Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Vacation: Day Two

Much better today. Despite the fact that our insurance provider initially attempted to send us to a clinic on another island — good thing Heather looked up directions before it was time for us to go — we did finally get River’s ear checked by a doctor. The poor kid does have an infection (and he had a mild fever during the checkup), but the eardrum doesn’t appear to be perforated, so we don’t have to be excessively vigilant about his ears getting wet. Whoo! We’re not going to let him submerge his head, since the doc wasn’t 100% sure the eardrum was intact (his view was slightly blocked by some ear glop), but we’ll let him splash about. All it cost us was the $10 for the antibiotics. (We didn’t even get charged for the office visit, though I suspect a bill will be along eventually. Still: a lot cheaper than an emergency room!)

With his ear on the road to recovery, and painkiller in him to make him cheerful again, the day was a lot of fun, and yesterday’s crankiness is a distant memory. (All credit goes to my wife, who worked the phones with vigor and skill to get him seen by a doctor that our insurance would cover, which is harder than it should be, when traveling.)

So today is mostly a litany of good things: we hit the breakfast buffet early, where much astonishingly fresh pineapple was consumed. (Along with many other yummy things, including that mythical breakfast treat, available only at buffets, known as Enough Bacon. It is rare for me to get Enough Bacon.) We had to drive about 45 minutes south to see his doctor, where it was far less windy than it is at the hotel. (Which is still pretty crazy windy, though today was less so, and tomorrow should be even less.) So we stayed there after his appointment. Last time Heather and I came to the Big Island, back in 2005, we stayed in that general area, so we were able to find our way around with ease. We got an awesome lunch to go from Da Poke Shack, and found a little beachside park to eat it in. Then we walked around the park, where a couple of green sea turtles were crawling on the beach. I was chastised a bit briskly by a local woman for getting too close to the turtles. She clearly thought I was a haole tourist asshole who was going to go thump its shell or something; I actually hadn’t noticed the turtle, as my eyes were on the flat expanse of lava rock and its attendant tidepools, and when I realized I was getting close to the endangered wildlife, I stopped. (I am, of course, a haole, and very much a tourist, though I endeavor not to be an asshole, with varying degrees of success.)

I showed River some coral, and explained about the difference between rocks and coral and shells. We looked at the animals in some tidepools, and made a little tower of stones. Then we drove a bit further to a nice little beach, and played until nearly sunset. The weather was overcast but pleasant, and the weather was so wonderfully warm — it was pure delight to be in the ocean, bobbing on the waves, and great fun playing in the surf and making sand castles and moats and lakes with River. Really fabulous. The kid was in rapturous delight for much of the day, just grinning, clapping his hands, and saying “Yay!” (There was also a fair bit of “This is boring” and “I hate [inset noun here — sharks, turtles, dolphins, Hawai’i, the ocean],” mostly when he was between painkiller doses.)

We drove briefly with the top down on the convertible, but River didn’t like it — we think the wind wasn’t so great for his ear — and the sun was at a rather blinding angle, so we didn’t do it for long. More tomorrow, probably, when we go to Volcanoes Park.

Heather wanted to do a bit of shopping, so we drove over to a mall, and grabbed some dinner, and strolled around until 7:00 or so. The kid was fading by then, so we headed back up to the hotel. River slept on the ride back, and slept in my arms back to the room, and pretty much slept through getting put in his jammies and dosed with antibiotics. It’s exhausting, being sick and having so much fun. Now I’m in the room, where the wind is howling on one side of the room, and birds singing wildly on the other side. That’s more pleasant than it sounds.

It’s Heather’s night to stay in with the kid. I may head over to the bar and have a drink and read for a bit. The world is my bivalve.

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