Serenity Swing hike

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Yesterday I started my day by discussing a project with Johanna and Courtney in our Sustainable Environments class. We are gonna put together a project proposal for a future project here in SLO. Courtney told us that after each school year and everyone has to move out of their places, everyone just throws everything away. They throw away stuff that new students will buy just a few months later. So we are gonna propose that a club will be started which will take care of this big waste of functioning things. In June, when school ends all of the things the students don’t want anymore will be picked up and stored during the summer for the new students to buy for a reasonable price when school starts up again for a month and then the leftovers will be donated to other organizations and the rest thrown away.

After that I was very restless so Kelsey suggested that I would go for a run. Why not? So I put on my workout clothes which has just been laying around for way too long and then decided to run to Serenity Swing and back. I actually walked most of the way up to the swing. I can’t run uphill with these stupid calves. And it was way too steep to run anyway. It was a real hike at the end. I was all alone up there, took a lot of beautiful pictures, rested for a while and then started walking back. But as soon as the steepest part was over I ran. And I kept running, all the way home. It felt good! But today it does not feel as good, I am so sore, especially my calves and hips. I walk like an old lady.

Serenity Swing SLO in the background.View from Serenity Swing over SLO 360 degree Serenity Swing

Then it was time to start studying. I have so much to do the next couple of weeks. So this upcoming week is Thanksgiving and we have a break from Tuesday. I am going with Kelsey to LA to hang out with her aunt and cousin for a few days. We are leaving on Tuesday and I will take the train back on Friday so I have the weekend in SLO. Because on Monday the week after (Dec 1st) I have a homework due, I am also meeting up with two different project groups that day so all my research for that has to be done. On Tuesday (Dec 2nd) I have a midterm, and on Wednesday one of the projects are due. On Thursday the other project is due and we are also presenting it at that time and in the afternoon I have a final. And in the upcoming week after that I have two more finals. But as soon as I am done with that I am off to the Caribbean for 23 days! I seriously can’t wait. But at the same time it sucks because that means that Kelsey is leaving and that is gonna be so sad…

I studied and pregamed at the same time which was a good combination. I actually got one of the projects almost done. Then Lauren, Kelsey, Ciara, and I went to a frat party with a Geek/Jock theme. One of the guys in our building invited us and we had a great time. I was a jock because I didn’t have any geeky clothes. And I am glad I went as a jock, everyone at the party was geeks. I got a lot of questions if I was on the basketball team, haha. That was funny. Ciara and Lauren left early so it was just me and Kelsey at the end. We walked home later and it was so much fun. We walked into a random house to use the bathroom and we took a break on the sidewalk. Fun times. When we came home, a lot of other guys stopped by and Kelsey and I cooked for all of us, haha. Scrambled eggs, bacon, bratwursts, and cornbread. A real feast at 3am.

Geek-Jock frat party Me ZBT partyThe black light was really cool! My hair and my nails were shining like crazy.

I don’t know if anything is happening tonight, but I wouldn’t say no if something came up. I have been studying today and I did some errands so I wouldn’t feel too bad about it.

Today I slept until noon and when I woke up my whole body was sore. I wasn’t that hungover, but my body hurt! My poor calves, hips and calves… But it was totally worth it! Lauren, Kelsey, and I (Rachel is in LA this whole weekend) went to Target where I bought hygiene products (small bottles of schampo, conditioner, soap, sun screen, and toothpaste and then a couple of extra empty bottles) for my trip. I am not bringing a check-in bag to that trip so I need to bring small things of everything, and pack smart. That will be a challenge. But I think I will make it. We had lunch, all of us from different restaurants, Lauren form Panera Bread, Kelsey McDonalds and I Panda Express. It felt great eating something unhealthy, and the Coke was the best part! Coke is the best drink for hangovers.

Mini things for my vacation

I got a package today and I think it is my Patagonia jacket (that was way fast) and I ordered a GoPro floaty so my GoPro doesn’t sink if I lose it in the water. It will definitely be worth $11.

Now I should go back to studying, I had a long enough break.

Haleakala Crater hike

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Wow, another amazing day is over and this time my whole body is so sore! A 12 mile hike is nothing to play with. And just so you know, 12 miles is approximately 20 kilometers. We started by driving up the big volcano, driving past the clouds by 4,000 feet up to an elevation of 10,000 feet (3000m). It was crazy being that far above the clouds! So the hike went like this. We started at 10,000 feet elevation. Hiked down into the crater to 7,000 feet, then through the crater and then up to an elevation of 8,000 feet where we got in the car and drove up to 10,000 feet again to watch the sunset above the clouds.

The first four miles were downhill 3,000 feet. And that was actually hard. It wasn’t super steep, but it was all sand so it was hard to walk. The second four miles was at the bottom of the crater and that landscape was otherworldly. It seriously looked like Mars!! All red and black sand, and big lava rocks everywhere. So amazingly cool! The last four miles were uphill and I thought they were gonna kill me. Our guide said that the “small” and flat uphill in the crater was just the warmup for the last four miles. That hill killed my calves so bad so I was afraid I wouldn’t make the last bit, but it was no problem at all. That last part was uphill all the time up the crater’s side but it was rocky and it was more climbing than walking. So I did fine! But at the end, the last 0.7 miles I saw the parked cars way up there and that’s when my thighs really started hurting! So typical, right at the end they start to give up. But I made it! And when I came up I totally fell down on the asphalt. The world were spinning around so bad. I did a little stretching and then waited in the car for the rest of the group to finish the hike.

When everyone was done we drove up to the top again to watch the sunset. It was ridiculously cold! I had one tank top (which I was hiking in and that was perfect, it was warm with a breeze, perfect hiking weather), one long sleeved t-shirt and two hoodies. I was like a Michelin man. I had Capri tights on and a towel wrapped around my legs up there and I wasn’t very cold actually. It wasn’t super cold, but maybe 7C? Sometimes there is snow up there because it’s so cold. And it makes sense with the high altitude.

To watch the sunset above the clouds was an experience! It looked like a big snow landscape. There are always clouds over the Hawaii islands and it got more during the evening. So we saw the sun disappear behind the clouds instead of the water. It was cool! But I was so happy when it was completely set so we could go back to the warm van and go back to the hostel.

Back at the hostel I sat in the hot tub for so long. Maybe 1.5 hours? It wasn’t as warm as two days ago when I almost fainted after, but today it was perfect and all the muscles were softening. It was awesome! A big party even if most of us were exhausted from the hike.

The hollows of my knees hurt so bad right now and I can imagine my butt and thighs are gonna hurt tomorrow. It’s a good thing the tour tomorrow starts at 1pm and is just gonna be a beach party with beach volleyball among other things. Now I really need to get to sleep, I’m sooo tired… like all the other days, except more tonight…

Our tour guides Our awesome tour guides, Marcos and Kaitlin.At the same height as the clouds At the same level as the clouds at 6,000 feet elevation. Me, Caroline and our roommate Sabrina.Haleakala Crater The Haleakala crater from above. Silversword plants The protected “Silversword plant” that only blooms once and then dies.Haleakala Crater Haleakala Crater Haleakala Crater, the world's end The world’s end!Haleakala Crater Lots of lava rocks!Haleakala Crater, up the mountain The last four miles started here! Still in a good mood :).Haleakala Crater The sunset from above the clouds :).
Haleakala CraterThe crazy road down the crater!

Road to Hana

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Wow! What a day!! I take back every bad thought I had about Maui yesterday. I am so glad we came to this hostel on a Monday around noon so we could sign up for this tour, it was amazing!! We saw lava rocks, turquoise water, black sand beach, red sand beach, bamboo forest, waterfalls, whales and swam in a freshwater cave. I will explain everything better under these headlines.

Road to HanaB was the Keanae Peninsula as well.

HANA HIGHWAY

This road was seriously ridiculous! You can compare it to Pacific Coast Highway 1 in California between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But this was crazier! It was sick! I just read online that it is 60 miles of scenic coastal road. It is extremely curvy and has around 620 curves and 59 bridges! I don’t get carsick but I was close today. I was very grateful that I didn’t have to drive that road and could enjoy the beautiful view. Bamboo were growing next to the road, palm trees, banana trees, beautiful red flowers. Big mountains on one side and the blue ocean on the other. It was amazing! On the way back we saw a lot of cats on the road. Someone in the van said that there are at least on cat per person on Maui. I should probably move there.Road to Hana Road to HanaSeven Sacred PoolsThe Seven Sacred Pools are part of Haleakala State Park, but we only stopped with the can for a few seconds to look at it.

KAENAE PENINSULA

Our first stop was for banana bread at a famous place called Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread. And it was delicious, just out of the oven and so moist! I and Caroline shared a loaf and that was a perfect breakfast since the pancake batter were out when we wanted to eat breakfast. One minute away from that place was such a beautiful peninsula with a lot of lava rocks and turquoise water. The contrast was so amazingly beautiful!! And the waves were big and white clouds of water splashed everywhere all the time. It was breathtaking!

Keanae Peninsula Keanae Peninsula

WAI’ANAPANAPA STATE PARK

The second stop was also completely taken out of a photoshopped picture of paradise. There were two parts of this stop and the first one for our van (two vans with like 12 people in each) was the black sand beach! I’ve never seen that and I was impressed by how black it actually was! The colors at this place was as beautiful and I just couldn’t believe what I saw. The black sand and lava rocks, the same awesome turquoise water and the green vegetation on the black lava rocks. I think the pictures speak for themselves! But as you all know, it is always more beautiful in real life and this place was truly amazing!

Wai'anapanapa State Park, Black Sand Beach Wai'anapanapa State Park Wai'anapanapa State Park

The second part of the stop was the Wai’anapanapa cave. I knew about it and had mentally prepared me for the experience. Because I knew I would regret it so bad if I chickened out. The cave is a freshwater cave you can swim through. I thought we were gonna have to swim underwater and that was what freaked me out a little bit. Swimming under water in a cave… Not exactly something safe. But apparently the water levels have been really low the last couple of months so that wasn’t  necessary. Puuh! BUT, it was still scary when our guide (who btw looked like the boy’s first grade teacher) told us that once we jumped through the little hole in the cave, there was no going back. Shit! I don’t like that sentence. But I actually wasn’t afraid and I didn’t have any second thoughts at all. I knew I wanted to do it and so many other people have done it so why not me? I felt a bit like Tris in the Divergent book when she at the Dauntless initiation had to jump off a roof into a black hole in the ground. I actually went first in the black hole in the cave.

Anyway, so here’s how the cave worked. First we had to jump down in to the pool. The water was cool, not too cold, maybe a little bit colder than the ocean in San Diego. The jump wasn’t high, it was like 1.5m maybe? Probably not even that. When we all were in the crystal clear water the guide and a guy went before me into a small tunnel. When I came in the second “room” of the cave the guide was pointing her flashlight at a tiny, tiny hole. It was a little jump of a few decimeters and below it was another room with a lower level of water and it was pitch dark in there. Since the second “room” were so small we had to go through the hole right away and I volunteered to go first. Crazy me! But I felt brave. In there I have to admit that I panicked a little. I was all alone in a black water cave, I had no idea how big it was, how low the ceiling was, what else could have been there in the dark with me. It wasn’t real bad, but it was scary. So I clung to the wall like a curled up baby and hung there until everyone was in the third “room”. My fingers hurt really bad after holding on to the lava rocks but I didn’t want to tramp water in there, it was scary. When we all were in there the guide swam first into an even smaller tunnel where I was afraid of hitting my head in the ceiling. I couldn’t see anything and I tried touching the wall all the time with my hand, but I had to swim at the same time. It wasn’t a very long tunnel, maybe 4m? And then we were done with the water. One last part before we could be out in the sun again. We had to climb out of that cave! And that was the scary part for real. The black cave was scary fun, I knew there weren’t any dangers there. But climbing up on a wet and sharp lava rock wall was scary. I tried going after the guide (she had the flashlight on the wall, but it didn’t reach all the way down to the water where we were) but I seriously couldn’t find anywhere to grasp. So I got back in the water and let another girl go ahead of me. And then I tried again. And, oh my god, I was so afraid of losing my grip and fall backwards and hit my head in the wall and probably die. I didn’t, but I was really scared and I scraped the front of my lower leg a little bit. When I got up and was safe my heart was trying to pound itself out of my chest and I was shaking. Not because of the cold water, but because of the adrenaline kick I had! That experience was the best thing ever. Such a rush and I felt so alive!! The rest of  the way up to the paved road was very slippery so the danger wasn’t over, but I climbed like a monkey, holding on to roots and did it. WOW!

Wai'anapanapa State Park CAVEThat’s me jumping in the cool freshwater. It was a little bit less than 2m deep.

There is a legend behind this cave and they say that a Hawaiian princess ran away from her cruel husband and hid in that cave. Her servant used a feather Kahili (a symbol of royalty) to fan the princess and the reflection in the water made the husband notice them and he killed the princess, coloring the cave all red. At certain times during the year the cave fills up with tiny red shrimp and some say it is a reminder of the blood of that princess.

Just when we got in the van to leave we spotted whales breaching pretty close to the beach so we watched them for a little while. They were way closer than the ones in San Diego. And on Friday I will see them even closer, like right next to the boat.

Whales!

BRADDAH HUTTS BBQ GRILL ISLAND STYLE

The third stop was lunch. Right when I was about to order they ran out of fish tacos and that was a real bummer, I’ve heard those are really good. So I took the BBQ chicken instead and that was probably the best barbecued chicken I’ve ever had. So amazing!!

HALEAKALA STATE PARK / PIPIWAI TRAIL (WAIMOKU FALLS)

Our fourth stop was the Haleakala State Park, where the big volcano crater is. But we went to another part of the park to do a hike in a bamboo forest and look at waterfalls. It was a pretty easy hike, two miles to the big waterfall and two miles back. It took us around 2 hours in total. In the beginning I was really afraid that my calves were gonna hurt and they did when we went up. But then it flattened out and the trail was actually like a real road with planks laid out. It was perfect. In the beginning of the hike there was a huuuge banyan tree! Those trees are so cool, with their trunks going in all directions and growing how they like.

Haleakala State Park, Pipiwai Trail, Banyan tree

The bamboo forest later on was pretty awesome! They were so high, so it was dark in there. We saw pools and tiny waterfalls on the way and it was just a very nice hike. At the end of the hike was Waimoku Falls which was a skinny but tall waterfall. It has a drop of about 400 feet (I don’t know how much that is in meters and I’m too tired to look it up, but it was pretty tall). The flow wasn’t that good, I think it was a while ago it rained here. Our guide said that the trail normally was all muddy but today it was really dry. It was like a giant wall there with a tiny pool where the water collected. It was dripping all along the wall and it was the same colors ad before. Black rock and green lush. It was really beautiful!

Haleakala State Park, Pipiwai Trail Haleakala State Park, Pipiwai Trail Tiny Caroline among the bamboo!Haleakala State Park, Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku FallsWaimoku falls at the end of Pipiwai Trail.

KAIHALULU RED SAND BEACH

The last stop was a red sand beach and it was also super cool! Now I’ve seen white, black (pink on Crete in Greece) and red beaches. On Big Island we will see a green one! It wasn’t just the color of the sand that was cool, it was a lot of lava rocks right outside the beach making like a pool in the small bay. The walls around the beach were massive. It probably would have been even more beautiful there if the sun would have been a little higher in the sky. It was just about to set behind the mountain.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

When we started our journey I learned why I thought Maui was so boring. There are a lot of sugar cane fields here and this part of the island has flat ground and therefore a lot of fields. It looks really boring. My roommates by the way, are nice. Except Caroline, I have a 22 year old Canadian girl and an older woman from New York. She talks a lot but she is nice. AND, I forgot to write something yesterday. When we were at the mall a guy came up to us and asked us if we were from Sweden. He said we looked really Swedish with our blond hair and blue eyes. Haha!

I think that was all today. It was an eventful day. I’m tired but had such an awesome time! When we got back to the hostel at 8:30pm the list for tomorrow’s tour was already full, but we wrote our name on the waiting list and are either hoping for dropouts or an extra car so we can go to Lahaina and snorkel with turtles at Black Rock! Otherwise we will take the bus to Lahaina. Black Rock is further away so we will probably just hang out at the old Hawaiian capital and then eat at hard Rock Café.

Diamond Head and TURTLES

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Another eventful day has come to its end. It started early with a pretty easy hike up the side of a crater. It was called Diamond Head State Monument and took one hour up and down. So not too bad, but it was hot so the sweat was everywhere anyway. The view during the whole hike was amazing. Mountain in the background, the ocean with the sun rising and the Koko Head Crater in the distance. That’s the big mountain we saw from Hanauma Bay the other day. The view from the top was incredible! We could see all of Honolulu and Waikiki and even as far as Pearl Harbor. It was so beautiful!

When we were done we took a quick look at the Farmer’s Market at the bottom of the crater at the University there. They had a lot of weird stuff like Apple Banana and Avocados the size of a baby’s head! I bought a slice of Hawaii’s Original Farmer’s Market Pizza. It was tomato, cheese and a basil pesto sauce. It was really good.

Back to the hostel to change into bikini and then off to Waikiki beach again. I didn’t get burned today but I did get a lot darker brown. Wonder how I will look after another two weeks. I am using sunscreen all the time. I’m alternating between 30 and 70.

Okay, so to the coolest thing that ever happened to me. In the afternoon I rented a paddleboard. One hour $20. And it was totally worth it. First I went out by myself and even if I actually could stand up with the big waves (today the waves were perfect for surfing, but because of the sharp rocks I resisted the urge to rent a surf board) it was nicer to be on my knees or sit criss-cross-applesauce (as my hostkids say). But, to see something you had to stand up, so when I realized there were some turtles swimming around I stood up and just went around. Didn’t see any though… When I went in to the beach (I was far out, really far out, but it is shallow and everyone else were out there too so it felt safe, and I don’t think there are many sharks here) to get Caroline I actually saw one! It was far away from me, but I definitely saw the shape of the turtle. It might have been around 1m from head to tail. I picked up Caroline so she was sitting on the board while I was paddling us out. And when we were out there we saw five more turtles and they were within touching distance, except that it is illegal to touch them! I seriously can’t believe I saw huge sea turtles right at Waikiki beach, right next to my board and they were also swimming under it. It was the most awesome thing I’ve ever been through!

We changed seats so I was sitting down with my legs and feet in the water looking out for more turtles. One of them were of course the biggest we saw and I’m not joking, I’m sure it was 1.5m from head to tail. It was huuuuge!! I cannot describe how it was to see and experience that. It was so awesome I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stop smiling and couldn’t stop saying all the time how fucking awesome it was!!

I returned the board and spent another 30 minutes in the water. It was a very hot day today, maybe 85F (I’m not very good at guessing temperatures, it was too warm to just be at the beach all day, you had to be in the water) so we spent a lot of time in the water. And then was when we saw the 7th and last turtle of the day. It was like 5m away from me and when I saw it I jumped and screamed and pointed (and squirting water at Caroline at the same time and scaring the shit out of her). If you thought I was excited about the dolphins in Cali… Haha, compared to today, I wasn’t!
I regret that I didn’t bring the underwater camera with me out. If I did I could have gotten some cool pictures of the turtles from above the water. But I will probably have time to get cool pictures of one of the most amazing animals in the world!

Back to the hotel at 5pm where a strange girl was laying on my bed. She had taken away my sheets, my pajamas and everything that was one by bed because she blindly believed the confused receptionist that she was supposed to have that bed. How can someone think that a bed is hers if stuff is on it still at 5pm when checkout is at 11am? I got it back but I had to put on the sheets again which was annoying… I took a shower and then go back to the beach to watch the Hula dance show. It wasn’t anything special but it is nice to have seen it.

We said goodbye to Jair who’s leaving tomorrow and then went to Cheesecake Factory. It was a two hour waiting, but we spent that time in souvenir shops. I probably shouldn’t have, but I bought two cute shot glasses, another bracelet for myself and an opal turtle necklace. And some Hawaiian candy. Now I’m done with shopping. I have some money, but I have to get everything home too.

We shared a Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic, my favorite there. And for dessert, and my 18th Cheesecake, we shared a Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake. We are on Hawaii!

Back to the hostel where I’ve planned tomorrow. We are gonna rent a car and drive around the island. Our first stop is gonna be a shave ice cream place that is supposed to be the best on the island. The next Turtle Bay, after that Chinaman’s Hat (Mokoli’i) and after that Pali Lookout and the rest of the day we are gonna spend at Kailua Beach. It will be a long but fun day 🙂

So now I really have to go to bed! Goodnight!

Diamond Head Crater Inside the crater.Diamond Head hike Diamond Head hike The crater with the mountains in the background.View from Diamond Head Honolulu and Waikiki from the top of Le’ahi Diamond Head State Monument.Honolulu+Waikiki from Diamond Head Diamond Head hike Farmer's Market Farmer’s market.Stand up paddling at WaikikiHula show on Waikiki Beach Duke Kahanamoku Statue Cheesecake Factory Honolulu Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake #18 Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake.Fancy VS store RoadtripThis is the trip we are gonna do tomorrow. Four hours of driving in total. Good thing we are starting at 8am!