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Guides of Oahu

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  1. Introducing Kamea Hadar - Muralist

    Hawai’i has a small town feel. If you went to high school with someone, there’s a chance you’ll be crossing paths later on in life. It’s no surprise then, that two local artists from the same Oahu high school ended up coming back together later in life to create Pow! Wow! — the global street art festival with its roots in Hawai’i.

    Back in 2011, Kamea Hadar and Jasper Wong set out to create a collaborative art event in Hawai’i. They wanted to put their island on the map for art, and create a setting where talented Hawaiian artists no longer needed to leave for bigger cities to pursue their career. By inviting artists from across the world to come and paint murals for a week in Oahu, they were —unknowingly — laying the building blocks for a global art festival that would eventually reach countries across the world, from Taiwan to Israel, and Japan to mainland US. Yet back in its early days, it was a self-funded, grassroots event, where the biggest challenges were finding walls that could be painted and accomodation for the incoming artists.

    Photo by: Jonas Maon @jonasmaon Photo by: Jonas Maon @jonasmaon

    In fact, it was this need for a roof over the artists’ heads that led to Kamea becoming an intrinsic part of Pow! Wow!. “Daniel Ito called me out of the blue one day and asked if I remembered Jasper from high school,” Kamea tells us. “He told me he wanted to do this art event in Hawai’i but needed a house for the artists. My dad is a contractor (and an artist) and had literally just finished building a big house on our property on the North Shore that he was intending to use for artistic retreats. It was one of those meant-to-be moments!” For the next four years the artists of Pow! Wow! would crash at Kamea’s house, creating a family vibe that seems to have continued through the Pow! Wow! events, even if today the artists stay in hotels.

    Kamea’s own artwork has grown as the event itself blooms into an international art phenomenon. During the 2013 Pow! Wow! he painted his first large scale mural — an image of his wife’s face — that he considers the true starting point of his mural career. Ironically, it almost didn’t happen. He was offered the wall on the Thursday and was exhausted from his work putting the event together and considered turning down the opportunity.  But with the help of fellow artist and good friend Rone, he worked for two days straight and created what he now classes as his all time favorite mural. If you are lucky enough to walk through the streets of Kakaako, you will still see this mural today.

    The event has taken Kamea far and wide, and even back to his family roots in Israel in 2017 where he organized a smaller scale event reminiscent of Pow! Wow!’s earlier days. Yet nothing beats Hawai’i. “I grew up here,” he explains. “ I love everything about Hawaii! I love exposing outsiders to its beautiful places and people. I really care about the place and I want to better the art scene here. When I grew up I was told I could either be an artist or live in Hawaii - not both. I want to change that.

    The 808 Urban and POW! WOW! Hawaii School of Art mural

    It would seem he is well on his way to achieving that goal. This year’s Pow! Wow! is once again attracting super talented, well-known artists from across the world, including Daniel Arsham and Tokidoki co-founder Simone Legno. Yet no matter how large and impressive the event becomes, it will always stay true to its founding principles: Process is just as important as the finished product, and Collaboration.

  2. Dan Ito's Guide to Pau Hana

    Blog by Daniel Ito - Photos by Austin Kino

    What they call “Happy Hour” on the mainland, we call “Pau Hana” in Hawai‘i. “Pau” means “done” and “hana” means “work” in the Hawaiian language. So when Iʻm done with the 9 to 5 that means itʻs time to have a beverage. My day job as the digital media director at Hawaii Business magazine has me stationed in the epicenter of Hawai‘iʻs business community, Downtown Honolulu. So when it’s Aloha Friday my “Pau Hana” starts at downtown’s classiest bar: Bar Leather Apron.

    Bar Leather Apron

    Address: 745 Fort Street Mall Suite #127 Honolulu, HI 96813

    Website: www.barleatherapron.com

    There is something magical about a great, handcrafted cocktail. When done properly the alchemy of premium alcohol and ingredients make an intoxicating concoction. Combine this with an enchanting atmosphere of muted-lighting, exotic wood furniture and intimate seating for only 25-30 people, and you have the magic of Bar Leather Apron.

    The magicians behind this craft cocktail destination in downtown Honolulu are Justin Park and Tom Park. Despite having the same last name they are not related, but both bring the experiences of their travels around the world and a mutual desire to make Bar Leather Apron a world-class and unique experience. The first cocktail I usually order is their signature drink, the BLA Ol Fashion. Itʻs still the best Ol Fashion Iʻve ever had!

    The handcrafted cocktails at Bar Leather Apron are delicious and strong so I usually downshift to beer because a good Pau Hana is a marathon and not a 40-yard dash. I like to head to Kaka‘ako, which historically has a great craft beer scene. One of my favorite watering holes in this zone is Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room, affectionately known as Village Beer to the locals.

     

    Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room

    Address: 675 Auahi Street Honolulu, HI 96813

    Website: www.villagebeerhawaii.com

     

    This is Honolulu’s first bottle shop and tasting room, and features over 500 carefully curated beers. I’ll usually ask Village Beer co-founder and fellow journalist, Timothy Golden, what is the latest local brew on tap, and order a pint of that to start. I also like to get one of their tasty pot pies, which are similar to Aussie meat pies, as a pūpū with my beer. Golden writes the “On Tap In Hawai‘i” column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser and is good surfer as well. I covered surfing for the newspaper for years so I really enjoy talking story from one journalist to another about beers and barrels with him.

    Perhaps, one of the best parts of Village Beer is its close proximity to Pow! Wow! Headquarters, Lana Lane Studios. This gives me a chance to twist the arm of artist Kamea Hadar to leave his studio and have a pint with me. Since we’re both fathers of young children we talk extensively about how to balance career with fatherhood while keeping our wives happy, and a nice glass of craft beer helps the conversation flow. Moral of the story: it takes a “Village Beer” to raise a child and keep friends in touch.

     

    Maui Brewing Co. Waikīkī

    Address: 2300 Kalākaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96816 (Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber)
    Website: www.mbcrestaurants.com

    Currently, my all-time favorite beer is Maui Brewing Co.’s Bikini Blonde so when Kamea has to get home to his daughter I call a Lyft and head to the Maui Brewing Co. Waikīkī. I look up to the way Maui Brewing Co. designed their business to be environmentally sustainable and how they’ve championed Hawai‘i nationally and internationally.

    I’ve been fortunate to make friends with their owner Garret Marrero, who was named the 2017 National Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Administration with his wife Melanie. If you’re ever on Maui I highly suggest taking the tour of the Maui Brewing Co. brewery because if you’re a craft beer lover like me then that is your chance to be “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.” But, when I’m in Waikīkī I’ll always try to make it a point to stop in Maui Brewing Co. to get a pūpū (I suggest the nachos) and order a flight of beers.

    I order the flight to find the Maui Brewing Co. beer that I want to take home in a crowler. Maui Brewing Co. Waikīkī Brewpub is the only place I know on O‘ahu where you can get a 32 oz. crowler made to order. Since, I usually have a sixer of Bikini Blonde stocked in my fridge so I’ll usually cop a beer that isn’t sold in stores. This Pau Hana has me going home with their tasty POG IPA.

    Okay, so I’ve got a good buzz going and I haven’t received a “where you stay, babe?” text from my wife yet so it’s time to squeeze in a night cap on the way home. I live in Kaimukī –which is 10 minutes away from Waikīkī– and we lovingly call our neighborhood “The Shire.” One of the best places to get a cool cocktail and a locally- sourced bite to eat is Mud Hen Water.

     

    Mud Hen Water

    Address: 3452 Wai‘alae Avenue Honolulu, HI 96816

    Website: www.mudhenwater.com

    Chefs Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero curate an amazing menu of locally-sourced food at Mud Hen Water, but by the fourth quarter of this Pau Hana I’m looking for something greasy and tasty. To go with the spicy Vishnu’s Vice cocktail in my hand I order the Preserved Akule (big eye scad) that is served with organic pickled vegetables, soda crackers and butter infused with limu (seaweed). Couple that deliciously fishy pūpū with the beet poke (beets, avocado, gorilla ogo and smoked macadamia nuts), and it’s an amazing way to cap the night without bogging yourself down with greasy processed food.

    My friend and Hawai‘i Business magazine colleague, Jeff Hawe, lives down the street from Mud Hen Water so I hit him up to join me for the ending of this Aloha Friday Pau Hana. Although this is the start to our weekend, we can’t help but to talk about our jobs and other passion projects we plan to tackle on Saturday. When you’re a creative in Hawai‘i even though you’re “done with work” you’re still always working – even when you’re drinking.

     

     

  3. Introducing Wooden Wave

    Walk through the streets of Kakaako in Honolulu, and you’ll find yourself in one of the world’s most inspiring, unofficial, outdoor art galleries. Home to Pow! Wow! — the global street art festival that attracts artists from all corners of the world — the murals that are created live on long after the event, providing pedestrians and passers-by with a constant injection of art in their lives. Keep walking, and eventually you will stumble upon Lana Lane, a warehouse building that is home to a collective of creatives, from lettering artists and oil painters, to videographers and graphic designers. It’s also where you’ll find Matthew and Roxanne Ortiz , a husband and wife team who make up Wooden Wave.

    With a background in fine art, you’ll find pieces from Wooden Wave as far afield as galleries in Washington D.C., but it’s their signature treehouse designs that are synonymous with their name. They use nature as their guide, add in a dose of the fantastical (inspired by a love of Peter Pan and the movie Hook) and build sustainable elements into the designs. The resulting artwork brings out the child in all of us, both young and old.

    Recently, they took one of their projects directly to children, in the Sunset Beach Elementary School. With hands-on help from the 400 students in the school, Wooden Wave recently painted two murals; a mauka-themed wall that depicts a sustainable treehouse landscape, and a makai-themed wall with a sustainable ocean dwelling. The ocean dwelling carries a theme of `ahupua`a—the traditional land and ocean tenure system of Hawaii.  The goal is to help local children understand their environment, and the plants and animals that they live amongst. The result is a mural that inspires, educates, and triggers a sense of community for the school. No Wooden Wave treehouse is complete without its sustainable elements, however, so you will find rain catchment systems and green roofs alongside the more playful skate ramps and tire swings.

    In fact, whether they are painting neighborhood walls at Pow! Wow! — (this year they will be collaborating with Lana Lane Studio-mate Gavin Murai, who is a letterer and graphic designer on a wall on Cooke Street) —penning fine art drawings for galleries, or creating fantastical murals for school yards, sustainability is the common thread through all of Wooden Wave’s work. Growing up in the resource-challenged island of Hawai’i’, they understand the importance of considering the environment and its long term health in everything you do, and they try to incorporate these ideas into their art in a fun way. If it manages to inspire even a handful of the island’s future architects, policy makers, and engineers, then as far as they are concerned, it’s mission accomplished!

  4. Meet Austin Kino - Ocean Voyager

    Austin Kino is a native Hawaiian with one foot in the past and the other in the future. Aware that some of Hawai’i’s culture and traditions are at risk of being lost forever, he has endeavored to bridge the gap between old and new, playing the part of both student and storyteller.

    It all started when he was invited to become part of the crew on the Hōkūleʻa in 2006, an iconic voyaging canoe whose journeys have revived the 2000 year old legacy of exploration, courage, and ingenuity that brought the first Polynesians to Hawai’i. Austin was chosen as one of a small group of young students  — the Kapu Na Keiki(meaning Keep the Children Sacred) — who would learn the ancient skill of celestial navigation. His love of the ocean and life spent surfing and paddling made him the perfect fit.

    Over the next 10 years, Austin’s life was spent in large part as crew member and apprentice navigator on the Hōkūleʻa. All the while, he never forgot a thought passed on to him by Master Navigator, Nainoa Thompson, that, “If you don’t have a vision for your future, someone else is going to impress their vision on you.” So, with a newfound knowledge and understanding of the ocean and Hawai’i’s navigational history, Austin pursued his own vision of sharing the past with the current generation. He founded Holokino — a traditional Hawaiian canoe adventure tour on O‘ahu’s south shore — where locals and tourists alike can experience first hand the ingenuity of Polynesian wave finding. His hope is that Hawai’i will continue to be known for its legacy of great ocean explorers.

    It seems to be working. Austin was recently named as one of the 20 people who will positively impact Hawai’i for the next 20 years. We’re guessing his impact will go way beyond that!

  5. Meet Lindsey Higa

    Aloha! My name is Lindsey Higa, and I was born and raised here in Honolulu, Hawaii. I spent 6 years away in San Francisco, but have been living back here on Oahu for almost 8 years now. My days are always different! I’m a freelance wardrobe stylist, so I’m either working on a shoot, or on my other 2 side jobs at Sig Zane Designs and We Are Iconic. I’m super excited for 2018, because I never really know what to expect for the year ahead. I’m already off to Vietnam for 2 weeks, so I hope to continue my travels and visit new places and work a ton along the way!

     

    Fave new Honolulu boutique: Gillia at Kaka’ako

    I love their clean and natural aesthetic. They carry two of my favorite local brands, At Dawn and Gillia Clothing that I’d probably be wearing if you ever run into me! Their clothes are comfortable, cool, and chic, which is perfect for everyday here in Hawaii. The girls there are the sweetest, and always make you feel at home.

    Favorite Coffee Shop: Morning Glass in Fishcake

    I spend most of my mornings stopping at Morning Glass coffee in Fishcake. Whether it’s after or before my daily yoga sesh, I’m there getting a Matcha Latte or Ginger Lemon tea. A close friend of mine is the barista there, and it’s definitely become a morning meeting place with friends.

    Favorite Beach: Kaimana Beach

    I grew up hanging there as a kid, and have spent many long days there watching the sunset with friends and family. It’s kind of a ritual to pick up and acai bowl or plate lunch from Monsarrat Avenue, then head to Kaimana’s to cruise at the beach.

  6. Where to Eat in Hawai'i

    By Chef Mark "Gooch" Noguchi

     

    Food brings people together; this I know. It's the guiding principle in why I cook, and besides cooking, the next greatest thing about cooking... is eating. I'm honored to be able to share six of my favorite spots to eat in Hawai`i. They're always my first choices, the spots that I take visiting chefs, family and friends. I hope you get to enjoy them as much as I do.

    O`ahu:

    PALACE SAIMIN Ramen is trendy, Saimin is life; that's my mantra. Iv'e been coming here since small kid time, and to this day it's still one of only two places I go for saimin (the other is HOME Bar.) The Arakaki-Nakagawa `ohana run this shop now; and it hasn't changed one bit. Hot, humid, cramped, soda boxes stacked to the ceiling. This is one of the first stops I bring all my chef buddies when they ask... "So what's local food?"

    HOME BAR & GRILL Quintessential local bar food, HOME is all 808. The flavors that these boys put out is just like the ambiance — loud, straight up, nuts, & unapologetic. It’s a local bar. If you’re new, or a visitor, you might get looks. It is what it is, local first. And that territorial attitude is something not born out of hatred, but geographical awareness. We protect what is ours. The food reflects that too...Big John and Neal never changed their style. They’ve kicked ass cooking for over a decade, and the loyalty of their fans show it. Go with some friends who’ve been there before. Get the Kalbi Fried Noodle, Tater Tot Nachos, Wafu Steak and legendary Negi Toro. And don’t forget the Chicken Gizzards & Fried Pork Chop.

    Kaua`i:

    MARK'S PLACE Mark Oyama and his wife have kept this Kaua`i standard running for almost 20 years. He's the Mayor of Kaua`i, knows eveyone, and cooks some of the best local food in the State. Simple, ono, and straight up 808.
    Photo provided by: Moon & TurtlePhoto provided by: Moon & Turtle

    Hawai'i Island:

    MOON & TURTLE (Hilo) Another husband and wife duo, Mark & Soni Pomaski run this tiny gem of an experience. Soni's sense of hospitality, aloha, and killer cocktail hands, coupled with Mark's connections with the local fisherman bring a divine experience to Hilo. A favorite spot of the Sig Zane `ohana, you'll find Kuhao Zane holding court here multiple times a week.

    LAULIMA FOOD PATCH (Kona) Clean food —that's what Chef Bonita Lao does extremely well. She is an expert in simple, delicious execution (and surfs moonlit nights like no one's business.) One of my all-time favorite lunch spots. I can eat here every day. My favorite is her Happy Chick Bowl, extra pork belly, add egg.

    Image by: Laulima Food Patch

    Maui:

    TIN ROOF I don't really order at Tin Roof... ever. Even if I do order my favorite — the Mochiko Chicken Bowl — I never get just what I ordered. Chef Sheldon and his `ohana are masters of the "shishi naenae." Food so good it takes you to another time and place... then puts you to sleep. Their food is contemporary local, yet still grounded in heritage like only a born and bred brownie can. Always Hi, never Lo, Tin Roof is 96720 in the 96732 all the way.

    Photo from: Tin Roof Maui

  7. Meet Chef Mark "Gooch" Noguchi

    Chef Mark Noguchi is many things to many people: nationally-renowned chef, defender of Hawaiian culinary traditions, cultural educator and local food proponent, just to name a few.

    Born and raised in Hawai’i, his love for good food goes hand-in-hand with his mission to promote traditional methods of sourcing, preparing, and serving meals. Mark’s journey has taken him through several business ventures, from the He’eia Pier General Store & Deli along the stunning shores of O‘ahu’s east side, to LunchBox, the Hawaiian Airlines corporate employee cafe.

    Today, as co-founder of Pili Group with his wife Amanda, Mark is illuminating the diverse culture of Hawai‘i through catering, culinary workshops and community gatherings. Pili Group is dedicated to creating a world of food with integrity, and the community of farmers, fishermen and other food artisans that Pili supports through its work has garnered national attention. Their newest program, Food Therapy®, is helping native and non-native people throughout Hawai‘i rediscover their heritage through intimate, hands-on cooking groups.

    In Mark’s view, you can honor history and still thoughtfully improve upon it, which is why you’ll find him making traditional meals with a modern touch. Noshing a bowl of luau stew or a fingerful of poi is inseparable from learning the story and people behind it. When you’re with Mark, whether it’s local meat, fish, or vegetables, eating well is as much about building community as it is the culinary experience.

    While Mark is always happy to see Hawai’i’s traditions transcend its shores, you might want to avoid the topic of poke. Poke (pronounced POH-kay), a local dish made with raw, locally-caught fish, has exploded on the mainland United States. As chains have started to sell mass-produced poke, they’ve changed the way the word is written (‘poké’, with an accent over the ‘e’) and have marketed the dish as a Hawaiian staple without understanding its cultural significance or its environmental impact. While this kind of misrepresentation is disappointing, it presents a unique opportunity to tell Hawai’i’s story on the world stage, including our responsibility to the communal resources that feed us.

    No matter how you look at Chef Mark Noguchi’s life, one thing is certain: authentic, traditional Hawaiian food is more relevant (and delicious) than ever throughout Hawai‘i, and abroad, thanks to his work.

     

  8. Q&A with Lindsey Higa

    Introducing Lindsey Higa (left), a native Hawaiian with a unique twist on fashion. Lindsey is well known for blending street style with laid-back island vibes, which she uses to inspire followers of her blog Pineapple Ice. We were fortunate enough to collaborate with her on our recent Sneaker Campaign. Let's get to know her!
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    How does Hawaii influence your style?

    Living in Hawaii totally influences my style. Our warm weather and casual and relaxed lifestyle calls for breezy and cool clothing on the daily. More than half the time I feel like I live in my bathing suit (which I don't mind), but after living in San Francisco for 6 years it's definitely a challenge to constantly be creative in putting outfits together without being able to layer. I try to stick to the basics, while always staying cool and comfortable!

    Favorite hangout spots/stores? Especially old-school ones related to the shoot.

    Oahu has so many great hangout spots. We spend a lot of our weekends on Waimanalo beach because it's such a breathtaking view. I love picking up fresh poke and poi at the Co-Op and eating it down at the beach.

     

    Where do you draw inspiration? 

    I draw most of my inspiration through social media. I'm constantly on Pinterest and Tumblr trying to keep up with the latest editorials, street style, and trends. My personal style is definitely influenced from the fashions I see abroad.

    What is your favorite everyday OluKai product and dress-up OluKai product?

    Luana is my favorite everyday shoe. I have them in almost every color! They're perfect for when I'm on my feet all day because they're so incredibly comfortable! The 'Upena is my favorite dress up sandal. I have them in the Pewter color which is perfect for night time looks!

    _40A4431_RC_EDIT_01Tell us something we don’t know about you.

    I'm a pretty open book, but if you don't know me well you probably wouldn't know I'm really into yoga. I spend a lot of my time at the studio doing sometimes 2 classes a day. I've been practicing for about 6 years now, and it's definitely been life changing mentally and physically!

    What can you not leave without or what do you take with you every day.

    There's so many things I can't leave the house without! Recently I've started using this line of amazing all natural facial oils from Maui. Because I'm usually hitting the beach or going to yoga, I carry a small bottle in my bag wherever I go so my skin stays hydrated after workouts and the beach!

     

    Thank you, Lindsey!

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  9. ‘Ohana Travels

    Meet 'Wooden Wave' - Matt and Roxy Ortiz

    Aloha!
    We are Matt and Roxy Ortiz, a husband and wife art duo who paint under the name Wooden Wave. We have an art studio in Honolulu at Lana Lane Studios where we work a block away from the sea. Surfing and spending time in the water is how we have fun and get new ideas for our art. We draw our inspiration from the playful lifestyles of those who enjoy the outdoors. Using treehouses as our main subject matter, we draw and paint environments that offer a whimsical take on nature and sustainability.

    Growing up in Hawaii has molded us into people who love and appreciate the ocean and its beauty. We are so excited to take this road trip and experience a completely different landscape! To start off this adventure, we will be painting a mural at the headquarters of Zappos in downtown Las Vegas. From there we will strike out on the road visiting national parks and scenic routes in Utah. Our art is often inspired by our surroundings so we are looking forward to adding to our sketch books while we travel through some of the region’s iconic locations. Our list of stops includes Arches, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

    The road trip will end in Salt Lake City where we will be participating in the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in collaboration with OluKai. With so much to see, we can’t wait to get this road trip started! We hope you can follow along with us and enjoy the ride!

    FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEY #OHANATRAVELS

     


    Las Vegas, Nevada

    “There is a healthy culture and love for murals in this part of town and we enjoyed discovering them on our wanderings.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Back in Hawaii, people call Las Vegas the Ninth Island. With one of largest populations of Hawaiians outside of Hawaii itself, Las Vegas has its fair share of islanders. It’s our first time visiting and as we approached the city on our late night flight, the glowing metropolis below certainly resembled an urban island, floating on a pitch black sea of uninterrupted desert.

    Zappos

    We came here to paint a mural at the headquarters of Zappos which is located in the historic Downtown Las Vegas district. On our first day, we met up with Brian “Paco” Alvarez, the charismatic art curator and cultural historian. He gave us a tour of the grounds and emphasized how much value was placed on art and creativity at Zappos. There were murals all throughout the facilities, some done by Zappos employees and others by artists from the community. Paco explained how in addition to building a creative work culture in-house, Zappos is also striving to support and revitalize the Downtown Las Vegas area.

    Downtown

    When we weren’t painting we explored the downtown district. We were impressed by the iconic neon signs that framed the city skyline and lit the bustling streets. There is a healthy culture and love for murals in this part of town and we enjoyed discovering them on our wanderings. With cafes, galleries, bars and restaurants, downtown Las Vegas offers visitors a taste of the local experience. We especially enjoyed the galleries at the Art Factory and the contemporary mix of shops and restaurants at the Container Park.

    Mural

    Inspired by the innovative mentality and playful spirit of Zappos culture, we set out to create a mural that could match the overall light-hearted atmosphere within the campus. We typically paint imagined tree house communities that combine rooftop gardens, solar panels, and other sustainable characteristics with half-pipe skate ramps, slides, and tire swings. We derive a lot of joy from envisioning and painting these details because, after all, who wants to live in a place that isn’t fun?  Drawing from the breathtaking range of warm and cool color tones that we observed in the surrounding environment, we were thrilled with the idea of painting our first desert landscape! In a nod to our comparison of the desert as being an ocean of sand, we opted to portray a container ship as our dwelling instead of treehouses. But why stop there? We figured that if you are going to paint a boat in the desert, then you might as well float it in the air with some levitating rocks too!  For us, this theme is perfectly summed up by one of Zappos’ stated core values, “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness!”

       


    Valley Of Fire, Nevada State Park 

    Our first stop after leaving Las Vegas was the Valley of Fire State Park where the flat desert gave way to large outcrops of fiery red sandstone. Thousands of years of erosion have sculpted the rock structures into fascinating forms, pitted with caves and full of stratified layers of color. As we drove deeper into the park the hues diversified and shifted quickly across a spectrum of oranges, pinks and limestone whites. The road turned frequently around bends to reveal a surreal landscape that made us imagine what it might be like to live on Mars.

    One thing we noticed when we stepped out of the car was the pure silence that hung thick in the air. It’s a completely different sensory experience from Las Vegas, where the cacophony of traffic and music is constant. The pavement was smooth and the road empty of other cars, so Matt pulled his skateboard out of the trunk and got in a couple of downhill sessions. There’s something peaceful in the sound of a single skateboard rolling through the stillness.

    We’re excited to see the other parks on our trip – we’re off to great start and Zion National Park is next!

    "As we drove deeper into the park the hues diversified and shifted quickly across a spectrum of oranges, pinks and limestone whites.” - WOODEN WAVE


    Zion National Park, Utah 

    The canyon walls in Zion National Park were immense. The sheer scale and magnitude of the landscape made us feel tiny, fragile, impermanent.  It is both humbling and gratifying to realize that your life is less than a blip on the geological spectrum of time.  Having put our entire lives into context,  it was time to go hiking, YEW!

    We decided to do the “Narrows,” a water hike that follows the course of the Virgin river. It is remarkable how a relatively small river carved out such a dramatic landscape. The canyon’s sides loomed tall and hemmed us in tightly. A majority of this hike took place in the river so we were stoked to be rocking our amphibious Kamiki shoes!

    We hiked upstream through the cool, refreshing water until twilight, then turned back as the last rays of sunlight lit the surrounding bluffs in pinks,  purples  and warm grays. Who knew that watching rocks change color could be so amazing? By the time we exited the Narrows, the sun had long since set and a full moon hung low and bright above the Canyon walls. What a beautiful way to end the day’s adventure!

    “We hiked upstream through the cool, refreshing water until twilight, then turned back as the last rays of sunlight lit the surrounding bluffs in pinks, purples and warm grays.” - WOODEN WAVE

       


    Bryce Canyon National Park,  Utah

    It’s safe to say that this park blew our minds. We chose to hike the “Navajo loop” trail which winds down from the scenic Sunset Point overlook into a canyon filled with breathtaking hoodoos. These rock formations have eroded over time to resemble jagged spires of red and orange rock. The entire valley looks like an ancient fortress with these stone turrets standing guard. It’s amazing to see how nature has created such diverse landforms, we were in awe the entire time! We’ve had so much fun exploring the Southwest scenery, but after today we’re not sure if any landscape can beat the stunning Hoodoo area. We can’t wait to find out, Capital Reef National Park is next!

    “The entire valley looks like an ancient fortress with these stone turrets standing guard.” - WOODEN WAVE


    Capital Reef National Park 

    After driving through a surreal moonlit landscape we arrive at midnight in the small town of Torrey, which borders the Capitol Reef National Park. The advantages of driving at night include cool  temperatures, no traffic, and a chance to see the nocturnal wildlife. The disadvantage of driving at night is the nocturnal wildlife. We have to be hyper aware with the high beams on, in order to spot deer and elk (they seem to have a bad habit of crossing the road in front of your car). On this leg of the trip Roxy is at the helm and deftly avoids certain disaster with some ninja-like reflexes. Good on ya Roxy!

    The next morning, Capitol Reef delivers some gorgeous views. Winding our way through the park we stop at a petroglyph site dating back as far as 300 C.E. These markings were left by the culture of the Hisatsinom, who have long since vanished. Geometric carvings of big horn sheep and human figures line the base of the towering rock face. Though the motivations for these petroglyphs remain a mystery, it was inspiring for us as artists to see ancient forms of creative expression and storytelling. It made us feel more connected to the idea of art as part of the human experience, that spans the divide of time.

    The rest of the day was spent on the road, driving to the town of Moab. Along the way, we passed roadside relics of Americana like rusted trucks, trailers, and weather-worn barns. We stopped for fuel at a general store that was built into the side of the mountain. This trip has been full of small places and moments like these that will be remembered with a smile.

    “It made us feel more connected to the idea of art as part of the human experience, that spans the divide of time.” - WOODEN WAVE


    Moab, Utah

    Moab is a small town with a big heart for adventure. It’s a hub for activities like rock climbing, skydiving, mountain biking, and more. The Colorado River runs through this area and has carved out some magnificent canyon walls. We decided that the best way to experience this iconic river vista would be by kayak. After being in the desert for the past week, it was so refreshing and rejuvenating to be back in the water! We spent a few hours paddling and drifting with the current.  The river was broad and gentle for the most part but still feisty enough to send us down a few adrenaline-raising rapids. We were also happy to see some local wildlife, including heron, geese, and the rarely spotted river otter! The whole experience reminded us of how much we love being out in nature and that there are so many ways to enjoy it.

    Next, we traded our kayak for a couple of horses. Arriving at the riverside Hauer Ranch we were excited to learn that we were the only guests signed up for the sunset trail ride. Roxy used to ride as a kid and was at ease atop her aptly named horse “Sassy.” I think that my horse Cash knew I was a rookie because he frequently stopped to nibble on tasty desert grass! Our guide Trace took us along the meandering backcountry trail that crossed streams and passed a myriad of unique rock formations. The striking scenery started taking on a iconic “Western” vibe. Trace explained that this particular area was frequently used in Western films. The list includes many John Wayne movies, as well as more recent films such as Mission Impossible 2 and John Carter. We loved hearing about the history of this place and it was interesting to reflect on how our impression of what the American West looks like, is in large part due to this stunning region.

    On our way back to the ranch, thick clouds rolled in off the horizon and shrouded the surrounding desert in cool atmospheric grays and dark sheets of rain. The mood of the landscape seemed to shift quickly in the filtered light and as the sun set, we felt an upwelling of gratitude and admiration for this beautiful place.

    “The mood of the landscape seemed to shift quickly in the filtered light and as the sun set, we felt an upwelling of gratitude and admiration for this beautiful place.” - WOODEN WAVE


    Arches National Park, Utah 

    “The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, some of which span as much as 300 feet in width!” - WOODEN WAVE

    As we entered the Arches National Park we were once again awestruck by the handy work of Mother Nature. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, some of which span as much as 300 feet in width! These petrified bridges were a fitting finale to our memorable national parks tour.

    After hiking the park for the better half of the day, we hopped back in the car and pointed it north toward our final destination of Salt Lake City. On the highway, it’s easy to slip into tunnel vision mode but something to the left caught our attention. Dinosaurs, dozens of them! They were being installed in the desert as part of a future museum. We pulled over for a closer look and were downright giddy to find a life size T-Rex head and its pre assembled body parts strewn about the construction site. How could we resist a photo op with the king of the dinos? Thoroughly satisfied with our find, we left the museum grounds and turned back onto the highway. Jurassic Park theme music echoed in our heads as the road stretched out in front of us.

    We are now in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow where we’ll be doing live art at the OluKai booth. This marks the end of our week-long adventure through the National and State Parks. This trip has definitely inspired us in so many ways and we’ll be returning to Hawaii with fond memories and a renewed enthusiasm for exploring nature in its many forms. We hope you’ve enjoyed following our journey through the Southwest!

    Aloha,

    Matt and Roxy

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