Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
There we were, three middle-aged women scurrying through the heart of Lahaina, dragging our luggage behind: bumpity-bump-bump down one set of stairs, hrrump-hrrump up another. Navigating a cobblestone walkway, we arrived at our destination, the Lana‘i ferry. Hot, sweaty, and laughing out loud, we felt like schoolgirls on a holiday sleepover.
Our little adventure to the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay was the culmination of what had turned out to be a kama‘aina summer. No long plane rides to exotic destinations, not even a nod to family in LA. Just home, and a rediscovery of how wonderful summer in Hawai‘i can be.
One long weekend was devoted to the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival—four glorious nights of luxury at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where I learned all there is to know (or at least, how much I didn’t know) about wine and the food that completes it. The next weekend brought an overnight trek through the otherworldly landscape of Haleakala Crater to Holua Cabin. (Amazing what a good camper I can be, when husband Jamie packs in a case of Häagen Dazs ice cream bars, stowed in dry ice.)
We began this summer vacation-thon on Kaua‘i, with a reunion of family and friends. What a gift!
And what memories.
While on Kaua‘i, my sister-in-law Andrea and I hiked along Napali Coast. The trail was just as rugged and spectacular as I remembered it. I recounted for Andrea how, more than thirty years ago, I had hiked to the end of this trail, into Kalalau Valley. There, three friends convinced me to swim around the farthest point to the next beach, Honopu. No bathing suits? Who cared?
I’ll never forget that swim—not knowing if I was strong enough to make it, but committed once I jumped in. The boys swam ahead with homemade buoys (empty Pog jugs) that would serve as emergency floatation should we girls need it. Keep your head down and swim hard! I told myself. When finally I looked up, I was alone; my swim mate had turned around. Far ahead, the boys treaded water, waiting for me to catch up. I swam for the Pog jugs.
After a brief rest, and many words of encouragement, we three continued around the point. My elation at finally seeing the shore was matched only by my fear at the sight of the huge, crashing waves we would have to navigate to reach land. I bucked up my courage and swam for dear life. Finally, I tumbled to shore, and stood triumphantly on solid sand at the edge of the Earth. Or so I thought. There, directly in front of me, a middle-aged couple (fully clothed) sat on the beach with a large picnic basket. “Hello,” I said, wearing nothing but a shy smile and the sheen of salt water. Possibly confusing me with Eve, they offered me an apple.
I laugh out loud and shake my head in wonder when I remember those days—and yet, in retrospect, we haven’t changed all that much. Jumping in where the water is deep, head down and determined, is just about right for the swim we’ve had this year. And although there may be a few tumblers ahead, I’m willing to bet there’s also some warm, golden sand.
The ferry landed, and we three “girls” hoofed it to the beach to meet our husbands, who had paddled over from Maui with friends in six-man canoes. The beach stretched before us, spinner dolphins played in the bay, and we were almost the only folks there to take in the glorious scene.
“Oh my gosh,” Randy sighed. “It’s another world here.”
“Yeah,” I grinned, reaching into my bag to offer her an apple. “And aren’t we lucky we live here?”