The Gathering Isle

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I won’t lie, 2012 was an unbelievably stressful year in the Arserio household. So when the idea of a vacation came up, we knew we wanted to go back to Hawaii. Sometimes, there’s nothing like going home again, and Oahu was home for a few years. It’s the perfect vacation. We didn’t need to run around seeing all the sites. Instead we could chill and do all the things we missed doing. And, for the most part, we got this vacation right. It wasn’t quite as chilled as I’d envisioned, but close enough.

We returned to Oahu since we’d spent the bulk of our years on Hawaii on the gathering isle, and frankly Maui is a little too expensive for those last minute vacations. We even stayed in the town we lived in, Kailua. Ah, what to say of Kailua. If you ever visit Oahu and don’t want to stay in Waikiki or all the way on the North Shore, Kailua is the perfect option. Dreamy beaches, stunning views, and easy access to town.

We stayed in Kailuana at a little B&B. The house was just a stone’s throw away from where the President spends his vacations (seriously, the owner rents out his house to the Navy Seals when the Obama’s are in town), but more importantly, it was just a stone’s throw away from where one of the heads of Pixar lives! It wasn’t a traditional B&B. No breakfast, but there’s a kitchenette and the hosts are very welcoming. We spent many an evening just hanging out with the owners, Doug and Bird, and their friends. The house sits on a canal that leads to the open water, and at night you can go down and see all the sea turtles sleeping in the canal. We counted 14, which is actually pretty low according to the owners. Still, we weren’t exactly complaining.

Our main hope was to do some whale watching from shore, and boy did we get lucky with that. On our first day, we visited a spot called Spitting Caves, and had two humpbacks pop up close to shore. We didn’t get to see them that close again, but we did get to see plenty of breaches and even watched a competition pod as they fought for the attention of female humpbacks. I miss whale watching. You can see whales from shore in Seattle, but it takes a bit more work.

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Being winter we had to chase the sunshine a little bit. It’s always a little rainier on the windward side of the island. So we took trips up the North Shore and spent a lot of time near Spitting Caves and Lanai Lookout, both of which are excellent for whale watching. We caught up with some old friends, which was nice. But what was really cool was realising the owner of Agnes, our favourite Portugese bake shop in Kailua, actually remembered us after four years away.

Mmm, thinking of Agnes just makes me hungry for malasadas. If you’re on Oahu, definitely try Agnes or Leonards for malasadas, which are basically Portugese doughnuts. We also hit Waiola shave ice for the yummiest, finest shave ice on the island. Seriously, if anyone tells you that you have to go up to the North Shore to get good shave ice, don’t believe them, Waiola in Honolulu is where it’s at.

We saw so much wildlife on this trip. Part of it is that we’re pretty lucky that way, part of it is we know to keep our eyes open. We saw whales, of course, monk seals which are very rare on Oahu, and of course the sea turtles. We also got to see some mongoose, but I never could get them to stay still long enough to get a picture. And we spotted a wild boar which was pretty cool since I’d never seen one before.

We didn’t want to do a whole lot of “activities” per se. We’ve done places like the Arizona Memorial and Sea Life Park many times, so why bother. We did take a kayak out to the “Mokes” which is one of the bird islands located just off Kailua beach. And we did a sub scooter ride which was a unique experience. You ride around on this little scooter thing about ten feet under the water, with your head in a helmet. The only way I can describe it is like being in a fishbowl with the fish on the outside. It was different, and definitely worth doing, but having snorkeled and scuba’d in Maui, I would still say that that is hands down the better experience.

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Speaking of Maui, we’re already plotting a trip there next winter. I love both islands. We lived on both islands. But for whale watching and swimming with turtles, it can only be Maui.

Not much to say in other news really. I had thought I might do some writing while on Oahu but I didn’t. What can I say, too busy taking sunrise strolls on the beach. I am excited to say that Shatterer book one is complete, and will be almost finished on the website in another couple of months. February I’m going to take a breather and work on something else, before working on getting Shatterer of Worlds published. Don’t know what I’ll be writing about except that it won’t be science fiction.

Thank goodness for vacations….

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