How often do you schedule a staycation, where you shuttle over to a Waikiki hotel? If memory serves well, my last impromptu Waikiki stayover was for two nights at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel maybe a decade or so ago, when our home was tented for pest control. No, we didn’t have issues with creepy crawlers; we simply take precautions periodically.

But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?

So the missus and I wound up with an unplanned vacation – well, a staycation, a “trip” minus  an airline flight.

We originally planed to stay three nights at the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra because on Tuesday morning, Dec. 7, the day of infamy was make-lemonade day. No water!

Relevant concerns:

  • Can we live without water, hot and cold?
  • For how long?
  • Besides a shower, what about an unflushable toilet?
  • What’s the alternative to the unexpected dilemma, with no clue on how long this disruption would last?
Awaiting check-in, at the front desk of the Ala Moana Hotel.

Answer: Plan a staycation. The wife wasn’t going to tolerate the lack of a hot bath, and worse, the issues with the toilet. A Board of Water wagon arrived, and while we hauled out City Mill painting/gardening buckets (had two new ones in the house) to fetch water, we still weren’t willing to play out the waterless issue for lord knows how many days and nights.

Went online to find a hotel. Didn’t want to mess with the Waikiki traffic, and didn’t know there was gonna be Dec. 7 parade on Kalakaua Ave. that evening.

We had no more Christmas shopping to do, but the opportunity to be at Ala Moana Center was a plus; we hadn’t been mall-ers for a spell, what with the pandemic.

The Ala Moana had rooms going for as low as $179 a night, so that seemed fair and acceptable, so I logged on, intending to book perhaps two, maybe three nights, to avoid returning home too early if the meddlesome water main break continued.

In my online booking, something strange happened; the system — outsourced and located in Australia, I learned — was a bit crazy, so a wrong arrival date and departure date appeared without my input. It didn’t even apply a LOCALSONLY discount that appeared when I signed on. The only way to undo this was to call the hotel directly, and a sweet reservationist assisted, correcting the check-in date and suggested we do the three nights, just in case, because the hotel was approaching a fully-booked status.

A simple dinner at Liliha Bakery inside Macy’s.

She noticed I hadn’t asked for the kamaaina discount and I said I did, so she inserted that data in the reservation. The discount would cover a $35 daily charge for self-parking at the hotel (vs. parking illegally and walking to the hotel adjoining the shopping center).

The lemonade started to get a bit sweeter.

The staycation was a blessing, and wound up being a post-anniversary observance, since our home had two guests for much of November. And Nov. 23 was our 53rd wedding anniversary that included a sweet dinner at Roy’s with our niece visiting us to see her Army son, who had concluded one assignment before moving to another.

A calming dinner at Ruscello’s inside Nordstrom; note yule trees.

Staycations mean you can drive home to pick up a few things that you may have forgotten to pack, so yes we drove home on Wednesday Dec. 8, to pick up a charging cord with a magnetic head for my Apple watch. We brought a few more clothing items and a couple of snacks, too, and learned that the water was restored early Wednesday, though the roadway was not restored for traffic, so we wondered if we should cut short the vacation.
We had made dinner reservations for Wednesday night, so proceeded back to the hotel and later drove to the Nordstrom end of the mall, for our meal at Ruscello, a favorite destination. (FYI, I no longer walk the whole length of the mall because of back ache issues, so a short drive is part of my new normal).

Chillin’ inside the Ala Moana Hotel room.

The staycation, however, intruded with three Thursday Dec. 9 calendar items – my wife had a bone density test to take, and a Zoom session in the afternoon, and I had my usual Thursday PT session in the morning. We intended to return home early Thursday, so she could get to her appointment in her car, and I’d do same with mine. We would then return to the hotel afterwards.

However, overnight Wednesday, I developed a feverish feeling – both my legs and feet were icy cold, due to the hotel’s air-conditioning — so I told my wife it’s probably best that we conclude the staycation after two nights.

Staycations allow this kind of casual and informal play-out. We were enjoying the novelty of hotel life because we hadn’t traveled since the pandemic cancelled everything two years ago. And two evenings were just the right dose.

We don’t normally go all-out to mark our anniversary; the last one was the 50th, to which we invited the entire family. This one was perfectly personal, just us two; it didn’t require high-end dining with champagne and the works.

Liliha Bakery’s loco moco: in a word, ono.

We had dinner at Liliha Bakery at Macy’s the first night; she had the hamburger steak, I had the loco moco with two easy-over eggs over the burger on a bed of fried rice. Boring? Perhaps. But ono.

We learned that Cafe 410, the Ala Moana restaurant, had been closed throughout the pandemic, but was reopening Wednesday morning with a breakfast-buffet format; it was not grand nor bountiful, comprised mostly of bacon, pork sausage, pancakes hidden in those domed bowls, a small selection of breakfast fruit (pineapple chunks, watermelon, honeydew melons), and a station with croissants, bagels and bread for toasting. I don’t recall the cost, but the waitress insured we’d get the kamaaina discount. And when asked about the numbers in the Cafe name, she said it’s the hotel’s address on Atkinson. Now you know, too.

The hotel stay was leisurely and comforting; we took a selfie in front of a decorated Christmas tree in the hobby but it was a lousy shot. No matter.

We both had hauled our computers with us in separate roll-aboards, since we have different needs. And over two days, I had a few hours to shape and nearly complete my traditional Christmas column, to be posted in a few weeks. We were still connected to our daily do’s, including checking emails.

The staycation cost $700-plus for hotel and meal charges  but you only live once, and you can’t take it with you. And FYI, the hotel didn’t charge a penalty for an early departure and the refund for the unused third night was credited to my charge card.

For an imperfect few days of rain and no running water, this was the perfect staycation at a time we needed a break from routine.


Just asking…

Are you eligible and if so, have you had your third Covid shot?

Received my “booster” shot yesterday, at Longs Hawaii Kai. I qualified for one, due to age and medical pre-conditions.

So, how’d it go? Quickly, with no pain when the shot was administered. Had my earlier two shots six months ago.

Tips: Call your pharmacy or doctor, to determine if the shot you need is available; the serum must be compatible to your earlier vaccinations: Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson. Walk-ins acceptable; you’ll need to fill out a form; your temperature will be taken, so if you feel feverish, go another day when you’re OK.

Bring: Your previously issued Covid vaxx card; the third shot will be logged onto it as documentation of the procedure.

Aftermath: My left arm, notably the area where the shot was given, aches this morning. Hopefully, no other side effects.


Most of us own, and use, cellphones daily. Lives are dependent on this invention. No. Kidding.

Without it, we are lost. We are possibly useless. Some rely on its calendar reminders. Others, without watches, use it to find out the time. Most embrace the contact list to reach out to the world.

iPhone: secret help tips.

Further, the phones can map out your day and assist in anything from finding an address, getting there, and texting and tweeting.

So what happens when you have an emergency? When you accidentally lock your keys in your car? (Yes, it happens, but luckily, my car will beep if my keys are inside the vehicle). When you need directory assistance, and unknowingly pay for that service? When you (gulp) lose your phone or if (bigger gulp) someone steals it.

The cellphone likely can help you in more ways than you probably know. These five “hows” are invaluable.

1 — Emegency calls

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out

2 — Car keys locked in the car

Have you locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone:

If you lock your keys In the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

( Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!’

3 — Hidden battery power

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50 pe rent increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.

(Note: some testing this say it doesn’t always work. Depends on the phone?)

4 — Disabling a stolen mobile phone

To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone:   *#06# .

A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.
If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

5 — Free directory service call

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:      (800) FREE411    or    (800) 373-3411
 without incurring any charge at all.  Program this into your cell phone now.

Note: “Help data” provided by the Halton Police Retirees Assn. of Canada; opening text/commentary by yours trulyy.
Suggestion: print this out, save it in your wallet/purse, share with anyone with a cellphone.