Hawaii: Young Turk, Old Dude, and Rugged Survivor

We’ve been on the Big Island now for nearly a week, and it is definitely different from either Oahu or Maui.

Oahu reminds me of a young, single man who got a good job and has lots of disposable income. He’s looking for a good time – lots of night life, hot women, and a flashy lifestyle. He works hard and parties even harder.

Maui is like an older dude with a grayish goatee. Although he also likes a good time, his pace is more laid back, and his tastes are somewhat different. He takes walks on the beach, watches the occasional sunset, and likes to wind things up (or down) at an earlier hour.

He may also smoke a fair bit of weed, but I’m not one to judge.

Hawaii … well, I haven’t quite figured him out, yet. First off, he is rugged. There are very few sandy beaches here. What there are, though, are lots of very interesting places where you can, if you’re not careful, invite a quick trip to a medical facility.

For example, we were at a tidal pool area a few days ago. Imagine a coast made up of lava rock – the stuff you might have had in your barbeque a few years back. Black, hard and sharp. With pools of water filled with marine life.

Really cool, but a bit hazardous. I hadn’t worn the proper foot wear, and I ended up cutting a good chunk out of my foot.

Then I fell over and cut my hand. I said “Oh dear. I should have been more careful.” Or words to that effect.

Neither of these things are life threatening and, aside from gimping around for a couple of days, I’m fine. I don’t recall ever getting “injured” on the other islands, though.

There is also an active volcano flowing lava about 30 minutes from here. It might be just me, but I think that anyone who lives near an active volcano is tough as nails and possesses a large pair of kahunas. Or the female equivalent.

So rugged is a good word.

Friendly is another good word. We were out walking the other day, and a guy stopped to ask if we needed a ride. When we said we were just walking, he looked at us and, I’m sure, said something like “White people.”

He waved and drove on.

There are hitch hikers everywhere, and they are always getting picked up. We decided to get into the island way and picked up a hitch hiker ourselves.

He was a very friendly guy named Tom. Tom is a university student, and it was fairly apparent that he was enjoying his island lifestyle. He may have even received a baggy of “supplies” from his older cousin on Maui, but I’m not one to judge.

He rode with us for a few miles and then jumped out, shook our hands, and wandered down a side road. And we lived to tell the tale.

We also visited a black sand beach. This is really a misnomer. It was a beach, and it was black, but “sand” is not that accurate. It’s actually lava (OK, the whole island is made of lava, as are they all) that has been broken down into fairly fine gravel.

The cool part was that this beach was a resting place for large sea turtles – like the kind you saw on “Finding Nemo”, except these didn’t talk. Nor have any of the fish we’ve seen. There were about a dozen turtles, just hanging out.

Cool beans.

On our way from the volcano to this beach, we passed a desert and a rain forest. In about 30 minutes. Also cool beans.

We are on the wet side of the island, and it has rained every night. The days, except for this one, have been hot, so I have no complaints. Except for the heat.

Anyway, I’ve taken about 2 pictures, and I don’t have plans to post them, as I’m feeling lazy. They are both awesome, so you can let the anticipation build.



I Was At the Ballet and A Fight Broke Out!

Aloha from Maui

We have done a couple of touristy things this last week – one of which I never believed would ever happen … but more on that later.

Ulalena – the “traditional” story of the origins of Maui as told by Cirque de Soleil. (“Did you know that the Cirque is Canadian? You Canadians sure are brilliant!” said a local woman. Yes, we are, and thanks again for the affirmation.)

OK, I expected it to be more ballet than monster truck, and I was right. It was ok and then … a fight broke out in the audience. I’m not making it up.

There was a young couple who had been making rude remarks and laughing at somewhat inappropriate times all night. An older, very large gentlemen suggested, rather colourfully, that these people leave. “You suck!” “No, you suck!” And more witticisms like that flew back and forth.

“I’ll meet you outside … No, I’ll meet YOU outside.” And so on. And then … and I’ve only ever seen this in the movies, the old guy throws his drink into the young guy’s face.

Just before the bell rang for round two, security came and escorted the young couple out.

It was like being at a hockey game, except warmer.

This was in Lahaina, by the way. Not that you care. But you should care about this.

We had the best food we’ve ever had … and my mother in law can really cook.

We went to a place called Kimos on Front Street. I had the ribs, and my wife had chicken and steak on skewers.

It … Was … Awesome! The meat fell of the bone, was so tender, and tasted so on incredibly good that I’m pretty sure we were making somewhat obscene moaning noises. Think “When Harry Met Sally” restaurant scene.

And, there was a baked potato that was also incredibly good, I couldn’t believe it. If you’re ever in Lahaina, you must go.

Did I mention it was incredibly good?

Actually, we’ve been having pretty good food all round lately, so I have no complaints. Of course, even McDs tastes pretty great when the temperature is 26, the sun is out, and you have no particular place to go.

We were lucky enough to have another shopping day. Totally unrelated, John Mclane took on Russia in “Keep Dying Hard Until They Bury You … Again”.

Now, here’s the shocking development. No, not all the chickens have died. We did see a just past middle age couple – probably German – who changed in front of us at a “secluded” waterfall, but, at my age, so what.

No … I went Ziplining, and my wife did too! I was shocked, as she has a fear – dare I say phobia – of heights.

She did great! Now, this wasn’t the biggest zipline in the world, but it was nearly 80′ high (8 stories!) and we reached speeds of 45 mph (about 80km/h). That’s not just rhubarb, you know.

Well, our time here is coming to an end. Tomorrow night we start the long flight back to home. While I suppose it might be ok to see the lads (cue tear jerking music), I’m not looking forward to cold, snow, and wearing pants.

Of course, what I wear in the privacy of my own home is none of your business …


Chickens vs Ron – the Uneasy Truce

I have either been getting used to the chickens, or the chickens and I have begun to think as one. I am now waking at a slightly more reasonable hour, with less hatred in my heart for my fellow fowl.

Of course, I am eating chicken every chance I get, so maybe I am winning a war of attrition.

The weather continues to be great, although it is VERY windy here. There isn’t enough hair product to keep hair in place.

We have been exploring the island. I am very excited to say that we have discovered some places to shop. Always my favourite … In unrelated news, I watched the movie Snitch yesterday afternoon.

As always, I am often more interested in people watching than doing stuff. Especially if it can be done in the shade.

We spent some time in Lahaina, and I was able to spend most of the afternoon under a massive banyan tree, talking to / observing the people.

Here are some of the things I observed:

A shop owner on a break – “all you Canadians are so happy. We sure are proud of you up there!”

“Thanks,” I said. It feels good to be validated by our brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.

The economy – is definitely hurting here. My wife was shopping (shocking, I know). While looking at a necklace, a person literally – not making this up – took my wife’s necklace from around her neck and put a new one on. My wife was a little ticked, and if it wouldn’t have been for the fantastic deal, she would have been offended.

After the money changed hands, the sales lady said “thank you. Now, goodbye!” It makes you feel good that people around the world really care for each other …

Lost in translation – a tour bus went by. On the side was the name of the tour company, in English and Cantonese. OK, it could have been Mandarin. What do I know?

The translation was less than spectacular. It was The Good Merry American Tours bus. I’m sure this was something really cool sounding in the original language.

Looks can be deceiving – there was a man sitting on the bench next to me. He had a bulging backpack, and I could see a sleeping bag sticking out of it.

As I like to pigeonhole people – so as to keep feeling superior – I mentally said “homeless”. He was busy writing, and, after a while, I asked him if he was writer.

“No,” he said ” I’ve got to get my taxes done to keep the f$&@ing IRS off my back.”

In the back of my mind, I had this little fragment of thought. Something about a book by its cover …

Looks can’t be deceiving 2 – a young woman was crossing the street. She was … Um … amply endowed, and wearing what I would call a tube top – but that probably has a different name by now.

Fashion is one of the many things that are not my strong suit.

As she walked, I thought of all the rules of physics she was proving – an object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion … Well, the one law she was having the most trouble with was gravity.

Let’s face it, we all do.

Just before I could avert my eyes, I was scandalized by what I think of as a free show – or in this case, half a show. As she said a few, and in her case, appropriate, comments, I was reminded of the wise words of my uncle John. “You can’t shove 10 pounds of rice into an 8 pound sack.

Words to live by.

The food so far hasn’t been great – other than some fantastic ribs at Ruby Tuesdays. I spent an agonizing day and night with food poisoning after some lousy fish at a local restaurant.

I guess if you have to be sick, it’s better to be sick on Maui.

Well, I’ve bored you again. I know, it’s like I never left …

Have a good one. Time to see what the day has to offer.


PS – I have some great pictures, but I’m unsure as to how to get them from the camera to my iPad. I’m sure there is a gizmo that will do it, but, frankly, I don’t want to put any effort into it. So, instead, I’ll paint a mental picture. Imagine a woman in a tube top …

Ron vs The Chickens

Aloha from the valley isle of Maui. Sun, surf, and sand. 28 degrees with a cool wind off the ocean.

Life is good …

Unless you hate chickens – which I am beginning to do. In 92 or 93, Spielberg was filming Jurassic Park when a massive hurricane blew through the islands. In the storm, chicken barns everywhere were destroyed, and chickens ended up on every island.

They run wild and free to this day.

At 5 am, they come to life. Their crowing, clucking, and just plain cussedness has woken me two days in a row. Does anyone have a good recipe for chicken?

Maui is quite different from Oahu. Waikiki, for example, has a night life. Kihei, where we are staying, is in bed by 9. This is not a bad thing … I’m just saying.

About a km and a half from our hotel is a strip mall. We walked there last night and had an interesting experience at a local Denny’s. (yes, we are party animals)

We ordered our meals, which came not-quite-as-expected. My wife’s cranberry almond chicken salad, for example, came without cranberries … Or almonds.

In all fairness, however, it did have chicken.

When we pointed this out to our waiter, he said he’d “take care of it on the bill”. And then went on an extended break.

Penny (a Big Bang theory reference for you fans) took over.

Now, I am on vacation. I have no set agenda, and I have no particular place to go. So if ordering 6 Puppy Pancakes (little deep fried balls o dough) takes as long to come as our meal did … So be it.

When we got them, our first thought was “Oh. I guess they make chocolate ones.” Which is kind of exciting because … well … we like chocolate.

It turns out that they weren’t chocolate after all. We did, however, discover why they had taken so long. Apparently they had spent all that time sitting I’m the deep fryer.

When we sent them back, Penny was at a loss. “People usually like these”, she said.

I agreed with her, thinking that we must be pretty unreasonable tourists.

Then the fun began – although, to be fair, I had been having fun all along, as my meal was fine.

How to take the puppies off the bill? Penny hemmed and hawed – which is sight in itself – and worked away at some numbers on a pad. She went to the computer and worked some more. Finally, she asked another server for help. His helpful advice was ” just take it off the bill already.”

So, much later, we finally get our bill. As I go to pay it, Penny (not her real name) says – and I’m not making this up – ” can you add this up to make sure my math is right?”

I said “aside from being charged for a cranberry almond salad that never really arrived, I think it looks OK.”

Sarcasm, my friends, is a lost art.

Penny, to her credit, said “No, I mean the space where you add the tip. Can you add the tip and then add the total up for me?”

I am a patient man. I’ve been married nearly 26 years. I have two sons. I work in a profession where patience is a necessity.

So … I remained calm. I could have said “my tip would be to move into another line of work. Perhaps nuclear physics.” Or “maybe a job in the hospitality industry would be right for you”.

But no. I simply suggested that if she were to add 0 dollars for the tip, that would be ok with me.

Sarcasm, my friends, is a lost art.

I can’t wait to go back. It’s pretty rare that, while on vacation, you get entertainment for free.


Signs of the Times

I like seeing things that make me smile. Like signs.

1) I like signs. Not as in “burning bushes, plagues of locusts, etc”, but signs that make me laugh. I took a picture of one (which is in my phone somewhere) that says “Orangutan Restroom”.

No way I’d ever clean that.

My favourite sign, to date, has to do with honesty in advertising. A guy on the street had a sign with a marijuana plant on it that said “Need cash for pot.” I laughed hard enough that I almost gave him a dollar.

2) Most awkward moment – thus far. I’m on a trolley and there’s an old lady across the aisle from me. She is wearing a dress, and I notice that her leg is all old and gnarly and veiny. She happens to catch my eye. “That’s right,” she said. I’m not quite sure what she meant, but it felt dirty.

It’s funny. Little kids and old ladies love me. It’s just everyone else …

3) The lads will be touching down soon. Not Zeus and Apollo, from Magnum PI. I’m pretty sure they are deceased. No, I mean our sons.

I’m not sure how we – considering how young we are – have sons who can travel half way across the world without us. We must live in some sort of time warp or black hole or something.

I’m looking forward to / dreading their arrival. It will be nice to see them. We’ll do cool stuff and have fun. But, it means that our carefree days of doing whatever we feel like doing are over. It’ll be sort of the same, but with way more whining.

4) It is amazingly windy today. I know you are very sympathetic – although I hear it was above zero today back in sunny Saskatoon – to my plight. One of the things I’ve done in a past life is operate a sandblaster. The beach was a lot like that today. Also, if “windswept hair” is an actual look, I am – finally – in style.

The sun is really bringing out my cool “blonde” highlights. I have some cool shades, too.

5) We have been making a point of watching sunsets. They are a bit boring, compared to Saskatchewan ones. It looks like the sun will take about an hour to go down. You turn to say something incredibly romantic to your spouse. Turn back and the sun is gone.

Having said that, they are still pretty nice. I was going to take a picture, but some idiot chose that time to sail his boat right between us and the sun. There it was, silhouetted on the sun.

Way to wreck the shot, Gilligan.

Well, I’ve got 6 minutes to catch the next sunset, so catch you later.

Ponderings From Paradise

Today it is 26 degrees and ridiculously windy. Oh, the hardship.

So, a few thoughts from the past couple of days:

1) One of my favourite things to do is to listen to stupid things people say. I’m not sure why I seem to be hearing more of them – now that I’m in the US – but I think one from yesterday was the best.

We were at the zoo. I always feel a bit strange at the zoo. Sort of like going to the jail for a visit, or something.

There is this guy there. Not in a cage – although that may have been an oversight.  He is complaining about the restroom – which I always laugh at. Let’s face it, I’m not in there to rest – to a friend of his.

“They should really keep the homeless out of this restroom,” he says. Somehow forgetting that it costs $17 a piece to get into the zoo. “They sure make a mess of things.” (Because non-homeless people are so clean.)

“Yep,” says his buddy. “But those homeless sure have it made here in Hawaii.”

I had foolishly thought that maybe I had it made, but it turns out that the homeless are the lucky ones.

2) I walked by a store that had 7 purses in the whole store. I am not kidding, because I counted. I also walked past a store that may have had 700 purses in it. Stacked to the ceiling. Copies of the same purse, just in different colours. (Or so it seemed to me. I may not be the best judge.)

For the price of one purse in the 7 purses store, I’m pretty sure I could have bought all 700 purses in the other store.

So, if uniqueness makes things more valuable, why do we insist on hiding our own and trying to be just like everyone else?

3) This made me laugh – and I probably shouldn’t have. You see, my job – pastoring – sort of comes with the requirement that I be compassionate. It’s like a prerequisite.

However …

My wife and I were on the bus. Yes, the bus. That is the price point we are living at so that when our sons join us – tomorrow – we can afford to feed them.

There was a rather … inebriated … old man sitting ahead of us. I knew he was old because the day before I had seen a pile of dirt with his picture beside it. The pile was wearing a tshirt that said “I’m as old as him.”

Anyway, he keeps pulling on a bottle and trying to light his cigarette – which his seatmate keeps saying is illegal. Ironically, he was sitting under the “It is illegal to smoke on public transportation” sign.

A woman pointed this out to him. He refers to her as “Hitler” and other words that I can’t repeat.

His stop finally comes up. He stumbles to the doors. On this bus, these doors are activated by pushing on two yellow lines. Then the doors open like closet doors.

He was having quite a bit of trouble finding the lines and was getting quite perturbed. I was just ready to help him out when he hits them.

The doors open.

This is quite a shock for him, and he looks at the open doors in wonder. Then he sticks his head out to make sure it really is his stop.

By this time, the doors were closing. His head, unfortunately, was between them. The doors close on his head, knocking his cap off outside the bus. By this point, he is so close to the doors that, when they spring open, he is tossed back.

Taking another pull, he looks for his hat. I make eye contact with the people around me. They are half way between shock and outright guffaws.

He slams the doors open and looks down at his hat. Curses for a while. The doors close. I’m not making this up. Finally, he gets the doors open, a passerby hands him his hat, and he passes out of my life.

The bus erupts into laughter. Down deep, we really are nasty people, aren’t we?

4) My “tan”, which started out as a beet-red sunburn, has now settled down to a bright red base. When most of your skin has been covered since August, it is a good idea not to try and tan all at once. On your first day.

5) The biggest downside to being here is that everyone wants something from you. You can’t walk into any kind of shop without being swarmed. You can’t walk the street without being asked for money. You know that people are simply trying to separate you from your hard earned dollars. Nobody seems real.

But …

We went to the farmer’s market. Real food. Real service. Real people. Bought some great food. Had one of the best meals I’ve had here. Served well. It was like being able to take a breath.

6) Friday nights, you get a free fireworks show on the beach. We remembered it from the last time we were here, so we went a little early. We sat on the beach. Dark, but you can see the breakers and the waves coming in.

We had sat there for a while – arm in arm. Romantic like – when a storm blew up. Lightning. Thunder. Oddly, though, there was no increase in the wind. No rain. After this had gone on for a while, we realized that the fireworks were being set off on the other side of the beach we were on.

Just getting older doesn’t mean you necessarily get any smarter.


Another Day in Paradise

A few thoughts on being on vacation here in Waikiki:

1) When you are on vacation with your wife, you can do whatever you want. Let me rephrase that – and shame on you for where your minds went. When you are on vacation, and it’s just the two of you, you have no responsibilities.

Take today. Slept in. Ate late. Strolled along the beach. Took a nap. Realized that we should probably have supper. Went to a little hole in the wall with great food and better music. Finished the day at a frozen yogurt place where they charge you by the pound. Life is good.

2) My wife loves to shop. Shopping for her is like sports for me. She gets all psyched up for it. Talks strategies. Stretches out. Puts the dark smudges under her eyes so the sun isn’t a distraction. Starts trash talking the women around her.

Frankly, she’s a bit scary.

Me, I detest shopping. Just the thought of it makes my back hurt and my head start throbbing. It ranks right between root canal and legislative debates … in French.

This creates a dilemma, because spending time with her ranks pretty high on my list of things I like to do. So, what do I, as a good husband, do when she asks me to go shopping?

Today, I took a nap.

3) You may be under the impression that people who go to the beach in Waikiki -possibly the most famous beach in the world – are all beautiful, hard-bodied gods and goddesses.

You would be mistaken.

4) Paradise is a funny place. On the same street, you have stores that sell Prada and Gucci (yes, I know what these brands are, because – most of the time – I am wandering around with my loving wife. Did you know that you can buy a purse that costs over $1000? My first car cost me $625. It could hold considerably more than the purse.) and, just a few steps away, you have homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk and street vendors hawking their wares. I know it’s probably me, but is there something wrong with this picture?

5) I had this overwhelming urge to open the drapes of my hotel room window and yell “Hello, world. Here I am.” Oh, I had just stepped out of the shower and wasn’t wearing much. Or anything, really. Got to watch this “no responsibilities” thing or I’ll end up going viral on Youtube.

6) I sat out on the lanai today. Lanai is Hawaiian for “call it a lanai because lounging on the lanai sounds a lot cooler than sitting out on the balcony on a couple of crappy chairs does.” That’s marketing, my friends.

I’m sure I’ll have even more pearls of wisdom as really get into the vacation thing.

Oh, and one more wise thought: when your laptop says your battery is at 3%, you should really