Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.


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Halloweentime in Hawaii

Get your Halloween game face on!

Get your Halloween game face on!

After quite a bit of thinking, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that there’s no way I can keep this blog going now that I’m no longer living in Hawaii. I’m really disappointed because I’ve really enjoyed writing Trapped in Paradise. However, because my departure from the islands was rather abrupt, I’ve still got a few Hawaii topics up my sleeve that I’d wanted to write about, so I intend to keep it going until the end of the year. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my new blog The Skeptical Sailor, where I’m writing about my adventures living aboard a sailboat.

I REALLY hope this isn't in my future (Shoutout to Teen Girl Squad!)

I REALLY hope this isn’t in my future (Shoutout to Teen Girl Squad!)

Without further ado, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the extravaganza that is Halloween in Hawaii. I know, it may seem a bit early, and a lot of us haven’t even decided on our costumes yet. However, if you’re living in Hawaii and you don’t have a costume yet, you’re already behind. In the islands, Christmastime has nothing on Halloweentime!

Blurred Lines, indeed. Poor "Miley."

Blurred Lines, indeed. Poor “Miley.”

Oh, and your costume had better be a good one. Halloween is NO JOKE here, as I found out the hard way during my first season. I’d scored a ticket to the famous Crazy Sexy Ghoul party, and put together a cheap “angel of death” costume consisting of an old corset from the bottom of my closet and some cheap black feathered wings I’d gotten from Amazon for $20. At the time I’d been working the night shift for two months straight, so didn’t really put a lot of thought into dressing up. It was a decision I immediately regretted upon entering the party.

Put to shame by a bunch of stormtroopers. Lesson learned!

Budget costuming lesson learned – I was put to shame by a bunch of stormtroopers!

Martians!

…and Martians!

...and Mortal Kombaters!

…and Mortal Kombaters!

...and the couple in the background who had constructed samurai costumes entirely out of Guinness cans! (Sadly this is the ONLY picture I can find of them. They won Halloween!)

…and the couple in the background who had constructed samurai costumes entirely out of beer cans! I’m so sad that this is the ONLY picture I can find of them.

People plan for months the costumes they’re going to wear, and come up with the most creative and outrageous (in a good way) ideas. I wish I’d had half of their creativity! I mean, the “yip yip” aliens from Sesame Street? Who even thinks of that?! So, to summarize Halloween in Hawaii Lesson One: Come early, and come prepared.

The next year I stepped it up and went as Batgirl. Meanwhile, my fiance wore the world's creepiest Superman costume that he'd bought in Japan.

The next year we stepped it up and went as Batgirl and the World’s Creepiest Superman. (He bought the costume in Japan.)

Lesson Two: Prepare your liver for total annihilation. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but not by much because Halloweentime is basically nonstop partying. Last year I went to no less than five huge events and then spent the entire month of November detoxing. I like to think that after years in naval aviation I can handle my alcohol just fine, but I was still a bit relieved by the time the 31st was finally over.

Yeah...

Yeah…

Even so, if you love Halloween and enjoy a good party or several, October in Hawaii is a good time to visit. Bonus because it’s an off-tourist season, so you’ll only run into a quarter of the world’s population instead of, say, half.

So, for events: unfortunately, the Crazy Sexy Ghoul party I mentioned isn’t happening this year (which might actually be a good thing, because over the years it had gotten too big. It was the least enjoyable of the parties we had attended last year just because there were so many people it was hard to move, and we were waiting in line for over 45 minutes just to get drinks.) However, I’ve heard there’s a similar party happening at Longhi’s in Ala Moana Center on the 18th called Boos Booze and Boobs (silly name, but at least they’re raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.) Also on the 18th is Zombie Crawl in Chinatown, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting Nightmare on Beretania Street on the 31st, in place of their monthly Art After Dark (where you drink wine, look at art, and pretend to be cultured.) All in all there’s no shortage of parties, from haunted train rides at the Dole Plantation to multiple haunted houses scattered around the island, and probably at least one more giant Chinatown block party. Honolulu Pulse a pretty good round-up of what’s going on.

Happy Halloweentime! Make a good costume and don’t drink and drive!

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World Class Stargazing!

Dude! It’s snowing in Hawaii!

And you thought you were coming here for the warm weather!

And you thought you were coming here for the warm weather!

Granted this happens just about every winter, but it still blows my mind. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the Big Island’s two tallest volcanoes at about 13,700 and 13,600 feet respectively, will get a few inches of snow at the summit each year (as does 10,000 foot tall Haleakala on Maui on occasion.) This winter, in keeping with the strange weather patterns seen in the rest of the country, seems to have brought more snow than usual. Bring on the skiing!

Gonna go get a tan on the beach after this, nbd

Gonna go get a tan on the beach after this, nbd

I have yet to try this, but from what I’ve heard the skiing and snowboarding isn’t all that great as the conditions are icy and rough, and you have to watch out for exposed rocks. Also, since there’s no ski lift you’re on your own getting up the mountain. This is no Colorado, for sure. But then, nobody comes to Hawaii for the skiing; it’s all about the novelty of being able to say that you skied on a tropical island, and then drove back down to the beach to thaw out afterwards.  Anyway, for more pictures check out Hawaii News Now.

Since we’re on the topic of mountains on the Big Island, I’m going to take this opportunity to put in a plug for the Mauna Kea observatories, a must-see for any astronomy enthusiasts. Because of the stable airflow, dry environment, and lack of light pollution, scientists have come from all over the world to set up shop here as evidenced by the twelve giant telescopes on the mountain’s summit. These aren’t normally open to the public, although you’re welcome to drive up there to check them out. The view from the top is amazing! Just make sure you’ve got plenty of gas, and preferably four-wheel drive since the roads past the visitor’s center aren’t paved. (You might be able to make it without 4WD, but be cautious since most car rental agreements don’t allow you to drive to the summit. I’ve seen people get stuck on that road, so drive carefully.)  Oh, and if you completely lose your marbles and decide to hike up (seriously?!) try not to end up like this guy. I’m glad he’s okay, because how embarrassing would it be to bite it during a snowstorm in freaking Hawaii?

Standing on top of the world

Standing on top of the mountain

View from the top of the mountain - orange jumpsuits keep your warmer, or something

Orange jumpsuits keep you warmer, or something

For some serious stargazing, check out the Visitor Information Station. Every night after sundown they’ll bring out their heavy-duty telescopes and set them up to look at planets and stars. They even have special filters that allow you to see nebulas, which is really really cool. There’s also a “star tour” where a guide will point out various constellations. I’m a big old space nerd so I’ve been here twice, and loved it each time. It does get very cold, so even though they have coffee and hot chocolate for sale you should dress in something warmer than shorts and a T-shirt, even in the summer. (The last time I went was in April, and I was freezing despite wearing my winter coat.) And the best part? It’s free!

The w hole universe at your fingertips

The whole universe at your fingertips

If you only have time for a few activities while on the Big Island, I highly recommend that you make this one of them. Stargazing on Mauna Kea is hands down one of the best things I’ve done in Hawaii. It feels like you’re looking at the entire universe – absolutely incredible.

Not my picture, it's from Hawaii Luxury News. If I could take pictures like this, I'd be famous or something.

Not my picture, it’s from Hawaii Luxury News. If I could take pictures like this, I’d be famous or something.

So, the Olympics are starting… tomorrow? Friday? I’ve heard the opening ceremonies are on the 7th but they’re showing some of the events starting tomorrow, or something like that. Sounds a bit unorganized kind of like the hotel situation in Sochi (potable water? Nah, but here’s your complimentary picture of Putin!) but either way I’m stoked. Let the games begin!


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A Night With Some New Friends

In keeping with today’s zero-to-hero task (to embed a new element in your blog) I’ve decided to post one of my photos from Instagram.  I’m a brand-new Instagrammer, having only started with the new year, and so far I kind of like it.  It’s fun to keep up with photographers far more creative and talented than I, although I’m not quite sure what I’m going to use my own account for yet.  So far it’s just a “best of” photo collection of my travels over the last few years, with no real theme.  I suppose when I go on another trip it will be a fun and easy way to keep my friends and family updated?  I’m not sure.  Anyway, lest I give anyone the idea that I’m only going to talk about negative things in Hawaii on my blog, may I present this:

When I came back to the islands, I’d told myself I’d try to alleviate the island fever by accomplishing some of the things I didn’t get around to the first time I’d lived here.  One of those things was getting my scuba certification, which I’m very glad I did although if I had to do it again, I would try and get certified somewhere other than Hawaii.  Like many things here, the price is quite inflated: I got my PADI open water certification for the “sale” price of $485.  A google search tells me one can save at least $200 by getting certified on the mainland.

That said, it was absolutely worth it!  Hawaii does have many adventures to offer below the ocean’s surface, my favorite so far being the manta ray night dive off the Kona coast on the Big Island.  As far as diving goes it’s pretty easy: you’re only about 40 feet deep, sitting on the bottom of the bay with a flashlight waiting for the manta rays to show up (and they do, as the light attracts the plankton that they feed on.)  It’s a truly surreal experience getting to hang out while these beautiful 15-foot manta rays swim right over your head.  I really wish I’d taken a video, because the whole dive was just spectacular.  There are several companies on the Big Island that do night dives; we went with Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii who was awesome.  For anyone who doesn’t dive, they also take snorkelers along. The kids who had been in the boat with us loved it!

Okay, that’s enough gushing. Tune in next week for the regularly scheduled bitch session. 😛