A Long Post for a Bad Week

I really wanted to call it a “shitty” week, because there is no other way to describe it. But I felt bad putting that right there in my title. So I put it in the first line of my post, instead. I’m sneaky that way. Whatever. It really was a shitty, shitty week. There’s no point in sugar coating it or trying to make it better or calling it something it wasn’t.

So you guys know my husband is looking for a new job. He has been looking for a new job for over a year. Finding a new job is hard. “Hard” really isn’t enough word to describe it, but it’s what I have in this moment. So we’ll just go with it. Anyhow, I think we all know trying to find a new job is a suck-fest and a half. He has been close several times. Like, so close we felt as if we could reach out and touch it. So close we could imagine ourselves stepping into that new life. So close that it seemed impossible for it not to happen. And yet, somehow, it ended up not happening.

This week, that same, stupid scene was on a never-ending, repeat loop in the movie of my life. I had built my teeny, pathetic hopes and dreams into something coherent and cohesive. Was it a pretty design? No. Was it perfect? No. It was cobbled together with sticky tape and lumps of glue. It leaned in places and caved in at other spots. But it was there, still standing tall and keeping it together. This week came in like Godzilla and smashed it all to pieces.

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There is a large and well-known company in the town where we are from. Last year, my husband interviewed with this company for an executive position. He interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. Over the course of about a month, my husband must have talked with nearly every person in every unit that would possibly come into contact with the position for which he was interviewing.

You might think I’m exaggerating, and I wouldn’t blame you for it. But I’m not. He interviewed over the phone three times. He traveled to the town for interviews three times. The on-site interviews were, literally, all day long, where he shuffled from person to person. Everyone loved him. The hiring managers loved him. The people he would work with loved him. They loved him so much that they flew my daughter and me down to look at houses. The whole way through, he is hearing how people love him and how they are talking about him at all levels of the company and how all the talk is positive. It was a love-fest of gargantuan proportions. Seriously, this hippie love-fest made Woodstock seem like a tiny gathering of a few friends. They flew my daughter and me into town to look at houses. Did I mention that already? Yep. I did. Because this was a huge thing.

Guess what? About a week after our trip to look at housing, the company called my husband and told him thanks, but no thanks. The hiring manager didn’t even have the courtesy to contact him. Instead, it was an HR representative. With no explanation whatsoever.

I. Was. Crushed. I cried for days. I know that sounds stupid. It was just a job, after all. But my husband really needs a new job. And this wasn’t “just a job”. It was a perfect job. It would have allowed us to move back home. It would have provided us with a fantastic income. It would have answered pretty much all of our concerns and problems. Think about it. All those little, niggling doubts and irritations about money … wiped away in one swipe. This is powerful stuff.

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But, you know … Life doesn’t always happen the way you want or expect. And I know that. We all know that, right? Right. So we did what anyone does when life doesn’t work out as we want or expect. We cried a lot. And then, we moved on. We looked for other opportunities. My husband kept interviewing and interviewing and interviewing. And he got close, yet again, on several opportunities. But nothing stuck.

Until, now, a year later, when two other opportunities come up at the same company in our home town. These weren’t executive positions. And, truthfully, my husband was probably overqualified for them. But we felt we could make it work for our family. If it worked out, we would have the opportunity to move home, which would give us a lower cost of living and less bills and the ability to care for our aging parents. And, even more than that, it would give us a fresh start. Do you ever feel like you NEED a fresh start? Because I do. I’ve felt like that for a long time, deep in my heart.

After what happened last year, I was less than enthusiastic about my husband applying for these jobs. But he felt it was worth the chance, and I supported his decision. He applied. He interviewed on the phone. He went to the town, yet again, to interview. Everyone loved him. One of the hiring managers even went so far as to give my husband her direct line and her mobile number, in case he had any questions or concerns. She went so far as to tell him she was eager for him to come to work there. There was an offer. This was a preliminary offer, but, still … An offer! We couldn’t believe it. We were so excited and eager. We started researching schools and places where we should live. I realize now that we jumped the gun too much in this instance, but I’ve never been in a situation where a preliminary offer did not work out. And, in our defense, we are scared and nervous about what might be around the next corner. We needed, so much, to believe in this. We needed, so much, to believe that something good could happen for us.

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And then … Out of nowhere, it all fell apart. When the company HR representative first went over the compensation package with my husband, he talked the salary DOWN from what my husband was told in his interviews. Who does this? It was crazy and unexpected and confusing. My husband went back to the hiring manager to ask about this, and the manager told him she would work with HR to fix it. She did. They came up with a new package, and everything seemed great. The HR rep communicated the new package to us, and it seemed everything was good. This was on a Monday evening, at the close of business. Right after talking to HR, my husband emailed the manager he wanted to work for, asking for a time the next day when they could speak over the phone. He wanted to accept the job offer with her. We went to bed happy, thinking our long job search journey was done. It felt good to know we were moving home, and that what has been a stressful and pretty awful time for our family was, apparently, over.

Except … Unbeknownst to him, my husband failed to say “the magic words” when the new offer was communicated to him. The HR rep met with the two hiring managers on Tuesday morning, before my husband was able to talk with anyone in the company. He told them my husband wasn’t “enthusiastic enough” when they discussed the compensation package. He then went on to tell the hiring managers that it was his impression that my husband was only interested in promotion, and that he would never be happy in the positions for which he was being considered. The hiring managers, including the one who was so eager and excited about my husband coming to work in her unit, apparently got mad. And they rescinded both offers. Out of anger. Without even trying to discover the truth of the matter.

So, basically, the company HR representative got mad that my husband took steps to try and negotiate a better compensation package. And he went into a meeting with the hiring managers. And he did whatever he had to do to tank this entire deal. Which is pretty shitty. But what’s even more shitty is that neither of the hiring managers had the integrity to come back to my husband and hear his side of the story. Neither of them had the integrity to figure out this was, at best, a misunderstanding between my husband and the HR representative … and, at worst, an outright lie.

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WHO DOES THIS?!? I mean, seriously … Who fucking does shit like this? It’s perfectly normal to want the best salary you can get. There is no planet in the known universe where anyone, ever, would be happy with an initial offer that was LOWER than the salary communicated to them during an interview. Also, what’s wrong with wanting to move ahead in one’s career? Again, there is no planet in the known universe where people are happy to sit in a dead-end job for the rest of their lives. Or, maybe there is one place in the universe where that is the case, and we all know where that is. Right? Yeah. Right.

And what kind of manager gets so bent out of shape over the idea of a salary negotiation (which, remember, didn’t even happen; my husband was happy with the offer) that she acts in such a petty and ridiculous manner? This is business. It’s not personal. Well, it’s not personal to her. It’s very personal to us. Because she is playing with our lives and our livelihood. If interviewing for a job is like dating, this manager is the equivalent to the girl who sneaks into your apartment after a breakup and slashes all your dress shirts. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

It’s not even that these were dream jobs. Or, really, even jobs that were all that fantastic. It’s that I can’t believe how mean and petty and outright horrible the HR rep and hiring managers were. And, by extension, the company itself. After all, a company is only as good as its employees. And the message this company is sending, loud and clear, is this: I will screw you over at every opportunity.

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So, yeah. All of this was bad enough to make for a crap-fest of a week. But, wait! There’s more!

My husband had an opportunity with a different company in another state. This particular opportunity has been banging around for a year. For a YEAR, the manager has wanted my husband to come work at this company. They have been talking around this thing for so long, and it always seemed like a good Plan B for us. The manager was eager for him to come work for her. She even went so far as to send housing information and set up calls for my husband with people who live in the city and work for the same company, so he could get a feel for life in this particular city.

Well, guess what? Plan B is now gone, too. After a year of saying how perfect my husband is for the job, that manager now suddenly feels he won’t be happy in the job. Really?!?! Personally, I think she promised him a salary that she found out she can’t deliver. And now, she is too embarrassed to admit it. But whatever … Either way, it’s shitty.

And then, a third opportunity fell through just yesterday. Same song, second verse. Or are we on the third verse by now? Whatever. The refrain is this: People Suck.

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It is hard to see someone you love so much treated so badly. It hurts when you have to stand by and let it happen. It hurts when you feel as if you are free-falling through a major hole in your life, and you have no control over any of it. It beyond hurts. It sucks. Right now, things suck for my husband and for my family. I don’t know what is going to happen to us. I don’t know where we are going to go or what we are going to do. I have to keep believing it is going to get better and that there is something better out there for us. But, truthfully, it becomes hard to believe any of that when so much crappy shit happens in the span of one week. I would say that at least it’s over and a new week is coming. But, honestly, I feel like I am taunting Fate at this point.

This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I’m watching all the Legos fall around me. And they are making a huge sound as they hit the floor.

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A Day of Ups and Downs …

Today has been a day of ups and downs. Have you ever had one of those? It’s a hard way to live, even for a day. Because there is something I want so, so badly. And that one thing is so very nearly within reach. But maybe it isn’t possible for me to have that one thing, even though I want it so very badly. Maybe the thing I want is available and there for the taking. But maybe taking it would be a bad choice.

You see what I mean? Up and down. Up and down. Over and over again. Repeat and rewash. Ugh. It’s so frustrating.

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The thing is, I want a change. I need a change. And I think my family needs a change, too. I don’t have any empirical evidence to back this up, but I have a strong gut feeling. I also have a strong gut feeling that change is just around the corner. As a family and with regard to my husband’s job, we are at a point where change NEEDS to happen. We’re talking back up against the wall and nowhere else to go time, here.

It’s scary. And frustrating. And we have been on this train for over a year now.

I can smell change in the air. I can feel it coming toward us at full speed. Will it be our ticket to something better? Or will it just be that same old train, coming to run us under its wheels once again? Right now, it’s anyone’s guess, because we seem to be making progress toward that change … but, at the same time, we are stuck in the same old spot.

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Today, I had a few moments of giddy elation. It seemed like something definite was happening at long last. It seemed like the change we have been seeking and waiting for was right there, right within reach. And it seemed like, for once, it might actually be the change we wanted. I was so excited, my hands were shaking. I wanted to laugh and cry, all at the same time. I was giddy. That’s the only way to describe it: “Giddy”. I haven’t felt truly giddy in a long, long time.

But then, suddenly, it seemed that our coming change might not be coming at all. Within the span of a few hours, my emotions ran the gamut from unfamiliar, dizzy heights all the way back down to stomach-churning uncertainty, stress, and fear. I feel like uncertainty, stress, and fear have been my constant companions for too long. I’m tired of uncertainty, stress, and fear.

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I think that’s it: I’m just freaking tired. I want to feel excited and happy. For once, I want to feel these things without reservation. It’s not that I think things will be perfect once change comes upon us. I’m not that naive. And I don’t necessarily need “perfect”. Just … different. Or, maybe … positive. Those little things would be enough. Or maybe just stable. Maybe it would be enough for my life to be stable and simple and easy.

Change is coming. I can feel it. And I’m ready. Is it the change I want? Or is it the train, coming out of the darkness to run me down, once and for all? I have no idea. But I’m ready.

Another Rainy Day

This morning, I woke up to a wet and rainy world. And my first thought was, “Ugh. Not again.”

It’s not that I don’t like rain. In general, I think of myself as something of a pluviophile. I like hearing it patter on the roof of my house. I like how it makes the streets and sidewalks look new and clean. I like how the raindrops settle on the edges of my roses, making the petals look like they are wearing pearls of silvery light. At night, the lights reflect off the wet streets, and it looks like the whole world has become liquid light.

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Sometimes, I like to walk in the rain. It’s quiet. The sidewalks are deserted, and it feels like a good time to think all the thoughts I usually keep stuffed down inside myself. There is something about walking in the rain that clears out all the cobwebs. I always return home feeling refreshed and brand new. Sometimes, I even manage to work through a problem or two along the way.

My dogs love walking in the rain, too. They rush ahead, to the end of their leashes, with their tails waving high in the air. They are always excited about life. Such is the way of the dog. But rainy days are something else. Sometimes, I wonder if the smells are newer or fresher or somehow different to them.

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But today, I have to admit all of my lovey-dovey, warm-and-fuzzy rain feelings have deserted me. I don’t feel excited about wet skies and slippery sidewalks. I didn’t look outside my window this morning and feel as if I was looking out onto a brand-new world. I just felt … meh. There’s no other word for it.

We have had so much rain. When I step onto the grass in my lawn, water seeps up from the ground around my foot. That is how much rain there has been. The ground is soaked. The sidewalks are soaked. My roof is soaked. I am soaked. And tired.

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I guess that’s the main thing: I am tired of the rain. Sometimes, too much of a good thing is just that: too much. And I have things I have to do today. There is lots of laundry calling my name, which isn’t a terrible thing for a rainy day. I also have errands to run. Errands suck when it’s raining, because most people flat-out can’t drive in the rain. I’m kind of dreading it all, to be honest. I am sitting here, trying to work up the determination to get dressed and set out into the wilds of the highways and by-ways.

But, in this moment, I am safe and dry. I am sitting in my quiet office, watching Castle and typing up this journal entry. And both of my dogs are in here, too. They are lying on the floor, not exactly touching but close together. All is peaceful, and I can’t help but think about how, perhaps, rainy days aren’t so bad, after all.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 5, Part 2

It is a rainy, rainy night tonight in my corner of the universe. Along with rain, there is occasional thunder. And along with occasional thunder, there are two scaredy-dogs vying for the limited “cavern space” under my desk. All of this makes me wish I was somewhere else. And where might that be?

Yep! You guessed it!! My mind has turned to fond memories from our island adventure in Maui this Summer. So I thought it would be a great time to head in here and FINALLY wrap things up with the second part of my Day 5 post. If you recall, the first part of Day 5 started in the wee hours of the morning with a fairly long drive and the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen in my life. And then, there were pancakes. Which were also pretty darn good. An amazing sunrise and lots of clouds and equally amazing pancakes is already a pretty full day. But our plans for Day 5 had only begun. Because we were headed back to THE ROAD TO HANA!!! (In my mind, I am saying those words in a movie announcer voice. Because, you know, it needs to be that way.)

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So remember how we had already traveled this road? And made it only halfway? Um, yeah. So here’s what we did: We went back to Mile 0 and started all over again. This time, we were better prepared. We had snacks. We had water. We had a full gas tank. Even our Road to Hana description app was in full working order! Of course, we were all exhausted from getting up at o-dark-thirty in the AM. But no adventure is perfect. Our time in Maui was coming to a close. If we wanted to travel down this road in order to see what we might see, we needed to jump on it!

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Originally, I thought I would organize this post in a more or less chronological order of all the sights we saw and the stops we made along the way. But the truth is that there is a LOT to see along the way. And I took a lot of pictures. And it has been quite a while since our trip. And, well, I am feeling lazier than lazy. Which means I am going to head into this post piece-meal and picture-heavy.

There were some things along the way that have stayed with me. Even now, months later, I think about the magic and wonder they inspired in my heart. And this is one of them. As we traveled the twists and turns and peered over the edges of cliffs, I kept seeing these weird, fuzzy-humpy shapes out of my window. It took me a little while to realize they were bamboo — forests and forests of bamboo, growing up the mountains all around us. It rained off and on as we drove, and, once the mists cleared, the sunlight hit the edges of every leaf. It was as if the whole world was chased in silver. Or, maybe, like I had traveled to some strange and unknown planet. It was like seeing LIFE for the first time, ever.

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Of course, there were more waterfalls along the way. Some were hidden away, far off the road and along the untraveled path. It took some hiking to reach these. I was tired that day, from getting up so early, and I didn’t have the mental energy to hike to most of them. But I managed a few. It was worth the extra effort!

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There is something life-affirming about standing under a canopy of green and feeling the world growing around you. If I closed my eyes, I could practically hear the life hum around me as the wind rustled leaves above my head and small, unseen critters rustled through the leaves as we passed. And the rain! Is there anything as beautiful as the sound of rain falling and hitting every single leaf on the way down?

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As expected, there was something to see around every twist and turn. At the bottom of every hill and the bend of every curve, things came to us. Some of them were small and delicate. Grace and beauty, right before my eyes. There were times when I found myself holding my breath as I tried to take all of it in with my eyes and my heart.

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And some of the things were mysterious. Where might they lead? Were there fairies somewhere in there, just waiting to grant wishes? Or, perhaps, biding their time until they had a chance to perform some mischief?

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We visited my beloved Rainbow Eucalyptus trees again. And they were just as incredible the second time!

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We even visited the Garden of Eden. And you know, if it could exist anywhere on Earth today, I think Maui would be the place. At the very least, it was fun to see these little guys owning their little patch of grass. Like a couple of divas or bosses in the making! Of course, they have a great teacher in their Mama. She was beautiful, majestic, and just a little scary. We were careful not to get too close!

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And, of course, there was the ocean — always the ocean. It was our constant companion, visible just over the nearest cliff or next hill. Its moods were varied. Its sound was soothing. And it was always beautiful. I think I could look at the ocean for forever.

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And, at the end of it all, a beach of black sand. It was unexpected. And mysterious. And the ocean seemed intent on taking it back, one grain at a time.

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At the end of the day, we headed for home knowing we had truly seen everything. We had hiked up cliffs. We had felt the rain on our faces. We had walked beneath canopies of lush green. We laughed and told stories. We made memories. It was a good day.

 

A Rough Day

I’m taking a break from my Maui vacation posts. I had a rough day today, and I needed to blog it out. It is the latest in a long string of rough days. My family’s circumstances are changing right around us. It is stressful and a little scary. We are unsettled.

I don’t usually write about things like this. I mean, I write about my family sometimes. And I sometimes write about difficult things facing us. But I seldom write about myself, my background, and my own feelings.  I have to admit I don’t feel completely comfortable sharing this. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone, and there is a little kid inside of me who is desperately afraid of the wrong people reading this. Because they wouldn’t understand. And yet, there is something within me that needs to say it out loud, even if it is only to send the words out into the ether.

Sometimes I feel like life pushes me along in its wake. It shoves me this way, then tugs me that way. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Not really. So you just go along with the flow. What could be wrong with that? It’s easy. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to want. You just float along.

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But it’s not that great. What if you want to choose for yourself? What if you want to know where you’re going? Maybe you have a destination in mind and want to choose your own path. Maybe there are specific things you want to do or see. But none of that is up to you. Because Life.

I’m a floater. I always have been. I was more or less trained to be this way from birth. I always had to be agreeable. I always had to be pleasing. I had to wear certain things or do certain things or care about certain things. Not because any of it mattered to me, but because it mattered to the people around me. Always put others first. Always care about their feelings, but have none of your own. Don’t make choices. Let others have their way. Don’t have hopes or dreams. Just … Don’t … Want … Anything.

When you grow up like this, you get the message. And it is this: You don’t matter. You are not good enough. You are not real.

I am an adult woman who is nearly incapable of making a decision. Or having an opinion. Or making a choice. Even something as simple as “Where do you want to eat?” or “What movie do you want to see?” ends up with me shrugging and saying that I don’t care. It makes my husband so mad.

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And then, one day, you’re all grown up. And you still can’t cope. Maybe you think you can. Maybe you even feel like you have made peace with all those things from your childhood. You have forgiven and moved on.

Except …

All those things are still there. Every hurt. Every sting. Every bruise ever suffered by your tender heart. Every moment of every time you told yourself, “If I do this one thing perfectly, I will be loved. I will matter. I will be real.” It never happens. And somewhere deep inside yourself, you know it never will. You hope for it and you try for it over and over again. And you end up feeling stupid and foolish.

No matter how much you think you have changed … no matter that you are now an adult … Those feelings and insecurities are always inside of you. Sometimes they bubble up to the surface and catch you off guard. And then you find yourself sitting in a public place in full-blown panic attack mode. You can’t stop crying. And you wonder if anyone would notice if you just put your sweater over your head to block out the world. Just for a few moments.

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That was me, earlier today. I had a conversation with my mom. It wasn’t any big, heavy conversation or anything. It was just our normal, daily chit-chat. But something she said caught me. All these feelings came bubbling up, too fast and too much.

How foolish I must have looked: an overly-chubby woman with slightly wild blue hair, perched on a stool and crying into my sweater. It was not my finest moment. Luckily for me, I was meeting a dear friend. She arrived and gave me a hug and helped me collect myself.

I wish I could go back in time and meet Younger Me. I wish I could hug her tight and tell her that I love her. I wish I could tell her she is strong and okay the way she is. I wish I could tell her she is enough. And that she matters. And that she is Loved.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 5, part 1

Believe it or not, I am finally — FINALLY!! — closing in on the end of my family’s Summer adventure in the fairytale land of Maui. And it has only taken me … what? A month? Two months? Yep. Blogger fail! I should have been blogging this trip in real time, but I was too busy living the memories. And that’s okay.

Day 5 was, by far, our busiest day. It was so busy that I think I am going to split it into two posts. Because one post can not contain all the fun. Actually, it’s because I have too many photographs I want to share. I’m selfish that way.

Going into it, I was excited about Day 5. This was the day we had scheduled to go to Haleakala to see the sunrise. Do you know what the worst thing is about wanting to see the sunrise? I bet you can guess. I’ll give you a moment to consider …

Yep! You’ve got it. The worst thing about wanting to see the sunrise is that you have to get up way before the sun. Otherwise, you miss the whole thing, right?

We were going with my brother-in-law’s family, including two adorable babies. Packing up for babies, with all the things you might need along the way, like bottles and diapers and pacifiers and toys and snacks and more diapers, is not an easy task. Our destination was at least 2 hours from our hotel. That’s two hours if you know exactly where you are going and you are familiar with the twisting and turning roads. We didn’t have either of those things working in our favor, and we wanted my brother-in-law and his wife to have plenty of time to get those sweet babies ready for the road. We knew we would need some extra time.

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We had a 2AM wakeup call on the morning of Day 5. Just let that sink in for a moment and think about how I am a night owl, all the way. And, after five days in Hawaii, I still hadn’t recovered from the 6-hour time difference. Let’s just say 2AM was painful, and leave it at that. The night before, I had briefly considered not going to bed at all. I am a night owl, after all. And I’ve been up past 2AM lots of times, with no ill effects.

In the end, I decided I would try to get some sleep, because I knew we had a busy day ahead of us. We were quickly coming to the end of our trip, and we all wanted to fit in the last couple of extremely time-consuming tourist things we had planned from the beginning. I went to bed around 8PM the night before. I ended up not falling asleep until around 10 or 11PM, which meant I hit our 2AM wake-up with about 3-4 hours of sleep. It was not pretty. And I was not in a good mood. But I managed to get up. And I stayed awake to keep my husband company during the entire 2 hour drive. That’s what counts!!

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I don’t really have much to share about the drive from our hotel to Haleakala. It was a long drive, and, of course, it was dark. There is something kind of mysterious and a little creepy about taking a long drive in the dark. The view outside your window takes on an unearthly, eerie kind of appearance. Things you would recognize during the day look strange and unexpected in the dark. We passed a lot of the drive in silence. I think everyone in the car was feeling the pain of our early departure time.

Haleakala is a massive shield volcano. It forms about 75% of the island of Maui, which is pretty incredible, when you think about it. The highest part is 10,023 feet above sea level, and you can see it from pretty much anywhere on the island. Being a know-nothing tourist, I had been looking at Haleakala all along, from Day 1 of our trip. But I didn’t realize it!

The name “Haleakala” means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. There is a legend that says the demigod Maui stood on Haleakala’s summit to lasso the sun from its journey across the sky. He slowed its descent and made the days longer for all of us. Sound familiar? If you’ve watched Moana about a hundred times like I have, it will definitely sound familiar. And you probably hear Maui singing, “You’re welcome!” in the back of your mind.

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Luckily for us, Haleakala is now a National Park. It is such a treasure, and I am so grateful to the people of Hawaii for sharing it with all of us. Some initial research before our trip told us that the Haleakala Visitor Center was one of the best places to view the sunrise. The Visitor Center is at around 9,740 feet above sea level, and I believe there is another place to view the sunrise that is somewhat higher. I am not sure of the elevation for the second viewing area, because it was closed off by the time we arrived. We found parking at the lower level, near the Visitor Center, and that is where we stayed to watch the sun make its appearance for the day.

This is a popular destination. On any given morning, the parking area at the Visitor’s Center is full to bursting. So you need a reservation to reserve parking. For our purposes, this meant we needed a reservation to see the sunrise, because we were not already in the park. We were going there specifically for the sunrise. Let me tell ‘ya: We had to fight for our reservation. You can reserve a spot ahead of time, but you have to do it months and months before your trip. Things have been crazy (and not in a good way) in our lives for a while now, and my husband and I didn’t plan far enough out from our travel dates. It just kind of slipped through the cracks.

But we had a fall-back plan. Each day the Park Service releases a certain number of reservations for the following day. These reservations get snapped up in milliseconds after they go live on the website, which means you have to be there — locked, loaded, and ready to go! — at the second the spaces for the next day go live. This led to quite an adventure of me trying to log into the website, grabbing a parking reservation, and paying for it before the transaction timed out … all on my phone … all while we were traipsing around various places on the island. Guys, this was stressful! Mobile service is spotty at best. You might have service in one spot but then travel a mile down the road and have no service at all. I did this dance several days in a row, and it wasn’t pretty. Inevitably, my husband ended up mad at me because I couldn’t type fast enough or I couldn’t make the mobile service last. But, I finally managed to reserve a spot. Huzzah!! I don’t mind telling you I did a victory dance, right there on the side of the highway. (I had made my husband pull over at a turn-out overlooking the ocean. Not for the view, but because it had mobile service. Three whole bars!!!)

Luckily, my husband’s brother was able to get a spot on the same day, which is why we got to go together. Otherwise, we would have had to try cramming everyone into one car, and I am not sure that would have worked. I don’t think there’s a car in the universe big enough to hold all of us, plus two car seats.

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I did not know what to expect once we arrived. Not really. I went into this experience thinking I knew exactly what to expect and exactly what was going to happen. It’s a sunrise. I’ve seen this before. We’ve all seen it before, right? I’m older than I want to type out loud, and I have seen the sun come up on many, many occasions so far throughout my life. If I am lucky, I will get to see it come up on many more.

As I got out of the car and carefully made my way over the dark ground toward the edge of the viewing area, I quickly realized I had to ditch all my preconceived expectations. Because anything I had experienced up to this point in life … any sunrise I could point to in my memory, no matter how spectacular … was going to fall far short.

The excitement and expectation started building right away, from the moment my feet touched the ground. It was dark in the parking area, although we were a little bit late arriving. And there was a faint glimmer of light far in the distance. Like lemmings, we shuffled our way over the parking lot toward the edge of the viewing area. And when I say “edge”, I mean EDGE. Keep in mind it is still dark. I couldn’t see anything in front of me, but I could sense the edge of the crater or cliff ahead. I could sense how the earth would suddenly drop off beneath my feet if I took a wrong step. There wasn’t any real danger of this, as the edge is fenced off, making it impossible for anyone to go right to the brink by accident. And yet, the feeling was there, equal parts exhilaration and terror.

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As I stood there, facing in the direction of the faint glimmer of light, I could see shapes in front of me and in the distance. They were big and kind of lumpy. They seemed to be moving ever so slowly, swaying with the wind. My brain could not make sense of what I was seeing. Trees? Bamboo? Something else? It was eerie but also beautiful.

There were people all around. And yet, it was silent — not the kind of quiet where you can tell people are trying hard not to talk, but the kind of quiet that is filled with awe and an air of tense expectation. I could hear people shuffling their feet across the ground, shifting their weight from foot to foot in an effort to stay warm. Here and there, I could hear patches of conversation. Voices were low and hushed, so words remained just out of the range of hearing. Smaller children and shorter adults moved and jostled a little bit for a better position. Mostly, we all waited. I have never felt more alone and at peace in a large group of people. I’m not sure how else to explain it.

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Slowly, the light in the distance started to grow. It began to spread across the sky in lazy, creeping sweeps of golden-red, pink, and orange. As the pinks touched their edges, I realized for the first time what the ominous-looking shapes in front of me were: Clouds. I was standing at the edge of this crater, just behind the low barrier, and I was looking out on a world of clouds. No wonder my mind couldn’t make sense of it in the dark. I had no frame of reference in my memory. I’ve never been inside the clouds before, so close that it seems I could walk out onto them. It was so many things: amazing, breathtaking, terrifying. Even now, months removed from the experience, I can’t separate my feelings from each other.

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The light grew and grew. It continued to spread across the sky before us. The clouds became more distinct, colored with syrupy golds and oranges. The sky beyond started to turn blue. I held my breath as the world seemed to pause, just for a moment …

And then, the guest of honor arrived. The sun, in all her glory, peering over the farthest clouds right in front of us.

I stood there and watched as the colors faded and the sun solidified her presence in the day. I’m not sure exactly why I waited. The show was over, and people around me had started to move off toward their cars, already eager to get out of the parking lot and traverse the winding road down the mountain. And yet, I stayed a little bit longer. I guess I didn’t want it all to end. I knew it couldn’t last forever. Soon, I would have to go back to my car, too. I would have to get in and buckle my seatbelt and travel back down to the world below. But part of me wanted to stay in the clouds.

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In a way, I got my wish. Because the clouds chased us all the way back down the mountain. I have seldom seen such beautiful shapes. I loved seeing them rolling over each other, forming and re-forming as they went along. We drove with the windows down, and the air was crisp, cool, and fresh. It felt good on my face and on the hand I trailed out of the window.

Getting back down the mountain took a while. Remember, there were a LOT of people up there to see the sunrise. And we had to wind our way back down single file. The road was narrow, and everyone seemed okay with taking their time. Really, they had to be. There wasn’t another choice. I was absolutely okay with it, because it gave me more time to see the clouds and look at the amazing scenery. I hope I can go back to Maui some day and explore Haleakala National Park a little more. Of course, I would like to see that amazing sunrise again. But I would also like to hike the trails and see some of the scenery that beckoned to me outside my car window.

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Once we were out of Haleakala National Park, breakfast became our next order of business. At this point, it felt more like: BREAKFAST!!!! Because I was starving. We had grabbed food on the way to the park, but that had been hours earlier. Having said good-bye to the clouds and the sun, I had pancakes on my mind. Or maybe waffles. Or french toast. Or regular toast. And maybe some eggs.

We had reservations at Kula Lodge & Restaurant, which is about thirty minutes away from the park. The lodge and restaurant are about 3200 feet above sea level, and they are located in the small agricultural town of Kula. This lovely little town is on the western slope of Haleakala Crater, and some quick internet research told me it has a population of about 7,000. I think these must be 7,000 of the luckiest people on Earth. Because they live in a true natural wonderland. I can’t even describe the beauty that surrounded us, other than to say it was Paradise.

Kula Lodge & Restaurant was built in the 1940s. It is a sprawling property, where one building seems to tumble right into the next. And all of it clings to the slopes of the mountain. The lodge is surrounded by gardens, and it seemed everything was in full bloom when we visited. As you sit in the restaurant, you can look out across acres and acres of farmland. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many shades of green. You can see distant towns and, even farther away, the ocean glimmers in the sunlight of a new day.

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I found Kula Lodge enchanting. It is a magical place sitting smack-dab in the middle of another magical place. I almost felt like I had stepped out of my own life and into a fairytale. Everything was perfect: the gardens, the views, the way the buildings blended seamlessly into their surroundings. Just … everything.

Breakfast was delicious, too! My daughter and I still talk about how these were some of the best pancakes we have ever had. We ate with my brother-in-law’s family, of course. And we took our time. We lingered over our meal and over second and third cups of coffee. We told stories and laughed at silly jokes. For me, it was peaceful and enjoyable just being with everyone. I think some nice memories were made. I know I carry many within me!

Once we had stuffed ourselves sufficiently, we paid our check and headed back to our cars. I think we were all a little bit reluctant to return to the real world. And yet, more adventure beckoned. Because the day was just beginning.

And by the way, that 2AM wake-up call? Yeah. Totally worth it.

 

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 4

It is taking me so much longer to blog about our Maui trip than it did to take and enjoy the actual trip! Isn’t that always the way things go, though? Vacation days seem to fly by on lightning-quick wings, but, once you are home and trying to savor those memories, “real life” manages to get in the way time and again. And that’s exactly what has happened to me with this series of posts. In between my last post and today, we have started a new school year, with all the weirdness and anxiety and craziness that comes with it. My husband has been worrying over his job. My daughter has had endless band practices and activities. There have been football games. There have been doctor’s appointments. Today required an unplanned veterinary visit for one slightly barfy dog. And so it goes. The more I think about it, the more I realize I really NEED some more “Maui time”!

When we last left off our Maui Summer Adventure, my family and I had spent a day enjoying beach time (for them), blog time (for me), a long and leisurely drive to Mama’s Fish House, and a yummy dinner with my brother-in-law and his family. Day 3 was a pretty great day, and I went to bed that night thinking of the sound of the ocean and the wild macaw I had seen earlier in the evening. And that brings us to Day 4, which dawned early for my husband and daughter. My daughter was feeling so much better that we decided it would be safe for her to go snorkeling. And so, she and my husband set out early that morning for their tour. (Not a “3 hour tour”, though. Because that would be bad.)

Truthfully, I don’t remember what I did that morning. Which tells me I probably slept in, grabbed a late breakfast or early lunch, and did something totally boring and wonderful with my morning. In short, I probably sat around and read a book on my Kindle.

If I am recalling my days correctly, it was about mid-afternoon by the time my husband and daughter got back. They took quick showers, and then my husband decided we should set out on The Road to Hana.

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Keep in mind it was around 2 or 2:30 PM by the time they both showered and changed and ate a little lunch. I have to admit I was against the outing. I was still tired and sore from all the travel we did to get to Maui. And, even though I had been able to have a couple of mornings to laze around and do nothing, I was also tired from the feeling of go-go-go that had surrounded our trip so far. My husband and I have very different ideas of vacation. I like to do a whole lot of nothing. My husband wants to do a whole lot of EVERYTHING. Through almost 20 years of marriage, we have yet to strike a balance between those two things. We usually end up doing all the things; otherwise, he makes me feel like a big drag. And, maybe I am a big drag. But I digress.

The point is this: It was already late in the day. All the information I had read about the Road to Hana said it was an all-day thing. I was tired. My husband was tired. My daughter was tired. It felt like a Very Bad Idea to set out on a journey on a winding, mostly deserted road in this fashion.

I was overruled. My husband had it on his list of things to do. He had mentally budgeted the remainder of this day to do it. And, by golly, we were going to go! With much grumbling and grumping, we all headed to the car. My sister-in-law decided to join us, so we picked her up at her hotel. And then, we headed to the beginning.

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Mile Zero. We paused to take a picture to commemorate this auspicious moment. In my life, I have found myself on many journeys. Most of the time, I haven’t realized I was on a journey when I first set out. It was only when I was about halfway through that I would look behind me and think, “You know … I should have paid more attention at the start of all this.” So this moment, at Mile Zero, felt pretty huge to me in a spiritual way. “How many times,” I asked myself, “Can I realize, right at the start, that I am going on a journey full of wonder and adventure?” (At least two, it turns out. But that is a story for another blog post. And don’t worry, Friends … it will come.)

We checked that we had plenty of water. We double checked that there was gas in the car. Our tank was half full. Based on what I had read about this outing, I wanted to have a full tank from the beginning. But, remember, everyone was already tired and grouchy. So I bit my tongue and said a little prayer that we wouldn’t get stuck somewhere on the Road to Hana. Never to be found again. Like, for real. Because it would be entirely possible that the feral chickens would eat us. Seriously. These guys (girls?) are everywhere!

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Before heading to Maui, I read a few things about the Road to Hana. I read about how the journey is uplifting and a spiritual experience. I read about how people start at Mile Zero feeling one way, and they end up at the end of it all feeling lighter or wiser or just … more. I was expecting a LOT from this trip, guys! I thought it would be a beautiful journey of self-discovery and awakening. I thought I would come to the end, take a deep breath, and walk away feeling … something.

None of that happened for me on Day 4. I started the trip feeling grouchy, tired, and grumpy. I ended the trip feeling more grouchy, tired, and grumpy. I had an aching back and a sore hip from spending too much time in the car. And, I ended the day feeling a little bit like a failure. Because, of course, we didn’t make it all the way to the end. I don’t think we even made it halfway. There were too many obstacles against us: the late start, the grumpy feelings, not enough snacks, the app with the Hana info on it didn’t work properly, there were no bathrooms. Truthfully, I don’t think any of us was mentally prepared for this journey of self-discovery. Or for any journey of self-discovery. You have to be in the right frame of mind for it, you know?

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But we managed to see some pretty fantastic things. We hiked to Twin Falls, which, I believe, is one of the easier waterfalls to reach from the road. We listened to the water splash and laugh as it bounced from rock to rock. I felt it on my skin, and it was cold and pure. My sister-in-law had her bathing suit with her, so she was able to swim right in the pool. I thought that was neat.

I dipped my toes into the water at the edge. It might not have been as incredible as a swim under the fall, but I thought it was pretty great. We weren’t the only people on the road, either. There were lots of people at each stop. Twin Falls was no exception, which is the main reason I had decided against bringing a swimsuit with me. I didn’t want to scare strangers, after all!

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We saw Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. Their bark sheds off in strips, leaving colorful wood behind. They were taller than the sky. I liked how I could look up and up and up and still not feel like I would ever find the end of them. Their roots are huge, humping things. As I put my hands on the trunks, I thought I could feel their energy, coming right from the earth below us.  It was beautiful, and I walked away feeling happy that something like this exists in the world.

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I got to fulfill a closet lifelong dream of mine. I walked through a bamboo forest for the very first time. I don’t know what it is about this idea that attracted me so, but I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember. And you know what? It was everything I had imagined it would be. The sound of the wind through the bamboo is beautiful. It is gentle and swishy. It is like music.

It seemed like there was something beautiful and unexpected around every twist and turn. The world around me was alive and vibrant. I felt as if the very air in the forests and near the waterfalls hummed with excitement and life.

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We started out our trip that afternoon with the idea that we needed to hurry, hurry, hurry. We needed to see and do everything possible. We needed to cram as much fun and as many memories as we could into the time we had. But the truth is that you can’t rush on the Road to Hana. You have to step away from yourself and the things you want and the things that worry you. You have to take a deep breath and let it out. You have to relax a little. And you have to enjoy the ride.

Little by little, with each stop we made, everyone in our group started to step back. A moment at a time, we let go of expectations and demands and, maybe, even some of our grumpiness. We got quiet and we let ourselves marvel and wonder at the world around us. Little by little, we began to stop trying to control everything. Instead, we started to let things be.

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As I said, we made it a little less than halfway to Hana. The clouds started to roll in, and the sunlight started to fade. Our gas tank was close to the last quarter-tank marker. And it seemed like it was time to turn around and head back to the hotel. I mentioned earlier that it felt a like failing to have to turn around before we had seen everything. And that is true. At the time, it felt a lot like failing. It didn’t feel good in the slightest.

Looking back on it, I think it wasn’t a failure at all. The whole point of the Road to Hana is to see whatever you can see. And to learn how to let life carry you along on its waves. And we all succeeded in doing that!

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 3

Day 3 of our Hawaiian adventure came all too fast. It already felt like time was speeding away from us. Granted, we were packing lots and lots of fun and family time into every hour of every day. But I could not shake the feeling that our vacation was tumbling quickly downhill toward its ending. Whenever I try to hold tightly to something precious, it seems like that very thing slips and slides through my fingers even more. Isn’t it funny how life works that way? Not funny in a “ha ha” sort of way. Funny in more of a “Why, Universe? Why?” sort of way.

Day 3 was a rather slow day for me. My daughter was feeling quite a bit better, so she and my husband decided to head to the beach. I love the ocean, but I am not a beach-going kind of gal. While my sweet family enjoyed the sun, sand, and sea, I enjoyed the balcony of our hotel room. It was beautifully cool and breezy, and our room had a pretty great view of the hotel grounds, plus a little slice of ocean.

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It felt like time to hit the blog for a little “me” time, so I spent the morning blogging about our flight from Chicago to Maui. As you recall, it was a rough journey with a happy ending, overall. And I had a LOT to say about it! It felt good to get all those feelings — the good and the bad — out of my system. There is something refreshing and a little bit exhilarating about sending all that energy out into the ether. I guess that’s one of the reasons I love blogging so much. It not only helps me look at and figure out my own feelings, but it also helps me look at my problems from a different angle.

It also felt pretty great to sit quietly with my own thoughts. The cool breeze, the sounds of the birds twittering away in the trees around me, families laughing as they played in the pool, and the sweet ocean smell all worked their magic on my heart and soul. This was just the kind of “Island Time” I needed, and I think I spent as much time just sitting and enjoying life around me as I did stringing words together for my blog.

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My family basically spent the whole day on the beach, which was quite all right with me. My husband and daughter came back tired but happy. We had plans to go to Mama’s Fish House in Paia that evening with my husband’s younger brother’s family. Mama’s Fish House is on the North Shore, and it was quite a drive from our hotel. We had already discovered that things run a little slower on the island, which has its own sense of time and life pace. So we settled in for a long drive.

Long … but also beautiful! I love the way Maui meanders from small town to small town. With lots of beautiful sights in between. We got a late start, so we were already running late for our reservation. We are hurry up people from a hurry up kind of place, so we would have been tempted to … well, hurry up! But Maui had other ideas. We couldn’t have rushed even if we wanted to, because there was always someone in front of us who was in no hurry at all. And then, we took a couple of wrong turns. I’m embarrassed to say we arrived quite a bit late. Thankfully, island hospitality saved us. We apologized for our tardiness and explained that we got a little bit lost. And they very kindly worked us back into the schedule. Lucky for us!

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Mama’s Fish House seems to be pretty famous. It is a restaurant and hotel, and it is all over the internet. In fact, I bet most of the people reading this post (if anyone is reading this post, that is), probably already know all about this amazing place. I did exactly zero research for this trip, so I had never heard of it. I had no idea what to expect once we arrived. But it was like stepping into an island wonderland, complete with a wandering macaw who wasn’t a bit afraid of any of us!

Mama’s Fish House is a sprawling building nestled right next to a beautiful, secluded beach. The restaurant and hotel look like a bunch of buildings all jumbled together. It’s winding and chaotic. It looks like some slightly unhinged person tossed them all together in a rush. And yet, everything goes together beautifully. It is one of the most charming places I’ve ever seen, from the thatched roofs to the island decor found inside. The whole restaurant is open-air, and every table has a great view of the beach and ocean beyond. The restaurant menu is always changing, because they serve fish that were caught that very day. This means everything is fresh and yummy. I thought the food was delicious. I probably shouldn’t admit this out loud, but I don’t even like fish!

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But, you know what? The best part of the evening was the dinner show! As we saw the sun starting to slide into the ocean, we had to take turns jumping up from our table to see it for ourselves. And the nearby beach provided the perfect front-row seats for Mother Nature’s display. And what a display it was! The clouds piled up and up into beautiful, billowing arrangements. The sky became a mix of oranges and reds and yellows, with just a touch of purple-blue tossed into the mix for good measure. I did not want to miss a second of it, and I didn’t!

Once the sun made her exit, we headed back into the restaurant to finish our meals. Good food … family … lots of stories shared … lots of laughter … and new memories. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal — and a pretty darn perfect day, too! We drove home in the dark, taking extra care on the winding and unfamiliar roads. And we arrived back at our hotel happy, relaxed, and ready to see what the next day would bring.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 2

Day number 2 of our Maui Vacay dawned bright and early. We were ready and eager for a day filled with sunshine and adventure, and lots of each! Since we only had a half day when we arrived, Day 2 felt more like Day 1. Either way, we were ready for it.

My daughter and husband had reserved a snorkeling trip for the morning. Unfortunately, my daughter was still suffering from Strep. Even with a couple of days of antibiotics in her system, she still had a painful throat and super clogged sinuses. After the disastrous flight over, we decided not to chance a snorkeling trip. My husband went on the trip as planned, and we gave our daughter’s spot to my sister-in-law. My daughter, of course, was disappointed and sad. She had been looking forward to snorkeling the most out of all the planned activities. But I was selfishly glad, because it meant I got a whole morning of Mommy Time! This is a valuable commodity when you have a teenager.

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Since the hubster was out and about snorkeling, my daughter and I decided to explore our hotel grounds, as well as the resort properties near where we were staying. Our hotel was right on the beach, and it was one in a long line of beautiful resort properties. This gave us a lot of opportunity to stroll leisurely and look at the ocean. As always, there were boats and parasailers galore. There is a little part of me that thinks this would be huge fun. But the Mom part of me will never try it. My daughter, who is afraid of heights, gave this a firm NOPE!

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Of course, there are birds everywhere. And the sparrows on the resort property, in particular, have no fear. At all. This little guy flew right in front of us as we were walking. He nearly flew right into us as he was landing. I can understand it. He was after a super-tasty snack, after all! And, once he had it in his little beak, he settled down to enjoy it. Even though he was sitting right next to our feet. Courageous little bird! Or maybe fool-hardy? I think there is a fine line between the two.

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After seeing our feathery friend enjoying his snack with such vigor, we realized we were hungry, too. Lucky for us, there were lots of choices with outdoor seating and a perfect view of the beach. What better way to enjoy a meal. Some sunshine … a lovely breeze … the beach … and even a fancy (non-alcoholic) drink. Yep! That’s the relaxation and island vibe I was longing for in my hum-drum, hectic life back home.

Half a day on the ocean did my husband in just a little bit. After he returned, he needed an extra bit of lunch and a nap. But the days are long and the time change was in our favor! We had plenty of time left for taking in the sights, sun, and sea. We decided to drive out in search of Lorraine’s Shave Ice. And what a drive it turned out to be!

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Lorraine’s Shave Ice is something of a Maui institution. My brother-in-law and his wife come to Maui every year, and they told us all about Lorraine, who makes banana bread, pies, and, of course, shaved ice. There’s only one small catch: Lorraine’s is located on the same road as the blowhole we visited on Day 1. You head toward the blowhole and just keep on going until, at last, you find Lorraine’s. You can’t miss it!

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This is a windy, twisty road. It has stunning views of the ocean and more shades of green than a person could possibly count. It also has sheer drop-offs that are more than a little bit terrifying, particularly when they were on my side of the car. I love the cliffs and the ocean, but there is nothing quite like looking out the window and seeing NOTHING between yourself and a sheer drop that leads to a rocky landing far below. Terrifying and exhilarating, all at the same time!

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It seemed like there was a surprise around every corner. Like when we came around a bend to find this fine fellow hanging out in the middle of the road. He was beautiful and strutting his stuff. There was a car coming from the opposite direction, and it had stopped, too. I think having two cars waiting for him made this guy feel a little surrounded and nervous. He was trying to hurry across the road. But peacocks aren’t built for speed. The more he tried to rush, the slower he seemed to get. And it didn’t help matters much that his tail was so luxurious and long that it dragged behind him. I felt a little bad for his obvious panic, but it was a treat to see a peacock, just wandering around like A Boss. He made it to the other side with ease, and I must say he was much more graceful scaling the hillside than he had been trying to rush across the road.

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The thing about this road is that it’s only two lanes in certain places. Around a lot of the twists and turns, it turns into one lane, only. If you are headed up a hill and someone is coming toward you, there’s nothing for it but to back down to the nearest turn-out. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, does it? But remember … you are often backing down around a hairpin turn with nothing but a small margin of gravel separating your car from the edge of a cliff. It was dicey at times, but we made it!

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Maui is so full of beauty and unexpected things. The ocean, all the shades of green, the unexpected twists and turns … It’s all mesmerizing and inspiring. Of course, we found Lorraine’s at the end of our long and winding way. We had banana bread and shave ice, and we had a nice visit with Lorraine, too. She was lovely, and she showed us around her garden and told us stories about the ocean. No matter how scary and long the drive, it was worth it!

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One of the main things I wanted to do during our Maui trip was go to at least one luau. My husband and I visited Oahu fourteen years ago, shortly after our daughter was born, and one of my favorite memories of that trip is from the luau we attended. And so, that was our plan for the evening. We had to make it down from the mountain first, but we had great incentive!

We made it back to the hotel just in time to change and meet my husband’s younger brother and family to head to the luau. And was it everything I hoped it would be?

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Um … YES!! We went to The Feast at Lele, and it was pretty fantastic. There was family and fun. We laughed. We told stories. We ate. And ate. And ate. I loved all the dancers. Each piece was beautiful and told a story about Hawaii’s history. And, of course, we ended the evening with fire. All in all, a perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 1

I am finally getting around to editing and resizing my Maui pictures. I ended up with a mixture of DSLR photos and iPhone pictures, which took some additional figuring and resizing and saving. Plus, there was that whole Texas adventure thing a week after the Maui adventure thing. What can I say? This summer has been one big adventure after another! Or maybe this is just me, trying to type the word “adventure” as many times as possible within one post. I am diabolical that way — mwuahahahahahaha!

Day 1 for us was more of a half day, as our flight arrived around midday, Hawaii time. We arrived to some “liquid sunshine”. I didn’t know what this meant when I first heard it, but an online friend who is from Hawaii explained to me that this is what they call weather where it rains and the sun shines at the same time. It sounds so much nicer than what we call this type of weather in my home stomping grounds. We say the devil is beating his wife. Definitely not picturesque or lovely!

From what I can tell, liquid sunshine happens a lot in Maui. You know, because of that whole tropical rainforest vibe. The rain was kind of a bummer. After all, when you decide to go on a Hawaiian vacation, you don’t think about the possibility of rain. At the same time, it was kind of great because it added to the tropical feeling for me. And also because it would rain and then stop. In Virginia, we have been having a lot of rain without stopping. For days. Ugh.

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As we drove from the airport to our hotel, we passed many beautiful resort properties. And this! What better welcome could we hope for than a gorgeous rainbow? It was beautiful and pretty darn spectacular. I told my daughter that Maui was welcoming us, and seeing a beautiful rainbow felt like the perfect way to kick off a great vacation. This was a quick iPhone picture because my camera was still stowed in the trunk with the rest of our luggage. I’m not sure if you can see it very well, but this was a double rainbow. You can just barely see the second rainbow at the top edge of my picture, particularly on the left side.

We settled into our hotel and took a little look around the property. We stayed at a hotel that was slightly older, but the grounds were beautiful. The decor of our hotel was exactly what I think of when I think of Hawaiian decor. This is going to sound totally cheesy, but I felt like I had stepped into an episode of Magnum, PI! And by the way, this is a good thing. It was like a geeky fangirl dream come true!!

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There are flowers and plants everywhere! I know … You’re looking at the screen right now and saying, “Well, Duh! What were you expecting? It’s freaking Hawaii!!” I know, I know. I was ready for all the flowers and plant life. At the same time, I kind of wasn’t ready for it. Does this make sense at all? The sunlight is so rich and pure. It makes every color seem to pop that much more. And I will never get tired of seeing hibiscus growing all over the place. There is something incredibly elegant and exotic about those flowers to me. I think the yellow ones were my favorite. They are so bright!

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After a short time to recharge, we decided to set out for a drive. The Nakalele Blowhole was on our list of things we wanted to see. We had plans to meet up with family for dinner that night, and we were already getting a late start. It didn’t leave a lot of time for sightseeing, but we felt like we could at least do this much. The blowhole was a bit of a drive, but not impossibly far from our hotel. The drive was spectacular, of course.

We drove with the windows open so that we could feel the wind and smell the ocean. We drove through patches of rain here and there, but even that was sweet. It felt cool and light on our skin. I don’t think I could ever get tired of seeing the ocean slide by next to the highway. I say “highway”, and I suppose it qualifies as that. It was one of the biggest roads we traveled while on Maui. But I live in the land of many-laned highways. Compared to what we are used to, it felt pretty small. It was also a winding, twisting, and fun ride! Oh! And did I mention the amazing scenery?

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The Nakalele Blowhole was magnificent! It’s rather a steep and slippery climb to get down the trail in order to be closer to the actual blowhole. I was tired from a long flight. Even though I had on good hiking shoes and I was prepared to do some major hiking on the vacation, I found I wasn’t feeling particularly sure-footed on this day. My back and my hip were both sore from too much sitting on the plane and in the car. I opted to enjoy the blowhole from a distance.

I have to admit I wasn’t feeling it when we first arrived. Yes, the scenery was gorgeous. And, of course, there was the ocean. There were some splashes and gurgles from the area where the blowhole is located, but, overall, it just seemed so small. It really didn’t seem worthy of the name “blowhole”. It was more like a gurgle-hole or something. Wait … that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? *ahem* Nevermind. At any rate, I stood there watching it for a bit, and I thought, “This is it? Is this all there is?”

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Um … wrong! That little bitty splish of a splash was most definitely NOT all there was. I just had to be patient and wait for the perfect conditions to align. Once they did … BA-BAM!! It was like the entire universe exploded, and everything was water. The Nakalele Blowhole shoots water up to 100 feet into the air. And the noise! I wasn’t prepared for it. The noise was huge — a ringing boom accompanied by the ever-present underlying noise of the surf pounding against the shoreline. Truthfully, after seeing how high the water went and after hearing the ear-shaking BOOM that accompanied it, I was glad I had decided to watch from a safer distance.

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We spent quite a bit of time at the blowhole and hiking the trails right around it. There was some slipping and sliding up and down, but nothing too terribly scary. I only felt like I was going to tumble off the cliff once. I call that a hiking win! Plus, I think we all felt the need to linger near the ocean for as long as we could. There is something so refreshing about it. It is constantly changing. It is powerful and relentless. And yet, I find something so peaceful about it.

It was a good first day. If I had any complaint, it would be that the day went by too quickly, mostly eaten up in a blur of exhausting travel. In the end, we had to say good-night to the ocean and head back to our hotel. After all, dinner was waiting.