I know that part of my purpose is to share observations. It occurred to me that that falls under talk story, though I may need to graduate to storyteller at some point. Maybe that’s one of the difficulties I have running RPGs. I’m so caught up in sharing a particular element and I don’t put all of the elements together into a complete story.
Let me tell a bit of a story. Well, a 4000 word story. At some point, it will tie slightly into gaming.
I haven’t posted to this blog in weeks. Reason being that I was traveling for two weeks. Because my father’s family is from Hawai’i, going to Hawai’i is not a momentous event for me. And, while I’m there, I tend to do things that aren’t remotely adventurous. Eat at the same old places, hit the same old beaches. Primarily what I think of as the meat of the trips is seeing family and friends, which may be something I’d write about if I used Facebook or whatever, but it’s not something that is all that sharable except when some interaction is directly applicable to a matter at hand.
This trip had two primary purposes. One was to make more use of the house in Honolulu [ladies …]. The other was to do more adventurous things. A key component to doing more adventurous things was hitting the other islands. Friends and acquaintances would travel to various islands and I had really nothing to offer about them. So, two of my brothers, the twins Stephen and Blair, and I arranged a four part trip. Short time on Oahu to get organized, Big Island for four days, Maui for four days, back to the house for a couple of days before heading home.
Stage one was mostly about familiar food and a get together with our cousin and her friend at a nice Japanese restaurant. Let’s move on to stage two.
We get to the Big Island and have an agenda. Because we are there in the middle of a Tuesday, we hit the Kaumana Caves on the way to our vacation rental, which is 25 minutes North of Hilo on the coast, so in the middle of nowhere. Well, we actually had lunch first, but rather than go into a series of restaurant reviews, I’ll say that the food on the Big Island was underwhelming with a French restaurant where we got crepes being the highlight (for Stephen and Blair, I got a dessert crepe for breakfast on the day we left that was okay but not lifechanging). Buttered mochi from the farmer’s market was good, but I now know why fresh guava is not something I’ve ever seen before.
So, the caves. There are two. A lava tube split open and there are steep stairs down into a Dagobah-like environ. There are warning signs but no one is posted to prevent people from doing whatever. Fortunately, my brothers are much more the active sort and have such useful things as flashlights. The caves aren’t lit. We went down and down one side. Supposedly, there’s an end, but after we got to something of a split, we turned back. I think it was more than 30 minutes one way. The other way stopped not that far in.
So, being a gamer, what was the obvious thought? This is what’s like to really be in a cave, to really be underground. No light – complete dependence upon flashlights to find one’s way. Having to crawl in one place and stand easily in another, with variations in terrain but bumping into the rocks always being painful due to pointiness. There weren’t creatures, but there was stuff hanging from the ceiling, colorful rocks, and, when the flashlight was pointed toward the ceiling in the dark, it looked like that lightsaber image, though we didn’t seem to catch that picture.
A cool start to the trip. And, it was kind of cool and kind of damp.
We got into our palatial estate. Blair had arranged the place but didn’t realize it was just going to be a huge, fancy house with eight rental areas. I had looked at the website and had a much better idea what to expect. We were in the right, upper wing of the house. Kitchenette area to the right, living area to the left, master bedroom’s reception area was past the kitchen where you could step out on the front veranda, then around the corner for the bed. The rear veranda was beyond the living area. My room was connected to both. The backyard had fish pools and required a bit of a walk to get to the edge. No water access as this coast was all about cliffs.
We checked out Laupahoehoe to see about a beach. Not really a beach place, but it was cool looking with channels between the rocks. We couldn’t find the cafe that was supposed to be on the road to the Point, so we drove to Hilo for dinner and then returned.
Wednesday was volcano/lava day. Well, up until our helicopter tour of the lava flow was cancelled due to weather conditions. We drove to the Volcanoes National Park and did what I always do – hike six miles. We started with a short sulfur vent hike. While not spectacular, it was like being on another world, with the steam rising up from the ground and the ubiquity of a certain gray/green plant that made me think original Star Trek planet.
Then, Kilauea Iki. Four mile hike. My brothers do Tough Mudder, I barely leave the house. I was fine on the way down. I was pleased with the overcast, windy, and cold environs of walking through the crater. I was laboring once back up through tropical rainforest. Good cardio workout, which brings up how walking from place to place in a non-industrial world, a la many fantasy worlds, is not so great unless you are physically awesome. Also, I had not planned for the level of hiking we did, so I could have used better clothes, better planning of replacing shirts, which were gross, etc. We stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube because we planned to and because we forgot when we got back up to the road that the full hike went past it. It was very boring after Kaumana Caves. Looks like a Disney ride’s cave.
Drive. Few takeaways about the Big Island. One of them is that everything was further than I thought. I’m used to Oahu where 45 minutes (without traffic) takes you anywhere you want to go. Big Island was “We aren’t even close to where this place is.” after 45 minutes of driving in a number of cases. Also, jumping ahead a big, driving in complete darkness or really doing anything with no lights anywhere is not what this child of the suburbs is used to. Big Island was this rural environment that I only ever might drive through on the way to some city.
Petroglyphs. They were pretty dull. The combination most interesting thing about the park’s petroglyph’s was the contrast of the biomes. I’m not even sure biome is the right word, let alone describing things correctly. But, anyway, went from tropical rainforest to open, treeless shrubland(?). The petroglyph hike was just walking in a flat, open area over rocks to an amusing boardwalk built a bit above the ground to prevent people from getting too close to the petroglyphs.
Then, “end of the road” and sea arch. Really, it’s the end of the road, as the road that used to go through this section of the coast was overrun by lava. The rock remains here are more of an oily black sort. Well, it was hard to see too clearly as we only got to the end when the Sun was setting. Bit surreal to be walking in the dark, along a cement road that leads nowhere with the only trees in existence being this strange copse of palm trees near the cliffside. Then, a long, long drive back through the park in the dark.
To the museum in the park. On the Big Island, I was very hot once. I was very cold twice. This was the first time. With the elevation, at night, to see the glow from a lava hole next to the Jaggar Museum, there was wind and there was “wearing a wet shirt and shorts is not comfortable” ness.
Hilo for dinner, then to the house.
Thursday was supposed to be beach day, but we had rescheduled our helicopter ride, as it’s not so easy to actually see lava on the ground, these days. There’s no spurting lava up into the air or peer over the side of a crater like they show in videos. No flow that you walk up to and stick a stick into, as far as I’m aware, unless you want to break some laws and get near the flow that is threatening Pahoa. So, we had perfect weather in the morning.
Actually, while Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ana did cost a day of doing some stuff on the Big Island and we got some heavy rains at points, in terms of how we scheduled things on the various islands, we ended up pretty fortunate. When we had to get clearer weather, we got it.
I think I’ve been on a helicopter since I wasn’t a baby, but I can’t recall specifically when. A plus to having had the original ride cancelled was that I moved seats and ended up in the front on our actual ride. My favorite part of the Big Island stretch was floating up into the air, zipping towards the clouds, and having the clear cockpit beneath me to look down upon the world.
While I don’t know that learning to fly will have the same enjoyment as having someone else fly me around, this was the closest I think I’ll get to the feeling of what it’s like to fly. I’ll get into my lack of scuba diving later.
It wasn’t all that spectacular as the lava is underground, just some burning of trees and seeing some of the magma through holes in the ground along with the wide destruction of forest. We also checked out some waterfalls from a distance. We didn’t do the doors off tour as we didn’t even know that was a thing. Next time, the suggestion was to do a tour where we land places and get out. My second favorite part of the ride was landing, so anything with more close ground action is probably to my taste.
Beaches. This was the only day we actually went to beaches on the Big Island. The storm took out our planned window for manta ray swimming. Beach parks were closed on Friday. We didn’t do anything on the Kona side of the island, even though Pu’uhonua o Honaunau was one of my top things to do and snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay was going to be part of hitting that area of the island.
Just means we need to go back. We did everything we cared about from the North tip to the South tip of the island on the East side and nothing we were looking to do on the West side. Mauna Kea will be gotten to in a moment.
First up, Black Sands Beach. I did get into the water but not for very long. It was rocky. It was choppy. We had other stuff we needed to do. Memorable about BSB were a couple of things. Hottest sand on the trip. Coldest sand I can ever recall just below the top layer. Very pretty pond behind the beach. And, of course, like everyone always does, I bought a sweatshirt at the tourist shop.
For, you see, life tries to make up for some of my stupidities. It will sometimes cause gaming events to be cancelled when I’m too sick or exhausted or whatever to really be doing stuff, and so forth. In this case, it said “This idiot forgot that the plan was to drive up to Mauna Kea for sunset this evening, where 10,000+ of elevation is not balmy. We must make up for this lapse in bringing long pants and a jacket to beach trips by giving a tourist shop that happens to sell sweatshirts in 90 degree heat.” Now, my brothers did forget long pants, as well, and fleece jackets, but they did have raincoats with them.
Green Sands Beach. The guidance is that it’s a long hike to get to the beach. First it’s a long drive on the highway. Then, it’s a long drive to get to the parking. Then, it’s a 2.5 mile hike to get to the beach. Okay, even though this gave me bad blisters and led to my slipping and falling on a cement boat launch, I was happy to do it. I’m not so sure I’d bother to do it again, unless I was with people who hadn’t done it. Unless you really enjoy tedious 2.5 hikes over a bunch of rocks, pay the locals to drive you to the beach from the parking area. Then, pay them again to drive you back. If there’s one thing less palatable to me about hiking 2.5 miles to do something like swim, it’s hiking 2.5 miles after I’ve been swimming.
Amazing beach. Stephen and Blair liked it more than I did, with it being the highlight of the trip for Stephen. I still thought it was really cool. It’s this tiny little bay with a steep lava rock backing, where there are no rocks on the beach, soft (green) sand, good visibility. One side has a little cove thing. Ironic that the black crabs were here rather than at Black Sands.
Still, while I couldn’t avoid any hiking on the rest of the trip, this pretty much did me in for anything more than maybe a half mile hike.
There was no way were going to make sunset on Mauna Kea, but we had a jeep, so we had to go up for stargazing. We stopped on the way at Jack in the Box since it was open and since everyone knows how useful their parking lots are for changing into dry clothes.
Visitor Center at 9200 feet. We got there just after the center closed and wanted to stay a bit to get used to the altitude. We opened the jeep doors. It was so cold we had trouble getting jackets on. Still in shorts, I stood next to the visitor center to have no wind. For, you see, wind … and rain (well, not that much at the center, itself).
Stars were starry. Looked cool. Thought it would be cooler at the top. Colder, for sure. We drove up to the summit area. I say area because it was dark and we weren’t entirely sure where we were, but the road appeared to end. White buildings were around. So was snow and wind and rain. We rushed out to touch one of the buildings then drove back down the 4000 feet to the visitor center and did some stargazing there. I saw a shooting star. It was amusing, but Mauna Kea is another thing to do next time, with hopefully a fuller experience.
At this point, even though we were going to miss out on stuff we had planned, it still felt like we had been on the Big Island for ages and had done a ton of stuff. Friday was just driving up to Waipi’o Valley, where we didn’t decide to go down into the valley. I couldn’t have hiked it. We lacked either horses or mule drawn wagons, and the locals aren’t fond of people driving on their private land. Horses. There’s a reason horses play such an important part in non-industrial worlds. They help you get blisters on your ass and not on your feet.
We drove to Waimea/Kamuela to hit Village Burger. Checked out some cowboy stuff. Drove to Polulu Valley Lookout. Went down the Northwest coast highway, then back to the house. Tropical storm only affected us in that all of the beach parks were closed. Saturday, we tried Akaka Falls, the only thing on our list actually close to us, but it wasn’t open, which might have been due to it being shortly before 8:30AM or due to hurricane. We got our crepes, noted that the lunch/dinner menus had tamales and chile rellenos at our favorite French restaurant on the Big Island, finished some shopping, and spent some time at the airport talking to a very attractive local.
Propeller plane to Maui. Nice to make our flight, as we had early Sunday plans. Saturday evening, we relaxed, finding our rental condo to be an interesting contrast to the house. Maui, itself, was such a contrast with my main takeaway being just how much of a suburb of Oahu it feels with how new and manicured buildings look. When I was on Maui for a day trip five or so years ago, I didn’t catch the same feel.
Sunday morning was diving. For me, snorkeling as I don’t have medical clearance to overcome how I take blood pressure medication. It felt kind of awkward, but I enjoyed the boat ride and talking to the captain. We boated out to Lana’i. We boated back. Blair more so but both of my brothers had some motion sickness issues. What I found trippy was how, after the helicopter ride and after boating, I could close my eyes and feel my body roll and sway. Oh, besides the not being able to dive thing, this wasn’t my best day for another reason. My blisters had gotten good enough that I ignored them. I may have broken my toe while just standing outside the shower that morning. That was annoying.
We didn’t do a lot in Lahaina, just some shave ice (too sour for me, with Tiger’s Blood being the best flavor) and Cool Cat’s, where my burger was fine, but I need to stop ordering medium rare as it’s getting kind of raw for me, which may just be how people cook things these days as medium rare was my norm when growing up, or I’m just changing. Speaking of changing, we got Thai food one night on the Big Island and I had the hardest time getting through it, even though I only went spicy and not “Thai spicy”. Weak. It would have been my favorite food on the Big Island if it wasn’t such a pain to eat and the quantity of curry was so ludicrously vast, three times as vast as the rice to go with it.
Rest of the day was slow. Because of the diving, we had to plan when to do flying and Haleakala. Monday, then, became our day for the Road to Hana. If diving could have been disappointing because snorkeling off Lana’i wasn’t that interesting, the Road to Hana was the biggest letdown by far. They say to focus on 2-3 things as the trip is so damn long (Stephen did all of our driving on the Big Island and Maui, which displayed impressive patience). We tried Waikamoi Falls. We found the hiking trail. I think we found the falls. But, we couldn’t find the way you are supposed to go up. We hiked up rocks that I think was the base of the falls. They say it only shoots water when there’s rain. Well, we just had a hurricane. Very little water. Okay, but not that great. Our next thing was Waianapanapa. The “Alice in Wonderland in Hawai’i” hike was more “Hobbit in Hawai’i” to me. It was okay. The beach was awesome. Unfortunately, due to needing to hit other stuff before dark, we didn’t stop to swim or anything, just wander around a bit and take some pictures. Black sand beach with a lot of contrast of beach from rock, to smaller rocks, to sand. Places where you could be inside the rock formations.
We continued on to Ohe’o Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail. I asked the ranger if it was common for their to be no water access at the Seven Sacred Pools. He said that the storm meant the water flow was too dangerous. If I would have known, since being there didn’t involve anything else for me to do, I would have been dropped off at Waianapanapa. Stephen and Blair did have enough time before dark to do the Pipiwai Trail, but they would have liked to jump in the water afterwards, themselves.
So far, Maui wasn’t doing much for me. Tuesday was kayaking. Well, kayaking and snorkeling, but Stephen and I didn’t realize that was part of the event. This redeemed Maui for me. I may not have good balance or control seaborne vessels well, but I love the alternate transportation stuff. It was a personal tour, so we opted for maybe about an equal distribution of kayaking and snorkeling. Snorkeling was fantastic, much better than off Lana’i. Right off Makena Beach, so it was 10 minutes from where we were staying in Kihei.
Lunch, the family store in Kula (Keokea, whatever). The society house that our father and I visited on our day trip for Ching Ming wasn’t open, so it wasn’t much of a family thing as had been the previous trip. Up Haleakala. Had the usual drive through clouds thing. Actually, the morning was so clear that there weren’t that many clouds, but we got out clouds. Did much the same stuff I had already done. Drive back down through clouds didn’t see the lateral rain I experienced previously, but it made the forest section below the visitor’s center kind of spooky. I got to use my sweatshirt for a second time. Yes, Hawai’i is all about the sweatshirt wearing.
The unfortunate thing, here, is that I think the massive temperature changes and elevation changes got me sick. I had a sore throat on the way down. I ended up badly congested that night and am still congested. Too much Sun probably didn’t help, either.
We had most of Wednesday to do stuff. Having hit very few beaches and since we were staying across the street from a beach, we decided a morning swim. Kamaole 3. Softest sand I’ve ever been on. It was like walking on flour. Clear morning. Great visibility (water and out). Calm. Fish would appear and disappear out of the sand at our feet. I was in the process of decongesting using my go to saline solution of the Pacific Ocean. Just exquisite (well, could have used more beach babes, but whatever). Having tons of time to kill, we decided to hit the aquarium. It was okay as an aquarium. What I liked a lot was that most of the time I was inside, in the dark, with cool air blowing. I was feeling sunsickness pretty bad. I just wanted to sit and not move. I was a bit concerned that any worse and I might embarrass myself.
Weather turned. Pouring rain while we were at the gift shop. Made me feel much better. Don’t know if it was adrenaline for getting out of the rain or things cooling or humidity turning into water, but it was a vast improvement. Sam Sato’s was closed, so no noodles. We got flatbread (essentially pizza) in Paia as driving on Maui, outside of the Road to Hana, Hale’akala, and maybe Lahaina was superquick. I wasn’t terribly impressed with our flatbread. We got gelato. Insanely expensive. Still not that impressed. Actually, the food on Maui wasn’t any better than the Big Island. My Cool Cat burger was better than my veal burger at Village Burger, but the veal burger meal was tainted by how unimpressed I was with my strawberry milkshake (nevermind that $24 for a burger meal doesn’t impress me much).
We stopped at a beach park and sat in the car while it rained. We drove to a mall and my brothers wandered a bit while I tried a nap. Significant rain and needing to be ready to hop a plane do not make for a lot of stuff to do, especially when not into shopping.
Weather was decent enough for our night flight back to Honolulu. Had a family reunion on the Lee side Thursday night, saw a few Pangs before I left, but I flew out before the Pang dinner.
One obvious thing I thought about was my Feng Shui Tu Huo campaign that I started after my last trip to Hawai’i. I had some trouble thinking about how to incorporate specific experiences into sessions, as a lot of the experience of the experiences we had was on a very micro level, where the action is the personal strain of hiking or swimming or paddling. In other words, for an action game, don’t want to get too bogged down in mundane things. The less mundane things, like the massive temperature and elevation swings need to be fleshed out.
I always think about superheroes when I’m in Hawai’i. I don’t know whether it’s because I watched Kamen Rider, Kikaider, and Condorman (not the American thing, the 1975 show where the meteor allows you to see demons and throw explosive darts from your condormobile) when I was visiting. Maybe it was having more time to dream, like when I was thinking of how to create a Transformers RPG when visiting. I thought of a concept for a super for me to play. Two problems. One is that I’d need to find a GM in order to actually play much rather than run. Two is that I start thinking about worlds and genre conventions and stuff and run into a lack of wanting to go to the effort of creating a supes world.
So, there I was, bored at Ohe’o Gulch, listening to the people in the neighboring car tell their rental agency they couldn’t start their car, not even thinking about jumper cables until my brothers got back and we looked for some to no avail, running through just how fast inches of flight in Champions are when multiplied out by Speed. I kept coming to the conclusion that going fast in Champions at combat speed is really, really hard, with the noncombat multiplier being jacked up really high being how you get into mach speeds.
I thought of another fantasy premise, but I don’t see it going anywhere. Can’t even quite conceive exactly what the enemy is. Had some V:TES anarch card ideas.
In general, I tried to think about how actually doing exotic activities would relate to RPGs and didn’t get that far. I have a somewhat better idea on physical challenges of various things that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I have a better sense of what it’s like to actually be flying, which plane travel doesn’t give me. But, it was mostly a more personal and more immediate adventure that I’m struggling with translating into things I’d run.