Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aloha ... can I come back?

I found this photo on an old post that I started writing but never finished. I'm not sure exactly when I took it. It looks so serene, so welcoming, so cold ... so very different from the place where I am at right now.

OK, so I'm killing some time in the nether regions of the Alaska Air check-in part of the Honolulu airport. It's 3:53 a.m. Honolulu time. There is some infuriatingly mellow island music blasting over the loudspeaker in this not-quite-inside, not-quite-outside kind of a room, and I'm already down to boxer shorts and a T-shirt, sticky with heat and sleep deprivation. Just need to make it until the Thrifty Car Rental place opens. Just a little longer ...

I know, I know. I'm in Hawaii on vacation and I'm not allowed to complain, especially since I haven't even escaped from the airport yet enough to give island life a chance. I guess it just feels good to vent after really bad flights. I know everyone has bad flights. This was the worst flight ever. I know everyone has worst flights ever. It's just that after 11 hours on a single leg of a flight between Anchorage and Honolulu, long after the foil-wrapped hamburgers ran out and the toilet seats were ringed in urine and the flight attendants were rationing water, sitting in 85-degree heat amidst a plane completely full of screaming children and adults whose good humor had pretty much worn out, I will say it was all a little too Superdome for my taste. And, having gone through and survived that flight, I will say that it's amazing the suffering so many people will endure to get themselves someplace warm on a vacation. I am pretty sure it is beyond any endurance I have ever exhibited to bike myself someplace cold.

Now I am sitting cross-legged on a floor near the only electric outlet I could find and observing how embarrassingly white my legs are, having seen no significant amount of sun in about three years, and wanting to put something on to cover them up, but I just can't deal with more sitting and sweating quite yet. I need to find a refrigerator to go sit in. Did I really think I was going to be able ride a bike in this climate? Ha ha ha. Maybe after I finally get some sleep, we shall see.

I really shouldn't complain. It's all good for me. Food, water and sleep deprivation training at its finest. I need to get past it, though, because I'm having strong urges to go somewhere quiet and be really lazy.

I guess I just need to think of that distant place I left 24 hours ago - seems so far in the past - with 2 inches of rainfall and an untold accumulation of snowmelt backing up behind several feet of snow base, driving my car to the gym through standing water deep enough to splash in through the closed door, running for two hours on an eliptical machine before getting in the dungeon-like shower only to have the power go out two minutes in, groping around a strange room wet and naked in the dark and thinking, "Wow. Here we go again." Snow. Rain. Avalanche. The city's only connection to its power plant gets taken out for months. Again. All in a day's life in Juneau.

Could be worse. Could be here.


  1. Good thing you don’t write the brochures for the Hawaii travel bureau! Hopefully you’ll start adapting and enjoying the state after some sleep and food. Have fun for all of us getting snowed on as we read your blog.

  2. If that doesn't make me enjoy the cold here in upstate NY, I'm not sure what will.

    Hope you acclimate quickly and things get better for you.

  3. Even when you are sleep deprived you are an excellent writer!

  4. Well Jill, have yourself one of those tropical isle drinks with a little umbrella in it and don't spare the sunscreen! Looking forward to seeing photos of you on a surfboard.

  5. Trade you, it's -1 with windchill of about -15 with snow and blowing snow. Enjoy the sun & sand and ignore the comments of "look at that, Casper is walking on the beach".

  6. Love the "superdome" metaphor. I wonder how many people get "it?"

  7. Hey,
    This comment has nothing to do with the post but I didn't wan't to e-mail you since we don't really know each other. I was thinking about that South Pole invite. With your book out now showing pretty good marketability, you could probably land an agent. If you did that, said agent could probably line some gigs up with regards to that South Pole biking trip. You could get another book out of it. You could do an NPR thing again at a minimum. Pie in the sky--maybe an agent could get some Good Morning America or Discovery Channel thing going. Seems that South Pole thing might be one of those carpe diem kinda things. Just spitballin' here.

    Enjoy your vacation. Ride up that volcano for me. Always wanted to do that.

  8. you have yet to cold rock that party. commence.

  9. I'm new to your blog and am enjoying your writing immensely. Minus 5 here in Western NY tonight. I was out with my dogs about 4 this morning for our daily pre work walk and I was just overwhelmed by the frigid beauty and stillness of the day. Cold can be brutal, but also can be breathtakingly beautiful. I understand how you can miss it.


  10. A good thing!
    The Superdome comment...since I started cycling after Katrina I'm going to check out Bicycle Blogger's around storm time...should be informative. Take a break Jill-you've earned it.
    kb peace out
    ps watch out for the Kuala Bear!

  11. I agree with Roaddrider. Have yourself a nice lime margarita while sitting by the pool and you'll forget all about the plane ride! :P

  12. Have fun on your vacation. I travel a lot and I love the Superdome comment. How true it is sometimes.

  13. Alaska got ya there, I love them, Im MVP Gold and I don't even live in Alaska or on the West Coast! Yup, you picked a time of year that is challenging. Enjoy and get beige ( brown is a stretch...I feel your pain) Haleekea (sp?) volcano is best on the way up not down......pedal safe.

  14. Jill....enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!! My compass has only one direction...North...I'll be thinking of you while I'm riding forest roads on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

    Have a great vacation Jill!

  15. Been there, done that. I'm sure it just takes a little opening up to see the beauty and awesome challenges in a completely different place.

    Have too much fun.


  16. Jill,

    Been there, done that. You won't be saying that after a few days.

  17. I grew up west of Honolulu and lived there until I graduated from college. A few ideas for things to do:

    - Leonard's Malasadas
    - Waiola Shave Ice
    - Bubbies Ice Cream
    - Ride the perimeter of Oahu (I've done it on a road bike and made it through the unpaved section, though it helps to bring sneakers for the part where the trail runs out. Here's the route:
    - Failing that, at least ride the North Shore and the windward (east) coast. You can make a nice loop with Pali Hwy (take old Pali Road for part of it).
    - Ride up Tantalus.
    - If you make it to Maui, I can send you some more ride suggestions. My email username is ziyou and my account is at

  18. Once the warm wind has caressed you skin and the calm of the waves has soothed your soul you will love the warm and heat. Living in the very end of the world (New Zealand), every trip to anywhere is a long way. It is just part of life for us so the destination is always more precious when you get there. Enjoy your holiday.

  19. Wow! I thought the 6ish hour flight from Salt Lake to HI was bad! Especially the way back because it is always a red-eye.

    Sorry it was such a rough travel! I'm sure you will feel better once you get a little sleep and some real food in ya.

    You will enjoy Hawaii though. Probably the Big Island more because I think there is more hiking there. But I know your dream land will always be Alaska.

  20. hey jill/ i'm still reading your posts... thought you'd want to play this game that was passed to me via the blogosphere: "meme": Open a document or photo folder and choose the fourth folder and then the fourth photo in that folder. Next, post the photo with a description about it and then tag 4 friends to do the same.

  21. maybe you fell down and can't write your blog. or maybe you've been kidnapped by beach pirates and forced to surf really big waves. maybe you never made it past buffet, or maybe you went sailing and didn't figure out how to turn around.
    who knows? it's a mystery for sure.

  22. It doesn't matter where she goes, she'll still find something to complain about.


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