February 11, 2008

Hawaii Vacation '08 Day Two

Well the second day of our trip started with a lot of rain. No big deal as it rains everyday. Carolyn and I hopped into the car and headed East towards Honolulu and turned a bit North. Our goal was to circumnavigate the island. It's technically not really possible as the highway doesn't go completely arounf the island, but we could get around most of it.

A few tunnels and a pass over the mountains and we were on the windward side of Oahu. Our first stop was the Byodo Temple nestled in the back of a valley which was basically one big cemetary. By the time we got there the rain had stopped. The parking lot was pretty empty, so we headed on in. The entrance to the grounds was over a nice bridge spanning a couple of mountain creeks. The main path splits in front of the pool before the Temple and the normal traffic extends left towards a large bell which is traditionally rang beofre entering the Temple. A small donation (some left fruit or small gifts) later and I got to ring the bell by swinging this huge log back and then into the bell. I think I did a better job than most and was rewarded with a deep, loud gong.

We browsed around a bit, checking out some side creeks/pools and a sitting area beside the Temple. We headed inside and made another donation (the monks will say prayers on your behalf) and lit some great-smelling incense. The Temple is a replica of another Temple in Japan (but smaller) and the Buddah takes up most of the main hall. Once back outside we noticed a bunch of koi and a gift shop beyond. We bought some trinkets and artwork, along with several bags of koi food. I love koi, so we spent a fair amount of time feeding them.

After the Temple we drove up the North Shore and stopped at a local park (with great views) and some tourist-trap Macademia Nut plantation. We sample the nuts but didn't buy anything.....way too expensive.

Continuing up the shore we got hungry. We intentionally planned at eating at a shrimp shack on the North Shore and the first one we came across was next to an old grocery and was called......."Shrimp Shack". We both had a local "delicacy" from the grocery store (spam on white rice & wrapped in dried seaweed) and Coconut Shrimp from the Shack. I thought it was too sweet and oily (always do), but the resident "expert" proclaimed it awesome! I'll take her word for it.

Continuing up the shore we did see some surfers (it was surfing competition season and one was in progress), but it was too crowded to stop and watch...besides we were on a schedule of sorts. We stopped for dessert pie (chocolate & coconut creme) at Ted's Bakery and then continued on to Waimea Bay for some quick (and generally fruitless) shopping. From there we cut into the island and drove down the big valley that makes up the center of the island.

On a whim we decided to stop at the Dole plantation to check it out. The gift shop was pretty damned cool, but everything else was expensive and lame. I sprung the $20 for both of us to take the "Pineapple Express" tour train to see the plantation. Very lame.....but at least we didn't decide to waste more money on seeing the "Worlds Largest Pineapple Garden Maze".

We stopped for some extra shopping, picking up some snorkel gear and swimwear. I had forgotten my trunks at home and needed a new pair.

When we got back to the hotel we tried out the snorkel gear and the beach. It was a bit cold and Carolyn didn't want to get in the water, but I managed to see a couple of fish and try out my gear (worked really well).

After the beach we checked in with the "welcome desk" to schedule a tour of the vacation property and pick up our gift certificate we were promised. It was $50 and we used it immediately at the beach-front restaraunt. That made an over-priced meal a bit more reasonable. It was good food, just overly expensive.

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