An Island Affair  

Posted by Brock Booher

They say that every man has a mistress, and I guess that I am no exception. What makes my affair different, however, is that I started it a couple of days before I got married, over twenty years ago. I really never stood a chance against her intoxicating perfumes, and heart-catching looks. I was seduced by her strange and subtle ways, and her passion washed over me like the tide. When I came to Hawaii to marry my wife, I started a love affair with the Hawaiian Islands that I have never been willing, or able, to break off.

I met my wife on the mainland. Although a haole girl, she was born and raised in the islands and was as local as poi (a thick edible paste made from taro root). She spoke of her home with zeal, and often used superlatives. I would sometimes roll my eyes as she talked about the breathtaking beaches, strange and delicious foods, and the Hawaiian ohana - family.

When you think about the Hawaiian ohana, you think about food. Hawaiians love to eat. They load their tables with everything from traditional foods such as poi, rice, pork lau-laus, and lomi-lomi salmon, to more modern dishes such as Huli-Huli chicken. You can also find sumptuous Asian cuisine, various fusion dishes that combine the tastes of several cultures, and local-style meals like the loco-moco (a gravy-drenched hamburger patty on a bed of rice and topped with a fried egg). Hawaii even has its own version of the doughnut – the malasada (a fried dough ball covered in sugar and sometimes filled). For one of the most isolated islands in the world, they know how to eat.

Although remote, the islands offer a wide variety of activities to entertain you. Tourism is the number one industry in Hawaii, and there’s no shortage of tourist attractions. For a walk through history, visit the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, or the Bishop Museum. For a taste of the island culture, visit the Polynesian Culture Center. With miles of beckoning beaches positioned against ridgelines covered in lush rainforest, Hawaii offers something for every traveler. You can skydive, or scuba dive. You can learn to surf, or learn to swing your hips and hula dance. You can hike to a secluded waterfall, or read a book on a secluded beach.

The most famous beach in Hawaii is Waikiki. Even though it is crowded by tall condominiums and hotels, this crescent beach still maintains its iconic beauty with Diamond Head rising at its east end. You can play in the sand, soak up the warm tropical sun, or take a ride in an outrigger canoe. If you want to try your hand (or foot) at surfing, the long rolling waves of Waikiki offer the best place in the world to learn how to surf. On any given day a beginning surfer with no experience can walk up to one of the surf shacks, and learn to ride the waves within an hour.

When you’re done learning to surf, a short walk will take you to the international marketplace for spectacular shopping. The marketplace offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts that you can haggle over and bargain for. If you’re shopping budget allows for finer tastes, there are numerous boutiques and name-brand shops that offer a wide range of finer goods. At night the Waikiki shopping district is also crowded with street performers that will entertain and amuse you. Just be prepared to shell out a few bills if you do more than look at them in passing.

Snorkeling is a great way to get a passing look at another world without too much trouble. Hanauma Bay, a short drive from downtown Honolulu, is an excellent spot to view brightly colored reef fish, squid, and even green sea turtles in a safe and comfortable environment. It gets crowded, so arrive early. The entrance fee is five dollars for adults, and you will be introduced to the park with an informative video about the park and its sea life. Since the bay was formed when the ocean eroded one side of a volcano, as you enter the park from above you have a spectacular view of the entire bay and the sparkling blue water below, but the lofty view also means a steep walk up and down. Take a few extra dollars to pay for the tram ride up and down. It’s worth the money.

Cost is what keeps most people away from Hawaiian Islands, but there are several ways to reduce the overall cost of your trip. If you can, try to travel during the off-season months, such as May or October. You will find the prices cheaper, and the beaches less crowded. Look for package deals that include airfare, hotel, and rental car. Since food is your biggest expense while there, try to find accommodations with a kitchen or kitchenette, and prepare your own meals. To save on airfare, save up your frequent flyer miles. You may even consider a credit card that gives you frequent flyer miles. If you enjoy beach activities, your entertainment costs while there will be minimal.

They say that every man has a mistress, but they never tell you the true cost of such an affair. Make your affair an affordable one. Take your spouse to Hawaii, and start an island affair of your own.

I Am Not a Tree Hugger  

Posted by Brock Booher

I am a conservative. I vote for conservative candidates. I am not convinced that the science of global warming is solved, nor do I support a government cap-and-trade system to stem carbon emissions. I am not a tree hugger.

I am not a tree hugger because of the hypocrisy of the environmental elitists. Their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude has kept me from being as “green” as Kermit the Frog. They fly around on private airplanes drinking bottled water accepting awards for their groundbreaking “documentaries” demanding us to save the planet - So much for leading by example.

Hypocrisy aside, we do face some serious environmental challenges that threaten other species as well as our way of life. We have been poor stewards of a glorious world bursting with resources that have enhanced and enriched our lives. We have failed to care for Mother Earth and have treated her like an aging and senile mother that only deserves to be locked away in a retirement home and visited occasionally with token gifts of appreciation.

If we don’t do a better job, she is going to write both liberals and conservatives out of her will.

I am not a tree hugger, yet I care deeply about our planet and the health of our environment. I believe that conservatives can save the planet.

In the North Pacific Gyre a huge mass of debris and trash floats along swirling like some large cosmic galaxy of garbage. The currents of the North Pacific act as a gravitational pull that cause the planets of refuse to be sucked into this black hole of trash. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be larger than the state of Texas, and it is growing.

Who is responsible for this trash catastrophe? We all are.

On average, each person generates almost 500 kilograms of waste per year. This river of rubbish is not always controlled or contained and ends up as flotsam in our streams, rivers, and eventually our oceans. Some of that litter will end up as a constellation in that galaxy of garbage in the Pacific.

As a conservative, I don’t think the problem can be solved by government decree, or through some fancy new cap and trade scheme, but it can be solved by the very people that created it – Us. Since we created the problem, we can fix it. We may not relate to saving the rain forest or feel empowered enough to stop global warming, but each of us has the power to control the trash of the world in three easy steps – Control, Reduce, and Inspire.

Our first step is to take personal responsibility for our own trash and control its disposal. The Boy Scouts have a camping policy – Leave no trace behind. We should adopt that policy in our daily lives when it comes to trash. We make sure that we leave no trace of trash behind us in our daily activities. We must control every single item of debris that we generate, right down to the smallest candy wrapper. We must never litter.

Next we should examine our daily habits and reduce the amount of waste that we create. How many things do we send off to the landfill that could be reused or recycled? If each of us recycled at least ten percent of our waste, we would reduce the amount of waste by over 15 billion kilograms of waste each year in the United States alone. Every piece of trash that we recycle is one less star in that swirling cesspool in the Pacific.

More important than regulating, reusing, or recycling, is our attitude. A conscientious attitude is contagious. If we display a genuine caring attitude towards our Mother Earth, others around us will also become more aware. We don’t have to preach some self-righteous doctrine of environmental elitism. We don’t need to browbeat our neighbors into to ecological submission. We simply need to start with our own individual actions and make our attitude contagious. Some will follow our example.

We can clean up our yard. We can clean up our street. We can clean up our neighborhood. We can clean up our city. Every piece of trash that is left to blow in the breeze or float along a waterway will eventually end up spoiling a vista or damaging a habitat. If each of us were to pick up one errant piece of trash a day, our world would be more beautiful and livable. It doesn’t take a mandate from the United Nations, it only takes the courage of one individual to act.

Future generations deserve a healthy world to live in. We owe them that much. Hypocritical environmental elitism will not accomplish the task. Individual responsibility will.

Before we set out to save the rain forest, let’s try cleaning up our own backyard.