So here is my totally unconventional Hawaiian vacation. I’m calling it that b/c when I think of Hawaiian vacations I think of big resorts or scenes from MTV’s Maui Fever, and thankfully, this was nothing like that.
Tallie and I left the island super early last Wednesday morning and talked the whole ferry ride and the whole drive down to the Seattle airport. We’d both had kind of shitty/crazy weeks, so we got it all out of our systems as much as possible. We flew to Oakland first, which surprisingly wasn’t that warm. Then we flew to Lihue. An eclipse took place when we were on the plane and so I didn’t see it at all.
So we landed and got out at Lihue and the airport there is sooooo open. Way before we walked to baggage claim there were large open windows and fresh air wafting through. It was in the low seventies, and it was about ten at night. It was so nice to be outside at night and warm. We rode through the island of Kauai out to Molawa’a to where Emily was staying. She was house and car-sitting for her boss, who lives in a little structure out on a farm out there. It was interesting, because on the ride I kept thinking (and continued to think throughout the trip) that Kauai is more like mainland America than Orcas Island is. It surprised me a bit how built up it was, but then again, it’s a pretty big island.
As we got closer to Molawa’a, it got way less populated, nicer, woodsier. The moon was out and the wind was blowing through our hair, it was awesome. We met up with Emily, smoked some Hawaiian grown pot, and hung out at the wooden structure, which had no electricity or running water. We had lanterns for light and stayed up talking and being happy to see each other. We went to sleep hearing the sound of the ocean in the distance. I’d forgotten how loud it is because here on Orcas, it’s the Sound, not the unadulterated ocean, so here the waves are much smaller and quieter. Out there, they were a distant rumble at all times.
I will never forget that first night. Some nearby rooster started crowing in the middle of the night, hours before sunrise. It was soooo fucking loud. Then, the minute the sun rose, all these songbirds started. It was awesome. I don’t think I have ever heard so many birds at once. It was really pleasant to wake up to. As the sun rose higher, there was about a half hour where everything around us had a golden glow, kind of like autumn, but then after the sun got higher, everything was its normal green. It was so lush. The structure was nestled in trees and then there was this huge field. We had to walk across it to use the composting toilet in the morning (mostly we just went in the trees though, lol). I have to say that was my first time using a composting toilet and it was glorious, lol. It was in this grove of banana trees, letting some mottled light through, and it was like sitting in this gorgeous jungle or something.
So then we drove all over the island, and a lot of the roads we drove on made tree tunnels, meaning the trees kinda covered the road, so we couldn’t exactly see a sky gap between the trees on the right side and left. There are a few spots where it gets close to that on Orcas but not quite. I loved driving around. Kauai is really beautiful. There were fruit trees, fields, valleys and sooo much green. The sky was cloudless. We drove to Hanalei Bay because Emily had to work there. She works at this natural food store called Papaya’s and apparently, she’s seen Anthony Kiedis there a bunch of times. So while Emily worked, Tallie and I hung out at the beach, just reading and sleeping in the sunshine. I went in the water. I wanted to go swimming but I had forgotten how rough real ocean can be. The waves were big and fierce, and this wasn’t even at a real roughwater spot on the island. Still I got knocked over a few times (and loved it). I’m kind of scratched up from it, but it was just soooo awesome to be in warm saltwater, flowing with the waves. I smiled anytime I saw a huge one coming on, like bring it on baby. I fucking love the ocean.
Then we decided to drive around some more, see other parts of the island. We got out, walked around on other beaches and explored some caves, which was really cool. It’s pretty awesome to see caves and think about the history of it all. Tallie majored in ecology so she was an amazing wealth of information about everything we saw. One interesting thing about the trip in general was that it felt in some ways like a blast from the past, things kept reminding me of other things for some strange reason, and this part reminded me of the time I went to the Oregon coast with my friend Kelly seven years ago, probably because of the similarity in the beaches, and because there was cave exploration in both places. Walking around Hanalei sort of reminded me of Northern Arizona, because of the way there were big mountains in the distance.
I ended up getting sunburned. I wore sunscreen but I guess I missed a few places, like right behind my right knee, which got burned pretty badly from laying out in the sun. My lower back was also burned, as well as the place where my watch was when I put on sunscreen, lol, a vaguely watch-shaped sunburn.
So we met Emily after she got off of work, hung out, went back to the structure Emily was staying at and stayed up talking again. We were pretty zonked by that point.
The next day, Emily’s boss was returning and so we were going to have to return the car and also move our stuff over to where Emily was moving, to another structure, this one at an organic farm where she was going to start doing a work-trade to live there, so a lot of Friday was spent moving our stuff. The farm Emily moved to is really cool. The woman who owns it is awesome. She’s about sixty, and partially disabled (kind of wild, she actually got her injury while doing yoga), and she runs this whole farm year-round, mostly by herself, a very strong woman. She’s also a very key person in starting a seed exchange that was happening on Kauai later this week, a way for farmers and others to exchange seeds so they don’t go extinct. It’s funny because a few days before the trip I was talking with the guys I work with about that same issue, the loss of biodiversity in seeds because of huge corporations and all that.
So anyway, Marie gave us some fresh fruit to try, guavas and something else that sort of looked like a seedless grape with a big pit in the middle, and she collected the seeds from the fruits we ate. Then she also told us where we could pick some Aloe plants for our burns. That was cool, squeezing a leaf onto my skin, it was like the aloe gel you can get at stores but more potent. I never felt my sunburn after that (though it still looks nasty).
We also spent part of that day trying to rent a car. Emily and Tallie are both 24 and since I can’t drive, my age didn’t help. We went around forever until we found someone who’d rent a car without “young driver” fees, so that kind of killed part of the day, but finally gave us a way to get around.
We decided to have a picnic on the beach for dinner. It was awesome, no one was there, and we got all kinds of fresh food, so we were just sitting there in the sand eating avocados (one of my all time favorite foods), peppers, cucumbers, oranges, etc smothered onto baguette bread with goat cheese, and drinking wine. The water was calmer here, and it was just after sunset, and this part actually reminded me of early childhood, when I lived in CT, right by Long Island Sound. I’m not sure exactly what the connection was, it was a strange feeling, like it reminded me of something I couldn’t quite remember, something maybe before language. It was a good strange feeling. I had to walk in the water, kinda frolic around a little bit. I can’t stand seeing the ocean and not going in somehow. So then we went back to Emily’s new structure on the organic farm, got high and stayed up doing tarot readings and having really deep discussions about our lives, our struggles, and so on.
We only had candlelight to see by and so when I was doing a reading, I pulled the Queen of Cups and Emily wanted to see it clearer, so she put the candle right by it and accidentally dripped wax on the card. I didn’t really mind, but it was kind of funny. Emily said, “At least there’s a story for why it looks so disheveled now,” and now I can never forget that particular reading.
On Saturday morning we drove around some more, went to a tiny Farmer’s Market. I drank coconut water straight from a coconut there, and they gave me the rest of the edible part of the coconut to take with me. It was really cool, very different. Emily had to go to work again, so Tallie and I explored some more. We went to the Botanic Gardens, where we learned about the different kinds of plants, and which are native and which aren’t, saw low hanging palms and visited a lotus pond. Then we went to this place called Spouting Horn, which was this natural rock thing where when waves crashed into it, water came spouting up out of the rocks. It was cool.
We went back to Emily’s work, and she gave us all this food – chili, all these salads, smoothies, etc, so we sat outside and ate it. I felt like I ate soooo well in Hawaii. One of my goals was to try new things, and I totally did, especially fruits. Along with the guavas and the things that looked like seedless grapes and the coconut, I also ate papaya, fresh mango, apple bananas, a burrito made with fresh ahi fish, and also a Brazilian style dish called pancaqua (or something like that, I don’t think I spelled that right) which was rich with squashes, purple potatoes (soooo fucking good, I’ve had those before too, excellent), and a pumpkin stuffed crepe.
Night was pretty much the same as others, we went back to Emily’s structure, drank, got high, talked. There was this cat there, manakitty, who was the most annoying cat ever, constantly whining and following us everywhere, every second. In the mornings, the moment she heard us moving, she was there, rubbing up on us, trying to be let in. When we walked she wound herself around our feet. She literally almost got peed on many times. It got to the point where if one of us had to go pee in the woods, the others would keep the cat inside the structure. We thought the cat was in heat but Marie said she’s always like that. The roosters at Marie’s place also crowed all night long. In fact this one rooster there was louder than the one at the other place. It was like it was trying to hit some note but kept failing, so it was pretty funny to listen to but also like shut up already. We were joking that if the cat went and hunted the rooster we’d like the cat again, but we were just kidding around obviously.
On Sunday we went to Waimea Canyon. We were having trouble finding the trailhead and there were these rangers, Native Hawaiians, who told us where to go, and asked us if we wanted to get high with them before we started out. We declined, which was good, because the hiking definitely took some concentration. We hiked for hours on different trails. The Canyon was amazing to look at, and the hiking was invigorating. It was elevated by a few thousand feet so the air was cooler, and felt so fresh and good. We actually saw some trees and plant life that reminded me of Flagstaff. We got to this lookout over the Kallalao (sp?) valley, which is twelve miles of undisturbed wilderness that people can hike into. Apparently people live in that Valley too. I wish we could have done that, but I hear its really treacherous, like people die out there. Anyway so we were hoping to at least look at it, and instead came upon a complete wall of fog, the only we ever saw on Kauai. It was still awesome. We hiked some more, did another trail, saw the Canyon some more.
After that we opted for a bit of civilization and went into town for some pizza and then saw a movie, which none of us had done in ages. Then afterward, we went to this super long bike path along the shore and walked it. It started out in a town called Kapa’a, and there was a lot of light pollution there, but as we got further out, we were just walking along the shore, listening to the ocean, watching it at night. It reminded me of this time I was with my friend Tara in late summer ’02, when she invited me to go with her family on a trip to Wildwood, NJ. We walked all the way back from the boardwalk to the hotel late at night, walking by the ocean the whole while.
On the bike path, we saw the moon coming up behind some clouds, so Tallie, Emily and I sat down on the edge of the bike path and waited until the moon emerged from the clouds and shone over the water. We saw the moon every night we were there, through the trees by Emily’s structure, streaming through the screened sections of the structure, reflecting on the water.
The next day, we helped Marie harvest lettuce, kale and cilantro, mostly lettuce. Some of it had gotten infected by some bug, so we spent a few hours kneeling in the soil, harvesting and sorting through it all. Then we washed it, bagged it and labeled it then drove it to Papaya’s where Emily works, because Marie delivers produce to them regularly. Then Emily had to work and so Tallie and I went back to the beach for our last day in Hawaii. We mostly just read on the shore, but me being me, I decided to take a super long walk by the waves and ended up getting completely soaked. It was awesome.
Then we went and helped Emily clean up at work, did dishes so she could get out of there sooner. Then we went out to eat, dropped Emily off at her structure, said goodbye and drove out to Lihue to get on our late flight. It was insane about the fruit stuff at the airport. I mean, it’s so spacious and open in that small airport, so you’d think it’d be all chill and relaxed, but before you even check in and get boarding passes, they have to scan the baggage you’re checking in some x-ray thing, checking for any fruit or plants. Then we checked in and Tallie realized she had an avocado in her carry-on so we had to eat that (and some more food from Papaya’s that Emily had made for us) before going through regular security. So we did that and then we had to put our carry-ons through ANOHTER x-ray machine for the US Dept of Agriculture. It was nuts. So our flight left close to midnight, and we flew to Phoenix (sooooo out of the way), waited there for hours for our flight back to Seattle, got Tallie’s car and drove up to the ferry and came home.
I had an awesome time in Hawaii, and I was extremely glad to be home. It was a great place to visit, but I could never live there. I think the sunshine would get to me, lol. I would miss the rain, the dreariness, the clouds, the winter, the fog (though we did see that the one time). Also Emily said a lot of the people she runs into are just kind of either too stoned to care about anything, or just kind of shallow. When she first saw us, she was like, “You don’t know how glad I am to see people of substance,” which felt really awesome. After spending some time there, I could see what she meant. So yeah, I was really glad to get home.
I came home exhausted, filthy, burnt, bug-bitten, scratched up from getting knocked over by waves, with aching sore muscles from the hiking, and sand and soil in and on all my clothes and god knows what else, and it was soooo worth it. I also felt like my headspace completely changed from when I left. I always do a lot of thinking and reflecting when I’m away, and I did tons, which was really good and necessary. Somehow, being away really clarifies things at home, at least it always does for me, and this time was no different.
I thought a lot about how in some ways I’ve gotten away from what really matters to me in the last while, which is something I’ve thought and blogged about lately, and this trip gave me more time to reflect on that. I definitely want to get back into actually writing, generating new stuff, and my thought was that I need to get up early to do that, because otherwise too much of the day gets away from me. I felt inspired to write again. I also felt more vibrantly into music. I go through ebbs and flows with that. There were so many times on my trip when I wanted to just burst into song. I also gave a lot of thought to how much fucking time I spend doing things that kind of take away from my writing life, or my deep feeling self, mainly watching TV and spending too much time chatting online, two habits I really fell into big time after Adrian left, I think mainly because I was lonely. Well that was April, it’s getting close to a year now since that point, and I feel ready to let those habits fall away. I think I went through a really long process with that whole thing, and I think it’s fading, I’m getting over it.
I also felt like my trip totally affirmed how glad I am to have that relationship out of my life, because in hindsight, and especially in the company of awesome good friends, it’s really clear to me how destructive it all was. Spending time with Emily and Tallie made me also realize how important good friends are, and also that in some ways, I missed out on getting to know some great people who worked at camp this past year. Some of that was totally out of my control, being in the kitchen and working part-time and all, and always having that dog to come home to, and I just started thinking that I definitely want to make more of an effort this coming season when the new staff arrive in the next week or so. Really, one thing I thought about so much during my trip is the preciousness of good friends, and not at all in the acquaintance type way, but in the way where you can really share your soul and say anything to someone, appreciating the differences and just totally be who you are without worry. I haven’t had that too often with people my age, and that made this trip pretty special.
I also feel so in love with where I live, which is funny because in the fall, I wasn’t feeling that way at all, but it’s been a great winter here, and somehow being away just made me love Orcas even more. I kinda feeling like I’m getting unstuck in a way, and it all feels really good. Earlier tonight I was sitting in my apartment eating dinner, just looking around and thinking how much I love my place.
Basically, to sum up, internally, I feel like my trip confirmed and deepened a lot of what I was thinking and feeling before I left, like I was already turning in a certain direction, and this was just another push in the right direction.
“I Miss You” – Bjork – I love her voice. It’s funny, I am such a rock girl at heart, and yet lately I’ve found myself listening to music with a bit more of a hip-hop type bent to it, probably because of my undying love for Fiona Apple and her geniusness, because she sometimes leans that way. Anyway I’ve just found myself attracted to that style more, and Bjork, and this song, definitely fit in with that, at least this version I have, Bjork with Rodney P. This song also reminds me of these sisters Karla and Cristina, who I hung out with a lot in the beginning of my last year of college, because they LOVED this song and first introduced me to it.
- On Not Writing (Or, Of Fear and Fond Memories)
- “Toast” by Tori Amos (and thoughts about Leaving)
- Dusky Waters, Orcas Island
- Driving Blind Under a Desert Moon
- She’s a Girl Rising From a Shell