Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LHAO or We Are The Children of Buck

Yesterday, our first full day, was a full day. We all slept late, recovering from the long travel day that was Sunday. We made a quick trip to the beach closest to the condos (pictures will follow once I find a card reader for my camera). Then, Rob, Alena and I headed for Kona and Snorkel Bob’s to rent equipment. Every year, Rob goes into sticker shock when it’s time to pay for the rental of fins, masks and a boogie board for Board Boy. Every year, he mutters under his breath about this being such a racket (and it is!). Every year, we go back.

Our next stop was Costco. For the second time in 2 days. The Costcos in Hawaii are like no other Costcos on Earth. It’s guerilla warfare in the parking lot, for starters. It’s Alderwood Mall on Black Friday times ten. First you have the locals, just trying to get their regular shopping done while resenting the hell out of all of the rest of us for invading their island and their Costco. Then, you have the rest of us: pasty-skinned, just off the airplane, and trying to stock up on necessities for their condos. Once you have succeeded in beating out a seething local for a parking spot, you make a mad dash for the door and a cart. Cart scored, you then enter 500,000 sq. ft. of shopping mayhem. In the mainland Costcos, there is generally a discernable flow to the traffic. Not on the Islands. I like to think of it as what the inside of a supercollider would look like from a particle-eye’s view. Everyone rushing around without any real idea of where they are going, hurling themselves at shelves, doors, and other shoppers changing course on a whim, sometimes completely reversing their direction in the space of inches. I wish my Acura had the turning radius of a Costco cart! And I wish said carts came with bac-alarms!

Supplies acquired, it was time to head back to the hacienda and start dinner for everyone. Dinner time arrived a tad too late for some, but generally, all went well. We agreed that the Adventure Branch of the family (Rob, Julie, Karen, Briggs, Adam and me) would meet in the parking lot at 7:30 this morning to try out a snorkeling beach Karen had tried out. They name a lot of beaches on the Big Island by the telephone pole number closest to the beach entrance, and this one was Beach 69. It’s a beautiful beach, when we got there at just slightly after sunrise, the only other people on it were some folks from one of the small cottages that were along the beach. They mentioned that they’d seen turtles and monk seals in the bay, so we set off in search of things marine.

Before we departed the three Children of Buck realized that Dad must be in heaven laughing his ass off at us. Here we were, the sun barely up, getting ready to go find fish. Briggs thought it could only be a true “Code of the West” moment (must be out of bed at 0’dark thirty and looking for fish ASAP) if we didn’t find any fish. Julie thought it required an element of bone-crushing misery. We all agreed to be miserable in spirit.

Every year, on the first snorkeling trip, it takes me about 20 minutes to work out the heebie-jeebies. That whole being immersed and breathing through a tube while Jaws stalks me thing just takes a few minutes to work itself out. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful as the water was pretty murky but at one point Rob did have to use his daddy voice and his marine biology brain to convince Karen that it was not a good idea to follow the black-tipped reef shark around. We actually saw better things onshore: a pair of monk seal pups playing around the rocks just off the beach. After we were all out of the water, Karen, Julie, Rob and I decided to check out some other beaches and that’s when we started seeing the turtles. We probably saw a dozen of them, swimming in and around rocks, feeding on algae. How cool.

The afternoon was devoted to a raid on Kona. We wanted to get Mom out to do something and we thought the Kona International Market would be a good place to start. It’s a whole bunch of vendors of tourist tchotchkes in an open-air market. We were there for a little while and then we split up: Julie, Karen and Mom to Safeway and Target, the rest of us to the tourist area in Kona. That’s where we encountered the world’s largest shaved ice (sno-cones to us old fogies). Adam acquired a snappy new hat and I had to buy some Donkey Balls (choco-dipped macadamias). Yum.

The plan for tomorrow is more snorkeling but the weather is pretty windy, so who knows?

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