As some of you know, (and most of you don’t) my family and I recently took a trip to Hawaii's Little Island of Kauai. Herein, I shall detail for you, (in detail) the trip from my perspective. Having described this point of view to others on the trip, it has become clear that through my own doing, I took a radically different trip than the rest of my family did, despite the unquestionable fact that I was present with at least one of them for approaching 100% of the time. We’re going to take this day by day. These are the highlights and lowlifes according to me. “You had to be there,” is no longer adequate. “You had to be there, and be me” is now necessary, and since none of you are, you’ll have to settle for living vicariously through my oddly-tilted recount.
Our flight left from Oakland the next day. That meant that on this day, we had to drive there. Concerns over what had been packed had not abated in the two or so hours we had been in the car. This was pointless, though. The rented mini-van would have likely thrown a fit and refused to move had one more ounce been placed inside its surprisingly spacious cabin. The rear hatch had been “secured”, of course, but that meant little when paranoia and tensions were running as high as they were.
“John, where did you put your bag?” someone higher along the vehicles food chain had asked.
“My bag? What bag?” I answered with mock anxiety. Obviously, if you don’t respond with some measure of sarcasm to everything that is said to or about you, you lose.
“It’s in the back, you know, where all of the other ones are?"
"Whatever, did you make sure you packed your swim trunks?"
"I needed swim trunks?"
“Let’s just say I’ll be wearing alternative swimwear for the rest of the week…”
This, that is, alternative swimwear, was one of the many themes for the trip. If I had a nickel for every time it was brought up both in and out of context, I’d probably invest it all in a cheap sandwich. Substitute at least one person involved, and the topic, and you have approximately 85% of the conversation which involved me while on that car trip. How’s that for purposely vague?
As you might guess, and as is the case with all good road trips in my opinion, this trip was punctuated, offset by commas, if you will, by a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings. This was, without a doubt, the first real highlight of the whole trip. As soon as the sign was spotted, the car, heedless of the driver’s intent brought us to a careening halt several rows back from the entrance. It was fate. The driver, my sister, (henceforth to be referred to as “Lead Quail”, or just “LQ”) claimed she was aiming for the Red Robin next door. I wasn’t sure what was meant by that, but I let it slide, and everyone, after a short, albeit obligatory moment of contention between the restaurants, entered the Glass Gates to Chicken Paradise. I remember very little of that meal, other than the sensation that my taste buds, and stomach lining were being overwhelmed. I think, in my fowl hubris, I must have devoured an entire barnyard’s worth of boneless chicken wings. I regret nothing.
After having my primal chicken-flesh lust was sated, the rest of the car trip went by in a relative haze. That may have also been a direct result of the tryptophan (yes, it’s in chicken too). I’ve never heard of an over-dose, but based on this experience, I think it’s possible. We arrived in Oakland at…a time. The sun had set, the rains had come, and I’m starting to sound like a 70’s pop ballad.
The Best Western we were staying at had “nothing but the best”. The best 8-foot concrete walls, the best razor-wire hedges, and definitely the best sharpened metal stakes protruding at odd angles from the top of said wall. It was certainly a scene which inspired the utmost confidence in one’s personal safety. One wrong turn, and you could end up somewhere else, and that, judging from impression the fortifications gave, was not something you’d want.
I went to sleep in a rather stuffy, improbably over-crowded room, considering I was only sharing it with two other people, my dad, who had also shared the back seat of the van with me all the way over the hill, and the Lead Quail’s fiancé. He didn’t have a nickname. I’m playing fast and loose with the word “sleep”, here. In fact, I did very little of it. Mostly, I sat awake wondering if I would ever be able to breathe normally again. If I had only known what had awaited me…