Monday, August 31, 2009

New Adventure

Yesterday Marc and I drove (in two cars) down to Dupont with a car load full of stuff. I unloaded all of my boxes and then he and I went to dinner at a nearby pizza restaurant (I had salad). I've been so anxious the past week that I've had very little appetite, but it was a pretty good salad. Then before I knew it he was driving away and I was left to start my new adventure. I will say, living here is not exactly roughing it. I have my own bathroom and bedroom next to the den where there is internet access and all of it overlooks a nice golf course and Mt Rainier. Vicki, my roommate, reminds me of my own mom and is always trying to take care of me, making sure I know where to go, asking if I'm hungry etc. As I relax into this new situation I'm slowly getting my appetite back, but I've shrunk my stomach so that I can't seem to eat very much at one time-- I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing!

I didn't sleep very well last night-- not surprising given a big day today plus an unfamiliar bed, but by the time I went to bed I was no longer anxious and woke up feeling pretty calm-- mainly because I realized we just have class this week and that I'm going to be just fine staying here.

On Saturday Marc and I got new cell phones and unlimited text messaging and it's fantastic-- neither of us necessarily likes to talk on the phone forever, but we always have little updates to share throughout the day and we text each other all evening and whenever I get a break during the day. It makes him seem less far away.

The food situation is interesting because I shopped for groceries when I had zero appetite and most food sounded terrible, so I don't think I quite brought enough of the right things. This morning I had my usual smoothie, for lunch I brought a pinto bean, lettuce, tomato and olive salad (I don't have enough olives to make it through the whole week though). And dinner I made potatoes, chicken sausage and salad, but cooking dinner and cleaning up took way longer than I'm going to have when we get longer shifts. By Thursday I might be eating oatmeal for dinner. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away in Lacey, which means fighting traffic on the freeway to go there, so I'm trying to make it to the weekend without needing to shop. Overall though, I'm settling into things and feeling better.

EDITED (link should work now). For more on my first day at my internship, you can read my new blog here:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Moving Day

Today I'm packing up the most essential of my belongings-- computer, internship wardrobe, a few key textbooks, put them all in my beat up Jeep and drive 90 minutes South to Dupont, because tomorrow is the day when five years of studying culminates and I begin my practical education-- whether I'm ready or not.

My living arrangements came together finally and beautifully. I met my friend Stephanie in seventh grade-- neither of us remembers if we first became friends because our flute teacher put us together to play duets, or because we went to the same church youth group, but either way, we've been friends ever since. It has been my extreme good fortune that Stephanie's mom works as a nurse at Madigan, where I will be doing my internship, and has graciously offered to let me live at her house only a few miles from the base for minimal rent.

I also know I am incredibly lucky to have an internship in-state at all, and it would be much harder if I were packing up and moving to Texas or Idaho or who knows where else. I am very lucky that every weekend I will be able to come home and see Marc and my chickens and come back to my life.

Never-the-less, I am feeling sad. Other than one miserable year in a dorm with a roommate I disliked, I have never even *kind of* been on my own before. Marc and I moved in together 10 years ago, when I was 19. The longest we have ever been apart is 3 weeks, when Marc had to do job training in Texas. He is my support system, my biggest cheerleader and my safety net. While I know he is still here for me, only an hour and change away I am feeling vulnerable not to have him to come home to every night.

Oh the other hand, it will be very good in some ways as I will have fewer distractions in the evening as the inevitable mountains of homework and preparation add up, I will have nothing but dietetics to draw my focus.

On top of this, I am missing my Bastyr friends-- it is scary to go into this new and intense phase of my education without them-- where is Laura to explain the mechanism to me when I forget and Reed to simultaneously know the answer, correct the professor and make me laugh, and Laine to get mad at Reed for all of the above? Who is going to greet me in the mornings drinking murky beverages from jars or get irate about the state of agriculture in America over lunch? The world outside the Bastyr bubble is a bittersweet one-- it is what we all worked so hard to achieve and yet in order to get what we wanted we have to leave behind something equally special.

So it with is this confusing mix of anticipation, gratitude, apprehension and a little bit of sadness that I embark on this new journey. On top of all of this-- my father-in-law is in the hospital in Los Angeles, having had a heart attack while on a business trip and has been diagnosed with a bacterial blood infection. Though his prognosis seems good, it feels wrong to leave my family during this time of crisis, and yet leaving is exactly what I have to do.

I have no doubt this will be a year of great growth, not only professionally but personally, as I learn to navigate the world much more on my own than I ever have been before.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weird Symptoms

About a month ago I had several days of dizzy spells and weird headaches. I thought this was due to something I was eating or allergies. Yesterday it came back with a vengeance-- I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I could have eaten (because I'm a nutritionist so of course everything is caused by food in my mind) to have caused this. I had a couple meals out this week and it started not long after having lunch out with friends, but I had chicken salad with raspberry vinagrette, and I didn't have any food allergy symptoms so that seemed unlikely. Finally it clicked-- one month ago I had the first of the Hepatitis B vaccine series, and on Tuesday I had the second dose-- the symptoms are most likely related to the vaccine, especially given my wild over sensitivity to everything. I felt so bad yesterday that I ended up having to miss a friend's bridal shower last night.

Yesterday in trying to figure out what was wrong with me I tested my blood glucose (I have a monitor and a few test strips I got for free at the ADA conference). After eating it was 103, which is completely fine, though a little higher than I like to see. (More on this in a minute). The last couple days I've also had very little appetite- yesterday I had a smoothie for breakfast and a kombucha and about 4 almonds at lunch time and didn't feel like eating again until dinner (which was gluten-free spaghetti with chicken sausage and kale) and a sorbet bar.

This morning I got up around 8:30 and was curious about my fasting blood sugar so I tested again before eating. It took a couple tries (it took so long for me to prick my finger that the tester timed out) but when I finally got a reading it was 113!! Fasting blood glucose between 100-124 is pre-diabetes. I had this test done properly in a lab last November and it was upper 90s I remember. It could be just a fluke-- I will test again tomorrow, and it could be another side effect of my body trying to get rid of the yucky vaccine, but it also serves as a warning that I need to get myself back into a regular exercise routine and eat protein at every meal like a good girl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gluten-Free Berry Cobbler

All summer I have been working on perfecting my berry cobbler. I started with this recipe but it was missing something. After a number of tweaks I think I have it just about perfect. A note: you could probably substitute arrowroot instead of the cornstarch to avoid supporting genetically modified foods (since I've never seen non-GMO cornstarch)-- I just don't have any arrowroot on hand . Sometime I will try making this with all Rapadura (which is minimally processed sugar cane) instead of the brown sugar, but I haven't gotten there yet.


4 cups fruit-- I use two or three kinds of berries
1 Tablespoon Florida crystals/evaporated cane juice
1.5 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup water
1 T sweet vinegar (I used fig vinegar)

Mix all the ingredients except the fruit together first, then add to the fruit and mix throughly.

3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened (by all means, use real butter if you aren't allergic to it like me)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Rapadura
1 cup gluten free oats
1/3 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all of the above and then spread fruit mixture into a 9 x 9 glass pan and spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lazy and liking it

This is the first time in at least two years, maybe longer where I have had enough time to just do nothing, without being so completely exhausted to enjoy it. Since we returned from vacation I have been watching movies, gardening, reading and hanging out with friends. The most surprising thing has been that I have been eating pretty much whatever I feel like. Obviously minus allergens, I have pretty much ignored every self-imposed rule I ever had. I have been eating cold cereal for random meals like a college kid (well, it's organic crispy brown rice with almond milk, so maybe not exactly like a college kid) ever since we got back from Hawaii (it's not the same without the papaya, but berries and bananas in it work too). Almost every night I stay up reading while drinking wine and eating chocolate covered macadamias we brought back from Hawaii (I had a hell of a time finding some that didn't have corn syrup or milk in them). Not to say that it's been all bad-- I made vegan pesto this week and served it on brown rice pasta and chicken. I've been eating a lot of burritos with organic refried beans, tomatoes, salsa and greens. On the days I don't eat cereal in the morning I have a big smoothie with kale and collards from my garden in it. It has been an interesting experiment. What's good: without me constantly trying to eliminate things like starch and sugar from my diet I am less likely to go crazy on them, knowing I can have them when I want. I have not once overeaten or eaten past fullness in three weeks. I eat until I'm full and then I stop. Despite all the sugar and carbs and alcohol my weight has stayed pretty stable or maybe even gone down slightly. What's bad: I have headaches almost every day and I'm not sure what is causing them. When I go too long without food after having had just starch like cereal for breakfast I get shaky and brain dead way faster than if I had eaten a balanced meal. I've had chronic sore throats on and off most of the summer, and my brain isn't working very well. I also don't wake up feeling rested, which I am guessing is due to drinking wine every night. Most of these are signs that I'm not balancing my blood sugar very well and that likely the sugar or some other additive in the processed foods I've been eating is effecting me negatively. Also, other than some gardening I haven't gotten any exercise since we got back from vacation.

Somewhere in the midst of these extremes is a place of balance that I need to find. I can not go into my internship with a carb hangover (or the regular kind of hangover for that matter) but at the same time it's so much healthier for me not to be so compulsive and controlling about what I eat. Some time soon I hope to find where that balance is-- in the mean time it has been a very interesting experiment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

EGGS! And a zoo day

Last night after dark we were putting our silly chickens to bed (from the tree where they were roosted as usual) when Marc called me over to the back of the chicken house, claiming that Roxie wanted me to say goodnight to her. When I got there he pointed to a row of four, tiny perfect eggs! I was stunned speechless. I wasn't expecting eggs for a good month at least, and these were so small, robin egg sized. This morning I took these pictures, though I should have put them in my hand so you would have some sense of the size. We went back out later in the morning to try and take another picture and were surprised to find their Mommy sitting on them. I was certain the first eggs would come from Liz Lemon or Skittles, as they are the most mature seeming and top of the pecking order. Imagine my surprise to find my little, sweet-natured Phoenix Olive sitting on her eggs! Phoenix chickens, according to my research, aren't very reliable egg layers-- people mostly keep them because they are pretty. I have no idea how often she is laying--we were gone a week and haven't been checking closely in their house so who knows how long they've been there. We were just talking about setting up proper laying boxes, and here we found eggs!

Today Marc and I went to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. We had fun visiting all the different animals, and especially enjoyed the aquarium which had a fabulous exhibit of all local fish in a big tank environment. Marc was ravenous so we left the park in search of food and stumbled across a place serving Bison burgers. We each had one, mine was without the bun and I'm sure they probably thought I was on a low-carb diet. It was good, though very hard to eat with only a plastic fork. Afterwards we went to my friend Zanna's birthday party which was in Point Defiance Park. It was really fun to catch up with some of my old friends and I was really glad we had that burger because I ended up only eating a handful of chips and a few cherries (and a glass of wine) at the BBQ. The sun finally came back and we had a really great day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Vashon Island Adventure

On Thursday I went with two girlfriends to Vashon Island, an island near Seattle in the Puget Sound. I hadn't been there in a dozen or more years-- I used to go to music camp there when I was in middle and high school. Today we had a very relaxed agenda. I met the girls at Theresa's house-- Theresa is one of my Bastyr friends. Our third group member, Nicole, is a first year student at Bastyr and a co-worker of Theresa's at Swedish hospital. We three got on swimmingly. We drove to West Seattle to catch a ferry, and after a quick 15 minute ride we were there.

Our first stop was a country store where we could pick blueberries. We got our paper bags from the cashier who proclaimed us ambitious for each wanting our own bag. Once we got to the blueberries we understood why-- there weren't enough berries to easily pick in volume-- many were small or not quite ripe. Nicole was more focused than Theresa and I and dutifully stayed at each bush picking the bush until there were none left. Theresa and I flitted from bush to bush, picking a few from each before losing interest and moving on to the next-- we chatted and snacked as we picked. In the end Nicole had picked four pounds to Theresa and my two. The weather was surprisingly Fall like-- after so many extraordinarily hot days, we seem to have used up our summer and have been plunged into Autumn-- it was in the 60s and raining. I wore a light sweater and jacket with Jeans.

After our berry picking we had lunch at a Restaurant called the Monkey Tree. The choices were limited for me, since even a promising salad had soy sauce in the dressing (which contains wheat). I settled on a black bean, corn and avocado salad, even though my digestion has not been terribly pleased with corn lately. The salad was good, although a little heavy in cilantro for my taste and I paid for the corn later. Theresa and Nicole shared an open face sandwich and black bean cakes which they proclaimed delicious, if rather rich (a lot of cheese was involved).

At the tiny restaurant we ate outside in a little courtyard lined with plants, many of which were edible. We picked peppermint to put in our water, and eucalyptus to sniff, while admiring the many other plants. Given the aforementioned fall-like weather and my cold lunch, I was freezing by the end of the meal. Nicole insisted I wear her jacket over mine when my lips started to turn purple (I told her she only really needed to worry when I started to turn blue but she said to wear the jacket anyway). We headed down the street to a little tea shop in a book store to warm up, where we delighted in the many kinds of tea with strange names. Our favorite names included Poodle Menage, and A Night in Missoula.

Tea in hand, we headed back to the car where we discovered sweet peas growing wild and stopped to eat a pea or two. We hopped in the car determined to find Sea Breeze farm, which is a staple at Seattle farmer's markets for milk, eggs and meat. When we arrived at the address it occurred to us that perhaps the farm is not open to the public, since it was down a road marked private, and no sign alerted us to the farm's presence. We saw a man astride a horse in the driveway and asked if we were in the right place and if it was okay to visit the farm. He said it was, so we drove down the drive where we were greeted by large pens of chickens, pigs and cows, along with two rogue chickens who seemed to have escaped their pen, and two happy dogs who wanted us to play fetch. We visited the animals a few minutes and prepared to leave when George, one of the owners, emerged from the farm house and welcomed us in. He told us he was in the midst of bottling wine and wondered if we'd like to come see. In the cellar George was bottling wine at a rapid rate, making room he told us, for a new lower priced blend they were planning soon. The wine he was bottling, a Shiraz, was scheduled to rest another 6 months before selling, but he offered to sell us bottles on the spot for $10 each-- we each bought a label-less bottle, which he told us could be consumed in the next two weeks, or else to wait 6 months since in the interim the wine would go into "bottle shock" and be less delicious.

We left the farm with just minutes to spare before the next ferry and drove aboard in the nick of time. We had a wonderful adventure full of delicious discoveries and fun conversation.

When I got home I made chicken breast, roasted yukon gold potatoes, and sauteed collard greens from my garden in garlic and olive oil. I haven't made cooked greens in months, ever since the warmer weather hit I have preferred salad, but on this cool day cooked greens seemed right. I poured myself a glass of the Sea Breeze wine, which turned out to be one of my favorite wines ever-- dry, sharp and complex it tasted slightly of chocolate (which I have read described on wine labels, but never really experienced before) and berries. I sat and ate dinner alone, since Marc was working late, and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. It was a great end to a lovely day.

Hawaii Day 8: time to say goodbye

Marc's vacation beard
One last sunset on the lanai

On our last morning in Hawaii we wanted to make the most of it. We got up early, despite only 6 hours sleep, and went back to the beach where the turtles live to snorkel there one last time. The day before my snorkel mask had broken so that of the two rubber straps on the back of my head, only one was still intact. I was praying it would hold through this one last trip in the water, although without the upper strap my snorkel more easily filled with water, it did not break further. We visited the turtles one last time and watched them happily. We got out of the water and sat at the edge and watched them from outside the water for a half hour, silently saying goodbye. We went back to the hotel, ahead of schedule and swam again in the pool, amused by one of the residents telling fish stories to some unwilling listeners.

We stopped at the farmer's market to load up on fruit to take home. When we told the man from whom we bought 10 papayas for $1 our plan he told us we would not be allowed to take them on the plane-- he said only pineapple is allowed because of some kind of fruit fly quarantine. We decided to risk it since they were only $1 and also bought a pineapple.

We went back to Island Lava Java to print our boarding passes for our flight, and to grab lunch to go. By the time our food arrived we had only one hour until boarding and we still needed to get gas, return the rental car, and get to the gate. I have never cut a flight so close before. As it turned out, boarding was delayed 20 minutes, and the airport (most of which is outside) was unbearably hot, so we were glad we only had to wait about 25 minutes. We hopped on a short flight to Maui and then had a mad dash across the airport to catch our flight to Seattle. It was at Maui where they scanned our bags and took away the papaya. I was not surprised, but sad for sure.

We arrived back in Seattle at 10:30pm, and home after midnight. It was overcast and cool in Seattle and I had done such a good job putting all thoughts of real life and responsibility out of my head that it took me two full days back at home before I could really function. Still enamored of Hawaii I looked up the Hawaiian Dietetic Association to see if there were jobs on the Big Island, but didn't find much outside Honolulu.

We had a truly fantastic, restful, wonderful trip. Maui a few years ago was our best vacation ever to that point and this at least matched if not surpassed it. We we definitely go back, and maybe some day life will even take us there to live.

Hawaii Day 7: Dolphin Encounter

I woke up rested after ten hours of much needed sleep. After a cereal and papaya breakfast (and a few ginger capsules for me) we drove back to the place we had scoped out earlier for kayak rentals. We rented from a colorful gentleman who told us all about another customer he had, also from Washington, who had given him the best "bud" he had ever had. Fabulous.

We paddled across the bay-- it was sunny and gorgeous and I felt happy in every inch of my body and soul to be in the peaceful ocean, so clear we could see the bottom even in these deep waters. About half way across we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of at least 20 dolphins, all within a few feet of our kayak. There were other kayakers and snorklers already there, and we considered getting out to snorkel, but it was deep water, and we had a camera with us and we weren't sure we could get back in the boat without tipping the kayak. So instead we floated and admired the dolphins-- I had my camera that doesn't have much zoom with me (I wasn't going to take the expensive SLR camera in a boat!) but it almost didn't matter because the dolphins were that close. (I wasn't fast enough to catch one spinning but it's very fun to watch-- they jump out of the water several feet in the air and spin around).

We continued our paddling across the bay to Captain Cook Monument. We snorkeled here last time we came to the Big Island with my parents, only last time we hiked in-- it is about three miles straight down and the hike back up nearly killed everyone but Marc. I wasn't particularly excited about that hike again and I'm glad we kayaked because we never would have seen the dolphins otherwise. The snorkeling here was good, not great, although we did see a Manta Ray. We timed our snorkeling perfectly-- we got in just as a large boat of tourists was leaving (man they were loud too-- shrieking to each other across at least 40 yards "Bob! Bob! I saw and EEL! BOB! AN EEL!" As we got out three more giant boats, with at least 100 people total all coming to snorkel arrived. We were very relieved to get away. Before we left the bay I practiced getting in the kayak from in the water. I somewhat ungracefully flopped myself onto the front of the kayak and then eventually got turned around in my seat--without flipping the kayak on my first try, to the amusement and applause of a bunch of locals on the shore. Unfortunately, by the time we kayaked back across the bay the dolphins moved on, so we never got to climb in the water with them. It still makes me laugh though, that people were paying $200 to play with non-native dolphins at the Hilton, while I was out in the ocean seeing them just as close for a $25 kayak rental.

After we returned to shore, we ate lunch at Island Lava Java, the restaurant where we'd checked email the day before. I had a fantastic big salad. M ordered a burger but complained it was flavorless. I didn't feel too bad since the day before he'd had two great burgers while I had a weird mis-mosh of not so great lunch. We walked around Kona doing a bit of shopping, and started a quest to find chocolate covered Kona coffee beans, since we decided we wanted to stay up late on our last night in Hawaii. We went to many stores and could not find them-- other than at the Donkey Balls place which only had ones with milk in them.

We also decided we wanted to take a suitcase full of fruit home. In order to do this we needed to make space. First I called Hawaiian airlines, which told me they thought it would be fine to take fruit on the plane. We had bought life jackets before we left in case we snorkeled in rough waters but we never ended up using them. So we found a UPS store and shipped the jackets home (which just arrived yesterday) to make space.

We drove North to spend the afternoon at the Four Seasons again. We found two reclining lounge chairs under a tree at the ocean's edge. It seemed perfect-- staff brought us fresh towels and water and we lay happily reading for awhile. The wind kicked up and was rather strong-- I not only got cold, but actually started getting a little nauseated (it doesn't take much with me!) by the wind rocking me back and forth. I got up and moved to a lounge chair near the pool while Marc stayed at the ocean's edge. Nearer to the hotel I had constant refills of water (it was orange infused today) and it was much warmer. We stayed again until the sun started to go down and then continued our quest for chocolate coffee beans. We tried a coffee shop, a local grocery store (where we bought ketchup, beer and spam! Yikes). Marc decided he needed a haircut before going back to work so while he got cleaned up, I tried Longs Drugs and finally found what we were looking for- dark chocolate covered kona coffee beans with no dairy and no high fructose corn syrup.

On our way back we saw lots of drunk people weaving in the dark, and a fire truck and police cars at a nearby hotel. Back in the condo we saw boats and helicopters searching the water-- I really hope they found whomever they were looking for.

For dinner I made eggs and potatoes (I made Marc make is own spam). We had a late dinner around 9pm, all the while eating those coffee beans. I still felt like I was on a boat, and was light headed and kind of out of it. After dinner we swam in the pool and had it to ourselves, before returning up stairs to deal with the giant packing mess.

Despite all the coffee beans I fell asleep before midnight, exhausted.

Hawaii Day 6: we run out of steam

We started the morning back at the beach where two days before we had seen dolphins. It was cloudy when we were there before and visibility is better for snorkeling when the sun shines through the water so we were ready to try again. The snorkeling was great and we continued until my seasickness, as always instructed us when to get out. We also drove to checkout a place that rented kayaks for the next day, though Marc was very nervous about us kayaking in open sea with my propensity to vomit.

This was the first day when we did not have a specific agenda-- we had seen all of the island we wanted to see, and we were at loose ends today. We were also really tired, and Marc was near starved after several days of not meeting his caloric needs. We wildly considered driving back to Hilo (two hours each way) to finally get homemade mochi and to get more of the mysterious tangerine fruits we'd bought at the farmers market-- these fruits were full of juice and edible seeds. You peel off the top and suck the juice and seeds out. I couldn't remember what they were called, so we referred to them as "pop tops" and had run out the previous day. We had a silly fight about where to eat lunch and ended up getting on the road without eating anything which was a terrible plan, as we both got crankier and Marc started to get dizzy. We stopped half way to Hilo where the book said a good restaurant for burgers was (which is what Marc had wanted for days). I couldn't find the restaurant, but there was a burger stand there so I ordered him one and crossed the street to the grocery store where I cobbed together a strange lunch for myself of a small salad with processed turkey (yuck) and salad dressing that I was afraid to use because I wasn't sure what was in it. I also bought edamame and gluten free cookies. Marc's burger finally arrived around the time I finished shopping, and he said it was really good. We ended up spending a fair amount of time sitting outside in that plaza, as he needed a second burger and since they were making them from scratch this took awhile. (We were in ranching country so I was hoping that the beef was local and grass fed but I'll never know). After eating I decided I really did not want to spend my second to last day in a car and we headed to the resort area of Kohola instead.

Our first stop was the Hilton, which had it's own kind of contrived man-made swimming bay, which was partly fed by the ocean. In on area there was a dolphin encounter, where parents could pay $200 for their kids to spend 20 minutes interacting with dolphins. The irony, is that the dolphins are Atlantic Bottle Nosed dolphins, rather than the local Hawaiian spinner dolphins, because, according to the book, the local dolphins need deeper water. We sat on the grass and watched the kids with the dolphins for awhile and I had fun people watching-- the Hilton runs $700-1000 a night and I was fascinated by who would possibly pay that much to stay at a hotel. It was hot and I got bored with the kid show so we moved on up the road to the Four Seasons Resort, where I found heaven.

The Four seasons was very uncrowded. They had multiple pools, free fruit infused water (ahem...for guests) and lounge chairs right on the beach. We sat in chairs and read our books while drinking pineapple infused water until the sun started going down. At last, relaxation.

Back in Kona we found a cafe with internet access and I drank a smoothie while Marc checked his email. I noticed the menu was organic greens and wonderful salads and made a note of it for later. We stopped at the farmer's market to stock up on more papaya and to get an avocado for the tacos I was making for dinner.

By the time we got back to the condo I felt like I was sleep walking. I made tacos in a haze and fell asleep by 8pm.

Hawaii Day 5: I fall in love

On Thursday we got up at 6am to get an early start on snorkeling to beat the crowds, only to find it pouring down rain. For breakfast I invented my all time favorite combination-- I took half a papaya and scooped out the seeds and then poured crispy brown rice cold cereal into the hole where the seeds had been and added soy milk. Then I ate the papaya "bowl" with the cereal. We ate this new treat on the balcony watching the rain hit the sea. By 7am the rain stopped and we were on our way to Keauhou beach, only about ten minutes from our condo. The guidebook said turtles are often found here. The water was cold and took my breath away when I jumped in, but it was also very clear. We saw lots of bright colorful fish, my favorites looking like something out of a 1980s music video-- florescent pink, purple and teal. Marc and I always snorkel very close to each other and often hold hands, both for safety and because it is easier to alert each other to things the other person might not have seen. Marc started shaking my hand with excitement and pointing in the distance. We were only two feet from a large green sea turtle! We spent what seemed like hours hovering very near our turtle friend, watching her graze on sea moss on the bottom of the shallow ocean, moving slowly in the gentle waves. It was an incredibly moving experience to be in the silence of the ocean, the two of us alone with this beautiful animal, who was likely much older than we are. We swam a little further and found another sea turtle-- this one had one of my favorite bright fish swimming all around it-- a buddy reminiscent of finding Nemo! We stayed with the turtles until the tide began going out and more snorkelers arrived-- by then my nausea had returned in force. We climbed out of the water and were about to leave when we noticed the outgoing tide had created tidepools to the left of the beach. We went to investigate and found three more sea turtles in the shallow tidepool. I waded into the tidepool in my reef shoes and spent close to an hour taking pictures up close of the turtles. In the picture above when I went to pose the turtle tried to turn around by pushing off the rock and found my leg instead. We saw a turtle in Maui once years ago, but it was in sandy, murky conditions. This day we saw so many so close-- it was like the kind of experience you'd have to pay for somewhere.

We finally left to drive up to the North part of the island (North Kohala Coast).
We stopped at a beautiful sandy beach called Puako. The water was clear and warm as bathwater-- the sand was so hot it burned my feet (and the sun was so bright my picture didn't turn out very well). On this beach we discovered there were evil spiny trees that had needle sharp thorns along each branch, which occasionally broke off in small pieces and lay on the beach. At different times each of us ended up with a painful pierced foot. We did not find as many fish here, though the water was the clearest we had seen. We spent a couple hours here, until the seasickness resumed-- since I'd already been nauseated in the morning it came back sooner here.
We hiked to Kiholo bay, which involved parking on the highway and hiking down a barren trail of red lavarock and the evil spiny trees. When we reached the bay, we got in to snorkel and almost immediately got back out-- the water was very sandy and visibility was too poor. On our hike back to the car we heard a strange sound that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It sounded like a strange bird or maybe a child being tortured. We crept off the trail to investigate and came across a family of wild goats, whose kid was very loud. They weren't too interested in hanging out with humans and took off as soon as they saw us, the kid braying all the way.

The North road ends at Pololu Beach, where there is a pretty lookout. You can hike to the beach there, but it was getting late in the day and I wanted to see other things. Along the road to Pololu we visited several wind farms, which ingeniously share the land with happily free ranging cows-- I was rather smitten with these eco-cows, as well as two horses I befriended along the road, though I think they were hoping I had something to feed them, and I didn't think horses would want larabars, which is all I had with me.

We next drove on to Waimea, through beautiful ranching towns along the Kohala Mountain road. Somewhere between North Kohala and the mountain road I fell madly in love with this island and we started fantasizing about living there with goats and chickens raising tropical fruit and maybe having some kind of nutritional get away detox vacation destination. The northern part of the island reminds me of a cross between the small farming towns where my parents grew up and lush tropical rain forest-- possibly the best combination I could ever thing of.

As we drove along the mountain road we gradually left the lush tropical wetness and the land became dryer and more desert-like. We reached Waimea starving and ate at the first place we could find-- a Mexican restaurant in a food court. I ordered chicken tamales, which was kind of a strange choice since I've never ordered those before. It turned out to be a mistake, given that I've been having difficulty digesting corn lately and the tamales were a heavy dose-- I had a stomach ache the rest of the night.

On our drive back to Kona we found a rainbow which we jokingly tried to follow to it's end. We could see that it was raining at the coast but we managed to stay ahead of it all day long. This was our longest day, as we were gone for twelve hours, but one of my favorites of the whole trip.

We were also so salty after three trips and 4+ hours in the ocean that I had visible salt on my skin and clothes and I woke up the next morning feeling pickled!

Hawaii Day 4: Kona

On Wednesday morning we packed up to move to our second condo of the week, in Sunny Kona. We spent the morning exploring the Black Sand Beach near our condo, and saw lots of turtles in the water poking their heads above the surface. We climbed a hill near the beach and found an old church made of stones that overlooked the ocean with a small cemetery behind. Before we left we swam in the pool and soaked in the hot tub, since we hadn't had time or energy our whole stay so far.

Our drive posed a dilemma-- I had purchased enough food for dinner to last us the whole week, which included raw chicken breast that already sat in the car almost three hours on our drive to this condo and Kona was a two hour drive, with check in at the new condo not until 4pm. In the end, the chicken had to be sacrificed.

We stopped first at a state park which at one time had a long dock we speculated was for shipping items to this side of the island, but had obviously been destroyed in the harsh surf long ago.

Back on the road we were zipping along listening to Hawaiian music when we saw a police car on the other side of the road flash his lights at us. We pulled over and learned we were going 50mph in a 35 zone. The policeman was kind of flummoxed when we asked if we could take his picture-- but we assured him it was just part of our vacation experience.

We stopped at an organic fruit stand mentioned by our guide book, where all the fruit was grown on site and the stand looked out over the ocean. The girl that sold us the Guanabanana (the big green one in the picture above) we bought (also known as sour sop) was very zen-- I would be too if I worked there.

Next was another place for snorkeling (I can't find the guidebook right now to tell you what it is called but when I do I'll let you know). We saw lots of dolphins far out in the surf (a bit far to snorkel to). The snorkeling was good there, although after about an hour in the water, which had a fair amount of current, I started getting seasick. When we tried to get out of the water the waves pushed me into the rocks and I got kind of scraped up.

Our next stop was a store called "Donkey Balls" which sells famed chocolate covered macademia nuts and as it turned out, lots of other chocolate covered things. Unfortunately even the dark chocolate products had milk fat in them-- the only thing in the store I found without dairy was chocolate covered strawberries, which we bought even though they had horrors such as high fructose corn syrup in them (they were way too sweet, I ended up eating very little of it anyway.) The woman who sold them to us told us that it rains in Kona every day at 3pm-- you can almost set your watch by it-- we stored this tidbit away for planning our next few days.

We did a few errands in town, taking another trip to the health food store, going to Costco to return the salad mix I'd bought which went bad in a couple days.

When we arrived at our condo in Kona we were enchanted-- we had what we deemed the best view in the entire place, on the corner overlooking both the pool and the ocean. We had a relaxing dinner on the lanai, watched the sunset, soaked in the hot tub and went to bed early.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hawaii Day 3: Hilo

A wild chicken and her baby we saw on the side of the road-- there was a daddy chicken too but he was too fast for my camera.

On our third day I woke up with my hives totally gone, but new bug bites in their place down my legs and on my feet. I had coated myself in bug spray the day before, but due to their location (one on the arch of my foot) I must have gotten them after we snorkeled since I'd had shoes on the rest of the day. So more itching was in store for me, but continual applications of aloe really does help. My head was clearer, but the motion sickness medication wasn't completely out of my blood stream, and I still had a hard time staying awake in the car.

In our guidebook I had found a place in Hilo where they made homemade mochi and I was very excited to try it. (Mochi is a Japanese dessert made of sweet rice pounded to a paste and then other things like fruit or red bean paste added to it). I made mochi from scratch in a class at Bastyr and it was very difficult and completely delicious. (You can also buy mochi already made in a health food store and bake it in squares which puffs up, but it isn't as good as fresh). When we arrived in Hilo the sign at Two Ladies Kitchen said they opened at 10am-- it was 9. So we drove to see the local waterfalls first. We went to one called "Boiling pots" and another called akaka falls. Both were crowded with tour buses full of tourists. We didn't take pictures-- they were pretty waterfalls, but we both prefer waterfalls a little more remote. When we were in Maui we would hike in to waterfalls we had all to ourselves and swam in the water below-- this didn't compare. We drove back to Hilo for Mochi, only this time when I read the sign more closely I discovered they are closed on Monday and Tuesday-- and it was Tuesday. We were very disappointed.

Instead we headed to the farmer's market. I was astounded at how inexpensive some of the fruit was-- anywhere from 5-10 papayas for $1! However I more than made up for the cost by buying a breathtakingly expensive dragonfruit ($5 a pound and it was 2 pounds). Above is a picture of the lady who sold it to me cutting it up for us. Inside it was white with little edible seeds throughout-- it looked like oreo ice cream, but the texture and flavor is like a kiwi only a little sour. We also came across a table with two teenagers selling some small fruits that looked like oblong tangerines and some smooth, dark red oval berries. The berries, we were told were called "miracle berries" and when eaten they make sour things taste sweet. We bought a pound of the orange things (I can't remember what they were called-- Jamaican something or other-- the kid told me they were very exotic which tells me they don't normally grow them in Hawaii), 2 miracle berries and 2 limes for testing the berries. I also bought a lot of papayas. We ate the dragon fruit immediately since it was already cut for us-- it was a lot of fruit, but very delicious.

We drove on to Waimea, a very beautiful remote valley. On the way we stopped at a smoothie stand recommended by our guidebook. I had a (very expensive) mango smoothie that was the best smoothie I've EVER had. It was very thick and creamy despite only having fruit in it-- I have no idea how they made it but I'd love to reproduce it.

Waimea is at the bottom of one mile of very steep, rough road. If you have four wheel drive you can drive in, but our little rental car was not making it, so we hiked. In some ways, the trip down was worse than the trip up-- it was so steep our knees and shins were burning. The view was spectacular and worth the hike. At the bottom we walked through nearly untouched jungle to the beach, where people were swimming and surfing. We ate our picnic lunch and headed out just as the rain rolled in. The hike up took a long time-- it was very steep. I was glad not to be the only one suffering as we passed some winded suffering hikers.

Back towards town we stopped in Hilo again where I got gluten free cookies and kombutcha at the health food store. We made it back to our condo before dark this time and I made turkey tacos with guacamole (I skipped the shells and had taco salad). Marc passed out by 7:30 again and I watched a mindless made for tv movie on the disney channel and went to bed around 9.

Hawaii Day 2: Itchy mountain adventures

We woke up the next morning early, since Hawaii is 3 hours ahead of Seattle, getting up at 6am was like sleeping in until 9. I discovered a couple of large welts on my legs, which I assumed were bug bites, even though we weren't really outside the day before. I made scrambled eggs for breakfast and was icing the worst of the welts at the same time (which is what I'm doing above).

We drove to the volcano, not far from where we were staying, but at around 4000 or so foot elevation so it was kind of cold. I was glad for my sweats, though they did not protect me from the misting rain. We hiked down into a crater, which was completely fascinating. There were plants there that had funny spikes on them, and huge piles of rubble where the lava had bubbled up and then broken as it cooled. We got caught in the rain there and were soaking wet, which actually felt pretty good on the hike back up out of the crater. We also explored a couple caves-- officially called spelunking. We stuck to the already lit ones since we had only a tiny flashlight and it was pitch dark in there. I felt kind of loopy from the motion sickness medication and found it hard to stay awake whenever I was holding still in the car for long periods of time.

Back in the car I realized what I thought were bug bites were spreading. I had several welts on my scalp that were so itchy it hurt and I was climbing the walls in agony. (What kind of mosquito bites through hair when there is bare leg available?) We stopped at a gas station where I bought some over priced aloe vera gel and a cup of ice (since ice usually helps with bug bites). In the bathroom I caught sight of more welts appearing near my elbows that I could actually watch spreading. These were no mosquito bites-- I was breaking out in hives. I ripped off the motion sickness patch, certain that's what was causing the reaction, but the medication stayed in my blood stream for a good 24 hours.

We drove through a beautiful rain forest down to beach, where we snorkeled for the first time since our last trip to Maui. Snorkeling is the main point and the reason we keep going back to Hawaii. When I haven't done it in awhile I always get a little nervous getting in-- but I love it. The water was really cold but the salt water and the temperature was very soothing to my itchy welts and I was thrilled to see all the vibrant fish and coral.

Next we drove to the only place where we could reportedly see the lava, where it spilled into the ocean. It was crowded and hot, and we couldn't really see any lava, just a huge cloud of steam.

On our way back to the condo we were on a remote rural road and an ENORMOUS wild boar the size of a baby bear, darted out in front of our car. Marc slammed on the brakes just in time and the boar ran into the bushes in the other side of the street. I think we were more startled than the boar! Today we also saw a pair of cute dogs playing too close to the street watching the cars go by, a goat and what Marc called "jungle squirrels"-- I'm not exactly sure what they are, but they ran across the road in front of our car often-- squirrel sized, only long and skinny like a hotdog with legs and a long tail.

For dinner I made gluten free spaghetti with some organic ground turkey thrown in the sauce for protein. For lunch we had peanut butter and jelly, which for me meant enduring really undelicious gluten-free bread, as well as larabars, grapes and bell peppers.