First Impressions: Sunrise
It was 5 a.m. when I woke up, realized I was in Hawaii and hopped out of bed. I don’t “hop” out of bed. Ever. I slackly undulate my way out of bed once I’m somewhat semi-conscious. I’m the antithesis of the “morning person.” However, it was my first chance to explore after the trials of arrival the night before and I was excited so I made an exception.
Joanne and the girls were still asleep. This was unsurprising as we’d arrived at our rented house in Pupukea on the North Shore of Oahu at midnight after slogging through 20 hours of air travel. You’d think we would have arrived earlier than midnight given the fact this was my second trip to the house that night. We should have been in at 5:30 p.m. but my two daughters, Kristiane and Michelle’s connecting flights were delayed four hours, so we had to wait.
When the girls were delayed, we realized there was no way we could get the four of us and our luggage in the little red Mustang rental, so while Joanne stayed at the airport to wait I thought I’d take our luggage to Pupukea and be back in short order. How hard could it be to find my way around? Oahu is teeny tiny! Of course, with almost a million people we’re talking significant infrastructure in respect to the road system. I got lost immediately and ended up at Hickam airfield. I headed back to the airport to puzzle out the route. I had hit a six on the stupid scale.
There are three interstates on Oahu… which is anomalous in itself. It’s in the middle of the Pacific so it doesn’t “inter” with ANY state. Looks easy on first glimpse at a map. No matter, I rolled with it and started from scratch. This time I studied the map like I was a med student studying for an anatomy final. Last minute cramming. The H1 bone’s connected to the H2 bone. The H2 bone’s connected to the Kamehameha bone and so forth. You’ll have to trust me on this, but you might want to check out the Hawaii Department of Transport’s (HIDOT) site for construction before you visit if you’re going to be driving.
The second thing I noticed was this terminal wasn’t entirely closed. Connecting sections of the airport were huge breezeways, which had a roof but no walls of which to speak. This was the first time in my life I’d seen the open concept taken to this extreme, but then this was my first trip to the tropics. I would find it just as jarring later on to discover hotels that had massive stretches with no walls at lobby level in Waikiki.
Lastly, the floral and exotic aroma of plumeria which infused the air despite the fact I was at a major airport. This was heady stuff; in my experience outdoor air just doesn’t normally smell this good… unless it’s just rained and I’m not near a salt marsh or a swamp. It was dark when I left and once outside of Honolulu my world was to what I could see in the headlights, which was the Kamehameha Highway which isn’t particularly well lit. From Waihewa mid-island, it’s a narrow, two lane highway that bisects the island and wraps around the North Shore and eastern side of the island. However, I could have been driving anywhere except for that ever present floral balm as a constant reminder of of fact I was in an exotic, foreign place. I finally arrived at our residence, dropped the bags then left with just a glance at the interior as I was running late. The glance was promising, the interior looked great and my excitement escalated.
Rushing back to the airport I picked up the girls then started back only to run into a major traffic snarl on the H2 due to construction. Still… we were in Hawaii and everyone was excited so I rolled down the top so everyone could take in that sweet aroma. This was the signal for the Hawaiian goddess Lono to open up the skies and douse us with rain. Well… it was more drizzle really, so we rolled the top back up which was her signal to stop the rain. Once we found the house I found the bedroom and was finished. I was a rogue elephant and the pillow proved to have the tranquilizing effect of dart dripping with a double dose of phenobarbital. It was just after midnight and it had taken two and a half hours to get here.
57% of a Full Night’s Sleep Later
The next morning when I awoke that fragrant scent reminded me where we were. It was still too dark to check out the grounds, but as I made my way to the lanai (balcony) I was impressed with what I was seeing. A baby grand piano greeted me at the bottom of the stairs in the living room of the ground floor. It was airy and spacious with large picture windows overlooking the grounds. I padded through the French doors into the darkness on the lanai.
The satin grey of the pre-dawn sky provided a backdrop for the silhouette of palm trees in the huge back yard. It had rained during the night and I inhaled the blossomy scent, appreciated my surroundings and enjoyed the moment. While I couldn’t see the ocean, I could hear it off in the distance. It felt unreal, it felt exotic… then a rooster crowed. What the??? Was there a poultry farm nearby? Then it crowed again and was answered by roosters elsewhere providing counterpoint and further adding to my confusion. More farms? I’d always thought Hawaii was known for pineapples, not poultry. Huh.
Something Fowl Afoot
It was almost 6 a.m. and the sun was rising so I put the top down and drove to the grocery store at the bottom of the hill to pick up some supplies and the fixings for a fine breakfast for the girls when they awoke. What proved to be a bit of a challenge was avoiding running over roosters and hens wandering loose around the Foodland parking lot. Someone must have left a gate open somewhere at the poultry penitentiary and they were making a bid for freedom.
I didn’t have a mallet with me, so I headed in to the store to buy breakfast components. Inside I learned that Hawaii has a feral chicken problem. Loose poultry is a common site on the islands. I found prices at Foodland comparable to prices at home. Produce tended to be cheaper, meat a bit more expensive but it wasn’t as expensive as I’d been led to believe, what, with all these free range chickens wandering around.
Despite the fact that tasks I was performing were familiar, there was just enough “off” from my typical shopping experience at home that it felt somewhat alien. It’s strange to find such a large selection of items in such a small grocery store. As a Canadian, it’s strange to find an an entire deli case was devoted to a local delicacy which consisted of a varieties of raw fish called “poke,” or that half an aisle was dedicated to Spam. I rolled up to the cash, paid, and rolled out to the car.
By the time I got to the house, the girls were up and exploring the house and grounds. Coconut palms, banana, mango, papayas and lime trees surrounded the pool area in the lush back yard. If we ran out of grocery money, we’d at least be set up for fruit salad. In the morning light the place was even more impressive with the view from those huge picture windows. They were filled with a “green scale” of color from the light green of the sunlit lawn to the deep hunter green of vegetation in the shade. The pool was barely visible from the lanai, so I headed down to check it out.
The pool area was everything for which I’d hoped. I switched on the waterfall and it had a “grotto” effect. Just looking at it I felt like a much shorter Hugh Hefner minus the house coat, pipe, money, bunnies and publishing empire. The pool was a good size, kidney shaped, although that’s assuming that somewhere there are kidneys shaped like mutant turquoise peanuts. There was a hot tub that would seat six, a Balinese lounging gazebo and a similar style bar area with a thatched roof. Life felt good in that moment.
Sadly, it wouldn’t feel so good that evening, when I realized that the pool lights were all burned out and the tiki torches had no “tiki.” Another problem that subsequently surfaced was the bar area by the pool was filthy. The girls spent a good amount of time cleaning out cobwebs and assorted detritus from the drawers of the bar area. The seal on fridge freezer was broken, which proved to be a problem. We were not impressed given the price we paid. The pool lights were most disappointing for me. I had been rather looking forward to relaxing in the evenings by the pool. If only I’d packed Navy SEAL night vision goggles.
I headed back up to the house and cooked breakfast for all. I had booked a glider flight for 10 a.m. at Dillingham airfield and that afternoon Joanne and I were going for surfing lessons with North Shore Surf Girls. We drank in our surroundings and enjoyed bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, muffins and fresh fruit and I was feeling a building excitement for the busy day ahead.