New Zealand Diaries #1 (Courtesy Laura McCullough)

Pre-New Zealand* (Hawaii for Christmas!) part 1**

24 Dec, staying with friends before flying out. It’s 12 below F out as we wake up in St. Paul. Cab picks up up at 7 am. Major accident on bridge across Mississippi: more than 14 cars on the side of the road in various states of smush. Charge up our iPads and iPhones at the gate. The plane 2-3-2 seating and we are on the right side, very comfortable. We use alcohol wipes on the trays and seats, having just read about MRSA and other nasties on airplanes. Woman across the aisle notices, asks if we have an extra wipe. She is tiny, maybe 4′ 10″. Flight from MSP to LAX is fine. 3 hour layover in LAX. Eat at Rock&Beat; gluten free pizza! A drink called Blue Suede Shoes. Kelly has a burger and Jameson. People at next table make trouble for waitress and she flees for 15 minutes. Other servers take her place. Gate agent says “Merry Christmas” into PA microphone, waits for response from crowd. No response. Tries again: “Merry Christmas!” and crowd at gate responds “Merry Christmas!”.

Flight from LAX to Honolulu is OK. Bumpy, but a quiet companion in our aisle. Arrive in HNL around 6 pm and it is already dark! Surprising. We usually arrive in early January. Agents for our vacation package are at gate with leis. Leis and alohas all around. Shuttle takes us to our hotel via downtown street. Festival of Lights is happening and there are beautiful displays all over. We saw a snowflake! (In lights.) Driver had a good patter. Our hotel is nice: Ohana (means Family) Waikiki. Check in around 8 pm, and there is a gift from our travel agent, a box of chocolate macadamia nuts. How sweet! There is a restaurant in building (Chilis, but, what the heck) with a GF menu. I have salmon, Kelly has tilapia. Somewhat disappointing to have no local food on menu, but the food is fine. Back to our room on the 14th floor for bed at 10 pm.

25 Dec. Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian). Up around 7:30, though dozing since 5:30. It’s a four-hour time difference, so that’s not bad for our first night. Shower (aaaaaaaah) and head across the street to the grocery store. POG! Pineapple-orange-guava juice. Yum yum yum. Also yogurt and cheese and meat. We eat on the lanai (deck) looking at beautiful views of downtown Honolulu. There is a beauty to the urban environment, though I prefer more rural views. A gorgeous double rainbow shows up to serenade us. White pigeons flitter around looking for handouts–we don’t feed birds so they leave us quickly.

Clean up, head for Waikiki Beach. We have some trouble finding our way past the hotels, but eventually make it out via a hotel pool yard. Lots of sun, high 70s temp, people in shorts, swimsuits, sandals. The waves are little tiny things, though out a way there are lots of people doing surf lessons. Santa hats made from aloha fabrics. Xmas tree on beach: an older lady with a funny Mrs.-Clause-in-a-bikini coverup takes our picture for us. Very few boogie boards–sad, that. Splish about in the water and walk along in the bright sun past hotel after hotel after hotel. Sit on park bench between road & beach for maybe an hour, enjoying the ocean view and the people watching. Lots of Asians around. Lots of bikinis–few single-piece suits. Many people leaving the beach barefoot, and many with surfboards. They aren’t that much weight but they are very awkward to carry. There is an odd optical illusion on the ocean: the far-out water is much darker and our boogie boarding reflexes keep making us think it is a HUGE wave. It is quite distracting for a while.

We walk along the main drag to the International Market. I remember this place from our first time in Honolulu many years ago. It is rare for me to remember anything long-term, so this is fun for me. We pass a guy with a shirt from Emily, MN. Stop to chat with him; he is here on vacation. End up at a food court, looking for fish tacos. I really want fish tacos for lunch. We find Hawaiian Tacos, with GF-labeled tacos! Delicious fish or shrimp with pineapple cream sauce. Oh so yummy. Back to hotel for noon siesta–a two-hour nap. We laze about while the sun is strongest. Then onto the pool deck level for a few minutes of wifi. Head back to grocery store for dinner supplies. We eat on the lanai again: banana, pineapple, ham, cheese, peanut butter and wine. Fancy, yes? The tree below us might be a banyan, and is filled with loud birds. They are noisiest at dawn and dusk. Magpies? Can’t tell. Sun is down by 6:00 again. Still exhausted.

NZ Travel Diary #1

NZ Travel Diary #2

NZ Travel Diary #3

*I’ve been traveling in Hawaii and New Zealand and will be posting links to the pictures soon.

**Whenever we travel my wife does a travel diary while I take most of the pictures. I use her notes as my references for later use for books and other things. She has been gracious enough to allow me to share them here on my site for those who are interested.