One year ago (as I write this) I was on a two week vacation with my daughter, wife, and my wife’s extended family. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, at the time I was also on a blogging sabbatical, journalling dry-spell, and all-round record-keeping leave-of-absense. It might go without saying, then, that I don’t have much written down from those two weeks of our frantic Hawaiian holiday. I’m hoping to rectify that with a few posts recalling the trip now that a year has passed, the dirty laundry has all been washed, and I’m kinda wishing I could go back…
I was probably unfairly critical of Waikiki in one of my previous posts.
As I said, I like cities, but… well… there were a lot of little things that I had imagined of Hawaii that didn’t materialize wandering the urban streets of Waikiki. I was actually always looking forward more to visiting Maui, and in fact almost didn’t make it Waikiki — save for some vacation-time negotiations and bargaining way back even after we’d booked tickets. The initial plan was to meet up with everyone in Maui — but then I got some extra time, managed to changed tickets, and… well, Waikiki was a bonus. But Maui was always the destination I was anticipating the most.
Maybe that endeared in to my mind. Maybe that set up higher expectations. I still — even a year later — am not sure I’d rush to go back. I mean… someday… but no rush… and better planning.
We rented a van in Maui. We needed a van. (We needed two vans, but that’s a different sort of conversation.) We had a condo on the beach in Kapalua, but the condo wasn’t close to much of anything. It was a twenty-minute walk to the nearest ABC Store, another five after that to a coffee shop, and another five more for a grocery store. The nearest “public swimming” beach was a fifteen minute drive. So we drove everywhere.
We drove along the coast a lot.
We drove into Lahaina a lot, too.
We drove to Kihei for a number of reasons.
We drove to catch our boats. We drove to catch our zip-line.
We drove to swim.
We stopped driving along the side of the road occasionally to have a look and take some pictures, but then we were rightback to driving again.
We drove up the side of a mountain.
We drove to restaurants. We drove to shop. We drove for coffee. We drove for groceries.
I think I would have rather have driven a lot less. I’m not a drive-around-vacation kind-a guy. I think I would have liked to be closer to a real beach. I think I would have loved to have a Starbucks in the lobby. I think I would have put my feet in the sand and the soil a lot more.
But, then I didn’t plan anything… so I got what I got, right?
Maui is a beautiful place, lush and full of life. It’s also a place that hosts a lot of tourists, and I think many of those tourists have much different expectations from a vacation than I do. I enjoyed Maui, and as I wrote above… I’d go back. I will go back. But now that we’ve met once, Maui and I understand we each other a little better, and maybe our next meeting will suit us both better.
When I was in elementary school and before we moved to Red Deer, while the grade fours and fives were stuck with learning how to hone the quasi-whistle squeaks of the recorder, the grade six students got to learn to play the ukelele. I remember that fact — for some reason that I cannot right now fathom. We moved away at the start of grade six. I never so much as touched a ukelele for the following twenty-five years… and my life was somehow more dark and dreary for the lost opportunity.
Fast-forward to the day we landed in Honolulu and found our way to the condo we’d rented in Waikiki. We swing open the door to the furnished suite, our eyes taking in all sorts of wonders — the twenty-storey-high view of the ocean, the balcony, the kitchenette, and the abundance of sand toys stuffed into one corner of the living room — but my eyes caught a glimpse of a shapely black case set neatly on a side table near the patio doors: a ukelele case.
For the next week in Waikiki, my travelling companions would surely inform you if you asked, spare moments were filled with the sweet Hawaiian twang of a poorly played ukelele, picked at by your’s truely as — without music or experience — I experimentally learned a handful of songs (and later actual chords.)
I have no delusions that I was good. But… hey… Hawaiian vacation. Lighten up, I say.
Of course, when we finished with the wedding stuff in Waikiki and jaunted over to Maui a few days later, the ukelele from the condo stayed behind. The next occupants might not have someone as crazy as I to give the instrument as much attention, but someday, somehow, the music would play again in that room. Needless to say there were a few quiet (gratefully so, by some I imagine) nights on the beautiful island as I debated my next steps.
But like so many problems we encountered in Hawaii, it was once again the nearest ABC Store to the rescue. I went for a long, dark walk one evening after dinner and came back with not only a stubbed and bloody toe from tripping over a curb in the pitch black of the poorly lit streets, but a bargain-priced ABC Store ukelele. It was, of course, of nowhere near the quality that we’d had in the other condo — but it worked just fine enough for my purposes.
Tuning it kept me busy — and did it ever need a lot of tuning. I accessed some wifi, downloaded some ukelele tuning apps for my phone (which actually exist, strangely enough) and soon resprised my role as ersatz entertainer in the cramped condo.
The family will wince at the memory, but deep down they appreciated the nightly serenades. And the cheap little musical souvenir toy (I won’t pretend it’s a real instrument) now sits — mostly quietly, save for a few nostalgic occasions — on our fireplace mantle.
We almost didn’t get to go.
The company with whom we’d reserved our little adventure, tracked us down by phone a couple days prior and tried to re-book us, we think because they had a weather issue or something and were frantically bumping people. We didn’t have a lot of leeway to change dates, and fortunately we insisted upon that fact, and it was sketchy for a day or two what would happen. But… so it was that the day before our flight home we — Karin and I — found ourselves garbed in rugged harnesses, capped in plastic helmets, and sitting in the back of something resembling a military surplus jeep that was accending the rough dirt road through a pineapple plantation and high up into the hillside overlooking the small coastal town where we were staying.
We were off to go zip-lining.
For those who have never experienced — or maybe even heard of — zip-lining, it is essentially this: you are strapped to pully wheel, the pully wheel is balanced on a steel cable, and the steel cable has been strung between two distant points — one at the top of a hill, the other somewhere lower. You sit in a harness and thanks to the elevation difference, gravity pulls you from the top to the bottom at a fairly speedy velocity, racing along at speeds normally reserved for powered vehicles until you smash into a braking system of some kind and stare back in wide-eyes amazement as the adrenaline trickles back to normal levels in your brain.
I took along my HD camera and, whenever my hands were free enough to do so, took a bunch of footage of either Karin zipping along beside me or the scenery whipping by below. I made a cool little video later.
We had a fairly perfect day for it: There was a bit of wind — enough to make the temperature comfortable in our weighty ‘don’t-take-these-off’ safety equipment wardrobes, but not too windy to impede the fun. The sun was in and out. And, of course, we were half way up a mountain, so it was just about right for two Canadians nearly sick of the unending heat.
We were also clearly the youngest in our group; Whether this was because it was a pricy activity, or it wasn’t a good season for people not in their thirties-and-up to travel, or if there was some adventuring memo we’d missed and there was some far more extreme and crazy trip we were missing out on… well, I’m not sure. But it might have been a combination of lot of things. Even the group leader seemed like he’d rather be bungee jumping or surfing from all the stories he told us as we hiked from line to line, through in fairness he was “at work.”
Whatever the reason, we climbed from drop to drop, from line to line, and enjoyed the scenery as much as the sport. In the end it was a good rush, a good way to end or vacation — plus a much-needed date-type excursion for Karin and I after two weeks of family togetherness — and I’ll definitely be looking for a second go… next time.
And, then we came home.