Mahalo to William Seavey from San Luis Obispo, California for sharing this pretty coastal view from Sea Life Park on Oahu for Aloha Friday Photos.
William and his wife visited Oahu in January…and, though he enjoyed Hawaii and hopes to return again, he also had a less than perfect experience. Here’s what William shared about his trip:
We travel to Hawaii nearly every year and the state is, in contrast to the weather in most parts of the continental U.S., certainly a respite from snow, rain, wind etc.And also, to be fair, Hawaii is a pretty nice place to be on vacation anytime and anywhere within the island chain that includes Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.But never before have we encountered such a string of coincidental but bad luck events in our wanderings.The false ballistic missile alert (“this is not a drill, seek shelter immediately”) appeared on thousands of phones and highway stanchions the morning of January 13, 2018 and was a worldwide media event. It happened while my wife and I, in the Coconut Waikiki Hotel, were sitting down to breakfast.Immediately all conversation stopped in mid-sentence and hotel guests rushed to the front desk for answers–which were NOT immediately forthcoming.Local media later reported that one elderly man suffered a heart attack (he lived), hundreds if not thousands called their loved ones and said goodbye (if a missile was coming from North Korea it would arrive in less than 15 minutes), and a father even put his daughter down a manhole! Red lights were run.But protection from Kim Jong Un (presuming it was his doing) was futile since there was no consensus on where to go or what to do (later I thought the nearby Army Museum, a onetime well defended battery on the beach at Waikiki–open to the public–would have been excellent).The islands were ill-prepared EVEN THOUGH some emergency drills besides those for tsunamis had recently begun. The alert was not uniform, for example–some sirens went off but not all. The governor could have cancelled the alert in minutes (it took 38!) but he couldn’t remember his Twitter password. It was a comedy of errors.The button pusher, who went on tv with his face obscured February 3, admitted he really thought an attack was forthcoming–early reports just said he pushed two different times accidentally. He was demoted but there were death threats.So shades of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when military officials IGNORED a serviceman’s warning that Japanese fighter planes were approaching the islands…until it was too late. (Maybe the button pusher was thinking of this).Being an avid reader, I knew it made no sense that North Korea would bomb Hawaii–at least THEN–as the country was in talks with South Korea over winter Olympics participation. But islanders remained nervous and many, perhaps, weren’t so well informed.The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ran the headline “Ooops!” an entire half page the day after and continued coverage of the farce on the front page for at least five days.Clearly, or “vacation” had turned into something else entirely, but read further…Our residence on arrival was an Airbnb condo a couple blocks from the Coconut Walkiki. Two days after settling in, following an orientation by a young woman adorned with various tatoos, we discovered a bedbug-infested mattress. As Airbnb hosts ourselves, we know that this, above all else, is the worst possible outcome of a stay in a residence that Airbnb founders tout it is possible to “belong anywhere” in. Clearly, we DIDN’T belong–nor did anyone else..Called on what was clearly an attempt to cover up the evidence (with a mattress cover), the host accused us of bringing in the bugs ourselves! Relations were going downhill fast and we made the decision to leave the condo immediately (which had cost us around $3000) and seek scarce accommodations elsewhere. Much of our Costco food was hurriedly donated to neighbors we didn’t even know, and I was shoving clothes and food in bags and suitcases at a pace that would rival a deadbeat tenant efforts to avoid the arrival of a landlord seeking back rent.At age 70 (me) and my wife (68) I’d say we could ill afford such a potentially heart attack-causing situation.In the following days Airbnb, provided with photographic evidence, returned our money and forced the host to fumigate–but not before the host wrote a long poison pen online “review” of our stay, chastising us for everything but having bastard relatives and body odors–and conveniently NOT mentioning the pest problem. (In Airbnb reviews no one sees both reviews until AFTER both parties have posted, and in this case we were in the dark about what was going to be said so we were cautious about defaming the host).It is unusual for Airbnb to EVER expurgate a review, but on a technicality BOTH reviews–thankfully–were simply “disappeared.” Thank you, Airbnb.That night we found a room with two double beds at the Coconut Waikiki, and things got a lot better…until, that is, the North Korean pseudo-attack.While all this was still fresh, we took some comfort in that Hawaii, of all 50 states, was still designated “orange” (vs. red) when it came to flu virus cases. But Eleanor caught the flu late in our trip last year, it was ugly, and we weren’t taking any chances. So for the duration of our trip we would wash our hands periodically, avoid touching door handles and were cautious about being on buses that were packed with potentially disease-carrying denizens.Thankfully, we returned to the mainland flu-free and only slightly jet-lagged. Back home everyone wanted to know about our experience with the false alert, as they had read about us in our local paper (I had tipped off an editor).Was it “surfing USA?” Hardly. There was a little too much “suffering USA.” But apart from that one week, we had a good time and will eventually be back.
____William Seavey owns and operates the homestay bed and breakfast, Her Castle, in Camria, California.