Travel

This and That

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Well, I’ve been on the east coast two days now, and I’m either adjusted to the time change or a zombie. It’s hard to say.

I just took a nap from 9pm-11pm; that’s probably a point for Team Zombie. I also had bad dreams (first one that involved me walking in on some horrific medical experiement being performed on my dog…and let’s just leave it at that. In the second, I was at a beach with my purse when a rogue wave came in and swept it off, along with my phone, ID, all my credit cards, and even my passport. Note to self: separate some valuables on this journey in case things [rogue waves, purse snatchers, personal stupidity] go awry.) and am probably still recovering from a pretty serious sleep debt. Approximate hours accrued are as follows:

Tuesday: 6

Wednesday: 5

Thursday: 3

Friday: 8

Saturday: 6

28/5 = not enough

Moreover, I haven’t exactly been on my normal schedule in many other ways, either. Case in point: the only meal I ate on July 4th was this:

At least Hawaiian airlines still feeds you…well, sort of.

I believe they referred to it as a curry, and surprisingly it tasted almost exactly like something they used to make at this weird vegetarian restaurant I worked at once: the one that was owned by a cult. Have I told you about this? It was my first foray into professional (paid, anyway) cooking and my one big chance to attend an orgy, which of course I passed up. They lure you in with the orgy, and the next thing you know you’re selling flowers at the airport. Anyway, I digress….

I actually took this poor guy’s picture with a flash because I am a jerk like that.

Then there was the red eye from California to Atlanta. I actually slept well…once I fell asleep…and for probably no more than three hours. Still, when I heard the ding and the “flight attendants please prepare for arrival” I was shocked to find I’d been out cold. Since I was unable to catalog my own slumber, take a gander at my roommate, who I can only hope never, ever, ever, ever, EVER discovers this blog or this photo of him catching flies.

Friday is a complete and total blur. I took some pictures of a blue dragonfly in my dad’s backyard. I actually took about 30 pictures, but I’ll spare you the gory details and share just the one. Less is more.

Pennsylvania dragonfly

Okay, so it’s sideways. Whatever.

Looking at this, I realize my poor posture goes all the way back to my babyhood.

Brace yourself: I’m gettimng more and more random as 3am looms. Here’s a picture of me (maybe 18 months?) that’s on the desk in my room. Go ahead and ooh and ah. I was one hell of a baby once. Too bad Gerber never caught on or I’d no doubt be in the lap of luxury now or at least not having to do my own highlights (although, happily, it turns out I’m damn good: a gay hairdresser recently asked who does my hair. When I informed him it was me, he assumed I was in the biz and wanted to know who I worked for. “Me.” I responded. The conversation pretty much digressed into an Abbott and Costello routine from there…)And, in conclusion – at least for tonight. I already have two more not-terribly-exciting posts and photos in mind for you in the very near future – here I am just now in the same bedroom that houses said baby picture. Older, wiser, but still pretty damn cute and rocking some not half bad self-done highlights.

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, and thank you for coming back for these pointless posts week after week, month after month, and year after year.

On second thought, let’s not dwell on the details of your time wasting. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. There is no Santa Claus. I believe I can fly. And only YOU can prevent forest fires and give this blog purpose. You da best! More soon…

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Huh?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

When you move to Hawaii, you learn another language. It’s kind of like English, but it’s not…English. Well, not any more than British English is English, which is to say not English as American mainlanders know it anyway.

Huh?

What

Mainlanders?

That’s this new English I’m talking about.

My own mother – God bless her – has started answering her calls from me  (on HER phone. In Alabama.) with “Aloha!” She’s embracing my new found motherland: I love it. However, today she asked if I was going to be coming back “to America” soon. Oddly, I’ve accidentally referred to the mainland – the proper term when Hawaii-based – as the same thing lately, so I had to laugh. It’s America…but it’s also an (occasionally third-world) foreign country.

But I digress… as for the other other white meat known as  Hawaiian Pidgin, let me illuminate my point a bit more clearly:

Today the cable guy came over to take a look at my wonky internet connection and my dog tried – and succeeded, really, to a certain extent – to make out with him.  For better or worse, the dude wasn’t into it, so I had to get some raw cow bones (or “freezey bones” as I call them because I put them in the freezer for him and because, yes,  I am one of those [ashamed] people who coos to their dog like it’s a baby) out, lure Dozer onto the front deck, and hope he would rescind and hang out there. Upon seeing this, the (very nice and ten times more competent than the fool who installed my cable and internet the first time around) Time Warner Oceanic Cable guy exclaimed “Oh, he’s got some grindz!”

(Grindz = food)

Example #2: a  common series of sentences you might hear here, and which confused the heck out of me the first few times I heard the expression:

“It’s small kine lobster.”

“Mo bettah, da kine”

“I like to surf da kine.”

“My ex…you know…da kine.”

(da kine is anything you’ve forgotten the word for or “the thing” or – and this is just conjecture – whatever the hell you want it to mean. I’m going to start inserting the word “kine” randomly and see how it goes over…

“Pass me the potato kine.”

“Do you want go to the Rocky Horror Picture Kine with me?”

“I’m on da kine transplant waiting list.”

“Da kine don’t kill people. People kill da kine.”

“Will you da kine me?”)

Or then there’s “shootz,” which – when properly articulated is pronounced “Shoooooooooooooooooots,” and more or less means “okay” but occasionally – and semi-fathomably – “shoot!” or (what I would paraphrase as) “darn it!”

This is sooooooo Hawaii: cracks me up.

Do not underestimate “broke da mouth” which sounds like a terrible and expensive visit to the dentist, but actually just means that your grindz (see above) were super ono (good in Hawaiian).

And I’ll never forget how, when I registered Dozer with the local animal control, I had to laugh when the form inquired about “breed” but then stated – in all caps – POI IS NOT A BREED! A poi dog is a term for a mutt (usually a pit bull/terrier) typically used for hunting. What amuses me is that something so “local” makes it to official paperwork.

So anywho, if you lived here you may get an invite or two or ten to meet up, get some coffee, and talk story. I happen to love the expression “talk story” but probably that’s because I love stories. And talking. And talking stories. Which kinda is a (way) cuter way to say “shoot the shiznit” but somehow hasn’t caught on countrywide the way shiznit has…which is really too bad. When said with the proper lilting local accent, “talk story” sounds like the loveliest invitation ever.

Similarly, I love me some British accent. Nonetheless, I’ve experienced similarly startling lessons in the variations of the spoken word we call “English” during my efforts to work with a British partner. Sometimes I pull it off seamlessly – I think/hope/try – but other days I look up Employment Solicitors and learn that’s not actually someone trying to get you a job – like a headhunter or employment agency – but an attorney specializing in business law. You had a job: now you are going to retire comfortably because someone at said employer sent you some dirty text messages. Work it, girl/boy.

As for “solicitors,” it probably wouldn’t have mattered terribly if I’d have gotten the translation wrong, but seeing as the only time I really feel inclined to utilize the verb “solicit” is in conjunction with the noun “prostitute” it probably is a lucky stroke, as well.

That stated, if I launched a local effort to get the term “solicitor” to catch on as a euphemism for hooker or tramp, I bet I could get some traction.

Presuming the world doesn’t end in six and a half months (it better not! I’ve got hopes, dreams, goals, food to eat, asses to kick, fantasies to realize, New York Times Bestseller lists to dominate, and one life to live), England-based, future Maui visitors beware: “da kine solicitor no broke da mouth.” probably doesn’t mean that the nice lawyer has good teeth.

Consider yourself warned…

 

 

 

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And Back…

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I found a service to fix my little issue I’ve spent two full days panicking about, and with any luck their team of “ninjas” (as the guy called them) will get this fixed up today.

That stated, get comfy and gather round the campfire, ‘cause it’s story time, kids.

When last we left off, I had spent a cold night sleeping on a diner booth in a fishbowl of a cabin on Helleakalā, one of two shield volcanoes that make up Maui. The other is the much-eroded West Maui Mountains, which contains the equally beautiful (but in a totally opposite, lush way) and equally dangerous, if you believe the folklore and ghost stories, Iao Valley.

Anyway, check out time is noon, and by 11am we’d had enough of the bursting through the doors and half asking/half demanding “can I come in and stare at you awkwardly in your pajamas?” parade of hikers, so we started back. My ankle, as I mentioned, was twisted because I am an idiot, and for all their curiosity and vigor, none of the hikers had an Ace bandage. Since the walk itself is on wobbly lava rocks and slippery surfaces, I was worried about re-twisting it, so we secured it as best we could with orange marking ribbon (that fluorescent stuff you use to mark trees) and duct tape: very professional looking.

It was raining lightly when we started…and it only got worse with each step. I was wearing a good Marmot raincoat on top and yoga pants on the bottom. About 15 minutes in and I was deeply regretting the now-20-pound yoga pants as they were DRENCHED. And by drenched I mean water was actually dripping from them and into my boots as they could hold no more DRENCHED.

We started out quietly with the occasional “this sucks” muttered between us. As the sky darkened and the rains worsened, I found myself pleading – by name and out loud – with Pele. Being the goddess of fire, lightening, wind, and volcanoes, I figured we were dabbling in a solid 75% of her territory. Who knew? Perhaps a giant fire would lie ahead as well? At the rate we were going, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

In response to my pleas, and in sharp contrast to my miraculous losing my eyeglasses story, Pele did zilch. Well, maybe not zilch, as another half an hour later found me hallucinating that the sun was out. This scared the crap out of my fellow traveler, especially because to my left was a sheer cliff edge and the day was dark and foreboding, yet I would exclaim, “Yay! The sun!” every fifteen minutes. It was the weirdest thing ever, and it went on throughout the whole hike, but it would honestly look to me like the sun had come out and the day was now bright. Go figure.

Sadly, this was no more than a mirage of my mind, and as my eyes adjusted and I realized that I was hallucinating, I also suddenly caught a glimpse of the HORRIFYING scene that is that hike.

twisted ankle duct tape

Alive!!!

I am not a daredevil. I don’t jump out of planes or snowboard or even jet ski. I rarely, if ever, take my life in my own hands if I can help it, but this hike forced me into just that. As I was slowly realizing this, I was also getting extremely terrified. Much of the trail finds you on a two-foot wide area of (what was now) quick moving water and slippery mud. To the right of you is the volcano and to the left is a drop of a couple thousand feet. Slip to the left and you won’t ever be coming down off the mountain unless it’s in a body bag.

I don’t think this would be “so” bad on a sunny day, but as the four miles dragged on and on, the water started to rush down the path at us like a small waterfall. I honestly began wondering if this could turn into an extreme emergency situation when, Yay! The sun came out! But it didn’t really, and once I realized that, I also knew there was no real choice but to keep putting one wobbly foot in front of the other and hope for the best.

Obviously I’m alive and writing this post, so safe to say that two and a half hours later we made it to the car. Another hour and a half later we were back in sunny Kihei. The diversity on this island never ceases to amaze me.

Admittedly, I won’t be rushing up there again anytime soon, but my memory is just bad enough and my general personality just insane enough, that I wouldn’t rule out an encore visit some day. Next time, however, I’m staying at one of the other, more remote, cabins and bringing an Ace bandage and some newspaper to cover the windows. And maybe thinking twice if the weather starts off as foreboding as it did this time…

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To Helleakalā…

Monday, April 16th, 2012

I’ve been to Haleakalā (the massive shield volcano that makes up 75% of Maui) before. I’ve endured (never driven. Not that I can’t drive, mind you, but as I have freely admitted more than once: I possess absolutely no Fahrvergnügen whatsoever.) a few treks up the volcano and seen the sun rise as well as set from that vantage point.

What I’ve never done is spend a night at 10,000 feet…until recently.

Haleakala silversword

The Haleakalā silversword. A threatened species that almost went extinct thanks to some hungry ass goats.

Now let me preface by saying I was sold a load of goods on this one. I was told it was a magical place (not that it isn’t. I had some weird ass Braco-esque experiences, as you will soon hear, but I don’t know that that wasn’t the elevation talking) where the native Hawaiians would go on visions quests and walkabouts. I’m all about vision quests and walkabouts…at least in theory.

One thing about Helleakalā – as I have renamed it – is that it is COLD. 40’s at night cold. Snows every few years cold. COLD! On Maui. Who leaves the beach to go and be cold? Well, me, for one, apparently.

So minus the cold and some pretty intense fog/mist business (which it turns out is a good thing if you’re flipped out by the sight of sheer rock edges promising deadly 1000-foot falls), the hike in wasn’t half bad. It was long as hell, mind you, the fours miles to the cabin took TWO HOURS, but we had things slowing us down like backpacks and the fact that it was rainy at times. Also,  I did stop quite a bit near the end to take some pictures…and thank god, ‘cause I was too terrified to do any picture-taking on the way back.

At any rate, we got to the cabin around 5pm. Neither of us had ever stayed in them before, but we’d read the information provided by the national park service and knew to expect to find a wood burning stove and firewood, a propane cook top, non-potable water, an outhouse, and beds for twelve. Somehow – quite stupidly in hindsight – we made the mutual assumption that “beds for twelve” meant 12 bunk beds with mattresses that could pulled off and stacked on the floor.

Ummmm….  Hahahahaha

Have you ever slept on a diner booth? Well, if you’ve rented a cabin on Helleakalā, you have! Yep. I suppose I should have predicted as much, but the “bedding” consists of twelve thin sections of cotton or maybe hay covered with vinyl and stacked as bunk beds. Luxurious and/or comfortable, it is not. There was also a gigantic but extremely beat up and carved upon wood table hogging up the entire room. Too bad there aren’t any businesses like Funky Furniture Hire here on Maui where they could spruce the place up a bit.

At any rate, after swearing off the heinous port-o-potty in favor peeing in the wild amongst the Nene, the night was more or less uneventful. Well, minus the part where I was urged to go look at the moon, stepped out the front door of the cabin and forgot entirely about the three steps down to the ground. Ouch. With a fresh twisted ankle and a four-mile uphill hike ahead of me the next day, I fell soundly asleep on my diner booth.

Always the optimist. The scene behind me should have clued me in as to the events about to unfold...

We had heard that campers (there’s a camp ground about a half mile away from the cabin. God help you if you decide to camp.) often show up at the cabin in the middle of the night begging to come inside because they’re cold and/or hungry, but happily that didn’t happen. HOWEVER, at roughly 8:00am, I awoke to the sound of an entire family standing outside and peering in the uncovered windows of the cabin to see what was going on. The door was unlocked and another family even barged inside. People come to watch the sunrise and (apparently) follow that up with a hike down to the cabin. As it was raining and misting, most of these people wanted to hang out and be fed, which I guess I understand, although it does feel super awkward to have paid $75 for a place for the night and suddenly having to host a bunch of strangers when you just woke up.

That stated, it was soon time to bust a move and get a dose of the wrath of Pele’s former home. It may not be erupting anymore, but it still can provide a brutal beat down. Who says you need lava to really suffer??? Helleakalā has other tricks up her sleeve…

***to be continued***

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The roommate equivalent of a blood diamond

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Let me explain.

I am not meaning to suggest that people dying as part of the mining of diamonds in Africa are suffering at the same level as me.

No, not at all.

In fact, I would willingly volunteer to mine diamonds right now rather than spend one more night with my vacation renters.

 

“Oh please!” you’re probably thinking. “It’s not that bad!” you might insist.

Well, I would have to bitch slap you at that point. Let me tell you: you are so f#cking wrong.

IT. IS. THAT. BAD.

It is worse.

 

In space, no one can hear you scream.

In Maui, no one can hear you scream over the sounds of the nuclear farts…and no one would enter to help even if they did hear you dying inside.

 

Ford and Carter

With my luck, one or both of these guys is staying with me next week...and I'm pretty sure at least one of them is dead.

Forget “Hostel III” and “Saw VI”: this situation is a horror too real and too unspeakable to document.

And yet I’m going to try.

 

Exhibit A: tonight R, the male half of my elderly tenants,  shared with me – unsolicited, of course. The only thing I would actively solicit at this point would be details of their return flight itinerary – the list of everyone he’s ever voted for, and I believe that list started with Lincoln. I am not making this up. Who could make this up??? Who would want to?????

I stood there, my  mind a blur of annoyance and narcolepsy, and yet I somehow managed to maintain both consciousness and cordiality until the tedium – Ford when he was running against Carter, but Carter when he was running against Reagan. – finally ceased…and then a new line of “I could not care less if you put a gun to my head” information commenced. It had to do with a son-in-law’s brother’s stint in the Army, or deer hunting in Northern Wisconsin, or maybe he gave me a list of pre-school children he murdered and buried under his house. I would not know because my brain -  no doubt in an effort to protect itself – shut off for a while. However, if that is the case, I can honestly say there were moments this evening that I would have envied those children the peace and quiet of their shallow graves.

It hasn’t all been bad, however.

I have learned a thing or two about the lifestyles and habits of the senior population. If I were to ever head up an anthropological study on such matters, I would be well ahead of the pack.

For instance, thanks to the Viagra prescription bottle in my bathroom, I now know I have to burn my bed after they’re gone.

And perhaps more significantly to my own survival, I am now equipped to dodge a gastrointestinal disaster before the pin is even pulled from the grenade. This morning I was on my back lanai with a friend, when I heard the telltale jangle of my male roommate’s belt buckle through the adjacent bathroom window.

“Clear the deck!” I bellowed, throwing anyone and anything in my path to the ground. I fled into my living room  just as a colon-collapsing fart emanated – long and low – from striking distance. We dodged inside before the actual toxic cloud hit us, and that’s probably why I’m still coherent enough to type this up for you now. Sadly, I was not so lucky a few times this last week, and I can only say the odor was an affront to nature, if not God Himself.

So, yes, I probably have some PTSD from this experience, but they helped a lot with the rent and it looks like I”m going to be left with a half bottle of Wild Turkey 101 – not that I ever drink that, ever…but I may need to start in the hopes of blocking some of the memories from my  mind.

Ah, the memories.

Misty, water-colored nightmares…

 

And still, I would honestly say there were nice people. I wish them well. Truly.

Godspeed, R and B. Safe travels and happy homecoming…just don’t come around here no more.

 

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