The Kauai Chronicles

Word Press blog troubles. So I haven’t posted recently. Isn’t it incredibly frustrating to spend hours and hours trying to figure out computer stuff that should be SO EASY, but to you it isn’t? So much time wasted. But alas, I figured it out and thus, I present my longest-to-date blog, The Kauai Chronicles. Pour yourself a mai tai or two and turn on the sound track to George Clooney’s “The Descendants” and reflect upon your own sweet summer travels.

AUGUST 21, 2021

Sitting on the balcony at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai beneath the full moon, listening to revelers who are listening to a local band playing In My Room by Brian Wilson, the gent I interviewed a lifetime ago while I was a reporter. Collision of realities. The tropical breeze is intoxicating. No, the red wine we picked up from Costco on the way here is slightly intoxicating. No, it’s the waves hitting the coral shore. It’s the birds, still chirping at night. It’s, well, everything.

We spent the day in the pool. The entire day. We were going to go back in the pool after dinner, but decided to listen to the local band. And now we are kinda bushed. But I don’t want to sleep. I want to sit out here, I want to sleep out here, I want to write out here on this top floor balcony so far away from home. 

The Island Thang is starting to happen.

AUGUST 22, 2021

Day 2 and I don’t want to leave. I want to be rich and live here half the year and other places the other part of the year. I want to fall in love with an Island guy and we’ll go for walks along the beach and eat healthy foods and take naps in the afternoon and go swimming naked in the ocean whenever we damn feel like it.

No, I don’t want to leave. Ever

We, and I mean my sister, cousin and her daughter, son-in-law and their sweet little boys, are on a family holiday. It’s been peaceful and fun and relaxing and stimulating just like the swells out in the moon-blanketed sea. They have their room, we have ours. We get up and have a fantastically predictable filling breakfast, stuff our faces, go to the pool and swim until we get hungry or thirsty. We nap in our floaties, or in my case, I just consistently float thanks to my always-handy flotation tummy. I get that suspended-in-space flotation feeling that is truly an out-of-body experience. I think this is called relaxation

I have nothing to grade. 

I don’t know what time it is. 

I don’t know the date. 

I don’t know what I’m going to eat for dinner and it is very, very, very OK with me. The stress is shedding. My shoulders are shaking as I listen to the band play Ice, Ice Baby. The girls are asleep, their teeth washed and flossed, Saturday nonsense TV on, and I’m doing what I love, what I NEED—reflecting, taking my pulse, assessing the situation. 

Under Pressure, Bowie’s classic, finishes off the set and the helicopter that was hovering in our direction, changes direction. 

It is possible to change directions, to live life in a different way than you planned, to do the unthinkable, the unexpected. The Shift or the Slide. A place you were always meant to be, but ignored it—for whatever reason. 

My skin is toasty burned in some places. But I feel alive, porous. Transformation is bubbling. For the first time in a long time, I can see the horizon, moon-lit like a polished silver chain. 

AUGUST 23, 2021

Sitting in the dark on the deck at the Grand Hyatt Resort in Kauai listening to the hum of the ocean, feeling the sprinkling of an impending storm, alone with my thoughts on this moonlit morn. It is 5:30 a.m. and I’ve been up for hours. My sister and cousin have horrendous dry coughs that have kept us all awake. They are exhausted. I am alive on this humid, sultry beginning of our third day on the Islands. 

The weather report shows solid rain in the afternoon so I am grateful to be up before dawn to enjoy this exciting day. While I wouldn’t mind a day of balcony reading, we have two little whippersnappers with us who will absolutely go stir crazy if left in a hotel room. Luckily, the beachside resort is massive with endless exploration possibilities. Not to mention that it’s so warm during the rains that it’s a blast to go swimming in a downpour. Also, less potential for sunburns, which I have, despite lathering up a’plenty. 

It is very strange: I am looking toward the ocean facing the south, to what normally, at home, would be my south, is the rising sun silhouetted by clouds suggestive of today’s wet circus. The forecast predicts up to 10 inches of rain in the next 24 hours. Big winds too, maybe 70 mph. It seems the birds are aware because they are belting out a surround sound musical. 

I’m sitting on a wet chair on the veranda, a perspective I’ve been meaning to discover since I arrived here. I’m right at the very edge. The most desirable spot. Normally, I would take a seat in the back and be more subtle. Today, devoid of others, I decided to take the King’s Spot, the best seat in the house. 

It’s getting lighter and more people have crawled into this prized area to similarly wake up to the view. There’s a conference of some sort at the hotel and I eavesdrop about “deals”, “licenses” and “potential market”. None of those words belong here. 

Their voices are formal, loud and city-like, “When we look at the market, we can speculate… .” 

Conventioneers. 

Excuse me while I relocate. 

Awww, much better. I’m at the “Club” waiting for this special area for elite travelers to open so I can grab a cup of coffee and a muffin. 

The roosters are crowing. Amazing. I’m near the ocean and roosters and chickens are all over the place, like the impish squirrels back home. So is the egret that followed my sister around yesterday hoping to nab a lizard or two stirred by her presence. 

Bacon. Aww. I don’t eat it, but damn it smells so good. 

The slate is really clean. What will I do or not do today? Will I go for a stroll to see the sea turtles? Take a nap in the rain? Finish reading a book, the kind I’d never been drawn to before? Compose a song? Have a mai tai before noon? Saturate myself in the quietude, the air floatie luxury of being still, quiet—alone—and bathe in this new unbridled freedom? Speaking to no one. Just listening. Is deafening, like I still have my ear plugs in. And liberating, like swimming in the sun, beneath the palm trees, lathered in sun and the elixir of plumeria and hibiscus blossoms. 

Six days left. I’ve decided not to sleep or wake up. Just float above the sea and roll down the mossy cliffs.

AUGUST 24, 2021

I am the pink and blue tie dye figure in a Paul Gauguin painting. The one luxuriating under a palm tree. The bronzed one, with uncharacteristic white blond hair. Her tummy folds fit in. Her broad face a mirror of stained-glass blues and greens. 

For the last four days I have lived in a resort of buffet breakfasts and three pool choices and tropical drinks—charge it—and days that seem to stretch beyond the ocean view horizon that I’m gazing at in between key strokes and sips of Kona coffee. The swaying palm trees, the chorus of birds, the pacing, hungry Koi fish in the pond below and the sound of the pounding sea. I could weep. I don’t have to be fancy. Although, I could see myself getting used to it. I just need to feel this breeze and wrap myself in Nature every day for the rest of my life.

How is it that I allowed myself to get so far away from myself? 

All the stuff. All the things. All the crunching shelled insects I’ve come to accept as just a part of “life”. 

It’s stormy out this morning. Navy grey. But I’m on the balcony in my pajamas and not a bit cold or fearful of the troubling rains that have been forecast. It will pass, that’s what Kauai has taught me. And when it does, the view will look even more spectacular. 

I am part of the landscape, not an important part, but I’m here, hoping to make the canvas slightly more intriguing. What impact will I make and for how long? Will I leave a memory ghost of love and joy? Will I make this patch of traveling land better or be a bruiser of Mother Earth? Every moment I get to decide. 

Like this one. Take up the smallest amount of space. Carry-on luggage. Recycle. Be less of a consumer. To be seen. To be heard. To Listen. To be better.

This view. In a few hours we will leave this balcony bliss as we travel to a new hotel without a view or the boisterous party of the crashing waves. The Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa is definitely dessert. But if I close my eyes and allow my skin to feel the melting butter sea breeze, every time I close my eyes wherever I am, I can return. Record the panorama. Take it all in. Remember.   

AUGUST 26, 2021

I’m on a lawn chair at 6:30 a.m. while my cousin and sister sleep in the hotel room. I have the ocean in front of me, grass beneath me and the roosters crowing. The birds are singing, the clouds are grey and puffy, the air is equally puffy and confetti-blowing. I am here, by myself in this chorus of silence and peace. 

We are no longer at the Grand Hyatt where we were seriously spoiled every morning with complimentary buffet breakfasts and luscious gardens. We are now at the Sheraton, which is radically different from our first decadent experience. We are at a place we probably would have stayed at when I was growing up. Pretty basic in comparison. Much, much better than a motel, but not as classy as the Hyatt. But we’re all jazzed because we have a beautiful ocean view and a sandy beach and calm bay ocean shore to swim in. 

As I write, couples walk past, arm in arm, snapping photos against the cloudy horizon. A few singles like me glide past in their sandy, crunchy flip flops, silence in their thoughts. 

I can see why people move here. 

It’s the air. It’s the silence. It’s the breeze. It’s the peace. 

Here is a place you can breathe and not worry about politics and day to day troubles. You look at the sea and sea rain curtains and white caps and wisps of blue sky. 

It’s starting to rain and my computer’s not waterproof. I’ll head in for a bit until it blows over. 

AUGUST 27, 2021

I forgot my glasses and my eyes are fuzzy on this cloudy blue morning sitting on the lawn overlooking the pounding shore. Hard to believe but we only have two full days left. Every day we’ve been in the pool and/or the ocean, lazing in the morning and playing in the afternoon through the evening. Our days are full, yet floating and relaxing. 

Yesterday we ventured out at 5ish and went to look at Hanapepe. Unfortunately, everything was closed, but we walked across the swing bridge and window-shopped the art galleries. For dinner we ate tacos at a little stand known for authentic Mexican food. It was a great drive there too! We had a chance to appreciate the lushness of the island. Although I’m happy to stay at the resort because it gives us a chance to swim and relax and have some tropical drinks, it was wonderful to get a sense of this incredible island.

I was here once before on my honeymoon. I remember exploring more then and finding little nooks and crannies. I vaguely remember the hotel as a place with beautiful gardens and a balcony. Of course, that trip was focused on romance rather than tourism, but we did have a chance to swim down a river that flowed into the sea and also hike along the Napali Coast. 

Today we are venturing back to that same river and will paddle board alongside sea turtles, so I’m told. This should be fun, and interesting given how difficult it will be for me to even mount the board given I have zero stomach muscles. I predict lots of spills and laughter.

I’m starting to feel that retirement freedom feeling right now. I can do anything!  I can go anywhere!

Naturally, within budget reason, but this trip has opened my mind and the possibilities of the world. I need to stay healthy and become much more frugal. Every penny I waste is a trip denied. 

As I anticipate the end of our family vacation, I realize that, first, it has to. As Mom used to say, 
“All good things come to an end.” But also, that I am changed. I have a new experience to nourish my spirit and a growing hunger to continue this journey of new.

I wish my buddies, my cousin and sister, could join me. This is my prayer that they can somehow find a way to retire. We have so much yet to discover, the three of us. This should be the beginning of our lives, not the decaying, worrying phase. So I will pray. God IZ Good. We’lll find a way.

In the meantime, I’m here, with them, my niece and her family and we have TWO DAYS in Kauai to make more memories. 

Aloha.

AUGUST 29, 2021

Last morning looking at this beautiful coastline. My other life will return by this evening and all of this will be a mirage. My cousin, sister, niece, her boys and husband swimming in the ocean together, drinking mai tais, feeling the lushness of the tropical air, being refreshed by the afternoon breeze. Just taking in the last moments. The surfers, the pool attendant, the strolling tourists, the lack of sleep as three women share two double beds.

We need to treat ourselves as queens at this point in our lives. We can’t wait for others to recognize our worth. We have to. I have to. 

It’s been 35 years since I was last here. Always waiting. One day I’ll come back. It never happened. It was always an issue of money or not having anyone to go with or a sense of fear about traveling alone. I realize that I can’t wait. If I want to see Paris or go to New Zealand or camp, I have to make it happen. And I need to do these things NOW!

I realize I am going to have to save like a cheapskate. Every penny. I am going to live on kale, rice and tofu. I’m going to go for walks every day, join a gym and get myself fit. No more excuses. This trip has reminded me of adventure and getting out of a rut. I mean, what if I was always on a vacation? Every day an adventure, even at home? 

I think it’s a state of mind, of which I am in charge. To be of good cheer. To see the possible. 

I can see why my friends return to this island every year. There’s a sense of joy and possibility on Kauai. And acceptance. Not in the tourist areas, but in the small coastal communities and the soaring mountains and rainfall-lush canyons. I would love to be as comfortable being here as Julie and Mark, to have my favorite beaches and taco stands, to know how to escape.

It takes practice. And I’m up to it.

I’m feeling pretty sentimental writing this. I don’t want to leave. But then again, I’m ready. 

I am that surfer paddling out to sea, anticipating the next wave; looking back, looking forward, riding the moment, feeling at long last—free. 

***

HOMEBOUND American Airlines Flight 266. 

Just like that and it’s over. A trip we have been looking forward to for months and months. And now we are over the Pacific Ocean headed home. I was telling my sister and cousin it must be what it’s like to feel at the end of one’s life. Just like that, it’s over. Which makes me want to live my remaining days with joy and gusto. Gotta say adios to the nonsense. It is a giant waste of my precious minutes.

Like I wrote earlier, I come home a changed, renewed woman. I feel relaxed, refreshed and hopeful. I know this won’t be my last journey. But I worry it will be a long time before my amigos and I have a chance to be together like this for a long time. We all know how much we cherish being together and having fun.

We just have to make it happen! We can’t keep wishing and hoping. We have to just do it, as the Nike slogan goes. 

I am a most blessed and grateful person. Life really IZ good.

POSTKAUAI

Home. After a beautiful, life-affirming nine days in Kauai. I can’t say I’m not depressed. It’s hard to go from lush green to concrete grey. It’s hard to go from 24/7 warm water swimming to errands and bills and various obligations. From the extraordinary to the ordinary. 

Getting out of the rut helps you realize you are in a rut and it’s not good. Yes, there’s comfort in the predictable, the comfortable, but it stunts growth. It’s good to be a bit scared. 

I am going on my first week-long solo camping trip. As I speak, Luna Bella Blu, my beloved VW Eurovan Camper, is getting primed for my adventure up the coast of California. I know the area, but have yet to make such a trip by myself. I’ll be traveling to my favorite Central California campsite, then venturing up along Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. I have my eBike, my charger for my laptop and other devices, a Berkey water filtration system, and my turquoise camp chair and table. I’ll bring a book, my art materials and I’m all set to have a relaxing, thoughtful and growth-potential week. 

I’m hoping that art journaling will help me sort things out. I really need to sink deep into myself during this chapter of my life. I feel like I NEED to have this wanderlust experience. I have fantasized about going on a solo camp trip when I retire for YEARS! I wanted to go to Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, but not in the cards this year. Too many people have the same idea! It is an absolute bear to get camping reservations in California. COVID, the fires, a zillion new RVs on the road. This morning, fretting about one random day I don’t have camping reservations, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. trying desperately to find a spot. NOTHING. And I refuse to spend more than $300 a night for a crappy motel. Even Motel 6 is $220. Ewww

I doubt that I can stealthily sleep in my car. I mean, I might be able to get away with it, but I definitely won’t sleep. Too worried I’ll get the “tap on the door” from the $250-fine authorities or some creep will try to break in. I know it works for others, but not me. I like to know where I’m going. Again, predictability eliminates stress for me. 

I know I’m about to encounter a pivotal juncture. I need the time to look right, left, backwards and ahead and root myself in myself. I have things I need to figure out. I’m not sure, exactly, but I’m trusting the process. 

Exciting. And long overdue.

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