Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oahu: Warning Signs

When we arrived in Honolulu, it was about 9:00 pm and we had been traveling for about 18 hours in narrow, uncomfortable Coach seats. The drive from the airport was irritating and stressful, because the clueless moron at the rental agency sent us on the scenic route along the waterfront instead of the direct route via the highway. Of course, the scenic waterfront was pitch black. Worse, road crews were digging it up, sending us on a nerve-wracking detour. At the hotel, we collapsed into bed with grateful relief.

We had booked our trip through a travel agency because they offered a great deal that could be upgraded in tiers (the upgrades provided increasingly better hotels). We upgraded a couple of tiers, but we didn’t upgrade to the top tier.

Despite our exhaustion, the six-hour time difference between Hawaii and our home in Florida had us up at 6:00 am. My wife looked out the window and saw this view of Waikiki Beach:

My wife expects every hotel in Hawaii to be on the beach. In her mind, there is no logical reason to build a hotel anywhere else. She expressed her disappointment with some carefully-chosen expletives.

We got in the car and drove north up the coast, marveling at the scenic vistas:

We stopped at a roadside turnoff that was carefully marked with these warning signs:


Of course, the rules don’t apply to some people, like this moron who crossed the fence and stood inches from certain death to take a photograph of the horizon:

Eventually, we came to Sandy Beach state park. Unlike Florida, Hawaiian beaches are rare, because the coastline is mostly composed of sharp, dangerous lava rock.

Sandy Beach was posted with these dire warning signs, so we didn't go into the water, even though there were dozens of surfers risking spinal injuries.

Instead, we wandered down the beach until we came to this sign, which declared "Danger Do Not Go Beyond This Point:"

Of course, we walked right past it. My wife asked me to take a photo of her, sitting on a rock, staring wistfully out to sea. There are certain moments in a marriage where the years of bickering and stress are completely erased in an instant of blissful delight. This was one of those moments:


Monday, October 15, 2012

Oahu: No Pay, No Lei

Three years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. Well, "celebrated" is probably the wrong word. I had suffered through a protracted period of unemployment when the economy tanked, so we were unable to afford anything exciting. This year, we chose to visit Hawaii as a form of consolation.

It's a long trip from Florida - 5 hours to Los Angeles, a 4-hour layover, and then another 5 hours to Honolulu. It started with a bad omen: When we tried to check in at the automated terminal, it spawned some kind of error, forcing us to wait in line for a ticket agent.


Things continued to deteriorate. The pilot taxied to the runway, but had to return to the terminal when a passenger became ill. We were an hour late taking off. Once in the air, I discovered to my horror that the six movies I had loaded onto my phone had somehow been deleted. My wife had borrowed an Android tablet with a Kindle app so that she could read on the plane. But once we left the airport wi-fi, all of the books she had selected to read magically disappeared from the device.

In Los Angeles, we were an hour late taking off because the "tug" vehicle used to push the aircraft out of the gate broke down, and the ground crew had to find another one to replace it.

By the time we landed in Honolulu, were exhausted and cranky. However, we were both looking forward to a Hawaiian tradition where girls in traditional dress greet weary travelers at the airport and drape a flower lei over their heads. I don't know where this idea comes from, but I remember seeing movies of the practice on television. I assumed it was paid for by the Hawaii department of tourism. But there were no girls, no greeting, no leis.

Oh, you could buy one if it was really important to you. Vendors in the airport sold long strands of orchid leis hanging in refrigerated cases.


So my only cherished concept of the Hawaiian Islands was crushed. I wondered what happened to the tradition. Perhaps the lei girls were laid off when the economy tanked, and after a protracted period of unemployment, took long vacations to Florida.