Our Last Hawaiian Day

On Saturday, Bridget and I slept in, due to late-night activities and slight hangovers. We had appointments for massages at 10 am, so had to get moving by then. I felt rather bad for the masseuse since neither of us took showers. We must’ve reeked of alcohol.

Bridget had never had a professional massage before (the half-assed ones from her ex don’t count – 5 minutes of light rubbing followed by ‘oh, now it’s my turn’ leaves a bit to be desired…) She wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew that she would love it.

We showed up on time (barely, even though it was right downstairs) and signed in. The courtyard where we waited was pretty, with a little waterfall and green foliage, downright restful. It would’ve been heaven, if not for the slight headache I had which made the sound of the falling water echo in my brain (more proof that I lost my mind long ago).

The Lotus Spa

We got called in and I got to explain to Bridget that she had to get naked. Bridget hates to get naked. She’d keep her clothes on in the shower if she could figure out how to get everything washed without a lot of hinderance. Which I find amusing, since she likes to wear bikinis. But she does strip down and slide under the sheet. She even has me take a picture for posterity!

Bridget’s Massage

Our masseuses come in and it’s an hour of pure bliss, chasing away my headache. I have her work extra on my shoulders and feet. The time flew by too quickly, as it does when you’re really enjoying something. The masseuse leaves us our water and we slowly come back to reality. As I expected, Bridget loved it and wished it could’ve continued for longer.

We get dressed and wander back out to the courtyard, moving slowly. The sound is less echoey with my headache gone. We lounge for a while, enjoying the serene environment.

Bridget in the Courtyard

When we get moving, we decide to spend some time in the hotel pool before we have to meet my Aunt and Uncle for a “progressive dinner” with their church group (a fancy and time consuming way to host a pot luck ). We swim and relax.

Bridget in the Pool

Then we have to get ready for the pot luck. We meet the Aunt and Uncle at the church, have appetizers and make small talk with people we don’t know and will likely never see again (plus, most are twice our age). Usually this is a recipe for fun, but since relatives are involved and they have to see these people on a regular basis, I can’t get too wild or cantankerous (which is a shame because I’m good at both). So, we chat politely for an hour. Then we move to the next person’s house, 20 minutes away, where we have salad and chat politely for another hour. Then we go for the main course. Where we chat politely for another hour and secretly plot our escape. We decline dessert, begging off for packing purposes.

We say goodbye to the Aunt and Uncle, thanking them for everything. They really are wonderful people. We head back to the hotel and hit the bar. It’s not as populated as the previous evening since there was no luau. But my cute bartender is there. So I flirt and get a Mai Tai. And as I flirt, a young, cute guy sits down next to me. He’s a Roman archeologist (all of 24). His family has left and he’s by himself for his last night on Hawaii.

Bridget and I agree that he’s cute. Young, but cute. I plan to try to hook them up, if only for the evening. We plan to hang out for the night, go to bars, have fun. I get another Mai Tai. We wander off and I try to catch my bartender’s eye (Garrett), but he’s busy. So, we’re off! As we walk, I try to move so they walk next to each other. I encourage them to find things in common. But as we chat, it seems that I have more in common with him. Drat. This isn’t going to be easy.

We head to a not-so-busy club, where we can chat. I start a tab and (yep! Mai Tai!) get another round for everyone. We drink, they dance. I get more drinks. Then we dance. He gets drinks. Bridget goes to the bathroom. He asks, “so, do you have a boyfriend?” and I say “nope. No one permanent.”

And then there was kissing. I didn’t even see it coming (too many Mai Tais). And I’m thinking, how am I going to explain this to Bridget? Then, there was more drinking. Way too much drinking.

Whatever His Name Is

We head back to the hotel, where there’s more kissing. And part way through the night, I realize, I don’t remember his name. I’m sure I got it at the beginning of the evening. But I can’t for the life of me remember what it is.

In the morning, I ask Bridget what his name was. She just laughs at me. To this day, she still won’t tell me. So, I’ve named him Jason.

Luau – They Do Still Dance the Hula in Hawaii

On Friday, we take our time waking up. We have tickets to the luau that night, the Aunt and Uncle are coming, and I have to get the tickets printed. Except I don’t have Internet or a printer. Crap! One task made more difficult. I resolve to talk to the manager later.

We go to the grotto and I use up my underwater film while snorkeling. There are a surprising amount of fish in the hotel’s private grotto. I figured there would only be one or two terrified fish, but no, there are tons of terrified fish to further frighten with a camera. We spend a couple hours lounging and swimming.

Private Grotto

Then we go shopping. We wander the stores and learn that you can send coconuts by mail. And decorate them. So, we do!

Decorating Coconuts

We also find extremely cool scrapbooks for this trip (yes, blogging is cool too, but not as easy to whip out at parties – don’t iPhone me! There’s also something satisfying about holding a book of memories). And then it’s time to head back to the hotel so I can figure out how to print the tickets.

On the way back, I see a coffee shop with free Internet. I go get coffee (I need some) and start chatting with the barista about the Internet and my ticket predicament. In an understanding mood, she allows me to use her computer and print the tickets there. She’s now my favorite person in the world and I tip her well.

So we go get ready for the Luau. We get our dresses and head down to meet the Aunt and Uncle. We’re all dressed in our Hawaiian finest.

Bridget & Me in Luau Garb

Hawaiian Finest

The best part is the open bar. We each get two drinks, get two for the Aunt and Uncle and wait for dinner. They dig up a kahlua pig, cooked in the traditional manner – in the ground. It smells tasty.

Kahlua Pig

We get our dinner, more drinks, and wait for the show. Which is fabulous. There are dancers and fire eaters and stories. We watch random audience members try to hula with hilarious results. We ogle the male dancers and get pictures. I even get to talk to the fire eater.

Me and the Luau BoysBridget and the Luau Boys

Then the Aunt and Uncle head home. Bridget and I head to the bar. We ogle the bartenders. We meet the most obnoxious nouveau-riche group of people who try to hook us up with their creepy friends. I have nothing against people who have made their money within their own lifetime. In fact, I applaud it. But don’t expect me to bow to your money. And don’t tell me your gorgeous niece is fat when she’s not (she was normal sized, but not anorexic which I guess she was supposed to be). We escape and try our luck at a local club (which fails miserably) then go to bed. It’s massages in the morning for us!

Around the Island

Wednesday evening, we checked out of the Aunt and Uncle’s house and into the hotel – the Royal Kona Resort. Our reservation was for the garden tower, but when we checked in, I explained to our lovely reservation clerk that it was our first (and probably Bridget’s only) trip to the Big Island (staying in a resort) and was there anything slightly nicer available? She moved us into the Ali Tower (which had been newly remodeled) with a garden view (but you could still see the ocean from our balcony). It was a great room. We settled in and went to bed early for our tour of the island in the morning. Apparently there are 13 types of climate zones in the world and the Big Island has 11 of them, so we were going to see them all!

We got up early so that we’d have plenty of time to get around the whole island. We kept getting warned that it takes 8 hours to drive the whole island, and that’s just driving time (now I know it really only takes about 5 hours of driving, unless you’re miss Daisy, which my Uncle probably is).

We hopped into the Jeep and started the trip right, by stopping at Burger King for breakfast sandwiches and coffee! Then we started the real trip. The road north was interesting. Obviously the desert or semi-arid area of the island. The roadside was dry brush and dark rock (on a volcanic island, go figure!). As with any rocky country with bored teenagers near it, graffiti coated the landscape to either side of the road. But these teenagers (or other industrious folks) had gotten creative. Instead of using spray paint, they used white rocks. I tried to get pictures, but they blurred while from driving and I wasn’t about to stop traffic on a two-lane highway for graffiti pictures. Bridget did get a nice shot of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain peak on the island (and in the world, if measured from the ocean floor).

Mauna Kea

We were aiming for a road that would’ve saved us an hours drive, but somehow missed any signs indicating the road (there were none. Turns out it was a continuation of our favorite road -Palani).

But we got to see the climate change from arid to rainy to VERY rainy (apparently, it rains a lot in a rain forest, whodathunk?) We drove until we found the first of the waterfalls we wanted to see, Akaka falls. They were gorgeous. And rainy. Admittedly, there were breaks in the rain, but we were always a little soggy.

Akaka Falls

Then we had lunch (during which it rained) and saw Rainbow Falls and the Boiling Pots. Now, we heard the boiling pots were “just up the road”, and decided to try hiking a path to see them. This was our first indication that we were dressed completely inappropriately for this adventure. We were in our sandals and sleeveless shirts hiking in muddy, rainy forest. And did we bring jackets? Of course not, Hawaii is warm and sunny, right?

Rainbow Falls

We continued on to the volcanoes, feeling the temperature drop with each mile. We’d planned to hit the volcanoes around dusk to see the lava flows better, all glowy in the dark. Our first stop is the souvenir shop – to pick up jackets for our dumb asses (but hey, now I have a cool volcano jacket). And we drive to the volcano craters and look around. Did I mention it’s raining again? The craters smoked and glowed a bit. We got to walk through an old lava tube. We saw lava flows from the past. But no flowing lava.

1974 Lava Flow

We drove down the windy path until it was almost full dark, to see the lava flow down the mountain into the ocean. And we drove. And drove. We finally came to the end of the road and got to hike a mile to where the active flows were usually visible and an old lava flow had crossed the road. It’s full dark and we see…nothing. The lava decides that it’s not flowing today or at least not visibly. It’s flowing into the tubes.

Bridget & Me on the Lava

Lava in the Dark

So we get back into the Jeep and drive around the rest of the island, about 2 hours, back to the hotel. Bridget decides she’s tired and goes right to bed. It’s only 10 PM and I want a drink. So, I wander down to the hotel bar and have a Mai Tai. I also strike up a conversation with a guy from Australia, who didn’t get his helicopter tour and is hoping to get one tomorrow. He’s ok, but just interesting to talk to, not hot. The bartender, on the other hand, is hot. But working. So, after my drink, I wander up to bed. Tomorrow is for using the resort to its fullest.

SCUBA!!!

Bridget and I decided that we wanted to try scuba diving well before our trip was finalized. We debated about when to go, whether to get certified before-hand, etc. In the end, we figured that we’d play it by ear and try it out. The Kona Boys in Captain Cook helped immensely with that.

When we stated our desire to Uncle Eugene, he stopped off at the Kona Boys Surf and Scuba shop. They had what’s called a scuba tour, which means you get an hour or two of instruction, then you go on two 30-minute (or so) dives. If you like it, you can go on toward your certification. If not, you got to dive. So, we signed up for the day after Christmas.

We arrived at 8:00 a.m. The instructor-in-training was there to fit us out with wet-suits, gear and flippers. I bought a cheap, underwater camera (the one I ordered hadn’t arrived…grumble). And off we went, to the city of refuge, one of the premier scuba and snorkel locations in the world.

Once we got there, we were given all the basic instructions. This goes here, that goes there, check your equipment, use toothpaste for anti-fogger, here are the signals for underwater, etc. We practiced putting on our rigs. We inflated and deflated our vests. We got weight belts. We got geared up and trudged over to the water.

Bri In Gear

Then we were at the water, a place called two-step (there are two natural steps down into the water). We launch ourselves into the water and release the air from our vests. As we sink, it’s a whole different world. Mostly full of bubbles and the sound of me breathing into my own ears. I sink. I look around. According to our instructor, if you say you don’t freak out a bit during the first five minutes, you’re lying. And I did. Not to the point of panicking or thrashing, but getting used to breathing through a tube clenched between my teeth is a bit disconcerting, with bubbles constantly being expelled and no peripheral vision, yeah, I’m a little uneasy. But my instructor, a master diver, has me take his arm and swim for a few minutes to get my bearings and then I’m fine.

Because we weren’t certified, we had both the master diver and the instructor in training with us. That way, if one of us freaked out, one could take the freaked one up and the other could keep an eye on the remaining brave soul. Luckily, both Bridget and I are naturally inclined toward water. We love swimming and caught on to the rhythm of it quickly.

Me Diving

We swam for 30-minutes the first dive to a depth of 30 feet. We saw coral, fish and two sea turtles! It was fabulous. Our instructor took our picture with one.

Sea Turtle

After we surfaced, we took a break and discussed our breathing techniques, swimming abilities and vowed to do better (even though they were both amazed at how well we did. Apparently, I’m a good breather and Bridget is a total natural.I needed to stop swimming with my arms).

We had a snack, water, then went back for our second dive. This time we went down further. We swam to the edge of the reef and I did have to pause momentarily. It looked steep. But after a couple seconds, I was ready and down we went to 70 feet. It was truly amazing.

Then we came up to reality, tired as dogs. We thanked our instructors and went home to nap until it was time to pack up from the Aunt and Uncle’s house and check into our hotel…

Christmas Day in Hawaii

Christmas day was just nice. Bridget and I got up, had breakfast with the Aunt and Uncle and then I had to go to church…again. Luckily it was a very pretty church and all during mass I could gaze out the window at the beautiful garden outside. It’s called the Painted Church and is apparently famous for its murals that were all painted with house paint.

Then we went home, opened presents and decided to go to the beach until dinner. The beach near the Aunt and Uncle’s house is black volcanic rock that’s been worn down to pebbles. In a few more thousand years, it may even be sand!

Bridget and I truly enjoyed basking in the sun on the beach during Christmas day. So much so that we had to call several people and let them know we were doing it.

After a few hours, we had to go back up a VERY steep hill to the house. We decided that was our exercise for the last few days combined. Then, we cooked dinner, which turned out tasty, and played golf (the card game). Uncle Eugene is a genius at this game and knows exactly how to mess with you. It’s great fun and easy.

Then we went to bed. Bridget and I had to get up the next day for our scuba excursion…

On Our Own – Coffee Tour

On the next day, we were on our own. We had a Jeep. We had vague directions. Woot! Let’s go!

We had to pick up our pictures, find our way around (vaguely), Bridget wanted to hit a beach (bloody sun worshiper!) and then we had to meet the Aunt and Uncle for candle light services at 6 p.m. So, we went. Did we take a change of clothes or get a cell phone number? Oh, no. Not us. We were on vacation. We knew where we were going!

In case I didn’t already mention, Uncle Eugene’s house is on a VERY steep hill. The kind you have to change your transmission for after a few years of driving in 1st gear. And his driveway is no better. It’s at about a 60 degree angle. Which means going up and down is a challenge. The first time I tried, Bridget got car sick because I had to roll all the way down before trying again (the parking space was also at a tight angle).

I headed down the driveway and up the hill. I think Bridget closed her eyes the entire way. At least for the driveway. We went to Costco. (Our postcards turned out fabulous and you should’ve gotten one by now. If not, you can order one at www.wewereinHawaiiandyouwerent.com). We went to K-Mart to find souvenirs (I blame Bridget). We drove to the beach and saw a random snowman. I don’t know how he got there. He just was. Bridget sunbathed while I played in the ocean.

I wanted to go on a coffee tour while on the island (come on, Kona coffee country!), so I called and made a 3p.m. appointment. Needless to say, we got lost. Really lost. On Napoopuoo road. Really. We hit the ocean and had to turn back (eventually you always hit the ocean, it’s an ISLAND). We finally found it and did the tour.

Our tour guide LOVED us. I think he wanted to take Bridget home and shtoop her. He would’ve settled for me (but I don’t really settle). We had great fun roasting coffee and acting melodramatic about it. We laughed and got free chocolate and a weird CD out of the experience, as well as our own roast of coffee and labels for it.

Then we went in search of dresses for the candle light, Christmas Eve services and the church. And we searched. We called Aunt Velma’s cell phone, but the number was wrong. We watched the sun set. We searched for the church. It was supposed to be on a hill with paper lanterns going up it. Very pretty, you can’t miss it (so we were told). We did. We went up every hill in town. No church.

We stopped for food. We got dresses we didn’t like much (it was Christmas Eve and only Wal-Mart was open with it’s mumu dresses). We looked for the church. We drove around.

Then, frustrated and cranky, we did what we all eventually do. We gave up and headed back to the Aunt and Uncle’s ready to bear whatever wrath the dealt out.

And as we drove toward home, we saw it. A Baptist church on the hill with paper luminaries. We screeched into the parking lot and ran inside, hoping no one would notice we were late. We saw the Aunt and Uncle in the front row. We sat in the back and tried to look inconspicuous.

Five minutes later, the lights came up and everyone was invited out back to dessert and coffee. We waited for the Aunt and Uncle, who didn’t seem to notice how late we were. We told them how sorry we were, we got lost. They were just happy we made it at all (they got to show us off to their friends). We ate a TON of surgary snacks. I drank coffee. Then we went home and waited for Christmas day.

Oh, Santa, I haven’t been very good, but can I sit on your lap and tell you what I want anyway?

Evil Hawaiian Plan

We wake up late the next morning, bleary eyed…well, ok, Bridget slept late. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t sleep when on vacation. I’m afraid I’ll miss something fun or some such nonsense, so I tend to be the last to go to bed and the first one up. I wasn’t first this particular morning, but I was up pretty early, rambled about our room (with a view!) for a while, read and finally wandered upstairs to the kitchen when I smelled coffee.

The interesting thing about Uncle Eugene’s house is that it’s entirely dependent on rain water for all plumbing purposes. You CAN drink it, but it’s not really recommended. It also smells just a touch sulfiric (go figure, being near a volcano and all). Plus, it’s heated solarly, which means in the morning (when I tend to shower) there isn’t much hot water (or even tepid water). So showers are short.

Bridget finally wakes up. She’s on restricted activity for the day, so we have to do low-key adventures. After chatting with the Aunt and Uncle, we settle on them chauffering us around the area. Plus, we have to put our evil Christmas card plan into action.

The PLAN: Find someplace uniquely Hawaiian that obviously shows us in Hawaii. Get Hawaiian dresses and santa hats. Get picture taken. Take picture to Costco and insert in Holiday card. Get cards made up. Send out to make sure everyone is totally jealous of our Hawaiian adventure.

We ask Uncle Eugene about a Christmassy spot. He has the perfect place he says. And it was beautiful, but not quite what Bridget and I wanted for our cards (who knew pointsettias got that big!). We head over to the local Wal-Mart (they’re everywhere) to pick up some things we forgot (plus Bridget wants to get soveniers there) and some of the stuff we want for the picture. We get dresses (unfortunately, they didn’t have fitted dresses, only the mumu variety). We get hats and some jewelry (that’s mostly me). We ask our Aunt about welcome signs in the area. She suggests Palani road (which ended up to be the one road Bridget and I could find without problem…sometimes without MEANING to). And it’s perfect.

We hike out, take pictures and then drive over to Costco. We buy coffee (Retta’s suggestion and desire), chocolate and lots of other stuff. We figure out the card details. We can pick them up tomorrow. Yay! The plan is underway!

Then we go eat. It’s a diner-like restaurant with decent food and two fairly good looking guys (the cook and the host, who might also be an owner, hard to say. He was VERY solicitous though) who stop by the table and chat with us several times. I think they wanted Bridget, who was very flirty that day.

We drove along the coast, saw our future hotel, was shown Aunt Velma’s church and saw our first Hawaiian sunset (we looked for the green flash, but didn’t see it).

Finally, we went back to the Aunt and Uncle’s, sorted out souveniers, made dinner and went to bed. Well, ok, I read for a while, called people, made plans for Christmas Eve day and shaved my legs while the water was still warm. But Bridget went to bed.

Hawaiian Holiday!!!!!

Every other year, our family spends the holidays with the significant other’s family, trying to keep holiday time fair for both people in the relationship. Since neither Bridget or I have significant others, and due to last year’s trip fiasco – Chris (her Ex) got the boys for the entire Christmas vacation this year – I decided that we needed to take a trip together to an exotic location. We rarely get a chance to travel together and we were going to take it, damn it!

Bridget is not a world traveler and doesn’t have a current passport, so it has to be exotic and U.S. pertinent. Survey says–Hawaii! Darn, what a horrible place to be stuck going, especially when you have an aunt and uncle who live on the big island.

Needless to say, we went and had a fabulous trip. The first wonderful surprise came when Keith discovered that we somehow got booked into business class for the flight out. Business Class! Where they give you drinks and snacks whenever you ask and you get foot rests and hot towels for your hands! We totally took advantage of it (when will it ever happen again?) and each drank two of those small bottles of white wine.

When we landed, we found out just how wrong taking advantage of free wine might be. It was hot. Not deadly hot, but not the 50 degree temperatures that I was used to, or the 20 degree temperatures Bridget was used to. It was about 80 degrees. So, I peel off my jacket and tie it around my waist. Bridget leaves her sweater on, she hasn’t shaved her arm pits and doesn’t want to be embarrassed.

We meet Uncle Eugene and chat. The bags arrive. Bridget wades through people to find our bags. She brings one back and asks me to get the rest, she’s feeling a little “light-headed”. I don’t think much of it and turn to go get bags. I hear someone behind me say “are you ok” and turn back just in time to see Bridget hit the pavement.

“Get the bags” flies right out of my head as I gather Bridget’s head on my knees and tell her to open her eyes. When she does, I ask if she’s ok. She sits up dazedly, no recognition in her eyes at all. Airport security people are asking me questions I don’t know the all answers to: Is she on any medication? I don’t think so. Is she epileptic? No. Does she need medical help? I don’t think so, but it’s hard to say, since I’m not a doctor. Did she hit her head? I don’t know, I saw her shoulder hit the pavement, but not sure about the head…

Paramedics arrive. We feed her gatorade. Her blood pressure is 80 over 40 (dammit! she beet me by 10 points!). She sits. Uncle Eugene has no idea what to do with us. Figuring she’s out of danger, I collect our bags and go to get the rental car, which they take WAY too long finding for me. It’s a Jeep for god’s sake, you don’t have to put it together in the back yard!

By the time I get back, worried, I find out I shouldn’t be. She’s got the paramedics laughing and hauling our luggage around. They load it into the Jeep. They wish her well and tell her no strenuous activity for a day or two. She says, if she knew she’s get such service, she’d have passed out at the airport long ago!

So, we drove to Uncle Eugene and Aunt Velma’s house. Which is beautiful. And we crash for the night. Adventures await. And so does the story…