Aloha, Baby

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Beautiful plumeria trees with their subtle sweet fragrance

As I’m listening to the rain come crashing down outside knowing it will turn to snow overnight, I’m not all that concerned.

I don’t mind the mud and the puddles and the cold and the wood splitting and the need to dress in layers because I’m buoyed by our most recent trip to the islands.

Hawaii Island, specifically.

Aloha.

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Waikoloa Beach Marriott, where we stayed

We have been in love with the Hawaiian islands since our first trip there in 2009. We both try to arrange conferences there on an annual basis.

The veterinary dermatology conference I’ve attended 5 times now rotates between Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. That’s what took us over there last week.

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Sunset on the island of Maui at last fall’s veterinary conference

The flight from Seattle to Kona wasn’t without some excitement. Not turbulence or anything frightening like that.

No, this was excitement on the human front.

Our plane was being held for some passengers who were in the airport but couldn’t be located.

Eventually they  came thundering down the aisle with two little kids, enormous bags of diapers, every use of the F-word imaginable, all while slurring their words and swirling their take-out cups.

Guess they had been in the bar.

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Bird sanctuary on the east coast of Kauai, January 2014

Wife sat behind Alistair and proceeded to grab onto the back of his chair for balance (because you are so off balance when seated, right?)

She was extremely vocal about her dismay over the lack of cup holders.

As if we were on a flying minivan.

Their 2-year old kicked my chair most of the flight and wailed non-stop when both parents eventually passed out.

When Wife woke up (more F-words) she spilled 3 drinks in succession. With even more F-words.

At first it was orange juice but a couple of hours into the flight over the Pacific they somehow allowed them to have a Mai Tai. (Sploosh) (F-word). And another. (Sploosh, again….)

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Finally playing golf in Hawaii! We loved it.

We eventually landed in Kona where it was dark but beautiful.

The airport there is open-air and made up of tiki-type huts.

Its pretty awesome.

We have a system where I run to rent the car and Alistair retrieves our luggage. Worked like a charm.

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The Ali’i Lavender Farm on the slopes of Maui’s dormant volcano, Haleakala

While our room wasn’t what we’d requested and the view of the pools, lounge and enormous tree out front meant for less time on the lanai at night, we began to embrace the Hawaiian way and got into our island groove in no time.

Hawaiians are adaptable, friendly people.

They adapt slowly because everything and everyone moves slowly in Hawaii.

The sun takes its time descending into the ocean in the evening.

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Sunset from the fishponds by our Marriott last week

Why rush it?

The well-managed feral cat colonies are in no hurry to go anywhere.

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Feral cat colony by the Marriott on the Big Island- I counted 20 kitties at one time.

If food and water are provided, and your furry companions are there, and your ears are notched because you are altered and there is funky lava all around you to lounge on, why not hang out and chill with your buddies?

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Very photogenic Big Island feral cat

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In the islands, these kitties do it ‘island style’

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More feline aloha.

Most of the restaurants move a bit slower but that’s cool.

Who needs to be in a hurry when you’re looking out towards the palm trees listening to the ocean waves come upon shore?

The famous Mai Tai adult bevvie is almost designed to help you move a bit slower as well.

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Big Island Mai Tai last week- guaranteed to help anyone chill

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Maui Mai Tai from last year’s conference

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Island Barbie with her Mai Tai on Maui in 2010

Now that we consider ourselves sort of, kind of, in a way, not really golfers, we booked tee times and went for it!

We laughed, we made par, we got lost (my fault on that one!), we learned that rocky lava does a number on golf balls, we stared at the beauty around us, we laughed some more, we drove balls into lakes, we observed golf course goats, we got rained on and we got sun tans even while wearing SPF 70.

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Alistair at the Waikoloa Kings golf course with a dormant volcano in the background

We played in the golf tournament hosted annually at this conference. We had never signed up before but I know we will do it again.

A bunch of eager, happy vets headed out bright and early on the Waikoloa Beach par 70 course in a parade of golf carts.

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Golf cart parade! We were the merry leaders!

We were teamed up with Dr.Brock and Ron, who was 83 years young and knew how to hit the heck out of a golf ball.

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Coolest team in the tournament on the signature hole at the Waikoloa Beach golf course

Granted, around the 15th hole he looked pasty and white and Brock was kind of helping him stand up.

It was a hot day for anyone, let alone an 83 year old who hadn’t played 18 holes in a few years.

And yet he rallied to finish and enjoyed the humungous hamburgers and beer with everyone else during the luncheon.

Our team shot 70.

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Waikoloa’s Beach course signature hole…. jaw droppingly beautiful with crashing ocean waves all around.

The conference was great- we got to reconnect with friends we have met over the years (Dave, Cathy, Alan, Amanda, Erica, Pam) and make new friends as well (Brock, Ron, Bruce and Quinn).

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Dr.Brock, from Indiana, joined us for more golf… even when the electrical system went haywire and nobody could control the sprinklers we approached it Island Style and played on through. Aloha! Fore!

The only time things sped up for us last week was when we boarded the Blue Hawaiian Eco-Star helicopter for the Big Island Spectacular 2 hour tour.

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AWESOME trip yet again with Blue Hawaiian!

It totally lived up to its name and I don’t mind shamelessly promoting this company for their exceptional pilots and tours.

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Up close and personal with the current eruption on Kilauea via Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours

The only way to see some amazing parts of the Hawaiian islands is by air and we’ve got every penny’s worth each time we’ve flown with Blue.

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Watching the planet being created as fresh lava marched towards the ocean destroying everything in its path

Our pilot, Shane was enjoying the trip as much as the rest of us and added on an extra 30 minutes to the tour. We had incredible timing with the lava flow, the weather and the clouds.

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Cascade waterfalls along the eastern coast of the Big Island

I can never get enough of the waterfalls and rugged coastlines and I want time to move even more slowly.

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Wind-whipped eastern coast of the Big Island seen from the air in our front seats of the helicopter

Its even more cool when you get to sit up front, which we did. I was the co-pilot.

I clapped my hands and grinned like the village idiot when Shane asked me if I wanted to shut the helicopter off.

Something about the islands brings out the little kid in me.

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Lanai views from the Marriott… not our room, though. We got to Linger Longer here for 12 hours which was long enough to enjoy the palms and the ocean.

And I am once again filled to the brim with aloha and love and sunshine and a spiritual type of re-awakening.

A true appreciation of what it means to be alive in a land that is still forming in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

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Alistair and I on our last day on the Big Island

The weather report says we’re heading for 14 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 days and we got the wood stove going when we landed back in Montana 2 days ago.

And I’m totally cool with this because I know the islands are still there… waiting for us to return someday.

With outstanding seafood, refreshing Mai Tais, romantic sunsets, spectacular helicopter rides, tropical flowers and morons on airplanes who get wasted without thinking of anyone but themselves and who spill their drink and swear like sailors but even that doesn’t matter because of the adventures ahead and the ones behind.

Mahalo, Hawaii.

Until next time.

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Saying goodbye with the hula statue at Kona International airport a few nights ago

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Ahhhhh…..

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Aloha, Baby

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