Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Oahu Trip (Day 5 & Day 6) - End of Trip!

Day 5: Monday, September 4
Road Trip!
I got up early at 6am to do my traditional Diamond Head circuit run (not up, just around) and cooled down with yoga in the room. We got our usual breakfast at Jamba and Starbucks and then picked up our rental car at Hertz, with only a short wait -- phew!

Our road trip took us to part of the windward coast and southeast Oahu, and the journey was mostly about scenic lookouts and amazing views. The first stop was the Pali Lookout, which had been featured in a recent issue of the AAA Via Magazine.

Next we made a stop at the Ulupo Heaiau State Historic Site, which is the remains of a massive old temple that was potentially built by the menehune, the little people that come out at night. I'm glad we had our Lonely Planet guide to help us find the site, as it was hidden back behind a YMCA!

We then continued along our route to the town of Kailua, which was our destination for a lunch break. After walking around a few of the local shops and restaurants, we ended up at Whole Foods for lunch and then bought a musubi-themed reusable shopping bag at the nearby Foodland. Our return trip was along Highway 72 as we drove south towards Waimanalo and our other scenic sites.

Makapu'u Point was the next lookout spot, with amazing views over the beach and two small islands just offshore -- Manana (aka Rabbit) and Kaohikaipu. The green-blue water was beautiful and very appealing, especially since the lookout point was completely unshaded and very hot!

We decided to skip the equally unshaded uphill climb to the lighthouse and instead continued south to the Koko Crater Botanical Garden (free!), which has a self-guided loop tour of about two miles. We opted to do just part of the tour, given the warm weather, and focused on the Plumeria Grove, Bougainvillea, and Cacti.

Next up was the Halona Blowhole Lookout, which gave off some great frothy spouts of water thanks to the heavy surf conditions.

We cruised by the Fishing Shrine along the ocean side of the road but didn't stop for a closer look, focusing instead on the Lanai Lookout, which provided brief glimpses of both Maui and Moloka'i as well. Staying on Route 72 led us back to Waikiki, with a quick stop at the Koko Crater Lookout to admire Hawai'i Kai and Maunalua Bay. Joining up eventually with the H1 interstate, we exited downtown to check out the Aloha Tower. The area is now mostly a site for Hawai'i Pacific University, but we did have perfect timing to take the Tower elevator up to the 10th floor observation deck for some panoramic views of Honolulu.

After returning the car, Mr. E went out for his Diamond Head run while I did some packing and planning for dinner. We opted for a combo of items from ABC and Panda for the final in-room dinner of the trip.

Day 6: Tuesday, September 5
I started off our final morning with yoga in the room followed by another Yogaquatics class in the infinity pool. Mr. E got coffee and food, and the weather was just nice enough to sit outside on our lanai (in the shade) to enjoy the amazing view as we ate breakfast.

Our Charley Taxi arrived right on time, and Mr. E took care of a work call at the airport while I got some food to bring on the plane for lunch. The layover in SFO was a bit longer than anticipated, as our flight to Sacramento was slightly delayed, so we had plenty of time to get some snacks for dinner as well. We got home around midnight, kissed the kitties, unpacked, and crashed into bed.

When do we go back??!!

Oahu Trip (Day 4)

Day 4: Sunday, September 3
Spalding House, Ukelele Lessons, Top of Waikiki
We learned from Reef Pirates that a dive today wouldn't be any better, so no scuba at all for us this time around since you're not supposed to dive within 18 hours of flying (meaning that trying on Monday wouldn't be feasible given our departure time on Tuesday). I started off the day with a 30-minute workout in the Fitness Center and then joined the 8am yoga class, which was thankfully much smaller than yesterday's group. We spread out on the artificial turf of the park area between the Sheraton and the Royal Hawai'ian, and I'm very glad that I had my own mat since other folks only were provided with pool towels, which were a bit tricky on the springy and moist surface! The instructor led the class in both English and Japanese to accommodate all of the participants, and we spent a lovely hour outside in the dappled sunlight, only occasionally needing to adjust our positions to stay in the shade.

Mr. E was already up and ready by the time I got back to the room, and we headed off to Jamba and Starbucks for breakfast. Then we strolled by the Hyatt Regency to check out the Hertz rental place in anticipation of our road trip tomorrow and noticed the extremely long and slow-moving line. Yikes! Good to know for planning and timing purposes for the next day! We browsed a bit on our way back to the hotel, where we flagged a cab to take us to the other location of the Honolulu Museum of Art, which is called the Spalding House and is located in Waikiki Heights.

Since we are now members of the Museum, entry to the Spalding House was free. We enjoyed the small collection of eclectic and mostly contemporary art in the galleries and then roamed around the gardens to admire the sculptures and the views of Waikiki and Diamond Head.

We paused for lunch at the cafe, where Mr. E had a chicken reuben flatbread and I had a fabulous panzanella salad with green lentils. Thanks to the Charley Taxi app, Mr. E was able to summon a cab for our return trip to the hotel, although we had to wait about 20 minutes. Apparently, this Museum location isn't a common destination for taxis, as we had had to educate our driver from the hotel about the address earlier in the day!

Back at the hotel, we lined up for the 4pm ukulele lesson, and within 30 minutes, we learned three chords -- C, G6, D7 -- and could play quite a few simple children's songs. The young female instructor was amazing, providing very clear and concise directions with lots of enthusiasm and encouragement.

We browsed through a few of the hotel stores for a bit and then headed across the street to the Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant for the 5pm opening and Happy Hour specials. This is one of the best deals around (no pun intended!), since you can get Happy Hour pricing at the bar all night on certain snacks and cocktails. Mr. E ordered a gin basil gimlet, and I had the Beyond Paradise, which I'd first tried and enjoyed during our visit back in March.

We also shared the ahi lettuce wraps (no onion), which were extremely tasty and included jicama for crunch and mushrooms for umami. Mr. E's second cocktail was a classic negroni, made by Maximus, once of the friendly bar staff. We learned about his recent trip to New Orleans when we asked about some antique sterling silver filigreed glasses that we'd noticed on the top shelf of the column that the bar surrounds. Mr. E also noticed a huge can of Luxardo cherries, which are his preferred garnish for a Manhattan. Wonder how much that cost??!!

After we finished our drinks and food, we went our separate ways to take care of some individual errands. Mr. E's final stop was at the food truck enclave to pick up some loco moco for his dinner.

We met up back in the room to win(e)d down and finalize plans for our road trip the next day.


Oahu Trip (Day 3)

Day 3: Saturday, September 2
[Scuba] Aquarium & Roy's of Waikiki
We had booked a beginner scuba dive (our second) with Reef Pirates, but due to the choppy water conditions and low visibility, the dive was cancelled. Darn! But better to have the dive cancelled than to go forward and be disappointed by the experience and lack of honu sightings. Next time...

So then we had to figure out an alternative plan for the day. I tried to join the 8am yoga class, but it was way too crowded, so instead I did my own yoga in the room and then went to the infinity pool for the 9am "Yogaquatics" class. Mr. E went to the nearby Starbucks Reserve location with his laptop to get some work done, and I met up with him there a bit later in the morning for coffee and breakfast. This Starbucks location has some great decorative features that uniquely highlight its location, including a tall paneled wood wall with carved cutouts of the Hawai'ian islands.

We dropped off a few items at the hotel and then set off on foot to the Waikiki Aquarium, about a mile away. Luckily, most of the exhibits were inside and air-conditioned, as the weather was still quite hot and humid! We learned a lot about coral reefs and admired the eerie and luminescent jellyfish as well as a tiger shark and mini seahorses. Outside, we got a good peek at a sleek monk seal and some giant clams growing in a tank.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Jamba for some cool hydration and did a bit more shopping. To continue our cool-off, we took a dip in the ocean at the nearby stretch of beach followed by some more lounging in the infinity pool. Then we had just enough time to shower and get ready for our dinner out at Roy's of Waikiki as a belated birthday celebration for Mr. E. We weren't super-impressed with our server, who was less than helpful in accommodating my dietary restrictions, but the chefs and kitchen prepared a marvelous meal for us. Mr. E started his prix fixe "Sunset Hour" dinner with the pork belly appetizer and poke trio (some of which I could also enjoy) and had the steak & shrimp entree followed by a chocolate souffle. He also got an extra piece of chocolate cake for his birthday!

I had an amazing fish trio of salmon, mahi-mahi, and monkfish, each of which had a small veggie accompaniment along with a side of white rice, which I handed off to Mr. E. I finished off my dinner with soy coconut gelato and strawberry sorbet.

After dinner, we did some recon of the nearby food truck enclave and the large ABC store with deli counter, and I procured some sweets at Candy Bar. We got back to the hotel just in time for the 8am light and sound show at the Hemuloa pool, which showcased a fun array of flashing lights projected onto the landscape and into the pool, including some "swimming" fish, sharks, and honu. Very cool! We finished off the evening with wine in our room.


Oahu Trip (Day 2)

Day 2: Friday, September 1
Surfing & Art
I started off the day with some Zumba and yoga in the room while Mr. E snoozed, and we then headed up to the Leahi Club to check out the breakfast offerings and morning view (still spectacular!). Mr. E cleverly spotted the sign about hard boiled eggs and requested a handful from the staff. I saw the piano player from the previous evening in the buffet area and learned that she's not on staff but is instead a frequent and repeat guest who was a music and voice specialist in the public schools (not sure where) for 44 years. We also chatted a bit with one of the staff who gave us some advice when she learned that we had a surf lesson scheduled: If a tiger shark tries to bite you, just give it the shaka sign, and it will leave you alone. Ha!!!

After breakfast, we headed out to our 10:30am surf lesson with Gone Surfing, the same organization that we used back in March. We managed to make our way along the beachfront path to the meeting spot, which was almost unrecognizable due to the much higher water level and almost complete lack of beach along this part of the coast. Our instructor this time was Marshall, and he led us through a brief review on the small chunk of beach still available before we hit the water... and literally hit our boards.

Oof! The surf and swells were much bigger and rougher than before, and Marshall told us that this was the highest swell of the season so far (perhaps partly due to the impending full moon). We spent quite a bit of time going up and over waves and surf breaks as we got into the appropriate spot and positions to try to catch a wave to ride towards the shore, and we both got tossed around several times. Good thing we're both strong swimmers and comfortable in the water! We were able to successfully stand and ride a few waves, but this was definitely a very different experience from our March adventure. We also each got a brief close-up greeting from a honu -- so awesome!

We decided to wrap things up around 12:15pm and encountered a pretty strong current and undertow as we paddled back to shore. Marshall was very helpful and solicitous and make sure we made it into shore safely. On our way back to the hotel, we paused to shower off some of the salt and sand and then took a dip in the infinity pool. When we cleaned up back in our room, we both took note of several bruises and abrasions from the rough waters and board bouncing.

Our afternoon destination was the Honolulu Museum of Art. We had a light lunch at the food court again and then took advantage of the new city bike share system, Biki, to pedal to the Museum. The 2.5 mile ride took about 20 minutes and was quite warm and sunny. And who forgot to apply sunscreen??? At least I was wearing my hat! We returned the bikes to a Biki station right across from the Museum, which was very convenient.

I had done a bit of research into the Museum fees and discovered that we could each purchase an individual membership for $30 (fully tax-deductible). Given that the usual entry fee is $20 per person, we figured becoming members was worth the additional cost, especially since it gives us free entry to the Museum in the future, including the other location up in Waikiki Heights (more on that later). We spent about 90 minutes enjoying the European collections and ended with the Arts of Hawai'i, which showcased an amazing array of art by multiple artists in different media and time periods, showing how depictions of Hawai'i in art have evolved over time.

The return bike ride to the hotel wasn't quite as warm, and we discovered a lovely 2-way separated bike lane along King Street, which made the trip much more enjoyable (and safer) than being right next to car traffic. After we returned the Bikis to the station on Seaside near our hotel, we got smoothies at Jamba Juice and made a quick stop at ABC for some anti-bacterial ointment to treat our surf scrapes and then headed up to the room to shower (third time of the day!) and change for our second Leahi Club evening. Mr. E needed to do some work, so I focused on reviewing the Lonely Planet guide to get ideas for a potential road trip on Sunday or Monday. We had some snacks and drinks and admired the spectacular sunset.

Mr. E eventually went out to pick up extra food and adult beverage ingredients and made it back in time for the 7:45pm fireworks at the Hilton Hawai'ian Village, as we had a great view of the display from the Leahi Club. The piano player returned for another evening of musical accompaniment just prior to the fireworks. Once we got back to the room, Mr. E stayed up to watch the recorded Badger's opening game (a win -- phew!) on his laptop, and I went to bed.