Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2016’
Our super-dear friends, ex-Marinites Marco and Sue Machbitz, think they now live in paradise.
Though their belief is largely correct, their chunk of Oahu isn’t flawless.
I had trouble sleeping in their tip-of-the-island home.
Outside, dogs and doves engaged in a couple of 3 a.m. duels to see who could howl louder.
The doves won.
But both, several nights, were outdone by wailing winds.
While inside, my wife snored.
Otherwise, the designation “paradise” fits Hawaii as snugly as a wet suit.
We’d met the Machbitzes at a Marin party just west of Fairfax. We’ve been friends 25 years.
When they lived here, we did countless things as a foursome (none of which involved golf clubs). We searched for whales off the West Marin coast, explored Blackie’s Pasture near their Tiburon home, watched trans-bay July 4th fireworks from high ground.
In Honolulu, we skipped Waikiki Beach and other tourist trappings, preferring spiritual respites.
Like turning the sweet-smelling lei Marco gifted me into an offering in a memorial park; strolling through Koko Crater Botanical Garden with its blossoming flora and black lava rocks; and lighting a candle at the Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a 1,000-year-old Japanese Buddhist site.
Unexpectedly, we learned something new:
We spent hours hanging out and schmoozing, nourished by artwork that covers every wall in chez Machbitz (even outdoing our San Anselmo abode) — including carry-overs from a gallery they’d owned on California’s central coast.
And we silently applauded their humor and patience as they taught piano students of varying abilities.
We chose not to sunbathe, snorkel, windsurf, hang glide or parasail but we did lap up creature comforts. Such as a postcard-perfect, open-air buffet at the Kahala Hotel, where we dined yards from the ocean and a bouquet’s throw from a bridal party.
And scrumptious homemade chocolate macadamia-nut ice cream at a hole-in-the-wall, Keneke’s.
We also relished eye-candy hidden from the paths more traveled.
Like one recommended by our San Anselmo neighbor-friend, Brian B. Beard: heiress Doris Duke’s five-acre homestead that’s now Shangri-La, a museum — behind a tall iron gate at the end of a dead-end street — showcasing 2,500 examples of Islamic art she’d collected over 60 years.
To “increase understanding and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.”
Perfect, considering the ongoing anti-Muslim rants of Donald Trump.
Art from Morocco, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Syria fill Duke’s house and gardens, some embedded into the buildings themselves (13th century tiles from Iran on the back of a staircase in an open courtyard, for instance).
As well as William Randolph Hearst’s Spanish collectibles she’d purchased at auction.
Which let him buy more rubbish for his San Simeon castle.
We also checked out the contrasting, traditional Iolani Palace, noteworthy for indoor plumbing and being the first palace in the world to install electricity.
Hawaii’s last king, David Kalākaua, who’d sparingly used it for ceremonies and poker games and devouring ice cream that had to be imported from Alaska, died in San Francisco in 1891 after resurrecting the hula, which had been deemed a pagan dance, after years of missionary suppression.
Kalākaua and his queen were childless, a fact once annotated by a kid on a tour:
“I think the reason they had no children was they had separate bedrooms.”
We also visited the Bishop Museum, a Hawaii-centric facility where we watched an employee in aluminized suit, helmet and gloves pour molten lava.
When finished, she wished us “a lava-ly day.”
Which we had.
Even when stopping at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary where I spied nothing but water.
I’d hoped to spot at least a tail, so I could tell the tale to our sound-expert friend, Bernie Krause of Glen Ellen, who’d twice helped lure Humphrey, via recorded whale sounds, from Northern California waters into which he’d meandered in 1985 and 1990.
Back in San Anselmo, we assessed this vacation like so many others: we loved being away but loved coming back.
What I missed most was my pooch Kismet, my hot tub and In-N-Out Burger.
But we already miss Hawaii’s warmth — and the warmth of Marco, the brightest and funniest man ever, and Sue, first female district sales rep for Baldwin pianos (“I broke the glass sounding board,” she whispered).
But we’ll forever store in our memory banks bestowing crowns and dubbing them King and Queen of Friendship.
Long may they reign.