Italy. Actually, let me clarify that I assume it’s some dude, but I could be wrong. I’m assuming this because his blog is titled “Big Salumeria” which prolly means Big Salami. That sounds like something a guy would write.

Granted, I don’t speak Italian or any other foreign languages (every time I publicly admit that fact, I envision ¾ of the world rolling their eyes at me while thinking, “Dumb American”) but Salumeria sounds a whole lot like salami.

I sure get sidetracked easily.

My point was that I could only understand a couple of things on Big Salami’s blog. The first thing was Dueling Banjos. I’m from the Midwest and it’s kind of required that each person own one copy of Dueling Banjos. So I find it freaking fucking hilarious that of the three songs Big Salami has on his site, one of them is Dueling Banjos!

I’ve seen a Hawaiian Redneck, so maybe he’s an Italian Redneck? DUDE, how cool would that be!?

Well, that was a fleeting thought.

A. Rednecks typically don’t blog. Big Salami blogs.
B. Of the other two songs he posted, one is rap (in English) and the other is some sort of Techno (not English). I know quite a few rednecks and not one of them enjoys rap or techno (English or not).
C. His website includes a Voki. Regardless of their nationality, if a Redneck blogged he would probably post a confederate flag, not a Voki.
D. Big Salami has a widget for the Iraq Body Count, which documents civilians who have died in Iraq. That doesn’t seem very Redneck-y.

Nah, he can’t be a redneck… it’s not possible.

Nearly 350 words later I’m getting to my point.

What really stood out was Big Salami’s Iraq Body Count widget. I’ll be honest, I easily lose track of the death toll in Iraq.

For a quick reminder, please know that Iraqi civilian deaths are around 80,000; US Soldier fatalities are at 3,888; Allied military deaths are at 306; putting total military deaths at 4,194.

I started to go on, but political and war debates aren’t exactly my forte. Just know that the numbers are piling up. Interpret that however you’d like.

I’ve added a widget so you can easily keep the numbers in mind. I also recommend visiting icasualties.org, this page on About.com, Antiwar.com, the Washington Post, and of course, NPR. If you aren’t happy with these recommendations, just Google “Iraq” and find whatever it is you’re looking for.

Oh yeah, if you speak Italian, stop by Big Salumeria for salami-related news.

******************************

Update: Baol explained Big Salami is actually Gino il Salumiere, an Italian poet (cool job title!). And Polle translated Big Salumeria, which "...stands for, more or less (translations some times cannot be accurate), Big Groceryshop. Actually, in Italy, a "salumeria" it's a shop where you can buy all kinds of cold cuts."

11 December 2007

Shopper’s Block

I’ve come down with a case of Shopper’s Block. I have no idea what the hell to buy anyone for Christmas. I’d really like to Git-R-Done! from the comfort of my own home, so I hope those gift ideas start flowing real soon.

Quite oppositely, I made progress on the Christmas tree project. Last night at approximately 8:56 pm, it was completely decorated and the leftover Christmas crap decorations were stored away in the basement.

Our tree is a sad little princess. But if you dim the lights and put your beer goggles on, she looks kinda beautiful.

10 December 2007

Oh Christmas tree, you suck

It doesn’t feel like Christmas. And it’s totally my fault because I decided against putting up a Christmas tree. (Seriously, folks, it’s a lot of work for just the two of us.)

In lieu of a tree, I hung up this goofy candle in the front window and this wreath on the back door.













Look closely at the wreath, my mom made it.

Anyway, I decided that putting up a Christmas tree would cure my holiday blues. “Putting up the tree” turned out to be the total opposite of fun: it sucked.

The suckage began with one of those funny feelings. It came while I was dragging out the boxes of Christmas crap, “wasn’t there something wrong with our Christmas lights? Maybe there are a few burned out or something?”

Ah, yes.

Once I plugged them in the problem became clear: they’re broken.

One strand was totally dead while the other was divided into three segments: half were not working, one-quarter were constantly on and the other quarter flashed. I spent about 20 minutes changing fuses and replacing bulbs, but the status of my lights remained the same: broken.

I tried to run out and buy new lights, but my car is frozen shut and my front tire is low; another roadblock standing between me and a season of joy.

Damn.



Notice there aren’t any wrapped presents near the tree.

Yep, two weeks from today I will be at my parents exchanging gifts and I haven’t bought a thing.


08 December 2007

Tick Tock, People

It doesn’t feel like Christmas, yet the Christmas season is upon us. This actually occurred to me today when I was reminded via a cute little countdown clock that there are only 16 days left to scramble around like a mad-woman, buying presents at the last minute shop.

I’m not ready. In fact, I haven’t even started shopping.

I hate shopping.

Yes, I know, I’m a chic and supposedly all chics love to shop. Not me, I hate it. I also hate ice cream (unless it’s diluted with crumbled Oreos, 50/50) so call me a weirdo.

I shudder at the mere thought of shopping. I don’t envision anything fun or Christmas-like. No joy, none of that crap. In my book, shopping is a modern day form of good old-fashioned human torture.

I love giving things to people, but I hate buying stuff.

I absolutely, positively hate the act of “going shopping.” I hate going from place to place, wandering around, with the sole purpose of looking for stuff to buy. At first online shopping was an awesome alternative, but I soon realized that I’m doing the same thing… surfing from place to place, looking for stuff to buy.

In the end, I’m still buying stuff and I hate to spend money.

The same thing happens every Christmas. James and I set a budget, we save up our little pennies, make a naughty and nice list, and get the whole thing planned. Next, the brakes slam our well-designed plan to a screeching halt. I hate to shop; therefore I won’t put the plan into action.

The week before Christmas James and I will be running around like crazy people buying all kinds of stuff like we’ve won a shopping spree, for others.

Tis the season!

06 December 2007

DUDE!

I cracked open my handy dandy RFT and right there on page 8 is the Local Blog O' the Week: Jeannette Eats Spaghetti!

HOLY FUCK!

Okay, Jeannette E, get a fucking grip. This isn’t anything to get all excited over. Then again, HOLY FUCK! People are reading my ramblings!

That’s right, I said it, the F word. Three times.

You see, in normal conversation I speak like a dude. Specifically, I cuss all the time. And there’s one lesson we’ve all learned in finishing school, cussing is sooo un-ladylike. Also, today’s society holds each person accountable to the highest of moral standards (not) and who knows what kind of ill effect my foul mouth will have on today’s youth.

And thus, I feel like I should censor myself in my blog. In the past I would criticize myself when I’d cuss, thinking, “Hey, dumbass, can’t you come up with anything more intelligent than ‘fuckface?’ At least call that fucker a jerk.”

Doug, I learned something today. I learned that, if used properly, cussing can show emotion, thereby enhancing the spirit and mood of a conversation (or blog). From now on, I’m going to cuss it up. That’s right. It’s my blog and I’ll cuss if I want to, cuss if I want to, cuss if I want to. You would cuss too, if it happened to you.

Dear Today's Youth, get the fuck off my blog so I can speak the way my mom intended: with a potty mouth.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah, that’s right, I became sidetracked after exclaiming HOLY FUCK! My blog made it into the printed edition of the RFT! Sweet!

I’ll probably discover that my mom is the mastermind behind Local Blog O’ the Week.

On her deathbed she’ll confess, “Jeannette, face it, this blog thing isn’t going anywhere. *cough* Nobody gives a crap about what you’re writing. *cough cough* I was behind that whole ‘blog o’ the week’ business back in 2007. It’s just that *cough* you’re an eeediot and your blog never had any direction. *cough* You needed a little ego boost. And I felt sorry for you.”

What the hell am I so excited for anyway? It’s only the RFT. It’s just like, an honorable mention and nothing more. Besides, my mom was behind it all along.

05 December 2007

The Road Less Traveled

I remember the first time I heard of a “family vacation.”

It was seventh grade and I was in Mr. Demolin’s science class. It was three days after we returned from our super-awesome extended winter vacation, except today was Kristie’s first day back to school. And she was really tan.

What the hell?

Kristie’s family extended the already extended vacation - get this - so they could enjoy a nice and long winter escape to Florida. Whoooaaaa, dude! I had no idea people did such things.

A couple years later I had a cool vacation of my own. Over Fourth-of-July weekend, my brother and I took a road trip with my Gramma to visit my aunt and uncle in Kentucky. The next morning we all woke up bright and early, went to some parking lot and got on a bus that took us to Ocoee, TN. There we spent the day white water rafting.

At that point in my life, age 15, I’d have to say white water rafting was the coolest thing I’d ever experienced. While looking for a link I saw the words “Class III and IV rapids.” No wonder I remember it being so damn cool. Also, no wonder I almost fell out of the raft twice.

After that journey, I never ventured too far from St. Louis again until I was 25.

In the last four years I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of places. I’ve been to Wyoming at least five times and, depending on whether or not I drove across I-70 or I-80, I’ve driven across every state between here and there (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado) three or four times. I’ve also been to southern and central California, Atlanta, DC, Virginia, Indiana, Jackson Hole, Hawaii (Kauai, Maui and the Big Island), San Luis Obispo, CA, Seattle, Tucson, Mexico, and lots of other cities and states in between.

I’ve learned that seeing a place on TV or reading about it in a book is never, ever the equivalent of going there yourself.

That thought really sunk in when I visited San Diego in September 2005. I had seen countless pictures of the ocean and even knew what it sounded like, thanks to TV. But nothing can replace the way I felt upon seeing and touching the ocean for my first time. It was vast and beautiful. I’ll never forget the smell, the sound and the feeling of the cold waves washing over my feet and then pulling the sand from beneath me. It was amazing.

I instantly knew I had been missing out on the world. And every time I travel to a new place, I am reminded that I’ve never really been anywhere.

My point is this: I need to get my ass in gear and start uploading my pictures and writing about my journeys before I forget everything.

Note to self: Dude, get your ass in gear and start uploading your pictures and writing about your journeys before you forget everything. Besides that, you can come up with a gazillion stories by writing about your travel adventures alone, so stop thinking you have nothing to write about.

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