Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chasing Sunsets (part: the second part)

Back to the jelly state, I arrived on too little sleep and having the feeling the day was going to be annoying.  I had to deal yet again with the bed people.  They managed to get delivery too me by the evening.  And I managed to ignore it until later that night.  I fetched Yinyer and her 60 lbs of baggage, all matching black with pink polka-dots.  After the delivery, Yinyer and I walked across the street for dinner and few cocktails.  I then decided it was a good idea to put the bed together.  Amazingly it hasn't fallen apart yet, and I only had one extra screw left over.

Thursday we had decided to do some Bourbon trail riding.  After a lunch of gourmet grilled cheese, we headed off to the Woodford Reserve distillery.  Of the distilleries I've been to, Woodford is probably the most scenic.  You drive through some rolling hills of picturesque horse farms to find the distillery down in the hollar (that's southern for "down in the small valley by the creek or the hollow").  Unlike some of the bigger distilleries, Woodford doesn't look like a small oil refinery.  We waited for our tour group to be called and headed off down to the operation.  Woodford has upgraded since the last time I was there and now gives everyone a headset to hear the guide, which is nice since in the past it's been hard to hear over the noise.  As usual the air is scented with the sweet aroma fermentation and the Angel's taking their share.  After the sampling, it was back to Louisville to obtain some souvenirs for Yinyer.  O'shea's offered official Derby glasses dipped in red wax from Maker's Mark, while Flanigan's offered Stella Artois chalices etched with the 139th Kentucky Derby logo.  All that was required was a purchase of the appropriate beverage.  Joining us was Kelle, and between the three of us we loaded Yinyer up with glassware aplenty.
Woodford Reserve
At one point I walked back to O'shea's to see if I could win the raffle for Oaks tickets.  I didn't, but while there an officer of the law escorted 4 young ladies in, one of which was some one of notoriety.  I had no idea who until informed that one Ms. Miranda Lambert was dining there that evening.  I still didn't know who she was.  I relayed this information to the ladiess back at Flanigans, who immediately tore off to check if indeed one Miranda Lambert was in the establishment.  I still have no idea who she is other than short and cute and apparently some form of country musician.

Friday we headed to Oaks.  My $50 suit accented with pink shirt and bow tie fit in nicely.  The Oaks day at Churchill can be more fun than Derby day.  There's all the pageantry and half the crowd.  We had also decided to spend the money for club level seats that included all you could eat food and drink.  I expected the standard track fare of hot dogs or chicken fingers.  I was mistaken.  It was a full catered spread of brats, BBQ pulled pork, and Buffalo chicken with sides and desserts.  The drinks were served in real glasses (while supplies lasted) and we obtained some more glassware for Yinyer.  The two fillies I bet paid off and I was up for the day, though I was unable to pull down the superfecta.  It was a beautiful day at the track.

Upon departing, I returned home and walked across the street to attempt to win Derby tickets.  TUrns out they weren't winning, but the manager gave me her tickets since she couldn't make it.  Score, free grandstand seats.  Saturday found us heading again to the track, again in my stylish $50 suit with purple accents.  This time, we parked much closer (and it was the best money spent all weekend I think) in some ones yard.  It was a cold, rainy day and promised to stay that way.  Yinyer picked up some ponchos for us, which were used all day until the rain stopped (just in time for the Derby).  We were tempted to split early, but hung in there to experience the most exciting 2 minutes in sports live and in person.  Afterwards, back home for dry clothes and dinner and evening cocktails.  In a fluke, I won money on the Derby.  I had bet the the #6 horse across the board.  Turns out the lady working the booth heard the 16 horse.  And number 16, Orb, won the race.  Woohoo!!!
Turn 4 of the 139th Kentucky Derby
Sunday was spent chillaxing and with movie time.  After Iron Man 3 (see it!!), we went for Mexican to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.  Later I met up with Courtney and was amazed that there were still roaming bands of partiers out going bar to bar doing shots.  I was personally spent and looked forward to having nothing to do for a day.  Monday, Yinyer managed to pack a full set of Stella Chalices, Derby glasses, and Oaks glasses in her bag... how I'm not sure, and we headed to the airport.  SHe to head back to ATL, me off to do my annual FAA required familiarization trip.  This year, the training manual says it's an ETOPS ride (ETOPS used to stand for Extended Twin engine OPerationS but can be more accurately described as  Engines Turn Or People Swim).  I'm given 4 days to accomplish this trip, and with the blessing of management I scheduled my fam ride to OGG and HNL.  So off to Maui I go.  The sacrifices I make for my job. 

While I've been to Honolulu several times over the years, I've never made it to any of the other islands.  I realize after a visit to Maui this has been a great oversight.  Honolulu, and Oahu, is very developed and very crowded.  Maui is not as developed and much less crowded.  I, at one point, had a whole beach almost to myself.  I like that.  No high rise hotels in sight, just sand, surf, and an extinct volcano.  So, I endured the two days there before heading over to Honolulu to endure another day there.  It was very trying times.  I did manage to almost kill myself on Maui.

I spent the first day driving around, initially up to the north side of the island to Paia, a small village with some quaintless and good coffee.  The I thought I'd take a quick drive up to Haleakala, the dormant volcano on the eastern side of the island.  Well, I thought it was a quick drive.  turns out the 32 miles of winding roads actually takes about an hour and a half.  And then theres the fun of driving through the clouds.  Not fog, actual clouds.  But once you punch through, it's beautiful clear skies and cool temps.  I wish I had brought appropriate shoes, as the trails didn't look particularly inviting for flip flop clad hikers.  But it was still an experience to stand above the clouds looking down into the crater.  And props to the over achievers who bike UP the mountain.  Thanx for making me feel real lazy.
Haleakala crater
Now to the part where I nearly died...  not really, but it was pretty sporting.  After the much longer than anticipated drive down Haleakala, I thought it would be nice to head to the HRC and pick up the obligatory guitar pin.  The Maui HRC is located in the town of Lahaina on the west coast, and the map form the rental agency showed a road around the north side of the island from Kaluhui.  The map didn't show that this road was actually a treacherous cliff side path that, for the most part, was one lane only.  So, again, my anticipated 30 minute drive turned out to be an hour and half of white knuckled gripping of the steering wheel with the occasional reversing course to a spot where the oncoming traffic could pass by.  It vaguely reminded me of the roads you see on the shows that specialize about dangerous roads in the Andes or some other third world country.  But other than the potential falling off the sheer cliff onto the jagged volcanic rocks part, it was a very scenic drive with lots of hidden bays and coves.  I did run across the visualization of the dream I'm going to start chasing.
The Dream
 When I finally arrived in Lahaina, I took the time to get a calming beverage and my souvenir before heading back to the hotel.  I arrived back at my room just in time to walk across the street and enjoy the sunset from the beach.  For some reason, I love sunsets over the ocean.  Especially if the clouds at scattered just right to cause the pastels to come aline in the sky.  And it's something I can just sit and enjoy without feeling the need to be rushed or be doing "something".  I don't think I'm alone in this, and I base that on the number of people that were sitting on the beach doing the same thing.

Maui Sunset
 The next morning, I woke earlyish and headed to the beach.  The beach choice for the day was a short drive south from the hotel to Makena State Park, also know as Big Beach.  It's not just a cleaver name.  The beach is wide and plenty long, and that day it was almost empty.  The drive down to Makena took me through the "town" of Wailea and Makena, both well developed into high priced hotels, condos and golf courses.  Then the manicured lawns stop suddenly when you cross into the park and the natural vegetation, or lack there of, takes hold.  I like the natural look better really.  After a few hours on the beach, I headed back up to get a Cheeseburger in Paradise before turning in the rental car.  I finished the day early after catching another beautiful sunset and getting some sleep before the 3 AM flight to Honolulu via Kona. 

Arrived in HNL early in the morning, just after sunrise, and was whisked away to the crew hotel.  Located by Ala Moana park, the hotel has a great view of the homeless population of Honolulu setting up camp.  Apparently they're not allowed to sleep there overnight, so they show up during day light hours and sleep there then.  I guess if you have to be homeless that Hawaii is one of the better places.

After grabbing a nap, i took a walk to find lunch at Duke's on Waikiki Beach.  I love Duke's and go there every time I'm on the island.  The staff is friendly and patrons are all happy.  I mean, it is Hawaii after all, you have to really work at being miserable.  I spent the afternoon meandering with no real plan, other than send a couple post cards and obtain a new iPhone cover (mine had disintegrated over the last couple days).  I spent a fair amount of time traversing Waikiki Beach from Duke's to Margaritaville to The Beach Bar.  Finally catching the sunset (yup, love them) before ending the day with a self cooked steak dinner at The Shore Bird. 

Again, early to bed to ensure being awake for the early shuttle to the airport and back to the mainland.  I left out all the flying around parts to keep the non airline types from being overly bored.  There was actually a good bit of knowledge obtained, more so than most my recent rides.  So it wasn't all beaches and Hawaiian Iced Teas.

I returned to Louisville to find a cool rain falling.  I was actually looking forward to being home for a bit and just crashing with nothing much to do.  The new apartment is still fairly clean, now that most the empty boxes have been sent to recycling, so there's no real bad feeling about about just lounging thinking I have so much to do.  Though, now that my phone just alerted me of the frost advisory (it's freakin May already!!!  seriously!) I'm wishing I was back in the tropics, the sunsets are much nicer.
Waikiki Sunset

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