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  • Craig Messenger

A Week in Hawaii

I went to Hawaii earlier this month. This is (mostly) what happened. Some names and details have been altered in the interest of national security.


taken by Berto

Lionel – the sushi-eating, bike-crashing, nostril-sabotaging friend that you have heard so much about – has a cozy place for 10 on the North Shore, so he assembled an all-star team many months ago to fulfill youthful fantasies of showing a full cabinet of friends all that Turtle Bay has to offer. The roster of his selections, along with their Hawaiian alphabet names and meanings, is posted here:


Craig M - Kaika Melekike

= “scribe”


Paulie B - Pilipo Pelenalako

= “the gifted one”


Betty A - Palaina Ake

= “daughter of the harvest”


Lionel A - Lei Alamana

= “eater of the shrimp”


Adonis D - Alika Kalaki

= “sleeper”


Gwendolyn S - Kelekena Kauna

= “climber of rope”


Colton M - Kani Malekoko

= “drinker of chardonnay”


Mark R - Maleko Leike

= “quitter of job, Esq.”


Kelley H - Keli Haikela

= “the freckled one”


Berto C - Peleka Kanakele

= “Tiger Woods”



We begin early Saturday morning…



September 4th



I anticipated that I wouldn’t be able to sleep very well last night amid worries about how I was going to make a really kick-ass Hawaiian scavenger hunt. Those fears were unfounded. I woke up naturally at 3:48am to the falling action of a really wonderful dream, disconnecting my alarm before it ever got a chance to fulfill its sole, lonely purpose. My mom was especially excited to drive us at 4am, which I knew she would be, whic– oh, I should have led with this. Our flight takes off at 7am. 7am. Ridiculous. Lionel will do anything for a good deal.


–but I knew that my mom would be especially excited to deliver us at 4am, us being the Stumphouse crew. When Mark got in the car, sweating after 12 trips up and down the stairs to retrieve various valuables, my mom blurted out a raucous “WHOA MARKY Mark! You’re actually coming!” that could have woken several generations of dead ancestors, and served as a credible substitute for caffeine at this time of morning. Betty’s mother drove Lionel and Colton and her daughter to the airport right behind us, but I doubt she performed the task with nearly as much enthusiasm and charisma and volume as my own mom.


The bag drop off line at Hawaiian Airlines was incredibly long because it didn’t open until 4:53am, so we all stood there, huddled together, staring at the group of six girls three parties ahead, analyzing whether they were twenty or twenty-five before deciding that really it didn’t matter anyway. Love is love. Adonis, Gwendolyn, and Paulie were actually nearing the head of this bag drop line, having slept outside on the sidewalk the night before. Once the Hawaiian employees finally came back from their early morning siesta, the line disintegrated quickly, and we were on to security. Most of us qualify, genetically, for TSA precheck enrollment, but Mark and Colton could be seen shoeless, slumming it with the proletariat. The rest of us zoomed by, dignified, and with a now better understanding of what Darwin meant by natural selection.


On the actual plane I had the southbound facing window next to Mark, and when I initially assumed this throne the porthole’s exterior was besmirched with sweaty dew, but it burned off by showtime. A few minutes later, sun rising, I remarked to Mark – as I stared out the window watching other planes give their opening acts – that jets taking off will always be one of the coolest things. As we began taxiing, Mark dryly agreed, adding that no matter how many times he sees them, the takeoffs, they will never seem possible. After a final turn, now rightfully facing west, the curtains opened, and I closed my eyes and surrendered to my seat’s firm caress as the engines spooled up and yelled out and took over.


We watched PV and then Catalina and then some other island past that each arrive in and depart from our plexiglass screen. There were no clouds really, just low level cotton balls blanketing the Earth’s finest blue dress. We avoided any interlocuting and remained a spectator passing by, above. As the land masses passed by and the clouds took on less interesting shapes, my window seat lost all novelty for the next few hours and I was again burdened solely by the unremarkable view of sticky, blue vinyl and Betty’s ponytail.


I’ve been reading several pious books and stories lately, so I can take solace in their assurances that parents traveling with toddlers and infants on airplanes are reserved a most secluded alcove in Dante’s Inferno. I listened to Kanye and Drake’s new albums while drowsily cuddling my water bottle (we’ve been together for four years, and in this group that makes us rookie-lovers) and they were each mostly good, juvenile crying background music notwithstanding.


Midway through the flight, with land as far away as it would ever be, Mark returned from the restroom not worried but definitely excited, and asked me quietly if I’d be able to land this plane. I thought back on my true abilities as a hot shot young pilot, the 3 generations of R.A.F. blood in me, my unshakeable nerves, and whispered to him that it would be a toss up...being sure to not alarm anyone around us. He gently nodded his head amid closed eyes and furrowed brows, and proceeded to bear down on the free end of his seat belt. He never did tell me what that was all about.


Meanwhile my own personal seat was broken, so it would recline and incline as my body weight shifted. Button must have been stuck or something. This caused me brief periods of feeling bad for my rearward neighbor until I fabricated some reason in my head as to why they indeed deserved my seat back intermittently enclosing and expanding the sanctity of their personal GOD dammit this trucking baby won’t shut the truck up.


The pilots landed the plane just fine without any celeb shots and we taxied into the terminal within like 2 minutes because Hawaiian Airlines gets the good stuff out here. I made note of all the fancy shmancy aircraft playing around on the schoolyard tarmac around the Honolulu airport, wondered if I’d see any of them later this week (I would). We deboarded, clammy and moist, in search of checked bags and rental cars. Enterprise was easy enough on us, and after I jabbed the driver’s side door of our Corolla into the rear quarter panel of a neighboring Prius in a display of Toyoticide not often seen this deep into The Pacific, we were off.


This Corolla had some touchy brakes and its weightiness could best be described as slight, and I fought with the active-lane-assist during every merge I made without a faithful and honest blinker. But its trunk space was deep enough for four bags, six nights of alcohol, and our hopes and dreams. We did stop by a Costco on the way to acquire the aforementioned Holy Week’s drink, but it was a fairly typical Costco experience encompassing only the vendor’s most usual calamities, so I will spare you the imagery. Lionel did lobby for each of us to grab a large cardboard box from the waste piles as we were walking out, likely because he holds short positions on several recycling corporations. I walked out empty handed. I never cheat the hangman.


The drive through Oahu’s main artery is quilted in farmland until one crests Dole’s plantation and then drops to sea. We made a blood pact in our Super Corolla to always veer right when facing forks in the road, so when we were propositioned by a particularly handsome and well crafted one on this commute, we did not hesitate. A few minutes later, as the overgrown vegetation turned to palm trees bending in the wind, distances between our on road brethren decreased and car rear ends flashed red. We were at the beach.


First we limped past Waimea, painted in vibrant umbrellas, before we laid eyes on the food trucks at Shark's Cove that would provide us with sustenance on many an afternoon. Seven miles later we arrived at the villa with several disasters in full swing, something about stolen parking spaces and third degree burns. We ignored them, sunblocked up, and hit the pool, where the winds were hurricaning. It was here that I met love again, this time in sweet potato fry form. It was like they were double fried. Crispy sweet potato fries. Uncanny.


The ocean water in the cove right out from the villa is thick and obscenely salty, obscuring menacing rocks beneath. Like if the heir to the Morton Iodized fortune was from Kansas or something and had never seen the ocean and you asked her to describe it, she would conjure up a body of water not unlike this murky lagoon. Mark and I went swimming in it, and after three minutes I heard my bedmate let out a yell and disappear under the water in the second instance of his spiking my heart rate today. Morton’s Lagoon seemed pretty shielded from sharks with its line of large rocks flanking the northern boundary, but you can’t underestimate the sadistic imagination of Midwestern princesses these days.


A few moments later, I saw Mark doggy paddling to shore and vectored toward him, and on the beach I watched his foot ooze a red, runny substance that gave me no relief.


Tiger?!” I asked.


Mark looked at me askew, grimacing and holding the underside of his calf to keep his wound out of the sand.


Juvenile Great White?!?!”


And as I ran towards my backpack to retrieve my portable megaphone, Mark robbed me of my heroic duty by informing me that he had simply kicked one of the devilishly sharp rocks.


A few hours later, gathered at HQ, we sat around in the living room again discussing how old these bag drop girls were, and Paulie raised his index finger to make a closing remark before succumbing to nature and dispelling a clear, fragrant liquid from his mouth. And as he sealed his lips to plug the flow, fluids found a new path of least resistance and a nearly beautiful stream sprouted from his nose. Paulie caught most of it with those quick hands of his, but some dripped onto Colton’s leg, and this new leg accessory would pair perfectly with the bird excrement that was about to land on his head in thirty minutes time.


At dinner, we had the most condescending butt nugget of all time to introduce us to his admittedly delicious restaurant, and unfortunately mid-appetizers we had to head indoors, away from the pleasant golf course picnic he had set for us as a new hurricane came through, this one much less dry than the pooldeck’s gales.



September 5th



We all slept in as late as possible to fight off jet lag's advances. At around 7am I scoped the hotel’s perimeter coastline for signs of curl, while Lionel, Colton, Adonis, and Paulie went to the gym. Berto, Mark, and I know that the sabbath is a day of worship, rest.


Lionel showed us the villa’s beach locker, which was the size of like a well built living room closet, and housed: the surf boards, a Finding Nemo boogie board, a boogie board with a hole in it, a pool noodle, a scurrying cockroach, an umbrella with several holes in it, three more boogie boards, sand castle tools, corn hole boards (they each had a hole in them as well), another pool noodle, floaties, snorkel gear, shampoo, at least two more dead cockroaches, beach chairs that looked like they had died a thousand deaths, and some surf wax.


But it housed the surf boards nonetheless. We were working with a stereotypical 8ft foamie and a pretty slim, speedy looking 7’2 swallow tail. I started out on the shorter brother while Kelley rowed the Wannabe Wavestorm, and Colton put on a good attitude and paddled out 200 yards on the Finding Nemo.


The waves were weak, and we had to dodge frighteningly pale surf lesson customers as well as 10 year old CA transplants here on business. These factors made finding the proper spot in the lineup a bit of a challenge. We all switched off between the two boards and the additional Nemo flavored rest station. There was an old guy in the water with a vintage looking Patagonia shirt that would have been a holy grail of thrift store finds. Kelley pointed it out to me and we each daydreamed of the life the shirt had lived, the granite faces it had smashed into in Yosemite, the red dirt it had surely rubbed against in Zion. Full of bravado, Kelley complimented the guy on the shirt and anxiously awaited the story of its alluring history.


“This? Oh wow thanks. Yeah. It’s comfortable. Fits.”


And his uninspiring, dull delivery told us everything we didn’t want to hear. Kelley, polite as she is, kept the conversation going, and Patagonia man went on to talk about his daughter, our age, who has her own bikini company store at Sunset Beach. There are 27 Sunset Beaches in the world, but I assume he meant the one down the street. I think that during this shred session Patagonia Man took to Kelley as a stand-in for said Bikini Daughter, because he cheered her on with great enthusiasm as she paddled, and congratulated her on her wave rides as a father might praise a daughter for a particularly well done art project.


After apparently two hours and a few waves, we paddled in, smiles wide and skin red. The three of us then reconvened for a quick game of F The Dealer on the balcony table, starting off a weeklong trend of mid-afternoon, al fresco card games. Colton did have a request that there be stakes to the game, perhaps with the loser required to shotgun a beer. I, antagonist to shotguns, lowered the stakes to simply a shot, but Colton ended up as the losing dealer anyway. Eventually we met up with the others – others – returning from their own snorkeling pilgrimage, at the villa pool. Here we held contests of male breath holding ability, bathed in sunny raindrops, and tested the capacity of local jacuzzis. 10 seems to about be the limit.


We also seem to have a macro pool cycle developing where we split into two groups, sorted by gender, before eventually making amends and rejoining the full all-star team. Knowing the dangers of groupthink, I ran off for an early rinse, eyes drooping. Paulie greeted me while I toweled off, emerging as a fitting partner for a coffee acquisition mission. We walked into the hotel lobby like men who knew what they wanted, which of course we were.


The first little store inside the main lobby was like a surf shop crossed with a Pottery Barn, but it had a human manning its front table, so I entered. She was a girl, slouched over, reading.


“Hey [peers discerningly at nametag] Ashley, where can we get some coffee?”


And at the sound of her name she looked up from her Dickens novel to meet my eyes. She was so beautiful from the nose up that I finally forgot about those sweet potato fries.


“But I don’t really drink coffee,” she wryly replied back. With her confident intonation I could instantly tell that she would make a great mother.


“Well later we can figure out what you do drink but right now I need to go get some coffee with my buddy over there,” as I turned around, betraying the location of The Gifted One behind me.


Ashley then pointed us in the proper direction towards the lobby coffee shop, but we both knew we would see each other again.


The coffee was hot and cheap and good, and Paulie and I giggled on our short commute back to the room about the fleeting excitement of being in the presence of real beauty. We walked back into the living room where Colton and Lionel were exchanging niceties and acronyms, shooting the real estate breeze. The word “capital” was thrown around willy nilly. “Discretion” appeared as a thing to strive for. “Partner” materialized as some final level. I interjected with electricity facts about amps and volts to attempt to understand their cold, remote world.


Adonis, Kelley, and I were then called to cook and clean duty, which we fulfilled with the utmost grace. And while the kitchen during this time was a heavenly scene, the living room fell to further ruin as Betty smacked a coffee out of Lionel’s hand – apparently it’s something that they are into – sprawling its brown hues across a lightly colored rug, and seriously wrecking Lionel’s well being. He sat in a nearby chair and silently contemplated the can of whoop ass his dad was gonna lay down on him if ever laid eyes on this now besmirched rug. It took several minutes for the steam emanating from Lionel’s head to cool to room temp. I was particularly satisfied by the irony that the wood floor throughout the villa, that wood floor which this rug was ostensibly enlisted to protect, was colored a dark coffee hue.


Dinner was perhaps the greatest meal manufactured by man, ever. There were no complaints. Everyone was fulfilled, totally. We then attempted to set up some overcomplicated name game before we simplified it into a straightforward point of the fingers name game. This was a great improvement. To cap the night we ventured to the hotel bar where Lionel spoke of the unspeakable things he wanted to do to this huge walnut slab table. From different sides of the befallen and sliced tree, Mark and Adonis each protected their respective homelands in a verbal duel to the death, viking style. We were all losers in that battle.



September 6th



Adonis, Colton, Berto, and Lionel began the day with a tequila shot before sunrise (our Holy Week of drink proving to be about 72 hours worth) and then stuffed backpacks and bags full of beer, the required liquid of golfing courses. They departed, laughing and somehow eager, while Mark, Kelley, and I prepared for another round in the water.


Our earlier morning meant that we beat the midwesterners to the waves, and while Patagonia man was also apparently asleep, we had plenty of new acquaintances to make. First and most notable was Kelly Slater, only a more robust version, but essentially Kelly Slater nonetheless. He was a stout, blue eyed, middle aged man with the telltale cue ball head and a talent at paddling his shortboard so aggressively that the waves eventually gave in to submission and let him ride down them. I went back and forth deciding whether the true, slender Kelly Slater would ride a board so inappropriate at these waves. On the one hand, he would obviously have the tidal knowledge to select a more suitable tool for these mushy, flowing longboard crests. On the other hand, well…


Buff Kelly Slater didn’t surf alone, as he brought his Hawaiian wife and their daughter along with him, each of them selecting larger boards. The wife looked like she belonged and always seemed to sit at the proper place to time a breaking wave, and she rode them indeed. But her clunky popup and awkwardly wide stance deflated any sense of style. For a moment I feared that that was what we looked like when we rode waves, and for me it probably is, but then I remembered that I get to omnisciently observe Kelley riding waves as well, and she showcases a bit better style and grace than this Hawaiian – so I could exhale.


But then my breath was again taken as I found love once more in the Goddess of the Sea, a new woman skirting through the water with her completely-average-in-all-ways boyfriend in tow. Her olive skin was tanned, brown hair turning blonde from vitamin D treatments. Blue eyed. In short, an athlete. She had this very magical way of paddling into a ripple, maybe a wayward boat wake, on her majestic longboard, and then somewhere along the way she stopped paddling entirely and this gentle undulation turned into an actually breaking wave, allowing us to watch the Goddess slide up and down her board as she rode far away from us. It was like she had a remote control and, when she wished, could turn the wave on, waiting long enough so that none of us appraised the ripple as anything worth snaking. And here now, Kelley and I shared our own bout of giggling excitement in the presence of beauty.


Inspired by this display, and with my torso throbbing red, Mark and I left the hotel to set out on some errands. He was searching for a third surfboard to rent to supplement our collection of two, while I badly needed a rashguard.


After Google Maps sent us on a wild goose chase to some back alley board dealer, and after we struggled to make an about-face on the North Shore’s largely choiceless two lane road, we found productivity. We knew that there was a board rental truck parked next to the food trucks at Shark’s Cove, and nearby Foodland’s tourism market was likely to provide me with the dorkiest rashguard money could buy. And I needed to get poke anyway.


The errands could not have gone better for me. Foodland sold me a bright blue jersey that screamed “ALOHA Hawaii” in bold print. At the register, the extensively tattooed cashier asked me if I had a phone number in the system and when I denied the allegation, she whispered that I should just tell her any phone number. And this was the first time on the trip that I fully realized that perhaps every woman on the North Shore was deeply in love with me.


I egged her on by whispering back (310) eight six seven five three oh nineeeeee in a poppy cadence, and while she didn’t get my joke, she did respond “Oh wow, that one’s actually in the system.” Which, it always is.


Mark had worse luck with the romancing cashier, and when she pulled the same game with him I was not only disappointed that she could move on so quickly, but also entertained at how uncomfortable it made Mark.


“Just tell me any phone number.”

“My number’s not in the system.”

“Come on baby, just tell me any number.”

“...”

“Just any phone number.”

“Please. Stop.”


And she stopped. Luckily, that wasn’t the worst communicative experience Mark would ever have at Shark’s Cove.


Rashguard in hand, we scooted over to the rental place, and laid down some cold hard cash for an 8ft imitation of a seafoam green board I’ve had for years. Some trigonometry was required to figure out a way of fitting this thing in a Corolla that seemed a lot less Super right now. With the passenger seat decapitated and reclined, two of the rear seats bowing towards the engine, and Mark sitting stuffed behind me, we drove back towards Turtle Bay as a family.


As the day progressed, new chefs assumed culinary duties, building burgers that were entirely acceptable. After they had finished cleaning, we set out into the forest for a night walk. Lionel was leading the way, always a dangerous proposition, and after losing a Rainbow to a thigh deep swamp field and having to pole vault a friendly neighbor’s fence, I led a violent revolt and split our group in two. Colton, Gwendolyn, Betty, and I retreated across the beaches to the lights of the hotel, while the rest of the group ventured deeper into the thickets, placing blind confidence in Lionel’s knowledge of these foreign lands.


We eventually landed back at the hotel bar and, seated around a fire pit, I noticed the distinctive way that Colton tells stories. He tells them with a real familiarness – like he has told the stories many times before, but for these specific examples that I’ve heard I don’t think that repetition is actually the case. The tales seem to resonate in him with vivid detail, which he relays. He’s a circuitous yet entertaining storyteller.


And it turns out that our two groups of night travelers had actually been three, as Adonis eventually showed up to our fire ring flushed in ecstasy, alone. Panting to regain his breath and composure, he regaled us with a striking account of how he lost the rest of the group in a particularly thick patch of whistling trees, and only by mounting a New Zealander’s welcoming steed was he rescued from the darkness of night.


With all three groups together again and huddled around the coffee stain, we shared slurry details of our individual experiences. The other group spoke of the infinite stars and wonderful shores that their Lionel-led expedition ended up at. I, looking down at my widowed sandal, hoped it had been worth the cost.



September 7th



While a bunch of team members went shark diving, Mark, Colton, and I resumed our typical morning ritual. This session had long flat spells punctuated by three of the biggest waves I had seen this week, which still weren’t big at all, but that’s good for surfers like us. Colton and I successfully harnessed one of these bigger examples, formation flying on maybe the slowest wave ever ridden. As the wave lost energy, we veered closer together, and by the end of its life we both reached out and remained suspended for a moment as a nautical rendition of The Creation of Adam, fingers ever so close to touching. If we had actually succeeded in becoming siamese surfers, who knows what would have happened.


But the lively set was ephemeral, and the next half hour amounted to us sitting out on flat waters, taking in the view, which was fine. But it also led to a defeating paddle-in-of-shame for the full 200 yards.


After the sharks were thoroughly dived, the entire group ventured out to Waimea together to swim and snorkel and soak up the sun. I had noticed this already in and around the pools earlier, but at Waimea I took full note of the romancing qualities of bodies of water – how being buoyed by them always led to even the most stoic of couples reverting to sweet childish tendencies and prodding each other. Water, the universal solvent, dissolver of inhibition.


On the dry part of Waimea’s shoreline there is a large rock built for jumping, which we took part in. The water below is so clear that it looks like it’s about three feet deep, but apparently it’s much deeper than that. Whenever I jump off moderately high things, I have a very odd sentiment immediately after my feet leave the safe perches. It’s not regret or really even fear, but more a realization that this vertical journey is going to take a really long time, longer than I anticipated when I signed up for it.


The Hawaiian climate has a tanning schedule built right into it, so when one’s body has started sweating uncontrollably it’s easy to recognize this as a sign to flip over. And then after the next perspiration interval has elapsed, one goes for a dip to reset the clocks. While I was nearing the end of a session of subjecting my frontside to a downpour of ultraviolets, one of the especially loud military helicopters with rotors over both the nose and tail cried out in the distance, and Lionel queried me on what those ones are called.


And while the whole helicopter thing is still a bit of black magic to me, I did know that they are Chinooks, and that in a pinch, their best pilots can use the twin rotors to do some sweet “wheelies.” This Chinook didn’t really perform any fun tricks, but it did swing by often, lest we feel alone.


Sufficiently sunned, we left to get poke again, and Berto followed it up with a desert of mango shave ice that tasted unbelievably lovely. We then repeated our villa pool ritual, only this time we met the world’s youngest mom of three. Betty asked her if she was the kids’ sister, but she laughed and shook her head in negation, explaining that there’s not that much to do in Idaho, so from a young age they pretty much just, you know –


Kelley asked to surf one more time as the sky started losing its daytime blue, and I couldn’t say no, so in full rashguard and sun hat we returned to the lineup. It was flat, and there were a bunch of skinny surfer blondie guys jumping in to join us in our waiting game. No waves were had, and we took that as a sign that the surfing was probably finished for the trip.



September 8th



Really lazy morning, lounging around. At 9:30 we departed for a waterfall hike while Mark stayed behind to get hired and then fired from different organizations. We drove about half an hour east along a roadway that skirted barely above sea level and shoreline, passing a high school, a grungy looking hospital, some houses on stilts, and hurricane-harnessing wind turbines. A picturesque hobo park marked our final destination, across from a 7-11 and a well equipped fire station. On foot, we walked by some grounded boats on the way to the trailhead that struck Lionel, Adonis, and Colton as familiar. One of them was of the Catalina genus, apparently.


The hike was mainly a dried up creek bed, but there were some moist, slippery sections. Colton mentioned that he only ever sees his feet on hikes. Most everyone agreed, but I can actually see my feet no matter where I am, so long as I look down far enough. And just in that moment, Kelley responded with a defiant “what?” like she didn’t totally agree with something, and then she walked straight on into a maleficent tree limb, and then she subsequently fell down a tractionless hill, and we all thought that she might be gone forever.


Some of the slippery rock ascents included ropes! Which were sketchy. I trusted them wholly, my only strategy to counterbalance my moderate dred of heights, my eternal desire for vertical control. We eventually reached the dried out waterfall, and it was tall, impressive, and as green as the rest of the archipelago. It kind of smelled like soy. We posed for a picture amid a climbable section of the embankment, and Berto’s shutter burned us into the immortal.


Post hike, with the group’s safety secured, we reconvened at a shrimp swap meet. Lionel had been craving Giovanni’s Shrimp truck ever since he met Betty there 10 years ago, and he repaid his debts to the caterer by purchasing his 30 finest shrimp. Lionel got everyone else to participate in the racket as well, and soon enough each member of our team was knuckle deep in tiny shellfish, except for Betty. In a move that no doubt carried a lifetime of symbolism, she slipped off from the group to contribute to Allesandro’s Teriyaki Chicken truck before rejoining our table and showing off her lunchtime political statement. And actually before anyone could contribute to anything, the whole group except me and Berto had to run off in search of an ATM. Hobbyist travelers.


Back at the villa, Mark told us of his career carousel before we engaged in some ultimate frisbee domination. Berto, Lionel, and I destroyed Colton, Mark, and Paulie. We then retired to the villa pool where we found a very muscular, studly hockey player looking guy messing about with three kids and also that 25 year old mom. With this discovery we all then understood why the young Idahoan spends most of her free time in a gestation period.


We tried to get some coffee from anyone with a machine, but our usual spot informed us that we had slept in too long and that they were closed. We then paraded around on a new espresso mission before we returned to the hotel bar and again experienced awe at the beauty of Lionel’s fantasy table. The bartender finally did oblige us and made a fair share of tips after he shook up four espresso martinis. They were quite fantastic aside from the triple coffee bean floaters he adorned each drink with. We had our final formal dining experience together this evening, trading like $70 each for a black cod plate that dreams were made of. It didn’t even taste like food, in a good way.



September 9th



I was awakened at who knows what hour by some serious snoring in room 5. Some abominable snowman level stuff. I egressed and tried to fall asleep on the sleeper sofa (in sofa configuration) but that didn’t really work either. I eventually returned to bed as the snores subsided. I got breakfast with the Stumphouse gang + Colton, Lionel, and Paulie. It took forever for the hostess to show up and seat us, and when we were finally offered the seven seated table I had the good fortune of parking directly below a dripping AC vent. I was unphased.


A serious discussion ensued on whether the coffee had blueberry hues or not. A few days earlier we had breakfast at this same place and Berto and Kelley swore that the middle batch of coffee they were offered had a distinct if subtle tone of magnificent blueberry. Today, the rest of the group was more skeptical. Lionel can’t smell anything, but he said he didn’t taste any fruitiness either. All coffee tastes the same to me, so I wasn’t much help. The rest of the jury couldn’t find much evidence either. I suppose it’s left as another unsolved mystery.


It was around this time that the trip’s inertia had kind of died down. It just felt like we had done most of what there was to do, and a malaise was starting to creep into the collective consciousness. I am always an advocate for shorter trips.


Mark is too, probably, as he was heading home today to deal with some legal business tomorrow. I agreed to drive him to the airport in exchange for a competitive sale price on his finest surfing board. But also on the board front was that seafoam green guy Mark had rented and needed to return while we were on our way to the airport, so it was back to Shark’s Cove.


We tetris-ed the board out of the car and walked it over to the return truck, but the rental guy there decided that he wasn’t going to make things easy on Marky. Mark had rented the board for 72 hours, and we were rightfully returning it on the third day.


“What’s the date today?” Rental guy asked with some really serious looking paperwork in front of him. He was visibly missing several teeth, with a battered trucker hat pulled down over his forehead that just barely grazed the tops of his gas station shades.


Mark didn’t know the date so he asked me, and I also didn’t really know, so I looked sideways at Mark and hesitatingly said “the 10th?”


And Mark relayed “the 10th.”


“Oh it’s the 10th? Well that’s a problem.” Rental guy ominously warned, spiraling into a conversation that would prove very frustrating for Mark.


Mark: “What’s the problem?”

Rental Guy: “Well, did you get a 72 hour rental?”

Mark: “Yeah”

RG: “Yeah, that’s exactly what it says here, 72 hour rental.” And RG pointed to some region on the form in front of him without actually showing the form to Mark. RG seemed to not recognize that these shielded power points weren’t helpful.

M: “And I’m returning the board on the third day.”

RG: “See but it’s actually the fourth day because [points some more] you rented the board on the 6th, and [starts counting on fingers] 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th that’s four days. So that would actually be one day longer than three days.”


Mark checked his phone.


M: “Oh yeah man, I see, I guess we just got today’s date wrong. Today is actually the 9th.”

RG: “So if you have the board for four days, you’re gonna have to pay for the extra day.”


M looks blankly at RG, confused by what he doesn’t understand.


M: “But it’s a three day rental.”

RG: “And you have paid for the three days. But 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, that’s four [holds up 4 fingers as proof].”


Mark is now aghast at the vast disappointment that is humankind.


M: “Today is the 9th. It’s been three days.”

RG: “And you paid for three days. But the 10th would be four days.”


And just as Mark was about to explode with a final retort that would have been biblical, RG relented.


RG: “So that’s where the confusion was. If it was the 10th then you would have owed an extra day. But it’s the 9th. So it looks like you are good to go.”


And he released us from Shark’s Cove.


The rest of the drive to the airport was pretty easy. There were plenty of appealing bridges and hillsides to stare at on the sides of the bumpy road. As we started catching sight of the water past Pearl Harbor, I looked up from the road and spotted two fighter jets playing ring around the rosie under fluffy clouds. I’m usually a good driver, but most of my near misses are caused by staring at airplanes.


Mark left, and I rewound the commute in the opposite direction, eventually ending up at a gas station a few miles outside of Turtle Bay. Just as I hopped out of the car, a scantily clad, almost good-looking wahine boxed me in while I filled up the Super Corolla. She ran into the mini mart in a hurry, and a bikini, and nothing else. Luckily, the old man in front of me eventually finished topping off his wiper fluid and I was free to leave, avoiding any confrontations with this girl whom statistically I would have probably fallen in love with. I fall in love almost every day.


Back at the hotel we decided to test out the adult pool, officially labeled the Divorcee Pool, which we had yet to faithfully commit to. We had been missing out. On its shores was a big wedding party featuring a Djokovic imposter and apparently one of Kelley’s work friends, as well as a bachelorette party with several motivated wives away from their worse halves. Paulie was ready to capitalize on it all. The Divorcee Jacuzzi was also gigantic. It could have easily fit 30 people.



September 10th



Drove to the airport one final time to deposit the rental car and Kelley and Berto and myself. They were going back to the mainland while I was meeting my mom in Maui. The rest of the all-star team was staying at Turtle Bay for a couple more days.


At the rental car drop off I was speaking with Kelley when I heard the diabolically powerful boom bang scream of a very speedy airplane so I turned around, but I couldn’t spot it between the patchy clouds covering the sky. So I turned back around to let Kelley finish her story as the jet sounds continued in some invisible background. After about 5 seconds Kelley screamed out “WHOA!” and pointed behind me, and together we then saw a low fighter jet, maybe 300 feet above sea level, accelerating vertically like a spaceship into the towering white clouds. And for a moment my faith in humanity, previously shaken at Shark’s Cove, was reborn.


On my own much less aerobatic flight between the islands, we were barely in the air for three full songs.



Maui



I was in Maui for a few days but they all blended together. I witnessed a disconcerting number of obese women with skinny men. In fact I’d say the overwhelming majority of people at this hotel were raised on good milk and far too concerned with football scores. The amount of fantasy football talk around the pool was nauseating. I saw a lot more hydraulic PDA, as well as several backflips off of Maui’s rendition of Waimea Rock.


Actually the number one thing I noticed during my time in Maui was how much couples strategize. They constantly ask each other tactical questions concerning the order in which to do things, whether that be when to put one’s name in at a restaurant or when to wear their nicest romper or when to swim and also all the necessary things to do before these other things. I mean I guess I strategize about a lot of these ideas as well, but I must just keep the thoughts in my head.


On one instance this couple next to me were served the wrong drink and when their waitress came back to right the wrong she didn’t allow them to keep both drinks, which, admittedly I did think was odd. But she swapped in the correct drink nonetheless. For the ensuing half hour this couple continued to discuss whether they implemented the correct strategy in this battle, whether they should have fought to keep both drinks, or whether they should have actually kept the original delivery because it did taste pretty good. Now this was a particularly pretentious and annoying couple, obviously, but it just overall struck me that couples seem to really think out loud a lot.


On the plane ride back to Los Angeles I knew we would be crossing through sunset at some point, so with my window seat armed and ready I checked on the horizon at regular intervals to make sure that I caught a glimpse. And at show time, with the disco lit sun making her final descent into the sea, I raised my window shade to alert my neighbors of what was going on. Many followed.


Nearing the end of the show, with the horizon now the striking purple-orange color of welded titanium, the obese man in front of me opened his window to get a peak and was fortunate to see the full extent of what window seats have to offer. And after two moments he then proceeded to swiftly slam his viewfinder back shut, and I don’t know if I have ever felt more disdain for a person.


But I probably have.