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Big Island Big Moves

Whew, it’s been an absolutely crazy ride the past 3 weeks. I arrived to the Big Island thinking I had this plan, that the next month would be spent living as an intern at Hawaiian Sanctuary. I’m learning really quickly that making plans off island is very limiting to your own self being.

Hawaiian Sanctuary is a collab between raw/organic foods, sustainable living and community events. Hula, meditation, dance and every type of yoga can be found here. It’s an amazing place if you’re looking to advance in yoga or just de-stress from mainland life. For me, it was a great place to meet new people and take a few classes along the way. Hula is my new favorite dance and I have a deeper appreciation for yoga (which I hardly did before). However, living in the rainforest, far away from the ocean and not being able to be my free spirited self was getting to me. So I sat down with one of the owners, and confessed my goals and aspirations for coming here. With a place as positive as Hawaiian Sanctuary, communication had no barriers and love was free flowing. In other words, it’s all good. :) So, my roommate Chelsea and I found our way up to Hilo and rented a 4runner which we later named Maks. Having a vehicle meant that we could explore as much as the island without limitations. Big I rallying. There’s nothing like it. ;)

Pretty much we covered the best of the big island in just 4 days. Our first mission was to a little place called Makalewena Beach. Pretty much everyone’s favorite beach here because of all the sand. Here on the Big Island, it’s also the newest island, meaning hardened lava rocks replace white sand beaches. I think it’s pretty ironic how I came from the sand bars of the Outer Banks of NC to the black rocky beaches of Big I. I now realize how spoiled we are on the OBX. So to get to Makalewena, you have to drive down a rocky and rugged path. Four wheel drive only, you better have a little lift to your vehicle and yep, you’re going to have to drive in S’s to avoid bottoming out. Thanks to our friend Sheyenne, I drove down like a champ! So once we arrived to the beach, we parked Maks on the first sandy beach and set up camp. A little picnic, a couple blankets, a bon fire and an acoustic guitar to make this spot just a little more magical. Literally, here on the Big Island, you feel like you are jutted out closer to the universe with a billion stars dancing around you. So anything else is just bonus. What happened next is just comical. The island’s way of reminding us that nature is indeed the big kahuna. My sound asleep friends, Chelsea & Sheyenne woke me up with a scream. Mother ocean, put a little shorepound water wash show to wake them up. Chelsea describes the scene as if titanic was sinking. Water everywhere, sleeping bags tossed, slippahs(flip flops) are MIA. I never laughed so hard. I was safe because I moved to the car in the middle of the night and missed the entire thing! Lucky me. :)

The adventures I’ve been having here are totally unexpected. I’ve learned how to identify plants so that we can forage for breakfast. Avocado, papaya, bananas, we even learned how to crack open coconuts and macadamia nuts without a tool. We can sustainably live off of the land and that feels pretty darn good.

Now that the 3 weeks have gone by, we unexpectedly booked one way tickets to Kauai. We arrived last night so this island is still a huge mystery to us. This morning I woke up and watched the sunrise. Before we even left the Big Island, we read in a guidebook that when you arrive to Kauai you leave all your worries on the plane. Well, here goes nothing. A new adventure awaits! Until next time…

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Chelsea learning how to open coconuts with a machete at Hawaiian Sanctuary. Later the local boys taught us how to climb the trees and open them without any tools. Good knowledge to have when you’re thirsty and there are no stores around… Commonality here on the Big Island.

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The men showing us how it’s done. Hula with paddles and all. We were just trying to keep up on our uwehe steps. ;)

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Sunset over the lava field before cruzing over for our first Uncle Robert’s Awa bar experience.

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Searching for dolphins to play with at Captain Cooks Bay.. All we found were humans instead.

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Makalewena with the Puna crew.

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The volcano goddess Pele in her nonfiltered gopro footage beauty.

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Just Cruzin’

I cannot stress the importance of taking some time to yourself. Get out, enjoy nature, do the things you love. These are the things that keep you sane when life throws anything and everything at you. For me, this did not involve a 4/3 fullsuit, booties and gloves. (I’m a huge chicken when it comes to the cold plus Jan & Feb are my only months with real free time.)

So finally, off to Hawai’i for another go.

The flight was nothing like last time. No misadventures in Hollywood, no TSA harrassing me, no planes shutting down while being taxied. Only early arrival flights and a tiny bit of turbulence over Colorado to keep things interesting. Delta, you redeemed yourself. Now if you would just lower your surfboard bag fee presently $150 to the same rate as the golf club fee of $90 to make things fair. :)

Pretty much the days have blurred into one giant adventure. Wake up at sunrise, check the surf, hike and/or surf, find a good place for lunch, do another hike and/or surf and pau hana(afterwork beverage) with friends at sunset. As for my accommodations this time around, hostel living is where it’s at! But before I go on, a huge thank you to Kolby & Nico, Heather & Lee for letting me couch surf when I first arrived. You guys are great! I really appreciate all your kindness and aloha.

The hostel itself feels nothing like a hostel. More like shared bedroom space with people who become friends. For those of you who have been there, it’s like Buena Onda but on the North Shore and is perfect for solo travelers. It’s so easy to find someone to go surf or hike with. The only downside is that people come and go as quickly as you become friends. So to Ulli, Louisa, Ted, Michael, Ruby & of course Maria & Bernie, thank you for making my first hostel experience as incredible as it was. However, this place books fast. So I’m not sharing this information as freely as I would normally. I now get why a lot of locals have a lot of secrets. Secret surf spots, secret hideaways, secret hikes. This place has become so overloaded with tourists that hidden gems aren’t so hidden anymore. Not as busy as the Outer Banks in July (that’s Waikiki), but let’s just say, become friends with a local for a chance to see the real Hawai’i.

So today was my last day on the North Shore before flying out to Big Island tomorrow. For the next month I’ll be living on over 40 acres of Hawaiian rainforest. Yes, I have my rain jacket ready. February is the rainiest month of all. So I’ll be spending my weeks learning how to live off the land through sustainable resources and organic farming. Weekends are reserved for exploration. ;) I have a lot of butterflies not knowing what to expect. The #1 reason why I chose to participate in this internship: go someplace I’ve never been where everything is new and exciting. Here goes nothing! :)

A little glimpse of what I’ve been up to:

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Leeward side hike to Kaena Point with Miss Kolby :)

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Cool off by swimming in an urchin filled tide pool.

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Found a place to snap photos of Big Waimea, Aaron Chang & his lovely wife thought it was a good spot too. ;)

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Sea treasures from Mokuleia.

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To get the best views, you gotta climb up the mountain.

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Ko’olina is supposed to be this amazing beach. Whoever said that never met Sam. This 16 year old rockstar serenaded Kolby & I with some Beiber tunes. More guts than most guys. ;)

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The hostel crew at Kaena Point.

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Louisa & I cruzin’ at Pu’ena.

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Nothing quite like a good Waimea sunset. ;)

2012 in Reflection

Life waits for no man. Life does not discriminate. Life WILL throw everything at you and not even blink. It’s only human instinct that helps us survive.

2012, may have not fulfilled the prophecies of the Mayas but in many ways, without saying it directly, did bring front and center the meaning of life. Ironically, the meaning is something that oftentimes gets lost in the pursuit. We work long hours, we study hard, we do everything in our power to “make it work”. We focus entirely too much on the bigger picture when the picture itself is the only thing that matters.

When you take a photo, do you notice all the angles, do you weigh them before you ultimately push the trigger? Or do you just snap away aimlessly, thinking that just having enough film you’ll eventually capture one good photo?

2012 for me, was a year of reflection. Losing the most influential man in my life, my father, put new meaning on the word time. How are we living our day-to-day? Are we living it in a way that provides personal growth? Or are we living in a way just to get by? Do we take the time to show love to the people who matter most? Family, friends, they’re one in the same. Without a support system, life can easily knock you to the ground.

As I sit here in the life I have created. I’m weighing all the angles, I’m healing wounds, I’ve reverted back into my ten year old self. Independent because that’s what life has thrown at me. Not all intentional, that’s just how the dice rolled. In 2012 I did more than just reflect.. I lost, I wept, I felt sorrow, I felt lonely, I felt hope… I got knocked down again. I felt jealously, I felt anger, I lost myself in work, I tried to conquer Rome in a day. I even felt nothing.

There was a moment when a young teenage girl found herself in the surf shop I work at. It was the end of tourist season, so all the faces had long been a blur, and I don’t know why but I recognized how her eyes filled of wonder as she walked through the doors. She asked about surf lessons (unfortunately it was all Nor’east Chop that week) and somehow I knew she was hooked without ever even trying it. And so, instead of denying her the knowledge she yearned for, I took the time to show her videos, photos and let her in on all the great and positive experiences surfing can teach you. I even gave her my only copy of the new womens surf magazine, Salted, to take with her. She’s about to graduate high school, and I don’t know what path she will choose, but I hope she finds out for herself the joys of surfing and the serenity that the sea brings. Finally, a little piece of my positive self shining through.

The bigger picture is that life is happening. Right now. Every day. It’s important to take it all in. Struggle is beautiful. And despite the Mayas predictions, it means you’re still living. I’m finding it’s true, you don’t know true happiness until you’ve known sorrow. Appreciate it all.

2012, you were one real bitch. Thank you.:)

Photo at the top: My dad during ‘Nam. He was a heavy vehicle operator at the young age of 20. This man has gone through more in life than I could ever imagine.

Photo below: I paddled out before heading home on the Red Eye. Time stood still.

8 warriors took on an army against all odds. http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hhl/hhl19.htm
8 warriors took on an army against all odds. http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hhl/hhl19.htm

Raw Corolla

Living in a destination town means I’m here when it’s slammed packed in the middle of summer, I’m here when the offseason arrives, I’m here when it snows, I’m here when there’s a marsh fire in the sound. I’m here to see the lighthouse get lit up for Christmas and when Sandy roared across our area for a good week straight. Living here for more than just a summer means I get to see this place for more than what is advertised. The tourists are amazed by the offseason serenity, explosive sunsets and the abundance of birds. The hunters are hustling across the sound to get their boats docked before the sun sets. The locals? Well, besides the kids biking around after school, there’s not a soul in sight. But I’m willing to bet, they’re watching a football game  with a couple of cold ones somewhere in town. It’s a mid 70 degree day in December and there’s no way I’m staying inside. Time to grab the mountain bike and start exploring. Here’s the snapshots.

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A ninja turtle named Rafael

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This fall was definitely one for the record books with named storms, which means more surf for the East Coasters. Before Sandy, we had Hurricane Rafael roll in bombs over our sandbars here on the Outer Banks. Nothing but peaky barrels for as far as the eye can see.

I shot these on my Sony NEX5n, a small DSLR with interchangeable lens perfect for the backpack and lightweight enough for long hikes. With the touch screen features, I’m pretty happy with the results. As for surf shots go, the zoom wasn’t so bad even though I need a lens that can handle the distance, which can be pretty pricey.

The hardest thing about surf photography is actually being behind the camera. As you watch all your friends score, you get super antsy and want to get out there too. Ha, this day I was stuck answering phones on the sand anyway. Lucky f*ckers.

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