Saturday, October 03, 2009

Oh, Hawaii...

Few places have captured me so completely as Hawaii does. Perhaps it's my island heritage on my mother's side? Maybe it's just because it's paradise? Either way, I am in love with the place.

I was in Hawaii for a short amount of time, so I had to make use of every moment. It was also strange, because it was the first time I had been to Hawaii without my family. Part of me felt a profound sense of freedom and liberation, and the other part of me missed them terribly. It was nice to be able to pick a point on a map and go; see a mountaintop and go; to go without worry or calculation, but just the desire and curiosity. For instance, on my birthday I wanted to watch the sunrise on the eastern side of the island. I hiked to the top of Makapu'u and soaked in the breath-taking display of sea, sky, and sun.

Along the hike to the top of Makapu'u, I found all kinds of treasures – from remnant ruins of old military outposts, to small textured cones. It was fun to climb up. I wasn't satisfied with the paved trail though and had to explore the old beaten paths.

At the top of those points, I found evidence of old occupation, ghostly concrete and steel sticking up from the earth.

I also found interesting new plant life. I was surprised with how desert the flora was. For instance, this fleshly cactus blossom I found that was coated with the lightest sprinkling of fuzz.

The views were stunning! Above is a shot of Diamond Head Crater. Our last trip, we hiked to the top. It was daunting hike. From this vantage point, the topmost crater ridge seems like a little hill. Only my experience nagged me at the back of my mind, reminding me that this was no little hill!

At the top of Makapu'u, near the old military outposts, now crumbling concrete structures, alters to old gods could be found. Twisting in the wind, shreds of an offering twirl. It made me wonder how long ago was tribute last left.

I climbed down from the high point and near the lighthouse to take the picture above. Even on the crumbling hillside, I found evidence of someone else before. Names and dates were scribbled in concrete or on cactus leaf. I understood it. I understood the profound sense of being rooted, of being connected and apart of a space and wanting to capture that moment and shout out that you were there, you were in that place.

For me though, I found more pleasure in finding a unique view... of a flower on the side of a treacherous hill, with disintegrating ash and sliding rock over a deadly drop. That flower will have probably opened and closed and lived and died with only one person having ever seen it in person. The above photo is of that flower, in an attempt to help share that fleeting moment destined to be lost in time and be washed away in the ephemeral nature of things.

After hiking around Makapu'u, I went to our secret spot to collect beach glass. It didn't seem like much had changed from the last time we were here. Sometimes I'd find something in a tide-pool and call out to Cynthia and Azalea to come and look, only realizing after I said their names that they were thousands of miles away. I could have spent hours combing the shore, pocketing treasures. I had a healthy handful before I succumbed to the heat and made my way back to the car for a drink and off to Kailua.

I laid out on the beach and this is what I saw when I looked up. It was such a peaceful and relaxing stretch of time. Around me were families and locals, enjoying the breezy beach and sunny weather. It seemed as though I was suspended in paradise. I didn't mind one bit.

Usually Cynthia and I talk about what treasures we could find at an antique store in Hawaii if we ever found one. This trip, I wanted to locate one. Luckily this one was right down the road, less than a mile away from where I was laying out. Ali'i Antique's in Kailua was a treasure trove of things! It was amazing to see the stacks of antiques, piled so high that it didn't just encompass the entirety of one storefront, but TWO! I found some cute owls and saw lots of beautiful carvings and vintage goodies. I would have bought more had I figured out a way to get it all back home without having to pay too high for shipping.

Another of the places we talk about going to is the Bishop Museum. This time I finally made my way out there. The drive from Kailua to the museum on H3, at the base of the emerald green mountains was AMAZING!

The Bishop museum had a wide selection of things to see – science, art, sports. For instance, in one of the science buildings, they did a demonstration of what a lava pour looks like. It was pretty intense watching them pour out the molten rock mixed with borax.

The museum also boasted a new exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs and fossils. It was really creepy to be caught off guard walking down a path and then hearing something roar at you!

One of my favorite parts of the museum is where they feature a full-sized hut with a giant whale model strung up overhead, while cultural folklore and bits and pieces of Hawaiian artifacts flank the central display. The Bishop Museum was a great stop to soak in lots of culture and history.

When I finished up at the museum, I headed over to the Ward Warehouse to start setup of the show. I made some progress, but called it an evening when my friends, Candice Wakumoto and her husband Paul came by to pick me up for dinner. They took me to a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant. I LOVE their iced coffee – strong, sweet and creamy! They showed me the ropes and ordered a feast of delicious offerings. I was in foodie paradise! It was nice to spend my birthday with friends.

The rest of my time in Hawaii flew by! I would wake up early and head out to the beach before the show. I'd get my traveling kit out and make some jewelry while soaking up a little sun and relaxing. It was a nice conversation starter and I met several curious tourists and locals.

Sipping iced coffee, making things, and sitting on the beach... what a wonderful way to start the day. I could start every day like that, listening to the surf, watching waves and people, and breathing in the fresh salty air.

One of the days a parade route went by the Ward Warehouse. I was there early, from sitting on the beach and watched the colorful outfits and interesting floats. With all the smiles and friendly waves, I realized that my love of Hawaii wasn't just in the island itself, the art, or the food... but in the people. Everyone was so nice. It is such a change from New York, where everyone is hardwired on their paths and insulted in their bubbles. Everyone in Hawaii is so friendly, warm, and welcoming.

As I climbed Makapu'u, I was greeted by several friendly faces, all smiling. Even at the most remote and quiet places, I would come across a stranger full of greeting. Along the tide-pools and the beaches, "Good morning!" and "Hello!" In the shops and stores, only the best customer service, always interested in where I was from and what brought me to the island. In the museum, laughing children full of curiosity, and helpful and informative staff, ready to explain an exhibit or elaborate the cultural significances. Even at the show, the sweetest neighbors who saw to it that you never went without food or drink or a bathroom break. (Hello Rene and Calvin! Hello Jamie and Jason! Hello Kim! Hello Lillypilly!) The customers were also sweet, full of enthusiasm and eager to learn, make, and help. (Hello Susan! Hello Donna! Hello Maureen! Hello Mary!) Thousands of miles away from my home and family, I was not alone and celebrated my birthday with friends in a place that truly is paradise.


CatHerder said...

great pics..brought back lots of awesome memories...makapu'u point is one of my favorite hiking places..ive been to hawaii 10 times and had the luxury of doing all of the adventure tours including hiking in the rainforest, halemau'mau, iao needle, makapu'u...ive done hiking on every island and it was the most wonderful place ive ever visited...what i wouldnt do for a shave ice and a plate lunch!

Joan Tucker said...

Andrew, Great birthday journal; I also love Hawaii and miss so many things. Kailua Beach, shave ice,the North Shore, and always on every island the people. Happy B Day, Joan Tucker

Adventures with Millie Making Jewelry said...

Happy Birthday! What a great trip!

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

Wow! I was in Hawaii just a few years ago and some of my pictures are almost identical to yours. It's weird to think we've both walked on the same trails and captured the same pictures. How cool!

Janet said...

Whata wonderful gift to be there on your Birthday! Happy Birthday Andrew!! Many years ago I lived in Puerto Rico, the beaches were breath taking and the shells that washed up
Ive never seen such colorful beautiful shells as those. Are the Hawaiian shells as pretty? I would imagine so. Thank you for the glimpse of what you were doing! xx

Alice said...

What a beautiful post! It's been years since I was in Hawaii, and I hope to get back some day and take my kids with me (expensive!).

Thanks for the inspiration--a great way to start of the week!

Michelle said...

What great pictures! It makes me miss my time in HI. I lived there for 5 years and haven't been back there since then. I left there in 1994. I miss the people the most. Thanks for the memories! Happy B-day!

Cynthia of Cynful Creations said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and your experiences on this trip to Hawaii. What a gift to be the person to see that lovely flower. Hope you had a wonderful birthday.