Irene took me for an overnight trip to the north shore of Oahu, where we stayed a night at The Turtle Bay Resort, a nicely done, somewhat understated--if large--and surprisingly affordable (in an off week) golf, condo, hotel, beach, horseback riding, family resort. Large but simple rooms. World class surfing (I never had the opportunity to learn, alas). Wiry athletic types with surf boards on their shoulders mixing with un-athletic looking mainlanders warily seeking out the comfortable couches in the lobby and eyeing the breakfast buffet more carefully than the wave reports.
I was lucky enough to grow up with lots of outdoors-things to do. I rode horseback, skied, raced bicycles, motorcycled, canoed, swam in mountain streams, etcetera. It was a ridiculously idyllic childhood in some ways (sort of hell-on-earth like, in others.) One thing I got from it: an ability to merge physically with my surroundings, urban or rural, whenever I need or want to. My body moves awkwardly in some ways--e.g., I can't dance for beans--but it accepts sensations, welcomes novel stresses and exertion, and enjoys speed (I can do a hulluva a tiger roll!) When I'm in a vacation destination and see the pain in the eyes of people who WANT to do all or some of that, but can't, because they most likely lived sedentary suburban American childhoods (either affluent or not), I'm saddened. So often, I see vacationers stranded in paradise desperate for the experience sold to them by the NYT Travel Section, and utterly befuddled as to how to find something resembling it in even in the most attenuated way. Waikiki is one big attenuation, and people still look miserable. The hotel luau can be a mildly tragic moment in the spiritual life of expectant vacationers.