big island vacation
Who among us has not wanted to create a suspension in time, to freeze the forward movement that marches on whether we like it? I am sharing the photo above with you because it illustrates such a moment, captures motion and stops it from moving, just for one second. You can see the Hawaiian musician over at the left staring at my lens, maybe wondering why this California tourist was snapping photos at random at the Marriott Resort Waikoloa in Big Island with her iPad, although perhaps he watched me do a video of his acoustic introduction to Hotel California, or maybe my hair was on fire? The guys at the bar, bonding, perhaps plotting an evening, seemingly too innocent to drink beer; was I ever that young? If I were an artist I would paint this photograph and sell it to a museum.
This suspension in time could be anywhere in the world, but it happened to be at my hotel just before I left Big Island. It looks like the couple over on the right at the back of the bar are shooting a selfie. What did we do before we could point cameras at ourselves to capture our own moments in time, to create our personal suspension in time, as lopsided and goofy as they may appear, and then feel obligated to stop all social activity to upload and share with the world on Instagram or Facebook? Nothing any of us do is all that important unless we’re saving world hunger or finding a cure for cancer.
In case you’re wondering what all of this is about, yes, this Sacramento Realtor is back home in Sacramento. Back home where there is no suspension of time because it moved on while I was away. The trees are bare and leafless now. Why don’t my Land Park neighbors put their piles of leaves in the can like we do, as there are piles of leaves neatly stacked in front of most houses on my street. How trusting we are they won’t blow away. The grounds are damp, sky gray, wind calm. I spot a summons for Sacramento jury duty on the dining room table; the Court will probably throw me in jail for defiance because no matter what they say I think the defendant always looks guilty; it’s almost impossible for me to presume innocence. I’m honest to a fault almost.
Our cats were lined up at the door last night when I arrived home with my husband. Sticking their noses through the open screen door. I thought maybe they were excited to see me after 3 weeks away, but instead they were wondering where my husband had gone at this late hour of the night and who was that woman with all the scary luggage? Cats detach so quickly. I don’t know if they want to punish you for going away or if they truly have moved on without you and it takes a while to forgive you for that abandonment, to feel comfortable again allowing you into their space, because don’t think for one solid moment that you are the queen of your own castle because you are not. It’s the cats, and it’s always been the cats. Nobody ever told them they could be living the life of the cats at Waikoloa Canoe Club.
While on the plane hurtling 35,000 miles above earth, inhaling a slight scent of jet fuel (I love the smell of jet fuel, if they bottled it as perfume I would wear it), I began to read Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please. An interesting chapter, one page actually, is titled Reasons We Cry in an Airplane. Reason #6: We feel like time is suspended and therefore we can feel real emotion without consequence. A suspension in time.
OK, technically, when you get right down to it, James Arness was not actually on the boat in person where I went snorkeling in Honokahau Bay, but the 60-foot catamaran I was on, Sea Smoke, was custom built for James Arness, and his spirit was there, which means I went to Honokohau Bay with James Arness. I had a huge crush on Matt Dillon as a kid, and I always wished he would just marry Miss Kitty and get it over with, but that was never gonna happen, according to my mom. She claimed Miss Kitty ran a whorehouse, and I could have slapped for saying that.
As I sat at the front, just behind the window, probably blocking everybody’s view, I tried to imagine where James Arness would have sex on this catamaran. There wasn’t really any good spots. The floor was too hard, the seats were not padded, and what’s the point of having a boat like this as a celebrity if there is no place for extracurricular activity?
James Arness, as my mother would have told you, was born in 1923 in Minneapolis, the sister city to my birthplace. He began his broadcasting career at a radio station in Minneapolis in 1945. But his big break came from his starring role in 1951 in The Thing From Another World, an iconic science fiction movie that became one of my favorite movies as a kid. I felt a strong connection to James Arness, but I just could not picture him on this boat. Probably because there was no place to have sex.
The guys from Ocean Sports gave us a quick presentation, complete with color photographs of fish and background stories. I found that very helpful when I slid down the stairs in my fins to snorkel. It’s nice to be able to identify fish. I spotted the red coral that Hawaiians used to use a few generations back as lipstick. The black spiny thing that sticks into your skin with backward arrows that you can’t get out unless you urinate on that spot. Or use white vinegar. We had no vinegar on the boat.
Of particular interest to me was a parrotfish I first saw a few years back in Rangiroa. I had forgotten the story until reminded. Parrotfish are mostly female, very few males are born, and the ones that are born male are sterile. They reproduce because a female will turn into a male and then fertilize a bunch of the other females. She changes through a series of colors (polychromatism) to become a male, as they are brightly colored, almost like a rainbow, with strong hues of aqua.
It makes you wonder what the world would be like if women could have babies without men. Would we see world peace? Would hunger cease? Would Donald Trump be forced to work in the mail room?
While I did not go on a hunt to find Nemo like in Vanuatu, I did spot a juvenile version of the yellowtail coris, a very small orange fish with white stripes. Another highlight was the Hawaiian fish with the longest name, and it’s NOT the humuhumunukunukuapuaa , it is instead the Lauwiliwilinukunuku’oi’oi. This fish is mostly yellow, sort of boxy shaped, with a long snout, a masked face and white stripes.
I am heading home today, after 3 weeks on Big Island, back to rainy Sacramento. Now I find I will have to buy the autobiography of James Arness in hard copy, which is not in iBooks, and probably a chart of Hawaiian fish so I can begin a book to document all the fish. This is what snorkeling does to you in Honokokau Bay with James Arness.
Our home inspection at the Hawaii house went fairly well. There wasn’t much the inspector found, just a bunch of minor things, and I am not the kind of Hawaii home buyer to ask the seller to fix them all because that’s just plain idiotic. Every home has defects. Asking for home inspection repairs that are puny makes people irritated. Besides, it is far wiser to maintain good relations with these guys for reasons I won’t go into but suffice to say buyers who nitpick tend to lose sight of the big picture and can end up with no home at all.
I have my own way of doing things. As Hella Rothwell and I were driving to Ali’i Drive to do lunch at the original Don the Beachcomber at the Royal Kona Resort, I noticed a credit union along the way and asked Hella to stop. It makes sense to have a bank account in Hawaii, for many reasons. The problem was I had not planned on opening a new account so I did not have anything more than about fifty bucks on me.
Eureka! Guess what? It costs $50 to open a savings account at Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union. It can’t be done over the phone or online, either. Then I ordered checks and the bank clerk said I could not start the numbering at the four digit I asked for. Sure you can, I suggested. She checked with her boss, and yes, I was right. Then I asked for the checks to have one address and to be mailed to another. Can’t do it, she said. Sure you can. She checked with her boss, and yes, I was right.
Some people always take others at face value but this is the wisdom of aging and experience speaking.
The server at the Royal Kona Resort said she could not get my iPad to take a good photo of us because the background was too light. Sure you can. Just tap our faces. BTW, did you know Don the Beachcomber of Royal Kona Resort fame is credited with creating the pupu platter? The view on the coast is incredible, and the food was excellent, too. My husband I will be able to walk to this Kona Royal Resort from our new home but there is also free validated parking.
After lunch, I decided to schedule a snorkeling adventure through my hotel, so I stopped at the Expedia Travel Desk, which seems to be ubiquitous. The clerk was a bit uppity with me. She suggested a tour that included whale watching. Hey, I’ve gone on whale watching tours from Hawaii that produced zero whales. Also, as I pointed out to her, I’ve had my fill of whale watching in Alaska; we had hundreds of whales following our catamaran, breeching, splashing, enough to last me a lifetime.
Well, that’s a pity, snotty clerk replied.
They love me here. Then she suggested a night snorkeling trip. This is where all the snorkelers get into the cold water, form a circle, hold hands and then shine light into the water to attract fish and manta rays. That did not hold a lot of appeal as I have seen many rays in the Tuamotos. I could see I was not endearing myself to the clerk but she did manage to make me a reservation to go snorkeling at the Honokohau Harbor for today.
Prior to dinner at Brown’s Beach House last night, Hawaii Broker Hella Rothwell had to postpone her departure from Big Island and extend her travel plans so she could stay a few more days to see me through the inspections for our new home in Hawaii. On our way back from Old Republic Title, we stopped at Hertz near the airport to revise her car rental and that seemed like a good time to check in with my husband. I haven’t had much time to talk with him in person, and when I pointed out that obstacle, his remark was, “Well, whose fault is THAT?”
He’s right, of course. Nobody told me to buy a home in Hawaii, and that’s eaten up a lot of time, negotiating interest rates, fixing small but important errors (did you know one must disclose in Hawaii the status of being a Sacramento Realtor?), locating a property manager for an “on island” agent, among other things, and let’s not forget scheduling a manicure, of high importance. We drove into Kailua Kona to meet with the escrow officer and deliver a deposit check. Escrow is officially opened, and that meant it was time to make dinner reservations at Brown’s Beach House to celebrate.
I had considered the Four Seasons at Hualalai, as I have stayed at many hotels in Big Island and dined at many fine restaurants. That seemed a bit too far to drive from Waikoloa, and the Four Seasons Ocean Grill is above the water; whereas Brown’s Beach House is closer to my hotel, and it offers outdoor dining on the beach. Walking into the Fairmont Orchid reminded me of how it goes to great lengths to create a fantasy vacation at the hotel as compared to the relative straight-forwardness of the Marriott Resort at Waikoloa.
However, I have to point out that the Gold Floor rooms at the Fairmont are too far from the water. Even an ocean view room with a side view is about $1,000 a night, and I did not feel like we received value for that kind of money. There is a special building of cabanas at the Marriott Resort that is located on the fish pond with the sand bar and ocean right in front of you for about one-third that cost. Although the restaurant at the Marriott is not particularly impressive, there are other fine dining options nearby, including King’s Shops.
Brown’s Beach House is just up the road. It offers that farm-to-fork dining. We started our experience by toasting with classic margaritas, which probably should have been served in tropical crystal and not in the same glass one would pour a single malt scotch, but that’s just my attention-to-detail speaking. The twin grilled lobster tails special was disappointing. It’s not only that it was undercooked, which was part of the problem, but it tasted very fishy and somewhat spoiled.
Our server wasn’t to blame, though; he promptly whisked away the offending dishes and replaced the lobsters. Regardless, we didn’t let that little snafu ruin our enjoyable evening. Before we knew it, three hours had passed. Hella is a helluva-lot of fun. Not to mention, she worked her butt off yesterday to take care of our escrow, AND introduced me to a delightful property manager, Andrea, who has worked on Big Island for 26 years. Andrea offered to invite my husband and me to island parties next year and introduce us around.
I did not start out yesterday intending to end up at the Kings Shops in Waikoloa. The day began as an adventure, in a totally different direction. There is nothing like a good adventure, exploring new space systems. In fact, one of the reasons that selling real estate has held its appeal with me over the past 40-some years is because I love adventure, and no two days are ever alike in the real estate business.
For lack of anything else to do, I turned on my Ingress program on my iPad and noted, whoa, there were a bunch of uncaptured portals all clustered together around the back side of the resort. To reach the 12th Level in Ingress, I need one more gold medal, which could be achieved if I capture another 80 or so portals, bringing my total to 1,000 captured portals. What the hey! I followed the shortest path to the portals and found myself navigating the employee entrance.
The mountain side was bathed in clouds, fading off in the distance, like it was another country, looming above miles of turned over lava chunks. Mongooses scooted. Silence. No cars, no people, just fields of lava. Dried weeds. Hot sun. A good place to bury a body. Then suddenly, I was back in civilization, paved parking lot, lots of vehicles and up the hill barriers of vegetation. I found an opening through the flowers and emerged on a public street, right there at the Kings Shops in Waikoloa.
Be still my heart. Coach. Tiffany. Na Hoku, Michael Kors, Maui Divers and more. Shop after shop. My holiday shopping was not yet completed, not to mention I had not bought myself any present this year for Christmas, unless you count my 3 week wor-cation on Big Island. I love buying gifts for people, especially for my team and transaction coordinator, who are like precious gifts from heaven to me. They make it possible for me to get away and take trips. I rarely go shopping in Sacramento, so I don’t spend much.
Hello, Kohala Coast Fine Art. After much discussion with the clerk, selected a handful of beautiful items as gifts and threw in a couple of pieces of jewelry for myself. This is when I discovered that I did not bring much cash nor a credit card because I had not planned on shopping. A lonely $20 bill in my wristlet and no identification. I continued chatting like nothing was unusual, and the clerk rang up the total. When she asked for my VISA, I had to come clean that I did not have a credit card with me. However, I do know the number, the expiration date and the secret code because, like I mentioned earlier, I live in Sacramento. My stores are primarily online.
Blown away — she rang up my purchases and handed over the bag. This is when I couldn’t help my astonishment and questioned her: hey, I don’t want to call undue attention to this, but I don’t have any identification. I don’t have a credit card. Why are you trusting me to walk out with all of this merchandise when I could be a con artist, a professional thief? She said I don’t look like a thief. Hey, I’m exactly what a thief would look like, somebody you don’t expect to be a thief!
By now it was lunch time. There were more stores at Kings Shops in Waikoloa to visit, but my stomach was growling. I did not have enough cash for lunch. I also did not want to walk back to the hotel. Instead, I entered Three Fat Pigs. Spied a BLT on sourdough for $14. Lots of house sparrows pecked about on the ground as the waiter seated me outside. A beautiful yellow bird landed in the tree and eyed me suspiciously. This is a restaurant on a private lake, with multi-million homes across the water and a rolling golf course.
“How much is a diet Coke?” I asked. The answer: $4.00. Oh! My eyes glanced down at the menu and then back up at the server. “I only asked because all I have is $20 and I want to make sure I have enough to leave a good tip,” I said. I did not think they would take a credit card charge from me without my credit card.
The server said he would not charge me for a diet Coke, and brought me a tall glass of coke with a maraschino cherry! How lucky is that! I mean, what were the odds? The server took pity on me. This made my day. I was so excited that after lunch I went to Coach and blew a wad on more gifts. I even bought my husband a Hanukkah present, which had to be ordered and when it arrives, the sales clerk will bring it to my hotel room.
All in all, I bought merchandise at four stores at Kings Shops in Waikoloa, spent thousands and nobody asked for identification nor required my credit card. Isn’t that incredible in this day and age?
I think my sister Margie is right. I do have a guardian angel who follows me around and takes care of me. People do want to do nice things for me without much effort on my part. I’m just really lucky, I guess, and very fortunate. Or, at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.