Thursday, April 27, 2006

Channelling Captain Cook

The bell finally tolls on the next grand travel escapade - and this one was surely worth the wait. Courtesy of my sister's job with Westjet, this weekend has me set sail for St. John's to celebrate the 80th birthday of my mother's mother on Friday and Saturday. Then it is to the airport bright and early Sunday morning for a 3 stop, 9000 km, 20-odd hour marathon extravaganza. Destination, you ask? None other than the middle of the Pacific ocean and the Hawaiian islands of Oahu (days 1-3) and Maui (days 4-6). Luck is often the residue of design, and just as often the residue of luck.

Fortunately when it comes to such trips, I seem in ample supply of both. In researching a bit of history before embarking on the voyage (the ideal procrastination ploy), I was ever so pleased to discover the far-flung connections between the George Street of my departure and the Waikiki of my arrival. None more inspiring than their shared linkage to legendary James Cook - the man who, as his legion of followers say, "saw the world first."

For it was the British Cook who sailed all those years in the grand tide of the Pacific, who first discovered the "Sandwich Isles" of Hawaii for the Europeans in 1778 (only to meet his ill-starred end there a year later). And it was Cook, as well, who had already become the first to circumnavigate and map Newfoundland in the 1763-1767. (He went oretty well directly from there to New Zealand, where he was the first round that isle too, the cheeky bastard.)

How he might marvel at the ease and speed with which we aeronauts do get about! To think such a journey can be done in but a day - with enough time out at the Vancouver layover to track down another Bad Boy Burger at the Flying Beaver. And for a discounted fare (the privileges of a sibling in the business) that surely doesn't even begin to cover the fuel costs attributable to me alone.

So off we go tomorrow - and armed with a stockade of words from the local library, whose "subject keyword" search yielded some fiction set in Hawaii such as Hotel Honolulu, Jack London's Tales of Hawaii, The Floating City, and even one called (wait for it) Aloha, Mr. Lucky. Indeed. In approaching an oasis of such strangeness, it will no doubt suit me well to have already begun fostering my own mythology on the place even before I set foot.

Enjoy the next while. With any luck, I will be half a world away in a few days, swimming again in the glorious Pacific. It is times like this - as a wise man once said over Guinness in a Temple Bar pub - I know I'm living my life right.

See you back again on the 8th.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That so called wise man might not be able to return the same sentiment right now as he is sitting in an office tower, unable to cross the border to have a Bad Boy Burger due to pending immigration red tape. However, next weekend in Vegas might lift the spirits. Enjoy Hawaii though, you lucky bastard.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Not to take away from the history there, but while it may be the case that Cook was one of the first to map (and certainly greatly improved existing maps) Newfoundland, there are many who have good reason to believe that the first to circumnavigate Newfoundland may have been Jacques Cartier. Also, the Basques, who had whaling stations in the area as early as the 1500s, would likely have had a skipper or two who did this.

Anyway, Cook's voyages were still amazing even by today's standards. Have fun! Hope you fare better than Cook did on his final journey. . . lol

10:24 AM  

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