Fifty shades of grey

The gratuitous headline actually fits the photo below perfectly. This is February in the Midwest—cold, often cloudy, always monochromatic.

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Compare and contrast to the vibrant colors one experiences on the islands of Hawaii—reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigoes and violets. Yes, a rainbow of colors wherever one turns. Even in the rain, there is usually a rainbow to be discovered.

The minute you step off the plane it’s apparent. It doesn’t matter if you land in Honolulu on Oahu, Kona or Hilo on the Big Island, Lihue on Kauai, Kahului on Maui, or if your final destination is via a smaller aircraft to the Lanai or Molokai airports.

Kua Beach

This photo above, from March 2014, was taken at Kua Beach on the Big Island—officially known as Manini’owali Beach. It’s a gem of a beach with crystal clear waters, white sand, sea turtles, reefs for snorkeling. This photo, taken on a whim from my cell phone, shows the entrance area to a walkway to the beach. I love how a coconut near the rustic, weathered picnic table looks as if it was positioned there on purpose. When we returned from this trip, I sent this one off to Canvas on Demand, so that I could hang in on my wall for days like this when it’s 3 degrees outside.

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This quintessential beach above is in front of Mama’s Fish House on Maui. The palm trees provide just enough shade from the sun. If you stop for lunch or dinner, this is the view.

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On Kauai, home to one of the rainiest spots on earth at the summit of Mount Waialeale, beautiful color is everywhere—even in the rain. This photo is from a lookout near Princeville. I love the serene colors and landscape. So peaceful.

On Lanai, the landscape has its own beauty and is completely different on the shore as it is in upcountry Lanai. This view below is of the lush gardens at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. The air is crisp here. The manicured Japanese gardens are stunning. Icing on the cake is the orchid house they have onsite. Rain or shine, gorgeous.

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Pick an island, any island. Really, you can’t go wrong. Need. To. Go. Back. Soon.

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Iselle and Julio

The weather reports and warnings about Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio approaching the Hawaiian Islands are worrisome. It’s a rare double threat for the Hawaiian Islands. These two tropical cyclones present a back-to-back risk within as few as 10 days apart.

Meteorologists say that they have to go back to 1949 to find a case when tropical cyclones with direct impact to the Hawaiian Islands were 10 days apart. These two storms are predicted to hit Hawaii within two to three days. “Unprecedented in the satellite era,” is how Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, described it.

In travels to the Islands of Hawaii, the one word that always comes to mind is peaceful. So, this forecast warning residents and visitors to prepare for a state of emergency makes my heart break.

The Big Island will be affected first. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the entire state of Hawaii from 4 a.m. on Thursday until 6 a.m. on Friday. This means that conditions on all islands may develop and lead to dangerous flash flooding.

One would have to go back more than six decades to find a case of two tropical cyclones with direct impact reaching the Hawaiian Islands—and they were 10 days apart.

In 1994, there were three storms that passed the Hawaiian Islands—Daniel, Emilia and Fabio. Two out of the three, however, had fizzled out quite a bit before they hit land.

The current models predict that there is a 50 percent chance of tropical storm force winds affecting Hilo on the Big Island, a 44 percent chance of tropical storm force winds in Kailua-Kona and a 42 percent change for South Point between Thursday and Friday.

My thoughts are with the residents of the Hawaiian Islands—and the visitors.

Below is a photo of a sacred place on the Big Island—Waipio Valley. This photo was taken from the Waipio Valley Lookout in March of this year. Waipio means “curved water” in the Hawaiian language. Wishing all in beautiful Hawaii safety from the storm.

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Time flies

It’s been six weeks since my last post. During that time, we had two kids graduate—one from high school and one from college. We also said good riddance to one of the nastiest winters on record. It was painful. Snow and cold and then more snow and cold, plus sleet and freezing rain to add to the misery index. Today, it’s a lovely 75 degrees and mostly sunny, which reminds me of my favorite place on earth.

We were able to escape the cold, gray and ice for a week in late March to this favorite place of ours. This time we visited the Big Island. Heavenly. Here’s the view of what we gladly left behind in the Midwest. It was snow and ice as far as the eye could see. Okay, it sort of looks pretty from this angle, but it really wasn’t pretty to live with day in and day out.

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The biggest obstacle for us spending more time in Hawaii is the flight. There is no doubt about it: It’s long. The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated place on earth in terms of distance from land. Los Angeles is more than 2,500 miles away and Tokyo is even further at more than 3,500 miles away. I try not to think about the fact that there is nothing in between, but for some reason we always seem to get the pilot who wants to remind us of this fact on takeoff.

Most return flights to the mainland leave at night. A blessing since this seems to be the only time I’m able to sleep during a flight. On the flight over, I do my best to focus on the destination, but I am not a big fan of long flights.

For most of the flight, you look out the window and see something like this.

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And then, magically the southernmost island of Hawaii is in sight. What a sight it is. Even from 10,000 feet its beauty and majesty always get me.

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The Kona International Airport feels familiar and welcoming to us with its charming outdoor baggage carousels and lack of jet bridges. Down the stairs to the tarmac you go. This time, we were greeted with an afternoon shower. It was warm, smelled like paradise and we could have cared less that we were soaked by the time we picked up our luggage.

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For the first time in months, the landscape is filled with color, flowers, a familiar tropical perfume that once experienced you do not forget.

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We made it just in time to watch the sunset near Kona.

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Aloha indeed.

 

 

 

Church and surf

The tiny, 12-pew St. Peter’s Catholic Church is located on an oceanfront setting on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. The church’s setting is a peaceful piece of land, in front of a popular surfing spot. The church’s website explains that it was built in 1880 and moved to its current location in 1912, and has been pushed off its foundation twice by hurricanes . Today, it is as welcoming of a presence as ever and the street in front of it serves as an aid station for the Ironman World Championship, which will be held on Oct. 11 of this year in Kailua-Kona.

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It’s always interesting to sit and watch the surfers near St. Peter’s Catholic Church. One surfer said, “At dawn, I usually go out to catch some waves and if I line up my board with the cross, it always brings me safely to shore.”

Driving on an island

On a first trip to the Hawaiian Islands, the scenery may feel so different and beautiful that it almost feels overwhelming. This is especially true if you are a mainlander and especially true if you are a flatlander. This isn’t driving through North Dakota, folks. (With all due respect to North Dakotans, as some of my very favorite people in the world are from or live in North Dakota.)

On Kauai, the scenery heading from the airport to the Princeville area was so beautifully distracting that I was thankful I wasn’t in the driver’s seat and could try to take it all in.

On the Big Island, much of the scenery is so out of this world different from anything we had ever seen—and it changes so quickly. One minute you’re in the Waimea area filled with an upcountry feel, green grass and cattle ranches and you drive a bit further and you’re on the coastline with vistas of lava rock and whales breaching in the distance.

The view from Keahou to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island

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On Maui and Oahu, there are many scenic driving tours such as the 68-mile Road to Hana on Maui or a drive on the leeward, or Western, side of Oahu. You could probably make these drives dozens and dozens of times and never tire of the views and stops along the way.

The road ahead on West Maui

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A view from an upcountry road in lovely Lanai

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Once near the town of Kawaihae on the northern side of the Big Island, there were so many whales active near the shore that someone actually placed a sofa facing the ocean for people to stop and wonder and enjoy the views. It was perfect.

Time spent in Hawaii is a reminder to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Yoga by the sea

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When the going gets tough, the tough do yoga by the sea. Morning yoga practice at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay south of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Aloha.

The beauty of the Big Island

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When you land at the Kona International Airport (KOA) on the Big Island, you are greeted by the unique beauty of West Hawaii. This is the island known for its active volcano, gorgeous coastlines, diversity in climate and natural, rugged beauty. Once in a while, you find yourself stopping to take it all in, such as when you discover an orchid thriving in a bed of lava rocks. As you explore, the scenery is difficult to describe or categorize. Ocean views or a trip to the 4,200-meter high summit of the Mauna Kea Observatory. Snowboarding or surfing? It’s your choice. The Big Island of Hawaii lives up to its name. It will call you back again and again.