Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The gathering place


O'ahu means "the gathering place" in Hawaiian, and here we are on another beautiful Hawaiian island. We arrived in Honolulu last night (19 April to be precise, as I see my Blogspot time stamp is still on Indiana time) and made the highly stressful journey in our rental car to our awesome hotel in Waikiki Beach. Highly stressful because Honolulu is a BIG CITY and after being in Kauai for several days, Honolulu might as well be New York or Tokyo. The traffic, even at 9PM, was very heavy, especially on the street that parallels Waikiki Beach. I will not attempt to spell the name of the street, but like most other place names in Hawaii, it has lots of vowels in it.

Fast forward to this morning. For some reason it took us a long time to get moving, so when we finally went out for breakfast, there was none to be found. Instead, we wound up having lunch at a Cheeseburger in Paradise (aptly named) a few blocks from our hotel. After lunch, we wandered across the street to Waikiki Beach to take photos and watch the surfers. Waikiki is a happening place. There are lots of Japanese tourists here, combined with your typical Americans (most of whom appear to be older than me and from the Midwest or South), and your young surfer dude types. There are lots of shi-shi shops, like Chanel and Tiffany and Coach. But there are also lots of imported cheap crap shops and kiosks. So the shopping wasn't as fun deep down as it looked on the surface.

We decided to take a drive around the island, or at least around as much of the island as possible. There's a little strip up on the northwest side where there's no road to speak of. So here's what we did. We went east, past Diamond Head and Kehala and the Molokai lookout (could barely see Molokai today) to the Halona Blowhole. The tide was low, so there wasn't much action at the blowhole, but at least I got to see the water shoot up a foot or so and that was cool.

I hoped to stop at the Byodo-In Temple, which was used as the setting for Sun and Jin's wedding on Lost, one of our favorite TV shows. But we took a wrong turn and by the time I realized it, we were way far north. We drove up the east coast to Laie, where we popped by the Polynesian Cultural Center and took a drive-by photo of the beautifully landscaped Laie Hawaii Temple.

Soon we were on the north shore, specifically Sunset Beach, one of the popular surfing areas. We stopped to take a few photos, then headed toward the town of Haleiwa. I'm not sure if it was there or Kawailoa where we stopped for ice cream, but I had some of the best homemade pineapple ice cream ever at a cute little ice cream shop that had the word Paradise in its name.

We continued all the way to Mokuleia Beach, which we had read online was the crash site for the Oceanic flight that Lost was based on. Since filming for that series finished several months ago, we missed seeing the fake-crashed plane on the beach. Oh, well. At least we got to see the Dharma Initiative's headquarters . . . or, Camp Erdman, the YMCA camp near the end of the road, which was used as the setting for the home of "the Others."


Oceanic 815 crash site? Honestly, I will have to go back and compare this photo to my DVDs of the first two seasons.
 
Coming back to Honolulu was a breeze, because there's a reasonably fast two-lane highway that cuts to the center of the island, past pineapple and banana and other farms, to Schofield Barracks. There's still an Army presence here, and this is where the H2 begins (Hawaii has three highways that are sort of like interstate highways on the mainland: H1, H2, and H3). We took the H2 back to Honolulu and the H1, and from there navigated our way back to the hotel.

Dinner tonight was so worthy, I'm going to have to write a separate entry on it in my food blog someday. We chose one of our hotel's restaurants for convenience, but it turned out to be a great choice. Ciao Mein is a Zagat "very good to excellent" winner that specializes in Chinese and Italian fusion. Sound strange? Well, maybe not, when you consider that the Italians got pasta from the Chinese (Marco Polo, anyone?) Seriously, though, this was one of the best meals I've ever had!!!

Check back again in a day or two for the latest. Goodnight, Mainlander!!!