Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Paradise Island?

I took many lessons away from my trip to Hawaii. But probably the most important is paradise comes in many different forms.
Even though I had to continually ask my wife for the date we were leaving, I was looking forward to this trip for months.
It’s Hawaii, man! White sandy beaches! Aqua-blue water! Women with leis around their necks!
But instead of Hawaii, we got Waikiki, a medicore time-share with a 20-minute walk to the beach, a semi-sketchy part of town and more tourism than Branson. Seriously, this place made Vegas look as non-threatening as a garage sale. Everywhere you turned, people were trying to sell you stuff. Cheesy dinner cruises. 7 T-shirts for $20. “Aloha” shirts for $15, in patterns that were replicated throughout the dozens of cheap stands that dotted the landscape like the moles on your grandmother.
You can only dodge so many of these angles, especially when you’re traveling with in-laws. I learned something about myself on this trip. I am not a touristy guy. Every vacation I’ve ever taken, except for my Honeymoon, involved some sort of adventure, usually up a mountain. Relaxing on a beach is not my thing. A dinner cruise is not my thing. Hell, even parasailing struck me as a bit boring, and I thought that was one of the highlights of the trip.
So, given that, this trip report may seem like a bunch of poodle-prissy whining about my POOR trip to Hawaii, but like I said, paradise comes in many forms.
The mediocrity, and the tasteless tourism of the place, were magnified severely by the fact that this was the first time Kate and I had spent more than a day away from Jayden since he was born about a year ago,and I missed him bad, way more than I thought I would. He had taken a few steps and seemed to be getting ready to walk right when we left. I was already regretting missing the milestone that was sure to come. At least I got to see the first few steps before we climbed into our plane with what seemed like 1,500 other passengers.
And I was traveling with my in-laws. Maybe you love your in-lawns. I don’t mind mine. I could have done much, much worse. They are nice, kind, friendly people who paid for our trip.
But holding conversations about farts, what we were gonna eat tonight for dinner and the weather is not what I would call an intellectually stimulating conversation, and after holding these conversations for a week, I could actually feel my brain start to wiggle and wobble like a Jello surprise. Yes, I am a bit of an intellictual snob, and that’s a problem.
But Kate’s family is also a problem. Kate’s family is why there are TGIF’s, Chili’s and McDonalds on every corner. I suggested we eat at a local fish place one night - they were offering lobster and shrimp and other dishes for $11.95, a pretty good deal - and Kate’s brother, instead, went to...Chili’s. In Hawaii. There were so many instances like this, that I found myself stewing at the end of the week about them. They spent one day inside, all day, for instance, watching the Hallmark Channel.
“If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine,” Kate’s push-button answer was to all my observations.
Well, no, the problem is this attitude feeds into why beautiful places like this are turned into spots that look like my town of Greeley, CO and other spots that look like a carnival stand. Here’s a quote, a perfect quote, from a NY times article I read on vacation last week: “As anyone who has flown over the monocultured American heartland will attest, we have carried out a policy of biiological purification with theorganisms we eat - an elimination of the random in favor of the predictable.”
OK, so there were some highlights. Snorkling at a preserve was awesome. The hiking was reasonably good, even if their “mountain,” Diamond Head, took me 20 minutes to climb and did not have a spot on it that wasn’t guarded by a handrail (I chuckled at the “I Climbed Diamond Head T-Shirts”). Later that week we went on a waterfall hike through a rainforest that was short but beautiful. And I got to read actual books, something I hadn’t done much of since Jayden was born. “Positively Fifth Street” is a great, great read, and if you haven’t read it, stop wasting your time with this blog and pick it up today.
But perhaps the best part of this vacation was, in fact, perhaps the best part of my mountaineering trips. It made me appreciate what I have at home. I ran in the door and gave Jayden about 1,000 hugs and kisses.
He had,in fact, started to walk when he was gone and learned how to play Patty Cake. He also seemed to really enjoy being around me and Kate, which was nice and reaffirming at the same time.
That night, I played softball again, spent hours with Jayden and had a nice dinner with Mom, who watched him all week. Then I went downstairs and finally, oh man, finally, got to play poker again.
Paradise comes in many forms. Home, I’ve found, seems to be the best.


cc said...

My one visit (meeting Sweetie as I came back from Sydney) was one night at the Waikiki Village (no energy to see how you spell that) then four nights at Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Pearl Harbor was a must see, but then there was really not much other reason to stay there.

Travel with family is tough, in my opinion. Few successes I've had have been having a portion to ourselves and a portion with family. You made it through, so good for you.

TripJax said...

Nothing better than opening that door and having the kids run to you or the wife give you the squeezing hug. Sometimes being away from the kids or family for a little time is all made up by that quick moment when you open the door and know they are waiting.

Good to have you back...now get to writing!

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