Thursday, February 28, 2008

Diamond Head and Beyond

Sunday was the day of days. We had pushed back Diamond Head and snorkeling in Hanuama Bay to Sunday - we ran out of time on all the other days. In the morning, I believe we had another Medocre Breakfast at our coffee shop next door, suited up in our good walkin' shoes, and headed over in our attractive rental car to Diamond Head. The drive was simple; we left incredibly early in the morning in order to get there before all the tourists show up, and so that we would make it to the top and back down with most of the day left for snorkeling. We pulled into the parking lot. Water in hand, sunscreen rubbed in our faces/other places, we started heading up the path.

By the end of the slight grade the path started out with, we were already panting. I'm serious here, I was wheezing at like a 5 degree incline. So out of shape, damn you DDR! You haven't helped me like you should! Anyway, I think it was mostly the whole trip catching up to us; we have been rocking out for a looong time that week. After just putting our heads into it, and seeing that we didn't really have time to worry about wheezing at this low of a grade, we started up the extinct volcano.

I'm a fan of hiking, don't get me wrong, but I have never done something this intense. Yes, yes, my extreme sports friends may laugh, but the most I've ever done was the waterfall walk on Mt. Tam, and that was like 5 years ago, so I am hardly at my peak of hiking ability. I am so happy to say that it was completely worth it. The struggle up the mountain, the constant breaks and splashing water all over myself trying to drink it, because when we got to that first lookout point, we had to go on. I knew we had to keep going up.

Unfortunately, 'up' after that was stairs. Where a grade is awesome, going up stairs is highly assholery from the management. Stairs, through a tunnel, and then some more stairs. Then, just as you think you're done, you enter an old military installation and they kill you, with a spiral staircase. This is at the end of the walk, mind you, where you're already exhausted. Jesus! We exited through an old bunker, up some stairs, through a tiny opening, and out on top of the crater. The reward is spectacular; it felt like we could taste infinity. This was the kind of shit that I wanted to do all along, this nature-iffic anticommercialism stuff. You really could see through all the stupid touristy shit (that Hawaii gets most of its money from, don't get me wrong, tourism rocks), and see the true beauty that is the world.

At the top was a souviner stand, and we bought for $2 a flier saying we made it, it came with an official seal! Rock and roll. There was also a tour guide there, at first I thought he had come with a group, but then I realized that he was standing on top trying to get people to come on a tour tomorrow. He was advertising on top of Diamond Head. It was pretty hilarious, actually, him going through his naturey thing; he obviously has some training when it comes to forestry and knowledge of weather, and seeing all the people ignore him. What a job. Also there was a kid sitting, bored, playing PSP. This is truly America.

The hike down was easier, but we still stopped and took breaks to enjoy the view and keep ourselves hydrated. The problem with downhill for us, though, is that we both have bad sets of knees, so even though we're not climbing, and therefore less energy, we still have to be sure footed; our knees are stupid. Anyway, at the car was some Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwitch makin' stuff. Which I consumed.

Our next goal was to go to Hanuama Bay, which was rated for the best and coolest bay to snorkel. Monica had been looking forward to it for the entire trip, even more than Diamond Head. I was cool with it - but I kinda thought that looking at things in the water would just be kind of a freak out for both of us. I kept my mouth shut though; she REALLY wanted to go.

Unfortunately, the bay was full. Not kidding, the parking lot was full, so we can only assume how full the bay itself must be. We kept on driving on 72 past the bay, tears in our eyes, but hope in our hearts. Sandy Beach rolled up on our left. It looked like exactly what I wanted, some place where I can play in the waves and body surf and a place where the waves could actually get above my waist, unlike the other beaches we visited.

Mixed reviews from the team. I thought it was FANTASTIC swimming, once you get out past this deposit of rocks, the sand is soft and the waves are fun. The problems are, if you are swept off your feet, you may land on the rocks, but that is a risk you must take sometimes. Moncia's review is much more negative, since she did, in fact, get swept off her feet and into the rocks, so we ended our visit to Sandy Beach after an hour or two a little crankier than before. (Well, I was pretty happy, but disappointed that she didn't like it/sad that she got hurt. The sea be a harsh mistress.)

Further north on 72, as we were searching (vaguely) for Kailua Bay - one of the most popular places to swim evar, we passed Waimanalo Bay, and were immediately enraptured at the beautiful light blue water, the island in the distance, and the lack of super high waves. I put my feet in the water, and after an initial chill, it was fantastic and warm and the sand was soft. We briefly debated staying there right away, but then realized we needed to eat, so we went further north, vowing to come back!

We found a lunch plate place called Keneke's, and decided to give it a shot, with Monica's explination being, "This is what the Hawaiian's eat." So we ate. I got the Kuna'a'dfdapgoahrd'sa'f Chicken, or Sweet Chicken and she got the Sanda'rdgasrd'gdasygydsa Chicken, or Not As Good As Sweet Chicken Chicken. Both plates came with fries and rice or some other sides, but that's what I had, and that's all I can remember. It was a long wait, but well worth it, and we sat in the shade of this place's dining area. And in this sense, dining area means jesus area. I swear to god the entire bible was written on those walls. I wonder if they're trying to convert people while you're eating. Well, worked on me! Off to church!

After the delicious lunch, we headed back to Waimanalo Bay where we spent a blissful afternoon playing in the water and pretending there were strong waves. It's funny, just thinking about the waves right now makes me feel them around my body. Odd stuff, the sense memories our bodies have. It was a wonderful afternoon, nothing more to say! The next time I go to Hawaii, I will go there on the first day - that is what I wanted to do the whole time.

After our great afternoon, we drove back and chilled in the hotel room. I started to realize that I was sunburnt, but not terribly so. Just moderately. Checking back at the hotel there was some redness on my shoulders, but I definetly had worse than that in the past. My guess: need to reapply more.

So, our last night on Oahu. We drove over to the Ala Moana Shopping Center and went to the thai place one last time for large Thai Iced Teas, then to Hilo Hatties, where we bought some souveniers, and then to GameStop, to buy Professor Layton and the Curious Village for me. Hey, I needed something for the plane ride back. We managed to do all that before 6:30, and made it to the beach across the street to watch the sunset, which is now the picture on my desktop at work. Beautiful, magical, sparkly, what more can I say?

We returned the car with a few hours to spare and walked back to our hotel. On the way, we passed Cheeseburger in Paradise, a place we saw on our entire visit, and said, "Man, that looks good," but never going there. We said, "Man, that looks good, and went there." Now. I won't give a full review of the restaurant, but the only thing good about it was leaving at the end. Sure there was fun cheap shit on the walls, and the menu was cleverly written, but it took them at least 15 minutes before even taking our drink order, then the food took almost an hour to come out, and his only explination was that they were operating at full capacity. Looking around, we weren't operating at full capacity. There were many tables empty. We could give them the benefit of the doubt here, maybe a cook quit, maybe something exploded. But no. I have never given a tip below 10% before, but this was my time to shine. That'll show him!

(The food was pretty good, when it came. burgers at least.)

Back at home, we relaxed and took in our entire trip; this was our last night, so we looked at our swag, and had a great evening, including delicious burger leftovers.

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