1 2 3 4 I want to get away.... I want to fl yyyy. Yeah , yeah yeah yeah...
Ever feel like that? Well so do i! And when the folks needed a visit, (you know how parents can be) in Hawaii, who was I to refuse? And, as is always the case, all my misconceptions of havaii were shattered. Except that it was warm and had beaches that is. Other than that, well, lets take it piece by piece shall we?
First of all downtown Honolulu was, as expected, full of skyscrapers and people. The setting though is what differentiates it from other concrete jungles. The jungly mountains were unexpected. You don't have far to travel to get away and into the jungle. And jungle it is! I refrained this time from slashing and hacking my way through any of it having been warned by a somewhat bedraggled, grizzled older fella of the danger of the mongoose and his nasty bite. Although I would think I could be classified as a fairly experienced outdoorsman, i recognized all too well how lost and helpless i would be in this weird new environment, like a new-born baby deprived of his mother's milk.
And honestly there is so much to do on OAHU that i didnt have a lot of time for getting lost, bitten and medevaced from the jungle anyway. So i kept to the trails. From the day of arrival i began automatically to scan for wild edibles growing from the trees and so on and noticed a few things that looked alright. On a jungle joyride i reached from the bus and got a handful of what looked like chokecherries. They were good. But as is my habit if Im uncertain, I'll just taste a little and see what falls off me before going all buffet on the thing.
Its all a blur already. I stood on the battleship Missouri, on the exact spot where my namesake, Douglas McArthur signed the peace treaty ending the second world was with Japan, with two emaciated American soldiers, one on each side of him, representing the horrors of what the Japanese had done to American captives.
I sat by the see and listened to a one-man band, play his ukelele as the sun set and his wife danced gracefully before him. "Don't you ever, ever go." Dang! I didn't really want to ever, ever leave come to think of it!
The seafood, the white sand of Wiakiki Beach, the surfers toodlin' around on 25 foot rollers, and the highlight of it all, snorkelling in Hunauma bay, following a parrot fish, absolutely huge and verdant, as we travelled together for half an hour, me watching through the mask and he rolling his eye lazily as he scraped his dinner from the corral reef, unconcerned by this yukon dude way out of his natural element, it all was a true treat for the senses.
I saw where the opening scene of "Tears of the Sun" was filmed, and the surviving bits of the set where Jurassic Part scenes were filmed.
But there was another side to Hawaii, a side not so pleasant. The homeless "sweeps" casually announced on the evening news, wherein the homeless are told to vacate to wherever they may go, just be gone. The 70ish woman on the city bus in a wheelchair ravenously tying into a barren dinner roll, weeping in her wheelchair about the hardness of her life, the large number of tents and bicycles and inhabited junk under a concrete highway ramp. Soul-crushing stuff! What hope is there that these will ever own a house valued at typically 500,000 to one million, let alone 28 million? But as for homelessness, Id rather be homeless in Hawaii than some other places i can think of! It's warm all the time, usually in the 70s or 80s even in December and wild fruit is there to be found, as is a plentiful supply of fish just offshore.
Another highlight in retrospect was the paddling with my Dads cousin Leohoni and Kamu. They graciously took me paddling in a six-person racing canoe. These things move right along, the ama on the side helping to maintain balance on the tippey craft as the intermittent shouts keep everyone on time with the paddlestrokes. Well, everyone but me it seems. Keep your paddleside foot forward! Stop the stroke at your knee. Hold the upper arm straight! Return stroke low over the water. Timing! Dad's cousin sure knew her stuff and was doing her best to impart a lifetime of practise in racing canoes to her newest pupil. This was all very humiliating to someone who has done a thousand or two miles in a canoe, upriver and down. The stroke of a "normal" canoe is much different. Normally a much more relaxed and casual affair as the river sweeps you on lazily through the spruce thickets of a yukon river valley. But anyway, I did the trip without deliberately splashing her once, glory to God.