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Wow!! I can’t believe that it already has been a year. Crap….I am a lousy diarist/blogger….whatever the proper term is….
Well, it’s just that sometimes I feel as though I am telling my stories to an empty room. Hopefully that is not the case…so here I go.
2008 has been a um….very unique year, unlike any I have seen before. The economy here is Las Vegas has taken a severe downturn and it has been catastrophic to many in my profession. Large companies are now much smaller, small companies are hanging on by the skin of their teeth or completely closed. A word I often hear from my friends and other surveyors is "scary". Well, it certainly is unprecedented in my lifetime. Regardless, Heritage Surveying is still plodding along. We are not nearly the large firm that I envisioned us to be at this point, but we may get there soon! So…..most of my energies this year has been to get the word out, procure work and stay ahead of the economic "chopping block". I hope that you are all doing fine. Hopefully, this nationwide crisis will abate soon.
O.k. enough about that.
I’ll try and give a brief rundown of major topics and events. Although I have been a lazy writer, I have continued to update photos of the kids and my adventures so they can provide you with a virtual tour (albeit edited) version of my life.
I began the new year in Manhattan to watch the ball drop. This endeavor may sound fun, but I do not recommend it. After standing in an extremely crowded section on Times Square, it was decided to head back to the hotel and celebrate. Wise decision. Great trip otherwise…..
A major hamper in my decision to write/not write was the passing of my Aunt Susan in April. I used to make a point of stopping over for a visit during my frequent trips to New York over the past 4-5 years and it has disturbed me deeply to lose her. She was my mother’s oldest sister and I feel as though I lost my last remaining tie to my youth. I will miss her terribly. Even through the sadness of her passing, it was so nice to spend time with my cousins. They are all great people and I tend to forget all the good times we spent together as kids. One of the biggest regrets of my life is living so far away. Family is important.
Speaking of which…..
My kids are all GREAT!! In the interest of trying to keep this letter brief, I will have to refrain from waxing on and on (and on and on) about my babies. I am so fortunate.
Holly has recently turned 18 (!!!!) and is now a Senior in High School. Between her job/school/social agenda & boyfriend, it is increasingly more and more difficult to spend time with her, but I still find ways to get my lovin’ from her. I guess the new form for communication isn’t verbal or physical….it’s electronic. I spend more time texting or reading/writing her on MySpace. Sigh……. I wish she lived closer.
Katie is now in Third Grade and is very active with her soccer team. Her mom is the coach, so Katie is trying her hardest all the time!!! Very cute. Kate and I talk nearly every day and I cherish every moment with her. If we’re watching a movie, drawing, reading…..she is next to me. I love it!!
Nicholas has grown tremendously over the past year. It can be easy to overlook all that he does with both Katie and Christopher doing their own things, but Nick is a natural athlete, a quick study and a handsome boy with great humor. He gives the BEST hugs because he thinks that a good hug is how TIGHTLY he squeezes. An aNICKconda.
Christopher……oh lord. What an amazing boy. What he lacks in age, he makes up with sheer intensity and effort. There is NO stopping this boy. The boys played t-ball this spring on the same team (Red Sox…..groan), and CJ was an absolute FORCE in the outfield. I laugh even now when I think about it. Right now, Chris is playing his first season of soccer….stay tuned, I’m sure to have some cool photos.
Me? Health….check. Teeth……check. Eyesight….fair. Hair…..passable. Relationship……no more questions, you may leave now.
I recently wandered out to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota. A completely "wild hair" impulse mini-vacation and I’m glad I went. The weather was perfect, with the autumn leaves in full display. Spent my nights in Deadwood at a supposedly haunted hotel….hmmm…debatable if that is true. My days were spent sussing out all to do and see in the hills. The place is absolutely breathtaking this time of year. I can now report that after 43 years, I have finally seen Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain. Please take a peek at the photos from this trip, I get too amped up thinking about this trip that I cannot find the words just yet……I’ll come back and edit this later!!! (yeah, right)
O.k. gang, I’ve got to go, hopefully I will get back to this soon and not another YEAR from now!!!! Have a happy and safe holiday season!!
Maui Trip Journal – October 19th thru October 24th, 2007
Left Las Vegas around 3:30 on a cramped 757 plane that didn’t serve any complimentary food items for a six hour flight. I had to sit next to a very um….swarthy Hawaiian gentleman. If most of the rainfall lands on only one portion of Maui, this fella lived on the dry side.
Once we landed, we picked up our luggage and got our rental car. It was a PT Cruiser convertible (gray). For the record, you will never see me drive another. It was too much of a chick magnet.
We checked into our room at the Grand Wailea and had to wait for at least 45 minutes to get our bags…which was rather nerve-wracking because we had dinner reservations soon thereafter. Dinner at Longhi’s Restaurant at the adjacent mall was fantastic. We shared the delicious garlic cheese breads and an appetizer of Prawns Amaretto. For dinner, I had the Filet Longhi while Hols had Ahi Torino.
After our fabulous meal, we decided to give the beach a visit and put our toes in the water. Unsurprisingly, it was a gorgeous night with the bright full moon reflecting upon the ocean’s water.
We were both rather wiped out and both fell asleep rather quickly.
I woke early and did my Maui ritual of watching the island slowly come to life. For me, it is very cathartic and one of my favorite things to do. Initially, all you hear is the rhythmic sound of the ocean with a near black sky. Soon, you hear people stirring while the kitchen prepares the morning meals…you smell the bacon, you hear the sounds of utensils clanging while being placed on the tables. As the night sky gives way to the dawn, you’ll see early morning joggers along the sidewalk that parallels the beach. Occasionally, a boat will slowly churn through the still black ocean heading over to Molokini with a crew of tourists eager to be the first to snorkel the calm waters inside the small islands half-moon crater.
The first birds begin chattering, fathers will take their young children out for a stroll to let the moms get additional rest. Resort landscapers and porters begin their daily task of cleaning and primping the property to its typical immaculate condition.
I observe all of this with a deep admiration and appreciation. This daily routine occurs every day, whether I am here or not….and I feel lucky that I can be here to watch.
I dressed quickly and as Holly was waking, I headed out to the resort coffee shop (Kona Grill). I ate breakfast and picked up Holly a fruit bowl. As an aside….the birds that congregate in this dining area are expert beggars and can be quite annoying!
Our mission today: Suntan (at all costs). We set up our camp along the beach and spent a large portion of the day soaking in the sun’s rays and swimming in the ocean. Yeah….I got burnt.
For lunch, Hols and I had cheeseburgers at the Volcano bar adjacent to the pools. I had a pina colada which was tasty but not very strong.
Later, we cleaned up and enjoyed a very special sushi dinner at Kincha’s, a Japanese restaurant on the property. Our chef was very entertaining and took the time to create gorgeous presentations. We had a spicy tuna roll, a ‘69 roll and two outstanding spicy scallop rolls. After I had mentioned that we liked the colored eggs on our rolls, the chef really turned his creativity up a notch. The last two rolls (spicy scallop and 69 roll) were among the best I’ve ever had.
One for the “AWKWARD” files: Our waitress K’orie, inadvertently called us “Mr. & Mrs. Layton”…..yea, that girl is mine….bought, and paid fer….
After dinner, we walked along the sidewalk over to the Four Seasons Resort and played shuffleboard and billiards.
That evening we rented a movie (The Last Mimzy). Great film, hard to stay awake however.
For breakfast, I ate once again at the Kona Grill and brought Hols back a buttered onion bagel while she was getting ready. Today’s plan was to travel to the top of Mt. Haleakala, an inactive volcano that lies behind our resort. From there, we were to head to Hana, a lush tropical village on the opposite side of the volcano.
The trip to Mt. Haleakala was rather pleasant. We drove with the top down on the rental car and witnessed how the terrain changes as you ascend the mountain. It begins as typical Maui sugar cane fields (funk smell), to agricultural fields of taro or fields being turned for the next crops. Higher up, the clouds seem to close in on you as the farmland yields to alpine forests. As you pass through the clouds, the trees become intermittent and grasslands prevail. Within a couple of thousand feet in elevation from the summit, the verdant grass becomes sparse and eventually non-existent. The landscape is barren with only a few species of drought tolerant plants. Lava rock is predominant. The winds picked up dramatically at the summit and the temperature was quite chilly. Hols and I walked up to the visitor observation booth and after taking a few photos and staring out into the distance for a couple of minutes, decided to head back down the hill…
Been there, done that.
It was cool to peer down onto the tops of clouds. Photos will never do it justice.
From Haleakala, we began a trek over to Hana. This drive is notorious for all of its twists and turns, along with approximately 125 bridges. Many of these bridges are one way and can get rather nerve-wracking! The journey took maybe three hours to complete and while the sights are breath-taking, the winding roads definitely take a toll on your equilibrium.
We stopped at several spots to take photos of waterfalls or to look at the scenery. For all of the negative aspects of the drive, it is amazing visually.
After what seemed an eternity, we arrived in Hana, which from what we can tell, isn’t all that much of a town. We ate lunch at the Hana Maui, an old resort that probably had it’s heyday in the 60’s.
Alas! Lunch was over and we had to begin the arduous trip back to Wailea. This time, the ride was primarily at night, which made the twists and turns all the more exciting.
Footnote: These Hawaiian folks really get wrapped up in their silly superstitions and local legends. For example, I believe that the indigenous people here on Maui caution us Europeans to “Watch out for Bikers”…..who the hell is he? Yeti? Sasquatch?
Another thing…..the locals must really be whacked out on “Maui Wowie” because they think that “Falling Rocks”. Nonsense! Actually, falling sucks in my opinion.
Once back at the hotel, we didn’t last long….what a day!
I slept in a bit longer than I had previously and after getting ready, ate at the Grand Dining Room. I had a perfect table set exactly centered on the fountains that are iconic for this resort. The view was so spectacular, that I called Holly to join me. Outstanding breakfast. Today, we were to head up to Kaanapali to go parasailing. So……we both went on independent strolls around the property, and then headed up to check in at the West Maui Parasailing umbrella on the beach in front of the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali.
O.k….for those who have never done this before….do it….parasailing is oddly nothing like what you may fear. There is no thrill or feeling of vertigo. You don’t fear falling out of your harness and lastly….while rather short in duration, it is a great feeling being airborne. Another “been there, done that” adventure. I’m glad that I got to experience it for my first time with Holly.
Despite Holly’s request that she/we not be dunked into the ocean, the stoner captain and his haggard sarcastic first mate did it anyway…..it was worth it, but shouldn’t that be the customers choice? Oh well…
Before our trip and afterward, we spent time window shopping at the Whaler’s Village Mall. We ate our lunch at Leilani’s which is alongside another sidewalk that parallels Kaanapali beach. This beach is much longer than Wailea’s and the surf is much more active. Swimming was not advised while we were there, the water seemed quite rough.
We sat in the shade and both got smoothies…Hols had a “Strawberry Tsunami” while mine was a “Sea Breeze”….God! I hate smoothies!!!!!
Once we left Kaanapali, we drove down through Lahaina, an old whaling village that is known as a tourist trap and for it’s 140 year old Banyan tree that extends completely over a park.
We drove back to the Grand Wailea, I got ready quickly and as Hols freshened up, I watched the sun set and took some incredible photos.
Once she was ready, we headed over to the mall. Longhi’s again for dinner…Holly had Scallops Longhi and I had my….usual…
You know…….no matter how long your vacation is…….the last day is rather melancholy. We began our day by eating again at the Grand Dining Room and then our quest was to complete or tans (or in my case, sunburn). The weather was absolutely perfect and we decided to do a bit of snorkeling. The water was fairly clear and after a few minutes of getting ourselves familiar with the equipment and swimming over to the shoals and coral reefs, found an eclectic gathering of tropical fishes. Holly and I followed small schools of butterfly fish, zebra fish and a few Picasso triggerfish. We even got uncomfortably close to an eel that we atop a large coral outcrop. Pretty cool! God’s aquarium…
The afternoon I spent shopping for souvenirs while Hols sunbathed and then switched as I sunbathed as she shopped. Can’t WAIT until I see my credit card bill!!!
Dinner was at the Bistro Molokini on the resort grounds and the rest of the evening was spent writing this damn letter!
A real bummer of a day…..woke up early (4:00am), finished packing and checked out of the hotel. Dropped off the rental car and boarded the plane back to Vegas. A brutal flight back…the airline re-assigned our seats to the last row near the bathroom….I think I have black lung from second-hand stench! Poor Holly had to check her bags in and board a flight to Oakland about two hours after we landed in Las Vegas. Long day for her!
Well, that pretty much sums up our trip to Hawaii….Holly, I hope you had a wonderful time!…I know I did! I know this journal is long-winded, but in a couple of years it will be fun to read and remember our adventures!
I love you,