One of the things I love most about Burning Man is that you never know who you’re going to run into out there — dust is the great equalizer, and on the playa you find yourself partying with people from all walks of life, many with whom you might never mingle in the “default” world. One minute you’re discussing cosplay techniques with a porn starlet over mojitos; next thing you know you’re tripping balls on a fur-covered golf cart at 3am with a pediatric neurologist in a pink pimp hat. It’s nuts!
This year, my sister and I spent an inordinate amount of time hanging out with the character I called “Dr. Who” in my Burning Man blog — an exceptionally urbane, moderately eccentric masochist (he must have been, to spend so much time hanging out with us) who is a medical professional by day…and a fearless adventurer and bon vivant the rest of the time. We hit it off so well, in fact, that after Burning Man was over, he invited me to come visit him at his home in Hawaii.
I pooh-poohed him a few times, not wanting to come off as a mooch — but he insisted. Apparently there was some big footrace going down in the town where he lives, and he thought I might find it an interesting and life-affirming spectacle to behold. He even offered up some of his frequent-flyer miles, so I wouldn’t have to spend a dime…so finally, I agreed to come out, booking a ticket right after I got back from my ill-fated San Francisco jaunt.
What could be better than a free trip to Hawaii?! I had been there once before, to Waikiki back in 2006, and found it to be a super-fabulous place full of sunshine and alcohol, with food so shitty that I actually lost weight from lack of appetite. But Dr. Who lives on the Big Island, which is a totally different scene, and I was curious to see how that stacked up to my memories. So I threw a few things in my pink Samsonite and headed for the skies.
Alas, nothing in my life can ever go totally smoothly, and I fucked up as soon as I got to the airport. A friend dropped me off for my short flight from Vegas to LAX, after which I had a 4 hour layover before my connecting flight to Kona. So I basically just rolled out of bed and performed minimal ablutions, figuring I’d have plenty of time between flights at LAX for my normal daily primping and preening.
However, I arrived at the Vegas airport early enough that I had some spare time to kill…so I headed to the bathroom right next to my gate, to at least powder my nose and make myself semi-presentable. After all, you never know who you’ll meet on a flight from Vegas to L.A…and I might as well look my best, ya know? You never get a second chance to make a first impression! (Although Dr. Who’s first impression was of me swinging a disco ball between my legs, and he still liked me enough to invite me for a visit!)
So I set up camp in front of a mirror in the women’s restroom, and set about tweezing and powdering and poking and prodding my face into submission, keeping one eye on my phone, figuring I’d head over to the gate 15 minutes before the flight was to depart. It wasn’t like it was a Southwest flight, where you have to battle for a good seat — I had an assigned aisle seat already, so who cares…right?
About 15 minutes prior to departure, I packed up and hustled next door to the gate — not 10 feet from the bathroom, I might add — and found the gate attendant just shutting the doors to the jetway. By law, she was unable to open them once shut — I had missed my flight by 30 seconds!!!!!! FUCK!!!!!
Apparently, she had been paging me…but although I was only 10 feet away, I somehow didn’t hear her. To make matters even worse, apparently my friend Bam Bam also happened to be at the airport, waiting for a different flight to L.A. where he was to record a new Strawberry Alarm Clock album, and even he heard them paging me, and had texted me to ask if I was ok. Somehow, I missed all of this…and now I was fucked! No matter how I begged and pleaded, the gate attendant was unable to let me in — although I could see the plane sitting there, not moving, there was nothing I could do but gnash my teeth, curse…and head back down to the checkin counter to see about booking another flight.
Thankfully I had plenty of time before my flight to Kona left LAX at 5pm — it wasn’t even noon yet, so in theory I even had enough time to get a cab home and drive to LAX; barring any accidents or flat tires, I could get there in plenty of time to catch my flight, although the cost of gas and the cost of parking my truck at LAX for 10 days would probably add up to as much as a flight would. I even considered just dragging my cheap ass out to the I-15 southbound onramp and hitching a ride to LAX…but finally I decided to just book a $200 Southwest fare, and then dig myself in deeper at the airport bar with a consolatory Bloody Mary. Talk about First World Problems! ISIS is on the rampage and Ebola is ravaging Africa…but I missed my flight to Hawaii!!!! STOP THE PRESSES!
Anyway, I chalked it all up to an expensive lesson learned, and got on with my adventures. I made sure to drink at an airport bar directly facing the gate from which my new flight was to depart, and when I got to LAX I suckled at the electronic teat of a cell-phone charging station directly facing the gate from which the Kona-bound plane was leaving…so I made it aboard both flights with no further ado. Whew!
Once the tradewinds finally had me in their seductive embrace, shoving me gently toward paradise, relief washed over me and I wanted nothing so much as to get genteelly sloshed on a few airplane cocktails, and get the party started at long last. But even here, I was cockblocked! What was stopping me now, you ask??
Apparently, this “footrace” to which Dr. Who had invited me was actually a hardcore triathlon called the Ironman — and this was the World Championship, no less!! This meant that the fittest, most shredded athletes in the entire world were coming out to compete — all people who had already completed Ironman triathlons in other parts of the world, and who were now coming to face off against each other in a bizarre, hairless swim-bike-run race-to-the-death among the crème de la crème of Spandex-clad Type A Caucasians with $18,000 bicycles and too much time on their hands. A show with everything but Yul Brynner!
A quick Wikipedia investigation the night before had revealed that these insane individuals planned to swim 2.4 miles in open seas, after which they would race ashore, dripping with seawater, and mount the aforementioned $18,000 bikes for a 112-mile bike ride through the searing Hawaiian desert…before dismounting and embarking upon a full, 26.2-mile marathon. In the interest of saving time, most of them would do all of this in the same skintight onesie, not even stopping to pee — they’d just piss themselves as they ran (or biked). W…..T……F?!?!?!?!?!? Why??????!
You might assume it was for the prize money — $120,000 to the winner, who usually finishes in around 8 hours. But there were over 2,200 entrants in this race, and only those finishing in the Top 10 of each gender got any prize money. That means something like 2,120 put themselves through this torture for free. Actually it was worse — they had to pay something like $700 to enter the race, not to mention the cost of gear, airfare and accommodations. So, these people were basically shelling out thousands for the privilege of torturing themselves. Or for bragging rights, I suppose. Cray-cray — Stuff White People Do!
Aaaaaanyway, what does all of this have to do with my inability to order a cocktail on the flight? Well, I’m pretty fit myself — I work out fairly religiously, in a Sisyphean quest to keep my ass up where it’s supposed to be, so I’m pretty well used to being the fittest person, or at least among the fittest people, in any given room. Especially on a commercial airline flight, ya know?
But this was no ordinary airplane flight — I was surrounded by superhuman cyborgs in peak physical condition, all of whom were on special low-carb/no carb/protein-heavy/fetus-testicle diets that surely didn’t allow for any alcohol. I’d feel like a real fat-assed lush if I were to start boozing around them! So I bided my time reading magazines, biting my nails and thinking of England until finally, about 3 hours into the flight, I couldn’t take it any more!!! When the flight attendant came around taking orders, I whispered “Bacardi & Coke, please.”
“What? a Diet Coke?”
“No, Bacardi Coke.” I was still whispering, trying to save face among all the pious protein- powderheads. But the flight attendant still couldn’t hear me over the sound of all those hairless legs crossing and uncrossing, and the pages of all those Triathlete magazines being turned.
“WHAT? Dr. Pepper????”
“BACARDI AND COKE!” I finally shouted, broadcasting my pathetic alkie status to all the salmon-and-broccoli-eating, Gatorade-guzzling go-getters around me.
D’oh!!!! I’ve never been so embarrassed to drink booze in my entire life, not even the time I went on Jeopardy! drunk. It was horrible, and I shuddered to think of the long, dry week ahead of me — I knew Dr. Who had run the Ironman himself a few times, and that we’d be hanging around with a lot of his Ironman buddies all week; in fact, Dr. Who and many of his sports-medicine cronies volunteered their time each year to staff the Ironman’s medical tent, aiding ailing participants, and had even gotten me a spot as a volunteer assistant in said medical tent. So I was basically facing an entire week of hob-nobbing with sports-addled, health-minded physicians at an event that can only be described as the jewel in the crown of the ultra-healthy lifestyle. DOUBLE D’OH!!!!!!
Thankfully, my preconceptions were totally wrong. Those sports docs are the biggest boozers of them all!!!!
After picking me up at the airport that evening, the ever-jovial Dr. Who festooned me with a lei and whisked me away to a mai-tai party at the fabulous geodesic dome house of a flight-nurse pal who lived in the jungle amidst coffee trees and chirping coqui frogs. I stuffed myself on Hawaiian delicacies (the food here was much better than on my 2006 trip to Waikiki, alas), drank about 40 mai tais, and spent the evening roasting marshmallows on a bonfire under an avocado tree. Triathlon? What triathlon?!?!?!??
Now, I’ve been trying a new life approach lately, where I make an effort to go into new situations with no expectations…so I had no idea what I was in for here in Hawaii, and everything that happened on this trip was basically a pleasant surprise, beginning with my fabulous accommodations at the astonishingly glamorous home of Dr. Who. I’ve never seen a house like that, anywhere!!
Apparently, the temperature on this island is so temperate and so even that one doesn’t need a heater, air-conditioner, or thermostat in one’s home….even if one’s home happens to be an aesthetically orgasmic masterpiece of minimalist eastern architecture, with few walls and no window glass, totally open to the elements and perched high on a mountainside, with a jaw-dropping view of Kailua Bay beyond a sparkling infinity pool floating peacefully above acres of coffee trees. Even if one wanted to keep a fabulously well-stocked wine cellar, all one apparently has to do is hack a doorway into a cavelike lava tube running through the hillside beside the garage…OMG!!! Out of respect for Dr. Who’s privacy I am not posting any photos of this house, so you’ll just have to take my word for it — it was a s t o n i s h i n g ! ! !
But to give you some idea…as a child, I was obsessed with the 1960s Peter Sellers movie “The Party,” which took place in a fabulously swanky ’60s mod Hollywood mansion that has been lodged in my mind ever since as the epitome of glamorous homes. Well, Dr. Who’s house was basically the tropical version, complete with stepping stones leading across pools that various drunken partygoers have fallen into over the years…so staying there was essentially the fulfillment of all my girlhood dreams. And I never even fell into any of the pools!!
Anyhoo, as fabulous as the house itself was, the grounds were even more amazing — acres and acres of perfectly tended trees, shrubs, plants and flowers; everything from orchids to date palms to Monkey Pods, all bursting with an astonishingly sensual abundance of flowers and fruits: avocado, pineapples, grapefruit, tangerines, limes, kiwi, bananas…it was like the Garden of Eden, and you could basically just pad around in your bare feet, languidly plucking ripe fruit from low-hanging boughs, eating to your heart’s content. Meanwhile, mongoose and wild turkeys scuttled about…and beyond the electric fence, wild pigs foraged plumply. It was a literal paradise! Did I mention before that I’ve never seen anything like it?!?
Ominously, the fridge was stuffed with an even greater cornucopia of earthly delights — and I ain’t talking Hot Pockets and beer!!! Dr. Who once took a series of cooking classes from Julia Child (during which he said she drank from a 1.5 liter bottle of Jack Daniels), so he doesn’t fuck around — he was constantly preparing me sumptuous meals featuring foodie delights like capers and sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts and fresh ahi tuna, plus avocados the size of footballs (!!!). It was incredible!!!!
Meanwhile, the place was also a fully operational coffee plantation — I already knew this, as every year Dr. Who brings pounds and pounds of his personally harvested Kona coffee to Burning Man, to share with caffeine-deprived hippies at dawn. But I also knew that Dr. Who himself doesn’t drink coffee, and as his houseguest, I didn’t want to impose…so I had packed a bunch of inferior Colombian Folgers instant coffee packets with me. I always travel with instant coffee, since it takes me at least three cups to get going in the morning…and I never know when or where I’ll be, so I figure it’s best to be prepared.
Well let me tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever live that down — when Dr. Who found out, he seemed personally insulted that I would bring that dreck into his home, and foisted upon me a bag of his own personal roast to brew instead. OMG, it was heavenly!! That Kona coffee is the SHIZZ!!!
So, basically I was ridiculously coddled all week — I could hardly turn around without being force-fed some astonishing delicacy, or having some sort of delicious wine or mai tai poured down my gullet. Dr. Who is definitely the bon vivant of all bons vivants — he takes living well to a whole new level! But his definition of living well differed from mine in one significant respect: SLEEP.
Now, when I go back to visit my family in the Bay Area of California, they always complain that I’m too active, like a dog that needs walking every day — I like to get out and do stuff, not lie around watching TV and whatnot, so I guess it kind of puts a strain on them having to keep up with me. Well, now I know how they feel!!!
Dr. Who is a machine!!! He’s one of those people who only needs 5 hours of sleep a night…which I most assuredly am not. My lifestyle is as high-octane as it gets, but I require a good 8 or 9-hour chunk of rest in between adventures, just to refuel. But not in Hawaii!!!! Every morning, Dr. Who was up at the crack of ass, ready to take me out for more sightseeing, as I dragged my bleary ass into the kitchen to guzzle multiple cups of his coffee in preparation. Somehow, I managed to survive.
One day, Dr. Who had to work early in the morning, so I figured it was finally my chance to sleep in. WRONG! That happened to be the day of the charity Underpants Run, when all the triathlon people get together and don crazy costumes for a one-mile fun run down the streets of Kona…and I kinda wanted to see what that was all about. I happened to have packed my “Ready For Anything” undies, so I figured I should probably go…but the race started at 7:30 am (!!!!!) and I couldn’t decide which I would rather do — run, or sleep. In the end, my FOMO won out, and I went down to join in the melee.
I was glad I did! In addition to the hundreds of wackos down there, I also met this amazing chick from the Guinness Book of World Records, who had been sent out to oversee the attempt being made at a World Record for Greatest Number of People in their Underwear in Public, or some such nonsense. This bitch gets paid to go to wacky events around the world and judge them!!!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE??? OMG, that’s my dream job! AND she gets to wear that blazer!! Some chicks have all the luck!!!!
Anyway, as it happened, we failed to set the record…and I got swamp-ass for nothing. Even at 7:30am, that Hawaiian sun is intense — much stronger than even our nuclear desert sun here in Vegas. When they say “but it’s a dry heat,” they’re not kidding — it really makes a difference! That humidity was hard to get used to. Thankfully, Dr. Who’s place was high on a mountain, so it was always several degrees cooler than down in town…but the area in and around Kona where the race events were being held was swass city!!
Now, speaking of the triathlon…the Big Island is a fairly quiet scene most of the time, but during Ironman the whole area surrounding Kona basically turns into Racetown, USA. It’s not only the 2,200-odd participants — it’s also their families and sponsors and the herds of supporters they bring with them, not to mention the staff and announcers and the TV crews covering the event. You can’t walk ten feet without seeing the steely Spandex-clad asscheeks of some superhuman freak strutting down the street in front of you — it’s nuts! You would think an event of this magnitude would be a real boon to the local economy, but remember — these joyless freaks don’t drink, nor do they eat anything other than gel packs and protein goo, so I guess the local restaurants and bartenders are shit out of luck. Fortunately, however, these sports docs we were hanging out with more than made up for that — I personally experienced an endless succession of boozy parties in their company!
Hanging with this crowd was a hoot, and a real switcheroo from the usual crowd of bums, grifters and perverts with whom I normally associate. That’s one thing I share with Dr. Who — a penchant for mingling in disparate social milieux. I love it! It wasn’t just that everyone in this crowd was older than me — they were also all super-intelligent high-level professionals at the tops of their fields, with beautifully groomed wives, everyone exceptionally friendly and exceedingly well-spoken. I can’t say for sure, but I’d wager I was the only one there ever to have kicked a man in the nuts for money. But these wonderful people made me feel welcome, and were always careful to include me in their conversations — they were such nice people! (I told them I was a model and freelance writer…essentially true, though these days the emphasis is on the “free,” as I haven’t been paid to write anything in quite some time.)
Anyway, the reason for all this socializing and boozing was, of course, the triathlon — and I was really looking forward to my volunteer shift in the medical tent on race day. I’ve had a bazillion gigs, but thus far the only medical-type stuff I’ve done was my heartbeat fetish videos, my work as an ultrasound practice dummy at Touro University, and my recent gig as the plastic surgeons’ guinea pig. Being on the other side of the scrubs was a new experience!
My shift wasn’t scheduled to start until 7pm, but we arrived at the race around 6:30am (!!!), to witness the start, when they all jump in the water. After showing me around a bit, Dr. Who had to go work, so I basically had alllllll day to wander around and people-watch. It was nuts!! For an event that started out as an informal friendly competition between a few macho surf bums, this Ironman business has become just that — a business! Someone is making a shit ton of money off this beast. Nowadays, in addition to your $700 race fee you can also buy Ironman™ wristwatches, backpacks, visors, hats, socks and water bottles…plus t-shirts for everyone in your crew from your IronMom to your IronTot (“Future IronMan™”) . Meanwhile, most of the support staff used at the race is there on a volunteer basis — including the doctors — so they’re not even paying any staff!!! What a racket!!!!
And every day, around the world, hordes of white people are lining up to join in the fray (I say white people semi-facetiously; I did see one black guy, a few Asians, a Latino or two and one bearded Muslim from Dubai)…so it’s not just the Ironman organization itself that’s making money; there’s whole industries that have sprung up to feed these peoples’ need for gear: the aforementioned $18,000 carbon-fiber bikes, plus aerodynamic helmets, featherweight running shoes, wetsuits/skinsuits, women’s-specific running wear, heart-rate monitors, etc. etc. etc. The only people not making money off this crowd are E.J. Gallo and Tampax (since female triathletes have such low body fat percentages, they generally cease to menstruate). (Which is the only plus I can see to running this thing!)
When I got tired of people-watching, I hung out at the course sidelines to check out the swim-bike transition, watching in open-mouthed fascination as 2,119 hairless cyborgs (and one bearded Muslim) ran from the sea like rampaging dolphins, dashing through showers and leaping onto bicycles, jamming their feet into shoes already strapped to the pedals, racing off to cross the desert lava fields while pissing themselves in between shoving goo packs into their maws and pounding weird-colored fluids (not that I’m judging; I’ve had a Midori sour or two in my day). IT WAS BIZARRE!!!
After awhile I just couldn’t take any more, and retreated into the comforting arms of a nearby bar for some self-affirming Bloody Marys. I was starting to feel a little inferior, watching all those ultracompetitive superhumans! And truthfully, spending so much time around all those jock-types was actually giving me a mild case of PTSD, since in high school I suffered mightily on account of my klutzy lack of athletic ability — I mean, I remember being humiliated back in P.E. class when we had to choose teams for kickball or volleyball or whatever, and I was always the last bozo standing around staring at her feet, the one nobody wanted on their team. Gym class was totally traumatic for me, no exaggeration..and here I was, having flashbacks. It’s a sad fact that our society fêtes those with athletic ability way more than those of us with excellent vocabularies, drawing skills, or the other useless talents with which I am sadly encumbered. So, being forced to worship at the altar of athleticism was a little rough for me.
But once a pleasant buzz kicked in, all was well again and I went back out to hang near the finish line, to watch the winners start coming in. Now, that was a show! Teuton after Teuton came streaming across the line, with an American or two of Teutonic descent and one Frenchman sprinkled in for good measure, and the crowd was going bonkers — banging signs, shaking cowbells, hooting and hollering and generally raising a ruckus. 45 minutes later it really got interesting, when the first women started coming in — those endometriumless bitches were incredible!!!
But it wasn’t just the top finishers that were fun to watch — mostly it was the stragglers that were inspirational, like this one 84-year old nun who was running for something like the 5th time. Holy hell!! Watching these women, with their amazingly ripped abs and streamlined thighs, sort of piqued my own competitive nature, and I started thinking, “Yeah, man!!! I should try to run a triathlon!!!”
But then, I started my shift in the medical tent…and saw the other side. Ain’t no way I’m ever running that shit!!!!
Being as I have absolutely no medical background whatsoever, my “volunteer” shift basically consisted of me standing around and doing whatever grunt-work they asked of me: help this dehydrated guy to a bed! Weigh this woozy woman! Help us carry this puking Frenchman on a stretcher! It was fascinating to see the condition in which these people came in — green around the gills, knees buckling, one foot in the grave. One poor guy pooped himself, and had to be hosed down in the showers. It was like being Clara Barton, Civil War Nurse — especially since everything was going down in a tent, on a beach, with chaises from the nearby Marriott standing in for beds. Surreal!! But even more surreal…unlike in the Civil War, these people were here by their own volition! What the hell is it about humans that impels them to abuse their bodies thusly?!
Well, there I was, feeling like a real fish out of water — one minute I’m partying with some crazy doctor at Burning Man, the next thing you know, he’s convinced me to come be a part of this craziness — when astonishingly, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one to make the Burning Man/Ironman crossover. A guy came staggering into the tent wearing a visor bearing the distinctive logo “SLUTGARDEN,” which I recognized as being one of the dance camps at Burning Man. Really? A Burner running the Ironman? But it was true — I told Dr. Who about it, and once the woozy guy came to, we pumped him for details. He had been to Burning Man not six weeks prior, and in fact had even run some kind of fucked-up ultramarathon at Burning Man one morning — apparently there’s a race there every year where you run around the entire event perimeter three times and then sell your soul to devil, or something equally batty. Insane!! The last thing I want to do at Burning Man is run an ultramarathon…it’s usually all I can do to make it to the Port-a-Potties in the morning!!
Anyway, the rest of my shift passed fairly uneventfully, and just before midnight Dr. Who took me down to the finish line, to watch the very last stragglers come in. If you don’t finish by midnight, you don’t get the title “Ironman,” and it’s a real bummer for all involved. It was heartbreaking to watch these poor saps come staggering across the finish line 18 hours after they’d set out that morning, exhausted and wrecked and in a world of pain…but just moments too late to even get the bragging rights. Talk about a D’OH!! moment! But the wrap ceremony was pretty cool, with these hot hardbodied Hawaiian fire dancers that came out and danced to these badass live drummers, while some ancient Hawaiian Auntie hobbled onstage and warbled a traditional Hawaiian folksong that said something along the lines of “We love you all, even you losers!” Awwwwww!
By that time, I myself had been at the race for 18 hours, and though I hadn’t run or done anything more strenuous than quaff a Bloody Mary and think snarky thoughts, I was exhausted!! But it wasn’t time to leave just yet — one of the race bigwigs had invited Dr. Who (and me, by extension) to a late-night cookout with the entire FBI squadron that had been assigned to watch over the race! Ever since the carnage at the Boston Marathon, apparently the FBI comes out to oversee all large-scale athletic events like this one, and to celebrate a job well done the race directors had hired this awesome Mexican couple to come out and cook up a bunch of fajitas and stuff. YUM!! It was a little weird sitting there among that many Feds, but they were all drinking beer and in a jovial mood, telling crazy FBI jokes, so I didn’t worry too much. But it was still a surreal ending to a totally surreal day!
Finally, around 3am we went home to bed. Ahhh, sleep at last…right? Wrong — there were still a million things to do, and no time for sleep!! Now that the race was over, and all the superhumans were boarding planes back to the planet Krypton, it was time to get out and see all the other amazingly beautiful things that the island of Hawaii has to offer. Dr. Who was an amazing host, and I saw so many absolutely incredible things that it would bore you to tears if I described them all — from a moonlit picnic on a beach full of sea turtles to a strenuous hike through a rainforest overlooking a staggeringly beautiful coastline, to a day spent frolicking on a picture-postcard white-sand beach followed by a kava-kava nightcap. I mean, Dr. Who showed me everything!
Even better, Dr. Who is so personable and friendly that everywhere we went, we made new friends and had fascinating conversations — a pit stop at a roadside macadamia nut orchard ended with the farmer coming out and giving us a free tour and lecture on the perils of mac nut farming, while feeding me fresh macadamias cracked with a vise grip. A quick stop at a coffee bean processing plant turned into a fascinating conversation with the owner about the recently discovered superfruit properties of the coffee cherry — the fleshy part that surrounds the actual bean, which heretofore they used to just dispose of or use as mulch, but which is now as valuable as gold among the açaí crowd. And an ill-fated snorkeling excursion (ill-fated because I’m a terrible swimmer) turned into a pleasant morning’s chit-chat with a kooky islander woman who was taking her cockatoos out for a walk. That island is full of interesting people, let me tell you!
But by far, the most interesting thing we did was take a drive up to the top of Mauna Kea, the island’s highest mountain — and in fact the highest mountain in the entire world (if you measure it from its base on the sea floor, it is higher than Everest, which only rises from the Tibetan Plateau). It’s so high, in fact, that our trip up there required raiding Dr. Who’s closet for some of his sub-Arctic explorer gear (purchased, naturally, for a trip he once took to Everest Base Camp — that fucker has been everywhere!). I never expected to be rolling around in snow in Hawaii…but there I was.
Anyway, because it’s so high, and so remote (in the middle of the ocean, away from any major light pollution), Mauna Kea is an excellent spot for star-gazing…and to that end, there are no less than thirteen separate internationally-financed observatories at its summit — magnificent mosque-like structures that are in actualitly way more badass because they are temples to reason, not bumbling superstitious idiocy. These observatories are perched way up on top of this mountain, high above the clouds, silently and impassively monitoring the heavens in icy isolation, with only the occasional busload of looky-loo tourists interrupting their solitude. It was magnificent, and I was reminded of a line from a Richard Brautigan poem…something about how in the future, we will all be “watched over by machines of loving grace.” Awwww!
I’ve always had a layman’s fascination with astronomy and physics, so being up there was really interesting for me. I’m pretty sure Dr. Who was really into it, too, and not just humoring me. We sat up there and watched the sunset, then hunkered down in the car until the last Japanese tourist left and the observatories started opening, one by one, so their telescopes could peer out into the night skies. Then, this ginormous laser shot out of one, its humongous beam allowing the telescope to focus in on some distant celestial object way the fuck out in the universe. Far out!!!! We sat there in the car (it was too freaking cold to stay outside for more than a few minutes) looking at the Milky Way through the moonroof, and I subjected poor Dr. Who to my favorite science jam, “A Glorious Dawn,” which is this amazing song some genius made up by Auto-Tuning some Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking dialogue, then setting it to an amazing electro-lounge backing track. Check it out:
After gawking at the sky for awhile, we headed back down to the visitors’ center, where they give these free nightly skywatching lectures, and let you look through telescopes and stuff while they answer all your questions. SO MUCH FUN!!! If you have any interest in anything, and plan to visit the Big Island of Hawaii, I highly recommend going up there. It’s not the typical Hawaiian-vacation thing to do…but who wants to be typical?! You can see tropical fish at any PetSmart, and can get a sunburn sitting in the parking lot of the Albuquerque WalMart, for Chrissakes!!!
Anyway, going up to the top of Mauna Kea was the highlight of a trip filled with highlights, and it was without exception one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever been on. THANK YOU, DR. WHO!!!! When the time came for me to leave the island, I’ve never (or rarely) experienced such loathing to leave a place — in fact, a hurricane was brewing in the Pacific just south of Hawaii, and was expected to hit the island any minute. I actually found myself semi-hoping that it would hit, so that I’d be “trapped” there and would have to stay another few days, LOL.
Alas, however, the hurricane bypassed the island, and my flight left as scheduled…and I returned to the desert, flush with fabulous tropical memories. But what a fantastic adventure!!!!
So, here I am, back in “between-adventure” mode — which means it’s time to hustle and make a buck or two, to fund my next adventure. And I have some doozies coming up — first, a triumphant return to Saline Valley Hot Springs next week with my sister and one of my readers…and then, a jaunt out to L.A. for a Halloween party at some porn industry peoples’ house with none other than Dr. Who. Like I always say…the road goes on forever, and the party never ends!
So with that in mind, I’ve spent the last few days a-hustlin,’ doing everything from a photo shoot to handing out flyers at some redneck Supercross race…and ahead of me, I’m facing a four-day gig wearing a Snoopy suit at an insurance convention at the MGM Grand. Hey, whatever it takes to pay the bills and keep the adventures flowing….right?!?
But despite my hectic schedule, I did take a few hours out of my busy afternoon today for a freebie — one of the local TV news channels out here was doing a story about the porn industry setting up shop in Vegas, and they found my info through a newspaper interview I did about my experience being a background extra on the set of one of the productions. I was more than happy to invite them over to my house and give the reporter the full rundown of what had happened, including my vehement opinions on the legitimacy, decency and all-around awesomeness of the business — because I could tell they were coming at it from a fear-mongering “Porn is Invading Vegas!!!” angle, and I wanted to get in my two cents to the contrary. I’m telling you right here and now, I had nothing but 100% positive things to say about the porn biz, so if this story comes on the news and they somehow edit my words to make it seem like I’m saying anything otherwise, you’ll know they’re a bunch of dirty rotten disingenuous liars.
Even more interestingly, the whole time I was talking to them, the reporter kept blushing, as if the things I were saying were totally shocking to him, and scalding his virgin ears. But I guess he kind of warmed up to me, because by the end of the interview, he asked me, “Say, uh…have you ever, um, heard of men buying women’s underwear??” LMFAO!!!!!!!! It was supposedly for a story he was working on….but I have my doubts!!!
“Meanwhile, in other news….today in Las Vegas, a man was arrested for sniffing women’s underwear on Fremont Street…….”
I wouldn’t be surprised!!!!!
I’ve recently found your blog & really enjoy your fascination with life’s curious little sparkly~bits!! I can relate to your musings on Burning Man as I am indeed a brother in that way. This was really cool to read about today, since I live on the Big I. and have been participating in the IM massage tent since ’07. I myself am an LMT, (technical for licensed massage therapist) here in Hawaii since ’08 and have been building a practice on the Hilo side since that’s where I live. Kona is great in many ways, it’s just I love the wet climate of the East side. I can only admit that your truth of the incredible place you just visited does really exist, and believe me when I say there has been no easier way to readjust to life after BM, to re~enter the default~world than to come back home to this island!!! Many travels lead down these amazing rabbit holes, and possibly one day we’ll meet. Until then may your wishes keep your flame bright, your hair blowing in the wind, and your closest friends just a mouse~click away!!
You lucky, lucky bastard!! You live in the greatest place on Earth!! 🙂
Always interesting. You are missing a money-making opportunity by not putting your story into a book. Let me know if you want help with that.
Noted! Thank you for continuing to nag me 🙂
Why so against religion/God?
It causes too many problems
Problems for you personally? Care to elaborate?
“bumbling superstitious idiocy”
Its funny how seemingly open-minded, loquacious prattlers can become abruptly curt when dealing with some idea they deem bourgeois. (correct me if that was used incorrectly)
It just bugs me. Religion is so much about life philosophy;how to go about you day to day and derive the most happiness.
Its capacity to help people cannot be understated – and not even in an abstract sense. I’m talking about boots on the ground, tangible improvement in the lives of PEOPLE. One cannot see how that’s a bad thing.
Yes, problems for me, personally, as someone with a vagina…I don’t like the way various religions blame my sex for original sin, or consider me unclean.
You said ” Religion is so much about life philosophy;how to go about you day to day and derive the most happiness.”
I say , religion is the cause of most , if not all of the worlds suffering and ‘evil’ ever .
Wathch some Christopher Hithcens videos , then go ahead and blab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w
* Christopher Hitchens
You make me laugh out loud… often…. I love this line…
“Talk about First World Problems! ISIS is on the rampage and Ebola is ravaging Africa…but I missed my flight to Hawaii!!!! STOP THE PRESSES!” ILOLd 🙂
But I have a question.
I am again impressed by the details and length of your fun reports.
I have wondered how do you keep track of all of the details and times and events and places and things you write about, especially at events where keeping track seems like last thing we would do?
Please don’t misunderstand this question, I am honestly looking for a good technique for keeping track of my adventurers which won’t interfere/affect us having a raging great time when things can often go by way too fast.
Idk, I’ve always just hada really good memory…probably because I’d all the booze and drugs 🙂 I do take a few notes here and there, and I’m religious about posting Facebook statuses every few hours or so, which come in handy when I need to go back and remember what happened 🙂
Glad you enjoyed Ha-why-ya…
Love love following your travels on here Sarah & must make effort to get drawn along in your wake so I can experience at least a morsel of your fantastic and interesting adventures! 😀
Good luck on your upcoming trip to Saline Valley. I am envious! Please lots of pics and remember gas, water, spare tires, and someone to keep you warm at night.
Thanks!! I will! 🙂
I can’t believe you were on Jeopardy. Would have never thought that about you. Very impressive. And that was in 2004 when Ken Jennings had run? I thought it was more recent but I guess time flies.
Yeah, I’m full of surprises 🙂
After listening to your interview with Ed Opperman, I became curious about this wild spirit you poses.
This piece, about your odyssey in Kona really captured my imagination. As an aged triathlete (61) you fulfilled my yearning( a vicarious need) to compete there. Your knowledgeable descriptions(carbon fiber bikes) reflect your strong mind. Needless to say, your nude pics satisfy my artistic leanings(Edward Weston desert nudes). All in all, a nice way to spend a quiet Friday night. Thank you very much for sharing your exploits.
Thank you so much for the kind words!! Ironman was a real trip….if you do end up competing, best of luck to you!!