Kauai Sunset

After a long day of hiking and (unfortunately) working on the computer, you might think that a relaxing evening inside would be the plan. You would be thinking this until you looked out the window and realized that you would miss sunsets like this each evening if you didn’t take walks along the beach…

Hawaiian sunset

Kauai sunset

Island sunset

Let’s hear it for exhausting days.

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Hiking Trail Slasher

Dad and I decided to head to Waimea Canyon for one afternoon to do some hiking. The Waimea Canyon drive is beautiful and is well worth the drive even if you don’t decide to do any hiking. We drove to just before the end of the canyon road to the Kalalau Lookout down the Kalalau Valley all the way down to the beach. Quite spectacular:

Kalalau Valley lookout

We then hopped into the car again and made out way to the very end of Waimea Canyon Road. Here, again was a beautiful lookout for those that don’t want to hike, but there is also a trail head leading to the ridge. There are some pretty steep areas from the beginning and it can be a bit tricky when the trail is wet:

Kalalau Valley trail

If you are willing to forge ahead, though, you are greeted with numerous spectacular views of Kalalau Valley:

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Valley trail view

Kalalau Valley view

We made it about 1.5 miles down the trail when it became muddy and steep enough that we contemplated whether or not we should continue:

Kalalau trail mud

Kalalau trail steep

It was at this moment that we ran into what we will forever refer to as the Kalalau trail slasher. I managed to escape its razor edge end, but dad wasn’t quite so lucky:

Kalalau trail injury

Kalalau trail injury close-up

The Kalalau trail slasher turned out to be a branch protruding into the trail. Luckily, the injury looked worse than it turned out to be (still glad it didn’t happen to me) although it will likely leave a nice scar — and allowing dad to tell tails of the hiking slasher for years to come…

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Kauai Snorkeling and Boat Ride

One of the best aspects of being your own boss in combination with being a digital nomad is that if the day is perfect, you can take advantage of it. That is exactly what I did with a boat tour to see the Napali coast of Kauai and snorkeling.

As we headed to the Napali coast, a few friends decided to tag along for the ride:

Kauai dolphin

dolphins in Kauai

When we reached the Napali coast line, it was absolutely beautiful:

Kauai coastline

coast of Kauai

We then went snorkeling for a couple of hours at a small island near Niihau Island just off the coast of Kauai. Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera to catch all activity, but it did include a couple of playful sea lions, some reef sharks and lots and lots of colorful fish. One of the distinguishing marks of the island was Keyhole Arch:

keyhole arch

It is being able to take advantage of opportunities like this that makes me love my job…

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Hoopii Waterfall Hike

I took a break from work this morning and decided to take a hike to the Ho’opi’i waterfalls in Kauai, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. This is especially true when the information in the guidebook of where the trail head begins is inaccurate. Luckily a local homeowner steered us in the correct direction so we could even begin the hike.
(if anyone reading this is going to take this hike, look for the yellow gate half way down on the left hand side of Kapahi Road which is the trail head — not the end of the road).

The upper waterfalls was only a short hike, although there were a couple of fairly steep paths to make it there:

Upper Hoopii falls

Getting to the lower falls was more of a challenge. The path was littered with trees and branches from storms that swelled the river making one point of the path seem more like navigating a tree jungle rather than walking along a hiking trail:

trees on trail

trees fallen on Hoopii waterfall trail

But the hike was worth it as the lower falls was much larger

Hoopii lower falls

and afforded a beautiful view

Hoopii lower falls view

Definitely a fun hike to one of the lesser traveled to waterfalls in Kauai.

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Morning Walk In Kauai

We decided to take a morning walk, and it seems that rainbows like to follow me on my travels:

rainbow in Hawaii

While there were rainbows, the rain missed us and we had a beautiful morning walk by the beach.

beach in Kauai

If you have to work, this is certainly the way to do it…

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When The Flight Gives You Lemons…

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Sidewalk Messages

Back in the USA and one of the immediate thoughts that came to mind as I made my way to the local Internet cafe to get some work done is that walking in suburbia isn’t nearly as relaxing as strolling down the Mexican beach. Too many cars, too many people and no sand squishing between your toes. Then I ran upon the following message written on the sidewalk:

sidewalk message

sidewalk chalk message

sidewalk smile

I know that it wasn’t written for me, but I sure enjoyed reading it and realized that no matter where you happen to be, you decide to make the day as positive and productive as you want to.

I don’t know who left the message, but I’d like to thank them for doing so. I’ve also decided that I’m going to go out and buy myself a package of sidewalk chalk to return the favor for someone else 🙂

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Secret Hot Springs

A well dressed man walks into the Internet cafe and scans the people sitting at all the tables. He instantly heads for our table and greets the man sitting in front of me. They talk for a few seconds and then Pep tells the man “This is Jeffrey. he is my friend.” We shake hands and then the well dress man is off to another table to talk to the person he had come to meet.

Pepe begins to talk with the ever present smile on his face. That was the mayor of the city. While this makes me glance over my shoulder and feel a bit strange that I just met the mayor and didn’t even realize it, the fact that the mayor would come to greet Pepe is no surprise. Pepe seems to know everyone and everyone seems to know Pepe.

I know Pepe because he is the leader of an organization that is trying to save the sea turtles along a 50 kilometer stretch of beach around Los Barriles. He was the one that organized the baby sea turtle release that I attended earlier in the month at which time I asked if he had a website. When he said “No,” I volunteered to meet with him to set one up. He asked how much it would cost and I said that I would do it for free and we would host it so there would be no ongoing costs as my donation and support for the project that he’s created.

Baja Turtles was now live and I was explaining to him and Dori Eagle, an American volunteer helping out with the project, how the admin area worked so that they could set up pages and blog posts in the future.This is how I found myself across from him at the Roadrunner Cafe having just met the Mayor without even realizing it.

As I finish explaining the basics of the blogging software, Pepe announces that he wants to take me to a secret hot spring in the hills if I have time. Never one to pass up an opportunity to go where most tourists never trek, I readily agree and the three of us are off. Pepe explains the we are heading into a national forest preserve, but that there were some people that already lived in the area when the preserve was created. These people still have their land although they are limited in what they are allowed to do with it. Pepe is a friend of one of these land owners who happens to have a hot spring on the river next to his property. Dori, who has been coming to Los Barriles for the past 7 years first heard of the hot spring a year ago, but has never been. Pepe talks non stop the 45 minutes over rough road about the forest preserve, about the ranch and about how he thinks that people would pay to visit the area as we head to the ranch of his friend and the secret hot spring.

We park the car at the ranch and can hear the water from the river nearby. Pepe goes and greets his farmer friend and then we are off to the secret place. a short walk down a dirt path and then over rocks to the river and the hot spring appears. Nothing has been done to it except to make a semi-circle river bed rock wall to enclose the hot spring and pool the warm water. It looks beautiful and the lush vegetation and trees are a surprise compared to the desert landscape that has been surrounding me most of the trip.

Pepe on path to hot spring

The hot spring water is the perfect temperature between warm and hot. It’s warmer than warm so that you aren’t disappointed, but not quite hot where you feel you need to leave after sitting in it for 10 minutes. Both Dori and I start laughing despite ourselves at how perfect this little hidden place is. You just don’t come across secret places like this very often because when they are as beautiful as this, they simply don’t remain secrets no matter how off the beaten track they may be.

secret hot springs Los Barriles

Secret Hot Spring Los Barriles Mexico

Secret Hot Springs

I look at Pepe and tell him that the only thing missing is Internet and I would make this my permanent office. He laughs and says he will try and get satellite Internet for me. We spend the next hour soaking in the hot spring, marveling at the beauty and letting the water completely relax our bodies. When it’s time to leave, it takes effort prying us from the water.

Relaxing in the secret hot spring

On the way back Dori is so relaxed that she falls asleep despite the bumpy road and I realise that by inviting me to his secret hot spring, Pepe has paid me far more than what the website I helped build for him was worth…

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Mexico Dentist and the Cracked Tooth

Mexico dental saga

I’m sure that there is a universal law that states that the pain you are about to feel at the dentist’s office is in direct proportion to exactly the opposite of how much he says that you won’t feel a thing. I wish that I would heed this wisdom more often.

If you have ever had a bad experience at the dentist or have sensitive teeth in any way, you are best advised to skip this post, or at the very least, go grab your old sports mouth guard so that you don’t grind your own teeth as you wince along with the episode.

I should have known from the beginning that this was coming. Sometimes, no matter how good or competent the dentist, the forces of nature have already stacked the cards against you. When he first began working on the tooth, after novacaining me up and the drill bit wouldn’t work properly (to his credit, he stopped and asked me to come back the next week instead of trying to finish), I should have bowed to those forces and left the tooth to another day and another dentist.

Now I sat in the chair already knowing what the problem was, but he wanted to take a look to see if he could do anything since his repair had failed a couple days before. I knew I had cracked my tooth (even though the crack didn’t want to show up on the x-rays) because of the familiar pain that came each time hot and cold water hit it and now, even when cool air hit the tooth. The dentist wasn’t convinced since his x-ray told him otherwise so he reached for the air gun.

“This shouldn’t hurt,” he assured me still believing the film in front of him over what I was saying. Then before I had a chance to protest. the shot of air hit the tooth and the exposed nerve through the crack that shouldn’t have been there and set off the sparkler inside my brain.

My nails clawing into his dentist’s chair and tears welling in my tightly shut eyes, along with the gargoyle expression that covered my face, convinced him that I was correct and the film was wrong. I did have a cracked tooth and I needed a root canal.

He explained that the root canal would be difficult, but he could do it the next day if I wanted. The problem was that I would be flying back home the day after not giving him time to make the crown the tooth would need after the root canal. I declined and said I’d take my chanced when I got back to the US or made a special trip to Japan (where I have dental insurance).

I should have left the chair right then and there, but the dentist thought that he could help. A trip to Japan would be a month off and he thought he could temporarily seal the crack so that it wasn’t quite so painful when water and air hit it. I gave him a questioning look that he answered before a word could come out of my mouth.

“There won’t be any pain,” he assured me.

I let out a heavy sigh and tilted my head with a half smile on my face the clearly indicated that I didn’t believe him.

“No really, there will be no pain,” he said with complete confidence. “I won’t use a drill and there is no need for novocaine. All I will be doing is placing sealant over the crack.” He then tapped the tooth and said’ “See, no pain. Just like that.”

Disregarding the universal law stated in the first sentence, I reluctantly agreed for him to go ahead and try.

My hands were once again threatening to tear of the rests on the dentist’s chair as he began. He told me to relax and that everything would be fine as he continued placing the sealant over the crack. The pain that I thought I’d feel instantly didn’t come and I just began to loosen my grip when it happened. You know those cartoons where a character puts their finger into a live electrical outlet and they begin flashing with their skeleton flashing every second as every hair on their body juts out as far as possible? That was exactly what I felt when the sealant seeped through the crack and hit the nerve.

Of course at this point it was too late to stop so the dentist started using the blue light thingy to make the sealant harden which basically made the above scenario happen again only with the pain 100 times worse. The assistant was literally having trouble keeping me in place so that they could get the sealant solidified as I tried to escape by holding the chair so tightly that I could somehow push my way right through the bottom of it. I wasn’t crying, yet tears were pouring out my eyes and my legs were a stiff as four by fours. When the blue light thingy beeped saying it was done, the dentist took it out in a flash asking me if I was all right. “Don’t worry, we are finished.”

It took another 30 seconds for the pain to recede and I could finally breath a sigh of relief that it was over. I was about ready to get up when the dentist said, “OK, now suck in real hard while smiling to see if it worked.”

I looked at him like he was crazy.

“Or we can use the air gun to test,” he said reaching for the tool.

“I’ll do it, I’ll do it,” I said quickly before he could get the air gun into my mouth.

It took me a good five minutes to get up the courage to do the air test and while it didn’t eliminate the pain, it did seem to dampen it a bit. The dentist was happy that it seemed to have worked at least to some degree and apologized saying that he didn’t think the crack was large enough to let the sealant seep through and reach the nerve.

Now after all that, I still get to look forward to a root canal…

Photo courtesy of Ammar Abd Rabbo

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Free Range Cows

I’m scared of cows. Not in the same way that the scorpion in the shower scared the hell out of me the other day which had my heart racing a hundred miles an hour as I sprinted to safety because I failed to notice it when I first stepped in, but I must admit that I have a new found fear of cows.

Cows in Baja Mexico are free range which means they basically wander anywhere they want and if you don’t want them in your yard, then it’s your responsibility to build a good fence. It also means that when you are walking the streets, it’s not uncommon to run into them.

My unknown fear of cows came to light during one of these meetings. The first thing that you notice is that cows are big. Not only are they big, they also have sharp horns. Not only are they big and have sharp horns, they look at you like you would make a prime bulls eye target if they are so inclined to charge you.

Upon realising these three things, I found I have a fear of cows and I now mentally pick my escape route on the off chance that any of the cows I meet decide to stage an impromptu Running of the Bulls Pamplona style. I have also found that you can never win a staring contest with a cow, but that is a story for another time…

free range cows

Cows on the road in Mexico

cow staring contest

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