Friday, April 02, 2010

Slices of Paradise

We recently-ish got back from a week and a half in Hawaii. Here are some slapshots.

Even though Alaska is nothing like an island, in some ways it has the same feel. Very isolated and, practically speaking, impossible to get off of save by boat or plane.

Our journey outbound had something of a forced-march feel to it. 0100 takeoff, three hours to Seattle. Five hours in the terminal. Not quite two hours to San Francisco. Two hours in the terminal. Four more to Honolulu.

Although perhaps I should have, I don’t think I missed a single opportunity to say to TOSWIPIEAESW and the woman and man childs: “Welcome to my life”.

Having come out of an Alaskan winter, the first, and most wonderful, thing about Hawaii is being warm to the bones for the first time in months.

We spent only a day on Oahu, most of it spent touring Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona memorial takes your breath. It is sobering to stand on the death place of nearly 1,200, knowing it was the first step on a bloody trail ending in Nagasaki.

While pondering the ship’s skeletal remains just below the surface, I was struck by a great strategic irony. The Japanese used aircraft carriers to attack battle ships.

Think about it. The whole attack plan proved that the point of the attack plan was made irrelevant by the attack plan itself.

You’d think someone could have mentioned that ahead of time.

It has been awhile since I have gone on a religion rant, but having traversed airport security as a passenger five times in the space of nine days, I can’t help it.

I hate Islam.

There, I said it. Before anyone throws intolerance brickbats, though, remember this: turn about is fair play. Islam hates me, too. It wants me converted, subjected and taxed, or dead.

As for the third option, blowing up westerners in airliners seems to be the debacle of choice.

Hence the ever increasing impositions of cattle-in-a-chute airport security. With every fanatically ingenious advance in splodeydoping — box cutters, shoes with a bang, on-board chemistry, and punch packing panties — millions have to put up with security procedures ever more teeth gritting with every real or near outrage.

We didn’t buy sunscreen before leaving Alaska, despite being obvious candidates for the stuff. It is one of those dreaded creams to be separated from us until eternity, and, at $25 a whack, we weren’t going to check luggage just to shift a tube of goo.

So we bought the stuff in Honolulu, but, having our minds on other things, like not being cold, for a change, we bought the family size.

Which we didn’t use, because we weren’t outside all that much.

Which we did throw away, unopened, the next day at airport security, before our flight to the big island.

I think there might be an unholy alliance between Islamists and the airlines. This whole liquids, gels and creams thing mean many more people are put in the position of having to check luggage.

Hence the recent proliferation of checked-luggage charges.

You would think that flying for a job might suggest a certain willingness to forego flying for a vacation. I would, anyway. But I would be thinking in error, for the plan as ordained from on high involved four islands in seven days.

Which gave me three opportunities to cast room-reddening hate beams in the direction of Hawaiian Airlines. In that universe, perhaps for fear the Islamists will find a way to achieve critical mass with summer weight vacation clothes, anything greater than 25 lbs must be checked.

At $10 a whack. It was bad enough that, due to having a roll aboard designed to shrug off the rigors of professional travel, I was 13 lbs into that 25 before loading so much as my first Hawaiian themed shirt, I was getting stung every time.

What was worse, what added insult to that injury, was this required weighing everything bigger than a forbidden tube of sunscreen, which meant a check-in line long enough raise the suspicion of having stumbled onto an American Idol casting call.

Dove tail that with the TSA tango, brought to you by the Religion of Peace, and showing up an hour fifty early turned out to be scarcely enough. Going through that rigamarole once, never mind three times, amounted to a free medical test: I am now certain I harbor no aneurysms.

After getting to Hawaii (the island this time, not the state), we had to engage in a protracted search to find sunscreen. This is like not being able to buy mittens in Alaska.

Important travel tip. When going on vacation in Paradise, when doing a windshield tour therein, cell phone cameras are not a satisfying substitute for the purpose bought SLR left lying smack dab in the center of the hotel room bed.

The most useless person on the planet is not a sleeping congressman, or Paris Hilton. No, not even an awake congressman.

That honor goes to the Hawaii weatherman. This is the job description:

Low: [ 67 | 68 | 69] Hi: [ 79 | 80 | 81] [Breezy | Slightly Windy] [Partly Cloudy | Some Clouds | Mostly Sunny] [Intermittent Showers | Scattered Showers | Occasional Showers]

Select one from each.

Overtasked? Use this short-form weather forecast: tomorrow, just like today.

We did some snorkeling. Lots of turtles and very colorful fish on the payroll, never mind far stranger things.

Most surprising, for those who haven’t spent any time in the ocean, is how noisy it is underwater, kind of like being in a bowl of Rice Crispies just after the milk shows up. On top of that, there were some whales about 10 miles away, which is well within earshot.

They are as talkative as a pod of mall-crawling teenage girls.

I take no small amount of stick at home for my invisible internet friends, a good many of whom, thanks to my job, are not actually invisible at all. Still doesn’t stop the stick, though.

Recent family trips have dropped the cloak a couple times for the rest of my family, as well. Last year Brit, this time Harry.

We got to the restaurant first — right next to the ocean, with the sun setting behind Lanai a dozen miles away. It was a lead-pipe cinch to make sure the maître d' steered Harry and his wife, Tricia, to our table: “we are waiting on Santa Claus.”

Ordinarily, sitting down for dinner with someone you don’t know makes for awkward conversational pauses. Not so much, though, when you’ve been pixleing up a storm for a half dozen years or so.

BTW, Harry is a very good conversationalist who has an uncommon grasp in person as he does via the intertubes on a very wide variety of subjects: a walking Google.

Our last couple days were in Kauai, which cranks the paradise control knob, already at eleven, a little further to the right. A normal person, faced with an adult beverage, gentle breezes ruffling the ocean, and tiki torches making sure you get the point, will do one of two things: put the brain in neutral, or, failing that, think that this would be a great place to move to so as to put the brain in neutral.

Not me. All I could think about was how I — and millions of other tourists — had saddened Gaia by flying all over heck and gone to be here, then spicing that insult with those shameless torches which, for no other reason than our enjoyment, were further choking Gaia with even more CO2. Clearly, for the love of Gaia, all of this must stop.

Our global warming overlords are going to have a heck of a re-edumacating job on their hands; camps will be required.

After a week and a half, our slice of Paradise reached its other end: the bloody all night and a goodly chunk of the next day slog back to Alaska, where I did not further hector my family more than several hundred times about “welcome to my world.” When they asked for separate seating, the flight attendants were most apologetic. Full planes, which were all the ones we were on, simply don’t allow for much shuffling around, no matter how dire the cause.

That slog, though, really only deserves being called “bloody” by the very debased standards of the modern age. The Hawaiian visual feast was separated from its Alaskan version by only 15 hours. In case you have trouble with the concept behind the words “polar opposites”, this transition will hammer the point right home:

Hawaii, pleasing to the eyes, lush, and welcoming.

Alaska, pleasing to the eyes, would just as soon kill you.

(Taken the day after we got home from my office window, about 15 miles north of my house).


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Smiling though its face is, Hawaii will kill you, too. I keep a black file of all the strange ways it will do you in, and if I ever retire will write it up as a book.

Skipper didn't say so, but his children demonstrated unusual aplomb at the dinner. When I was their age, in a like situation, I'd have been tonguetied.

April 02, 2010 7:52 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Smiling though its face is, Hawaii will kill you, too.

Stop messing up my narrative flow with facts.

April 02, 2010 9:28 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I keep a list on my desk of the tourists who have simply disappeared without a trace. It's up to around 50 in 22 years.

Optimists will say, though, that we return a commendable 99.9998% of visitors alive. I wonder what Alaska's percentage is?

April 03, 2010 6:54 AM  

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