... excellent month of travel
The Hotel Illikai in Honolulu, home for a month.
Day 1, October 30, 2001. Flew jet 757 American Airlines from Logan airport in Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles. Six hours! Harry was a big hit with the stewardesses. I don't know how he does it. They served beef stroganoff en route. One martini.
We spent one hour at LAX (Los Angeles airport) where we both ate Whopper Juniors at the Burger King which was 100 feet from our gate. That compensated for the beef stroganoff! From the confines of the airport, Los Angeles does not look so hot!
Took off from there in a 767 (bigger) and headed for Honolulu. After an hour an inspired stewardess asked if I wanted one gin or two. Tanguaray! Two were fine. Another six hour flight and we got to Honolulu at 7 p.m., Honolulu time; 12 midnight Boston time! We were really tuckered out! Took a cab to the Ilikai Hotel on Ala Moana Boulevard and collapsed into bed at 1:30 a.m. Boston time! It'll take time to migrate to Honolulu time.
Day 2: Got up at 6 a.m. Honolulu time; 11 a.m. Boston time. It has been years since I slept until 11 a.m. but what else can I do? If I get up at Boston time as usual, it'll be 2 a.m. in Honolulu! Harry loves to sleep and was konked out so I got the shorts on and an Aloha shirt and strode over to MacDonald's for whatever they had for breakfast. Then, as I did for most of the month, I bought a local paper, went over to the deck overlooking the marina and relaxed. Harry did the same when he eventually arose.
Later that morning we took the bus to the barn where we purchased senior citizen bus tickets for $25 good for two years and unlimited bus rides. It paid off. On the way back we stopped at a Safeway Market and got most of our food needs. The quarters we had were two bedrooms and two baths with kitchen and dining/living room, so we had most evening meals there. The stuff we bought was heavy! After putting the items away I went to the main floor to poke around in the shops. A Korean lady shop keeper told me there was no business due to the September 11 terrorist attack in New York. I got some excellent bargains as a result.
Only a bit later, Harry and I took the bus about half a mile down Ala Moana to the Ala Moana Shopping Mall. It is a fabulous place. Three floors of shops. Some oriented to the Japanese trade, as Hawaii has lots of Japanese and many Japanese tourists and the prices are cheap to them. Then back to room 625 to relax. Harry is 10 years older than I am but I think he can walk me into the ground. His ever loving wife, Dorothy, passed away in October so Harry wanted this trip to cool off.
Later we watched the Yankees beat the Diamondbacks. Disgusting! By 8 p.m. my eyes were closing so I retired. My body felt like it was 2 a.m. at home! By the end of November, I should be all un-jetlagged and then go home and be all confused again.
Day 3: Took #2 bus to Ala Moana Mall and then walked to the Hawaiian Shirt factory where I purchased a 3X Muumuu for daughter-in-law, Linda, Glen's wife. Then we hoofed it to the Ross Store where I got another Muumuu for Bill's wife, also Linda. After that we food shopped at the Daiai (Dai eye) store, a large combination market with electronics, food and clothing largely focussed on the Japanese trade. Then we walked some more to a large restaurant called, "The Pagoda" It was a very nice place. Harry scoped out the prices while I watched the huge fish swimming all around the place and under the floor in a fancy pool. Then we hiked back to the Ala Moana and the bus to the hotel.
Day 4: Got up early and left Harry. Went a couple of blocks to the Wailana Coffee shop for a snazzy breakfast of hashbrowns, two eggs over, medium, bacon and coffee. That hit the spot! Afterward I strolled across the street to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Here Hilton has built half a dozen 50 story towers for guests, below which is an assortment of shops and great landscaping with waterfalls to pools loaded with colorful fish. On the other side of this development is Waikiki Beach. Even at 8 a.m. the guests are out in the water and surfers further out. Back at the apartment Harry was up and ready to go. Later we took the bus again to a bakery where Harry bought an apricot pie, one of his favorites. We checked out the Shikoyumi store which was busy with Japanese shoppers. We then went to Long's Drug store and picked up Pepsi and Seven Up, as it was on sale. Harry watched for all sales! He made and served a nice spaghetti supper and it was delicious. I did the dishes.
In the evening I strolled only a few doors along Ala Moana and visited a tattoo place. I wanted a souvenir of Hawaii. I picked out the Chinese character for tranquility, and Mike, the tattoo guy put it on my left shoulder. I was happy with it but Harry thought I was nuts! By then it was 7:20 p.m. or 12:20 a.m. in Melrose! To bed!
As usual my body clock blew reveille at 6:30 a.m. After breakfast at McDonald's, I got the Honolulu Advertiser and sat out overlooking the marina in shorts and sandals. While reading the paper, I spoke with several other vacationers and it was pleasant. After the paper was read, I went back to the apartment and sat out on my balcony to catch a few rays until Harry got up. Harry had a sore throat and seemed to be getting a cold. Hope he doesn't get sick.
Day 6: November 4. Arose a bit later at 7a.m. (12 noon!) Harry was zonked out so I showered and dressed. Went to McDonald's for a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with coffee; bought the local Sunday paper and sat again out by the marina to read. Later, we took the #8 bus to the Mall where Harry got a few cold-related items. He has felt better. I felt glad I had gotten the flu shot in October. I got a few souvenirs to give away at home and a 12 pack of Diet Coke. Back at the apartment, Harry took a book he was reading down to the marina overlook to rap with other guests. I had a good book by Robert Ludlum called 'The Prometheus Deception' which my cousin, Wes Bowers, had given me. The weather was nothing short of sensational at all times. Our apartment overlooking Ala Moana Boulevard was a bit noisy. Took a nap. Martini as well.
Day 7: After the usual start, we took the bus over to the main Waikiki hotel and beach area. All the big fancy hotels were there along with the International Trading area which was fun to poke around in. All the hotels had nice shops on the ground floors. Lots of Japanese tourists there, as prices were far cheaper than in Japan, but much higher than in Melrose. I got a very pretty dress for my wife, Joyce. After walking our legs off we got the bus back to the Illikai and I took a nap. For supper we went over to the 'Sizzler's' restaurant about 1/4 mile along Ala Moana. The food there was lousy! I had 'country fried chicken'. It turned out to be chicken loaf fried in old fat. That's the last time for them!
Every day I call Joyce on my digital cell phone and the call is billed as a local call and is free. Nice service.
Day 8: Enjoyed a nice breakfast at McDonald's and then read the papers and had a cigar by the marina. Although it was early here, it is mid-day at home so I felt the cigar was OK. Harry ventured over to a market and got some frozen meals and later walked around the waterfront gabbing with vacationers. His cold had faded and he felt fine, which cheers me up. After dark we walked a half-mile to a bus that took us to the Daiai store for orange juice and a couple of other items. They had a nice sale on 'Aloha' shirts for $10. They usually go for $50! Riding the bus for free was great. Harry seemed to be grieving less as time goes by for losing his wife, Dorothy in October.
Day 9: Joyce called to say she was sending back two dresses I had sent, as they were too small. Yippee! We loafed most of the day. Two weeks to go! Beans and franks for supper and I did the dishes.
November 13: Bought a case of Pepsi One at Long's Drugs and Harry scooped a case of Seven Up. I started the oven early and we baked some potatoes and a small chicken. It hit the spot with cranberry sauce. I did the dishes. I noticed that without Joyce as company, my computer and the Boston papers it can be a dab boring here. At 3:18 p.m. I am out on my balcony enjoying a martini and a cigar while the li'l FM radio I bought was playing a nice cello concerto I had never heard before. There is only one classical music radio station in Honolulu and it beats all the other stations hands down. It's kind of nice on November 14 to be sitting out clad only in shorts and sandals. Later I took the bus one stop and walked a couple of blocks to a cigar store where I bought a dozen lip smacker cigars and returned. I scolded the proprietor for selling me four bum cigars earlier. It didn't work. I failed to mention that between Japanese, Chinese and Filipino, one could easily imagine one was in the Far East. Even signs are Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Caucasians are a distinct minority here. Down by the marina I struck up a lively conversation with an Oriental lady named Julie. She was a riot. I must also add that judging by the martinis I had here, East Coast martinis are superior to Hawaiian martinis. Not to delve too far into the mysteries of the martini but, academically, that statement is for real!
November 15: Ya know, years ago it occurred to me that no matter how beautiful or warm, a strange city is just another strange city! Honolulu is the berries to look at with waving palms and a steady breeze, an abundance of handsome buildings with lots of obviously happy citizens but, it is relatively sterile and meaningless, as my roots are elsewhere. Here I do not have the creativity of my computer or that of my music. I will take the short, cloudy winter day in Melrose full of substance to this place any time! Harry says this is paradise! Different strokes for different folks.
I took the #52 bus all by myself out to the center of Oahu to the Dole Estates. That was interesting. Later I boarded another #52 bus and continued all the way around the Island. On the way, we saw the huge north coast waves where surfing contests are taking place at Waimea and Makaha. Down the east coast the bus traveled through the Pali tunnel in the mountains. Back at the Ala Moana Mall I went to the food court as I was really hungry. There I blundered into Harry as he was enjoying a slice of pizza. I got spaghetti.
November 16: Had the usual morning process of hot cakes and sausage at MacDonald's and when Harry got up we decided to take the bus to Pearl Harbor and visit the Arizona Memorial. Harry was feeling a bit down over losing Dorothy and I can understand that. He was a bit more gruff than usual. The Memorial was a touching experience and well worth visiting. On the way back we stopped at Ala Moana Mall to eat. Harry was very quiet.
Back at 625 I picked up my book and Harry scanned the local papers. At 5:45 I realized he had gone out. This is the first time he went out unannounced. I hope he's OK. Later we talked it out. He said he was feeling down and guilty for what he felt was neglect and not treating Dorothy better while she was still with us. Being a first class cheap philosopher, I rendered my views and we both felt better.
Nov. 17: Saturday. While reading the papers at the marina overlook, my oriental friend, Julie, came by to tell me goodbye as she and her hubby were leaving today for New York. She is a very nice woman of intellect and character; more Mongol in appearance that either Chinese or Japanese but, to my everlasting surprise, she hails from Brooklyn, New York! I was happy she bothered to say goodbye and appreciated that very much.
Later, Harry went out for groceries from the Daiai supermarket. I was to fetch a couple of cans of beets which I always liked with apple vinegar. This accomplished, it is weird to consider that here I sit on our 6th floor balcony eating tasty Japanese Nori, dressed in shorts and at the same time listening to Montiverdi's, "The Coronation of Pompeo" on the National Public Radio, Hawaii! Wonders will never cease!
Nov. 19: Tuesday. After breakfast Harry and I took the number 15 bus out to 'The Punchbowl Military Cemetary'. The cemetary is up rather high and looks down on Honolulu. It is a beautifully kept military resting place for thousands of Americans who lost their lives in defense of the country. We visited the grave of Harry's brother, killed at Okinawa. I took some photos and we then walked half a mile back to the number 15 bus stop. The bus continues up Pacific Heights. The road climbed up very high on the mountain so we actually looked down on the all of the Honolulu skyscrapers. The air was cooler and there was a nice breeze. That ride was a treat. The homes in that area are magnificent.
We came back to town and reality. We stopped at a place called, "The Spaghetti Factory". That was a treat, too, as we put on the ol' feedbag! Back at the Illikai, Harry spent the evening down in the lobby gabbing with passing folks.
22 November, Thanksgiving Day! Started out a bit cloudy but soon cleared up. At 12:30 we walked a block to the Wailana Coffee Shop and had a very nice turkey dinner. The pumpkin pie was good, too. The day was very pleasant.
A word concerning jet lag. We arrived in Honolulu at 11 p.m. Boston time-6 p.m. Honolulu time. Naturally, we were exhausted and went straight to bed. We slept well until my body clock told me to get up as it was 7 a.m.! Not so! It was 2 a.m. Honolulu time! What to do? You can't get up at 2 a.m.! All the stores are closed and you can't go to the beach for fear of getting arrested.
Back to bed. I caved in and got up at 6 a.m. Honolulu time and my body clock, now getting irate, asks why I am getting up at 11 a.m. I haven't slept until 11 a.m. ever! So, live with it! I go over to MacDonald's for hotcakes and sausage and the ol' body clock is inquiring why I having breakfast at noon! Later, at noon Boston time the clock is saying, "It's supper time, you jerk!" At supper time, Honolulu type, you eat and the clock is saying, "Since when do you eat supper in the middle of the night"? By 9 p.m. Honolulu time you are really exhausted as it is now 2 a.m. in Boston! It took a few weeks just to advance to staying up until 9 Honolulu time! You retire at 2 a.m. Boston time and it has been ages since you did that. Once again, at 2 a.m. Honolulu time your carcass informs you it is time for breakfast and your morning walk with Sydney, my Australian Terrier, at Mt. Hood. Not desiring to be arrested for walking around Honolulu at 2 a.m. I retire again. Phooey! This east/west travel is the pits! It was the same when we went to London, but in reverse. We arose upon hearing the morning commute and seeing bright sunshine but body clock is asking, "Why are you getting up at 2 a.m.?" I suspect my body would rather have a differant proprietor! Later, you go to bed at 10 p.m. London time and ol' cranky carcass inquires, "what's the idea of going to bed at 4 in the afternoon"? Huh?
I am sorry. No more east/west travel. If we can't go north or south, we're staying home!
24 November: We took the 42 bus into town to the Aloha Tower shopping mall. I had seen a nice ivory colored lei and wanted one for Joyce but couldn't find one anywhere. The shops were very interesting and at the end of the mall there was a gorgeous pavilion with an equally gorgeous open air beer hall. I sat on a stool and inquired what the barkeep had in the way of draft beer. To my everlasting delight, he produced six glasses with six samples. I picked out a nice strong one and ordered a pint. The breeze was nice and the view across the harbor was without equal. I could have spent the whole day right there!
27 November: The day was normal except at around 2 a.m. it rained and blew like crazy for a while. I was glad we had closed the sliding doors to the balconies.
In the evening we took the bus east to the Elks Lodge right under Diamond Head. What a great place to spend an evening. We had a martini and ordered the prime rib. The place was rather open and roomy. We gabbed with other guests and had a nice time. The prime rib was excellent. Reluctantly we returned via the same bus route.
November 28: In the afternoon we took the bus into Chinatown where I found some nice candied ginger to which Joyce is partial. Then, like a couple of nuts, we went to the Wo-Fat Chinese Restaurent. It may have been better had we been blindfolded! We didn't have the slightest idea what to order. The kind hostess spoke English and we asked her to just bring us some nice chicken. We then got a mish-mash of Chinese food items, none of which I recognize and much of it I was not too thrilled about. The only item I recognize was the shrimp. Harry offered, "I thought you ordered chicken!" Like a real smarty pants, I bumbled through it all with my chop sticks. We should have gone to MacDonald's!
29 November: On this morning your writer is severely remiss in that he failed to tell of a chance meeting a few days back with an obviously homeless young lady of Japanese extraction. As Harry and I sat gabbing on our 6th floor balcony, this girl of perhaps 25 years of age appeared on Ala Moana Boulevard below us and proceeded to set up her small camp in an empty spot next to the ABC variety store. As soon as she was satisfied with her set up, she walked to the Boulevard median and climbed one of the stately palms that lined the median. At the top she lopped off two branches which fell to the ground. Scampering down, she fetched the foliage and retreated to her camp. She then carefully stripped all the fronds and wove them into a hanging-type basket which I perceived was a work of art. Later, I visited her and was told the basket was for sale for $20! I had expressed my admiration for her talents. I declined the offer but, having noted that she bummed a cigarette from a visiting fellow earlier, asked if she would like a pack from the ABC store. She was delighted and told me she smoked Eve menthols. I fetched the butts and told her it was a gift. She instantly offered me the two baskets she had skillfully made at no charge! I was elated and returned to show Harry my prize. That was fun. I had felt rather sorry for her but avoided delving into the mysteries of the homeless!
Next day we passed through Honolulu airport security and jetted away back to the mainland. Feeling I was rather a hotshot in geography, I figured the jet would eventually cross Baja California on the way to Dallas, our 1st stop. In about six hours the coast appeared and with satisfaction I scanned below for signs of Baja. No such luck! In no time at all I saw mountains covered with snow and lots of it! Where the heck were we? Presently a large city appeared very brightly lit and colorful. The hostess told me that was Las Vegas! My geography arrogance was shot to pieces! We were hundreds of miles north of the direct course to Dallas. Until we reached Texas, all I saw were snow covered mountains!
Arriving in Dallas at 4 a.m. isn't among life's more inspiring moments. We
sluggishly changed to a much smaller aircraft for the morning ride to Boston
and watched the bright morning sun rise.
Now, at last, jet lag was a thing of the past. We were elated to reach home and I immediately jumped into bed exhausted again.
May 3, 2002