Hawaii just happened.
I am filled to the brim with Aloha, sunshine, warmth, mai tais, ukulele music, crashing waves, golf balls, mahi mahi, starry skies, pineapple, veterinary dermatology and relaxing evenings on our lanai.
The islands have always done wonderful things for my soul and the past week spent on Maui was no exception.
We were trying to make it across the Pacific twice a year as both of us have conferences we can choose from. To be honest, the vets only have one or two but the human doctors have several that are offered.
We stumbled upon this particular veterinary conference on our first trip to Hawaii back in 2009, wandering around Kauai finding things to do before our night flight back home. We were exploring the Marriot for lunch and I saw Royal Canin and Virbac posters down a hallway. We found a happy veterinarian who told us about what was then called the George Muller Dermatology conference.
I have attended every single year since.
The conference brings together some of the top minds in dermatology from around the world. Most people don’t believe me but I actually love going for the seminars themselves.
I also love going for the ocean views, the golf, the mai tais….
We haven’t been back since last fall’s veterinary conference, though, because its just so hard to leave our special needs animal companions behind. Not just anyone can or will take care of a blind dog with a host of issues and a deaf dog, let alone a ferret! And that’s just a few of who remain now. We had 3 ferrets for much of last winter and even Boomer was still around until February.
With Loki’s needs and limitations we have to have someone staying at the house overnight. It is a lot to ask of someone and I don’t like to over-utilize the amazing pet sitters we have had.
Luckily this time good friends from Bismarck were in need of a peaceful break from their hectic jobs. They eagerly leapt at the chance to come to our ranch and camp out for a week.
Theresa, Brian and their Dachshund, Roxy arrived last Wednesday and quickly learned the ropes of Fyfe Life. We left our mountain Paradise for island Paradise the next morning and everybody thrived.
Loki even liked Roxy, which was amazing. For much of her life Loki hasn’t liked other little dogs. Big dogs were fine, especially ‘her’ big dogs, Casey and Harry but she used to bark her head off at dogs her own size.
Thankfully she has mellowed in her old age. I wonder if she just decided that making friends was more fun than being a bitch. Theresa told me that the 2 little gals would cuddle up together for afternoon naps. That makes my heart smile! Loki… making new friends!
And so, we golfed. In fact, we golfed every day!
Our first day we hit the famed Plantation course near the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua where we stayed (and where my conference was… veterinarians don’t have the money or any business staying at the Ritz but that was the deal this year.)
We were joined by Dr.Brock, from Indiana, who had first attended the conference on the Big Island 2 years ago. He was a part of our golf foursome back then and we have kept in touch ever since.
He had never played golf on Maui so we invited him to join us for a round after our morning conferences the next day at the Bay course in Kapalua.
Both courses weave through the luxury resort area of Kapalua offering breathtaking views of the ocean from several of the holes. The Plantation course is where the PGA kicks off the calendar year each January with their Tournament of Champions. It is a more challenging course with daunting distances, curving fairways and a sentry of bunkers guarding the greens. It is also the course we had our annual veterinary golf tournament on, which was a sold-out event this year.
We finally met our 4th for our tournament foursome just before the round began. Barb (the wife of a veterinarian who doesn’t play golf) was the perfect fit in her skill set, wit and sharp humor.
Our giggling team played at 2-under par for the day and Alistair won one of the longest putt prizes (on the only hole our team birdied that day)! How to make Wifey proud!
The lunch was amazing after the tournament and will be tough to follow next year. We were so full we skipped a night of fine dining and just had drinks and sandwiches at our resort lounge with Brock later that evening (in Kapalua that sort of thing still sets you back $140.) Yikes!
Barb enjoyed herself so much that she joined us the next day for our post-conference afternoon round at the Bay course. She hauled her clubs all the way from Colorado, why not use them a few times?
Golf has been such a fun opportunity to explore different places in a new way for us. We also get to meet new friends who enjoy working on an activity while being outside. It doesn’t lend itself to much wine-drinking but the boys liked having a beer or 2 during each round.
Its fun getting to meet people from different walks of life and different parts of the world. Barb is an avid reader and Brock told her about my books so I gave her a signed copy of my first book, Lost and Found in Missing Lake. She has already read it and texted me how much she enjoyed it. Heart smiling again.
Our final day of derm came and went and Alistair and I tried to get onto the Plantation course again but it was booked up. Luckily the Bay course was wide open.
Non-golfers out there might be shaking their heads at us. What about snorkeling? Hiking? Maui Ocean Center-ing? Volcano-ing? Shopping?
Yes, all of those things appeal to us but we have spent previous trips to Maui doing them. Our golf courses in both Seeley Lake and Bismarck have closed and we knew this was the end of our season so we wanted to make the most of it.
We weren’t paired with anyone else so we made sure to stop for photos when we could. When the snow is blowing in Montana this winter I’m going to need to go back to these to maintain my sanity (and my Aloha).
We spent one more night and were able to sleep in as my conference was over. We loaded up at the resort’s breakfast buffet that was stocked with Eggs Benedict, Kahlua pork hashbrowns, mahi mahi, amazingly fresh fruit and tantalizing pastries with pineapple & cinnamon jam, packed up, checked-out and drove across the lovely island to spend some time Upcountry.
Normally we hit the beautiful Lavender Farm and then the Kula lodge for supper before our night flight home but this time we figured we’d try one more round of golf at a more local course in Pukalani.
Upcountry Maui is on the slopes of the sort-of dormant volcano, Haleakala and is much less touristy than the rest of Maui. Everything is more reasonably priced (round of golf was $45.50 each, cart included!) and the people are even more laid-back.
The course wove through local homes that were less luxurious than those in Kapalua and it provided a more homey feel. Alistair made par 3 times (balls for the wall!) and we enjoyed our final day with temps 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the island.
Cooler temps have led to the survival of a non-native species, the Jackson chameleon. We’d never seen one of these guys before but there she was on our cart path! Apparently a group of 13 young ones were released from a pet store because they weren’t thriving many years ago. I guess they have since thrived…
We enjoyed one of our best meals at the unassuming clubhouse that day- appetizer, platefuls of fresh seafood and a couple of drinks each came to less than $100. Unbelievable for anywhere on the islands!
And now I’m back in Montana and Alistair is back in North Dakota and we’re back to normal Fyfe Life. Which is anything but normal.
Loki didn’t have a single seizure when we were gone but she woke up seizing our first morning back. It was mild, as they almost always have been and it was likely from being so jacked up and excited when we got back the day before.
I really wasn’t so sure Loki would be here to return home to a year ago. And I’m still not sure how long we have ahead of us with our little train wreck but she’s laying on my feet as I type and I’m not about to change a damned thing.
We have added ground beef to her kibble morning and night and she hasn’t lost any more weight. We stick to our routines and we enjoy cuddle time on the couch with the Magic Blanket at night and then cuddles in bed. We Walk & Talk when we’re exploring outside and we enjoy the heck out of every minute together that we can.
We were so fortunate to once again have friends stay at our house and love on our pets just like we do. They kept the routine going so that the blind dog, the deaf dog and everyone else could keep on keeping on.
And we could fly to Maui and recharge. Refresh. Learn. Play. Explore.
We could hit golf balls and lose golf balls and find golf balls (!) and eat at new restaurants with pompous waiters and so-so calamari and enjoy old restaurants and restaurants that surprised us because they were in a trailer on a local golf course but it was the best meal of the adventure and we got new golf hats and shirts and I wore lots of bling and we laughed and joked and made a new friend and caught up with an old one and we were completely relaxed because we knew our home and our animal companions in Montana were going to be just fine.
If you have the opportunity to visit Hawaii I highly recommend it. Certain things aren’t for everyone but everyone can find something magical to be a part of while they’re there. And here’s to coming home to everyone as happy as they were when we left. Here’s to Loki. Here’s to Roxy. Here’s to mai tais, golf and Maui magic.
Here’s to Aloha.