Friday, March 30, 2007

The Reason We Went

Man, between trying to catch up on 3+ weeks worth of blogs and doing our trip report, I’m getting behind just a bit. It’s hard to believe we’ve been back for almost 2 weeks, but here is the next installment of the Hawaii trip report. Thursday turned out to be a full day.

In the morning we went to Waipio Valley on the north side of the island. We wanted to go to the black sand beach at the bottom of the hill and see the valley from the bottom. To get to the beach and waterfall, you have to have a 4x4 or you can hike the ½ - 1 mile road. It has a whopping 25% grade and a few river crossings. Check out this guy’s pictures and you’ll see what I’m talking about. After making it down to the beach, we decided to take our snack break while sitting on the boulders and watching the waves. From the point where the freshwater river runs to the ocean, you have a great view of the valley and mountain tops. We hung around the beach for a little while and then started making the trek back to the top. I told Stacie that I was not ashamed to hitch a ride back to the top if available. A local guy in a Four Runner passed us and we asked for a ride. He was playing tour guide for some of his friends and kindly picked us up. He showed us around as well and took us over the river crossings to see great views and some taro farms. This was really cool of him because we were not able to make it to these places on foot. The ride to the top was very quick and this saved us enough time that we decided to hit the beach before the ceremony.

The condo had some boogie boards that we could use. We changed in to our bathing suits, grabbed our boards and headed for Hapuna Beach. This is a great family friendly beach that has a perfect setup for some body surfing. We had never done boogie boarding before, but it looked fairly easy. It was a blast! We only had a few hours before we had to get cleaned up for the wedding. We were having so much fun, I started to be disappointed that there wouldn’t be enough time to our fill. After about an hour and a half of playing, we realized that it was a lot of work and we had had enough. I spotted a good sized wave and suggested we end our day with one more great ride. This sucker was huge and it broke right over us. Not exactly the smooth ending we planned as we got completely thrashed underwater and Stacie damn near hung herself with the lead. This ass over tea kettle display filled Stacie’s head full of sea water, so she called it quits. I couldn’t end the day like that so I stayed out for a few more waves. Once I caught one more great long ride, I was ready to head back and get ready for the evening.

So, the main reason we went to Hawaii was scheduled for sunset. Chad and Joan got married at the Hilton for a sunset wedding. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony and the rain held off until the very end. When a very light drizzle came, we all huddled near the chapel for about 10 minutes and had champagne. Luckily the weather cleared right up and we were able to enjoy the reception dinner by the lagoon. It was a great evening and Stacie and I got to spend time with my buddy Ted and his wife. I will definitely have to make the bike trip to Nashville in the coming months to visit with them again.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Little Rest and a Luau

By Wednesday, we were spent. We didn’t have anything planned so we walked down to the Hilton. That place was awesome! It’s so big they have their own monorail, canal boats, lagoon, waterfall, and dolphin exhibit. If you’ve got the cash, stay at this place. After exploring the resort, we went back to our place for a nap. I hate napping in the room while on vacation, but we hit that wall and the fun wouldn’t begin again until we got some rest.

Instead of having a rehearsal dinner, Chad’s dad treated us to a luau at the Marriott. That was extremely nice of him and it was probably something we would have never experienced if they hadn’t put it together. It started shortly after the best sunset we witness for our entire vacation. The weather was perfect and this contributed to an enjoyable show under an amazing amount of stars. It consisted of the usual dancing and of course the fire wielding stud. Stacie and I agreed that the pig was the best pork we have ever eaten. I did try a mai tai, but had to pass on the poi. When the luau completed, we headed over to the bar for more drinks and do some toasts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Wedding Party Fishing Rodeo

For Tuesday, Chad, the groom, arranged for a full day of deep sea fishing for those of us that made the big journey for his wedding. I know Joan, the bride, wanted to go as well, but she was in charge of spa day. 17 of us chartered 4 boats for the day in search of tuna, mahi, and marlin. Stacie, Chad, John, and I were on Monkey Biz II for the day.

Stacie was the sole female of the group, but managed to catch the first fish of the day. She brought in a mahi when we were only about 15 minutes out of the harbor. It was a good size for her to battle and I was excited to see her catch something. It’s a good thing she caught something so early, because with the rough waters and the excitement, she ended up chumming the waters for us. You have to realize how rare this is for Stacie. In the 10 years we have been together, I have only seen her throw up twice. She may have an upset stomach or not feel well, but she just never gets sick that way.

John caught the next fish for our boat around noon. He brought in a nice 66lb striped marlin. If you’ve never seen the crew bring a big fish in the boat, it is quite brutal. They go all Capone on the fish with these half size aluminum bats so it doesn’t flop around all day.

Since Stacie and John already had a fish each, Chad and I did 30 minute rotations to finish out the day. We were heading back to shore during our last 30 minute cycle and hooked a blue marlin. It was Chad’s turn in the chair and after a good struggle, the beatings began and the crew was able to bring in all 143lbs. While this fish was on the line, it did the classic leap and that was fun to see. I got the big ole goose egg for the day, but was happy that it was Chad’s turn because we were there for him. This catch gave him the best fish for the day within the group, so he won the bounty and it gave him a free day of fishing. I guess since the fishing was a freeroll, he dropped some cash to send the fish off to be mounted. It will be displayed in his hangar / toy box in Vegas this summer.

The other boats had brought in some catches as well, with only 1 boat coming in fishless. The crews cleaned up the fish and gave some to Chad. This gave him more than enough to cook out for 40 people that evening. Stacie and I didn’t make it for the dinner, but those that did couldn’t stop raving about how good the fresh fish tasted. We wimped out, but sleep was calling for us. Some of those people are hard chargers and lasted until after midnight even though we initially met up at 6 that morning.

Aloha Kauai, Aloha Hawaii

Monday was a travel day for us. We did an inter-island flight to go from Kauai to Hawaii with the obligatory stopover in Honolulu again (it’s like the Atlanta of the islands when flying). We landed in Kona, picked up our rental car and headed out to scout the area. We were going to get the new Wrangler, but since our stuff would be in the car all day Friday, we decided that a Pontiac G6 would be more secure.

We went out for supplies at a local grocery store before settling in to our condo. We stayed at the Fairway Villas near the Hilton and Marriot. We were very impressed with our place. We got a 2 bedroom condo and were sharing it with another couple that was also attending the wedding. We went to bed early after eating dinner so we would be ready for our 7 AM launch for the fishing trip. You will be impressed with catches our boat made.

Even though we had been in the islands for about 5 days, this was the first day we were able to see a sunrise. The weather had not cooperated enough to see one earlier, but our last morning in Kauai had a beautiful pink cotton candy awakening. The weather on the big island was much better and since we were staying on the west side of the island, we saw our first sunset. It was great to watch the sun rise while on Kauai and then finish with a great sunset on Hawaii.

How’d They Know I Was Coming?

This was our greeting as we headed from the Kona Airport to our condo in the Waikoloa Resort on The Big Island.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Day 3 in Hawaii and Luckily, Not Our Last

Sunday was the best weather day so far so we decided to try Waimea Canyon again. We were contemplating trying another attemptat the helicopter tour and see it by air without the waterfall landing. We know longer had the warm and fuzzies since we had passed the easily visible wreckage of Thursday’s crash on Saturday that was about 40 feet off of the road heading to Ke’e. So when we came to the turn off for the heliport, we decided that we would just hike the canyon instead since it was such a beautiful day.

The place was huge and unlike the Grand Canyon in Arizona, it is very lush and colorful. Our main objective was to see the Waipo'o Falls. You can see it for miles while driving to Koke'e State Park. We did Canyon Trail, a really cool hike that was about 5 miles round trip. It is shorter if you have a 4 wheel drive to get to the trailhead instead of walking down a rough dirt road with some huge puddles. The trail took us to the top of the waterfall. You can see the end of the trail on top of the ledge in the second picture. It continues down the other side of the ridge to a big pool and the top of the higher tier that is in the first 2 pictures. We spent the whole day walking and driving around the canyon. We should have started earlier, because the visibility is best in the morning. We could still see things, but the pictures turned out hazy.

When we were having dinner that evening, we were wondering if we would regret our decision to pass on the helicopter tour until we overheard a couple at another table say another tour chopper had crashed during the day. When we watched the news, we saw it was the same company, helicopter (Hughes 500 with doors off), and probably the same flight that we decided to pass on and hike instead. I really wanted to fly in this helicopter because it was what my Dad flew in Vietnam and it was his favorite. T.C. also flew this same kind in Magnum P.I. The 500 is a safe aircraft and very protective in the event of a crash since it is shaped like an egg. I’m sure pilot skill and the protective design are the reasons only 1 person was killed in the accident. Oddly enough, I still wanted to do a helicopter tour when we got over to the Big Island. I believe it is the best way to see the volcano, but more on that later.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Napali Coast

Saturday’s weather was nicer but still overcast. We headed to the north side of the island to Ke’e Beach for some hiking. The 11 mile Kalalau Trail at the Napali Coast has a trailhead here. It is a very rugged, wet trail that follows along the edge of the beautiful cliffs and provides great views. It quickly becomes remote and jungley and makes you feel like you need to look out for the Others or some other Evil on the Island. We passed numerous small waterfalls that come right up to the trail and sometimes over it. Many times, you are hiking across the rocks through go through the streams. We went just short of the first secluded beach at around the 2 mile mark. We turned back so we could do some walking along Ke’e. This is a great area for snorkeling, but Stacie and I aren’t in to getting that close with nature when it comes to being in the ocean.

After hiking and walking along the beach, we ventured in to some caves nearby. We then headed east over to the Kilauea Lighthouse. We got there shortly after it closed but we could still see it from the observation area. Not only did we see the lighthouse, we saw boobies everywhere. I mean there were so many boobies you thought one would hit you in the face. Hehe.

I know what you’re thinking…..and you’re right

I can’t start off a Hawaii post without a Magnum, P.I. reference now can I? Man I love that show. We never stayed in Oahu were Robin’s Nest is. We only had a brief stopover in Honolulu to change planes.

We had an uneventful but long flight to Kauai that got us to our room about 8 in the evening local time. We kept entertained for some of the flight by watching Rounders and An Unfinished Life. In addition, I watched a few episodes of High Stakes Poker. This helped pass the time, but while I was avoiding the in-flight movies (Casino Royale and Rocky Balboa) the players started talking about a key event in Rocky. Arghhhhh, I was purposely looking away from the screen on the plane because we are going to watch them on DVD this weekend. Stacie doesn’t know any spoilers yet, so please don’t comment on any of the movie particulars.

We got up Friday and the news was reporting about a helicopter crash that happened on the north side of the island on Thursday. This didn’t give us a warm fuzzy about our morning appointment, but I assured Stacie that these events were very rare and I really didn’t expect another problem for years. We made it out to the heliport and our flight was cancelled due to bad weather. Since we were close, we decided to see Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific). As you can see, visibility was a zero.

Site seeing was out for the day so we headed to the beach and thought we could splash around a bit at Poipu Beach on the sunny side of the island. Ha! 30MPH sustained winds and rain made for deadly surf and unpleasant beach conditions. It was very disappointing, but then became more comical than anything. I mean who doesn’t want to travel for 22 hours to one of Travel Channel’s top 10 beaches and find tropical storm I’dkindaliketolayya happening. Spouting horn was not too far away so we thought that might be a reasonable attraction that probably wasn’t hampered too much by weather. It was a pretty cool, but I bet it looks much more impressive on a nice sunny day. On the way back to the room, we stopped by Wailua Falls. This is the “Fantasy Island Waterfall.” The first picture is from Friday with lots of rain and the second one is from a few days later when it is back to it’s normal TV look. This was about all of the siteseeing we could do for the day so we had some dinner and went to bed a little early for island time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Enjoy the Silence

Well, other than a slight tanning bed mishap that resulted in a nice 4 inch wide racing stripe across my waist and belly button, I think we are ready. We have a friend picking us up at 0'dark early and we will enjoy most of our Thursday smelling recycled air and the occasional decompression from our flightmates.

We were successfully able to get 10 days worth of stuff in to 1 carry-on suitcase each with an additional DVD carrying case for me and a backpack for Stacie. I think we will be sufficiently entertained with a few movies and I also burned some High Stakes Poker and Top Gear to watch. I am hoping I have about 8 hours of battery life including the extra pack I bought. When those run out, my barber let me take some magazines from his shop.

It looks like rain for the days we are in Kauai so we shall see what that does to our plans. If its too bad, we won't do our helicopter ride and that will really bum us out. I'm not too sure about the weather for next week on the Big Island, but it doesn't really matter now, does it?

We didn't win the lottery last night, but I was able to save us $130 combined on our rental car reservations today. Stacie had already booked and confirmed them when I noticed that I could get them cheaper just by reserving them today. She called the rental car place about it and they gave us the new rate without any problem. If we were the more spontaneous type when it came to trips, I sure we could save alot of money in other ways by waiting until the last minute and be flexible with our travel plans. We get so little time off from work, we are normally willing to pay up front and have a more comfortable feeling about availability.

That's all for me folks. Take care of the mainland while we are away and I should come back with around 500 pictures to share.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy Birthday!

It's like Frosty says when he is putting on his top hat. I started this blog 1 year ago after I was looking for an outlet to brag about my WWDN successes and I liked reading the blogs of the other players. It has never intended to be poker only, but that is certainly the bulk of my posts. The main purpose was to replace the semi-annual email blasts that I sent out to my friends letting them know what was going on with us. This includes travel and other interests.

I have had alot of fun doing this over the past year and have really opened up my circle of poker contacts in Atlanta. I have had the good fortune of meeting all of the Atlanta bloggers that I know about from the WWDN, Mookie, and CC. I look forward to meeting more bloggers if I make it the the Vegas gathering this summer. I hope you all have enjoyed our posts this past year and I will continue share as I play poker, travel, ride my bike, watch movies, and throw in the occasional opinion on stuff.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Strange Days

I have had a strange last couple of days. I have been dealing with my Mom and now my High School is on every news station in the US.

1) I barely made it to work on time this morning. I just missed the backup that was started to hit the surface streets after I-75 was shut down this morning due to a horrific accident. A charter bus carrying a college baseball team came off of the overpass and landed back on the interstate.

2) Last night when I got home, my brother called me and told me our high school had taken a direct hit from a tornado. I turned on the news and learned how bad it was when I saw that 8 students had been killed. I then called my godmother who still lives in Enterprise. She said she was safe and doing fine. The funnel was a few miles away in downtown and her power had already been restored. My dad now lives about 20 miles away from Enterprise and is safe as well. He had already called my brother and let us know that he was fine. How's that trailer looking now Dad? I guess it's a little less of a magnet when it's on a horse farm and not in a "park." Our town is usually only known for it’s Boll Weevil Monument or when S.W.A.T. accidentally shot and killed a hostage at a strip mall while trying to make a sharp shot at the hostage taker. Enterprise is a small town, but I'm always amazed at how many of us ended up in Atlanta after graduating from different colleges. Stacie still finds it funny how often I run into someone that went to EHS. She goes back home to S.C. monthly and rarely sees anyone she knew.

3) Wednesday, my mom did something selfish and stupid and ended up in the hospital. Yesterday she was moved to a temporary facility for her own safety. Maybe it is because I have been "blessed" with great friends and a loving wife, but I don't normally understand this particular act. In her case, I can't say I blame her. Her quality of life has deteriorated in these past 8 years since surviving her aneurism. She’s not broke and has a great place to live, but physically and mentally she’s in bad shape.

Last night, as Stacie and I were packing a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and cigarettes for her, I found bills that are going to be overdue and started realizing that her care was about to be my responsibility again. I was having huge pangs of guilt because I wasn’t sad about her attempt, instead it was starting to make me mad that she hadn’t succeeded. I am having a hard time accepting that any human being can have these feelings about his own mother. She never abused me when I was a child or left me with strangers while she was off smoking crack. I have no desire for her to take her own life, I am just a very selfish person and I just don’t want to be responsible for her anymore. We firmly parted ways a little over a year ago and I have no desire to go back to the way things were. We both got to a point where we were worse than strangers. We genuinely didn't like each other and couldn't stand to be around one another. I know this comes off as cold and heartless, but it's true. I have been very confused about the level of interaction I am going to continue to have with her now that she is living closer to me again when she is discharged next week. I sure that between this confession and my nude pictures from Mardi Gras, I’m never gonna get elected to public office.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another Missed Mookie, but I Won My Freeroll

I played in the $250 VIP Poker/PokerSavvy freeroll last night and since I absolutely suck at multitabling, I missed the Mookie. The good news is I was able to hang on and take 1st place for a c-note. This freeroll prize pool was a little bigger than normal because the last scheduled one didn't work. We had 28 players registered and lucky for me, the 3 to my left didn't take their seat. This made it very easy to pick up a ton of blinds uncontested. I almost felt dirty stealing these so much, but I rarely got any resistance. Not just because of the result, but I really feel I was playing some good aggressive poker and usually made the right moves. I did get myself in to a little trouble before the bubble, but was able to catch 2 great hands in a row and jumped back to the chip lead and ride it to the money. I made it to heads up with a 3:1 advantage, but faltered a little and fell to about 2:3. With nice blinds, I took the fold or raise strategy and even threw in a couple of preflop all-ins when I was SB or if he just called to the BB. I realize I was setting myself up for a trap, but it ultimately ended when we both had hands that we were willing to end with. I pushed with pocket 3s and was able to finish the night with quads. Weeeeeeeeeee! This has increased my bankroll on this little site mainly through freerolls and cheapy SNGs.

I started with my initial $25 deposit on the night before the Neteller fiasco and I haven't decided what I am ultimately going to do with this site. My very small statistical sample has me absolutely crushing, which is fun as long as they continue to accept 'mericans.
*update* I forgot to add that the neighborhood faired very well. My ass kickin' points leading neighbor was able to cash in 4th. Congrats Mike.

Karma and the Kings

JJ may be OK, but KK is really starting to piss me off. My cowboys were getting fucked so much I thought I was Heath Ledger. SIR ROBIN Gyllenhaaled me the both times I had them to finish me off in the WWDN this week. Even though he bluffed me off of them the first time, I was very happy with my play for the evening overall.

The first gentle slap and tickle happened when I was UTG (I think). I raised a little over 3XBB and he calls from his later postion. The flop comes AQA and I incorrectly (?) showed weakness and checked to this scary board. He pushes and I was figuring him for A,10 or higher, so I let it go. He shows Q rag for 2 pair that I had beat. Oh well, he probably would've hit his 2 outer anyway. That's how his night went.

He delivered the knockout blow to me later when I pushed my pocket Kings on a Q high flop. He thought about it for a bit and then called with Q4. Of course the turn is a 4 and IGHN. I figured my image would have kept him from making the call, but he was catching every card he needed for the night it seems. I pretty much was just being most aggressive when I had a great hand or the hammer. Maybe I played too many and that didn't give me the respect I expected on the hand.

I joked about Karma and how the KK would be his downfall later in the tourney. Boy was I wrong. Just to show how much control he had over the Brokeback Bitches, he handily knocked out Hoy's latest rant target when she pushed from the BB. I quit watching and went to bed when he made it to heads up with over a 4:1 lead. Congrats to him if he did win. Maybe I'll play next week if I have time since I will be without the cards for a couple of weeks.