Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
The skies were a little less charitable today. It was gray from nearly dawn to dusk, and we found ourselves in pockets of rain wherever we went.
We got a late start, Lorraine and Reggie opting to sleep in and enjoy a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. And with my Monday bisected with a noontime advising appointment on campus, we knew we had to spend the morning in town.
Our first stop was the Pali Lookout.
Miracle of miracles, the one place we didn't get drenched was atop the cliff, suffering only blinding cold blasts of wind rushing up the mountainside. Even low to ground, Katie had some trouble keeping her balance, but fortunately enjoyed being shoved about.
I pointed out what Windward landmarks I could, cursing my ignorance of the 'other half' of my home island. The remote campus of Hawaii Pacific University, the flat island that played Gilligan's Island on TV, the H-3 freeway, and the Pali Tunnel below.
"Is that Waikiki?" Reggie asked, pointing at little Kailua town.
"Er, no," I answered, then found myself completely incapable of explaining the layout of O`ahu and our current placement upon it. "Well, the buildings are much taller."
Our next stop was the Queen Emma Summer Home, a secluded little estate we'd passed on our way up the Pali Highway. Although I'd always known it was there, and although it's marked on many a map, today was the first time I ever visited.
The modest royal residence is maintained by the Daughter's of Hawai`i, an old and established grass-roots historic preservation group. The woman at the door who collected the $5 admission and the young docent that conducted the tour were the only staff present.
It was small. Elegance in a very tiny package. There were five rooms, plus the entry foyer. Most of it was prefabricated and shipped from Europe. Lots of wood, especially gorgeous dark koa, and several dozen unique artifacts documenting the links between Hawaiian and British royalty. Everything from the vases and gowns to the chairs and tables had a story.
The tour took no more than 15 minutes, and could have easily taken less were it not for questions from other visitors. The Queen Emma Summer Home is no `Iolani Palace, but the sense of true home and history was no less powerful.
We stopped at the gift shop, picking up a Hawaiian alphabet book for Katie, then headed back into town.
I had to go to my advising appointment, so I dropped everyone else off at Ala Moana, where they could easily fill 90 minutes in retail splendor while I examined my short academic future. Somehow, I nabbed a parking spot on the street right across the CBA building, and strolled slowly over to Crawford Hall.
The meeting with Professor Keever was short and sweet. It didn't take long for her to confirm on paper that I have one class, three credits, left before graduation: JOUR 415, advanced reporting, with surprise! Ann Auman (not Gerald Kato). We spent the rest of our meeting gossiping about the future of the journalism department, and my future in academia.
A post-graduate degree sounds better and better to me, I admit. But if it took me almost ten years to get my Bachelor's Degree, I fear I'll be picking up my second sheepskin in a wheelchair.
I got back to the shopping center a little early, and picked myself up a cold, slimy bento at Shirokiya for a late lunch. I then met up with the ladies, and we browsed the shops a little more.
Somewhere along the line, it was decided that we all would fly out to Hilo for a day trip on Wednesday. So before we left, we stopped by the Aloha Airlines ticket counter and picked up a couple of coupon books (a good discount and the easiest way around "kama`aina rate" restrictions, I've learned).
We're wiping out our tax refund, true, but it'll be worth it. I love the Big Island.
We went back to the Hale Koa, where Katie took a nap and the rest of us talked non-stop out on the balcony. Then, finally, we headed back out to Aloha Tower to catch our boat. Todd, Heidi, and mom were already there, waiting for us.
We then boarded the Ali`i Kai Catamaran, on which my brother has worked for almost a year now, and for which he'd accumulated a handful of free passes. A big treat for visitors, but moreso for Jen and I, who'd otherwise never think of taking a sunset dinner cruise.
The crew worked like a well-oiled machine. Drinks were served as soon as we got to our table, and before the boat left the harbor the buffet line opened. The on board entertainment was non-stop and surprisingly good. And of course, the ride was pretty smooth.
Ironically enough, for all Jen's worrying that I was going to get seasick, she was the one that started turning green. Fortunately, good advice from my brother and Jen's mother got her back on track fairly quickly.
It was raining on shore, and rainbows were plentiful, but out on the ocean it was cool and clear. There was also a full moon out, and as the sun went down, we went up to the top deck and enjoyed the breathtaking view. A perfect evening.
Soon enough the dancers came out, showcasing the flashier (perhaps tackier) varieties of South Pacific styles. Then, after the dancers wiggled off and the boat turned around, the dance floor was opened and the band cranked it up for everyone to dance.
Todd and Heidi shared a slow dance, as did Jen and I. But the real party animal of our group turned out to be Katie.
Seriously. She danced and danced and danced, and everyone else on board ate it up. She danced with the crew, other passengers, and each one of us, and kept going like the Energizer bunny.
(I'd have pictures, but earlier in the evening Katie tipped a glass of water onto my digital camera, marking the second time she and water have brought about the untimely demise of a cherished piece of geek gear.)
Eventually we were back at the pier, and everyone danced off. "It was a good bunch tonight," Todd observed, noting that some nights not a single person dances, let alone cracks a smile.
"It was great," Jen said, and everyone agreed.
So endeth the second day of "vacation." Tomorrow, Pearl Harbor and the rest of the Windward Side.