Dec 23, 2009

December 23rd, 2009

Yeah, I know I been bad and didnt write for many months....

But I did write today!

I spend much of my time reading and learning about sailing, since I fully plan to sail across an ocean before I die. This has been a life long dream, and I never cease to stop reading and learning more about what is involved with it. I can and will do this at some point and time.
Today I was reading differnent forums of other dreamers like me, and came across
a topic called: The Sailor's Confessional
Stories on things that went wrong while cruising. Such tales can sometimes be amusing, but more importantly, the rest of us can learn from them.

I decided to relay one of my worst sailing stories to this website. Hear it goes!


Years ago, after having quite a bit of sailing and ocean sailing experience, I bought a Cal 20, just for playing around in a smallish local lake. I got the Cal for 1000 bucks so I triumphantly brought her home. Only then did I look up her specifications on the Cal 20 owners website. Cal 20's should weigh a couple thousand pounds normally.

I found that the boat had been heavily altered, including chopping off her torpedo looking keel bulb (450 lbs)! There were also a few brilliant mods, like cockpit control of the halyards. I called the seller, and he called his uncle who originaly sold it to him. The Uncle, was an elderly Australian fellow who seemed to know about boats. He told me that he also chopped the mast off by a couple feet and had the sails resized inorder to keep the boat from being "tender". He also mentioned that he customized the boat to suit him, since he was a parapalegic and couldnt really walk.

Me and one of my friends took my 12 year old son and 3 of his little friends out to the local Texas lake to do Sea-trials. Needless to say that the days weather was quite stormy and the wind constantly picked up then dropped, then picked up again thoughout the entire day.

Once we got her rigged, and the mast up, we had many hours of fun running the little boat around the lake and back, mainly under a full main and a working jib. We had the Great Cal 20 Maxxed out the entire time.....

Unfortunately a huge Texas bunch of nimbo-cumulous monster clouds poked their aweful heads, above the late afternoon horizon. I noticed, but not enough of a notice.

I being the Captain, was having the greatest time with the boat, and was running her mainly at hull speed, but made the fateful decision to sail down the lake one more time, although the weather as deteriating, before heading toward shore.

After leaving a long cove, things were looking calm, so I ordered all sails totally up, for more speed, soon we sailed past a windward point, as soon as we were past the shelter of a grove of tall pines, the squall hit like a hammer!

The alleged "not tender" boat got promptly knocked down harshly on its port side, like a whore being slapped by an angry pimp! The Captain (me) was steering on the portside at the time, and got washed out of the cockpit by the rush of water coming over the coaming. This all happened in an instant! I GOT WASHED OUT OF MY FRICKING BOAT!!!!. THE CAL 20 IS AN OCEAN GOING BOAT!!!! WTF????

I managed to grab a tailing rope on the way out, and was being pulled across the lake like a cod on a line, skidding on the surface and full of fear! The boat came back up pretty fast but was starting to get knocked down again under the pressure of the 60 mile per hour squall! My son doused the main, while his little buddies were crawling on the spacious deck, like a bunch of little ants. Since I released the jib as I got sucked out of the boat, that was no longer an issue.

Once the main was doused, and a few hectic minutes had passed, I managed to get back to the boat (thank god since no one on the boat knew how to sail, or turn it around to get me)...

I flopped my big ass onto the cockpit, pulled in the jib a little and we pounded our way back to the launch area. This was a tiny lake by Texas standards. Although the storm was nasty and full of electricity, we all got the boat on the trailer and didn't even lose one kid! Then I took them all out to the local steakhouse and told them how proud I was of them for not panicking nor jumping out of the boat while it was down on it's side.

I since sold the "non tender" boat, but I fully accept my guilt in the stupidity of allowing the boat to have too much sail up, and not to leave once I noticed that a storm was approaching. I'm quite grateful that the kids on board were safe. I learned much by this experience, and will never allow such a scene to happen again. Now that I am primarily an ocean sailer, I am way more cognisant of the dangers that the oncoming water has to offer.

Nuff said tonite!

Sep 3, 2009

Thursday, August 3rd, 2009

Great second week of school. Lots of good students, medium ones, and very few unpleasant ones. Had to restock my fish tank, since my room got too hot during my trip to Hawaii. This time I bought a Blue Tang, Butterfly fish, 2 Damsels, and a small Lion Fish, I also got a pencil urchin, a few crabs, and a brittle Starfish (they act more like Octupi). This is enough for a 50 gallon Saltwater Aquarium. The salt water holds less air than a freshwater, and three of these fish will grown quite large. The less fish you have, the less maintanience required.

I also replaced the uber lizard with a 9 foot Boa Constrictor. She is only 5 years old, but I suspect that the snake was overfed. 9 feet is huge for a boa, and a 5 year one should be only about 6 to 7 feet at most. This guy was feeding her a rabbit every other week which is twice as much food as she requires. But she is a big one and the kids in my classroom seem to enjoy having a giant snake in the class.

Once she sheds her skin we will be able to take her out of the caage and take her for walks and stuff. We did shoot a short video, of a smart-assed kid getting sent into the snake cage. Sure hope I dont get fired for this, but it was the kids idea, and no one was hurt in the production.

Aug 31, 2009

August 31st, 2009

I loved my single night truck camping adventure so much last weekend, that I decided to do it again this week. Freddy was raring to go and so was I. The first week of school was nice but hectic as always, and the wilderness was calling again.
After hearing about some girl with green hair, that was presumably missing after her boyfriend dropped her off at the top of Green Canyon trail head, I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive to say the least. She had been dropped there in early August, and had never been seen again. This is a sad story folks, but apparently she was unhappy with life, and thought that she would find herself communing with the wolves and mountain lions, while under the protection of her German Shepherd dog. Although, I knew that she disappeared, but since it was three weeks ago, my friends and I speculated that she probably hiked the ten miles to "Tony's Grove" lake, met some fella and proceeded to the big wilderness, about 200 miles North in the Jackson Hole area. The story was sketchy from the beginning, but this matter didn't concern me or Freddy, so we went camping again just 1/4 mile from where the Green haired girls boyfriend let her off.

Freddy and I are content to merely set up a campsite with a huge fire, throw the tennis ball a little, eat dinner, read, and play the guitar and sing as loudly as I used to back in the good old days when I had some land. Had we been hikers we might have found some disturbing shit only about 2 miles from our happy camping spot.

Freddy absolutely hates the rough 30 minute crawl up the sharp rocks of the canyon, while the truck rocks hither and thither like one of them old washing machines. He usually starts his whining and crying within the first 5 minutes and I must admit I find it quite aggravating. We got to the camp-site and realized that there was nary a stick of firewood to be found. This would not do. I rely on a big campfire for protection from the various wild animals that tend to live up here in the Northern Rockies, and I forget to mention that wolves have recently moved into this country from the Yellowstone area. So Wolves, Bears, Lions, and Moose, are all represented up here, with lions and moose the most common. I LIKE A BIG FIRE, is all I can say about all that.

I barely coaxed Freddy to get back in the truck, and we found some fallen timber about 10 minutes down the violent rocky trail. I found a rope, dropped the tailgate, and tied about 100 pounds of logs onto the tailgate using the "truckers hitch" which is a nice knot to know how to tie. That wood didn't move at all, although the truck was bouncing everywhere.

We got back and I got a big hot fire going, then settled down to read some more of the novel "Lonesome Dove", while watching the twilight set prematurely over the upper crags of the towering mountains on either side of us. I soon fired up the trusty old kerosene lamp which would provide extra light and protection against all the "scaries" that exist out here. Although I was careful to pack all the food into my backpack in the cab of the truck, I couldn't stop thinking about the stories, how bears can smell through all that. But all my food was packaged Indian cuisine and Japanese noodles, which I hoped wouldnt tempt any animal into ripping my truck doors off. I should have hung all the consumables up a bear bag, out of reach, but I was just to damned lazy. Plus I brought my twelve guage Winchester riot gun, which holds enough firepower to disuade the hungriest of animals.

After watching the big yellow moon go down, I proceeded to play a sweet version of "Pancho and Lefty" slowly, in the Willie Nelson style. After that song, I drank a few shots of Jim Beam and went into the ancient Irish sea shanty "The Irish Rover", both songs came out clear as a bell, since I had no audience to impress. The acoustics of the towering cliffs made the songs sound even better than usual.

Then I broke into an old epic love song I had written 30 years ago called: "Mary" (Who I initailly wrote it for escapes my memory), but the song is quite powerful, and is clearly the masterpiece of all my years of song writing. I played and sang it better than I ever have, and this is before the whiskey even started to hit me. The campers two miles away (there were none closer), might have heard "Maaaaaaaarrrrrrry, I feel your pain. I wish I could help you through the rai-a-ain-a-ain. You looked at me once with a smile on your faaaaaaaaaaccccceeeeee...... I - WAS - ENCHANTED - BY - YOUR - GRACE!" and it went on for 7 minutes or so, I was in extasy by the time the song had ended, since I haven't sung it this perfect before. (pardon me for bragging, but us Geminis are well known for cooking food, and telling others how good it tastes!)

Played a dozen less important songs, before I finally went to sleep at 3 in the morning. The loud crashing noise in the woods nearby, hurried me into the safety of the camper. I assumed it was an Elk, but stayed up and read my book for another 20 minutes just in case.

7 AM: Dog wakes me! Damn! not enough sleep. He was excited to get outside and make a nuisance of himself, so I went outside with him and made some camp coffee on my little "Brunton Stove", which fits in your pocket, but can cook a full meal once unfolded and screwed upon a little butane tank. This little bastard cooked me a pot of coffee and enough water for morning noodles in no time at all. Much easier than building a campfire in the morning and wasting wood. I was still way tired, so I went back into the camper and crashed until a decent hour, which was around noon. The dog was looking abit confused since I forgot to buy him food, and we treaded our way back down the canyon (45 minute trip each way), and bought him 5 cheap corndogs at the nearest conveinience store.

We hitched up some more wood for our return to the campsite but the dog, who was riding in the camper, got scared and stuck his arm through the screen in order to get out of the quaking vehicle. I was pissed at the damage, so I made him follow us the remainder of the way on foot. Once we got back, I realized that he was more than happy with the arrangement.

I can't explain it, but once we returned I got a creepy feeling that I can't describe. I wasn't afraid, but I felt creeped out by being in this campsite, although I've been here on two other nights. I had spotted another site earlier, a few miles down the canyon, so we packed up and headed that direction. Freddy, realizing that he had the upper hand, completely refused to get into the truck. Sure I could have grabbed him and forced him, but thought it wiser just to drive off without him and see his reaction to that. Freddie had no problem keeping up, and ran behind us for 15 minutes until we got the the second site. Freddy was so proud of himself and happy that I let him have his way, that he was quite well behaved and good the rest of the trip. Though this site was next to a mountain bikers trail not once did Freddy try to chase the riders, which is good. I'd hate for Freddy to cause a bike accident.

We both liked the wide grassy prairie separating us from the high cliffs to the south, which were more scenic and higher than at the other campsite. The western view was a pretty forest that went uphill in a long but more reasonable incline. The forest was nice to walk in w/o too much underbrush, the quality of the green indicated that water flows through this part of the canyon quite often. I was glad to make the move, even though we lost a bit of solitude. Freddie was respectful to the occasional traveler and that was all I really asked from him.

We jammed again after dark, and it was even more clear and perfect as the first night. No immediate audience, makes me play and sing without holding anything back. And it allows me to take a break between songs, and analyze ways to make the next song more perfect. I may go back to playing bar-rooms again if I can keep this up! Now that Im older I have more patience, and I no longer worry whether people like me or not. It's a nice sort of confidence I must say.

Freddy wakes me again at 7 AM, and costs me 5 hours of needed rest. I tryed to sleep in the hammock, but the swarms of horseflys, and little bees, would not allow me to sleep out side. Inside the camper was too hot, since we were no longer under the trees, so the only alternative was to sit in a chair and attempt to read some more. Turned out we left the campsite after coffee and headed down the cruel trail back home. I tricked Freddy into riding in the cave underneath my bed in the camper, where he rode without freaking for the had drive back home.

we got home around 2 pm, and found that the Green Haired Girl's body was discovered a mile or two from my camp, the Sheriff called the death an obvious suicide. They spotted her dog staying close to the corpse but were unable to catch it. Weird to think a dead body had been rotting there for the past three weeks and I was camped that close to it. Very sad to hear the news and I pray that her family will be alright. Poor kid is all I can say. This weekend we are camping 10 miles away from there because of the ewwwwwwww factor. (The news story:

Aug 26, 2009

August 26th, 2009

Let me introduce myself, I am Al, a 46 year old man who recently moved from central Texas with no real mountains, no wilderness areas; no moose, lions, bears, wolves, ect.. (Snakes, wild hogs, gators, and scorpions I'm used to). I am a big dude 6'3" 280 lbs, and do not like to hike if I can avoid it. I do have wilderness experience at a young age, and learned basic camping skills from the Boy Scouts, and even hiked 50 miles at Philmont many years ago.

Needless to say, I now live close to the Wasatch mountain range in Northern Utah, which is a pretty nice large and little used wilderness area. I can be outside human contact in 20 minutes on my dirt-bike. But it's all foreign and a little scary to me after all these years, after being in the settled world for my entire life. I car camped a couple times in the past two years, but stayed pretty close to the trail head, with other people, and enjoyed it a bit, but my fears of the wild animals (lots of lions in these parts), ruined it for me.

But I persisted, and was resolved to face these fears, so I decided to face them deep in the woods, and face them alone. So last weekend I drove my truck about 10 miles into the mountains solo, and decided to conquer my fears. I was armed with my Aussie Shepherd, my 30-30, and a bottle of Jim Beam: Since the canyon I drove up was fairly rough and lacked water and fishing opps, I had 1000's of acres all to myself.

After a few minutes at the camping spot, the silence and reality of being so far away of civilization hit me. My dog was having a blast, but I must admit that I was wary of every unfamiliar sound. So I started getting into the swing of things, setting up camp, sorting out the stuff I need for the night, hanging up the hammock, building the fire, which did help mellow things out. Then I just chilled out and read a few chapters of a good book (Lonesome Dove), and started to groove with the sounds of the wilderness and watching for mountain lions that were supposed to be all over the steep cliffs and mountaintops that were surrounding me. It was beautiful!

I pulled lightly on the Jim Beam bottle since I didn't want the drink to muddy the grand experience of just chillin' up in the Northern Rockies.

I still remembered my fire starting skills and quickly made a large fire as the paranoia of dusk set in. I remembered all the fire safety lessons taught back in the old scouting day, and settled down to a wonderful night hanging close to the protection of the campfire.

The stars were magnificent as I opened up a can of beans which slowly started bubbling at the edge of the stone fire ring I constructed. Then I realized the potential of getting an unwanted bear visit due to the sweet smell of the cooking beans. After chugging down the beans and sterilizing the can in the fire, I waited near the fire with my lever action 30-30, cradled in my arms for the imagined bears to come try something. After a while, I started feeling silly for being fearful, and leaned the unchambered gun on a nearby tree and reached for the guitar and the whiskey then proceeded to give the wilderness and bears a concert under the stars which lasted for several hours. Once my fingers and voice got tired,I spent another hour watching the millions of stars (dark night/no moon) and started feeling a bit sleepy. So I crawled in the back of my tiny truck camper and slept soundly for the next 7 hours.

Overall the experience was a beautiful reaquaintence with the wilderness, and I fully plan to reaquaint myself every weekend before the snows hit. Camping solo with a dog is the way to go in my book!

Aug 1, 2009

Trip Advisor review for the "Waikiki Sand Villa"

After reading some of the mixed reviews of the Sand Villa, I really wasn't sure what to expect. Seemed like most travelers liked the place, and the price was only about $60 per night. After staying there for 14 days, I was most impressed to say the least!

The rooms were a little small but clean and more than adequate, The bed was perfect and sanitary, due to the plastic sheet covering the mattress. I really didn't want to sleep atop ancient body fluids and bed bugs. The sheet was covered by a thick fabric cover and bottom sheet, so I hardly knew it was there. The bathroom was functional as was the TV set, large mini fridge. The dresser was huge and the rest of the furnature and decor were nice as well, the big teakwood mirror was a nice touch. Both sides of the hotel have spectacular views of the Ala Moana Canal, and the golfcourse and mountains beyond. No I coundn't see the ocean, but the view was just fine.. The carpet was older but clean, I spent most of the time barefoot, and it was never an issue. I was on the sixth floor and road noise was never an issue. I read a few negative reviews about the carpet, noise, ect.. but I disagree, I was there for half a month, and the rooms were more than adequate. For the price, it was a downright steal!!! The rooms do have internet, just borrow a cable from the front desk. It's not the fastest, but fine for my purposes, including online phone calls.

When reading other reviews, most people agreed that the location was a good one. I timed the walk to the beach, and it was exactly 7 minutes. If it look 10 minutes or longer for you then, you must be crippled or something. It's central location allows you to walk to anywhere in waikiki in 25 minutes or less. I enjoyed the International Market for a cheap place to eat, and highly recommend "Rainbow Sushi", which makes an excellent Miso soup for only a dollar. I had the 18 piece sushi tray for about $6. The "Haute' "Dog" place had an excellent Chicago dog, with fries and a coke for $7.50. Nearby "Fattys Chinese" was a fun place to eat, where you could watch the cook make your food from 5 feet away.

For finer dining (and reasonable drinks), Duke's Place is my favorite beach bar and restaurant. Their you can buy a nice big sandwich for $8, or a full meal for less than $20, the drink prices were the most reasonable I found right on the water, with gin and tonics (made with the good stuff), for $5.00. There was usually a pleasant local musician with excellent but not overpowering music. What I loved the most about Dukes was the outdoor patio seating, where you could walk 20 feet to the beach, strip off your clothes (you need a swimsuit or shorts of course), and dive in the surf, then return to you seat, and it's all good. The music and tiki torches right on the beach, made for a perfect tranquil night. This is a very classy place, but easygoing and laid back at the same time.

Much of the time I spent my evenings at the hotel pool and hot tub. After a long day of walking thru Waikiki, there is nothing better than to sit in the large and powerful hot tub, which would massage your aches away in no time. I found it to be a good place to meet new friends, since it's hard to sit in a tub without talking to the other guests. This was important to me, since I was alone. I met some very nice people there. The bar was perfect. The lighting was dim enough to be cosy, bright enough to where you could read the menu. The Bar staff were all professional and pleasant, and gave good advice on things to do and see. Wade is the only bartender whose name I can recall, but all the bar staff were first class. The bar's patrons were mainly locals, and talking to them gave me much insight on the "real Waikiki". The food was pretty good with decent prices, and I had nearly everything on the menu, This was a very nice place, and my favorite bar on Waikiki overall. Its was almost too conveniant since I closed the bar down more than a few times.

I really liked the hard working dedicated staff of the Sand Villa, I got to know nearly everyone from the helpful front desk people, to the cleaning crew and the Valets. All were quite helpful and seemed happy with their jobs. Dee and Blaine from the front desk were always happy to help me with new room keys, pool towels, as were the rest of the front desk employees. When waiting for a tour I had some time to get to know the valet man "Bobby", he was very professional, loved his job, and always made sure I got to my tour bus on time. The pool crew and cleaning crew were kind and helpful as well.
My cleaning lady had my room looking perfect every time with a smile.

The Sand Villa is a great place to stay, what a makes a good hotel a great one is the ethos and dedication of the staff. At no point in my 14 nights did any staff member displease me. I will be coming back here next time I stay in Waikiki.

July 30th-31st

Check out time: 11:00 A.M.. Good thing the hotel is willing to store your luggage and allow one to bum around the premisis until airport time. My ground transport wasn't scheduled to pick me up for anothe 8 hours, so I made the best of it. Couldn't really go to the beach, since I had no place to leave the wallet, plus I was still sunburnt.

I found some shade by the pool and lounged for a few hours reading a book about how we are slaves to technology which was interesting, since the author moved to an Amish/Mennonite area, and did the Amish thing for a couple years. He was very impressed with their way of life, but he crapped out in favor for a low tech lifestyle in a reclaimed neighborhood near down town St. Louis. The guy was sort of flaky, but I commend him for his efforts to live with the Amish. His writing was pretty decent and I agree with the simplicity thing overall. But someone with a full time job, does have need for modern conveiniences. I find that living close to work and shopping makes for a nicer life. I still someday, want to return to the land and live w/o electricity, grow some of my own food, but motorized transportation of some sort would be necessary. Who knows? Hawaii would be a nice place to live like that.

Then I wandered Waikiki afoot for the last time, and had a bowl of "Pho" (soup) at a Vietnamese stall in the marketplace, under the shade of a huge Banyon tree, it was lovely. "Pho" is a giant bowl of soup with noodles and other strange stuff, and is pretty good, but Miso is still my favorite. Stopped at the ABC store to get Logan a T-shirt and went back to the hotel for a swim. By then is was 4:00 P.M. so I took a swim to cool off and sanitize for the long airline ordeal ahead. Had a beer at the hotel bar afterward, said goodbye to all my local friends, then was picked up by an impatient young Japanese/Hawaiian hybrid, for a very unrelaxed (and scary) drive to the airport.

The Delta terminal was a clusterfuck, but after standing in a few non-moving lines, with screaming babies and impatient people, I started losing the Hawaiian laid back outlook that I have gained in the past two weeks. Still made it to the gate with an hour to spare, and drank another beer and had a great conversation with the waiter, who seemed eager to "talk story" with me for an hour or so. "Talk story" is a Pidgin way to say "shoot the breeze" or something. In Texas, we say "Shoot the shit", whatever the hell that means. We discuss the finer points of surfing, and shark attacks, life on the Western shore, teaching, and other stuff. Then I had to pay the tab and enter the tomb of death for the next 5 hours.

Of course I had a middle seat in a packed 757; and to make matters worse, I was squashed between two very fat women. The blubberfest was unbearable to all of us, but since both were nice and polite ladies, we made the best of the situation. The largest of them was squashed against the window, and my shoulders and hips were smashed againist her commodius posterior and ample midsection. The one on the right was a sweet but big boned old lady from Minnisota who was 6 feet tall with an ass the size of my own. Then the guy in front of me was a "seat recliner" which made for a night mare of claustrophobic hell. I asked to stewardess for help, but the plane was nearly full, and she didn't "nearly" give a shit. Obese people are the most discriminated group in the country today. Had I arrived in a wheel chair, I would have got first class treatment, but throwing three big people in the same row, was our own fault for being big. I finally got up and sat in the restroom for 20 minutes to take a break. When I returned the sweet older lady, switched seats with me and I hung over the aisle, which made our situation much nicer. Both ladies were very pleasant thoughout the ordeal, but next time, I will reserve an Aisle seat, no matter what the price.

The rest of the trip went smooth and uneventful, which was nice for a change. The Mormon looking lady sitting beside me on the Portland to Salt Lake run, turned out to be a lesbian, and very anti-Mormon, but was funny and fun to talk to. I didn't agree with anything she said, but her humor made it fun. The ground transport was in better repair on the way back, and took me straight home, without criss crossing Utah, and taking 3 hours.

My son seemed the same as when I left, but Freddy the wonderdog was so happy to see me, I have never seen a dog act as thrilled as he was when I got home! Almost like having happy little kids around the house again. I slept most of the day, with Freddy one inch away from me the entire time. As much as they shed, Australian Shepherds fit me perfectly for a dog companion. I wouldn't trade him for the world.

Time it took to travel from my hotel in Hawaii to my home in Utah?.... Only about 13 hours.

Jul 30, 2009

July 29th, 2009

Last night on Oahu. Finally took an Oahu tour and saw the North Shore, where the crazy surfers try the big Alaskan born waves during January and February. Looked like a beach, nothing more; we were told to imagine how "it might look" during those months.... but none of us "Tourons" were impressed. It was a cool trip though, allowing one to see some of the wildlife, and topography of most of the Island. I really liked hanging out in the "North Shore", in the surfing mecca town of Hale'iwa. This is the biggest town on the North Shore, and is a direct contrast to Waikiki. It was a laid back town full of surfers, and the businesses they prey on the commerce, that world class surfing brings. None of that "Waikiki sparkle"could be found there, just a town of a few thousand surrounded by sparsely populated beaches with a mere farm road, called a "highway", which links the rest of Oahu to the great Honolulu metro area.

We saw the rain forests on the "Eastern Shore", which were beautiful, but the "Byodo-In Buddhist temple", was the most spectacular place I've witnessed since I've been on the island. Being a life long student of Buddhism, this place was truly special. Inside (remember to remove shoes), was a 20 foot copper statue of Guatama Buddha, with the great bronze bell and ringing log, situated farther outside the Temple, amongst beautiful gardens and koi ponds. When someone would ring the bell (I rang it!), a soft clear "Ommmm" sound, could be heard with the sounds of birds and the universe. I did the full spiritual insence lighting thing, similar to what is done at the Cathedrals I've been in. Cathedrals feel just as holy, but nothing as beautiful as this temple compound was. This is the first Buddhist temple I've ever been to, and certainly will not be the last. The vibes were indescribable. Sometimes one needs to just chill and contemplate their existance, no matter what their beliefs are. This place really appealed to me as a place to do that.

We also saw a dead looking sea turtle basking on the beach, with a red rope cordoned around it, and 50 tourists snapping pictures at it. The turtle looked dead, but didn't seem to notice the crowd. The guide said that often, there are many more laying around that place, instead of one turtle; they were not captive at all, but totally wild.

On the way back to Waikiki, we drove thru pineapple fields, coffee fields, saw Pearl Harbor from a distance, and traveled thru the main city of Honolulu from West to East, including Chinatown, the Hawaiian Royal Palace, and the Statue of King Kamehameha. All of these I was planning to see tomorrow, but now I won't have to! As many of you know, the only two states that were once Independent Countries, were Texas, and Hawaii. In 1893; a few sugar barons, with US backing, held the Queen of Hawaii at gunpoint, and made her sign the treaty which gave her country to the US. Imagine that???? Hawaii was an independent country for over 80 years before this. Hate to bring up ugly facts, but I find it important to educate people, so history never repeats itself.

Once home, I did my nightly baptism in the "wonder jacuzzi" (I hope I can find a way to live without it), then ordered dinner and spent some time discussing Hawaii with my favorite waitress, who is a native of "Hilo" from the Big Island. Cheap land can still be found near Hilo, and I would love nothing more than to retire on a couple acres, with a garden and some chickens, in a place where I could swim in the sea to my hearts content. But I am probably just dreaming.
I would never dream of a place and actually make the move to live there someday .

As a student of the world, and of different people and other cultures, one can get bored once, everything there is to know about a place is reached. I love learning about different lands and cultures, and Hawaii has the best of it all. While some think of New York City, as the ultimate "Melting Pot", the different races are still mainly segregated in NYC by choice. In Hawaii, many are nearly mixed together. Few purebred "Native Hawaiians" exist anymore. They are a mixture of Hawaiian, European, Black, Chinese, Japanese, Filapino, and many other races. Generally, you have little idea as to their ancestry. The locals, whom I've spent some time getting to know, speak a version of all the languages above... known as "Pidgin", which is very hard to understand, but they keep it simple just for me... Ever seen the movie "Blade Runner" with Harrison Ford from the early 80's? The film-maker's version of future America, was a place similar to this. In fact: It was exactly like this. This is nice because I see very little racism here in Hawaii. Hawaii is a breath of fresh air from what I've experienced my entire life in the mainland. Even in the near perfect place I presently live, there are huge undertones of racism. I have seen very little of it here, and I spent most of my time, meeting and talking to the local folks like I always seem to do, no matter where I am. Societies and cultures have always fascinated me, and Oahu is the most interesting place I've been.

Jul 28, 2009

July 27th, 2009

I guess I lied to you in my previous post. I planned to get a good nights sleep, but went to the hotel bar for happy hour, which begins at 11:00 PM. I did get an hours sleep or so. I wound up staying there talking politics with some locals for 5 hours and only had a beer per hour, and headed home at 4:00 A.M. Once home I had a few tequila shots, and went to bed for about an hour: I had a dream that I was surfing the big Hawaiian waves, and jumped up at 6 A.M., put on my swim gear, and headed toward the beach! I was feeling fine, energetic, confident, and rented a surfboard for about 10 bucks. Never have I rented one of these, but studied the procedure, hitched up my ankle leash, and paddled on my belly about 1/4 miles out to sea and gathered with all the other surfers and surfer wannabe's like yours truly.
Once with my new surf colleagues, we waited and waited and waited and waited.......;for many minutes, until I heard someone whistle, and a very hot 6 foot wave came barreling our way! I took off like a whore on dime night, and caught the wave perfectly on my belly and rode the bastard for many many seconds! Gawd! It was FUN! :Then I tryed to push up and stand and wound up in some sort of powerful washing machine with my head and other parts scuttled and bounced violently along the bottom of the ocean. I rested a minute, then got back on and spent 5 minutes paddling back to the starting place. By then I was tired and beaten up. Hey! I was the idiot who decided to do this in a semi drunken state. I got exactly the Karma that I had deserved. No more no less, I wouldn't have it any other!

I tried a few more times but got the living shit beat out of me, so I returned the surfboard, and limped my broken, burnt, sore, tired, arse back to the hotel.. Upon the return, I showered, picked the coral out of my bruises, and slept for the next 11 hours.

Re-awoke (is this a real word?), at 7 PM, checked on my Myspace account, talked to a few fellow Mobsters, then took off to a famous hole in the Allie called "Fatty's Chinese"; Fatty's is a long time Waikiki institution, that is tiny, ghetto, and you get to watch the cook. The full stove and sink complex is about 9 feet long, with chopped ingredients, sitting upon a dirty pot, atop a nasty sink full of dirty pots and pans. Hey, Fatty needs more counter space so he makes due. The locals all flock here, as do the tourists. I could put "Fattys in a 35 foot Airstream trailer. But the nastyness was a shock to me at first, but since I saw the cook, stir-frying my dish "Malay style" (the menu was mostly in Chinese so I had no idea what meat was in it), I noted how hot the substances became, and was satisfied the the dish was going to be sterile.

When I got to my spot at the serving bar, there were chop sticks at my place, while sitting there and talking to the black dude next to me, the chop sticks disappeared and a fork showed up. I was not about to eat my Chinese Noodle crap with a shovel or pitchfork, so I asked the lady for some chop sticks, while insinuating that she was guilty of "Racial Profiling"! Actually, I was nice and subtle about it, but I did let her know that this White guy likes to eat with chop sticks, and get that farm implement off my table. The black dude looked at me and gave a shit-eating "now you know what we go thru" grin. The food was greasy and marginal, since they use powdered garlic and ginger; the sweet/ sour balance was bland, but after a bit of Vietnamese Rooster sauce, and a bit of soy, the stuff was alright. I like eating noodles with chopsticks way more than rice. After years of quaffing down mass quantities of rice, I have become a noodle man. And Malay noodles are up there but not as high as the Thai "Pad kee Mow" horizon.

Fatty's is ok but not as fresh as I like. Sitting in the tiny hole in the wall, with many happy customers, and getting to watch the stir fry lesson, makes it a place that all Waikiki visitors must go. I plan to return before I leave.

Came back and spent 20 minutes at the pool and needed the Jacuzzi (which I never shut up about), but immersing in water many times a day is what I do. If I was a dog, I would be a labrador. I have three sets of clothing drying out in my room on a continual basis. Salt water is the nicest, spa water is like raw sewage at the end of the day. Think?: 100 people or more jump in the same 500 gallons of water, how many gallons of piss and sunscreen is that? The suds on the surface are not soap, trust me on this one. The giant pool is chlorine land, so I sanitize myself in the pool after being in the jacuzzi.

Then I went to my room like a good boy and started writing this page, it is now 11:46 PM and I plan to take an island tour tomorrow and detox for a while.

Jul 27, 2009

Saturday and Sunday July 25 and 26th, 2009

(the boat pic was not the one we were on, but shows how the position can lean when too much sail is up, we were actually leaned about 5 degrees further down much of the time).

Great days. Early Saturday was a bit slow, since I celebrated the night before and didn't go to bed till 5:00 AM on Saturday. Around 3:00PM Saturday I woke up and did some laundry in the hotel and caught up with things on the internet, while using my radio here for the first time. Honolulu radio is about like Utah's in it's lame-ness, but I found an interesting station. I love listening to local news and radio, wherever I happen to be. At 6:00 PM, I headed down to "DUKES", in order to go on the 1 1/2 hour "drinking cruise" on a very large yellow catamaran sailboat. I have been a sailboat enthusiast in a past life down in Port Lavaca, Texas, and having been ocean sailing in over 12 years (I have done some bay and lake sailing in the past 3 years), but I love to sail! Got to Duke's and watched the sailboat full of happy people, head off into the lovely Hawaiian late afternoon. So I bought a Gin and Tonic (my favorite mixed drink), and sat on the beach and watched the sun slowly head towards the horizon.

Feeling a little lonely, I started down the beach for another beach bar, and found some rich hotel beach bar, that charged 8 dollars (3 more than Dukes), for the same drink, and spent an hour 70 feet from the waves, with a bunch of over dressed, over fed, starched rich mummies, who where clearly having no fun at all. Not one of them stripped off their clothes and jumped into the water! At "Dukes", which is a high class place as well; sports a much happier crowd an the occasional patron jumps in the water to cool off, then returns to their table. The music there is nice, and the vibe is free and easy. Many classy people there, since Dukes is a three star restaurant and bar. I just like to be outside and jump in the surf, even if it's at night!

After the "morgue" I moved back toward my Hotel, which is three blocks off the surf, and saw an underground bar on a side street called "Nashville", I was attracted by the "3 dollar well drinks offer" but was actually looking for some food. The place was very nice, with only a few patrons, and a TRIVIA MACHINE! to keep me company. I drank an awful syrupy Mai Tai, and bought a tuna salad sandwich was was huge for 7 bucks, then proceeded to attack the trivia machine. After a few plays, I managed to be permanently ensconced with one of the top ten scores, and beat out a score that has been standing for 9 months! I know my history and geography quite well. And the machine was used for 100 times a day for 9 months. My Ego was feeling good. Then I met a Hapa (half Hawaiian, half honky) dude named Ron Van Cleef.
Ron is a typical barfly, full of shit and unhappy in life. But he was decent enough, and I was feeling lonely, and when he said "I have a crewmember opening for a yachtrace tomorrow", I just had to say "HELL YEAH" I'll go! Then he showed me to about 5 more bars, including "Dukes", where I had a midnight swim in the Pacific, before leading me thru the international Marketplace to get his ancient Yamaha motorscooter. Ron is an ex-military character, whose parents moved to some acreage near San Antonio, and talks about nothing but all the chicks he gets. I didn't really trust him, but it was nice to have a local show me around to all the Waikiki spots that I haven't been. Besides: What can this old little man do to me, I wasn't born yesterday: And I really wanted to go yachting again!

He hands me his scooter and I drove it 6 or 7 blocks thru busy Waikiki, with a solid buzz and no fears whatsoever. I circled my hotel a few times then landed, and headed straight to the hotel bar, where my bartender friend "Wade" cautioned me against driving mopeds while under the enfluence. Ron tells me "cops don't really care" and Wade tells me "cops will bust your ass for this", so I wisely will take Wades advice. I conclude that "Ron" is a bit of a douche.

Ron calls me at 10 AM and we head up the the yacht harbor, where he introduces me to Captain Dennis. Dennis is an older poor mainlander who has a large 34 foot yacht, that looks to be an old tub. I had a few reservations about going out into the high winds of the Pacific ocean with Dennis, but as the other crew showed up, I gained some faith as him as a Captain. I could see their dedication, and that they apparently trusted Captain Dennis.

(When you accept a crew position on any yacht you have to know what you are doing. The boat going out in the ocean is under the legal command of the Captain. If the captain is an idiot, he could easily get you killed. No shit! Dennis's boat was from the sixties and needed a few things. But after looking at the rigging and sails, I felt like the boat was sound. But is the captain sound? It's tough to tell until the boat is heeled over, with stuck sails, or whatever, and he is unable to give an intelligent command; So YOUR dead!!! Imagine being 4 miles from the island and the boat gets knocked down due to your Captains' mistakes. You fall in the ocean, with no lifeline (most yachts dont use them), and they will not be able to find your shark bait ass! Once they spend 10 minutes trying to get back to you, your small head will be impossible to find unless the boat gets lucky and finds your position within 100 yards. IF YOU FALL IN THE WATER TOO FAR FROM SHORE.....YOUR USUALLY DEAD. "

Ok, I determined that the rigging and sails/hull were good. I forget about checking the two way radio, but the boat did have an excessable, throwable life raft/Epirb (locating signal). I was good to go; mainly, because the 5 passenger crew trusted him, I wasn't impressed by him at all. Oh yeah, his engine had issues, but what sailboat doesn't have engine probs? I was to be in charge of controlling the Main sail. Sounds important, but it really is the least technical job of Yacht racing. When the Capo orders "tighten the sail", I do it. Or "release sail", "tacking", "jybing", and so forth. At times; when the boat is leaning at an 85 degree angle, and the crew was about to be spilled into the sea, I would just give the sail some slack w/o being told. Captain Dennis, like to push the old tub to it's outer limits it seemed. But he never bitched when I would slack the sail a little. He knew I was a sailer, but his ego never wanted to say "ease off".

We left the Port of Honolulu, around Noon, and headed out to sea on a "three hour tour", the weather was very windy but controllable. 25 knot winds are nothing to sneeze at. My privious Capitan named "Capitain Jaques" was an old wise Frenchman, who allowed me to crew on his 47 foot old wooden boat from Port Lavaca, Texas, to Sabine Pass, on the Texas/Louisiana border. We went 100 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, and spent 2 1/2 days and nights to get there. "Jaques" was much more easy going, and kept the jib and mailsls' reefed down, to prevent excessive lean and excessive strain on his rigging. Capitain "Dennis" was a racer, and pushed his boat to the limits, using a full main/jib configuration, so the ride was a total bitch! Healed over with the mast near the water, and shit smashing around in the cabin, as the wind shoveled us atop the whitecapped waves, was not a joy ride. But Dennis was racing. Funny: Capo Jacques boat had a hull speed of 4 knots while riding nice and serene, and "Speed Racer Dennis" was only going about 6 knots. WTF? With Jacques 2 1/2 days was a pleasant ride. With "Dennis" 3 hours was a balls to the wall, scary experience, where some of his crew were tossing their cookies, into the Pacific Ocean. My cookies stayed in my belly fortunately...hehe. Captain Dennis was a good Captain overall. He was just one of many sailboat racing dudes who likes to push the limits in order to gain a little more speed. We just have different philosophies about sailing. He was the Captain, he kept calm the entire time, never raised his voice, and knew how to sail. Dennis was a perfectly adequate Captain, my only critisism, was that when one of his friends; a younger lady crewmember who became sick and threw up over the stern port leeward side: Dennis just made a light joke out of it "haha now we know we are sailing!" was all the comfort he had to give. He really should have eased the sails, or just motored in, rather than continue to same grueling pace for the next 90 minutes, while this girl was in misery. We really were not in a race, and just doing time trials afterall.
But I'm damned glad I went! Had the best time on this trip so far. Seeing the Waikiki coast and Diamond Head from 5 miles out while leaning and bucking the wild waves at a scary pitch is a thrill that will last me a lifetime! And when I return, Dennis says I always got a crew position on his boat. Not sure if I want it, but he did at least recognise my sailing abilities, as I recognise his Captain skills. There is way more to Yachting than having martinis at the club, I assure you.

After that, I was beat and completely sunburnt. Van Cleef and I took a cab to Dukes (the Cleef stiffed me on another cab ride as he does on many bartabs, I don't pay the entire tab, just 65 percent or more...this guy is a piece of work). We were both up late the night before and he suggests us go sleep in the sand while listening to the Sunday Band at Dukes. By then I was sunburnt and tired, and just wanted a swim and a return to my hotel room, while not being around this leech any more. So we laid our beach mats down, I went swimming and body surfing. I came back, Cleef was totally asleep, (he did drink 9 beers on the trip), I snagged my mat, and stuff, and went to the International Market and had a Chicago Dog with fries, knowing that the leech would be pissed, but let him find another friend. I enjoyed the Sailing, but he trashed Dennis pretty bad after we left. Dennis was the good guy, not sure about the Cleefster.

Went to the hotel room, showered, put on lotion (damn I am burned, my sunglass marks make me look like a raccon (the Japanese bellhop told me this), and I slathered on some lotion but the burns arent to severe.......maybe. Woke at 8:00PM to do the jacuzzi thing, and floated in the pool for awhile. Checked my internet for a while, and now going to sleep while planning for adventures in the morning (that dont involve the sun).... Night all!

Jul 25, 2009

Friday, July 24th, 2009

(picture is the Loco Moco I had for dinner)

Up at 8:00 A.M. and ready to go. I found a fancy hotel called "Ohana (means "Family"), that served a nice breakfast with eggs, bacon, and pancakes for only $3.75...Nice! I had that with some good "Kona" coffee, and poured coconut syrup (excellent!) all over the substantial pancakes. Total for the exquisite meal at a very nice place???? Five dollars and twenty cents plus a two dollar tip.

Hawaii is cheap...... people! My highrise hotel is only sixty dollars a night and is in a great location. Sure the rooms are smallish and aged, but the pool is gorgegous and the bar is perfect. This is a high quality establishment, and I will come again and again. The transport is cheap, no need for a rent a car, you can taxi around Waikiki for 5 - 6 dollars a trip. Or walk it and lose some of that blubber! "The Bus" can take you all over the island for two dollars it you take the time to read the schedule. Snorkeling is free once you buy a mask and fins from the ABC store. Liquor is cheaper here than in Texas. Drinks at the Lava room are only 3 dollars as in our hotel bar during "happy hour". I'm here for two weeks and the hotel and airfare is $1600 for only one person. If I had a roomy if would be $1100.

There is so much to learn here. Not only the rich local history, but you are immersed in various cultures, and they all seem to get along while thoroughly enjoying themselves. The ocean is nearly perfect, and the plant and animal life is fascinating to say the least. The ocean life is just as incredible. I truly love this place.

Today, I took a $15 tour to nearby Hanauma Bay, which is situated in an old volcanic crater. Met up with a very nice couple in their 30's and we hit it off right away. We all dove together and saw many different examples of fish, inverts, corals, and were fortunate enough to have cloudy skies so the blazing sun on our backs wasn;t a problem at all. I made sure I left my silver chain (my bling) and my money/hotel card in the ladies handbag. After walking a half mile uphill to the lip of the crater, we had to hike down hill to the beach for another half mile. I was tired by the time I got there but soon the cool water revived me and we swam with fins for two hours. When we took a rest we had very good conversations, since they were both in the educational field. We unfortunately got separated and had to take different shuttles, when I noticed my money, key, and bling..... were still in this ladies bag. I only knew them by first names, but realized my hotel key would allow them to find me. Two hours after I returned, they showed up with my things, but I was never worried about it whatsoever.

I was beat so I decided to have the local Hawaiian favorite called: "Moco Loco"; which is a large beef patty, served over a pile of rice with a mushroom and onion gravy and topped with a fried egg. Healthy Eh'? But in a hard workin' day like today, the combination really hit the spot. Which brings the question to mind: Damn these Hawaiians seem to only eat meat and starch. Very few veggies or even fish. They also eat a shit load of SPAM, which is usually a feature in most of the local restaurants. No wonder why many of them weigh 4 or 500 pounds. I have seen some rather big strapping natives around here. I like it! I feel as slender as I ever have hanging around some of these people. But why do they not eat much fish? I read a Paul Therox book, a famous National Geographic contributer and he asks the same thing? He rode around many of the Polynesian Islands, and wondered why they ate little seafood? They mo'w down on main pork (Kalua Pig) and Spam, but little seafood; although it is quite abundant in these climes. Hummmmmmmnnnnn, I do not understand these people to well, but I have the utmost respect for a race of stone aged people that could build boats, stock them with plants, animals, food and water for a couple months, then head out over the horizon looking for other islands, and then finding them. The distance between the islands they originally came from and Hawaii is several thousand miles. More than Columbus's short journey by comparison. Facsinating, I must say. Incredible, I will have to add.

After the giant plate of WTF?, I hit the spa for quite a while before returning to my room at nine O'clock. Now I'm tired and will get another early nights sleep. I want to see some more of the island in the morning. Mahalo my brothers and sisters if you made it thru all this writing.


Jul 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

11 AM: Knock Knock! I offered
the two crazy bastards a place to rest while they waiting till 4:30 to go to the airport. The bottom picture was taken at 12:00 noon. The top one was taken at 4:00 PM, when they were ready to go. They are heading to Cabo San Lucas, then onward to Las Vegas! I will miss the fun. Chipper is the one closest to the TV.

I didn't do too much today. I slept till 1:00 PM, and hung out by the pool while Ramsey and Chipper, slept off their debauchery from the previous night. After they left, I took a nap and went to the hot tub and hung around a Canadian couple until 9:00 PM (when the damn pool closes WTF?). Then spent a couple hours catching up on my writing. Tomorrow I plan to wake up early so I can do an island tour of some sort (I've been here for a week and haven't even left Waikiki..). But if the surf is still up I want to try surfing instead, my legs feel very strong and are no longer sore. The surf was only 2 - 3 feet for the first 4 days I was here, yesterday it was 8 feet, but I never made it to the beach today so I better do a weather check. Small surf = Snorkeling. Big surf = Surfing. Maybe I'll do the tour later. Night all...

Jul 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I love this place! Clearly the best place to "visit" I've ever been. The people here are quite interesting, it's easy to meet people by just going out, but I find it hard to categorize or describe them in only one page. I'll do my best for you:

Tourists: I've talked to hundreds of them by now. As usual, I wound up hanging out with the Aussies. Met up with two Aussie blokes who are crazy and as hard drinking as any other Aussie I have met. In most of my previous trips off the US mainland, I wind up hanging with the Australians. Ramsey and Chipper are the two most outgoing skirt chasing blokes I've ever met. I met them at the hotel bar yesterday at 5:00 PM. and they have been drinking for 24 hours since they left Australia. They are very open hearted people, and buy me as many drinks as I allow them to. They also talk and flirt with every woman within 40 feet of them. Chipper; who has a very loud voice when drunk, has a harsh accent similar to the Cockney accent that some Londoners possess. In the big jacuzzi yesterday, he was talking to a mother and daughter from the Lake Tahoe area, and was totally conversing with them even though they were clearly looking down their rich noses at him and rolling their eyes whenever he spoke. They were both very pretty, but had that "OMG! we have never talked to regular people who are just being nice" thing going on. Chipper was merely trying to take some of the starch out of their collars: He didn't succeed. He also the invited a "hooker" into the taxi that drove us from the second bar to the third one. When she found out that we were not customers, she asked for 10 dollars to give her a cab ride back to her original spot. They argued with her just for fun and seemed to have a good time jacking with her. I gave her the 10 bucks just so she would leave.

Afterwards we hit a bar called "Lulus" and Ramsey proceeded to romance some blond from Minnesota for several hours. Chipper, who was quite obliterated at this point, left the bar and disappeared; after 20 minutes, I went out looking for him, but only saw a few hookers, homeless people, and a gangster or two, but no Chipper. This was at 2:00 A.M. and the outskirts of Waikiki is not the safest place to lose a drunken friend. I got back to inform Ramsey, and Chipper comes walking back in almost right behind me. I suspect that he found an alley somewhere and got rid of the many drinks that were in his system.
Ramsey, like Chipper, also has a very harsh accent and his Lebanese background makes it very funny when he speaks. Both are very happy and seem to just want to spread the joy around. Ramsey also likes to "take the piss" with nearly everyone he comes in contact with. Always smiling, he walks up to people he doesn't know, puts his hand on their shoulder, and asks them something like "who are you?. Where are you from....and other things. He does this to the women, the men, the hookers, the old people, but his joyfulness is sincere, contagious actually. Both of these crazy bastards seem to have fun everywhere they go. They are very positive and a joy to be around; they always bring the party with them. I have been hanging out with them for three nights and there is never a dull moment. They are quite free with their money and constantly try to beat me to the check. Good they are leaving tomorrow since I really can't afford going to clubs till 4 AM on a daily basis, but things will never be as fun. We are great friends after three days and I plan to visit them in Melbourne next summer.
The next day, after I woke up at 5:00 P.M. I went down to the bar and found my new friends drinking their 8Th margarita. Then we all headed to "Dukes Place", on the beach, and ran into an Aussie couple from Sydney, who were in their mid 30's. Although not nearly as obnoxious as the other two Aussies, they were still hard drinking and fun people. They thought it odd that the US is so uptight about the drinking thing. We met them at Dukes for the past two evenings and they were very fun and interesting to talk to. Both were highly educated and very laid back. The Aussies are the best in my book. They speak their minds and do not engage in negative small talk about petty stuff. The Aussies find that merely being alive is cause for celebration. They are happy and content with life and do very well at "spreading the joy around". I vow to take a leaf from their books in the positive thinking department (I already have their drinking abilities).

After we closed "Dukes Place" down, we went to a very cool, but seedy bar in the International Market Place, and found well drinks for $3.00. I introduced Chipper and Ramsey to a drink known as the "Long Island Iced Tea", which is made using 4 shots of various liquor and little else of nutritional value. This is the strongest drink I know of and my friends had about 9 of them apiece!! When that bar closed at 3:00 A.M. we started heading back to the hotel. This is when Ramsey and Chipper started trying to take the orange "wet floor" cones. I tried to talk some sense into them, but both were three sheets to the wind, and unable to comply. About half way thru the marketplace (which was closed), we were surrounded by 4 security guards, who did not approve of their antics. I knew they were going to hold us till the police showed up, but instead; they made Ramsey and Chipper put back ever single cone back where they got them; just like a Principal of a school leading two little delinquents back to the lunch room to clean up their messes. I assured the head security guard that I would make sure they left the market place and that I'd get them home safely.
On the way back thru a pantheon of late night hookers, pimps, street people, and cops, I felt like a shepherd trying to lead two stubborn old goats back to safety. The problem was that the Aussies wanted to talk to every whore and criminal they met; they wanted to "share their joy"! With much persuasion we nearly got back to the hotel, when Chipper; proceeded to urinate right in the middle of a public parking lot. Fortunately the police didn't see him. Once I got them back home they both went up to their room, with no further antics; which was good since checkout time is 11:AM. (to be continued)

Jul 20, 2009

Sunday, July 20th, 2009 ("blew out my flip flop")

(Japanese food stall, abc store, my hotel, view from my hotel) Waikiki is really a cheap place to visit, my hotel is only $60 a night)

Yes the sole of my right sandal became unattached. I had to walk 2 miles with the front of the sole flappin' around... haha! Now I know the meaning behind the verse "I blew out my flip flop" from Jimmy Buffett's song "MargaritaVille".

Before this happened I purchased a mask, snorkel, and fins (size 13) from one of the ubiquitous "ABC stores. Damn these stores are everywhere here! I've seen them across the street from each other, I've seen two ABC stores on the same side of the street on the same block, not 100 yards apart. ABC stores are magic. They look tiny, but when you walk in they get huge, and contain far more things than a typical convenience store. They have clothes, souvenirs, food, produce, beer/wine, liquor, cigars, SNORKELING EQUIPMENT, and at comparable prices to the big box stores. I wish they had ABC's where I live.

Legs feel better today, so I returned to Queens Beach to do some more snorkeling. Now that I'm used to the Waikiki streets, my journey was much shorter than yesterday. I bought some sushi, a hot dog, and a mango for breakfast at the previously mentioned magic store, and had a nice picnic on the beach. I was all set up in a good uncrowded spot and laid back to catch some rays, when a big wave hit and blew my towel and luggage about 10 feet further up the beach, getting all my stuff wet and sandy. Fortunately I had already eaten. Snorkeling was OK, but I really need to get out of Waikiki pretty soon to better sites to view.

Before I left I sprayed copious amounts of sunscreen on my shoulders, back, and legs. It worked, as I didn't burn today. But to get the sand off my body nearly required a chisel, as the sunscreen acted as a type of glue. Even after the jacuzzi, I still had sand in places which I won't go into detail in regards to the locations.

The beach here is truly what I would call "International", people of all races, ages, backgrounds were pretty much all represented, which makes "people watching" a fun thing to do here. Due to the ban on drinking alcohol on the beach, everyone seemed happy and lawful. I've been to some pretty wild beach scenes, and Waikiki is pretty nice and tame. Some of the Hawaiian residents look pretty rough and weather beaten, with the white folks as dark as the aboriginals. Many of the local surfers appeared to be stoned on marijuana. I was sitting near a Canadian lady with red hair and very fair skin. I couldn't believe that she was out during the peak tanning hours (or PTH), for over an hour. She probably had NASA's best sunscreen, or else she would have melted and disappeared out there.

Since I'm totally alone I've become quite outgoing on this trip. Where ever I go I don't hesitate to talk to people that I don't know. Most seem relieved that I'm a nice guy in spite of my mean appearance. I've had many excellent conversations with good intelligent folks since I've been here. Last night I met a big fat 60 year old native Hawaiian who was very wise and articulate. The same night I met another native who was so primitive, I had the impression he was looking at me like "how many of my villagers will this guy feed once cooked". No kidding folks, all Polynesians are not as tame as the famous "Don Ho". Most of the Polynesians are warm and accommodating, but a few seem quite "butt hurt" about what happened in 1898, when the US "stole" their land. I don't know what to think, but I'm careful not to make the point that a century before that; King Kamehameha, with the help of guns he purchased from whalers, brutally attacked the other islands (he was King of the Big Island), in order to rule and enslave them. He killed thousands of Oahuites, and Maui-ites and Molokai-ites and so on. Now he is the symbol for the modern day independence seeking natives? Fortunately most native Hawaiians are level headed and just go with the flow.

I went flip floppin' back to my hotel, scraped off as much sand as I could in the shower, played my favorite online game "mobsters" where I fought some miscreants and said hello and chatted with a few of my virtual friends, before I got tired and took a three hour nap.

Around 6 PM. I walked 1/2 mile to the International Marketplace and bought some spicy pork meal with rice at the Japanese stall, and a bowl of Miso and seaweed soup. I love seaweed, it is fast becoming my favorite veggie. Of course anything floating in Miso soup, has got to have that excellent "Miso" flavor, whatever the hell that stuff is.... Dinner costs $7.95, and I got to feed pigeons while I ate! The little buggers are everywhere here, but oddly enough: No seagulls? We have seagulls all over Logan, Utah (do to the reservoir nearby), but no seagulls are seen in Oahu WTF? Pigeons are much less annoying so it's all good.

I Bought a smallish wooded Buddha to keep me company in my lonely hotel room, then went to the "Food Pantry", which is a full sized Hawaiian grocery store. Amazing that 1/2 the store sold Oriental staples, like noodles, rice, sushi, and many things I've never seen like dry packaged smoked squid. The Japanese lady behind me bought 4 one pound packages of pre-made "Nigiri Sushi" at $10 per package! She spent over 40 bucks, but that is enough for four people.

The rest of the night was uneventful, mainly stayed in my room to avoid spending money at the bar, but since I have cable TV, the internet, a six pack, and a little Jim Beam; I am content to hang out in the room, the view is quite nice as well.

Jul 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18th, 2009 (third day in paradise)

Woke up at 7:00 A.M. Made a pot of tea (I brought my own "loose leaf Darjeeling" tea from Lipton), which is an excellent way to start the day. As much as I love good coffee, high quality tea is liked more by my nervous system.
I then tryed to book a Snorkel trip but was a little late, so I called my dad instead. Do you readers use SKYPE? It is a very cheap internet phone service, that costs about $40 a year. They even have cheap international plans for way less than cellular or phone card options. Had to cut the conversation short so I could hit a new beach and snorkel on my own.

Today I went to "Queens Beach", in dedication to one of the Queens of Hawaii. Apparently one of the last human sacrifices was held there by King Kamehameha. Peer pressure to observe the ancient "Taboos" was very strict back in the day; and I thought the Mormons had a strict peer pressure thing going on. I guess the two cultures have a common bond with this "taboo" stuff, since the Mormons have quite a big presence here in Hawaii. Sorry, enough Mormon bashing, if you've read my entire blog you would know that I appreciate the Mormons immensely, especially how much they value their families. But I digress.

Hiked a couple miles thru the heart of Waikiki when I noticed how bloody sore my hips felt. Nothing major, but I had to stop and stretch every other block or so. Being w/o a car or bicycle is a foreign concept to me, hopefully my legs can last and I come home stronger and more physically fit in the legs department. My upper body is great, I swim like a fish with decent stamina. My legs have always been total shit, partially due to being chronically bowlegged and many severe sprains to the ankles when I was young. Of course weighing 1/6 of a ton helps this matter very little. But again I digress!

Stopped off at an expensive looking establishment right on the beach called "Cheeseburger in Paradise" named for an old Jimmy Buffet tune, and looked at the menu. Every breakfast option was 10 bucks. I was about to leave when I spotted the "cheap bastard plate" for only $6.95 which consisted of chopped up fried potatoes, onions, bacon, and cheese. This really hit the spot, and I washed it down with a well needed tankard of agua fria.

Finally I got to Queens beach and paid ten bucks to rent some well used snorkel gear and flippers. The native Hawaiian recommended that I hand him my "bling"; since he mentioned that barracudas were attracted to the flash of silver, I quickly handed him my necklace and silver ring (yes i did get it back). I spent an hour floating on the surf and observing the myraid of beautiful reef fish while looking out for barracudas and sharks. I have kept many salt water aquariums in my lifetime including the one in my classroom, it was so cool to be able to spot and name every single fish I saw. I saw sargeant majors, blennies, wrasses, butterfly fish, angel fish, moorish idols, and two species of trigger fish including the hawaiian state fish: The Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. They call these humuhumu's for short. I did spot a sea cucumber but no other inverts, even the coral was dead. Soon I'll make the bus trip to some of the better snorkeling areas, but Queens is the closest. CRASH!!! Another cheesy high school kid smashed into my head! But it was all good since he apologized. Snorkeling in the surf is pretty neat because the waves, and the occasional surfer just pass overhead, while me and the fish stay under the constant waves.

Got home achey as hell, but it was a good ache. Ate some sardines and crackers with tobasco sauce, drank a beer and took the customary two hour nap, then hit the hotel's jacuzzi in order to sooth my aching feet and hips. Had a blast talking to two Brasilian dudes and drinking budweiser, which they agree is good beer. There was a bit of a language barrier, but one spoke enough English, and they both understood my broken Spanish and sign language. After a couple hours, they left to the clubs, while a couple from Edmonton Alberta stopped in and we had a nice conversation for another hour. I did not want to leave the jacuzzi but I forced myself, and gimped down to the local ABC store to buy some salami and crackers and a small bottle of tequila, which I haven't touched yet. It's 10:30 and I want to get an early nights sleep so I can do more snorkeling tomorrow. I really should give the legs a rest and take the bus before I injure myself. We'll see what transpires I'm sure.

Jul 17, 2009

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Got up around 10:00 A.M. feeling good but jet lagged. Got cleaned up, shaved (including my head), made a pot of coffee, opened up the lanai doors and sat outside smelling the ocean breeze.

Since we have a big mini-fridge I made my first excursion down to the local "ABC" store and bought 60 bucks worth of groceries and other needed items (sunscreen etc..), and went back to the hotel and had a breakfast of salami and crackers. Afterwards the jet lag hit and I took a nap for a couple more hours. By noon-thirty; I woke up again put on my swimming stuff and made the 7 minute walk through the heart of Waikiki and hit the beach. Beach theft is a big problem here, so I sat near a family of southern rednecks for a long time, just watching the waves, surfers, and those crazy Japanese (they shouldn't wear swimsuits...even the pretty ones...they do not have asses). I asked the redneck mama where she was from, "Kentucky" she said. "I used to live in Ashland when I was a kid" I mentioned. "Yeah, my son in law is serving 18 months in the Ashland penitentiary for being a felon with a weapons charge". "Amazing" I exclaimed. "My son in law is in a Texas prison for the same thing". By then we were friends, so I asked if I could leave my stuff near their stuff, so I could go swimming and not have my clothes stolen. They protected my stuff like only true southern friends would.
Most Utahans would have said "No, I don't want the responsibility" or "Why are you talking to me in the first place"? Don't mean to disrespect the Utah folks, but it seems that the farther south you go, the more hospitable people get. I will make Montana a big exception to this theory. But in South Texas, Louisiana, Mexico, and now Hawaii, I can smell the hospitality in the air. In the Northern climes, where people had to work their asses off to farm a bit, they seem to be less accommodating. Most Texans will loan your their cars, shirt off the back, wives, whatever... But a German, Swede, or New Englander, says, "why don't you have your own shirt in the first place"? It has to be a cold weather thing, since the Thai people are much more giving than the Chinese to the north, and the Kentuckian's are more sharing than those in Utah.

Now that I made this bold and general statement. Yes I know that your uncle "Fred" from Scandinavia, helped this and that and blah blah blah... But think about it; assuming you've been and lived in all these climates. Yes there all always exceptions: But go down south for a while and you will see what I'm talking about.

The other side of my postulation: People in the Northern climes do not steal so much. I have another theory about hospitality. Societies and cultures that feel free to borrow from one another also have a theft problem. In Utah, I never lock my doors or secure my possessions, I could leave a $100 dollar bill on my front porch and no one will take it! In Texas people "borrowed" things from me all the time.. In Hawaii, and in most of Polynesia...... PEOPLE WILL BORROW FROM YOU. But if you BORROW from them, they don't really care to much because it's all "PUPULE'". My daddy taught me never to "borrow" without asking or returning, back in the 6Th grade. I've never "BORROWED" again. But I'm not sanctimonious about it either.

I jumped in the cool water of the Pacific Ocean for the first time. It was quite fun, but a bit crowded. As much as I like the idea of a private beach I find the crowds quite entertaining; except for the cheesy teenager that almost ran over me with a surf board. I decided not to take my chances with the tropical sun (and I brought a nice tan with me), so I headed back to the hotel room to take another nap. I did get a little burned, with my shirt only off for 30 minutes. Tomorrow, the sun screen will come on.

This nap was only for an hour, and now the jet lag is over, so I took a very long walk though Waikiki, searching for the famous "International Market". After two miles of searching I found the place only 3 blocks from my hotel. But it was nice to see the backstreets, little old houses, tourists, locals, azaleas, hibiscus bushes, and many other interesting things. The international Marketplace was a bit of a disappointment. Instead of the 3rd world markets I've seen in Mexico City and Chile, this one was a bit "tinkely winkely" but it was international with Polynesians, Filipino's, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Japanese all selling the same tourist crap; in a "Dolly Wood" looking setting. I wanted to see pigs and goats getting slaughtered or something cool. The upside to the International Market was the food court. There was little inexpensive food stalls with all the cuisine of the aforementioned ethnicity's. I paid 7 bucks for a bowl of miso soup with an 18 piece sushi roll lunch! I love miso soup, one of these days I'll look up what's in it..... on second thought... I don't want to know, because it's bound to be weird or disgusting.

After the Market place I was stuffed so I decided to go back to the hotel and read or write (which I did both). Unfortunately, I got a sort of lost and walked another 3 miles before I realized that the market was 3 blocks from my hotel. (adding more later stay tuned)

After I wrote this last diatribe (whatever a "diatribe" is), I went to the local "ABC" store and bought a 6 pack of Budweiser for 6 dollars, in order to have a few at the jacuzzi. My shoulders are aching from last weeks swimming, my back is aching from the plane trip, and recently my leg feel like spaghetti from the miles of walking today. The hotel's jacuzzi is adjacent to the hotel and bar, with a 1st class pool that sports an island with a giant palm tree on it! For a budget hotel, this pool is nicer than any 4 or 5 star I've ever seen. But I was all about the jacuzzi, and since I'm poor I BYOB'd it. Crazy: But in one of the nicest pool settings on the island, I was the only one at this particular time! I fired the 9 by 9 foot jacuzzi up, and the jets came to life, like the Pratt and Whitley's of a 747!!! SHEESH, THIS IS A REAL JACUZZI! Probably built in the 50's like the rest of the place, this is one quality bastard! 12 folks could sit in this tub and all would get a full body massage in 10 minutes!

I stayed in there for at least an hour, it was dark, the beer was cheap, and on this "extremely crowded" island: I was the only one in this gorgeously landscaped, huge, pool area.

Then it happened. A maintenance man came in and was checking things out. I got out of the jacuzzi and asked for a towel (so as not to inundate the lobby floor on the way back to my room), he brought me 3 towels for some reason. I put two in the towel rack and kept one nearby, because they were soon to close the pool area. I got back in the jacuzzi, then a 40ish looking Japanese women casually walks up to the hot tub. I just closed my eyes and avoided any contact with her, so as not to cause discomfort (people seem to fear me, due to my size and mean look). She was wearing shorts and a T-shirt but no swim suit. I started to wonder about this, so I opened my eyes and said "Hi, how are you doing tonight?", I was totally sober, having just two or three beers all day long. She said "I have been walking all day and was thinking about getting into the jacuzzi". I replyed, "I have been walking all day as well, and I highly recommend it". "But they are closing the pool area in 15 minutes" she informed me. I was leaving anyway, so I said "Go get in why you can, you will feel much better". As I got out of the pool, I had the vibe that she was one of the managers, because you rarely see a Japanese woman, going to a pool alone at night time or anywhere during the day for that matter. But who knows? I do tend to over analyze things, I probably will know within the next two weeks (not that it matters). Hopefully she is single, alone, unattached, and appreciated the courtesy I gave her, by hauling my big carcass out of the Jacuzzi, so she could have it to herself. I didn't feel she was hitting on me. I just wanted to be polite, whether she was a customer or a manager. (more to come just stay tuned)!
The rest of the night was uneventful, I hung out in the hotel bar for a couple hours and talked to the local people. Most were converts from the United States. They were all quite wierd so I didn't spend much time with them.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Went to bed around 5:00 A.M due to the one large strong cup of coffee from “Crumb Brothers” the previous morning. I woke 4 hours later to being a 14 hour odyssey in order to get to my hotel room here in Waikiki.

Spent 2 ½ hours taking the Cache Valley deathtrap shuttle to the S.L.C. Airport, This van
actually broke the million mile mark this day. No kidding, the driver was proud of it. Problem was that the chassis was totally shot. I could feel the front right wheel wobbling like a cheap shopping cart and every bump on the road felt like we were being hit by a freight train. The driver was a pretty cool 55 year old Mormon, who worked hard and didn't complain. The loud squeaks and groans the van made caused one old passenger to say “feed that bird and she'll stop squeakin'”. Overall, I had no sleep or breakfast, and just wanted to get to the airport in one piece. At one point the million mile wonder van was doing 90 miles per hour. I started to feel seasick.

We arrived at the SLC International airport with little time to spare, only to find some very long lines to stand through, before going through the near strip search. I boarded the tiny regional plane and wound up being stuck in a window seat, next to a very kind mafioso looking Italian guy with a Brooklyn accent. We were the only two people on the flight to have a drink. I swear this Joe Pesci looking dude was in organized crime, but with the lack of sleep, my imagination could have gone south on me.

Landing in Portland was interesting: Three big volcanos could be seen from the airport, giving Portland sort of a “Land of the Lost” type feel to it. If and when any of those mothers erupt, it would suck to be a Portlandite. After 3 hours sitting in the much nicer airport, we finally boarded the 757 heading toward Honolulu. By now we were 7 hours into this trip, I was tired, felt like hell, and the idea of throwing up in the barf bag was a definite possibility, while sitting in a hot plane on the tarmac waiting for the plane to leave. To make matters worse I was sitting next to a gorgeous blond chick in her early 20's (I tend to spill over both sides of the seat), and a gorgeous young mom with 2 year old kid in the seat across the aisle from me. Then there was the infant in the aisle seat in front of the other mother. Hear I am, trying not to vomit, while sitting by these lovely ladies, and two babies within 3 feet of my ears. Damn the cabin was hot as hell. Then the blond next to me kept hugging on a big Puerto Rican dude in the middle seat in front of her who was her boyfriend and a United States Marine! Usually, I would have switched seats with him, but I really needed the aisle seat in case I needed the restroom in a hurry. I just closed my eyes and focused on not getting sick. 30 minutes later, once in the air (thank god), the cabin cooled down, and I regained some of my equilibrium.

KNOCK! KNOCK! the hot chick tapped me on the head because she had to go to the can. Once she got back and we were acquainted, she was crackin' some funny jokes and acted like we have been life long friends! She was a very cool chick in spite of her perfect looks. The kid next to me turned out to be quite pleasant, and the baby in front of him was a golden baby who smiled a lot but never fussed. We had a couple drinks and the movie started. The movie has funny as hell and the blond kept elbowing me in the ribs whenever someone said something funny. 3 hours into the flight everything was great, while we all made our way to Hawaii. The Puerto Rican Marine was pretty cool, but I could sense that he didn't approve of the fun we were having. When we landed I thanked him for our service to our country and he seemed content with the respect I showed.

Before I left home, I decided to wear my wide-legged “ghetto jeans” that I bought at a Mexican boutique. I knew they were loose and comfy so I chose to wear them on the flights. Only problem was: I packed my belt in my checked baggage, but I wasn't worried, since the last time I wore them they stayed on OK. But since I've been swimming and eating Ramen, I lost about 2 pants sizes in my waist, so I had to do the “ghetto cinch” by holding two belt loops together with one hand while I walked. This normally wouldn't be an issue, but since I had two heavy carry on bags it was a pain. At one point, when I had to show my boarding pass while holding up my pants and carrying two bags, my pants started sliding fast. I had to drop the bags and grab my pants, while handing over the boarding pass, otherwise Mr. Barnes would have been standing in the airport with my pants dropped to my ankles, and all these Mormons would have seen the funky designs on my long legged briefs. This issue was even worse in Honolulu, when I had a 70 pound backpack, in addition to the carry on, while trying to hike the ¼ mile to get to the airport shuttle. While walking, I felt the “my zipper is down” breeze, and actually managed to zip up while struggling with these bags, and waving goodbye to the Blond and her boyfriend simultaneously. I managed to do it while only looking slightly stupid!

Our driver was a native Hawaiian women, who was very sweet, sturdy, and polite. She dropped me off at my hotel and wasn't mad that I had no cash to tip her. Then I got my room key, and struggled up to my room while trying to keep me pants up the entire way. Once I got to the room, I poured a whiskey, and sat out on the Lanai for an hour, entranced by the view of the Ala Moana Canal and the mountains in the distance. By this time it was 9:00 PM Hawaiian time (1 AM Mountain time), and the world is good again.

At 11:PM Hawaiian time I went to the very cool hotel bar (the locals hang out here), and hung out with the bartender for an hour or so. Turns out the bartender was from Maine, then went to college at UT Austin, before moving to Waikiki. He said he wasn't going back.