Thursday, February 26, 2009

What the . . .?!

Major dose of "back to reality" yesterday!

We got home from Hawaii early on Monday morning, got through customs and associated airport stuff in decent time, delivered the girls to their home (they were planning to head to school right away) and we arrived home to two very excited whippets bouncing off the walls.

Since then I've been working madly to finish up a job for a client that is due in Regina on Monday morning. And then the weather changed!

On our arrival home Monday it was a bit cloudy and we had some rain since then but temperatures were in the 6 to 10 degrees Celsius - the usual stuff for February in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and one of the reasons I live here (I'm DONE with real winter!). And then yesterday, sometime around noon, I glanced outside and there it was - SNOW - big honking flakes densely falling to the ground!

I wasn't happy.

You see over the Christmas period when we had a bit of a dump of snow for an extended period of time I was unable to venture forth with my van as the van's all season tires were starting to appear they needed replacement. And because the Lower Mainland isn't exactly the snow capital of North America I've never bothered to get an extra set of rims mounted with snow tires.

And of course I still haven't got 'round to replacing the all season tires (altho' I am about to get quotes!) nor have we sought out an inexpensive set of rims for the van on which snow tires could be mounted.

And now we have more SNOW. And I want juice and a latte. Hmmm - it doesn't appear to really have snowed so much that I can't get out of the driveway.

And where was I last week??

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A bit of a girlie day in Paradise

Yesterday was a day off from snorkelling and diving and the four of us had a lovely brunch at the small village of Holualoa that lays 1,400 feet in elevation above Kailua-Kona on the west-facing slopes of the currently dormant shield volcano Hualalai. Holualoa is a sleepy village with a few interesting art galleries and shops. Our hosts had recommended we try a very lovely cafe - the Holuakoa Gardens - and the food was amazing - yet another wonderful meal here.

While Marc headed off to drop in on the local marine supply places to meet up with old acquaintances from when he worked here, we three girls headed off for a little treat of our own - pedicures.

In the past I'd always avoided getting a pedicure as I am extremely ticklish, especially where my feet are concerned, so this was going to be quite the breakthrough. However I figured I deserved some pampering too!

I anticipated us having to wait as we didn't have appointments however we were pleasantly surprised as the shop's attendants were able to take us almost as soon as we walked through the door. We'd scoped out this particular shop the evening before and it was very clean and welcoming. Sam and Chelsea got a headstart on me while my girl was still getting set up after finishing with her prior customer. Soon we all were relaxing in the wonderful massage chairs while our feet were being pampered to the extreme.

And then I was about to be put to the test - it was my turn for the "sanding" of the feet! I'd earlier watched as the bottoms, and especially the heel areas, of Sam and Chelsea's feet were scrubbed with some sort of abrasize pad in order to rid the feet of any rough spots. I figured that this was my moment of truth as that treatment looked as though it could set off a bout of ticklishness - and OMIGOD it did! I almost went through the roof and laughed and squealed like some sort of idiot. It did help thought that my attendant started giggling right along with me and she explained that she has the same reaction.

Once the tickle torture was through an absolutely wonderful leg and foot massage followed (for some reason I was totally relaxed throughout and no further tickles occurred). Eventually we watched as the staff expertly swirled on the nail polishes that we'd chosen and the girls had beautiful Hawaiian flowers painted on their big toes. I'd opted for a little more glamourous treatment - rhinestones! (Actually made me wish I had some lovely girlie sandals to put on afterward, not my stolid New Balance sandals!!)

Afterwards we met up with Marc and he and I got tattoos . . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

Golly Gee!! I found us a rental car!!!!

So on past visits to the Big Island of Hawaii we've never had ANY problems with locating a rental car. None. Not even a hint of difficulty. This trip has been different.

Prior to leaving I went through all of the online reservation pages for ALL possible car rental agencies and came up with absolutely nothing. Nadda. Zilch. Not even a sniff.

Marc figured we'd have no problem once we'd arrived and settled in with our friends. We arrived late Thursday evening and by Saturday Marc and I were circling the airport rental car locations trying to locate anything - even tho' a Jeep Wrangler is totally the required vehicle! Late that night we saw a few cars in the parking lot near an independent agent's location and yesterday morning bright and early we headed there again. The fellow who operates the business was washing his vehicle in the lot and told us that it would simply be first come first served first thing Monday morning.

So this morning, after I dropped Marc and the girls off at the dive shop for their big boat dive, I headed over to that location once again. Darn - already a vehicle of people sitting in the parking lot. (Hmm, two of them are elderly - surely they wouldn't be interested in the Wrangler sitting there!) After a bit of a wait (don't ever expect a business to open on time anywhere in Hawaii - island time and all that - I was successful! And the Jeep Wrangler!!! Who cares that it wasn't equipped with the rear and side windows. It had four tires, room for four, and looked as tho' it wouldn't break down upon leaving the lot.

Turns out the major car rental companies, in their infinite wisdom, decided that with the economic downturn they'd be smart and ship what they considered to be extraneous numbers of cars off island. And I've been told this is the situation on all of the Hawaiian islands. So - if you're planning a trip my suggestion is to first rent your car. Then book your flights.

(And we went on a fabulous snorkeling/whale watching trip yesterday with our hosts, Kevin and Claudia Merrill who own Dolphin Discoveries.
Wonderful day and we saw a few whales and lots of dolphins and even a manta ray!! I'm not a water girl - I'm waiting for my part of the trip when we head to Kilauea!!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The "Last Trip"

So the "step" family and I travelled to the Big Island of Hawaii yesterday. The trip was a must as the oldest of Marc's daughters will be in university next year and I remember how that changed my life. This essentially could be the last time the four of us are ever able to travel together.

In my experience, once I headed off to university that spelled the end of me being present for virtually any significant event with my parents. Mind you I could have attended university much closer to home (a distance of 280 miles does put a bit of a crimp on things) but I knew that I needed to "get away" so I would grow as an adult. I did return home for extended breaks and summer vacations but starting with the summer break between third and fourth years my summer job was in NW Quebec and the writing was on the wall.

Once I began university I have never celebrated a birthday with my parents, and after third year I never spent another summer at home with them. Work in the mineral exploration field necessitates maximizing field time when the weather conditions are best. And once I finished university I have only spent one Christmas with my parents - and that was when they came out to British Columbia in 1981 and I travelled down from Jasper.

I'm not sure the girls realize the significance of this trip. We have mentioned that this is likely the last opportunity for the four of us to travel somewhere together but they are young and the young typically don't realize the significance of something until many years later. This time they will do their first scuba dive and we plan to again travel to the southeast end of the island to again immerse ourselves in the Kilauea experience (mind you that may be more for me than anyone else).

Now if we could just get a rental car!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the wake of the Big Win . . .

So here we are post-Super Bowl but still very excited about the Pittsburgh Steelers big win. And it was a huge event as it's the first time that I've been able to be part of a Super Bowl do at my brother's when the Steelers (he's a bit of a fan) have been playing.

When we arrived at Jim and Nancy's home it was already obvious from the driveway that this would be no ordinary Super Bowl as the posters announcing we had arrived at "Steeler Nation" were hanging from the front edge of the roof. And then, there he was, resplendent in his "uniform" - Brother Jim bounding from the house to assist with carrying the requisite beverages into their home.

Inside it was quite the sight with various home-made posters lining the walls (including the bathroom - there were even yellow-gold towels on the towel bar and a Steelers logo bath towel on the shower curtain rod). And of course the Steelers Shrine!

The game was truly exciting and until the final seconds with that miracle catch in the end zone there was lots of opportunity for screaming (and I mean screaming) at the tv, hand wringing, cheering, praying - all the usual things that go with a close, meaningful sporting event.

And then there was the food - amazing dips (including a 35 year-old balsamic vinegar with lobster oil - you have never had balsamic vinegar until you've had an aged one - absolutely no bite and smooth smooth smooth!), oysters, gigantic prawns, chicken wings and even some champagne to belatedly toast Jim and Nancy's wedding anniversary.

So now, in the wake of the Big Win, things have been strangely quiet this past week. Just lots of work to do and organize, a trip to try to get ready for (to the Big Island of Hawaii), and now, as of this past Friday night, a lovely litter of whippet puppies to think about (should I? do I? will there even be one for me?).