Friday, August 31, 2007


Hawaiian Journal - Things Have Been So Stressful, So NOW It's Time to Relax

Day 6

People say that all good things must come to an end, and as such, Our Woman in L.A. and I had to pick up and leave Maui. But sometimes, when those good things come to an end, there's some interesting details in the fine print.

Like, for example, we still had four days left on our vacation. And this four days was on another island. We were headed to Kauai, the island considered most laid back and authentically Hawaiian. Phew! Because that Maui was a pressure cooker. Armed with new luggage (paid for by Hawaiian Air), we caught a flight out and headed to the so-called Garden Isle.

I've gotta say, folks on Kauai seemed pretty friendly. In fact, just as we left the rental car agency, we saw this little welcome sign . . . just for us.

Pretty sweet of them, huh? It's like they knew we were coming.

Note from Our Woman in L.A.: In case it's hard to see, the big sign says "Aloha! Welcome to Kauai"

Kauai's a pretty amazing place. It's one of the least inhabited of the islands, and it really does feature some of the most amazing flora and fauna around. What kind of fauna, you ask?

You know. Wild chickens.

That's right. Wild. Chickens. They're all over the place, wandering the fields, the forests, and yes, even the roads. They look a little bit like this . . .

There's a chicken outstanding in his field! Get it? Huh? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Why'd the wild chicken cross the . . . field? To . . . sigh. Never mind.

Because this was a day of travel and transition for Our Couple in L.A., we didn't have much on the agenda. Just check into the old hotel (the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa), have a good meal, and chill out in the new surroundings. With that in mind, here's a quick little view of our new digs:

Yeah, roughing it is tough, but we make due. After all, it's what made America great.

So into the Hyatt we went, checking into a room that was just about perfect. Just about? Yeah. Our Woman in L.A. swore she smelled something . . . strange? We both loved the room, but what was that smell? I said she was being crazy, but I should have known to trust the nose.

What was it? Find out on Day 7, True Believers!

That's right. Woo-hoo! We here at the Our Man in L.A. blog are all about keeping up the suspense. Chew on that for a day or so, guys. Chew on that, indeed.

How'd the rest of the night go? Well first we got gussied up to take in a meal at Tidepools, the swanky restaurant at the hotel. We looked kinda like this . . .

Great place, that Tidepools. Blue frozen drinks, an amazing scallop appetizer, Mahi-Mahi for the lady and "Opah" fish for the gentleman. And a chocolate dessert that pretty much was to die for. Or kill for. Or, at least, pay for. Which we did.

How good was the meal? I'll let Our Woman in L.A. explain . . .

Yeah. That about sums it up.

But don't get comfortable, folks. It's not all fabulous dinners and blue drinks in Kauai. No, sir. We still had adventures to experience, mountains to climb, oceans to ford, and the sky to conquer. Hold onto your hats (and seriously, if you don't have one by now, then I'm done telling you to hold onto it). It's not over yet.

Next post: Come fly away with Our Couple in Hawaii . . . and what was that smell?

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Hawaiian Journal - If There's One Night Left, Spend it with Mama

Day 5

Whew! Day 4 sure was long, wasn't it? Well worth it, from dawn till dusk, but long nonetheless. So when Day 5 hit - our last day in Maui - Our Woman in L.A. and I decided we needed to take a well-deserved vacation. You know, from our vacation.

What's that mean? We woke up early (but not with the alarm - that's just how we roll), we got some coffee (decaf, because who cares if we take a mid-day nap), and we walked the beach. Nobody was out. It was just us. It looked kinda like this . . .

And this . . .

When we were all done walking about, taking in the natural beauty, and drinking coffee, we got our snorkel gear on and took a closer look at one of the reefs close to the hotel. We don't have any pictures of the snorkeling, so you'll have to take my word for it: it was sweet.

For one thing, we saw sea turtles. They're cool little animals.

Once the snorkeling ended, we headed up to the adult pool, where wait staff brought us whatever we wanted. Use your imagination. We don't have any pictures of that, either, but I'll add that there is a swim-up bar at the hotel. It's near a water slide that's pretty fun, and who doesn't like to drink and slide?

Since we're low on pictures from this day, and our day pretty much focused on chilling, we'll give you this: the last sunset we saw in Maui from our balcony. Don't worry. This isn't the end of the posting. This is just where the sunset falls chronologically. Get it? Sunset falls? Anyone? Is this thing on?

After the sun went down, we headed back to the head of the Hana Road for a final dinner on Maui. We went to Mama's Fish House - described as "yum-my" by guidebooks all across the land. It's an open air restaurant with a view of the beach. So beautiful.

The food was fantastic - macadamia-encrusted crab cakes, Mahi-Mahi, pork and poi, coconuts - it was out of control. Not just great food, but great service as well. We spent a good half hour kicking back at the bar, talking about what it's like to live in a place like Maui.

Don't worry. We're not moving there (though it crossed our minds). The bartender gave us a lot of perspective about the Aloha isles. For example . . .

Quote of the Day #1: "I'm a transplant. I came over here from Denver, but you know, I got really tired of all the hustle and bustle." (Bartender Guy, 2007)

That's right, Chicago, New York, and L.A. readers. The hustle and bustle. Of Denver.

Doesn't matter. We ordered another round, listened to the surf, and enjoyed that final night.

Tomorrow: Kauai ho! And look out for the wild chickens!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Hawaiian Journal - It's the Journey, Not the Destination, Although . . .

Day 4

If you ever go to Maui - and let's be honest, if you don't want to go to Maui by now, then we are not doing our jobs - everyone will tell you that you must (MUST!) drive the twisty, turny road to Hana. Or as Our Woman in L.A. calls it "The Scary Road to Hana." Hana's a small town on the edge of Maui, only accessible by a road with more hairpin turns than you can possibly anticipate.

Our Man in L.A. is a big believer that the journey is always more important than the destination. This was some journey.

We got up early, had breakfast in a small town on the way to Maui's Mother Road, and then started out. It's about 25 or 30 miles to Hana along the twisty road, but the trip took us about five hours on the way out. Why so long? It's not just the twists. It's the beauty, baby. You're in Hawaii. And so, as you go, you're stopping every mile or two to get out, hike around and see some of the most incredible landscape around.

Like this place. We'd heard there were these twin waterfalls, just off the road. A bunch of tourists hanging around made us believe this must be something worth seeing. It was. But it wasn't "just off the road" - there was hiking, a little minor climbing, and crossing perilously narrow bridges.

Note from Our Woman in L.A.: It wasn't perilous.

Note from Our Man in L.A.: Fine. You folks be the judges. Here's a picture of Our Woman in L.A. crossing the chasm . . .

Quote of the Day #1: "Probably I should have gotten some of those underwater shoes." (Chris Wieland, 2007)

The second of the twin waterfalls (not pictured here) was only accessible by crossing a small pond with an extremely rocky bottom. Our Man in L.A. felt he had to go. I only had sneakers, which I didn't want wet for all the hiking later that day, so I went barefoot. Yeah, maybe not the smartest idea. But you can't say I don't have an adventurous spirit. Or whatever.

We stopped at a bunch of other waterfalls along the drive. Here is one we thought was cool:

Of course, not all the places that we stopped to hike featured waterfalls. Some were just beautiful trails with a view of the ocean. Some even went so far as to post at the entrance to the hiking area: "No Waterfalls on this trail." Which made it especially ridiculous to hear . . .

Quote of the Day #2: "Where the waterfall at on this trail?" (Some yokel, 2007, standing next to a sign reading "No Waterfalls on this trail).

I mean, we like waterfalls as much as the next couple, but if you spend all your time looking for them, you miss sights like this one . . .

See? That's the coastline of the Road to Hana. I think we might have even taken this from the "No Waterfalls" trail.

Anyway, finally we reached Hana. And like something out of Gertrude Stein, our first reaction was, "Once you get there, there's no there there." It's a small, cute, remote Hawaiian town, sure. But we were tired, dusty, thirsty. Was this all there is?

As it turns out, no.

We heard rumors of a red rock beach, just a small hike from the town's main drag. Then we heard that maybe that getting there entailed a bit more than a "small hike.."

Quote of the Day #3: "I don't mean to suggest your life's in imminent danger, but there are a couple of places that are treacherous." (Serious Hiker Guy, 2007)

So we went for it. First, a climb through 100 yards of brush, then a steep, rocky trail that went down and then up. Then a short twisty trail around the side of a cliff, where we could only walk single file.

And then this . . .

It was a tiny cove with red sand, practically untouched except by locals. We climbed down and let the red sand run through our toes, watched the waves crash over the rocks.

Worth it? Totally.

When we left the red rock beach, we were still tired. But there were rumors of a black sand beach not far off - and actually on the way back. So at this point, you've got to see the black sand, right? Right.

When we got there, the black sand beach had several things to recommend it. First, it had a shaved ice vendor. Steph had a swirl of three colors and obscure flavors; I had four for myself. Relief started to creep in after the long day.

Quote of the Day #4: "This is all I need for where I am right now." (Stephanie Wieland, 2007, on the subject of shaved ice).

And when we were done, we wandered the black sand beach, which contained natural caves and, allegedly, blow holes. What's a blow hole, Our Woman in L.A. wondered. A minute later, the tide came in, water crashed against the rocks and came cascading out from the hole in the shoreline, drenching us both.

"Oh," she said.

But the most fascinating thing about the black sand beach was that the black part wasn't sand . . .

It was like pebbles. Cool, huh?

But all journeys must come to an end, and usually that means a return trip. So we headed back toward civilization, anticipating five more hours of travel. Really, it took less than two. Heading back, we saw fewer of the tourists and more locals. Or at least people who like racing around hairpin turns at 50 mph in cars that don't look like rentals.

So fast and furious were some of the drivers heading into Hana that Stephanie started praising the ones who were careful . . .

Quote of the Day #5: "I appreciate you, orange car. Thank you!" (Stephanie Wieland, 2007, to a safe driver in . . . an orange car.)

But then, even the drive back had obstacles. People don't normally think of agriculture in Hawaii, but it's there, and especially along the Road to Hana, you see your share of farms and animals. I even stopped to take a photo of one. Looked something like this . . .

But Our Woman in L.A. would have none of it.

Quote of the Day #6: "Don't stop to take their pictures! They might attack!"

Clearly, we were all very tired. We headed back to Kihei, got amazing curry at the local Thai place, and headed back for a well-deserved night's rest.

Tomorrow: Sea turtles, a day at the beach, and a night with Mama.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Hawaiian Journal – Enough of all the excitement, let’s kick back and dive down

Day 3

In our first two days in Maui, there’d been a lot of excitement and to-do. There’d been travel, and broken Magellan systems, warm nuts and shredded luggage. Maybe a little too much activity, we figured.

So we decided to take a break – chill on the beach, get a few more of those frozen beverages, and see a little bit of Hawaii’s natural beauty.

In Our Man in L.A.’s case, I decided to check out some of the natural beauty below the waves. I went SCUBA diving for the first time.

SCUBA’s always held a major fascination for me, but let’s face it: grow up in the Midwest, and you’re not going to get many chances to dive. As far as I know, there’s very little reef activity in the Ohio River. And I guess you could do it in one of the Great Lakes, but the required bath of Purell that follows was discouraging.

But the Fairmont had an introductory class, so I was off and . . . diving.

That’s Our Man in L.A. about 25 feet below the surface, holding a starfish. Those suckers can move. By this time, I was used to taking in the oxygen from the tank, and I was getting into it. From afar, we could see turtles out there, and tons of snapper, and a few living things like this one . . .

This is a sea pillow, one of those crazy little creatures that live on the reef. Not to be confused with the sea urchin, which looks similar but with more pronounced spikes. You don’t pick those up. Unless you’re into pain. And hospitalization.

Seriously, one of the coolest things Our Man in L.A. has ever done. The plan now that we’re back is to get SCUBA-certified, and take a few of these dives every year. You may have heard, we have an ocean here in California, too. In fact, it’s the same one! Who would have guessed?

It’s addictive being down there. I’ve got to go back. And when you’re done, it’s even sweet coming back up . . .

Quote of the Day #1: “Ah, it’s good to breathe through your nose again.” (Chris Wieland, 2007).

Amen, brother. Take off that mask, and breathe deep. You’re in Hawaii.

Editor’s note: While Our Man in L.A. took his first ever SCUBA dive, Our Woman in L.A. went to the spa at the Fairmont, where she chilled out and got girlie treatments and a massage. No pictures are available of this. You’ll just have to take her word for it.

Anyway, as the Replacements once sang, “A person can work up a mean, mean thirst after a hard day of nothing much at all.” It’s true. After the SCUBA and the spa, and lying around on the beach for hours, we were thirsty again – and hungry. So we went into the little town of Kihei to catch a bite, at a sushi place called Sansei.

Quote of the Day #2: “Uh . . . was that Clint Eastwood?”

Yeah, it was. Coming out of Sansei as we were walking in. We did a total double take.

Turns out Clint comes to the islands often, to golf and hang out, and really, to do whatever Clint wants to do. He’s Clint. Are you going to argue with him?

Celeb sightings are fairly common for us since moving west, but it’s rare that you get a really good one . . . like Clint. And it’s rare that you get someone like that coming out of the same restaurant you’re heading into. In fact, Our Woman in L.A. said:

Quote of the Day #3: “If Clint Eastwood eats here, it’s probably pretty good.”

And it was. In fact, it was the best sushi I’ve ever had. Crazy mango-crab rolls. Amazing hand rolls and sashimi and . . . look, it was just the best ever. Sushi so good that Dirty Harry leaves his gun at home. I think. Clint didn’t seem to be packing . . .

Tomorrow: The Endless road and the hidden treasures

Monday, August 27, 2007


Hawaiian Journal - Feast Your Eyes on this Lele

Day 2

Waking up in Hawaii is one of the best things ever. Well, actually, just waking up without an alarm clock. Or a to-do list. Or . . . did I mention that we hadn't been on vacation in four years?

You know that things have gotten restless in your life when your spouse says, as Our Woman in LA did not so long ago: "My idea of Heaven is a place with no to-do lists." Amen, sister. Heaven is a place called Hawaii. Let's get our Heaven on.

Exhibit One: Happy feet.

We went to the beach the morning of Day 2 and just chilled. Steph and her feet got happy (see above). How do you know they're happy? Dude, look at all that sand on them!

Our Man in LA even found time to relax with a book. That's right, I said it. Relaxing. I can do it.

But eventually, we did have to get up and go. Which leads us to . . .

Quote of the Day #1: "Magellan is no Magellan." (Chris Wieland, 2007)

This is the car we used to tool around on Maui. Yeah, it's a red convertible.

Anyway, when you're in a new and different place, it's easy to get lost along the way. That's why the rental agencies (in this case, Hertz) provide - for just a few dollars more - a GPS navigational system. In this case, they handed the Wielands a Magellan.

It was awesome. Loved that little thing. I felt like we could go anywhere, and it's little robotic heart would lead us in the least convoluted way possible.

That is, until it died. On our way to the luau.

It's cool. We're on vacation. In Hawaii. Which means that nothing phases us. Our Woman in LA did call Hertz to "discuss" the broken Magellan, but that's neither here nor there. Yes, the conversation did include the phrase, "Well, yeah, I know you're going to refund us for the Magellan, I'm just interested in how you're going to make this up to us and save our business." (Stephanie Wieland, 2007)

I love my wife. And you should know that Hawaii had an effect - no raised voice at the fool manning the phones back at Hertz central. Just calm, collected customer dissatisfaction. Ah, the islands.

Plus, you gotta figure that losing the Magellan is the Universe's way of telling us to be a little more adventurous. OK. Game on, Universe.

Sans Magellan, we made our way up the coast to Lahaina, home of The Feast of Lele, infamous luau. Such a beautiful locale. We were super-psyched to have our own table and from the very moment that they slipped the leis around our necks, it seemed like it would be a magical night.

Then . . .

Quote of the Day #2: "You can take the lei off if it's suffocating you." (Chris Wieland, 2007)

Our Woman in L.A. was a sport. She wore the flower lei through at least two of her tropical drinks, until I noticed her eyes watering.

"Aw, honey, are you crying?" I asked.

"No," she said. "I'm fine. This is really beautiful." Insert sneeze here.

"Seriously, are you OK?"

"Um . . . I think the flowers in this lei are making it hard for me to breathe. But it's cool."

Yeah, she had an allergic reaction. But she really wanted to wear that lei. We compromised. She could take it off and drink more frozen/tropical/rum-filled drinks. This is why I'm a sensational negotiator.

At the luau, you dine on five courses - each one native to one of the South Pacific islands - Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand, Tahiti and . . . uh, another island. A tropical one. We really liked this course, which might be Samoa. It's hard to say. There was a bit of alcoholic beverage served . . .

Of course, one of the reasons you go to the luau is to see the entertainment - traditional island dances and customs, including hula and fire dancing. Hold onto your hats (if you have hats), this is pretty cool. I want to pause here and recognize Our Woman in L.A. for her fabulous photography skills, especially during the luau performance. We both really enjoyed the entire performance.

Take a look . . .

Truly a great way to spend Day 2 in one of the most beautiful places we've ever been.

Post-script: First, a disclaimer from Our Woman in L.A.: "It may look like we were drunk off our asses the entire time we were in Hawaii. We weren't. Not the entire time. And we really were careful about not drinking and driving. That's one to grow on, brought to you by Kona Beers, makers of Longboard Lager."

Post script 2: Here's another picture of Our Man in L.A. getting his drink on:

Tomorrrow: Starfish, sushi, spa, and a man with no name.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Hawaiian Journal-at last the truth comes out!

Hey there, folks!

Both Our Man and Our Woman in L.A. here. You might have heard that we recently took a sojourn to Hawaii for nine days. Heck, you might have assumed that was the reason nobody's been blogging around here lately. That's partially true. But, either way, we'd be remiss in sharing all our adventures on the left coast if we left out our travels in Maui and Kauai. Hawaii is, after all, one of those "western states."

So for the next nine days feast your eyes right here as we share with you our exclusive Hawaiian Journal! You'll find it all in here - helicopters, scuba, Hula Girls, and many a frozen drink. Read on, enjoy, and take heart: the Hawaiian Journal contains virtually none of Our Man in L.A.'s opinions on Michael Vick or the Bush administration. They get a break for eight days.

Day One:

First Quote of the Day: "I guess all that travel for work isn't so bad." (Chris Wieland, 2007)

Because of all my travel for the man (aka, the day job), we scored copious amounts of Frequent Flier miles on American Airlines. So many, in fact, that we were not only able to fly to Hawaii for free, but we also were able to upgrade to First Class for free.

That's right, baby. Warm nuts.

(Note of explanation demanded by Our Woman in LA: In first class, they serve passengers a small bowl of mixed nuts that have been warmed in an oven. Few things bring such joy to Our Woman in LA. In fact, we have considered buying mixed nuts at home, and warming them. Just to keep the morale high. "Warm Nuts" is not an album by Barry White, though it sounds like one.)

Other food items in first class included: hot fudge sundae, your choice of chicken or pasta, fresh warm rolls (also a hit with Our Woman in LA), salads, and all the free booze you can drink (which is plenty).

Second Quote of the Day: "Would you like a shot of anything you want for just three extra dollars?" (Waitress at Stinger Ray's Bar and Grille, Honolulu Airport, 2007)

Had a bit of a layover in Honolulu. Decided to get a snack - and a beverage - before heading to Maui. Can you believe the hospitality in these islands? A shot? Of anything I want? For just three more dollars?

Baby, we're on vacation.

Third Quote of the Day: "This luggage shredded, courtesy of Hawaiian Air." (Chris Wieland, 2007)

Uh, yeah. This isn't the way our luggage looked when we checked it. But since we'd already been to Stinger Ray's, we did have to look twice. And confer.

Eric at Hawaiian Air was really cool and reimbursed us for the destroyed duffel bag and roller board. Nothing lost, and we still had a decent buzz going.

Fourth Quote of the Day: "$89 for hummus, Lay's chips and a split of champagne." (Room Service Staff, 2007)

Got to the hotel - the incomparable Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui - and ordered up a snack. An expensive snack.

Luckily, we had this amazing ocean view from our room to keep us happy.

Fifth - and Final - Quote of the Day: "This is the best cabernet reduction sauce I've ever had. Did I just say that?" (Stephanie Wieland, 2007)

Finished off Day One with a great dinner at Nick's Fishmarket in the Kea Lani. Unbelievable food and view of the ocean. The waiters seemed impressed that we ordered another bottle of champagne. We tried to tell them - when you don't go on vacation for something like four years, you come out swinging.

Tomorrow: Who wants to go to a Luau???

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Paradise Island.....

Hey Y'all, it's Our Woman in L.A. here. We're back from Hawaii, things have just been busy. Our Man in L.A. and I are going to post a for-real blog this weekend. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from our trip to Hawaii. I've just got four words for you.....big blue tropical drinks!

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