February 1st, 2010

beyond your front door

Kauai 2010

Oops. I didn't get sunscreen on the area between my chest and throat yesterday, and I was wearing a v-neck t-shirt. I've got a bit of sunburn, but not bad.

Yesterday we went to Poipu Beach, which was *packed*! A Sunday with gorgeous weather tends to inspire crowds at the family beaches, I suppose. Shannon and his dad swam, while I listened to Midnight's Children on my iPod (the narrator still hasn't been born, but his mother has been identified) and *baked* in the sun. It was so hot! I was totally sweating. It was unfortunate, because we were going to church afterward and I didn't have a change of clothes.

So then we went to church, where we dropped the FIL off for his Sunday school. We walked to Koloa (about 10 minutes away), where we hung out at a park in the shade and talked. Then we walked back to the church (which is *tiny* and cooled by several electric fans mounted on the walls), where 8 or 9 people (including the pastor) were gathered for a sermon. I'm quite fond of the pastor of the in-laws' church: he's from Texas and has quite an impressive accent, he grew up relatively poor, he's just a year older than me, and he tends to give sermons that focus on applying Christian ideals to real-life situations (rather than just exploring Bible verses). After the sermon, he talked with Shannon and me about the fact that he would like to get a job as a teacher (and preach part-time), and we both told him we thought he would be very good at it. He's a very nice, earnest guy.

Then we went to the grocery store in Koloa, because there is no grocery store at all in Kalaheo, the town outside of which my in-laws live. A town with no grocery store, and miles and miles between towns! Toto, I don't think we're in Berkeley anymore!

I think we came home then, where we had chicken tacos for dinner again (with *fabulous* home-made guacamole, made with avocados from the house garden), and they were very delicious. There was much interesting conversation, and then there were chocolate-chocolate-chip cookies, and then Shannon and I hung out and read some Harry Dresden before I went to bed.

I've been sleeping a lot since we've been here, often taking naps in the afternoon. I think it's because I'm spending all day socializing every day, which wears me out.

Today it looks like we are going to go to the island's only used bookstore (if I've understood correctly), maybe get some shave ice (like a sno-cone, but tastier) at JoJo's Shave Ice, see some waterfalls, watch Shannon get knocked over by waves while trying to boogie-board at Brennecke's Beach (not far from Poipu), and then go out to dinner (since it's our last evening here).

Tomorrow we go home. Shannon says it might be raining, and the temp is apparently around 50 degrees. But it will be great to see the kitties (I had a nightmare about them again last night, which also involved my high school junior year English teacher: Mr. Klevos, oddly enough) and not have to put on sunscreen every day. But, sadly, there are no geckos at home. (Geckos are incredibly cute, but my FIL kills the baby ones by stepping on them, because they are household pests. Poor baby geckos!) On the other hand, there are no squirrels on Kauai (as far as I can tell). Millions of wild chickens, but no squirrels.

Tomorrow will be our day of Pop Tarts-airport-airplane-airport-airplane-airport-BART-walk-home-kitties!
beyond your front door

Kauai 2010

I have no Hawaii icon. Perhaps I should get one before next year's trip.

Today I did not wear sunscreen, because it just didn't seem like I was spending enough solid time in the sun to need it. I am hoping I won't regret the decision. I generally can't tell if I'm sunburned until the next day, so we shall see.

We did all kinds of stuff today.

Also, I forgot to mention that we played the Al Capone Mystery Rummy game last night. Gary (the FIL) doesn't like games much, but he humored us. Last year he even played mah jongg! Anyway, we played Mystery Rummy and I kicked ass. I've always enjoyed rummy games, though I'd never played any until the summer I spent at Stanford (1990?). Sean Welch taught me. We usually played gin rummy.

Today we drove over to the west side of the island, to Hanapepe, where there is the "furthest west bookstore in the United States," which is also the only used bookstore on Kauai. It's called "Talk Story," and they have two very cool kitty cats wandering around (well, one was wandering; the other just lounged on the front counter, daring people to pet him). The owner majorly set off my gaydar, but he talked about his wife, so apparently we disagree on that point. I bought a couple books (one by Jose Saramago and one by an Irish author whose name I can't remember) and was pleasantly surprised by the store's selection of literary fiction, especially from foreign countries. Apparently, Shannon and his dad were less impressed, because they stuff *they* were looking for (Terry Pratchett, I think) was not very well-represented.

Around the same area, we went out to a "swinging bridge" that spanned the river there. It's a narrow (two people can't really walk abreast), plank-constructed (showing glimpses of the river between the planks) pedestrian bridge which sways a lot when you walk on it. The further you get toward the middle, the more it sways. I was crossing with Shannon and Gary, but as it started swaying more and more, I made a cost/benefit analysis. There actually wasn't anything on the other side of the river to cross to ... people were just crossing for the fun of the bridge. Some people were leaning their weight left and right to swing the bridge even more. I decided that I'd had enough swinging bridge fun, and I went back to firm ground to wait for Shannon and his dad. Shannon clowned around a lot while Gary took pictures. I enjoyed the non-swinging platform.

Then we went to ... um ... somewhere. Eleele? Anyway, we went to Jo Jo's Shave Ice, where I went with Gary and Mary on one of our previous visits. Apparently, there is now a sort of battle between the "Jo Jo's Shave Ice" stores, as an imposter has taken over the original location but kept the name, and the original store has opened a location -- again, under the same name -- around the corner. There's a whole lotta Jo Jo's goin' on. All very complicated.

We took our shave ice down by the beach and spent 10 minutes or so consuming huge amounts of ice and flavored sugary syrup. Shannon and Gary finished theirs, but I had to throw almost half of mine out, because I didn't eat it fast enough to keep the ice from melting. Afterward, Gary regretted finishing his, but Shannon did not seem adversely affected by the sugar or artificial colors and flavors.

While we were over there, we saw a random road-side sign that inspired us to pull over and go to "Fort Elisabeth," which is an unfinished Russian fort (I think from the 1800s). Apparently there are two other Russian forts on Kauai, too. The site was very badly signed, so we had some trouble finding our way, but we did eventually see some relatively high stone walls made of oddly-shaped black volcanic rocks, the tops of which were sprouting an impressive array of green weeds. Still, the site was right on our way, so I'm glad we stopped. It was kind of cool.

Then we came home and rested for a bit, largely so Gary could recover from the shave ice incident. Shannon and I read some Harry Dresden and just kicked back, and then had a bit of lunch. Turkey sandwiches for Shannon and me; chili for Gary. Chili isn't generally what I would choose for lunch if my stomach was bothering me, but he seemed to like it.

After lunch we all packed up to go to Brennecke's Beach, where Shannon and his dad boogie-boarded while I sat in the shade and listened to Midnight's Children (lots of stuff about Hindu/Muslim tensions in 1947 India now). Shannon and Gary seemed to have a good time, and I felt very relaxed.

Then we headed home to rest up and do some laundry before packing for our departure tomorrow morning. On the way back to the in-laws' house, we passed an old white-haired woman on the side of the road with a large, brown horse on a tether. She was waving at us very enthusiastically, so Gary wasn't sure whether she was just being friendly or gesturing for assistance. So we stopped beside her and asked if she needed help. She smiled broadly and said she'd just been waving, but that her horse just had major surgery and he's doing great. Um ... okay, lady. Are you flagging down a lot of cars to tell people that? Still, she seemed awfully happy about it, so maybe she just really wanted to share. Then she told Gary to drive more slowly in that area, which was kind of bizarre, because Gary drives slower than most of the drivers here. Well, maybe her measuring stick is the speed of horseback riding, in which case Gary's car might seem to be going pretty fast.

Now we are at Casa des In-Laws, and Shannon is doing laundry while he and Gary watch the ABC News. I'm grabbing some time to myself. Maybe I'll do some crossword puzzles.

Tonight we're going out to dinner, but I don't know where. I'm looking forward to it, because I love eating out. When we get home late tomorrow evening, we may take our suitcase for a walk to Nation's to get some late dinner after the trip. That sounds good, too, but I will just be glad to be back in Berkeley.