Fear and Loathing in Honolulu Pt. 2

Okay, so Waikiki has its redeeming qualities. It’s a good place to watch a sunset.

Nope, didn’t do the Bulgogi at the Sorabol tonight. My stomach finally rebelled against all the rich food I’ve been eating and demanded a reprieve. It so happens that the Like Like Drive Inn Restaurant is right outside the door of the Pagoda hotel, and since it’s touted as the home of comfort food, in I traipsed. On the menu was something I had not yet tried but which had comfort written all over it: Loco Moco.

Loco Moco is available at most Hawaiian restaurants and consists of hamburger patties over rice, topped with one or two eggs and brown gravy. It was exactly what my querulous stomach was demanding. Ahhhhhhh…comforting, indeed.

I mentioned previously that I was able to get in a little tourist action before work became a grind, so below will be an account of the more pleasurable features of the island I’ve been able to enjoy thus far. I should say beforehand that getting to these attractions was half the fun because the clerk at Avis upgraded my economy rental to a sweet Mustang. That sucker has been fun, even for my work commute on Highway 1 but especially on the twisty, hilly roads that ring the island. Oh, yes. I am fortunate to have not yet received a speeding ticket. Mine only has the V6 but, having driven it, I can’t imagine needing more, especially since it has been averaging 23MPG even with my lead foot and a lot of stop-and-go in town and during the commute (Honolulu rush-hour traffic is a mess). Decent gas mileage, and yet it will push me back into the leather seat when I stomp it. What’s more to ask?

My first fun excursion was to my friend Jared’s beach house on the North Shore, in the Mokuleia community. Jared’s house is not quite on the beach, but it is across the street from a nice little community park that is on the beach. Put it this way: From his front porch, you would think you were on the beach. Thus we were in the water snorkeling within minutes of pulling into his driveway. And just a few yards off the beach we encountered a pair of enormous sea turtles. That was an excellent introduction to Hawaii for me. I’m hoping I get a chance to go back before heading home.

Next day, a few of us who made the trip together went to Lanikai Beach, on the windward (eastern) side of the island. It is a beautiful spot, and according to Mr. Wiki it is “consistently ranked among the best beaches of the world.” I’m not a bask-on-the-beach type, so while my friends were engaged in that activity, I was in the water. Unfortunately, I did not have a mask and snorkel (I was using a borrowed set at Jared’s house), but I did have goggles, and so I was endlessly entertained by all the small fish clustering around the coral outcroppings close to shore. Based on that experience, I decided to buy a snorkel set just in case I had opportunity to use it again while here. Of course, I have a set sitting uselessly at home. Now I have a spare set, and I WILL REMEMBER TO PACK IT IF I REMOTELY BELIEVE I WILL BE ABLE TO USE IT. Hold me to that, please.

The only downside to Lanikai Beach is that it is difficult to find parking if you arrive, as we did, in the afternoon. There is a residential area built right up to the waterfront, so you have to park in front of someone’s house to get to the beach. I can only assume that the people who bought those homes knew what they were getting themselves into.

After a few hours at Lanikai Beach, we decided to drive to Makapu’u Point and try to make the hike to the lighthouse in time for sunset. Along the way were some folks selling coconuts from the backs of pickup trucks, so we stopped. There was one fellow who looked like your average mixed-martial-arts contestant, all muscle and sinew. He was the climber. It turned out in conversation that he is 52 years old.

Yes, I was jealous.

The fellow who cut open the coconuts sported a generous beer belly and was therefore no longer in climbing condition, but he could wield a machete something fierce. When he surgically popped the tops for us so that we could insert our straws, I winced a little, because he was holding the coconut in one hand and the machete in the other, and he wasn’t being particularly gentle in his ministrations. Mainland hospitals routinely stitch up the hands of suburbanites who try similar feats with avocados and paring knives. What nearly gave me a heart attack was when, after laughing at my attempts to retrieve the meat from my coconut using my Leatherman, he took it in his left hand and, with his right, he raised that machete way above his head and…God, I can still hardly believe it…he brought it down with all the force of a man splitting firewood on that thing HE HELD IN HIS HAND. He then casually flipped the coconut over IN HIS HAND and repeated the act, neatly bisecting it. I will never, ever mess with that guy.

We made the climb to the lighthouse just in time for sunset. It was gorgeous. And the next day, I started work.