Published: June 14th 2007June 14th 2007
Check out dem wheels!
Now that the conference was to all intents and purposes done, I was free to enjoy the rest of the trip… or so I thought.
The next morning I got a call from Lee and John. Unlike me, they hadn’t seen the rest of the island yet so we headed over to Enterprise and hired a car for a day. Being the tight wads that we are, we were just going to settle for a tiny little compact but for just $5 more we could get a convertible. The choice seemed clear. So off we rolled in our swanky convertible with the hood down, with me in the back so I got blasted by the wind - nice. We drove anticlockwise around the island, driving up the windward (East) coast. We passed a sea life park where you could “kiss a walrus” (why?) but didn’t go in cause it seemed to expensive (I told you we were tight). We then came across the valley of temples but chose to give that one a miss as well because it looked crap. So far our trip was a roaring success. We then reached a point along the coast where you could
On The Road Again
Driving on the right is just weird!
see Mokoli’i Island, commonly known as the Chinaman’s Hat because it looks a bit like one (oooh racist). We had a little wander around and John managed to get splashed when we were playing a game I invented called “get the stick before the waves splash you”. Back at the car, John got a towel out off the boot to dry himself and we were about to leave when John realised to his horror that he’d locked the keys in the boot! Well at first it was hilarious. The boot release button wouldn’t work unless the keys were in the ignition. The three of us being Electronic Engineers (two with doctorates) were unphased by this. All that was required was some simple “rewiring” to supply the boot release with enough juice to pop the boot. However, it soon became apparent that, without any tools or spare bits of wire this wasn’t going to work and our masterful scheme soon turned into a desperate effort that involved me trying to fashion a screwdriver by scraping a penny against a stone and John walking along the side of the road looking for rusty lengths of wire. We eventually came to realise that
Hair By Crazy Meg
John and Me looking a little wind swept.
we weren’t going to get out of this alone and we called a locksmith. Unfortunately, the island of Hawaii only seems to have the one locksmith and he was on the other side of the island so we were told to expect a 3 hour wait! The time was 3.15pm. So we sat and waited. Really the only thing that kept a smile on my face was Lee’s garbled threats about the different ways he would torture and kill John. The sun began to go down and we could hear the sounds of gunfire out in the wilderness that seemed to be getting closer. Help eventually came at 5.30pm but that was one of the longest two and a quarter hours of my life. Back on the road, we continued north and I was able to see sunset at sunset beach once again. We had dinner at Hale’iwa Joes which Lonely Planet raved about. It thoroughly recommended something called Emma’s Poke so (mainly because it had a funny name) I had that. Little did I know it was a pile of raw fish and raw onions. I’m not squeamish about eating raw fish but it did taste disgusting and I’m
Dukes Of Hazard
Not sure about that title. It seems to work somehow.
not crazy about raw onions either. Nevertheless I ate it all since I can’t bear to see food go to waste. The hour was late so after dinner we more or less went straight back. We kept the roof down all the way so I was able to see all the stars as we were driving (which was nice) and experience something that I hadn’t felt in a long time, being cold (which wasn’t so nice).
Suddenly it was Friday, my last day on the isle of Oahu. Since we still had the car till 11.00am, we got up early and drove down the scenic Pali highway. They had a nice viewpoint up there that you could look out from. That afternoon we spent our time planning an excursion to Maui. There’s a bike ride thing you can do there, where they drive you up 10,023 feet, to the top of the Haleakala Crater and you free wheel 38 miles back down to the bottom. Since Lee and John were returning home on Monday morning they were just going to Maui for the day while I planned to spend a week there before moving on to Big Island. With
What A Blow Hole
A blow hole we saw. We stood for ages trying to get a good picture. I'm afraid this is the best I could do.
the flights, the bike ride and my hostel we were good to go for tomorrow. I spent the remainder of that afternoon, splashing about one last time on Waikiki beach. If you swim out for miles from the shore, the water’s still only about 5 foot deep and it’s so blue. We even got to see the blurry outlines of sea turtles as they came up for air every so often next to us. To bed early that night with bags packed. No more luxury hotel living for me. It’s back to roughing it.
Saturday morning I was up at 5.00am to catch our flight. Another crazy Japanese taxi driver took us to the airport, this one preferred to apply the brakes in short sharp bursts to stop rather than applying a nice even pressure. The flight to Maui was insanely short (only 20 minutes) after the 10 hour long jaunts I’d become used to. At Maui, we arrived at the bike riding centre, stocked up on chocolate bars and got ourselves sat on the bus. The guys running the tour were a couple of jokers. They ploughed us with information about the history and heritage of the island
The Chinaman's Hat
Very similar to the lampshade that Dave wore in that classic photo.
of Maui, pointing out various points of interest as we ascended the volcano. At one point they told us that it was believed the volcano goddess Pele (no not that Pele) would curse anyone that removed anything from the volcanoes summit. Naturally we laughed it off. They also weren’t shy in dishing out the safety information. By far the most important rules seemed to be to leave lots of space between you and the cyclist in front and to always pull over when a car was behind you. There were some other rules too but I didn’t pay to much attention to them. About 6,000 feet up now and we hit the clouds. One of the other things the tour guides enjoyed was to tell us stories of previous tourists’ stupid questions. One woman once refused to cycle through the layer of clouds because she was afraid to encounter anymore of the terrible turbulence that she had experienced on the plane ride over here. The top of the crater was a very weird place. At 10,023 feet the air is very clean and clear but has only 75% of the oxygen content at sea level so after a few paces
I Pity The Fool
You can see the look of disgust of Lee's face. Hilarious!
you feel knackered. In an effort to disprove the curse of Haleakala, I picked up a small rock from the crater and put it in my bag. I would prove those superstitious fools wrong once and for all! Now came the fun of cycling back down. We picked out our rides and got suited up in gloves and helmets (massive motorcycle helmets). Me and Lee had our t shirts and shorts on much to the astonishment of the tour guides who warned us that once we hit the clouds we’d be begging for our jumpers back. It was company policy for the tour guides to cycle down with us the first section of the ride until we were out of the national park. I don’t know why, but I’d kind of assumed that the road would be a little less steep than it was. It wasn’t exactly scary steep but you had to keep one hand on the brake all the way down to stop you going too fast. Once we had cleared the national park, the tour guides and the rest of the tour group left us and we were on our own.
At this point we were
Yeah that was embarassing.
fully immersed in the clouds but it was hardy freezing so we stayed shorted up. Being cautious, Lee stayed at the back of the group whilst John went racing ahead and we soon lost sight of him. About 5 minutes in, I glanced behind me and saw Lee pulling over to let the first car of the trip pass him. As that car approached me I did the same. However, the tour guides instructions were still ringing in my head “pull right over for anything behind you”. So for some reason that I will always regret, I decided that to be extra safe I would pull right over, off the road and on to a patch of gravel. Lee later told me that one of the rules the tour guides dished out was not to go on to the gravel. I must have missed that part. As soon as I was on the gravel I knew I’d made a mistake. I’d seriously misjudged my speed and travelling on the uneven surface of the gravel turned the otherwise smooth bike ride I was enjoying into a bucking bronco of death! So stricken with panic was I that I can’t remember whether
The view from the Pali lookout.
I carried out a kind of controlled fall or if I just lost control altogether but fall I did, onto my left hand side (luckily my camera was in my right hand pocket). Now I was off my bike and kind of skidding along the gravel in a cloud of dust. When I came to a stop, I got up and my shoulder felt very wrong. I stumbled over to a patch of grass, shouting obscenities, and collapsed. The car that had been passing me, pulled over and a very concerned American couple got out to help me. Also, Lee pulled up and rushed over. The pain itself wasn’t too bad (I know I’m a legend aren’t I?) but a cold realisation was creeping up on me that not only had I messed up the bike ride but possibly the rest of the trip as well. Lee was soon on his mobile (great things aren’t they?) to the tour guides ordering them to come back up and get us and to John who was probably halfway down the volcano by now. Meanwhile I had a chat with the nice American couple and had a Paracetamol. I kept thinking, this was
Preperation For Pain
Getting ready to meet with disaster.
probably the most injured I’ve ever been and I’m halfway up a volcano on the other side of the planet. That’s not good! The tour guides arrived, loaded me up into the van and we went off to hospital. The twisty roads and speed bumps were not helpful in the slightest.
Luckily I was insured up to the eye balls (as Lee put it) so getting seen at the hospital wasn’t difficult, thanks to the ever resourceful Lee who was on the phone with the insurance people back in England. I still had full mobility of my hand and fingers so the consultant was confident there was no nerve damage, but I couldn’t move my left arm without serious pain. They had a little chart you could rate your pain on from one to ten with a diagram for each. I picked myself out for about a 4 which looked like this :ol. Next, a nice woman called Lane took me for an x-ray and they wheeled me in a bed, ER style through the doors. When I got up out of the bed for my x-ray I started feeling funny and had one of my famous blackout experiences.
Top Of The World Ma!
You can see where the title comes from.
This is the first one that was understandable. The rest have been because I have a morbid fear of blood. Lane caught me before I crashed into the medical scanner and after a moment sat down I was ok again. The x-ray clearly showed that I had broken my collarbone which was in two separate pieces with what seemed like a huge gap between it. Lane said that her son broke his collarbone snowboarding in Colorado. He wanted to come home but she told him to stay out there and just chill by the fire and afterwards he said he was glad he did. So I started thinking that maybe I could stay out here too, the pain wasn’t that bad after all. I was unusually chipper as they wheeled me back. Yeah I was down but I was British I was damned if I was gonna let those Americans see me upset. Next a doctor came to see me. He was fairly young and had a look on his face like I’d got cancer or something. I was expecting them to set the bone somehow but he told me that the treatment was to put my arm in a
Traitor At The Crater
I had betrayed the goddess Pele and she was going to make me pay!
sling and let it fuse back together on its own. “I’m sorry Mr Holtby but this is quite a bad break” he said. “You may want to go back home and have an operation to fix it together with a metal plate as soon as possible. If you don’t, there’s a very good chance you could end up DEFORMED”. I put that word in capitals to signify its enormity. Now I had visions of me ending up like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Perhaps it would be a good idea to go home now. The nurse said I could have any kind of drug I wanted for the pain so I had a pill of something and she got me a prescription for more. I thought it best to tell her I’d had a Paracetamol earlier. They don’t have Paracetamol in America and I think she thought I’d had hard illegal drugs. She said “I appreciate you being honest with me. I’ll go and tell the doctor”. What a Muppet.
With my arm in a sling and a prescription for hard drugs we were reunited with John and made our way back to the airport. Getting home was not
Just before the accident. That hand signal is supposed to mean hang loose. Little did I know that soon my arm would be hanging even looser.
going to be fun. The drugs had kicked in by now and I was on cloud 9, however as I learned from my time at the volcano, what goes up must come down and when the drugs wore off I was tired, depressed and very pissed off. Matters weren’t helped by an otherwise nice (probably just for the tip) waitress who wouldn’t let us play cards in an airport bar because of gambling laws. What a stupid country! I was actually pleased to be leaving America. Also, the airport officials saw fit to feel me up and search me not once but twice even though I was hobbling around with my arm in a sling. Back on Oahu we had fun trying to get my flights changed so that I could come back with Lee and John on Monday morning. The woman we talked to (ironically named blossom) had a face like a smacked arse and was about as helpful. So pissed off and knackered we went back to Lee and John’s hotel where thankfully I could crash (or more accurately, very gently lower myself) on to Lee’s spare bed. What a day!
Sunday morning I woke up and
Plummet From The Summit
This is just after my fall. See, I told you I was still smiling.
found that Lee and John had got me booked onto a flight back with Mel and Alan as far as New York leaving that night. I’d have to tackle New York to Manchester on my own but that was ok. I was just completely unable to carry any bags at all so having Mel and Alan there would be a great help. I felt much better after this and resigned myself to spend the day in bed watching pay per view. I got to thinking of the curse of Haleakala and how it had wreaked its terrible revenge upon me. It then occurred to me that anybody picking up stones at the top of the volcano would likely be cycling down it. At the hospital they told me that people would come in with similar injuries every day from bike riding accidents on the volcano. So picking up a stone can’t really cause any bad luck at all. People have a tendency to believe it does because straight after you do it you attempt a very dangerous activity that every so often can leave you injured. Funny how these myths get started.
As I said I really just spent
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
But putting it back together again is going to be even harder.
that day waiting for the plane ride home. Having a shower was interesting. I was still covered in mud from the fall and didn’t smell all too great either so it was kind of important I get a shower. Since I couldn’t lift my t shirt over my head, Lee had to cut it off. I really liked that t shirt too. Then I had to get John to rub the muck I couldn’t get off with a damp flannel, which Lee found hilarious. He was soon laughing on the other side of his face though after a day in the sun had left him sunburnt and a surfboard concussed John. Perhaps my bad luck had spread to them? With difficulty I got dressed and bags packed. I then met up with Mel and Alan and bid a fond farewell to Lee and John. Guys I want you to know how much I appreciated your help. I really would have been screwed without you. It’ll be a long time before I ever go travelling on my own again. Getting out of America is perhaps ten times easier than getting in. There were plenty of movies to watch on the plane.
Goodbye My Friends
I say goodbye to my chums. As Marty Mcfly once said, it's been educational.
I didn’t think too much to the egg and cheese biscuit they served me though. It was more like a scone. Newark airport was a completely different place on the way out of America. Gone were the rude guards and massive queues for immigration to be replaced by smiling shop attendants. Getting into the country was like going through prison, now on the way out it was more like a shopping centre. I had a wander round and rang my parents who I’d purposely put off telling till the last minute so as not to worry them. I couldn’t put my bag in a locker anywhere though because they’d all been removed after 9/11. Finally I was on the plane back to the country that I, had only recently realised, loved so much. The head flight attendant came on the speaker system and told us the usual stuff. He then said that his name was Brian Johnson but his friends called him BJ, which caused me and me alone to have a laughing fit. I’m blaming it on the painkillers. I was so happy to get back to England. Being in Australia and New Zealand last year had made me want to live there, but being in America made me glad I lived in Britain, if that makes any sense.
So here ends my tale of woe. It’s now two weeks after my accident and I’m happy to say the injury is healing quite nicely. My shoulders are now back in line, the swelling has virtually gone and I have a small bump where the break was (deformed indeed!). I still can’t lift my arm very high, but it’s much less painful and I can use my arm to do bits and pieces now as long as I don’t lift anything too heavy. This should be completely fixed in the next few weeks and I’m looking forward (among other things) to wearing t shirts again. So for now I will sign off. I still have plenty of travelling left to do. I just need to decide where to go.