Here's what's been happening on Oahu the last couple days. Pictures will follow later tonight, but Missy and I are going to dinner with her brother (Matt), his new wife (Gretchen), and Missy and Matt's dad (Darrell) in a couple minutes.
Saturday 3/25 9:45 p.m. HST
I just realized I phrased my question slightly incorrectly when I called the hotel about internet access. When I called, I think my exact question was, “I didn’t see free wireless or internet access on your website – does that mean you don’t offer it?” Their answer was, “Oh no, sir, we have high-speed internet access in every room, with the network cords provided.” I must have interrupted them to say “Thanks! Bye,” before they could add, “…for $10 per day.” I wouldn’t mind paying that for two, maybe three, days, but the website is a little vague and seems to imply that clicking the OK button will bill us for every night we’re staying. I’m going to call the front desk about it, but for now, my plan is to find a local coffee shop with free wireless. Until I figure it out, I’m going to write a couple blog posts from the last couple days
Saturday 3/ 25 11:30 p.m. HST, 4:30 a.m. CST (out of order, all Memento-style)
We drove out of our garage at 6:00 this morning, so I think today qualifies as 22 ½ hours of traveling – 1 to get to and wait for the bus, 2 in a bus to O’Hare, 2 waiting for a plane, 4 flying to LAX, 5 more waiting at the airport in LA, 6 more getting to Honolulu, and another hour getting our luggage and to our hotel. I just added that – there must have been various 15-minute increments in there that added up.
Anyway, I’m not as exhausted as I thought I’d be, thanks to your internet advice. Hawaii is, as you might guess, gorgeous, even at midnight. It’s humid, but 77 degrees almost round-the-clock. Gretchen, Matt’s fiancé, called us “taller than she expected” and gave us leis and hugs, so I like her already.
Saturday 3/25 10:00 p.m. HST – Wedding Eve
Hawaii exhausts my feet. After not being able to sleep past 4:00 HST this morning, I read a McSweeney’s collection of short stories on our balcony, which I recommend if you have the chance – both reading McSweeney’s Thrilling Tales and watching the Hawaiian sunrise from your hotel balcony (which they have some non-balcony name for – laii’ana or something. All the native names for streets and things sound the same to me). Missy managed to sleep until 6:00, so we got some coffee and made our way through the Hale Koa hotel’s massive garden to their beach. I touched some disgusting thing that had washed up on the beach, just so you wouldn’t think I was a pansy after the disgusting-ocean-creature post.
We walked from our beach along the shore all the way down to Waikiki beach, saw Diamond Head mountain (which we’ll be hiking up in a few days), watched some pretty cute little kids try to catch a fish with nets (but ocean fish are crafty and the boys were foiled), saw the biggest sea turtle I’ve ever seen (which was also the biggest dead sea turtle I’ve ever seen, so no pictures out of respect for its honomakue’u, which might mean soul or something), and walked back to the hotel through a very chic shopping area (Coach next to Louis Vitton next to Prada and on and on like that for blocks – the stores were all empty). All told, it was in the neighborhood of four hours of walking in sandals that were meant for going to the beach and then being taken off immediately. Once our toes have recovered, we’re going running along the bike path that follows the shore.
The afternoon was filled with meeting strangers at Matt and Gretchen’s apartment – various parents, old friends that had traveled from Nebraska and Pennsylvania, and new friends from Oahu. I only remember Sabrina and Miguele, because everyone else was named Ryan or Sarah or other normal things. The rehearsal dinner was burgers on a very cool communal grill near Matt and Gretchen’s place, which had a small roof-covered area – a little too small for 30 people to hide under when it started to rain. Rain? Yeah, rain – apparently the Honolulu has had more rain the last 30 days than they’ve had since the 1970’s. This is not comforting to those young couples that might be, say, planning a beach wedding.
You know what really strikes me about Hawaii? The non-separation of what’s inside and what’s outside. There are very few exterior doors – instead, it’s mostly overhangs and open-air lobbies. We walked through the lobby of the enormous Hilton next door (which had penguins. In the lobby) and were often rained on, then covered by some roof three stories above us, then rained on again, then under a lower roof, then out in the open again – all within 30 feet of walking.
The green-ness of the grass and trees is also very, very striking, but I can't tell whether that's Hawaii-specific, or just because the world has been dead since November where I live.
Sunday 3/26 2:22 p.m. HST
Blogging from the midst of pre-wedding jitters and last-minute scrambling. It’s raining, as it has been for a month, but Matt and Gretchen decided to go ahead with the beach ceremony. The alternative is to hold it in the hotel ballroom where the reception is being held, but I think that’s just a bad, bad alternative – either it’s going to clear up in the next 90 minutes or we’ll have a wedding under umbrellas. None of us are made of sugar and your wedding happens one time – we can handle getting a little wet.
Missy and I are unofficially in charge of background photography – the preparations and information stuff that the official photographers don’t get (including pictures of the official photographers working). They were our favorite pictures from our wedding – everyone should have a background photographers. Missy also made them a scrapbook with no pictures in it – we’re going to take our memory card to a 1-hour photo place down the street and print photos from the ceremony, put them in the book, and give it to them tomorrow morning.
We’re being picked up from our hotel in a stretch Escalade in about an hour. No word on whether it will have spinning rims. The Escalade will bring us back to the Hale Koa for the reception, which is just down the hallway from our room – we’ll be stumbling home, I assume arm-in-arm, singing Irish drinking songs.
Stupid Villanova. Seriously? Three three-pointers? THREE?!? When Connecticut lost earlier this afternoon, I thought the pool was mine – everyone else in the top few spots had them picked to win, and I could already smell that sweet, sweet cash. Who would have picked this final four?? No one – that’s who. I hope George Mason wins the whole dumb stupid thing now.
Internet access is $10 for 24 hours only, so I’ll probably pay for it tomorrow night and Wednesday – maybe again on the weekend before we leave. We also decided to pay a little extra to upgrade from our second-floor-facing-the-street room to an ocean-view room for Saturday and Sunday night, which will be great not only for the views, but for giving me some reason not to be quite so sad-faced about our last couple nights here.
Monday 3/27, 8:05 a.m. HST
It’s the wedding aftermath. The ceremony was gorgeous – on a little peninsula with two small islands in the immediate distance and full of Hawaiian traditions. The officiant was steeped in Polynesian tradition and there were large parts of the ceremony that no one in the audience could understand. The rain – just a little creeping-outingly – stopped for about 20 minutes after he did a chant for us. Rain on a wedding day, he said, was the highest blessing that nature could give to a couple, but he didn’t want the cameras to short out.
We sat with five guys in their early 20’s from Nebraska and Missy’s dad at the reception, which started with a traditional Hawaiian first-course of seaweed, poi, salmon, and pineapple. Although pineapple-so-fresh-its-still-feeling-the-pain-of-being-picked is a food that I could live on happily for weeks at a time, I thought the rest of it was very good as well. The Nebraska contingent was less impressed with the food-that-wasn’t-beef. They came around on the main course, though, which was teriyaki steak, roasted pork (Matt says roasted by burying it on the beach and covering it with hot coals, but I’m not believing it wasn’t made in the hotel kitchen without seeing this burying in the sand with my own eyes), and lua-lua leaves (like spinach) with some sort of fish.
While the dinner part of the reception was a little alien to them, the dance was right up their alley – the DJ, at what I have to assume was request, kicked things off with Cotton-eyed Joe, Fishin’ in the Dark, and a handful of other country-gimmick songs that were ideal for showing Gretchen’s family from Pennsylvania and Matt’s Hawaiian friends how to line-dance properly. Then, job finished, they retired to the bar to flirt with the native Hawaiian bartender. Fair’s fair, though, and I have to confess that they ended up being quite a bit more interesting and funnier than I gave them credit for, with my stereotype of small-town Nebraska guys.
Unless I know the couple really, really well (little-siblings Kyle and Kim – I’m looking at you here), I rarely find myself having a good time at wedding dances. There were only about 80 people at the reception last night, including a 15-person wedding party, so it was like being on display on the dancefloor. That, I imagine, is ideal for a certain type of person, but I’m more of a melt-into-the-crowd type of dancer. But it was an open bar, and good times were had by all – although I didn’t take advantage of the open bar so much that I can’t blog at 8:00 the next morning.
Missy’s dad had been staying in Matt and Gretchen’s extra bedroom, but they had a room at the Hale Koa after the reception, so he stayed in our hotel room last night. We’re going to take him out for pancakes and buckets of Kona coffee at a great little place just down the street, and then we have to pick a few dozen of the 200+ pictures we took last night for their scrapbook, get digital prints, and put the book together. It’s still raining, so it doesn’t look like I’ll get a chance to kill a shark to prove my manhood today either.
Monday 3/27 7:43 p.m. HST
IS THIS A HALLWAY OR AN ALLEYWAY - AM I INSIDE OR OUTSIDE?
The crazy Polynesian gods were still raining on us this morning, and we quickly realized that our new umbrella is still in the stretch-SUV. The little shop at the hotel - sold out. The ABC (tourist crap) shop down the street - sold out. The ABC shop a block further down the street - sold out - everybody's sold out. The headline on the paper today - "Rain May Overcome Aging Drainage System". The bellhop gave us some ponchos, though, and we made our way to breakfast dryly.
Being toted with us in the rain, protected by the bellhop's ponchos, was the scrapbook Missy made for Gretchen and Matt. The pages were done before we left, save pictures, and our first stop after breakfast was a photo store to make digital prints to fill the empty spaces. We spent the next two hours choosing photos, cropping them to fit the mats, and adhesive-ing (no - I think it's "adhering") them down. If the finished product doesn't make them cry, then they're robots.
By 1:00, just as we were finishing the scrapbook, the skies had cleared and the beaches had filled. Filled, partly, by our new reed beach mats. I swam in ocean, made a bad face at the saltwater, dove into a few more waves anyway, threw Missy into a wave, and then slept in the sun like a giant pink lizard (Missy was next to me - not still in a wave). Matt called around 4:30 to ask if we wanted to be picked up around 5:30 for dinner - unbeknownst to him, also a perfect chance to give them the scrapbook. He called later, though, to say they wouldn't be coming until 7:30.
As I was writing this just now (LIVE BLOGGING!!), Missy called to find out whether we were still eating at 7:30, but it doesn't look like we're going to be able to. So we need a new plan for dinner - one that, unfortunately, doesn't make anyone cry. Or I could make Missy cry. Missy - do you remember when Toby died? That was sad, huh? Wait, nope - nevermind - I misinterpreted the single-sided conversation I was hearing. They'll be here in half an hour.