Monday, January 5, 2009

"Hawaiian Holiday - The First Draft"

As you may have noticed, many of the stories presented here chronicle events that happened some time in the past. The reason for this is because I am by nature not a person who appreciates things while they’re happening.

I’m more an “in retrospect” kind of a guy. For me, while things are going on, and for a short time thereafter, there’s only chaos. And, invariably, complaining. (See: Maybe It’s True – December 2, 2008.)

I wouldn’t be much of a reporter. I need time to digest what I’ve been through, finding depth and clarity only when looking back. Sometimes the process takes decades.

Okay, so we went to Maui. Dr. M, myself, Rachel, Anna and her b.f. Colby, and Dr. M’s mom. Grandma is ninety-seven. And four months. (She’s doing the counting, not me.) A rarity in the Senior community, the woman is becoming increasingly more cheerful.

Our accommodations were located at the northerly end of the island. It rains there. Every day. Some days, they have rain with a little sun; some days, it’s sun with a little rain; and some days, it’s all rain, all the time. The rain is a constant. That’s why the area is so lush and green. (Call it the Ireland of the Pacific.) It’s also why I don’t have much of a tan.

We booked three heftily priced rooms. (My strategy during hard financial times is simple: I am spending my investment money before it disappears by itself.) Each room included a kitchenette, allowing us to prepare our own breakfasts. Saved us close to seven dollars a day.

The difference between this resort and the Kahala, (See: Too Big For My Bathing Suit – December 22, 23) is that here, you carried your own chairs to the beach. No bribery of beach chair attendants required. Whoo-hoo!

Capsulizing the contrast in accommodations, Anna remarked, “This place is less pretentious than the Kahala”, then adding, “Probably the most pretentious people here are us.”

The view from our patio was spectacular. There was this bay, where the water was clear and relatively calm, making it a good location for snorkeling. In the distance to the left was the island of Lanai, and to the right, the island of Molokai. Molokai was once famous for being a leper colony. I believe that was their advertising campaign: “Molokai – The Vacation Mecca for Lepers.” It was nice for them. No children staring at them, going, “What happened to your nose?”

Our trip included many highlights. Midway through our stay, some in our party spotted whales and dolphins from their balconies. I had the misfortune of missing both sightings. Once, I was asleep in my beach chair. The other time, I was returning a towel.

I’m no food critic, but the meals on our trip were consistently okay. Especially the local fish. I sampled many different varieties. Ono. Ahi. Mahi Mahi. Moi. Opakapaka. Fish caught that very day. Sitting on your plate going, “I was alive this morning.”

My most memorable highlight was the snorkeling. Even better than our beach was the nearby Kapalua Beach, offering even calmer water and substantially more fish. One time, in search of new and exciting sightings, I ventured too far for my swimming abilities, and Anna had to swim out and tow me back to shore. That was very nice of her.

The next day, I was apprehensive about trying again, my exact words being, “I’m scared about yesterday.” Anna’s reassuring response: “Dad, I’m here.” I got teary-eyed in my snorkeling mask.

Rachel and I went horseback riding at Ironwood Ranch, named after the trees that were imported for shipbuilding, but they sank, hence the name Ironwood.

After reading the ranch’s “release form”, I developed some serious second thoughts. The release form made reference to “Accidental dismount.” For people who aren’t trained as Personal Injury lawyers, “Accidental dismount” means, “Falling off your horse.”

“Accidental dismount” is a deliberately misleading euphemism. I mean, what could “Accidental dismount” actually mean?

“I’m sorry. I thought we were getting off.”

That’s not what they were talking about.

All the horses at Ironwood Ranch were named after actors. Russell Crowe. Sandra Bullock. A shorter horse was called Danny DeVito. I rode Vin Diesel. Rachel’s horse’s name led her to inquire, “Can I say, ‘I was on top of Brad Pitt in Hawaii?’”

I believe she can.

I believe our trip, enjoyable despite the weather, will be recalled most noteworthily as, “The time we took a really old person to Hawaii.” Grandma retains a remarkable number of her marbles, though one or two have inevitably rolled away. Unable to consistently recall (Anna’s boyfriend) Colby’s name, she mnemonically linked it with cheese. By the end of the trip, to get his attention, she was energetically calling, “Hey, Cheesy!”

Hawaii today is less a place than a vacation destination. Behind the insistent intrusion of surf and souvenir shops, golf courses, mega-hotels and condos, there’s a magnificent natural setting. The pursuit of the “tourist dollar” has relegated the island’s preeminent attraction to “background.” (Not to mention the local people.) It’s sad. I would like to have seen the place before.

Well, that’s it for the superficial, still-tired-from-the-traveling version. If you want the deeper report, come back in about twenty-five years.


MikeThe Blogger said...

If you want to see more of the "real" or "older" Hawaii and experience more natural beauty - the Big Island offers the last little glimmer of that. They also have the big resorts but there is a lot more non-tourist areas.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous you had fresh
Mahi Mahi.
The best I've ever had was in