Archive for year 2011
Had a weird possible fainting/blackout thing last night. Got up in the middle of the night to go pee, suddenly felt really bad. I thought that I quickly sat myself down on the floor but judging from the way I totally took out the toilet paper dispenser (broke the plastic roll, bent one side of the holder, and pushed the other side into the wall, and have no memory of this) I’m thinking maybe it was less voluntary than I thought. Next thing I remember is feeling totally disoriented and everything is pitch black. I felt my way around until I found the door and rushed back to bed in a cold sweat. Then I felt fine a few minutes later.
My right pinky toe hurts like I strained it (I think somewhere in the process I bent it back too far), I have scratches on my back and one of the little caps over the screws at the toilet base was knocked off. I think it was partially because I was right in the middle of a deep, deep phase of sleep and maybe I just got up too quick and had a blood pressure drop or something. I don’t really remember much. Can’t remember if I turned the light on (I thought I must have to see where to pee) but if I did, when did I turn it back off? Did I actually open my eyes and couldn’t see because it was dark or did I just not even open my eyes or did I just have a vision blackout as I was coming back around? How did I go down that injured my toe, took out the toilet paper dispenser and knocked the cap off the base of the toilet? It’s like some weird Sherlock Holmes mystery. Or an episode of House. Or Jekyll and Hyde. Or I’m a werewolf. Either way, kinda scary and definitely bizarre.
Spy Kids 4 opens this weekend and there are several places you may see me!
You will almost certainly see me towards the end grabbing Jeremy Piven by his right arm and dragging him off.
You will very likely see me in a laboratory trying to control a guy in an anti-gravity suit as spy kids get chased around me.
You may see me as an OSS Agent “frozen” in a hallway, pushing a cart and talking to a fellow female agent.
You will possibly see me selling ice cream way in the background of a park but I will be far away, tiny and probably out of focus.
And you will almost certainly see me but never know it’s me as one of two guys in silver Hazmat suits around a crater (probably with a fogged up visor).
I awoke at 2:30 A.M., successfully this time, to make the drive to the summit of Haleakala, the world’s tallest dormant volcano, to watch the sunrise. The drive up in the dark was slightly harrowing, as the road wound up the mountain and you knew that just off the side of the road was a plunge to certain death. Since it was still dark you couldn’t really see anything but my mind filled in the blanks. I was kind of afraid it would be more harrowing on the way down in the light.
When I got to the summit at 10,023 feet elevation, it was damn cold. I hadn’t brought a jacket to Maui so the best I could do was jeans, a tee shirt and a long sleeve shirt over my tee. Since it was still a while until sunrise, I rested in my car for a while. Then I went up to the highest observation point where most people were gathered. For a while I stayed inside the glass shelter to stay a bit warmer but as sunrise approached, I went to stand outside.
It was amazing. As it became light I could see that we were above the clouds. It was like a solid floor of clouds around us. I was chattering with cold but determined to experience this and I’m glad I did. One of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. As the sun first breached the horizon, it first looked like a line was splitting open in the sky with a fiery orange glow like magma. I’m always shocked at how quickly sunrises and sunsets actually happen. It’s only a matter of minutes until it completely transitions from nothing to the full sun (or vice versa) as you can kind of see in this video. I also did a quick 360 degree video.
After enjoying it for a while, I started the journey back down the mountain. I was pleased to find it was less harrowing because in the light, it wasn’t quiet as scary of a drop off. It would still kill you, but visually, at least, it wasn’t as vertiginous. You could sort of see the slope of the mountain as opposed to just a sheer drop. I drove to Kahului, where the airport was, and decided to just spend the day there and stay in the vicinity. I had all day but was tired and just sort of in that “waiting to leave” mind space.
There’s not a lot in Kahului, but there is a Whole Foods! I waited for them to open and had a nice fruit smoothie. I then went and found several geocaches to keep me busy and exploring for the morning. One of them took me to a really nice spot on the beach so after I found it, I rolled down the windows and took a nap in my car to sounds of the ocean (and the kiteboarding instructors and students) and with a nice breeze blowing.
I returned to Whole Foods for some Sushi for lunch. Then it was on to more geocaching. In the afternoon, I found two particularly hard ones deep in some rough woods. I had to do a lot of “bushwhacking” as they call it when you are off the trail and going through rougher wooded areas. Up hills, through overgrowth, over fallen trees, by a homeless person’s tent in the woods, it was quite a rough terrain adventure. They were both tiny “microcaches”, basically tiny camouflage cylinders attached to trees. After the second one, I was thoroughly drenched in sweat, which was unfortunate as I wouldn’t have a chance to shower until I got home (which would turn out to be almost 24 hours later).
I decided to try and find a cafe or some place where I could recharge my nearly dead phone, and use my laptop for a bit but this turned out to be pretty futile, although I didn’t try incredibly hard. There was a Starbucks somewhere but there’s nothing there I want to drink. I ended up back at the same beach spot where I had napped earlier. When my phone died, I opened up my laptop on battery power and charged my from from that for a while. I spent several hours just walking barefoot in the sand, enjoying the view and the sound and watching kiteboarders. While I was indeed anxious to get home (more on that later) there was a surprising sense of sadness as well. Maui had really got to me. It was as wonderful and beautiful as everyone had said it would be. I’d seen and done so much, met so many great people and characters. Turning away from the ocean and walking back to my car was definitely accompanied by a sigh, like I was saying goodbye to a friend after a visit.
I decided to go ahead to the airport even though it was still 4 hours before my flight. I always would rather have too much time than not enough so I have plenty of time for any unforeseen circumstances as well as time to just take it casually, eat, relax, etc. I arrived at my gate and began the waiting game. A friend of mine works for an airline so I was traveling on his “companion” passses which meant my round trip was significant cheaper but I was flying standby, which means I only get on the plane if there’s room. I’d done this many times before so I knew the game and knew that you just had to go into it knowing that it could be quite the adventure. I’ve been stuck in Chicago for an entire day and overnight stay, stuck in Austin for 2 full days and nights and other adventures so I’d learned to be pretty zen about it. My trip to Maui had been flawless. Made both my flights! I was ecstatic when not only did I make my first flight home, but I was in first class for the 6+ hour flight! I ate my free, fancy, first class meal and then slept the entire flight to Denver.
When I got to my gate in Denver, I ate breakfast and headed to my gate where they have electronic boards at the gates telling you how many seats, how many people are checked in, people on standby, etc. My flight back to Austin was not looking good. I believe it showed one open seat and 3 people in front of me on the standby list. Sure enough, I didn’t get on it. The next flight was three hours away. I set up at the “charging station” and set up my laptop in one of the little cubicle-like spaces to pass the time. As my next flight got closer, I went to the gate and once again it looked even worse than the first flight. In fact, they were asking if any paid passengers would willingly give up their seat for a later flight, for which they would be compensated somehow (I can’t remember how). I did not get on. Another three hour wait.
I got some lunch and again set up in my airport cubicle. At this point, I was mostly keeping my zen but was a little frustrated since I had just started dating someone right before I left for Maui. We literally had our first kiss and then I’m gone for 6 days. I was anxious to get back.
As the next flight approached, I looked at the board to assess the situation. Three open seats and I was fifth on the standby list. I was hoping for a miracle. They started giving seats to the standby list. Two guys got their tickets and boarded. They called the next name. No response. Again, they called for this person, and no response. They then moved to the fourth name on the list. Again, no response. The gate agent said, “Well then, onto our next contestant” and sure enough it was me. I shouted “Woohoo!” and threw my arms in the air, happily took my ticket and boarded the plane.
Once again, I slept almost the whole 2 hour flight and arrived home only 6 hours later than I’d anticipated. On the plus side, this meant my girlfriend was not at work and could pick me up at the airport. We spent the next 26 hours utterly relaxing and disconnected from the world. Then I hit the ground running with things to do and am still playing catch up (thus why I’m only now finishing this blog entry).
Of course, I’d have it no other way. I hope to go back some day, but it’s also great to be home.
Pictures from the trip can be found here.
Day 4 began casually. Trying to sleep in but failing. My mind just decided that it’s ready to be up! So I went walking around Front Street in Lahaina town again. It was early enough that not much was open yet. I found one virtual geocache and then went looking for another. The second one was located under part of a restaurant that hung out over the ocean a bit. Unfortunately it was high tide so there was no way for me to get to it without getting completely soaked and I hadn’t come prepared for that. I got fairly wet just trying to see if I could get to it.
I decided to grab breakfast at the restaurant (“Cheeseurger in Paradise”). I got cheeseburger scramble which sadly was, “meh.” I don’t think I did anything else before returning to my room and just relaxing for a while before taking a shower and getting ready for the wedding.
I went 6 miles down the road to the Olowalu Plantation House where the wedding was taking place. Immediately I was struck by what a great place this was for a wedding. Beautiful and right on the beach, the ocean as your backdrop. The wedding itself was, without question, the most beautiful, magical wedding I’ve ever been to. From the scenery to the ceremony itself to the reception and most of all the people, it was just beyond words. I had come here knowing no one but the bride. At the rehearsal dinner, I had met many great people and so I felt like knew a lot of them now. I just don’t know how else to describe the entire atmosphere and experience other than “magical”. As the night grew to a close and the moon reflected off the ocean, I said goodbye to all these people and there was definitely a melancholy. Though I had two more days here and despite the fact taht I had not seen any of these people outside the rehearsal dinner and wedding/reception, it was strange knowing that the next day most of them were all dispersing to their homes or next locations on the itinerary. Though I had come here for a vacation as well, the reason that had spurred it all, the invitation that brought me, this magical event was over.
I got back to my room and set my alarm. My plan was to get about 3 hours of sleep and then drive to the summit of Haleakala, the worlds tallest dormant volcano, to watch the sunrise. Since I had visited the other end of the park on Thursday (mistakenly thinking I could reach the summit from there) my ticket was good for three days so if I went back Saturday, it wouldn’t cost me anything.
As I slept, I kept thinking “wow, this three hours is not coming nearly as quickly as I feared.” That’s because I mistakenly set my alarm for 2:30 P.M. instead of A.M. I realized this about 30 minutes before sunrise and since it’s a two to three hour drive, that idea was out. I decided to just sleep in and that I would just pay another $10 and go back on Sunday morning.
Sleeping in felt good. I decided to take the day totally casually again and probably just fill it with geocaching since that always ends up leading me to cool places, no decision making required! First I went back to Front street and hit some shops (I hadn’t really gone in many of the shops). I also found that since it was Saturday it was much busier than I’d ever seen it before and there were arts and crafts vendors set up in Banyan Tree park. After much browsing, I went to eat at “Bubba Gump Shrimp Co”. It was kinda touristy and maybe a little overpriced but the view and the food were excellent. almost every table has a view right out onto the ocean, and the whole place feels very open and breezy. Not a lot of difference between the inside and outside portions. Never the less, I sat outside for that little extra breeze (it’s still covered…I’m not kidding when I say it’s barely any different). I had an awesome “chiller” smoothie type drink made from fresh strawberries and mangos and the “I’m Stuffed…stuffed shrimp”. Jumbo shrimp covered (not really stuffed) in crab meat and garlic butter sauce, topped with monterey jack cheese and rice. It was delicious!
A few more shops and then I went back to my room for a breather. I had a little nap then did some serious geocaching until sunset. As usual it took me to all kinds of cool scenic places I probably never would have seen and I got to feel like some secret agent finding hidden boxes, signing the log and then hiding them back in their place while trying not to be seen by “muggles”.
After what I decided was going to be my last cache for the day, I was at a very scenic rocky spot by the ocean so I sat down on a perfect little rock and watched the sunset. I decided to hit up “Teddy’s Bigger burgers” one last time, since I wouldn’t be able to on Sunday due to my plans and my flight out.
Tonight, I have my alarm correctly set for 2:30 A.M.
In which I am over-ambitious and kind of like Bear Grylls if he was 90% lamer.
I awoke earlier than I wanted and was still tired but couldn’t seem to sleep any more so I decided to get going. Ate breakfast at Maui Tacos. It was only, O.K. Then I decided to hit ‘Iao Valley State Park first, however on my way, I saw a nice little stretch of beach just off the road (many, in fact) and got the urge to just pull over and enjoy it for a bit. I’m really enjoying this totally casual, no itinerary way of vacationing. Sure I don’t see as much as I could if I meticulously planned, but I feel so relaxed and casual and it’s fun to just kind of play it by ear with only the loosest of plans or see where the urge takes you and discover things along the way. After a brief sojourn at the beach I proceeded to ‘Iao Valley.
It was amazing and breathtaking. I would get vertigo just looking up at the lush mountains around me. I explored all the paved sidewalks and then ventured off into the woods on some dirt paths. I went quite far, to the point where I started to wonder if I could find my way back. I generally have a very good sense of direction though so I wasn’t too worried. A few of the paths I traversed were right on the edge of a steep drop off. There was nothing too dangerous but I definitely had to watch my footing and stay alert.
Once I’d traveled pretty damn far into the woods, I decided, on a whim, to check my Geocaching app and see if there were any geocaches near. Sure enough, there was one 500 feet from me. I made my way back and climbed up a steep slope looking for it. It turned out to be much easier than that and was back down on easier terrain. There was also a “virtual cache” at the ‘Iao Needle and then a third one at the entrance to the park. Again, I made it far harder than it actually was and found myself climbing way up a very steep slope using trees, roots and anything else I could for hand and foot holds. It was at this moment that I realized how when I’m geocaching, I do much more dangerous and adventurous things than I normally would because I’m not really thinking about it. I’m just single-mindedly looking for that cache. This one, too, turned out to be back down in a much easier place.
On my way back to the car, a chicken with a line of baby chicks was crossing the road. They were so damn cute I had to try and document it. I slowly stalked through the grass on my knees with my camera, trying to get close without spooking them. I got a couple of videos.
By this time it was about noon and I decided today was a good day to drive the “Hana Highway”. It’s one of the most scenic drives you will ever experience, however it will take all day. I knew this going in, but was still not prepared for the endurance adventure driving trip this turned out to be. It turns out pretty much the entire eastern half of Maui is encircled by one “highway” and I use that term loosely. This is pretty much the ONLY road and it is narrow and winds around so much I had to stop several times because I started feeling sick. The main stretch that people drive is between Kahului and Hana and is about 60 miles but will take about 3 hours to drive. It was indeed stunning visually. Just indescribable. Almost incomprehensable but it was arduous. After stopping to eat in Hana, I decided to keep going all the way around instead of going back the way I came. I’m glad I did because the scenery did not get any less impressive.
Along the was was Haleakala State park with the world’s tallest dormant volcano. I already knew I wanted to go here so I decided to cram this in as well rather than makes this drive again another day. I thought I was accessing the area where you could get to the summit and the crater but I found out later that this was not the case. This was the opposite end of the park. Now, sadly, at this point my phone battery was dead so I didn’t get any pictures which is a real shame as this may be some of the most incredible scenery I’ve seen.
It’s a long hike, 2 miles slowly ascending through the woods, following a man made trail, sometimes of stones, sometimes wooden platforms, a couple of bridges over a chasm, and a few creek crossings using stepping stones or logs. At places, there are signs warning of steep and fatal dropoffs to your side. I think the coolest part for me was as you got higher, you reached an area where the wooden platform trail was in the center of a corridor formed by immense and dense bamboo growth on either side. It looked absolutely surreal and the bamboo and clouds at this altitude made it all very dark and overcast as well. The wind would blow and the bamboo would clack against itself making it seem alive, like it was chittering to you. There were parts that were quite rocky or uneven, muddy or slippery and all kinds of different terrain. The further I got, the more I questioned trying to come back down this all in the dark.
When I finally reached the end of the trail, it was incredible. Tall cliffs stretched upward on three sides and a waterfall cascaded down from somewhere near the top. There were huge stones everywhere in a massive pile. I decided to go ahead and set back while there was still light.
By the time I got back to the car I was exhausted and my legs were jelly. I’d already hiked who knows how far around ‘Iao Valley and now I just added 4 more miles, half of that, constantly ascending. I set back out on the only road there was, intent to follow it all the way back around. I didn’t realize that it was going to remain a tiny rough winding road for the vast majority of the journey. There were more unbelievable views and many times when you were driving a one car width dirt road with a mountain on your right and a drop off into the ocean on your left but the entire journey was stunning.
The drive home seemed to take forever though. Especially since for a large chunk of it you’re driving maybe 20 MPH if you’re lucky and winding around playing chicken with the occasional oncoming car or cement truck and avoiding the occasionally crossing cattle. I finally arrived back at my room about 12 hours after I had left it. It was a day filled with physical activity, adventure, and absolutely mind blowing sights and experiences.
Tomorrow, I’m sleeping in and taking it easy. I think some casual geocaching around my neck of the woods until the wedding tomorrow afternoon. I will sleep well tonight.
After a nice night sleeping in (luckily, being a night owl, my body is already kind of on normal time for Maui), I had a casual morning or laying in bed, eating pita chips and hummus and doing some emailing while I looked around online for suggestions of things to do. I knew I had the rehearsal dinner at 4:30 so I couldn’t do any all day activities. After quickly getting overwhelmed with possibilities, I decided to just let today be “exploration” day. I decided to just set out without a destination and just drive and see where life would take me.
I started out just parking in Lahaina Town and walking down Front Street right along the coast checking out the sights and the shops. It was really nice and casual. I saw all kinds of ships out on the ocean, a big battleship in the distance, a little old shipwreck not far off the coast, a few parasails over the ocean. I just enjoyed the sun and the breeze and the sights. At one point I noticed a set of stairs leading down to the beach. I took off my shoes and socks and walked down. The sand felt amazing under my feet. I let the ocean waves just wash in around my ankles. They were quite forceful and there was just something very powerful about this simple experience.
I thought about stopping for a burger at “Cheeseburger in Paradise” but after pulling up a few reviews on my phone I decided not to as everyone pretty universally said it was overpriced, sub-par food. Instead, I went back to my rental car and headed back to Terry’s Bigger Burgers, the first place I ate when I got to Maui. It was really good and I had wanted to try some other choices. Today, I really made sure my “beach body” was in its prime by having the blue cheese bacon burger, some cheese fries and a chocolate shake.
Having now stuffed myself silly, I set back off up the highway with no particular place to go. Eventually I saw a turn in to a park. It looked very scenic so I turned in and parked. It was about that time that it occurred to that Geocaching would be a perfect companion to my random exploration. I’ve been Geocaching since 2000 but hadn’t done it much in a while. It did indeed turn out to be the perfect choice. There were 3 caches within walking distance of where I’d just parked. The first was in the crook of a really cool looking tree that looked like it belonged somewhere in Lord of the Rings. The second was of in a really pretty wooded area right by the ocean that was also a really beautiful and secluded area that I never would have found or stumbled on had I not been following my GPS to a geocache.
The third was a “virtual cache”, not an actual hidden box but just the location itself. They’d named the cache “Saphira’s Teeth” after a dragon in Eragon I believe they said. That’s because the place was a lava flow formation that looked like dragon’s teeth. This resulted from the lava flow butting right up against powerful waves back when it formed. This was my favorite place I’ve yet seen. It was amazing. Standing high atop a big lava rock formation as howling winds whipped at me and ocean spray pelted my face as it hit the rocks. I couldn’t stop giggling like a giddy kid at the beauty of it all. Looking out over the vast ocean from stop my lava perch. This is one of the things I love most about Geocaching; it often gets you off the beaten path and leads you to discover amazing areas you might never have stumbled upon on your own.
After returning to my room and showering, I proceeded to Duke’s Beach House for the rehearsal dinner for my friend’s wedding. The whole place is open air with a great view of the ocean. The groom’s mother was incredibly sweet to me and very concerned that I was traveling alone so she wanted to make sure to seat me with some other people. She would take me by the hand and introduce me around. I ended up at a table with 3 other guys and I met a lot of really nice people. We ate dinner as the sun set over the ocean and they lit up the tiki torches.
At one point a man came over to the table and introduced himself as Kunal. I looked up to see none other than Kunal Nayyar who plays “Raj” on “The Big Bang Theory”. Another couple had told me that he and the groom were friends and had been roommates but I didn’t realize he was here! I played it cool, he asked how I knew the couple and I told him I had done a movie with the bride back in 2007. He asked where I lived and we chatted about Austin briefly. As he was leaving I added “Hey, I really like your show” to which he replied “Thank you, that means a lot”. Throughout the night he was s genuinely nice, personable guy and I was a little starstruck since I do watch that show. It’s always strange and cool to see “celebrities” you know in person. The food was great. I had a scampi dish with jumbo shrimp and cheese ravioli and of course, the giant dessert, Hula Pie. As I walked to my car after it was all over, The moon reflected off the ocean and a nice cool breeze blew. Another beautiful day and night in Maui.
I can already tell this is going to be an interesting trip. Hopefully in that good “full of character” kind of way”. I’m basically renting the master bedroom in someone’s house (the owners live in the back and rent out the rooms to visitors). Upon my arrival, there didn’t seem to be anyone here. Since it was just a house in a neighborhood, I didn’t want to just waltz on in without knowing the procedure so I called my contact number and left a message. They called back and said they’d be back to make up the room in about 30 minutes so I went to grab a bite to eat.
I found a little local burger joint right next to an awesome mountain poking up into the clouds. It was nummy. The burger, that is, not the mountain (that I know of, at least…I didn’t taste it). I returned to the house to be greeted by a shirtless guy who just got back from fishing. Turns out he owns the place and his girlfriend runs it. He was incredibly friendly and spoke with a laid back demeanor just like some islander character from a novel or movie. He regaled me with the tales of the big one that got away this afternoon and showed the one he caught and brought home.
He showed me around and introduced me to the house pig. Yes, there is a pet pig that lives here. I set up in the kitchen to compose some emails and we continued to chat casually. I definitely felt like I was already having a unique island-flavored experience full of character and characters.
His girlfriend arrived and cleaned my room as several other tenants rolled in from a day at the beach. She asked if I needed anything else and told me to just let her know if I needed any recommendations of things to do. I told her that aside from the rehearsal dinner and wedding, I had no itinerary and was just palyign it by ear to which she replied “That’s the way to do it, the island way.”
All this and I’ve only been here about 3 hours. This is way better than some generic hotel experience.
Why is it that if something “blows your mind” it’s usually good, “getting blown” is usually good, but “that blows” means something is not good?
Why is it that if something is “shit” it’s not good but if it’s “THE shit!” then it’s good?
So anyone on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ has seen these posted already. I have, however, completely neglected to post them here on my own website. Apparently I have hardly posted any of them here, your best bet is just going to my youtube channel and checking them all out there including my uploads and my favorites (videos I was in uploaded by other people). A few recent highlights:
I was reading a discussion about Google+ compared to Facebook and how many people are not yet seeing its full potential because they don’t understand it or are just looking at it as a direct Facebook substitute. The main thing that hit me was how using Circles you can have friends, colleagues, celebrities, and any other grouping of people in the same place on one website but you can choose to read/post to any or all of them selectively. Where this struck me was in relation to my experience on Facebook.
I started out with just my personal page. Then I started pondering if I should start a “musician” page. At first, I saw no reason for that but then someone made the awesome point that at some point, hopefully, my “fans” won’t necessarily be just my “friends”. People may want to see where I’m playing or hear my music but I may not necessarily want them all added as “friends”. So I started my musician page. Now I’m also an actor but I don’t want to make an actor page as well. That’s just getting silly.
However, even with my musician page, I still get friend requests from strangers who find my band pages or have seen some film I’ve done. When I first joined Facebook, I was extremely selective about who I added. They had to actually be a real life “friend” or at the very least someone I had at least had a decent conversation with at some point. As time went on though I became less and less discriminating, especially as potential film industry contacts started adding me. This was a wise move as these connections have directly led to work but now I have tons of “friends” many who I don’t really know at all. Yes I know I can hide anyone I want from my news feed but that’s just an extra annoying step and maybe I don’t want them permanently hidden but just separated from my true “friends”.
With Google+, this problem is elegantly solved. Sure, at this point it doesn’t have all the features of Facebook (or many of the annoyances as well, so there’s two sides to that coin) but I can add friends, fans, film industry contacts, funny strangers, Lemur lovers, peanut butter and banana enthusiasts, deep seaa Yugoslavian folk dancers and all other manner of people into their own “Circles” making it very easy to selectively read or post to any individual circle, combination of circles or everyone including the public.
Yes, Google+ is still in its infancy. Yes there are bugs, annoyances, things missing that many people may want (however that’s another Pandora’s box as any given feature may be wanted by many while being considered clutter or annoyance by others). But all in all, I personally think it is an elegant and well done improvement over Facebook and have faith that it will only continue to get better.