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 way...lol!

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.

Jul 15, 2009

July 15th, 2009

Damn, summer is half over already. Where does the time go? Seems that time speeds up every year.
Freddy wakes me up at 7:00 AM which would have been great except I went to bed at 4:00 A.M.. I let him outside and then couldn't go back to sleep, so I took my bike to the "Crumb Brothers" bakery and had a croissant and a cup of good coffee.

I last wrote about the wonders of Ramen soup. I have made this soup 4 times since I last wrote you. Last night I made a version using onions, sliced red bell pepper, schredded cabbage and one chopped up hotdog! It was great. I like cuisines where the emphasis isn't a giant slab of meat. These soups use very little if any meat, last nights meal used one hotdog for 4 servings of soup. Seems that meat is used more of a condiment in the orient. I like lighter meals, because I like having the energy to do things. I also made a new dessert!

Fried Peanut Butter and honey Oriental:

Make a Peanut butter and honey sandwich, fry up some butter in a hot skillet, fry the sandwich like your making a grilled cheese, remember to flatten the sandwich with a spatula.

cut into 16 squares, drizzle a little honey on the tops of the squares, sprinkle some sesame seeds on the honey. Serve with chopsticks. The chopsticks are important since they are the cleanest way to eat this, plus it's the only thing "Oriental" about this dessert. Enjoy! (using a sliced banana in the sandwich would be a nice addition).

Got to get packing for my trip to Hawaii tomorrow.

Jul 12, 2009

July 12th 2009


Got up at a decent time (11:00 A.M.) and headed straight to the pool with no breakfast. Drank a small mango smoothy for energy, which did kick in after the 15th lap or so. Kept it to 20 laps, to avoid overdoing it, I also want to swim again tomorrow. But 1000 yards is over 1/2 mile so I am happy with the work out. After laying in the sun for 20 minutes, and the jacuzzi for another 10 minutes, I drove to the grocery store.

I saw a food show on the travel channel the other day, and noticed that there were many noodle stalls in the Orient that specialized in nothing but ramen style soups. There are also many places in Hawaii and other American cities with the same concept.

There are many kinds of noodles made across the Orient, from buckwheat, soybean, rice, seaweed, and many others. The kind I'm talking about are the instant Ramen noodles you can buy at the grocery store for around 20 cents a pack or less. It is an instant wheat based noodle package that includes a flavor pack which is sort of like chicken bullion. They also make pork, beef, veggie, and seafood flavors just to name a few. Many poor college students live off this stuff. The only problem is that packaged Ramen contains little nutrition and a buttload of salt and MSG. Very little protein, vitamins or minerals can be found in commercial Ramen, but there still is some.

At the store I went through all the possible ingredients (and there are many of them), that could be used to make some hearty Ramen which could serve for a meal. Sounds easy right? Think of a combination of three to six ingredients, that taste great when mixed together, and can be made in one pot. (I added the one pot requirement, because Logan hates it when I shit up all the dishes, and I plan to bring a "Hotpot by Rival" to cook with when I go on vacation).

After racking my brain for the perfect ingredients, and hanging around the produce aisle way too long, I decided on a mixture of shredded cabbage, green onions, fresh cremona mushrooms, tofu, and egg. Look at all the protein, vitamins, and minerals in that combo. Of course this all will be combined with fresh ginger and garlic. I have been thinking about how to do this for several days, and have even scouted the internet for simular Ramen recipes, but this one is unique, and only uses one pot.

This serves one for a full meal with leftovers:

Al's Taoist Divine Inspiration Soup.

2 green onions finely chopped,
1/3 container of firm tofu (4 oz).
5 quarter sized mushrooms (any kind is ok...they all have potassium)
one small handful of shredded coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots) I dont own a grater.
1 large egg
one thumbnail sized chunk of fresh ginger or more if desired (chop it fine)
two normal sized cloves of finely chopped garlic.

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (any vinegar would probably work)
2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar)
soy sauce to taste
Srichaca hot sauce (red pepper oil, crushed red peppers, cayenne pepper) will all work fine..
I like the Srichaca (sp?), since it burned off all my hair a long time ago. It's Vietnamese and deadly hot.
One seventeen cent package of Nissen Ramen noodles, chicken flavor. (or any flavor really)
Few drops of sesame oil (a little goes a long way) tahini works too. Actually feel free to omit this it's not as important as the other stuff.

Marinate the tofu for a few minutes in a bit of soy sauce.
Spray some oil in the bottom of the saucepan, heat to medium, fry the onions, ginger and garlic for a couple minutes, add the tofu for a little while frying on both sides to lock in the flavor.
Add the, sliced mushrooms, and a small handful of cabbage (this is not really a cabbage main dish so take it easy!). Stir a bit.

Since I used the "Rival Hot Pot" it was tough to fry in oil since the metal part on the bottom (the heating element) is about the size of a silver dollar, but I managed by pouring a little water over the cabbage, in order to steam it. THIS THING HEATS WATER FASTER THAN A MICROWAVE SO BE CAREFUL. BUT GO OUT AND BUY ONE FOR 13 BUCKS. THEY ARE GREAT! I fryed on the lowest setting... and used a dab of oil since the Rival company said to not fry in this thing. It's ok as long as you keep it low and fry on the small metal element.

The frying should be pretty light so don't screw up and carmelize anything. The steaming really helped get everything done as much as the initial frying.

Once all the ingredients are fry then steamed, add the vinegar (stir), add a couple shakes of soy (you can add more later), then put in the honey (to balance out the vinegar), and stir a little. Turn the heat down to simmer, add three cups of water, and stir once more, add the ramen flavor packet (not the noodles) and stir once more.
(Cover for 10 minutes. Go have a beer or check your e-mail.)

Turn the heat up till boiling, and add a brick of Ramen noodles (break it in half first), while stirring noodles add the pre-beaten egg, then immediately turn down to simmer. This should only be boiling for a short time, like 30 seconds. Add in some hot sauce, more soy sauce to taste, and finish each bowl with a few drops of sesame oil.

Scoop out noodles, egg, cabbage, tofu and mushrooms, and pour on some broth. Eat with chopsticks and drink the liquid from the bowl. I had two bowls and I am totally full. The myriad of oriental flavors were completely intertwined and perfect in a way that I can't really describe. Divine is the only thing that describes it.

This was the best oriental soup that I have ever tasted. I will eat this once a day!

The entire meal was less than a dollar, and I still have 1/2 a bowl left. And no being tired from eating a giant plate of meat or carb based food. This is a break through for our families daily diet.

Once the tofu is gone, I plan to make this with a seafood base, since there are so many places I can take this recipe. I could start a small restaurant selling nothing but this dish and a few spring rolls.

After lunch, I had enough energy left to clean the entire house including the dog. Logan helped me quite a bit, we really are a good team. The dog is now walking around all "butt hurt" since he has never had a bath before, we turned several shades of white in the bathing process. Next time I'll probably pay someone else to do it. The tap water here is cold as hell, and the dog appears to be emotionally disturbed from the experience.

Been a great day for me. Probably not so much for Logan and the dog, but the house is clean including the refrigerator, and my dog smells a hell of a lot better.

Lao Tzu says: Make a pot out of clay, but it is the space within that makes it useful.

Jul 9, 2009

July 9th 2009

I had two days of working on my old Volvo (I really dislike mechanical work). I sold the Volvo a month ago to my friend Hamin. Hamin is a very kind old Persian man who owns the sandwich shop near my school, and is my oldest friend here in Logan. I sold him the Volvo for $4000 but told him I would replace the heater coil for an additional $500. Lucky me... I tryed to persuade him to take it to the shop, since I am way to big to be crawling under neath the dashboard of a foreign car, but since I read the online instructions, I knew I could do it.

After spending 6 hours yesterday on my knees, squeezing my large body into mind boggleing contortions, and smashing my knees onto a gravel driveway, I managed to get the heater core loose, the antifreeze out of the coolant system, but was blocked by a large feckin' amplifier and bracket that was not in any of the internet pictures I looked at.

I woke up this morning kneesore and a bit disgusted, that I was nearly done with the operation, but failed to get the new heater core installed. I dreaded going out in the heat of the day to work on the car, so I had a couple beers at Logans job site, in order for the sun to go down a little. When I got home, Hamin shows up with this 19 year old kid who was supposed to be a decent mechanic. With this kid to assist me, we managed to get the amplifier out and the old heater core. Has was so proficient and had no problem fitting under the dashboard, I offered to split my mechanic fee 50 50 with him.

It only took 1 1/2 hours to get the Volvo back together. Hamin saved hundreds of dollars, the kid made $166 for his hour and a half labor, and I made $166 dollars for my 8 hours of labor, which is still pretty good money. The rest of the $500 goes toward the parts, which I'll get reembursed for. Thank god all that is over.

Jul 7, 2009

July 7th 2009

Not much to report. I've blown off the original idea of this blog, "to live in a truck camper", after having spent many hours in the "camper". It's a great place to hang out in the winter, when tired of being in the house, but I have not camped in there this summer at all....yet.
I do plan to retire in an RV at some point in my life, but living in a truck camper would be tough to do full time. I could do it if necessary, but it would surely be a suckfull existance.

I did buy Logan and I some backpacks, a camp stove, a tent, and he is wanting to camp as soon as his work lets up a little. Logan is still doing well at his job, his boss and coworkers have nothing but good things to say about him. I have nothing but good things to say about him as well. We will camp, when the time comes. I will probably be camping in another state very soon.

I have been quite the swimmer since I got the underwater MP3 player, I swam a mile (35 laps) last week, and apparently overdid it. I felt sharp pains in my clavical bones, and in my right rotater cuff. No big deal, I waited three days and held it down to 750 yards (15 laps), then did a follow up swim of 15 laps, three days later (today), with no pain whatsoever. I plan to do another mile tomorrow, if all goes well. Damn, my upper body is getting WIDE and I can only pinch 2 inches of flab at my midsection. I love the water and swimming so much, I love fish, the ocean, sailing, and body surfing . So I made a decision....

Booked a 14 day trip to the Hawaiian Islands, and plan to surf, swim, snorkel, and lay around the beach. I have studied the islands extensively, and know many different things to do while there. I'll probably start writing on a daily basis, once I get there (9 more days!). I plan to see the Pearl Harbor memorial, visit some Buddhist temples, eat at the noodle shops in China Town, go snorkeling in Hamanuma Bay, as well as in Wikiki. My hotel also has a very nice pool, where I can swim as much as I wish. The pool is big enough to get a workout, but the beach is only a couple blocks away.
I really want to fly over to the big Island, and take the tour to the top of Mount Mauna Kea (13000 feet!), but I will have to evaluate finances when I get to that point. There seems to be so much to experience on Oahu, but a cheap 47 dollar flight, will get me to any of the other islands. I invited my son and older daughter to join me, but both have to work and can't seem to get the time off. My younger daughter is finishing up her bachelors degree and will graduate this August!!!! You go ATHENA!

July 4th was pretty cool, I bought some fireworks for the children next door, and hung around with their mama while they had a blast catching things on fire. Their mama and I had fun drinking wine and discussing things. She's a pretty sharp lady and a good neighbor, but my appreciation stops there.... believe me!

Logan and two of my friends bought some little kids junk bicycles, and took over my garage with plans to customize them. I loaned them my tools, and wished them my best. I do hope they learn a bit about bike mechanics while they have fun with their experment.

Made a new recipe yesterday: Slawdogs!

I was researching slaw recipes, and found the KFC recipe to be a good one, but after adding mustard and Tabasco sauce, and reading about how some people actually put slaw on hotdogs instead of saurkraut, I decided to make SLAW DOGS!
I would have preferred potato salad, or baked beans, but slaw is way more healthy.

Take a bag of shredded cabbage/carrot slaw mix (I would do the shredding but lack the equipment). Add 1/2 cup Mayo, 4 tablespoons white vinegar (I used rice vinegar), 1/3 cup unrefined sugar (honey would be better), 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons mustard, some tabasco sauce, and whatever else you happen to like in your slaw. (KFC's recipe calls for buttermilk and lemon juice).

*AGAIN: Just taste it. If its to sweet, add some vinegar or lemon. To sour, add some sugar or something. But always taste your cooking often, but don't put that nasty spoon you licked, back in the mix, or my mom will kick your ass!

Let this marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, hopefully overnight.

Then boil or grill some good all-beef hotdogs. I like to grill stuff, but the boiled dogs seem to taste a little better, boiling tends to leach out all the nitrites and salt. Plus, hotdogs were invented with boiling in mind. I love to spend my time grilling, as a past time, but hotdogs, are much better if you just boil the damned things... Boil the hell out of them for 10 minutes and they'll be just great!

* After trying all the best hotdogs, I vote the Oscar Meyer all beef hotdogs, to be better than Ball Park Franks, and even better than Nathans. (Nathans cost the most, but have no skin (kosher laws), and far too salty. Oscar Meyer is the best value of the three ALL BEEF franks. Don't buy the cheap turkey/chicken/pork mixed crap! Beef Dogs are about 3.50 for a pack of 8 why buy the bottom of the barrel dogs, which are packed with cereal, turkey beaks, chicken asses, and pig snouts????

Buy whatever bun you like, stick the dog in it, and dump 1/4 pound of your slaw onto the dog.
and enjoy. This is one heck of a good meal, with plenty of healthy green veggies, and minimal carbs. I plan to experment with non mayo, vinegar only, slaws this next week. They will be even healthier slaw recipes for you and me. Substituting slaw for potato salad or fries, seems to make sense to me or anyone on a diet regimen. Next time I'll replace the sugar with Splenda.

Thats all for now! Al