Why Ask Hawaii?

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I hope you will pardon the diversion. But let’s face it, I’m on vacation.

So wailing away on the wall of wealth building and and travel hacking is quite simply not in the cards right now. I would feel too much like one of those sad souls doing Excel spreadsheets poolside in his beach chair.

So today, dear reader, please allow me to prattle on about the loveliness of Hawaii.

Loving Hawaii is not terribly cool.

One gets much more street cred amongst travelers by singing the praises of a remote place such as Laos, The Basque Hillcountry, The Maldives, or the Canary Islands.

Hawaii is, quite simply, a cliché. It is, I gather, what every American probably thinks of when he or she thinks of vacation.

The food is average and expensive. Everything is given a hefty tourist markup. And gauche island tchotchkes abound.

But none of this takes away from the magic of the place.

There is no other place that I know of that feels quite so vacation-ee.

Here then are 10 things that I love about Maui.

1. 80°.

There is some form of a strange gravitational pull here that requires that everything be 80°. The air temperature, the water temperature, everything.

In case you’re wondering, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 80°.

2. The meaninglessness of walls.

Because of #1, walls becomes sort of optional in Hawaii. The garden is separated from the living room by changing tile colors and little else. Birds happily fly into hotel lobbies. And extravagantly colored tropical branches often poke their way indoors.

Somehow this sends the message to one’s pleasure seeking limbic system that the environment has changed and become more welcoming.

It’s okay to let your guard down. Aaaaahhhhh.

3. The language.

During my parents generation, much acid was taken. And from what I can gather there were these things called “safe words” that allowed people on “bad trips” to find a “happy place.”

Is it a stretch to assert that The frequently uttered words, “aloha,” “keiki,” and “mahalo,” possess a similar magical ability to transfer one’s frame of reference from one of “work,” to one of “relaxation?”

4. The Music.

Often times, while cooking French toast for my family on Sunday mornings, I will put the on Gabby Pahinui station on Pandora. Why? Because Hawaiian music with its ubiquitous ukulele, and long strings of vowels strung together in ever-changing melodies really lets the subconscious mind know that the time to relax has arrived.

Being able to access this sort of pavlovian response by simply turning on your rental car’s radio is a powerful thing indeed.

5. Unexpected bites.

As I previously mentioned, Maui is really not about the food.

But once in a while you get a really surprising and delicious bite.

This trip these bites have included lychee-like Rambutans, The coconut shrimp from a nearby plate lunch place (Honokawa Osakaya), and the spicy shrimp from Gende’s** food cart in Kahului.

These surprises are rarely great values, but they are always welcome, and really punctuate the trip to Hawaii for foodie types like me.

6. Swimming kids.

My kids are seldom more happy than when frolicking about in a swimming pool or playing with their imagination and bodies for hours on the beach.

In Hawaii, on vacation, this is the skeleton around which each day is built.

And any parent knows that when your kids are happy, chances are you’re pretty happy too.

7: Snorkeling.

There is something about snorkeling that is just so incredible.

Obviously the fish and coral are absolutely beautiful in the warm clear Hawaiian water.

But there is also something meditative about hearing your breath repeat itself over and over again.

And when you’re swimming out towards the coral, and a wave going back into the ocean catches you, there is nothing else that I’ve experienced that feels quite so much like flying.

Talk about escapism!

8. Birds.

Last night at dinner my daughter was literally plugging her ears because the loud sounds of birdsong were so overwhelming.

Those type of sounds really let you know that, “you’re not in Kansas anymore.” (and this is a good thing.)

(incidentally, our hotel lobby also includes a pond with multiple flamingos and a black swan. This is a bit Disneyesque, but vacation-ee just the same.

9. Whales.

Looking for whales provides an excellent excuse to stare blankly out to sea for hours on end.

And seeing one of these massive creatures breach, spout, or lift their tail out of the water, never stops being thrilling.

10. Hawaii time.

My wife often remarks that within five minutes of driving into the city limits of my hometown of San Francisco I become a raving maniac.

And it’s true that in that environment I will not hesitate to make a 90° turn into the oncoming lane in order to block the lights and sirens ambulance from stealing my precious parking place.

In Portland, my new hometown, I’m not nearly so aggressive and often find myself driving in the slow lane.

But if Portland is one order of magnitude chiller than San Francisco, then Maui is 10 orders of magnitude chiller than Portland.

Everything here moves in slow motion here which is the perfect speed for vacation.

Anyway, I’m afraid my writing of this blog post, is annoying the corporate consultant next to me who is steadily working on his spreadsheets. So I’d better sign off for now.

Aloha.

** Hat tip to Rom’s Deals for clueing me into this one.

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5 Responses to “Why Ask Hawaii?”

  1. Brad @ RichmondSavers.com March 28, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    Great post Alexi! Hawaii might be a cliche in the “travel guru” circle, but to me it is the best cliche on earth! We absolutely loved Maui for all the reasons you listed.

    I won’t leave a long comment since I know you’re on vacation, but if you get a chance if you’re doing the Road to Hana, take a left onto Keanea Road down onto the Keanea Peninsula. There’s an amazing banana bread stand there that just cannot be missed!

    There’s a baseball field and parking spot just down the road which is a good picnic spot overlooking the water…

  2. Miles Dividend MD March 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Thanks for the comment Brad.

    Maui is great and very relaxing. We haven’t had the courage to take the kids on the long drive that is the road to Hana yet, but it is on our list in the next five years or so.

    And you better believe will hit the banana bread place!

  3. Geri Walsh April 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Alexi!
    I agree with all of your sentiments…and so well-put! If you liked the speed of Maui you should try the Big Island next time if you haven’t already. Hilo is about 10 times chiller than Maui and way less touristy or at least a little more authentic–although sometimes that feels not as welcoming. And Kona is as I imagined SoCal to be 100 years ago—sparkling Pacific waters with the sun dipping dramatically down each night with nothing much to hear except the waves. We rented a little house last winter and went exploring all over and found some fabulous out of the way spots–imagine snorkeling on top of 50 year-old lava beds–still black as night with bright sparkling fish contrasted against the jet black lava ribbons. I’m sure your kids would soak it up as much as mine. And then there’s the thermal ocean pools–about 10 degrees warmer than the ocean water that comes spilling in over the rocks. Anyway, I could go on and on about the Big Island. We became so enchanted last year that we made it our life’s goal to retire ‘off-the-grid’ there..maybe on a mango or coffee plantation. We’ll see if it turns out to be more than lingering island fever or a realizable dream. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog…you still have a great writing voice. All my best to you and your brood. geri

    • Miles Dividend M.D. April 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

      Thanks for the note Geri.

      I’m glad you like the blog.

      The big island sounds great and is very much on our list. We visited there briefly a few years ago and loved it.

      I hope you can achieve your dream of retiring there. And at a young age.

      Save lots and invest wisely!

      AZ

      • Geri Walsh April 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

        We are well on our way…got the investing down pat…not so good on the spending limits/austerity you preach. Practice makes perfect, right? Early retirement is very much in our sights at this point. But we still have a lot of ground to cover before then… college, aging, parents aging, etc. Its nothing if not an adventure! xo

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