Manoa Falls: Birding for the Win!

After my successful hike to Diamond Head, I was totally ready to tackle the Manoa Falls hike. It sounded do-able, but the trail was way harder than I expected.

Ready to go!

It all started out just fine. I had brought my trusty hiking poles, and was enjoying the tropical rainforest around us. We heard many birds but didn’t see any yet.

Tropical rainforest

The scenery reminded me of the tree walk in Singapore, which I attempted and couldn’t do, so that should have forewarned me 🙂


For now I was still optimistic about my capabilities and enjoying the hike, expecting to reach the water fall at the end.

We met some other hikers who told us that some of the scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed here. Very cool! The trail was getting harder though, but I was in no way or shape ready to give up.

Until I was. My energy and my walking ability was rapidly decreasing and I started questioning people who were on the way down. Hoping for a ‘sure, you’re almost there!’ but instead getting mostly ‘it’s getting steeper and harder and you’re not even halfway and there be dragons!’

Darn! I was so convinced I would make it up. But MS reality convinced me otherwise. Convinced me that it’s not about the destination but about the journey. That not even trying would be the real failure. But still, darn!

At least there were big trees.

Deep breath, Carpe Diem, and admit that reality not always matches with ability. So I told Tom he should go up to the waterfall, while I slowly started making my way down.

Manoa Falls! Not the Niagara Falls, but would have liked to see them.

I took my time. Waiting for my body to catch up with my desires. Waiting for no spectators to be around when I got down stairs sitting down, because I ‘knew’ people would think I was weird. And a loser. Which might be true, but I didn’t want ‘people’ to know 🙂

Red-whiskered Bulbul. Just who I needed.

After a while I made it to a more open part of the trail where I decided to switch from hiking and beating myself up to bird watching. I sat, I meditated, I was, I observed, I became a living breathing part of the tropical rainforest. My frustrations melted away to nothingness, and instead I became a bird watcher, a nature observer, a go-with-the-flow person.

Common Waxbill.

I rested, relaxed, took pictures, and relished the reality of being in the rain forest. In Hawaii! How much better can life get?

Another bulbul?

Tom came back down and confirmed that I had made the right decision. The hike was hard and slippery, even for him. We watched birds together for a bit and then made our way back down.

No idea what this is, but they are pretty.

We called an Uber, even although Tom’s phone ran out of battery immediately after calling it, but everything worked out anyway. It was a good hike, even if much harder than expected. I am glad we did it and that I got to watch many birds 🙂


And I might or might not have another MS challenge to beat one day. Or not 🙂

Hiking Diamond Head!

Diamond Head is a vulcanic cone, which was home to the first military presence on Hawaii, called Fort Roger. Nowadays it is a popular hike, not too hard if you are in shape, and it has a spectacular panoramic view from the top.

Red-crested Cardinal, my new favourite bird.

After failing our Mount Cardigan hike a few months ago, I knew that there was a real possibility of failure, but I didn’t care. Ok, maybe I did care because I am competitive, even with myself, but I didn’t care in the big picture.

Carpe Diem at Diamond Head!

Since I don’t have my cooling vest yet, to help me hike with MS, I constructed my DIY cooling vest by saturating my t-shirt in the sink at the bath rooms. You know, like a wet t-shirt contest 🙂 Figuring that the evaporation would help to keep my core cool 🙂 And I had my trusty hiking poles. Which I had been able to get through TSA.

Diamond Head

We hiked, we rested, we hiked, we rested, we hiked, I wet my t-shirt anew in a random puddle, we hiked some more, I hung unto the hand rail throughout the hike, we stumbled through a tunnel, but eventually emerged in the light and at the top!!! I did it! We did it!

Diamond Head MS Challenge Beat!!!!!!

It took me two and a half

The Diamond Head hike has beautiful views.

hours just to get up, as opposed to the half hour that ‘normal’ people would take. Another hour and a half to get down, but it so was worth it. I enjoyed the magnificent views, being out in nature, the many human contacts we made, the feeling of being part of history, and how I challenged myself. Even if it took me eight times as long as the average bear 🙂

First Travel with MS

Technically I have been traveling with MS for many years, just had no clue I had it. Yesterday was the first time I had to manage travel in my new MS reality.

Insulated kit to carry copaxone medication

I had contacted Shared Solutions for a travel kit for my Copaxone, so I felt confident about that. But I hit a snatch when I found out my hiking poles didn’t fit in my suitcase. Oops. Desperate web surfing disclosed that I might be able to get them through TSA if they were needed for mobility aides. I decided to go for that, but still was worried.

We started out trying to get an Uber or a cab from our home, and found out yet again that we live in the sticks. Eventually we did find an Uber, but then found out that he couldn’t make it up our icy driveway. Twice. Which means we had to slide and slither down our driveway. Not fun .

We arrived at the airport and I held my breath while going through the TSA checkpoint. I took my Copaxone kit out and said this is medication. The TSA guy asked whether it had any needles. Yup. He opened it, looked at it, closed it again and that was it. The other two TSA checkpoints this trip so far no one opened anything, they just accepted my medication explanation.

The hiking poles were no problem at all, they had to go through x-ray but no one gave me a hard time about them. Phew.

Carpe Diem, even with meds!

Today I gave myself a copaxone injection in Los Angeles in our hotel. Maybe I should keep track of all the locations where I used my Copaxone, just to show that MS does not need to limit travel opportunities 🙂

The flights to Hawai’i were long, more than six hours yesterday, more than six hours today. But we finally are in our hotel, and I am happy that we arrived and will be ready to explore tomorrow. My goal this vacation is learning to surf, since I have so many balance issues. I will either succeed and help my balance or fail gloriously and have great stories to tell.

When we arrived at Honolulu airport and I was all tired and cranky and we had to hike 5,000 miles to the Uber pickup spot, I saw a majestic egret fly over. Welcoming us to her island with her aloha. Telling me ‘you are ok’ . And I felt calm and reassured .

Later we saw sparrows, rock pigeons and birds I still have to identify. Looking forward to getting to know the local bird species. But first I will sleep. I can already tell that I will feel the five hours time difference.

Blue Moon

Yesterday we marveled at the size of the super moon which also happened to be a blue moon. We dropped off a kid somewhere and on the way back stopped to take a picture, since we all know that reality doesn’t happen unless you record it 🙂

Blue Moon Behind Church


It was beautiful, but it also was cold. We were freezing, so we didn’t stay long before heading back to our warm home. We knew there would be a lunar eclipse this morning and I actually went outside to try to watch it, but it was cold, the moon was behind the trees, it wasn’t much of an eclipse at the East coast and did I mention it was cold? So we didn’t witness the eclipse, oh well.

It did make me all nostalgic for past full moons. The one when I had my third date with Tom and I brought my mother and four kids to the Dartmouth bonfire (it’s a long story and it ended with a marriage nine months later, so it is all good). The one when we visited Italy for the first time together and it was a brilliant full moon behind the leaning tower of Pisa.

Full moon behind the leaning tower of Pisa

Another great one was in Rome last year, when I wasn’t diagnosed with my MS yet, but I surely was suffering the related fatigue and heat intolerance. Just before we left on this vacation I had gotten the bad news that there was lots of demyelination in my brain, and I was worried about it. On the other hand I was on vacation and enjoying every moment and telling myself that whatever I had was slow moving and hadn’t killed me yet, so I should just take a deep breath and keep going. Carpe diem. Meanwhile I was exhausted after walking a relatively short distance and I needed to sit, so we had a bite to eat and a glass of wine right next to the Pantheon.

Every single time we are in Rome I am blown away by the sheer amount of history everywhere. I felt very happy to be sitting right next to this building that had been there for thousands of years, and over which I could see the full moon. Where so many thousands of people had gone before me and seen the same view. It made me more at peace with the uncertainty of my medical issues.

Full moon over the Pantheon

When I changed my name after my divorce, I decided to add a middle name and chose Artemis, the moon goddess, to signify how important the moon has been to me many times in my life.