I love to be in America

By PD Martin

First off, don’t forget to sing the title of my blog today, aka Westside Story.

After a couple of blogs on the writing/professional side of things, today I’m in holiday mode and thought my blog and state of mind should be one! At the moment I’m sitting in my Hawaiian hotel (Waikiki) and although we’ve only been here a few days, we’ve already packed lots in.  The fact that most of it revolves around the pool, food and shopping…

This isn’t our first trip to Hawaii, so maybe that’s why we’re not hitting the tourist sights as much as we ‘should’ be.

My first trip to Hawaii was in 1997, on my way to Canada. That trip was only four days long and marked the start of my one-year working holiday visa. I was only here for a few nights and it was party time! Then again, I was in my twenties.

My next trip to Hawaii was last year, when my mum shouted me for my 40th birthday. And yes, you now know how old I am! We called it the girls’ trip and it was Mum, my daughter and me. We had a great time and a few weeks ago Mum started dropping hints about how nice it would be to go back to Hawaii, but this time with my sister as well. So, here we are. And once again, my daughter’s prized possession, Pooh Bear, is along for the trip as an honorary girl.

It ended up being quite last minute, a June special. So it was all very sudden and very exciting! But it is quite a long flight from Australia (plus we had a couple of hours in Sydney) and I think Grace’s state on arrival says it all. This pic was taken in the hotel foyer, while we were checking in! We hoped maybe her cute collapse would get us a free upgrade to an ocean view but it wasn’t meant to be.

One of the things Aussies do when they hit the US, is shop. I kid you not. America has seriously cheap clothes. So, by day two we’d already been to Ross twice.  As I unpacked my day 2 shopping I did wonder if I needed THAT many ¾ pants (Capri) but you can never have too many when they’re like $9…right?

Of course, there’s only so much shopping a four year old can take, but we’ve also been hitting the pool for a couple of hours in the morning. The pool time is mostly for Grace, although my sister is a sun-lover.

Buffalo wings are also part of my American tradition. Yes, I know they’re terribly unhealthy but they are yummy! And although some places will advertise American-style buffalo wings in Australia, they just ain’t the same. So, on the second night we hit The Cheesecake Factory. Unfortunately, the wing experience wasn’t quite how I remembered it. I’m sure they never used to have any kind of crumbing or coating, but this time they did. Oh well, I’ll just have to try again another night.

For the trip last year, I also threw in a bit of research, in the form of a visit to the firing range. One night, after Grace was tucked up in bed and my mum was settled into the golf, I set out for my big gun experience. Gun laws in Australia, and my state of Victoria, are extremely strict and I thought Hawaii might be my only chance of firing an AK-47 and similar big weapons. It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience…there are really only so many times you need to fire a gun for research purposes.

Tomorrow is the factory outlets (more shopping), then a luau (Monday), Diamond Head (Tuesday) and finally a daytime catamaran sail (Wednesday). Then it will back to the Aussie winter. Brrr….

And maybe there’s a chance for one more go at buffalo wings!

What are your favourite haunts when on holidays? 

18 thoughts on “I love to be in America

  1. Barbie

    It's all about food, isn't it??? Though I don't particularly like American food (I pretty much lived on KitKats when I lived in the US), I miss it. I from Brazil, and when I'm in the US, the first thing I really want is all the American food we don't have here!!! SNAPPLE! Strawberry Kiwi Snapple, Dear Lord, isn't it just Heaven??? Makes my heart squeeze just thinking about it, because I have no idea when I'm having it again.

    Then, there's the candies. Reese's, Hubba Bubba's Squeeze'n'Lick Blue Raspberry lollipop, Starbursts, Lifesavers. I kinda just feel like stopping at every 7/11 and grabbing everything off the shelves. When I come back, I'm always scared going through costumes that they're gonna think I'm smuggling candy! I'm not even kidding πŸ™‚

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  2. ZoΓ« Sharp

    Hi PD

    We, too, always try to squeeze in a visit to the nearest gun range whenever we're in the States. It would be rude not to! And when we stayed with Toni McGee Causey and her husband Carl last year, the first thing Toni did was email me a list of Carl's firearms. She knows me so well ;-]

    As for food, we always hit the Japanese restaurants – sushi is SO much less expensive than it is in the UK, and the quality is wonderful. Especially a few years ago when it was $2/Β£1. Happy days.

    US chocolate just doesn't do it for me – it's the texture as much as the flavour, I think. Can't beat Cadbury's – for which we normally have to check out the Ethnic Foods aisle in US supermarkets.

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  3. Laura

    Hi P.D – so cool that you're from Victoria, so am I! I have to say, I lived in New York for a year after high school and when I came home there were just some things I missed so much! I agree with you on the buffalo wings… I love them! TGI Fridays in Southland do a pretty decent job for when you're back in Melbourne! I miss actual grape jelly, and fluff! I loved fluffernutter sandwiches! (I was a nanny, thats probably why! Kids ate those and pb&j) I also miss the fact that cable TV has a bazillion channels! Thank God we just got digital TV… my host family in the US looked at me blankly when I told them we had 4 channels. (That was in 2005) so I miss American TV. And you're also right on the money with the clothing! It's ridiculously cheap! When I'm on holidays, I love the beach… specifically reading on the beach and maybe some gelato… Yum! Enjoy the rest of your holiday πŸ˜€
    (And welcome back to the Aussie winter!)

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  4. Sarah W

    It appears you've chosen my soundtrack for the day — I had to wake the kids up before I could comment, and am now on hour two of humming a certain song with Rita Mareno snarking along in my inner ear. I don't mind, though — I'm dancing along with it!

    When we travel, we try to hit the nearest zoo, even when the kids aren't with us. Local bookstores, too!

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  5. Allison Brennan

    Alas, I don't get away much unless it's a writers conference. It's difficult to travel with five kids! Two years ago we packed the family up and went to Lake Tahoe (rented a cabin) and THAT was fun. Wanted to do it this year, but with sports practice starting in late June — and by August 1 ALL FIVE will be at practice 2-4 days a week, it's just not meant to be. Four years ago, we packed up for Disneyland. Exhausting, but we all had so much fun. (I would say we went to Disneyland because SPEAK NO EVIL was my first book to hit the NYT print list, but I have to admit the trip was planned BEFORE I hit the list.) I've taken my teenagers with my to writers conferences, but it's not quite the same thing.

    Usually, our vacations are packed with activities. Someday, I want to just go on a vacation to relax. I think it would have to be a resort where they pamper me. And that means no kids πŸ™‚

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  6. Allison Brennan

    Hmm, re-reading my post I realized, I'm not a good person to pamper. I don't relax (i.e. do nothing but lie around) well. I tend to get antsy after awhile. Maybe one day of doing nothing …

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  7. Pari Noskin

    P.D.,
    We went to Bainbridge Island last year in the summer and it was gorgeous.
    Enjoy the shopping!

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  8. PD Martin

    Hi all,
    Barbie – Even though I have a sweet tooth the lollies/candy in the US doesn't do it for me! Plus we do have Starburst and a few of the other things in Australia. For some reason it's all about the wings for me πŸ™‚ But I'm glad you can relate to the food stuff, even though we go for different food!

    Zoe – gotta get the guns in! As for sushi, Australia has such amazing sushi at cheap prices that's one thing we don't go for here, even though I love sushi (and so does Grace). And I'm also more of a Cadbury's girl too.

    Laura – yay, Victoria! I have tried the TGI Friday wings, but didn't like them. It was a while ago, so maybe I need to give them another whirl. Doncaster Shoppingtown is our nearest. And that would be cool to be a nanny in New York! Love New York.

    More to come later…must catch the bus to the factor outlet now!
    Phillipa

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  9. Reine

    Hi Phillipa,

    Food trip – yes! These things I crave:

    I plan whole trips around fish and chips at the Westchester Bowl in Bakersfield. No, I am not kidding. It is fresh. It is fried just right. It's crisp. It's chunky. It's perfect fish. It comes with homemade tartar sauce, fries, and a fresh roll. People pick it up in their fingers and dip it in the tartar sauce. That's the nice thing about eating in a bowling alley. You can do that.

    Another food I go for is in Oxford outside Tom Gate at Christ Church College. First I cross the street and get a prawn sandwich with avocado slices on a long thin crispy baguette, then back across the street to the food truck that is periodically parked by the gate. Even though my theology tutor warned us never to eat food from the truck, that's where I get my chips (fries), – I cannot help it – with a liberal amount of vinegar splashed on. Joy. Joy. Joy.

    Going to Canada? Smartees. Must stock up on Smarties. I never could have written any exams without them. While in Quebec I LOVE regular old poutine, the greasy kind, with really squeaky cheese curds!

    Odense, Denmark. Whenever I am there I must go to the "walk-about" plaza and sit ouside with a fresh press of coffee. It's the best coffee I've ever had, anywhere . . . ever.

    When I'm in Boston, I have to go to Mr. Bartley's in Cambridge for a basket of onion strings and a chocolate egg cream or a lime rickey with sweet potato fries. Or down Mass. Ave. a bit to the Dolphin for the fried scallop dinner.

    When in Marblehead I get lobster rolls – as many as I can afford. In Essex, I get fried clams and deep fried lobster at Woodman's. In Gloucester, lobster-stuffed lobster at the Gloucester House restaurant. But in Salem, I gotta have a Bill and Bob's roast beef sandwich basket or a chop suey sandwich at the Willows. Just found an old baby picture of myself at the Read Foundation Picnic sitting on the grass at Salem Willows. You can't tell, but I am sure I am trying to grab Memere's pink wintergreen popcorn made right there. Can't get it anywhere else. Oh yeah, and frozen custard. Same place. Love it. Gotta go there. Gotta have it.

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  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Hey, PD – I love Hawaii – only been there once and it was on my honeymoon. Spent seven days in Kauai. Fantastic. Perfect honeymoon spot. We hiked, bicycled, kayaked, snorkeled, etc. So friggin' beautiful. The wife and I are going to renew our marriage vows soon in Ireland. We haven't traveled together since Kauai, and that was fifteen years ago. We're ready for it.
    Glad you had a great time on holiday!

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  11. PD Martin

    Back from shopping at the factory outlets. Purchased two pairs of Levis, pair of Tone Up flip flops (or thongs as we call them in Oz…totally different meaning in the US of course!), a pair of shoes for Grace's flowergirl debut in July and a couple of tops for Grace too.

    Sarah – so glad I set the musical mood today. I have to say, I LOVE West Side Story. I'm a fan of most musicals, especially the older ones but I remember feeling such a sense of exhilaration from the music in West Side Story.

    Allison – that's one of the reasons this is the girls' trip. My husband can't stand the thought of lazing by a pool for 5 minutes, let alone a couple of hours. Mind you, even with one child there's not much lazing to be had. Especially by the water, because I'm hyper-vigilant. And five kids…I can't imagine it! And in terms of pampering, I'd love to sit by the pool and read for a few days. That would be heaven. But yes, something that's impossible with only one child πŸ™‚

    Reine – wow, that's an impressive list. I think you're the person to go to for food hints around the world! I love fish and chips, but I'm used to flake (shark). If you haven't tried it, trust me, it's gorgeous! I've had poutine, although in Montreal not Quebec and it was yummy. And yes, we think our Grace is adorable but we are biased.

    Stephen – Haven't been to Kauai but I've been to Maui once (for the writers conference), and certainly that would be an amazing honeymoon destination. I probably wouldn't pick Honolulu for a romantic getaway, even though we're having a great time there. As for your second honeymoon…I got married in Ireland (to an Irishman). Lovely country, but don't expect it to be warm and sunny in summer πŸ™‚ We had our honeymoon in Scotland, which was lovely.

    Phillipa

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  12. Reine

    Thanks, Phillipa. I probably got a teensy bit carried away, but I am a foodie. Those are just places I've lived or gone to school – or where relatives have. I love to save money, so spots like bowling alleys and food trucks have a way of getting my attention, as do the outdoor cafes of Denmark (where my granddaughter grew up and lives).

    I have eaten shark a number of times. I love how solid it is – definitely a great fish, yet has a meaty texture. Haven't had it in ages, though. No one in my family will touch it.

    Damn . . . now I'm craving poutine.

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  13. Reine

    Haha! A girl can dream. Where my family lives is not very accessible to me anymore by power wheelchair. But, I am debating a trip to visit cousins in NS. Might have to settle for mail-order poutine with spaghetti sauce there – oops – hope those Colachico cousins don't see this . . . .

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  14. Cape Town

    Ask me what my favorite things to do are when traveling to places and I will tell you – pool, food and shopping, exactly what you have mentioned! Especially when it is a place like Hawaii, pool is just so tempting! πŸ™‚ Food might be the least of my priorities as shopping is really cool especially when the place has really great prices for clothing and other items to be given out to friends back home! πŸ™‚
    I see that you love to travel, you might wanna try visiting Cape Town one day, it has been chosen as the #1 destination in the world in 2011.
    http://www.cometocapetown.com

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