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.

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.

Princeville on the North Shore of Kauai

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Located on the North Shore on the island of Kauai, Princevile is lush, green and gorgeous. It is home to the St. Regis Princeville Resort, which overlooks the beautiful beach of Hanalei Bay. This is also a paradise for golfers.

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The cliffs on some parts of this side of the island are 200 feet above the Pacific, offering panoramic views of the ocean. It’s often rainy in Princeville, but you don’t seem to mind when you look in the distance and see the lush valley of Hanalei.  With an average rainfall of 85 inches a year, the rain is welcome as it usually tends to fall during the evenings and the showers are typically brief.

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Green everywhere you look. Lush plants and trees surround you. Enjoy the views of mountains with waterfalls in the distance.  Here, you’ll find temperate weather with highs in the 80s during the summer months and 70s in the winter months. The rain doesn’t distract from the beauty of Kauai, it adds to it. And, quite often, you will be greeted with a rainbow in the distance.

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Kalalau Trail – Napali Coast Kauai

At the end of the Kuhio Highway on Kauai–Highway 56– you will find the magical entrance to the Kalalau Trail. Kauai’s Napali Coast is one of the most spectacular sights you will ever see. This trail has it all. Cliffs, gorgeous views, waterfalls, spectacular ocean views. For the adventurous, this 11-mile trail will lead you to some of the most gorgeous scenery on earth. The pali, or cliffs, offer one of the most majestic views of the earth meeting the sea you will ever find. For most experienced hikers, this 11-mile trail will take you a full day. The signs warn you to be cautious and this is good advice. Enjoy the wonder of beautiful Kauai. Aloha.

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Mele Kalikimaka

IMG_2717Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. That’s the island greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway. Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright. The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night. Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Sunny Poipu on Kauai

IMG_2717The island of Kauai has micro-climates. From tropical rain forest on the north side to dry and desert-like on the west side. Sunny Poipu is semi-arid and tropical. When it does rain, it tends to be brief. This creates warm temperatures year-round with just enough of a breeze from the trade winds to make it feel like paradise. No tall buildings here and most everything is a short walk to the beach. In other words–perfect.

Kauai’s Wailua Falls

IMG_2747Hawaii’s waterfalls are magical and diverse. Many of them are hidden treasures, off the beaten path and not visible without a hike. On Kauai, the beautiful Wailua Falls were made famous in the opening of the television series Fantasy Island, which aired from 1978 to 1984.

Starring Ricardo Montalbán as Mr. Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo, the opening of each episode would include Tattoo running up the bell tower to ring the bell and rejoice at the arrival of new guests to the mysterious Fantasy Island. “Da plane! Da plane!” Mr. Roarke would always be dressed in a white suit with dark tie, curiously awaiting the guests for each episode.

The best was when Tattoo started to arrive at the bell tower in his own Tattoo-sized go-kart. Not that I ever watched it or anything.

In real life these waterfalls are impressive, beautiful, everything a waterfall should be. They are located off Highway 56 to Highway 583 (Ma’alo Road). Follow it to the end of the road to the viewing area.

After the rain

The average precipitation in Princeville, Kauai is a little more than 71 inches each year with the most rain falling in the month of December. Yes, it is rainy, which also means that it is lush and green. And gorgeous. This much rain also means that there are plenty of rainbows to be found. They seem to be everywhere. In waterfalls, in the sky. If lucky, you will see a double rainbow. Spectacular. It’s difficult to capture the beauty of a rainbow in Kauai. Someday, perhaps, that will be a goal. This is a rainbow seen from the Princeville Golf Course. Five minutes after this photo was taken, it was sunny and the rain stopped for the afternoon. IMG_2788

Rooster Island

On a first visit to Kauai, you may—make that, you will—notice that there are wild roosters roaming the island, running free and waking you with their early morning crowing.

Rooster strutting his stuff

Rooster strutting his stuff

Searching for food with friends in follow

Searching for food with friends in follow

This guy thinks he rules the roost

This guy thinks he rules the roost

The story goes that these roosters, hens and little chicks are descendants of former fighting birds and domesticated birds that somehow gained freedom during a hurricane years ago. Since then, they have roamed the island freely searching for food and people to wake up with a pre-sunrise good morning hello.

No need to set an alarm clock here when you first arrive: these roosters will ensure that you are up and ready to go by 5 a.m.

Another reason they are so prevalent: They apparently do not have mongooses on Kauai, which would be a natural predator for these roaming birds.

These roosters have been the inspiration for t-shirts and other souvenirs from Kauai. We took a number of videos of these fearless roosters as they approached us looking for snacks. They seem fearless when it comes to hanging out with humans. They are on beaches, golf courses, you name it.

By the end of a week, one does get used to the roosters and you almost find them charming. Well, perhaps not charming, but certainly memorable and all part of the experience on this lush, gorgeous Hawaiian isle.

Surf’s up

There are certain people you meet in life who make a lasting impact, even if your paths cross physically for just a short period of time. Amy is one of those people. We were professional colleagues from 2005 to 2007. Yet, I think about her often. I had dinner with her two weeks ago and we laughed, we cried, and we talked and talked and talked. In September 2011, she and her husband flew to Maui. I knew that she had been planning and dreaming of this trip for some time since we talked about the beautiful Hawaiian islands many times when we worked together. One thing on the agenda: surfing lessons. I will never forget it when she posted a photo of herself on Facebook as a self-proclaimed surfer girl. I loved her sense of adventure, accomplishment and the joy as she surfed for the first time. She also made this comment on her Facebook page: “All – when’s the last time you did something for the first time? Whatever it is — put it on your calendar and do it.”
In spring of 2012, her beloved husband was diagnosed with cancer. On November 4, 2012, he passed away at the age of 41. Amy was an adoring wife. In a three-week period, she also lost her mother to cancer.
So, in honor of Amy and her beloved Ben, I am going to make a list of things I want to do for the first time. Life is short. Grab onto it.
Kauai surgersThis photo was taken in Kauai in 2011. We were driving the main road when we saw yet another gorgeous beach with suffers out seizing the day. We stopped and admired their athleticism, and their love and respect for the ocean.
Here’s to Amy and her dear husband and mother. To healing, to memories and to her husband’s eternal role as the “Sunshine Provider.”