One year ago (as I write this) I was on a two week vacation with my daughter, wife, and my wife’s extended family. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, at the time I was also on a blogging sabbatical, journalling dry-spell, and all-round record-keeping leave-of-absense. It might go without saying, then, that I don’t have much written down from those two weeks of our frantic Hawaiian holiday. I’m hoping to rectify that with a few posts recalling the trip now that a year has passed, the dirty laundry has all been washed, and I’m kinda wishing I could go back…
On Pearl Harbor
I might have given the impression in my last post that the bride and groom ignored us. That isn’t a fair analysis. They were busy, and in all fairness to their planning they did set up a couple of “outings” and “tours” for their guests, most of which we were arriving too late to take advantage of or in the case of golfing… well, I’m such a golfer, aren’t I? I went snorkeling and took my daughter to the Aquarium instead.
We did go on one of the pre-arranged tours, though, and I’m very glad we did: a morning visit to Pearl Harbor, the infamous site of a massive sneak attack in 1941 that crippled the US Navy and unequivocably drew America into the Second World War. “A day which will live in infamy…” I think the famous quote starts. If you want to know more about that, go read a history book. Or just Google it.
Having toured a number of famous World War Two sites on previous European travels — Anne Franks House, Auschwitz, Dachau, and countless other bits of scattered art and memorials — it was interesting to see a slightly different take on things: the art and expansive sea-side spaces, looking out over a most-definitely active shipyard, veterans wandering about while I feel all slouchy and useless and small in the vastness of history and epic battles that took place long before my time.
Unfortunately it was a windy day and the little ferry that took visitors back and forth to the little floating memorial, the one where you could look down at the sunken battleship that was left there, was not running. There was a little sign saying something like ‘please come back’ so… yeah, that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
I took a bunch of pictures. We watched a very tasteful documentary. And we wandered through all sorts of little exhibits, viewing all sorts of artifacts and explanations of the same. And then we got back on the little bus we’d chartered and drove back to the hotel.
Alas, we come to one of those things that even a year later I still wince and occasionally say: “Y’know, I should really have…”
Apart from my arbitrary, mostly-rare (and current, as a I write this) self-induced, self-inflicted breaks from the brew, I’m generally and happily a coffee-drinker. I likes my coffeez. I sip therefore I am.
We were wandering down Kalakalua Avenue one afternoon, poking our noses into windows. I wasn’t particularly looking for anything, which was probably the problem. When I travel with my wife and her mother I find that I venture into locations I wouldn’t normally visit. Or, I sit outside of locations I’ve got no interest in visiting. Or, while they are poking their noses into places I have no interest in visting, I’m poking my nose in little shops that I’m slightly more interested in… like, in this instance, a classy cafe in a beachfront hotel on a weekday afternoon.
I don’t recall the name of the cafe. It’s not important. But I did happen to notice that they were selling coffee. And they were not selling just any old coffee; They were selling whole bean, island-grown, awesome coffee. The kind of coffee you get only a few chances over my kind of humble life to sample. The kind of coffee that is sold by the half-pound because most people would never splurge like that on a full pound. The kind of coffee that, had I bought a cup, would have cost me the same as a very nice meal in the same beachfront hotel’s patio restaurant… with a view.
You probably caught that last comment: “had I bought a cup.” Had I. Because I didn’t. Nor did I buy any beans. I hesitated, goggled in wonder at the possibility, over-thought it, and followed everyone back into the street where I — didn’t quite forget but — didn’t remember to go back.
So, y’know, I should really have, well, tried a cup.
Having already elaborated on my love of the water in part 1, I’ll spare readers a repeat of that particular swimming anecdote and jump right in to the metaphorical water.
We were lucky enough to go on a two separate tropical vacations over the span of about four months. The first was a trip to the Dominican Republic for the holidays with my family. The second was Hawaii. We had got all kitted up for the DR, but to sad results. The snorkeling in the waters around our Domincan resort was not even an option, the waves and the silt more fit for boogie-boarding than for a peaceful float about the ocean. And when we did go on a “snorkeling tour” the results were, well, meh…
Hawaii, on the other hand, was awesome for snorkeling.
In Waikiki we had foot access to the beach. A short walk from our hotel in our beach shoes we could walk right out into the gentle waves and explore some sandy, but interesting, reefs. I had my close encounter with a sea turtle there, and there was rarely a shortage of colourful fish.
In Maui we had two very distinctive and definitive snorkeling adventures. We spent the better part of one of our early days on that island at a place called Black Rock. The beach was not great for kids, the powerful waves sloshing up on the shore, but I got out into the open water and stuck my nose in. At first, nothing. But then as I approached the outcropping of balck volcanic stone protruding from the short into the ocean like a long finger, I realized that this was the place to be to see ocean life. The seabed dropped away and in the fifty-odd feet of water below me witnessed some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced. Hundreds of fish, more and bigger turtles, colourful coral, and — if you floated a few feet below and listened — you could hear the humpbacks calling.
A few days after Black Rock we went on a snorkeling tour to Molokini. A catamaran sped us and about a hundred others out to an off-shore crater of some sort. The land was off-limits, but the drop-off inside the crecent of rock was deep, clear, and full of life. The boat anchored for a couple hours and I spent most of that time in the water enjoying the diversity of the ocean life. Ryan, not much of a swimmer or a sea-farer for that matter, fed the fish the bulk of his half-digested lunch while frantically treading water and in the process got a very special feeding-frenzy show in the not-so-clear waters around him.
But that was that. The beach off our condo in Maui was treacherous, and we didn’t get back to Black Rock, our days filled with other activity. Next time though, I’m going to stay closer to the fish.