Hawaii Diarii: Kauai
Hark! I have returned from my 11-night journey in the Hawaiian Islands and I bring news. Hawaii wasn’t merely brought into the union to make it a nice round 50 states; these islands have some legitimately American qualities to them. There are fat people, fried foods, and even Wal-Marts. At this rate though, if I were Hawaii, I would tell the government to just go ahead and annex Puerto Rico as the 50th state and set Hawaii free. Either that, or make it the 50th (Kauai), 51st (Maui), 52nd (Oahu), 53rd (the big isle, also called Hawaii), and 54th (Lanai) states.
We first touched down on the island of Kauai. As I left the plane, I had to twice ask my newly minted wife which island we were on. I’m not a man of details. In fact, I’m such a man of no detail that this Hawaiian recap will be broad strokes of the most obvious eccentricities that Hawaii has to offer. What was I talking about again? Ah yes, Kauai. We landed on Kauai late and got our rental car. We drove 40 miles of winding road in the pitch black. To illustrate how dark and hard to see it was, I say again, it was pitch-fucking-black (fucking added for appropriate emphasis). When we woke up the next morning, we discovered in touring the island that chickens and roosters rule. This isn’t a statement of personal preference—oh, no, I mean literally: chickens and roosters rule. They’re everywhere. Wild chickens on the side of the road, at restaurants, wandering the patio. Imagine New York, Columbus Circle, and all the pigeons hanging out on the statues, getting fed by crazy homeless guys. Now, put on your Rod Serling hat and replace those pigeons with chickens. Freaky, right? O.K., you can take off your Rod Serling hat now. While I could talk about Hawaii for hours on end, I think it would be most beneficial for all involved to break down some of the more specific points that need to be addressed:
1. Bubba’s Burgers
It seems entirely ridiculous to travel to an island where the fish is fresh and abundant and tasty, delicious pineapple is provided at every meal and eat fast food. That’s only because you don’t know me that well. If you did you would know this is ideal. The highlight of my California road trip a few years ago wasn’t Yosemite, it wasn’t the Pacific Coast Highway jaunt, and it wasn’t the eye candy in San Diego. No my friends, the highlight was In ’n’ Out Burger, for which I never imagined there would be competition. I erred. In ’n’ Out burger does indeed have competition and his name is Bubba. When I walked into Bubba’s Burgers I felt like I could have been in a lost Hawaiian episode of “Happy Days.” Obviously this episode would have been after Fonzie jumped the shark and he would have been seated in the corner booth with his light blue bathing suit and a leather jacket in the bask of the Hawaiian sun, not because he was cool, because he was a freak. Anyway, long story short, Bubba’s is good, Bubba’s is great. The buns are toasted perfectly, good burger thrown on top and then add a dab of relish, which I normally argue as the least valuable of all condiments. Strangely, at Bubba’s, a little relish on my buns was all right. Oh, and they let you pick your own pickle from the pickle barrel which is always good for a laugh.
2. Shit is expensive.
I won’t go into too much detail on this one, I’ll just break down our grocery list. We tried to buy a few staples for late night snacks and such
- Six-pack of beer - $13.oo
- Small thing of cheese - $7.5o
- Triscuits - $5.oo
- Tortilla Chips - $5.oo
- Salsa - $7.oo
- Two ice-cream cones - $13.oo
Granted, [everything has to be flown in from far away, thus] shit is expensive, but it’s still Hawaii and my job was nowhere in sight, so glory be to Hawaii.
3. Hawaiian signs don’t fuck around.
This became apparently clear on a hike we took around the Napali coast. Everything we read said it was an arduous hike and not to be taken lightly. They say the same thing about some Bear Mountain hikes that I see tackled by pregnant Upper East Side/Hamptons moms in their bare feet, sipping Strawberry smoothies. Along the way on the Napali hike, signs read “Slippery Slope.” Not to be deterred, we kept hiking. We were about halfway into the trail when we had to walk the next half a mile up a tough hill, finding our footing in what resembled a trail made of severe infant diarrhea. As we slid down the slippery slope, we came to a group of signs instructing us to fear flash floods, to beware high currents, to not go into the ocean, and to beware the slippery jagged terrain. I’m all for safety but I believe that things have gotten out of hand—I have now been officially warned by corporations and government agencies that hot coffee could potentially scald me and that fast food could make me fat. Hawaii however, doesn’t mince words. When they say “Beware,” they mean “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye if You Don’t Heed This Message.” Bravo, Hawaii, on your no-nonsense approach.
4. You, my friend, are not tan.
You don’t know the meaning of “tan” until you meet the tour guides for any sort of kayaking, snorkeling, snuba, scuba, or other general outdoor activities. I’m talking legitimately golden bronze freaks. After six days in Hawaii and a very intense base-burn suffered two weeks earlier, golfing the weekend before my wedding, I felt confident that I was the tannest I had ever been. I was feeling good and cooked. Compared to my coworkers back in New York, sitting behind their desks, with complexions resembling milk-fed veal, I was a bronze god. Then we met Gerry, our snuba guide out in Poipu Bay. When Gerry smiled, I was blinded by the whiteness of his teeth. He looked like the guy in Soul Man that painted himself black so he could attend Harvard on scholarship. In a similar fashion, Gerry didn’t look real. Hawaiians are tan—they invented tan, and the next time you think you’re tan, don’t front. Talk to Gerry, he’ll set your ass straight.
5. McDonald’s is too different.
I’ve been to a number of different countries and have toured a majority of states in this union of ours, and I am always sure to sample the wares McDonald’s has to offer. McDonald’s, above all else, is my one truly uncontrollable vice. So one morning in Kauai, while I waited for the Motorcycle rental joint to open, I spotted the golden arches, the beacon of grease, across the street and set my phaser on super-size. I ordered the Big Breakfast. One might assume that since Hawaii is part of the 50, that their McDick’s menu would be the same as any other. Wrong! My Big Breakfast came with white rice and Portuguese sausage. I opted for the sausage rather than the Spam, which was the only other option. White rice at McDonald’s? Sacré bleu! Later, I tried lunch at the joint in Waikiki. It was the same, although I did get a friendly container of pineapple for desert, free of charge. Don’t fear the arches, they come in handy.
In my next installment, I’ll cover Maui and discuss the scam of the Maui diver’s jewelry joint.