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Weekend Wanderer

Wandering the Weekends in California and beyond

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Ocean

Molokai – It’s About the People

I spent last weekend on my favorite island. Molokai. It may have only been for about 48 hours, but I got my fair share in of soaking up the sun, and breathing in the good energy from everyone. The Na Wahine O Ke Kai race is a 42 mile outrigger race for women from the island of Molokai to the Island of Oahu and it is more than just another channel crossing. It’s a Channel Crossing from Molokai to Oahu with girls from all over the world with one common goal – to get to the other side. make-horse-2

But before we even get to the race start – theres so much more to take in. Molokai is about the people. Not just the people in your crew, or the people in your friends crew but also the people of the island of Molokai. There are the families that take in paddlers, greet everyone in town and help make everyone feel happy. You can’t walk to the grocery store in town without someone waving at you. I meet new friends EVERY DAmake-horse-3MN TIME I get to Molokai. I mean, NAC may be a handful sometimes – but we always bring swag to give out! I’ve met women in my first crossing in 2010, that I may only see once a year but I still go and pick up with them like no time has passed! All because this race and this island has brought us back to together. It literally is the FRIENDLY ISLE. The friends that I have there, that live there, make me their home feel like my home away from home. Molokai is about respecting the beaches and the land around you, being thankful that you are able to continue year after year to visit this island for an outrigger race. I couldn’t be more stoked to stay a weekend on Molokai and I wish I had more time!

Each crew is it’s own family. They bond together, support each other, and get each other across the channel. I was lucky enough to have a super special crew this year for the crossing. My close friends, a mother and her two daughters, new friends and all around a great group of girls to cross the channel with. It was a challenging crossing, I don’t think anyone would disagree. But your crew makes it fun! You can’t have a good crossing without positive vibes all around and smiles!

Molokai is about the people, the friends and the family. We may have trained all year for this race – but the reward isn’t getting to Oahu. The reward is the time spend together on this island, playing and relaxing. It’s meeting new friends and catching up with the girls you only talk to on Facebook!

So take the time, breathe deep, smile more and enjoy everything and everyone around you.  Because you deserve everything the world has to offer around you.

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We are H U M A N

This is the same post I shared on my facebook…

W E A R E H U M A N

This happened because we are human.

This happened because we are too comfortable.

This happened because we let our teammates down.

This is not her fault, it’s also not the drivers.

Boat ladders are needed.

Prop guards are needed, yes absolutely. 100%.

But so is awareness, attentiveness, teamwork, and acceptance of mistakes. Her life will never be the same, she has a long way to go. We need to do what we can to support her. We need to do what we can to help the next escort boat driver who finds themselves in this position. We need to do what we can, to control the situation.

I’m 26 years old, a girl, and I’ve been running my own escort boat for only 5 years. Hitting someone with the prop is my absolute nightmare. I’ve been paddling for 11 years. Getting hit by a prop is my absolute nightmare. There are many precautions to take, and you can take them all. But something could always go wrong. What are we going to do when something goes wrong? What’s our instinct? Get mad? No. Our instinct should be to band together, to support, to find a solution, and not place blame. This is our own fault.

A safe boat driver doesn’t mean an older driver; it doesn’t mean a male driver. It just means a safe driver. So those topics of conversation need to come to a halt. This is not on the race directors, this is not on the lead safety boat, this is not on the race. This is on us. What we need more than safer drivers, are safer paddlers. We shouldn’t have let her jump in the water, in one of the busiest spots an escort boat could be; before the race. It’s little things like that, becoming more aware of our surroundings. Knowing when the right time to jump, and the wrong time to jump. Our sport is compiled of jumping off motor boats, into canoes, and then back into motor boats. You can educate someone all you want on when to jump, where to jump, how to jump – but someone will always forget and jump wrong. Because we are human. You can give someone all the tools to be a successful escort captain, but something will fall apart or not work. Because we are human.

As a paddling community, we need to be more aware. And right now we need to band together to support each other. Crossing season isn’t over. But we can be more aware, and help prevent what we have control over.

My thoughts are with you, Aunty Faith Kalei-Imaizumi. My heart is with you Hawaii. My strength is behind the paddling community. Let’s support her together. Instead of placing blame. Let’s make sure her family knows we have her back.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/2pmggu4

 

My 10th Catalina Crossing

This past weekend was the Catalina Crossing US Outrigger Championships! It takes a lot of training, a lot of work and a lot of planning just to GET to the start line that Saturday morning. It’s not something I take lightly. It’s something special and different than any other channel crossing. It’s home base.  It’s family – all the girls that you’ve trained all season with on the water together for one last race.

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This crossing was a little different. I came to the realization that I have been doing so many other things for so many other people – that this race was for MYSELF. I didn’t need to impress anyone, take care of anyone, babysit anyone. I was 13 miles from land during my race, halfway, and the only person I had to watch out for was myself. This was my tenth crossing. And it was hard.

We paddled into a headwind and side swell for 5 hours. But there wasn’t a time where we wanted to give up, or stop. We kept pressing and we kept going. We rallied together, pushed through our mistakes and kept racing.

The next day, we turned around to come home. The men raced back. It was a fast course, the wind was at their backs. And even though the fastest guys were up front; the most exciting part was in the middle. With the 5 junior teams competing against each other! Teams from LA, Newport, Hawaii and Dana point! It was the largest division of juniors that we have had at that race in a long time. I couldn’t have imagined a better race for these boys that I escorted across the channel. They were the boys that ever gave up, that hammered through the chop and evaded a 500 ft tanker coming across the course. We did it boys!

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What I Learned in 2013

DCIM127GOPROAs the year comes to an end, I’ve looked back at it and thought about everything I’ve learned from the last 365 days.

-Pug Lyfe is real life

– Running ain’t Easy – half marathon #1 showed me that, and I always keep that in the back of my mind as I’m training for the next half marathon.

– Dreams and Ideas can come true with a little hard work – PIlialoha Designs is a great example of that and I can’t wait to see how 2014 pans out for us!

– Always be ready for a lifestyle change – 2013 threw me for a loop with a last minute move.

– Thank you notes matter – see last blog post

Kamanu Composites REALLY REALLY care about their clients – being a California Rep for them as taught me a sale isn’t done until the costumer is happy…no matter how many times they change their mind on colors

– Midori Sours – they’re magic.

– And you can get free midori sours even when you’re playing the penny slots – vegas was a trip

– Being self dependent is one of the greatest feelings in the world – knowing that you aren’t depending on anyone to make decisions for you and you’re capable of paying and supporting yourself.

– Taking pictures never gets old – same selfie different place

– There is a lot of satisfaction with meeting and surpassing the goals that you set – this was a big thing for me in 2013. Sitting down and writing out goals, then pushing myself to meet them whether they were personal, work related or athletic goals.

– Christmas Flys by a lot faster when you’re older – this also sucks.

– You can’t make everyone happy – but you can make yourself happy and that can infect others

– Chardonnay isn’t as bad as I thought – thanks Malia

– Don’t hesitate – if you want something go for it

– Don’t plan your day (or night) around people

– Twerking – the new drop it like its hot

– Last minute trips are the best trips – as much as my bank account hates them

 – Instagram is a marketing tool – ie @PilialohaDesigns , @NewportAquaticCenter

– GoPro has changed the way of my picture taking

– SnapChat is just as good as a text – and I usually respond faster

– Don’t believe everything you hear

– Don’t judge a book by it’s cover – as cliche as if sounds, I really learned to live by this , this past year

– Plane tickets do not drop in prices the longer you wait – $900 tickets to Kona for a race, that also sucks

– People move – try to stay in touch as best you can

– It’s okay to stay home and read – I have a great list of books I can share

– Karma is real – what comes around goes around whether it’s good or bad  karma 

– Mermaids are also real

– Be selfish with time, it’s yours and eventually it runs out.

What have you learned? I want to encourage everyone to share something they’ve learned in 2013 whether it be on their own personal blog, instagram or Facebook. Tag #ThingsILearned2013 , so we can all share together!

Pilialoha Designs

It has been OVER A MONTH since my last post. I’ve been super busy working, getting through the holidays and starting a new small business with my best friend.

It all started with a high school dance outfit, some painter’s tape and a can of spray paint. We were on a budget so we made our own shirts for all the themed high school dances. It then evolved into painting trucker hats and then eventually into designing shirts and paddling jerseys on the computer. We thought we would take this self-taught skill and make it into something bigger!

Pilialoha means friendship in Hawaiian. Malia and I  have been friends since junior high but outrigger canoe paddling sealed the deal. Our love for the sport as well as the ocean is expressed in the designs that we create.

We have three main lines: Dream, Create, Live. Those words also help us stay grounded for our day to day activities. I personally, and I know Malia as well, am always dreaming of the next big thing (in comes Pilialoha Designs). We create it! We live it!

It has been super fun playing around with different designs and being able to put them on hats and shirts. We love making the bath salts, adding colors and different scents depending on what people like. We’ve done our research! As we’ve learned that different essential oils mixed together have different benefits.

I think more than actually designing the shirts and making the products, we like seeing everyone else enjoy them. I love seeing people I know paddling in our hats. I love people having the light switches we design up in their house. The idea of being able to make things that people like is something I love. We have so many ideas, and want to do everything at once! But we know we gotta slow down, get our names out there and set up a base. 945838_325249557615948_1129692313_n 1455974_311672545640316_583703438_n 1459923_322845191189718_867414319_n 1488017_320510571423180_72616984_n 1530381_324930420981195_1942067211_n

Our website is http://www.pilialohadesigns.com and there is a direct link to our etsy store there as well! I can’t want to see how this takes off and what comes next! We’ll keep everyone posted!

Our instagram is: @Pilialohadesigns

Our Facebook is: http://www.facebook.com/pilialohadesigns

We Are Ocean

IMG_7326This past Sunday I was able to spend my weekend with a great group of people.

We Are Ocean  is a non profit organization based out of Newport Beach. Their mission statement is  “to improve the lives of cancer survivors post-treatment. We take cancer survivors on ocean-based adventures. We teach survivors how to surf, sail, swim, fish, dive and paddle their way back into a healthy active lifestyle, post-treatment.” It is an awesome organization ran and volunteered by even more awesome people.

IMG_7303I was excited to be involved and bring over 6-man outrigger canoes for them to paddle. All had never been in a canoe before! They had just finished their SUP paddling adventure and lunch, they were ready for something new! I taught them a little bit about the culture and history of outrigger canoe paddling, followed by a quick 1-2 step on how to paddle. Then we were off! Everyone had a great time, no one cared that the person behind them might splash them.  They took such joy in something that I get to do everyday. It made me realize why I still love paddling and why I still love coaching. It’s not all about the medals and miles, it’s about the connection you make with the people around you on the water. Sharing that with people and seeing how happy they can get from an activity I take for granted (and sometimes dread on bad practice days!). A woman even had said “Well I can cross this off my bucket list!” when she got out of the canoe. MIND. BLOWN.

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IMG_7304I loved the smiles on peoples faces.

I loved the new excitement they had for water sports.

I loved all the effort that We Are Ocean put into this event.

That day those people were more than just the tagged “Cancer Survivor”. They were paddlers, yogis, athletes, and students. They learned that they can still go on day to day and learn something new.

They weren’t just Cancer Survivors. They were strong individuals showing everyone what they are capable of.

They were supporters.

I can’t wait to be involved with the next We Are Ocean event (if they’ll take me ha!). Until then I’ll concentrate on my own paddling and training, and remind myself that some people aren’t lucky enough to paddle everyday like I do.

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Dads Center~ Queen Liliuokalani~ Catalina ~ Breathe!

The last month has gone by SO fast. I’m just now being able to sit down and reflect on how lucky I am to be able to travel as easily as I do (thankful for sisters that live in cool places) and race as much as I do! The last three races I just did were some of the most fun paddling I’ve ever had! I’ve finally had the time to BREATHE and recap on the past three events in my life!

 

Dads Center

I have NEVER done this race before! When my good friend Maddie asked if I had any interest in steering that race- OFCOURSE I jumped on it! Hello! A weekend in Hawaii with good friends, my sisters AND I get to paddle? I’m in.

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This race is on Oahu from Kailua Beach to Waikiki. Roughly a 26 mile change race. I had heard that there is all sorts of different water you encounter in this race. Flat water, rough water, big water and STUPID water. We had all and more. It was the biggest washing machine I had ever been in. I kept looking over at Jimi (our escort coach) and ending up telling Maddie “I just need Jimi to tell me it gets easier!”

By hour two of steering, Jimi can get close enough and say “It’s going to get easier Kel, but first it’s going to get a lot shittier.”1150505_10201889121413666_1145914327_o

I learned a lot in that race, not just about steering an and paddling. I learned that I can put myself in a tough and new situation and by staying calm and trusting the girls I have with me, we’ll come out on top!

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Thanks to Imua Outrigger for letting me come along for the wild ride!

Queen Liliuokalani 

This was my 8th appearance in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii for the Queen Liliuokalani, and my 7th time accomplishing the 18 mile long iron long course. I’m serious when I say it gets easier every time! I got to spend this race with some my best friends!

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We had an open crew and a masters crew! We had another open crew which was filled with just juniors. It was awesome to coach these girls all summer and see them work hard. They set their goals and stuck too it. I’ve never been prouder of a crew I coached. And to see them all working together and having fun to make it happen- that’s the most rewarding thing as a coach in my opinion. When a crew comes together after months of hard work, I feel like there’s nothing better then pushing them off the beach.

My crew lucked out and got another unlimited boat! All wood, very beautiful boat! The unlimited category means that the boat can be of any design and way under the 400 lb weight restriction. The unlimited division starts 5 minutes behind the 400lb boats and crews. We ended up 32nd out of 133 crews and had a blast!

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Catalina 2013

Catalina! The race that means the most to us California people! A race from Newport Beach to Avalon, Catalina! Just about 27 miles! This is TOTALLY my favorite race of the season- and not just for the after party 😉1268510_10201612021996905_1446212873_o

Us girls all come together as one and get ourselves to Catalina! It’s what we work for all season! I love this race just because we know it’s the final race and we are going to give everything we got and leave it on the water!

This year was really challenging. We had a strong headwind and the swells were coming from the side. We couldn’t catch much, but we did what we could with what we had! And we had fun! We did better than the year before, and that’s all you can hope to do! We even made a new friend- Dana! A super awesome girl from Kauai who came in a helped us fill a spot!

We made it in 5 hours and 5 minutes. 1264107_10201612022596920_2004676474_o

We got 7th and at the end all I wanted was a root beer.

The next day, after a good nights sleep of course, I was able to help run the mens crews back. Usually I’m an escort for the second mens crew- but since Sam has that “no girlfriends allowed on escorts” blah blah blah rule, I couldn’t escort the second crew. Which means Sam was stuck with me helping him with the first crew!

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Now that all the racing has slowed down, I can finally breathe! Relax! Catch up on things I never get done during the summer! But I always find myself wishing that distance season wasn’t over. We always have the most fun!

xoxo

Kona Cruizin’

DCIM120GOPROI LOVE the big island. I’ve been going every summer since I’ve been 17. We fly over as a team at NAC for the Queen Lilioukalani race (except this year I spent five days on Oahu before…OOPS! But that’s in the last blog post). You can find out more about the worlds largest canoe race at https://www.kaiopua.org/.

Before I get into the race…I’m going to get into the fun stuff!!

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Okay, I dare you to try to get same to look at the camera during a selfie

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We take the kids to Waipio Valley which is an awesome beach with a gnarly hike down. A 25% grade hike that takes 45 minutes to get down, and an hour and a half to get back up! Brutal.

But the beach is totally worth the work!DCIM120GOPRO DCIM120GOPRO DCIM120GOPRO

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We end up taking the team to the Mauna Kea observatory every year after Waipio Valley. Mauna Kea is a volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 13,803 ft above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii.

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Kahaluu Beach is a new beach we went to his year. It’s so close the hotel I can believe we haven’t gone before! It is definitely one of the best places to snorkel, dive and explore on the island. I could have spent hours there!

DCIM120GOPRO DCIM120GOPRODCIM120GOPROSouth Point  is the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii and the 50 United States. South Point is also know as “Ka Lae” which means “the point.” The jumping cliffs can vary between 20 feet to 45 feet at any jump! But of course, there is always a way just to walk in and jump in the SUPER CLEAR and SUPER BLUE water! I can’t put into words how beautiful South Point is and the view you get. Just vast amounts of ocean on all sides! photo-15DCIM127GOPRO DCIM127GOPRO DCIM121GOPROIt was a great Kona Trip this year. I’m always making plans for next year! I love the scenery and I love the people! However, after my ten days in hawaii and my four plane rides, I was happy to hit ground in California and be home again! Until next year Big Island!

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Oahu Livin’

Good Morning Kailua
Good Morning Kailua

I’ve spend the last 5 days on Oahu beachin’ and livin’. Paddlin’ and workin’. Just having a good time cruising with my sisters and catching up with old friends I haven’t seen. I originally came over just for a race (post to come later) and have enjoyed the company I have and scenery around me much more than I expected. I remember how lucky I am to be given opportunities like this and to have the job that I have that allows be to take days of work to travel. Not to mention the boyfriend I have that is okay with the face that I left for a ten day trip during the time we are supposed to be moving out of our apartment. Ouch!

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Tristen’s first day of school

I’ve got one sister playing vball at HPU, Kasey, and one sister attending UH, Tristen. The main reason for this trip was to race the Dads Center Race on Oahu from Kailua Bay to Waikiki. (I’ll have another post just from that race in a bit). But a big plus about coming over here, was it was the weekend before Tristen had her first day of college so we had time to get some last minute school supplies and spend lots of time on the beach before she’s locked into a classroom. Staying with Kasey and her roommates Rio, Courtney and Cara has been awesome. It makes it easy to fly over when I have a free place to stay. However, I did buy them a new microwave to make up for it!

Rio, Myself, Courtney and Tristen on North Shore
Rio, Myself, Courtney and Tristen on North Shore
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Playing with the new go-pro at Kailua Beach Park

I’ve been to Oahu over a dozen times, and each time I find out something new about the island or about myself. I find a new beach or a reason to be independent and go to the beach alone while Kasey and Tristen have class or practice.

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We spent hours on North Shore off roading in Corys truck in search for the perfect secluded beach, and we found it! Getting the truck back up the rocks was a little tough…only a little set back though.

We watch the sunrise at Kailua. 

Walked up and down the Waikiki strip.

Ran out of gas on the North Shore.

Had really over priced drinks at Dukes. 

Cruisin' Waikiki
Cruisin’ Waikiki

I always make time to catch up with old friends when I’m on the island! I make this trip at least once a year and able to see people I grew up paddling with and miss seeing all the time! Tomorrow I head out to Big Island for yet another paddling race on Saturday!

 

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North Shore With Rio

Follow the next five days of my adventure on either Instagram (@KelThompson) or this blog! More posts about racing, playing, and having fun to come!

xoxo

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