Hawaii (or you can go back)

I was gifted with the experience of living in Hawaii for three years.  I was 7 when we moved there and 10 when we left.  I did not then realize what I had been given.  I guess I thought everyone lived in paradise, but simultaneously I also knew I had lived somewhere special. 

We left on January 10, 1970.  It’s funny that I remember that date.  Our last act in Hawaii was to go to the bank and withdraw all our money.  While at the bank, my brother and I got on one another’s nerves.  I poked him.  He kicked me.  And tore a hole in the lace of my very “gourmet” dress.  I was incensed.  I was quite the fan of the Galloping Gourmet, a television cooking show hosted by Graham Kerr who was more often than not drunk.  Gourmet was the highest praise I could give anything. 

Hawaii was gourmet.

We arrived in San Francisco a week later via ocean liner.  The crossing had been rocky and my mother was inflicted with horrific sea sickness.  My brother and I had been left to our own devices for the most part and had the run of the ship.  I remember bits and pieces of that sailing, but the memories are not vivid like some of my memories of Hawaii. My mother describes disembarking in San Francisco as being like the Wizard of Oz in reverse.  We went from technicolor to black and white. 

I always vowed to go back, but not until I could do so with grace and style.  Hawaii is horrifically expensive if one isn’t lucky enough to live in military housing with access to the commissary – the military’s grocery store.

Continue reading

A Perfect Beach Day

The sun is hot on my skin, but a cool wind sends my hair drifting on its currents.

Perfect day at the beach.  Blissfully warm.  Blissfully refreshing breeze.  Silly frou frou drink in my hand.

Frozen strawberry lemonade with vodka, whipped cream, and 3 cherries.  But no umbrella. Alas.

It’s my second one of the day.  The first one lasted nearly three hours. 

I began this perfect beach day at 10:15. Procured the vacation-only drink at about 11.  At two, we trundled up to the beach bar for blackened flounder and French fries with cocktail sauce.  And another drink.  I told the bartender twice as much strawberry lemonade, half as much booze.  He puts it in a 24 oz white Styrofoam cup.  I take most of it back to the beach with me. 

We, my friend and I, sit there until the shadows began to lengthen and the sun moves behind us.  I can feel old Sol’s heat on my shoulders and back.  I feel the stress dripping off me into the sand where the ocean took it far away.

The sound of the surf, the sound of shorebirds, a small child giggling in the distance somewhere.


Continue reading

How do you pack for epic?

packingI am an inveterate over-packer and pretty much an unapologetic one. My Girl Scout training of be prepared is never more in evidence than when I have a suitcase in tow. It’s a compulsion, I must pack for any possibility no matter how ludicrous the likelihood.

I’m leaving soon on an epic trip – we’re scattering Doug’s ashes in various locales of the Southwest – places he loved. Besides packing everything I think I need, I also have to pack him. It seems very odd to have a box of ashes that is all I have left, besides memories, of my beloved – even odder to think of the box and funeral home tote bag as “luggage.” There’s a joke in there somewhere about baggage but I can’t find it.

regerHow do you pack for epic?

It is going to be an epic trip. I haven’t been in this part of the country since I was 10. My family and I traveled Rt. 66 more times than I can count, but we do so making time not sight-seeing. This time I’ve got 10 days to wallow in the glory of Doug’s beloved desert.

He was an over-packer too, but nonetheless teased me about my affliction. He would be amused to know that his ashes are causing me to have to severely prune my over-packing. A box of ashes takes up all of a carryon bag leaving me one smallish suitcase in which to prepare myself for 10 days of 3 different seasons and a variety of activities– yes, this former Girl Scout has to pack for winter, spring and summer as well as hiking, horseback riding and, possibly, hot-air ballooning.

listNo, I can’t add another suitcase. Four of us and all of our stuff have to fit in a rental car. I doubt they want to add a trailer to accommodate my compulsions. So I am trying, really, really hard to be practical and choose clothing that multi-tasks. But with three seasons and a variety of different activities, I am overwhelmed.

I made a list. You know things are dire when I resort to a list. It’s a fine list. Minimal, in fact. The contents of the list are not going to fit in the suitcase. There is pruning to do. Fortunately, I started early. At present, less than a week out, I am about 33% over-capacity. I have the remainder of this week to pare it down.

I’m excited about the trip. I’m spending it with some splendid people and we’re also spending time in some of my childhood places like the Wigwam Motel and the place of my birth. I haven’t seen the southwest since we left Hawaii in 1970 and drove across the country to Quantico, VA. It’s also my first real vacation in nearly 5 years. How do you pack for epic?