Aloha, Yet Again.

Sep 19, 2019   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

In case you’re wondering, yeah it’s an OK place. (Click on any image to enlarge)

I’m sorry for the late posting of this Thursday Blog Day installment, but I’m five time zones away. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I’m on a smallish island, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a fun place called Kauai and I’ve been here since last Friday. This is one of those places were time flies and the days go by in a blur. Can’t believe this is my seventh day on The Garden Isle, but I still have two more weeks to go.

The most wonderful part of this long visit is that my sister Mary and her husband Lonnie are actually here. When I come over annually to cat-sit for them (love me some Biscuit and Maxie) it’s because they are over on the mainland to see their kids and grandkids. To have them on the island, just a few minutes away as they dog-sit and house-sit for their close friend Dr. Bob, we can get together with ease. At least after Mary gets off work at Pier 1.

We’ve already been up to the top of the island and the “end of the road” beyond Hanalei, and that’s a notable thing. The huge floods from April of 2018 destroyed a number of bridges and the accompanying landslides washed out some roads. For a very long time, you couldn’t really drive beyond Hanalei, and the authorities needed it that way to first get relief supplies to the stranded residents who lived beyond the bridges, and then to rebuild. All that conspired to really hurt the Hanalei economy, since so few tourist made the drive. It was great to have lunch there and see the place so vibrant again.

The incredible scenery at “the end of the road” on the north side of the island. And the new parking area!

You can’t quite drive all the way to the end of the road like you used to be able to. They’ve closed it off a little short of there and you actually have to show a Hawaii driver’s license (or have some sort of pass) to even get into the new parking area they built. Lucky for me my driver had such a document, since they live here.

They connected the brand-spanking-new parking area to the beach with a boardwalk and gravel path. It’s very nice, and it’s impressive they were able to put up new bridges, clear roads, support the areas where the landslides occurred, and get it back open at all, much less this quickly.

Since then, I’ve been writing and editing, as well as doing a lot of background sports research. As I might have mentioned, I’m to the place in the new book where I kind of lacked a true outline. The point where my two characters finally meet was pretty clear in my head, but I’d done so much factual research for the first 17 chapters I failed a bit by just assuming I could dive right into the next part of the book. I mean, I know the plot, but the facts have to be right. I realized how little I knew about specific sports teams, the ones my guys would be on, and I’ve taken a couple of full afternoons to dig back on the Google machine to figure that all out. It needs to be right.

Two nights ago, I went up to Dr. Bob’s house where Mary and Lonnie were hosting another friend for dinner. We had kabobs and brats and Lonnie was a superstar on the grill. Their friend Michael was a fascinating guy, and a great conversationalist, so the whole evening was wonderful. I was also proud I found the house without any wrong turns or backtracking. It’s quite hidden in a jungle of gigantic native plants and is down a very steep driveway. As a Minnesotan, my first thought was “Well this must be impossible in the winter” before correcting myself by realizing that’s not really a thing here.

And in terms of weather, the islands are going through a bit of an historic spell. It’s really pretty darn hot. The beauty of Hawaii has always been how wonderfully temperate it normally is. As in “a high of 82 and a low of 72” each day, just about all year long. Just in the week I’ve been here, I think every island in the chain has set a new all-time record for high temps, many in the 90s. It’s pretty steamy, and I’m thankful Mary and Lonnie have AC here at the condo. I’m sure Maxie and Biscuit are, too.

Aldrine rocking the house at The Oasis

Last night featured a visit to The Oasis restaurant and bar, because you basically have to go there on Wednesday nights. It’s a rule. That’s when Aldrine Guerrero performs with his ukulele and his counterpart adds in the guitar parts. It’s beyond amazing. Think of the most incredible guitarist you’ve ever seen, in terms of technical parts and perfect precision, and then imagine doing that on a 4-string instrument that’s half the size. It’s like having Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Brian May all performing at once, on ukuleles! It’s mind blowing. If you follow me on Facebook, I posted a short video of Aldrine performing. Check it out!

Plus, as is always the case at The Oasis, Mary and Lonnie are the most popular people in the place. Every time they walk in, it’s like Norm walking into Cheers. And that’s not restricted to The Oasis. There are plenty of places on Kauai where they seem to own the place. That just makes it all the more fun, and the drinks never stop arriving. It’s a solid win for me!

There’s always a part in the show where Lonnie gets up to play the role of “stranger seeing his first Aldrine concert.” I hadn’t noticed that he’d left the bar but Mary elbowed me and said “Lonnie’s about to do his schtick.”┬áKeep in mind, Aldrine knows Mary and Lonnie very well.

Tip Jar!

Lonnie wanders out in front of where they’re playing, waiting for a break between songs. Then he says, loudly, “Hey man, do you have a tip jar? Is there a tip jar around here?” Aldrine plays along by saying “I don’t know who this complete stranger is, but he wants to know of we have a tip jar. It’s right there.” It’s pretty hilarious, and it works. The crowd all starts to come forward to drop money in the jar after the Lonnie bit.

We made sure Lon took a pic of me adding my currency to the tip jar. It’s all part of the Lonnie and Mary experience. They’re the best.

As soon as I’m done with this blog, I’m going to get back to work on the book. I can’t be THAT lazy to not keep a writing schedule going! But, to be honest, I am being plenty lazy. I’m just now getting fully acclimated to the time zone here, since it’s five hours earlier than Minnesota.

When you first arrive, it’s really hard to stay up past 9:00 and then you’re waking up at 3:30 in the morning. Last night, I made it to 10:30 and I didn’t fully wake up until 7:30. That’s a milestone! I think tonight I’ll just hang out and relax. We’ll have plenty more to do over the next few days and weeks. I just hope it cools off a bit and the trade winds kick in enough to make it less of a sauna out there. My normal trail walks along the ocean have been curtailed because of it. I love those walks because of the scenery and the beautiful weather. Yesterday, I walked the 100 yards to the drugstore and when I got home I was soaking wet with sweat. Ugh.

Because why not one more photo?

Yeah, I know. I’m on Kauai and I’m bitching about the weather. That’s absurd. Shame on me, and I truly mean that. I’ll take whatever Mother Nature throws at us and I’ll be smiling the whole time.

This was a short one today, but the island is calling, my book is calling, and Maxie and Biscuit are calling. I just wanted to check in and let you all know I’m here, it’s all good, and the island life suits me. Oh does it suit me.

As always, if you liked this installment enough to not bail out half-way, clicking on the “Like” button at the top is always good. Mahalo!

See you next week with more tales from The Garden Isle.

Bob Wilber, at your service and actively looking for my first Mai Tai of the trip.

Aloha!

 

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