Walking in Waikiki
"Obama's Back Lanes"
I love little Young Street in Waikiki’s neighboring Makiki district. A one-time ‘carriage lane’ it is the quiet back street between urgent King Street and stately, rushed Beretania. Here, away from the main-stream are small, long-time businesses, the back side of office buildings, garages, small apartment buildings, and the occasional tiny, perfect Hawaii bungalow with mynah birds and doves singing in a front yard plumeria tree. On Young street you can hear your thoughts. Young Barry (Barack) Obama, whose childhood apartment is adjacent to Young street, must have walked the lane many times to collect his thoughts while growing up. And there he was again, during his most recent visit with the ailing Tutu (grandmother) he so often speaks of. No Michelle, no Sasha & Malia giggling this time; just a guy coming home, perhaps for the last time, to the rooms he grew up in, and the accomplished woman from Kansas who, he says, made him what he is today. One afternoon, the presidential candidate strolled down Young Street with the Secret Service at a respectable distance. The young guy with the basketball is now a family man with much more important contests to win, but the passing of an age, of those we love, puts things into perspective doesn’t it? He must have been enjoying the perspective of Young Street till the cameras found him. Pensively he rejoined the caravan. It’s a shame that his privacy was broached, but I am grateful for the few moments’ tape of him walking alone. A local guy walking down the back street, with miles yet to go. . . And speaking of local pride! My childhood Phillies have won the World Series with the help of local hero, Maui Boy, the "Flyin’ Hawaiian" Shane Victorino! In his ballpark locker, Shane has a news article headlined: “Hawaii Wins Little League World Series 08.” Our keiki (kids) inspire us, and now the Big League Bruddah is returning the favor. These tiny specks of island also produced the Beijing Olympics’ “greatest athlete,” decathlon gold medallist, Bryan Clay, soccer golden girl Natasha Kai (I know I’m forgetting others!) plus NFL players like kicker Jason Elam, and Washington quarterback Colt Brennan of last season’s WAC champion, yep, UH . . . (and let’s not forget Jack Johnson) But enough boasting! The Hilton’s Luau on the Lagoon looks to be getting very popular. You can now save yourself a bus ride far out of Waikiki (though Paradise Cove is a great place) while still enjoying torches, hula, games, and too much good food in a lovely setting . . . Jimmy Buffet is opening a huge-mungous restaurant at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel early next year. Don Ho’s old showroom was right there, so the atmosphere and acoustics should be right for a little pickin’ & singin’ eh Mr. Margaritaville? Swanning about: Four black swans mysteriously appeared recently at Ala Moana Beach Park. Sunday park goers were astonished at the sight; old-timers (and we get some OOOOLD-timahs) had never seen the like. Stately, poised and grand, the red-billed beauties glided in formation while swimmers kept a respectful distance. They seemed calm and tolerant of humans – though no one knows WHERE they came from! All the nearby Hilton’s wildlife was accounted for. (I mean, hey, would YOU leave free lifetime digs at a destination resort?) And then, as mysteriously as they had appeared . . . they were . . .gone. . . Maunakea, the Big Island’s ‘white mountain’ is once again tipped with snow. The far off white peak viewed against a blue tropic sky and wreathed in green swaying palms is one of the eternal images of Hawaii. Where else can you sled in the morning, ride a fine horse over the high, open range of cowboy Waimea in the afternoon, and surf Kohala’s gold-coast at Pau Hana (happy hour!) time? November 7 – 10th would be a perfect time to fly into Kona International Airport for the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. Small town parades, beauty pageants, tastings, gourmet food events, art exhibitions, AND a coffee picking contest will showcase this unique region. You may even hear a “Kona Nightingale” (mule) braying on the hillside. Red coffee “cherries” falling into a canvas sack on a small family farm or coffee estate, still mean an awful lot to the people and economy of Kona. You can visit the picturesque town of Holualoa on the volcanic slope above Kailua Town, where you’ll find little shops, a small post office, art galleries, and you might even see wisps of volcanic steam arising from vents in the “resting” Hualalai volcano
Want to enjoy more Waikiki “street” life? Check out my Hawaii “Taxi Cab” Novel: “Aloha Where You Like Go?” at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or the Hawaii State Library branch near you!