Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hawaii: Go West (Not So) Young Man

Even though I plan to blog about my Hawaiian adventure this week, the first entry will be devoted to just the trip there. After all, with our three hour layover in Denver, it was fourteen hours of the first day of my vacation. Factor in travel time to and from the airport and of course a full night of sleep and the next thing you know, it is the entire day.

For this trip, I cashed in 150,000 miles on United so Mike and I could fly First Class. I had been saving my miles for a return to Japan or perhaps even a trip to Australia. But the realities of hosting a radio show made me realize that I won't be taking any long trips half way around the world anytime soon. We could have gone to Europe, which I really wanted to do, but with the exchange rate such as it is, we could get there but then we would be homeless and begging in the streets. True, my years in Manhattan observing any number of panhandlers at close range, has given me some solid strategies for raising money, but this really isn't how I want to spend a vacation.

My Dad rented a condo for two months in Kona and said it would be empty, so it was decided that we would go to Hawaii. Mike was stationed here when he was in the army, and by the end of his tour was pretty sick of it. But that was seven years ago. Plenty of time for the old animosities to fade away and only happy memories bubble to the surface. And after six grueling months of winter, we both thought a few days in tropical splendor would be just the thing.

Kona is less-densely packed and cosmopolitan than Honolulu so we knew going in that our contact with the gay community would be at a minimum. So we planned to fly in and out of Honolulu and spend Saturday night there on our way in and Friday night there on our way out. That way, we could get a couple of nights in at the gay bars and perhaps run into some actual gay people. Then, in between, we could relax by the pool, take in the sights, and hope for at least some nice reasonably naked surfer eye candy.

The night before our 6am flight, we decided to just stay in the city all evening and sleep somewhat on the plane. We went to dinner at Arriba, Arriba first, which was a great way to start things off. Our server was the same server we have seen there for seven years and Mike observed that it might be time for him to change his status from Aspiring Actor to Career Waiter. Though his acting skills have come in handy since he still manages to be friendly and solicitous without actually flirting. Be that as it may, the food and accompanying margarita were delicious.

Unfortunately, a heavy meal of Mexican food and tequila might not have been the best plan for two people who wanted to stay awake after a long work week. We headed to Therapy where the already thin crowd headed for the doors as soon as we walked in. "What is it about us that always clears a bar?" Mike wondered. Our energy was flagging. We walked down to The Ritz, where there was a massive line (aka everyone who had escaped Therapy), and immediately turned tail and headed to Vlada. Vlada had some kind of a crowd, but the enchiladas suizas and the late hour were weighing heavily on me. We went back to our respective offices to pick up our bags and head to the airport. So far our exciting adventure was off to a sleepy and dull start.

We met up outside Mike's office and hopped in a cab to La Guardia. At 4am on a Saturday, the trip took maybe ten minutes. I think we stopped for one red light. At the airport, we got our tickets and then headed for airport security, which wasn't even open yet. We were woefully early. I went to the bathroom and there was a toilet malfunctioning, gushing torrents of water. Being so close to Earth Day, I went to the man slowly dusting the elevator door outside the bathroom and told him. He informed me I had to tell the guy who cleans the bathroom. "I just need a maintenance person to come." He shook his head. "I don't work in the bathroom." There was a helpful hotline number on the bathroom to call if there are problems. So I went to the pay phone and dialed *37 and got a recording that someone would be in the office to help at 7am on Monday. By then, a lake could be drained with the water flushing away, but I gave up caring. I did what I could and all I got in the end was a need to wash my hands a second time after touching that pay phone. No good deed goes unpunished.

On the plane, we settled into our First Class seats and I have to say, though not in a Naomi Campbell cell phone/spitting rage sort of way, that I was disappointed. Air travel has fallen into such disrepair that now First or Business is just passable travel accommodation. It is a reasonably roomy seat with some leg room and a decent recline, plus a meal and a strong chance (not a guarantee) for a pillow and blanket. And that is it. Frankly, this is what air travel should already be. That shouldn't be the definition of luxury. Luxury is a sleeping compartment, manicures, gourmet meals, an in-flight entertainment system with movies and music on demand. In irritation and sheer exhaustion, I just went to sleep.

The second leg from Denver to Honolulu was an improvement in service (tons of food and attentive care by the middle aged straight male cabin crew) and there were even power outlets at the seats for our laptops. But still, First wasn't what I remembered it to be. And it just served to remind me of how miserable air travel is today. I wonder if another industry went so far out of its way to make its customers this unhappy if they would be able to stay in business too. For me it is like your own tree house being taken over by the school bully. Where are we supposed to go now?

Finally, we landed in Honolulu. We grabbed our bags, dashed onto the shuttle and away we went to our hotel in Waikiki. The hotel was a typical tourist mill, but my room was on the ocean edge and had the best view of the ocean available. But in the end, it didn't matter. What was important was that we were in Hawaii. And the great thing about Hawaii is that it looks just like Hawaii here! After months of never really feeling warm, it was just great to feel the sun on my skin and even at night, not notice a chill in the air. Maybe this vacation thing won't be so bad after all.

1 comment:

Kelly Synthmob said...

Thanks for thinking of us especially when your mind should be on some quality R&R. We won't mind if it's next week until the next post. We'll be here waiting nonetheless. The beat goes on...

Kelly in GA