Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Culturally-appropriate Island Greeting!

I wanted to do this post on Wednesday, but I’ve been having computer issues since I got back from Hawaii, which makes me RAGE, because the place where the entire Shafer clan (of which I am an offshoot) had our Hawaiian vacation was an army base, and the military is surprisingly disorganized, so they didn’t know that you had to actually connect the internet to an outside source for there to be internet on the base, which meant that the only time I was on the internet for that whole week was at a Starbuck’s, and then I had internet issues when I got home, so as you can understand, I was going through internet withdrawal and I should probably stop this massive run-on sentence at some point or another, because otherwise my hand might get a cramp and you guys all probably fell asleep halfway through this sentence.

In any case, here are some pictures from Hawaii.


This is where our family stayed. It’s a place called Pokai Bay, located on Oahu’s leeward shore. (Fun fact: “Leeward” is actually pronounced something like “loo-erd”. I was not aware of that.)

Because we were on the leeward shore, all the grass was dead and brown, so I felt somewhat at home, since the grass in California from about May to December is also dead and brown. It was humid, though, which I guess I should have been expecting. I’m a California boy. I hate all humidity. I prefer my weather to be either bone-dry or raining. So you can guess why I felt like I was breathing through a wet towel my whole time in Hawaii.


This is not the leeward side of Oahu. In fact, this is the windward side of Oahu, which means that it’s gray and rainy a lot of the time. I don’t mind– I like the rain, and this meant that there was a crapton of greenery all over the place. I mean, look at it: it’s so green!

(A phonological note: windward is pronounced exactly how you think it would be pronounced.)


A large and pointy mountain.


The mountain on the left makes me smile, for some reason.


This picture also made me smile. Maybe it was because of the guys falling off the edge of the cliff over to the right.

I think this means I’m a horrible person.


One thing that the brochures don’t tell you about Hawaii is that there are feral chickens all over the place.





The place.



(In related news, apparently I stopped maturing when I was thirteen…)


One thing that I found cool about Hawaii was that all the rocks were completely different.

I mean, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The area around Santa Cruz is built on a bed of the crushed skeletons of squishy marine organisms, and Hawaii is made out of the extruded flaming rock that dwells deep within the earth. The two areas have completely different geologic histories.

But still. I liked it.


We stopped to get shave ice on the North Shore.

For those of you who don’t know what shave ice is, think of it as sort of like a hybrid between ice cream and a Slurpee: a bit like a snow cone, but not really, because shave ice has delicious tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit and lychee, and it is also huge, with balls of flavored snow easily the size of my two fists put together.

It’s also delicious. Seriously, we need to get some of that over on the mainland.


Across from the shave ice place was a graveyard.

I won’t lie: I love graveyards, and I always have. Even when I was a tiny kid I never found them scary, but instead thought of them as a simultaneously thrilling and restful place. So far, my favorite graveyard I’ve ever visited was Trinity Churchyard in downtown New York, which was a colonial-era churchyard in the shadow of the absolutely massive steel-and-glass skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. But this graveyard was almost as cool.


This one made me sad.

(If you can’t guess why, look at the birth and death dates.)


There was one family plot that I thought was cool, which was a family of European missionaries who lived in the area back when Hawaii was actually a country. This is their son, who died at the age of twelve.

(I am actually curious, and ask anyone who might know: what does “died in the hope of the Gospel” mean? Does it mean that John L.S. Emerson wasn’t baptized? That would surprise me, since he was a missionary’s son, but still. Anyone know?)


This cool old tombstone was actually in Hawaiian!


This is a picture of a semi truck’s wheels.




Most of the things that I found different and cool about Hawaii were the little things. And one of the little things that’s different about Hawaii is this: when you’re on the mainland, and you see one of these little sign things warning you that there is a CAUTION WET FLOOR, then there’s always a little thing below it that says: CUIDADO: PISO MOJADO. This is because it is automatically assumed that you either speak English or Spanish in the US. Spanish is the default second language.

Not in Hawaii. There’s tons of Japanese in Hawaii. There’s Japanese writing everywhere. Kanji, hiragana, katakana– it’s all there. All over the place. And while I was in Hawaii, I didn’t see a single word of Spanish.

I thought that was cool. It’s the little things that really show how much different places are different. And I guess it’s true what they say: that Oahu is the fifth main Japanese island.


Hiking up Diamond Head, I was pleased to see another Zelda fan had been there.

(I tried playing “Zelda’s Lullaby” on my spare ocarina. It didn’t do anything.)


Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m out of shape. I’m fat, I have huge thighs, and I pant going up most of the hills in Santa Cruz. So when I hiked up Diamond Head, it was hard going, what with all the tunnels, and stairs, and forty-five degree inclines.

But when I got to the top of Diamond Head?



A “sign” at Pearl “Harbor”.

Somebody, needs to “learn” how “to” punctuate, (properly)\


An interesting cave.


Along with graveyards, I really like caves. Maybe this just goes to show that I’m a vampire dwarf.


A glimpse of the rare East Pacific Yellowtree (Hawaiian name: Kapunapunahamale’e’a’a’apa’a’a).

The yellow color is to lure pollinators in towards its flowers (fortunately not in bloom in June, since they are toxic and give off the smell of burning offal), where it devours them with its fanged stamens.


On our last day in Hawaii, we were glad to see something that reminded us of home.


I think this is a good place to stop.


~ Ian


i like to be here when i can

Posted: June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I’m back home now.

More later.

~ Ian

off and gone

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I’m leaving for Hawaii tomorrow, for my grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary.

Understandably, I won’t be blogging that much while I’m gone.

See you in a week. Be good to each other.

~ Ian

post-season wrapup

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So the ski season is over.

I know. I am ensaddened.

One of the strangest things about this season has been the lack of snow. I mean, if you remember that post I made in January, it had a picture in a parking lot at Kirkwood where there was no snow.



In any case, the snow wasn’t great this season. Yesterday, it was a bit like skiing on Slurpees. It wasn’t even flavored Slurpee, either: it was just plain.

My goal for the season was to get good at skiing again– good enough to go on black diamond runs. Well, I didn’t make my goal. I know, I know: slightly disappointing. But hey– I had fun sliding down the hill, both on my feet and my ass, and so I qualify that as a success.

Am I going to keep skiing next year? Hell yes.

But all good things must end eventually, and since it’s almost May, then I guess that I will have to bid the ski season of 2011/2012 farewell.

Depressedly yours,

~ Ian

So I’m back from Kirkwood, and these are the things that happened…

  • My brother broke his face. Seriously: he ran into a tree in the backcountry and broke three bones in his face, including the zygomatic arch. In all honesty, I’m glad he’s alive– if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, there’s a high chance that he might have died.
  • I got to look at a CAT scan of the inside of my brother’s face. Calum, my dad, and Gabby went into Tahoe to have Calum’s face scanned, and we got a CD with his scan back. I got to look inside Calum’s eyeballs. It was awesome.
  • I played Dragon Age: Origins, which was great, since I got it for Christmas and haven’t got a chance to play it yet. My reaction? It’s AWESOME, and it’s one of the few games that I’ve played where I want to skip the boring combat scenes so I can get to the interesting parts where people are talking. That’s a good thing.
  • I watched Super 8, and invented a drinking game: whenever there is a lens flare, take a shot. (Of course, playing this game would be problematic, because you’d be plastered by the end of the first act.)
  • I skied. But that’s not a surprise.
  • On the way back from Kirkwood, we stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Dublin (California, not Ireland). Which was good, because their burgers are great.

Anyway, I’m back in Santa Cruz now. Business-as-normal can resume.

~ Ian

Not dead yet.

Quite the opposite, actually. I’m in Kirkwood.

For a brief moment, life is awesome.

~ Ian

My Ski Trip

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I’m back at college in Santa Cruz now, and I have to say: the air is friggin’ thick down here. How can all of you lowlanders stand it?

I have a lot of pictures to show you guys. First of all, though, I’d like to point out: Tahoe had an epic winter last year. The winter of 2010/11 will go down in history as one of the best ski winters in recorded history. It dumped powder nearly all winter, and Kirkwood (where I usually ski) still had snow in JULY.

This winter? Well, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

This is the view outside our cabin on the 28th of December. As you can see, there is almost no snow.

Oh, and it’s not like we’re in the Sierra foothills here. This picture was taken at nearly EIGHT THOUSAND FEET.

Seriously. I’d file a complaint with the people who control the weather, but Google won’t give me their number. So we’re stuck… at least, until the Snowmakers’ Union strike is over.

Moving on…

This is the view from the top of Lift 5, Kirkwood’s main intermediate lift. Over on the right, you can see the camera strap blowing into frame. That is because there were 40 mile an hour winds when this picture was taken.

On the left side, you can see part of a person in a guacamole-colored jacket. This is my dad.

Like I mentioned: there should be snow BURYING the mountain this time of year. Sigh…

At one point, we drove into Meyers to get groceries, and I took pictures.

A lot.

Of pictures.

Jannek, my German brother, down by Caples Lake, taking pictures as well. Sigh… at least the lake is frozen.


Who are these strange people? A new breed of suburban gangster from the streets of LA? Dread cultists, the face of their demon god emblazoned on their chests?

No. It’s just my brother Calum and his girlfriend Gabby, modeling their new matching Elmo pajamas and beanies.

I didn’t know they made Elmo pajamas in adult sizes. And I love Calum’s expression here. He looks so embarrassed.

At one point, Jannek went to the pool. When he returned, he found that his wet bathing suit, once as pliable as any other, had frozen into a rigid, folded configuration.

At least it was below freezing that night.

Wait. Did I say that it didn’t snow at all on this trip? Actually, it did. A little bit. Just a sprinkling, though.


Regretfully yours,

~ Ian

I am currently way up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, perched eight thousand feet above sea level, at a ski resort with no snow. Since I have a blog now, though, I thought I’d give you a little bit of an insight into my thought process. This was an essay I wrote a few months ago, at the beginning of autumn, just to amuse myself. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave comments below.


There’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately…

Every fantasy fan knows the power of names. The art of Naming (the idea that knowledge of a thing’s true name gives you power over that thing) is everywhere in fantasy. From A Wizard of Earthsea to The Name of the Wind, it’s all over the place. Hell, even the magic in Harry Potter is a form of Naming.

So I got to thinking: do real-world names contain a touch of destiny?

And as I was thinking, I realized that it may be quite possible. I don’t think John F. Kennedy would have gone as far as he did if he had been named Zebediah Q. Thubberton. It’s the same with Barack Obama. His name sounds majestic, resplendent in glory. Listen to those deep back vowels. Would Obama have become president if he had been named Pinky Ingelberg?

Maybe there is a destiny in names. Maybe there isn’t. Maybe because these people achieved powerful, influential positions, their names have achieved a certain resonance in our minds.

But still, a lot of famous people’s names have a certain resonance to them. Leonardo da Vinci, J.R.R. Tolkien, Isabel Allende, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney, Margaret Thatcher, Neil Gaiman– the list goes on and on. It’s common practice for actors to change their names in order for them to sound cooler. (What, you think that Tom Cruise is really named Tom Cruise? I call SHENANIGANS.)

So, if this is true for people, is it also true for places?

Think about it.

New York. Vancouver. Rome. Hong Kong. London. Jerusalem. San Francisco. Washington DC. Puerto Vallarta. Barcelona. Rio de Janeiro. Honolulu. Singapore. Sydney. Bali.

Every one of their names stimulates something deep within our minds. The very phonemes of a name like Honolulu or Bali or Rio creates associations of tropical sun and sexytimes in our minds. Place names like Rome or Jerusalem or Washington DC stimulate the parts of our brains associated with majestic grandeur.

Maybe it’s just semantic association. But I think that there’s a destiny in names, that people wouldn’t have been driven in masses to move to America if it had been named Redneckistan, and wars wouldn’t have been fought over Jerusalem if it had been named Finkelsburg. The siren call of New York or Hollywood for millions of young people… is it, in part, affected by their euphonious names?

Of course, if this is the case, then a bad name may affect the destiny of a town or a city as well.

Exhibit A: Fresno.

For many Californians, Fresno occupies a gap in our minds. Sitting like a lint-filled belly button near the exact center of the state, most Californians would seem to think that Fresno is a sleepy, small town.

Most Californians would be surprised to learn that Fresno has half a million people, and is the fifth largest city in the state.


So why does Fresno occupy a blank spot in the minds of most Californians? Maybe it’s because it has no distinguishing features. I mean, come on: most other large California towns have distinctive features. Los Angeles has excessively rich people, excessively beautiful people, and excessively violent people (often all three at once!) San Francisco has fog and hippies and hipsters and a big red bridge. San Diego has sun and sand and aircraft carriers and Comic-Con. Orange County has Disneyland and a lot of shopping malls. Lake Tahoe has skiing and casinos. Napa has wine. Eureka has pot. And so on and so forth.

However, Fresno has… nothing. Now bear with me: I’m going to postulate that Fresno has no distinguishing features because it doesn’t have a distinguishing name. If Fresno had an interesting name, then that would attract interesting people to Fresno, and make it less boring. Names are destiny, for the reasons I’ve posted above, and so therefore giving Fresno a new name will cause it to instantly change its destiny.

So, Fresno: Are you ready for your new name?

Drum roll, please:

Your new name is: ROBO-VEGAS 9000.

Not only will this trick people into thinking that Fresno is a futuristic metropolis with robot gambling and android hookers, it will also make saying that you’re from Fresno at parties much more interesting. Because honestly, where would you rather say you live: in boring ol’ Fresno, California, or sexy-awesome ROBO-VEGAS 9000?


~ Ian