Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hawaii in May 2007...

I imagine as the years go by, this chronicle will be useful in many ways, but part of it is me "telling the girls" about these times which they can read at some future date as they grow older and want to know more. So, if you will indulge my sidebars, I think you might even enjoy them. A little lightness can't hurt, especially in this story, and for me, tonight, I can use it too. I hope Google never kills of Blogger like they did their print ad strategy this week...come to think of it, maybe I better cut and paste all this stuff into a Word document and back it up...anyhow...

As many of you probably know, Heidi and I met in Hawaii back in 1991 and so the Islands are a special place for us. It's where we fell in love. Its where I asked her to marry me a year later...at A Taste of Honolulu, a food and wine festival, where my courage was bolstered by some fine Hawaiian pineapple wine. We make it a point to have it again on every trip and it seems to have magical seductive powers for some reason. ;-)

It's where we lived together in the back of the Aina Haina valley for a year in a little one bedroom walk out and watched Gecko Wars on the wall from our hammock and cooked our dinners on a hot-plate and in a toaster oven. (I think Heidi made a turkey in the toaster oven one year, must've been a pretty small turkey. Maybe it was a chicken.)

It's where we were first married at the little Lutheran church in Wahiawa, which was really meant as a means to get flight benefits from Heidi's airline job, but turned into a beautiful, amazing experience. It's where we had our honeymoon after the big Ft. Walton Beach wedding, at which Heidi didn't cry at because she had a chance to get her nerves and her tears out an the aforementioned Wahiawa marriage, and she realized it was too late anyhow, so what's the point, eh? ;-)

So, I know you are all asking yourselves at this point..."What in the heck are 'gecko wars'." Well, I personally believe that the ultimate fighting cage fight rage of late was probably inspired by someone watching territorial geckos go at it once they have staked their claim by an outdoor lamp on a wall in some tropical place. It is amazingly entertaining to see these charming little creatures (think GEICO gecko) chirp and puff their chests when they get a good spot to attack some unsuspecting bug that has been attracted by the light. The "War" commences when another gecko decides to try and steal the aforementioned bug, from one that has it already half in it's mouth but hasn't had a chance to gulp it down yet. Let me tell ya, the little charming English accent is no where to be found when these little dudes are fiercely competing for half a roach or the thorax of a termite.

Must be my night to use the word "aforementioned." Department of redundancy Department. Please forgive, but it worked so well in both cases, and then again in this little digression.

I think we made it back there once between 1993 and 2000 because as a young couple, money was pretty scarce. This was primarily because I was chasing entrepreneurial dreams and Heidi was "actually working." So, really, only one of us was making any money. Since then, though we have been back many times, with our kids and without, and we love it more with each visit. We would probably have already moved there if it were more practical with the kids and work, and we didn't have such an awesome community here in Colorado. In fact, in the face of this, practicality falls away and the truth probably is that I wouldn't be able to do this without our community here, but that is another story.

Shortly after we received the ALS diagnosis, my Mom and Jack offered to take care of the girls for us and so Heidi and I decided to take a trip back to Hawaii. During this period she still could walk fine, though longer walks were starting to get harder for her. I got to walk next to her in what we call the "tuck" position. This has always been our "romantic" walking position on dates, etc. over the years, where she would tuck her left arm under my right arm and off we go. Some people hold hands or put their arms around shoulder and waist. We had the "tuck." Now, the tuck took on a new significance as it also added support for her as we walked, so we probably looked like we were romantically walking everywhere, which is a nice thought. And, of course we were.

On the first five nights of the trip, we stayed at the Mauna Lani Hotel, where it so happened some good friends of ours, a couple from our street Highlands Ranch, were staying there with his brother and his wife, and also NO kids. It also just so happens that they are very much into good food and excellent wine and we had a splendid visit to some of the Big Islands most excellent restaurants generally accompanied by some of the finest wines available. Don had shipped over a couple of cases from his cellar and Dave and I each brought a few bottles, and so we would generally meet in their room, enjoy a glass or two and then head out to dinner, toting along a couple more bottles to accompany dinner. We were all spoiled rotten and it was great.

If you have never been to the Mauna Lani Resort, I highly recommend it. It is a resort hotel that has a very laid-back feeling about it. The grounds are amazing, with not only a fabulous private cove protected by barriers from the surf break, but also beautiful ancient Hawaiian fish ponds and a yurdle of sea turtles (That is my made up word for a group, flock, pod or whatever of a bunch of turtles, hey, if GW Bush can make up words, so can I.) It is expensive to stay there, but not much more so than say the Hilton Waikoloa similar resorts. They probably have the most amazing breakfast buffet of any place I've ever stayed, and out of all the fantastic dinners we have had in Hawaii over the past few years, the food and the ambiance of the Canoe House was, to me, the best. It was probably also the most expensive, but it was worth it. The sunset photo on this blog is a photo I took sitting at the table at the canoe house, having dinner witht the family on our most recent trip there, my profile photo is looking back at us from the opposite side of the table.

On this trip, we walked the grounds, enjoyed the pool, the fabulous hammocks on the beach and went on a snorkeling catamaran sail one day out of the small marina that they have there near the hotel. It was awesome.

I should have kept notes on the restaurants we visited, but Merriman's up in Waimea town is awesome, Alan Wong's (I think at the Four Seasons) was amazing. I remember at one point the wind was howling through the restaurant and so they had to close some of the shutters. We also ate Sushi at the Fairmount Orchid(which shares the road to the Mauna Lani and is just up the beach) and Italian at the Hilton Waikoloa with Don & Judi on our last night there, which was also, well, fabulous. I'm out complimentary keywords, so I'm glad the restaurant saga is over.

From there we were off to Maui and the Westin Resort in Kaanapali for another five nights. The Westin Resort is nice in a very "resorty" kind of way. The Mauna Lani feels like Hawaii, the Westin feels like, well, just about any Westin resort on a beach somewhere. Put it this way, when one of my "local" friends asks me where we stayed and I say the Mauna Lani, they say "OOOOOOHHHHH, that place is NICE yea?!!!! When I say then we went to the Westing on Maui they go, "Oh, that's a nice place." There's a difference.

We did a fun drive around the north end of the Island up past Kapalua and found a crazy winding one-car road, some practically abandoned trails down to steep sea cliffs with crystal clear azure water, where I was convinced there were plenty of tasty fish and lobster lurking. Somehow, Heidi convinced me to not jump off the cliffs into the water with my spear and try and get us some dinner. If we had a condo with our own kitchen, I doubt she would have succeeded. We also found some other great looking beaches that were a little off the beaten track and hope to return there one day to enjoy them. Most of our stay on Maui was spent hanging around the pool and de-compressing from our painful 8 week diagnosis process and subsequent shock and sadness. We did have a great dinner in Lahaina (can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was awesome..David's maybe.) And another fun day walking around Lahaina town.

So, there's a break from the medical tale. I hope you enjoyed it. We certainly did at the time, and will treasure those days forever.

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