Postcards: Lake Mendota

By September 10, 2011 Postcards

With fall semester in full swing, students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison spent an awful lot of time at College Library, one dozens of libraries and study areas on the sprawling, 933-acre campus.

While the library features special collections, multimedia resources, more than 200 computer workstations, a coffee shop and cafe, it’s really the view that impressed me.

This is the view from the third floor of the library. That’s Lake Mendota, the northernmost and largest of the four lakes near Madison. (The university of situation along the southern shore of the lake.)

The lake is lined with expensive luxury homes and condos, protected natural areas and parks, university housing and a bunch of hotels and restaurants. During the summer the lake is littered with boaters, water-skiiers, wakeboarders, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders. During winter — which is fast approaching — the lake freezes over. But that doesn’t stop folks from coming out; it’s a popular spot for ice boating, ice skating, ice fishing, ice hockey and cross-country skiing.

And yes, the library is also home to the popular Open Book Cafe, which serves gourmet coffee, specialty drinks, soups, grab-and-go sandwiches and wraps, salads, snacks and baked goods. This burger and salad only cost $5.80.

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Did This: Waimano Pool Hike and Ice Garden

By September 9, 2011 #CatTravels, Food

I hike fairly often.

But I tend to avoid hikes that cause me physical pain.

Don’t get me wrong: I like a challenge. But I don’t need to hike a trail that requires any more gear than a bottle of water and a few Band-Aids.

So when my friends invited me to hike down to the Waimano pools off the Manana Trail in Aiea, I quickly agreed.

This is a fairly easy 3-mile trail that leads down into the lush Waimano Valley. Your reward: two swimming holes at the end of the descending hike. The payback, though: you have to walk back up the hill. And it’s a bitch.

It’s a beautiful hike through a eucalyptus forest and groves of strawberry guava trees. Just challenging enough to burn calories and rev my appetite.

And I have an appetite!

So the deal was this: we go on this hike, we nearly die on the way back up, and we get shave ice at Ice Garden in Aiea.

I thought that was completely reasonable.

Here’s what our adventure looked like:

At the trailhead

Picture 1 of 14

Waimano Pool is a hike off the grueling Manana Trail. The trailhead starts at the end of Komo Mai Drive in Pacific Palisades.

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Today’s happy shot

By September 8, 2011 Happy Shots

Look at the view from my workplace. Doesn’t get better!


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Anyone paying for local news?

By September 8, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

It’s been a month since the Honolulu Star-Advertiser starting charging people to view its premium online content.

And I’m curious to know how it’s doing.

Back when I first blogged about it, an overwhelming number of you said you won’t pay for online news, especially if you knew other ways to get it for free.

Now a month into the pay wall, I wonder how many of you caved and signed up for a subscription — and how many of you still don’t feel like you need it.

I thought I would sign up immediately to get access to the site. But it turns out I get the same news from TV stations and other websites. The only reasons I log on the Star-Advertiser’s website are to read breaking news and blogs — and both of those are free.

It’s still upsetting to think that newspapers are dying, as I’m a diehard supporter and believer of the print. (Yes, despite my overwhelming presence online and in social media circles.) I still think the best reporting is done by newspapers — and it’s sad to think those days are nearly over.

Curious: has anyone felt any difference in the way they get news now that the only newspaper in town is charging to view its content?

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Milan, Paris, Tokyo — Ala Moana Center

By September 7, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

Hawaii may not be considered one of the fashion capitals of the world.

But for three days starting Thursday, it will play host to a fashion extravaganza like no other.

Ala Moana Center is throwing The Fall Fashion Event, an action-packed weekend of fashion featuring more than 80 in-store events.

Here’s the weekend lineup:

• Thursday, Sept. 8: Fashion’s Night Out starts at 5 p.m. with upscale shops like Dior and Folli Follie serving champagne and dishing exclusive gifts.

• Friday, Sept. 9: Honolulu’s firefighters heat up Centerstage in a runway show featuring fall looks from Tori Richard, Reyn’s and more.

• Saturday, Sept. 10: Award-winning local designer Amos Kotomori hosts hourly shows, starting at noon, featuring the latest haute fashions from Ala Moana Center vendors.

• Sunday, Sept. 11: The final day of the event starts with a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony, followed by a runway show with the heads of Hawaii’s non-profit organizations.

And if you can’t make it for any of the shows — or you just want to shop instead — you can redeem $250 in receipts for a free red-haute clutch (above).

For more information, visit Ala Moana Center or call (808) 955-9517.

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