Venice Beach: exactly what you expect

There are in fact canals through the neighborhoods of Venice California, just like in that other place in Italy, but I’m pretty sure that is where the similarities end. I’ve never been to Italy so I could be wrong, but I’m going to guess the other Venice doesn’t feature a nearly nude bearded man on roller skates selling what he ensures everyone is a “medicinal” plant.freak showI didn’t take a picture of captain roller hair, I did not want that image captured, but that doesn’t mean I don’t advocate for the venue. Quite the opposite. You really should go there.

Just know what to expect.Every city has its place where the odd-balls go to commune. Portland makes the argument that they are that place for the whole United States, but Venice Beach is a little bit more. you see, there are places where “weird people” go to be with each other, and then there is Venice where people go to BE weird in hopes of being seen.IMG_5384

I mean, this is LA. Everyone is trying to get discovered, why would society’s outskirts be different?

drum circleSo, as you head to the promenade be ready for:
Your general knick-knack vendors, medical marijuana card vendors, crowds, people who are crazy, people who are high, people pretending to be high or crazy, drum circles, people riding beach cruisers, good street music, muscly folks working out at Muscle Beach, almost homeless artists selling art, homeless people selling almost art, pick-up basketball games on the outdoor courts ala “He Got Game”, street performers break dancing, street performers snake charming, street performers being a human statue, teenagers acting like this is Vegas, trash in the sand at the beach, a great skate park, beautiful sunsets, funnel cakes, hot dogs, beach houses too expensive to afford, signs advertising the world’s smallest front yard, a sign advertising the world’s laziest dog, cops looking uninterested, cops looking interested, and sometimes, you will see me.mewalkinvenice

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Mancation: Inception

I think maybe it was the phone calls.

I get a lot of phone calls but there are these certain types that after I hang up I just sort of stare off into space for a while. In my role in church I get told things that I then have to keep. I don’t get to talk about them, its kind of like confession. So I just sit there and stare while the phone call sinks into my soul like lead. I started getting a lot of those calls.worn out

“You should call your friends and go on a trip.”

I can’t really raise one eyebrow, but if I could, I would have.

We talked. I listened. No; I think I complained and she listened. It was decided I needed a vacation.

How does one vacation? No. Wrong way to think about this. What do I want to do? Right. Thats a better way to go about it. As I sit and think I am annoyed with the need to think and plan. Thinking and planning is what I need a vacation from. Forget it. Forget planning. I’m not planning this.

I sent a text to the guys. They were in, but they weren’t going to plan it either.

I soon realized that to travel without planning I would still need to plan a little. I emailed out a spreadsheet with the supply list: tent, cooler, a canoe, ya know, just the basics. Off to one side was a list of possible destinations: Leatherheads workshop, cheese farm, Root Soda bottling plant, somewhere up north not near anyone, just the basics. Then, up top, I wrote out some ground rules:

No internet

No hotel/motel

No more than one purchased meal per day and only if it is specific to location (ie Maine lobster)

If we come upon a natural body of water 3+ feet deep, we must swim

If any of us almost die Dr. Chadwick must save them

And that was it.load up

Early Thursday morning I drove over the bridge to the Dr.s house and shortly thereafter the were-bear (half man half bear) arrived. kaleo taking pictures

The Kala Beverages boys were back together. We loaded up the rented Xterra and pointed north.


My office window has no curtain and the rain beating against the glass is quite distracting. The noise from the wind reminds me of a B grade Halloween sound track. I have travel plans for the morning. I may have to change them.

As the news touts the danger of “Frankenstorm” my mind wanders to Orlando.Orlando is a place meant for vacation. I went there to work as is evidenced by the photo above. Orlando is also a place meant for families. Mine stayed behind in Philly, ya know, school and all. So as an adult male alone in Orlando, with a professional purpose, I experienced a Disney resort for the first time. It was confusing.The place was not just large, but expansive to the point that I had to plan my outings ahead, “Okay, I’m headed to the lobby. Room key? Check. Map? Check. Water bottle in case I get stranded between here and there? Check.”

The landscape was dotted with palm trees, fountains, arched corridors, and swanky dining options… then this.During the day I walked past numerous children wearing Mickey ears, quite a few adults doing the same, and lots and lots of t shirts. Of course there were t-shirts, I’m at Disney World, so what? Perfectly normal unless you are headed to a black tie reception.There was a live band, cocktails (or bottled water in my case), and a surprisingly large military contingency with more medals and ribbons than I had ever thought possible. Then as you step outside for a breather there are crowds of five year old’s gathering for the outdoor screening of a movie featuring talking animals.I like black tie, and I can tolerate talking livestock, but formal functions feel incomplete without the little black dress and G-rated movies often seem juvenile when viewed without children. My date and my children were hundreds of miles away, and so I made few laps, made small talk and exchanged business cards, then  retreated to less hostile turf.I now know that if I need to get tedious office work done, the best place for me to be productive… is Disney World.







I have been to Paradise, and am sadly home.

Sketching at Waimea Bay

Just off Kamehameha Highway, about a half mile from Haleiwa, is a little dirt road.  If you take this dirt road you will find a two story home with more windows than walls.  We spent the past eight days renting the bottom floor, picking papaya, passion fruit, and doing our best to husk and open uncooperative coconuts.  We nearly burned through a full bag of charcoal and soaked through nearly every one of the 20 or so beach towels they provided.  All hail and my wife’s addiction to it.

Search for "Secret Garden" on Craigslist. One of the owners has great stories about driving the camera boat for the filming of LOST.

To know how it was could be explained most simply by the fact that while typing this, I am also browsing for jobs in Hawaii.

I'm pretty sure this is Heaven. I'm positive it's not Iowa.

 Myself and those with me, arrived on the island with a list of the top things we wanted to see and do while there.  Mine had written, somewhere just below surfing, a visit to the royal palace. 

I had recently read up on the somewhat underhanded way in which paradise became state and wanted to walk in the footsteps of those who played a role.  One trip to the beach and I forgot all those plans.  Then I remembered them, and chose to go to the beach once again, and again, and again once more.

New York and Tokyo had a sign, Philly did not.

 Haleiwa is above all else, a surf town.  When I married, my earthly possessions consisted of; a pickup, a mtn. bike, a snowboard, SCUBA gear, rugby cleats, a backpack and sleeping bag.  I would have traded them all for a surfboard.  Of course I had never surfed at the time, a hole in my resume that has persisted; till now.  Why did I wait so long?

Haleiwa version of an art gallery.

 I swallowed my pride, scheduled a lesson, rented the biggest board imaginable, and stood up on a wave.  My instructor was twice my age, had skin like leather, and a pair of shoulders like bowling balls.  I wanted to be her.  I’m now editing my job search to ensure plenty of time-off.

Best wall of vintage skateboards I have ever seen. Strong Current Surf Shop.

Mine was not the only list.  One of the true joys of Hawaii is that there in nothing to do that could be considered miserable.  No life sized cartoon characters or spinning tea-cups, no teenagers asking if you purchased a beach tag, and everyone took my money with a smile and “mahalo”.  Littlehammas 1.0 rode a horse, Littlehammas 2.0 saw a turtle, and Mrs.hammas snorkled, kayaked, saw a sunset, and went to the locale that is her namesake.  We  shopped, strolled Waikiki, did the hula, and even went to the Hukilau.  We went native and embraced our hauliness… or at least my hauliness?

Littlehammas 1.0 and Scarlet.


Turtles trying to get a tan.
LAdies and gentlemen, this is what happy looks like.
Mrs.hammas owns this place.


Mrs.hammas has had many brilliant ideas in her time, like looking for lodging on Craigslist, but her most Nobel worthy idea was inviting the Grandhammases along.  Now some may shirk at the idea of in-laws but these ones, freshly returned from 18 months in Samoa, are not the normal grey hairs.  Sure they babysat and helped wash dishes like most would, but they also snorkeled with a monk seal, hiked to waterfall, and kayaked.  They had been to the islands before but took it easy for our sake; skipping the parasailing and shark diving they did on previous trips.

The Grandhammases doing what they do.


The Mrs. and her Mother-in-law.


Opa holding court at sunset.

I have been known to suffer from an incurable wanderlust and inability to be satisfied with just one hobby.  Perhaps I have found the cure.

Waimea Bay and crazy women.
What was once the Hukilau, is now the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Strangely enough, seeing this made me want to scrum and fai kava.
1.0's version of the haka.
All we have left are sweet dreams.