hawaii "picture" diary

e komo mai


faithful readers will recall that i recently booked a deeply discounted ticket to maui in order to celebrate quitting my job and to aid the humanitarian wildfire recovery efforts by stimulating the local economy (spending money there). maui was the favored vacation destination of my mom when i was a kid, but we'd always go to the same resort areas and do the same things (mostly hang out on the beach). my basic plan was to do the inverse of those trips: go deep into the less-resorty areas in the interior and along the remote back side of the island, do lots of hiking, eat at very local restaurants, and spend as little money as i could (sorry, local economy).

a big portion of the plan relied on camping (being the inverse of resort accomodations in many ways), which i assumed for some reason would be plentiful on the island. nope! there's only like 6 campgrounds on the island: 2 far backcountry ones for backpackers which i simply was not about, 1 that is inaccessible unless you have a 4x4 jeep and the skills to use it, 1 that is overpriced and that the arcane online reservation system seemed to indicate was fully booked forever, and 2 reasonably-priced ones located at opposite ends of haleakalā national park. i immediately went to reserve the two national park campgrounds online (our connected era is unfortunately unkind to walk-ins and spontaneity) and discovered that they only let you stay a maximum of three nights per 30 day period, so i would have to find somewhere else to stay as well.

doing research online, i was not liking the prices of any hotels or even airbnbs, despite the fact that they were supposed to be in the midst of some of vague wildfire-fear-inspired lack-of-visitors "crisis" that prompted low airfares. looking for inspiration, i opened up google maps and scrolled around the island area, but my view ended up settling on the nearby teardrop-shaped island of lanai. what goes on there? they seem to have 2 luxury hotels and one little "city" smack dab in the middle, and that's it. i looked it up on wikipedia as i usually do, and learned that the island used to be the world's largest pineapple plantation until the discovery of cheaper land and labor in the developing world. now 98% of the island is owned by sinister and shadowy tech billionaire larry ellison, who you rarely seem to hear about despite the fact that he's been stuck at like #5 on the world's richest people list for something like 20 years, i guess since his company oracle makes extremely unsexy business software and has become one of those "just a huge pile of money" tech companies that only "innovates" by buying smaller companies. lanai was out of the question for me since there's nowhere there to stay really for less than a thousand bucks a night, but then i discovered it's somehow not the least-visited island (that's publicly accessible, that is).

that honor goes to moloka'i, the other big island near maui, long and skinny and kind of shark-shaped, with a little fin up top. intrigued, i decided to go to moloka'i, especially after discovering decent airbnbs could be had for $50 a night and that the only way to get to the island was by tiny turboprop plane operated by a single company, mokulele airlines. now that i was going to another island, i decided "why not" and threw o'ahu/honolulu into the mix, since the vibe of the city has always fascinated me. my return flight was still booked from maui airport, so i wrapped everything up with a flight from honolulu back to maui, a very short and very cheap ($45) route run hourly by both southwest and hawaiian airlines. thus, the plan was complete: three days each on three islands. my most sincere apologies to the maui economy for betraying it in its time of need. maybe get more campgrounds?

seattle sojourn

i don't like getting up super early so i booked an afternoon flight with an overnight layover in seattle before heading off to maui. i had a few "errands" i wanted to run in seattle (see how the uwajimaya canned coffee selection is doing, buy a certain manga volume at kinokuniya, eat some hotpot or something) but unfortunately i had already done all of those things with varying success (i'm now convinced they don't sell that particular volume in the US because the mangaka finally went Too Far with the cover art) the previous week, when i unexpectedly had to venture to seattle to retrieve my brother from his latest misadventure. i had also arrived too late to do any of the backup seattle tourist things i haven't done yet, like go to pike's place or visit the air and space museum, so i just walked from my hotel to round 1 (it's not a coincidence it was so close by...) and played several straight hours of ddr gold cab/piu infinity.

it feels good to be an alaskachad at seattle airport... also pictured: Typical Seattle Weather. i simp for alaska airlines so hard that i have their credit card, which i use to pay for pretty much everything. besides earning miles redeemable for free flights, it comes with priority boarding even if you buy the cheapest fares, so i always have first dibs on overhead bin space at the back of the plane. you also get a free checked bag, a perk which i pretty much never use since i'm a minimalist packer, although it came in handy this time around for checking a suitcase stuffed with camping gear.

once upon a time you would never catch me dead doing this, but nowadays i have realized that an essential pleasure of flying on alaska is purchasing their tastefully-curated northwest deli charcuteriesque inflight snack box, worth every penny on a long flight (it's easy to forget but hawaii is FAR away, a five hour flight from the mainland at least) at just $6 after the alaska card 20% discount, and washed down with the strongest alcohol available inflight (to get the most bang for my buck), the 40% abv canned old fashioned, $10 after the card discount. if you would like to apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa® card after reading this ad, please email me for my referral code so i can get 10,000 bonus miles.

next: maui, "the valley isle"