So a little while ago, I hinted around about unexpected travel that took me to the land of plentiful leis. It’s true, denizens. It’s so very true. Starting the second week in March, I’ve been in and out of the lair almost every other week. It’s not typically the nature of my particular job (contrary to those unexpected “spy” rumors that have sprung up recently…that’s not Loba, denizens…that’s that other Internet PersonalityTM), but I do jump in when I am needed. Especially if being needed means getting to travel to places like Miami or Honolulu.

I ended up in both places in March, one by plan and one because of a very last minute call in which I needed to take over for someone on staff who had a family emergency. I found this out on a Friday morning; Sunday morning I was on a plane to Chicago to connect for a 9 1/2-hour flight to Hawaii. Longest flight I’ve been on thus far…long enough to read two books, develop a lasting hatred for my sprawling seat mate, and lose all feeling in my butt. Bonus!

I wish I had photos of Miami. I also wish I had more photos of Honolulu. However, the one thing that most people don’t realize when they hear that I’m jet-setting off to these places is that it’s not for fun. Even though the settings are gorgeous, that’s simply a secondary bonus. My sole focus while there is work, and that can often mean that I spend the bulk of my time sequestered in windowless sections of a hotel for the majority of my stay.

Poor, poor, pitiful me, right?

I did get the opportunity to go out and about in both places (I also got the same chance when I found myself sequestered at a hotel in downtown D.C. for a week as well…but I live here so that’s not too terribly exotic). I’ve been to Miami a few times before, so that was a nice revisit to some favorite local haunts. However, I was able to see enough of Honolulu to figure out that I definitely want to go back as soon as I can. I also know that I want to see other parts of Hawaii.

Honolulu is a very commercial area and a bit too touristy for my tastes. But it is beautiful. Plus every store you go into sells Kona coffee, which I confess I stocked up on while I was there. Okay, truth is I bought so much Kona coffee while I was there that my suitcase still smells like Starbuck’s underoos. And, yes, I know that was a vivid image…

Anyway, I promised you photos…and I always try to deliver on my promises. Here, then, are the few pictures that I was able to snap while in Honolulu. A couple are pulled from work shots that I took (“staff photographer” is one of many hats I get to wear when I’m onsite for conference detail). Most of them are of sunsets, since that was usually when my duties were over for the day.

This was the view from my balcony. Not a bad sight to wake up to every morning, eh?

And this little guy was one of the visitors who came to see me the evening I had a little time to eat dinner on the balcony. Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

Part of the Hawaii “experience” is a luau, which almost always includes a whole roasted pig. Snout, ears, and all…

(And if you must know, someone ate his ears and his snout before the evening was finished…)

What better way to wash down pig than beer? The cans are three brews from the Maui Brewing Company and the two bottles are brews from Kona Brewing Company. I’ve had experience with the latter brewery; their Longboard Lager and Pipeline Porter are two of my favorite recent discoveries. I hadn’t had their ale and the KoKo Brown brew was something I’ve never seen here on the “mainland” so I had to give both a go.

I’d also never heard of Maui before this trip, though, so when I found a six-pack sampler of three of their most popular brews (Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA, and CoCoNut PorTer), I jumped at the chance to buy it. I’ll say simply that IPAs are not really my thing. Neither was the lager. Or the Kona ale. However, hands-down, the KoKo Brown and CoCoNut PorTer beers were simply amazing. Who knew that coconut beer could taste so great? Hawaiians, apparently…

As an FYI for those of you considering a trip to Hawaii, do yourself a favor and become very familiar with the chain over there called ABC Stores. They’re about as ubiquitous in Honolulu as 7-Elevens are here on the East Coast, and they sell practically everything you could possibly need. Case in point: I found all these beers as well as a bottle opener, bottled water, orange juice, cereal, yogurt, sliced fruit, a razor, and more things made with macadamia nuts than I ever knew existed. These stores are amazing.

And finally…the sunsets. I am sorry that I don’t have more photos to share with you…but I hope you enjoy the ones that I do have…