AKA Gomez the Unremarkable, food, Gomez, Hawaii, Humor, Travel

I Wanna Go Back…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I Wanna Go Back…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Back in 1991 I went around for about a year with an earworm stuck in my head. What was so bad is I only had one phrase of the song stuck in my head and then the rest of the melody played on…you know…kinda like those dorks in the Holiday Inn commercial. Well, my earworm was, …I wanna go back to my little grass shack in Kona Hawaii…♪

Yes, in 1991, thanks in part to Daddy who gave me first class airplane tickets, I got to spend 10 wonderful days in a spot on this Earth that can easily be described as Paradise. Of course, the fact that 85 giga-trillion Japanese tourist were walking around very quickly with very big wallets crammed full of trillions of yen buying up everything thus driving up prices kind of tarnished the golden glow of Paradise. It was a big concern for the Hawaiian economy at the time. But, that was the 1990’s. Later, the Japanese economy hit a bump, inflation and all, and that presented a new set of problems for the Hawaiian economy.

It also presented a personal snafu from time to time. You see, my former surname was “Ling”. No, Gomez is not Asian…far from it. Occasionally we would have to queue up for something…a dinner table etc. Well, you can imagine the look people gave us when we stepped forward when the name “Ling” was called. Imagine someone setting off the largest stink bomb in the world in the room and you’ve got the look on their faces. They were all thinking, “Yeah, sure”. We were branded. We were posers.

This was a trip of a lifetime. It’s unfortunate it had to be with Gomez, but if I lobotomize the part of my brain his memory lives in, I can still manage to have some wonderful memories of Hawaii.

For me the biggest problem was getting there…I hate to fly…do not call me Amelia Earhart. It’s not the travel, I love to travel, or the new places…it’s that little thing called the distances between me and terra firma. This particular flight involved two of my “Monkish” phobias…flying *shiver* and water…flying over water…oh my gosh! Now, to all of that mix, add the fact that I get motion sickness, yes, and air sickness…Bev needs a barf bag. Bev got sick riding the ferry from Battery Park in New York City out to see Miss Liberty! (See how much I love you guys to share this?) So, in the days leading up to my departure, I wrestled with my fear of flying like Jacob with the angel…“Had I rather die during the take-off, landing or drop out of the sky and plunge into the Pacific Ocean?” I just attributed my fear of flying to the fact this East Tennessee mountain girl come Alabama transplant loves terra firma in the form of giant chunks called mountains so much that she hates to defy gravity and leave said terra firma. Other people call it being scared poop-less.

Anyway, Bev is not one to drink “spirits”, but, baby, I love those Dramamine. I “Dramamined” my way across the Pacific, in first class. Talk about being in high cotton…yeah, baby! I do apologize to the person who got the leather seat with drool all over it after me. Wish I could remember more about that flight…

I do remember arriving in Honolulu and flying over Pearl Harbor and some sugar fields before landing at Honolulu International Airport. I remember the sugar fields because they burn the fields off during harvesting and we had to fly through the smoke. It was a point the pilot took a moment to note for us.

I had chosen three islands to visit: Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. Of course Oahu is the most populated of the islands and is where the big city of Honolulu is located. Kauai is known as the Garden Island and the Big Island is known for, among other things, its still active volcanoes.

I did many things while in the Islands, some things others might have found uncharacteristic for me, but, I was determined to experience the whole enchilada or as much as I could. And each island brought specific and unusual treats.

Bev at the luau, Hawaii April 1991Oahu was the more “touristy” island. I did a luau there. I took a tour around the island and saw some things and places that would be considered rural stateside, but, with an exotic Hawaiian beauty. There were pineapple plantations and some of the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever had in my life.

Famous Diamond Head, the dormant volcano dominated Waikiki Beach, where we stayed, like a sentinel watching over it. I’m a lighthouse enthusiast and was delighted to discover the Diamond Head Lighthouse. I got to experience the winds of the Nuuanua Pali Lookout where King Kamehameha experienced a great victory in Hawaiian history. The winds are so great here, it can seem almost chilly, yes, even in a tropical paradise. You are warned to remove hats and hold onto valuables and small children’s hands. The view will take you breath away.

My one break-out experience on Oahu? Bev went on a submarine ride! Yes, the one who can not swim, only sink in H2O went on a submarine ride and I have the certificate to prove it. Huzzah! It was several feet down, really! I had to ride a catamaran to get to the sub and once we boarded, the hatch was closed and under we went. I had the chance to see some amazing sea life, but, the thing that astonished me the most was to see where the ancient lava flows had rushed into the sea and rested at the bottom of the ocean floor. This is how the Islands were born.

On to Kauai, the Garden Island. I was saddened a few years after my visit when Hawaii was hit by Hurricane Iniki and little Kauai bore the brunt of the damage. Kauai is very rural. At the time of my visit, it was still a sleepy little island, full of tropical delights and waterfalls. We rented a car on this island and explored our heart out. I saw the waterfall from the opening credits of the TV show Fantasy Island, and a beautiful area known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”…Waimea Canyon. Yes, it was a real canyon, maybe not as big as the one in Arizona, but just a spectacular given the location…in a Hawaiian way. (Waimea is 10 miles long and one mile wide.)

I discovered another magnificent lighthouse, Kilauea Lighthouse. It stood on a little finger of land that jutted out above the blue Pacific. It was an absolute vision to behold and I still carry it with me. From the distance I saw it from, it left a very lasting surreal impression. I can still see the white of the lighthouse column glimmering in the Hawaiian sun and the bright red roof seemed suspended above the lens housing. If I could, I would live there.

My break-out experience on Kauai? Bev took a helicopter ride around the Island! Oh, my gosh!! Yes, the mountain gal that hates to fly took a helicopter flight. It was like riding on a leaf, at the whim of the thermals. When we first took off, I thought I was going to have to take up a collection like a pastor, but instead of passing the collection plate, I would be asking all of the other passengers to pass their barf bag to yours truly. My eyes where shut tight and “eau de helicopter fuel” was wafting up my nostrils. Then it hit me, “Bev, O gal, you may never do this again. There are places on this island you can only see by boat or helicopter. Get ahold (a very Southern term) of yourself girl, and enjoy this.” So I did.

And, did I ever get to see some marvelous sites! We flew into that “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” I told you about. Our whirly-bird looked like a little bitty dragonfly against the backdrop of the canyon wall. I saw the Napali Coast, a very rugged terrain. You might even recognize the area…parts of it have been used in movies like The Thorn Birds and South Pacific. The pilot flew us up to what seemed like the top of the world, and we were in thick clouds…we were in one of the wettest spots on Earth. We flew over taro fields and all too soon, we were back at the airport. Darn.

I was so glad I did the helicopter trip…would I do it again? I don’t know. Not too long ago a tourist helicopter crashed on Kauai and there were fatalities. Scary.

The Big Island of Hawaii was next…and another one I explored with a car. There are two main coasts on Hawaii…Hilo and Kona…and, hence my earworm. I stayed in a wonderful hotel that looked out onto a lagoon surrounded by blue Pacific water and black lava…it was breathtaking…and on the Kona side.

One of Kona’s claim to fame is an impossibly smooth coffee that is grown there on the island. It can be a little pricy, but well worth it. It is fabulous…just be cautious…do not get a blend passing itself off as a true Kona…it’s just not the same thing and it won’t taste the same! I went into a little Kona coffee shop and had Kona coffee and some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts…see what I mean about Paradise?!

The Hawaiian Island chain is actually a group of mountains rising from the bottom of the ocean floor. They were created over years from volcanic activity. The Big Island is still volcanically active thanks to Kilauea. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the tallest mountain in the world is actually part of Hawaii. Yes, taller than Mount Everest if you count from the bottom of the ocean floor. That mountain is Mauna Kea. Mauna Loa is another giant volcanic mountain on the Big Island. Mauna Kea *gasp* is on occasion snow-capped. While I was visiting Kilauea at Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, I actually had to wear a sweater because it was chilly. One thing I remember about exploring Kilauea and the Park…the unpleasant stench of sulfur. If you need a “volcano buster” in your backyard call Bev…I’ll never forget that smell.

Well, I had a break out experience on the Big Island, too. I went on a dinner cruise. It’s not what you think…just give me a minute. This was to be a nice quiet, romantic dinner, with sunset views on the Pacific accompanied by great food, Hawaiian music and entertainment. Some of that was true (forget the romantic…it was with Gomez the unremarkable) but, things did get a little interesting.

Keep this one thing in mind…remember I said, “Bev is not one to drink “Spirits…adult beverages”…at least until Gomez tucked tail and abandoned his family, then I did try to recreate something I’m about to tell you.

When we arrived on the boat, we were ushered to our table. Already on the table were glasses, with what I thought was this wonderful fruit drink. Yum! As I enjoyed my glass of vitamin C I glanced around the table and noticed that Gomez and I were the youngest people at the table. I also remembered that we were about to set sail and I had forgotten to take my beloved Dramamine…I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s dinner, so I didn’t waste time taking one. Well, it didn’t take long for Bev to develop what some might call a “buzz”. Whoopee! Evidently, my great fruit juice drink and something “extra” in it and I had added Dramamine to the mix. Well, light my fire and kiss my grits!

It was now time for the entertainment. The hunky young people from the cruise company were picking people from each table to become part of the entertainment. Oh my freaking gosh! As I resurveyed my table and surmised I was probably the youngest one there able to move, I say my fate coming at me like a big ol’ Peterbilt going 100 on US 40. And, I wasn’t wrong.

Bev and the Big Kahuna, Hawaii May 1991Before me was the Big Kahuna in a little bitty skirt thingy, all bronze, bare chested, dark headed grabbing me and dragging me up on the table. He wanted me! He wanted to teach me to hula. I have pictures. Then, he dragged me into a conga line that went around the boat. Well, being the good wife that I was, I felt kinda sorry for ol’ Gomez sitting back at the old folks table so I ducked into the ladies room as the conga line passed by the door that said something cute in Hawaiian for “girls”. It didn’t work. Big Kahuna followed me into the ladies room and dragged me back into the conga line.

Darn, if I had know what Gomez was going to do 10 years later, that might have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship…Bev, the Big Kahuna and the ladies room. Hindsight really is 20/20. (By the way, the thing I tried to recreate after Gomez left 10 years later was the “fruit drink”. A word to the wise…do not try that at home…the Big Kahuna did not reappear after imbibing…darn. That’s ok, because a few months later, I met Tall & Handsome…and the world is good. I got a long, tall cowboy instead…yee-haw!)

So, what got me to thinking about all of this? I was thinking about and craving Banana Pancakes with Coconut Syrup. Yep, sounds good enough to rub all over yourself doesn’t? There wasn’t a lot of food in Hawaii that really wowed me with the exception of the fruit, and some mahi mahi…but those pancakes…umm…umm…umm.

So, maybe this weekend I’ll fix these and ♪…go back to my little grass shack in Kona Hawaii…♪ Aloha…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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