So You Wanna Go To Hawaii?

This is going to be PERFECT.  (Dream Big Hawaii Candy Heart Map Print by capow)

Since my return from the island of O’ahu earlier this week, many friends have asked me how I liked my trip.  To which I have replied, “Well, it was a trip!”

Don’t get me wrong — Hawaii is going to be awesome, no matter what.  If a budding volcano pushed its way to the surface and erupted by your lodgings, forcing you to perform an emergency evacuation on boats made of the rejected surfboards of bleached-blonde North Shore surfer dudes, Hawaii would still be awesome.  If dinosaurs were found to exist once again, and you spent your entire vacation trying to locate a Barbasol can of full of dino DNA  while outrunning ravenous T-Rexes, Hawaii would still be awesome.  And if your travel partner had her purse stolen immediately before you lost your iPhone, and the last four days of your trip were filled with nothing but pouring rain, Hawaii would still be awesome.

Still, let’s address that last scenario.

I arrived in Hawaii three days before Vannessa, my lovely San Fransciscan travel companion, and for the first two and a half days of my trip I traipsed around the tropical urban landscape of Honolulu/Waikiki in the sunshine, scaling the island’s historic monuments, and eating the shit out of Hawaiian plate lunches and malasadas.

Looking down on the Diamondhead Crater.  I mowed down tourist grandmothers to reach this summit.

Vannessa joined me midway through my second full-day on the island.  We picked up our little black soft top Jeep, wedged Ness’ longboard between us, and headed to the North Shore, land of 30-foot waves, food trucks and buttcheek-baring bikinis.  We arrived at our adorable rented beach cottage in the evening, and all was well for the first couple days.  Vannessa surfed.  I tried to surf (more on that later).  And we ate at least two meals without incident.

Then, came the turning point, at the ominously-named Sharks Cove Grill.  SKG is actually a food truck directly across from Sharks Cove, one of the North Shore’s most renowned snorkel spots.  Though it shall be known now and forever as the place Vannessa’s purse was stolen by some asshole, who as the girl manning the truck told us, “might be named Bob, and hangs out with homeless people a lot.”

"A homeless person is now carrying around a Kate Spade bag," Vannessa lamented.

Vannessa’s Replacement Purse.  Right on trend.

Forget the bag (sadface).  And the wallet (sadface).  And the Droid (which has already been replaced with an iPhone - UPGRADE!).  And the iPod (now rendered obsolete.  See: iPhone).  The most precious item contained in that fire-engine red shoulder bag was the one and only key to our rental car.  Motherfucker.  Four hours, two police visits, a pint of ice cream, and forty pages of love advice from Redbooklater, we finally had a replacement key in our hands; though our wait involved us sitting on the side of Kam Highway, Oahu’s main drag, in pitch blackness, making sure the new holder of our key didn’t steal our rental car right out of the parking lot.  Thank you to the pepper spray that somehow made it through airport security (twice!) for lending me the security a five-foot-four New Yorker needs to mentally survive that situation.

Why are you out to get us, shark? (Hungry Shark Porthole Wall Decal by Wilson Graphics)

So we got the key.  We drove home and passed out.  Fine.  Fuck you, Sharks Cove Grill, but fine.  We wake up the next day to sun in the sky, I take a surf lesson with Vannessa tearing up waves beside me, we eat lunch at a place called Ted’s Bakery, and on our way out of our next stop at the grocery store, I pat myself down for my phone, and…FUCK.  NO.  THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING.  I search my bag.  I walk to the aisle in the store where I have just picked up some coffee beans.  I tear bags of coffee from the shelves.   Nothing.  Vannessa suggests that perhaps I threw out the phone at lunch, by accident.  We drive back to Ted’s where the garbage has just been taken out to the dumpster out back.  Sorry, I mean dumpsters.  Three of them, all full to the top, and one of which now probably contains a shiny white iPhone, forever on vibrate.  I drop to my knees and Wolverine cry to the sky.  NOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOO!  Then Vannessa and I make the forty minute trek into Honolulu to secure sexy pre-paid flip phones from Verizon, since all of our links to the outside universe are now gone.  I pay for both our phones, as Vannessa now has no cash, credit cards, or ID. The salespeople at Verizon see Vannessa and I are turning loopy and take $30 off the price of each phone.  We can’t stop laughing.  We are going insane.

And then it starts to rain.

What I thought Hawaii was going to be like over the course of my vacation:

(Turquoise Hawaii Palms Fine Art Photograph by Kristel Phears)

What I thought I was going to wear:

(Hawaii Print Two Piece Bathing Suit by Vintage Suits by Mary)

What Hawaii was actually like:

(Kauai Storm Greeting Card by cedrowooly)

What I actually wore:

Okay, I may have skipped the goggles. (Clear Raincape with Turquoise Trim by Love In The Afternoon)

Vannessa and I spent our last four days of our vacation alternately submitting to, and trying to outrun rain that, as the local told us, “is really unusual for O’ahu.”  Ness would surf in the downpours during the morning, and in the afternoon, we would drive somewhere, like to the West coast of O’ahu, you know, where it’s always dry?  We would open up our beach towels, and the minute I put on suntan lotion, the sky would cloud over, and…drip, drop.  Luckily, I was with a travel companion with whom it is easy to spin tragedy into gut-busting laughter.  We spent the rest of the vacation skipping puddles, trying to predict which items of ours would be stolen next, and complimenting ourselves for being able to navigate the island without the help of modern technology, usually while channeling the lyrical power of Destiny’s Child:

I wish I had brought more camouflage on the trip.

Having nothing do do with our bunk luck, conversation throughout the trip was also peppered by my frequent bursts into the theme from “Jurassic Park.”  Basically any time we passed a set of massive Hawaiian mountains behind which I imagined a Tyrannosaurus Rex could be lurking, just waiting to pounce, I broke into song.  Once, after I finished an epic rendition, Vannessa suggested that perhaps velociraptors would be coming after us instead of a T-Rex; which frankly was just cruel, since while our little open top Jeep could probably outrun the larger carnivore, we would surely have been lunch meat for a pair of those vicious overgrown “turkeys.”  I get the shivers just thinking about it.

I can’t overstate how much this picture frightens me. (Velociraptor Fine Art Print by CKrickett)

Here are some things I actually did get to do in Hawaii:

SURFING: I took exactly one surf lesson.  I had hoped to get out there a few more times, but unlike Vannessa, I was a wuss about heading into the ocean in the pouring rain.  My two-and-a-half hour session did go pretty well though, with me getting up on the board for about twenty good waves.  At the beginning of the lesson, however, before I got the hang of it all, my instructor noted my inability to simply relax.  “You’re too much in your head,” he said to me.

Tell me something I don’t already know, doctor.

In the end perhaps my surfboard could have been better utilized in other ways.

For example. (Surfboard Keyring Holder by HAOLESREGRET)

EATING:  It will always be true that my number one form of entertainment on any given vacation will be related to food.  Before Vannessa joined me, pretty much all I did was seek out good places to eat in Waikiki; and when Ness headed for the beach to surf on those last rainy days, I took out the car in pursuit of more deliciousness, even going as far as forty minutes from the house to try the grub at Poke Stop, a strip mall eatery featured by Anthony Bourdain on a Hawaii-themed episode of “No Reservations.”  Seriously — tell me this wouldn’t be worth the drive.

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl with blackened ahi sashimi, creamy ahi poke, sesame tako poke, tobiko, shrimp and pickled ginger over sushi rice. NOM.

One thing I did not end up doing in Hawaii was get tan.  I even briefly considered visiting a tanning salon, but then thought, “To keep up the appearance that what?  That I actually went to Hawaii? ” I figured you’d all believe me, even without the high contrast tan lines to prove it.

Strangely, the most relaxed I felt on the trip was probably on the plane rides to the island and back.  Travel to Hawaii clocks in at about 11 hours, and with a one-hour stop over each way, I embarked on about twenty-four hours of travel over the course of a week.  But on the plane ride over, I was flush with excitement, hopeful that my surf skills would flourish, and that my meals would cost less than the price of my major electronic devices.  On the way back, hyped up on caffeine and an entire box of Sour Patch Watermelons, I turned my attention to three back-to-back-episodes of “Ice Loves Coco,” marveling at Coco’s summer wardrobe and thinking that WOW did it look sunny at their Miami beach home.  Come to think of it, Miami’s probably a nice place to vacation…

So much more fun than Hawaii.  Right?

Hawaii may owe me a do-over, but even if the sun had shone the whole time and my iPhone had remained with me long enough to drown out the sound of the red eye’s wailing babies, when I looked out my window at the lights and smoky emissions of industrial New Jersey upon my plane’s descent, I couldn’t help but think to myself how it always feels to come home.