Fall Dodgers Trip

My brother Matt lives in sunny Long Beach. He managed to talk me and Dad into coming down to watch a Dodgers game. Dad and I found flights for about $160 and headed out on Sunday, Sep 24.

The flight was a piece of cake and Matt met us at the Long Beach airport and took us to his house.

We had considered going to see an LA Rams game that day, but Dad was opposed to supporting anything related to the NFL due to the recent trend of protesting by kneeling during the National Anthem. So we hung out at Matt’s that morning.

As we headed out to lunch, Dad took his pills and apparently mixed them up because when we got to Seal Beach he wasn’t doing so great. When he started eating the chips and salsa and then the paper from the basket that it came in, we knew we were in trouble. He’d taken an Ambien by mistake. So we headed back to Matt’s to sleep it off.

Later that evening after Dad had somewhat recovered, we went out to dinner at a cool place called Tantalum, right on the water in Long Beach.

Uncle Steve had booked us a hotel in downtown LA, just to be nice. Matt decided to stay behind at his home in Long Beach, so Dad and I set off to the hotel. That turned out to be a great misadventure for several reasons. First we went to the wrong hotel. Once we got to the right hotel our room keys didn’t unlock our door. Security couldn’t get in either. So they gave us another room. The problem with that room was that it wasn’t very accessible. But, we were too tired to fight it. So we crashed there for the night and decided to check out a day early and head back to Matt’s and crash there.

So Monday morning we got up, ate breakfast and then cruised around downtown LA for just a bit before heading back to Long Beach for the rest of the day.

Dad and Matt watched a movie and then Dad wanted to stay behind and take a little nap. Matt and I headed out to go fishing off the pier, but then decided to go kayaking around Naples Island instead. It was cool cruising around the canals and looking at all the beautiful homes and boats. I got a pretty good thumb blister from having to paddle into a headwind all the way back while Matt allegedly “took a customer call” but it was worth it.

We collected Dad and headed to grab some pizza at one of Matt’s favorite places. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my grandpa Elwyn Johnson who was also known as “Big E”.

Then it was time to finally get to the entire reason for the trip, going to watch a Dodgers game. The Dodgers had already clinched their division and this was one of their final games of a great regular season. It was also a great night for a ball game, so we were in good spirits.

We had good, wheelchair-accessible seats out in the right field bleachers.

The Dodgers played well, jumping out to an early lead over the San Diego Padres. We left the game early because neither Matt nor Dad could sit in the same place for very long. But we had a good time and the Dodgers ended up winning handily.

Before flying on on Tuesday morning, we decided to try a breakfast place that Matt had never been to, but was fairly close to his house. It was a great way to end the trip.

Solo Summit of Mount Nebo

I thought I had a free pass for the day, so I took off to hike Mount Nebo all by myself on Saturday.

It was a beautiful day for a hike. The weather was awesome, but the trail wasn’t super busy. I passed a few groups here and there, but I walked for miles without seeing another soul. Nebo apparently gets much less traffic than Timpanogos. Maybe because Nebo is significantly steeper.

When I reached the summit, I ate one of my sandwiches, snapped a quick photo, and began the descent. Not much reason to hang out for too long at almost 12,000 ft.

I took two liters of water, a couple PB&J sandwiches and a couple snacks figuring it would take me about 4 hours. I was wrong. I definitely could have used another liter of water. I drank my last drop with more than a mile to go and was quite thirsty by the time I got back to civilization.

I recorded the hike using a new cool tool called GaiaGPS, which is a great backcountry mapping app I used on my iPhone to make sure I didn’t have a misadventure like when the family attempted Ding & Dang.

Nebo has been on my list since a few of my college roommates did it without me one Saturday many years ago. It was nice to check that one off and spend a beautiful day in the Utah backcountry.

Kauai: Hiking Trails

One of the reasons we went to Kauai was because it is remote and offers some very good hiking trails. Both Manina and I love to hike, it is one of the things we have always done together.

Both Manina and I packed appropriate footwear and clothing for hiking. I even brought along my trekking poles, so we were obviously planning on hitting the local trails, not just surfing each day.

Kalalau

Our very first real activity on the island was to hike the world-famous Kalalau trail.

Kalalau is a serious trail. It’s an 11-mile trail along the most spectacular coastline, the Na Pali coast. The scenery is incredible.

Some people make it a full backpacking adventure, camping for several days at a remote beach at the end of the trail. But we didn’t do that, we decided that we’d make a quick trip to Hanakapi’ai beach, which was 2.2 miles in along the trail.

We sat on Hanakapi’ai beach, ate a snack, and watched the waves roll in. Since we had been flying all night and not getting any sleep we didn’t have the energy to continue on to Hanakapi’ai Falls or Hanakoa Falls.

We hiked this trail with our friends and neighbors KC & Hannah Stayner, who were in Kauai and overlapped our stay for a few days. It was fun to hang out with them and have them hike with us along this wonderful trail.

Ho’opi Falls

This one was a gem of a hike. It’s in the Kapa’a area, a little trail hidden away in a residential area. There are a couple different “falls” to hike to and it makes for a very fun excursion. Here is our GPS record of this hike.

We set off late after lunch, planning to spend most of the afternoon on the hike.

Not long after we began, it started to rain. It seemed appropriate since we were hiking through a rain forest.

About half a mile in, there is a path down to a set of falls which has a few pools where you can jump from the lava rock into the stream. When we were there, a few local teenagers were taking the plunge. We pressed on.

After about another mile (including a wrong turn) we got to the actual Ho’opi Falls. By this time it was raining quite hard. It was a really good thing we brought along our rain jackets and were hiking in our water shoes.  We were soaked.

Manina was concerned about a flash flood, so she wasn’t interested in using the rope swing which hung temptingly over a large pool just downstream from the main falls. So, we took a couple pictures and started the hike back.

Hikes we missed

We missed out on a few hikes we would have liked to do. I guess that means we’ll just have to go back soon. When we do, these will also be on my short list:

Awa’awapuhi Trail

We headed up the Waimea canyon with the intent to do this hike, which promises an amazing overlook of the Na Pali coast from up above. Unfortunately, the weather turned nasty so we turned back and never made this hike. It’s a 6 mile round-trip hike with some pretty serious elevation gain, so it’s not a walk in the park.

Sleeping Giant Hike

This is a six-mile round trip hike up a mountain with a great view of the east coast of Kauai and surrounding valley. It’s also called the Nounou trail. The Stayners did this one and recommended it highly. Another one I’d like to finish on our next trip to Kauai.

Kauai: Surf lessons

Over one dinner midway through our Kauai vacation, Manina asked me, “What is one thing you want to do while we are here?” I thought about it for a while and said, “I’d like to take surfing lessons. I want to learn how to surf.”

When we got back to our house that night we did some research. Kauai Surf School had really good reviews on TripAdvisor, so we booked a lesson for Thursday morning. We headed out to Kiahuna beach down in the Poipu area.

I had a little trouble finding the “shack” to meet my instructor, but that was the only hiccup in the whole process. I lucked out with just about everything else. There was no wind, the waves were good, and no one else had booked a time in the 10am slot, so I had a private lesson.

The instructor, Alan, was great. He had the stereotypical super-chill surfer vibe going on, and kept mentioning to go slow. We practiced on land for a while, taking time to get the standing-up part down. One key thing Alan taught me was not to worry about my feet. He said that all the wave action and craziness is happening at your feet, but the key to surfing is your head. “Your board goes where your eyes go.”

So, keep the head up and let the feet follow. Sounds easy.

After about 20 minutes on land we were ready to head out into the water to try the real thing. Surf’s up!

I got up on my first attempt. I beached it (riding the wave all the way in to the beach) several times too. I had a bunch of really good runs. At first, I was nervous that I wouldn’t even be able to stand up. But I caught on fairly quickly and had a great time out in the ocean. At one point, Alan asked if I was even getting tired. I was not, I was just having fun.

Alan told me my years of practicing yoga really helped. He said if he could make one recommendation to dudes in Iowa who never get to surf but want to learn or to keep their skills sharp it would be to practice yoga.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. I wiped out plenty of times. I “pearled it” (getting the nose stuck in the water causing the equivalent of an endo), had to bail because I was going to run into someone else, and just flat out mistimed waves. But, I really enjoyed the whole process.

So, now I drop the fact that I’m a “real surfer” whenever my kids start to think I’m terribly uncool. I know that doing that automatically proves that I am terribly uncool, but I don’t care. I’m a surfer now. I take life as it comes at me one wave at a time and just enjoy the flow, dude.

President’s Cup – Mesquite, NV

Megan’s Surf soccer club played in the President’s Cup in Mesquite, Nevada. Who wouldn’t look forward to heading down South where the warmer weather is waiting?! Well, believe it or not, the weather was awful. It rained, actually poured, most every day we were there! Yes, in the driest state, it rained. What luck!

Megan’s team ended up playing really well and making it to the semi-finals. Unfortunately they lost in a shoot-out in overtime. It was a hard-fought game and really fun to watch. Way to go Surf!

Devoted soccer fans!