December 04, 2011
With a series of visitors scheduled to start with Martha on December 12th, during the week after Thanksgiving Randall was fully occupied in the forward bathroom replacing the old toilet and numerous associated hoses, and installing a macerator (a pump to empty the holding tank when far out at sea). This was a very unpleasant and uncomfortable task with uncooperative hoses, clamps, bolts, and fittings and involved spreading the stored contents of the forward bathroom and cabin all over the rest of the boat. Although I had plenty of cleaning jobs to do in anticipation of Martha’s visit, it was lucky that instead I could sit still in a fairly small space for hours catching-up with the blog and other online tasks because not much else would have been possible in the chaotic cabin.
We had to make a couple of bike rides to the West Marine store and The Home Depot (8 miles round trip – 13 km) for parts and tools but by Friday evening we were both ready to get out of the boat for an evening. We joined Kathy and Dan for some appetizers at a nice wine-bar in downtown Honolulu and then we wandered around a few blocks on the edge of Chinatown where art galleries were open for “First Friday”. A bit like the weekly arts and food festival we had been to in Hanapepe on Kaua‘i, on the first Friday of the month, galleries and restaurants in towns on the other islands cooperate to attract people for an evening of arts entertainment. One street was closed to traffic and people could enjoy food, a band, and various vendors. We wandered through a few galleries where the artists were present to discuss their work, enjoying the ambiance but not with any particular purchases in mind. As we walked back to the car afterwards, we admired some of the downtown Christmas lights but it seemed that some of the displays were in place but not lit.
That was because the next evening was when the city’s Christmas tree and other main lights would be turned-on. Randall had found out about this and arranged for us to attend as a mystery date for me, with Kathy and Dan also joining us. Randall and I walked from Ala Wai to the Honolulu Hale (Honolulu House) where the tree was ready to be lit. There was also a Christmas parade and far more people were waiting along the route than I had expected (they anticipated 75,000). Inevitably, the mayor and various other people felt the need to precede the tree-lighting with some rather tiresome, long-winded speeches but at 6:30 pm the lights on the tree and Hale building were illuminated and it was quite impressive.
The Honolulu City Lights night-time parade was fun, with assorted city vehicles covered in numerous colored lights. In addition to the usual fire-engines and ambulances, this parade included such slightly surprising participants as a tow-truck, parking-meter-reader’s golf-cart, garbage truck, and sewer-cleaning truck. Between these highly decorated “floats” were various high school marching bands most of whom had some festive costumes, with lights on themselves or their instruments. There were also a couple of hefty Polynesian men vigorously twirling large flaming batons which were absolutely spectacular.
Having met Kathy and Dan at the Christmas tree, towards the end of the parade route, about halfway through the parade we made the lucky decision to walk west towards the start of the route. This had three advantages. Firstly, it got us away from a slightly crazy and malodorous old woman with scary, two inch-long fingernails who kept erupting into gibberish in front of us. Also it accelerated our view of the parade, and finally it allowed us a quick escape in Kathy’s car before the traffic built-up once the event was over. Thus, we were back at the house feeling pretty pleased with ourselves by 8 pm. It had been a lovely evening with a half-moon, bit of breeze, and warm enough to be comfortable in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. True, these are not the conditions which many people associate with Christmas but Honolulu’s parade, lights, and jolly decorations were certainly what we needed to put us in a festive mood…at least, until Randall had to return to work on the toilet the next morning.