Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

Cheeseburger in Paradise

daisy_knotwise, Jerry, and I had carefully booked no shore excursions whatsoever today with the intent of roaming around Lahaina, Maui and seeing what looked interesting.

This plan got revised because Gretchen felt like crap this morning. Part of it was lack of sleep, another part was caused by either allergies or a cold that had turned into a sore throat. Gretchen didn't want to go anywhere. Except back to bed right after breakfast. Under the circumstances, this seemed entirely reasonable, so Jerry and I grabbed a tender ticket, waited for a few minutes in the movie room watching CNN, and caught a tender to shore.

The advantage of taking a tender as opposed to docking the whole ship is that the tender actually arrived at an interesting place -- the center of town -- rather than the variety of uninteresting docks that we'd disembarked at so far.

Lahaina's main drag is about two miles long and four blocks deep and eminently walkable. Jerry and I proceeded to do so, in a variety of criss-crossing paths. There was, of course, the expected variety of tourist trap stores, including the usual number of jewelry stores and an absolutely remarkable number of art galleries, most of which we skipped, except for the one really odd one with a lot of interesting statuary, art glass, and collage-like work. Oh, and the clocks that were dog heads, with the tongue wagging back and forth as the pendulum, and the hour, minute, and second hands attached to the nose. I wish I could have taken a picture of them to show you some time, but picture taking there was absolutely verboten. (I run SF art shows. I understand this.)

We eventually found ourselves in what appeared to be a more normal shopping center catering to the locals, including a Gap, Banana Republic, a store called Shoe Fetish which sold -- among other things -- high-heeled, high-top lace up sneakers, a Quizno's Subs (where we grabbed a drink), a grocery store, and the other sorts of stores you might find in mall land.

And one colossal tourist trap: Hilo Hattie's.

There are Hilo Hattie's stores in virtually every Hawaiian port. And if you wanted a piece of Hawaiian tourist kitsch, you would have arrived at the right place. It was there. All of it, neatly arrayed in displays between the entrance -- where you were greeted with a lei of tiny shells -- to the exit cashiers. Of course, you had to pass everything to get out. And we did.

Including the size 200 XL aloha shirt (large even for me). And the jewelry counter selling you cultured pearls directly out of the oysters. And Kona coffee in blends from 10 to 100%. And macadamia nuts of every description and candy coating available.

Jerry was looking for presents for a number of friends and relatives, but didn't see anything that seemed quite right. Neither did I, so we managed to get out without buying anything.

And promptly fell into an ABC store. Our guide on one of the tour busses on another island had mentioned the ABC stores and we hadn't known what he was talking about. Now, we understood.

It was like a 7-11 gone Hawaiian, with tourist paraphernalia thrown into the mix. You could buy soda, or beer, or a candy bar. Or a silk aloha shirt for Jerry for $20, as opposed to the $35 cotton shirt that he'd been looking at when we were at Hilo Hattie's.

It was an "Aha!" moment. I later counted at least five ABC stores along our walking path.

Eventually, though, we came back to the waterfront, because I had found the place where we needed to eat lunch.

It was the original "Cheeseburger in Paradise" restaurant, named -- as you might already know -- after the eponymous Jimmy Buffett song. They've started franchising extensively lately, opening stores in a number of places, even back Stateside, incluing a new location in Lisle, Illinois that's apparently been packed. But it was 11:50 AM and we arrived minutes ahead of the lunch crowd and were immediately seated on the lower level at a table next to an open window overlooking the beach.

Given my liking for a good burger, this was just about as good as it was going to get. Hey, who needs fake atmosphere back in the States when I can get the real atmosphere right here, right now? And Jerry and I agreed that they were darned fine cheeseburgers. I got mine with lettuce and tomato, big kosher pickle, french fried potatoes, fried onions, mustard, ketchup -- and a slice of fresh pineapple sitting right there in the basket.

After lunch, we did a little more shopping and caught a tender back to the ship. Gretchen had been sleeping all morning and was just ready to head up to lunch, so Jerry and I joined her for iced tea and soda while she ate. Gretchen still felt too lousy to head off to the island, so I gave her an Actifed tablet in the hopes it would help clear up her sinuses and let her retire to a lounge chair on the Lower Promenade Deck, while I headed back to the room to cool off and read.

Jeff and Carol had gone to nearby Lanai on a snorkeling expedition in the morning, so I left them a voice mail to tell them that I'd be happy to head back over to Lahaina and play tour guide if they wanted to see the town in the afternoon and lay back on my bed reading "The Eyre Affair".

Carol called a bit before 4 PM. She was happy to have some company in Lahaina, because there was no way that Jeff was going to be going with her.

The snorkeling had been wonderful. The trip back had not been so good.

The tour company had said, "Do not wear your shoes in the boat." Jeff, being a reasonably intelligent and compliant sort, didn't. However, there was an older, more than slightly overweight woman -- for convenience, we'll call her Bertha -- who failed to take this advice to heart and decided to put her shoes on anyway. The water in the channel was reasonably rough and Bertha found that she lost her balance, grabbed onto a stanchion, swung around it, and landed with her full (not inconsiderable) weight upon Jeff's unshod foot.

Now, this would have been bad. What made it worse was the unerring instinct with which Bertha sought out the toe that Jeff had stubbed a month ago. You might not think that a stubbed toe was such a bad thing, but this was the Cadillac, nay, the Mercedes Benz of stubbed toes. It had been healing extremely slowly, it was still quite painful, and it was now very, very flat beneath Bertha's shoe.

"Are you all right?" Bertha asked.

Jeff is apparently a strong man, because rather than throwing Bertha -- or, at least, Bertha's shoe -- overboard, or screaming, "No, I'm not all right!", or just wordlessly shrieking in pain, he simply replied through clenched teeth, "I'm fine, thanks."

When I got to Jeff and Carol's cabin, Jeff's foot was happily embedded in a bag of ice and it was fairly clear that a long walk was not going to be on the agenda.

Jeff asked if we'd seen a book store on the island, because he was looking for a copy of "Mysteries" by Colin Wilson, which was the only book of the three on the subject by this author that Jeff hadn't yet read. (He was just finishing up the second book.) I told him that we'd found a used book store and that I'd take Carol by there and we'd see what we could find.

Carol and I grabbed a tender -- we were the only passengers aboard -- and headed back to Lahaina. The waters were quite rough, the tender underloaded, and we were bouncing across the water pretty good. The crew looked back at us and we assured them that we were ok. I had no problem whatsoever with the tender and the choppy waters, lending some additional credence to my theory that my seasickness problem is due to a disconnect between what my eyes see and what my inner ear is telling me.

I took Carol by the Old Lahaina Courthouse and the city block-sized banyan tree that grew in its courtyard. We then headed up Front St., stopping at various stores of interest along the way. One of them was the used book store that Jerry and I had found, full of tightly packed shelves, and tall bookcases arranged in an eclectic and winding fashion. The woman at the store directed us to the appropriate shelf for metaphysics, but the books were in the sort of typical disarray that you find in a lot of used book stores, so it looked like finding anything might be difficult.

It took about three seconds for my eye to fall on the trade paperback copy of "Mysteries". I guess the old bookfinder instinct is still working just fine. Carol grabbed the book for Jeff and we headed off for other stores.

Jeff didn't own an aloha shirt and Carol was looking for a suitable shirt or t-shirt that he might wear for tonight's dinner with a Hawaiian dress request. We didn't find anything suitable at the first ABC store or the Whalers' Supply store, but we eventually hit paydirt at the fourth ABC store we tried. She found an appropriate aloha shirt in blue, some chocolate macadamia nut flavored 100% Kona coffee, six boxes of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for friends and relatives, and several other things that I've lost track of.

I found a present for Gretchen, a nice long blue batik sarong made in Indonesia. (What, you think they make these things in Hawaii?) We grabbed a couple of sodas and headed a few feet north to Hilo Hattie's, which Carol wanted to see, having read about it on every info sheet that the Statendam put out for every port of call that we'd seen. I'd seen the place, so I waited on a bench outside with the (large) bag from ABC. Carol exited the store a few minutes later, having successfully evaded the woman with the shell leis, marking her as nearly unique among Hattie's customers.

As the sun set, we headed back toward the shore. We stopped at the Lahaina Scrimshaw shop that I'd passed through with Jerry earlier and found suitable Christmas presents for some of my relatives. I took some pictures for my collection of sunsets. And eventually, we got back on the tender and headed back to the Statendam.

It turned out to be a useful touristing and shopping pairing. Gretchen sometimes calls me a "shopasaurus", because I actually like browsing around little stores. So, it turns out, does Carol.

Gretchen and Jeff were feeling somewhat better by the time we got back. I gave Gretchen the sarong, which she tied off to make a dinner jacket, and the five of us proceeded upstairs for dinner, then downstairs to bed. Well, everyone else is in bed. I'm typing this for you to read when I get a chance to upload it.

And our ship has sailed for Kona.
Tags: musings, vacation

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