Subject: Hawaii
Hello, 'Ziners:

Earlier in October, I was in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, as a volunteer for the Ironman competition there. Wow! Was I ever unprepared for the incredible nature of the event. Besides, I've tended to scoff at Hawaii as a destination because it's not as exotic as some of my other faves. So, as often happens, I humbly revised my pre-conceived notions yet again &fell in love with this lovely island.

Ironman: during a 48 hour period, I worked a little over 30 hours! I racked bikes, assisted at swim/bike transition, caught &racked bikes at bike/run transition, caught finishers at the end of the run &finally un-racked bikes the day after the competition. Kailua-Kona town goes absolutely nuts for the race &it's marvelously managed. I met wonderful, awe-inspiring athletes &lit the idea of my own competition one of these years. How about a 71-year old nun who finished smiling? A young mom who's a cancer survivor? A 75-year old gent who could make a younger athlete weep in envy? We saw it all.

The island: OK, Kailua-Kona town is touristy, with cruise ships calling in daily. But there's great snorkeling, sea kyaking, hiking, diving &sightseeing on that side of the island. And the rainy side, from Waipio down to Hilo...aaah, yes, my very most favorite environment: rain forest! A fab botanical garden, great hikes down in the remote Waipio Valley, misty vistas.

As with so many areas dependent on tourism, Hawaii is hurting. It's a good, safe place to go, tho, so it should recover before some more iffy destinations. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Travel tales: It's gnarly out there. I was body searched 3 times on the homebound trip (even more thoroughly than in India in my younger hippy days), down to removing my shoes &socks as my toe rings set off the wand. My carryon went thru 3 searches as well, the longest taking 40 minutes! I had to prove my water bottle contained nothing dangerous by drinking from it at the search area. Two hours prior to departure for this procedure is really required. I weep for our lost innocence but gladly submit to the inconvenience. I just wish I felt it would truly assist in eliminating terror in the sky.

HOWEVER, fellow 'Ziners, you all realize the current situation is not likely to keep me at home for long....

Gail In Eugene.....