Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Enough"

Breaking with the travel-blog tradition to link to an interesting speech by the founder of the Vanguard Group, of all folks: "Enough". Crystallizes some thoughts on the value or lack thereof of a predominantly finance-based economy, with bonus prophetic quotes from John Maynard Keynes!
“When enterprise becomes a mere bubble on a whirlpool of speculation,” as the great British economist John Maynard Keynes warned us 70 years ago, the consequences may be dire. “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job of capitalism is likely to be ill-done.”

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hawaii trip, 2007-04-21

I spent most of the day working and playing with Lauren's lovely family.

Lauren and I had breakfast at Grammy's, where she cooked us French toast with Hawaiian sweet bread (extra-sweet! delicious...), and Portuguese sausage. Enjoyed seeing the artwork and all the family keepsakes at Grammy's house.
Then it was on to Donna and Robin's, where Lauren and I helped plant 3 new trees and pull some weeds. We had to be dragged away from our weed buckets after the OCD kicked in ("must ... remove ... ALL ... weeds ...."). After gardening, we had some down-time before heading to the Iolani Family fair for the late afternoon and early evening.

Both Robin and Lauren went to Iolani High, and the fair was a mixture of reunion, community event, and fundraiser as far as I could tell. Robin was in his element, cooking up ribs with his high school classmates in the rib tent. I wish we could have stayed longer, but after snarfing as many ribs as we could, we had to rush away to catch our flight.

The usual whirlwind of baggage, bureaucracy, and bon voyage followed, depositing us safely on a redeye back to San Francisco, and eventually, back home in Strongbadia.

What a trip! I can't wait to visit Hawaii again (hopefully sometime soon).

Aloha.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hawaii trip, 2007-04-20

Lauren and I started the day off properly: with surfing on Waikiki beach! I had some trouble at first, but Lauren assured me that anyone could surf as long as the board was big enough. After paying the extra $5 to rent a 10-foot, boat-sized board, I was a natural. I stood up 5 times, 2 of which were legitimately long rides. I asked Lauren whether I should cut the ride short to reduce the time I'd have to spend paddling back out. She replied that the people who were really good do that, but for newbies like us, the successful rides would be so few and far between that we should take full advantage when we do catch a good wave.

After surfing, Lauren and I walked around the corner to a casual, Thai-fusion-y place called Keoni for lunch. My Thai food was really good, and Lauren's grilled cheese was scrumptious as only a morning paddling a surfboard can make it.

At this point, Lauren and Albert split off to go horseback riding in a beautiful state park near the sets of LOST and Jurassic Park. Meanwhile, I went to the Ko' Olina resort with Bill, Kate, Dan, Matt, Maricia, where I did some good reading (Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami -- thanks for the recommendation, Albert!).

We met back up for an early dinner with Lauren's extended family at the Golden Dragon, a formal Chinese restaurant. Matt reported the "best lemon chicken he'd had in his life," and others were similarly enthusiastic. There was a weekly fireworks display every Friday evening, which we caught just as dinner was ending.

After dinner, we had a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the the Wakiki Beachwalk, which is the development project Donna has been working on for years. The tour took us to a closed-off rooftop for a great aerial view, among other places. There was some confusion at one point ("Where's Kung Kung?!") but we all emerged unscathed and impressed with the scope of Waikiki development.

After the tour, Robin joined "the kids" (minus Matt and Maricia) for drinks at the Lewers Lounge. A really classy piano bar with a dress code and great live music. Hawk had been looking for this place for the entire trip; it was a perfect spot to end our evening.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hawaii trip, 2007-04-19

Lauren, Hawk, and I started the morning with breakfast at The Treehouse in Waikiki. This was a second-story loft with all walls open to the air. A stoner dude in a Big Lebowski t-shirt looked surprised to see customers, and was a bit flummoxed at each step in the transaction, but hey, we were all on island time by this point. We eventually got our light breakfasts and sipped our tea slowly on another sunny day.

The main event today was the scuba diving trip I'd put together. Lauren and I were already scuba certified, but the other 7 people got a crash course in dive safety:
On the dives, we saw lots of tropical fish, colorful coral, and giant moray eels. Lauren and I saw three sea turtles, swimming just a few feet from our faces. They were slow, graceful, and timeless somehow. Lauren later said that she'd felt like she was in the presence of something holy. It was really amazing to see them swimming out in the wild, and to be swimming right there alongside them, 30 feet under the water.

Sadly, the scuba trip was not all roses: 2 of the 9 of us ended up not diving, and seasickness was pretty rampant on our small boat in the big waves. And I got a "Hawaiian tattoo" from a sea urchin (stung a bit). But even so, most of our party seemed to enjoy having a new experience.
We took a short rest after scuba before walking 30 minutes down the road for dinner at Ono Hawaiian Food. Terrific! The amount of pork in the Hawaiian diet makes me wonder if the island was originally settled by folks from the South. (Not that I'm complaining). I also confirmed that I really, really don't like poi, which was an irksome thing to admit, but I might as well be up-front about it. Apparently, the more hardcore you are, the more fermented (e.g., rotten?) you like your poi. Our day-old poi was definitely tingling in my mouth a bit. Here's a picture of Bill waiting outside the restaurant (did I mention it was BYOB?):
Inertia was strong as we walked back toward Waikiki with heavy stomachs. We stopped for a breather at the Hyatt overlooking the water. Then after searching for a new spot for a while, we fell back on the tried-and-true Duke's for drinks before bed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hawaii trip, 2007-04-18

Everyone slept in this morning. Lauren and I walked across the street for a late and lazy breakfast at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider. (Eggs, fruit, French toast, and coconut syrup!)
The group then reassembled. Hawk decided to do his own thing today. Bill and Kate split off to have their first solid alone-time since getting engaged on Sunday the 15th. The rest of us (Albert, Dan, Matt, Maricia, Lauren, and me) hopped in the van and headed toward the North Shore. Lauren directed us to take the scenic route up Oahu's east coast, which was breathtaking.

The authentic hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian lunch spot we were shooting for turned out to be closed, so we decided to press on. It was at this point that our driver, Dan Fingal, earned the Citizen of the Year award. We were cruising along the highway, and right behind us, a car pulled out into another car, causing an accident. Without a moment's hesitation, Dan pulled off at the next parking lot (for a beach of course), and ran back to the scene of the accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Dan stayed on the scene to give his report to the police, and all was well. Go, Dan!

Incidentally, the beach where we'd swerved to a stop was gorgeous, with high, focused waves and some very brave boogy-boarders (local boys, all).
We eventually stopped for lunch at Haleiwa Joe's, a moderately famous tourist restaurant that Lauren had never tried. It overlooked a marina and served (apparently) amazing seafood. I've been asked to specially note the "amazing crab!" and the "moist fish!" Artichoke appetizer and my turkey burger were also very tasty.

After lunch, we went to Waimea Bay, which Lauren called "possibly my favorite place on Earth." The bay was very beautiful, with clear, blue water, perfect sand, and stark rocks marking the edges of the beach. We found ourselves in something of a wind tunnel on this particular day, with some serious sand-blasting and some rain blowing down from up the mountain. But even if it was difficult to get serious beach reading done, Waimea Bay is still a place and a feeling that I'll remember for a long time, a place to which I'm eager to return.
After an hour or two in the sun, wind, and rain, where else could we go but Matsumoto's Shave Ice? An obligatory North Shore stop that claims the world's best shave ice, we had to give it a try. We all agreed that it was tasty, but not as good as Lauren's hometown favorite, Island Snow. Maricia pronounced "too much azuki bean at the bottom." Great t-shirts, though, and pictures on the wall of every celebrity that had ever visited the North Shore, shave ice in hand...

After shave ice, it was getting near sunset. We drove a short distance to Haleiwa State Beach, where we watched the sun set over the water.Night having fallen, we took the quick, less scenic route back to Honolulu, where we freshened up at the hotel. The North Shore group stuck together for dinner at the posh Japanese restaurant, Sansei. My vegetarian sushi was great, as was my sake sampler.