Without any further, I present to you the magic and mystery of Oahu.
Just for background information, my dear friend Wendy and her husband Dave (who is incidentally also my friend) live in Laie, where Wendy teaches at BYUH. Wendy has a former mission companion named Bonnie who I had met a couple times in passing, and I learned that she had purchased a ticket to visit our common friend. Having been toying with the idea myself without having any real dates in mind, I just decided to hop on the bandwagon.
(I've always had an unnatural fear of jellyfish that almost kept me from entering the ocean at all. Unnatural because I am more likely to be eaten alive by brine shrimp in my lifetime than be stung by a jellyfish.)
Wendy and Dave greeted us and, after a stop at Pali Lookout, we went to our first official Hawaiian dining experience:
It made me feel like I was in a Sims game of some kind.
Eventually we made our way from the airport to Laie, where we unloaded our stuff and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Wendy and Dave's apartment is huge! And, apparently the contractor who built it decided to use every single last piece of leftover tile he owned to finish it:
The Samoan presentation included this tree-climber guy. I was taking pictures practically right beneath him, so he seem extra conscienscious of keeping his skirt tucked beneath him:
As we waited, nice attendants walked around asking if we wanted to purchase the special smoothie drink. Knowing that my chances of ever returning to Hawaii are slim given my current occupation of choice, I decided to pay the money for it. They sneakily stuck this thing in the back of my chair indicating that I had purchased my drink, but I didn't realize it until it caught my periphary vision and scared the heck out of me. For a split second I thought I was being attacked by a tropical bird... and I didn't pay for THAT experience:
Soon I was presented with this delightful concoction:
...Which I happily slurped while waiting for the meal to begin. It was delicious, of course.
Soon enough we were excused from our table to go and load our plates full of luau food in a buffet-style. I kind of suspected that we wouldn't be able to return, which is why I piled my plate so high in the first place (I was right). The purple roll is made with poi, which is okay in roll form, but terrible by itself.
Then a couple beaches later we stopped just to watch the surfers for a minute, and I was rather amused at this brave man with his metal detector. (It made me wish there were such a thing as a Jellyfish detector.)
On Monday Wendy and Dave had to work until that afternoon, so Bonnie and I took advantage of the bright sunny morning and went to catch some rays on the beach that is only a 5 minute walk from where we were.
After our treat we drove out to the beginning of a hike out to Ka'ena point, which is the westernmost point of Oahu. It wasn't a hike so much as an hour-and-a-half-meander down a very rocky, very pothole-ridden dirt road. The last little bit of the walk entailed an Albatross sanctuary, where we observed some behaviors worthy of Animal Planet:
At long last, we reached the point where we intended to whale watch. But, as you can see, we started a lot later than we anticipated, and by the time we got there the sun was setting rapidly.
...Which, as you can imagine, made our hike back pretty interesting. We hadn't brought any flashlights or anything, so we slowly made our way back down the rocky road with only the light from two cell phones to help us navigate around the mudholes and pitfalls (at times unsuccessfully.) It was so dark by the time we found the car that we didn't even know we had reached the car until we were three feet away from it. Here's the picture we took by cell-phone-light in the car once we found it, just to document exactly how dark it was:
The next day we spent the morning at Waimea Bay, where I finally entered the ocean beyond my ankles (after several assurances that the waters were jellyfish-free.) We body-boarded and snorkeled for a few hours. The snorkleing wasn't excellent, but I did see a few fish and actually caught sight of a sea turtle nearby during the five minutes my head was actually in the water (before I gave in to the charlie horses in my feet caused by the flippers.) I was more entertained by the bodyboarding, because being slammed into the beach and getting my swimsuit full of sand was a lot more fun to me.
It was probably the most relaxing vacation I've ever been on, thanks to Wendy and Dave's hospitality. Having a free place to stay, an agenda already planned, and someone to drive you around (thanks Dave!) made this the vacation to beat in my lifetime so far.
And, notwithstanding the fact that it was no where near Christmastime, the song Mele Kaliki Maka was in my head pretty much the whole time I was there.