We've been here in Hawaii now for a couple of days, so I thought I'd share a little bit about our voyage here and what we've done since we got here.
Day Zero - Let's just say that the trip here took way longer than I expected. We flew from KC to Vegas just fine. But while in Vegas our ATA flight to Honolulu was delayed almost 3 hours (that's following a 3.5 hour layover). I felt like I needed to declare Nevada residency or something. The Vegas airport is very classy to say the least, that is if you're into questionable airport food and frantic gamblers trying to hit it big, by which I mean get their money back on the slot machines before their flight takes off without them. I'm actually convinced that several folks knowingly missed their flights in an attempt to, well, lose even more money to the slot machine gremlins. Our delay was caused by a hydrolic fluid leak on one of the wings - sounded ominous enough that I have no complaints. It took 'em so long to fix it though that they actually had sent a plane from Phoenix to try to pick us up. Here's a photo of Traci watching Dancing with the Stars (yes, those are slot machines in the background) and me staring at my Treo/IPod (those of you who know me well now have photographic proof of my Treo addiction now) while we waited for the plane to get fixed:
The flight to Honolulu wasn't terrible as much as it was monstrously long and terribly mind-numbing. But it is what it is. By the time we got to the hotel it was 5 AM Kansas City time, so we were feeling energized.
Day One - Thanks to the magic of time zones we woke up at like 7 or 8 in the morning. We were able to do coherent sentences and everything.
Our first stop was the Aloha stadium swap meet, so we could load up on authentic Hawaiian souvenirs made in China. Traci bought a cool flower dress and I got a ball cap and a hoodie. Of course we made excellent purchases for the kids as well. Never have I seen so many t-shirts in one place at a time - you could buy like 30 of 'em for $5. Somehow we held back. We also learned about "liquid sunshine." This is when it rains on you, sort of, while the sun beats down. Oddly enough, you hardly get wet and you can count on the clouds to pass quickly.
After this we visited Pearl harbor. As you may recall (see earlier post) we were advised by many to arrive there before the sun came up so that the line would only be 3 hours long. Well, we showed up around lunch time, hung around for 45 minutes, and we were in. The whole thing really was humbling. I had no idea that they raised and repaired several of the sunken ships, which were then used later on in WWII. I couldn't help but wonder what the old Japanese folks that I saw were thinking as they looked at everything. There were lots of 'em there at the memorial, and I know it was a long time ago, but still . . . anyway. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Waikiki. And I mean walking. We did hang at the beach and swam for a while. We continue to be confused about why everyone told us that Waikiki was so terrible (dirty, stinky, crowded . . . etc.) That hasn't been our experience at all. I'll elaborate later. Some of the highlights, and I use that term loosely were Traci walking me to spots that she had visited as a little girl. I think the one I'll most remember was the dramatic "Changing of the Guard." (see photo) This is where at 6:15 PM an impressive group of seven "pretend" soldiers appears in front of a shopping center. The say Hawaiian things, and do that really great stuff with the fake rifles (you know what I mean). Then they lower and dramatically fold a Hawaiian flag. Afterwards, they ask everyone to follow them to the center of the shopping center, where they do even more impressive things with rifles and hand out coupons. It was even more impressive and dramatic than I'm making it sound. Traci was enchanted though, so I'm good with it all.
Day Two - This morning was our Hanauma Bay excursion. This has easily been the highlight of the trip so far. Interestingly though, before they let you walk down to the bay they show you a powerful video explaining two basic things: 1. Don't touch the reef or the fishes (yes, they used the word "fishes" repeatedly) and 2. If you touch the reef or the fishes you might tragically destroy the planet. The bay itself is amazing. This goes on the "must-do" list for anyone going to Hawaii. Yes we did snorkel, and we didn't even need calculators or spreadsheets (see previous post) This was every bit as relaxing and entertaining as everyone made it out to be. We saw many different types of fishes (I just love that word) and other underwater things like coral, sand, rocks, other people's snorkeling fins . . .etc. Our trip there ended when we both woke up for beach naps to realize that "like bread in the oven too long" we were cooked.
Tonight we had our first terrible experience since arriving here. We made a really, really bad choice for a dinner restaurant. Now I'm a pretty easy to satisfy guy, but the place we ate dinner at, and remember that food here is astonishingly expense, left me feeling sick before I took a bite of anything. It was a buffet place with a fairly typical list of items, but EVERYTHING tasted horrific. The place even smelled bad. We barely ate a thing and quickly left. I'll be sure to post something to the internet travel boards about the place. We then returned to the "Changing of the Guard" thing for night number two. This time so Traci could video tape it to watch again and again later. (actually, so she could share it with her parents and sister) For the rest of the night we watched several different "native" shows at the various hotels along the beach. At one point there were hula dancers performing and wearing coconuts (and you know where they there wearing them). Traci thought this was a bit in poor taste, but she was ok with the almost entirely naked "Samoan King" dancing, yelling, and twirling fire-sticks. But we did get a good bit of the Crash Course on Hawaiian Culture for Tourists (CCHCT) tonight. We ended the evening by re-eating (is that a word?!) dinner at a restaurant that served actual food.
Coming soon: we meet our bungalow, a real Luau (there better be a pig), and a full day of Polynesian Culture!!