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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Hawaii Nature Journal ~ Day 8 ~ 12/25/2007

I purposely planned to travel on Christmas Day for two reasons. 1.) It would make the day seem less Christmassy, which was my goal (in case you're wondering about this, I really miss my siblings on Christmas, but I've decided it's insane to make the 500-mile long, icy-road trip to spend the holidays with them, so I'm trying to redirect my holiday thinking patterns). 2.) by traveling on Christmas Day, my airfare was the cheapest of any of the date combinations I tried when I bought my plane ticket online.

Leaving The Big Island was hard ~ I craned my neck to "cricking point" to get the very last glimpse as it faded to the horizon. That white area between the clouds and the vegetation is snow-capped Moana Kea.

In the Honolulu airport, the management was making a real effort to bring joy to travelers ~ most of them much less cheery about being in an airport on Christmas Day than I was. As I checked my pack for the trip home, freeing myself of luggage for a day on Oahu, we were serenaded with ukeleles and merry voices singing Joy to the World (etc.) as an airport cart filled with a load of lei-bedecked carolers wheeled slowly by.

But I was outta there! I caught a bus outside the terminal, waited a bit at a bus stop downtown, then embarked on my final outing ~ a trip around Oahu on The Bus.

Oahu's city buses travel around the island in about four hours, and the trip costs $2. If you get a transfer when you board, you can make one stop and get on a following bus for free. Pretty good deal, I'd say.

The side windows on all three buses I rode on were pretty scratched, though, so if you want to take pictures or see really clearly, it's important to sit on one of the front seats so you can see through the big front windows and out the door.

Going through Honolulu's suburbs, I spotted this funny yard decoration next to a bus stop, and the driver obligingly paused while I crouched in the doorway for 5 seconds and snapped a picture. The near snowman is made of cotton.

Sitting at the front of the bus was a terrific idea because being right next to the drivers enabled me to get acquainted, ask questions, and get more insight into island life. The drivers were in good spirits ~ they'd volunteered for the Christmas run because driving on Christmas Day pays extra and is really easy because there are few riders and fewer stops. And they didn't mind talking, volunteering all kinds of information without even being asked!

The day was off-and-on showery, but warmer outside than inside the bus. And the scenery was marvelous. The road follows the coastline, going northeast from Honolulu, looping up and around the north shore from east to west, then cutting across the southwest corner back to Honolulu.

The north shore has steep, rain-eroded mountains with windblown vegetation right next to the beach. Famous Waimea Beach, where those monster surfs you see in the X-Treme TV shows (if you watch that sort of thing) trash the surfers, was right on the bus route, so I used my tranfer there, stopping to see the big waves. Uh huh. That's it on the left. Did I miss something?

It seems that the surf ain't always up, I guess. But it didn't really matter. I had had a very interesting day, saw the outlines of Oahu, had interesting conversations with native (and proud to be) Hawai'ians, and felt supremely satisfied with the whole thing.

I even had time, after The Bus deposited me at the airport, to find a quiet spot to write in my journal, buy a fleece jacket to keep me warm, and take a short nap before catching the plane for home.
Tomorrow I will make one last entry, including the somewhat disheartening situation I found when I returned home, and what I did with one of the orchid photos I took in the Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden. I think it came out pretty nice.

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