It’s amazing how I can procrastinate even my measures of procrastination. You see, I actually have work to do, and I figured, har har, I’ll start doing it … as soon as I write this long journal entry about Hawai’i. Standard procrastination technique, of course.
But then second-order procrastination kicked in, and I did everything possible today (reading web sites, emailing, listening to music, even *gasp* exercising at the RSF) to avoid starting this entry.
The funny thing is, I even had some third-order procrastination, as I took two (2) naps this afternoon while trying to do the above! Now I’m fully rested and I have no more excuses, so: Hawai’i.
We stayed for eight days in Kihei, a town on the coast of Maui. Our condo was about 100 yards from the beach, but for those too lazy to walk across the street to the real sand, the complex provided a swimming pool as well. Kihei is pretty much a tourist town, replete with restaurants, fast-food stands, a movie theater, souvenir stores galore, and tourists by the bucketload. That was a pretty big turnoff for me; of course, I’m a tourist too, but couldn’t all those people go somewhere else? ;)
For an island of its size, Maui’s geographical variety is simply astounding. Rising up from the center of the island is Haleakala, a 10,000 ft high volcano. 10,000 ft isn’t that big as far as mountains go, but you can see it all from sea level (as opposed to most mountains, which are usually situated in plateaus several thousand feet high to begin with), and it’s an awesome sight: definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever seen — and yes, I’m even considering Wing’s pecs. One day we drove up to the top. We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, as the road to the top is one of the steepest in the country, and we made it up in a minivan. We hadn’t been at the top for more than 20 minutes, however, before I saw I a guy on a bicycle pulling into the parking lot at the summit. A bike! We talked to him for a while and found out that a) he’s on the US Postal Service national team b) yes, the team that Lance Armstrong races for c) he’s on vacation and was just doing this for fun d) not only did he bike up the entire 40-mile mountain road, but he started 60 miles away from the base (that’s 100 miles total, kids).
Well. That kind of put things in perspective: yes, we really were lame, lazy tourists, just like everyone else. Anyway, the top of the mountain was fascinating. The landscape was absolutely barren and the crater protected us against wind, so it was silent. It felt, in short, like we were on the moon. Pretty cool.
Another day we drove on the Road to Hana, on the underdeveloped eastern side of the island (not the Kihei side, of course), and took in our share of tropical waterfalls and bamboo forests. We also got to see some surfing and windsurfing from a couple of massive bluffs overlooking the ocean. The air currents were so strong up there that I could nearly lean all the way into the wind and not fall over.
Okay this is getting boring, so… the best part of the trip was when we went snorkeling. In addition to the usual host of tropical fish and eels, I got to see several schools of flying fish gliding over the water for about 15 yards at a time, their fins glistening in the sunlight — truly a jaw-dropping sight. Even better I ran into three gorgeous green sea turtles while I was in the water. It’s hard to describe in words the elegance and beauty of these turtles. This picture probably does a better job. The first turtle wasn’t so big, maybe a yard across, and I followed an arm’s length behind it as it glided through the water right below the surface, careening gracefully this way and that. Man, it’s been a while since I’ve been so deeply in love with anything ;). The second turtle was sleeping on the ocean floor; the third was huge and roaming around about 20 feet underwater. I tracked it for about 200 yards before it headed out to deeper waters.
Back to reality. I read a lot, maybe 2000 pages. Caught up on the Harry Potter books. They’re extremely entertaining, as long as you don’t think about them too much. Also read Made in America (graciously loaned to me by Beth), a rambling discourse on American English with tons of interesting historical tidbits thrown in. It’s written by Bill Bryson, one of my favorite nonfiction writers. I think my family was alternately amused and annoyed by my near-constant parroting of random facts from the book: “Did you know that Abe Lincoln thought the Gettysburg Address was a total failure?” “Did you know that by the time they are 18, American children have watched about 350,000 commercials?” etc. Good stuff.
As my family gets older, vacationing gets better, I think, and this was one of the most pleasant times I’ve had. Now my parents let us do pretty much whatever we want, and my brother and sisters and I are all old enough that we never fight, and can talk to each other about serious stuff in addition to all of our usual joking. Speaking of joking, we all found extremely annoying the unctuous and utterly pervasive use of the Hawai’ian word “mahalo” instead of “thank you”. Somehow all the tourism companies thought that by using an another Hawai’ian word besides aloha they’d suddenly appear to be legitimate, local organizations in the eyes of dumb tourists like us, or something. So we heard it all the time, everywhere, and soon were using it left and right ourselves: “Mahalo for passing the salt”, “Mahalo for opening the door for me”, “Mahalo for saying mahalo all the friggin’ time”, etc.
Okay, this entry could not be more rambling. It’s nearly 3 am and I’d better stop before I write a book. Expect more updates in the near future about my experiences in California so far.