Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami

Here's a link to a help page about the tsunamis in Southeast Asia that have now killed an estimated 50,000 people -- it boggles the mind really. This page includes information and links about the tragedy as well as links to pages that are offering help. And if you are reading this, please take a moment to pray for these people.

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Home again home again

I am so happy to have completed the Hawaii Diaries! I was thrilled to have gone, and now I'm so happy that I can blog onward. I got a little stuck in the past, feeling like I wanted to finish up about the trip before I could blog about other stuff, and then falling behind what with the holidays, work, etc etc.

I'm excited to say I've started teaching aerobics again. Just a few mellow step-sculpt classes at the local YMCA, but I've missed teaching more than I thought I would. I'm having a great time with it, and I picked it right back up like I'd been teaching all along. I'm planning to save all the money I make (which won't be that much because the pay is pretty low) towards going to a fitness conference in NYC March 11-13.

I've seen a few movies lately, and I wish I could motivate to write reviews of all of them but well, I can't. So let me highly highly recommend Finding Neverland, with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. It's full of heart and whimsy. I've loved it more than anything I've seen lately. I'd love to see Johnny Depp get his Oscar this year, but I suspect Jamie Foxx has it wrapped up. I haven't seen Ray yet (on the schedule for next Tuesday night) but the buzz tells me he's the leading candidate by far.

Let me not very highly recommend Closer, which I thought was filled with empty and selfish characters and was an unfulfilling story. It wasn't badly acted, I just didn't appreciate the premise. (and I didn't think it was that well written -- it was a little trite, says I who have written zero screen plays)

Ocean's 12 is less fun and less cool than the critics would lead you to believe. OK, it is fun to see all those flashy movie stars in one place -- and there's nothing wrong with Brad, George and Matt (playing a geek) together in one film -- but since K Street (which FAILED guys, hello!) Soderbergh seems to have lost sight of the importance of things like scripts, plots and rehearsals. Ocean's Eleven was so fun because the audience was in on the scam, which was tightly conceived and executed. In this movie, you are just as much in the dark as everyone else. And the reveal is foggy at best.

We also saw Motorcycle Diaries last night at my home away from home, the Boulder Theatre. This is a gentle, idealistic film. I thought it was a bit slow at moments, but I still liked it. The slowness probably contributes to the overall feel of the film, which focuses on profundity rather than speed. And Gael Garcia Bernal, as young Che Guevara on a life-changing journey, is one of those actors who accomplishes his work through his facial expressions. Aftewards Mom said "well, that was absorbing." That's a high compliment for any movie.

On my long movie list leading up to the Oscars: The Aviator, The Life Aquatic, Kinsey, Million-Dollar Baby, The House of Flying Daggers, A Very Long Engagement and Sideways.

The Hawaii Diaries -- the very sad eighth and last day

Me at Java on the Rocks, doing the tourist thing Posted by Hello

ok, I hate pictures of myself but here's us getting on to the little plane to tour the island Posted by Hello

Hawaiian coast Posted by Hello

valley from the air Posted by Hello

view from the airplane Posted by Hello

Friday, November 26, 2004

The last day. How incredibly sad.

We had to check out at 10 am, so we got that done and then we went back over Huggo’s way for breakfast – this time at Java on the Rocks (which becomes Huggo’s on the Rocks for lunch and abuts Huggo’s so it shares that amazing coastal view). I went back to Jack’s Diving Locker for a t-shirt, because overnight I had become totally obsessed with diving and diving culture, and we did some more various and sundry shopping.

That afternoon, we took a tour of the island by plane. Dad was sleeping part of the time, but I thought it was a pretty cool way to see everything. It’s amazing because you literally fly over the entire island in less than two hours. You fly over Kilauea, the big island’s only active volcano at the moment. The lava flows are slow but steady and cover eight miles. Flying over it is sort of unspectacular, in that you don’t go over a mawing crater or see red lava shooting into the air, which is sort of what I was expecting. Mostly, you just see miles and miles of bubbling black stone that covers everything in its path. When it hits the ocean, it cools immediately and breaks into millions of pieces, creating inaccessible black sand beaches that look like black velvet from the air. If you walk too close to the cracks in the lava, you risk plunging into the sea with the rest of the lava cliff. I was happy to be in a plane and not walking.

The interesting part is leaving that barren wasteland and flying past Mauna Loa to the Hilo side. Mauna Loa is a high volcano (is more than 30,000 feet high from the bottom of the sea) but it hasn’t been active in hundreds of thousands of years. That means that the Hilo side of Hawai’i has had time for green jungles to grow over water-carved canyons. That results in the 2,000 feet-high waterfalls you see in all pictures of Hawaii. There’s also the TKTK valley, where thousands of pounds of taro root used to be grown. That was one place I wished we could land and explore. It’s a green valley surrounded by two high walls, and it looks like a place where hobbits would live. (There are pictures of the valley above.)

Today, most of Hawai’i’s agricultural products are macadamia nuts. The sugar industry has moved elsewhere, and the people of Hawai’i no longer live on taro root. There still is quite a bit of coffee grown around Kona, however. We tried to take lots of advantage of that!

The flight ends passing over the Kohala Gold Coast, which is where all those spectacular hotels are, like the Waikoloa Hilton and the Hapuna Prince. Soon we were back at Kona airport and now we had nothing much left to do but eat dinner and fly away home.

I thought this part was going to be really long and hideous, but it wasn’t all that bad. The flight home was much more tolerable than the flight there – I think that’s because you aren’t nearly as excited to come home as you are to get there. In fact, I didn’t want to come home at all. Even as I write this (on Dec. 22, back in Boulder) I feel like I did then, returning to the mainland, wondering when I would ever get to go back to paradise.

The Hawaii Diaries -- Day Seven

the whale shark Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 25, 2004 Thanksgiving

Diving! This was an experience that changed my life. I’ve always wanted to get my SCUBA certification, but for some reason I’ve never done it. It’s not something that just jumps out at you, that you need to learn how to do. One of my goals when I moved to LA was to get certified, but it never happened. It requires coming up with several hundred dollars and I never could justify dedicating that money to getting SCUBA certified. Now I wish I had because I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without being a diver. Had I known, I would have scrapped this whole journalism idea and just cut to the chase and become a dive master on Kona in the first place.

After just taking the Discover SCUBA introductory class, which basically means just swimming aorund in the pool with a mask, tank and regulator, I was totally hooked. Besides wanting to move to Kona and become a dive instructor, I wanted to get open water certified as soon as possible. I was already planning how to budget for it.

Ten people went out on the boat with three dive instructors, plus the captain. I thought I would feel apprehensive at first but I just felt eager to get into the water. I had been so comfortable with the gear in the pool and I already knew what it was going to look like underwater and that all helped. When we finally dropped anchor and got in, I was raring to go.

I have to say, it was all I thought it would be and more. We basically just floated around, looked at fish and coral and rocks and hung out. But it is so much cooler to be breathing under the water just like you belong there. When you are snorkeling you don’t feel as much like you are part of things. When you are diving, you feel sort of lost in that new place, it lets you totally forget real life for a little while. Kind of like being a mermaid for a day.

On the second dive, we actually saw a lot more stuff. We saw a dragon moray eel, which is red and spotted and has two “horns” on his head. He stuck his head out of his hole for a long time and let us all get a really good look at him. Then a sea turtle just came swimming on by, calm as could be. We all went crazy looking at him. I don’t know why because I had just seen several of them two days before, but it’s still cool.

The day before I went diving, a whale shark had shown up in Kona, right off of the snorkel beach. The whole diving community was going nuts about that. They had all gotten on their radios and everyone had gone to check it out. The whale shark is 25 to 50 feet long—the ocean’s biggest fish—and is supposedly very gentle. They have about 300 rows (300!!!) of “tiny hooked teeth in both jaws,” according to West Hawaii Today, the local paper, but they aren’t very aggressive. Anyway, the picture up top is from the paper of that guy. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see him (and he showed back up on Friday) but I’m not sure what I would have done had I been swimming along and then run into a 25 foot fish. As you can see from the picture, people were just snorkeling right up to him and he really didn’t seem to mind. According to the paper, whale sharks are pretty rare around there. They generally like to live in warmer waters a little further south.

The diving community in Kona – like all communities really – is full of gossip. They had all heard about the woman that had to be rescued by our snorkel boat. I think it freaked people out because it happens so rarely, plus events like that are bad for business. Supposedly she was okay, but still in the hospital. The consensus among the dive masters was that maybe something had happened under water, she had freaked out, come up fast and held her breath, causing over lung expansion. Holding your breath when you dive is the worst thing you can do because then your body can’t regulate to the new atmospheric pressure you face as you go up and down in depth.

After all that diving excitement, the day came to an end way too quickly. We went on in and Mom and Dad picked me up at Jack’s, a newly converted diver.

That night, was Thanksgiving and we went to a Luau. It was something I wanted to do because I’d never done it before but I also thought it was going to be a little bit cheesy. It was a little cheesy, but I think I like that because I’ve enjoyed lots of other cheesy events this year – namely lots of things in Branson. There was tons of food – Hawaiian and otherwise – and I didn’t eat so much of it but it was fun to try it and to learn about it. Poi is as disgusting as everyone says it is by the way. In fact, I thought it was more disgusting the more I considered it, even into the next day. The show also was fun – the performers did dances from all over different island cultures. It’s funny because Hawaii associates itself with places such as New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, but those places are thousands of miles away. California is actually closer and it’s 2,500 miles away. (There were no dances performed from California.) Hawaii really is the most isolated island chain in the world.

That night I was exhausted! It doesn’t seem like you are doing much when you are diving because you are just floating around basically, but it’s sort of like skiing – it really takes it out of you and you don’t notice until you finally settle down for the day.

Anyway, a most excellent day. So sad to be leaving tomorrow!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Hawaii Diaries -- Day Six

Mountain course view Posted by Hello

Important shot -- Mom and I both cleared this pond and hit to the green. But we thought Mom's ball hit the lava and bounced into the water. We didn't know it was on the green until we got there. That was a big golf moment. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I feel like I am just finally settling in, but I also feel like things are coming to an end. I have no happy feelings surrounding going home. Not that I don't love home, because I do, but home is always there and now I'm in Hawaii! I so wish I could stay for an unlimited time, just freely enjoying myself, and then come back when I feel like it. Unfortunately, vacation doesn’t work this way.

This morning, we actually slept late and went to the little Mauna Loa pool before playing golf that afternoon.

On Sunday, we played the Kona Country Club’s Ocean Course. Today, we played the Mountain Course. I liked the Ocean Course better because it was flatter and more reasonable. The Mountain Course had all sorts of crazy things going on, hills and valleys and wacky carries. Keeping score was pointless. But the views were incredible. That's probably the main thing in golf -- enjoying the outdoors, the walk and the views. If you get too uptight about your swing or your game, all the joy goes out of it unless you are really super good.

After dinner out the last two nights, we ate in tonight. Lots of food to eat so that we don’t have to leave everything to the maids.

Overall, a pretty mellow day, although they are all also action-packed.
I’m going diving tomorrow and I am actually a little apprehensive because getting under all that water has always seemed scary to me. And the woman at the snorkel boat didn’t help.

The Hawaii Diaries -- Day Five (slowly getting there)

Playful dolphins off the snorkel boat Posted by Hello

Turtle love at Kapaluu Posted by Hello

Needle fish Posted by Hello

Kapaluu Posted by Hello

Afternoon snorkeling at Kapaluu Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This was the best day so far – snorkel, snorkel, snorkel. Who knew all that cool stuff was under the water? I guess I did know, but you don’t really think about it much until you are checking it out.

In the morning, we went out on the Pacific Dream Cruise. (I don't know that it was such a dream, but it was only $39 for all three of us because of our timeshare discount.) When we got there, it was only the three of us and one other guy on a sort of old beat up trimaran that could have held 50 people! Word was that an ocean liner that was supposed to have come in didn't, so business was slow. All the better for us, and we embarked on our essentially private cruise. We had a crew of three to our four, with Captain Kahani (pronounced Connie), First Mate Jordan and crew woman Astrid.

Kahani was just a little guy, but he was competent. I wondered right off why his tatoos were being removed and why he had taken out all five of his earrings, of which only the holes remained in his right ear. Given that observation, Mom later learned that his goal was to become a captain of a private yacht for $100,000 a year or so, but his tattoos were hindering him, so he was spending some $10,000 to get them removed.

Jordan, who was perhaps the most tan person I had ever seen, was a single mom but she was dating a guy who came from Leadville, Colorado. We didn’t learn that much about Astrid, other than that she was young and blonde and came from Hilo.

Chatting with Dutch, the other guy on the cruise, I learned he hailed from Holland, hence his name. His real name was Arthur and he didn’t really speak Dutch any longer. He was attractive, in his late 50s. I learned that he was actually half-owner of the company that owned Pacific Dream Cruises (or so he said) and had shown up on a secret scouting mission. He told me not to tell anyone, so I didn’t, although I pondered warning the crew. He wasn’t that happy with the state of the boat, which was 30 years old and needed painting.

The night before had been rainy and storms were predicted all day long. The morning opened cloudy and a bit cool, but rain didn’t seem imminent. The stormy weather from the night before had made the water a little rough, so we had to search for a place where we could moor up. After checking out one harbor, we went to another. Captain Kahani decided it was too rough there as well, but we did see a pod of spinner dolphins and that was so cool. They just swim up to the boats, check them out and hang out a little. They really are so social and seem to enjoy saying hi and swimming along with you for a bit. I wished we could get out and swim with them.

We ended up going back to the first harbor and tying up. Now it was time to jump in, a prospect I hadn’t really given much consideration to. The only time I had ever snorkeled before was at a snorkel park around Playa del Carmen and that was pretty easy peasy – like snorkeling for retards in a super giant manmade aquarium – awesome, but not really occuring in nature.

Still, I strapped on my mask, snorkel and fins and jumped into the water. Looking down, it was pretty much a watery wonderland – with all sorts of colorful fish swimming around. Jacks, also known as Chubs, hovered near the boat like stray dogs, hoping for some cast-off food (which they got, by the way). There were surgeon fish – deep black with a few marked white stripes – an irridescent blue-green fish the Hawaiian name of which I can’t remember. I saw one parrot fish way down there, and also a moray eel at one point. Lots of bright yellow fish, black and yellow and white angler fish with a big fin hanging over their snouts. It was cool to see all the life just there beneath the waves, something you never consider but that is always going on.

We snorkeled, ate lunch (hamburgers and hot dogs and grilled pineapple – the water slide didn’t work to Dutch’s sort-of secret dismay but the gas grill did) and then Mom and I got in for some more snorkeling. When I first got in, I looked below me to see a squadron of divers about 25 feet down, which was kind of cool to see. I was going diving on Thursday and it was fun to check out what they were doing.

Finally, I moved on, swimming and floating about the cove. I was out there for a long time, but everyone on the boat seemed relaxed and not worried about me so I just kept swimming. At one point, I looked up and everyone was standing on one side of the boat peering out and I knew they were seeing something cool that I was missing, but I couldn’t get back in time to see it. Turns out that was a whale and I was mad I missed it.

Anyway, I was still snorkeing away, absorbed in my own little world, when I saw a lot of commotion at the boat. I started swimming back and I heard a woman screaming in a very frenzied voice: “help her, help her, help my sister!”

At that point, I decided I had better get back in case they needed help or just needed to get on our way. When I got back, everyone was working hard to pull up a scuba diver, who seemed to be passed out because they were having a tough time getting her up. I wondered if the woman was breathing because you could tell she wasn’t awake. But things were chaotic and I just waited to get the information later.

Turns out, something had malfunctioned with her tank and she had inhaled a lot of water. After that, she panicked and grabbed her sister’s regulator but that didn’t help. She came up fast, never a great thing, and was disoriented and choking when she got to the surface. She just so happened to surface right at our boat, which was lucky (or providential, as my Dad said) for her, because she needed immediate help. She was alert enough to ask, but she passed out fairly quickly and started turning blue, according to Mom and Dad.

They got her up on the boat and on her left side so she could lay and let the bubbles, which happen when you surface too quickly, pass out of her system. She threw up a lot of salt water, but finally she was awake and breathing again. Very shaken, but likely okay. One boat, from Jack’s Diving Locker, took her and her husband back to shore because that boat’s divers weren’t in the water yet and it was a faster boat than our 30-year-old catamaran. Her boat, Kona Honu Divers, got all their people back on board before finally taking off.

Ultimately, everyone was okay, but it was both exciting and somewhat traumatic. Mom didn’t want me to stick with my plans to go diving on Thursday, but I was resolute because I had always wanted to try scuba diving and the chance doesn’t come up that often. Dad and I agreed that using the law of statistics – the “lightening strikes” rule, I like to call it – I was unlikely to run into trouble.

After that, we cleaned up and went on in. Dutch never told them who he was, but even though he said he was unhappy with the condition of the boat, he had to be impressed by the way Captain Kahani and the crew handled the emergency because Kahani stayed calm and in charge the whole way.

I so loved snorkeling that mom agreed to go with me to Kapaluu, the nearby snorkel beach, in the afternoon. Kapaluu is like one really really big aquarium and you can swim forever without it ever getting too deep. Actually, I wish I had spent more time there while we were in Kona.

Some of the pictures above are from Kapaluu, including the turtles, which is my favorite picture from the whole trip. It was so cool to just be snorkeling along and then run smack into these two turtles. (I was actually given a tip by a fellow snorkeler, but Mom and Dad both saw turtles here no problem.)

After snorkeling, Mom and I indulged in Mai Tais and I have to say, those babies are strong!

For dinner, we went back to Huggo’s. The meal was great, but the coolest part was looking over the balcony into the cove. We could see a moray eel (which Mom called "the creature," and we got sort of obsessed with watching it) sliding from tidal pool to tidal pool, hunting, and there were also herds of crabs (my own biological term), scuttling sideways along the rocks.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Hawaii Diaries - Day Four (hooray! the pictures are here!)

Hapuna State Beach Posted by Hello

I don't know where I took this, maybe at the Hilton, but I think it's a really cool picture. Posted by Hello

The pool at the Waikoloa Hilton Posted by Hello

Mom and Dad on the bridge over the pool at the Hilton Posted by Hello

Mom and Dad at Huggo's later that night Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22

Unfortunately, two days have gone by before I’ve had a moment to sit down and write this so my memory of this day is not as fresh as it otherwise would have been. So, what did we do on Monday? Hmmm….

Oh, part of my memory blockage results from the fact that on this morning we finally went to the time share presentation. The presentation, given by a guy named Mike Ireland, was actually interesting, it’s just when we get into the closing and Dad gives his objections, that the whole thing gets unpleasant. Dad, a former salesman, loves to argue and somehow still believes that he can convince people of his way of thinking. It’s my opinion that the more you argue, the less chance you have to convince anyone of anything because they just get more angry and more stubborn. Let me add that this view doesn't mean I don't argue -- oh no, I do. And my efforts are to as little avail as anyone else's.

So we started down that process, but it came to a fairly abrupt end because I got annoyed feeling that Dad was being rude. Also, Mike just wrapped it up because I don’t think he really wanted to argue that much either. Dad also told Mike up front that we were just here for the discount so I think Mike didn’t feel that inclined to push.

In any case, once the whole time share thing and discounts were taken care of, things were much more relaxed. Our plans were finally … finally! … made and now we could just relax and enjoy.

That afternoon we drove a fairly long way to go to a big sandy beach with actual waves. Although I didn’t really like the drive (didn’t want to be in a car at all at any time), it was a cool thing to do because we got to see more of the island, which is actually a pretty barren place, mostly covered in black lava and shrubbery, with an occasional resort of golf course thrown in here or there. Besides checking out that beach – at the Hapuna State Beach Resort – we also saw a bit of the hotel there, the Hapuna Prince. Supposedly that hotel also has a golf course, although we didn’t see it. I wouldn’t want to be up at that part of the island because it’s pretty remote. Down where we are, we have great access to Kailua-Kona, which is an actual town, and I like having that.

That day we also checked out the Waikoloa Hilton, which is like the Disneyland of hotels. It’s huge, and a boat or a lightrail takes you from the initial lobby over to the mammoth pool. At the pool, which of course sits next to the rocky coastline, there’s a waterfall, waterslide and hanging rope bridge. It’s all quite elaborate. We were going to get a drink there, but the bartender was overwhelmed with making frozen drinks for thirsty and demanding tourists (such as ourselves) and Dad got impatient so we departed. Patience is not a virtue any of us possess, although I’m sure each one of us is convinced that we ourselves are much more patient than any of the others.

In any case, we got back into the Chevy Impala rent-a-car and headed back to our place. That night, we actually got cleaned up and went out to dinner at a place in K-K called Michelangelo’s. We went because we had a card to get a 20% discount on food and the restaurant was on the coastline. So we had italian food (Dad Italian sausage and peppers, Mom chicken parm, me spaghetti and meatballs) and it was lovely and actually quite a deal.

We then went to a place called Huggo’s for drinks, which also is right on the water. Huggo’s seemed like quite the place to be, although Dad didn’t like the music much (slow and piano bar-ish) and Mom had wanted to dance and that wasn’t happening. So we had yet another drink and then went home. (Too many drinks for Paige, Dad enjoyed pointing out.) We didn’t stick around Huggo’s that long, but the menu looked great and the setting was amazing so we resolved to come back another night.

The Hawaii Diaries - Day Three

swimming at the Sheraton Posted by Hello

Just before the 19th hole Posted by Hello

waves splashing on the beach while Dad walks to the tee Posted by Hello

Kona Ocean course Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 21, 2004

This day started early. We had a 7 am tee time, which required checking in at 6:40 am. What was I thinking when I said I was willing to play golf early? I can’t even speak at this hour, much less hit a golf ball. But at least it would be quiet and still outside, and not so hot. Plus, we would get done early and be able to spend the rest of the day at the beach or the fabulous Sheraton pool.

Turns out, none of us slept well in anticipation of the early tee time. But once I got to the golf course, which was unbelievably beautiful and luxurious, I didn’t really care what time it was. The fairways were like carpets and the greens were fast and perfect; there were scarcely even any bare patches on them. Several holes butted up against the black lava coast line; in some cases, we had to hit over frozen bubbling lava. On hole seven, waves splashed up next to the tee box, spraying you a bit during your back swing.

Again, I’m really not a good golfer, but I had a great time. I could have gone in after 18, eaten lunch and come back out and played another 18. I took out my driver and hit plenty of good drives with it, only needing a mulligan one or two times. I cleared the lava no problem on the one hole where I had to get over some stuff. And very best of all, I chipped it in from about 25 yards on the 18th hole. What a way to finish up!

After lunch, Mom and I went over to the beautiful Sheraton pool and just hung out, while Dad stayed at the unit and took a nap. I think besides usually being tired, the jet lag has been hard for him to overcome, but he woke up from his nap quite perky.

I made dinner that night – salmon with mango salsa and broiled t-bone steak with rosemary and salsa fresca. Roasted green beans and potatoes and Hawaiian sweet bread rolls (which taste like Gramma A’s bread—for those of us who have had it—only maybe a little moister and softer. Very yummy.) Hawaiian coconut ice cream with chocolate syrup for dessert. That was delicious too, although the coconut ice cream didn’t really taste like the coconutty things we are used to on the mainland.

We talked about going out to the Kona Brew Pub to hear some music, but ended up staying in to watch Desperate Housewives. I have to say, TV fan that I am, it was worth staying in for. Thoroughly enjoyable. I could complain right now that vacationing with the parents makes one a homebody, but frankly, I think I’m the one that wants to stay home. They seem more than willing to go out, but I so love to cook, and I figure it saves money, that I’m just as happy being here once the sun goes down. That doesn’t speak well for any potential social life I might ever have again, but I think once you get past a certain age, you would rather get up, get out and get back. I’d rather spend my days being active and my nights at home, than my nights out and my days sleeping. I do sort of miss my party days, but this way is probably healthier.

After dinner, I took a not-so-hot tub (not cold either, but it could have been a little hotter) in the tub next to our unit. That was a relaxing thing to do right before bed, plus the Hawaiian sky was amazing. Big clear stars and a bright moon in a partly cloudy sky. I looked up and saw a genie riding on a magic carpet in the clouds. I looked down and saw my skin covered with silver beads as the hot tub jets shut off. I breathed in the alone time and thought about my life, about which I am often prone to anxiety. And I felt fully aware of the true value of being in the present moment and absolutely nowhere else.

The Hawaii Diaries - Day Two

Kona sunset Posted by Hello

Sheraton lobby Posted by Hello

Keahou sunset Posted by Hello

Mauna Loa pool Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 20

Everyone was up early; Dad at 4:30 am, which is bad because it meant an early bed time and a sleepy day. But the jet lag is hard to overcome.

I actually managed to start the day with an hour of fairly rigorous yoga on my own. This was the only normal form of exercise I got while in Hawaii, other than golf and snorkeling. I found a hip-hop station on the radio and did a lot of sun saluations, adding some extra lunges here and there, and doing some floor poses. I fantasized about becoming an ashtanga yoga teacher in Hawaii. I would write my novel in the afternoons, sitting on my flower bedecked patio overlooking the golf course. Or maybe I would become a golf pro instead. Too bad I am utterly horrible at golf. But I digress.

We ate breakfast on the patio or the lanai as Mom calls it. Our view was of hole number two of the Kona Country Club golf course. It was fun watching foursomes come by and tee off. Unlike us, most people could hit a decent tee shot without taking a mulligan. Dad said people were already coming through at 6:15 am.

I’m no morning person, but as I get older I’ve noticed that I don’t mind getting up early as much as I used to. On the other hand, I said I wouldn’t mind playing golf early and now I was stuck checking in for a round at 6:40 am the next day.

In the distance, we could see the Pacific Ocean. What is sort of crazy about Hawaii is how small it is compared to the huge ocean surrounding it. It’s amazing planes flying in the dark can even find the tiny island chain. One degree off course and you’d end up in Japan.

After breakfast, and my yoga, and everyone cleaning up and various wheeling and dealing by my dad, we ventured into town. Dad had been told that if we sat through a timeshare presentation, we could get deals on various activities around Kona, so he was figuring that out with the concierge while Mom and I got organized.

The day was bright and sunny, with clouds clinging to the top of the nearby volcanic mountain range. Little beachy shops lined the main thoroughfare and small waves crashed on black-lava beaches. By 10:30 am, people already were frolicking in the surf. I wanted to be one of them.

The downer of the morning was that we found a woman in town who also sold timeshare presentations. In exchange, you got even better deals on various activities than we could get through Bebe at our complex, particularly a small airplane ride to see the volcano and waterfalls, but also on golf, snorkeling and other stuff. It seemed worth checking out.

Paulette, Ms. Timeshare, clearly had smoked a little too much Maui Wowie in her day. Fingers bedecked with every sort of jeweled ring, she explained everything in detail at least five times. She spoke in a business-like voice, but couldn’t remember anything we told her. Common sense eluded her. It took her three separate phone calls to rebook our golf reservation and she had to ask us at least three times how many rounds of golf we wanted to play. (Three people, three rounds. This is not brain surgery.) After about five minutes of Paulette, Mom and I wandered into the nearby ABC Shop and started buying touristy things like snorkel shoes, underwater cameras and small packs of macademia nuts.

After a while, we checked back to see if Dad was done, and he wasn’t. Paulette was explaining something for possibly the tenth time. She was getting more annoying by the moment. I am not helpful in situations like this. I have no patience anyway, and less patience for people who process information too slowly. I just wanted Paulette to make an appointment to see the time-share presentation, book our golf reservation at a discount and get on with it. But it was not to be that easy.

After an hour of so with Paulette, our negotiating was finally done. Everyone wanted a fruity drink anyway, but at that point we desperately needed one. Paulette was exhausting. At one point, Dad wanted to just bail her altogether, partly because he felt badly that he had to cancel his similar contract for a timeshare presentation with Bebe, the nice concierge at our place, but by now we were too far into the whole thing to bail. I convinced him to stick with it since we were about 80% there by this time, and we proceeded on.

Activity plans finally in hand, we went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for lunch. A chain, the restaurant sits right on the shore. We sat at a table with waves crashing below us, and the sun beating on our backs. Finally, parents with chi-chis in hand, and me with a really big margarita, we were in Hawaii.

That afternoon, Mom and I fell asleep by our unit’s little pool. When we got up, I wanted to go on a walk, and Mom came with me.

Mom and I went walking around sunset. We went to the nearby docks and saw the sun descend into the vast ocean under a pink, red and orange sky. Locals and guys in their mid-thirties who long ago should have moved to the mainland and gotten a real job (or who are maybe smarter than the rest of us because what's so great about the mainland anyway?) were washing their boats and finishing up their day with tourists before heading off to the local watering hole. We randomly came upon the birthplace of King Kameahmea III, which was located in an overgrown tropical garden. Apparently no one was too concerned with the legacy of King Kameahea, just stuck back there as it was behind the dive shop parking lot.

On the way back to our place, Mom and I checked the giant new Sheraton resort that had just been built nearby. We went up to explore it and found an open lobby overlooking lava-flowed beaches. A giant, endless pool filled up the middle of the hotel, with waterfalls, a good long water slide and even a beach leading into the pool. I knew where I was going to spend my time when I wasn’t on the golf course, the snorkel boat or the beach. The pool was huge and the hotel was uncrowded. Who would notice that I wasn’t a guest?