My first Saturday in Hawaii was spent in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Though it was a long day of driving and walking, we still saw only a fraction of what the park offered. I took more photographs than on any other day of a vacation that was filled with beautiful views and daily wonders.
We started with a hike through a lush green landscape. Informational markers explained the history of the plants. Most were native to Hawaii; some were ornamental plants, brought in with good intentions, but now causing problems.
Next, we went through a lava tube: a tunnel – large enough to stand in – formed by an active lava flow.
From there, we went by car along the Chain of Craters Road, a 38-mile round-trip drive that descends 3,700 feet to the coast. It has several overlooks to view craters in various stages of regrowth, and areas where the rocks still steam from the hot flow below the surface. It ends where lava has covered almost 8 miles of road since 1986. We made several stops along the route, but our destination was the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph Trail.
Though the brochures said it was less than a one-mile walk to the boardwalk to view the petroglyphs, we all agreed it seemed much farther. The terrain was an uneven surface of lava rock that could not be traversed in a straight line. Every step presented elements that could turn an ankle or cause a fall; there was no shelter from the sun. We carried water, and umbrellas to offer shade. Still, it was a strenuous walk, but so worth it!
After walking along the designated area to view the petroglyphs, you become more aware of them, and notice that the landscape is filled with others. Some designs have a specific purpose. The plain round holes, called puka, are cut into the rock as a place to put the umbilical cord of a newborn. The holes are clustered in family groups. It has a spiritual significance, and is still practiced today.
Other images remind me of Native American designs, carvings on ancient cave walls, paintings in Mycenaean temples, and patterns on early Greek pottery. It reminds me that we all share the same human experience, and the images in our art reflect that. This was one of the most special parts of my trip!
We finished our day at the end of Chain of Craters Road, with a spectacular view of the sea cliffs.
Saddle Road, also known as Hawaii Route 200, received its nickname for being the “saddle” in between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. The road winds through the foothills of Hawaii Island at elevations of up to 6,600 feet. It’s pretty impressive!
About halfway across, though, right about at the place where Hawaii Route 200 becomes the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, you can turn instead onto what is known as the Old Saddle Road. That will lead into countryside that, by appearance, could be any spot in the mid-west, with cattle grazing in green pastures. We were headed for Waimea, a town that could have come straight out of a cowboy western, where we had dinner reservations.
It was the road that made me laugh out loud, though. Old Saddle Road appears to have been put down over the existing terrain without so much as smoothing out a bump first. I tried and tried to get a photograph of its crazy trajectory, but all the twists and turns made it impossible. The road goes up and down while crazily zig-zagging over the land. It often banks, just by chance, it seems, in the opposite direction of what would make sense for the direction of the curve. The Only in Hawaii website has this to say:
Combine vision-obscuring fog, rough roads, narrow lanes, marginally maintained pavement and several one-lane bridges and you’ve got the old Saddle Road. The highway was once considered to be so dangerous that some rental car companies would forbid their customers to drive on the road.
The road is void of any gas stations, stores, or anywhere manned to get help. It is advised to make sure you have the number of an island tow company before you begin your journey. But be careful – there are portions of the road with no cell service.
My son-in-law is a good driver, and I was never frightened, but travelling down the Old Saddle Road was an experience I won’t forget!
Was it only five days ago that I was writing about “Intention?’ Yes, that seems to be true. Five days ago, I had big plans for continuing good habits, getting busy with new goals, and finishing what I’d started. Five days ago, I was going to make the very best of this enforced time at home. I was intent on it.
This morning, I woke up in the pajamas I’ve been wearing for three days, wondering what day of the week it is. Where has the time gone? What have I done with it?
I’ve been communicating with the outside world through social media and this blog. Beyond that, I had long phone conversations with my brother-in-law, Keith, my sister, Brenda, and with my daughters. I was so accustomed to being able to chat with my daughters every day, I feel like I’m going through withdrawal!
I wasted a good deal of time going through the huge pile of [mostly junk] mail that was waiting for me when I got home. I spent the better part of two days on the computer trying to submit my claim for flight insurance. One morning was spent attempting to make payments over the telephone. Downloading photographs from my tablet to my computer was another job with a built in distraction quotient.
Though I’ve managed to catch up on the three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy that I missed while away, I have yet to step foot in my studio. I washed the sheets and caught up on the laundry, but I have not unpacked or put away the clean summer clothes I carried home from Hawaii. I manage my walk, and my little yoga routine each day, but seem to have abandoned my “serious exercise regimen” before it ever got off the ground. So much for good intentions!
Well, this is a new day! I started by switching out my pajamas for leggings and a T-shirt. I abandoned the sweats (brown sweat pants with a hole in one knee and assorted smears of grease on the legs; pink sweatshirt with raveled cuffs and a big drip of coffee down the front) that I’d been throwing on over my pajamas to walk the dogs. I dropped them into the laundry basket, replaced with clean gray sweatpants, frayed at the ankles, and an over-sized lighter gray sweatshirt. Clean socks.
This feels like a fashion statement (self-quarantine style)! Maybe it will lead to bigger and better achievements throughout! I adore a “start-over.” It begins with this new day.
One morning, three weeks ago, we left the house early, to go see the mountain. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. At 13,803 feet above sea level, it is the highest point in the state. It has its own weather. Though it would be visible from almost any location on the island, it is shrouded in clouds for most of every day. You have to get up early to see it. That was an outstanding morning!
Though that one stood out, most mornings in Hawaii were special. Warm enough, always, to carry my coffee outside, I’d sometimes listen to the gentle rain from the protection of the covered porch. Though it rained almost every day, the showers never lasted long, and the sun could always be counted on. I’d scatter bird seed for the chickens, then write, and draw, and do my yoga routine. One or both of my daughters would join me there, and we’d read, or chat about the day ahead.
Vacations, especially in new and exotic places, make everything, including wake-up rituals, seem exceptional. But mornings here, in my little house on Beaver Island, are pleasant, too. These last few days, since I’m temporarily off work and readjusting to the six-hour time difference from Hawaii to Michigan, I wake up naturally. No alarm clock.
I keep my morning habits of journal-writing, drawing and yoga as I let the dogs outside and back in. By the time I pour my first cup of coffee, I’m ready to check the news. Later, I’ll take my first walk of the day. No rush, though. I like to take my mornings slowly. All the more delightful that way!
I remember trying to read when I was five years old. I couldn’t wait to learn! One after another, I figured out the sounds of the letters. I begged for information, and received it from anyone that would offer it: parents, grandparents, and my sister, Brenda, who was just one year older than me. Once, my mother found me weeping in frustration as I struggled through a book. “This doesn’t make any sense,” I told her. I was sounding out the word K-N-E-W, and it sounded, to me, like “canoe.” I knew what a canoe was, at whatever young age I was, but I did not understand how it fit in that sentence!
I have almost always loved to learn. I went through just a moment in kindergarten when I deliberately colored outside of the lines, as that’s what the little girl sitting next to me was doing. There were a few of my teen years when it was much more fun to make trouble than to make good grades. It seemed appropriate, at that time, to “play dumb” in front of boys. And I have to admit, by the time I got out of high school, I thought I’d learned all I wanted or needed to.
That didn’t last long. When school learning bored me, I read. When I’d gone through all of our bookshelves, and didn’t have a library book at hand, I’d page through the encyclopedias, and the annual editions that came as a bonus with the set of encyclopedias, and Mom’s old collection of Books of Knowledge.
I taught myself to knit and crochet. I made crude attempts at quilting and embroidery. I learned several card and board games. I wrote [bad] poetry. I drew. As a young mother, I often had craft projects going. I learned to cook. I took a vegetarian cooking class with my mother-in-law. Then, a girlfriend and I took an evening art class at the high school.
When my second daughter was four months old, I enrolled at the junior college. That did it! College was a thousand times better than high school. I loved it! I studied Art, but also Literature, Poetry, and Writing. I took a few swimming classes, then a self defense class and a circuit training class. I studied Geology, Biology, Astronomy and Physical Science. I loved Art History. Never again did I think I’d had my fill of learning.
Raising a family, starting a business, several moves…these things sometimes slowed me down, but never stopped me. I earned an Associate’s Degree, then a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and, when I was forty years old, a Master of Fine Arts Degree. I had a minor in English Literature, a certificate in Women’s Studies and another in Creative Writing. I was done with school, but I wasn’t finished learning. I don’t think I ever will be!
It was never about the credentials, or the degrees. It was the knowledge I was after. I still prefer books, whether fiction or non-fiction, that have something to teach me. I am still hungry for new ideas, and new ways of doing things. I’ve become a [slightly] better quilter; I love trying out new crochet patterns. I am continually trying out new methods of art-making.
I have, sometimes, a hard time sticking with a project, and I get easily bored. I’ve figured out that I like the learning much better than the follow-through. I’ve resigned myself to that, just as I’ve accepted the boxes and totes filled with unfinished projects
Most recently, I filled several pages with notes on the Hawaiian language. I’ve become familiar with their alphabet, and how words are divided into syllables, which is key to correct pronunciation. That might be enough; it’s not as enticing when I’m not presented with road signs to practice on. That’s okay. There will always be something else I can learn.
I’ve had so much kindness shown to me in my life, I worry that I’ve forgotten too much of it! A couple examples:
My sister, Brenda, has three large paintings that, when I had more access to art materials than funds, she convinced me would be a fair trade for enough money for me to get caught up. Temporarily, at least. In fact, she has contributed so regularly to my well-being, monetarily and otherwise, that she should always have free access to as much of my artwork as she’d like. Even then, I think I’d be ahead in that arrangement!
Once, newly divorced with two young daughters, and facing Christmas with no money, my friend, Linda, and her mother joined together to send me a check. It was accompanied with a letter that managed to remove any shame or embarrassment I would have otherwise felt at the position I was in. Their generosity saved the holiday; their words gave me the knowledge that I was loved, and the courage to continue on my path.
I know I haven’t shown my appreciation enough, or thanked the kindness-giver long and heartily enough to make it clearly understood how much it has meant to me. Yet, even if my memory often fails me now, no kindness has ever been taken for granted. It was always noted, and valued. In recent days, examples are easier to come by:
My daughter, Jen, and I went to Hawaii, to visit my other daughter and her family. I left home on the thirteenth of March. The Corona Virus was making the news, and was discussed seriously, but was still a small blip on the radar. That changed, by leaps and bounds, on a daily basis. We watched the statistics rise, and the news get more ominous. In Hawaii, businesses, then parks and beaches were shut down. Flights were cancelled. My daughter, Kate, her husband, Jeremy, and their young adult children all displayed gracious hospitality as our one-week vacation turned into two, and then three.
I can’t imagine how I’d react, coming home from work day after day to see two adults sitting on the porch reading, helping themselves to food and drink, disrupting household habits and sleeping arrangements. I’m sure it would not be the cordial, benevolent treatment we always received!
With all of the health issues to worry about, finances were last on my list. Still, a one-week unpaid vacation, with travel costs and kennel fees was in my budget. Three weeks away, plus two weeks of self-quarantine was not.
Early on in our delays, family friend, Joel, contacted me to see how the dogs were doing. Before the day was out, he had called the kennel, and taken care of a good portion of the boarding costs! A few days later, my friend Kim wrote to let me know that she, her husband Ralph, and their son, Riley, had joined together to do the same.
I got a message from my friend, Ken, who contributes so much, always, to the welfare of Beaver Island, offering to help in any way he could. My sister Brenda sent several messages assuring me that she could help, too, if necessary. Customers and co-workers reminded me that I was missed at the hardware store. Several people offered to check on my house, bring me groceries, or help in any way they could. My friend, Audrey, said she’d like to talk to me about purchasing artwork when I got home. Each offer warmed my heart and raised my spirits in more ways than I can say!
We finally made it back to Michigan, late on Friday night. Because of jet lag, the Easter holiday, and Beaver Island flight schedules, I couldn’t leave Jen’s house until Monday morning. My daughter, I’m sure, was just as anxious to get settled in to her own home and her own routines as I was, to mine. Yet, though we had already spent almost a month in each other’s company, though we were both exhausted from travel, and though I was at least a little bit cranky, she still had two days to put up with me. Which she did, with patience and grace.
When I stopped for gas on my long drive north, I noticed I had two seriously low tires. Not having a tire gauge, and only the barest knowledge of how to proceed, I asked the attendant if there was anyone who could help me. I didn’t hold much hope, as the “attendant” was there only to run the cash register inside, and the air pumps were a separate business next door.
I barely had the question out of my mouth, though, before a customer two aisles over raised his hand, said he could help, and told me to meet him at the air pumps. He had a tire gauge, and knew what he was doing. When he thought I’d run out of quarters, he moved to put his own credit card into the machine, to keep the air flowing! He refused the cash I tried to give him for his help. I reduced the amount to a five dollar bill, and begged him to at least accept that, to get himself a pop or a cup of coffee for his trouble. Still, he refused. “I was happy to be able to give you a hand,” he said as he waved good-bye.
Oh, I know, there’s a lot to be worried, scared, sad and miserable about right now. Maybe, when I get to the letter M, my title will be “Misery,” and I’ll write about all of it: in my life; in this community; in Michigan; in this country; in the whole world. Maybe not. Today, I have the letter J, behind as I am in this April A~Z challenge, and I choose to focus on Joy.
My little dictionary defines joy simply as “gladness, pleasure, cause of this.” It doesn’t suggest that it only occurs in the absence of pain, grief or concern. So, I won’t be apologetic for feeling glad when good things happen, even when they happen in the middle of so much misery. I love the line from Steel Magnolias, “laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Here are some things that have been bringing me joy:
My three dogs. I picked them up from the kennel last evening, after a month away. They look good! They were happy to see me, and are glad to be home. We’ve all been grinning at each other pretty steadily for the better part of the last twenty-four hours.
Clean sheets. One of the first things I did, when I got home yesterday, was strip the bed and wash the sheets. I thought sleeping in my own bed after such a long time would be extra special if everything was fresh and warm from the dryer. I was right!
Conversations with each of my daughters. After three weeks of being able to chat daily with them, of being able to catch their eye and smile, or give a hug whenever I wanted to, coming home caused a bit of a shock to my system. Today, I talked on the telephone with both of my girls, and it helped immensely with the withdrawal symptoms!
After my first few days in Hawaii, I set my camera aside and took pictures only with my little tablet. From there, it was easy to post them right away. This morning, I pulled the SD card from my camera, and transferred those photos to my computer. Oh, the lovely memories!
The big island of Hawaii has a good population of wild goats, pigs, cats and chickens. We caught glimpses of the goats when we drove through the mountains. As we walked past one resort on our way to the beach, we marveled at about fifty white cats all sunning themselves in the open courtyard. The small, shy Kona pigs could often be seen in the countryside, and three of them visited my daughter’s yard regularly. Chickens came every day: Nighthawk was the rooster that my grandson named; Dolly and Lola were the names my daughter and I gave to the two hens that kept him company. Toward the end of our visit, Dolly had quit coming into the yard with the others. She’d show up every third day, desperate for food, and rushing to eat and go. “She’s sitting on a nest,” I told my family, “she needs to get back to keep the eggs warm.” Last evening, I was happy to see a message from my granddaughter: “Dolly came back but this time with three chicks”
Today, I’ll be on the road, driving north, headed home. This day is already full. I have to gather my belongings into boxes, bags and suitcases, and load the car. The drive to Charlevoix will take about four hours: 127 north to I 75 to M 32 to M 66. I’ll fill the car with gas before going to the airport. There, I’ll unload all my belongings to go on the plane.
Once back on the island, I’ll retrieve my own car from the back parking lot, and load it up. To the Post Office next, to pick up three weeks worth of mail, and then to the kennel to pick up my dogs. I’ve missed them so much! Home, I think I’ll start by taking the dogs for a walk. Next, I’ll have to once again handle all of the suitcases, boxes and bags. I’ll unload the car, put away the groceries, unpack, start laundry, and give all of my houseplants a drink of water. The rest of the day, I’m going to relax, enjoy being in my own home, and love up the dogs. That’s enough.
After that, though, I have two weeks of self-isolation at home. Just in case. I am healthy; I’ve been very cautious this entire trip, rarely coming in contact with anyone beyond my family circle and practicing good safety procedures. Still. In order to get home, I had to travel through airports and on planes. The small communities in northern Michigan have far fewer resources to deal with illness. We have to all be aware, and do our part to keep everyone safe. So, just in case, two weeks.
If you know me, you know I have plans!
First, I plan to keep up with the good habits I maintained while in isolation in Hawaii. Every day I wrote in my journal, added drawings to my sketchbook, studied, and read. I did yoga and other exercise daily, and almost always got in a good walk. These are habits I always aspire to, but sometimes work gets in the way. As I cannot go to my job until the quarantine is over, there is no excuse!
I’ve been missing my studio space and art supplies. I intend to spend some quality time there, clearing out the cobwebs and getting some good work done. This is an ideal opportunity to push the boundaries, explore new ideas, and finish up works in progress.
If spring is on the way, there is plenty to do in the yard and garden, too. I haven’t yet adjusted to this weather, after being spoiled by Hawaii’s perfect climate. I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve been hearing reports of warm weather and spring-like days, but also of high winds, hail, rain and snow. I guess I’ll see when I get there!
As always, I have plenty of good intentions, combined with high hopes. If I stick with my plan, I’m sure the two weeks will fly by!
I’m not home yet. Our flight from Hawaii didn’t arrive in Lansing until ten o’clock on Friday night. We had left Hawaii at nine o’clock Thursday night. Even considering the time change, that was a long time in airports and on planes. Saturday was a day for recovery! Today is Easter. My daughter Jen and I are preparing a nice dinner here at her house in Lansing. Tomorrow, I’ll get up and head for home.
And, boy, I’m looking forward to it! I have loved all this time with my family. I have so enjoyed the travel and adventure. Beach weather in March is always a treat for this Michigan girl! Still, enough is enough. I haven’t been away from my home for this length of time in my entire adult life! Though it was unplanned, I think I rolled pretty well with the unexpected changes to our itinerary. But, now, I’m ready to go home!
Over the course of the last three weeks, I managed to fall madly in love with Hawaii. It started as a one week planned vacation to visit my daughter and her family, who are living there this winter. Due to complications involving quarantines and cancelled flights, it became a much longer stay.
I enjoyed every bit of it! We did plenty of exploring, and fit in lots of adventures, but I also enjoyed all of the simple day-to day activities. Hawaii is an easy place to love. When family is there, the attraction is even greater.
No matter, my home is in Michigan. That’s where my physical house is, with art studio, books, plants, and all the material things I’ve grown attached to. It’s where my dogs are. Poor Rosa Parks, Darla and Blackie Chan! I assured them I’d be back soon! Though they are safe and well-cared for in the kennel, and fortunately cannot read a calendar, I miss them terribly!
We were finally able to arrange transport from Hawaii back home to Michigan. Though I’d been getting pretty anxious to get home, as soon as the flight was set, I got misty! So hard to say good-bye! Every day was filled with “lasts.” Playing Scrabble with Kate and Madeline, I thought, “how long will it be before we can do this again?” A game of dice with the family made me teary-eyed, knowing it would be a long time before we’d all gather around the table in fun and laughter.
There was the last day of taking my coffee outside to enjoy the morning warmth. The last time I carried birdseed out to the edge of the yard to feed the wild – but pretty tame – chickens. There was our last trip to a beach, where we marveled at the black sand, and found shells and bits of coral.
There was our last family dinner, all gathered around the table, followed by loading our luggage into the car. There was the last, sad trip over Saddle Road just as the sun was setting, that took us to Kona, where our flight home would begin. Last, there were the final sad hugs and good wishes before getting on the plane. Beautiful, wondrous Hawaii, it broke my heart to say good-bye!