Another Year of Awesome!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my beloved blog, Smashing Through Life!

It's a snake in a party fez!

It’s a snake in a party fez!

First off, welcome back Vincent the Viper, who proudly celebrated last year’s blog birthday with me while wearing a more traditional party hat. This year, Vincent is sporting a decidedly flamboyant party fez instead and I think he looks fabulous. During more lackadaisical times, my friend The Magpie and I entertained the notion of starting a business manufacturing and selling one-of-a-kind hats for fake snakes, but then real life got a lot more interesting in a hurry and we’ve since shelved that idea for the time being. Maybe we’ll come back to it again, when we’ve got some decent seed money pulled together. But anyways, that’s not what we’re here for today.

IT’S MY BLOG BIRTHDAY AND I’M REALLY FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT IT!

That’s why we’re here. Keep yourself on point, girl.

A lot can happen in a year, and I’m not saying that to be cliché. A lot really did happen to me in this past year. Some good, some bad, and some ugly too. I made some stunning 3-pointers, but I also spent a lot of time warming the bench, too. I genuinely enjoy looking back over a specific period of time and reflecting on the things that have happened in my life. It’s good for me, and it motivates me to keep reaching ever higher. I believe that my personal and professional development should never reach a plateau; I won’t let that happen. Not while I’m at the helm. If I’m learning and challenging myself on a consistent basis, then I’m growing and becoming a better me all the time. There is always room for improvement, and I’ve got an insatiable hunger for more. I’m always so eager to keep forging ahead, so it helps to look back once in a while. I need to make sure that I’m cutting the right path. That I’m living the life I’ve always wanted.

This blog’s mission, initially, was to act as an outlet for my frustrations and disappointments. It was an exercise in perpetual positivity. It was a place of refuge, an altar of optimism at which I could worship when I needed it the most. I was in a very dark place when it began, and this blog was my lifeline. It was a connection to the trademark brightness within, the brightness I’ve always been known for, but which was dimming more and more every day at an alarming rate. But it has since evolved, the aim has shifted. I don’t need to search for the positives in my life quite so desperately anymore because I’m surrounded by them.

This blog is continually evolving, just like me, and I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made together so far. It’s a place where I can chronicle my life, my adventures, and my many dreams in the most positive terms possible.

So, what have I done this year that’s so whoop-de-fucking-doo great, you ask? I’ll tell you!

Smash’s Top 5 Awesomes This Year

1.) I went on the vacation of a lifetime

I've never been this happy to be awake at 6:30am in my life

I’ve never been this happy to be awake at 6:30am in my life

D and I dropped everything and went on our first ever vacation together. And we made it memorable as hell by saving up the extra bucks and flying the extra miles to get ourselves a slice of Hawaii. It was unreal! The food, the adventures, the beach, the ocean, the people, the sites. We loved every minute of it. Going all out for our first trip together was definitely the right call.

2.) I Got Engaged (and set the date, too!)

 An old shot, from about 5 years ago

An old shot, from about 5 years ago. Super Retro Disco Party, obviously.

D and I have been together a long time. We’re coming up on eight years this summer, if you can believe it. I loved him from the first moment I drunkenly gazed into his sweet blue eyes, and there was never any doubt. But there was never any rush to get to the paperwork either, and he caught me completely unawares when he proposed during our aforementioned vacation. I tease him sometimes about being totally devoid of emotion, but he really surprised me that time. I don’t even question this decision at all. We go together.

3.) I Won Shitfest 2013: Fall

I fuckin' love this trophy!

I fuckin’ love this trophy!

Some of you will remember my graceful acceptance of the award from this wonderful post that our dear friend, The IPC, allowed me to share with you on his site. I don’t write a movie blog, but I love movies so I read a lot of movie blogs. And I love the movie blogging community that I’ve stumbled into on WordPress. I loved reading the posts that were entered in the first Shitfest, and when a fall fest was announced I knew I had to get involved this time. I knew a shitty movie that I could write about. A real fucking shitty movie. I just wanted to have some fun, and it proved to be an experience that I will cherish forever. I’ve got the trophy to prove it.

4.) I Started a New Blog

The Kingdom

I miss writing essays. I miss feeling scholarly. I long for my undergrad, on rainy days mostly. So I decided to start a blog to review the works of Stephen King, to sort of keep in touch with that part of myself that so loved turning in assignments. I’m just hanging out over there, doing book reports basically. But it’s a fun hobby, and I enjoy it. I’m not rolling out the reviews quite as quickly as when I first started the blog, but I am still trucking along and reviews get posted at least once a month. It’s a way for me to explore other facets of my writing, too, and that’s important to me.

And finally, saving the biggest for last…

5.) I Got Promoted

Always the consummate professional, jumping on the bed in my suite during a work trip 3 years ago

Always the consummate professional, that’s me jumping on the bed in my suite during a work trip 3 years ago

I’ve been waiting for this a long time. It was an exciting, albeit painful journey at times, but I’m finally moving in the direction that I want to go. I had never realized how deeply ambitious I was until I joined the workforce. Procrastination and indifference were my MO whenever I pondered that almighty “What are you going to do when you grow up?” question that seems to haunt us from birth. But once I started carving out my own way in the world, I found myself immediately hooked on ambition. It’s a heady device, man. I made the choice to significantly alter my career path a couple of years ago, and it’s all starting to come together now. The sky really is the limit, and I thoroughly enjoy reaching for it with all of my might. I’ve got plans and ideas aplenty, and I’m going to make a splash in a big way. Greatness abounds, when you’re willing to work hard for it. I love how it feels to earn my living, and being rewarded professionally for my efforts feels divine.

I’m not kidding around, you guys. I truly am kicking the shit out of life every day. And I hope to continue doing so, right here on this bizarre little blog of mine, for a long while yet.

Here’s to yet another year of awesome. Cheers!

Bucket List Snorkelling: Some Day 6 But Mostly Day 7

I didn’t post yesterday, I know. Because we didn’t really do anything remarkable other than get super drunk on the beach. When it was time to post, my motor skills just weren’t up to snuff. Plus, how many different ways are there to say “we got hammered”? Not that many without sounding repetitive. So, we got super hammered and enjoyed some nightlife. Bam, Day 6 complete!

The next day, however, is jam-packed with vacation awesomeness. Blogworthy stuff.

We booked ourselves a snorkelling adventure in Hanauma Bay. When we woke up that morning, we were bursting with excitement. It was a gorgeous day, clear skies and beaming sun. This was gunna be awesome.

Our pickup was at 10:15 and our drop off 3:00pm, so it was going to be a nice full afternoon. We had to pay for the shuttle up to the bay, the equipment rental, admission to the park, and then a locker for our stuff once we got to the bay. It sounds like a lot of fees, but it was actually very reasonable. It was only $18.00 for the shuttle ride and the equipment rental combined, then $7.50 to get into the park and $7.00 for the locker rental.

And the shuttle guy was amazing. He was talkative and funny. He showed us where Jackie Chan’s house is! He kept it light, and he wasn’t too preachy when it came to how to use the equipment. It made us feel great about choosing his tour company.

We shuttled to the top of the bay, and then had to wait for another shuttle down into the bay. The place we stopped had a phenomenal view of Koko Head, another famous hiking trail.

Koko Head

Koko Head

This trail up the mountain is a lot more difficult than Diamond Head. It takes 99 stairs to get to the top of Diamond Head, and the guide told us it takes 1001 to get to the top of Koko Head. And, it’s all up a straight path. With Diamond Head the trail weaved gently all around the crater.

After a brief wait, we were loaded into shuttle number two and on our way. I lost my mind when we got within sight of the bay, it was crazy amazing!

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

The reef

The reef

Hanauma Bay formed within a volcanic cone and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oahu. The volcano has long since been dormant. And the reef is a veritable well of marine life diversity. It makes for some spectacular snorkelling.

Before you can get in the water, you have to watch a quick movie about the marine life and the various do’s and don’ts of snorkelling in the bay. It was painful. You just want to get in the water. Anything that stands in the way of that seems like a tremendous chore. But we found it within ourselves to endure.

I’ve never snorkelled before, so I was a little unsure. I felt like I’d be gulping in salt water all day. But it was shockingly easy! Truly, if you can stare and you can breathe, you can snorkel. I did a few little tests to get used to it, and then I was good to go. Snorkelling is awesome! It’s so addictive. We went under and just kept exploring.

We may have been a little overzealous initially. We swam out a good 20-30 feet past the buoys into the deep waters. When we surfaced and realized how far we’d gone, it was a struggle to get back into the shallow waters. The waves were really strong, they kept pulling us out. We had to fight against them with all we had to get back in. We’re both solid swimmers though, so we managed. It just took a lot out of us to do it. And it was a little unsettling right out of the gate. We just willingly got sucked out into the ocean! Going forward, we were much more vigilante about our orientation under the water.

The best thing about it was how much exploring of the reef we did and how much we saw. Everywhere we looked there were fish. Your eyes just keep darting around, seeking out the fish. We saw our first fish when I was doing my initial test of the waters and my gear, and it blew me away! It was so unexpected. A bright blue fish, like Dori, just swimming right in front of my face!

My camera has underwater capabilities which I’d never used before. I wasn’t sure how well the photos would turn out, but I just kept snapping away like some kind of paparazzi of the sea!

one of the brightest fish we saw

one of the brightest fish we saw

bffs

bffs

digging that reef

digging that reef

new friend

new friends

This one is really tiny!

This one is really tiny!

I can’t believe how close we got to the fish and how many we saw. It was unreal. Like we’d been given goggles and dropped into an aquarium!

Navigating the reef was tricky at times. You don’t want to touch it at all. Every time the reef gets touched, it dies a little. There were so many nooks and crannies, tight little spaces that made it difficult to move swiftly through the water. It was like an enormous maze in the ocean. We’d twist and turn, feeling like we were headed in the right direction, only to be confronted with a massive wall of reef blocking the way. D loved being in all the little nooks. You could see a lot more fish in these areas. We saw such a wide variety of the marine life in the bay because we just kept forging our way through the reef.

We heard that there were some sea turtle sightings in our area, but we couldn’t find them. We did see an eel though. A big fat dangerous one!

the eel

the eel

If you look very closely you should be able to see his head and his beady black eye to the left of the picture. A very small portion of the eel was poking out from under the reef. It was hard to get good pictures of him without getting too close and endangering ourselves. But trust me, he was huge and he was not something to mess with. He would fuck you up the second he felt threatened!

Like I said, snorkelling was addictive. We were submerged for a solid 2 hours straight. We loved it. We were a little disappointed when it was time to come out, because we would have done it all night if we could.

view from within the ocean

view from within the ocean

Snorkel D

Snorkel D

This day was by far our favourite of the trip. As much as we loved exploring the city, shopping, playing on the beach, and seeing the sites, there’s nothing like snorkelling in Hanauma Bay.

We were having so much fun, we didn’t even notice how strenuous it had been. Our bodies were sore and we got a shocking amount of sun. I took Joce’s advice and I wore shorts into the water so my ass wouldn’t get burned. My calves and thighs though… it’s not pretty. I was going to wear my t-shirt too, but I’d forgotten to pack my spare! I needed to have a dry shirt to change into when we got out of the water. My back was ravaged by the sun. I’d covered myself liberally in sunblock before going in, and that’s been doing the trick all week. But I guess even the best of sunblock can’t compete with two hours spent in the water.

We were so exhausted when we got back to the hotel. But we had to rally for our last dinner in Waikiki. We showered away all the salt of the ocean and got dressed for dinner. D had to help me with the after sun lotion. We sprayed down my entire body with the cooling gel and let it work its magic.

For our last dinner out in Waikiki, we decided to go back to our favourite place of the trip. Lulu’s Waikiki. The food is delicious and the prices are unbeatable.

I had another strip steak, and D opted for the surf ‘n’ turf. We deserved it. We busted our asses out in the ocean all day, we earned our steak dinner.

surf n turf

surf n turf

After dinner, we walked along the beach and saw the most beautiful sunset yet.

perfect Hawaiian sunset

perfect Hawaiian sunset

blows your mind

blows your mind

We had a great fucking day. The best day so far. Yesterday was our last full day and night in Hawaii, so we made sure to make the most of it. Now, I’ve gotta get packing and prep myself for the trip home.

We’ll miss you Hawaii, you’re a rad dude.

We’ve Only Just Begun: Day 5

Another overcast day yesterday. Totally shitty. It rained a little bit in the morning and then it just stayed cloudy and gray. But we weren’t going to let that stand in the way of our plans to journey through Chinatown.

It’s much further into the city, so we couldn’t walk there. We decided to use public transit, otherwise known as TheBus. Seriously, that’s what the bus system is called here. Not TTC or YRT, just TheBus. It’s straightforward, and I like it.

We rode the bus for about 45 minutes or so to get there. It was actually really busy, and there was quite a bit of traffic. But, it was cheap and effective.

We’re there man.

Chinatown

Chinatown

In the market

In the market

We walked through the markets, checked out the shops, and breathed in that uniquely Chinatown smell. Fresh produce and fish. It was fun, but I was surprised by how different it was from Toronto’s Chinatown. The streets were more spacious, and the markets were a lot bigger. But overall, the area that Chinatown covered is smaller than back home.

D had been looking forward to this trip all week. He kept saying to me on the plane “I’m going to have some fucking awesome noodles!” That’s all he wanted, a big steaming plate of noodles from Chinatown. And that’s exactly what we got.

We stopped for lunch at this delicious looking place. Cheap lunch specials and a nice quiet atmosphere. Aside from us, there were only two other people eating there. We got great service, and we didn’t have to wait long for our food.

We had sesame chicken and chicken lo mein.

sesame chicken

sesame chicken

chicken lo mein

chicken lo mein

It was freaking awesome! This is probably the best lunch we’ve had so far. The flavour of the sesame chicken was light and savoury. And the noodles were to die for. We ate as much as we possibly could, but they were large portions and they filled us up quickly.

We walked around a little more after lunch, but the weather was still crap. It wasn’t very inspiring. We hung out around the strip, I did a little more souvenir shopping, but still we didn’t see much improvement in the weather.

So, we decided to partake in Happy Hour. It really is the best way to cheer up on a shitty day. We went to a place that we’ve had our eyes on since we got here.

This is just the place for us

This is just the place for us

Cheeseburger in Paradise. This place was made for us. Cheap drinks and burgers, oh hells yes!

We got ourselves started on some drinks. A draught beer for D and a Hawaiian Sunburn for me.

fresh from the tap

fresh from the tap

just girly enough

just girly enough

I don’t know what it is about this place. I’m a good Canadian girl and I love my beer. But ever since I’ve been here, I’ve had an unquenchable thirst for fruity drinks and coolers. I guess it just makes me feel more vacation-y.

We drank and chatted, and when we got hungry we knew just what to do.

cheeseburger in paradise

cheeseburger in paradise

it's all good

it’s all good

I hate to be redundant, but daaaaamn that’s good eats! I love it when the bun is soft. A good burger can be ruined so quickly when the bun is toasted to shit. Just the slightest hint of a toasting on the top, that’s all you need. The meat was tender and fresh. Seasoned to perfection. Every bite better than the last. It was messy, I’m not gunna lie. I used an unfathomable amount of napkins while eating.

This burger was worth the wait, let me tell you that.

Things cleared up a bit while we were at the restaurant. When we stepped out again, it was nice enough to walk down the beach and take in the sunset.

breathtaking

breathtaking

digging that sunset

digging that sunset

We sat for a while just taking in the view. It’s so peaceful. Or at least it was until a particularly wild cat-fight broke out eight feet away from us. There was a group of teens hanging out near our benches, and seemingly out of nowhere two of the girls just started pounding each other. There was hair-pulling, punching, knees to the stomach, squealing, and all manner of profanities being hurled. I think there was even some spitting. Finally, two of the dudes pulled the girls apart.

But, we still decided to get up and move further down the beach anyways. Away from all the bullshit. The sun had set, but we still wanted to walk for a bit and enjoy the evening.

We walked a good way down the strip, approaching a long pier out into the ocean.

Evening on the city

Evening on the beach

We walked down the pier, it was secluded and private. It was perfect, or as close to perfect as anything can be.

And then D proposed.

I was totally stunned. Jaw-dropped, just stunned. It was romantic and sweet. It was a dream moment, something out of a movie. I gave him the much anticipated yes, and we couldn’t have been happier. We just couldn’t stop smiling.

We're engaged!

We’re engaged!

Hold onto your hats people, Dballs and Smash are getting married!

Top of the World: Day 4

Chomped down breakfast at the ass-crack of dawn today and got a move on. This is it! The one activity I was most looking forward to. The hike up Diamond Head crater.

You can take the bus, cab, or trolley there if you want. But we’re dangerous. We buck the norms every chance we get. We decided to walk.

It was another gorgeous day in Hawaii. The sun was shining, there was a nice cool breeze, and we were on our way. It was sweaty though. We’d barely made it halfway to the entrance of the trail and we were sweating balls! But hiking is sweaty business, and we knew that going into it.

yup, we're going up there

yup, we’re going up there

We had to go through a tunnel to get into the park and to access the trail entrance. I couldn’t help but think of Wile E Coyote while we walked through.

no anvils on the otherside

no anvils on the other side

It’s a good thing we got there early because the trails are fairly narrow. It started getting crowded as we were making our descent, and I did not care for that. It’s generally an easy hike, gentle inclines. A couple of areas where you’ve got to do a lot of stairs, but for the most part anyone can do it. You will feel it in your legs though. That’s for damn sure.

But the views are breathtaking. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

during the hike

during the hike

mid-way there

mid-way there

ocean view

ocean view

island view

island view

view from the top

view from the top

See what I mean? It’s impressive. And well worth the trek.

We were at the top by 9:00am. And there were quite a few people there. I was kind of hoping that we’d be early enough to catch a quiet moment at the lookout, but no such luck. I can’t complain though, because the views are just stunning. This is what we came for. Adventure.

And if you’re anything like me, you will feel adventurous once you’ve reached the top. Looking out over the island I fancied myself a fearsome pirate. Captain of a mighty vessel. Infamous rogue and irrefutable scoundrel. Having sailed far and wide for the perfect place to stash my bountiful pirate treasure. But that’s just me. You might think otherwise once you get to the top.

Treasures safely stowed away for good, we worked our way back down the crater. Since it was still early, and we had a bunch more energy to spend, we decided to continue hiking through the neighbourhood. I love it. I love walking through parts of the city that aren’t crowded with tourists. Exploring the town on our own.

where the locals are chillin'

where the locals are chillin’

We just walked. Soaking up the sights and sun. Once we’d worked up a formidable sweat, we made our way back to the beach. Another afternoon of swimming and sunning.

You see a lot of shit go down on the beach while you’re there. Part of the fun is people watching from your cozy little towel. The best people watching comes from the kids and old folks. Both groups just don’t give a shit. They do whatever they want, and they have no shame for it.

I saw this group of three older gentlemen, roughly mid-70’s. They were just chatting away, being casual. Cue a young 20-something girl in a thong bikini. They snapped to attention and cranked their necks for a view faster than you could holler “hoochie mama!” They sure made a meal out of looking at this girl. And once she’d finally sauntered off out of sight, they turned back to each other and tsk tsk-ed her ferociously. How shameful! What’s wrong with the kids today? etc. etc.

I just had to laugh. Looked to me like they liked what they saw, but I guess not. Dudes, it’s Hawaii. You’re going to see butts. That’s just how it is. If you’re shocked by seeing someone’s ass at the beach, then maybe the beach just isn’t for you. Oh, and also, women have rights now. We can drive, and vote, and wear thong bikinis if we damn well please. So, you’d better get used to it. Butt floss is here to stay.

Then it started raining. Not just some pathetic spitting that you can ride out either. It was a tremendous downpour. And it just didn’t stop. All afternoon and evening long.

Dinnertime rolled around and it was still pouring out. No sign of letting up. I can’t be rained on. I’ll melt!

We didn’t know what to do for dinner, then I remembered a place super close to the hotel. We could easily dash over there, sustaining minimal rain damage. And as luck would have it, it was the best meal of our trip so far!

I earned this bad boy

I earned this bad boy

I rocked a Teriyaki Strip Loin because I can. And D went with the Schezwan Swordfish.

D's first swordfish

D’s first swordfish

Both dishes scored perfect 10’s in our book!

The broccoli would have been cause for a deduction on my dish, but I passed that disgustingly huge pile of it off onto D’s plate. Broccoli is revolting, and I want nothing to do with it ever in my life. I’d rather eat dirt. Actually, that’s not true. I wouldn’t eat dirt either because I’m crazy fussy about shit like that. I don’t have a particularly discerning palate, but I do know that broccoli is just wrong.

In conclusion, Diamond Head=awesome and broccoli=less desirable than dirt.

There’s Even Sand in My Crack: Day 3

We have been walking a lot. Constantly. Everywhere we go, we walk there. It’s taken its toll on my feet, that’s for damn sure. I have two big blisters on the bottom of each foot, and another big one on the side of my toe. So I felt like having a day of minimal walking. So, to the beach we go!

You can lay out on your towel for hours, or take a few quick steps into the ocean. Either way, you’re off your feet and it feels good. We’d gone for a brief swim on our first day after eating breakfast, but we hadn’t done the full on beach day yet. D has been wanting to relax while catching some rays.

After breakfast at the hotel, we walked down to the beach to get ourselves some prime real estate on the sand. At the glorious hour of 8:00am no less!

morning calm

morning calm

A dip in the ocean to cool you off and send the beads of sweat forming on your brow packing. I’ve never swam in the ocean until this trip. I’m blown away by how salty the water is. The first time some of it got into my mouth I thought I was going to die. It was like I’d just poured the contents of a full salt shaker down my throat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that…

so not digging the salt

so not digging the salt

The beach is a lot more calm in the morning. Some of the more ambitious parents are up and about with the kiddies. But most of them are still getting their shit in a pile to start the day. They don’t usually start filling out the beach until later in the day. It’s gotta be tough, right? We’re exhausted after a full day, and we don’t have any kids to haul around with us. I can’t imagine how people do it. Props to the parents with energy to actually be active while on vacation with their kids.

We see a lot of babies, surprisingly. D said that if he ever found out that his parents took him to Hawaii when he was way too young to remember it, he would be hella pissed. “That’s such bullshit,” he said. “You’ve been to this amazing place, but you’ll never remember.” I guess that sucks. But if your parents are rich enough to take you when you’re a baby, I’m sure they’re rich enough to take you when you’re a bratty, unappreciative tween/teen.

It’s not that expensive really. Or at least not as expensive as people seem to think it is. It’s not an all-inclusive kind of place, so you do need to pay for your meals and booze. But if you shop around and find a good rate on the hotel and flight, then you do a little extra saving for your daily expenditures and you’re ready to go.

You’ll find an ABC Store basically every block, and you can buy super cheap booze and snacks. You can buy a 6-pack of Corona or Heineken for $8.50! You cannot get good beers that cheap in Ontario. And because these stores are literally everywhere you look, you don’t have to think about where the closest LCBO or Beer Store is. You just walk out the door, and there the beer is. Ice cold, and waiting for you. It’s heavenly.

D swam for a bit and then lounged in the sun. As I watched him sunning himself, he reminded me of a little lizard nestled on a rock in a pet store somewhere, hogging up as much of the heat lamp as it can get. Using the solar rays to recharge its battery. I started taking pictures of him while he was sunning and he told me to stop being creepy and go for another swim.

So I took my camera elsewhere. As opposed to some dreamboat photos of a half-naked D, these pictures of the beach will have to suffice.

a shitty substitute

a shitty substitute

took some of this stuff to go!

took some of this stuff to go!

my view from the shore

my view from the shore

Once we’d had our fill of surf and turf, we thought the next best thing would be to get day drunk. We needed to cleanse our palates of all the salt water anyways. So we walked down the street to Jimmy Buffet’s for Happy Hour. $3.00 for vodka, gin, or rum and $4.00 for a draught beer. Hells yes! This is just the place for us.

Thinking we’d have a snack with our drinks, we very stupidly ordered nachos. We assumed they would be just enough to tide us over until dinner. We were not expecting the fucking cheesy tortilla chip planet that fell from the sky and landed on our table.

what have we done?

what have we done?

I'm really going to hate myself in a minute

I’m really going to hate myself in a minute

They were taller than they were wide! Holy shit, how are two people going to eat this many nachos? We did the best we could. But in the end, we’d barely made a dent. Next time, we’ll just stick to the drinks.

The nachos stuck with us all afternoon. We barely had any appetite for dinner. We barely had the will to live anymore! So we parked our asses on a geezer bench at the beach and just sat in silence for a while. Trying, really trying, to digest the wads of cheese in our bellies. We sat on the bench, on powered down mode for 30 minutes or so. Enough time to straighten ourselves out.

When our brains started functioning again, we took a leisurely stroll down the beach. It had started getting cloudy out. A few drops of rain here and there. Our bold and beaming sun decided to take the rest of the day off. No beautiful sunsets tonight, come back tomorrow folks.

We’re tired and full. Too full. So we make our way back to the hotel room, and grab a movie for the night. Our hotel has these little DVD rental kiosks in the lobby. You just touch the screen, pick a movie you want to see, and it spits out the disc. Then, when you’re done, you just bring it back down and put it back in the machine. It’s a good little contingency plan for rainy days, and inactive nights. And it’s free! You don’t even have to pay for them. Just grab a movie whenever you feel like it.

We rented Looper, which I had been wanting to see. It was good, but not what I had expected. I was picturing something similar to Blade Runner. Not something so Omen-y. All the bullshit with the mom and the kid was so boring. I wanted to see the past and future Joes engage each other so much more. I wanted tension, active, adventure. Not sappy self-sacrifice for a demonic little kid who is clearly going to grow up to be an asshole anyways. But, you get what you pay for I guess.

Every room has a PS3 to play the DVDs on. I feel like this is great for the youth, and maddening for the really old peeps. There are a lot of people at our hotel who are getting on in their years. Surely some of them know how to use it, but I’m sure most are more frustrated by it than anything. I barely know how to work the controller sometimes, so I can relate.

We needed a nice quiet night in. We’re going to tackle the hike up Diamond Head tomorrow, so we’ll need our rest. Which is also why I’m posting tonight. I’ve gotta get a head start on the day and doing the blog post in the morning can be a bit of a time-suck.

So, now that I’m done, nighty night!

5 to 9: Day 2

I’ve always thought that retirement is a sweet deal. You’ve got nothing but time. Time to do whatever the hell you want with your days. And then hopefully, some fat stacks of cash to burn.

The only thing that didn’t appeal to me was the supposed hours that retirees keep. But, on second thought, I think I get it.

Maybe it’s the jet-lag, or maybe it’s just our bodies natural desire to rise with the sun. I don’t know. But we are routinely up around 5:00am and passed out asleep by 9:00pm. It could also be because we pack so much activity into our days. It’s weird because we’re on vacation. Why the eff are we getting up at 5:00am every morning? We went on vacation so we wouldn’t have to be up super early to start the day!

Yesterday we took in the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. I had planned those activities to take up a full day. We were at the zoo by 9:00am for open, and had finished at the Aquarium at 11:30am. D’oh!

The zoo was great, it was a lot of fun. There was a wide variety of animals on display. But it was small. But I guess I’m just a little spoiled on zoos because the Metro Toronto Zoo is massive. I just took for granted that all zoos are around the same size. When you go to the Toronto zoo, you plan a full day. If you’re going to see every exhibit, it’s at least 5 hours. Plus travel time, plus lunch.

The Honolulu Zoo was way cheaper to get into though, and I appreciated that.

D’s favourite part was the Toucan. He was so lively! He kept hopping from branch to branch, stopping to pose for our pictures. Such an incredible bird. He’s gorgeous. If you look closely, you can see how vibrantly blue his eyes are.

Toucan Sam

Toucan Sam

I liked the lemurs and the meerkats best, because they’re so cute and I could get great shots of them.

little cuties

little cuties

just like we practiced

just like we practiced

There were a lot of giant tortoises as well, which were quite impressive. We watched one of them spend 10 minutes crawling about 8 feet towards us! I’m a super fast walker myself, so I can’t possibly imagine taking that long to get anywhere.

take it easy

take it easy

The Aquarium was a quick walk down the street from the zoo, so it was our next stop. It was shockingly small. I had expected humongous exhibits. Just massive tanks of fish and intricate walkways throughout. I thought we would see sharks, whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, and all manner of sea life like that.

We saw some cool tanks, but nothing mind-blowing. The jellyfish were really cool.

little jellies

little jellies

big jellies

big jellies

Afterwards we walked along the beach, and stopped at the Barefoot Cafe for lunch. A very very delicious lunch.

fish 'n' chips

fish ‘n’ chips

Is it morbid that I had fish for lunch directly after visiting the aquarium? I couldn’t help it though. It looked so good. Mmm, it was! Flaky fish in a crispy panko batter with some light and fluffy tartar sauce. That’s all I need in this life.

views from the walk back

views from the walk back

Afterwards we decided to veer off the course of the tourist. We took a long walk away from the strip to see more local areas. I went into a great little shop where I found some really special souvenirs. We walked and walked and walked. We walked for as long as our little legs could manage it. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were pooched.

But we had a very important goal that we still needed to achieve today. So we got ourselves dressed and went out for a lovely grandpa dinner at 4:30pm. I wanted to have time for a leisurely dinner, but ensure that when it was over we could take in a sunset. By 6:00pm dinner was done, and we walked down to the beach to grab a bench and savour the view.

It was spectacular!

Hawaiian sunset

Hawaiian sunset

cooch ya later

cooch ya later

The sun just kind of tucks itself back behind the clouds and says goodnight.

It felt incredible sitting there, watching it. Listening to the waves and kids playing on the beach. Breathing in the salty beach air. Just holding hands on our bench with all the other seniors. It’s peaceful and lovely. We’re on the go all the time, never slowing down. When we’ve finished doing something, it’s always “what’s next?”

We don’t have to be that way here. We can slow down. We can enjoy what’s around us instead of always looking ahead for what’s next.

We savoured the sunset and then went back to our room. We had drinks, we played cards, and we relaxed. We went to bed at 9:00pm, not because we wanted to, but because our bodies just told us that it was time.

It makes sense to me now. Keeping these hours. You fill the days with as much splendour as you possibly can, and you turn in for the night. You want to get up as early as you possibly can because you don’t want to miss a minute of the day.

Consider me well acclimated for the life of a carefree retiree!

cheers bitches!

cheers bitches!

Getting the Lei of the Land: Day 1

First things first, we’ve been upgraded!

much better

much better

We’re in a much better room now. We didn’t spend so much time flying so we could sleep like geezers in twin beds. Also, this room has the “deluxe” feature of an alarm clock! For some reason our other room didn’t, so we didn’t have a very good sense of time. There was a slip under our door in the morning letting us know that the change had been arranged. We had to check-out of our room at noon and then wait until 3:00pm to check back in to the new room. We were up at the crack of dawn anyways, so this wasn’t a big deal.

Our hotel does this breakfast on the beach thing, and its incredible. They put a little cooler bag in everyone’s room, and when you’re ready you head downstairs to load it up with food. You can then either eat it poolside, take it back to your room, or go 10 steps across the street to the beach to eat there. We went down for breakfast at 7:00am, grabbed some food, and immediately went straight for the beach.

delicious breakfast

delicious breakfast

It was so calm on the beach. Only a handful of people there. It was spectacular.

good morning Waikiki Beach!

good morning Waikiki Beach!

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

We sat in the sand and listened to the ocean while we enjoyed our breakfast. I slathered myself in sunblock which was smart, because that morning sun is powerful! After breakfast, we went for a swim.

The water here is like a bathtub. It’s the tiniest bit cold at first, but once you’re fully in it feels better than any heated pool ever could. And the water is beautiful. We swam in the area that’s protected by a rock wall boundary. Because we’re babies. We’ll jump in with the waves eventually, but for today we just wanted to test the waters.

Everyone I meet is very concerned about my skin. I’ve gotten a lot of comments like, “please be careful, use sunblock” or “hope you packed your lotion, you will need it!” It seems like they don’t realize that I know I’m pale. Because I do, if you’re wondering. I know that I am paler than pale. I know that my skin will fry like an egg if I don’t cover it up. I do appreciate the concern, but I have been able to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror from time to time, so I know what I’m working with.

While D was taking a dip after breakfast I had a chat with a local man who was very nice, and cautioned me about the sun, naturally. He also told me that he’s lived in Oahu his whole life, all 71 years of it. I was blown away because I had him pegged at 42, maximum. Astonishing! Island life has treated him very kindly.

He also told me that there are a lot of homeless people in Oahu now, more than there ever have been. Later on in the day, while we were walking through the city we did notice quite a few. I know homelessness is a terrible thing. But it’s hard to feel bad for someone who is homeless in Hawaii. They don’t look half as bedraggled as the homeless people in Toronto. Most of the ones we saw were just catching a snooze in the sun.

After our morning spent frolicking on the beach, we did a quick change at our room and then went walking all over the city. We walked down the main strip, went into all kinds of stores and markets, and started getting a better sense of the city. We walked all the way up, across the river, to Ala Moana. It’s a huge mall with lots of designer shopping.

Ala Moana

Ala Moana

It’s all open concept, there’s no roof on the building. Just stores and sunny hallways. I kept my great big sunny weather hat on the whole time. It was quite warm, about 30 degrees yesterday. When you’re out in the sun all day, it can be quite exhausting. But I can’t complain because it’s still so damn beautiful here.

my favourite picture of us so far

my favourite picture of us so far

We walked back to the hotel, and took in some much-needed rest for a little while before dinner.

For our first dinner we decided on The Cheesecake Factory. And that was a friggen phenomenal decision! It was SO good.

I had the stuffed chicken tortillas with black beans and corn cakes.

get in mah belly!

get in mah belly!

I know the black beans don’t look that appetizing. They look like a black hole on my plate. But they were really good. The tortillas were stuffed to the brim with chicken and slathered in guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. It was SO good. Have I mentioned that yet? Because it was.

D had a chicken club. Sounds exciting right? It should have been called Honking Huge Chicken Breast Club, because it was massive!

honking huge sandwich

honking huge sandwich

It’s like a whole chicken breast on each half of sandwich! It was nuts. And the little genie lamp there? That was packed to the brim with his salad dressing. He barely even scrapped the top of it and had more than enough for his salad. I kept thinking that if he just rubbed it hard enough, then maybe something magical would happen.

And of course, we finished dinner with a divinely rich piece of cheesecake. Because what kind of tool goes to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and doesn’t get the cheesecake?

best thing ever

best thing ever

The list of options was enormous. It was so hard to choose. Initially, I had wanted something chocolate and totally decadent. But after eating our entrees, we thought maybe lighter would be better. We went with the Wild White Chocolate Blueberry. I am salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs right now just looking at this picture, reliving the memory. If this piece of cheesecake were a sentient being, I would willing submit myself to it. Yes, Master Blueberry. Whatever you say, Master Blueberry.

Fuck yeah, that’s a good cake! The crust… so unreal. Golden and crumbly. The filling so smooth and creamy. The blueberry filling a perfect complement to the white chocolate. I know we made the right choice.

The only downside to dinner was that we missed the sunset. It happens so damn fast. One minute, it’s beaming out. The next, darkness. We will have to be much more vigilante about seeing it today. As I’ve been told, there’s nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.

Aloha Hawaii: Enroute and Arrival

Well we did it, we’re here! After a long day of flying we’ve finally made it. Actually, the travelling part didn’t feel that long to me because my trips to the middle east were twice as long, so this was a treat by comparison. I’ll take a 2 hour connection over the 8 hour one any day! D however, didn’t seem to think so. He hasn’t been on a plane in over 15 years, so it was a much bigger undertaking for him. But he did very well!

And I must say, as someone who has only ever travelled alone and for work, it was really nice being with him. We laughed and joked, made some new friends on our flight, and most importantly to me, we held hands during take-off. That made it feel real and wonderful. I love him so much, and I’m so happy that we decided to do this.

Our first flight was easy because of the entertainment units in the backs of the seats. We synchronized our screens and watched Django Unchained together. It was freaking awesome! I’m sure some of it was censored for the flight, because that’s usually the case. But what a great way to pass the time! The next flight however, did not have those personal T.V.s… D was very disappointed. But it did at least have T.V.s at intervals down the aisle to show some movies on. The first one they showed was Jack Reacher, which D wanted to see. I didn’t want to see it, so I just rocked out to my jams on the ipod.

From what I could see on the screen though, that movie looked boring as hell. After the movie finished, I turned to D and said “more like Jack Reacharound, eh?” And we died. We just died of laughter. Oh, and you’re welcome porn industry. You can have that title as a freebie. It’s my gift to you!

Landing in Hawaii was the most surreal experience! I had a window seat at the very back of the plane. I kept checking that the ocean was still there throughout the flight, just to keep tabs on it. Make sure it didn’t try to pull any fast ones on us! When we started making our descent, we were glued to the window. Rolling waves of ocean lay before us, and then all of a sudden, a whole island appears! It was so beautiful. And the sun was beaming.

My bag was one of the first ones out onto the baggage claim belt. That never happens to me! I’m always the last one. So I took that as a very good sign. A good omen for the start of our adventure. We then headed out to grab a cab.

And we had the cutest most amazing cab and cabbie of all time. It was this busted looking station wagon with the tiniest little grey-haired Hawaiian woman. She was so adorable! I would have grabbed a picture of her sitting in the car at the curb, but she hopped out so fast and grabbed our bags. Also, I didn’t want to seem like some weirdo taking pictures of a cabbie with a line full of impatient people behind us!

As we drove to the hotel, she pointed out sites and gave us information about the city. She was very knowledgable and friendly. By far the best cabbie I’ve ever had. At one point in our cab ride, I leaned over to D and said “do you have enough leg room?” He looked puzzled for a minute and then clued in. The cab driver is so tiny that she has both seats at the front of the car adjusted as close to the dashboard as they can possibly get! She fit into the very smallest gap between her seat and the steering wheel. With the space that this created in the back of the cab, it was like we were riding in a freaking limo!

We got to the hotel, and much to our disappointment, we did not get the room that we had expected. We got some bullshit with twin beds! But I guess that’s my karma, because I booked a hotel for my boss last week and joked about how funny it would be to book him into a room with two twin beds. I didn’t actually book him into a twin bed room because I’m not insane. I only commented on the hilarity of such a situation. But now, I no longer find this funny. It is insensitive and inconsiderate to even joke of such things. Thank you universe, I understand now that it’s not funny to play God with someone’s reservation.

the horror

the horror

It’s alright though, it allowed us to stretch out and have a great sleep after such a long day of being smushed into airplane seats.

And you’ll be happy to know that even though they are twin beds, this did not stop me from indulging in my hotel arrival ritual…

jump!

As some of you know, whenever I stay at a hotel, I always take a picture of myself jumping on the bed! It is essential in my trip documentation process. I shouldn’t be using terms like that, “documentation process”. People who are on vacation should never say such things. I guess I still have a little bit of worker Smash in me that I need to shake. I’ll work on that.

It’s been great though, I really can’t complain about anything. The only thing I can possibly bemoan is the fact that a fruit fly flew right into my eyeball this morning when I opened up the laptop. Other than that, I think we’re golden.

It’s almost noon Toronto time, but it’s only 6am here. Jet-lag is a real bitch. So I guess I’d better grab some breakfast and officially start this vacation.

Stay tuned my lovelies, there’s oh so much more to come!

bring it on Hawaii!

bring it on Hawaii!

Two Tickets to Paradise

I am so freaking excited, I barely got any sleep last night. After months of tireless planning and saving, we’re on the home stretch now. It’s so close it hurts!

D AND I ARE GOING TO HAWAII!!!!!!

These are our excited faces!

These are our excited faces!

That’s right kids. I gathered up all the extra awesomeness I had lying around and packed it securely in my suitcase (along with a gallon of sunblock for my pasty complexion). And now I’m hauling it across the planet so it can be shared with all of Oahu!

I’m going to swim in the ocean, bask in the sun, and party my ass off with the locals. I’m going to have adventures and make memories. I’m going to take an absurd amount of photos. A terribly ridiculous amount!

I knew that I wanted to go on a trip with D this year. We’ve never gone on a real vacation together, so I think we were due for one. Initially, we were thinking of Mexico or the Dominican. Which I’m sure would have been a lot of fun too. But I wanted to do something spectacular, extraordinary. D was taken aback, worried that it would be too expensive. But the more we looked into it, the more realistic it became. Instead of going away in February like we’d wanted to, we would just save for a couple more months and go in April instead. We found a great deal and we jumped on it. We had to. It’s our time now, just us, and we can do whatever we want.

We want Hawaii.

Honestly though, April feels like it’s on steroids. The next two weeks are going to be jam-packed with amazingness. Tomorrow is going to be my 1 year work-i-versary at my job. And I know, it’s only a year, it’s not that big of a deal. Some people, like my mom, have been at their jobs for 30 years! That’s really incredible. But, this last year has been so meaningful to me, work-wise. So, I do consider it important. To celebrate that night we’re going to the Muse concert. I bought tickets for the concert long before thoughts of Hawaii had even sprouted in my brain. So awesome! We are going to rock our faces right off! We’ll barely get any sleep after the concert before flying to Hawaii the morning after, where will spend ten glorious days. And when we get back, it will be my 26th birthday!

I’m excited and exhausted just thinking about it… April has got a lock on best month of 2013.

But I’m ready for it. Even though I’m going to throw myself head-first into this vacation of mine, I do anticipate having some time for a couple of quick updates from paradise. Because really, what’s a trip to Hawaii without a little boastful pride and envy inducing photos? An incomplete one, if you ask me!

Plus, I don’t want to be wholly disconnected from life back home. I gotta have time to keep doing me. So stay tuned lovely readers, the next couple of weeks are about to get nuts!

We’re totally going all Doug and Deacon on this bitch: