Did you know that Hawaii is the most remote island chain in the world?
A few months ago, it seemed like a really convenient option for our next family vacation, because meeting “halfway” between Beijing and NJ in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere makes perfect sense, right? It seemed that way…at least at first. But I guess we didn’t realize that the whole “let’s meet halfway” thing would involve 11-13 hour flights on all fronts.
The traditional “family vacation,” which was once a long car ride to Orlando with maybe a stop in South Carolina, now involves several planes, several departure cities, no less than 4 layovers (Tokyo, Guam, Chicago, Vancouver. Not even joking.), and some complicated meet-up strategies.
*Dramatization that’s not really that much of a dramatization:
“You just landed? Which gate? What? No, we’re-sitting-near-a-display-of-pineapples-by-the-gift-shop-on-the-second-floor of…Terminal 1? What bathroom? Wait, where are you RIGHT NOW? We didn’t have to go to baggage claim; we carried on everything, remember? There’s a parking lot over there? Are you even looking at the map I told you to look at?!”
Sigh. Deep breaths.
Of course, it was all worth it in the end. Because it’s Hawaii.
So that’s where we’ve all been in recent days, which is why all of us have been strangely silent here on the blog lately (besides the recipes that were dutifully prepared in advance for our absence). But not to worry. We made sure to work on a couple recipes while we were there. We’re a big fan of condos with full kitchens and outdoor grills, you see.
Oh Hawaii. We highly recommend it.
Here’s why Hawaii is pretty much the best place ever:
1. The whole place is an open-air zoo (with a look, don’t touch policy of course).
2. Two words: FISH. TACOS. One of the most amazingly, incredibly fantasmagorical food experiences ever.
3. Stars: Go out on a fishing boat at 2 AM or drive from sea level to 10,000 feet in under 40 minutes at dusk. You’ll see more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life.
4. The beach. In all its varied forms:
5. Spam (?): They love it. We were grudgingly accepting of it. But you gotta admit, the dedication is admirable.
6. Art: You might not think of Hawaii as a destination for art lovers, but check out the Honolulu Museum of Art. A really varied, eclectic collection and beautiful grounds.
7. Free fruit growing…everywhere. Mangoes, sour oranges, avocadoes, bananas. Growing on the side of the highway for cripes’ sake! The Hawaiians’ seeming nonchalance about their frutarific bounty was greatly distressing to my mother, who would freak out every single time she saw a pineapple growing out of the ground. In Kauai, we stayed at a condo that had a bunch of mango trees all over the grounds. We talked to a maintenance guy who said that no one used them. So we nicked some of course. And they were GOOD.
8. Pretty flowers: Kaitlin is like…the as-of-yet uncrowned queen of taking close-up pictures of flowers. She loves it. There was a lot of exasperated wait time with her lying on the ground somewhere fiddling with the manual focus on my camera.
9. Remembrance: Seventy years later, you can still see oil leaking out of the sunken battleship under the Arizona Memorial. It’s pretty mind-blowing.
10. Sunsets: are sunsets. And that’s enough.
11. The Cheesecake Factory, Home Depot, and Costco: Hawaii may be a couple rocks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but it is, after all…America. Which is why I, along with my sister and America-deprived parents spent a good half day moseying around Home Depot (which is totally my dad’s happy place) and Costco (which is everybody’s happy place). We actually bought two suitcases at Costco (for a good value and a 10 year warranty folks. Just in case you were wondering) to pack up all the stuff we bought…at Costco. We’re not weird. We just live in China. And the Cheesecake Factory? A guilty pleasure.
12. Breakfast: mmmmmm
13. Riding in tiny toy airplanes: My backpack was bigger than this plane.
14. Rainbows: The hype is real!
15. Chickens: all over the place on Kauai. On the side of highways, strip mall parking lots, the middle of the jungle, etc. etc. Just chillin’ and doin’ their chicken thang.
16. Nature’s eye candy: Just look at it.
Hawaii is Simply Amazing.