Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Happy New Year! Whew, I can’t believe how quickly 2011 passed. It seems like it went by in such a hurry. Well, here we are in 2012 and I know I missed a whole bunch of blogging in 2011 so here’s a quick year in review.

2011 was a year of many firsts for us. We got to see many new things and experience many new experiences individually and as a family. Here are a few of my favorites.

One of the big changes had to do with a change in the way I think about what I eat. In addition to trying to eat healthier (which i often fail at) I also started trying to grow my own food. Here is my attempt at doing aquaponics and growing some lettuce, eggplant and tomatoes. I have since gone on to grow broccoli, green onions and kale and I’m thinking about expanding to more systems in 2012.


A few weeks into growing


Manoa lettuce

For the first time since my wedding in 2007, the Hasselhoffs reunited and played a few gigs. Two to be exact. That may not sound like a lot, but it was more than we played for the last four years!


We’re getting the band back together (not pictured is our drummer, Clinton)

Slugger also got to celebrate her first Easter! We had her all dressed up nicely for church but by the time we took an Easter picture, we had already changed her into something more comfortable.


Happy Easter!

Then in May I revisited the Lone Star State again for a short conference. The trip wasn’t too memorable, but I did get to visit the new Cowboy Stadium. That sucker is impressively massive!


Sitting in the owners box


On the famous star at midfield

After I got back we got to go to the Big Island! We were very excited because it was Slugger’s first time on an airplane and the first time she would be able to meet her Aunty Genesis and Uncle Jordan, Keao’s sister and brother. It was also her first time meeting her cousin who was born just three weeks before her.


Slugger was absolutely glued to the window


Aunty Genesis meets Slugger for the very first time at the rodeo


The cousins weren’t too interested in each other at first


Uncle Jordan and Slugger


Zylin and Aunty Keao


Keao also tried stand-up paddling for the first time too

Rather than make this a super long post, I’ll stop here at six months and bring you up to speed with some highlights from the second half of the new year later. Stay tuned part 2 of 2011 coming at you soon!

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Prepping the food for our Hawaiian pupu party. On the menu tonight: Spam musubi, fried rice, macaroni salad, pork sandwiches and chicken long rice. It will truly be an authentic Hawaiian experience.

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Baseball: the great American pastime. Living in Hawaii, it’s rare that I get to go to any professional games, but last night, I found myself in the Sapporo Dome cheering on the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters with a bunch of crazy Japanese fans. I believe that the season is about ready to end and I’m not sure where the Fighters are in the standings but the stands were about half-full and that could have been because it was a Wednesday night or because the team may be out of the playoff race (or maybe it was another reason altogether). But we didn’t let that dampen our spirits as we cheered our hearts out.

On the mound for the Fighters was their star pitcher Yu Darvish. From what I hear, he may be the next pitcher to break into the Majors in the next couple of years. He pitched a great game but he didn’t get much run support and if he caught a few bounces here or there, he may have been the winning pitcher instead of losing a 3-1 pitcher’s duel.

On a side note, we were having a hard time figuring out how hard the pitchers were throwing because they display the velocity in kilometers/hour. Luckily Kristin figured out a conversion formula for us and Darvish was throwing in the low 90s.


Banners everywhere walking into the Sapporo Dome


The sign welcomed us

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the stadium was how seriously they take cheering. I mean we cheer on our team, but these guys were organized and they waved huge flags and had trumpeters and it seemed like everyone in our section had Fighters jerseys and noisemakers.


The flag wavers stand on the concourse


Those plastic bats provide the noise


The guy in the orange leads the cheers


Not to be confused with the actual cheerleaders

If you want to get a good idea of what I mean by organized cheers watch the video below. There are about 10 cheers or so that we yelled over the course of the game. It is interesting because when your team is up to bat, everyone in the section stands throughout the entire half inning and cheers. When your team is in the field the section becomes quiet and the opposing team’s section takes over the cheering. Of course the visiting team has a smaller cheering section, but they were loud nonetheless.


I don’t think anyone mistook me for the real Darvish


Dural and I were matchy-matchy


Despite the loss we had fun anyway

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Airline Food

Living on a small island like Oahu has many benefits. For one, nothing is really more than half an hour away. Of course, when you have to sit in a car for more than an hour, it can seem like an eternity. One drawback to living on an island is travel. In order to go anywhere significant you have to get on a plane (or boat I suppose) and that means going to the airport, making your way through security and renting a car and booking a hotel (unless you’re lucky enough to know someone at your destination willing to put you up). All this means to me is that I don’t travel very often because it’s such an ordeal. Of course, when I do travel, it’s such a special occasion.

I am currently in Japan, where I usually go once a year, with my church. This year, for the first time, we flew on China Airlines because we couldn’t find a good price on Japan Airlines. Up until now, I had always flew on JAL so I kind of knew exactly what to expect on the trans-Pacific flight. When we fly on JAL, I always get the Japanese meal because I figure I can always get an American meal on any other flight. Plus, I like Japanese food and I’m rarely disappointed. Following that mindset, when it came time to order on China Airlines, we had a choice of the eggs breakfast or the Chinese one. I’m pretty sure the flight attendant told me exactly what the Chinese breakfast had in it, but either she told me it in Chinese or she just had a thick accent. Either way I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting. I love Chinese food, but when I opened the tray this is what I saw.


So that’s what Chinese people eat for breakfast!

So what is it? Your guess is as good as mine. The only things I recognized right off the bat were the bread and the juice. The left dish held some sort of rice dish that reminded me of jook and the one of the right was small pieces of the stuff that is the cone of a cone sushi. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t that.

Our next meal came four or five hours later. This time, I knew exactly what the flight attendant told me. She gave me the choice of chicken with pasta or beef on rice. Not really being a pasta guy, I opted for the rice. It turned out to be almost like a beef stew dish except there was just one thing slightly amiss.


Can you spot it?

It’s not that there wasn’t enough beef, rice or vegetables. No, that part was fine. My biggest issue was the amount of fat on the beef. I guess they haven’t heard about the hazards of eating straight fat in China, because it seemed like that was all I got. Here’s a close up.


Mmm, oh so yummy!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good piece of fatty meat every now and then, but that was a little too much even for me. At least they did have a good Diet Coke for me. That helped me to wash down my lunch.


I think that says Diet Coke (or at least Coca-Cola Light)

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Big D, part 2

After keeping you in suspense for several months, I decided to finish telling you all about my trip to Texas. Actually this post is mostly about the food I ate since I figured that you probably wouldn’t be too interested in the database conference I attended. So if you haven’t eaten lunch yet, this post may be a little dangerous. You’ve been warned.

So when you go to Texas I guess what you’re expected to do is eat meat. Lots and lots of meat. Not just any meat. You’re supposed to eat Texas BBQ. Last year when I went to the same conference we ate at a BBQ place called Dickey’s BBQ Pit. It was some pretty good stuff. This year we tried Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. Like Dickey’s this place is a chain, but don’t let that discourage you. It was lots of smoked meat and deep-fried goodness.


Outside the Smokehouse on a rainy evening


I had the BBQ ribs, brisket and chicken with a side of fried okra and green bean casserole

Continuing on our meaty-goodness theme, we asked a barista at one of the coffee shops where we could get some steak. We didn’t need a fancy, gourmet steak. We just wanted a place to eat a big hunk of meat. His answer? Texas Land & Cattle. Let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. Ruth’s Chris it’s not, but it was a good piece of meat. I had the ribeye with a baked sweet potato and it was under $20 ($17.95 if I remember correctly)! I probably wouldn’t eat there every week, but for a nice dinner it was quite reasonable.


I didn’t quite get the meat sweats, but I got close


Our cheesy queso appetizer


The main dish!

On our last day, we had a few hours between the end of the conference and our flight so we ventured down to Fort Worth. As luck would have it, we got there at the tail end of Western week so the town was abuzz with people dressed in Western regalia and doing some educational demonstrations for the kids.

It was like we ventured back into the Old West complete with people on horseback and cowboys.


This is what the Old West would have looked like with paved roads, cars and stoplights


Deb and some settlers


I’m also sure the Old West had tons of mice riding on cats riding on dogs

One thing I did want to try were calf fries. I had never tried one before and I didn’t know when I would be able to try them again, so I figured I’d take my chances and go for broke. I also had a normal lunch of a chicken-fried steak sandwich too just to make sure I could wash the calf fries taste out of my mouth.


The infamous calf fries


What the inside of a deep-fried calf testicle looks like


Mmm, so ono


My rather mundane chicken-fried steak sandwich (which was huge by the way)

Of course we did try to eat healthy when we weren’t eating meat, but I figured you can eat healthy anywhere. As the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. So meat it was.

One thing we really didn’t try was Tex-Mex. Maybe if I go back again next year, I’ll make sure that it’s on the menu.

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Big D, Part 1

It’s been a busy last couple of months for me filled with some time off the island. I went to a conference in Plano, Texas and then Keao and I took a short trip to the Big Island to introduce Slugger to her cousin and her aunties and uncles for the first time. But that’s for another post (I’m trying really hard to catch up), this one is about my time in Dallas.

A few of us were sent to the Fellowship One conference to learn about the system powering our church’s database. I know, it’s super exciting. But we arrived the day before the conference started so we decided to do a little sightseeing.

Our first stop was lunch. When I go to the mainland there are three fast-food restaurants I like to eat as that we can’t get in Hawaii: 1. Chick-Fil-A, 2. Sonic, 3. In and Out Burger. I know, some of you may think that In and Out should be higher, but truthfully, while I like their burgers, I would still rather eat at the other two places first. Plus, they just opened the first In and Out in Texas while we were there and the line reportedly stretched over a mile.

But Sonic. I love Sonic. Not only do they have a wonderfully large menu, but you get served by carhops wearing roller skates! Plus, with all the drink combinations you can order a different drink every time you go there.


They even have instructions on how to eat this massive foot-long Coney Island beast


I got mine covered in chili and cheese

Last year when I went to the Fellowship One conference with Cindy, we saw Cowboy Stadium from a distance but we didn’t have a chance to visit it so this year I really wanted to make sure i got to take a tour of the “House that Jerry Built”. In a word, Cowboy Stadium is massive. I’ve been to other ballparks before but this one was so huge and impressive I don’t think pictures will do it justice. It’s a sight you have to see for yourself, in person.

The first thing you notice about Cowboy Stadium is the insanely large HD video screen. It’s reportedly the largest in the world and it cost $40 million to build. To put it in perspective, Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys played before, cost $35 million to build. The entire stadium cost $5 million less than the HD screen.


How would you like that in your living room?


A view from the owner’s box


Pretending to be Jerry Jones for a few minutes


How many ways can you say “win”?


I wanted to spike a football, but I was afraid of the ramifications


The locker of former University of Hawaii punter Mat McBriar


Tony Romo’s locker (I hear you can rent the locker room to do weddings too)


Do you really need to tell professional football players NOT to share razors?


A statue of the great Tom Landry

After the tour we were a little tired so we headed to our hotel to take a short nap and then we headed back to Arlington to take in a Rangers game. Cindy and I attended a game last year too, but you never get tired of watching a major league game live. Plus, the Rangers did make it to the World Series last year so there is quite a buzz going on in Dallas.


The Ballpark at Arlington


Your better-than-average stadium fare, a BBQ brisket sandwich


Home Run!


The ground crew covering the field during the rain delay


Apparently one guy fell down and got covered too!


The stadium quickly emptied when the lightning started

Truthfully I’m not sure who won since we didn’t stick around through the rain delay. We had traveled all night and we were tired (plus we didn’t want to be too tired for the conference). I didn’t take too many pictures of the conference since I figured that it wouldn’t be that exciting for everyone to see but I did take more pictures of food so please join me next time where I’ll show you what else i ate in Texas.

Until then, happy trails!

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Life Before Facebook

The other day, I was cleaning out one of my dresser drawers at home and I came across an old pile of postcards. I know, I know, in this day of Facebook, Twitter, text messages and instant communication, postcards are an archaic form of communication.

Before I got hired on staff at Hope Chapel, I helped in the youth ministry for ten years. One of my favorite “traditions” I had with the youth was sending postcards. Anytime I went off island I would try to send my MiniChurch a postcard from wherever I was and in return many of them would send them back to me. I don’t know about you, but anytime I get a piece of handwritten mail, whether it be a postcard, thank you card or even an invitation it makes me smile. Ever since I became an adult, it seems like 90% of my mail are either bills or credit card solicitations.

But seeing those postcards again made me realize how many places our youth visited and also fun postcards are. Here are a few of my favorites from both near and far.


The road to Hana at Keanae, Maui

I love this one because even though it’s just on Maui, it showed that a postcard was still worth sending.


Paramount’s Great America in Santa Clara, California


Las Vegas, Nevada

I know these aren’t very exotic, but you have to admit that many islanders go there quite frequently.


Sent from Ketchikan, Alaska, just a reminder to stop peeing like pup


A nice shot of the Rockies sent from Denver, Colorado

Still not totally unusual but now we’re getting a little further off the beaten trail.


Possibly the only state with more state pride than Hawaii from Houston, Texas


Not a state but a district, Washington DC


One of my favorite places on earth, the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida


This looks like Scotland, but it’s really Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Now we’re getting a little further east and I’ve received postcards from Texas, DC, Florida and Pennsylvania. But enough of the domestic stuff. Here are a few international ones.


Of course this is Japan and the famous Osaka Castle in Osaka, Japan


This one, from Edinburgh, Scotland, is probably my favorite because of its unusual shape

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Now that I have a daughter, I think I’m going to start sending her postcards whenever I leave the island so she’ll have a little collection of where I’ve been when she gets old enough to read. However, you can participate too. If you’re going on a trip, I’d love to receive a postcard from you and if you give me your address, I will make sure you get one from me. You can send your address or request mine by emailing me at beiberfever808@gmail.com.

I hope to hear from you and see where you’ve been soon!

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Food, Glorious Food

For the last few months, I have been blessed enough with the opportunity to travel to the continent two different times. In May, I went to a conference in Texas and then I went to Pennsylvania to celebrate my sister’s graduation from Carnegie Mellon University.

Whenever I go on trips people invariably will ask me what I ate. Luckily for them, I love taking pictures of food so for the next few posts I will show you guys what i ate. In this post, we’ll revisit Texas and Pennsylvania and in the next post well look at our food adventures in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our conference was in Plano (it was a database conference) and the church sent me and Cindy Loo. Of course since we went all the way to Texas I dragged Cindy to a baseball game. So after traveling overnight and going straight to the conference we managed to find the strength to go to the Ballpark at Arlington. As luck would have it, it was dollar hot dog night that night so of course we loaded up on hot dogs and enjoyed a great baseball game (the Rangers won and we all sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas” together).


Here’s the crowd filtering into the ball park


The hot dogs weren’t great, but they were only a buck each

Of course you can’t go to Texas with out eating some Texas BBQ so based on a recommendation from one of my friends that used to live in Plano, we tried one of the local favorites: Dickie’s Barbecue Pit.


This place was literally right across from the church. We should have eaten there more often!


You know it’s authentic when there’s a smoker right in the parking lot


My plate was full of brisket, sausage, fried okra and green beans (plus you can get sweet tea everywhere!)

After leaving Cindy and departing to Pennsylvania I met up with my family in Pittsburgh. One of the great things about living in an age of the Food Network and the Travel Channel is they have changed some lucky local eateries into food destinations. Of course since my sister lives in Pittsburgh she also made a few suggestions too. WARNING: There are going to be tons of pictures following!


First stop: breakfast at Deluca’s!


Their signature waffle sundae. You can barely see the ice cream peeking out under the whipped cream.


Another Pittsburgh institution is Primanti Brothers


Their claim to fame is putting the french fries inside the sandwich (which incidentally makes for a very thick sandwich

After spending some time in Pittsburgh we did a little sightseeing in central PA. We drove stayed a few nights in Gettysburg (which will probably be the subject of a later post) and visited Hershey (home of Hershey Chocolates) and Lancaster County (probably most known for the Amish).

Gettysburg, as you probably remember from your American history classes, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War. Because of this battle President Lincoln turned the land in to a national cemetery and his dedication of the cemetery is the famous Gettysburg address.

Anyway, they keep the Civil War alive in Gettysburg by allowing you to eat what they would have eaten if you had been there during the 1860s.


The Farnsworth House Dining is one of the more famous houses in Gettysburg


Our meal started out with pickled watermelon rind (my sister loved it, I didn’t)


Another appetizer was this bowl of spoon bread


My mom had the pumpkin fritters, sweet potato pudding and Lancaster chicken


I opted for the game pie


Can you see the chunks of turkey, pheasant and duck?


This is what greets you when you arrive at Hershey


The chicken nuggets weren’t spectacular but the dipping sauce was interesting


That’s honey mustard on the right and a chocolate barbecue on the left (that’s right, chocolate barbecue!)

One of the more fascinating places we visited in central Pennsylvania was Lancaster county. In addition to the Amish people that live there they have a nice bustling city. Then a little ways out of town there was a magical place called the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. They claim to have over 200 feet of fine Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. It happened to be seafood spectacular night when we ate there and I must say, it did not disappoint.


We had no idea what we were in for


My first trip included among other things orange roughy, corned beef, shrimp, scallops, salmon, steak, fried chicken, roast beef, pork tenderloin and lobster bisque


Here’s a sampling of what they had to offer (now multiply this station by 15)


Another favorite of mine was birch beer (think root beer)


This little piece of pie is the famous shoofly pie

But alas our trip had to end sometime and so we headed back to Pittsburg. I’m not sure how I did this, but I managed to convince everyone to watch another baseball game with me so we went out to PNC Park to watch the Pittsburg Pirates. In another first for me, we sat in the outfield in the “all you can eat” section. In this section there is a special concession booth and you can go and order off the menu as many times during the game as you wish.


The view of the centerfield scoreboard from our seats in right field


It says limit 4 but you can come back as much as you wish


Nothing great but you can eat all that you wanted

Unfortunately for me this trip was met with more than one flight delay. I was late getting in due to a weather delay out of Dallas/Ft. Worth and I was late to leave due to a sick flight attendant in Pittsburgh. However the one bright spot that came out of the delay was Quaker Steak and Lube. If it wasn’t for that sick flight attendant I wouldn’t have had a chance to eat here. This popular spot is famous for their wings and different sauces. They go from the mild all the way to the atomic (which they claim is one of the hottest in the world).


They take their automotive theme very seriously


These are the Buckeye BBQ in front and I believe Tequila Lime BBQ in back


As you can see the Buckeye BBQ is rated at 5,000 while the Atomic is 150,000

We weren’t brave enough to try the atomic wings. I hear they’re very hot. So hot in fact, they make you sign a release form before you can eat them.

Overall I did get to try some great new dishes while visiting some great new places. Stay tuned to see what we ate in Atlanta.

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Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my, what a wonderful day

Sorry for the long lay off dear blog readers. Things got very busy in my life. Still that’s no excuse. I know some of you have been wondering what happened on our third day on the Garden Isle. Well wonder no more! Here’s the recap!

Sunday was probably the day many of us were looking forward to because Sunday was the day we were going to go ziplining! If you’re unfamiliar with ziplining you’re basically attached to a harness which is attached to a long line that’s hanging over some span. Then you zip down the line and arrive at the other end. I know, I know. That’s a poor description but take a look at the pictures and the video and they will give you a better idea of what’s happening.

Anyway, day three started off with one of my favorite breakfasts. It was an authentic “moons over my hammy” prepared the exact same way Denny’s makes it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. YUM!


Doesn’t that look ‘ono?

Of course thanks to Russell (who lent us his killer house) we woke up to this incredible view. Can you imagine being able to wake up to this every day? This must be what Heaven is like.


If this is not a million dollar view, I don’t know what is

After breakfast we then headed down to Princeville Ranch Adventures for our day of fun and excitement.


Starting the morning with a large cup of complimentary coffee

So once we signed off on the necessary release forms and paid our money we were taken up a trail to the ziplining course. Over the next few hours we would zip along nine different lines. Safety is one of their primary concerns so we all wore helmets and were strapped in tightly. Aside from skydiving this is probably the closest I will ever come to flying. It’s different from jumping off of rocks because here you takeoff and land in a somewhat controlled fashion (as opposed to jumping off of things where you don’t alway have too much control on the way you land).


Our instructor Drew preparing us for takeoff


Lon got the hang of it rather quickly


Some of us were more graceful than others


Here I am launching myself off the platform


By the second line Dural was already a pro


Our other instructor Kanoe in front of King Kong. The longest and highest line.


This is the view from the platform (the tiny speck in the distance is the landing station)

Now King Kong is the last line of the day so of course it’s the longest, highest and fastest line of the day. It’s so fun that this is the only line in which they let you go side by side. That’s right, it’s a race. You go off and see just how fast you can go. The catch to this line is, however, there is no one on the far end to catch you. As you’ll see in the video below, there is usually one of the instructors at the far end that will brake you and help you come in. But because you go two by two and there is only one instructor you are responsible for stopping yourself and landing.

As the following pictures will show, not everything went according to plan. Dina and I went first and she was freaked out by the height. But like a champ she didn’t chicken out and went for it. Unfortunately for Dina she didn’t exactly grab the stopping rope at the end and therefore she started falling backward. After yelling for help, she slowly backpedaled her way off the platform to no man’s land.

Poor Dina, who was scared to begin with and had to be convinced to even go, ziplined backward out to the middle of the line. When that happens all that can be done is for one of the instructors to go out and perform a rescue (in this case Drew). He then attaches another line to her and we all pull her in.


Here’s our hero Drew in action


We all lend a helping hand pulling in Dina


Poor Dina was so exhausted she just let it all hang loose!


Here are Dural and Lon coming in for landing


The zipliners with our guides Kanoe and Drew

So in a nutshell that was our Kauai trip. Come join us next year for another fun-filled outer island adventure. Which island are we going to? Maui? Big Island? Kauai again? Who knows? Stay tuned for more details!

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