Thursday, 28 April 2016

April 24-28, 2016
We had a great flight back to Denver.  The flight was a little shorter coming back; 6 hours 40 minutes with the jet stream. 

I didn’t carry my flashlight and poodle noodle with me; although, the thought did cross my mind.
I sat beside a young mom and her 9 month old baby.  Her husband and her two other children were sitting a few seats up from us and dad had his hands full because their little girl had a broken arm and wanted her mommy.

I was glad to help out.  She let me hold the baby a few times to give her a break as her arms kept falling asleep from holding her.  We finally got the baby settled and we raised the arm rest between us and put a little neck pillow on my lap and let her lay across the both of us.  I smiled to myself as mom was finally able to get a little sleep herself – they had to fly from Maui to Denver – Denver to Dallas – and then a 7 hour drive to their home in Missouri.  I helped her gather her belongings and get the baby into her snuggly so they could run to catch their connecting flight -  she was very thankful – little does she know she helped me with my airplane anxiety by allowing me to help out.  There is nothing sweeter than watching a baby sleep so peacefully  - I kept retrieving her soother when she spit it out and I was able to let go of my obsessive thoughts of plunging into the ocean without my poodle noodle and flashlight.

I love seeing young families travelling together – we met another couple a few days before we left- at the condo.  They were from Saskatchewan and had 5 kids.  They had decided to surprise their 2 teenage daughters with a trip to Maui – they didn’t tell them until they got to the airport, nor did they tell the 3 younger ones who were staying home with Grandma.  They just wanted to experience a vacation with their teenage girls while they still thought it was cool to travel with mom and dad.  We loved seeing the girls playing together in the pool and giggling around the condo.  We looked forward to hearing their stories in the evening of all the great places they snorkeled and where they went sightseeing.  They got along so well (reminded me of the Mathias girls). 
Things went very smooth at the Maui airport with Bill’s gear and we were charged $150 less than when we left Denver.  They are more familiar with windsurfing gear than Denver; although the ticket agent asked if we had oceans in Canada – yikes –

We were picked up by our friend Dave from the Front Range Shuttle Service (yes we had to get the executive shuttle againJ) He was enjoying the rest of our story and the drive went by quickly as we exchanged stories.  I think he gets a kick out of us.  He even came to see our trailer and said “you are kidding – you must really like each other!” when he saw what we have lived in for the last few months.
The Christian Brothers were glad to see us and had actually thought we were going to be back last Monday.  They had even dug our trailer out from an ice storm – they told us when we didn’t show they just laughed and said “I bet they heard about our weather and are staying another week!” 

Unfortunately in all our confusion getting off the plane we forgot the crate of chocolate macadamia nuts we had bought for them.  We have a lost and found report in with United – what do you think our chances are of getting that back???   I am working on a back- up plan – maybe ordering some more from Maui.
Well that’s about all – oh ya except that we got caught in a giant storm in Topeka Kansas – you might have heard about it on the news – it was pretty wild – we have never seen lightening or hail like that.  We did have to stop at a rest stop for a few hours along with a bunch of truckers – we were able to make it to a Wal-mart, but between the thunder, lightning, jet lag and time change we watched episodes of the walking dead (which was exactly how we felt) - until 2:30am. 

Today we blew thru Kansas, Missouri & Illinois – just right at the border of Illinois and Indiana – looks like we are heading to Hatteras and then to see our friends Jan, Jerry, Karen & Jim in Cape Cod, if they will have usJ 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Mark Twain once said - "I went to Maui to stay a week and remained five.  I have never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place good-bye so regretfully.  I have not once thought of business or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness, and the memory of it will remain with me always."

We took this photo from our condo the night of the full moon.  It was beautiful.
It is always so hard to leave this island - but we know we will be back soon.

(Bill and I jokingly started a little point system shortly after leaving home as we are in such close quarters and it is just the two of us 90% of the time so the way this works is +1 when you do something nice for the other person and -1 when you are not so nice:) --so it was great to be here for 3 weeks and know Bill couldn't joke about putting me on the bus.)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A few more days in paradise....

We made the road trip up to Honoloua Bay - to the pretty wave.

Bill was hoping to share this wave with you - Jerry.

We spent some more time in Wailea also - I was tired after my shop and needed a little rest -- I figured the Marriott was a good spot to put up my feet.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

We have been enjoying typical Maui weather -

Bill has been having great morning SUP sessions and nice trade winds in the afternoon for windsurfing. 

Bill got taken out by a gigantic wave and it undressed him.  Ripped his long sleeve shirt right over his head.

We have been trying to fit in a few snorkels also - although, the water has been a little unsettled and pretty big surf for me:)

We took a drive to Honolua Bay today and watched some local surfers.
We also took a walk along the beach of the Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea - wow!

I have been enjoying morning runs and some good books.

Glad to hear the weather is warming up at home!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

One thing that happens over and over while you are visiting a Hawaiian island is that you are wished Aloha by locals – you receive very warm smiles, and witness their happiness through their laughter, love of the ocean and their total commitment to family.

I love going to the beach on the weekends and watching the locals celebrate by bringing their tents, barbeques, volleyball nets and their entire family including a comfy chair for Grandma. They play music, games, give high fives and just have a lot of fun!

This has always intrigued me and I find myself wondering why are they so happy?

– is it because they can count on the weekends having beach worthy weather?

-is it part of their make up or hereditary?

An example of an ALOHA greeting-- I was running down a remote beach the other morning and came across a group of Hawaiian guys fishing – for some reason Hawaiian guys can be very intimidating looking – most of them have a very stern face and they are usually covered in tattoos including some facial ones – and I was kind of nervous approaching them and wasn’t too sure which side of the fishing lines I should run on – as I got closer to them I made eye contact with one of them and his face lit up with a beautiful smile and he greeted me with a warm ALOHA as did each of his friends one at a time.

So I started doing some research on what the definition of Aloha is and was surprised to learn that Aloha Spirit is actually the law….couldn’t we all benefit from this law?

Wishing friends and family ALOHA today...

The Aloha Spirit Law is an existing law "on the books" in Hawai`i. It acknowledges that The Aloha Spirit was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawai`i."

All citizens and government officials of Hawai`i are obligated by law to conduct themselves in accordance with this law, while performing their duties and obligations, as well as in their day-to-day living. Likewise, those visiting our fair islands are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with this Hawaiian law.

[§5-7.5] "Aloha Spirit" 

(a) "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, "Aloha", the following unuhi laula loa (free translation) may be used:

Akahai, [ah kah hai'], meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;      
Lōkahi, [LOH' kah hee], meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
Olu`olu, [oh' loo oh' loo], meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
Ha`aha`a, [hah' ah hah' ah], meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
Ahonui, [ah hoh nui'], meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.
These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. 

"Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. 

"Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. 

"Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. 

"Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I have been feeling guilty about being in Maui when my family and friends are having a very hard end to the Winter season, so I have been holding back photos, but I have been getting emails and complaints about the lack of activity on our blog.

I really wish I could hire a plane and take over the condo building we are in and bring you all here to experience this with us - and I promise if I run into Oprah while she is visiting her Maui home - I will ask her if she could make this happen.

We have been enjoying plenty of sunshine (sorry).  Bill has been having great morning surf sessions and the trade winds pick up around 11:00 and we head to the windsurfing beach.

I have been enjoying morning runs on the beach and I finally got in the ocean this morning to snorkel.  I like to snorkel on top of the water.  Bill prefers to walk on the bottom of the ocean.


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Bill and I found this Beautiful Bell Tower while in Bodega Bay.  I didn’t post this while we were in Bodega Bay as my Dear friend Lisa and her beautiful daughter Mariah were on their way to Italy and I didn’t want them worry about this story.
We ran by it each morning along a path towards the ocean.  When we would approach the area there was a stillness in the air – we wondered what the bells symbolized and it wasn’t until our last day there that we walked towards the bells to see if there was a story we could read.

The memorial is dedicated to children everywhere.  It was inspired by the death of seven year old Nicholas Green of Bodega Bay, who was shot by highway robbers in Italy on September 29, 1994.
All the bells were donated, mostly by families, schools and churches in Italy to express their sorry and appreciation for the decision of Nicholas’ parents Maggie and Reg Green, to donate his organs to seven Italians.  They symbolize the continuity of life.
The centrepiece is from the Marinelli Foundry, which has been making bells for the papacy for a thousand years.  This bell, which has on it the names of Nicholas and the seven recipients , was blessed by Pope John Paul II.
The memorial was designed and built by Bruce Hasson of San Francisco.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

April 4, 2016
We received an excited phone call today from the Christian Brothers – they asked us “are you ready for some good news?” as they were taking our engine apart they found a broken valve spring – they replaced it and our van is running perfect.  So it is only going to cost $700 compared to the several thousand they had anticipated.  Yeah!!
PS We added some photos to the New Mexico portion of the blog.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

March 31, 2016
We stopped at a Starbucks to book a flight to Maui for April 2 - in a town called Pueblo Colorado - and  within 30 minutes of leaving the Starbucks we hit a blizzard.  We tried at several exits to find a place to park – and were denied – all the parking lots had no overnight parking or RV parking.    We were on our 4th attempt --on an off ramp when our engine light started to flash and the van began to shake.  We were lucky enough to land in a grocery store parking lot.   It is now dark out and the snow is coming down sideways – we go into the grocery store to try and get online to see if we can figure out what might be wrong with the van.  I suggest to Bill that maybe driving through New Mexico in a full on dust storm with a million little tumbleweeds blowing across the highway might have done something to our engine filter.
We went back outside and could see an Auto Zone store down the road with the lights still on – so Bill walked up there and bought an engine filter -- got the headlamp out and changed the filter with the snow and wind blowing around him.  When we started up the van it was still shaking and the engine light was no longer flashing but now staying on. 

We spent the night in the parking lot and when we got up in the morning – the van would no longer start.  We found a tow truck number and called -- they suggest we first find a garage as it was going to be quite expensive to tow both the van and the trailer, so best to be sure which garage could take us – now remember we are flying out of Denver April 2 which is only 2 days away!

So amongst all this craziness I decide I still need a coffee – so I go to the Starbucks counter in the grocery store and ask the barista if she can suggest a good garage and she mentioned the Christian Brothers Garage which is only about a mile away – it is 7 a.m and we look up the garage online and learn they are open at 7 so we walk up there in a blizzard – discussing how maybe when they see us (haven’t showered or changed clothes in 4 days – looking a little homeless now for sure) and hear our story they won’t be able to say no. 
It didn’t even cross my mind at the time their name being Christian Brothers – I just thought that was their last name – when we entered the garage we were greeted with a very warm welcome – we had their full attention and they quickly assured us they would do everything they could to help – they offered us a warm drink – and quickly began helping us make a plan.  They drove us back to our van and jump started it – to save us a huge towing bill – we drove the van up to their garage with them following us. 
They took our van in right away – made some phone calls to arrange a hotel for us to stay in and kept reassuring us that everything was going to be ok – even though our anxiety was building about our flight – we made some phone calls from the waiting area and found out at this point our trip was non-refundable – we could pay to have our flight changed, but not our accommodations  due to the fact that it was booked at the last minute -we had to pay for the condo in full.
We spent the  entire morning at the garage – making phone calls and getting updates on the van – at first they thought it might be bad gas, (that would have been a blessing) but as the morning went on and they got further into it – they realized it was the engine – and there was no way this could be repaired in the time we needed to get to Denver to make our flight – the owner offered to take us back to our trailer that we had left in the parking lot of the grocery store – but after hearing that we needed all the windsurfing gear that was in the van for our trip he decided that  maybe we could put the van back together in order for us to very slowly drive it to the hotel unload our boards and summer bin of clothes that we needed access to and  pick up our trailer from the grocery store parking lot on our way back to the garage – he graciously offered to keep our trailer in his lot while we travelled – they began clearing  a spot for us to park the trailer.
Away we went driving our vibrating van at 20km an hour to the hotel – yes it is still a blizzard out – we are once again warmly greeted by Savannah at the Marriott who knows our entire story and is more than willing to do anything for us – she gave us a great deal on the room because let’s face it we are not looking like Marriott people at this point. 
We begin to unload all of Bills boards, sails, booms, mast, wetsuits, snorkeling gear, summer bins and we are spread out across the wet snowy parking lot and getting a few stares as he unloads and I carry one thing at a time up to our 2nd floor room – via the stairs as I can’t seem to jam the surfboards into the elevator.

Luckily we had already stopped and bought the bubble wrap and cardboard to pack up the boards – it doesn’t take long to fill up our hotel room – we bubble wrap the boards and take all the sails into the hallway and unroll them  and pack them up – moving a few times for hotel guests – and curious kids.
I quickly do up all our dirty trailer dishes in the Marriott sink – yes for real – and we begin our shaky drive back to pick up our trailer and get this van back to the garage.  We stop at a red light and we are both holding our breath as the van shakes rattles and rolls – when the light turns green and Bill hits the accelerator the entire dashboard falls to the floor and I realize my Starbucks is still standing upright – not a drop spills and we totally go into hysterics –

We make it back to the garage safely and get our trailer parked in the spot they have prepared for us. 
We take our backpacks and everything we need out of the van and realize we are probably going to have to make a few trips back and forth from the hotel to the trailer to get everything we need.  So for the rest of the day we march back and forth the mile between the hotel and garage –

We had another good case of the giggles as we carried our packs dangling with gear, rolled up foam mats, a huge roll of bubble wrap, and Bill was carrying his SUP paddle which I am sure puzzled the drivers along the busy roadway as it continued to snow.
Are we really going to be able to pull this trip off????

We finished up our packing around 8:30pm and finally stopped to have something to eat at a restaurant and sit for a minute few minutes to figure out the rest of the logistics of this trip – like how are we going to get the gear to the airport. We had called a shuttle service earlier in the day that had promised they could accommodate us – but when they double checked with the driver of the shuttle and the measurements of the gear – they decided they could not make this happen.
The owner of the garage had offered to drive us and the manager at the Marriott also made the offer, but we felt that was a lot to ask after everything they had already done for us.    So we called back the shuttle service and they set us up with an executive shuttle – so just us the driver and our gear. (in case you haven’t heard Bill is kind of a big deal).

So we went to bed still wondering if everything was going to work out – our heads swirled with questions like:
Will our gear really fit in the executive shuttle?

When we get to the airport hotel will that shuttle be able to accommodate us with their private airport shuttle? (which they said on the phone they would be able to)
Will the airlines really take our gear or will the screw us at the last minute? (we spoke to 3 United employees via phone and got 3 different answers)

We had already called the airport hotel and asked them if the airline doesn’t take the gear would they be able to store it for us and they said no.

April 1 & 2, 2016

Up early after a restless sleep – walked back up to the trailer to bring back a few things. 
Popped into the garage to drop off a trailer key in case of an emergency –

Realized when we checked the trailer that the pipes were frozen as it got a little colder out last night than anticipated – we jacked the furnace up and sat in the trailer trying to warm up the pipes and thaw out the pump – our holding tank is also full which I am terrified could crack and leak into their parking lot, but this late in the game nothing we can do about it.

Our original plan before the van died was to stop and empty the tank and fill with antifreeze and park the van and trailer at the oversized parking lot right at the airport and that way if the airline refused our gear we could quickly return it to the van – that dream died last night J.
Our executive shuttle driver showed up giggling as he loaded our gear into his shuttle and piled the three  9 foot board bags on top of the seats that usually house passengers and said “boy I can’t wait to hear this story?  What are you doing in Denver with surfboards?”

The next 90 minutes flew by as we told our story to the driver who is a retired gentleman that runs a charity organization for pearl harbor vets who are still living and for the families of the deceased of the SS Arizona.  He says he drives the executive shuttle just to hear people’s stories.
He gets us to our hotel in a timely and safe fashion.  We check in, get settled, get something to eat. We decide to do a practice run to the airport.  We take a photo of the gear and jump on the shuttle.  The driver assures us the gear will fit in the large shuttle they use in the morning.  We see a couple of ticket agents who give us different opinions – we are frustrated, but at least we feel like all the gear will go – we just might have to pay more than we want.  We feel like we have our bearings – so we go back to the hotel.   Go to bed early – and hope for the best in the morning.

Our friend Jerry calls us at 5:00am – to chat.   He says he waited until 7 his timeJ(thanks for the wake up call buddy)
We decide since we are up – we might as well catch an earlier shuttle to give us a little wiggle room in case things don’t go smoothly. 

As we exit our room with the surfboards we see a sign on the elevator - it is down – so we schlep our things downstairs one at a time.  We line the gear up outside on the sidewalk and wait for the shuttle – it arrives and the driver is smiling – I know I told you yesterday it would fit, but I am not so sure now that I am seeing it – OMG – he tried several ways to load it into the end of the shuttle and no go – he says well maybe it will fit down the aisle on the inside – so we apologize to the other passengers and totally stuff the shuttle with the gear.   Away we go…..

We get to the airport and Bill leaves me standing on the sidewalk while he goes inside to figure out how to get the gear up one flight of stairs to the ticket agents.  He comes back and says it isn’t going to fit in the elevator – we can’t possibly carry all this gear up the escalator – and you certainly can’t leave bags unattended, so he goes in search of a porter.  Comes back with a helper who smiles when he sees all the gear.  He helps us get everything into the airport with a huge dolly and explains he will have to catch the freight elevator up and we are not allowed to go with him.  So we take one of the large 9 foot bags and he takes the 2 boards and our luggage.  We get the large bag up on the escalator and meet up with our new friend upstairs.  He explains that our check-in  might be handled better if we see the ticket agent at the unusual baggage counter –  they took exceptional care of us – charging us a very large sum of money, but at least no more hassles – she even sang Happy Birthday to me – which totally made me tear up and realize I may be a little bit lonesome….
You are probably wondering – why we would you go to all this bother and not just rent gear when we got to Maui.  Let me explain – we have been to Maui several times and unfortunately there is lots of driving and several different spots to windsurf, surf and stand up paddle board – the last thing either of us feel like doing right now is spending more time in a vehicle.  It is time consuming to have to wait for the shop to open every day to get gear and you are charged by the day – I find sometimes Bill doesn’t get gear as he doesn’t know what he needs for the day, or on which side of the island we will be on – so the best plan is to have all of your own gear in the van and wherever you are on the island you are ready.

So as I sit in our condo with the beautiful ocean view and the breeze blowing through – I summarize the events of the last few weeks and realize how our lives have been touched by several giving and caring people – who all played a part in helping us make this trip happen – the extra mile everyone at the garage went – by allowing us to park our trailer there, offering us rides, arranging hotel rooms, saving us the large towing Bill, offering personal vehicles and rides everywhere – holding our hand as we left and saying – god bless – everything is going to be ok – I realize if we were going to break down – it sure happened in a great little town - called Monument Colorado – where we were met by Christian Brothers. 
Half way through our flight – Bill handed me an airplane napkin and on it he had made me a Birthday card with little drawings of all the great places we had been on this adventure and in the middle was Maui – the island that holds our heart – He said “it has been a rough couple of weeks, but it hasn’t all been bad.”  So true…

As I waited in the outdoor airport with all the gear at my feet - for Bill to go and pick up the rental van an elderly Hawaiian man approached me circled his own face and said “now you are at peace”


March 28 & 29, 2016
Well we made it to Gallup New Mexico and there are some great hikes and mountain biking here, but they are having major sand storms. The winds are blowing 100km an hour and within minutes you are caked in dust and Bill is coughing like crazy.
We went on a couple of hikes in the area and we were the only ones out braving this weather.  Definitely no crowds here and very camper friendly.  You can park at Wal-Mart, casinos, pretty much anywhere.  Quite cool – temperature around 10.
We really enjoyed hiking at El Morrow Monument.

I can close my eyes and imagine the comfort and refreshment of finding water after days of dusty travel.  A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro a popular stop for hundreds of years. 
Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved over 2000 signatures, dates, messages and petrographs.
We also saw the Ancestral Puebloan Ruins – between 1250 -- 1350 AD up to 1500 people lived in the 875 room pueblo.

We found some good mountain biking trails, but the weather was just not going to co-operate –
with the high winds and dust storms.

We stopped at a Starbucks to do some more research on getting a flight to Maui and we found out that Bill can’t bring his gear to Maui from Albuquerque as it is an express flight to LA and they don’t take oversized baggage.  
We are thinking maybe if we drive to Denver – they can accommodate Bill’s gear.

March 26 & 27, 2016
Still trying to find a home.  We drove through Sedona, it was wall to wall people not a parking spot to be had.  The traffic was backed up for miles.  Obviously no camp sites or hotels.  We drove to Flagstaff – Grand Canyon also full.  We ended up finding a cheap hotel and spent the night regrouping – doing some laundry.  Our plan was to do some research on line, but after we checked in they informed us that their WIFI wasn’t working.
Thinking of trying New Mexico – maybe we can fly to Maui from Albuquerque??