New love, New Earth, and New Memories, Part 1

My sweet Dane and I have just returned from our longest breakaway yet, our nine-day Hawaiian honeymoon.  After 39 years on this planet, Hawaii was my first departure from the continent and although it is American soil, it is the furthest and most different place I have ever been from home.  In our time away we visited two islands, Hawaii and Kauai. Our first landing was in Hawaii, which I would have to say is my favorite of the two.

Those who have never been have asked me what was most impactful to me about being in Hawaii.  I would usually answer by siting a memory from the trip - the fascinating drive across the big island of Hawaii, our backcountry and boating adventures in Kauai, or the aloha spirit that was in the people all around us.  Looking back now I didn’t quite put my finger on why Hawaii is so special because it is not for just one reason.

Before we left home, we began to research the islands of Hawaii.  We learned about the unique way the big island was formed, when two volcanoes expressed their love for each other by building a mountain of solidified magma in the depths of the central Pacific.  Inch by inch this mountain was formed until it submerged and continued growing into the island we now know as Hawaii. The other islands were formed in similar ways, although we did not get the specific stories  of how each was formed. When we landed and stepped off the plane I could feel an instant change. The ground felt more solid beneath my feet, the air was warm, pleasant, pure, and could be enjoyed in large fulfilling gulps in comparison to the mainland.  The sun was bright and hot but not intrusive, shining with a peculiar gentle brilliance, and I felt ten pounds lighter on my feet. I could feel Dana’s radiance amplify and could hear it in her voice. We spent eight days together in this new and blissful state.  We got a chance to experience each other in a very different state it seemed; a state where a large clamp is taken off your mind and a joyful, unified feeling comes all through your body. Our love for each other was awakened with a new power of expression and nothing that usually applied seemed to matter.  The body and the mind are truly more comfortable in this new earth, earth that was created after nearly all other land on Earth had been established. Although we were still ourselves, we agreed that our troubles did not seem to travel there with us.

One of the first people we talked to on the island was a shuttle driver.  She told us then that it took a very special person to really feel the magic of the island.  Though I think you do have to be in tune to feel the differences I would say that the island affects anyone that comes to visit.  Once you are there you have a feeling deep in your marrow that you wish to stay and never return to regular life. Leaving the island after spending time there feels like a sort of physical withdrawal, or a harsh separation from a dear friend.  I believe that a large part of Hawaii’s comfort is because of how deeply it is rooted in the ocean floor. It seems that a trip around the sun in Hawaii is less turbulent and a smoother ride that that of anywhere else I have ever been. I don’t know if this can be backed by science but there is no other way I can describe the feeling of Hawaii, pronounced by the natives as Havaii.

That first night we stayed at the Sheraton Resort in Kona.  We sat together at Rays on The Bay, feasting on fresh fish, shrimp and steak, listening to the thunderous crashing of infrequent waves.  The beach there was steep lava rock, rather than sand, making way for waves that would crash against the shore with a vigor that shook the walls of our hotel room.  It was quite the sonic experience.

The second day started with a delicious Hawaiian buffet breakfast.  The food was revitalizing! I took full advantage of all the fresh fruits and juices, and tried a Portuguese sausage, a foreign delicacy I could not get enough of.  Afterward, Dane and I had an enchanting, dreamlike walk in the garden and a lounge session in a hammock, which vitalized us for our drive across the island.

It took us ten hours to make the one hour drive across the island.  We leisurely stopped at all sorts of look-out points, small outdoor coffee/snack stands, and Dana got to see some black sand.  Oh yeah, and the whole time we were there, Dana drove a convertible with the top pulled back, which helped me to “see” the island for myself through all of the passing sounds and smells.  By late afternoon we had ventured into the mountain regions of the island. We stopped at a restaurant/resort called the Kilauea Lodge. We liked the place so much we talked about staying there for our 2020 visit to Hawaii, a trip that has to happen!  The aloha spirit was extra-alive there, and our server treated us like we were her children, seeing to our needs before we even noticed them. I will never forget the hot wings and the fries with miso dip, I can barely finish this blog just thinking about them now.

We left the lodge at 5:30, when it was pretty close to dark, and soon I was wearing my winter jacket, showing how different the climate was from the Kona side we had left that morning.  We journeyed on to a volcano park, where rangers were scarce because of the government shut down. We were able to stick our hands in some steam vents that were the result of rain water heated by magma.  The steam had a heat that could only be endured for seconds, leaving a moist residue behind on my jacket sleeve.

Then we met up with Nicole, an old friend of mine and a recent friend of Dana’s.  Nicole had come to the island to visit some friends, explore a new place, and enjoy the soothing nature.  We joined her for dinner, this time at a Hawaii barbecue that had a strong Asian influence.

After the meal, we took a side road to a backcountry neighborhood where she was staying with her friend Bob.  Bob is a boisterous man in his mid 60s. He lives in a giant house that he built which is gorgeous but empty of all furniture.  We stood in his kitchen as he talked with us, though we really didn’t need to respond, the conversation kept going and the wine kept flowing until he was singing loudly and we were tired from our day of twenty stages.  As we left we were greeted by a friendly aloha from a rooster, peacefully ambling through the neighborhood. In Hawaii, chickens roam free and can be seen and heard all over the islands, what a trip!

We journeyed on to Hilo, the opposing side of the island from Kona, where our hotel, the Grand Naniloa, awaited.  As we rolled in, we were greeted by the pleasant song of the Coqui (pronounced: koki) frogs, which only seemed to live in the lower elevations of the island, and a friendly aloha from three valet parking agents.  My favorite was the young guy who showed Dana how to find our car’s fastest driving setting. He and the others showed genuine interest in our ten hour trip across the island, where we were from, and our plans for the trip.

The next day, we awoke and I got my first island swim, not in the ocean, but in a pool.  Call me what you will, but I felt it was a better and safer idea to swim in the pools and do luxury wading in the ocean.  Swimming on the island was a new experience. I was able to breathe so deeply that I spent most of my time swimming with my head submerged as I moved lightly and effortless in circular patterns through the water.  Then, we had another endless fruit and protein buffet breakfast and headed back to the Kona side, the dry side of the island, and to the Fairmont Orchid. We had read that there was a lot to do once we arrived, and so we didn’t take ten hours driving back across the island.

The Fairmont Orchid was by far the most ritzy place we stayed for the entire trip.  Our travel agent booked us there for two nights because of its on-site piano, but there was plenty else to surprise us once we arrived.  When we checked in we were shown to our room by an escort as he answered our questions about all of the beach activities there were to try.  Along with this he made us aware of the 24 hour room service and variety of restaurants to choose from. In our room, he named and explained all of the exotic fruits spread out on a fruit tray, next to a bottle of champagne ready to drink.  

Our time at the Fairmont was a restful time.  We parked the car and stayed at the resort. The sandy beach and the frequent gentle-lapping waves made the beach more enjoyable.  We spent a sacred evening underneath the stars on that beach the first night we were there, dozing in the bliss of the ocean on what felt like the edge of the world.  Hawaii indeed was the first experience I had ever had on a mountain top at sea level, and that night I could feel the power of it as we sat by the ocean shore.

During our time there, I played some BDC originals on a beautifully toned and tuned grand piano which sat in a large ballroom with wooden floors.  The room sound complemented the piano and sweet Dane took pictures and made videos we are excited to share.

That night we feasted at a luau where we learned ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, and were all made ohana through music, stories of Hawaii’s first Tahitian settlers, and audience participation.  I spent my thirty-ninth birthday in Hawaii, which happened to be that day, and so my sweet Dane and I were asked to dance for a birthday-honeymoon celebration. Afterward, we met the musicians, a three piece island acoustic band with vocal harmony, a tiny electric bass called a ukulele bass, an acoustic guitar and a traditional ukulele.  On our way back to the room, we listened to a rambling ukulele player at a restaurant and then slept to prepare for our morning flight to Kauai.

In Hawaii there is a little something extra in every activity.  Time usually spent in enclosed spaces is spent out in the warm, aromatic, open air.  We had most all of our meals, attended all special events, and spent mornings and evenings outside by the ocean, and enjoyed the timelessness of the island where everyone seemed to be in a state of constant contentment.  The Kilauea Lodge mountain resort was the only indoor restaurant we saw the whole time we were there, which made sense because t was in the colder, mountain region.

All this being said, there is something extra in Hawaii beyond the people you meet or the places you visit. There is a certain wildness to the to it that can never be tamed, and when you are there, you are aware in a deep inward sense that you are in the midst of the Pacific Ocean among one of the most isolated populations on earth.  Hawaii is truly all alone in its own little zone, with very few bugs, no natural predators, and chickens that roam free after being set loose by the floods of 1992. Above all, Hawaii is the most welcoming place I have ever traveled to.  The extra aloha spirit is something you can’t help but instantly feel when you visit the islands, and it deepens the peace and love in the hearts of all who travel there.

My blog next week will share our experiences on the island of Kauai. Stay tuned!

Brian Collins2 Comments