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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.