Why Not Waikiki? (Home Leave Phase Two)

So I began the second part of my home leave fresh. Er, well, not quite. My fasciitis in my left heel was acting up, my ulcerative colitis was active, I’d developed a chest cold with an unfortunate cough, and it seemed I had sunburned my lips somewhere during my drive. (I blame Texas) Yet, knowing I would not be driving every other day and the cats would not be joining as they would be enjoying the rest of their summer sniffing breezes on window sills at my aunt and uncle’s house, I WAS feeling fresher despite the ailments.

So less than four days after returning to Virginia, C and I boarded a plane for Honolulu. The ten hour flight flew by.

Just kidding.

Three hours into the ten hour flight I was again wondering what my state of mind had been as I plotted this trip. I am sure the lure of the islands played some part. Blessed with very fair freckled skin and reddish hair, I am no beach bunny, and would never have expected a love affair with Hawaii to develop. Yet I have visited the State (and four of the islands) at least seven times, including living on Oahu for 6 months while working as a Research Assistant on Asia Pacific security at the Pacific Forum CSIS in 2004. So, it made sense, in fact it felt imperative I visit this summer with C. And hey, it’s Hawaii, so why not?

I had decided on Oahu, and much more specifically Waikiki, for our trip as I had read it is the most toddler friendly place on the islands. There is the zoo and aquarium right in Waikiki and of course the beach. A hotel with a pool would round out our busy schedule. Though many sites will tell one the “must sees” with a toddler include the Dole Plantation and Sea Life Park and that both are “near” Waikiki, they most certainly are not, especially without a car. I had no intention of renting a car and either renting or dragging along a child seat just to visit these places. And a quick search of bus schedules informed me a ride to either attraction would be a “quick” hour and a half. ONE WAY! I have been to both attractions before and C is too young to know she is missing anything. So it was easy to knock those off the list. On this trip I was going to keep things simple.

We landed just after 1pm Honolulu time. So it’s maybe 5 or 6 hours behind what my body thought it might be (I cannot be sure what time my body was operating on after out drive) It’s after 3 by the time we are checked in and nearly 9 in my head. I woke at 5:30 am and did not sleep at all on the plane, so I’m sleepy. I’m wondering again if this was a good plan.

I stock up on some food items at the ABC Store downstairs. Then C starts jumping up and down yelling “Beach! Beach! Beach!” so though it feels like nearly midnight I take her. Watching her enthusiastically testing the sand with her toes and screaming with delight when the surf approaches and catches her and I know this was a great decision. I love Hawaii.

We wake up at 2:30 am and eat and shower and then head to the beach for sunrise. Once again the pure joy and enthusiasm with which my daughter greets the beach is affirmation that we are where we should be. As the sun rises in the overcast sky and the iconic shape of Diamond Head reveals itself, I think if we do nothing else all week but rise for sunset and play on the beach, it is enough. I find this almost startling as I am not one who finds relaxing easy.

We make it to four sunrises and two sunsets, and in my opinion, that’s pretty darn good. I take C to the aquarium and the zoo and the children’s museum. I take her over to the Hilton, too, to see the penguins and flamingos only to discover all the penguins have been sent to Baltimore and the flamingos are just gone. C does not know what she is missing and is delighted with the ducks, turtles, and carp. Five years ago if you had asked me if a one week trip to Oahu would have included the aquarium, zoo, and children’s museum I would have laughed.

I also manage to work out five mornings. FIVE! I book C into the Japanese-run daycare at the Sheraton, just 5 minutes walk from our hotel. It’s a pricey at $25 per hour with a two hour minimum, but it is SO worth it. C does not want to leave at the end of day one and cannot take her shoes off fast enough to play on subsequent days. And me? I feel a tad guilty leaving her, a plump of pride that she takes to it so easily, and a rush of excitement that I will have TWO WHOLE HOURS to myself. In those five days I manage 60 minutes cycling, 110 minutes elliptical, and a total of 14 miles running. And most days I pick C up, she’s slumped over in her stroller asleep before I can get her back to our hotel. Hello nap time! I manage to start and finish THREE books.

Additionally, an upside to being the older single mom with a young toddler staying in Waikiki is that we are not approached by a single tour our timeshare person. I actually start to get a bit suspicious that we are not stopped even once. We must not fit the timeshare target demographic and I know we do not fit the luau, catamaran cruise, submarine, Pearl Harbor, helicopter, or round island bus tour type either. I have done all those things in Hawaii before, including the timeshare tours, so it’s quite refreshing!

With the warm air, cool trade winds, glorious sunrises and sunsets, quality time with C as well as time to myself…we have reached near-Nirvana levels.

It was tough to leave. Yet the oversold flight we volunteered to get off of and the $400 flight certificates and the upgrade to first I received in return made up for it just a tad.

On to the next phase.

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