Off to Hawai’i!!!

I am writing this as I travel to Hawaii for the first time. I have been on a plane this size before, but it is still odd being on a plane that holds nearly 300 people and it is full. I will update these entries when I can, but they will possibly and probably not be in real time. I am also writing this between periods of studying my manual and when I get thoughts to jot down.

We left about 45 minutes late between de-icing and some “paperwork” that had to be done – whatever that catch-all phrase entails. According to the in-flight map we are over the water right now but there is a lot of cloud cover so I cannot tell.

I have wanted to go to Hawaii for a few years now. This makes 47 states I will have visited when I land there. My goal is all 50, and then I thought I might shoot for state capitals. There are states, quite frankly, I will not go back to so I won’t seriously chase that one.

I am going over for training for boats for my job and squeezing in some leisure time. I am covering most of my expenses and the training will be taken care of. It works out good for everyone. This is training I need to be the island caretaker for my next gig in April. One is a certificate class; the other is for open water, such as oceans. Needless to say this trip is very exciting in many ways for me as you can well imagine. Plus, it is important and it will look really good on a resume, too.

The excitement never really hit me until two nights before I left. I stayed in Seattle last night to avoid a 3:00 A.M. drive, but it didn’t help much. I didn’t sleep for shit with the excitement and with the fear of missing my flight.  The last part happens to me whenever I fly. Since I do not plan much, when I do have a timetable it is a really big deal for me.

I got on the plane and have an exit row seat I paid extra for. I figure on a six-hour flight I want room so I sprung the extra $ for it. I sure got room… plenty of room to stand in front of me by the rear exit bulkhead.

Sitting here it is surreal to think that you basically go in a locked room with 299 other people, and six hours later you are transported elsewhere. If the windows are shut (as mine is since I am on the sun side of the plane and there is nothing to see but clouds anyhoo) you have no real sense of movement.

I am now over four hours into the flight and the guy next to me has slept the entire time so far. Quite reassuring given the fact he is sitting in an emergency row and won’t be worth a damn if something happens.

I was able to catch a couple of naps myself, and I really needed it. It also helped to pass a little time. I did some studying for my course, anxiously waiting to land and see the island.

Finally! Hawaii!

We landed, and then had to walk what seemed a half mile to the baggage claim. But the walk was outside, and that was pretty odd. The weather was really nice, and I got my rental car and headed to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife bunkhouse where I was going to be staying.

On my way I got a hankering for some food. I had not eaten since some fruit and crackers on the airplane and I was starving. I stumbled upon a place called Leonard’s bakery. I decided to go in and see what they had. I was thinking they might have some sort of sandwich or something like that. But they had something even better… malasadas. 

Malasadas are a Portuguese pastry – pretty much it’s a deep-fried doughnut but it’s different and so much better. They come rolled in sugar, one is something called “Li hing” which is a sweet and sour sugar that is indescribable (but delicious as I later discovered on my THIRD visit), one with a coconut cream filling, a chocolate filling, and this month the special is banana. And pastries a-plenty.

When I got there the resident volunteer greeted me at the door. His six-month stint is up the same time mine is at the Spit. He is also from Washington will be heading back there after he gets done here.

Later on the facilitator of the bunkhouse showed up with some other people. One is a volunteer here in Hawaii at their refuge, and the other two are from Portland. The three of them were taking off early the next morning to go to Midway Island to do some research. The bunkhouse I am staying at is a stopover for the researchers going to and from the remote Pacific islands. The bunkhouse has four bedrooms. There are three creams with eight para bunkbeds in them two people in each room, and before three single bed. As these people come and go they can come here and stay for a night or two go on to their next destination. People are always coming and going. It is like living with a bunch of constantly-changing roommates.

Some of the islands are areas where they are fighting invasive species that are already there, and others they are trying to keep invasive species out. They even quarantine all the stuff that goes to and from the islands in plastic tubs to keep them from carrying any insects, plant seeds, etc. and taking them to the islands were they become invasive species. Is actually quite fascinating to hear him talking about all the places and how and why they do what they do.

I would love to go out to one of those islands to see what it is like. I do not know if I will ever get that chance, but I would still love to go.

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