Friday, December 19, 2008

And the time starts now..

For a while now, I had been counting down to this day. Today happens to be my last day before a five week long leave of absence from work. That's right! It is probably a really bad time to be gone from work considering the state of the economy and the fact that my company has already laid off many employees. But as one of my colleagues put it "you've gotto do what you've gotto do". So here I am! The next five weeks hold a lot of promise. It will be the time when I'll finally be able to do all the things that I complained I couldn't because I had no time.
Here's a list of some things that come to mind
- take Kabu to see Oregon zoo lights
- go to the Portland Children's museum
- visit OMSI
- ride the max with Kabu ( I think this will be my primary mode of travel within the city now!)
- visit other moms and have play dates for Kabu
- catch a mommy matinee show at the Kennedy school
- go check out Milagros
- take Kabu for Friday Book Babies at the public library (if its still running)
- Take a trip with Kabu (maybe a train ride to seattle? It could even be a trip overseas if I ever get through all the visa formalities)
- work on a knitting project for Kabu
Realistically I may end up doing only half the things on this list, but its still fun to plan ahead so I can have all this to look forward to. So you see, I'm going to keep very busy now. Because I'm going to play 'mom'! And I already know that playing mom can keep you far more busy than any job can :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hawaii revisited

I finally had the chance this weekend to go through all of our photos from Hawaii. Although its been a while now, I still wanted to go ahead and write a post on some of the other memorable moments from the trip.
1- We had taken a little inflatable ducky with us for Kabu so he could go on a "boat-trip" in the ocean with us. He loved splashing around in the water sitting in his ducky - I believe this was because he liked the salty taste of the ocean water in his mouth.

2- Our evening on Mahaulepu beach was another memorable evening. It had a picture perfect setting.

We were lucky to come across four hawaiian monk seals on the shore that day. And one of them was a two week old pup! The Hawaiian monk seal is an endangered species endemic to the waters of the Hawaiian islands, with only about 1200 or so remaining.
What a life!

The little black thing stuck to its mama is the pup seal

3- Tunnels beach was another beautiful beach on the North shore of the island. It has a really big reef that makes it a great beach for snorkeling.
enjoying a fresh coconut
4- We also spent some time lazying around in cafes and playing with Kabir

One of the games that Kabir enjoyed quite a bit involved me repeating the street names - specially the alliterative ones (Na wili wili, Ele ele, Wai Ale Ale etc.)

5-On our last day in Kauai we decided to do one more hike - Nounou mountain or "the sleeping giant". This was a moderate 5 mile roundtrip hike (~1000 ft elevation) on the east side of the island.
View from the trail
Kabu silently hoping this doesn't become another adventure
At the top

6- And finally a collection of random photos - all my favorites.
at lydgate beach

Hanalei vista point

Hula Dance Night

Hawaiian beauty - I hope he doesn't hate me for this when he grows up ;-)

Special papa-beta bonding

double duty

We had a snow storm in Portland last night and since we are not used to that sort of thing here, it ended up being a holiday for most people today. It is on days like this that I really wish I didn't work from home! So yeah, its no holiday for me. In fact, our nanny couldn't come in due to the weather conditions and so I' m having to do double duty today - working and looking after Kabir. Coincidentally, I got this cartoon in my weekly mail from baby center today. Couldn't be more appropriate!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What a mess!

but what fun :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hike to Hanakapiai Falls

"Na Pali" - "the cliffs" in hawaiian - is one of the most beautiful yet remote places in Kauai. It can only be accessed by hiking, kayaking or by a helicopter ride. The Kalalau trail is a 11 mile treacherous trail along this coastline. We had read and heard so much about it that we knew our trip would be incomplete if we didn't experience the Na Pali coastline by attempting at least a part of this trail. We decided to hike the first two miles on Kalalau trail - starting from Ke'e beach going till the remote Hanakapiai beach and then two more miles up to the Hanakaipiai falls and then back out. This was to be an 8 mile roundtrip and roughly a total of 2800 ft in elevation (that's counting the elevation gained on both legs of the hike) - the most challenging we have done so far with Kabir.
Start of the trail. As the notice says we start "at our own risk"

Almost immediately we are rewarded with beautiful views of Ke'e beach

Another pic of the beautiful Ke'e beach from the trail

This one is from a somewhat higher elevation
Enjoying our first view of the Na Pali coastline
Na Pali Coastline

Pic taken by a fellow hiker

Kabu is fast asleep by now

We arrive at the Hanakapiai river.

This was the first point where we were surprised. We didn't expect to see such a full river. While some hikers were turning back at this point, there were quite a few who crossed the river.
A back-packer crossing the river

There was a rope tied across the river to make it easy. Saurabh decided to "test the waters" before deciding if it would be sensible for us to keep going.

Reasonably confident that it was safe to cross, Saurabh takes Kabir across this time and I follow.

Right across this river is Hanakaipai beach -the half way point to our destination. Other than us, there were only two other people on the beach and we were not surprised!

The currents in the ocean here are very strong so we decide not to go close to the water. In fact this was one of the warning signs posted on the trail :

We took a short stop and decided to part from the Kalalau trail here and go up to the Hanakapiai falls. We soon learnt that this trail was not maintained half as well as the Kalalau trail. Since it had rained hard the previous day, in parts the trail had literally converted into a stream so we had to often trace our steps back to ensure we were still on the trail. Shortly after starting from the Hanakapiai beach, we met a couple that was coming back from the falls. They encouraged us to go ahead but warned us that there were few more river crossings coming up, one of which was more difficult than the one we had just crossed and this time it didn't have a rope to help cross. Undeterred, we kept going.
The first crossing was not an issue but when we got to the second one we realized what the couple had warned us about. Although the stream was not too wide, the current was strong here and the water was about knee high. At first we decided not to continue - we were both disappointed at the thought of turning around but in our minds we knew that would be right thing to do. We decided to sit there and have a snack and wait to see if we see any other hikers get there and decide to cross. After some time a couple got there and after contemplating for some time, they went ahead and waded through the river. At this time our determination took over our senses and we decided we had to cross too.
Saurabh contemplating before crossing

This time I decided to go first. The current was indeed quite strong and I had to hold on to the rocks with both my hands as I crossed. Immediately I knew this wasn't going to be easy with a baby. Saurabh came after me carrying Kabu in front. I watched with bated breath from the other side. To my horror, just when I thought he was almost there, Saurabh lost his balance and slipped - he managed to get his control back in time for Kabir to be safe but both of them got completely wet and needless to say, Kabir gave a scream that I will never forget. I can say that this was one of the most terrifying moments for that I've relived in my mind over and over again.
Although we kept going, the hike wasn't fun anymore. We knew that to get back, we needed to cross the same stream back. But we continued with a couple of other hikers until we got to a point where we could not continue anymore. The stream had to be crossed one more time and this time it was waist deep. Without a thought, we decided to turn back. We were about 50-100m from the falls. This is the closest view of the falls that we had.

Other hikers turned back with us and one of them took this pic for us

Had it been a drier day with less water in the streams, here's what we had hope to experience:
(courtesy Google images)

To see this in perspective, here's another pic of the Hanakapiai falls (again courtesy google images)

We turned back around and didn't stop until we got to the same river crossing again. This time we had enough sense to carry Kabir on the back in stead of the front, so that even if Saurabh slipped there was less chance of Kabir touching the water. For the first time ever during a hike, I was praying hard when Saurabh & Kabir crossed. And thankfully, this time there were no incidents. We turned around and took one last picture of the river where this had happened.

The rest of the hike back was long and tiring and we had no energy left to take any more pictures. When we finally got back to the trailhead we were glad to see our car.
In retrospect, this will be one of those hikes that I will always have mixed feelings about. While we got a big thrill out of the hike, it was certainly not worth the risk we took. Saurabh and I have had many discussions about this since, and one thing this hike has made us realize is that as parents we are now responsible for someone who is completely dependent on us. And even one irresponsible decision can prove to be too costly. It can be argued that we have the right to take risks with our own lives, but by no means can we take the same risk for Kabir. We feel fortunate that everything turned out well at the end of the day and that we had the opportunity to revel in the beauty of the Na Pali coast. For more reasons than one, this will be a hike we will never forget.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Light play

Last night, Kabir managed to sneak under our corner table and get to the lamp that sits on it. He "discovered" how to turn the lamp on and played with it for a good ten minutes (until he decided to touch the hot bulbs and had to be stopped). Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On his own two feet

I have loads of pictures to share from the Hawaii trip but I'm sure it will take me time to sort through them all. For now, I want to share some really special ones. These pictures are the first ones of Kabir standing on his own. Of course this wasn't the first time he stood without support, but it was the first time that he stood long enough (3-4 minutes) for us to be able to get some good shots. Taken on 11/23/08 in Wailua, Hawaii.

What attracted him in the first place was my colorful plate of veg lasagna. Since I was holding the plate high above his head, he decided to stand up to take a good look. I ended up sharing a good portion of that lasagna with him!

Friday, November 21, 2008

kauai day 1 pictures

My favorite photos from day 1 of our vacation. Taken at Poipu beach and Kekaha beach. The first one is taken in the home that we are renting.