Archive for September, 2008

Recipe: Gourmet Jell-O Shots

Nothing quite says “I’m ready to party like I’m in Cabo” like Jell-O shots. They’re colorful, fun, and with the right recipe, they can actually be very tasty — as long as you’re willing to splurge a bit on some decent liquor.

Over the weekend, Evan and I went to Vegas to visit his best friend, Adam. Adam is a master at creating gourmet Jell-O shots — and for his girlfriend Rosie’s birthday, he made about 300 in four different flavors.

These were the most delicious Jell-O shots I’ve ever had. They’re a far cry from the college version, made with as much cheap, strong liquor as possible — these highlighted the taste of both the Jell-O and the liquor, and they were more a tasty dessert than a serious shot since they really didn’t have all that much alcohol in them.

Also important — they looked great, with the four different colored shots arranged in 1.5-ounce clear plastic containers with lids. Not surprisingly, they were gone quite quickly.

How to make Adam’s Gourmet Jell-O Shots…

Ingredients

Chocolate Martini
1 package Chocolate Gelatin
*not Jell-O brand, purchased at Mariana’s
2 1/2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Vanilla Vodka
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 cup Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

Vanilla
1 package Vanilla Gelatin
*not Jell-O brand, purchased at Mariana’s
2 1/2 cups Milk
3/4 cup Vanilla Vodka
3/4 cup Rompope

Berry
2 packages Blackberry Fusion Jell-O
2 1/2 cups Water
3/4 cup Blueberry Vodka
3/4 cup Chambord

Melon
2 packages Melon Jell-O
2 1/2 cups Water
3/4 cup Melon Vodka
3/4 cup Midori

Directions

1) Boil the milk or water, and dissolve the Jell-O
2) Allow to cool off the heat source for 10-15 minutes
3) Stir in alcohol
4) Pour in to individual serving cups
*1 1/2 oz. Solo cups with lids work well
*1 cup liquid makes about 10 shots
5) Place in the fridge to chill until solid

Red Carpet Evening: ‘Flash of Genius’

Monday night, Kacie and I went to the premiere of Flash of Genius in Westwood, courtesy of Spyglass Entertainment. The movie is an underdog fight-for-your-rights piece based of the true story of Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper — and then had his invention ripped off by Ford. As the tone of the movie quickly goes from excitement and optimism about the new invention to disillusionment and rage at the Ford Motor Co., you follow Kearns’ long, obsessive quest to protect his patent, which tears apart his family and puts him on unemployment.

Greg Kinnear, playing Kearns, gives a sensitive portrayal of a man who gets under the skin of the bullies and will not give up on what he believes despite the prospect of losing everything. His determination to prove his point is almost frustrating at points — many times I felt compelled to agree with his wife and his lawyers that he should just settle and move on instead of forging ahead with his much-postponed lawsuit.

But despite all the lucrative settlement offers Kearns receives, there would be no real payoff for him, or for us as viewers, if he didn’t go to court, representing himself against Ford’s corporate attorneys. For those familiar with the story, you’ll know how it turns out; for me, I was left guessing which way it would go until the very end.

Though the film had some slow points and the story followed a predictable arc, I enjoyed watching it unfold and ultimately learned a little something about what went into making the intermittent windshield wipers we all have on our cars.


Me and Kacie across the street from the theater– you can see “Flash of…” in the back right. This is what happens when you aren’t looking at what you shoot…

Fun Foray Into Indie Theater: ‘Months on End’

Friday, Evan and I went to support our friend Aaron in a play. We didn’t know what to expect — the last time I went to support a friend of a friend in a play, he only showed up in the last scene and played a mute. Seriously. In any case, our experience Friday couldn’t have been more different.

We showed up at the Tre Stage, upstairs in a strip mall at La Brea and Sunset, and were greeted at the door by a nice little crowd of theater-goers. We paid our $15 and were immediately offered a glass of wine at no charge. We soon got to go into the theater itself, a small room, painted black, with two rows of bench seats in an ‘L’ around the stage.

After passing the wine bottles around again for pre-show refills, the lights dimmed in the intimate black box theater, and the show started with a short slide show and music.

As suggested by the title, “Months on End,” the play follows a year in the life of its characters — relatives and friends — whose lives are all intertwined. It starts with a New Year’s Eve party in January, and introduces the characters a few at a time, month-by-month, as their stories unfold. We were given glimpses of relationships growing and of others falling apart, the anxieties of twentysomethings, and the ways our lives can change instantly.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments, like a college graduation speech gone awry in a nearly “I Love Lucy” fashion, and a blow-out over a chipped Yellow Submarine collector’s item which results in the most hilarious tirade of the night but also proves poignant, as it marks a turning point in a marriage. There are also touching tear-up points, like rehearsing a young friend’s eulogy. And it’s the mix of comedy, tragedy and uncertainty that make the play transcend its barren stage and feel very real.

The play’s reality and humanity also come from its good writing and strong performances. The cast is packed with theater majors, most of whom have MFAs, who inject a lot of personality and compassion into their characters. The music selection — songs to set the tone before each scene — was also a great mix. I would love to have the playlist.

The play only has two more showings, this Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, so do check it out if you’re looking for something to do this weekend. Just remember not to wear anything too warm — the audience sits so close, they’re under the same hot lights the actors are; and go to the bathroom before the hour-and-a-half performance — otherwise you’ll be trying to sneak across the stage to the door.

Show info:

What: Months on End by Craig Pospisil
When:
Friday, September 16, 2008 at 8:00 p.m./Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Tre Stage, 1523 N. La Brea, Studio 210, Los Angeles, CA
How much: $15

Starring:

Elaine – Elizabeth Chomko
Walter – Brian Bitner
Phoebe – Adrian Lynn
Tony – Brace Harris
Ben – Aaron Shact
Nick – Michael Miller
Paige – Rachael Kemery
Heidi – Caitlin Leonard
Gwen – Karla Holland
Chris – Clyde Small

Directed by Kunal Nayyar
Produced by Chancellor Dean

Packing for an Around-the-World Trip

When we decided to go on our around-the-world trip, we knew we wanted to pack light. We didn’t know how much we would need to carry our bags and we didn’t know where we’d be staying each night, but we knew we didn’t want to be weighed down by unnecessary items. We went completely basic on this. Our packing list and what we’d recommend for any very lightweight packer:

  • Backpacks: We bought 50-liter Gregory backpacks (we could have gone even smaller) that were top-loading and had plenty of straps to expand and compress our space. When we checked them on airplanes, we tucked all the straps in so nothing would get caught or ripped.
  • Day packs: Evan bought a Domke camera bag that just looked like a small travel bag and concealed his nice, new camera; I got a medium size nylon, collapsible, zip-top purse. We also bought a small fold-up day pack from Kathmandu to take on hikes and other excursions where we would need more than our normal day bags would hold. The bag was very comfortable and folded up into a tiny pouch — definitely one of our best buys.
  • Clothes: We each brought…
    • 1 pair of quick-drying North Face pants which could roll up to be capris
    • 2 short-sleeve quick-drying collared shirts — we chose collared shirts to help keep the sun off our necks and to look a bit more presentable wherever we decided to go
    • 1 lightweight long-sleeve shirt
    • 1 warmer long-sleeve shirt or fleece
    • 1 bathing suit
    • 4 pairs of underwear (plus 2 bras for me — one sport and one regular)
    • 1 pair of socks
    • 1 set of clothes to sleep in — for us, it was shorts and a T-shirt
    • 1 long skirt (just for me, of course)
    • 1 headscarf/sarong (also just for me — and I bought it once we already started traveling)
    • 1 hat that provides good sun coverage (Evan ended up also buying a baseball cap along the way)
  • Shoes: We each brought…
    • 1 pair of Tevas/sport sandals
    • 1 pair of flip flops
  • Toiletries:
    • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
    • A travel-size brush
    • Hair ties
    • Sunscreen (SPF 40 or 50)
    • Basic makeup for me for when we’d go out at night (foundation, mascara, eye liner and lip gloss)
    • Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Deodorant
    • Pumice stone for our feet
    • Razors
    • Nail clippers/scissors
  • Other necessities:
    • Bug spray — 50% deet
    • Money belt — though we realized we didn’t need this once Evan found a hidden interior pocket in his pants
    • Mini sewing kit — we mended both Evan’s pants and my shirt
    • Laundry detergent — for washing clothes in the sink
    • Universal sink plug — also for washing clothes
    • First-aid kit including Band-Aids, neosporin, blister pads, hydrocortisone cream, Immodium, ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, Rolaids and Benadryl
    • Pack towels, medium size — good for showers if necessary, as impromptu pillow covers on less-than-clean sheets and on day trips where you’ll be near/in the water
    • Plug adapters
    • Ear plugs
    • Toilet paper and tissues — came in very handy as long as we remembered to take them out with us
    • Anti-bacterial hand gel and wipes
    • Cell phones and cell phone chargers
    • Small Swiss Army knife
    • Guide books — we would buy them one or two destinations in advance

Well folks, that’s it. We did laundry every few days and tried to get rooms with balconies so our clothes would dry faster hanging in the breeze. We were surprised at how much we used things like the sink plug and the blister pads. If we were to do it again, I think we would both bring one more pair of pants, one or two more shirts, and two more pairs of underwear, though it was perfectly doable without any extra items — it just felt like we were always doing the laundry.

Another thing we would consider buying is quick-drying underwear. We laughed off the concept when we saw it at the store, especially since a pair cost about £11, but my underwear always seemed to take the longest to dry — and it’s certainly not an item you’d like to put on wet.

As far as brands go, we were very happy with our North Face gear — we both had North Face pants and I had a North Face snap-down collared shirt. We were also happy with our Gregory backpacks and all our day packs.


Evan and me in 1 of our 2 outfits, wearing our day packs and holding our hats. This is what we looked like every day.

I wasn’t as happy with my Berghaus shirt. Berghaus seemed like a good brand, and I liked their organic cotton shirts, but by the time we got to Turkey, a mere two weeks into our trip, the shirt had three holes where the back yoke met the bottom half of the shirt. These weren’t holes that appeared from anything I did, they were areas where the shirt wasn’t constructed properly — there wasn’t enough material to hold it together and it was coming apart and fraying at the seams. I tried to sew it back together, though there wasn’t much to sew. And another week or so later, one of the buttons started popping open at random moments and the whole shirt just started to look seriously ratty. I wouldn’t buy Berghaus again for travel clothes.

Evan also had some problems with his shirts. He had a Mountain Hardware half-zip shirt that suffered from snags right from the start, and his Kathmandu button-down started fraying around the buttons.

Our Tevas gave us some pretty bad blisters along the way. They got a bit better after a few weeks, but then they started coming back. It was nice to have shoes we didn’t have to wear socks with, but our feet certainly paid the price. Our shoes also developed a horrible smell — it started in Thailand after we wore them on our Marine Park excursion and they got wet. They never really dried out before we had to pack them up to fly to our next destination, and when we took them out of our bags, they absolutely reeked. We tried shoe deodorizers, soaking them in bleach and vinegar and leaving them out in the sun, but they never really recovered from the stink. The days when they couldn’t completely dry out — which happened a lot in Thailand — were particularly bad and embarrassing. I don’t know how we could have done things differently on this front, but I’d love to hear anyone’s advice on the subject. And boy were we glad we had another pair of shoes we could wear at least part of the time.

I bought a few items of clothing along the way because I did get bored with wearing the same thing over and over. I bought a skirt and a dress in Thailand as well as a shirt in Istanbul, but that’s it. We also picked up novels along the way — from swaps in hotel lobbies and used and new bookstores. We went through quite a little library by the time we were done.

Top London Travel Tips

I lived in London for six months and I now miss it dearly. The city is filled with wonderful people, fantastic sites and some of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It can be an expensive trip, but by using public transport, taking advantage of all the free tourist attractions and eating at some of the great and healthy quick-service restaurants, can keep costs low so you can splurge on a few nice dinners and trips to some of the pricier sights like the Tower of London. Now let me be your tour guide…

Transport

If you plan on using the tube or buses — and your should — buy an Oyster Card. It’ll save you a ton of money by reducing the standard £4 tube fare to about £1.50 within the center of the city; the bus fare is reduced from £3 to 90 pence. You can pick up the blue-on-blue RFID-embedded cards from most train stations and even some convenience stores. To plan your trips, use the fantastic TfL website, which will give you detailed bus, tube and walking routes anywhere you’d like to go.

From the airport, you can take the Piccadilly Line right into town in about 45 minutes’ time for £4 and if you’re staying somewhere near tourist attractions, like Mayfair, Soho or Holborn, chances are it’ll take you nearly to your doorstep. Compare that to a cab at £65 and up, or to the Heathrow Express at about £15 — and that only takes you to Paddington station, so you’ll likely need to hop on at least one more train or bus to get where you’re going. Just beware that a lot of stations have a good deal of stairs to negotiate, so make sure you can lug your own luggage.

What to See

London boasts a huge list of attractions, but these are some of my favorites in no particular order…

  • National Portrait Gallery interesting and well-organized collection that’ll give you a great overview of British history. It sounds like it could be boring, but if you have a choice between this and the National Gallery (both in Trafalgar square) definitely do the portraits. Also, except for special exhibits, the museum is free, as are all national museums.


St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge

  • Tate Modern fantastic collection of modern art in a very cool riverside setting. From here, you can also walk across the Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral


Parliament and the London Eye

  • Westminster and around — spend a day doing the classic London sights by checking out Buckingham Palace and St. James Park, then the Horse Guard’s Parade, Parliament and Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which is sort of like a mini parade and rather hard to see happens at 11 am. They also do a ceremony at the Horse Guards Parade at that time, where you’ll probably get a better view — and the Horse Guards where much more interesting uniforms. Parliament and Westminster Abbey are best seen on weekdays — they both have very limited or no weekend hours (I never actually made it inside either one, though my parents did). Also don’t miss a trip on the London Eye — the giant observation wheel.
  • Soho/Covent Garden shows — the theater in London is fantastic and quite inexpensive if you call same-day (you can get prime seats for £30-£60 on weekdays). Avenue Q was my favorite show I saw when I was there — it was absolutely hilarious, though it may be a bit inappropriate if you’re traveling with kids or thinking of going with your parents.


Springtime in Hyde Park

  • Hyde Park or Regent’s Park these two parks are the biggest in central London. They’re great places to take a rowboat or paddle boat out on their little lakes, have a picnic or just take a stroll. Parks to Brits are like beaches to Californians — everyone hangs out in them on sunny days. If you’re looking for an even bigger park excursion and don’t mind heading out of central London and paying an admission fee, head over to Kew Gardens to see its Victorian glass houses, themed gardens and new treetop walkway.
  • Highgate Cemetery and Hampstead Heath take the tour of the old part of the cemetery to learn about some of London’s quirky Victorian-age history that doesn’t involve the kings and queens, then take a stroll to the heath and climb up the rather small Parliament Hill, where you’ll see lots of people flying kites.


A Tower of London Beefeater

  • Tower of London go on the most hilariously campy tour in London by letting a Beefeater guide you around this historic castle. You’ll get to marvel at the crown jewels, hear about beheadings and see a great view of Tower Bridge.
  • Borough Market — go on a Friday to beat the weekend crowds to check out this foodie extravaganza south of the river. It’s also right near Southwark Cathedral and Sir Francis Drake’s pirate ship, and not too far a walk or bus ride from the Tate Modern and the Globe Theater.


Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory

  • Greenwichif you’re into science, make a trip out to Greenwich to go straddle the prime meridian. There’s a small museum right at the prime meridian and there’s also a maritime museum, which is interesting, but a bit kid-focused. There’s also a pretty park and a footbridge under the Thames. It’s a bit out of the way, but a pretty good half-day excursion.
  • Shopping — walking around places like Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and Bond Street can keep you very busy, and there are some ridiculously big department stores like Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, and Selfridges (among others) are great for food, shopping and even sightseeing. Try the fancy afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason, or mavel at the Egyptian-themed ridiculousness of Harrods.

What to Eat

London is an amazing place to eat. Some of my top recommendations…

  • Make sure to go to a pub, of course! Actually, go to several. They’re everywhere and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and range from gorgeous, old-fashioned wood-and-crystal establishments to dingy, bare-bones watering holes. If you want some pub grub, go for lunch, not dinner, as they get very crowded and rowdy and are filled with more post-work drinkers than diners.


The papaya salad at Amaya

  • Try some gourmet Indian. My favorites were Red Fort in Soho on Dean St. and Amaya in Belgravia. Both serve incredibly creative, beautiful and delicious dishes. You’ll get better deals if you go at lunch. Tamarind in Mayfair is also good, though the fare isn’t as fancy and the setting isn’t as nice, and Imli on Wardour St. in Soho offers tasty tapas-style Indian food at pretty reasonable costs.
  • Try the innovative fast food. For lunch and snacks, there are a ton of quick-service places that offer lots of healthy and often organic options like Pret a Manger, Eat, Benugo and Leon.
  • If you want great burgers, try out Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s a chain, so there are quite a few. There’s one on Frith Street in Soho.
  • For the city’s best coffee, go to Bar Italia on Frith Street in Soho or Monmouth Coffee near Borough Market. There are tons of chain coffee places around, including many Starbucks, though if I was going for a chain, I’d usually choose Nero or Costa.
  • For good pizza, try Delfino’s in Mayfair


Chocolates at a Melt tasting class

  • Indulge your sweet tooth. London has incredible chocolate shops. Two of my favorites were Melt in Notting Hill and William Curley in Mayfair.

Trip-Planning Resources

  • Check out restaurants and attractions at review sites like Qype, Tipped, and Trusted Places.
  • Check out pubs at Fancyapint?
  • Know how to get where you’re going via tube and bus at the TfL website.
  • Get the heads-up on news and events on Londonist.
  • Get train schedules for heading beyond London at the National Rail site (note: it doesn’t accept foreign credit cards).

Beyond London

If you can’t find enough sights to occupy yourself in London or you just want a break from the city, you can easily take some day trips by train or bus to Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds Castle in Kent, Eltham Palace, the Chiselhurst Caves or Bath. All are well worth visiting.

Do you have anything you’d add to this guide? What are your favorite london sights? Let me know in the comments below!

A Peaceful Day in Santa Monica

Evan and I have been back in LA for about two weeks now, and we’re working on getting back into the swing of things. I’m working on some freelance projects, Evan is looking for editing work, and we’ll start figuring out where we’ll live soon. Evan also just bought a car — a used Audi A4 he found on Craigslist. He’s only had it since the weekend, so we were surprised to see that it was leaking oil yesterday, after it had already been checked out. We took it to his mechanic in Santa Monica today and it needed some work done — nothing major, but enough to leave us without a car (mine was at my parents house) for the day.

We started by walking down to the Lazy Daisy, one of our regular breakfast spots before we left. We grabbed a small, blue mosaic table in its closed-in patio, which does a decent job of making the restaurant feel removed from busy Pico, and perused the breakfast selections. I settled on an omelet and Evan chose a breakfast sandwich. We got our waters in big, thick plastic cups (the only thing that really bugs me about this restaurant — I don’t really like using plastic dinnerware — thankfully it’s only the cups, not the plates, too), then relaxed in the cool LA morning while enjoying our leisurely breakfast.

When we were done at the Lazy Daisy, we needed to brainstorm what to do next. It was still early — not even 9 a.m., so we had some pretty limited options. We thought we could find a matinee for 10ish, or maybe go down to the beach or the public library. We thought about getting a cab or a ride from the mechanics (they’d offered earlier), but then we realized something pretty revolutionary for us car-centric LA folk — we could take the bus.

We started walking down Pico, which has plenty of bus stops, and realized that though there were stops, there weren’t any route maps. Finally, after passing a few stops and making it to Santa Monica College, we found a route map, made sure we were headed to the right place, and hopped on the Big Blue Bus. It cost 75 cents for each of us, and we were at the 3rd Street Promenade in about 10 minutes. We also found out that SMC students can ride the bus for free — and plenty seemed to be taking advantage of the deal.

We walked to the library, but we were a bit early for its 10 a.m. opening time, so we checked out the movies — not much we wanted to see and nothing that started before 11:20 — and wandered around until we could head back to the big public library, a bright, airy, two-story building built around a courtyard with an arid garden, shallow and sparky fake stream, and a cafe.

At the library, we started by getting new cards, then went to use the free internet. There was a rather creepy guy sitting next to Evan who was staring at a picture of a girl in a low-cut shirt for at least 30 minutes. We mostly just read the news and checked our email.

Then we went down to the sunny downstairs reading room (the sun finally burned off the haze by 11), where we read and relaxed on a comfy bench. What a nice and peaceful way to spend the morning! And a lot of other people had the same idea — the library was full of people working, reading, researching and eating.

We headed back to the mechanic’s because we were told the car would be ready, but alas, it wasn’t, so we decided our next excursion would be a walk to a cafe by Evan’s old apartment called Bolivar. We walked down the tree-lined streets, past a corner where a small accident took place — everyone was calm and just waiting for the police — and a high school field getting covered with astroturf.

At the cafe, we ordered arepas — little Venezuelan sandwiches in hot cornmeal pouches. Yum! We each had one with mango and cheese, called the Pacifico, and one with black beans. They were delicious, especially when we added the extra cilantro-flavored sauce they added on the side. I’d only had salads and sandwichs here before, so this was quite a treat.

We walked back to the mechanic’s and still had a bit of a wait for the car, but being without the car for the day actually ended up being a lot of fun. We didn’t spend much money, we weren’t stressed by traffic and we had a good time rediscovering Evan’s old neighborhood.

Maui: Island Paradise


The coast just past Hana

Our last stop was Hawaii. We arrived in Kona, on the big Island, and we had a flight booked on Pacific Wings to Kahului in Maui. We started looking for the Pacific Wings sign, and we made it all the way to the end of the airport without seeing it, so we asked a baggage handler where it was. He pointed down the road and said, about a quarter mile that way.

OK, unusual, but at least we only had backpacks for the walk. We made it over to the commuter terminal, which is more of an indoor-outdoor porch with a few desks, and tried to arrange for an earlier flight — we were only able to book one about 4 hours or so after our flight got in because the earlier one was supposed to be full.

There was no desk agent, and we were told to just use their courtesy phone to check in. We picked it up and told the woman we were at the airport, then asked about the earlier flight. She told us to just check with the pilot. Never been told that before. So we started chatting with the other people waiting on the little deck and found out that we’d be taking a 9-passenger plane known as the “Dramamine flight.”


Our teeny tiny Pacific Wings prop plane

There wasn’t any room on the earlier flight, so we waited around, hungry and tired, until the single-engine prop plane got back. We didn’t have to go through a security screening, but we did have to tell the pilot how much we weighed. We then dropped our bags off by the wheel of the plane and hopped in just behind the wing.

Evan and I grabbed the only two-person bench seat — the rest were onesies — and settled in right behind the pilot. Evan watched his instruments while I ogled at the beautiful scenery throughout the flight. People pay good money to take small-plane sightseeing flights! Thankfully, the flight wasn’t anywhere near as bumpy as I expected, and it was really only the last 5 or 10 minutes that we moved around a bit, since it got windy going over the island.

When we hopped off the plane, we got our luggage and directed my mom and dad to the commuter terminal where they came to meet us with leis. When we got back to the Marriott Maui Ocean Club in Ka’anapali, my sisters had baked cookies and had made a “Welcome back to America” sign.


The coast just past Hana

We spent the next few days lounging on the beach, sleeping and playing Catchphrase with my family. My parents and my sister Michelle left 3 days after we arrived, though — they had already been there for a week — and Evan and I, along with Suzie and her boyfriend Danny, moved just a few miles away to Lahaina to stay at Lahaina Shores.

We took a snorkeling expedition early one morning. We left on kayaks from a small black sand beach just a few minutes out of Lahaina, and went out to the reef. We put on our snorkel gear and hopped off the boat, and we were greeted by at least four sea turtles! Most of the were hanging out at the bottom, though some were coming up for air right near us. The were really beautiful. Then we went on to the reef, where we saw more turtles swimming around, and plenty of fish. Most of the fish were black and yellow, and I was amazed at how calm they were. We didn’t bug them, and they didn’t bug us. It was the first time I’d been snorkeling that I wasn’t afraid of the fish. The coral and fish were so clear and picturesque, I felt like I was swimming in an aquarium. The coral seemed to go on forever.


Evan and Danny in the banyan tree — and this wasn’t anywhere near the biggest one we saw!

The day after our snorkeling excursion, we took the Road to Hana, an incredibly windy and treacherously narrow “highway” that has incredible ocean and rain forest views. We stopped in Hana for lunch, then went on to the state park, where we swam in a freshwater pool underneath a waterfall and looking out on the ocean. Then we took an easy hike up to another, much bigger waterfall, passing a big banyan tree, which Evan and Danny climbed, and going through the eerie bamboo forest. From the outside, it looked like a Dr. Seuss green toilet-brush top mountain; inside, it was dark and quiet and kind of eerie. The whole setting, from the coast line into the rain forest, was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen.


The entrance to the bamboo forest

The next day, we went out for breakfast, relaxed on the beach and had a sunset dinner before heading to the airport. Our trip was over — time to go back to LA.


The waterfall at the end of our hike

Check out more photos in Evan’s Facebook Gallery.