As a word of warning, this post is only nostalgic, not bike-related nostalgic. Follow on at your own risk.
My name often inspires the following dialog, especially at stores where they read my credit card:
Cashier: How do you pronounce that?
Me pronouncing the entire thing
Cashier: Is that Hawaiian?
Cashier: What island are you from?
Me: I'm actually from Southeastern Utah.
Cashier: Silence accompanied with a confused look.
Me: Thanks (as I'm walking out)
So, as I grow older, I struggle to connect with my Hawaiian roots.
It was too expensive for my parents to take all seven children to Hawai'i with any regularity. We went a couple of times when I was very young and I only have faded memories of those trips. So, what I learned about Hawaiian culture, I learned from my dad. I learned to savor poi, kalua pork, cuttle fish, dried aku, haupia, kulolo, laulau, poke, lomilomi, and the other foods as I grew up. But many of the other aspects of the culture passed me by. My wife and I have been over twice in the last two years and plan to make it a yearly tradition. One of the things that makes the long hours at work worth it is that the job provides the flexibility and means to make the trip on a yearly basis, with my kids and my dad.
When my dad gets back to Hawai'i, it doesn't take him long to settle back in as kama'aina. My kids had a great time, too. So, for posterities sake, here are my favorite memories of Hawai'i.
1) We went to the heau at Honaunau on the Big Island. The heau is a state park where an ancient Hawaiian royal village and an adjoining sanctuary have been restored. As we were watching some sea turtles, I noticed that the rocks seemed to be crawling with black crabs. I know that the locals eat them raw. I've never had black crab, so I asked my dad how they prepared them. He said, "They're raw, but not really raw. What you do is you take them and crack them, and then you put a lot of salt on them. You leave them in the salt until they're . . . . I can't think of the word in English. Until they're miko."
2) The night before the race we were driving back down to the condo on the Queen K highway. The rain was coming down and the wife and kids were sleeping in the back. My dad was sitting in the front seat. I was listening to IZ's (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) rendition of a traditional favorite, Kuhio Bay. My dad doesn't sing along to music, especially in the car. In fact, the only times I've heard him sing is in formal settings, like choir practice. I noticed him singing along softly to the song, which turns out to be, among other things, about the beauty of rain in Hawai'i.
3) On the way home, the first leg of the flight took us from the Big Island to Oahu. The flight is short and the flight attendants don't really give you a choice on the refreshments, they just run by and throw juice cups at you. The juice was a passion fruit blend. As I was finishing my juice, I heard my oldest daughter say, "This juice tastes like Hawai'i."
4) And finally - this:
If you can't tell, I'm island sick today.