Well friends, the staycation has begun and I’m glad I committed myself to this endeavor for an entire month. Naturally, I tend to change things up quite a bit, but this month I hope to go above and beyond. I have no plans as to what I’m going to do or when – I guess I don’t make a good tourist in that sense – but will simply respond to my own impulses. Honestly, this is just my excuse to embark upon a love affair, to fall in love all over again with this enchanting place I call home.
The romance commenced ever so spontaneously around 4pm Friday afternoon when I had an itch to hike Diamond Head. I Googled the opening hours (6am-6pm), threw on my shoes, filled a water bottle, packed my camera, and jumped in my Prius for the quick 15-minute drive to the crater. But alas, rush hour traffic delayed me. And by the time I rolled up, the park attendant informed me they stopped entry 8-minutes earlier (at 4:30). With a bit of friendly negotiation – basically him figuring out I was a local – and my promising to sprint my way down if it started pushing 6 o’clock, he granted me admission. Apparently, they lock in anyone who isn’t out at 6 and tow their cars. Now wouldn’t that be a nice trip to paradise?
Diamond Head, known as Le’ahi in Hawaiian, is not a very long hike. The trail is 1.3km (0.8 miles) one way and has you climb 560 feet from the crater floor to the top. But with such a short ascent and nearly 300 stairs it can be a real butt buster. And since I couldn’t didn’t remember how long it would take, I sort of speed-walked my way up so I could lounge at the top for as long as I liked. I did, however, make time for photos along the way.
Aside from the phenomenal panoramic views, I enjoy hiking Diamond Head for the mélange of people that frequent its trail. This time around I passed by a lot of – yes, you guessed it – Japanese tourists, but also a couple from Germany, a few Dutch folks, a handful of people from middle America, two people from Seattle, and three ambitious local guys who sprinted all the way up… and all the way down. It was refreshing to hear such a wild array of accents and languages in such a small space of time.
But like all great love stories, my first date with O’ahu is best understood in images. Sometimes words – no matter how great – can pale in comparison to seeing the light and color of a moment. Nature’s overpowering beauty stopped me in awe more than once that afternoon and made me think of something the great Frenchman Jean Klein once said: real seeing stops you in the middle of whatever you’re doing…