Finally, Sleeping In and Some Real Beach Time!
With today being almost completely unplanned, I relished the opportunity to sleep in without an alarm waking me up, as well as my next door neighbors doing precious little to make sure I didn’t sleep in (Or if they did, I didn’t notice).* Despite all of that, I woke up just after sunrise and peeked outside to see grey clouds everywhere. Not sure if that bode badly for beach time, I went back to bed and woke up later with the sun out and quickly burning off the cloud bank hanging over Honolulu. It was kind of fascinating to glance out from time to time and see how far the clouds had lifted up, eventually rising above the ridge to the northeast that was home to Punchbowl and eventually revealing Diamond Head to the southeast.
By mid-morning, a group of us were planted out on Waikiki beach, which was already nearly over run with sun worshippers and sunburnt tourists so red they’d glow-in-the-dark. Paul worked out renting chairs and umbrellas, and despite some very light and momentary spritz of rain, the sky was clear while lounging on the beach. Diving into the cooler-than-expected water was an interesting experience, but within moments you went from awkwardly protecting your sensitive parts to swimming out to the middle the sandbar area. Swimming in those waters was a little treacherous given the number of snorkelers, paddle boarders and catamarans sailing into or away from the beach. Strangely enough, the paddle boarders were the most polite, yelling “heads up” or “behind you” as they slipped by. The catamarans simply honked an obnoxious air horn without stopping, making them the douchebag Mercedes drivers of the coast. The payoff for swimming out is the sandbar that’s about two tenths of a mile from shore where the water is slightly warmer and waist deep. Swimming back, I found a few pieces of dead and broken off coral, one of which I added to my collection at home. I would’ve taken the other piece because it was larger, but it was a disturbingly grotesque shade of grey and so misshapen that it looked like something a CGI-development-group-in-someone’s-parents’-basement rendered monster would crawl out of in a Syfy Original Movie. Besides, those movies always take place somewhere more exotic/remote or less cosmopolitan, and I didn’t want to be known as the dude who destroyed the earth-toned paradise of Reston, VA (I mean, they just brought the Metro out here…).**
After some perfect beach time, we found out that one of our group who left before the rest of us apparently lost his wallet, though he suspected he may have even been pickpocketed while walking back to the hotel. He spent the rest of the afternoon and following morning dealing with how he’d get on his plane without ID.
It’s a rough life here, isn’t it?
A real clash of the “haves” and “have nots” – that sign almost seemed comical (no shopping carts?) until I spotted the homeless guy on the right taking refuge in the cabana area.
* In retrospect, I’m hoping that whomever was in that room wasn’t utilizing the services of the hooker we encountered the other morning.
** Along with my habit of collecting small rocks from places I visit (Which include St. Emilion, France; several wineries near Bordeaux, Virginia Tech, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and now the top of Diamond Head), I already have two pieces of coral – one from Grand Cayman and another from Miami’s South Beach. The one from South Beach has sentimental value because I came across it while walking out of the water, tripped over it and face planted into the surf and sand. As I looked down at it, I thought it was just a small piece of coral sticking up, but when I pulled it out of the sand, it turned out to be the size of a melon. TSA must must have scanned my carry on five times in the x-ray machine trying to figure out what the Hell it was.
Come Sail Away with Me
In the early evening, we went on a sunset catamaran cruise. Taking the shuttle bus down to the marina, I couldn’t help noticing the “tent city” across the street full of homeless occupants. It was a miniature city state of tarps and old tents that had seen far better days, rusting grocery carts and makeshift cardboard walls lining the sidewalk. It’s population and mix local occupants dressed in varying quality of clothing, some talking to each other, others glaring at us as if we were responsible for their lot in life. This was a stark contrast to the jaw-dropping yachts moored across the street. We discovered that one of the yachts is owned by Goggle CEO Larry Page and the other by Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison. I’m pretty sure both yachts are bigger and more advanced than some countries’ navies, and Page’s had a helicopter pad (Complete with awaiting helicopter) on the back end…no doubt further surpassing other countries’ naval resources.
The left picture is of Larry Page’s yacht, and Larry Ellison’s is on the right. Both aren’t floating in sea water. It’s actually a giant puddle of drool from all of us gawking at them.
The catamaran excursion took us out and around Honolulu to the other side of Diamond Head, giving us fantastic views of the city and coastline. Several small rain storms were passing through different parts of the city, creating magnificent rainbows (Which Honolulu is known for, and at one point we saw a double rainbow). The added perk was the boat had a full bar serving Mai Tai’s and other rum-laden drinks, so all was right on board.
The ride back offered amazing views of the sun setting, and we drifted a few times to catch fleeting glimpses of passing whales and dolphins. The cruise definitely put me in a Zen frame of mind,* making me a bit more quiet than usual. Maybe it was spending a whole week waking up early every day, all the running around and exploring, or the still lingering jetlag that I couldn’t shake off, but I was in a contemplative, centered place on that boat. The only thing to damage my calm was our 63 year old New Yorker who felt obligated to share not-so-clever quips or unsolicited observations. Being in such a good frame of mind, I suggested he get himself another drink which 1) led to him finding others to pester, and 2) get buzzed enough to quiet down a bit.** Needless to say, the cruise was definitely a highlight of the trip…and justified your hatred of the “two Larries” (Page and Ellison).***
* This mood may have been influenced by the choice beverages I imbibed.
** He ended up joining a dozen or so men hitting on the cute woman bartender (Who wasn’t giving out any free drinks no matter what they said to her while getting the evil eye from several abandoned wives or girlfriends on board).
*** By the time we made port, the yachts’ running lights were on, making them look like the Starship Enterprise.