Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pass the poi Mahana!

Sorry for the ado. Laptop difficulties.
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.

The flight was long, due to the big fat ocean in the way. But upon landing in Honolulu I immediately initiated my shameless touristy picture-taking by snapping a shot of this at the airport:





While waiting for Wendy and Dave to pick us up, I picked up some pamphlets and studied up on some of the wonders... and hazards... of the paradise I suddenly found myself in.

(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:





I quickly learned that all the names in Hawaii are very literal. For instance, the bus there is called "The Bus". The restroom was labeled "toilet". About every school I saw was simply labeled "school". And, of course, their most popular grocery store chain:


It made me feel like I was in a Sims game of some kind.

I also quickly learned that there are wild chickens everywhere. They were frequently found crossing roads, which for some reason I never ceased to find amusing:



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:


We spent the whole next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is like Disneyland without the rides. We learned to play Fijian instruments, we learned more about Hawaiian songs, and we got some Tahitian tattoos:
We took a break to eat a Shave Ice and watch the floating parade of dancers. I maintain that, given the proper grass skirt, that I could successfully dance almost as well as this Tahitian dancer. Tragically I don't own such a skirt, so it cannot be proven.

video


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:


In Tonga-land we made these fun fish toy things out of palm frands:


As the evening pushed on we made our way to the luau dinner and show. It was an ampitheater full of tables, with people finding their seats excited to eat luau food. Or that's the gist I got from the general excitement. Let's put it this way... no one seemed like they were dreading the meal.


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.


After a night show we went home to sleep, all cultured-out for the day.

The next day we woke up to a rainstorm, but headed to Honolulu nonetheless. While passing through the mountains to get to the other side of the island, the rain was coming down so hard that each little crevice in the mountain became a waterfall. It was beautiful. (My camera didn't work quite right for the rest of the trip as a result of me sticking it out the window of our car in the downpour. So treasure this picture, would ya?)


Our intention was to visit the USS Arizona memorial; however, the heavy downpour I guess made it dangerous for us to walk on the battleship, so it was closed when we got there. It being the only free attraction there, and the fact that the rest of them were outrageously priced ($24 bucks for a submarine tour?! I can watch the Hunt for Red October instead) we moved along.

So we decided to hit the swap meet instead, which is a whole lotta little shacks selling essentially the same touristy stuff lined up all around the stadium in Honolulu. This was the bathroom at the stadium. At first I thought this girl had no arms, but then I realized it's just the silhouette of someone who truly does have to pee really bad:

Their hand-washing technology is light-years ahead of ours.

This is us, holding our cheaply-purchased treasures. We fought hard for them, having to dash in and out of huts made of tarp between moments of torrential downpour:

From the swapmeet we went to the Punchbowl Memorial Cemetary, which is a bunch of WWII veterans buried inside of a volcano crater. It was a very powerful reminder to me of the many fights that have been fought for our freedoms over the years. This is part of a mosaic there:


From the cemetary we stopped and took pictures near this huge Banyan tree:

We then ate at Macaroni Grill, where I subtley expressed my fears once again:


On the way home we stopped at Turtle Beach, where... well... you guessed it. They apparently have a team of volunteers who cover the beach pretty much constantly and ensure that no one messes with the turtles when they come up to rest (hence the red rope keeping me from getting too close.) They had just affixed a transmitter to her shell (Olivia is her name) because her behaviors recently indicated that she was resting up for a long excursion elsewhere.

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.)


My happy feet.


The next day was Sunday, which meant church. (They really do say "aloha" at the beginning of every meeting. It's not just a gimmick. But, the response "aloha" from the congregation isn't ever nearly as enthusiastic as it is here in the states. I guess it would get old.) After church we ate and walked around the temple grounds. The temple itself was undergoing renevations, but the grounds were still beautiful. Here's me with the giant flowers whose actual name escapes me at the moment:

This is me hugging a palm tree. It's not my first picture of me doing this.


We then walked down Hukilau Beach for a bit, where Wendy helped me identify what is not a jellyfish. ("That's a piece of coral, not a jellyfish. ... That's just a leaf, not a jellyfish.")



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.

When they got home we made our way to the North Shore part of the island, which is world-renoun for its surfing. And, for its Shave Ice. (Not shaved, mind you. Shave.)



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:

video


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.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of this excursion. But it happened. I swear.
Then Wednesday morning Bonnie and I woke up and made our way down to the Hukilau Cafe (which, I guess, has been immortalized in the movie 50 First Dates, which I've never seen. It's not the same cafe as is in the movie, from what I'm told.)

It was a tiny cafe, with HUGE pancakes! I ordered the banana pancakes (in honor of Jack Johnson's song), and Bonnie got the coconut pancakes. Very delicious, but entirely too much food. You can't tell from this picture, but each pancake was about an inch thick.


It would be our last breakfast on the island, as we were flying out that night. Wendy and Dave came home from work and we headed out to explore about the only part of the island we'd yet to see, which was the south point. I don't remember the name of this point, but it was the last picture I took. (When I took this picture we were standing next to a couple who had literally just gotten married down at the beach and had ventured up to the lookout still in their wedding clothes to look down on the site of their matrimonial bliss. It took all my strength not to kick one of them in the shin before I left.)

From there we stopped for a meal at Chili's before they dropped us off at the airport. And thus we bade aloha to the island.

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.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big bucks, no Whammies!

I, Haley Marie Greer, am a game show junkie.

I link this back to the days of year-round elementary school, where my brother KC and I would be left at home to fend for ourselves while off-track for a couple weeks at a time. We were old enough to take care of ourselves at that point so my mother can't really be accused of neglecting us while she was at work. We, being the Greers that we are, knew our way around the kitchen and were perfectly capable of preparing any number of instant meals on our own.

And besides, who needs a mother when you have Pat Sayjack and Chuck Woolery to raise you?

I had a specific line-up of shows every day. Some were more critical than others, so depending on the day I might have skipped one show or another to either prepare the before-mentioned instant lunch or to go downstairs and perfect my Super Mario Kart skills. But here the shows are, in the order I remember them appearing on my television each day:

The Price is Right - Came on right after mom left and Little House on the Prairie ended.
Supermarket Sweep - A grocery pricing game, which resulted in a mad-dash through a grocery store to "buy" as many things as possible for the most money possible. It made me very conscious of how very expensive meat was compared to other things.
Shop-Till-You-Drop - Much like Supermarket Sweep, but set in a mall setting. Even as a 5th grader I remember thinking how goofy the premise of this show was.
Win, Lose, or Draw - One of my favorites, because I fancied myself somewhat of an artist at that age. I didn't have a clue who the celebrities were that they got to be on the show, but the audience thought they were hysterical, and so of course I did too.
Love Connection - I had no interest in the actual compatibility of the couples on this show. Instead, I lived to see if the person the contestant picked for themselves was the same or different from the one the audience chose for them. I found all kinds of suspense in that for some reason.
The Newlywed Game - This was usually the show I skipped the most often to go make myself some mac and cheese and pester my brother for awhile.
Name That Tune - I LOVED this game, even though I rarely knew the songs they were singing.
Hollywood Squares - Also one of my favorite shows. Still would be if it still was on. Wait, is it still on? I know Whoopi Goldberg made a comeback with it for awhile...
100,000 Pyramid - I'm pretty sure this is the game that made me yell at the TV the most often. Which is funny, because the correct answer would be displayed on the bottom of the screen, so of COURSE the contestant would be an idiot compared to me.
Press Your Luck - If you haven't seen this show, you're missing out. It still plays on the Game Show Network if you have access to it. Hi-lar-ious. And original to boot.

Of course, all of this was just something to occupy my time until Saturday rolled around and American Gladiators, my true reason for living, came on.

Most of my life goals are fairly vague and non-specific. But I've recently decided that being on a professional game show is one of them. Not reality TV mind you (which is the poor man's gameshow because it clouds the "game" of the gameshow with ridiculous drama... with the exception of the Amazing Race of course), but a real gameshow where there are winners and losers clearly established in no longer than a one-hour show.

I'm thinking my best bet for this to happen will be the Price is Right, but it would be my happiest day ever if I could make it on the Wheel of Fortune. Why? Because I'm fairly confident I would clean up. However, they don't seem to have shows that aren't themed around something, and I'm not in college, I'm not in the armed forces, I don't follow NASCAR, and I happen to still be without a sweetheart, so I might be out of luck. There's no "Mediocre White Girl Week" on the Wheel.

There should be. I'd clean up.

On an unrelated note, I leave for Hawaii in a week. It's safe to bet that my next post will involve pictures from that escapade.