Girl-on-World: Aloha Spirit Fingers In The Hawaiian Sky

Saturday – Loving and Lurching

We wanted to see the island. The whole entire island, far away from the bulk of the tourists. More specifically I had an intense burning desire to see a few of the locations where LOST was filmed, assisted by the incredibly informative website, Lost Virtual Tour.



In order to properly traverse the island, we’d need a car, but the Hertz location in our hotel pitched us a $160/day car rental rate and didn’t have anything available ’til Sunday. Luckily we found a better rate online at A-1 Rent-A-Car, out by the airport, which Marni proclaimed to be “only an hour away on the award-winning Honolulu bus!”  We didn’t know which award the bus had won, only that it had won an award for sure. Probably “Best Supporting Performance By a Bus.” “Bus of The Year.” “The GLAAD Award For Most Outstanding Bus.”

this bus is gay

this bus is gay

Accidental Tourists

This bus ride presented the first challenge to our Aloha Spirit. The bus was crowded, maybe half locals and half tourists, and we were wedged in at the very back of the bus in the bench of seats facing outwards. A man to my left asked Marni about her Canadian water bottle and when he asked where I was from, I said Michigan, because that seemed accurate and unlikely to start additional conversations about his trip to San Francisco or his brother who lived there for two years in 1978 or whatever. So we kept to ourselves, really, but then another woman, sitting on a side bench, asked me, “Did you say you were from Michigan?” and my body was moving in the general direction of her body to answer her question when everything suddenly stopped.

The bus, that is.

The bus stopped.

Or, lurched, really.

The bus lurched. The bus driver had slammed the breaks with remarkable force, and because I was the girl in the back of the bus on the bench facing the entire bus with nothing in front of her, this was when I literally flew out of my seat and landed, then tumbled, onto the steps between the front of the bus and the back of the bus. I was wearing a sunndress and flip-flops, that’s it.

Initially, I couldn’t breathe. “You had the wind knocked out of you,” Marni said. Right, yes! That. It had been a while since something like that had happened to me. Basketball, maybe, or soccer. When I was younger. I couldn’t breathe and my back hurt and my knee was gashed and bleeding and the bus was stopped. I felt like we were stopped forever and everybody kept talking to me about going to the hospital. I kept saying, “I don’t have health insurance.” I wasn’t the only person who got hurt, but I got hurt the worst so there was a lot of attention on me which was scary, and then everybody got off the bus.

The bus driver’s supervisor was there, and the police, and they wanted me to sign something to say I didn’t need medical attention, but I wanted to go see the beach where the plane crashed in the pilot of LOST!! I could sit still but otherwise my torso was out of commission — no turning, no lifting, no lying down, no opening doors, no stretching. There was a dent in my back from where it hit the stairs. I think I cried a little.

After we pretended to sign a document excusing the bus company from liability in case I didn’t get better within a week, we were shuffled onto a new bus and an hour later, we were finally in our rental car. I WOULD NOT LET PAIN GET THE BEST OF ME.

Modeling Through It

From the airport it was maybe thirty minutes up to the top of the island. We drove through rainy bits and sunny bits, and when we got closer to our first destination we started passing groups of people our age or maybe younger in crazy costumes, caked in mud, some with numbers on their backs, walking to or from cars. It was The Warrior Dash.

The whole drive was so beautiful, even the intermittent patches of rain. We then got to the vegetarian lunch spot I’d picked out, The Beet Box (66-443 Kamehameha Hwy // Haleiwa, HI 96712), which is tucked away in the back of a natural foods store, with an open kitchen and a few small occupied tables.


Beet Box Cafe exterior photo in the middle via

The rain started hitting hard the moment we got inside, but we ordered our smoothies and lunches to go and  drove to Mokule’ia Beach (Waialua, HI 96791)where Oceanic Flight 815 crashed all those years ago! I was super excited to find a comfortable sitting position (impossible) and consume my Mexicali Blues (“eggs scrambled with a crunchy, toasted sprouted corn tortilla and jalapeno jack cheese topped with our homemade salsa & avocado, served with brown rice & brazilian black beans”) (successful.)


marni ponders her wrap

It was rocky that day, just some windsurfers and a few families, nobody was really swimming, but we found a place to sit and eat and be peaceful even though I was still in excruciating pain. But if there’s anywhere to be when you feel like that, it’s exactly where we were.


From there we drove the perimeter of the island, stopping first at Walgreen’s to stock up on ibuprofen and then cruising the beautiful coastline from the Kamehameha Highway past all the beaches before finally settling on Sunset Beach (North Shore) to lie down for a bit before the sun set. We even saw a rainbow!


It started pouring down hard as we drove back to Waikiki — we had actual dinner reservations at Roy’s 38, another recommendation from Marni’s colleagues and TripAdvisor. Even though I’d almost died that morning, it was my favorite day in Hawaii because we saw so many beautiful places. It was just us in our little car on a two-lane road, listening to classic rock radio, driving past the gorgeous and breathtaking and cinematic Kawailoa Forest Reserve, the shoreline blocked off by the tony Turtle Bay resort at the north tip of the Island, and the Kahana Valley State Park on our way back down the other side of the island.

Especially far away from the intense commercialism of Waikiki, there is something ridiculously magical about this place, this island, like it’s not even fair for something to be as beautiful as this. Like why doesn’t everybody live in Hawaii.

Ka'a'awa Valley via shutterstock

Ka’a’awa Valley via shutterstock

As aforementioned, dinner was at Roy’s 38 (226 Lewers St), conveniently located right across the street from our hotel. Roy’s was the end of the line for our bank cards and her meal allowance. I had scallops and Marni had like four different kinds of fish. It was tasty with nice ambiance but also definitely overpriced.


left photo of Roy’s exterior by Doug A on yelp, right photo of scallops by Alvin K Clee via flickr

When I told my team back home via e-mail about the bus accident, Alex wisely stated: “I’m convinced that someone is trying to off you.” This is a valid theory considering Palm Springs and all those other times. I suspect Ilene Chaiken.

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2943 articles for us.


  1. I just got back from Hawaii 2 weeks ago so I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Although we were there for 2 weeks and I cried when we had to leave, so kudos to you for successfully handling such a short trip (emotionally that is).

  2. This article doesn’t help my desire to go to Hawaii ASAP. Ya’ll look so cute/relaxed/adorable. I appreciated the historical details because it’s really important to note the history of imperialism with Hawaii & how it has enabled a tourism culture that got you there in the first place! Whenever I think of how Hawaii became a US state, I get so angry.

    Also I think it’s worth noting how fucking expensive Hawaii is. The only place I’ve been to that’s more expensive than Waikiki is London & I’m pretty sure that’s because of the whole $ to £ thing.

  3. I literally Lol’d at the “Low low price of your left arm and first born child” line. I would eventually like to travel to Hawaii, but it’s definitely important to note that doing so would be a pricey vacation. Thanks for the insider tips and the history. It sounds like you and Marni had fun.

  4. As someone who was born and raised in Hawai‘i, I thoroughly enjoyed this! You seemed to capture the tourist Hawai‘i while still being conscious of the fucked up happenings that made Hawai‘i the way it is.

    I also fucking loved your conclusion and have so many words that I want to say about occupied Hawai‘i but will leave it at that.

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation!

  5. great article, really enjoyed reading about hawaii! just a sidenote – i think it was captain james cook, not john cook who showed up in 1778 and began fucking shit up (just cause i’m from new zealand and he did the same here).

  6. I have a lot of Hawai’i feelings. My wife and I were married on the North Shore! Also my wife was born in Honolulu in the same hospital as Barack Obama, true story.

    I would highly recommend staying on the North Shore of O’ahu if you can. It’s not as developed and is really laid back. There aren’t any big resorts up there, so you’ll have to stay at a youth hostel or somewhere off of a site like airbnb or VRBO, but that’s pretty much how we roll most of the time anyway.

  7. I went to Hawai’i a couple years ago and as someone who is not a beach or sun person, the main high points were getting really drunk with my cousin and seeing where Captain Cook died.

    But if you want to know more about the overthrow and what lead up to it, I would totally recommend Sarah Vowell’s “Unfamiliar Fishes.”

  8. As a Native Hawaiian, you did right by me, Riese. When I saw this article title, I thought pleasepleaseplease don’t be another colonial take on my homeland. I don’t think I could handle that kind of heartache from my beloved AS.

    The reality of our continued occupation by the U.S. is so deeply hurtful, it’s often reinjuring to have to constantly educate people about our history. The version you shared here is authentically represented, and I hope anyone who’s interested will take the time to learn more and raise awareness by sharing with others.

    Me ka mahalo nui.

  9. This article was very educational for me both to refresh/ learn the history of the islands and to see a visitor’s experience. Thank you!

    I have to ask though, because I became much more aware of this when I went to the mainland for college, when you say your boot felt like a slipper do you mean a rubber slipper (aka flip-flop) or fuzzy slippers?

  10. This hits so many right notes for me; my travel mates have come to terms with how my feet will simply keep detouring into museums or book stores.

    On a side note, I do recommend Sarah Vowel’s Unfamiliar Fishes for a read about Hawaiian history- her writing blends a great mix of dark humour and information~

  11. This article was amazing! I have never been to Hawaii, but i love traveling to new places and discovering their history. I don’t know anything about Hawaiian history and you have inspired me to spend the next hour on wiki learning about it:-)

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed this article after recently returning from a trip to Hawaii. Funny that everyone thinks it is so expensive … being Australian we were floored by how cheap everything was. We could not believe that a cinema ticket was $1.75! Australians are flocking to Hawaii as an affordable holiday destination, hard to believe that it’s so pricey for some.

  13. Apologies, Riese. The gay scene here is very small and disjointed, for whatever reason. Legislation is attempting to create bits of sovereign Hawaii but there’s also 18 billion Hawaiian groups all claiming to be/have the rightful ruler of Hawaii and filled with their own share of not-so-great people that it might take a long time for everything to be sorted out.

    Full agreement about the bus award being for the rainbow on the side. It’s my least favorite version of transport.

  14. Born and raised in Hawaii, glad you enjoyed yourself!! Living here, I tend to lose sight of everything that makes Hawaii awesome sometimes. Seeing a vacationers perspective makes remembering a little easier. Also, kudos on taking time to learn Hawaiian history.

    Next time you come out tell somebody! Discounts, discounts everywhere… This is why we shake the lesbian phone tree.

  15. Hey, thanks for this. Planning to do a whole australia/NZ adventure next year and this makes me really want to add in a stop in Hawaii too!

    I’m also a big fan of learning the history of the places I visit and this article definitely made me want to know more. For anyone else that’s interested I went looking after I read this and found this documentary on youtube called Hawaii’s Last Queen .

  16. I’m travelling to Hawaii in May 2014 ..and have no idea where to stay and what to do…I’m not a really highrise on beaches kind of person. But I know a lot of other parts of Hawaii are awesome…need some help figuring those places out.

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