Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aloha to Hawaii

Night view from our balcony
This little guy visited us
on our balcony every day!
Our last full day on Waikiki was spent like most of the others…beaching, pooling and geocaching.  Nothing wrong with that!  I decided not to take my camera down to the beach, figuring I had already seen and snapped it all.  Of course I was wrong.  We hadn’t been in the water 5 minutes when we saw a surfer paddling out….with his Chihuahua on the front of his board!  The dog had a custom made yellow life jacket and he seemed totally at ease.  A few minutes later we saw another Chihuahua moving back and forth between a man on a boogie board and a woman on a tube float.  No pics so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Our final evening was spent on the balcony, enjoying the views and music.  It was a great way to finish a great vacation!

He kept an eye on me
throughout the flight.
Aloha to Hawaii
We boarded our shuttle to the airport at 10:00 AM Hawaii Time.  We got home at 10:00 AM Central Time; 19 hours of travel time.  We were exhausted when we got home; especially after the 3 ½ drive from Chicago.  But of course, it was worth it!

Early evening we got a text from Sheryl wanting to come over and visit.  She walked in the door carrying pumpkin blossoms and fresh tomatoes.  Yum, can’t wait for that meal!  She also brought the icing for our vacation: a framed print of our anniversary picture taken at Hau Tree Lanai!!!  One odd thing is that I don’t recall carving the heart and our initials in the tree, but hey, it was a happy night and I must have gotten carried away!

It was a great vacation but as always, it’s good to be home.  Now, it’s time to do our laundry and get packing for the next adventure!


Aloha Hawaii!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Aloha #5

Our day started with our usual serenade and hula dancer.  It’s so nice to have coffee, look at Diamond Head, watch the surf and listen to Hawaiian love songs.  Happy!  The last song sung is always Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  (Did you know that Israel died at the age of 38 and was laid in state in the Hawaiian Capital Building?  He was only the third person so honored.)

Ko Olina
We boarded a Marriott bus headed for their Ko Olina Resort on the far side of the island.  Here we listened to a marketing presentation, kindly said no to their offer and then collected 10,000 points.  More importantly, we got a day pass to the resort including showers and lockers.  Before hitting the beach we got refreshments at their beach restaurant and enjoyed the lovely view. 

Kihikihi (Moorish Idol)
The restaurant overlooks their man-made bay and beach, along with three man-made islands.  It struck us both that there was little “Hawaii” here.  In fact, this resort could be anywhere tropical as there is little real Hawaiian interaction.  And, it’s about an hour away from Waikiki so you never experience that side of Hawaiian life, either. 

Even though it’s not our style Ko Olina is beautiful to say the least.  The beach was huge with plenty of lounge chairs for all and there were buoys in the water telling you where it was safe to swim.  We swam and I snorkeled for a while.  Several honus (sea turtles) had been seen in the bay over the past few days, but they eluded me.  I did get to see quite a few fish and sea urchins.

The pool was glorious.  There was a big pool for noisy swimming: pool volleyball, pool basketball and lots of floaties with screeching little girls.  But the pool we visited was the Quiet Pool.  It was huge with two islands of rocks, flowers and palms.  And the pool was four feet all around.  Just perfect for lounging and floating.  Re Lax A Shun!

The ride home was interesting as the bus was full and I had to sit up front with the driver.  He, Junior, is a mountain of a man and full of stories.  He was raised in a small two room home with 17 other relatives. His grandpa watched the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He killed his first wild boar when he was twelve.  He was terrified as the only weapons he had were his dogs and his knife.  He has six kids including three sons.  Sons #1 and #2 were full of promise and both headed for athletic scholarships, but then they got girlfriends.  Son #1 is now in the Army and Son #2 may be headed there.  No matter, Junior is still very proud of his children and says they are good people.  At the end of the ride we shook hands (his hand engulfed mine) and said our Alohas.  It’s always nice to meet good people like Junior.

It was late when we got home so we strolled down Kalakaua watching the street performers and enjoying the breeze.  Ended up at Duke’s again….we both wanted our own dinner of mango ribs!  It was another beautiful night with tiki torches and swaying palm trees.  Hard to get tired of this!

Saturday morning started much the same as every other morning we’ve enjoyed here.  Then it was time to walk back to the Hau Tree Lanai for breakfast.  Yes, we had our anniversary dinner there on Wednesday, but breakfast is an entirely different experience!  Lots of interesting beach activities to watch and great food.



Caching on a giant Kapok Tree
We geocached our way home finding nine caches in Queen Kapiolani Park and the surrounding area.  One cache we didn’t pick up was only 350 feet away from our breakfast table.  That's because it was 350 feet out into the ocean and a kayak and good breath-holding were required to pick up the cache.  Maybe next time!

Coming in to the beach.
Next up was taking a ride on an outrigger canoe.  Mona decided to opt out of this one so she was the on-shore photographer.  The captain of our vessel gave us brief instructions then we were off!  We paddled out past the surfers and turned the boat in.  The captain and the mate kept an eye on waves, waiting for the perfect one and then yelled at us to paddle hard!  We paddled furiously until we were in the grasp of the wave and it sent us rushing to shore, right through the middle of the surfers and swimmers.  Several surfers had to take dives to avoid us and we crashed into their boards.  We made it close to shore and then turned to head back out.  We rode three waves and didn't kill any surfers.

Our hotel is behind Mona
The rest of the day was spent swimming in the ocean and then swimming in the pool.  Did see something a little interesting in the pool;  two women swimming in hijab.  Yep, totally cloaked except for their faces.  Of course, their men were in the pool with them and only wearing swimming trunks.  I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it is to wear something like that in the water and hot sun.  I shall refrain from beginning a tirade.

We had dinner on our balcony….enjoying the view and listening to the music from below.  Our hotel has two ABC stores in it, so it’s easy to grab a salad or sushi for your room.  Speaking of ABC stores; it’s amazing how many there are on Waikiki.  At least one or two per block.  All filled with liquor, souvenirs, beach wear and food.  You don’t see any Walgreens or CVS here…just ABCs.

No matter the stores, it's still Waikiki and beautiful.

Aloha!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Aloha #4

Wednesday was our 15th wedding anniversary.  We decided this was to be a relaxing day just doing whatever we pleased, whenever we pleased.  (Like we haven’t been doing that since we retired?!)  We walked down Kalakaua (the street that runs along Waikiki Beach) to the Outrigger Hotel.  Here we ate at the Hula Grill; a great place for breakfast with a view of the beach.  Love this place!

Afterwards it was the beach for a few hours and the pool for a couple of hours.  Need that hydration!
Sunset from our table
Around 5:30 we headed for Hau Tree Lanai.  It’s about a half mile walk towards Diamond Head from our hotel and through a beautiful park.  The restaurant is on the beach and its only roof are the incredible hau trees from which it gets its name.  We had a table at the rail and had the perfect view of the beach and sunset.  This is easily one of the most romantic restaurants we've ever experienced. 

I had called ahead and made arrangements for flowers and told them of our anniversary.  The manager must have let out the secret because I think every person on the wait staff wished us “Happy Anniversary” and they presented us with a special dessert that was wonderful.  What an evening!

Our morning hula dancer
Thursday morning began like every morning with a serenade from a Hawaiian singer on the terrace of the hotel across the street.  He’s usually accompanied by a beautiful hula dancer.  We’re really getting used to this and are thinking of how we could arrange to have the same singing at our home when we return.  Anyone interested in either singing or hula-ing for us in Decatur?


We also get birds-eye views of the Oli Oli buses.  These are bus lines and trolleys that cater to the millions of Japanese tourists who visit here each year.  The buses have whale tails on their roofs and they are pretty cool!  Oahu has many stores and restaurants that are tailored for the Japanese tourists; especially as they tend to spend more than their American counterparts.  However, it really doesn't matter where you’re from.  You’ll always be greeted with “Aloha” and thanked with a “Mahalo” by virtually everyone you encounter.
Snorkeling  in Hanauma Bay was top on the agenda for the day.  Hanauma Bay is actually the crater of a volcano.  The southern wall of the crater was breached by the sea and so it offers the perfect environment for over 400 species of fish.  This is one of the most snorkeled spots in the United States with over three million visitors a year.  You’d think that would make it very crowded, but in fact there’s plenty of room and the fish don’t seem to mind all the fuss.

We took TheBUS to the bay, number 22 to be exact.  TheBUS will take you virtually anywhere on the island and is the defacto mode of travel for many of the locals.  You will meet quite a blend of fellow travelers on TheBUS, especially Bus 22 as it has a good mix of locals and tourists.  On the way to the bay I sat next to a sweet little lady who was about 85 years old.  She was dressed in a full length flowery mumu and had a garland of flowers in her silver hair.  We were both facing the ocean as we rode and she turned to me and said, “Isn’t it lovely?  I never get tired of that view.  It shows God’s handiwork at his finest.”  I said that it was indeed beautiful.  She went on to say that she has lived here thirty years, her son was a surfer dude (like me) and she loves every day here.  She had that sweet little grandma voice and I was enjoying listening to her.  She continued to talk and I continued to listen and then she happened to point out her church.  She invited us to Sunday church and then just before she got off the bus she said, “Isn't it wonderful how the Christians came here and vanquished all the pagans and got rid of their dastardly evil gods?! Aloha!"  Ummm…..okay….Aloha!

Surgeon Fish?
We arrived at Hanauma Bay and watched the mandatory video that says don’t touch, don’t take but shaka…
(hang loose and have fun!)  We walked down the long hill which is actually the inside wall of the volcano crater and found a spot on the beach.  We both hit the water and I snorkeled out to see what I could see.  This was my fourth visit to the bay and the water was the murkiest I've ever seen.  I had to swim quite a ways out before I could see clearly.  But at last, there were the fish!  Black ones, yellow ones, blue ones, rainbow colored ones!  They were all over the place!  I had my iPhone in a pouch hanging from a lanyard around my neck so I was able to get some pictures.  However, I missed the two best shots: One where I was along the edge of a huge school of black-striped manini.  I was just amazed at how they stayed in unison no matter which way they turned.  Incredible!

Awela
I also missed the shot of when this three foot fish swam under me from behind and almost skimmed my belly.  I was so startled that I jerked my head and swallowed a big gulp of saltwater through my tube.  But it was cool!

Finally, we headed back and hit the hotel pool for a couple of hours.  We finished up our evening by walking a few blocks down Kalakaua to the Outrigger Hotel.  On the beachside of the hotel is Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.  Duke won gold in three Olympics for swimming.  But he’s known most of all as the Father of International Surfing as he is the one who introduced surfing to the world outside of Hawaii.  The restaurant is filled with momentos of Duke’s truly amazing life.  Here’s a link if you want to learn more about the Duke.  You’ll easily see why there is a huge statue of the Duke on Waikiki. http://www.dukeswaikiki.com/duke

We dined outside and next to the beach.  It was a perfect night to end another perfect day on Oahu.


Shaka and Aloha!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Aloha #3

We were picked up at our hotel at 4:30 AM by a bus which took us to the airport.  There, we caught a plane to Maui where we were shuttled to a little market place for a continental breakfast.  Afterwards, we boarded a small bus with twelve others and headed out on the road to Hana.  Our guide and driver for this trip was Larry….unless we didn't like the trip, then we were to call him Bruce.

Tight Roads!
From the outset it was quite evident that Larry loves Maui and he knows an incredible amount of detail about Maui, including the flora, fauna, folklore, history and inside information.  He’s also a damn good driver which is REALLY important on this trip!  The road to Hana has over 600 turns and the road is often a one-lane two-way highway.  There were numerous times when we would have to stop and back up to let another car pass or vice versa.  Traffic was bad and many drivers were clueless.  In fact, we were hit by a guy on an ATV.  He bent the bumper of the van but apparently he wasn't hurt because he quickly passed us and was pumping his arm…in victory perhaps?  More likely stupidity!

One of many many waterfalls
The beautiful scenery along the road is constantly changing and the weather changes seemingly from one mile to the next.  That’s because there are over 20 micro climates along this route.  Factor in the altitude changes and you end up with an incredible diversity of plants to discover.  I couldn't tell you how many different varieties of wild ginger we saw nor how many species of exotic trees Larry pointed out to us.  There were giant varieties of common house plants wrapping themselves around huge trees and I bet Larry pointed out over a hundred different kinds of wild and beautiful flowers. Pictures don't do it justice but that's the best we could do. 



I was SO glad I wasn’t driving!  Not only was the road treacherous, but also I would have missed seeing so much.  Instead, Larry was driving and he pointed out all the neat and beautiful things to see.  He’d even spontaneously stop alongside the road if he saw an interesting blossom or a creature feature like a Holy Kau (wild goat) in the desert.  And all along he was filling us in on the Hawaiian folk lore and inside stories of the celebrities who have homes here like Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Oprah, Pat Benatar, Jim Nabors, etc. etc. etc.
Part of the 7 Sacred Pools

We had lunch at a hotel in Hana and I was looking at the map wondering how we were going to get home.  I noticed a road that continued around the perimeter of the island, but it was flagged as being unpaved and sometimes treacherous.  Well, you guessed it, that’s the road we took!  The road was gravel and that by itself wasn't bad.  But, there were steep inclines and steeper declines, coupled with twists and turns and a distinctive lack of guardrails which made for more excitement than Six Flag’s Batman ride!  Rental companies won't allow you to take their cars here and pregnant women and people with back problems are advised to not travel here!







We ended the tour with a stop at Maui’s Vineyards where we tasted pineapple wine…surprisingly good!  Larry then played contemporary Hawaiian music for us on the way back to the airport which we made with ten minutes to spare before boarding.  Whew!

We ended our evening on the Moana Terrance listening to a former Miss Hawaii sing Top 40s hits while we dined on fish tacos.  Another great ending to another day!

Tuesday was another water day. No surfing today as I had already shown the locals my stuff and I wanted to give them time to recover.  We spent several hours on the beach across from our hotel and then a couple more hours in the hotel pool.  Just a simply relaxing day!

We ended our day by walking to House Without A Key.  This is one of our favorite nightspots along Waikiki.  It’s a great place to sit outside, with Diamond Head to your left and the sunset to your right, while watching Hawaiian musicians play traditional songs as a hula dancer dances in front of them.  “Idyllic” seems to be the only appropriate adjective!



We closed our night with more live music at the Tiki Bar across from our hotel.  We finally tired out, went to our room, opened the balcony doors and continued to listen to the Tiki Bar music until it was finally time to say: Aloha!
Sunset at House Without A Key

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aloha #2

Water Day!
Our next day in Waikiki was set aside as a water day.  Time to play on the beach and in the pool!  We gathered our essentials, bought a couple of bamboo sand mats and crossed the street onto Waikiki Beach.  It  didn't take us long to find a suitable spot, right next to the judges’ tent for the surfing competition being
held this weekend.

If she can, I can!
I have always wanted to surf, but in the past my eyesight prevented me from doing so.  However, since my cataract surgery I can now see reasonably well without my glasses.  Okay, I might hit a car or two on the freeway, but I can see surf boards and such.   Anyway, watching all these dudes and wahinis glide around on their surfboards was inspiring.  Even their falls looked graceful.  And just offshore there was a class where they were teaching kids as young as five years old.

Headed out!
The more I watched, the more certain I was:  I could surf and today was gonna be the day for me to become a surfer!  I told Mona what I wanted to do and she was there for me.  “Go for it!” were the words I heard. (It was either that or, “What about your back?!?!”)  I rented my board and headed for the water!  About three feet in I stopped and strapped the board to my ankle.  I had learned this from watching.  (Old Hawaiian saying, “Observation key to learning.”)  The board and I were now one!


From observation, I knew that I now needed to lie down on the board and gracefully paddle my way out to the “the line up” (dude talk for the line where the surfers line up waiting for a good wave).  But first, I had to make it past the breakwater which was about 20 yards out.  I gave the board a big push and glided up onto the board and began to paddle.  Or so I thought.  The reality is that those boards pivot and spin like a whirligig and perfect balance is required.  (Old Hawaiian saying, “Uke mali mali haui lanai” which means “Balance is key to happy sailing.”)  At that point my balance was totally absent, much less perfect; hence my first big gulp of salt water and my first of many views of the board from beneath the board.  I spit out the water and clawed my way back onto the back of the board.  I was still in only 5 feet of water and had another 10 yards to get past the breaker.  After only two more dunkings I was past the breaker.  I was on my way!
I'm out there somewhere
....probably under my board

Now for the trek to the lineup.  Since it was so far out there I figured I’d have plenty of time to work on my balance.  I’m still just trying to lay flat on the board and paddle, but even that is a big effort considering the board, in tandem with the huge waves, is doing its best to “work” me.  (Surfer lingo for getting pounded by waves and pushed underwater.)  I’m definitely getting my butt worked off, but I’m making progress and slowly getting the balance of the board.  In the meantime, I’m in an incredible position to see my fellow dudes and wahinis doing some incredible surfing.  In fact, they are surfing right towards me….in fact, I’m in the “impact zone” meaning I’m in their line of surf and if I’m not careful I’m going to get a mouthful of “hanging ten”….time to turn right!!!  (Old Hawaiian saying, “Kaumaua tinai aka aka oNo!” which means “Dude in impact zone means surfboard in a$$.”)

Okay, I’m out of the impact zone and on the line up…way the hell on the end of the line up out of the way of the real surfers.  I’m ready to surf!  I watch the other surfers…as the right wave comes along they quickly leap forward into a crouch then up to their feet and they’re off!  Wooty hoo!....err …Cowabunga!  I know I’m going to have to practice this a couple of times and I know I’m going to swallow a little sea water, but hey, you‘ve got to pay your dues to become a surfer on Waikiki!  Up I go.  Down I go.  Up I go.  Down I go.  (Old Hawaiian saying, “Upua kalakini kala kala pua” which means “For every up there is a down.”  No shit, Sevngali!)  I’m lucky I can swim pretty good cause I’m doing a lot of underwater swimming not to mention swimming to catch up with my board.  And my feet keep getting tangled in the cord so I’m having to do a lot of unwinding.  Note: This is not my idea of unwinding!

I continue to practice my up and down routine…not because I want to, but my ups only come with downs.  I was coming out of down and kind of into an up when I heard a yell which made me look behind me.  BIG WAVE!  Just as soon as I saw it, it had me.  The wave plunged me down and shot my board up.  Remember earlier when I told you where I strapped my board to my ankle?  That strap is a nylon rope, about ten feet long, and it’s firmly attached to my ankle and the back of the board.  It’s so you never lose the board and you always have a float if you get in trouble.  But, here’s what’s important…I’m being pushed down into the water.  The board is shooting out of the water.  We each reach our perigee and apogee and then I think I hear this “TWONNG” as the strap stretches past its limit.  All of a sudden I’m heading up and the board is coming straight back to me!!!  Holy aloha!  (Old Hawaiian saying, “Disa sucka gonna hurt!” which means … Screw it, I know what it means! These damn sayings aren’t helping a bit!  Those old Hawaiians can take their poi and mahola it in their luau!) 

Anyway, back to me and the board.  We are on a path to immediate intersection when luckily (luck is relative) the waves start to tumble me over and over wrapping my legs with the cord.  This alters the path of the board and we intersect almost lovingly me on the bottom, the board on top.  Whew!  Of course, I’m still underwater in a fast wave with my legs wrapped in cord, but that’s the lesser of the possible conclusions I had just faced.  (I’m not going to even mention the shark thoughts that went through this landlubber’s mind as my feet dangled off the end of the board throughout the experience.)

Somehow, I Houdinied my legs free, right-sided the board and heaved myself on.  I got my bearings and realized that all the commotion had moved me only a few yards towards shore.  I turned around and paddled back out to the lineup and decided that this is a cool spot…for watching the real surfers do their thing.  I propped myself up on my board and just watched.  What a vantage point to watch some incredible surfing!  It’s amazing what these men and women can do seemingly effortlessly!  I was most amazed by the surfers using the paddle boards.  They stand up on a shorter surf board and use a long paddle to get out to the lineup.  When a wave hits they surf on top of the wave and use the paddle for precision steering.  It’s amazing to see them glide on top of the waves shooting in and out of the curls at will.  What a thrill to watch…and to not attempt!

The picture of Exhaustion!
Finally, it’s time to head in. I’m tired and sore and ready to get off this board!  I turn towards shore and realize I've drifted farther out and way past where I left Mona.  Lots of paddling to do so I get to it!  Yes, conceptually I could have “surfed” my way in, but that would have involved more ignominious falls and water swallowing but I had enough thank you very much.  At last I got through the passage in the breakwater and was able to stand up.  Ahhh….terra firma at last!  I trudged up the beach, battered, bruised, and full of water but secure in the fact that I was one of Them: A surfer dude.  (Okay, so technically I was only up for a milli-second two or three times, but milliseconds count in my world.)  When I returned my board to the rental dude he asked how it went.  I just smiled and flashed him the shaka sign.  I was too tired to do anything else.

When I got back to Mona I asked if she had been watching.  “Nah,” she replied.  “You were so far out I really couldn't tell which one was you so I just walked the beach.”  Score zero for impressing my wahini!  Of course, had she been watching the score would have been in the minus 20 range...unless she could have seen my cool moves under my surf board.  She consoled me by taking me to a nearby beach diner and buying me a rainbow shave ice.  That ice would have felt good on my battered body but I resisted the urge and enjoyed the sweet treat in a more conventional way.
Surfer Dude's Reward

We both had enough of the beach and headed for the hotel pool.  We spent several hours just relaxing in the water and enjoying the sun.  Afterwards, we visited the Tiki Bar for great food and live music.  A day well done!

Next morning we were famished.  Time for a big breakfast.  We had heard about “Eggs and Things” and every time we walked by the place there was a line.  Time to give it a try!  The line was pretty long when we got there but it was supposed to be THE place for breakfast on Waikiki.  We had heard so much good we hadn’t even bothered to read any reviews of the place.  (Can you see where this is going?)  We were in line for 45 minutes, no exaggeration.  When we finally got to the head of the line we had to order.  Yes, you order before you’re seated.  Then you get into a line to pay….yep pay AND TIP before you’re seated.   We were then seated at a little bar along a wall with a buzzer.  When the buzzer went off we raised our hands.  The waiter brought our food to us on paper plates with plastic knives and forks.  Yes, the food was good, but seriously?!?!?  $28 for two eggs each, meat, and two pancakes each…on paper plates.  Even though we didn’t read the reviews you can bet I wrote one!

Next up was Ala Moana Mall, the largest mall in Hawaii.  It’s a multi-level open air mall and it’s huge with hundreds of stores.  Hundreds!  Guess which store we hit first?  In total, we visited two stores.  Then it was time to go up the fourth floor mezzanine for a cool beverage.  We ordered complementing pastel drinks and relaxed while talking to the bartenders.  Very nice!


We walked back to our hotel; past the Hilton Hawaiian Village, through Ft. DeRussey Park and then along Waikiki, stopping for a beverages and snacks as our whims desired.

Our dinner was sushi at Sensei.  It’s a famous sushi bar in our hotel and on this night it was 50% off…..if we can’t get it for free then 50% off will do!  We then walked over to the Moana Terrace of our hotel and listened to live Hawaiian music until it was time to turn in.

Aloha!  (And Shaka, Dudes!) 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Aloha

ALOHA!
At last, it’s time to go back to Hawaii!  This trip is to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and to complete a Bucket List item, i.e. find a geocache in all 50 states.

We started the trip by driving to Chicago (Picking up 5 new geocaching Illinois counties along the way.) and
Volcano in the Cascades
visiting Carl and Heather.  We picked them up and made our way to Turquoise in the Roscoe area.  This is the four of us’ favorite Turkish restaurant in the area.  We feasted on mussels, manti and kebaps…ahhh…comfort food!

Our first flight was O’Hare to Seattle on American.  It seemed that all was going well, but at the last minute a maintenance tech showed up to tell the captain that a hole had been found in the baggage compartment.  A hole?!?!  After about 30 minutes the hole was repaired (I’m thinking that better be a damn good patch!) and we were on our way.  No more events on this flight other than beautiful views of the Cascades Mountains.

Next flight is Alaska Air to Honolulu. They close the door and all seems to be going well.  All of a suddent there is a mini-conference of flight attendants.  They confer in whispers and then open the door and announce that a “customer” has an issue and wants off the plane!  They then escort a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, off the plane. Then the head flight attendant says we were lucky; if she had waited to get upset and we weren't more than halfway to Hawaii then we would have had to turn back.  Whew!

Finally, our plane gets pushed back and we quickly take off.  We settle into our first class seats and prepare to relax for the five and half hour flight.  We get our drinks and warmed nuts and start to watch a movie.  Ahhhh!!!   About ten minutes into the movie a teenager rushes to the front of the plane.  I figure he’s in a hurry to reach the forward bath rooms.  But no, he’s here to give us a show!  He grabs a plastic bag from the flight attendant and proceeds to heave into said bag.  And heave.  And heave.  And heave.  I’m as sympathetic as the next person (Gina, is that you next to me?), but why did he have to turn around and perform so mightily right in front of us?!?!?  He was standing next to the restroom; surely a far better place for such activities!  At last he’s persuaded that we've enjoyed the show, but now he needs to perform for the folks in back.  He slightly bows and goes to entertain the rest of the plane.
Sunset over the Pacific


After that, the rest of the flight was pretty boring.  Eat, drink, watch movies and snooze.  Repeat.  But then about two thirds of the way through the flight the captain keyed his mike and said, “Is there a doctor on board?”  Seriously, I've heard of this in movies, but in real life?  I heard someone shout, “I’m a doctor.” and quickly there was a rush of flight personnel to the middle of the plane.  I could see someone was down in the middle of aisle and surrounded by people trying to help.  Finally, the situation appeared to have been resolved and the flight finally landed.  As we were taxiing in the captain once again keyed his mike and asked everyone to remain in their seats at the gate.  Medical personnel were boarding the plane to assist a family with a medical issue.  Soon about four medics were on board and they soon escorted out the young man who “performed” for us earlier.  He was quite pale and shaky, but did walk out on his own.  His family followed him out and we finally were allowed off the plane. 

Whew.  We were finally in Hawaii.  Aloha.

(P.S. I hope that young man recovers quickly…but is it bad of me to hope he’s not flying back on the 28th with us?)

Our ocean view
Our hotel is the Marriott Beach Resort, Waikiki.  It’s at the far Diamond Head end of Waikiki.  From our balcony we can see all of Diamond Head and we have an ocean view.  (I’m watching surfers as I type this.)  We've been to this hotel before and we love where it’s situated. If you want nightlife, shopping and beach you turn right out of the hotel’s front door.  If you want peaceful surroundings and beach you turn left.  For us, it’s the best of both worlds.

Our first day had three primary goals: 1. Find our 50 state geocache.  2. Shop at Crazy Shirts until it hurts. 3. Stay awake until 8:00 PM.  We fueled up at the breakfast buffet and headed out!
Happiness is our 50th
Geocaching State!

Our first goal was to find that cache.  We walked along the beach for about a mile towards Diamond Head. 
Blue and turquoise waters, palm trees, white sand, banyan trees, hau trees, flowers everywhere….yes, this was tough bushwhacking but we had to get to get to that cache!  Took us just a few moments to make the find and finally we had completed a  Bucket List item that took two and a half years and 50,000 miles of travel!  What an awesome feeling!

Next up, Crazy Shirts!  Mona loves Crazy Shirts.  In her mind, any place that has a Crazy Shirts store makes it a worthy destination!  So, here we were where Crazy Shirts was born and where the mother ship of Crazy Shirts is located, at the International Market.  We turned back from the cache
"Is this heaven?"  "No, it's Crazy Shirts!"
location; walked past our hotel and headed deep into the heart of Waikiki bound for the mother ship.  International Market is located just four blocks from our hotel so it was a quick walk….but….wait….what?  We got to ground zero and there was NO INTERNATIONAL MARKET.  Instead, there was a construction-grade plywood wall with square windows.  Through those windows you could see a bulldozer cleaning up the last remains of the market.  All that remained was the magnificent banyon tree in whose branches we once sipped mai tais.  No International Market.  No Crazy Shirt Mother Ship.

Saddened, we turned away and began the long weary trek back to the Marriott.  But wait, what's that ahead on the left?!? Could it be that wonderful store of shorts, and tops just waiting on Mona’s credit card!  Yes, a new Crazy Shirt store on Waikiki!  Mona entered clapping her hands.  She was rushed by the store staff and they whisked her off to her own private wonderland.  Me, I puttered about for a bit and then wandered down Kalakaua Avenue seeking companionship. A couple hours later we linked back up and I lugged her bags back to the hotel.  Afterwards it was time to scope out the beach.
One of the things we love about Waikiki is the never-ending string of beaches and hotels.  None of the beaches are private so you can start at our hotel and walk for miles on the beach.  If you go Diamond Head (East) you can find some secluded beaches pretty quickly.  If you go Ewa (West) you’ll find beaches packed with people from all over the world along with hotels and beach bars right along the beach.  We went Ewa.
 
We wandered through mazes of beach-clad bodies scattered among surf boards, outrigger canoes and lifeguard stations. We gawked as appropriate especially when we saw wahinis (young women) in skimpy bikinis carrying surf boards above their heads and threading their way to the surf.  (For some reason Mona wouldn’t allow me to take pictures to illustrate so you'll just have to use your imagination.)  All this sun and surf made us thirsty so we had to stop at the Moana’s Surfrider Beach Bar and have our first mai tais of the trip.  Several people have asked us to have a mai tai for them and we take this commitment seriously.  Hence many more mai tais to come! 

Finally, it was time to resume our trek and we continued Ewa.  More sun, more surf, more bodies, more of everything!  Again we thirsted and again we stopped.  This time at the Shorebird Beach Bar.  Here we found mai tais for $3.50!  That’s a great price for commitment filling so we had a couple!  Gotta love these beach bars!

Finally, it was time to hit our third goal of the day….sleep…but not till 8:00 PM.  We went back to the Marriott and went out on the Moana Terrace for dinner.  There we were serenaded by a duo playing old soft rock favorites and we dined on fish tacos and Hawaiian flatbread else.  And, of course we had mai Tais, and these were free!


It was almost 8:00 and we were exhausted.  We laid in bed watching the clock tick down the final seconds and finally it was time!!!  Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.


Aloha and good night!