Monday, April 12, 2010

Great weekend of birthday, splitboarding and wedding planning

I don't think we could have packed in anything else this weekend if we tried.  When I got home from work on Friday Natalie told me to be ready to head out for something at 7:30.  Birthday surprise!

We headed downtown and I was psyched when we walked up to my favorite sushi place.  The surprise was just beginning.  We were a few minutes early so we grabbed a drink at the bar before heading into the reserved seating area that I had always wanted to check out.  There are pillow on the floor in front of a very short table.  I always thought it was really cool but it must hurt to crouch down like that while you eat.  Turns out that under the table it is cut out so you can stretch out like normal.  This was pretty key when everyone started showing up and in our group of friends we had one pregnant and one that just got knee surgery.  One by one all of our best friends from Seattle showed up.  It was great to be surrounded by all my favorite people in Seattle, great sushi, and some tasty beers.  We all had a great time eating way too much and chatting away.  Before we knew it 11pm had arrived and it was time to head out.  Thanks again to everyone, it was a great time!!

We got home with plans to catch up for one last drink but I was heading out early in the morning to go up into the mountains with Ross and decided it was a good idea to call it a night.

All the snowboarding pics here (click me)

Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, met up with Ross, threw the last of my gear in the car, and we headed out of Seattle.  We headed back into the mountains after the snow gods had blessed us with 3-5 feet of new snow, depending on where you went.  We pulled up into the Hyak snowpark parking lot (same place as last week) at about 9:30.  The plan was to take the same route up but then branch off and head over to the Kendall clearcut.  This is a mountain just next to Kendall Peak (sort of) that was clearcut years ago and has trees coming back in but is still open enough that it is a fun place to ski.

We made pretty good time getting up to the top of the road and then headed out into new territory.  It looks pretty straight forward getting over to the road that we planned to take to the top of the clear cut.  Once we got close though we realized we were going to have to get across a crevasse about 10 feet down.  The creek that runs through the valley had managed to keep this gap open all winter.  We had to move quite a ways up the mountain before we found a snow bridge that was substantial enough for us to cross on.  After this little adventure we decided to take a nice long lunch/coffee break.

After lunch we kept heading up and discovered that there were going to be several snow bridges we were going to cross before we made it to the main part of the road.  Things turned out great and we managed to work our way over to the road and head up.  and up....  and up some more....  That mountain was a lot taller than it looked.  We set a turn around time of 2:30 and as soon as 15-20 minutes were left we kicked it in to high gear and surprised ourselves as we crested the top of the mountain.  We took a few minutes to catch our breath but the high winds had us strapping on the boards for the ride down pretty quickly.

It was not a long ride but we got some great turns in.  We even scouted a much better run for next time.  Funny how you don't see the routes until you are looking back at where you came.  The snow was amazing and worth every inch of the climb.

I am getting better on the splitboard but still have a bit to learn.  These past few weekends have been a great way to get out and figure out what I am doing.

Saturday night the neighbors all got together for a mexican dinner out over in Greenwood.  After that we took it easy over at Jake and Kays until about midnight when I headed back home.

Sunday arrived early and Natalie and I hit the road/ferry to Bainbridge Island for an open house at the resort where we are having the rehearsal dinner and are having guests stay for the wedding.  It was a beautiful day and we knocked out several big items on our to do list as well as tasting all of the choices for the rehearsal dinner.  Luckily there was enough time to squeeze in a good sun break out on the back lawn of the hotel overlooking the water.  Not bad...

After the open house we headed over to the Farm Kitchen (where we are getting married) to meet a potential florist.  We got there a early and soaked up a little more sun before meeting with Amy (the florist).  She was great and we gave her a deposit before packing up and heading to dinner at a little restaurant on the water looking back at Seattle.

Now that was a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Out in the snow

All the pics here (click me)

I recently picked up a new toy I have been wanting since we moved out here.  REI was having a sweet sale and well, I broke down.  So I am the proud owner of a new Voile Splitboard.  In case you don't know what this brilliant snow toy is it is a snowboard that breaks in half to form two "skiis".  The idea being that you use the ski mode to get into the back country and once you work your way to the top you put it together into a snowboard for the ride back down.

So Ross and I headed up into the mountains this past Sunday to play in the snow.  We went to Kendal Peak which is an area I have been to many times so I knew that route finding would not be an issue.  We got out to the mountain about 10am and started up.  I realized pretty quickly that I need to do this a bit more since I found some muscles I was not sure I had.  We worked our way in, stopped for a quick lunch break, and then headed up to the top.  We explored around a little trying to figure out how we were going to drop down to the road.  We eventually picked a path and made a few great turns back down to the road.  Well, I did take us on one little adventure through the forest but I had to throw in a twist, it could not be sooooo easy...  I need to do some adjustments to the board but overall I am psyched with how things worked.

Hoping to get back out this Saturday to give it another go.  Fingers crossed the snow conditions hold up.


For all the pictures click here (click me)

Disclaimer:  Due to extreme relaxation the timeline of events may not exactly match the post.  In the end we did all the things so lets not worry about the order.

Well I think I have been putting off posting about our trip to Hawaii because once I post about a trip then it is officially over.  I never wanted to come home from this trip.

This was my first trip to Hawaii and I have to say that I completely get why people are in love with the place.  We were in Kauai for 9 days.

We were invited to this amazing paradise by our friends Robyn and Phil.  The offer was presented to us an "engagemoon" which we could never pass up.  It was an amazing time to say the least.

Natalie and I flew in on Friday night and spent the first evening having dinner by the ocean and beginning the unwinding process.  We spent Saturday hanging out on the beach watching the surfers roll by.  We met Robyn and Phil at the airport around 3 and headed to their place in Poipu.  When we got to the timeshare I could not believe how beautiful it was.  We were 100 yards from the water.  We could hear the waves from our room.  Now that was living!!

The whole trip was a great mix of relaxing with friends and getting out to explore the island.  We spent the first few days settling in and then ramped up the adventure.  Natalie and I took an amazing zodiac (inflatable motorboat) ride up the Na Pali coast.  I have seen this area written up in backpacker many times and instantly start to drool.  Seeing this amazing area from the water was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  You will have to check out the pictures because words cannot do this area justice.  Come to think of it photos cannot really do the area justice either.  This was a 5 hour boat tour with the last hour being a stopover for snorkeling.  At this point I did not think the trip could have gotten better but after throwing on fins and a mask I jumped into a new world.  With your head underwater you could hear the whales calling to each other.  After about 10 minutes in the water a turtle swam by and I had the amazing experience of diving down and swimming along with him about 5 feet away from my mask.  Wow!!

The night after the boat tour we all packed up and headed to a luau.  This turned out to be a bit touristy but was fun as well.  After fighting a bunch of tourists for a table we realized why we loved being on vacation with just 4 people.  The show was good though and we had a great time.

The next day the girls were getting massages so Phil and I picked up some snorkeling gear from the resort and set off to find a place to swim around and see some fish.  After doing a little driving we decided to go check out the area where we had signed up to dive later in the week.  We were not out long but it was great to be in the water checking out the fish and we knew we would be back in a few days.

We headed back to meet the girls and load up in the car for a little tour-de-island.  We drive up to the top of the island with our final destination being the town of Hanalei (where puff the magic dragon lived by the sea).  Along the way we stopped off for a hike/swim in the Queens bath.  This was a really cool tide pool right on the edge of the pacific where waves would keep the water moving as they splashed over the top but for the most part the water was very calm.  We swam and lounged around for a long time before we could bring ourselves to leave.  Near the end of the day we rolled into Hanalei which ended up being one of my favorite towns of the trip.  I am not quite sure why I loved this town but it had a great feel to it.  At this point of the island the mountains come almost directly down into the ocean.  A very very peaceful place to be.

The next day Robyn and Phil headed to do a little sight seeing while Natalie and I roamed the beaches near the room and did a little exploring.  We discovered a bar down the road that served the best fish tacos I have ever eaten.  The only thing planned for the day was a dive class in the pool where Phil and I would get briefed on how to use our equipment for the dive we had scheduled for Saturday.  Everyone had a great relaxing day and settled in even more.  That afternoon as Phil and I were getting our dive instruction in the pool the girls came down and had a few drinks.  After our class wrapped up we all sat in the sun sipping pineapple drinks until the sun started to dip.  Ahhhhh.....

Friday (so sad that it was Friday already) we explored a beach with Phil.  I wish I remembered the name of the beach because it was the most beautiful one we saw.  To get there we had to push the limits of the rental car a bit but after navigating the ruts and rocks we parked safely and walked the last 100 yards to a beach tucked away by limestone cliffs.  Again, you will have to look at the pictures since words cannot do this place justice.  We made it back to the room in time to walk up the hill and watch the sun set over the surf.

Saturday we got up to watch the sun rise (as we did most mornings we were there) and then Phil and I headed off to meet our dive guide at 8am.  We got a fish briefing of what we would see underwater and the signs our guide would use underwater as well as a quick safety refresher and we were off into the water.  The last time I went diving was in Australia and they motored us about a mile offshore before putting all our gear on us and letting us fall over the side of the boat.  In that little adventure I kind of freaked out but this time we just walked into the water and calmly slipped into a different world.  Within 10 minutes we were seeing turtles, moray eels, angel fish, and coral.  At one point a huge turtle swam up from underneath us and came within 2 feet of me.  It was so amazing to see such a huge animal effortlessly glide by.  We were under water for almost 50 minutes but it passed by like we just blinked.  I could have stayed out all day diving and swimming with all that sea life.

After turning in our dive gear we headed back to the room and took it easy.  It was very sad that we were already to Saturday.  We were looking forward to a great dinner to cap the trip off though.  We sat down to our nearly waterfront table 30 minutes before the sun began to set.  It was great being in a place like that with such good friends.  We snapped a few pictures as the sun settled into the ocean and waved goodbye to it for the last time.

Sunday was a very early wakeup to catch our plane.  I was physically pained to leave the place and cannot wait to go back one day.  I cannot thank Robyn and Phil enough for sharing that amazing place with us.