As I’ve said recently (see Darkness On The Edge Of Gastown), I’ve never gone too long without a vacation of some sort, and much as I enjoy Vancouver, my most recent sojourn was of a different nature entirely. Some time ago my sweetie asked rather hesitantly if I’d be interested in a vacation on Kauai with her and a couple of her friends from the Bay Area. Of course, I agreed, wrote the cheque for my obligations and waited for the day to come. My sweetie is a light packer and so we both set off each carrying only a small backpack and rolling carry on bag for a week in the tropics, which is much less than I’m used to stuffing into the car for a weekend in Whistler, but considering the climate and the extortion involved in checking a bag it was worth it.
The flight was uneventful and I won’t bore you with the details, but I miss the old days when my ex and I were Gold Club members and traveled regularly to Vegas in First Class. Alas our favourite airline decided to alienate their most loyal passengers and try to establish a national presence instead of remaining the best carrier on the west coast. I also resent being nickeled and dimed at every point on the trip, but such is life.
We were met at the airport by my sweetie’s friends and despite our tiredness we engaged in the obligatory shopping trip to stock the kitchen of our rented condo. Culture shock: Hawaii is bloody expensive. I mean really, bloody expensive and so I fought hard to bite my tongue and not start every sentence with “How much?!” However, a short walk from the condo to the beach – less than 100 yards – a quick dip in the ocean and a good night’s sleep restored me to the happy, smiling, witty life and soul of the party you all know so well.
One thing I appreciate about vacations now is the lack of an agenda or timetable and the ability to change either, even if there is nothing on them, and the lack of urgency in getting anything done or getting out of the house by a certain time. I most certainly appreciated the opportunity to simply sit on the beach, book in hand and listen to the surf, and that would have been enough for me, but you can’t come all that way and not do something. This is why I found myself introduced to snorkeling. My sweetie travels all over the south Pacific and spends most of that time in the water so I could hardly refuse. In fact, the decision was taken before we left:
Her: “Do you want to go snorkeling when we are in Hawaii?”
Me: Internal dialogue – ” I’m a poor swimmer, haven’t snorkeled before and hate putting my head underwater.”
External dialogue – ” Of course”.
Four days in the water made me into a convert, although I’m sure that the octopus, Moray eels, scores of tropical fish and the turtle we saw had a hell of a lot to do with it. I”m not the most adventurous person in the world, so it may surprise you to learn that I also had my first taste of boogie boarding. Yes, you read that correctly. I only tried it on two occasions and managed to catch a couple of good waves. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t end up a quadriplegic smells like Napalm in the morning in my book.
One thing I couldn’t get over was the rain. On our first night we went out to dinner and whilst sat on the (thankfully covered) verandah experienced some truly torrential downpours that ended as suddenly as they began, each being followed by absolute calm and a return in temperature to the mid 70s.
The trip also marked our first anniversary, and so it also included the ritual exchange of gifts – a pendant for my sweetie, and Aloha shirts for me. On seeing the price of the pendant she’d chosen I then understood why she’d offered to pay for the second shirt, although little did I know that she’d secretly bought me a third shirt I’d taken a fancy to but not bought a couple of days previously. Overall, it was a wonderful week away, a chance to bond with her closest friends and an opportunity to develop what for these parts is a healthy tan. Oh, and the kicker? when I finally unpacked, I found in the bottom of my case about a teaspoonful of sand from our favourite snorkeling beach that despite my best efforts had managed to cling to my clothes and smuggle itself through security. I guess that it’s only fair that having gone to visit the island, the island should come and visit me.