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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 3
Hawaii - Oahu
The Long Weekend


Day 3
Slept great, woke and took the pre-scheduled conference call, but then received stressful news from the home front - A client's misson-critical server had failed. Chris and Dan have their hands full and I must do what I can to help from 3000 miles away. I feel terrible that my two friends must be in the "fire" without me, but no one is more qualified to deal with the crisis than they are. I have no doubt that this, like so many other crises that we constantly deal with, will have a happy ending.
So after a couple of stressful hours we enjoyed a decent Hawaiian breakfast at a nearby Denny's. Dennys is open-air and has a great view of the Waikiki beaches, so we asked to sit on the Kalakaua side by the window. We noticed that the pigeons had a sickly, waxy look to them, and later I read in the newspaper that the Honolulu birds are coming down with a strange malady caused by too much feeding by humans. It seems that they cannot digest the fatty stuff that we eat, and it is killing the birds. They looked quite ill and sad.
After breakfast we drove west to Chinatown and parked in the underground municipal parking lot. Strolled through many fish, vegetable, fruit, herb and trinket markets - one of Carol's favorite pastimes, and mine as well. The many fragrant scents wafted in the breeze, just like we remembered from our visit four years ago. We found the Jade Spring Tea Shop and had a pleasant visit with Gabriel Hsie, the proprietor, who enlightened us about the various grades of jasmine tea. We bought a high grade tea and we can't wait to give it a try. Carol took my picture with Gabriel before we thanked him and went on our way.
Carol at an old restaurant in Chinatown
Chopstick holders at Chinatown
David and Gabriel Hsie at the Jade Spring Tea Shop
We strolled a bit more through the sights, sounds and scents of the Chinatown markets and then found the car and drove west on H1 to the leeward side of the Island where our friends Sharon and Michael have leased a lovely condo, high on a hill overlooking the aquamarine waters of the Pacific.
Sharon, Michael, Carol and David
It was wonderful to see our friends again, and we all jumped into our Toyota Echo rental car and headed across the expansive Dole and Del Monte pineapple fields towards the North Shore.
Dole pineapple field
Pineapples almost ready to harvest
The iron-rich red soil stretches as far as the eye can see and we watch teams of men picking ripe pineapples and placing them on moving conveyor machines. Dole and Del Monte must own thousands of prime pineapple-growing acres across the center of Oahu. We passed the Dole Plantation and miles of "Captain Cook pines" - arrow-straight Christmas-tree pines that Cook wisely planted so that on return trips he would have an ample supply of masts for his ships. We passed an interesting exhibit of pineapple plants from around the globe. Off in the distance lush emerald-green rugged mountains hid their peaks under misty rain clouds, and several rainbows appeared and faded. Captain Cook Pine
At Sunset Beach on the North Shore
We soon found ourselves at the North Shore town of Haliewa with many colorful shops and restaurants. We found Jameson's and settled down for a meal of seviche, shrimp, oysters and a shrimp and crabmeat sandwich - delicious. Then on to explore the famous North Shore beaches like Sunset and Waimea. Carol couldn't wait to get her toes into the warm sparkling-clear water at Sunset Beach. In winter, the waves here are massive, but today the waters are peaceful and inviting. We spent several minutes basking in the sun, then headed southwest, past Schofield army barracks and the vast Dole pineapple fields, back to Michael and Sharon's house to freshen up before heading on to this evening's fun at the Paradise Cove luau at the Marriott Resort at Ko Olina . The Marriott is spectacular and Michael and Sharon spend as much time as possible down here, meandering between the four picturesque lagoons. The well-manicured golf course, peppered with large black swans, is serene.
We enter the luau and are immediately impressed with the charm, friendliness and hospitality of our many young hosts and hostesses. We are presented with gorgeous purple and white leis (second time I've been lei'd in Hawaii…) and are escorted through the grounds to our table. Along the way we stop to have our photos taken with a young warrior and a young maiden, both beautiful. We wander among the 800 other guests who are busy enjoying the native-craft tables where you can learn how to weave taro strands into orchid-adorned head and arm bands. There are spear-throwing contests. Carol and I decide to have our characatures drawn by Michael, a local artist, as do our friends Michael and Sharon. It is well worth the 15 bucks and we enjoy many laughs throughout the process. We notice that Michael is quite adept at making each of the ladies stylistically attractive (not that they already aren't,) making certain that his clients (at least the ladies) are pleased. He was quite a character and we enjoyed his sarcastic wit immensely.
With Michael the characature artist
Around the lovely grounds of the Marriott luau everyone is thoroughly enjoying themselves. Here and there musicians and hula dancers entertain groups of enthralled mai-tai'ed visitors. Soon we hear the low tone of a conch shell calling us to the seaside arena where we observe the traditional crowning of the King and Queen of the festivities, marking the opening ceremony of this evening's activities. To our backs the glowing ember of the tired sun is setting into the sea to rest for the night as we watch two young muscular, tanned Hawaiian warriors exhume the pig that has been roasting all day in a pit beneath the deep ochre-colored volcanic soil, wrapped in taro leaves. As they uncover tonight's main dish, the scent of slowly roasted pork wafts among us in the breeze. As the ceremony finishes, as if on cue, the last rays of the sleepy sun beckon us to the beach for some first-class photo ops.
Sunset at the luau
My wahine at sunset...
Then it was back to our table for a veritable feast of savory slow-roasted pork, lomi-lomi (a traditional Hawaiian dish of onion, salmon, salt and vinegar,) chicken, a grilled Hawaiian white fish smothered in coconut sauce, macaroni/potato salad Hawaiian style, the obligatory luau poi, drinks galore, coconut cake and a delicious coconut pudding. The meal was fantastic and the service was outstanding, and as we ate and drank throughout the evening we were treated to a quite entertaining and culturally interesting stage show of traditional Hawaiian song and dance. Several volunteers from the audience were selected to participate and it was an evening to remember. The smiling young hula-dancing men and women impressed us greatly with their soft grace and charm, but my favorite segment was when the lights in and around the arena were darkened and suddenly we could see the dim shape of a huge warrior whose twirling baton caught fire and bathed him in firelight as he skillfully tossed the burning baton high into the air and caught it behind his back, his long black hair flowing as he spun, entertaining us with a Samoan Fire Knife Dance.
The Samoan Fire Knife Dance
The show at the luau
All too soon it was time to say "Mahalo" (thank you) and "Aloha" (goodbye) - a very enjoyable, unforgettable evening.
Back to Michael's and Sharon's lanai, not far from the Marriott. At 11:00 PM the stars over the Island are brilliant and we can see the Southern Cross low on the southern horizon above Barber's Point. It is the first time I have seen this mariner's constellation and it is a thrill.
"Mahalo" and "Aloha" to our friends the Dyers, then east on H1 into Honolulu/Waikiki. All went well until we arrived close to Kalakaua - it turns out that tonight there is an annual Pan-Pacific Japanese-American celebration and the entire length of Kalakaua, from the Hilton Hawaiian Village (west end of Waikiki) to our hotel (east end) is closed to traffic. After much waiting and maneuvering down side streets we found ourselves back home at the Aston. Since there is no traffic tonight on the usually-hectic Kalakaua, we decided to take a midnight stroll down the boulevard. The Champs Elysee it ain't, but it is lined with shops and interesting late-night revelers.
Back at the hotel at 1 AM. Slept with the lanai doors open and the caressing, balmy trade winds coming off the Pacific 22 floors below ruffling the curtains through the cool of the night. The cacophony of the streets below found its way to our ears, but still we drifted off into Island dreams...

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