You may know by now that I’m trying to see all 50 states before I turn 50*. I always figured Hawaii would be one of the last states I’d visit because it’s so far away and expensive and therefore relatively unattainable. When Hanson announced they were playing their first ever show in Hawaii, a group of my friends all jumped on the chance to go. I decided to look up flights so I could talk myself out of going; surely I wouldn’t be able to afford them. Imagine my surprise when they were about 30% cheaper than I expected AND I had enough credit card points to book the flights for free. But surely hotels would be too pricey, right? Well, turns out not so much when you split an AirBNB with 5 of your friends. So at this point the only thing standing between me and paradise was my PTO approval… but my boss was on his own vacation, so I didn’t have the green light until a mere 6 weeks before our departure. Not the most spontaneous trip** I’ve ever done, but definitely the most last minute in relation to the distance traveled.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
After about 12 hours of travel, I landed in Honolulu a little after 2pm Hawaii time. Our first stop was Costco to pick up some snacks and bottled water for our AirBNB (and a hot dog because there were no meals served on my flights). Costco + jet lag + delirium = not the best combo, but we survived. I had hoped to squeeze in a little bit of beach time on day one, but at the sake of keeping a long, frustrating story short, a parking garage fiasco had different plans for us that day; we got to our building around 4:45pm and made it our room by 6:30pm. After freshening up and unwinding for a bit, we went to a nearby ABC store for some pineapple wine and a hole in the wall place for sushi and loco moco and brought it all back to the AirBNB. And yes, that included spam sushi.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Our first real day in Hawaii was a rainy one. We had booked reservations to a luau that night, and all day we were watching to see if the rain would clear up or if the luau would be cancelled. We had also made reservations to see the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor that morning, but that was rain or shine. On the way to Pearl Harbor, we stopped for some malasadas – Portuguese donuts – that we had been told to try while we were there. After a cream filling mishap and a subsequent wardrobe change, we still made it to Pearl Harbor in time for the boat ride. The rain helped create an appropriate somber mood at the memorial. I was amazed to learn the Arizona is still leaking fuel even almost 80 years later, which could be smelled as soon as we got off the boat.
The rain finally cleared and we were able to make it to our luau. For the most part, it was what I expected: leis, frozen cocktails, a pig roast, and hula dancers. But there were also more activities you could choose to participate in, such as canoe rides and javelin throwing. It’s for sure a touristy thing, but it wasn’t as hokey as I thought it would be, and I would go to another one if I ever make it back to Hawaii.
Thursday, September 26, 2019: The Hanson Concert
For me, this trip was more about getting to see Hawaii than it was about getting to see Hanson – they were just the excuse for the trip. I figured we would get the typical festival/one-off setlist, and I wasn’t wrong. However, there was an energy during the show that I haven’t seen in awhile now. It was one of the smaller venues I’ve seen Hanson in recently, and that always makes it more special. To top it all off, Zac gave my friend his drumsticks at the end of the show! Taylor had a DJ set afterwards, and, well, it was a Taylor DJ set. During our Costco run, we had the foresight to buy a box of pizza rolls, and we had an After Party after party in our AirBNB. Honestly this was one of the best post-Hanson concert food choices I’ve made.
Friday, September 27, 2019
While everyone else in our group followed Hanson off to snowy Lake Tahoe on Friday, my friend Yelena and I stayed behind to see more of Oahu. We took our time driving up the east coast of the island to the North Shore, stopping for photo ops and a shrimp truck along the way. There are three things I geek out on: Hanson, Harry Potter, and LOST. So, of course I made it a point to find the beach where they filmed LOST. We walked along the beach, had a heart to heart, and stuck around for the sunset. And I would say we crashed a wedding, but we got there first; I may or may not be wearing a swimsuit in the background of some strangers’ wedding photos.
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Ahh, Saturday – the one day on this trip I got to sleep in. And when I say I got to sleep in, I mean jet lag finally let me sleep until 7am rather than 4am local time. We had talked about hiking Diamond Head or Makapu’u but ended up doing Manoa Falls instead, and I think we made the right choice. It was neat to be inland for awhile and see the rainforest and mountains. The hike was very muddy and I thought for sure we’d slip and fall on the way down, but we made it out alive. After hiking, we grabbed lunch then went to Lanikai Beach – supposedly the #1 beach in America and the #8 beach in the world. It was a small beach, with absolutely gorgeous water, clean sand, and a beautiful view of Na Mokulua. We also made friends with a dog named Max who would stand on the beach and bark at strangers until someone would throw his frisbee in the water for him. I’m pretty sure Max is my spirit animal.
On our way back to Honolulu, we stopped to see the Halona Blowhole – a rock formation where water sprays up through a hole in the rocks. Next to it was a neat cove where people were swimming and jumping off rocks. I wish we had had a little more time to go swimming there, but at this point it was nearing dusk, and we had plans back in Honolulu… very “it’s a small world” plans. I went to college with a musician named Jon McLaughlin. He doesn’t know me, I never knew him, but it was a small Christian college and he was there studying music. He lives in Nashville now, and the week before our trip, my friend at work was asking about my Hawaii plans. He’s friends with Jon and told me he had a show while we were there. He texted Jon and got us on the guest list, and turns out, the venue was just a couple blocks away from our hotel. He’s a phenomenal pianist (can he give Taylor some lessons, please?) and I suggest you check him out if you haven’t. (Also, if anyone reading this happens to have the power to make this happen, Jon would be an excellent BTTI guest.)
For being such a small island, Oahu had a lot to do and see! If I make another trip to Hawaii, I’d like to go to Maui and Kauai, but I wouldn’t mind another day on Oahu to spend some time at Halona Cove and another day at Lanikai Beach. But, in the meantime, I’ll be here at home enjoying the fact that Nashville finally decided to stop being 90 and embrace fall.
*11 states, 14 years to go.
**That award is held by the time a friend I decided at 9pm to drive 8+ hours through the night from Nashville to Kansas City to go to a show the following day. We were packed up and in the car by 9:30pm.