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After a week in Hawaii, I headed back to Seattle with Jen and Andrew to hang out for a few days. I've been to Seattle twice(ish) before and have pretty much exhausted the city's attractions, so I had no major plans other than to walk around, drink coffee, and chill out with my friends. I ended up exploring some of my old favorites: Pike Place, the sculpture park, and the weird roadside art in Fremont. I discovered new attractions, like the Locks, where boats get to rise up in the water to transition from salt water to fresh. I met...

On our last day in Hawaii, we took a drive, and veered off onto what the road signs appropriately called the "scenic route." We stopped for a quick hike and to explore the botanical gardens. We visited a waterfall, looked out over Waipio, and grabbed a plate lunch at a local hole in the wall. And then, by some miracle (or Andrew's navigational/guidebook-reading skills) we finally did the seemingly impossible: found a beach on the Big Island. And so, after a week in Hawaii, I finally got to put on my bathing suit, splash in the monstrous waves (one that pulled...

I'm not sure if our car, or my lungs, would have made it safely to the summit that night. So we stayed close to the visitors center, and climbed a small hill to watch to sun set. I'm not sure I ever in my life imagined that I'd need to wear my winter coat in Hawaii. But it gets chilly on mountaintops. Wherever in the world they may be. I did see stars. Many of them. 400 though I lost count around 100. And Jupiter. I'm not sure I saw any invisible cows. But I'm pretty sure I did....

We spent three nights in Hilo, mostly because it was a good base to explore some of the other areas of the island: like the waterfalls, and the zoo, and the mountain. But Hilo had a few things to see to: like a Japanese Garden, and banyan trees planted by people famous in the 1930s, and a waterfront. And food. Of course, food....

When I pictured spending my 32nd birthday in Hawaii, I kind of imagined tanning on the beach, swimming in the ocean, eating raw fish, drinking fruity cocktails, and making out with a bleach blonde surfer. Instead, the night ended at 9:30pm passing out on a too-hard mattress and watching Food Network and HGTV. I'd spent most of the day in the car, and nothing in the small town we were sleeping in was open past 9pm. But let's forget about that part, shall we? Because, in the grand scheme of things, my birthday was kind of pretty awesome....

If there is one thing that an adolescent addiction to family sitcoms had taught me (and, lets face it, it taught me many things), it is that in Hawaii they hand out leis like they're going out of style. You arrive at the airport: you get a lei. You arrive at your hotel: you get a lei. You attend a luau on some deserted potato chip of an island: you get a lei. I was pretty sure they gave you one every time you left the bathroom. You get lei'd in Hawaii. The Bradys got leis. The Seavers got leis. The...