Snow, Ice and Sun

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Front door views a few days ago

With the snow storm we had last week I still haven’t made much of a dent in the snow removal even though my shoulders and back beg to differ.

I did manage to shovel out one of the rigs and also made it into town one day after a week of being snow-bound up here at the farm. The shoveling took place over 3 days and provided a profound sense of relief that I could get a reliable vehicle out if I needed to.

It also gave me a little “I am woman, hear me roar” shot in the arm, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

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Things are even wider now after I got the truck out of there.

We are still dealing with continual power failures throughout the county as snow-laden trees eventually give out under the heavy weight and topple onto electrical lines. Yesterday was particularly bad as we’d had a tiny bit of drizzle and wind and I had no juice for over 4 hours.

I was just starting to get the candles out when the house surged back to life and I could turn the propane fireplaces off and the computer back on.

The drizzle also got the snow on our roof moving…

 

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Right outside the garage door this morning. Surprise!!!

And once again I’m faced with the dilemma of having nowhere left to put the snow!

 

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the path to the garage…

I managed to shovel out an area to access the pathway and Cleo and I did just fine. My shoulders and back aren’t talking to me like they did when I first picked up the shovel last week so I’m feeling pretty Mighty Mouse right about now.

And the sun has been out today which makes this ridiculous amount of snow actually appear pretty. I love seeing sparkles where I walk with the blue sky reflecting on the brilliant white snow that crunches beneath my feet.

 

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Look- blue sky!!!

My reward for moving snow from here to there or for coming up with heating and cooking options when I was without power for hours is the television viewing on-hand this weekend.

First up is the PGA Tournament of Champions held annually in Kapalua, Maui. Not only do I get to see palm trees, leaping whales, a brilliant ocean and some great golfers, I get to re-live the actual course on the phone at night with Alistair as its a course we have played a few times and both really enjoy.

 

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Our first time playing the Plantation Course in 2015.

Its cool knowing the way a hole slopes or how huge that ravine on the 8th is when watching some of the top players on Tour battle it out. Dustin Johnson has a great lead right now and I’m DVR-ing today’s final round so I can buzz through commercials later on while I’m eating my supper.

 

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The Plantation Course at Kapalua. (not my picture)

I can almost feel the trade winds flutter my skort and the warm, humid air that coats my skin when we’re on the islands and I can smell sunblock and the ocean and I can almost taste a mai tai and hear the cubes of ice jingle against the glass and I feel the Aloha that exists around and within me and the golf station plays our much-loved Hawaiian tunes as they fade in and out of the tournament.

Its a lovely break from the grey, white and blue world I’ve been buried in for over a week.

 

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Ahhhh… golf at Kapalua (2016)

 

During my visual return to paradise I’ll pause the ukulele music and swaying palms while I watch my other DVR-ed weekend highlight: the US figure skating national championships happening in San Jose right now!

While there haven’t been any dislocated shoulders the American skating world has still provided its share of drama.

Sadly, Ashley Wagner once again wore her poopy-pants face as her troubled season continued. To put it simply, she just didn’t land the jumps. 5th after the short, 3rd in the long and 4th overall, the US former national champion and one-time World silver medalist came up short when it was time to choose the Olympic team.

 

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Ashley, Ashley, Ashley. (not my picture).

Ashley likes to call herself “assertive” and “outspoken” but I have found her to be just a tad annoying. She has claimed that the judges gave her low scores to intentionally hold her down, which is likely untrue but maybe they have found her to be annoying as well.

She’s a good skater but she’s had a rough season. I don’t know what or who is to blame but she doesn’t light up the rink like she has in the past. She has a top coach, lots of sponsorship this year, gorgeous dresses… but you still have to rotate and land the jumps.

And don’t get pissy when the 3 women who earned medals get named to the Olympics. Ashley was 4th four years ago at Nationals and they gave her an Olympic berth instead of Mirai Nagasu, who that year won bronze. Ashley was “outspoken” then about her right to be named to the team so shut up this time.

 

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Mirai, Bradie and Karen (not my picture).

Who’s going to South Korea in 33 days, then? Boom, Mirai Nagasu earned her way with her silver medal-winning, triple-axel attempting, confidant, mature program. I’m so happy she redeemed herself after a couple of low years after they selected Ashley to go to Sochi over her.

And fresh, charming, Cinderella-esque Bradie Tennel gets to go after she won our hearts and the national title! She skated with tremendous consistency, flow and style and her huge jumps are something to watch.

Rounding out the group is last year’s national champ, Karen Chen. She hasn’t had a stellar season but the fact she placed 4th at the world championships last year is why we get to send 3 women to the Olympics and her bronze-medal performance this weekend is worthy of the 5 rings.

 

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Adam Rippon earlier this season (not my photo).

Not to be outdone by the women, the men’s Olympic selection had some drama only this time it came from the selection committee.

No surprise that quad-tastic Nathan Chen swept the competition. He finally had a great look thanks to Vera Wang costumes and deserved top spot on the podium and a ticket to South Korea.

And while I’m not surprised Adam Rippon is going despite a poor long program and 4th place finish last night- he did have a super Grand Prix season and is one of our top men in all aspects of skating- I’m shocked that the committee left Ross Miner off the team.

 

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Ross, 2nd, Nathan, 1st, Vincent, 3rd and Adam, 4th (pewter medal) (not my picture).

 

Ross has been a steady men’s competitor for years, seems like a super nice guy and was Olympic-inspired enough to bring the house down last night with his Queen-medly-quest and he won the silver medal. Why on Earth is he not going to the Olympics?

Isn’t the whole thing about having that one amazing moment in time? I agree that the national podium shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all for Olympic and World team members but why did they jump over 3rd place Vincent Zhou, who is young but has an arsenal of quads, and give Miner the boot?

Maybe I just answered my own question there. Quads. Medal tallies.

 

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Hubby-wife duo, the Knierems are the lone pairs reps for the US heading to the Olympics. (not my picture.)

Figure skating has tried changing their judging system around after the scandal in Salt Lake City to prove that its a legitimate sport and that nothing political happens in the background but not sending Ross Miner to the Olympics just put a political rubber stamp on the whole thing.

And yet, I continue to love the sport.

Next weekend will be similar but different.

I’m sure I’ll have buckets of snow to look at and move from one place to another.

Golf will still be played with Aloha as the tour moves to Oahu.

And my friends in Canada will be working their sequined butts off at their own national championship in Vancouver.

 

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Go, Tessa & Scott! (not my picture)

The best part about next weekend, though, is the fact that Alistair will be here to share it all with me.

We have never been to Oahu so we won’t have the same feelings watching the golf but the palms, the water, the whales and the Aloha will still be there. And maybe Rickie Fowler will debut another decidedly non-uptight, untucked Hawaiian shirt on the golf course!

And Alistair can use the big manly-man tractor and snow blower to make more sense out of our landscape.

 

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Our “patio” area this afternoon

Because I’m not making much sense out of what’s out there right now by myself! Now… its time to watch the Free Dance. Go, Shibutanis!

 

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Ah, Kapalua… the famed par 3 8th and that pesky ravine!

 

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I’m so happy for Mirai! (Clearly not my photo)

 

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The 2-tiered deck behind our bedroom today after “the slide.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mahalo, Maui

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Swaying palms at our resort in Kapalua

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.

 

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My Aloha toes done by the talented Tessa Stevens of Seeley Lake! View from our lanai.

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.

 

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Playing the Plantation course at Kapalua on our first day.

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.

 

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Alistair and our ‘trio of trouble’… I miss those days

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.

 

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Roxy, enjoying some cuddle time on our farm in Montana (not my photo)

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!

 

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Aloha from the Plantation golf course in Kapalua!

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.

 

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Dr.Brock, me and Alistair the first day.

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.

 

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Waiting on the 16th tee on the Bay course… a doozy of a hole where you take the words, “Cart Path Only” very seriously… that’s if your drive makes it over the ravine immediately in front of you. Note the rainbows…

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.

 

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And Barb makes it a foursome for the tournament!

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!

 

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Mr. Long Putt won $60 for his 29-foot, 10 inch putt on the 18th!

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?

 

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Barb and I having some fun on the back 9 of the Bay course.

 

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Brock & Alistair on the 3rd hole of the Bay course, looking right towards our block of rooms!

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.

 

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Pretty water feature on the Bay course with my new avian buddies.

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.

 

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Enjoying the Bay course together one final time.

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).

 

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Jinx and Muldy enjoying the view of the Bay course

 

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Between the 4th and 5th holes. Ahhhhh….

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.

 

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Pukalani golf course, looking out towards Kahului and the ocean down below.

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…

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Our new friend in Pukalani

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!

 

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Towards the end of our final round of golf this trip.

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.

 

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“helping” Step Gammy write her blogs.

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.

 

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“Over this way, Step Gammy.”

 

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.

 

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the island of Molokai off in the distance as seen from the Bay course.

 

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.

 

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First mai tai of the trip was at the Sea House restaurant in Napili Bay!

 

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Snazzy golf duo at the Plantation course 10th tees! (Brock is cruising up in the background)

 

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Making new avian friends on the Bay course

 

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Love this photo from the Pukalani course!

 

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She was super friendly!

 

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Aloha from Pukalani, friends! Mahalo for the vacay, Maui. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maui Magic and Mai Tais

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Hibiscus flowers at our resort

Aloha!

Again!

As unbelievable as it may seem, we just returned from Maui.

This most recent trip to the Hawaiian islands was for continuing medical education for Alistair.

For me it was a much-needed break from my rough start to the new year.

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Enjoying the mandatory relaxation on our lanai a week ago

I was able to leave 4 feet of snow, ice-covered decks and roads, my scarf-glove-toque-jacket-leggings-snow pants-boots outfit, wood piles, wood stoves, a limping barn kitty and a house without Harry behind as I smelled the Hawaiian air and felt the sun on my bare skin.

It didn’t matter that our plane was 2 hours late.

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Somewhere between 1 and 2am finally getting our ‘aloha’ on

It didn’t matter that I lost Alistair at the airport after picking up our rental car because I was watching a feral airport kitty cross the road.

I lost him for over 20 minutes and finally texted him, “Where are you?”

I mean, where can a guy with 2 huge suitcases and 2 full golf club travel cases and a knapsack go at Kahului airport at close to midnight????

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Sights and colors of Maui

(It turned out he was sitting right by where a cute feral cat had just crossed the road…) (Ooooops…)

Apparently I brought some other baggage along on the trip only it wasn’t something I had packed.

It was all neatly tucked away in my over-active subconscious just teasing me with mild distraction, waiting for the opportunity to leap to the forefront of my life.

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Leaping Humpbacks!

Like the leaping Humpback whales we got to see up close and personal on a whale-watching tour with Captain Steve and 20 of our closest new friends.

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Amazing!

The whale tour was magnificent.

Awe inspiring.

Incredible.

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Mama whale and her calf off the shores of Lahaina

We were right on the water in a zodiac watching a mother whale teach her calf how to breach.

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Mama, doing some teaching

The whales return to the warm, shallow waters between Maui and her neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai every winter to calve and mate before journeying back up to Alaska.

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Whale dive

It is something to behold, particularly when the whales were putting on a show like they did for us.

After Mama and her calf left we had a pod of males chasing a female, hurling their massive bodies out of the water all around us.

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Just… Wow…

That was our second morning there.

The morning after my subconscious did its thing.

I had slept really well that night, after a day in the sun and on the Bay Course playing a round with Alistair.

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Teeing off on the first hole on the Bay Course in Kapalua, Maui

It had been a bit weird when we found out we were playing with strangers.

More so when ‘Denise’ was kicking all of our asses with her long drives, pars and birdies.

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View towards our Ritz-Carlton Kapalua from just off the 4th green on the Bay Course

After 7 strokes I picked up my ball on the 1st hole.

The 2nd didn’t go much better.

But I breathed and I relaxed and I laughed and we all got lost in our parade of golf carts (following Denise!!!) and I felt some Aloha wash over me and nothing mattered because we were on a sunny island in the middle of the Pacific.

And then I played golf.

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View towards our 3rd floor room from the green on the 3rd hole… where I remembered how to play golf

Denise later fessed up to being the Kansas state ladies golf champ 7 years running after learning to play from her professional golfer father at the age of 3.

I didn’t feel so bad after that.

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Signature hole on the Bay Course, a par 3 that plays along the ocean. A bit distracting but beautiful nonetheless

We played 2 more rounds, including one on the famed Plantation Course where the PGA had just wrapped up the Tournament of Champions.

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All smiles as we were about to get our butts spanked on the Plantation Course!

We played alone on the enormous, undulating, grueling course.

Which was great when we found a ton of golf balls embedded in the ground on the 5th fairway!

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Absolutely stunning views from the Plantation Course

How to make a Scotsman and a Doukhobor happy!

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Happy Scotsman posing after his drive cleared the ravine and landed just off the green

Rejuvenated, relaxed, expecting to play with others and humbled by the Plantation Course a few days prior, we hit the Bay Course in our fancy new duds one more time the day before we left.

We played with ‘Matt’ from Chicago and the 3 of us were very well matched in golf play and colorful language.

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Fancy Schmancy duo on the 17th tee at the Bay Course just before sunset

And all of this was maybe more enjoyable because I had got rid of my mental baggage that 2nd night in our hotel room when I thought I had slept so well.

When we woke up before going on the whale watching tour Alistair asked me, “Do you remember anything from last night?”

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The tee box view from the Bay Course’s signature 5th hole

That’s not a question a sleepwalker wants to hear.

A sleepwalker whose most recent wanderings led to the closing of her clinic and a new approach to her mental, physical and emotional health 2 years ago.

Alistair had woken up around 2am to a steady knocking at the door.

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The Ritz Carlton Kapalua… apparently I needed this!

And I wasn’t in bed.

Or in the bathroom.

He cautiously answered the door to find me blankly staring at him from the resort hallway.

Did I mention I was naked?

At 2am.

In the hallway of the Ritz.

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the power of Maui…

There is such a feeling of loss (of time, memory) and of being cheated (by myself!) after I learn I’ve slept walked.

And of course the wondering… where did I go? Did I meet people? I’m sure they were nice to me because I was naked but seriously, how long was I gone and what did I do?

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Kapalua Coastline in front of our resort…. good thing I didn’t wander far that night!

But that is all a part of who I am and the journey I’m on and how I learn about myself and how I handle things like stress.

So we laughed.

What else can you do?

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Calming tidepools off the shores of Kapalua

One of the reasons we enjoy the Hawaiian islands and the spirit of Aloha so much is because our lives on ranches with animals in 2 different states is challenging at times.

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Saying farewell to the day, Hawaiian-style

 

Hawaii is a real escape where we can play golf in January and watch whales and wear shorts and sandals and have bare skin and eat incredible seafood and hike coastal paths and play with sea urchins and look up at a dormant volcano on a clear day.

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Hawaiian flora and fauna

Its also where I can get a mean mai tai just about anywhere and that also is a key to my affection for Hawaii.

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Maui Mai Tai

Now its back to the snow and Casey’s floppy laryngeal fold and a barn kitty who isn’t limping and blind Loki pin-balling her way around the house and frost in the mornings and a second book to write and frozen mahi mahi to cook.

I love this adventure I’m on.

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Watching 2 feral kittens play in the bushes by the ocean

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Alistair at the Dragon’s Teeth formations of wind- and water-whipped lava

 

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Even managed a book event and a few sales at Sandy Pages in Kihei (with Rod, the owner)

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Our Ritz-Carlton Kapalua pool area in the morning

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Loving the journey I’m on and the guy who chose to go on it with me!