A bit of heaven in an unsettling time | PostIndependent.com

A bit of heaven in an unsettling time

Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Unemployed? Yes. Tanking economy? Right again. Don’t hate me when I tell you I’m in Maui.

My daughter first invited me to go with her family to Hawaii when I was still employed. I said no because I felt responsibility to the newsroom. When she invited me again after I was laid off, how could I say no?

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get the chance to go to Hawaii. I guess that comes from being frugal and practical my whole life. I tried to make myself guilty enough because of the unemployment factor to stay home. I just couldn’t do it. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I knew I’d be kicking myself for the rest of my life if I didn’t go. And Emily wouldn’t let me stay home, either.

Besides, the last real vacation I had was eleven years ago when we took Emily to North Carolina to visit a college she was considering, and then went on to Disneyworld.

Looking out from the second-story lanai today, I can almost touch the huge clusters of beautiful white plumeria on the tree that must be 40 feet tall, which is located between our condominium and the pool with perfect-temperature water. I knew Hawaii must be beautiful, but exotic flowers are growing like weeds and hedges everywhere, and I’m a real sucker for exotic flowers. Bird-of-paradise, hibiscus, banana trees add color to every square inch of the island. How very different from Colorado.

We’ve been here for five days, and every day has been an adventure. We drove the Road to Hana, where bamboo trees are packed together so tightly a snake couldn’t slither through the forest. Fifty-two miles of hairpin turns force drivers to slow down to 20 miles per hour, and passengers get a chance to check out the African tulip trees, wild bouganvilla and hundreds of varieties of ferns and palm trees. Kids eventually fall asleep, maybe me, too, for a little while.

The kids were enchanted when we toured the lava tubes, which are a series of caves. Charlie and Zoe (and everyone else) were given flashlights to check out the formations, and the kids were thrilled with that dark, mysterious trip into the center of the earth.

Hopefully, Emily’s family found the perfect snorkeling beach today when they went to Wailea, which is supposed to be incredibly clear and just the right beach for families. We tried a couple other beaches on previous days, but they weren’t clear or perfect for us. Maybe they’ll talk me into trying it tomorrow morning.

But they won’t talk me into parasailing, paragliding, surfing or going on the zip-line. Just too chicken for those things.

We visited the Maui Ocean Center which is a giant aquarium, offering the chance to see marine life up-close. My gift of perfect timing allowed us to watch a scuba diver feed the sharks, manta rays and other fish, another hit with the kids, and adults, too.

The Hawaiian language is a real challenge. Charlie and Zoe and I are having great fun trying to pronounce the Hawaiian names of the native fish. It always gets Charlie giggling, which gets Zoe going. Ah, to be five or three again.

What trip to Hawaii would be complete without a luau? As I’m writing this, Emily is booking a luau for the evening before I leave. Fire dancers, hula dancers and more wonderful culture of Hawaii. What a great ending to a perfect vacation in paradise.

I couldn’t have done all this without Emily’s family being so gracious, and without the support of my other family members and my New Castle girlfriends, and I am truly thankful.

I’m cutting my Maui vacation one day short to attend Kara Pearson’s (former Glenwood Springs Post Independent photographer and very nice human being) wedding in Denver. I’ve been looking forward to her wedding to Brian for almost as long as she has, and so I am grateful to fit this in my trip, too.

Reality will set in when I get back to Glenwood. Until then, I’m soaking this all in to remember for the rest of my life. Aloha!

Kay Vasilakis’ “New Castle News” column appears every other Thursday. To contact her with a local news tip or inspiration, please e-mail kayvasilakis@yahoo.com.

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