Finn McSpool’s Book-Shopping-Rabble-Rousing Outing

What happens when you try to take a monster on a nice outing to shop for some new reading material at Portland’s Powells Books? It turns into him being declared leader of a very, VERY strange mob.

It all started out innocently enough. Through my library’s summer reading program I’d won a gift card for Powells, which is basically Portland’s book mecca and a book addict’s dream. Since Finn McSpool, Mr Husband, and I never made our usual excursion downtown before Christmas, we decided to make a day of it on New Year’s Eve.

Once downtown we realized you simply can’t shop for books on an empty stomach so we hiked a couple miles over to Northwest for a treat. The bakery we intended to go to was wall-to-wall people – I think a few guests were having to sit in the ovens and display cases – so we squeezed our way back out to resume our quest for nibbles. Finn, being a proud IrishBeast was soon tugging at my coat sleeve gleefully shouting, “Here! Here! Let’s go here!”

–Finn, it’s not even noon.

–But that means it’s 8pm in Ireland! It’s well beyond drinking time. Continue reading

Finn McSpool, Oregon, Oregon Coast, Bay Ocean

Finn McSpool: Intrepid Explorer of the Oregon Coast

After all his beach time in Maui, you’d think a monster would want to stay on dry land for a while. But when Mr Husband and I made plans to visit my mom’s place at the Oregon Coast, the fearless Finn McSpool was eager for another beach trip. Our destination for the night was Netarts, a tiny bayside town just outside of Tillamook.


A few days before we planned to leave, a huge storm hit the Pacific Northwest with pounding rain and howling winds. Of course it only takes a minor rain storm to flood the low-lying plains of Tillamook so we were a bit worried about getting through. But the skies cleared, the flood waters receded and we lucked out by experiencing that rarest of things: a sunny, warm, and windless couple days along the beaches of northern Oregon.

First Stop: The Bay Ocean Peninsula

Continue reading

maui, hawaii, iao needle

A Monster Mash-Up in Maui

After hearing of Mr Husband’s and my misadventures at sea, Finn McSpool announced that all further Maui activities would be land-based (even though he doesn’t put a dime into the travel budget, Finn feels it’s entirely within his rights to dictate the itinerary). So, in this final installment of our Maui Adventure, we’ll stay out of the water and on dry land.

First Stop: The Iao Needle

Before we start this part of the journey, a little pronunciation tip: It’s EE-OW, sort like the same sound you’d make if you stabbed yourself with a needle.

Located in the appropriately named Iao Valley (that extends a whopping ten miles), this 1200-foot tall hunk of rock is the remnant of a volcanic ridge. It’s probably no surprise that a big thing sticking up from a valley floor became a phallic symbol for the native Hawaiians. What is surprising is that this phallic symbol wasn’t associated with a god or goddess of life and bounty, but with Kanaloa, the god of the underworld.

maui, hawaii, iao needle

Perhaps because of this Hades-esque association, the Valley became an official burial ground for Hawaiian nobility. The valley was also the sight of the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790. Any guesses on what Kapaniwai means? It’s Hawaiian for “the damming of the waters” because there were so many people killed that the stream running through the valley was blocked with dead bodies. I imagine old Kanaloa was scrambling for rooms in the underworld that day.

maui, hawaii, iao needle

Finn looks innocent here, but he regaled us with a number of dirty, needle-related jokes once we got back to the car.

Nowadays the only battle you’ll have is for a parking spot in the tiny lot. Once you’ve proven your warrior status and parked your rental car, you can take a short hike to view the Needle and also explore the park’s still-under-construction ethnobotanical garden (which looked about as close to being complete as it did when we visited two years ago)

Second Stop: The Olawalu Petroglyphs

So sometimes you read about something in a guide book and you think, “Wow, that sounds pretty cool, a bit off the normal tourist trail, and easy to get to.” And then sometimes you learn that guidebooks aren’t so good at the whole “guiding” part.

We knew where Olawalu was since it sits about half way between the airport and the house we were renting (and it has a fruit stand that makes every other grocery item on Maui seem like a HUGE bargain. Seriously, it’s beyond overpriced.). The guide book said there were some petroglyphs “just behind” the general store. Just follow the road straight back for half a mile and you’re there.

Um. No.

Our first attempt to find these petroglyphs, we followed the guide book’s instructions. Or tried to since there really wasn’t a road behind the general store that went “straight back” for half a mile. The only road that did go straight back, was actually someone’s driveway.


After zooming in on Google Maps for a few hours, Mr Husband was certain he’d figured out where these pesky rock drawings were, so we embarked on Attempt #2. And failed. Finally we asked our landlady if she knew how to get to them. Apparently Attempt #2 wasn’t so much a failure, just a we-didn’t-know-where-to-look. We followed her directions (which were completely different from the guide book) and discovered Attempt #2 had brought us within 100 meters of the petroglyphs.

By this point, I was sick of trying to find these stupid things (this was also after our non-stranded-at-sea Molokini trip so I was full of beer and just wanting a nap), but it had gotten to the point that we were finding the damn petroglyphs even if it killed us. Unfortunately, after all the effort, the carvings were a little lackluster. They’re pretty small and you REALLY have to know what you’re looking for (which we did thanks to Ms Helpful Landlady).

maui, hawaii, olawalu petroglyphs

By the time we found it, all my enthusiasm for these little carvings had vanished.

Third Stop: The Kapalua Coastal Trail

As you’ll recall back when Finn showed off his snorkeling skills, our favorite place to spend a Maui day was at Kapalua Beach. But snorkeling isn’t the only thing a monster can do at Kapalua…if he’s willing to let his human carry him around in her backpack while she does all the leg work (which Finn is completely fine with). Just above Kapalua Beach is the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

This Isn’t very strenuous hiking, but it is a pleasant walk with great views.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

One portion of the trail takes you into a shore bird nesting site where there are also some really cool rock formations.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

Since he quickly learned dentistry was too dangerous a profession, Finn thought he’d try his hand at being a geologist.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

-What do you make of it, Finn? 

-Clearly, these are Ancient Beastie footprints from the Beast-azoic Era when Beasties were the dominant lifeforms on Earth.

-Um, Finn, I think Beasties only evolved recently…in Ireland, not Hawaii.

-That’s only a theory.

After a long discussion on evolution and the scientific method, Finn agreed that being a geologist would require too much study…and too much heavy lifting (we all know how he is with tools).

A Final Maui Goodbye…or Two

Of course, no journey to Hawaii would be complete without half a million sunset pictures….

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…and Finn made sure he was in several.


Thanks for coming along on the final installment of our Maui Adventure, everyone! Finn and I will be back next week with another beach-related trip…this one a little closer to home. And, in case I haven’t reminded you enough, next Tuesday is Release Day for The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles, so expect to hear a tiny bit about that. See you then and be sure to share any comments!!!



Stranded at Sea: A Harrowing Journey to Molokini

Herman Melville. Ernest Hemingway. Daniel Defoe. Tammie Painter. What do we all have in common? Until recently, only a desire to put pen to paper. But now I can join the ranks of these esteemed authors with my own tale of man versus nature, the dangers of the ocean, and being stranded at sea.

The story begins with booking a trip to Molokini Crater. This partially submerged volcanic crater that blew its top about 230,000 years ago sits off the Maui coast and is a popular snorkel spot. The inner portion of the crater is (relatively) calm and safe, but if you dare to go around to the back side of the crater the strong currents will whisk you off to Tahiti (and not in a good way).

Mr Husband and I took the trip with Four Winds last time we were in Maui with no problem…well, there is the problem that you have to get up at 5:00am to catch the boat. Still, we really enjoyed the crew we sailed with (and I enjoyed the unlimited “free” beer once I was done snorkeling), so we signed up with them again this time. On the fateful day, we showed up to the dock, climbed onboard, and set off in our little boat for the hour-long journey to the crater. Continue reading

Finn McSpool’s Treacherous Trip to Kula Botanical Garden

This week’s look back at Finn McSpool’s Hawaiian Adventure takes him away from the beautiful beaches and bustling towns of West Maui and whisks him off to the slopes of a volcano in East Maui where he got into a little trouble at the Kula Botanical Gardens.

Some Back Story

Now, before we start this tale, I need to give a little background about Finn’s first evening in Maui when he had a rough encounter with a couple of the natives. As you know from a couple weeks ago, our vacation rental came complete with egg-providing chickens. It also featured the hard-to-find amenity of the brother-and-sister-cat-duo, Kuma and Yuki. Don’t they look innocent?

Since Finn lives with cats and really enjoyed meeting gobs of cats on his trip to Italy last year, he thought he’d give a big “Aloha” to his two new roommates. Unfortunately, Yuki (who we later learned loves to hunt, especially geckos) thought Finn might make a tasty treat. Finn’s screams of horror as he was caught in her death grip were probably heard across the island. Continue reading