No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem. Things are very casual on the North Shore of O’ahu. Many of the shops and restaurants welcome anyone no matter how few clothes they might have on. (Photos by Tom Sadowski)
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem. Things are very casual on the North Shore of O’ahu. Many of the shops and restaurants welcome anyone no matter how few clothes they might have on. (Photos by Tom Sadowski)
Time is running short. We have only a few days left before we head back to our home in Maine where we keep the temperature inside our home not that much warmer than Hawaiians keep their refrigerators.

So this is the day that is the reason we came to Hawaii this year: it is our 30th wedding anniversary. We were living in Alaska at the time, had a great number of friends who wanted to attend the ceremony and felt we were already too old to throw a huge wedding. We opted to get married in Hawaii which enabled us to invite everyone and yet hold the ceremony down to about nine people.

The wife and I rode our bikes into Haleiwa for breakfast. We locked the bikes and walked the shops, bought smoothies at the bakery, checked out the coffee places and gift stores. This is what you do on your big wedding anniversary: whatever the wife wants to do.

In the afternoon we all drove up the coast to visit Waimea Park and find the very spot where we got married. Waimea Valley is a vast botanical garden with 5,000 different subtropical and tropical plants (mostly labeled) and collections from many different parts of the world including Fiji, Guam, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and island groups I never knew existed. They have 35 themed gardens like the one solely devoted to the Hawaiian hibiscus. After a day of careful study there, you may walk away convinced you know even less about tropical plants than when you came. I did. It’s overwhelming.

At the gate we mentioned that it was our anniversary in a lame attempt to get free admission. Instead they gave us the senior rate but then the ticket counter attendant surprised us when she said Tinker, the lady who arraigned for the site and coordinated our wedding at the park, was still working there. In about 5 minutes she produced Tinker for an emotional 30-year reunion. Tinker had not seemed to age but the fee for having a wedding at the valley has shot up from $75 to $650. Lucky us. She directed us to the upper meadow to look for the overgrown spot where we were married. It is no longer used for weddings.

We walked the entire length of the park trail. A mile and a half walk, round trip. We photographed peacocks and bought Popsicles.

We planned a dinner at the Crouching Lyon, the restaurant where we had our wedding reception but for a restaurant to still be open after 30 years would be nothing short of a miracle. It was already an old and established place when we had our wedding dinner there. Sure enough, it had closed down just a few years ago and was now in new hands undergoing renovations. Forced to change plans, the two of us we celebrate at Haleiwa Joe's; a favorite with the locals and the surfing crowd which is largely the same people.

As luck would have it, our anniversary dinner night fell on the same night that the restaurant hosts a Hula show and fire dancing for free every month. We drank exotic tropical drinks and watched the Hula dancers and … and I’m sorry, I can’t remember how we got home or how my pockets ended up stuffed with all that beach sand but it sure makes your pants heavy.