Alison Goes to Hawai'i
For her best friend's wedding...

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Stephanie Joe is one of my oldest friends (most longtime, not most elderly). We never went to the same school, but we lived three blocks away from each other. We're not sure exactly when we met, but it was at a weekly art program at the local library, and by about 5th or 6th grade, we were really close, and have remained as much so as time and distance allow. I'm not one of those people who are good at keeping in touch, but you know how it is with some people that you really click with: it doesn't matter how long you've been apart -- things just fall right back into place when you see them, no matter how long it's been.

So as of this writing, Steph lives just about as far away from me as she possibly could: in Hawaii. This is a major bummer for us as friends, but that's life. She's lived there for several years now with her longtime boyfriend Paul (when she wasn't gallivanting around the world with him). After a series of naturalist-type jobs working in National Parks and doing research on various subjects, she and Paul decided to go back to school to get advanced degrees. He ended up getting into UCBerkely, while she got into UHawaii. He went off for several semesters to complete his class requirement before returning to Hawaii to do his research. So Steph was thinking maybe they should loosen up their relationship, since he was going to be so far away on a campus full of hot young California co-eds (why is it sexier sounding if they're co-eds? Most colleges are co-ed these days... but I digress). Paul invited her up for a visit, and to have a serious talk. She was all worried that he was going to break up with her, but... yes, you guessed it... he proposed! Isn't that sweet! Thanks for bearing with me there...

Anyhow, after a nice long engagement, the wedding date rolled around, and unfortunately it was at almost exactly the same time as the GAMA trade show in Las Vegas. Things were going to be tight if we were going to be able to make both, but both were very important. I was really looking forward to having a cool little Hawaiian vacation with Kristin and Andy, and getting to hang out with my best friend too. But in the end, we couldn't afford to have all three of us go, so we decided, since I was going alone anyhow, I'd skip GAMA and go out nice and early so as to have lots of time to hang out with Steph.

I left on a Sunday morning, and arrived that evening (traveling that direction you get really long days). The wedding would be Friday afternoon, and I'd decided to put together a bouquet for her, because she really hadn't worked anything out regarding that, and hey, I work at a florist, and know how to do stuff like that - and as a gift to Steph because they couldn't be there, my parents agreed to pay for the flowers I'd be getting for her (up to $200 -- not so shabby, that!) Then I'd be leaving the next Monday evening on a red-eye back to the mainland. Steph set me up in a hostel right down by Waikiki because 1) I'm cheap, 2) I'm not picky, and 3) she couldn't possibly put everyone up at her house. Actually her mom was staying there, too, for the exact same reasons. Steph even lent me her bike to get around on, too.

I think that's most of the background info you need, so let's just go right into my updates as written from the lovely Isle of Oahu...

Sunday [pictured at right: the entryway and ground floor hangout space at the hostel. Note the skinny hammocks hanging down from the balcony above (and Steph's mom in the chair there)]

Paul picked me up at the airport with his mother and grandmother. My plane was about an hour late, so I hoped he had called to check on it's arrival time, but apparently he'd lost the airline information, so they drove around and around for ages, looking for me. It was just one of those days, apparently. Steph had gone out for the evening with some local friends for a little bridal shower thing, and the car broke down, and wouldn't start, then the restaurant they wanted to go to was closed because of a parade (in the evening! weird!) So even though they have two cars, Steph had the one that worked, so Paul had to go with his mom and grandma in their rented car to pick me up.

Then we went back to Steph and Paul's place because nobody knew what hostel I was supposed to be at. Steph had left a map she printed out, but Paul called there, and they had no reservation for me. So he called all the hostels in the area and found the right one. Turns out it was right next to the one she had printed the map for, she had just used the same map for several hostels because they were all right next to each other.

I like the hostel. It's no more than I need, you know. The bathroom is a little skanky, but otherwise I really like the setup. The people are nice, but I don't get to know people easily. I'm really feeling the introvert in me, and it's really a drag sometimes. The people that run the hostel are nice and helpful, though. I'm always walking into the office and saying. "I need XYZ, where can I go," or something like that.

Monday [at left and below, views of Steph's cute house]

I spent the day hanging out with Steph. She came by to pick me up around 10:30 and I just hung around her place all afternoon. She was working on a mix CD for the dancing at her wedding. I had holes in the inner thighs of my pants, and she gave me stuff to patch them. (She said "Alison, you really need to patch those pants...").

Then she and Paul went to talk to the minister, and I took a walk around her neighborhood -- just walked up her street to the end, and back down again -- about a half an hour. Everything is so tropical and lush here. Beautiful exotic flowers, and the grass is really neat. And I mean that in every sense of the word. It grows all flat and cushy and dense. It's looks just like a carpet. where it's thin it feels like high-traffic carpet, and where it's thick, it's super soft and wonderful!

Steph's house is so cute! and it has a really nice yard. They rent from a really old couple who garden. It's a long skinny lot, and you walk back through the yard to a little back house and that's what they rent. It's lovely, and apparently it's a pretty good deal for the area, too.

After Steph and Paul got back, I drew a picture of a native dragonfly for her for one of the table markers, scanned it and colored it. Steph continued to work on her mix CD. We were going to hang out and have dinner for the evening, but she had to hang out with someone else, so I biked down to the hostel on her bike. She felt bad about abandoning me for the evening, and I was kind of bummed too.

Evenings by yourself are hard. In the daytime, I can just walk around and enjoy the scenery and feel like I'm getting some good exercise, but at night, I kind of don't know what to do with myself. I went out walking by the beach and sat at the end of a jetty for a while. It extended pretty far out from the beach, so it felt nice and isolated. The crowd at the hostel and all the people milling around the beach and beachfront area were starting to get to me. Eventually I got up and went walking down the strip looking for food. I ended up at a food court where there was a really loud Polynesian dance show going on. The food was kind of greasy: chicken and mahi-mahi skewers, with noodles and some lettuce on the side,but it was food, and I felt better after that. I looked around the little stalls and saw all kinds of stuff I wanted to get, but I figured I should conserve my money, at least until the end of the trip. Those vendors weren't going anywhere...

When I got back, I felt much better. I hung around with a British guy named Darren in the outer dorm room that connects with mine. People were going out for St. Patrick's day to drink, and I certainly didn't want to go, so I offered to teach Darren a game, even though I really should have gone to bed. He was happy because they were going to drag him out drinking, and he really didn't feel like it that evening. So we chatted and played a couple of games of Fluxx. It was nice, but I went to bed much too late.

Tuesday [at left, the cool Banyan tree in the park near the hostel; below, sculptures outside the Aquarium depicting tropical sounds.]

I woke up early for various reasons (among them jet lag) took a shower etc...then I had a couple of PB&J sandwiches for brekky. They have a complimentary spread of bread, toasters, jam, and butter out so you can make your own little breakfast. It's not a posh setup, but it's food. Then I called Steph and arranged to meet her at the Aquarium at noon after she had her dress fitting. But I was tired because I got no sleep the night before, and I took a nap and woke up at 1:30!!!!

So I called her back, and we're going to meet for the evening. I biked and walked around. The hostel folks pointed me towards a great little produce store/smoothie shop/sandwich place. It was great. I got a turkey sandwich, and a smoothie, and even decided to try papaya again (I still don't like it). It was a great little shop. Then I just walked and biked around the beachfront area, then came back to the hostel to hang out so I wouldn't miss Steph again!

Steph picked me up and we met up with her other friends that she knows from back in elementary school (who I know also, through her). We were going to go to a yucky bar, but we just ended up going out to the house they rented. They had food there, and we talked (and they smoked) the night away, but since there was an outdoor porch, the smoke wasn't bad. We had a great time just hanging out and catching up and making cracks at each other's expense (they're always ragging on each other in a way I that I just don't, but it's funny to listen to.) When I got back to the hostel, I signed up for the Thursday excursion that they organize, which for that day will be sea kayaking.

Wednesday [below, Barbara, baby Andrew, and Steph;
below right, the carpety grass, in action ]

So this morning Steph's mom, Barbara, arranged to see little Andrew (Steph's baby nephew), and they brought him over to the hostel, and I took some pictures of him with her and Steph. He's a real cutie. Steph looks forward to being able to babysit him lots...

Anyhow. I got some sweet pictures of them. I was going to check out a botanical garden that Steph recommended, and do flower stuff with her in the afternoon. But we ended up doing flowers in the morning, and I actually got to hang with her all day. We looked over the selection at the floral wholesaler and picked out some great stuff. The total came to about $180, so it's nice that my Dad said they'd put up to $200 to pay for flowers. I can't imagine what the cost would be if she were paying for the labor too, or getting more arrangements done. Admittedly, we got more flowers than necessary to do her bouquet -- more stems than needed, but we had to get stuff in bunches.

After the flower place, we stopped in Chinatown to get some food, then went back to her place to get her shoes, drop off the one bunch of flowers we took home (I wanted them to open a little -- the rest we'll pick up on Friday). Then we went to see the lady who's making the wedding dress. Her dress is amazing. Steph bought an old stained silk kimono off of e-Bay for $75, then had this lady take it all apart and make a wedding dress out of the good pieces. It's mostly a creamy white with a floral pattern in the weave, with a touch of peach at the bottom, but the most amazing thing is the beautiful hand-embroidery of flowers and birds in bright colors and gold and silver threads. It's really cool. Like I said, when I heard how cool her dress was going to be, I wanted to make sure she had a nice bouquet to go with it.

Then she took me back to the hostel, where they were having a barbecue. The guy doing it suggested I get some veggies to roast, so I biked over to that produce place I found and got some stuff. I felt much more at ease with the people, like I was starting to know some of them a little. One guy from Brazil, named Adalberto, helped me put together little packets of veggies to grill, and we decided we needed some garlic and onions for flavor, so I biked out again real quick and picked some up. I was speedy and sweaty so I got a smoothie too. Mmm...

It was a nice little barbecue, and then I took a little break for e-mail correspondence. There was a guy who was interested in going out dancing (like swing and ballroom) so I thought, what the heck, I'll go with him and see how it goes -- I haven't danced in so long. I didn't go with him yesterday. I figured I could always kick out early if it was too weird.

Actually, it turned out okay. I had a great time dancing, although he needed to help me relearn a lot. He was, as he said, "good enough that if you make a mistake, it's my fault". I have to say, from the point of view of the lady/follower, it was pretty nice dancing with a guy/leader who has that attitude about dancing. I was apologizing a lot, and he'd always say: No -- if he didn't lead strongly enough for a particular move, that was his fault. We mostly talked about dancing stuff, but I also talked a little about Looney Labs, and Kristin and Andy, and my job at Wood's Florist -- what my life is like when I'm not on vacation in Hawai'i.

Thursday[left, the larger of the two Mokuluas, from the beach; below, some of the calmer tidepools out on the island.]

Today I had leftover grilled veggies for breakfast, and then we went out on the Sea Kayaking excursion. We stopped at a convenience store on the way to pick up food for lunch (what a great place to buy wholesome food... yeah, right...) I got trail mix and dried mango slices, and a bottle of water. They had told us there was not very much room in the drybag, so I didn't bring the camera (in its bag, it doubles the size of my load). I definitely regretted that, especially as I'm trying to describe stuff to you here.

They were two person kayaks, and I ended up paired with the Brazilian guy who was helping me prepare the veggies last night. The only person who was really into the veggies besides me, really. His name is Adalberto. We ended up hanging around together all day.

We were kayaking out to this little island, one of two collectively called the Mokuluas, or Mok's (mokes) for short. It was really a struggle getting out there. We were fighting a really strong headwind, and the waves too, it seemed. It took about 45 minutes just to paddle out there. I was exhausted! To give you an idea of how windy it was, just standing on the beach, it felt like your legs were being sandblasted. We rested when we got out there, then went back out to surf the waves in the kayaks -- kind of ride the crest of a good wave. It was okay, but we didn't seem to have the hang of it. It was fun just going up and down on the HUGE swells anyhow. So we went back to the island, where my birks were drying off so that we could walk around the other side of the little island.

Here I'd like to mention that Adalberto was supposed to send me some pictures from this trip, but he didn't, so I had to scavenge these from the web. The pools shown here are the tame little shallow ones. The exciting ones are behind that big dark shape in the photo to the right -- even higher above the ocean than the ones shown here. Oh well.

So we climbed over the rocks to the other side of the island where the huge waves were breaking around the island and making tidal pools in the craggy rocks (the waves were so high that these pools I'm talking about were 30 feet above the ocean level!) I took some pictures of Adalberto for him on his camera in the deepest pool with waves breaking behind him (it was a narrow pool, but at least 7 feet deep -- the rocks were really craggy!)

Then I just had to climb in and swim myself. Just beyond the super deep pool was a smaller one right where the waves splashed up. Sometimes a really big one would come and actually wash over the pool, filling it with foam ("Bubbles! Bubbles! Just like Champagne!" he kept saying). One washed me over backwards into the deep pool! It was pretty startling! We had to go back when the next really big one tossed me over again, and I scraped up my arm and my leg.

***Breaking news! I found a picture of the Bubble pool on the web (my apologies to the random person I edited out of the foreground) Now imagine that we were sitting right up at the far edge of this pool, and every so often a big wave would break, and create lots of little bubbles in the pool. And then a REALLY big wave would break, and I'd go tumbling backwards towards the foreground into the deeper part of the pool.

After that we kayaked back. I had re-applied sunblock when I got to the island, and I really should have when we left, but they had already re-packed the drybags. I should have made them unpack it anyway...

Paddling back to the beach we did catch some good waves for rides, and it was much easier in that direction with the wind and waves more on our side. I did get a little sun, though.

On the way back from the sea kayaking, we stopped off at this stream with a waterfall you could jump off of. Actually it was not really the top of the waterfall -- that would have been lower. Next to the waterfall was a rocky slope that went on up the hill and you could jump off from this outcropping into the pool below. It must have been at least 2 storeys high, maybe 2 & 1/2. I thought I should keep doing it until I wasn't scared, but each time, I had to really psych myself up for it. I did it three times, and it was really scary every time. You could really hurt yourself if you landed wrong. I went in straight all three times, but even when I held my nose, I got water all up it, and a couple of times my boobs got slammed from underneath. No way to streamline those babies!

By the time I got back to the hostel, I was realizing that the sunburn was worse than I thought. Not really really bad, but bad enough... You know how it takes a while to fully manifest itself... Seems like every time I look down, I realize it's was worse than I remembered. Grrr. I came so close to getting out of Hawaii unscathed. Oh well.

Tonight I'm tired, and I have six dollars. The folks at the hostel desk here suggested I might be able to go with someone to buy beer and pay w/ credit card, and have them pay me cash. As it was, I had to decide whether to eat, or e-mail Kristin and Andy. So I sat around not doing either for a while, helping Adalberto write an e-mail in English to someone he met in Indonesia. Then someone walked in who wanted to go get beer, so I went with him to do an exchange (and got a banana and a granola bar too) now I have $7 more in cash! Until I get done sending this e-mail, that is. But I'll still have some left over for dinner if I'm still hungry.

I also put in a call to Steph about tomorrow (the wedding day) and to mention my cash-plight. I left a message on her answering machine. I'm hoping I can borrow some cash from her and send her a check later. I really tried to pay for stuff with credit, but it's just a lot of little tiny things that add up...

Friday/Saturday[left, me with a sunburn, working on the bouquet; right, the two arrangements I made with the leftovers; below left, Steph with her uncle Vic, and her half-sister Vivian; below right, Steph and Paul taking their vows; bottom,table centerpiece at the reception]

The next morning I woke up and after a little bread and jam for brekkie, Steph came by with the flowers. I thought I'd end up doing them at her place, but her place was pretty hectic, as you could imagine, and now that I knew the common room up on the 4th floor existed, I could do them there. She would come by on the way to the wedding and pick us (her mom and I) and the flowers up.

So I set up on a couple of tables up there in the outer part of the room, and started cleaning flowers. Over in the sofa/TV area the news was on constantly talking about the war in Iraq. One of the guys over there who watched ALL DAY seemed to be really in favor of it. He kept saying "Oh the reason all those countries didn't want us to go in there and find all the weapons of mass destruction is because they were supplying military stuff to the Iraqis and didn't want people to find out." It was really annoying having to listen to repetitive CNN all day.

The flowers came out really well though. I did the bouquet first, because that was most important. We had gotten these huge stems of cymbidium orchids that Steph really wanted -- some in a light pink and the others in white with a pink tinge. Also some white dendrobium orchids, white mini carns, white bouvardia, and light pink wheat celosia. For greens I got some baker fern, some asparagus fern, some galax and some lily grass. I know that doesn't mean all that much to you guys, but I'm also writing it down so I don't forget.

The bouquet took me forever, and then I took the special glue and stuck it all in good, because it's pretty windy here. The glue got all over my fingers, and I had to scrub it off with a brillo pad, but there was still plenty of time for me to do two corsages, and then some white bows for them to mark the wedding area. Steph's cousin Cynthia came by to pick up the bows and go down there to put them up. Then I started with the leftovers to make a couple of other arrangements for the reception (I didn't want to waste the rest of the flowers -- there were still a lot of those big beautiful cymbidiums left, and lots of other stuff). Steph's mom was up there with me now -- I'd asked her to leave while I was doing the bouquet because she was making me nervous, but now she was helping me clean up and stuff.

So after I made those and we swept up the common area there, it was a little after 4:00 and we were getting worried that they hadn't come by to get us yet. We sat around waiting for a while, then told the folks at the front desk that if they came by for us to tell them we'd started walking. It was going to be quite a long walk, and I was pretty worried. I couldn't go very fast because of the sunburn on the tops of my feet, and we were carrying the wedding bouquet and the corsages. Finally Steph's cousin Vic came driving by with Paul and picked us up.

Apparently Paul had come by at quarter to four to pick us up, but because we weren't waiting right there by the gate, he thought we'd gotten a ride with someone else, and he just drove off!!! I kind of thought they'd at least stop in to get us or something. But then, Steph knew we were up on the 4th floor, but Paul didn't, and stress levels were high. I hadn't eaten enough, and not nearly recently enough, so I was pretty stressed out myself.

But the wedding was beautiful. It was in a beach park by the ocean -- not a beach, but a grassy park with a seawall. Steph was beautiful, and her little 8-yr-old half-sister was the flower girl. Her uncle Vic walked her down the "aisle" (her father is deceased). Everyone was wearing so many leis and flowers that the corsages kind of got lost, but that's okay. The ceremony was great, and the happy looks on Paul and Steph's faces were so wonderful. (Okay, so Paul's not smiling in this picture -- he was all serious, because this was the part where they say the vows.) Steph was all emotional, and I was a little teary-eyed myself -- low blood sugar and all that. Paul's grandmother read some really sweet poems in Ukranian (with translation from another relative) and Steph's mom read a weird poem, and there was some funny and touching advice from Paul's parents.

Then we walked back to the Aquarium (back towards the hostel). I was so exhausted and drained. The Aquarium was such a beautiful place for a reception. A lot of the buildings there just kind of ease from the outside to the inside, without doors, since the weather is always so nice there, and the Waikiki Aquarium was one of these.

I walked through about half of the Aquarium, which was small, but really nice. Amazing reef tanks, and informative videos and stuff. I didn't really have time to get to them that evening, but they even had seadragons, which are really cool looking. Maybe I can get a postcard of them or something. It was really neat to watch the clownfish rubbing themselves all up against the anemones. And they had huge jellyfish, and live nautilus, and a cuttlefish (a sort of squid, basically) which seemed to come up to the glass and look right back at you -- really close up.

I came out once to get appetizers so I wouldn't faint with hunger, and then went back in again. There weren't really that many people in the Aquarium itself, which meant I hardly had to socialize at all. It was great. Somebody had to come in to get me when dinner was served. I got to be at Steph's table, too, which was nice.

The dinner was a delicious buffet, with something for everyone. Grilled veggies, salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, rice, fish, and chicken. The cake was beautiful, with a cool basketweave pattern icing all over it. The only moment when I didn't wish Kristin and Andy were with me, was when I found out it was a carrot cake, because I know that's a total letdown for Andy. There were some good toasts, and people clinking their glasses for Steph and Paul to kiss, and stuff. When Steph threw the bouquet, the little flower girl got it, which is always good, because all us older single babes are always so uptight about these things. But I swear she was throwing it at me...

I wrapped up a bunch of leftover appetizers to take back with me, and turned in kind of early. I had them for breakfast this morning -- when I woke up at noon!!! I really made an effort to sleep in today. I figure sleep time is for my body to recover. A sunburn really takes it out of you, and I want to get over this as quickly as possible. Steph had come by this morning and dropped off some stuff of mine that was at her house, like my songbook and guitar stuff, which we didn't end up using at all, and some money (yay!!!) -- so I'm not totally strapped for cash anymore, which is good.

So I'm just vegging today. I'll probably go out walking along the strip and get some stuff for Kristin and Andy, or check out the Aquarium again. It's not very far away from the hostel. Tomorrow I'll probably check out the Botanical garden Steph suggested. I've got all the directions and everything. Then I'd better return Steph's bike, and some other stuff of hers that's here.

Sunday[various parasailing and jetskiing pictures; the goodwill stores I went to.]

Well, yesterday evening, I was talking with one of the guys here at the hostel and he said he was going to go parasailing and jet-skiing. I talked to him about it, and he'd done both before and said it was really fun. The price seemed reasonable ($75 for both) and they'd pick you up and drop you off from your hotel. But they only took cash for some reason. So first I called the place running the activity to make sure there was still room for me to join for the next day, then I called Steph to borrow some more cash.

Steph said she was going out anyhow to drop off her recycles, and she said she'd come down and hang out for an hour there with me at the hostel. Barbara (Steph's mom) wanted to see her too. So Steph came down and we hung out there. I mediated a bit between Steph and her mom when they got frustrated with each other, and we all just chatted.

This morning I got up well in time for the activity and had leftover sandwich from the night before for breakfast. I met up with Darren, the British guy who was going with me, and we hung around waiting for them to pick us up.

There were five of us going on the parasailing, which was first. This is a thing where they tow a parachute behind a speedboat, and harness you up to it. It's like being attached to a kite. Darren seemed disappointed that we wouldn't get that much time in the air. They made us go up in pairs, apparently because the wind was so strong. An older man and a younger woman who were together went first, then a single girl who was afraid of heights. They needed someone to go with her so I volunteered, thinking I might get to go twice, and indeed, when we came down, they let me go up again, with Darren, since we'd come along together in the first place. Cool.

They didn't let you take a camera up with you if it was expensive, which was a drag (although it wasn't THAT cool up there, so it's okay). You just kind of hovered up above the ocean and hung there for a while. They said sometimes people saw whales, but I didn't see any. The wind was so strong that we didn't really travel any behind the boat, since it didn't have to move to keep the parasail up. You just went up, and hung out, and swayed around up there, and looked around, and then came down. Darren said when he went up in Indonesia it was cheaper, higher, longer, and faster. Oh well. I thought it was fun.

Then they drove us over to a location where they do the jet-skiing. We were the only two doing that activity. We took a little pontoon boat out to a float in a calm area, and they showed us how to ride the jet-skis. Since Darren had done it once before, I rode behind him for a couple of laps, then we separated and got our own vehicles. They only let us go around these three buoys, in a big triangle. Okay, not really that big of a triangle, even.

Once again, Darren was disappointed. The first jet-ski we were on wasn't very high powered. I guess they had more powerful ones where he'd been in New Zealand, and they got to go around a whole little island, and have the run of a whole area out from shore. Well, he got a bit more powerful one when we separated, but I stuck with the slower one. I have to admit, riding it was fun, but it was a bit boring just going around in circles.

On the boat ride back, I realized that I couldn't find my glasses. They'd made me take them off (like they were going to fly off -- on my wimpy jet-ski, I hardly even got wet). So I'm quite annoyed about that. They had to rush us back to the hotel, but the boat guy went and checked when he took the next group out, and they said they didn't find them. The driver said he'd check again for me, but I'm afraid unless a miracle occurs, I'll be needing to get new glasses when I get home.

We got back to the hostel pretty early, like 1:00. We were going to try to get to the "swap meet" that they have every Sunday, but it was a long bus ride from the hostel, and people were saying it closed early. So we went to get some lunch (he got a burger from Jack-In-The-Box, and then he walked with me out to the produce/smoothie/sandwich place I like). Turns out Darren hates veggies just like Andy. My sandwich was delicious, and I got a glass of carrot/apple/greens juice, and a whole ripe mango. On their TV they were showing Snow White, which was a nice change from the war news. We hung around while I ate my sandwich (and Darren ate his chocolate muffin and juice which he'd got there), then we walked back to the hostel.

After that it was too late to see the rest of the Aquarium, so I thought I'd go shopping for stuff for Kristin & Andy. I didn't really want to hit the tourist places, so I asked at the hostel desk where I could get cheap clothes, and the guy there directed me to the local Goodwill stores. A 20 minute bike ride. Not that far, but when you're staying practically on the beach, just about everything is uphill from where you are... It was a little further than I anticipated from his directions, but I found it, and spent some quality time thrift shopping. I actually checked out TWO different Goodwill stores, and even found pictures of them on the web! (Thrilling, aren't they?) I figured Kristin and Andy wouldn't mind thrift-store clothes. I got some rayon Hawaiian shirts for Andy (they call them Aloha shirts here). I didn't find anything good for Kristin, but I did get something for me. All the dresses that were in a nice fabric were my colors and/or my size (I swear all the good ones were brown) I'll go get Kristin something at the regular shops -- I saw some things she'd like.

After that, I figured, while I was out on my bike, I'd see if I could find the University Library, which has free internet access. Steph had given me directions there, and since I'd just spent money on clothes, I thought I'd save a little on internet access -- and I was already halfway there.... I thought.

Turns out I had to come all the way down the hill, go a bit further out still from the hostel, and then go back up the hill again. With directions from some friendly people, I made it here, though, and that's where I am now. Typing away in a nice, bright, air-conditioned University Library. The campus is really dead, too, since it's Sunday.

Tomorrow I'll try to make it out to the botanical garden on the bike, then if I have time, I'll finish seeing the Aquarium. Then I'll bike back up to Steph's house and drop off her bike and walk back. Then hop a shuttle to the airport. It looks like Darren's leaving almost the same time as me, so we'll probably go ahead and take the same shuttle out there. Adalberto said he'll e-mail me pictures from the sea-kayaking when he gets back to Brazil in a week or so, too.

PS: The jetskiing people did find my glasses later, and returned them to the hostel. Yay!

Monday [left, leafy seadragon; middle right, entrance to Foster Botanical gardens; middle left, cannonball tree; and bottom right, giant palms in the palm collections]
I'm leaving today, but in the evening, so I packed up my bags and took them and the keys and everything down to the office. I never did get to finish seeing the Aquarium, or make it to the Foster Botanical Gardens, so that's what I aimed to do today. And I had to return Steph's bike. Darren and I would be sharing a cab to the airport at about 7:00, since we were both leaving around the same time.

First I went to the Aquarium, because it was nice and close. I just biked over there. I took Stanley (my stuffed sea turtle that I bought at Wood's Florist, where I work) because I'd taken him all the way to Hawaii and he never even got to see the ocean. So that was nice. There were no sea turtles at the Aquarium (which was a shame -- I know there are sea turtles over on the other side of the island where we were kayaking, but I didn't see any, and I certainly didn't take Stanley on that trip!). But he had a great time at the Aquarium waving at small children. There were a lot of small children there.

The Waikiki Aquarium isn't really that large, but it has great exhibits -- well maintained living coral exhibits representing and discussing reef habitats from all over the world, and lots of interactive stuff: audio tour wands that you get free with the price of admission, magnifying glasses and hands-on things about corals and how they grow, videos about various marine life, light up maps showing distribution of different types of species... and on and on. They even had seadragons, a favorite animal of mine that I'd never seen in real life, both the "leafy" variety, and the "weedy" variety. Seadragons are a relative of seahorses, and are found in Australian waters. They had live octopus, cuttlefish, and even nautilus! I was definitely impressed with this little aquarium.

By the time I got out of there it was getting late. There was no way I'd catch the 1:00 tour around the Foster Botanical Garden. A lady at the Aquarium desk suggested I go to the Lyon Arboretum, which is really nice -- I mean, I've even heard of it before. The only problem was, she wasn't sure when it closed, and while it seemed like it might have been closer, it was definitely all uphill, since it was up on the side of the volcano. The Foster Botanical Garden was in the city, and therefore smaller, but also closer to the coastline, so not so much uphill. And I'd already gotten directions, and had been planning to go there for, gosh, days now...

So I set out along the directions through town -- and it was really right through the city. The city just seemed to go on forever. Suffice it to say that it took a bit longer than I thought it would to get there. I kept thinking I must be lost, because I hadn't come to whichever street I was looking for next.

In the end, I got there with only about an hour to see the place. It was an estate of the old aristocracy which had been maintained as a botanical garden, as the original owner had wished, after she passed on. It was small by some standards, but had some very nice collections, which, as a person with the Collector Gene in full force, I really appreciated. They had a Palm Collection, a Poisonous Plants Collection, a Fern Collection, a Prehistoric Plants Collection, and those are just the ones that I remember well. They had nice stuff -- and all of it totally foreign to me, since it was all tropical.

I got out of there just as it closed, and had to bicycle all the way back to the other side of town, and actually, then up to Steph's place up on the hillside from the hostel, to return the bike. Then I walked back down the hill in the fading twilight, arriving perilously close to when I needed to be out of there. Darren was starting to get worried I'd miss the cab...

Then we took the taxi to the airport, and I started the long trip home. It seemed like half the trip was spent in the airport there. They were short-staffed or something. The lines were beyond belief, and once you got out of one line, you had to get into another. First they had to screen your baggage for biological materials -- it's a Hawaii thing. You get a sticker and move on to the line where they check you in and screen your stuff for something else. Then, with your carry-on, you get in the really long line to go through security. It must have taken at least an hour just to get to the gate. I spent a fair amount of time showing string figures to a little girl in line in front of me, which was fun. It made me miss doing string figures. Steph and I hadn't gotten any time at all to play with string, but then we hadn't had time to play guitar, either. Not surprising, really, in the week before a wedding, I guess. So, the lines at the airport were really long, but luckily I had gotten there in plenty of time for my flight, so it was no problem.

Then it was just lots of flying, pretty uneventful, except for leaving my purse at a Fanny Mae store in Chicago O'Hare airport. That was weird. You just don't expect when they call out someone's name over the intercom, for for it to be your name. So I had to walk all the way back from the gate where I was waiting, to get my purse. Well, I guess I needed the exercise. The rest of the flight was just... flying until I got home. Overall, it was a great trip, but I have to say, it's nice to be home.

--- Copyright © 2003 by Alison Frane ---