"Tomorrow turns into never."
--- Tim Ferriss, in The 4-Hour Workweek
Today was "Institute Day" at werk, meaning the union presented a day of seminars, activities, speeches, propaganda, and, of course, a vendors' room. Attendance at Institute Day is mandatory, as it is a contractually agreed-upon substitute for one "work day." Institute Day is held in downtown Honolulu at the Blaisdell Arena, Oahu's (excuse for an) exhibition center. Registration time at Institute Day was from 6:30 am to 8:30 am.
Institute Day is lame. Today was my third time in attendance. Naturally I got lost trying to find parking, as the only time I venture downtown to the exhibition center is once a year for Institute Day. I finally managed to find the place, paid my $5.00 parking fee, walked in, signed the attendance roster, picked up my little bag of flattened dead trees, and walked out.
"I see you're not the only one skipping out," noted Trippy, who was whiling away his time waiting in the car by counting people leaving the center. "So now what?"
"Aloha Tower," I suggested.
"Seeing as how it's raining, that sounds pretty miserable," Trippy sighed.
"A business stop first, then," I said, and drove to the Dole Cannery complex, which has not actually been a pineapple cannery for two decades, and today houses a gloomy, mostly-vacant shopping mall struggling to survive in a repurposed industrial complex. These things never seem to work, do they? The only thing keeping this one afloat is tax dollar subsidies in the form of Department of Education offices, one of the few business tenants in the "business office" portion of the facility. I had been avoiding the trip to the Standards Board office for some time, simply because it's a hassle to drive downtown, and, of course, it's a challenge to find parking. Once you find the secret entrance to the Cannery complex, hidden between the going-out-of-business "flagship store" of Hilo Hatties: The Store of Hawaii and a local home improvement outlet, there is a parking garage, with a fairly hefty parking fee. To my surprise -- I burned off some karma today, that's for sure -- the Standards Board office validated my parking stub, and I was able to fill out the forms I needed to submit right there in the office, and even meet with a worker to make sure I was x-ing all the right boxes and such.
After the twenty-minute stop at the Dole Cannery complex, during which time the only other "customer" I observed was a homeless guy staggering in from the bench out front to use the restroom, it was off to a now-sunny photo stop at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, including an elevator trip to the top of the Aloha Tower, once the tallest structure in Hawaii (until 1950), to admire the scenic vista. The elevator was broken for almost two years, so I was delighted to find it working. We arrived early enough that Trippy and I essentially had the place to ourselves, other than a group of three elderly visitors, who were friendly and quite curious about the traveling lizard.
Despite Trippy's urgings, davidd was too timid to ask the waitresses at the Aloha Marketplace Hooters to pose with his lizard; instead, in keeping with the "Brady Bunch" theme of Trippy's adventure, we opted for a shot in front of the closed-because-it-was-too-early-or-maybe-b
In four visits to Hawaii, Trippy had not visited Diamond Head, probably the state's most recognizable landmark.
"We're gonna get drenched," Trippy griped, and indeed, as our car rolled down Kalakaua Boulevard, aka the Waikiki Strip, the rain was once again pounding down.
By the time we reached the entrance to the park, however, the clouds had parted, and, after paying the $5.00 entry fee (it used to be free, up until four or five years ago), we actually found a parking space. Diamond Head, the gate attendant told us, now attracts about 3,000 visitors a day, and the parking lot has spaces for only 75 vehicles. In the past it was a rarity to see people walking up the hill from the bottom. Now it appears that most visitors walk up the road from below to avoid the parking hassle.
The signs suggest allowing 1-1/2 hours to make the climb. Trippy and I made the round trip in 55 minutes, including photo stops and regardless of the teeming throngs of visitors. Despite our blistering, or at least "perspiration-inducing," pace along the trail, up the concrete stairs, and through the war-era bunkers, we felt like slugs compared to an athletic couple in their running gear who made two complete circuits to the top and back in the time it took Trippy and I to make our single climb and descent.
"Lookin' good, lookin' good," called another pathetic slug as the athletes passed.
"Not bad for fifty, huh," laughed the woman runner.
"Not... bad... at all!" stammered the commenter. Trippy was, of course, in complete agreement.
"It's kind of funny to think about," mused Trippy from the panoramic lookout atop Diamond Head. "Exactly a week ago, we were climbing down into the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Now we're at the top of Diamond Head in Hawaii. That's kinda cool!"
"What's really odd," I added, is that even though we hiked 'down' into the Grand Canyon, we were still almost six-thousand feet higher above sea level than we are here at the top of Diamond Head."
"That's 'cuz you were too much of a wimp to go all the way to the bottom of the canyon," accused Trippy.
"I didn't hear you volunteering to carry me!" I retorted. Or, I would have retorted, were I actually so removed from reality as to carry on conversations with a plastic lizard. "Even if we had made it to the bottom of the canyon, we still would have been about 3,000 feet (1000 meters, give or take) higher than we are now."
"That's weird," said Trippy, struggling with the mental math.
"That's what I said," I said.
"No, you said 'odd.'"
"I know a really fast way to the bottom of this hill," I muttered. "And you can go first."
We reached the car without dying from the exertion or killing one another, made a couple of quick shopping stops, including a Wal-Mart visit to replace my wrist watch -- apparently plastic Timex watches only keep ticking for a finite number of ticks -- and then Trippy took a nap. I cleaned up the mess created when the wooden planter barrel completely disintegrated sometime during the past week, and then went for a run.
I accomplished more today than I usually do in a week.