Thursday, July 13, 2017

Disney's Lucasfilm, ABC help build KaBoom! playground in San Francisco

Here's all the fun we got up to today!! Lucasfilm and Disney VoluntEARS in partnership with Star Wars Force for Change put together this incredible event with KaBoom! It was a lot of fun, and also incredibly important to spend our time, energy and effort helping our San Francisco community -- especially those less fortunate than ourselves. The new community center opens later this year and has some affordable housing units and an amazing gym attached as well. I am very proud of my workplace for their support of these types of community service projects, and for so many funny, silly and caring colleagues who came out with big grins and big hearts to make a difference in our city. Hell. YEAH.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maui 2017 Day 5: Sea Turtles, Spa and Costco

05/30/2017
Maui 2017 Day 5: Sea Turtles, Spa and Costco

Just like that, the final day of our trip to Maui arrived. What an awesome place and 4 days-4 nights was actually the perfect amount of time for a first taste of the magic of Hawaii. That said, we were still keen to make the most of the last day of the trip and enjoy every moment... and start planning another trip back to Hawaii :)

First things first -- time for some more snorkeling. We lucked out like crazy, swimming out just a little ways of Polo Beach at the resort and saw sea turtles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was HUGELY exciting because I was suuuuuper keen to see them at our Molokini Crater snorkel a couple days before but didn't see any... and we saw FIVE!!!!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!!






Well... yep. Gonna be hard to top that! We were swimming along and I quickly said to Michal "turtles!!! there's some turtles!!!" Little did I know there were three of them. I got some video as well as these photos, and then followed them around for a bit, at a distance. A bit later I found one more dude and he was awesome. Later on in the morning we saw one more! Yes!!

Here's the video of the turtles!

After about an hour of snorkeling, we headed out on the Hawaiian Outrigger boat trip that the Fairmont does as a free cultural experience. Pretty awesome stuff!! The guys running the boat were awesome and made it super easy for us to experience it. Before leaving he played a conch shell, like a train whistle!!! So awesome.

Getting in the boat was pretty simple, similar to a canoe (and we have lots of experience with that, #canada!), though the boat is a lot thinner than a canoe and has two stabilizers, one on each side. We went out into the bay a bit, and the dude in the back of the boat (the conch shell dude) told us he has been "on the water for the past 48 years of my life", and that he is now 54 years old. He told us all these cool stories as a kid and learning how to race these traditional Hawaiian boats. He said when you're young you try to show off and paddle as hard as possible, but then you learn how to "boat smarter" and "it's not that you're old and lazy, you're just smarter!!" haha. He laughed a lot and had a true joy for being on the water. He said how the best racers hardly paddle at all -- they mostly just know how to catch the right waves and currents and try to paddle as little as possible, saving their energy. "So if anyone asks, I'm not lazy, just smart!!" haha. Funny and awesome dude.




After getting out into an area near to where I saw the turtles earlier in the morning, they invited us to jump out of the boat and snorkel around a bit more. Sweet. I saw another turtle there, making it a total of 5 turtle sightings for the day. Magical. The water was super clear here like at Molokini a couple days prior.






After a great morning of water time, we enjoyed the truly legendary view outside of our balcony. Oof. That really does rock. And then a nice big brekkie at the buffet at the Fairmont, with expertly-made Omelettes, crazy-good guac, life-affirmingly-good smoked salmon, and a glass of the bright, odd and amazing "POG" (Pineapple Orange Guava) juice. All amazing.





We checked out of our rooms and headed for a super special end to this amazing 4-day trip, an oceanside couples massage!!!!!!! Totally crazy. It was a hot day and I was nervous about being too hot, so the amazing therapists made sure to cool me off every little while with a cool towel and it made for an even better experience. It was so fun and such a chill way to finish the trip. Michal and I both got what they call a "lomi lomi" massage, which is like a normal massage but very "swirly", lots of swirling hand moves and also a bit lighter and less pressure. It was awesome.



After that experience, we left relaxed and drifted our way towards the spa area, where we had some tea and I tried out the several different shower spray things and then used the millions of face cream options to shave. Good times!!

Ready for an afternoon snack before checkout, we headed back to Ko to say bye to our awesome bartender friend from a few nights before. We both got the "Oishi Roll" again (yay for afternoon happy hour on Sushi!!) and it was sooo gooood. We also headed up to Luana Lounge for some bar snacks and a french press of some 100% Kona Coffee. Mmm. Tasty and a super solid way to finalize the trip.



Time was edging closer to need to drop off the car and start heading to the airport, so we said farewell to our accommodations and headed back up to the airport area. First stop was the place I had been sooo psyched about and missed out on the day before, the legendary Tasaka Guri-Guri sherbet shop!!! We were happy (relieved?!) to find it open and scooping their distinctive flavours at old-world prices. 2 scoops? $1.30. 3 scoops? $1.95. 4 scoops? $2.55. I'm not made of stone (and the scoops are not insanely huge), so I went for a 4-scoop cup, 2 scoops of Pineapple and 2 scoops of Strawberry.

Here's some notes from Wikipedia about what this epic place is: Tasaka Guri-Guri is a small, family-owned shop located in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, specializing in a frozen dessert known as guri-guri. Guri-guri is a cross between sherbet and ice cream. It is typically made with a mixture of guava juice, any type of lime soda and condensed milk. Tasaka Guri-Guri is very protective of the recipe and has managed to keep it a family secret for decades.

And what an awesome place it is!!!!!!!!!!! The original name was "Goodie Goodie", but as the story goes, the Japanese immigrant family who started the business had some elderly Japanese customers who had trouble pronouncing the name, so they eventually renamed it to "Guri-Guri". It is sort of a cross between sherbet and ice cream, and was super fun and an awesome famous local Maui treat to try before heading home. We met Alex and Irina there and I was soooooo excited to try it. They pack it specially in quart containers since so many of the Hawaiian folks from other islands will pick up a tub and then transport it home to their own island, so they can pack it for a 2 or 4 hr airport trip :) What a fun and local place to visit, filled with history.





Uhhhhh soooo gooooood
So that was AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Had a great wrap-up of the trip with Alex and Irina and talked about all the fun we all had. It was great.

From there we had a bit of time left before dropping the car at the airport, so we got gas at Costco (win, like 50 cents/Gallon cheaper than anywhere else on the island -- local tip!) and also figured now was the right time to wander around in Costco and Target and take photos of fun local stuff. Also, I
"needed" to buy a huge bag of Macadamia nuts to take home and also a bag of Kona coffee, so Costco seemed the right spot for it. I had heard that the Maui Costco had a bunch of funny local stuff, and it was super awesome. I love walking around grocery stores in foreign countries -- and though Hawaii is still the USA -- this sure does have a lot of home-grown Hawaiian charm to it.


Right in the entrance -- snorkel masks!!
Surf boards at Costco was the last thing I would ever have expected to see. So awesome.


And, onto the fresh fish section...

Fresh Ono
Fresh Ahi Tuna
Costco Poke!!
So many cool things here.





Pineapples, of course

HUGE Papayas
Kona and Maui Coffee
"Baking" Macadamia Nuts!
An an entire crate of Macadamia Nuts

Huge Coconut Milk
Hawaiian Honey

Mmm... guava jelly
Spam!
Hmm... I think we need more Soya Sauce

Hawaiian Hot Sauces
Super fun Muana books
A kids book called "Lucky to live in Hawaii" -- no kidding!



Costco: when you need a new Kayak.
...or when you need a new "Chillax"-brand Hammock!
We finally found the Macadamia area!










Wow that stuff all looked amazing. I was good and just bought one bag of salted, roasted Macadamias and none of these bazillion chocolate covered ones or Kona Coffee milk chocolate ones (OMG). We had a great time wandering around there and checking out all the cool Hawaiian foods.

After filling up with gas, we headed to Tamura's!! There was another branch of Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors right there near the airport -- also known as the place for the best Poke in Maui! So we got another Poke bowl, this time a Spicy Shoyu and a Spicy Ahi Tuna, and packed it up to take it to the airport for dinner.

We headed to Target as well which sure was funny to see on Maui, but they also had a fair amount of fun Hawaiian touristy stuff to see, so it was fun to browse a little.








This hilarious light-up sign says "Hangry" on it -- we were getting a bit hangry by this point, so time to go drop off the rental car and head back to the airport.
We got to the airport, through security, and got my OTHER free Iced Coffee I had on my Starbucks app, so that was nice and went well with our super spicy Poke bowl dinner.

Sad to leave, but awesome dinner.

Funny coin-operated computers at the Maui airport. I feel like I haven't seen these since I was a kid. Was a blast from the past, for sure!

After an amazing trip, we were said to go, but... (fortunately?!)... our plane was delayed about 3 hours! So we got a little more time in Maui :) Was no big deal and we managed to get a good head-start on some work emails to smooth over the next morning back at work, so that was good. And by the time we got onto the plane, we were both so tired that we slept almost the entire way home. That's sortof just how this trip rolled: everything worked out perfectly, and it was just a totally awesome time, with great friends, amazing food, and magnificent nature.

Mahalo, Hawaii!!
Mike Jutan
6/11/2017