Published: March 6th 2009March 5th 2009
the 'before' picture
David Hasselhoff, eat your heart out
Aloha! (sorry, cheesy - I know)
We didn't fall off the edge of the planet... we're just on the most isolated island chain in the world! After another wonderful visit with Mike's O-parents and a week of hiding out in their garden shed in the 55+ RV park (luxury accommodations, and we're not kidding!! It was a HUGE garden shed, big enough for us to stretch our legs out - and we got chair cushions to sleep on for a mattress, which beats our little half sleeping pad we usually share), we got on our airplane (aka shame-wagon) and flew to Honolulu, with absolutely no idea where we were going to sleep that night.
Our first minor victory came when we were allowed to board TheBus (that's what it's called) despite our massive backpacks, and luggage being strictly forbidden. We had originally planned on heading to the state parks office to pick up camping permits, but our flight was a little longer than we had expected and the office was closed when we got there. So... we started scoping out places to sleep. After lugging our giant sacks all over town, we settled down to sleep at the Ala
Moana Beach Park (there was another homeless guy laying on the beach with a bottle of booze, so we figured it was an acceptable place to sleep a la homeless). We laid out our emergency blanket for a bed, got out the knife, and laid down to sleep, albeit restlessly. Several hours later, when we'd both drifted into a deep sleep, we were awoken by sirens and loudspeakers... and there we were - kicked off the beach by the police, with threats of citation or arrest. Boo! We eventually made our way to a budget hostel in Waikiki at about 2am - a hostel we stayed at more than once (when the campsites were closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays) and one that left us with a bad case of the bed bugs (and I mean bad).
So that was our first night - quite the adventure! We spent two weeks on Oahu, alternating between different campsites and intermittent stays at the hostel (bed bug bites don't show up until up to 9 days after contact, so we didn't notice them until we left the island). The campsites were beautiful - right on the beach next to towering green cliffs
our transportation for the entire island!
and gorgeous aqua-blue ocean views. One was the equivalent of an outdoor homeless shelter, but you get what you pay for - county campsites are free and state parks are $5/night. It didn't take away from our experience, though after being warned by some of the permanent residents, we did stay pretty close to our stuff. Staying close to camp gave us the chance to perfect our camp-cooking skills. We've concocted the perfect dinner - zucchini, green peppers, mushrooms, lentils, whole grain rice, quinoa, walnuts, flax seed, vegan soup base, a little pepper and hot sauce to top it off... Bellissimo! (and all hauled around on our backs) The epitome of beach bums, we snorkeled, bird-watched, laid on the beach, got sunburns, went hiking, took dips in cool freshwater pools, watched whales breaching just off shore, and hung out. (as a side note - the sunburn was not my fault, I swear! Sunscreen kills live reefs, so while I was snorkeling with my bum in the air, it got a little burnt....)
Some of our time was inevitably spent in Waikiki, as it was the only spot we could find a discount hostel. It was during our limited time
burnt bum from snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
here, specifically when wandering through tourist-y areas full of souvenirs, that we realized that, to some extend or another, we are morally opposed to just about everything! Every label bears one of the following Sharon and Mike sins (and thereby makes us ethically opposed to it...)
1. Made in China (i.e. workers are paid shit to make shit we can take home "from Hawaii," though it is actually shipped from halfway around the planet)
2. Designed in Hawaii (i.e. conning in to believing you have an authentic Hawaiian souvenir, even though it actually falls into category #1)
3. Made in the Philippines (i.e. tourists don't go here as much, so exploit this similarly beautiful paradise all you like)
4. Real Shells (i.e. harvested from a struggling reef in a less-touristed area (somewhere no one goes... like Guam), boiled alive, and shipped to Hawaii so tourists can wear 59 cent shell leis for three days)
5. Made in Hawaii (do we really want this pristine ecosystem used to mass manufacture tourist-y garbage?)
6. On sale (cheap prices means someone was exploited along the way)
7. $$$ (where's all this money going? To the right hands?)
And... you can see how
early morning arrival at Kahana Bay
our first campsite! only one group of homeless folk!
we go around in circles. Sharon eventually found a lady selling anklets out of the back of her van, made of seeds she picked up around the island... (but she smoked, so we were really only supporting that habit - she probably ate meat too - but it was pretty nifty otherwise). At least two redeeming factors - local and natural!
Anyway. Morally opposed to everything.
We took the Superferry from Oahu to Maui (we just can't figure out which is the more ecological choice - the Superferry is apparently shrouded in controversy, but we were impressed with all the efforts made on board) and walked the couple miles down the highway to the Maui airport, where we surprised Mike's parents by meeting them as they got off the plane. They're here on vacation for two weeks, so we've been spending our time holidaying in Maui with them - it's been great! Not only have we had their marvelous company, but also the luxury of getting to and from absolutely phenomenal remote snorkeling spots and trailheads. We've done several hikes since we've been here - including the climb to the summit of the Waihe'e Ridge Trail - a
it's 'Operation Enduring Freedom Certified,' and now spends its days slicing cucumbers (found this baby in an Arizonian ditch)
gorgeous (though VERY steep and slippery) hike into the heart of the lush and green West Maui Mountains and the Lahaina Pali Trail - a hot and long climb over the mountains that led us to..... the 20 GIANT WIND TURBINES that provide Maui with 10% of its power. Actually, the trail didn't actually lead right TO the wind turbines, we had to add about 2 miles of bushwhacking, steep climbing, and trespassing to our trek to get right to them - but it was SO worth it!! The wind at the top was insane - it started to spit with rain while we were up there, and it was blown at us with such force it actually HURT. A lot!! Good spot for wind turbines! We have a few more days with Mike's parents before they head home and we head to Hawaii (The Big Island) to trek to the summit of the world's largest active volcano...
So, all things considered, so far this has been a great decision. A year off university - 6000kms cycled and the chance to do some of the most amazing hikes in the world - complete with excellent camping! Not to mention
our camping neighbour gave us 17. we ate 14. ugggh
the beaches and amazing underwater ecosystems. We can't complain about that. We miss the bikes, but now that it's been almost a month since we've been on them, the experience is forming into a memory - a complex, amazing memory that is still evolving every day. Life is sweet.
There are more photos below