a series of fortunate events

I never actually expected to have a trip to Hawaii count as “annual training” when I saw the email mentioning an opportunity to do just that about 6 months ago.  But here I am.  In Hawaii.  Getting paid.

I arrived Friday afternoon after 10 hours next to a 25-year-old PhD student from Charleston who came for an Alzheimer’s conference; her name was Linnea.  I called the duty controller at the base where I’m supposed to train and learned I was to show up at 0530 the next day.  I walked over to Duke’s and had dinner and beers at the bar with another PhD student named Julian; he was from Switzerland.  Linnea soon joined us, and the 3 of us continued until 9 (keep in mind that 9pm was 3am to my confused body).

The next day, my duties on base ended at 9am.  That’s right.  So I drove over to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling and swimming.

Except for scraping my knees on some coral and getting sunburned in that spot a person can’t reach on his own back with sunscreen, it was a great afternoon (I thought about asking a stranger to put sunscreen on my back, but none of the scenarios in my head ended well, regardless of gender of the asked).  Except for some reason, after I came back, I started getting lonely and walked several blocks down to where Pretty Bride and I went in 2008 after my last trip to Iraq.  This was bittersweet, so I felt some sushi and Asahi beer were in order.  I had several of both.  When I woke up the next day, I realized I’d bought a shirt for my boy Owen and some of those Under Armour underbritches for myself.  Oh yeah, and that I dropped $1000 at the Ralph Lauren store.  On a sportcoat and sweater.  Haven’t quite told the Mrs about that yet, so, moving on…

Sunday, I ran a couple miles down the beach at sunrise.  I passed a homeless man, a very happy woman with her coffee, a couple in last night’s clothes who didn’t care about each other’s morning breath, a fisherman with his Lab puppy, some children who resented their parents’ waking them at 0530, and several surfers.  Then, it was breakfast at Duke’s, where I became convinced that in Heaven, they will serve guava juice.  I was supposed to report at 12:30, but it got pushed back to 3:30pm, so I sat on the balcony and read all afternoon before dinner at Roy’s, where I saw the lady next to me pour a bottle of Coors over ice and drink with a straw.  I thought that my cue to leave.

The next day began at 0530 and ended by about 9.  I thought it would be a good idea to drive an hour to a trail I’d read about on the internet.  I walked through a church graveyard looking for the trailhead.  No dice.  Ran down a residential street past three very angry and protective pit bulls, stopping at where I thought the trail began.  And I saw this:

Great.  I returned the half a mile I’d run and started over.  Finally, I found this:

I figured a “beginner” trail would be about 1-2 miles.  It was 4.  Up a mountain.  And the trail was covered in roots and rocks.  And I wore my most inappropriate shoes.

Once I got on the trail, I didn’t see another human.  It was the most alone I’ve ever felt.  At first, it was peaceful, until every fluttering bird made me wonder if 1) Hawaii has bears and 2) how long it would take someone to find my mauled body, since not a soul alive knew where the hell I was.  So, with every painful step, I was afraid to cry out, for fear of a bear or puma finding me, and instead whimpered like a little hungry puppy.  Because that’s what men do.

I finally made it to the top.

As soon as I got back down to the beach, I put my throbbing feet into the cool ocean.  And I paused to take in the tranquil surroundings while berating myself for being such an unprepared, naive dumbass.  It was nice.

Then I stopped by a park on the way back to the hotel.

Dinner was at the Yard House, where I talked to a kid named Robbie from California who’d traveled with his Mormon parents but broke away to guzzle some beers and smoke some cigarettes.  I’m pretty sure Robbie was using a fake ID.  He said “bro” a lot.

Today, I scheduled two activities from my “bucket list:”  SCUBA dive and surf.  First was the dive.  I was pretty nervous about going underwater and relying on a metal cylinder to keep me alive, but I enjoyed it.  My right ear wasn’t very cooperative with the whole “clearing” process every few feet, and when we came back up to the surface, the instructor told me he was close to giving up on me, but I finally got it to work.  We saw several fish and a large eel.  My leader, Greg, took several pictures that he’s sending me later.

I was not optimistic about being able to get up on a surf board, but I was wrong!

However, I did bust pretty badly on my very first attempt, landing in a reef.  When I took off my shirt (see how I learned from the sunburn experience at Hanauma Bay?), I found a nice grouping of coral residue and blood:

That didn’t feel too good.  The lesson was for an hour, and it was supposed to be a group class, but I was the only person who showed up, so, private lesson for me!

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to fly to Maui with one of the guys I met at the military base who has his private pilot’s license.  I’m supposed to work in the evening after we get back.

So far, a great trip…I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be here.  I’ve already initiated the process for coming back next year for more mission-essential training.  It’s what our country needs.

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43 responses to “a series of fortunate events”

  1. Dave2 says:

    Ah, I appreciate somebody who can make the most out of a work trip… that’s pretty much my whole life now.
    Dave2´s last blog post ..Vincent

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @dave2, I can’t wait to do it again in August with you! Wait. That sounds inappropriate.

    [Reply]

  2. Amber Lee says:

    Ah, so this is why you tweeted about coral. Lucky duck (for the trip, not the coral)
    Amber Lee´s last blog post ..Go Listen

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @amber, Coral is evil and must be destroyed!

    [Reply]

  3. Kathy says:

    Wait. There appeared to be about three minutes of actual work going on there. I hate you. (In a nice way.)
    Kathy´s last blog post ..The Thing I Swore I’d Never Tell Anyone

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Kathy, It was about 3 hours! Hours!

    [Reply]

  4. SciFi Dad says:

    Dude, I mean, DUDE.

    This post should be part of the National Guard recruiting portfolio.
    SciFi Dad´s last blog post ..Getting It Done

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @SciFi Dad, I agree!

    [Reply]

  5. Miss Britt says:

    So help me God, you had better not be a “keep your hands off my money” Republican.

    Also – a sweater and a sportcoat?!?! For $1,000???? Big. Trouble.

    (Awesome job on the surfing!!)
    Miss Britt´s last blog post ..Good thing I’m slightly less of a snot now!

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Miss Britt, How about a “stop wasting my money” Libertarian?

    [Reply]

  6. Mrs. Hall says:

    This was very nice. I enjoyed it a lot. I did recently go to a conference without the mister. It’s bittersweet all around. It wasn’t to a place anywhere near as nice a Hawaii, but.

    Nice footage of you surfing too. Hee hee hee

    very nice, very nice 🙂
    Mrs. Hall´s last blog post ..I done whoop some butt update on yesterdays post

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Mrs Hall, Glad you liked it!

    [Reply]

  7. Pretty Bride says:

    I repeat: you did WHAT at the Ralph Lauren store?!?!?!?!?!

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @PB, I asked my boss for a bonus, and he totally said “yes!”

    [Reply]

    jade Reply:

    don’t forget, your ‘boss’ is pretty bride!
    jade´s last blog post ..Dennis…the Menace

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  8. Grant says:

    You’re in Hawaii and you haven’t posted any pictures of hot Asian bunnies? Epic fail! Don’t come back until you rectify that.
    Grant´s last blog post ..Edumacation

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @grant, I thought of you the first day I was here. This is your happy place, no doubt. So, you want me to walk up to a Japanese woman and say, “Hey, can I take your picture for my friend from the Internet?”

    [Reply]

    Grant Reply:

    What do you mean “a” woman. Try to get an baker’s dozen at least. There’s serious money in it for you if you can get some of them to make out. Bonus points if they’re wearing Catholic schoolgirl outfits and bunny ears.
    Grant´s last blog post ..Edumacation

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Grant, I will do my best!

  9. It looks like you’re having a blast. Thanks for the heads up on the hiking trail. We were checking into that site for our trip next week. I’ll be sure my pansy ass packs her tennis shoes!

    Which outfitters did you go with for SCUBA and surf lessons?

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Nancy, I highly recommend the “Oahu Revealed” tour book…it was written by some locals and now has a 3rd edition version. I used it in ’08 when we came for good places to eat, hike, and explore, but I left it at home this time on accident and can’t bring myself to drop $17 for a book I already own. So, I looked online for trails, which is fine, but the website doesn’t give great explanations of distance and difficulty. Enjoy your trip!

    [Reply]

  10. You. Lucky. DOG.

    That’s all I’ve got to say, except I hope the coral rash itches.

    Because there needs to be some justice in this world.

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @CrazyMomTats, It stings a little. Feel better?

    [Reply]

  11. Chris says:

    Your run sounds great! My middle son is named Duke — I’m ordering him a hat and a t-shirt. Thanks for the link.

    You should have posted a picture of your Ralph Lauren score…
    Chris´s last blog post ..Tough Negotiator

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Chris, You’re welcome. It’s a great restaurant/bar. I went back for b’fast today, in fact! Maybe in a subsequent post I’ll post the pics…

    [Reply]

  12. Sounds like a rough trip:p
    thepsychobabble´s last blog post ..This Week Not an Improvement

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @psychobabble, It is rough. Like satin rough.

    [Reply]

  13. Faiqa says:

    Oh, yeah? Well, I went to the splash park with the baby and got drenched in a pair of jeans. TOP THAT.

    You suck.

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @faiqa, Splash parks rule! You probably didn’t have to fly 10+ hours to get there, did you? See how you topped me? Maybe?

    [Reply]

  14. Well, I looked online for trails, which is fine, but the website doesn’t give great explanations of distance and difficulty. Enjoy your trip! thanx.
    Armando Codina´s last blog post ..Response cached until Fri 16 @ 16:17 GMT (Refreshes in 21.06 Hours)

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @armando, Exactly.

    [Reply]

  15. jade says:

    Those shoes are uncomfortable?? They look awesome! I guess the Hawaiian Bears didn’t get you? 🙂
    I’ve never been, but don’t think I’d do all that stuff by myself…you go boy!
    jade´s last blog post ..Dennis…the Menace

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @jade, They’re awesome UNLESS walking on rocks and tree roots.

    [Reply]

  16. Countessa says:

    I totally said “Muskrat booooo-tay” while watching you surf. Do not look at me in my shame.

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @countessa *looks at your shame*

    [Reply]

  17. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the hiking trail. We were checking into that site for our trip next week. I’ll be sure my pansy ass packs her tennis shoes! thanx for the share.
    Cindy´s last blog post ..BeQuick Welcomes Our Newest Developer

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @cindy, You’re welcome…enjoy!

    [Reply]

  18. Avitable says:

    Where’s the real post where you talk about the hookers and coke?
    Avitable´s last blog post ..My comic geek boner is rising

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @avitable, It’s on my anonymous blog–at avitable.com!

    [Reply]

  19. […] She probably thought I’d forget her offer after we sat together for 20 hours of round-trip flying to Hawaii a few months ago, but I […]

  20. […] finagle your way into another military-sponsored trip to a base in Hawaii. Second, take an 8-month-old. Third, pray said 8-month-old refrains from screaming during the 19 […]

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