Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Aloha State

The weather in Hawaii is perfect. Sunny, 80 degrees, ocean breezes, rainbows. Every day. Sometimes it rains. And even the rain is perfect. Tiny droplets that swirl around you in a little cooling mist. It's...I don't know how else to explain it...cute. The rain is freaking cute. It's downright adorable. But the downside to all this paradise is that the backdrop of perfection casts a harsh light on one's own imperfections. And my trip to Oahu was already off to an inauspicious start. My body was misbehaving in all the ways. I can never sleep on airplanes. The few times I started to nod off I would get jolted awake by an errant elbow or the ding of the Fasten Seatbelt sign or startled by that actual falling feeling you sometimes get as you drift into sleep. I got a sore throat and cough. A bug flew in the car window and died on my leg, guts everywhere. But sickness and kamikaze bugs and the horror that is the backs of my pasty white thighs notwithstanding, it was a fabulous vacation.

We had a partial ocean view room. The other part was construction view. Which turned out to be far more interesting. We got to watch the crane operator climb up to his tiny control tower in the sky and lift things up and put them down. We speculated on if he spent a full 8 hours a day up there and what he did when he had to go to the bathroom (I thought many trips up and down all the stairs, Pete thought bucket.)

We hiked the trails above and then went swimming in Hanauma Bay, after watching the terribly cheesy video they force you to endure before you gain admittance to the park. Basically it tells you over and over in annoying songs not to a) step on the coral reef or b) touch the fish/turtles/nature. While we were swimming and relaxing in the sun, the lifeguards made a few unintelligible announcements on the loudspeaker, the only one of which I understood was a warning pleading parents not to leave their children unattended. Which is common sense, one would think. Though to be fair, it was not one of the rules covered in the video.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pete's Navy buddy and his lovely wife and they took us to see Waimea Falls, to the best taco stand in the North Shore and made us a fabulous dinner at their house. We also went bowling one night, where I bowled my highest score ever, a pitiful 82 (I am The Worst at bowling. Tragicomically bad), and had dinner at Duke's Waikiki another night. Duke's is apparently one of those places you have to go, as he was an Olympic swimmer and "Father of International Surfing." His salad bar is also very impressive.

Pete and I visited the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we enjoyed the luau and a show called Ha Breath of Life. Which was kind of like the Lion King with humans, and ridiculously cool fire jugglers. This was my first time at a luau and I liked the purple foods the best (purple sweet potatoes, purple rolls and purple bread pudding). The rest of the desserts were not great, but the shows were quite spectacular. And it was a pretty drive from the hotel out to the center. On the way I noticed a sign saying "Farm Moving Sale," and I said "How do you move a farm?" To which Pete replied "Horse and cabbages?" and then "You can use that one in your blog."

While Pete was at Navy duty one day, I ran from our hotel to and up Diamond Head Crater, and back. It was the warmest and most gorgeous 10 miles I've run this year. Normally I wouldn't have attempted something like this myself because I'm terrible at directions and I always get lost. But I just ran and let my smartphone tell me where to go. Though I did get lost on the way back because I think the phone was confused about where our hotel was, but I found my way to the beach and took that back to the hotel. And a run that includes both a volcano and a beach is my kind of route. Though I think I must be running hills all wrong because my calves were killing me afterwards but my quads and glutes felt nothing. I need to learn how to run with my butt apparently.

A few days later, Pete and I hiked up this crazy steep tram trail, the Koko Crater Railway Trail. Part of the trail goes over a bridge where you're just walking on the wooden railroad beams and there's nothing but air underneath. It's a little unsettling, both going up and down, but it's a killer hill workout and the views at the top are totally worth it.

We also did the short hike to Manoa Falls and, while the falls were more of a trickle this time of year, it was a beautiful, rainforest-y walk. All in all, it was quite an epic week.

If I've learned anything in life, it's that the things that seem like bad luck usually turn out to have the most delicious silver linings. So that inopportune cold, it's a good excuse to eat shave ice and acai/pitaya bowls to your heart's content. For medicinal purposes of course. And if, despite not feeling your best, and at times being frustrated at not feeling your best, you spend the week hiking/running up volcanoes and laughing and wondering how you got so lucky, you really must be onto something here.

I thought Aloha meant Hello and Goodbye because it's used as a greeting, but it actually means Love. Which is actually the perfect greeting. And it occurred to me that this place, this feeling is what love is. Warmth and sunshine that embraces you even on your sick/tired/highly imperfect days. Good times with good people. Hills to climb. A partner in laughs and adventures by your side.

Lyric of the moment: "I don't get many things right the first time. In fact, I am told that a lot. Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls brought me here. And where was I before the day that I first saw your lovely face? Now I see it everyday. And I know. That I am. The luckiest..."

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