The reaction I get when I tell people I have Furlough Friday is always hilarious (and getting predictable). The reaction always starts with a smirk as if the person is saying, "wow, the Hawaii State government can't get their shit together" and then they say, "it's awesome you get the day off." This Furlough Friday was definitely a testament to that reaction. I started the day with some morning surfing. I am still able to get up, but went without a rash guard this time and learned very quickly how important they are. My nipples felt like I spent the night at an S&M Club. Anyway, my co-worker and I spent a couple hours just hanging out and surfing and then I headed home for some rest and to do some errands. That lasted all of about 30 minutes when my roommate came into my room and said, "we're going to Waimea."
So we drove the 30 minutes or so to the North Shore and went to Waimea Bay. In the summer, the water is fairly calm, but in the winter, the waves are massive. So massive, in fact, that the North Shore is famous for all the major surf competitions. The surf break at Waimea Bay was significant in the development of Big wave surfing. Larger surf at the bay went unridden for years until November 7, 1957. When a handful of surfers finally paddled out and rode the giant waves that break off the northern point of the bay. While the surf only breaks big several times a year, Waimea was the most prestigious big wave surf break in the world for decades. Well, the waves are just starting to get big and we showed up and the waves were easily 12 feet big...nothing compared to what they will be in the next couple months. What you have to understand is that the breaks on these waves are really violent. They easily knock you over and will carry you to the shore. The under-tow is also so strong that it is nearly impossible to fight your way out of it. The under-tow then carries you under the wave and can really do some damage. So we started to play "chicken" with the waves to see who could go out furthest without running away. It was pretty fun. At one point, though, the under-tow caught me and I literally could not run or swim out of the way so I had no choice but to go under the break.
We got back in the late afternoon and the day still wasn't over. It turns out Chinatown regularly has festivals or parties where they close down the streets and everyone drinks and goes bar hopping. Well Friday they had Oktoberfest. The shut down several streets, put up several beer and food tents, had live bands, and all the bars stayed open till 4am. We went with a bunch of people and met a lot more. In fact, I ran into someone I went to high school with who lives here now. We were in the same homeroom for 4 years. So that was pretty cool. I grew up in Delaware and the one thing Delaware and Hawaii (or, at least Oahu) have in common is that they are small. This is a small island. Everyone knows everyone and you will constantly run into the same people. This has its disadvantages, of course, but for someone new to the island, it's nice.