Hawaiian adventures – Exploring the North Shore

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“Damn… I hope that’s Joe! I’ve never actually gotten to drive in a Charger before!” I said, after looking over the railing from the penthouse. Below us was a silver Dodge Charger, that we believedthe belonged to a friend of Beate named Joe; a marine who she had “befriended” a few nights before. “Ohh yeah, that’s definitely Joe!” B chimed in, “You guys go down, I’ll meet you there!”. And so with a bound down the stairs, all three of us met up with Joe, jumped in the car, and started out on our exploration of the North Shore of Oahu.

Or… we tried to. Unfortunately for us the road layout of Waikiki isn’t really the most simple thing to understand, even for someone like Joe who’s lived on Oahu for the last four or five years. Wrong turns, one-way streets, and a complete lack of any on-ramps to the highway we wanted kept us trapped in the city for nearly an hour, simply driving back and forth trying to find a way onto the highway. Finally Joe got fed up with the whole situation, and simply got onto the highway going the wrong direction – in his words “screw it guys. This island’s small, we’ll just take the tour the other way around!” Heh… upside of it taking less than three hours to drive all the way around the island, right?

Once we did get onto the highway we made pretty good time, just cruising and chatting, and spending a lot of time simply staring open-mouthed at the views as they flew by. Oahu was the opposite of New Zealand – instead of rolling plains there were lush jungle mountains. These mountains were unbelievable – instead of the usual slope-sided mountains of the mainland USA, or the rocky-sided mountains of New Zealand, Oahu had jagged precipices, seemingly torn out of the ocean only a few hours before and still covered in jungle and wildlife. It reminded me most closely of the mountains in Venezuela – though the Hawaiian ones were much more jagged, they both had the same “there is a lot of living stuff on these mountains” feel to them.

As we dove farther into the island we saw more and more mountains and cliffs, and we stopped in to see them a bit closer on a few occasions. Each time we parked a ranger or other docent would quickly walk up to us, asking for either a parking pass or the $5 parking fee. Thankfully, Joe is officially a resident of Hawaii, and thus is exempt from this rule – a quick flash of the “badge”, aka the state ID, and we were good to go. I liked that about the Hawaiian tourist infrastructure… it seemed that almost everything was discounted or waived for actual residents.

After about an hour of driving, more like three hours total, thanks to the sightseeing, the highway shot out of a small pass and into the plains that separate the mountains from the ocean. Here we were neck-deep in actual jungle, and unfortunately couldn’t really see anything interesting… so we just kept pressing on towards the legendary surf beaches of the North Shore.

And these beaches… they’re legendary for a reason. The day we went out was actually fairly stormy, and so the waves were being whipped up into a series of smaller swells, all crashing into the shore at random. I didn’t know this myself, but Craig explained that surf-waves usually come in swells of three to five clean and separate waves, followed by a short calm spell, and then repeated throughout the day. Today, the waves were coming randomly and churning the surf into a froth… awesome to watch, but from what I learned horrid for actual surfing.

We bopped between a few beaches known as “the pipeline”, watching the waves and even getting a bit of sea-side bouldering in before hunger started eating away at us too loudly to ignore. And so we went… to a trailer! That’s right, to the “World famous shrimp trailer” located… somewhere on Oahu. I don’t really understand it completely, but the shrimp place was this cool little trailer with a few dozen picnic tables spread outside the front. It didn’t look like much, although I was impressed with the amount of graffiti and tagging on the trailer itself, but when we finally got the food… well, I understood exactly why everyone wanted to come here so badly. It was, in a word, magically delicious. So much more so than anything lucky-charms has ever created.

After we finished eating and analyzing the artwork on the trailer (yes, that took a while) we moved onwards to our next great destination – a bar! We had actually already hit one bar on the drive up to the North Shore, but back there we had only stopped for a quick beer. This time, since we had more time and were on the way back, we decided to relax and chill for a bit and sample the local cuisine. We ordered up a place of BBQ quesadillas (nothing against the shrimp place, we were just super-hungry) that was made with a type of BBQ pork unique to the Hawaiian islands called Kalua. It was, in a word, amazing. There really isn’t any other way to describe it.

To go with the quesadillas everyone ordered up the usual round of Hawaiian beers… except for me, who ordered up what was quite possibly the girliest drink I’ve ever ordered, second only to a pink cotton-candy cosmopolitan that I ordered a few years back at a TGI Fridays. This was a paradise-plum margarita… and it was supreme. Seriously, I would have killed someone just to get the recipe if I hadn’t been in such a haze of happiness while drinking that thing.

Soon enough our drinks were empty and the plate pillaged of its meats, and so we walked back to the car to finish up the drive into civilization. It was excellent, for my part, and Craig and I spent the whole time relaxing and chatting about his previous jobs. You see, Craig used to be a sommelier at some of New Yorks fanciest restaurants, and I wanted to pick his brain about what that kind of life was actually like. From some of his quick stories, Craig had served people like Bill Clinton and chatted with Donald Trump… thus I was rather excited about hearing stories about that sort of world.

It was quite interesting, and paired a lot more science into the food than I would have expected – primarily on understanding how a wine would pair with a particular dish. For example, when serving asparagus one needs to pair a very sweet wine, one that hasn’t fermented as long and thus retains more original sugars, in order to offset the free radicals (ions that don’t have a partner atom) in the food. Yes… they actually have to know chemistry. Sorry folks, your high school teachers were not lying to you when they said you’d need this stuff in the future.

Anyways, Craig and I had a jolly time in the back seat of the car as it raced back towards Honolulu, but the atmosphere up front was starting to feel a bit awkward. Possibly only to us, but B and Joe seemed to be playing the rather silent types up there… we spent about a minute worrying if they had run into that part of a relationship where you don’t really have anything else to say to someone, since you don’t have a very long history together, but then we remembered that they’re both big kids and can deal with themselves. So we went back to blabbering about wines and how best to pair blended red peppers with a rice dish.

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