Our first few hours in Hawaii were pretty idyllic, but overall, Hawaii isn't quite as relaxing as advertised. How's that? Well, the traffic is really bad. I've spent more time trapped in bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway this week than I have for the past year in the bay area (oh bless you my little Prius and your magic stickers, how I do love thee!). So traffic sucks. This was unexpected for me. I kinda figured it was an island so it'd be easy to get around and not get lost. Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh how I laugh now. Today was the first day I made it through without getting terribly lost. The first day we went back to the airport to get Rick's cell phone and to exchange our car since the first one had a burned out left hand turn signal. We managed to totally miss the exit and ended up near the H1/H2 junction about a dozen miles past the airport. We got off the freeway, and tried to turn around, but a U-turn wasn't allowed. So we bumbled through a neighborhood and turned around. We made it back to the airport, but then we got lost again returning to the hotel.
The next day we got lost going to the Dole Pineapple plantation. When we finally made it there it was way cool. We spent an hour and four minutes doing the maze. Then we sat down for some Dole Whip (just like Disneyland!!!) and lunch. We headed back, tried to make a pit stop at the Walmart in Pearl City for a few supplies, got lost in the suburbs, eventually found our way to Walmart, got some water, a razor, a pair of scissors, etc. and then got lost trying to find the freeway entrance. We found a freeway entrance where you could go on three different highways, but for the H1, you could only go in the wrong direction. This was where I really lost it. I got lost in another suburb and finally turned around where I found that you could only get on the H1 going the correct direction if you were coming from this side, but you couldn't have made a U-turn to do it. Gah!
Next we got lost on our way to drinks at Bar 55. We finally made it and I tried my first Tequila Sunrise (meh.) and soaked up a little sympathy. I've never gotten lost so frequently in my life, but a combination of poor signage, disappearing lanes, no U-turn signs, and just generally being totally unfamiliar with the area and I was feeling less than relaxed. But there were good friends and good company and it was nice, except for when Dave and Ellen and Sarah arrived and were told they couldn't stay because the 2 year old wasn't allowed. It was Sarah's birthday and we were planning to open presents and such. This was a huge bummer. I decided to follow them out, maybe go join them for dinner, but we hatched a plan to have a party at their condo later. I would get a cake from the St. Germaine bakery downstairs from the hotel, Eddie would bring the rum, and Dave would grab some strawberries and ice cream. Crisis resolved, I felt much better and went back to enjoy the party.
I managed to grab the last chocolate cake in the case at the bakery and got candles at the Food Pantry. Party was had, candles were lit, happy birthday was sung, and Sarah LOVED the quilt that Erik and Marissa got for her. Yay!
Tuesday started with a hike up Diamond Head. We got there no problem without getting lost. Hooray! It's a nice little walk up to the top and the view is spectacular. The wind was starting to blow pretty strong from the approaching hurricane, but that just made a warm day feel perfect. Back down at the bottom, we headed out to Wailoa Shave Ice. It really was lovely and powdery. Yum! We came back to the hotel and then all met up at Duke's for lunch. The group grew from 12 to 16 to 19 finally, so it took a lot of updates to the folks who were trying to seat us, and a bit longer to seat us than originally anticipated. I don't recall being that hungry in years. I ate through two full plates of food at the lunch buffet and still had room for a few bites of the Hula pie. After lunch we walked out to the beach and some folks set up in the sunny part of the beach. I followed Rick and Alex and Sherman to a shady spot, then headed across the street to the ABC store for an inner tube and a pair of goggles. Then I met back up with the others to go float around in the ocean for a while. It was so warm that it didn't make me squeal when the water hit my belly. We all talked about how this was so different from the ocean of our youth - on the east coast or in Northern California. Warm and gentle is so much better.
We started the next day by getting badly stuck in traffic (and only a little lost) on the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The cultural center was pretty impressive. Cousin Ben at the Hawaii section was a crack up and a very proud papa with a daughter on our national soccer team getting ready for the World Cup in Beijing. He taught us about Hawaiian pronunciation and Hawaiian musical instruments and the hula. We learned a little hula dance in the Hawaii section and got to learn a bit about spinning poi in the New Zealand section (and about how to hit myself in the face with poi). We also got to see what appeared to be a Samoan hazing ritual during the floating parade when the male Samoan dancers rocked the boat until they managed to land their boatswain in the water. He didn't look too happy and made one of the other guys push the boat the rest of the way. The Samoan cultural presentation was a hoot as well and we learned how to open a coconut. This will be useful later I'm sure.
Today we totally didn't get lost at all and only had to make one U-turn! Yay! We went to the USS Arizona memorial and to the mall and found the perfect bachelorette gifts at a store that doesn't exist according to their website. Tonight we're off to Marissa's bachelorette party. We're walking, so I expect to make it through the entire day without being lost. Hooray!