Having been to Maui a couple times, Hawaii wasn’t a place I was hankering to visit soon. However, while researching possible San Juan island itineraries in preparation for our intended island hopping trip in early September, it quickly became clear that an off-season trip to Hawaii would cost less and be way less of a pain in the ass to schedule. Thanks Washington State ferry system and overzealous summer tourists who apparently book everywhere good (read: everywhere that costs less than $300 a night) a year out.
Kehaka Kai State Park
The Big Island made for a pretty great trip. I found a cheap-ish direct flight to Kona, and we secured a totally decent and very reasonably priced condo rental on VRBO with a balcony overlooking the ocean. It was walking distance from the main, waterfront part of Kona-Kailua, which was a huge plus given the island’s size, which necessitated driving almost every other place we went.
In general, the island was beautiful, seemed way less touristy than Maui, and offered a shitton to do. The trip was pretty much the perfect balance between active and relaxing. As I learned after visiting an all-inclusive resort in Cabo last spring, one certainly can opt to do nothing but eat, drink and lay in the sun during a vacation, it’s probably more rewarding to get off your ass once and a while.
- Beaches! So many good beach options. Many are of the ever-popular white sand variety. Calm, clear, warm water. Not that crowded.
- Sea Turtles. Are. Everywhere. We snorkeled with them and saw them on multiple beaches. Those fuckers live to be like 200 and are basically dinosaurs that still walk the earth.
- Umeke’s. Our food experience on this trip wasn’t great overall but we were being cheapos and didn’t seek out the spendy fancy pants dinner options. Usually we would just get happy hour for dinner and then go to bed at like 9 because we are getting old and also this schedule just makes sense on Hawaii where there is so much to do during the day but not a lot of nightlife. That said, we got poke bowls at Umeke’s and it was effing amazing. I wish we had discovered it earlier in the trip so I could feast there several more times. I want something like this to come to Seattle immediately. In related news, Seattle needs more shave ice.
- Snorkeling with Manta rays: We booked this with Sea Paradise and they were great. You go out at night, when the Mantas feed. They were about ten feet wide and came within inches of us. It was rather spectacular. If you are badass enough to scuba dive (I am not), that experience would no doubt be even cooler.
I wanted to move to the Big Island by the end of this trip, screw my worries over sun damage and/or acquiring fatty liver due to Kona Brewing beer and macadamia nut over consumption.
Now that I am not working a stable 9-5 job I have been on the lookout for free yet entertaining things to do, especially at night. When Restaurant Zoe emailed me about their open house event, touting food and samples of signature cocktails, I figured it might not be that great but RSVPed anyway and dragged Mr. W with me.
It was actually pretty effing awesome, open bar, delicious food items everywhere, beautiful décor, and par for the course, a photo booth with “whimsical” accessories with which to pose. Scott Staples (Zoe/Quinn’s/Uneeda Burger owner) catered my wedding and did an amazing job so I have to say I would heartily recommend hosting a private event at Restaurant Zoe based on our experience there.
Just two weirdos in a photo booth
However, don’t do what I did. There was of course no tip jar at the bar but in my buzzed on free craft cocktails state I started to feel irrationally guilty about that and decided to smoothly drop a $10 bill on the bar. Unfortunately this move was perhaps TOO smooth and the money just awkwardly sat there unnoticed by the bartender while I felt like an idiot and pondered re-pocketing it. Although surely that would have led to an even more awkward Curb Your Enthusiam-esque situation. I need to work on my discrete cash slipping skills ASAP.
I planted things this summer and they didn’t all die! And then I cooked with some of them! This is extremely exciting to me. I grew up in parched-ass southern Arizona with a “yard” full of spiky whatnots that my parents usually just paid other people to tend to, so I have limited experience growing things.
Some things I tried to grow did die, namely, all of the vegetables I attempted (oops) but Mr. W messed up the spacing when he planted those so I blame him.
This summer I had success with basil and parsley. Thyme too, actually, but I keep forgetting it’s there. Here are two recipes I used to transform my leafy bounty into deliciousness. I like making these because they are super easy but take whatever main course you apply them to up a notch.
You can also freeze both-for the pesto, don’t add cheese if you are planning to freeze. To freeze I recommend using a baking sheet and saran wrap, creating smallish individual dollops. When frozen, wrap up each blob and then stick into ziplock bags for double-wrapped goodness.
Chimichurri (good on meat, fish, tofu, freezer burned veggie burger patty, etc.):
Combine in blender or food processor:
- Shitton of parsley
- Good sized splash red wine vinegar
- Bigger sized splash olive oil (add more if sauce is too chunky)
- A couple to a few garlic cloves
- Big pinch dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pesto (delightful atop eggs, sandwiches, any sort of pasta or grain including rice or quinoa)
Combine in blender or food processor:
- Lots o basil (at least two cups, packed)
- Hearty handful walnuts or pine nuts
- Couple garlic cloves
- About a half-cup Parmesan cheese (don’t add if you plan to freeze)
- Squeeze of lemon (optional, meaning I don’t actually remember if I used this but I think pesto will be fine either way)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil-stream in until pesto hits desired consistency
Behold, the completion of the post trifecta!
Ride bikes around Lake Union: Someone told me this wasn’t a good idea, so I didn’t do it. Alternatively, I managed to take two separate, better bike rides so I am considering this bucket list item achieved. The first ride was to play tennis and then eat pho (on a tandem bicycle with my husband, kind of a sickeningly cute but also awesome experience). The second involved a jaunt to Seward Park to swim, which basically means I successfully completed a triathlon.
Drinks on a rooftop deck: Went to Frolik. It’s pretty weird there. Dude bros galore. However, roof decks are still pretty sweet.
Road trip: Does it count as a road trip if there is a definitive end goal? I’m going to say yes, though this might be cheating, a little. Trekked a few places via auto this summer but the Moses Lake bachelor party (see: #pandabachelor) jaunt seems the most road trippy because it was the farthest away and we drove with three friends in our car which made it seem festive. Also worth noting, this trip overlapped with the Paradiso EDM festival at the Gorge. This meant that en route home we got to gawk at carloads of 20 year olds battling raging Ecstasy hangovers whilst adorned in culturally appropriated headgear and flaking neon face paint, which was a bonus.
Thus ends my summer bucket list debrief.
Part two of summer bucket list (quasi) success! Apparently the majority of my summer bucket list items fall under this category. Surprising? Ha. In related news I gained eight pounds this summer….
Summer dinner party: Oh hell yeah, and it included flame grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce, stone fruit salad with burrata, hearts of palm with avocado, and I think something delicious for dessert that I am now forgetting. And a shitton of rose. We ate outside, obviously, to attain full summer dinner party gloriousness. I was pretty proud of this experience. Effing delicious.
Make sangria: A friend has bestowed upon me a super secret classy* sangria recipe and I made, and drank, the shit out of it at a July 4th weekend kickoff party. I totally emailed myself another, more authentic recipe so I could really show this bucket list item who’s liver is boss but that version had a lot of things in it and thusly was never concocted.
*Involves box wine and Fresca
Boozy popsicles: I was pretty excited about this one, ordered a popsicle mold from Amazon, researched a bunch of recipes, and then quickly lost interest upon doing the math and realizing that due to science-y stuff about alcohol freezeability there is roughly a third of a shot of booze in one popsicle. I’m really not trying to eat like 5 popsicles to get a buzz on. Stupid science wins again.
Ridiculous Frappuccino: Forgettable and overpriced for the experience, duh, but I did it. As is my right as an American and Seattleite.
Fro Yo Delight: Oh yeah. Definitely constructed a concoction at Yogurtland and then ate it outside in the park for summery bonus points. As a side note, my husband is way better at frozen yogurt than I am. His cup always looks perfect whereas I become overwhelmed with options and forget to assemble my flavors side by side, piling them atop each other instead, resulting in a weird melty combination of all the flavors. But then again he also puts Capt. Crunch on his, no comment.
Another summer is basically over. Ugh (?). And, if it’s going to be 80+ degrees this weekend, can’t we stick to the official summer end date of September 20th or whatever “space” says?
Either way, I think it’s fair to say that I pretty much kicked my summer bucket list’s ass this time around. Save a few activities I am not overly broken up about forgoing.
Behold, part one of the itemized list/full breakdown, Water Sports and Activities edition:
Go on a boat: apparently the SR 520 construction prevents boats from crossing under the bridge from the north side of Lake Washington thus rudely inhibiting last summer’s brilliant strategy whereby my boat owning friends could simply swing by the Madrona T-dock and scoop me up, similar to what I imagine transpires in glamorous European yachting locales. Also, none of my boat friends invited me on their boats this year. Was it because last summer I brought Bud Light Limearitas? Anyway. Managed to check this one off the list due to a trip to Hawaii during which I boarded not one but two boats and a jet ski. Boom. Extra credit: a water trampoline was also involved.
Float a river: Failed but honestly this sounds like it might be cold which I am not a fan of. Also would have entailed complicated driving arrangements for drop off/pick up, avoiding DUIs because float worthy rivers are far away, etc.
Forthcoming: parts two and three! It was kind of a long list.