Postcard from Hawaii - III

By day 3 in Paradise, we were sleeping in a little later - and by later I mean the sun was rising rather than us waking up while it was still dark. That was perfect for this day as we had a lot of sightseeing planned. North Shore here we come!

After a quick breakfast, we drove Hwy 93 south and then east to connect to the H1 freeway until we connected to H2 and started north. Fortunately, we were early enough to have beaten most of the morning rush hour traffic. When you think of Hawaii, the last thing on your mind is stop-and-go rush hour traffic, but it is definitely there around Honolulu. Honolulu has gorgeous Waikiki Beach and for the most part is a beautiful and clean place, but otherwise, sadly, it is just another big city with too many people, too much traffic, and too many people and businesses trying to move money from your pocket to theirs. Fortunately, we were headed north; Honolulu was south.

H2 ends its life as an interstate at the Schofield Barracks military base. At that point, we picked up 2-lane Hwy 99, Kamehameha Highway, and drove through numerous little towns and farms growing pineapples and other fruit in the rust-red dirt. There's no big, fancy hotels through here and few tourists. The rows upon rows of pineapples grow within a couple of feet of the roadway. 

Rainbow Bridge over the Anahulu River
Soon we crossed over the historic Rainbow Bridge which spans the Anahulu River and marks the north entrance to Hale'iwa Town.   And what's in Hale'iwa? Matsumoto Shave Ice is what's in Hale'iwa! Matsumoto started out as a humble, locally-owned grocery store in 1951. Still owned and operated by the same family, it is now Oahu's oldest continuously run place of business. In 1956 they began selling shave ice in a small corner of the store. When the original owner retired, his son took it over in 1976 (a grandson now operates it), moved some of the groceries to the side and began selling shave ice treats and a plethora of Matsumoto t-shirts from one side of the establishment. A legend was born! In the summer, over 1,000 of the treats are served each day and in the off-season, over 500 are sold each and every day even though the store is only open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The line of customers for a shave ice often extends out the door and down the block and you never know who you might stand next to while you wait - people like Tom Hanks, Sean Penn and Tom Selleck have all patiently waited their turn.

Shave ice, called kakigori in Japan where it was invented, is very different from the snow cone found on the United States mainland. A snow cone is basically a ball of crushed ice doused in various flavors of syrup. The shave ice machine, on the other hand, whittles down a 3-lb block of ice and in the process, creates shavings like delicate snowflake crystals. A large, plastic cup then has a good dose of vanilla ice cream plopped into it, the frozen snow crystals are added in and the mixture molded into a ball. From there, you pick the flavor of syrup extract(s) you want. Instead of dousing a ball of ice, the flavored extract floats down through the various layers. Finally, the whole concoction is covered with condensed milk. A 15-minute wait in the line gave me time to decide which flavor I wanted - pineapple, banana & coconut. 

Youngest-daughter adding a Matsumoto coin to her large
"squished penny" collection.

The first bite was really good. The 2nd bite was even better. By the time I got to the bottom and tossed back my head to drain the dregs, I was hooked! I was very full; full enough that for comfort, I loosened my belt a notch, but I gave serious thought to getting in line for another one. Common sense finally won, but I for sure would not be leaving Hawaii without another shave ice!
A cool church in Hale'iwa we passed on our way to the shore.
As we headed east on the coast highway, we came to
Haleiwa Ali'i Beach or "King's Beach" on the north shore.
The Wai'anae Mountains are in the background.

Puu O Mahuka Heiau, an ancient sacred temple site
from the early 1600's where wives of the chiefs gave birth
and human sacrifices were conducted. Lo
cated high
up on the side of a mountain, I am standing where the
sacrifices took place. It was a bit eerie to think about.
Native Hawaiians come at night carrying hand-made tiki
 torches to leave offerings of fruit, flower leis, shells, and
beads to the gods and spirits that still live in this place. 

Waimea Bay beach, world famous for "Big Wave" surfing.
 Was made famous in the 1964 movie 
"Ride The Wild Surf"
and one of the settings of the TV show "
Kahuku Land Farms roadside market where we ate our
fill and then some of fresh picked fruit. Good lunch!

Going south along the east coast of Oahu and stopping at all the
interesting places. 
Laie Point State Wayside was very cool, but
I was shocked at the number of tour buses, mostly Japanese,
which stopped here. We had seen very few before here. Perhaps
they just come this far north from Honolulu & then go back.
Die-hard fans of the TV show "Lost" will recognize this as
the area where Hurley built a golf course. 

Entrance to the National Memorial Cemetery of the
Pacific. Over 
13,000 soldiers and sailors who died during
WWII are buried here.
Overlooking Honolulu from the Punchbowl Crater. In spite
of my dislike for large, crowded cities, we did drive around
in Honolulu for a while checking out buildings, statues,
and other sites we had heard about.

Arriving back at our hotel, we stopped at a combination
sandwich shop/grocery store in the resort complex and bought
hoagies, chips, soda's and some snacks which we took back
to our room. We ate on the lanai watching an amazing sunset.
All was good with the world.

Postcard From Hawaii - II

On the 2nd full day in paradise, we were still not fully acclimated to the time change, but we were getting there. We woke up early & drove to the little breakfast cafe we had found just down the road from our hotel. We could have saved a little time by having breakfast in the hotel, but not having Warren Buffett or Bill Gates money, we passed on the $60+ it would have cost for the 3 of us to have pancakes and eggs and filled up very nicely on the perfectly fine cafe-down-the-road food for $20 including tip. 

With cups of coffee to go, we headed north on Hwy 93, the Farrington Highway, as it hugged the coast. The scenery was beautiful and there were a number of nicely kept beach parks. Several of them, particularly in the town of Nanakuli, seemed to be populated with people living in tents and cars. There were even what seemed to be little tent cities of beach people with a number of tents right next to each other arranged around a central meeting area with a fire pit dug out of the sand. Trails winding around and through the occupied areas had been left open for foot traffic. Laundry hung from clothes lines stretched between the tents and old bicycles and stolen grocery carts were all about. We didn't stop at these places.

One of the gorgeous, nearly deserted beaches along
Highway 93
There were other beaches though that were wonderful. The ones outside the sprawl of a town were nice, clean and inviting. I guess the tent people, not having a car, needed to live in the towns where they could get what they needed to make it through another day and night. The tourist area beaches are kept safe and immaculate by the hotels and the beyond-town beaches are uncrowded and pretty due to location. We stopped at several of these to look around, take photo's, and marvel at the beauty.

We arrived at the end of Hwy 93, literately the end of the road, in Ke'ena Point State Park. From there, the only way to go further is by foot on the Kaena Point Trail. We parked on the side of the road, the only place to park, took off our shoes and did some beach walking. Of course it was beautiful scenery and there were only a few other folks around, mostly locals and a few other visitors like us. Everyone smiled and said "Hi" as we passed. 

Youngest-daughter searching for sea shells
After a while, the Mama-woman and Youngest-daughter wanted to keep strolling the sand looking for sea shells while I needed to sit and rest my back. An old injury occasionally flares up and pinches a nerve going down my leg and it had chosen now of all times to let me know it was still around. Perhaps the sitting for so long while flying didn't do it any good. I told the girls to go on and I headed back to the car. Sitting in the passenger seat with the door open, I heard something rustling the tall grass stalks which came right up to the side of the car. Of course I was a little startled because it happened so suddenly with just the rustling noise and a very brief flash of something that kind of looked like a weasel. I grabbed my camera and spent the next 15 minutes trying to get a picture of the little creature. It stayed right there close to the car, but never showed itself. A rustle, a brief flash and then nothing. I finally gave up - no picture and no idea what it was.

A hand-made concrete memorial with flower offering for a
deceased Hawaiian surfer. The flowers had obviously been 

there a long time, yet no one had touched them. Nice.
Another 15 minutes of stretching my back and I was feeling well enough to go back to the beach.  I crossed a little sand dune and came face-to-face with the girls coming back with pockets full of shells and cool little pebbles. An empty Gatorade bottle was washed out and then served as a container for the handful of sand Mama-woman wanted to keep for a souvenir. I did a 3-point u-turn and back to the hotel we headed.

We stopped at a fast-food place for a late lunch before returning to the hotel. Unremarkable food, but one of our fellow patrons was pretty interesting. He was sitting by himself off to the side of us and he had a guitar he was strumming. As I watched him, it quickly became apparent he needed to be on meds and he had not been taking any - at least not the kind that would help him. His guitar only had 3 strings - literally 3 strings, as in 2 pieces of twine and what appeared to be 2 shoelaces tied together. He had a cup of coffee on the table in front of him and he would strum that guitar for a few seconds, sadly shake his head, take a sip of coffee and then "tune" the guitar. He would then play a few chords, sadly shake his head, and start the process all over. We were there about 30 minutes and he did the same thing the whole time. Of course I felt sad for him and actually wished I knew where to buy a set of real guitar strings to give him. For some reason, I found him and his obsession oddly compelling. It was hard to take my eyes off of him, waiting to see if he varied his routine. Mama-woman told me to stop staring, but he never looked up and paid absolutely no attention to anyone or anything except his never-ending attempt to correctly tune that guitar. When we left, I noticed his coffee cup seemed to be empty so I walked over and gave him a dollar for another cup. He looked up, shyly smiled, dipped his head back down and went right back to strumming and tuning. If you're going to be crazy and homeless, I guess Hawaii is a fine place for it.

Ka'ena Point Beach at the end of the road.
After a refreshing nap, that evening I chose to help my back by sitting in the hotel hot tub and watching the stars come out with an adult beverage in my hand. I'm sure I read somewhere that rum drinks with little umbrellas in them are good medicine for the back. The look Mama-woman gave me clearly indicated she totally wasn't buying it, but she let it slide. Rather than the hot tub or pool, the girls decided to take a walk down the beach to the Disney hotel a short ways down from us. Imagine my surprise when they returned several hours later wearing woven palm frond headband thingies and carrying opened coconuts with liquid in them! Youngest-daughter's contained an innocent punch, but I'm not so sure Mama-woman's didn't contain her own "back medicine." Seems they "accidentally" walked into a luau on the beach at the Disney resort and the Hawaiian guys working it thought they were paid guests like everyone else! A few hula dances, headbands, coconuts and stage entertainment later (all free!), and they moseyed on back to gather me up and retire to our beautiful room for a well-earned night's sleep. It was almost 10:00 PM Hawaii time and we were pretty proud of ourselves for managing to stay up so late! 
Youngest-daughter at the "free" luau.
Hmmm. Mama-woman seems to really be enjoying herself
at the luau she "accidentally" joined.

And another day in Paradise comes to a beautiful end.

Postcard From Hawaii - 1

When it's winter in North America, when lakes and pipes are frozen, there's ice and snow on the ground, when everyone you see outside is bundled up in layers of warm clothes and heavy coats and rushing to get back inside and all you want to do is curl up in front of a comforting fire in the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, is there anything better than a vacation in Hawaii? I can't think of anything!

A large portion of the Honolulu airport is open-air. In my
opinion, it is one of the prettiest airports in the world
It's a long time getting from Arkansas to Hawaii - leave very early to get to the Little Rock airport to catch the first flight to Dallas and then an 8-hour flight to Honolulu. Then there's the 4-hour time difference to contend with. By the time we got our bags, loaded up the rental car and headed to the hotel, our bodies thought it was 8:00pm, but the clock on the wall said no, it was just 4:00pm in Paradise. Yeah, I know, it was tough!

I must pause for a minute here to be a bit negative about Hertz. After arriving at the beautiful Oahu airport and being excited about actually being in Hawaii, the last thing you want is to sit on the concrete and wait an hour for your rental car. It was crowded, it was frustrating, the employees didn't seem to care and there didn't seem to be a reason for the delay. When they finally called my name, I was handed an electronic key and told to walk about 200 yards down rows of rental cars to get mine. They didn't deliver it to the waiting area, no smiles, no "Welcome to Hawaii," no "Aloha," no thanks for doing business with Hertz, no nothing. Perhaps I'm expecting too much for my $55 per day to rent their 4-door Chevy Impala, but I'll use a different rental car company next time.

Once out of the airport, we made our way to the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa in Kapolei, our home for the next 4 days and 5 nights. The lobby was spacious, open and beautiful; the staff greeted us with smiles and seemed genuinely happy to have us. Check in was quick and a bell hop quickly gathered up our bags and showed us to our room. Nice! The room was great - very clean, quality furniture, soft, plush carpet and tiled floor, excellent beds, high-end bathing products, a very large spotlessly clean bathroom and a wonderful view of the ocean to the front of us and mountains to the side of us. This was something we all decided we could definitely get used know, if we hit the lottery!

After going out to get a bite to eat at a locally-owned restaurant we saw on the way in, we returned to our room tired and happy. The Mama-woman made a pot of Kona Coffee and we took our cups outside to sit on our private balcony as we listened to the waves and watched the sun set over the ocean. Look up the word "contentment" in the dictionary and there will be a picture of us at that moment. We made it until a little after 9:00pm local time before we crawled into those nice comfy beds and got snuggled in. We left the patio door open and drifted off to sleep listening to those waves gently washing ashore.

Our first full day in Paradise was spent mostly hanging around the grounds of the hotel and the beach below our room. Still tired and not yet acclimated to the time difference, we relaxed, took a nice afternoon nap, and let ourselves begin to shed the stress and forget the obligations of our daily lives back home. Of course we were looking forward to seeing all the things and doing all the stuff we had planned beforehand, but this was the perfect way to start our Hawaiian vacation.

Relaxing on the beach. Now this is the life!
Youngest-daughter napping on our balcony.

Late afternoon - view from our balcony.
Sunset - end of 1st full day in Paradise.