A few weeks ago, my wife Joyce and I and Dale and Linda snuck away from our Alberta winter and ended up on the beaches of Maui. It was a casual but great two weeks in paradise amongst the palm trees, with me, the older guy, even getting brave enough to take a dip in the ocean, while all of us did manage to get a wee bit of a tan, despite being doused daily in gobs of 30 plus sun-tan lotion. The night before we left, we said a little ‘traveller’s prayer’, which we vowed to follow each and every day, no matter what. “God grant me a vacation to make bearable what I can’t change, lots of friends to have fun and laugh with, and the wisdom to never get my knickers in a knot because it solves nothing, and makes me walk funny.”
Our holiday foursome put together a ‘get-out-and go’ plan each and every day, forgot all about diets, hockey scores and shoveling snow, and loved to mingle with lots of the friendly fun-seeking tourists, many of which were also escapees from Canada. Being the history buff that I am, I was allowed to take my pad and pen and camera along on each adventure, and found some great stories and tid-bits about those magic volcanic created Hawaiian Islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
● We visited some majestic churches around Maui, many of which were built of solid stone and were hundreds of years old. We went inside to cool off on a plus 85 degree day, admired the biblical illustrations on the magnificent stained glass windows, and then relaxed on the original wooden pews and used the woven hand-fans that have served as the only ‘air conditioning’ for decades.
● Spam was first introduced to Hawaii during World War II as a standard G.I. ration. The Hawaiians quickly developed a taste for the fatty canned meat, and still consume about five million pounds annually. Yours truly declined to purchase a tin in the supermarket, recalling how much we ate toasted spam and tomato sandwiches at our house in Riverside when I was growing up in Ponoka.
● Hawaiians’ best crops are grown at 3000 feet at Kula, where cool nights, sunny days, and ample rain 365 days of the year are ideal for growing anything veggies to potatoes to strange exotic stuff, with very strict rules on spraying and preservation of the lush and pristine environment in effect. Maui claims to have over a hundred beaches (and just about as many golf courses) and every day at the entrances and parking lots of the beaches there are countless food trucks serving everything from Tacos to shrimp to shaved ice to burgers and more. The neat welcome motto on the front of all those treat trucks is ‘No shoes-no shirt-no problem.’
● Surfing is the ‘Sport of Kings’ on the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the birthplace of this vigorous and wild water activity as far back as 1500 A.D. In the early 1900’s modern surfing’s first icon and super-star Duke Kahanamoko ruled the beach, and is now a legend. Way back when surfboards were made of heavy solid wood (Olo style) Duke also won an Olympic Gold medal in swimming at the games in Stockholm, Sweden, and then toured the world demonstrating and teaching surf-boarding to dare-devils of all ages that yearned to ride five to 50 foot waves with ease. During their winter storms at Hawaiian beaches known as ‘Jaws’ and ‘Pipeline’ professional competitions are held in giant waves and swells that grow as high as a 7 story building.
● Rodeo is popular in Hawaii, with the Paniolo dating back more than 50 years, and these cowboys also had to tend to the cattle in the massive high country ranches, as well as mastering the long cattle drives down the mountainside to the slaughter houses on the mainland. Their Hawaiian rodeo legend was Ikua Purdy, who in 1908 won the World Championship in ‘Steer Roping’ in Cheyenne, Wyoming by roping and tying two steers in 56 seconds.
● Two of the big highlights of our Hawaiian holiday was watching the magnificent sunset every evening, and our whale-watching tour on the last day. For over an unbelievable hour, we got to witness the world’s biggest love affair, as three massive humpback whales circled the boat doing flips, tail flaps, rolls, and slapped their pectorals in an effort to try and impress a single female. These magnificent mammals can weigh up to 80,000 pound, reach 50 feet in length and make the long trip from Alaska every winter to the warm oceans to have their babies and court the ladies. It was a great holiday, but it is always nice to come back to home sweet home, even though the temperature changed from plus 80 to minus 20 from takeoff to landing. Have a great week, all of you.