In honor of my great adventure there, I want to finish up my Hawai’i story. Plus, it’s 39 degrees outside right now so let’s go somewhere tropical.
My friend Shannon from Seattle had all sorts of fun ideas for things to do on Oahu. One post-rainy day, she suggested a hike to off-the-path waterfalls. She called it “Waterfall Hunting.” I was a lot excited.
We were joined by Shannon’s paddling friend, Jess, who is a pilot for Ohana airlines, has lived in Hawai’i for 10 years, and spends her free time surfing and traveling all over the world on her free passes. (No comment.)
We started by making our way through the mud to a “real” waterfall, then meandered off course towards the more remote, hidden one. As I held on to branches and slipped my way through dense jungle, I thought about all of the possible poisonous bugs, worm-y things, and plants that could hurt me. I have been to Costa Rica where poisonous things abound.
Not in Hawai’i! The only things to watch out for are sharks, strong currents, and brown caterpillars (which I eventually met). Instead of getting rashes and bites, we found macadamia nuts, strawberry guavas, and nice smelling flowers. Ah, Hawai’i, you’re just so nice.
I made a couple of trips to the North Shore, the famed land of the Banzai Pipeline and the town of Haleiwa, where many a pro surfing competition is held. Blue Crush!
It’s also where you’ll see very little development and a lot of “Keep the Country Country” signs. Locals have enjoyed a green, peaceful existence there for years. They tend to drive around in trucks with about five people in the back. It’s country.
One North Shore highlight was snorkeling (first time!) at Turtle Bay and…. seeing a turtle! Within minutes of being out in the water, I saw a “moving rock” about three feet ahead of me and below. The sea floor blew up some dirt and there was the big beauty. I’ll admit, I gave it space because I was scared it would snap at me. It was so close. I didn’t really follow it. I just let it do it’s thing and swim away. So stunning.
I watched the Triple Crown Surf Competition for about two hours and ate one of the nummiest chicken burritos ever from the local Cholos food truck. Mama! I really enjoyed that experience. I also stopped by and felt the spray Banzai Pipeline that was rockin’ 10-15 foot waves that day. I admire every person who takes on the challenge of surfing that powerful of an ocean. It was hard to watch at times.
My final North Shore travel highlight I’ll mention was the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This pineapple empire was started by a Harvard botanist with $1,500 and a curious mind. He tested a bunch of fruits and vegetables in the rich, unusual soil of Hawai’i and came up with pineapples as the winner. Then, he built a train to Honolulu where they were canned, boxed, and sent to the world.
I saw real-live chocolate growing for the second time in my life. It brings me so much joy to be near chocolate.
Hopu Ka Lewa
One weekend Shannon invited me to hang out with her and her friends at the Hopu Ka Lewa ultimate frisbee tournament in Waimanalo. The tournament is held in a beautiful valley, on polo fields, and everyone sleeps at a nearby, picturesque beach. High fives to the person who came up with that idea.
I ran into friends from Seattle and made many new ones. Although the party there had a live DJ, an ice luge, and lots of drunk people grinding the night away, camping by the beach, swimming in the water, and seeing signs of “spirit” – like impromptu, foam-machine, sideline dance parties – was my favorite part.
I also faced my fears by encountering my first brown caterpillar. These fuzzy little buggers can really sting. I avoided contact, fortunately. They’re known for making their way into people’s tents. I did some seriously safety checking before I went to sleep.
On my last weekend in paradise, I got to fly to more paradise – Maui. My hostess, Stacey, works for Hawaiian Airlines so I island-hopped for cheap, then her brother hosted us at the Grand Wailea Resort. I loved the big dose of sunshine in Maui’s dryer climate and the fresh starfuit on a tree at the hotel. We spent our one evening there in the quaint, seaside town of Lahaina.
Lahaina is a shopper’s paradise. Clearly, there’s a lot of money flowing through that town, judging by the number of fancy art and jewelry shops. In case you’re wondering, this town was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1820 to 1845 and also a major whaling port.
The must-see highlight of Lahaina is a banyan tree that takes up about a quarter of an acre in a park downtown. You guys!!! It was an 8-foot-tall gift from Indian missionaries in 1873 and now has 16 trunks. It’s overwhelming and makes you wanna play and climb, but you can’t. And, I respect that. Be nice to the awesome tree, I say.
My trip included many more small-scale highlights, like going to spin class with my friend Stacey, biking to nearby Kailua Beach to bodysurf, and paddling with her paddling team.
I also visited the historic Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu. It was the last home of the Hawaiian royals.
The Hawaiian royals were the real deal – hobnobbing with Europe’s royals, composing beautiful music like the famous “Aloha Oe”, and living in relative peace. We Americans shut their show down in the late 1800s. We had more cannons. It’s a heartbreaking tale and some native Hawaiians still talk about separating.
I also visited Pearl Harbor just before Veterans Day. Again, wow – the bravery of everyday people, the story of the attack and why it was a surprise, and fascinating data like how people of Japanese ancestry were the largest ethnic group on the island of Oahu at the time of the attack. I learned a lot.
I’ll end with a great big thank you to my hosts Stacey and Thomas. They gave me a wonderful time away from my usual haunts. I learned SO much about Hawaiian culture. I know to address people older than me as “Auntie” or “Uncle.” I get it that you gotta “talk story” before you get into “What do you do for a living?” Oahu burns all of its garbage and turns it into electricity. And, it’s “Ha-vai-i-ee” not “Ha-why-ee.” I could go on and on. Thank you, hosts with the most.
Seattle Is Great
Now that I’m back in Seattle, I’m having different adventures as a non 9-to-5-er. My winter trip to Brazil dissolved after I failed to apply correctly for a VISA, twice. So, I’m grounded but I’m flyin’ high. I have a new show brewing (Techlandia) and am having fun all over town.
I will share soon about what I’m learning now. One lesson for sure is that I LOVE my friends and family in Seattle so much it makes my heart ache. It’s good to see you all.