Friday, July 4, 2014

Not exactly Vegas ....

Happy 4th everyone. Sorry to be slow in writing up our latest trip. I've been distracted.

Anyway, J and I got back from Hawaii about ten days ago. I wasn't sure what to expect. Someone close to me who shall remain nameless dismissed Hawaii as too much like Vegas. Putting aside the dubious assumption here that Vegas is not pure awesomeness (America on crack, as I see it), I kept my eyes open. If this entry is a little light on irony and beer and heavier on photos, well, my advice if you go to Hawaii is: just take pictures.

Out first stop was Maui for the wedding of other Jeanine. About the first thing we did was go for an empty hike in a state park through a lava field. Definitely un-Vegas-like here. And yes, people really do surf a lot in Hawaii.

Ok sure, the Grand Wailea did have extremely cheesy $22 novelty pineapple drinks, so score one for the Vegas comparison there.

Photo credit Bill Dillard on
But whatever, the resort was amazing -- right on the beach, which I've never seen in Vegas, and it had a better-than-Vegas series of pools (not pictured below). Best of all, our room was free because the other Jeanine and Casey won an entire wedding from (thanks Jeanine!). Despite the photo, it never rained on our beach time in Maui. ...

My J was in the wedding,

which was officiated by this guy, who needs to be in the movies.

The beer of the trip without doubt was Maui Brewing Company's Big Swell IPA (and that's it on the beer front folks.) 

Before departing Maui we visited Iao Valley State Park with our new friends Joe and Danielle.

Then it was on to Kaua'i, Hawaii's rain forest island (here beach time would be rained out).

No need to write much about Kaua'i, except that Waimea Canyon -- the Grand Canyon of the Pacific -- is a must. And it was much closer than the other Grand Canyon is to Vegas.

We were lucky to get about 5 minutes of blue sky. The place gets over 400 inches of rain a year.

Next time we're hoping to hike into the car-less Nā Pali Coast instead of just seeing it from afar.

Remember the waterfalls at the beginning of Fantasy Island? Those were easy enough to find. Fast forward to 19 seconds.

Kaua'i has absurd beaches, including the one where South Pacific was mostly shot (not pictured).

Kaua'i also has a serious stray rooster problem, apparently made worse by hurricane-induced escapes in 1992, although they're pretty great when they don't cause traffic accidents. Until Marcus Samuelsson opens a restaurant in Vegas, not much in common here.

Our last stop was Oahu, mostly because J's great-aunt Pat has been living in Honolulu for 40 years. Here's the view from the balcony of her brilliantly just vacated apartment.

Our main goal on Oahu was to finally consume some shaved ice, which had eluded us so far. This was the smallest of three sizes.

Sorry, I forget the exact name of these Hawaiian gods at the Bishop Museum.

In the secular realm, my favorite queen was definitely Ruth.

 After the Buddhist temple,

a hike up Diamond Head with, I'm not kidding, an entire Tokyo high school gave us good views of downtown and the famous millionaires' playground of Waikiki Beach. 

Like Vegas, Hawaii has a lot of great restaurants (though getting the fish is a little less energy intensive.) J's cousin Charlie and Loretta and Reese took us to lunch on the water near Outer Realms, their comic and games store.

And speaking of restaurant with great views, we met up with Nader and Ada -- Tübingen friends -- at Roy's for some of the best fish of the trip.

If you go to Honolulu, make sure to read my MA advisor James Mohr's book Plague and Fire about the burning of Chinatown in 1900 as a (racist and totally bungled) precaution against the spreading plague. When in Chinatown today, we prefer this place.

I think we ate about this much fish in ten days.

And we ate at Buzz's near Kailua beach, just a few tables from where the Clintons and Obamas ate. (Coming from Utah and Kansas, Hawaii felt like a strange one-party state parallel universe.) Not a bad beach for the suburbs.

Honolulu has a solid art museum, too -- and it's actually a museum, not the lobby of Caesar's Palace. Sure it was strange that the Georgia O'Keefe and Winslow Homer paintings were all in storage (?), but Kristin and Jason, check out Grandma Moses's depiction of the Cambridge Valley, right near you guys.

In the end, I'm actually pretty sympathetic to the Vegas comparison. Both places have a culture of anything goes.

 And while watching a surf movie at the beach

the ultimate Vegas connection dawned on me: Elvis. Seriously, watch this trailer to Blue Hawaii

Two more pictures for the road (Waimanolo Beach).

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