Thursday, April 2, 2009

April: Hawaii is a great place to work on a manuscript

30 April: Glass bottom boat tour was disappointing although the coral was interesting. Since it is now May 2, I'll skip forward on another post.

29 April: The skinned knee is healing nicely. Looks like amputation won't be required. Breakfast was again delightful, and I now sit here fully loaded and semi-comatose. Looks like helicopter ride couldn't fill seats for the early am ride, and we departed at one PM for a fantastic two hour tour of the Big Island. Traveling into canyons with 2800 foot high walls and waterfalls was astonishing; so was the coastal tour of sheer cliffs with many waterfalls. But the most amazing view was over the volcano - peering into red glowing holes in the top of the crater - molten hot with lava spills covering the region for as far as our eyes could see. There were two such hot spots we could see into on the coast when the surf receded; but when the waves hit the fireholes steam spewed high into the air. The views from a helicopter surpassed views from a motorcycle - amazingly so. Boat ride is scheduled to precede airline shuttle pickup by a couple of hours.

28 April: Poor smooch smooch with the skinned knee. She tripped on a sprinkler head on the beach access walk back to the hotel last night requiring first aid by security. Hey there security gal, we really enjoyed you and very much appreciated your minstrations. All is well this morning except for the sore knee. Our plans for the day are delayed until tomorrow by tours already booked. We did watch the trained dolphins for a few minutes; the dolphins were very excited by their prospects for breakfast, but the "show" wasn't very fast paced; it is actually an opportunity for the tourists to swim with the dolphins (and survive).

27 April: After another delightful breakfast watching the waterfalls and the Koi, we hoofed it over to the Queens Shops to get scheduled for a timeshare presentation which promised to save us $180 on the helicopter tour and $60 on the glass bottom boat tour and $40 on several other meals or activities. Well, the Hilton Grand Vacations Club shuttle refused to take us back to the hotel which pissed me off, the scheduled limo shuttle never came to pick us up, pissing me off more, so we arrived at the sales presentation in a very foul mood and vented upon the first three people we saw. Unfortunately/fortunately, the sales presentation was already in progress, so Mike Morrow, a 10-year veteran HGVC salesman, took us into his office and discussed the possibilities with us himself. What is a silver tongued New Jersey kid doing selling Hawaii real estate? He is having fun and staying warm. He convinced me that this was a great opportunity for a great value, so we bought in; we now own a condo in Hawaii for a week at peak season.

25 April: The galley proof is done. Ron has to go through the bibliography tonight and then the editor can get a thumbs up to print this volume. The sun has been shining gloriously today; we ate a delicious breakfast (missing the delightful company of Jean and Marion!) rested, sunned, exercised in the spa, edited and had a fabulous dinner watching the sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Kamuela Provision Company. They have been booked every night when we called for reservations; we called early this morning and had to accept earlier reservations and not outside on the lanai.

24 April: Everyone is weller than well again. We have had a quiet day: food, sunshine, rest and work. Manuscript is almost finished... maybe it will be done today. Dinner tonight is at Imari's Japanese Restaurant.

23 April: Smooch Smooch had bad back pains starting after a couple of good hours of sleep, so she is a pooped puppy this morning. Undoubtedly the forced march for two hours to dinner was too much at this stage of fitness. Marion and Jeanne return to Delaware this evening, so this was our last breakfast together; we switched to a table for four after they arrived to breakfast (at the Palm Terrace Grill). Again, the fresh pineapple, strawberries, omelets, salmon, and sourdough bread just kept drawing us back for more. Now we are stuffed and exhausted. We had a delicious dinner served by a delightful fellow tonight at Merriman's in the King's Shops.

22 April: Last night was a bad one for sleep. Either the Luau food disagreed or the room was too hot. Ron quit trying to sleep after two hours and spent two hours proofreading in the "lobby"; Smooch Smooch retreated to a recliner on the beach and watched the waves and the stars until 1am. Breakfast buffets beg overeating, and we did ourselves proud. We visited with Marion and Jeanne again and were hugely surprised to run into the two families we met at the Luau last night. More sunbathing, proofreading, hoops viewing, and ellipticalicizing - life is tough. Tonight's dinner is at Brown's Beach House in the Fairmont Orchid Hotel some three miles N of the Hilton Waikoloa. The concierge was surprised to hear we are planning to walk. Fortunately the dress is resort casual.
The walk to dinner turned into an ordeal. What we failed to notice is that one of the "streets" in the directions from Google Maps was actually an ancient pathway over the lava flows. We walked forever, through a construction zone (stay out), along the main highway (ugh), and at least twice the three miles forecast by Google. As a bit of compensation, the meal was the best on this island so far, and the service was perfect. Ron was inclined to return along that ancient walkway in the dark, but conceded that a cab was a better idea. The doormen at the Fairmont Orchid was delightful and entertained us with local legends as we waited for the cab. Apparently ghosts of ancient warriors walk that pathway with torches and drums in the night. Step aside and avert your eyes as they pass or they will remove your soul and leave the husk to wither and die.

21 April: The overcast skies discouraged sunbathing so Smooch Smooch went to the spa to get her toenails clipped. Ron proofread and corrected most of the day, watched some hoops, and spent 40 minutes and 400 calories on the elliptical machines at the fitness center. We were very surprised by the food at the Hilton Luau; it was not only delicious, but the steamed fish, veggies, pulled pork and chicken fit our dietary restrictions, too. This was another of those eat-until-you-burst experiences. The Polynesian dancers were awesome; our favorite performer was the male torch dancer; imagine a baton twirler on steroids with batons flaming at both ends. The Hawaiian wahines wiggled incredibly fast, faster than the drummers or Ron's pulse. We enjoyed the company at our table. One couple was a global FedEx pilot and his pretty young Filipino wife; both of them were delightful and smart. The other party included a placid and happy six-month-old boy named Aden who graciously allowed his parents and grandparents to come to Hawaii with him. Smooch Smooch was delighted to be allowed hold Aden for a few minutes (until he spotted his mommy & got restless).

20 April: Hawaii's landscape is vastly different from Oahu and Kauai because the volcanic rock is so highly visible and omnipresent. All of the dirt for plants was brought here from the mainland according to the congenial taxi driver who brought us to the Kohala Coast from the Kona airport. Wendy at the Waikoloa Hilton check -in yesterday was a delightful and helpful receptionist. She discovered the oceanview room we were scheduled to occupy was no longer ocean view; she upgraded us to a wonderful corner room overlooking the ocean, the swimming pools and dolphin pool below. The hotel is sort of a cross between Vegas and Disneyland - not necessarily our cup of tea - but they had the best promotion offers so we will enjoy this fantasy island. A boat on a moat or a tram on a track will take us around the resort if we choose. We don't choose to ride but to walk. Last night we had dinner at Roy's; this morning we walked the lagoon trail to breakfast (provided) and met a delightful couple named Jeanne and Marion from near Philadelphia, PA. Breakfast was served on a lagoon filled with Koi and surrounded by waterfalls. A huge black and white swan, a Peking duck and delightful children were entertaining. Smooch Smooch went to work "sunbathing"by the pools while Ron worked on proofreading his galley. And then he got sidetracked with some semi-colons that begged replacement. Tonight we have dinner reservations at Charlie's Thai restaurant. The next few days will be "work" getting proofing done before sight seeing and hiking.

19 April, Sunday: Ron arose at 4 AM to continue proofreading; after breakfast he is working again hoping to reach page 280 before we go to the beach one last time prior to departure for the airport. We have enjoyed the staff; especially Debbie at the Coffee Kiosk and the friendly waitresses. Favorite Kauai restaurants are Hanelai Colony, Hulekani and the Wahoo nearby. Subway is a great place for lunch.

18 April: We were tired from the hike; sleeping late did not allow time to ride up the Wailua River to see the ancient Hawiian village and the royal birthing stones. We will have to decide if we want to return here for Little Carol Ann's birth (23 July) on the famous lava birthing rocks sight unseen. Ron returned the bike in Lihue finding a bus shuttle back to Kapa'a for .75. Smooch Smooch enjoyed watching lots of activity on the beach today: snorkeling, long-boarding, surfing and sun bathers in a variety of sizes. The National Hula Contest has been of special interest this week; the newly crowned "Miss Aloha" amply represents the real Hawiian wahine: big. Tomorrow is departure day on Island Air for the Kona Airport on the Big Island and a 12 day stay on the Kohala Coast.

17 April: The sunrise was glorious providing lots of incentive to start travel early today. The plan was to hike to Waipoo Falls and see the 800 foot waterfall. We arrived at the location only to learn it was the VERY hike we did Monday afternoon but we had missed seeing the big falls because we were on top of the falls. There are no signs to indicate that the trail continued nor did we see additional trail. We could not hear the roar of the falls either. At least we now know the name of the Kokee Park hike that seemed to be a mystery: Waipoo Falls! Undaunted we rode to the end of Waimea Canyon Road for the Pihea Trail hike. It was a delight to discover a photo of the Pihea outlook online (picture on left) because all we could see was fog. The 2.1mile hike took about three hours round trip. The trail was described as fairly flat for a Hawiian hike; but it was a muddy mess through the swamp bogs. We had to navigate carefully downhill. The low spots likely never dried out. We did see a mountain goat with a young kid out on a ledge some distance away. But the joy of hiking is meeting the nicest folks on the trail. Today was not an exception: a Steve Martin kinda guy wearing a Disneyland cap, Mr. Rogers Tee Shirt sported brightly painted toenails each a different color was obviously dad to a thirteen year old daughter. We stopped for a very engaging conversation while his teen-agers explored ahead. We also met an interesting couple from Pennsylvania (originally Ukraine) who hike Peru and Bolivia and proceeded to describe its compelling beauty. We ended the day with a fine dinner at Duke's Restaurant in Lihue despite mud up to our knees..

16 April: Ron is back to proofreading in the wee morning hours until breakfast time. The plan for the day was carried out: we rode along the north coast of Kauai to the end of the road into Ha'ena State Park and hiked up (straight UP) the mountain to the peak. That portion was a very challenging mile because the trail was rocky, muddy in many places, and slippery. We reached the top but decided not take to the trail down to the beach because of mud on the rocks. Smooch Smooch was reminded of Frommer's cautionary words, "Kauai is crumbling; do not go near the edge of the trail because the ground can give way and you will be seaweed." The views of the Na' apli Coast were worth the climb and the two hours spent hiking. Although we were mighty muddy we stopped for a fine dinner at the Hanalei Colony Restaurant (Mediterranean Cuisine) that had the best fish on the island to date. The Lebanese owner is a fine congenial host for this award winning restaurant.

15 April: Ron arose at 4:00 AM to complete his Schedule C. Today is tax day! We worked on correspondence and took a late afternoon ride after a lovely lazy day stopping at the post office to mail the tax report and check. Dinner at Hukelani Restaurant is always a treat.

14 April: A rainy day! But we are exhausted from the hike and bike ride ... we slept late, ate and slept again. In the afternoon the rain stopped so we drove towards the Sleeping Giant mountain hoping for good views but the traffic was too heavy to stay on that road. We took a side road and reached Princeville but missed the reward (seeing the northside coastline). It was fun to get a perspective on the large numbers of people who live in the suburbs on the island. We enjoyed Kahli Makai road and Princeville's golf community.

13 April: Ron was back on the fast track arising early to proofread. The helicopter shuttle picked us up promptly at 9:40 for a fantastic aerial view of Kauai. The pilot presented an interesting historical/cultural commentary while we enjoyed adjoining seats in the front of the cockpit. Much of this Garden Isle is unreachable by road - hence we saw glorious vistas only visible by air. Dipping into the Hawiian Grand Canyon was really remarkable. Films like Fantasy Island, Jurassic Park, etc. were filmed in some places we recognized. Upon completion of the flight we were shuttled to the bike rental shop so we could get wheels and then headed to Duke's Restaurant for lunch.

We slathered our bodies with suntan block in Lihue before venturing forth into Waimea Canyon for spectacular views from another perspective. Once we reached the Kokee State Park lookout point we hiked a "strenuous" five mile trail. It was indeed challenging! The vegetation was glorious: yellow orchids and giant red blooming flowers were prevalent. Ron really appreciated the flora and fauna. The trail was very narrow in places and unmaintained in others. We scrambled across rock with loose sandy soil making traction a challenge for Smooch Smooch who was down on all fours a couple of times. We took one wrong turn adding to the time on the trail. Once we got back onto the right path we located the waterfall which was not very awesome in comparison to those in Virginia. But the Waimea Canyon was indeed breathtaking. We headed back towards home on the canyon road with hairpin turns the entire route reminiscent of Neal's Gap. It was chilly because the sun had started to set. By the time we reached HWY 50 light rain fell. We parked with a plan to wait out the rain inside the post office, but we had a chance encounter with another biker who advised us to keep going for another 7 or 8 miles and the rain would stop. Aha! it did! It was soooooo good to get back to Kapa'a for dinner.

12 April, Easter Sunday: Ron arose late this morning, 4:40am, and was able to proofread only about 10 pages before we left for Easter Sunrise services at the Kauai Coastal Resort beach next door. Services were memorable, especially since the sun waited to break the horizon EXACTLY at the time the native Hawaiian welcoming chant began. E ala e! The prayers and messages and songs were very inspirational as delivered by the very able ministers from the United Church of Christ and the First Hawaiian Church. The territorial roosters chasing back and forth provided a bit of comic contrast to our human reverence. We are thankful for the AWESOME wonder of creation and daily grateful to be ENJOYING every minute of our relationship.

11 Apr: Ron started work about 4:30 AM until the sun came out in all its glory. After breakfast we hiked along the beach back to the Waipouli to book a helicopter island tour for Monday morning. We could have booked it directly but we wanted to make certain that Fran got her commission for the recommendation. She was not there but had left word that we would return. We continued walking along the beach until we reached the east shore hiking path for twelve miles today. Blackened Ono on sourdough bread was pretty good lunch fare at the Olympic Cafe. The fruit salad was huge but not ripe enough. All in all we hiked for four plus hours and have a good sunburn to show for it despite lathering on Sunblock 30. Ron found an aloe vera plant to rub on our shoulders. We have dinner reservations not too far away... within hiking distance. Dining out in Hawaii can be expensive; but we split one glass of wine and our dinner enabling us to dine at good restaurants without feeling the pinch.

10 Apr: Another gray, chilly, rainy day to keep us indoors working apart from a late morning walk to the Waipouli Beach Resort for lunch. Fran (Concierge) was so thoroughly delightful we spent a very long time chatting with her about a myriad of topics. Lunch was not great but the view was outstanding. After returning to our hotel we napped and worked through and instead of dinner.

9 Apr: Back to work at last! At 4am, after lying awake for two hours with a stuffed up nose, Ron finally began reading the next Rambo Family Tree galley proof in the hotel lobby. Thirty pages and fifty post-its later, he tippie-toed back into the room to find that Smooch Smooch had also been awake since 5am working away on her computer. Breakfast was a couple of fine veggie omelets with fresh fruit at the hotel's Voyager Grill. Today stayed overcast, chilly, breezy, and gray with scattered showers throughout the morning. Towards noon we gave the maid a chance to clean the room while we walked, first to Wahoo restaurant for a nice luncheon chicken sandwich on sourdough, then into Foodland to compare prices and to buy laundry soap and bananas. Another exciting afternoon was spent doing laundry, computer work, and preparing for dinner.

8 Apr: We spent a quiet day walking around the vicinity, shopping, dining, and enjoying the beach. Fresh pineapple is $ 0.79 per pound at Safeway. Sadly their house brand walnuts taste stale. Sunset skies were cloudy with brief patches of pretty pale pinks. Ron started sneezing explosively with great satisfaction and a little trepidation.

7 Apr: Our morning started leisurely with a lovely sunrise, but soon ramped up as we rushed to write cards for chef Dale & waitress Charlene in appreciation of their personal attention and friendliness throughout our many delicious breakfast buffets at the Hyatt. More rushing to meet the 8 AM shuttle to the airport. We are awaiting departure of our Hawaiian Airlines Inter-Island flight to Kauai, where we expect to spend twelve relaxing days. Kauai promises to be low-key with hiking opportunities and time to edit our books. Of the myriad possibilities, the one certainty is that we will rent a motorcycle sometime.

The flight to Kauai was uneventful and pleasant. Our hotel at Wailua has a magnificent view of the ocean waves (after paying extra dollars to upgrade from the normal mediocre view). We have a beachfront room with a balcony on the top floor (fourth floor). The view is awesome but there is not a lot of beach. The town is somewhat of a disappointment because so many restaurants are closed (including the luau which burned). The hotel bistro does not serve our kind of styrofoam and cardboard diet; it is more of a grill connected to the bar, and the main restaurant is open only for breakfast. Obviously reduced tourism is affecting vacation quality while providing opportunity to find lots of bargains. Hotel vacancies are at 40% here and 15% in Waikiki.

6 Apr: After another delightful breakfast buffet at the Hyatt, Ron and Smooch Smooch mounted the Road King heading east towards Diamond Head and then hiked the million stairs to the summit viewpoint. The crowds were friendly and pleasant, and the panoramic views were a fitting reward for the effort. Our motorcycle rental ended at noon, but one more noteworthy incident occurred as we stopped to fill the tank at the Aloha station in Waikiki. Two female police officers approached and asked if we had failed to see the sign prohibiting turns. I replied that I had been following the signage painted on the roadway and looked up to suddenly find myself in front of a sign announcing "Do Not Enter, Buses Only." Seeing no other recourse I turned left into the gas station that was my eventual goal. One of the officers asked for my license and registration and refused to accept the rental agreement that I had been given as "the registration and proof of insurance" by Nick at the rental place. We were happy and courteous; she explained that the rental agreement was NEITHER satisfactory proof of registration NOR proof of insurance and that a citation for no registration requires a court appearance. Rather than give us three tickets worth several hundred dollars, she was eventually persuaded by our friendliness to let us go without any tickets. As Ron filled the gas tank after all that, the officer asked why we were in Hawaii; Smooch Smooch jokingly replied we were honeymooning; they let us off without a ticket. (This statement was corrected because my attempt at humor was not devoured by gossipmongers who read this blog like the Bible; this joke was reported as proof of a wedding). Our dining experience, fine food at Orchids Restaurant (Halelukelani Hotel) with impeccable service, was really divine dining plus a glorious Hawaiian sunset on the lanai.

5 Apr, Sunday: The Sunday breakfast buffet without Dale (the omelet chef) and Charlene (the charming Hawiian waitress) was not quite the same although the food was great and the other waiters & waitresses were enjoyable. We headed out on the Road King mid-afternoon to the east shore and a long hike up to the Makapuu lighthouse to catch a glimpse of whales; no whales were visible but the views were spectacular. The rain spit needles and pins briefly as we headed back into Waikiki to dine and a glass of wine at Ciao Mein.

4 Apr: We were out of bed late today - about 6:30am. The plan was to ride the bike early and long, but we didn't get breakfast finished, gear packed, and onto the bike until 9:30. We again headed east on the ocean side of Diamond Head for those marvelous views of turbulent emerald waters crashing ashore endlessly. It would be spell binding, except that motorcycling while spell bound would be fatal. This time we didn't get lost until much later than usual. We found the Byodo-In Temple without problem and marvelled at the monstrously large Koi (goldfishies). The temple's gong does indeed provoke peacefully harmonious contemplation. The ride northward was pleasant although lunch at the Kualoa Ranch was a waste of appetite. If we had realized how soon we would pass the Polynesian Cultural Center and especially the shrimp farms, we would have snacked and indulged our appetites later. The LDS Family History Center was our biggest disappointment in Oahu - closed with very limited hours and a reputedly tiny collection. The north shore had several vacation rentals we will remember to look for on our next trip, but the extension of highway 930 eastward towards Kaena Point was an endless "stream" of speed bumps with ocean views entirely blocked by endless fences. Hard to imagine why anyone would want to live in such an ugly neighborhood. Unfortunately we missed about ten miles of coastline by neglecting to make on final right turn. There was a delightful short order sandwich shop serving natural foods at the Waialua corner of 803 heading south. More later about the ride through Wheeler AFB, the leeward shore w/ hundreds of homeless camps, Kaena Point lighthouse park, and the windy, windy, slightly rainy ride across Honolulu on the H1 & highway 78 just before dark. We were too tired to consider walking far for food and ate at Duke's; their Cabernet Sauvignon was not very good, but the salad bar was wonderful.

2 Apr, 2009, Thursday: Behind again. Another early wake up. Neither Ron nor Smooch Smooch has turned on a computer in three days. Hawaii is pretty fun. Oops, more later. Smooch smooch has finished her coffee and we want to walk the beach again for a few minutes before 6am breakfast.

31 Mar: We enjoyed a relaxed day despite a 4 am awakening.

30 Mar, Monday: After only four hours of sleep for three nights running, the 12 hours of flights to Hawaii were pretty gruesome. Catnapping was possible, especially propped up against each other, but real rest was lacking. The scenery coming in to land at noon was spellbinding with turquoise waters in a multitude of shades. Honolulu is BIG. The vacation greeter presented us with leis as soon as we stepped out of security. The shuttle arrived promptly after our call although we had to ask directions to the pick up point (after we walked right through it without recognizing it).

No comments: