Mahalo, Hawaii

traditional lei

October, 2021 has been wonderful.

We both celebrated birthdays and I’m still not 50.

And we got back to our treasured Hawaiian islands again after a 2-year absence.

Maui views

Covid-19 kept most doors to Hawaii closed last year and, as medical professionals, neither of us felt like it was a good or safe idea to travel around when people weren’t vaccinated. We plan these trips a year in advance with our jobs plus the house/animal care that’s required so we went and booked a double-header for the doctors Fyfe in 2020 and didn’t allow ourselves to get excited until we were on the plane.

The second plane. The one leaving Seattle for Kahului, Maui.

Just to make things interesting, I got a house under contract for clients/friends of mine immediately before we left. Its one of the largest transactions I’ve been involved in to date so that provided a slight distraction during the trip.

Thank goodness the agent representing the sellers is a local, personal friend. We follow each other on social media so he could see my evening posts of palm trees, crashing waves and mai tais.

Working on a big real estate transaction

He could also see when I posted pictures working on my tan along with our response to the home inspection I had arranged for the day we flew out of Missoula. (Home inspector is also a friend on social media.)

While I did talk with my client almost every day during our Maui stay, our calls were short and sweet and usually during the morning when Alistair was at his conference the first few days.

Took the laptop out to enjoy the ocean while reviewing the home inspection report!

Our conference organizers have these things down to a tee. Even during Covid! There were some big differences from our worlds in Montana and North Dakota, though. For starters, Hawaii has never relaxed its mask mandate. They only removed the mask mandate for outdoor areas just before we arrived so everyone in every building was masked. (Most physicians and veterinarians wear masks regularly so, once again, it really isn’t a big deal for us.)

We made a point to play as much golf as we possibly could this trip. It is a reward after lugging heavy, stiff, awkward golf bags through airports (Bruises on my legs! For real!) plus we knew our home courses likely wouldn’t be open much longer so we wanted to extend the season as much as we could.

Ka’anapali Kai and train trestles… so much history to old Lahaina Town!

We started with a new 18 right by the resort area in Ka’anapali where we were staying. Ka’anapali Kai was a fun, well designed course that wove through some homes and also provided some killer views. It wasn’t a super expensive course and we tee it up in the afternoon when conferences are done for the day so the rates are even cheaper. Most people prefer morning tee times because its cooler but the Fyfes are there to sweat it out and get the most out of that Hawaiian sunshine. I need those memories when I’m pre-plowing snow in the morning in a couple of months just so I can plow out later in the day.

The first tee boxes at Ka’anapali Kai (you might be able to see the bruises on my legs!)

Playing a new golf course is a lot of fun. It takes a few holes to get a feel for the place and even if we get a few practice chips and putts in beforehand, it still takes a couple of holes to get how the greens are rolling.

We laughed a lot, we took pictures, we made a few pars and the bar cart girl provided us with beer (him) and Greyhounds (me). It was a far cry from the golf we had played in Montana just days prior!

In our golf cart, Norman, the day before leaving for Hawaii!

We managed to hit up 2 of the courses we know and love on Maui as well. The first was in UpCountry Maui, which is a non-resort area up the slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s famous dormant volcano. Pukalani Country Club’s golfers are 80% locals with a few Howlies like us choosing to throw ourselves into the mix. Its a fun course! You get some great views on a solid, challenging, very affordable course and if you’re lucky (we weren’t this trip), you get to see some Jackson Chameleons! (I was lucky, however, in the retail department as their kick-ass sale allowed me to buy 2 cute golf tops for the price of 1.)

Teeing it up at Pukalani Country Club!

No bar cart at Pukalani but their on-site café had beer and water for us. We enjoy playing golf where the locals play. You can tell when you pull into the parking lot and you are the only Jeep there that the tourists don’t frequent the place.

Pukalani has one very unique par 3 where you get to choose from 2 separate layouts. We always choose the killer canyon to drive over. As per usual, the giant chasm is 3 golf balls richer than before. I managed to get my second drive onto the green, though, so all was not lost and we laughed some more.

The canyon of wayward golf balls.

The second Maui-repeat course was the famed Kapalua Plantation course, where the PGA tour kicks off the New Year in January. We love watching the Sentry Tournament of Champions (you have to have won on tour in order to be invited to Kapalua) on TV because the best golfers in the world are playing the same track as us folk who are thrilled (THRILLED) when we shoot 100!

We willingly took out a second mortgage on our Montana home to pay for the round (holy smokes… Kapalua… not cool, people! I get it, Covid killed tourism but you can’t expect us to keep you going!) and I stayed away from the pro shop and fun golf was had yet again!

We were teamed up with Jay, a builder from Washington state and our senses of humor and ability to allow for mulligans when needed were well matched. The views are stunning on several of the holes and we made sure to soak it all in. My A-game wasn’t on hand for some of the front 9 but I pulled my shit together and made par on 16 and 18! Can’t wait to see what Collin Morikawa does on those holes in January!

A breezy day up at Kapalua!

Maui wasn’t just Alistair’s conference and great golf. We spent an afternoon exploring Lahaina-town and the famous Banyan tree, too. Not much has changed in Lahaina so we’re probably good for another 10 years.

Said Banyan Tree

For the first time ever, we island-hopped over to the Big Island for my veterinary conference. We took our time cruising over to the airport, even contemplating stopping at the Maui Ocean Center but, thankfully, we arrived with barely enough time to navigate the enormous throng of people who were also island-hopping in the middle of the day. Holy smokes, definitely plan to arrive with a lot of time just to get through security once you’ve checked your bags in Kahului!

30 minutes after take-off we landed in Kona at my favorite little tiki-hut airport. Some dude almost accidentally took off with both of our golf bags and another suitcase went missing until it mysteriously re-appeared at the open-air entrance/exit but hey, its Hawaii and there’s Aloha everywhere so you just wing it.

Hey, look… another Jeep!

My conference was at the Hilton Waikoloa (aka “Dirty Disney”) and while we loved it there were a few differences that made us change our routine. Their main breakfast place still isn’t open so we sought out other options within the local area. And the valets aren’t there but we found a perfect parking spot and entrance that made us feel like we were getting away with something each time we parked!

One thing about going to Hawaii right now- you need to plan ahead for restaurants or show up knowing you *might* get a seat in the bar for supper. We started grabbing yummy food to go from the local Island Marketplace down the road from the Hilton and brought it to our room where we had wine and vodka from Costco waiting for us.

Big Island sunset

Another thing different for us was the fact we had a couple of days of no conference.

No alarm clock.

No guilt lingering longer on the lanai at night, sipping bevvies in front of an ocean reflecting the near-full, then wondrously full moon.

No tee time restrictions (although we still played in the afternoons because we’re cheap like that.)

You know exactly where you are when this guy runs up to your golf cart on the first tee!

We hit up the Big Island version of Maui’s Pukalani when we hit the tee box at Makalei, one of our all-time favorite courses anywhere. We love that its mostly locals who are here and how totally friendly everyone is. We love that they helped us discover Kay’s Kitchen just down the road (because their café is closed) for delicious, fresh-cooked food. We love the challenge of playing straight up or down on the side of a dormant volcano and we absolutely love the peacocks.

We even love that you very likely will have a warm drizzle on holes 2 through 6. Its just enough to make my curly hair look really nuts but not enough to get your feet wet.

The golf carts, though, could use some love.

To us it was part of the charm having duct tape holding the seats together, cracked windshields and engines that didn’t turn over until you’d rolled backwards down the slope for 5 seconds.

Our sweet Makalei ride. I almost bailed twice that day!

If they upgrade the fleet they would maybe have to charge more to play there and nobody on the course could care. Pretenses are far, far away from Makalei, which is just fine with us.

Old courses, new courses- enter Makani, which used to be a private country club until it wasn’t. Its on the same Manalahoa Highway as Makalei but Makani tends to have more sunshine and some killer views. The first tee box affords you 5 different volcanoes, including Maui’s Haleakala!

Ladies’ tee, looking back towards Haleakala!

We ended up playing Makani 3 times this trip so we got to get to know the course and also some of the staff (new bestie = Jim). We took our friend, Barb there for her first time, as well and even her vet-hubby, Don joined us as a ride-along. We’ve played golf on Hawaii with Barb for years during this conference each fall and our games are evenly matched.

Introducing Barb to Makani

And before we knew it, it was tournament time for the veterinary crew! With Dr.Brock bailing on our foursome the past couple of years we never know who we’ll be paired with. This year’s newbie was an absolute blast in Jerry and his own ride-along wife, Grace. Jerry saved our bacon a few times, no question, at the posh Mauna Lani South golf course and Grace got some epic pictures taken during the round.

Pars were made, drinks were drank and I drove the snot out of the golf ball to win the ladies long drive contest!


It actually wasn’t my best round. I had a swing-and-miss and some topped shots. Not my best game but the professional athlete within me showed up when she had to, including the amazing par 3 16th hole where I nailed the green from over the ocean.

Our team once again earned the Most Honest Team award for shooting 74. We toss our pride out the window on that because we each got 20 big ones for that dubious honor (added to the $20 earned for my long drive it only made sense to buy another adorable shirt at the Waikoloa courses!)

Aloha- conference- golf- sunshine- aloha- conference- golf- sunshine- aloha.

And lanai time every night.

The weather was fabulous and we were relaxed knowing Jessie, Joel and Jeanette had things under control with our home and fur-babies back on the mainland.

The Most Honest team in the tournament

My real estate transaction is continuing to move forward and I’m hopeful for my friends, even though nothing is closed until its closed.

I’ll be back in the veterinary clinic on Tuesday and Friday this week on top of house calls tomorrow and potentially a couple of listing appointments this week.

Our local golf course is closed and Alistair is already back at work in North Dakota but I’m neither sad nor lonely largely in part because of the amazing, extended time we had in Hawaii.

2 days ago at our local Montana course

With Alistair being on the front lines of Covid for almost 2 years now he needed this foray from reality. He’s tired of the Delta variant and stubborn people who refuse to get vaccinated but are clutching at his arm when he tells them they need to get to the ER because their O2 saturation is too low and that they should maybe tell their families all of the things that need to be said beforehand.

We both learned a lot at our conferences that we can apply to our careers and we learned to love Hawaii in a different way this trip. We wore masks as soon as we left our rooms and we didn’t make many supper reservations and we kind of winged-it when it came to eating and we found resort laundry areas and actually did laundry and we figured out the breakfast buffet when we had one and we ate the pineapple and I dragged my laptop out into the pool area in my bikini and we giggled when we heard Iz or Keali’i playing over loudspeakers knowing I’ll be listening to the same men singing the same songs when I fire up Big Red to plow myself out this winter.

Laundry day glam on Maui.

Mahalo to you all for reading. I know this was a long blog but I like to bring you along on the trip with us.

I love our Hawaii pics and I visit them often when I’m by myself during the long, dark winters.

Mahalo, Hawaii. We needed you.

Jeep #1 on Maui!
Repping the new clinic on my name badge this year!
Barb and me at the Waikoloa Lakes course our last day there.
Friendly Nenes off the 9th green at Makani!
We did make a reservation or two for supper. Big Island date night!
The dangerous 18th green at Makani.
lanai viewing during the day
My Hawaiian vibe. Mahalo.


Front yard. Happening now.

I think October is my favorite month.

Its not just because its my birthday month, or the month when my annual Aloha veterinary conference might actually happen again.

Its because of this:

Back yard. Also happening now.

And this:

Brilliant lilac bushes showing off some new color in the afternoon sun.

The brilliant colors surrounding our mountain home make me pause and catch my breath. I’m so fortunate to live in a part of the world where there are four distinct seasons. I grew up in British Columbia and the weather and the vibrant colors are very similar to western Montana, especially in the fall.

We have crisp evenings and frost on the ground in the mornings but lately the day has continued to open up with sunshine and warmth.

Warm enough to keep hitting the local golf course!

A few days ago, on the 10th green in two and I made my birdie putt in the autumn sunshine!

It was exactly 8 years ago after I closed my veterinary clinic here in town when Alistair and I got bit hard by the golf bug and we hiked around the local course lugging our clubs over our backs deciding that we wanted to really get better at the game we used to scoff at.

Its hard to imagine that is has been so long since my cute little clinic closed its doors for good. I’m not super nostalgic about it anymore, especially since so much good has come out of that life-changing decision.

Obviously, golf is one of those good things.

And my books! I never would have had the time to create my fantasy world with my fictional high school friends and the dragons who live nearby if I still had my clinic.

And now my position at Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic in Deer Lodge is another very good thing.

Me and Tabasco, one of our affectionate clinic kitties.

The drive in and out of Deer Lodge can be anywhere from an hour and ten to an hour and forty minutes given the road and weather conditions. I usually have a teensy bit of a lead foot, too, so once the snow and ice have gone its been closer to the shorter drive time.

I have paused on a couple of mornings, though. Certainly its getting darker when I leave around 6:30 each morning but the views that accompany me along the way are nothing short of breathtaking.

The snow-capped Pintlers not far from the clinic recently.

We had some cooler temps and precipitation a couple of weeks ago and the higher elevations got dusted with snow! Most of it is gone by now but with the rising sun that particular morning I actually stopped the truck for the photo shoot.

I did the same thing just a few mornings ago when the sky was just too pretty to ignore.

Turning at Avon a few mornings ago.

Hardly anyone else is on the road these mornings, save for a random school bus or the highway crew paving the road just after I turn off Highway 200 right now.

With it being Fall now I cruise to work with the sunrise and I drive home with the sunset.

I can’t complain.

Me and a super cute adoption success story!

I did said beautiful drive a lot the past few months. Its that whole “running-to-stand-still” thing I’ve referenced before (its an old U2 song that has always resonated with me.) We work hard so we can play hard.

When its play time I don’t want to be interrupted or distracted.

I want to hit the course and play 18 holes.

Lets do it!

I want to sit in our Aloha hot tub and chillax with an adult bevvie in my hand, lit tiki torches and Hawaiian music playing softly in the background.

I want to veg out on the couch watching Supernatural, or figure skating, or Dancing With the Stars, wine in-hand, providing commentary to Jockey or the ferrets or Alistair if he’s home.

These are my coping mechanisms.

These are the things I need to help prevent compassion fatigue from veterinary work and Covid19 and the slew of unvaccinated people who deny science while waltzing into my husband’s clinic, exposing him and so many others who may or may not be vaccinated to this horrible Delta variant that is killing left, right and center, which hit home with the deaths of my cousin-in-law and my uncle within hours of each other, and my other cousin remains on a ventilator while the facts are there that nobody dies from the vaccine but you sure as shit can die from the virus and the majority of local Covid19 tests being done are coming back positive and local people ARE dying but we’re pretending they’re dying from CHF or a stroke but everyone knows they were on ventilators and I’m just tired of armchair scientists and pseudo-science right now

My audience listening to me comment on Len’s grumpy judging last week on DWTS. Coping mechanisms!

I need these hard-core play times when I know I have had a tough veterinary challenge. As long as I have been doing this I know myself well enough to totally let myself be present for the sad farewells and emotional appointments.

Like on Friday last week when I had to help a family’s dear old canine friend across the Rainbow Bridge.

The appointment was made days prior and the assistant who made the appointment said the owner was crying on the phone at that point, which made her cry, too. That, in turn, already had me tearing up days before the actual appointment.

I had a moment Friday morning with Cobalt, the other clinic kitty that was tender and sweet and peaceful. Almost like he knew what I had to do later that day.

Dr.Fyfe and Cobalt. On-the-job coping mechanism.

And when it was time for the appointment, my super-sweet assistant (who knew the family… its how it goes down in rural small towns) told me the 3 adult children were there with the parents of the dog and that everyone was pretty busted up already.

With the beautiful fall weather we were able to sit outside on the clinic grass, in the back of the clinic, and talk about how things would go down.

How I would sedate the big dog with bone cancer eating away at his forelimb.

How it might take a bit longer than normal because a breeze had whipped up and we aren’t very far from a busy Interstate with noisy rigs and campers hauling ass to wherever they were going.

How I would let everything happen at the family’s pace and choice, that I had no hard and fast rules for euthanasias.

Colors of Fall.

The owners and their adult children wept openly and shared stories of when they adopted their best friend and the other dogs he knows.

They showed me a short video of him awkwardly trying to jump and wag his tail with his buddy he saw that morning, who is one of the daughters’ dogs.

The dad fessed up, with a welcome smile, that they stopped at McDonald’s and got their old friend a Big Mac and fries on their way to the clinic.

And, eventually, I put their sedated dog to sleep when everyone was ready.

Driving into Deer Lodge Friday morning with another stop-and-enjoy moment.

One of the things that was really profound for me for this particular farewell was that this is a family of little means. Maybe some wrong turns along the way, maybe some bad luck here and there. Regardless of choices made, this is a family without much of anything.

To them, their dog was everything.

It is poetically heartbreaking.

So that kind of broke me up kind of like its breaking me up a bit now.

Which is also how I decompress- I let it all out. (On top of the golf, the hot tub, the wine and the guilty pleasure that is Dancing With the Stars. )

Decompressing yesterday with friends!

The fun level of Fyfe Life is about to kick up a notch soon as Ivan and Fallon, the 2 cute ferrets we sometimes babysit are on their way here right now. They will join Barry, Andy and Maurice for a full week of goofiness and shenanigans and snuggles and that will put a smile on my face every moment I see them. More mechanisms to deal with life.

Work hard to play hard. Running to stand still. However you want to look at it I feel that I need to earn my little freedoms and moments, which allows me to enjoy them that much more.

Happening now- our ornamental apple tree out front. We only have the one tree so nobody is sure how the apple sex happened a few years ago when the blossoms initially showed up.

I’m more than ready to enjoy everything October brings me and I hope to get in a few more rounds of swing therapy. Alistair is back on the front lines in North Dakota but we had a lot of great golf together and with friends when he was here and he managed to get out to our Painted Woods course yesterday and today after work.

I know winter is coming and it will bring its challenges along with it but for now I’m going to sit outside and wait for our ferret house-guests in the early evening brilliant sunshine.

Goofing around in Norman on our local course with this guy a couple of weeks ago!
Fall in Montana at the Fyfe Farm.
A huge dragonfly visitor early last week! He hung around for awhile, too!
Its how we roll.
Not yet, Big Red. Not yet.