Up the Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

I’m not a big hiker. In fact, my first real hike was up the Grouse Mountain only two years ago. Mable and I followed the British Columbia Mountaineering Club trail which is far less crowded than the Grouse Grind. I thoroughly enjoyed the climb. It was like meditation in motion – the birds, the trees, my thoughts… all playing to the beat of my heavy breathing.

The Diamond Head Crater is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Oahu. It was called Le’ahi or “brow of the tuna” by ancient Hawaiians. The name was later changed to Diamond Head when British sailors thought they discovered diamonds on the crater’s slopes. The “diamonds” turned out to be calcite crystals which were deemed worthless.

The real “value” of the Diamond Head Crater is at its peak. Whether it takes you a few minutes or a couple of hours to get to the summit, the views are breathtaking and well worth the work-out.

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Waikiki Trolley

The Waikiki Trolley on tour.

The easiest and most relaxing way to explore Honolulu is via the Waikiki Trolley. An all-day pass gets you on and off the trolley on 3 lines with 30 stops and unlimited rides. You’re driver acts as your tour guide, sharing stories, historical trivia, and if you’re lucky, some good jokes along the way.

There are 3 lines to the Waikiki Trolley: the Pink Line, Red Line and Green Line. Shoppers hop on the Pink Line to go to all the biggest and busiest shopping malls in Honolulu. The Red Line is the Historic Honolulu Sightseeing Tour with stops at the State Capitol and Iolani Palace. The Green Line offers a scenic route to the Diamond Head Crater, a very popular destination for hikers and adventure seekers.

Because we got the special (Buy a One-Day Pass and Get the Next Day FREE!), we took the Red Line one day and the Green Line the next. Neither of us (me or my partner) was particularly interested in shopping. The trolleys begin their tours as early as 8:30am and end at 10pm, at 20- to 40-minute intervals depending on the lines. It’s a great way to explore Honolulu at your own pace. And as long as you can find your way back to the Trolley Stop, you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

Catch of a Lifetime (part 4)

We have a big one and we need help!

It was Danny on the chair on the 5th hour of the fight and our fish showed no signs of giving up. She was as stubborn as her captors.

All this time, Captain Chad was on his radio feeding reports to the harbor about this ongoing battle at sea. The news spread like wildfire in this little fishing village that some of his friends offered to lend a hand, if needed. When Danny took the chair at hour-5, and losing steam with every passing minute, it was obvious we needed help.

Moments later, help arrived. An hour later, the fight was over. The fish conceded and we won. It was only when the fish was finally secured that we could actually see the size of this monster. It was so humongous it wouldn’t even fit in the boat. Josh, the fisherman who came on board to help us in that last hour, predicted the weight on this fish to be over 800 pounds. Not quite.

When we finally got the marlin back to the harbor where an eager fishing crowd awaited, she was strung up and weighed. 917 pounds!! She was a catch of a lifetime.

12 hours at sea. 4 hours waiting for the fish. 6 ½ hours fighting the fish. And over an hour getting the fish on board and hauling her back to shore. All I can say is… thank god I had Gravol (not bananas) on board!

When all was said and done, all the pictures taken, Mable and I drove back to our hotel. We still couldn’t believe what just happened. But for the first time in over 12 hours, we were really hungry. “What would you like for dinner, Honey?” I asked. “Anything but seafood,” she replied.

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Catch of a Lifetime (part 3)

Mable and our deckhand, Danny, working the line.

Mable is about the strongest woman I know – physically and mentally. She could (and would) take on anything and anyone. But on the angler’s chair I saw that she was giving everything she’s got with every rotation. There were huge beads of sweat dripping down her face under the burning heat of the midday sun. I wish there was something I could do to help. I wish I could provide her some relief. But all I could do was stand behind her and be her water girl.

It was only then, watching Mable and Danny work the line, that I fully understood the fishing technique Danny was trying to teach us earlier in the day. If only I paid more attention! You bend your knees all the way to a squatting position and reel the line in as much as you can, as fast as you can. Once you feel resistance (sometimes after only a quarter turn), you slowly straighten your legs. As you straighten up, you keep your eye at the tip of your fishing rod, which is also rising. Once the tip of the rod is pointed all the way up, you bend your knees quickly and start reeling again. You repeat this up-and-down motion over and over and over again until either the fish or the fisher gives up. In this case, it was clear to me that none of these guys (Chad, Danny or Mable) were going back to shore without the fish on board… if it takes all day.

Mable was on the angler’s chair for over five agonizing hours! 5 hours and 20 minutes to be exact. She did not once whine or complain, and if the Captain did not suggest that Danny relieve her, I think she would still be there. Mable was prepared to do the long haul, but no doubt, she was tired.

*continued in Catch of a Lifetime (part 4)*

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Catch of a Lifetime (part 2)

Live one running!

After our mini fishing course, I remained on the angler’s chair visualizing a fish on the line. I thought, if you can see it, it will come… or something like that. In our very handy Frommer’s travel book, it said Kona was internationally known as the marlin capital of the world. I thought it would be really cool to catch a Blue Marlin. What better photo to put on Facebook!

But after a few minutes of intense visualizing, my eyelids started to get heavy. Mable forgot to mention that one of the side effects of Gravol was drowsiness. I then spent the rest of our boat ride falling in and out of consciousness.

The boat was chartered from 7am-11am. At around 10:45am, it was becoming clear that this was to be the most expensive sightseeing boat ride ever. But, just as the Captain was about to give the orders to reel the lines in and turn the boat around, TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK!!! I woke up to the sounds of Mable and Danny screaming, “Fish! Fish! We have a fish!”

What was I thinking jumping onto the angler's chair?!

Mable and I agreed that if we do get a live one, I would be the one to sit on the angler’s chair. She wanted me to get the full fishing experience. So without thinking, and still half-asleep, I made my way to the chair. Mable and Danny helped me get strapped in and I started reeling. WHOA! Why was the reel so heavy?! I was struggling with every turn.  It wasn’t like this when we were doing our rehearsal dry-run this morning. Was the line jammed? Then I looked out into the water and saw what was at the end of the line. Holy cow! It was about 30 feet away and it was the biggest fish I had ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off this sea creature, and for a moment, I was mesmerized to the point of immobility.

“Go! Go! Go! Keep reeling!” yelled the Captain. Yes, I was awake now and fully aware that I was playing tug-o-war with a giant Pacific Blue Marlin!

Everybody got excited at the sight of this fish. “It’s an easy 5, maybe 6!” Danny declared. “She’s a big girl,” Captain Chad confirmed. In English, they’ve assessed that this was an easy 500, maybe 600-pound, female fish. And they knew, for a fact, that it was female because any marlin that weighed over 300 pounds was a female marlin. I didn’t know that even in the sea world, it’s the women who dominate. Awesome!

This is no joke! I'm sooo not fit to go fishing!

“Keep reeling! Don’t stop. You can do it!” I knew Captain Chad, Danny and Mable were all trying to encourage me. But I also knew they were nuts to think that I could actually reel this giant in. The reel just became harder and more resistant with every turn. Here I am pulling what could possibly be a 600-pound fish, when I can’t even do 10 bicep curls with a 20-pound barbell. I knew that if we had any chance at all with this fish, someone else had to sit on this chair. After some more token reeling and pictures for Facebook, I thought it best to let the real people do the real fishing. I passed on the angler’s chair to Mable, stood back and did what I do best… take pictures.

*continued in Catch of a Lifetime (part 3)*

Catch of a Lifetime (part 1)

Fishing on the Kona Coast of the "The Big Island"

January 8, 2011. 6:30am at the Honokohau Harbor in Kona, Hawai’i.

Mable and I were a few minutes early. We waited for the Captain of the fishing boat we chartered from a company called Bite Me. His name was Chad, Captain Chad Contessa. He was impressed that we were there early, not a very common trait among visiting tourists. He said it was a good sign. It meant we actually wanted to go fishing.

The first thing he asked was, “Did you bring your luck?” He said fishing was all about luck. Mable and I smiled, nodded and said, “Sure!” I didn’t tell him that I’ve been anxious about this fishing trip for days. I have this thing with moving transportation. It’s called motion sickness. I’ve had it since I was a kid. It didn’t matter if I were in a car, a train, an airplane or a boat. Some cases were more severe than others. But me and moving vehicles don’t get along. Mable got me some Gravol (the number one Mom-trusted antinauseant) for this trip and I trusted this would keep me from getting sea sick and totally miserable on board.

The next thing the Captain asked was, “Do you have any bananas?” Huh? What do bananas have to do with anything? Apparently, bananas are bad luck on fishing boats. They scare the fish away. Who knew? It just so happened that we did pack some bananas for the trip. The Captain made very clear our two options: (1) eat the bananas now or (2) leave them at the harbor. Goodbye bananas.

About half mile off shore, our deckhand Danny cast the fishing lines, 5 in total, into the open water. Each one had a lure (which looked like a neon-colored toy octopus) for bait. Once all 5 lines were set out, Danny gave Mable and me a brief orientation. Fishing 101, if you will.

Danny said once we hear any one of the fishing lines reeling, the sound of which is something like tik-tik-tik-tik-tik, it means we have a live one running. That meant someone (in this case, either Mable or myself) would have to get strapped onto the angler’s chair and start reeling. Danny went over the proper fishing technique. Given that this was my very first fishing expedition, I found this instruction to be quite interesting and educational. However, knowing the odds of my actually using any of these new skills, I must admit, I was only half listening.

*continued in Catch of a Lifetime (part 2)*

Getting comfortable in the angler's chair

My partner, Mable Elmore, before things start rocking.