Day 9: Waikiki

Melina caught her first wave on a boogie board, on some small waves at the Waikiki Walls. It was a nice day at the beach, Ala Moana, Portuguese doughnuts at Leonard’s, and Phuket for lunch.

The girls are really going to miss the five dogs: Hoshi, Tsuki, Chibi, Kuro, and Mona. All Tibetan Terriers.

We see a lot of Nissan Leaf’s around, and plenty of charging stations too. I’d love to trade up to this from our Prius!


Day 8: Movies, Gokarts and Swimming

The movies may have been the big event for the kids today, but winning the family go-kart race was tops for me. We were really cruising in cars that get to 45 mph in 3 seconds. I accidentally sent Maile careening into the pylons twice. More importantly, I outraced my brother-in-law Angel, earning back a man card, at least for a day. There’s a lot more I could say about this, but will keep the funny emasculation stories off-line.

Catching Fire was great. I love the layers to this story, even though its sad to think about the metaphors in our consumer-driven and fear-based society. I wonder how many will see this and question the people and events that we celebrate. Malcolm Gladwell’s new book even validates some of the themes of power, underdogs, and fear. Any movie that is this suspenseful, and also introduces compelling gender issues, will be a favorite of mine. I wish more had interesting characters that defy traditional roles like this. My reality check on the suspense came from Angel, who said he almost fell asleep in the first one, The Hunger Games. Compared to serving in Afganistan, I’d probably fall asleep too.

We finished the day with our second trip to the Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Center. It’s a rec center, and better than just about any other I’ve been to, other than Apex Center in Arvada. I took my first spinning class from a drill sergeant instructor who had me pedaling scared. My mile high, oxygen rich blood saved me.

It would be easy to stay in shape with outdoor lap swimming every day (and night), plus basketball courts, child care, classes and more. They even have a cafe that seemed to sell only healthy sandwiches and smoothies, quite unlike the food Ray Kroc made his fortune selling. Maybe he should open places like this in the areas that need it most!

Tomorrow, we have a full day in Waikiki, which will be the kids first chance to boogie board.

Day 7: North Shore

Every trip, we venture to Haleiwa and the North Shore to see the big waves, shopping, and of course, Matsumotos’ Shave Ice. Photos of celebrities line the wall in the store, something I’ll never understand. Yes, the snow cones are great, and adding ice cream and azuki beans are a nice touch. But how this became, and continues to be, such a must see attraction I’ll never understand. No one appeared to leave unsatisfied though, including me.

Sore throats are circulating in the house, and I hope my garlic bagels staves off the scratchiness I feel. This bulb of raw garlic will not go over well in the house though.

The North Shore is hosting the Triple Crown of Surfing, but the contest was off for the day.

Lorraine stopped at the He>I store, something I had never heard of. It started in Haleiwa, a symbol they created from a verse in the Bible:  He is Greater Than I. He > I. Capitalism meets Christianity.

One store that is not new is Cholos. I’m not sure which is worse, between Cholos and Illegal Pete’s in Denver.

Day 6: Windward

We found a more normal beach, without Santas, black sand, or flesh eating  bacteria, on the windward side, a 45 minute drive to the other side of the island. First, we met My-Lan and Kris for breakfast. We still laugh remembering Maile calling their son Killer, instead of his actual name, Hunter. Then we were off to Kailua Beach for swim and boogie board. I love the food options, with even Jamba Juica offering aca’i bowls (only in Hawai’i), and other places selling Hawaiian Superfruit juice and lots of other exotic fruits. The antioxident Superfruit juice, made from the coffee bean fruit, is bottled by Kona Red and now sold on Amazon.

Vacations seem to be the only time I can read. I finished David and Goliath, and now I have Goldfinch on my Kindle. The indie and NPR best seller lists both had Donna Tartt’s new one at #1, which was how I chose what may be the last book I read for awhile. Already, the story includes countless coincidences and random chances, showing how each can be a major influence in life. It may be pointing toward a Zen state of luck as not necessarily being good or bad. Orphans and bombings keep it moving fast in the early chapters. I hope I can finish this 750+ pager.

Day 5: Big Island to Oahu

On our last day on Big Island, we did some last minute biking and swimming, and said goodbye to the wildlife, mostly the geckos. They’re supposed to be good luck when inside the house, but the kids could not get used to using the bathroom with their reptile friends always on the wall overhead. They devoured a lot of bugs while camped out by the lights though.

We also said goodbye to our non-native friends, the Land Snail and the loud (this loud) Coqui Frogs. It was never too loud for me to sleep (not much is), but some here call the Frog Whisperer for help, saying they are as loud as lawn mowers. Coquis arrived 20 years ago on cargo ships, and have no native predators here. Unlike in their native Puerto Rico, where their “co-kee” sound is considered melodic, some nearby towns like Waimea have community groups that distribute flyers with tips on how to catch coquis and will dispatch coqui hunters to your property.

On the way to the Hilo airport, we had to stop at Maile Street in Pahoa. Michele laughed it off, but one of my suggestions for her name 10 years ago was Leilani, a far too common name. And here she is on the corner of Leilani and Maile.

We left behind a Big Island preparing for a cold snap, down to 65 degrees overnight. A radio DJ suggested everyone curl up with a good movie and blanket the next morning when the temperatures were expected to be unseasonably low.

Day 4: Beaches and Waterfalls

Vacation is for down time, but can also be an opportunity to challenge ourselves a bit. My suggestion for doing this today wasn’t well received, but since I was driving, I took us down the scenic Red Road to Kehena Beach, an official, clothing optional beach. I was not about to blind anyone with my large pale self, or add to the future family therapy needed, but thought a rare black sand beach would be enough for everyone to go along for a brief visit. We worked through a minor panic attack on the hike to the beach, but then the steep, rocky descent to the hidden beach was too difficult for some in sandals. We made it to a lookout point to at least initiate some good body image dialogue. Only half the people were completely nude, but the those who were looked like a cross between ZZ Top and Santa. One hiker let us know that “Its about the freedom” and not the nudity.

Another nearby attraction is the Ahalanui Ponds, volcanically heated (90 degrees) tidepools known for the natural hot tubs along the shore. I’m usually up for a little risk, but these pools were re-opened just last month after a man contracted a flesh eating bacteria strain from the pools. He did enter the water with an open wound, a known risk factor, but we didn’t have to discuss this much before deciding to skip it. Passing by, plenty of people riding tour buses thought otherwise.

In search of a regular beach, we were off to Hilo, to Onekahakaha Beach for some floating and swimming. Using Google Maps Navigation re-directed any kama’aina laughs at my pronunciation of Hawaiian names. Siri was just as bad. It did direct us to Sweet Cane Cafe where I tried my first taro burger (not recommended). But the place had an interesting mix of smoothies with exotic (and local) fruit. Later, in the grocery store, I found some rambutan to try.

Our last destination was ‘Akaka Falls, higher than Niagara Falls, just 10 miles north of Hilo. While on the short hike to the falls, were started receiving reports that our dog Miso was wandering the neighborhood. She apparently escaped three times, finding her way home each time. After some frantic calls, texts and email messages, Sara saved the say with a late night rescue to her more enclosed house and backyard. The memory is captured well in this family photo, in the middle of a stressful time for me—it was 9 pm at home, and Miso was in our backyard, braving the cold and snow until we found someone to take her for the remaining 7 days of our trip. We found a quick geocache at the Falls before getting dinner in Hilo and heading back to the house.