Normally, I hate that guy. The guy who travels, visits new places, tries to be a local by adapting to – but failing miserably at appropriately conveying – the customs and nuances of a destination. But I feel like you’re brainwashed to do it once touching ground in Hawaii. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told Aloha. One of the housekeeping ladies at the hotel I’m staying at even told me “Aloha! Hello!” which doesn’t even make sense.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Greetings from The Aloha State, my 50th state visited!
My week started not-so-bright and very-much-early at 3:30am Monday in Charlotte, NC as I made all of my last minute checks for everything I packed (spoiler alert: I forgot a pair of shorts to sleep in, so board shorts it is!), grabbed a quick bowl of oatmeal, and made a mad dash for the airport for a 6:00am flight. Luckily, the world isn’t awake enough at that time for the airport to be a busy place yet. Everything was a breeze.
My first leg was from Charlotte, NC to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX. I always try to book window seats when I fly to a) give me something to watch and b) give me something to lean against to sleep so I’m not that awkward guy trying to sleep with my head straight up, mouth gaping open on the aisle. Unfortunately, neither of the two guys in my row were social. It wound up being a rather uneventful two and a half hour flight.
The scheduled layover in Dallas was only an hour, so I made my way to the departure gate hoping I could find something good to eat in between gates. The best I could do was Popeye’s Chicken which was incredibly disappointing. No BBQ? Not even a Chick Fil A as a fall back? Do better, Texas!
The flight to Hawaii kept getting delayed. First it was 15 minutes, which stretched into 30. The reason was that the crew needed to finish cleaning the airline. Maybe it was a mess but the pessimist in me reads that as code for “Hey, something’s wrong with the plane that we need to fix so you don’t crash and die in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.” Fortunately, there was no crashing and dying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
My neighbor on this flight was infinitely better. His name was Gil and he was a Hawaiian native returning home from a week visiting nieces in Tulsa, OK and Dallas, TX. All you need to know about Gil is that he was a talker. He works for Hawaiian Airlines. He lives on Oahu, which was great for getting tips on what to see and do. He had never been to the World War II National Monument at Pearl Harbor, which he said was embarrassing. Overall, Gil is just a happy-go-lucky kinda Hawaiian dude.
The flight was long and tiresome at eight and a half hours but outside of that, it went as expected. The pilot kept telling us the weather was nice in Honolulu at 85 and partially cloudy but that it was breezy with gusts up to 35 mph. So naturally, the landing was absolutely terrifying. Coming in for landing, the views were absolutely gorgeous but the plane was getting bounced around pretty good. As soon as all wheels were down, all I heard was Gil – “Well that sure makes you appreciate being on the ground now.”
Gil and I shook hands and parted ways at the gate. I let the family know I was alive, ready to do some Hawaii’ing, and headed out. I picked up my rental car – a Nissan Altima. Watch out, ladies! I got lost trying to find my hotel. Turns out, when you have major roads that run under the elevated major highway, a GPS doesn’t quite know what to do. I finally made it into my hotel room around 3:30pm local time.
My original intent was to get to Hawaii early enough in the day to do something so I wasn’t wasting an entire day traveling. But after the flight being delayed an hour and the typical tourist minutiae, I was running out of time. Hiking was out since I was exhausted from traveling all day and starving from eating nothing but Skittles on the airplane. The zoo was out since it closed at 4:30pm. So the beach it was…
The good thing about Oahu is that it’s tiny. Honolulu is on the South side of the island. The North Shore is…. well… on the North side of the island. The North Shore is where the internationally known surfing competitions are held in the winter, so I was curious to go see how big the waves were. A quick maps route on the iPhone put me an hour away, so I decided to go for it.
iPhone maps didn’t tell me about Honolulu rush hour traffic at 4:30pm.
About 90 minutes later, my butt was parked in the sand on Sunset Beach of the North Shore of Oahu watching the sun, the waves, and the people.
I’ve never been a big beach person – once or twice a year for an afternoon is enough to get me by – but I absolutely understand why anyone who lives in Hawaii would spend all of their free time outside at the beach. It was exactly what you would expect a Hawaiian beach experience to be like.
Side note – I’ve never seen so many fit, in shape, nearly naked people in my life. You people are gorgeous!
After the sunset, I packed up and headed back to Honolulu. Still needing dinner, I opted for the on-site restaurant and picked something that sounded the most Hawaiian. It was pork, mixed vegetables, pineapple (of course), and rice. A tad pricey but good none the less.
With a full belly, I called it quits on Day 1 in Hawaii.