Maui – its a whole lotta fun!

Monday afternoon Sam and I returned home completely exhausted and jet lagged from our trip to Maui, but with so many special memories.  This trip was an achievement award through Sam’s work, and this is the third year we’ve been invited to attend (first year was Cancun, and last year was the Dominican Republic).  This year was by far our favorite!

Hawaii has always been one of those places we’ve both wanted to go to; however living on the East coast makes it nearly impossible – between the travel time and the airfare expense we just could never quite justify it in our budget.  So when the announcement was made on our last night in Dominican Republic the year before we were more than hopeful that Sam would earn another spot in the exclusive Wolters Klure Achievement Club.  I love my husband – he’s such a hard worker!

The trip over was fairly uneventful – we left ATL around 9:00 a.m. and flew to Dallas.  We only had an hour layover in DFW, so we grabbed a quick sandwich on the way to our next gate and promptly boarded our plane.  It was a biggie!  We pulled out our noise-cancellation headphones (TIP: never travel without them!), our books, the Kindle, and our travel pillows.  We chatted briefly as the remaining passengers boarded the air-bus and then settled in for a butt-numbing eight and a half hour flight.  There were two in-flight movies, which were both surprisingly enjoyable and we only encountered an extra hour’s worth of travel time due to a storm that had settled over Maui airport.  Upon arrival, we laughed ourselves silly as we watched hundreds of folks pry themselves from their seats and proceed to deplane with obviously numb limbs.  There was all sorts of flailing going on (and plenty from us too)!  Gosh I love long flights…….NOT.

Anyway, we arrived to our resort around 5:00 p.m. and were greeted with an authentic lei reception – purple plumeria leis for me and a braided jade lei for Sam.  We were quickly ushered to our registration area where we each received a free pair of Maui Jim sunglasses, our room keys, some spending cash, and complementary (virgin) Mai-Tai’s.  What a great start to a perfect vacation.

Our room was lovely.  Painted in a subtle lime-y yellow-green with crisp white linens, and floral pillows.  The balcony over looked one of the many gardens, and the ocean was visible through the palm canopy.  Our first dinner was planned for 7:00 p.m. so we set to unpacking – only to discover that the bottle of Downy wrinkle release had leaked all over Sam’s luggage.  Ack!  Potential disaster……but fortunately, I’d packed his suitcase in layers so only the top third of his clothes were really wet (mostly his drawers).  Disaster avoided, but ironing was certainly in order.

Dinner our first night was lovely, but freezing.  Because of the earlier rain storm (the one that delayed us by an hour), the night temperature dropped significantly once the sun set, and the wind was just howling.  Our dinner was outside, of course, and most of us hadn’t thought to pack jackets, even though all the literature we received prior to the trip suggested we bring a light jacket or sweater.  My thinking (as was most people’s) was, it’s the middle of April…in Hawaii…how cold can it get?  I was wrong.  Very wrong.  It was cold.  And I was wearing a dress.  A short dress.  Needless to say, I had to shave my legs again before I went to bed.

Day two was just as windy and cold, but fortunately we had the awards meeting in the morning, so we were all hunkered down in the ballroom until lunchtime.  Sam and I spent the remainder of our afternoon snorkeling.  Yep, that’s right people, I voluntarily swam in a gigantic toilet.  And I liked it.  Believe me, this is truly a first.  I hate the ocean.  Correction, I’m afraid of the ocean.  Sharks live in there.  In case you haven’t seen Shark Week on Discovery channel lately, sharks still eat people.  They find us irresistable.  I look like a giant, white, marshmallow floating around in the water – and who doesn’t love marshmallows I ask you.  Anyway, after much reasoning with myself, I decided that if I’m going to die of shark attack, I would rather do it in Maui than anyplace on earth.  So I forced myself to get into the water.  I thought Sam was going to die of excitement.  I was sure I was just going to die.  But in the end, it all worked out fine, and we even saw a few fish – small fish, which were obviously vegetarian, based on the fact that they didn’t immediately attack me and start devouring my flesh.  I felt comforted by that.

Dinner was once again outside, and this time I dressed a bit smarter – long capris.  It wasn’t warm enough though, so we left early and headed for the shops in the resort.  Yes, that’s right, I way overpaid for a hoodie.  But it says Maui on it, so what do I care?!  I think I nearly lived in that sweatshirt the rest of the trip, only taking it off for our hike through the jungle.  It was a god-send really.  But, I wasn’t the only one who was being a baby about the cold weather.  Sam bought himself a jumper as well.  It’s red and looks very snappy on him.

Friday was our excursion day.  When we received notification that we’d been invited back to Club this year, we received a whole list of optional excursions we could do.  There were the typical things like zip-lining, ATVing on the beach, Jeep rides through town, horseback riding, spa packages, snorkeling and catamaran rides, and then there was hiking and waterfalls.  That’s what we choose – we wanted to see some of the island while we were there, and we figured we wouldn’t get a chance to rent a car and go driving around on our own.  I think Sam would agree that this was by far the best excursion we’ve ever taken, and that’s saying something, because we loved the one last year in the Dominican Republic.

Our guide, Tony, was awesome.  If you ever get to Maui, I encourage you to check out Hike Maui Tours.  Tony has been with this company for years, and he knew everything.  He shared with us about the history of the islands, their peoples, their cultures, and some fun facts that none of us would have ever guessed.  He told us about Maui’s unique climates (there are 11 of them on this one tiny island!), its agriculture (or lack of), its indigenous plants and trees, and tons of other stuff that I just can’t remember.  The hike itself wasn’t hard at all, even though we were traveling up the side of the mountain (really, I’m not kidding you – I wouldn’t lie about something like that – I’m not big into sweating), and we made frequent stops along the trail for photo ops and botanical lessons.  Once at the top of the trail we had a quick lunch overlooking a breathtaking waterfall, and then climbed down the side of the mountain on a rope – really, a rope.  I can’t make this stuff up.  I was scared out of my mind – I hate heights.  I made Sam go first, in case I fell – at least I knew I’d have a softer landing that way!  I know, I’m a giver.

At the bottom of the cliff we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the waterfall pool.  It was freezing cold, and completely exhilarating – I’d so do it all over again.  Sam was the first one in the water (after the guide that is) and he goaded the rest of us into following him into insanity!  Boy am I ever glad I listened to him – it was the most amazing experience of my life.  We took a group photo under the waterfall – it was better than any massage, I can assure you of that!  We spent close to an hour playing and swimming around before heading further down the river to the next waterfall.  It was a twin falls, and the current was much stronger.  The guide didn’t think we could get in, but that didn’t stop Sam – he headed straight for the water like a dog to a fresh bone.  The guide shrugged his shoulders, smiled and headed in after Sam.  Again, after a few minutes of photo ops, we all stripped down (to our suits – don’t get excited here – we’re not that kind of crowd) and headed in.  I didn’t think it was possible, but the water was even colder than that last pool.  But we didn’t let that stop us.  We dove off the cliffs into the waterfall, we swam under the falls, we splashed around like a bunch of school kids at summer camp, and one of our group even found himself a coconut!  I felt like a kid again.

Dinner on Friday night was a picnic under the stars on the top of a golf course overlooking the ocean.  This had the potential to be the most romantic night of them all had we not been so exhausted from the activities of the day.  The view was spectacular.  The sunset was magnificent.   But the wind was bone-chilling.  The food was highly disappointing.  The music was jazz (translation: it stank majorly).  And we left early.  We weren’t alone.  People were lining up to catch the fist bus back to the resort, and you could tell how disappointed the organizers were.  But how can you predict the weather?!  It wasn’t their fault, at least the weather part.  Everything else, well, it just wasn’t our tastes.  No biggie – there’s always one major disappointment in every vacation.

Saturday was originally planned as a free day.  On our way down to the garden Sam and I decided we were going to eat, grab our snorkel gear and head back out to the beach before it got too crowded.  Then we were going to move to the pool area, hit the water slides and the water elevator, and spend the remainder of the day lounging by the pool scoping out all the celebrities.  Did I mention the celebrities to you yet?  No?  Okay, I’ll get to that in a minute.

So we have our day all planned out – we’re both happy with the plan, and looking forward to relaxing.  We get to the chapel lawn, and we see hats on the tables.  Color coordinated hats, to be exact.  Ugh-oh.  We quickly feel our daily plan being sucked down the drain.  As we sit down to breakfast we’re informed that these hats indicate our “team” for the morning event.  We had been previously led to understand that this “activity” was completely optional…..oh well, so much for a relaxing day at the water’s edge.  We were team khaki.  We didn’t win.  But we had fun.  Well, at least I did.  Sam’s not much for games of any kind.  He got over it though, and at least pretended to have fun.  Well, fun might be a bit of a stretch – he’s competitive at least.

After lunch we managed to find our way out to the pool and we enjoyed the water slides, water elevator, lazy river, and several mean games of water volleyball.  My team got beat 4 to 1, but I had a blast anyway.  I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to play water volleyball – I’m not the most athletic sort of gal, but I was actually not the worst player on the team.  Kegan was.  He was 7 and could barely touch the bottom of the shallow end.  It made me feel much better about my own ability to have him as a part of our team.  As always, the ‘Big T’ (definition: this is my phrase for too much testosterone) made an appearance, and there were a few people, who shall remain nameless at this time, who got a bit too competitive about it, but overall it was a great afternoon.  And I didn’t even get sunburned too badly.

After we were thoroughly wrinkled up we headed back to our room for a wee rest.  It was about 4:30 p.m. and our final gala dinner was at 7:00 p.m.  Warm showers were the first order of business.  Once my body was thoroughly washed and slathered in the resort’s amazing Honey Mango lotion I found myself propped up on the bed.  My first thought was, “I can’t go to sleep.  I can’t go to sleep.  I need to get dressed………….”  The next thing I knew, someone had stepped out on their balcony and sneezed.  I jumped to attention, only to realize I had in fact fallen asleep.  And not just lightly.  I was dead asleep.  Mouth wide open, drool runnin’ down my cheek, snoring.  The whole shebang.  Crap!  I jumped up and loudly blurted out in sleepy slurs – “Sam, quick, you’ve gotta wake up…we’re gonna be late.”   Then I looked at the clock – certain it was past 7:00.  I’d only been asleep for 20 minutes!  Whew.  That was a close one.

The gala dinner was the typical fare – surf and turf, tatters, salad, rolls, and dessert.  There was live music – thankfully it was much better than the night before.  We stuck around for the toast and then headed out for a quick constitutional around the grounds before slipping off to our room and back to dreamland.  I’m sure there was more snoring and drooling, but I can’t confirm anything at this time.

Sunday arrived too soon, as usual.  We stopped into the chapel on our way to breakfast for a quiet Sunday morning prayer.  The chapel was beautiful and old, and it smelled like every old church I’ve ever been in.  The stained glass windows were colorful depictions of the Polynesian culture.  There were no Bibles on the intricately carved pews.  There where however kneeling benches.  Sam found that useful as a foot rest.  It was somewhat disappointing to us though.  The only Christian symbol in the entire building was a large, golden cross on the communion table, and even that could be put away if the user so desired.  But I’m sure our prayers were just as loud in God’s ears as they would have been if we were standing in the middle of the Crystal Cathedral.

Our flight out was at 5:00 p.m. and our shuttle was set to leave the resort by 2:30 p.m.  We spent the rest of our morning and afternoon wandering the gardens, gazing at the ocean, holding hands and lazily strolling through the lobby, and people watching.  As I mentioned above, our resort was flooded with celebrities.   Reba, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Anniston, Nicole Kidman, Andy Roddick and his supermodel wife, and a bunch of other people I don’t even recognize.  They were getting ready to film a movie at the resort, and there were paparazzi everywhere.  I’ve never seen so many SLRs and telephoto lenses in once place at a time!  I must tell you that in all the excitement, I didn’t see any one of these people; but I also wasn’t looking for them.  Strangely, I’m not one to get star-struck.  I don’t watch many movies, and all the junk I see on the tabloids just turns me off of the celebs.  I appreciate their talents – they truly do have a special kind of craft, but other than that, I think their lifestyles are mostly despicable.  Call me prudish if you must, but I just don’t see the glamor in it all.  Anyway, several people in our group did see them though.  Lot of them had their  photos taken with the stars; shared quick conversations, and were caught in the act of general star-gazing.  It was amusing.

The flight home wasn’t nearly as comfortable as the flight down – the flight was packed, and we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep.  But the plane had other plans for us.  There were some mysterious electrical issues that weren’t discovered until after we’d taken off.  Oh it wasn’t life threatening, just annoying mostly.  The reading lights were completely possessed.    We tried to turn them on and they wouldn’t work.  No biggie, we’ll just sleep.  Wrong!  Just about the time we’d drift off to sleep the lights would pop on.  And not just our lights.  The lights in the seats in front of us and behind us would come on too.  It was intermittent and completely distracting.  It was like trying to sleep in a disco.  It wasn’t happening.  The in-flight movie was a dud too – the Incredible Mr. Fox (or something like that) – I do not recommend this movie unless you’re already catatonic.  Oh, and did I mention that the air wasn’t working either?  Yeah, it was lovely…and aromatic.  By the end of the flight I was certain we’d gone to India, based on the odor in the plane anyway.

All complaining aside, it was an amazing trip – so worth it!  If I had the opportunity to go back, I’d take it in a heartbeat.  Sam and I both agreed that we could easily live in Hawaii.  The landscape is rugged and beautiful.  The people were so friendly.  The pineapple was to die for.  The prices were astronomical though, so I don’t see us moving there anytime soon.  Although we are considering a church plant.  Anyone want to support us?


Love notes

Sam and I have been married for over a decade, and yet there are many days my heart still flutters wildly in my chest when he looks at me, or when he holds my hand, or when he embraces me in a tender hug. In many ways I still feel like we’re newlyweds even though I’m as comfortable with him as a 50 year veteran.

When we married, I was a blushing bride who didn’t know my head from a hole in the ground – as far as relationships went. I was 22 and had not been in any healthy serious relationships. I hadn’t dated that often, so I was really fairly new to this whole ‘couple’ thing. Man did I make some really bad gaffs during the first couple of years of our marriage, but Sam didn’t get upset; in fact, most of the time he’d chuckle and then swoop me up in a big bear hug, plant a soft kiss on my face, look deep into my eyes and tell me how much he loved me. Man I’m a lucky girl.

When we married, the days of having laptops and blackberries and iPhones with global Internet and instant access email and messaging were still a few years off into the future. But I wanted to make sure that my beloved knew that he was loved and cherished every day. So I started writing him little love notes. I’d stick them in his lunchbox, his briefcase, his jacket pocket, his Bible, his wallet, under his razor, on the car visor, taped around his Diet Coke, on the steering wheel of his truck, on the back of his office door, in between the pages of his day calendar – wherever I could think of. And in return he started doing the same thing to me. It was fun – like a lover’s game, and it was special to us. Once the Internet became available email replaced our written notes.

And to this very day, first thing in the morning when I sit down at my computer I check my email and send my beloved a little love note. I want him to know that even after all these years he’s still my number one squeeze. The main thing. The love of my life. My Galahad. The one who holds the keys to my heart. My beloved. My sweetie. My forever husband (meaning he’s got to live at least as long as I do). I want him to know that no matter what’s happening in our life, how good or bad things are, how stressful or calm they happen to be, that he’s still the last thing I think about when I close my eyes in sleep and the first thing on my mind when I wake up. He’s the love of my life.

So how about y’all? What is it that you do that’s just between you and your love?

Allow me to indroduce….

My very own Ricky Bobby….the destroyer of the IZip! Yes folks, you read it right – I did say DESTROYER!

Yesterday we took our first “training” run with Guinness and Iris. And lets just say it went exactly like EVERY other bike ride I’ve had where there are dogs involved. Basically, in a nut shell, Sam crashes and mangles his bike and his body. The dog(s) stand around looking dumbfounded at the wake of destruction that’s been left behind, and Sam is lying motionless on the ground, thinking to himself, “I thought that could have gone better.”

First, let me say, if Sam ever asks to ride your bike, ALWAYS answer him with a resounding “NO”. I can guarantee that it won’t come back in the same working fashion. Secondly, if Sam ever says to you, “Hey, you know what would be a great idea? To take the dogs out for a run using a bike….” At that point you need to run far, far, far away. Don’t ponder the idea; don’t look even mildly interested in the idea; in fact, the best answer to give him is, “I don’t know how to ride a bike.” Even if there are 14 bicycles sitting in your garage, don’t let on that you know how to ride them. Because I can guarantee you that if you even let yourself believe that riding a bike and running a dog at the same time is in any way a good idea, you deserve your fate. A fate that will most likely consist of pain and humiliation.

So we’re riding along. We hadn’t even gotten 200 yards away from our house and Sam’s already having trouble with Guinness. Sam is determined to work G on the left side of his body (like you would if you were in the show ring). Guinness didn’t want to be on the left, he wanted to be on the right, so he kept crowding Sam. Sam is trying to compensate by crowding the curb and things are beginning to get fairly tight. At about 250 yards from the house we come upon a HUGE hill. Really, huge isn’t an overstatement here. This hill puts car brakes to the test, let alone some cheap caliper brakes on a bike. Like idiots, we decide to take it, and about that time Sam’s breaks lock up completely and the drive chain comes off. So he’s basically sliding down the hill at a 45 degree angle to the curb making a racket that is not only scaring Guinness, Iris and me, but ever neighbor kid in a 2 block radius. Within 3 seconds of our descent, people had actually stopped what they were doing and just stared at this guy, trying to go down this enormous hill with a bruised trike, dragging a slobbering black dog who obviously doesn’t want to be anywhere close to this monstrosity. It was beyond embarrassing. Iris and I weren’t having any problems at all, but that didn’t matter – we were being stared at too.

So we get to the bottom of the hill and Guinness is just a wreck. He’s panting and slobbering and on the verge of a total meltdown – so far, he’s not having much fun on this run. So we decide to just turn around and go home. The only problem is – we now have to go back up this gargantuan hill we’ve just come down. And Sam has no drive chain, which means he’s got no pedals. And the electric motor is working but not on this kind of hill, so we’re walking it. And let me tell you, this is not a hill you want to walk up!

We get to the top of the hill and climb back on our trikes, and while I’m getting Iris’ leash wrapped around my hand Sam and Guinness take off with both barrels blazing. Unfortunately, they don’t get 15 yards before Sam runs his trike up on the curb and into our insurance ladies yard. The back end of the IZip comes apart bending the frame, and Sam flies head over heels into the neighbors yard. And the neighbor was taking his Christmas lights down – watching this debacle unfold right before his eyes. It was like a real live episode of JackAss. In my head I could hear the narrator’s voice, “What you’re about to see are real events and may not be suitable for some audiences. These are not trained professionals. Do not attempt this at home.”

Yes people, this is how it always ends! There’s a mangled bike, a bruised up Sam, dogs that are so keyed up they are slobbering and twitching all over the place, and me – the person who always has to drive home alone; get the truck and come back and pick up the pieces.

And don’t think I can’t hear you laughing out there – believe me, I was laughing too (only on the inside).