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Heading home

[Saturday, April 16]

All good things must come to an end. We left time for an early morning swim, and Dexter came by the hotel to see us off. But it wasn’t much fun to be heading home.


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April 15?

[Friday evening, April 15.]

If you know me it won’t suprise you that I left for Hawaii with our taxes unfinished and with us owing money. So, obviously, I brought the work along to file an informed extension with.

I spent a couple of hours on Thursday night getting to an approximation of our debt and making sure we had the funds available. Then, I’d just file an extension electronically on Friday and things would be fine.

But first, we’d need to hit the beach.

So, after the kids had left in the afternoon, I headed up to the room to finish my civic duty. The tax software would allow us to file the extension and arrange the payment online, so I thought we were set.

After the data was all entered, I hit the "Submit" button, but was informed that I couldn’t file past 4/15. But wait, it was still early on the 15th. Well, it was a little after 6:00, but still. Then I realized that 6:00 in Hawaii was after midnight on the East Coast, and that the software might not know where I was.

A quick check on the web site showed that it was still allowing electronic extension filings, so I filled in the numbers, saved the .pdf, and hit the button again. Only now, there was no provision for making the payment with the filing. So, I won’t get credit for filing without the payment, and I need to make the payment before midnight. (I actually don’t know what the value of filing online from that web site if you have to make a payment.)

So, we locate the downtown Honolulu post office, verify that it will be open until midnight, print out the extension form (which I could have gotten very easily from the IRS web site), and head out. We also picked up a restaurant recommendation from the bell desk, and were set for a frantic evening out.

Finding the post office was no problem, and we got that taken care of. But the highly recommended restaurant was closed. So, we wandered around and eventually ate in the Hilton Hotel complex on Waikiki. The Hilton is a different experience; the grounds around the five towers is like a miniature mall. It’s crowded and noisy, but we found a restaurant and had a good time anyway.

I’m sure that some of you would find a moral in here somewhere.

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On the beach, again

[Friday, April 15]

This is our last full day in Hawaii, so the original plan was to head back to the hotel’s beach and have a relaxing day. A few things changed those plans, but it worked out in the end.

Dexter, Kora, and Molly joined us at the beach. They didn’t seem to enjoy the water so much, but they sure could soak up the sun.

In the afternoon, Spencer headed back over to Waikiki for another chance at surfing. I think that the pace was getting to him though; he says he didn’t have much energy.

At some point in the afternoon the other significance of the day became clear.

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Pali Highway

[Thursday night, April 14.]

On the way back from Laie Beach, we took the Pali Highway over the mountains. It’s a beautiful drive, and you can head out to the overlook to see most of the Kailua area. But, at the end of the drive, you’re just back into the apparently continuous Honolulu traffic jam.

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Body Surfing

[I’m actually writing these last entries at home. Things got a little hectic in our last few days on Oahu. This was Thursday, April 14.]

Whitney visited Hawaii with her grandma when she was 13. They spent a lot of time at the beach, playing in the surf and riding the waves. She’d like Spencer to have the same experience.

But body surfing has changed since then. First, it’s bodyboarding now, since almost everybody is using a short surf board, there are web sites and magazines dedicated to the sport, and there is an appetite for a wilder experience.

The local gossip is clear; the "best" bodyboarding is out at Sandy Beach. But some further research led us to questions what "best" meant. Sandy Beach is well regarded as an expert’s body sufing spot, but the link above is pretty typical: two sentences about how wonderful it is and five paragraphs about the dangers. Armed with information but confused, we asked the towel boys what they thought. (The towel boys also rent the beach equipment and give lessons between refreshing our towels.)

The were most discouraging, and urged us in pretty strong terms to avoid the beach. It was getting clear that Sandy Beach was double black diamonds, and we probably were green circle types. Spencer was undaunted, but I’ve ridden down the ski mountain in an ambulance with him on a back board, so I daunt more easily.

The boys recommended starting out at Waikiki, but we had been there for Spencer’s surf lesson, it was crowded, and we hadn’t seen much of the rest of Oahu, which means we were under-utilizing the rented convertible. So, we grabbed the guide book and headed to the Windard shore.

Along the way we stopped by Sandy Beach. There were a lot of folks out there, and the waves were breaking into a smallish tube. Everybody seemed to be having fun, but I’ll bet it was more fun to watch the surfers and the boards fly in every direction when the waves crashed than to be in them.

After Sandy Beach, there are a couple of similar beaches in the immediate area until you get into the Kailua area, where the beaches are nice, but the water is flat. So, after too rough and too flat, we could hope for just right.

And we found it at Laie Beach, in the town of Laie (where the Polynesian Culteral Center is). The beach is also called Pounders Beach, for reasons that might make sense. The surf was interesting without a vicious break. There were a bunch of kids boarding in the highest surf, but we sat down 100 yards from them where the entry was a little less crowded. Spencer, Whitney and I all had quite a good time there.

The only real drawback to the day was that in order to have a quick bite as we got to the park, we stopped at McDonalds for grossburgers for the family.

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Tonight Dexter hosted us to a barbecue. Actually, we brought the food and he cooked it. It was another fun visit with the eldest son and his friends.

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Hanauma Bay

Today we snorkled at Oahu’s premier spot: Hanauma Bay.

We have heard that the snorkeling around Oahu is generally disappointing, because the reefs are barren compared to the best spots on Hawaii. Hanauma Bay seems to be a counter-example. We saw a whole mess of fish, and Dexter saw a sea turtle.

The Park itself is a little unusual. First, the charge separate to park and to enter, but they do charge. ($1 per car and $5 per person.) Then, everybody is required to view a short educational and cautionary video tape.

After that you can walk down the inside of the crater to the beach, or ride a tram down for $.50. The ride up is $1.00.

Whitney, Spencer and I arrived early in the afternoon and headed out on the reef. The tide was pretty low, and there wasn’t much water over much of the coral. It was easy to get into a shallow area and bump your chest on the reef, which isn’t good for the reef or for you. But there were fish of all sizes and colors. The only real drawback to the day was that it was pretty rough, and that kicked up a lot of sand to obscure the visibility.

Dexter and Kora arrived a little later, and the kids went out snorkeling. Whitney and I took another circuit later, being careful to stay in the deeper sections. You could swim out to an opening in the reef, and the water was rougher out there, but the fish were congregating in the current. It was a very cool day.

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North Shore

Today we drove out to Sunset Beach on the North Shore. It’s about a 1-1/2 hour or 2 hour drive, depending on the traffic and how lost you get.

Dexter suggested the spot; it helps to have an advance scout in the party. Even for mid week, a number of other beaches were too crowded to find parking.

The beach had pretty high surf offshore, and it was very windy, but the water near shore was calm enough. There was a reef further out, and I spent some time snorkeling out there. We’ve heard that the reef wildlife isn’t very good here compared to on the big island of Hawaii, but in a few minutes I enjoyed quite a short little swim. I don’t know the fish, but there were yellow, blue, and green ones. I can’t tell you how they taste.

Dexter and Kora led us to a pizza joint off the beach, where we enjoyed two meaty pizzas. Then we headed back in time to get into the Honolulu rush hour traffic jam.

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Yesterday, a surf instructor offered to give Spencer a quick lesson on the beach front. Spencer quickly mastered standing on a surfboard on dry land and had tried standing on a still surfboard in the water. The instructor declared that Spencer was ready for the real thing, so we arranged to go to surfing school today.

Spencer was a little nervous on the way there, but he jumped on his board and paddled out into the surf. We couldn’t believe how far out he went. It made it pretty difficult to track his progress, but we could occiasonally make out his form riding a wave or wiping out.

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