Aloha Adventures

When I first went to Hawaii, on a Spring Break vacation in 2002, I didn’t expect to fall in love with this place. I’m really not fond of crowds and sitting on a beach is not my idea of a holiday… I like variety, activity… and I prefer escaping into nature I expected to get a taste of the tropics and move on to new adventures elsewhere… but, froliking in the magic of these tropical islands  has become an annual longing… especially when the days grow short and frigid at home.  This past year our pleasure was three weeks of autumn enchantment on the big island. Several “firsts” peppered this vacation… Our first ever autumnal visit to the island, our first time selecting from “VBRO (vacation rentals by owner)” listings to supplement our timeshare lodgings, our first time driving to a distant airport to secure cheaper transpacific airfare, and our first time traveling with Heidi and Michael… friends who share our love of Hawaii.

We had spent a good portion of our first two visits to the Hawaiian islands here on the big island of Hawaii.  In 2004 we hiked to see lava flowing into the ocean, camped on the black sand beach and memorable snorkeling with sea turtles.

We loved the diversity of environments on this island and were anxious to share it with our friends who had only experienced the garden isle of Kauai.

 

We weathered a stormy few days on the rainy coast north of Hilo. Rivers raging, falls roaring, ocean crashing…. coupled with tropical flowers and fruit just outside the door and the singing of frogs through the night.

In transition to the desert we circled the island to get a taste of the diversity… Lunch on the rim of the active caldera, turtles, coffee plantations and historic sites crammed into a day.

ripe coffee cherry and bean from inside

I would actually recommend a circle tour of the island to anyone visiting for the first time… Let someone else drive while you hit the highlights so you know where you want to return in the days ahead.

Fumes from the volcano vents

While the guys golfed, Heidi and I enjoyed days of snorkeling… and shaved ice on the beach!

The final week of our stay fell during the Hawaiian Makahiki Festival… a celebration of the transition into a new year… from the months of warlike frenzy to a time of focusing on creativity and celebration.  History and lessons of the ages are told through music and hula dance…a beautiful and sacred form of storytelling.

Local flavors, local instruments and local crafts mingled under the  enormous banyan trees.

Festival Marketplace

This trip marked a new year of transition for us, as well… a shift from frugal caution to an examination of our priorities as we chase our dreams into our golden years of retirement.   I received my first pension check just before we left home… after more than a year of a single small income… we are looking forward to choosing from a wider menu of  retirement adventures than we had previously been able to consider.

ocean view

I think Hawaii will always be a favorite.

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Chasing Sunsets

Time seems to pass quicker as we get older, or so they say…. and the days tend to run together in a blur.   I am determined to avoid looking back and wondering where the time went.  With that as a goal, there are a few things that I like to do to make each day a little more memorable:

My motto:
**go somewhere you haven’t explored before – as often as possible (daily is best, but at least once a week… Geocaching is a great way to discover places… even close to home!)**

And… along the way…

1) take lots of photographs – at least one a day, posted now in a photo-a-day album.. and included in my rotating screen saver so I am reminded of adventures long after they are history (digital photography makes this so much easier than it once was)

2) make notes about location and activities on calendar… I have a stack of calendars that mark events in my life through the decades- easy to leaf through and recollect.  The calendars we used as my kids were growing up are full of appointments and meetings.  Now they reflect more places and events.

3) celebrate daily transitions- take time to pause and watch the sun come up or go down over the horizon.  I’ve been stopping to sit and enjoy the sunrise or sunset since I was in high school.  Fortunately, I share my life with someone who appreciates this time of day, too.

As a matter of fact… Scott and I have been chasing sunsets together for over 35 years…. it’s something we can do wherever we are… set aside the craziness and rush, stop the car or venture to a scenic spot…. and slow down for a few minutes together.

You might think that sunset photos would tend to look alike… not true. As I searched through these, I smiled at the time and place each one recalled… The conversations, the adventures of the day, the shared memories.

Here are a few mementos of shared sunsets that we have gathered over the years:

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How do you slow down? Want to catch a sunset together? … Sure…. Let’s go!

Solitude

Walking, Hiking, Riding, Geocaching, Sketching, Exploring…. intentionally by myself… alone.

 

To experience time alone in nature can be an opportunity to enjoy solitude and peaceful freedom. An opportunity to travel at your own pace,  entertain your own thoughts… examine your own perspective.  It might take a bit more planning, but less coordination.  Solitude replaces conversation with contemplation.  For me… it is rejuvenating – something I plan for regularly and accept as an option when plans with other people fall through.

In the warm summer months I like to rise quietly before dawn and slip into the still of the desert.  Sometimes I plug in headphones and listen to NPR programs or audiobooks while I walk.   I stop frequently to take photos – the detail in a flower, brilliance of the sunrise or animals along the trail.  Deciding which branch of the path to take becomes a matter of where I turn my attention – each corner brings a new view- the best are those unexpected…. the trail turns eventually toward home and I wrap up my thoughts to tend to the day ahead.

Yesterday I rode my bike along Rim Rock Road on the Colorado National Monument.  It is a popular ride for avid bikers… even when the narrow road is crowded with cars and bicyclists.  But for a few more days the road remains closed to motorized vehicles while they clear snow – reducing the typical danger, stress and noise of this route. Sunshine illuminated the sandstone cliffs above and below me.  The quiet of the landscape around me was my only companion.   I wallowed in my freedom, stopping on narrow shoulders to gaze at the cliffs below, weaving my way back and forth to enjoy the scenery.

The road reopens to cars on Monday. So glad I took the time to experience the solitude today. How about you? Ready for a little time alone?