So I challenged myself to write about my recent trip to Maui without including pictures, and, needless to say, it just didn't work. Oh, I wrote it all down in my journal--all one thousand words--pages and pages--but my words just couldn't capture the beauty of this island. I now concede, as the movie did, that clear expression oftentimes requires both words and pictures.
Here, then, is the story of my trip to Maui--with a few words and lots of pictures.
(for a pictures-wthout-written words-version, see slideshow here)
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
I started singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" weeks before our trip began. Our vacation really did start there--on those jet planes from DEN to LAX and LAX to OGG--with First Class EVERYTHING. Saying goodbye to the snowy Rocky Mountains, drinking Mai Tais, choosing toppings from a sundae cart, and watching Frozen--twice--made the eleven-hour travel day seem like mere minutes.
When we arrived at The Westin Maui, our Maui home, we were rendered speechless by the beauty--and that was just entering the lobby. Greeting us were friendly Hawaiian natives with genuine smiles as they placed Puka shell necklaces around our necks. In the background we could hear the splashing of the waterfalls and saw pink flamingos and a majestic black swan floating peacefully along the waterway that ran throughout the resort.
Walking through the double doors of our ocean front suite caused us all to gasp. A panoramic view of the sparkling blue Pacific was ours to behold no matter where we were in the suite. With five balconies, we could each have our own personal view if we so desired. The Westin Maui--I could definitely get used to this place!
I know I said this already, but our room had five balconies!!! We had the best views of the sunset from our hotel, and that's where we watched the magic every night we were there. Each night gave us a different perspective of the sun dipping into the Pacific, and each sunset told its own story. As spectacular as the sunsets were, my favorite moment happened in the early morning sunlight. We were all up early (still on Colorado time) enjoying coffee on the lanai. The sun hadn't been up very long when I happened to glance at the water and caught a full rainbow right outside our balcony. The ends of the rainbow were so close they looked like they were on the beach below us. The colors lasted maybe five minutes until they were swallowed by the dazzling blue of the ocean. This moment was spiritual in so many ways. If we hadn't been out on the lanai at that time and been looking directly at the ocean, we wouldn't have ever known that rainbows could touch the sand. And each morning after this one, I looked for a rainbow over the ocean but to no avail. I know in my heart and soul this rainbow was a gift from Above, and for that I say mahalo to the ocean for beckoning us out at that exact moment.
I'LL GET DOWN TO THE SEA SOMEHOW
I love the ocean--the smell, the blue hues, the sound, the power. I would gladly spend all my vacations on a beach, drunk on the sound of the sea rolling in. These days, walking the hot sands has become impossible for me, and so I am content observing from an oceanside cabana. But on this visit, my sister discovered near the cabana rentals the most amazing invention--a sand wheelchair! I never dreamed of such a thing, but the next thing I knew she and my niece were taking me for a walk ON THE SAND. We got close enough to the ocean that waves splashed all around me, and oh, how warm and sparkly that water felt--a sensory memory etched forever in my heart. Mahalo, Kerri and Amy (and Nathan for round two the next day), for being my "somehow."
Swimming pools come in a close second to ocean waters. The buoyancy of the water allows me to move about with the best of them. To be able to walk, jump, float, and simply move without pain is the greatest feeling in the world. Walking to this pool's waterfall with my niece and nephew was another spiritual moment that I will never forget. Mahalo, Amy and Nathan, for braving the cold pool water, for making this walk with me, and for sharing in my giddiness.
I discovered the Hula Grill (website) on my first trip to Maui in 1996, and it remains my absolute favorite bar/restaurant on Kaanapali Beach. The Barefoot Bar, complete with sand, palm trees, and live music, provides the perfect setting to enjoy a Hawaiian drink. I couldn't wait to return to the Hula Grill--for snacks, lunch, but mostly the pina coladas!
ABOVE ALL . . .
These beautiful people. My traveling buddies. My lifelines. This trip to Maui would not have been possible without the love and support given to my mom and me from my sister Kerri, my nephew Nathan, and my niece Amy. Together, they made sure that we got the whole Maui experience. We all traveled so well together, too--our destination could have been Siberia, and they would have made the trip amazing. (of course, I'm glad it wasn't Siberia!) And so, a big mahalo to Kerri, Nathan, Amy, and my mom for taking this trip with me, for making it perfect, and for inspiring all these words and pictures.