Moolah

As we continue to dig through the corners of our basement, packing up our house for the move, it’s been interesting to find some things that were long forgotten. For example, today I unearthed a couple boxes of coins I’d amassed in high school. I played poker with my friends for many years, and I tucked away my winnings. It was always nickel-dime-quarter stakes, but over the years I ended up with a lot of nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Everything was neatly rolled, so I loaded the boxes into my trunk (combined, all these coins weighed over a hundred pounds) and drove to the bank. I hefted these onto the counter by the teller, who informed me he’d have to crack open all the rolled coins and run them through the big counting machine in the back room. After a twenty-minute wait, he came back and reported the grand total: $654.65. Clearly my rolling wasn’t as accurate as I thought years ago. But still, it’s nice to have that money in my bank account instead of sitting in a box under the basement stairs.

I also found a savings bond that Grandma Schroeder had given me when I was a wee lad:

Based on the date, this was a Christmas present when I was fourteen. The bond cost $25 and matured at $50. But, since I’d let it sit in my basement for over three decades, the interest had accumulated so the total redemption was a cool $103. Thanks, Grandma!

Now, as I continue to pack, I’m on the prowl for other things I can “cash in”…

Sunflowers galore

As Laralee and I walked around the neighborhood, we were surprised at the number of sunflowers at various houses. I started snapping pictures of them as we walked…

And one perfectly-formed flower:

As we finished our walk, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset (note Longs Peak in the bottom left).

Funtana

On our walk this evening, Laralee and I saw this bumper sticker on a rusted-out truck.

Arm bump

Stumbled across this photo on the internet today. Wholesome.

Back to BYU

Alex timed his wedding carefully so he and Kaitlyn would have a few days to honeymoon before starting classes, so we took the opportunity to bring a bunch of things from home for both him and Kyra. We managed to fill a U-Haul trailer with a bed, dresser, nightstands, Kyra’s enormous comfy chair, and boxes upon boxes of stuff.

Unlike the last time she headed off to college, Kyra knows her roommate (a woman who served in the same mission), knows the campus, and knows what her major will be. So she’s much more confident, excited, and ready to be social. We unloaded things into her new apartment, which is cleverly called a “lodge” because it sounds fancier even though it’s just as worn-down as any college apartment.

After a bunch of wedding festivities, we stopped at the shave-ice shack near her old apartment complex and enjoyed a late-night treat.

It wasn’t quite as good as the one on Kaua’i, but that might be because it wasn’t a scorching sunny 90 degrees, and we weren’t actually in the Hawai’ian Islands (although the shack was themed that way). Still, I’m definitely a convert to shave ice and hope to get a machine for Christmas or something.

It’ll be fun to have Kyra and Alex at BYU together, along with a bunch of friends they’ve made over the past few years. I hope their college experience is awesome.

He’s hitched!

Yesterday was Alex’s wedding. In the few months since he announced his engagement, we’ve been watching him plan, organize, and run through a thousand details leading up to the big event. Kaitlyn, his betrothed, did her share of the work from afar, since the two of them weren’t together for most of the summer. It was definitely hard to have a long-distance relationship, and to plan a long-distance wedding, but it all came together beautifully.

Here’s the happy couple at the head table:

And of course some goofy faces too:

Here’s a shot of their first dance. Notice their cloaks, and the dagger at Alex’s side. It was a medieval-themed wedding, and although most people showed up in standard Sunday clothes, there were a handful of committed friends who were carrying shields, covered in chain-mail armor, and even a guy in a full knight’s suit straight out of Monty Python. Alex and Kaitlyn cut their wedding cake with a sword!

Later during the reception, Zaque unfurled a long scroll and announced the story of the happy couple. He embellished it a bit, and added some side commentary like only he can. The tale was hilarious.

As an added bonus, we saw a bunch of old friends from Longmont. Some of them drove all the way out from Colorado, while others are now living in Utah and had a shorter trip. I ran into three yahoos who I’ve known since they were little boys:

And we took a picture of (almost) all of the Colorado crowd:

It was great to see all of the planning come together in a ceremony and reception that was fun for all. Now Kaitlex (as they will be known hereafter) is on their honeymoon. It’s weird to think I have a kid who’s married but I’m really excited for them. Here’s wishing them many, many happy years to come.

That’s a wrap

Today was the Grass Roots Ultimate summer league tournament. I started playing in GRU in the summer of 1999, so this was my 20th summer league. During these past two decades, I’ve probably played in a total of nearly a hundred leagues. So you could say GRU has been a big part of my life during my time in Colorado.

My team this summer put up a .500 record; it seemed like every week we’d win a game and lose a game. We continued that tradition today, winning the quarter-finals on a dramatic universe point, but dropping the semi-finals to the team who eventually went on to win the championship. Regardless of the score, it was a great team and we had a lot of fun together. Plus, we looked really sharp in our fluorescent orange jerseys.

My co-captain for this final season was Brenda, who was also on my very first summer league team back in 1999. She and I became good friends, and we co-captained probably thirty teams in the intervening years. It seemed fitting to finish this journey with her.

Last fall, my friend Jordan let me borrow her sparkly pink skirt for our tournament games. Today, she wasn’t playing in the tournament but drove to the fields to let me borrow her skirt once again.

Then she gave me the good news: I can keep it! I’ve added it to my ultimate wardrobe (alongside maybe forty jerseys from over the years) and will pull it out as needed. When I came home wearing it, Laralee almost fainted with excitement. Actually, that’s not quite true– I think her actual words were something like “If I hadn’t already married you, seeing you in that outfit would’ve definitely killed the deal.”

At halftime, a group of friends came over from other fields to present me with a plaque. Yes, a plaque!

It’s a little hard to tell in the photo, but that’s a piece of turf glued onto the wood backing, with a bare footprint carved out of it on the left. Despite the cheesiness of it all, I was really touched.

I took the opportunity for some selfies with friends I ran across on the field throughout the day.

These are only a handful of literally hundreds of people I’ve become friends with during my years in GRU. I love this sport, but even more, I love the people I’ve met while playing it. What an amazing community.

I still have a few more weeks to play some pickup games, and I’ll be assisting new league coordinators as I transition out of the organization, so I’m not quite finished with GRU yet. But I’ve played in my last game. Thanks for twenty years, everyone.

404

Hobby Lobby’s web site is down right now, and I got a chuckle out of their error page:

End of an era

Yesterday was it: the last day we had all three of our kids at home. Alex left this morning for Utah, and in about a week he’ll be married. Kyra will be at college next week, and may come back next summer, but who knows. And Zaque will be gone for two years on a mission.

It’s really weird to know that this part of our job as parents is over. Well, maybe “entering a new phase” is a better way to put it. With three adult kids it becomes more about giving advice (sometimes carefully) rather than instruction. I’m excited for the end of an era and the start of a new one.

Deep

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

C.S. Lewis

Rewards

After multiple airline trips, hotel stays, and rental cars this year– all booked through Expedia– I wanted to check my status in their rewards program.

WOW! After spending nearly $5,000 on travel, I have almost two dollars to redeem for my next airline ticket or whatever. First class, here I come.

Eh

Me: Hey Kyra, I’m pretty awesome, right?
Kyra (after a pause): Eh.

Hawai’ian miscellany

As the final installment in my Hawai’i saga, I have a random collection of photos from the trip.

During our layover at LAX, we had to get some dinner. There were three choices for restaurants, and Shake Shack seemed like the best option. As it turned out, it was the saddest burger I’ve seen in a long time.

Here are Alex and Kyra on the hike to Queen’s Bath:

While we were looking down at Wailua Canyon, we saw a guy pull up in an old beat-up Prius. The entire back half of the car was filled with coconuts. It looked totally sketchy.

Notice the rooster. They’ve pretty much taken over the island, and you see them everywhere. Sidewalks, along the road, parking lots, and anywhere there’s a flat surface, there are roosters and hens prancing around clucking. Kyra wasn’t at all pleased when she was awakened (every day) by the cock-a-doodle-doo of roosters at 5am.

Anyway, back to the coconuts. We talked to the guy, who apparently climbs the trees each morning and cuts down big bunches of coconuts. He pulled out a machete and proceeded to deliver a series of well-placed whacks to one of them. La and I both enjoyed a drink of fresh coconut milk.

I’m not normally a fan of coconuts, but there’s something about drinking it right out of a freshly-harvested one. Good stuff.

One afternoon we didn’t have any firm plans, so we headed down to a bike shop and rented cruiser bikes. They were pretty sweet.

There’s a nice bike trail along the eastern coast of Kaua’i, so we went about five miles up the shore. Not surprisingly, we saw some amazing beaches (several of which we’d visited earlier).

Oh, that blue. I love it.

We also partook of the traditional Hawai’ian shave ice (not shaved ice):

Sweet glory, that stuff is amazing. Laralee complained that it was “too sweet” (whatever that means). The kids and I absolutely loved them.

True shave ice is completely unlike a snow cone, and this particular roadside stand knew how to pump just enough liquid sugar to completely saturate the ice. Perfect!

In addition to the prolific chickens, I noticed a ton of wild cats. They’d just sit around outside stores, at roadside stands, or wherever. I’m not sure if they dined on chicken much, but there sure were a lot of them. Here’s one surveying his (her?) domain at a roadside park.

Laralee and I had opportunities to take nice walks along the beach. I figure that’s part of a healthy marriage: take your wife to Hawai’i and go to the beach.

The road along the southern coast of Maui has some really cool black-rock beaches, where the rocks are roughly the size of bowling balls.

When the waves come in, the rocks roll around and make a loud rumbling sound. It’s very different from the quieter rattling of finer sand in places like Waianapanapa.

In the photo above, part of the road is visible along the edge of the cliff. Much of the southern highway is a one-lane road that hugs the cliffs along the shore, with a sheer drop to the ocean (at times, hundreds of feet straight down). It’s a bit of a white-knuckle drive, but absolutely gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, here’s Laralee with her wind blowing gently in the sea breeze.

At one point I noticed some waves hitting the rocks particularly hard, so I hiked over to take a look.

I got a bit too close.

On our last day in Kaua’i, I convinced Laralee and Alex to join me on the Kuamo’o Trail to the top of some cliffs overlooking the Wailua Valley. The trail was pretty crazy, snaking amongst towering grass.

We didn’t make it to the top, because we had to turn around so we could check out of our house on time. But we were rewarded with a nice view of Wailua and Kapa’a.

What an incredible trip. I’m thrilled we were able to go, and to take our kids. With Alex getting married next week and Zaque heading out on a mission next month, this will be the last time just the five of us can be together. Hawai’i is truly a paradise, and I can’t wait to return.

Koloa

What does one do in Koloa? Ziplining, of course! The famous Koloa Zipline company operates there, and they have eight separate lines with the final one stretching just shy of half a mile. We’d heard it was a ton of fun, so we signed up.

Our guides took some photos of us before our first run.

And off we go!

We had a great time. Near the end we took a group photo, with the Waita Reservoir in the background (and beyond that, the ocean).

Since parts of Jurassic World were filmed on the land owned by Koloa Zipline, apparently it’s a tradition to take a dinosaur photo too.

Holding a plastic toy dinosaur close to the camera isn’t quite the level of special effects in Jurassic World, but I guess you work with what you have…

Wailua

Not to be confused with Waimea (I kept mixing up the names), Wailua is a river and valley in eastern Kaua’i. One morning we decided to rent some paddleboards and go upriver. The current is really slow, so it’s more or less like being on a lake.

At first, as we headed out from shore, we were all a little wobbly on the boards. They were surprisingly unstable, although I attribute some of that to the fact that they’re sort of cheap rentals.

After a while, all of us got our sea legs and were able to paddle with ease. Kyra shows off her technique:

Like everything in Kaua’i, green is abundant. The river winds between tree-covered hills in an idyllic setting.

At times it was nice to just relax on the board and let the current gently push us along.

Here’s a view of part of the river from above:

Although I would’ve preferred to kayak, the Wailua River is restricted and you pretty much have to go with a tour group. We much preferred doing our own thing on paddleboards. It was really cool, and a great way to spend a morning.

Beaches

We spent a lot of time at beaches during our two weeks in Hawai’i. All of us loved playing in the waves and just relaxing in the sand.

Inevitably, people were buried in the sand. Kyra insisted it was surprisingly comfortable, and it certainly kept her from getting sunburned.

Here’s Zaque as he attempts to “break out” by sheer strength:

A random shot of a wave slithering along the smooth sand:

We saw all kinds of little sand crabs. These guys were maybe an inch across, and they blended into the sand almost perfectly. You couldn’t really see them until they moved, and when they did, they were fast!

We did some snorkeling, but it wasn’t very popular with this crowd. I think we might’ve enjoyed it more if we’d been in places where there were substantially larger reefs.

Here’s Kyra diving for a closer look:

We saw a few sea turtles, which are always fun.

Riding the waves is always a hit. I was standing next to Laralee as one came in:

She went down. And so did I.

Zaque takes one in the back:

This time I caught a good hit to Laralee:

We tried boogie-boarding at a few of the beaches, but couldn’t quite master it. Alex seemed to do the best.

Laralee caught a big wave and tumbled hard. Afterward she looked a bit washed-up.

(She swore off boogie-boarding after that incident.)

Alex and Zaque both had fun rolling with the waves. They’d lay on the shore, just above the waterline, and wait for a big wave to come in and sweep them away. Here’s Alex getting rolled:

And Zaque’s swimsuit model pose. I promised him this will be in our family Christmas card.

Alex found a coconut floating on the waves:

These guys are formidable. He and Laralee spent a good five minutes smashing it on a rock and tearing at it to get it open.

Finally they were rewarded with some fresh coconut milk!

One of the places we went on Kaua’i was called Queen’s Bath. It came highly recommended, not only in our guidebook but also by several friends. It was, bar none, the muddiest trail I’ve ever hiked (even muddier than Haleakala, which we’d done a few days earlier). Zaque didn’t have shoes so he did the whole thing barefoot, including walking across the sharp lava rocks at the shore. When we finally arrived at Queen’s Bath, he expressed our opinion pretty succinctly:

Maybe on a “good day” it’s a cool area, but that day it was more like a tepid, stagnant pond. No thanks.

In the end, if you finish the day with sandy feet, it was probably a good day.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of Hawai’i” and it’s easy to see why. It cuts a deep swath through southwest Kaua’i and is majestic. We drove up the canyon road, and I was telling Laralee to stop at nearly every pullout so I could climb up the embankment and look at the vista.

Kyra was unimpressed, and stayed in the car.

As we neared the top of the canyon, we literally drove up into a cloud. Much of the higher altitudes in Kaua’i seem to be enveloped in clouds pretty often, due to all the moisture in the air. At first it looked like nothing more than a light fog…

… but when we started hiking the Pu’u o Kila trail, the clouds thickened and soon we were unable to see the canyon at all.

Interestingly, the edge of the trail dropped off as a sheer cliff. Although we couldn’t see into the canyon itself, it was obvious we were standing at the top of a vertical wall at least several hundred feet high.

At times, the forest had kind of an eerie otherworldly quality about it:

But wait! Laralee saw a break in the clouds.

Sure enough, the air cleared a bit and we had a view along the canyon toward the Na Pali Coast:

It was fleeting– the clouds dissipated for only a few minutes, but what they revealed was spectacular.

Then they closed in again, and we were wreathed in fog once again. It was really interesting to hike in these conditions.

At times I thought maybe we’d get a good view, but even at the Pihea lookout at the “top” of the trail, it was almost entirely enveloped in clouds.

I’d hoped that during the hike we’d get a break, but alas, the cloud cover persisted. We hiked back down the trail and managed to catch one last glimpse toward the coast:

Although the clouds provided interesting scenery, I was disappointed not to see the entire view. Next time, we decided, we’d come in the morning rather than waiting until the afternoon when the clouds roll in.

Driving back down the road afforded a couple more amazing shots.

Like the Na Pali Coast, this is a place I definitely want to return to, and take some of the dozen or so more serious hikes. Amazing stuff.

Na Pali

After a week in Maui, we island-hopped over to Kaua’i. On our last trip to the state, we’d visited O’ahu and while that was cool, we wanted to see something new. On our first full day there, we hopped aboard a helicopter tour.

It lasted a little less than an hour, but it was probably one of the most amazing hours of my life. The scenery was without equal. We saw more waterfalls than I could believe, and I found myself breathing “wow” almost every time we swooped around a cliff into another valley.

The cliffs were steep and completely covered in green, with rivers and streams flowing through them.

So many waterfalls!

As we continued toward the western edge of Kaua’i, the cliffs became steeper.

The wide-angle lens on my camera couldn’t even capture the scene from top to bottom.

We cruised through canyons whose sheer walls were, in some cases, almost half a mile tall.

And then we arrived at the Na Pali Coast.

Words (and photos) don’t do it justice. The cliffs are towering and the water is a breathtaking shade of turquoise.

Check out the tiny boat for scale:

Along the shoreline are beaches and caves, many with waterfalls.

Indescribable.

Some of the waterfalls literally spring from the side of the cliffs, with no source above them. The water at the top of the mountain– one of the wettest spots on the planet– trickles down into the rock and can take decades to eventually work through to the rock face where it gushes out as a waterfall.

After seeing it, I decided then and there I want to hike or kayak along the coast. It’s a journey of several days, but the chance to stop at caves and camp on the beach would be an amazing experience. Laralee agreed to do it with me, so now I have a new item for my bucket list.

There’s nowhere quite like Na Pali.

Haleakala

Haleakala is the mountain in the center of Maui, a long-extinct volcano that towers over the island and has a profound effect on the climate. The area to the north and east is incredibly wet (one of the wettest places on earth) while south and west is much drier. It makes for a fascinating drive to essentially circle the mountain, taking the Road to Hana along the north shore, and then highway 360 on the south shore.

The mountain is part of a national park, and the southeast entrance is at Ohe’o Gulch. Despite the name, it has a majestic shoreline.

Alex hiked out a bit to get a closer look:

Kyra snapped a shot of me and Laralee:

And I couldn’t resist one of her looking out over the ocean.

A short hike unveils even more incredible shoreline.

Looking inland, you can see the so-called Seven Sacred Pools. There aren’t seven, and you can’t swim in them, so it’s a bit of a misnomer.

We headed up the trail, which was the muddiest trail I’ve ever hiked. This area of Maui gets an unbelievable amount of rainfall, and after a while we stopped even trying to keep our shoes and feet clean. We stopped for a quick photo at a massive banyan tree:

Eventually we arrived at the bamboo forest, which as always was awesome. There’s something about all those tall trees crammed together, waving gently in the breeze and making a strange knocking sound.

At the end of the trail is Waimoku Falls, cascading nearly five hundred feet down a sheer cliff face.

What a beautiful national park!