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Oahu trip recap

First, here are my photos from the trip.

I arrived in Honolulu on Friday the 7th, in the late afternoon, so there wasn't time to do much besides get settled in. jmsa and I picked up barawn from the University, and we went out to eat at Maguro, a decent Japanese restaurant featuring teishoku and very closely spaced tables.

On Saturday the adventures began with renting sit-on-top kayaks at Kailua Beach, which it turns out is famous for windsurfing and kiteboarding, thanks to the strong, steady winds. This does not make it an ideal kayaking location, as we found. I got a single kayak; jmsa and barawn shared a tandem. It may be for the best that no cameras were brought along to capture the epic struggle/comedy that was launching, not to mention paddling upwind. It was the most difficult paddling I'd ever undertaken, and it didn't help that my rented paddle was feathered in a way that didn't seem to be adjustable. We'd brought plenty of drinking water with us, but we didn't drink even a sip of it while out on the water, so rough was the paddling. jmsa was pretty uneasy about the experience, so we turned back after about fifteen minutes; I don't know how much longer I could have kept it up myself. Back on dry land, we grabbed lunch nearby and took it to Lanikai Beach to eat it and stroll.

guavaWe stopped at notoriously windy Nu`uanu Pali Lookout to enjoy the vista and take some pictures. Most visitors there don't seem to realize that if they turn right, they can walk along a quiet (and not windy!) trail that used to be Pali Highway, now overgrown with flora. barawn happens to know that there are some guava trees along the trail, so in the course of our walking the trail, he attacked gently commoved some branches, producing several nice guava fruit. Back at their place, we enjoyed the fresh snack. I couldn't restrain my impulse to bite down on the many hard seeds, though; if you find yourself with some fresh guava, my recommendation is to use a juicer or strainer to separate the seeds from the juice and pulp.

That evening, we got "plate lunch" dinners at Rainbow Drive-In and ate them on Waikiki Beach. Eating two out of three meals on a beach—that's paradise! It was dark by this time, but that just meant we had the beach to ourselves as we chowed down on Hawaiian-style macaroni salad and—in my case—delicious mahi-mahi, listened to the breaking waves, and felt the warm ocean breeze. After eating we made our way along Kalakaua Avenue, taking in the street life and shops. This stretch of road boasts an absurd density of ABC Stores; they almost put Starbucks to shame on that front.

On Sunday, jmsa and I headed to Diamond Head Trail, only to find it was closed through the 20th for slope maintenance. So instead we checked out an arts and crafts fair we'd passed by on the way there. We saw a number of interesting craft booths, but for me the highlight of the fair was the chance to try andagi. Sātā andāgī! Sātā andāgī! Sātā andāgī! (Reference to Azumanga Daioh, the pertinent episode of which I just had to re-watch.)

Later in the afternoon, the three of us went to Chinatown, which wasn't nearly as lively as I imagine it is at other times and on other days of the week. We dined well at Little Village, and on the way home we stopped at the Ala Moana Center (a big shopping mall) so I could savor the Lupicia tea shop in person. I bought several different teas, among them a chestnut tea that's not in stock in their web store and one of their limited Hawaiian edition blends. Yay tea!

Hanauma BayMonday: after a breakfast of haupia-filled malasadas, barawn headed off to work while jmsa and I headed to Hanauma Bay, a nature preserve that's also a very popular beach. Since I can't see much without my glasses, I stuck to the beach, but jmsa went snorkeling.

Next we drove northward along Oahu's southeastern coast, stopping at scenic lookouts along the way. At least one of them turned out to be a filming location from the TV series Lost. That's something I looked up later, and I found it'd almost be difficult not to happen to find yourself at one of that series' filming locations on a casual tour of that island.

It was a scenic drive. It's funny, you know that phrase, "I took the scenic route," that serves as a euphemism for, "I got lost"? In Hawaii, if you do get lost, it really is the scenic route! Which is not to say that we got lost. :)

On the way home, we picked up a manapua for jmsa and a shave ice for me. Then, grocery shopping at Don Quixote, "the Japanese Wal-Mart". How I wish they had a location near my home! Anticipating the next day's outing to the North Shore, we picked up some bottled tea and a package each of Oreo daifuku mochi and peanut butter daifuku mochi, forms of the traditional Japanese confection that had—like spam musubi—been fused with processed American staple foods to produce something charmingly Hawaiian. For my pantry at home I bought a matcha–potato soup mix (intriguing!), curry sauce mix, some fresh udon, a soba tray, sparkling sake and yuzu-flavored sake, and Kewpie mayonnaise.

That evening we dined at Tsukuneya Robata Grill, where everything was yummy; I'm a particularly ardent fan of their "misonnaise" tsukune. My mouth is watering at the memory of them. They were soooooo good!

On Tuesday morning, my last day in Hawaii, one of jmsa and barawn's cats caught a gecko. Apparently gecko-watching and -hunting is one of these cats' major pastimes, right up there with eating and sleeping. They're obsessed.

Moorish Idol at Sharks CoveWe drove up to the North Shore, stopping at Dole Plantation briefly on the way up. As is virtually required, we stopped at Matsumoto Shave Ice, too. From there we beach-hopped: Haleiwa Beach with its stand-up paddlers and shore critters, Waimea Beach with its crazy cliff-jumpers, and then Sharks Cove, where we settled down after grabbing a bite to eat at a grocery store and Sharks Cove Grill. Sharks Cove is a reef that was under particularly shallow water that day, so you could just walk around on the exposed rocks or wade through perhaps a foot of water to get an up-close view of a wide variety of marine life. The ride back on Kamehameha Highway along the northeast coast of Oahu was yet another scenic drive. We had some time for dinner before my return flight, so we bellied up to the bar at Izakayaka Nonbei, a well-regarded Kapahulu pub that didn't disappoint. I had simmered taro, fried oysters, and several snagged-from-barawn edamame, which I'm mildly—and pleasantly—surprised to find myself enjoying the more I try.

And then, all too soon, my vacation was over, and I returned to the chilly, wet, and dreary place I call home. :)