Archive for April, 2008


Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Codex Manenssishen we moved to Seattle last September two things made it almost right away to the top of our to-do-while-in-the-northwest list: visit Alaska and go to Hawaii. We are still waiting for a milder season to have the first wish granted, but we can totally check off the second one: we just came back from a wonderful seven day trip on the Big Island.

Before flying over there the word Hawaii was  a synonym of paradisiacal beaches and expensive vacation for newlyweds, nearly deads and over feds. Something like Miami but island-wide and right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Boy, was I wrong! I mean, it IS expensive, but the Big Island offers a lot more than the typical tropical beach vision might bring to your mind.

Here you have a few examples on what I mean.

  1. From the thirteen main ecosystems there are around the globe Hawaii has eleven of them. You Christophoro Buondelmonti, Liber insularum archipelagi, XV Centurycan go from the deepest rain forest to the driest lava desert or to the wildest seashore in less than a twenty minute drive.
  2. The landscape in the northeast part of the island is specially breathtaking. Here the mountains meet the ocean in spectacular cliffs and valleys. We went hiking in the sacred valley of Waipo and I took this short video of that secluded place. The valley is just amazing, and it is no wonder to me that was the most sacred part of the island for the old Hawaiians, because the grandiosity, the mysticism and the spirituality I felt over there was very similar to the feeling I had in other sacred places like Machu-Picchu in Peru, or Delphi in Greece. 
  3. The highlight of the Big Island is the Volcanoes National Park. Up in the Kilauea crater is where Pele, the old Hawaiian goddess of the volcanoes and the lava, peacefully lives and rests. But when she gets angry and upset about something, then she releases her fury and the other Gods feel her power. The entire island is her creation… and her playground: rivers of lava running wild into the ocean, destroyed roads, entire forest being reduced to a few burning toothpicks, lava tubes that go for miles under the surface of the island, sandy beaches turned into lava cliffs, huge lava lakes that fill entire valleys, funny lava shapes everywhere…. And we better not mess around with her because she is being kind of agitated lately: a few weeks ago there were two minor explosions up in the crater, and the sulfur emissions have increased a lot in the past weeks. Actually the white sulfur cloud was quite noticeable when we were there, and half of the park was closed because the percentage of sulfur dioxide Unknown Codex, approx. XVI centuryin the air around certain areas was dangerous. Plus, two minor lava flows have been running for a few months into the ocean, which offers a fantastic and relatively safe opportunity to see real lava. Here you have a shot we took from the viewing area. Absolutely unforgettable.
  4. Waterfalls are very big in Hawaii. So are the trees. :-)
  5. There are not a lot of sandy beaches in Hawaii (mostly thanks to Pele), and the ones that have survived to her fury tend to be black and crowded by people and resting turtles. Dolphins are often visitors of those beaches too. The sea is always kind of rough in the eastern part of the island, but it turns the ocean into the perfect shot for pictures. Swimmers and snorkelers are welcome in the west, though, since the sea is more calm and the wind no so strong. It was really neat to go snorkeling with turtles all around us…
  6. The two most important cities of the Big Island are Hilo (a very laid-back, relaxing, almost hippie city) and Kona (much more touristy and vivid). Around Kona there are many coffee plantations that produce to famous Kona Coffee, one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world. Apparently that is thanks to Pele too, since the volcanic ashes and the lava soil are the key ingredients for the plant to produce that variety of coffee bean. We visited one of the plantations where we could see the trees and the coffee beans, as well as experience the entire coffee production process. It is complicated, let me tell you. And the coffee does taste GOOOOOOD.

And, of course, in addition to all that, you can also find the right spot for a tropical vision. Hawaii really has everything it takes to turn seven vacation days into an unforgettable week.


Mouse in the House

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Codex Manenssisne of the consequences of living so close to Nature is the need to share your living space with the habitat of a lot of wild animals. This fact manifests itself in many different ways here in the Northwest: a few of them are really dramatic (e.g. dear or raccoons being hit by cars), some are exciting (like cougars wandering around your neighborhood), some are sweet (such as finding a seal in a morning walk on the beach or a dear during a mountain hike), and some others are really annoying. Like the mouse (or even worse: mice) that have decided to take our garage as their home.

The other night we opened the garage door to drive the car in and when we turned the light on… there it was, running all over the garage, jumping from one container to another, and finally looking for coverage in the corner we keep all our suitcases. Dammit! I mean, it’s not that they are dangerous or something, but having our suitcases covered with mouse crap does not sound like a great idea to me. Plus, considering how fast mice reproduce, our garage might go from a one mouse summer residence to a mice vacation resort in just a few weeks. So we gotta do something.

Well, no problem. Any big store around Issaquah like Target, Fred Mayer’s or Home Depo has at least one entire section full with any kind of trap the most machiavellic mind could come up with: poisons, glue, electrical cells, the standard bate trap… Oh boy!, it feels kind of nice to see that you are not the only one with pest problems. My brain was getting really creative on how to combine the electrical kit with the glued path when Amanda said she did not want to kill the poor mouse.

- What do you want to do with it? Give it two “welcome home” kisses? Bestiary, XV Century, England

- No, just catch it and then we will release it somewhere else.

- Somewhere else? Like two houses away, where the Issaquah’s Sheriff moved in a few weeks ago?…

We ended up buying the “keep ‘em alive” trap. Oh well, who knows?, this is the US after all… we might catch Mickey Mouse’s cousin and then ask for a ransom :-)

The trap has been in the garage for a week more or less and up to now there is nothing in it. I was told to use peanut butter as bate, but I think we got a sort of gourmet rodent because it’s not working. Chicken teriyaki, maybe? Umm… We also removed all the junk from the garage and cleaned the place. We did find a bit of mouse crap in two corners, but fortunately (for us and for our heart) there was no mouse in sight. Believe me: it is kind of creep to open carton boxes expecting a mouse jumping out if it at any moment. Alfred Hitchcock probably looked for mice in his house when he was a boy and learnt all the things for his movies from it. But we did not see anything. I hope it means the mouse is gone.

The funny thing is that now, when I enter in the garage early in the morning or late at night, when it is completely dark, just before I turn on the light those Iron Maiden lyrics start playing in my head:

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a constant fear that someone’s always near
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a phobia that something always there