Lots to write about today, which seems fitting, considering it's been a while since last we met. I think I'm also thinking of more a regular schedule for this thing. I think I'll have a better idea come time for tomorrow's, but I think I'll shoot for Sunday night before I go to sleep. That's Monday morning for all you West Coast kids. At any rate, without further ado, let's do the damn thing!
One thing about living in Hawaii is that a lot of us out here are transplants from somewhere on the Mainland. While this is great for having a new culture and vibe to learn from, it does tend to separate you from the lion's share of your friends and family. For some of us, lion's are quite greedy. Such is my case; most of the people I've really come to care about (read: my readership) is at least 2,500 miles away from me. That kind of distance really tends to cut down on dinner parties.
The other side of this coin is that everybody wants to visit Hawaii. Such is our story tonight. My dear friend, the lovely Hanna Song, had purchased, along with her darling coworker, Lauren, had come across an absolutely killer deal for a Hawaiian vacation. Tickets were purchased before I got the job over here, but my forthcoming residence in the North Pacific added a prime shenanigans angle. Oh my.
So Hanna and Lauren picked me up from Ewa on Friday after I got off work. Before leaving, however, Hanna's foreknowledge of Hawaiian cuisine takes over. She must have da ono kine grindz! So we stop in at Genki for some bomb sushi boating. I think we were both out for 10 bucks or less, stuffed the brim. I love that place. In true Hawaiian sushi fashion, it's not crazy fancy, just crazy good. Hanna was a big fan of poke. I think she's actually Hawaiian. After Genki, we popped into Foodland for some apple bananas, salt, and limes. And then 7-11 for some sushi. Remember that, you'll see them again.
Fast forward to the hotel room. Tequila shots are lined up in service of debauchery and all manner of unsavory behavior. Limes and salt laying in wait. ¡Salud!
From there, bars were visited, drinks were had, oceans were traipsed through sans vêtements. You get the idea. And there was the rain. Quite a bit. At 1AM. Walking back from 7-11. But that's an island rainstorm for you. You learn to love them.
With the breaking dawn came a new set of possibilities, which were promptly ignored. Except for Lauren, who woke up at 7 to go to Pearl Harbor (Go Lauren!). Hanna and I chose option B: ignore possibilities and sleep in until 10. Time to Waikiki!
If you've never been to Hawaii, it's hard to communicate how great the beaches are. Waikiki is deservedly famous. It's calm, cool, and very protected. And the sun is perfect. It's really solid for beach naps. I also recommend beach naps whenever possible. It rights the brain.
From Waikiki, we drove east through Hawaii Kay to Hanuama Bay.
See those people down there? That's where I would soon be snorkeling. It was so incredible. We were swimming over gorgeous corals while whole schools of fish floated right by us, exhibiting a proper dose of Hawaiian ainokea spirit. For at least 10 or 15 minutes, we just swam with the same sea turtle and watched him pick at the coral.
After Hanauma, we headed east then north along the coast, driving through Waimanalo and up towards Kailua.
The sand at Kailua is so fine, it's almost like a polish. The precise and matured grains feel like cool, crystallized clouds beneath your feet. And being on the windward side, the greenery just blankets the area. As you can see, Hawaiian moonrises are lovely.
With Sunday morning upon us and the rental car a fond, faint memory, we set off to Manoa Falls.
Wow, that covered a lot. So yeah, we were supposed to take bus number 2 to the... you know what, I'm over it. It took a little longer than it could have, but sometimes that happens. No harm, no foul. We were able to find Chinatown (awesomeness!) and walk through the Manoa neighborhood (pretty cool place!). I call that a win, and if you disagree I will fight you. Strictly fisticuffs.
But it was all worth it! Once the road started to get eaten by trees, we knew we were close.
But we were even closer to shave ice. Delicious surprise! I went with the mango, guava, and passionfruit. In true Hawaiian fashion, I had to get the snow cap. It's when they put sweetened condensed milk over the top of the ice at the end. It lends a luxurious creaminess. So ono!
Our bellies full, we sauntered on through what appeared to be the jungle from Lost.
I was beginning to worry about the Smoke Monster.
And then we came upon it.
I know the iPhone camera doesn't fully capture it, but it's so cool. The forest just has a nature that can't be conveyed without immersion. The sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. So yeah, you should experience that. I highly recommend it. Shoes not required.
We also got to meet Joe and Pepi up there. They were awesome. Joe asked me to take a picture of him and his son, and then from there we just talked story for a while. He told me I was akamai. I thought was pretty rad.
On the way back down the trail, it started to rain. Real Hawaiian rain. While Hawaiian rain isn't usually too bad, it can be a little inconvenient for traveling. In another piece of awesome, a couple from Aiea who were talking with up at the Falls, pulled over to give us a ride. Hella! They would save us like a half mile walk in the rain to our bus stop. Like I've said before, aloha isn't just a bumper sticker here. Sometimes people are rad.
So they (in my excitement I totally forgot their names or to get a picture, just know that they are carved completely from crystallized awesome) drove us to the bus stop, all protected in a shiny truck. And then they just kept going. And asking us where our hotel in Waikiki was. And drove us all the way back. When we offered cash for gas, it was sent back. He just said it seemed like the right thing to do because we were nice people. Have heart, cynics (read: Nathan); the human race has hope yet.
A wonderful weekend in the books, rest was in order.