Mountain Apple Crisp

We have been eating (and drinking) our way through as much local food as we can. There are a few farmers markets nearby, as well as some local vendors, that we try to frequent. It has also been fun to eat the bananas from the yard and pick the occasional lime.

Laie BeachWe were fortunate enough to run into a young German couple who were vacationing with their infant son. They were staying next door to us and after chatting for a bit we decided to cook a meal together. They would supply the meat and we would supply the not-meat. After a long day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and then Punaluu Black Sand Beach we did our meal planing while driving back to the house.

Our feast ended up being sausages, pork, tossed salad, peanut noodles, homemade salsa (with chips), rosemary bread, a chardonnay, a local Belgium-style ale, and some mountain apple crisp. We ate and hung out until midnight. It was some of the most enjoyable conversation and food we have had in ages.

Out in the town and up to see the waterfall

Beach County ParkYesterday I went out with mom, dad and Robin. We went to see the waterfall that is really close to the house that we are renting. Mom found the house online on airbnb. While we were at the falls, there was a man there with his daughter. They told us about a great hotel that serves a brunch. I would like to go but it would be too long to wait for me to eat my first meal.

The water looked really fun to go into but you need to have water shoes so that the ground does not hurt your feet.  I don’t have water shoes but in Hawaii there should be a spot where you can buy water shoes. I hope that all four of us get water shoes so that we can all go into the stream.

I then went in to town with mom, dad, and Robin. We all got out to wander around. There were a lot of people around for me. Dad took my sunglass so that they would not get lost in the jostle of people. These are new sunglass that go over my glasses. I got them in Vancouver because somewhere from Halifax to Vancouver my other pair had gone missing. That is all right. I got new ones that I like even more.

Swimming in a Waterfall

I love swimming, I have been trying to go swimming once or twice a day. The places I am swimming most commonly is Sunset Beach. Robin WaterfallBut, I recently went for a swim in a waterfall’s pool. This was the first time I ever went swimming in a waterfall. Anyone who went swimming there had the option of jumping off the waterfall, so long as they didn’t go to high. I obviously did so. It took me a long time to be able to climb the waterfall. I tried four times with no success. Then a girl there showed me where to grab so I could hold on through the current. It took me a few more tries before I got it right but I did it, after many scrapes and bruises from falling and slipping. Ow. But, it was worth it. Once I knew how, I wouldn’t stop. I jumped off at least ten times–probably more. It was so much fun, especially because I would sink with a life vest on.

While in the pool, everybody had to wear a life vest because at it’s deepest the pool is about thirty feet deep. The girl who showed me how to climb the waterfall was really kind and we ended up talking for most the rest of the time we spent swimming. I stayed in until we were both told to get out. If I could, I would go back again. But, unfortunately, we are leaving Oahu and won’t go back. But the girl and I may meet up again and we made plans to get in touch when we are back in Oahu in two weeks. The whole experience was incredible and irreplaceable, at least in my opinion.

Pounders

So, what happens when you play in the waves at a beach the locals call “Pounders”? Well, you have a wonderful time as long as you stay away from the big waves.

Laie BeachRobin and I decided it would be a good idea to go for a short run from our place in Laie down to Laie Beach Park, aka Pounders. And that is what we did. We ran down to the beach and then played in the smaller waves … but small waves can be a bit boring. With no adult supervision to keep us from being fools, we decided to venture over to where the locals bodysurfed and otherwise played.

The first wave knocked us on our butts. This was before we managed to get into water that was above our thighs. I want to point out that I have never been in larger waves. The biggest waves I have been in on PEI might have been the size of the one that knocked us down. A wiser man (or daughter) might have turned around at this point. We battled on. The second wave was not bad. The third was pretty okay. It was easy. It was time to try a little bodysurfing on a real wave.

Our wave was obvious. The water level dropped to waist level and the sucking began around our legs. Looking back, all we could see was water coming toward us. We dropped our heads and swam. At this point, I can only speak from personal experience. I swam as hard as I could and felt my legs rise as the wave caught up to me. I sped up and for just a moment, I was flying on top of the water. The next thing I remember was doing (what I could only assume were awesome) summersaults until I was completely disoriented. The only reason I knew which way was up was because I was lying on the bottom. I staggered over to Robin shaking away the cobwebs (is there a water-addled version of cobwebs?) and we started back to try again. She had experienced a similar fate.

Laie BeachIt was not until we were preparing to try again that Robin pointed out that I had lost the right side of my bathing shorts. My modesty was still intact but I was uncertain how many repeats I could withstand. As I mentioned, we had run down to the beach and did not bring any extra clothing. We decided to try one more in the “pounders” and then head back to the smaller waves. I refuse to call it a defeat, merely a tactical retreat.

Eventually, Janet and Sarah came by (we were planning on meeting there) and I convinced them, through some minor laughs, that they could bring me back a pair of shorts a bit later.

Out to Foodland and to get a Cool drink

Yesterday I went out with mom. We went for a drive. The car is very hot so you have to put on the AC to 70 or high 60s to keep you cool. When we were in the car we stopped at a Foodland and went in to pick up some groceries. It was really cool in the store. I did not what to leave the store, but I did when mom said that it was time to leave. Then went for a drive in the car. When we got to a spot that sold cool drinks, mom and I went in to get a drink. I got a pineapple smoothy and mom got a cold coffee.

Robin and mom went to a beach. I said no because I have a bad sunburn on my feet. It is from the boat expedition to watch the dolphins. I will go to the beach today and I will be careful on how mach sun I get. Foodland reminds me of a grocery store that is not Costco. The cart are a good size for me to push. That is great for me. That is all for now.

First Dip

We dragged our bodies across seven time zones and dumped them just outside the town of Laie, Hawaii. My alarm clock went off telling me to get up for work just as I was falling into bed. Alarm was stifled and bed was heavenly. A mere five hours later I was roused by what I would have sworn was a rooster.

Turns out it was a rooster. He had friends, or perhaps they were his rivals. I am thinking rivals as they proceeded to crow in the morning with roughy the same enthusiasm that I was reserving to hunt them down. Fortunately, exhaustion overcame cock-a-doodle-doo-ing and vengeful thoughts and my next consciousness thoughts came at 11:30 when I woke up to a chilled coconut with a straw in it. Life is good.

Laie BeachA quick bowl of beef curry and back to sleep until just after 3:00.

You may have noticed that there was some magic there. Coconut and beef curry magic came courtesy of Janet and the girls. While I slept, they were getting food (and jewelry?) and touring the area. They also found beaches.

Actually, finding a beach in Hawaii is a lot like finding red mud on PEI.

Jan and I took a walk along Laie Beach Park before supper and it is beautiful. Search for words, think of superlatives, looking at the white sand wrapping rolling waves against a mountainous backdrop can give pause to curmudgeon or poet. We stopped to talk with a couple of guys who were fishing in the surf (catching nothing but a cold–fishing humour is universal). They told us a little about the area and were jealous of us going to the Big Island as, apparently, there are lots of fish there.

Just before bedtime all four of us took a five minute walk to Hukilau Beach and played in the waves. I was remained of every trip to the north shore of PEI as a kid, but with warmer water. I played. The waves were very big and we were tossed around like pale buoys as we body-surfed and swallowed sand.

It will take more than roosters to rouse us tomorrow.

Starting a New Adventure

It’s been four years since we last travelled and now we are starting a new journey. My family and I are staying in Hawaii for a month. Yesterday and the day before we got all the flights out of the way and we are now on Oahu. It’s a given that jetlag really sucks, my body is telling me to wake up at four in the morning here instead of ten as it would have been in Halifax.

After I woke up way too early at five am, Sarah, mom and I went down and saw the beach. Wow. That is the one word I can think of too describe it; the water was warm and the temperature warranted shorts and a tank top. One thing that truly amazed me is that the water was so clear and clean and I could see there was almost no pollution. As we were walking other people were walking, running and fishing along the coast. It was incredible to see all the coral which had broken off and washed ashore. To be honest I never knew how coral was meant too look, I thought it was bright vibrant reds and oranges. Instead it was a dullish gray and white.

imgresIt’s a very hot day today so we spent most of it inside where it is cool. I personally slept a lot after we got back from the beach. I only really left around ten to go with mom to get groceries. While we were at the store there were wild chickens. There are a lot of new birds around, almost all of which I haven’t seen prior to today. I saw a lot of birds but couldn’t even start to put names to them – except for the chickens. We walked a bit today and that’s when I saw many of these birds. In Halifax the only birds I really see are seagulls, pigeons, and starlings. Here there is a huge variety of birds.

While we were walking both times, I noticed that there are almost no sidewalks. The only time I saw a side walk was over a bridge and at busy street crossings. This strikes me as odd, mostly everywhere in Halifax has sidewalks. This really makes me wonder whether they are necessary. Yes in many places we are kept safe because of them but I was not killed walking today.

I really hope that at some point today we will get to go swimming at the beach. If not today, then tomorrow. It would be really cool if we could swim once in the morning before breakfast and once in the evening after supper each day. We can’t really swim mid-morning to mid-afternoon because the sun’s rays would be too direct, and we would be burnt to a crisp (metaphorically speaking).

Out to the Beach and wanting to eat that bird for a meal!

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Yesterday I went to the beach and put my feet in to the water for Ms. Barkhouse. The water felt nice and warm. Here is a picture of the water for you all to see. Then that night, I went back to the beach with my mom, Robin and my father and we were all playing in the waves. Robin and Dad where surfing in the waves. My dad would like to learn how to surf and I think Robin would to join him in the lessons. The waves were really strong and kept pulling me under the water.
Yesterday I went out with mom for a while. We got a chicken for a meal to make my dad laugh because he said that he wanted to eat the bird that would not stop making noise outside. So mom and I what to the grocery store and when saw a chicken so we bought it. Then we went for a drive and we stopped at a restaurant and went inside to get some food. When we were inside, Mom saw the loco moco. I did not get that dish. If anyone does not know what it is, here is what it is. It is hamburger patties top with fried eggs and it get better; macaroni salad and rice. That does not sound as though it is a delish dish. If you come to Hawaii, I would not recommend that you get it to eat. Order the dish and take a picture of it then leave that dish alone! Here is the Hawaii song that I wrote with Anna who is my music therapist. That is all for now.

Mom and dad joked that the roosters in the morning made them think of a song called “The call of the wrecking ball” by a band called X. They even played the song for Robin and me.

Lasting impressions

We are leaving Enniscrone tomorrow for Dublin. We have been here almost eight weeks. Our original plan was to choose a small and inexpensive place in Ireland to kill some time before we could head back to Continental Europe to continue our adventure. We had not really planned on staying here as long as we did. In fact, when we finally decided to leave we ended up choosing to stay here for yet another week before heading out.

This is a very pleasant place. We have been told by some people local to here that it is a much more pleasant place after the rush of tourist season passes. Living on PEI, I can understand that sentiment. There is a stress associated with the tourist season that (personally) tends to result in a tiredness with the busier pace and anticipation for the end of the season. Given that part of my livelihood comes from visitors to PEI I do not want to give the impression that I do not like tourism–I like it a great deal–it is just not as “laid back” as those few months in the fall when the weather is still warm and the back roads are empty.

Enniscrone is much like that. This is a slow town in a beautiful location. It is not a rich place. There is a lot of farming: we look out our windows at the beach, the church, the gym / pool, castle ruins, and cattle grazing. From the town office, a walk of 500 metres will allow one to pray, work out, surf, or milk a cow. The people are friendly and Ballina is a few minutes away if there is a need for more city-like amenities. I like it here.

There have been many memorable moments in Enniscrone. I could ramble about most of the ones in the following list for an uncomfortably long time. Because we are packing today I will suffice to list them out with a few notes and maybe have the chance to come back to some of them later. While in Enniscrone we

  • drove on Irish roads – this will remain with me for the rest of my life. The roads are small, winding, and staggeringly beautiful–at least some of them are. Roundabouts are a way of life and seem to work very well. Using them regularly came to make perfect sense. That was about all that made sense on the roads as all other rules appeared to be “guidelines”. We encountered cars parked (PARKED!) facing the wrong direction in the centre of one lane of the roadway. I ceased to be surprised by what I saw.
  • walked on ground containing the evidence of civilization from over 6000 years ago – I have not been able to figure out why I felt so in awe of these remnants of ancient people. In many ways these were just piles of rocks in astounding surroundings; there is really something special about Céide Fields. There are also ruins outside of our window in Enniscrone with cattle grazing through them.
  • ate blackberries from the hedgerows – blackberries are everywhere along the side of the roads. Our walks in the mornings would take us along the roadways were we could stop and pick berries to eat on the way or to put in pancakes when we returned.
  • allowed the girls to wander about without us around – because we live on a large plot of land at home, the girls can wander around our place for hours and not leave our “yard”. They are perfectly capable to do this but the feeling of having them go to the shops by themselves or go out playing around the town with their friends was different. It felt like they were getting that much more ready to take care of themselves
  • have walked on the beach – the beach is large, the sand is firm, and the water is beautiful. Many people walk their dogs in the mornings and a few ride horses. The decent to the beach from the roadway near our house is about 20 metres of stairs or sloping walkway. The occasional pile of horse apples has been found on the concrete walkway down to the beach.
  • struggled with the accent – there is some Irish spoken here and one of the television channels has a number of Irish programs. Some of the English spoken here is in such a strong accent to my ears that I cannot tell it from Irish except that close listening will allow me to pick out English words that are not proper nouns and so are likely part of an English sentence. When we buy our meat we cannot understand what the butcher says to us–we speak to him in English and I think he speaks to us in English (picking out some words) yet we have to look at the numbers on the till to figure out how much we owe.
  • found the meat and fish to be excellent – the meat and fish at the butcher shop is labelled by farm, location, and the name of the farmer. We had supper with a local lady who farms and she described the tracking that must be done with individual animals and it is very impressive. She did not feel it was excessive or overly bureaucratic. It was a way to show pride in her produce.
  • noticed that schoolchildren all wear uniforms and many are in single sex schools – the differences from schools on PEI does not seem to have affected the general attitudes of schoolchildren in either country.
  • watched some GAA matches on television and in the field behind our house – I am fond of Gaelic football and was able to watch (on television) the final playoff matches. I have seen less hurling and cannot appreciate it as much–it is amazing to watch, though. One of the girls that Robin and Sarah play with is on a football team so they got to play with the ball some and learned a little more about the game too.
  • used the public library a lot – Jan counted up the books we have read while we were in Enniscrone and it is over 30. The library service allowed us to order books to be brought into Enniscrone from other libraries and they arrived usually within three days. Both librarians were lovely and very helpful
  • saw a lot of concrete block construction – wood appears to be used to frame the roof and concrete blocks are used everywhere else. Older buildings are stone and concrete (sometimes appearing to be something between poured concerete and laid stones). By PEI standards there is an enormous amount of concrete and stone work. Akin to the work of amateur carpenters at home, not all of the stone fences and walls are exactly straight.

These are the main things that come to mind. Jan and I went for a walk along the beach on the way home from the butcher shop this afternoon and I took a few more pictures. I attempted to make a panoramic view from the beach and even that does not do justice to the area. I am excited to move on and continue with the rest of our vacation but I will miss Enniscrone.

The walking man walks

We are doing a lot of walking. As we approach an almost normal routine (I have noticed that we are using the word “home” much more to describe where we are staying in Enniscrone) our trips and adventures are limited to a much smaller radius from … home.

This past weekend was the Enniscrone walking festival where a number of walking excursions were organized with guides to lead us around the beaten paths. We all went on a historical walk around Enniscrone on Saturday (the girls went on a walk with the local school on Friday for a walk down the beach). There was a moment on the walk where we were standing in the ruins of an old castle (mid-1600s) where the guide pointed a a spot about 500 metres away and mentioned that the pile of stones was a Bronze Age tomb. In front of that tomb about 100 metres was a Stone Age tomb. Turning about 45 degrees to the left and looking aback about another 400 metres was a circular living area–possibly for animals–from the Bronze Age. The castle we were standing in–having climbed under the electrified cattle fence and over the people-please-do-not-enter fence–was the second rebuilding of a castle that was originally built on a circular fort from the Bronze Age. We had to step around cow dung because this stuff is so common around here that cattle graze on 5000-year-old artifacts.

Coupled with this was the ability to track ownership of the land back well over a thousand years through church, court, and tribal records. I cannot remember the details of the history; it was too much for me to maintain when my brain was being awed by what I could see around me. You can get a bit more information by clicking on the image above. The picture has Valentine’s church in the foreground and the castle in the background.

One thing I did remember was that there was an old castle just beyond Land’s End that was falling into the ocean. The landowner would not let anybody view the castle on his land but it could be seen from the beach at low tide. When I eventually took my walk to see the castle I was rather underwhelmed. The only thing that looked made by humans along the beach was the bit of wall in the photograph above. Compared to standing on the hill in the ruined castle it was a bit of an anti-climax. For a quiet little tourist town where the houses all try to face the beach, this place has an amazing historical richness.