I'm doing a little temporal shift here to my last 5 days here in Honolulu. This is largely because I don't have as much to say about Honolulu and I can get it out of the way quickly. Honolulu is, in a nutshell, another city by the sea. It is somewhat dirty, congested, and being what it is, a bit tacky. Waikiki Beach, in particular, is more like the Brady Bunch version of Hawai'i than anything else I have seen. One nice thing I can say is that the nighttime skyline is quite pretty.
One thing I hadn't quite anticipated was the number of Japanese tourists. I have heard more Japanese in the past 5 days than ever before in my life. The good thing about the Asian flavor here is the ready availability of, well, Asian flavors. Other than the first night, when my cousin Brian & his girlfriend Cara hosted us for dinner, we have eaten at a different style of Asian restaurant every night. We've also been able to find soy milk very easily, which is a very good thing as far as David's concerned.
The conference itself was okay, though it never really has as stimulating a scientific program as I would like. It is, first and foremost, a political meeting. Otherwise, its focus is more on public health (which I like) and things like food safety & food animal (beef, poultry, swine) health, which I'm not so big on. Aside from this year's venue, the main reason I have primarily attended this particular conference is that it is also when the Lesbian & Gay Veterinary Medical Association has its annual meeting. I was on the board of LGVMA for 6 years, including two as President, but even being off the board I continue to be somewhat active in the organization.
We really didn't stray much from our immediate surroundings, but Brian took off early from work today, picked us up at our hotel, and took us around the island, including some snorkeling in Shark Cove on O'ahu's North Shore. No sharks were sighted, but I did take a lot of photos, some of which will hopefully be decent enough to show everyone when I get them developed and scanned. The North Shore is quite lovely and is the antithesis of Honolulu.
After snorkeling, Brian dropped us off to change while he went to pick up Cara and we all went out to dinner (Vietnamese this time). Then we went to the Hale Loa Hotel, which is a few doors down from our hotel and owned by the military for their personnel and guests. The hotel has an outdoor bar on Waikiki Beach, so we went to have a few cocktails before saying our goodbyes. There were a large number of very young, very drunk military folks there, including one guy named Garrett who kept hollering at his group, "I'm so glad I'm not a fag!" Finally I said, "So are we," not loudly enough to incite a brawl but enough to give our little group a chuckle. It did make one wonder why Garrett felt the need to be so insistent about that bit of information, but hey.
So once Garrett and his crowd had either dispersed or passed out, we managed to have a fairly nice little visit. Brian and I are very different people (He likes heavy metal and extreme sports - not exactly my cup o' tea), but he's a good guy and we get along well. And as we only manage to see one another every couple years or so depending on his leave time and where he's stationed, it's always good to catch up. Eventually, though, we all started feeling our age and it was time to say goodbye.
Tomorrow it's back to Big Island for our last three nights before heading home. And I promise that I will get to the rest of the Volcano portion of the trip.