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Waikiki is a place that I get to visit once or twice a year. So for the rest of the year I visit it via the web.

Most every day I fire up the Sheraton Waikiki web cam when I get into work and watch the sun rise behind Diamond Head. I can see the length of the beach down to Kaimana and beyond. I fight for control of the cam with others, zooming in on the surfers lined up where the surf brakes. I wonder who else is watching the cam. Japanese businessmen in Tokyo getting ready to head out for Karaoke and sake. Someone in Fairbanks where it's negative 40. Computer nerds like me just sitting down at the computer in the morning. Surfers from home on Oahu checking out what the sets look like before heading down to the beach.

I have found about a dozen sites with live cams or pictures of Waikiki. Every once in a while I'll search around for more. I'm sure there are more out there. Most of the ones I have found were by accident. The most recent was a link from the Chuck's Steak House site. Later in the morning I hit the Honolulu city cams. I check out the Duke Kahanamoku statue. I watch the streaming video and imagine what it must feel like to be there at that moment in front of Duke. Warm breezes, the smell of the ocean and beach, the sound of the waves crashing and trade winds rustling the palms. I watch the tourists snap pictures of each other, people who work in the area walk by, beach boys in the background. I wonder what the day will hold for them. The other day I watched a lady sweeping sand back onto the beach in front of Duke.

 

The parts of Waikiki I miss when watching from the web, aside from the weather, are the little side streets, the small stuff you see when walking around some of the older parts. I miss hearing what's going. What people are saying on the street. The music coming out of a doorway. Or the smell of food cooking or some garbage in an alleyway. To see slices of architecture from its history, the 30's, 50's, 70's and today.

After lunch I will sometimes check out the City and County traffic cams. I will watch the intersection of Kalakaua and Kapahulu or Kuhio and Kaiulani. I watch for my relative's cars and wonder what they are doing at the moment. I jump over to the Dillingham and Kalihi intersection and watch for the chicky truck.

In the afternoon I will sometimes head over to surfing live and try to hack into their feeds from the deck of Dukes on Waikiki beach. I refuse to pay.

After a while I can't take it anymore and decide that it’s masochistic to just be able to see shaky little pictures from there. But the next morning I'm back watching the sunrise again. Wishing I was there, feeling the warm trade winds for real.

Rob Dunn, 2002