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By the time I finally crawled into bed last night, I’d been awake for almost 36 hours straight, which may be a new record for me. It’s an occupational hazard of certain kinds of vacations: The hardest part of going to Hawaii is coming home–and not simply because it’s nice in Hawaii. (Which it is; wow. See above.) Flights back to the mainland are invariably redeyes, and given that I sometimes can’t even sleep in my own bed, I’ve not been surprised to find that I can’t sleep in an airliner seat. So I take along books full of well-written ridiculania (this time it was Colin Wilson’s The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved) and try to make the most of all that quality tin-can time. Worked. And now, having slept for close to 11 hours, I can get back to the universe as reality.

We took two weeks off on Oahu to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, and I made a conscious decision not to do any more computing during that time than I absolutely had to. I didn’t post here, didn’t do much surfing, ignored my aggregators, and pushed back answering most email until after our return. And y’know? As they say on Slashdot, Nothing of value was lost. We didn’t watch TV, either. We didn’t do any aerobic tourism. I brought a kite and chose not to fly it. We spent much time side by side, splashing in the gorgeous water, drinking pina coladas, laughing at ancient in-jokes, and reveling in one another’s company. That was, after all, the idea.


Our first few days were at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, in the venerable Rainbow Tower, which had gotten a little too venerable since 1969. All the time we were there the tower echoed with the sound of jackhammers. Our room was on the 16th floor, facing Diamond Head and the full length of Waikiki Beach. The view was amazing, and worth the trouble of having two of the four tower elevators out of service.


In the early evening darkness, we watched people launch these little LED-illuminated toys into the air off the beach. A rubber-band catapault takes them up forty or fifty feet at least, and then they spin down slowly in the fashion of a winged maple tree seed. I dug around a little and found that this is the item. I would have bought one, but the guy selling them out of his backpack wanted $10 each for what is evidently a $1.50 item. I’ll bet they’re at the dollar store, and will look. A Certain Somebody has her fifth birthday coming up, and a big field behind her house to launch it from. Way better than maple seeds!

The other thing that made me grin was watching the spectacular Friday night fireworks from our balcony. The east side of the Rainbow Tower was the best seat in the house. The beach was packed with people waiting for the fireworks, and dozens (maybe hundreds) among the crowds had smartphones, which shone blue-white in patterns like constellations. Silly? Maybe–but it was a startling and unexpected image. I’m sure that what they were doing was tweeting the experience to their friends, who didn’t have the good fortune of being in Hawaii like we did. It’s what the postcard has become, a century and a half after postcards were invented.

Sea Launch 500Wide.jpg

Thursday afternoon we were sitting in the Hilton’s beachside cafe having a drink, and Carol says, “There’s a drilling platform out there.” She pointed. I was lead-pipe sure there’s no offshore drilling a quarter mile from Honolulu, but dayum, there was a drilling platform off toward the airport. I looked again later in the afternoon and it was gone. The mystery was solved the next day, when we took a bus trip to Hilo Hattie’s for some souvenir hunting, and realized as we passed the docks that something rare was in town: The Sea Launch Odyssey. It was at the docks for refueling on a long, slow trip to somewhere for refitting. It has a 13,000 hp engine and evidently toodles around the oceans very well all by itself. I’ve stayed in towns smaller than that thing, and it suggested what may become a new short story, “Trash Angels,” about Penrose tiles and empty soda bottles.

Four days later, we retired to the other side of Oahu and took a vacation rental on the north beach near Kailua, with our terrace only 100 feet from the crashing 7′ waves. We read, lounged, got our sinuses cleaned out by the waves, and ate at some decent restaurants, especially Pinky’s Pupu Bar and Grill. I’m running long today, so I’ll get a fews more observations out in the near future.


  1. I live in a town smaller than The Sea Launch Odyssey!
    Well maybe not, but Sidney (note: only one “y”) is small. I can walk across it in about an hour and walk into two other counties in the same amount of time.

  2. Tom R. says:

    Welcome home Jeff. It looks like you and Carol had a great time FOR EACH OTHER and that was the whole point.

    My only time in those islands was was a couple of hours in the wee hours of the morning in the early 1970’s when the military charter flight I was on stopped to refuel on the way to a place that didn’t officially exist.

  3. Welcome home. Glad the two of you had a good time. 🙂


  4. Patty DesRochers says:

    “Lead pipe sure,” eh? I like that. Glad you two enjoyed that little piece o’ paradise.

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