Reflection: Final Days In Hawaii


Pokai Bay Beach Park, West Oahu.

Two months in Hawaii served as a delightful respite from "Spudlife." Here, we were able to have a bit of a routine which we will admit to craving after 5 1/2 months on the road. Some habits and routines were welcomed back in our life, while others were a reminder of the white noise and distractions we've worked so hard to let go of during this journey. Looking back, though, we found ourselves contentedly entertained much of the days at the beach, exploring the island in a variety of ways often with visitors by our sides. This was the perfect place to chase warm weather and among all the places we've been, could be a contender with the Oregon coast and Island Lake, BC for "favorite spot." When the feeling of sorrow rushes over me when we're about to leave a place as special as this, Chip reminds me it's best to move on wanting more. I suppose I can agree with that. 

Our final two weeks were spent on the west side of Oahu, also known as the leeward side, in the cheapest and largest vacation rental of our trip. Not a lot of tourists venture this way as it has the undeserved reputation of being the "non-welcoming" side of the island. Our apartment was situated in a working class neighborhood with apparently nocturnal barking dogs, de-mufflered scooters, and locals who left for work at 4:30 am. After some choice words and a few lousy nights of sleep, our ears became accustomed to the commotion. The people, while busy working during the week, let their hair down on the weekends (picture all day beach parties with giant slip and slide bounce houses with pools!) and were overall very friendly towards us. Like anywhere else, you give respect here and you get it in return. Don't walk/run/surf/drive/swim/boogie like you own the place and you'll have a great time and likely meet some great locals.

A Time For Reflection

Yokohama Beach, West Oahu.

As our chapter in Hawaii was coming to a close, we spent a lot of time reflecting on the experience. This part of the trip took on an entirely different meaning in comparison to the beginning or middle sections. As I mentioned, there were plenty of learning opportunities. We had to ground ourselves as we adjusted back into a "routine" lifestyle. We may not have realized it right away but some of the conveniences of everyday life (tv, internet, restaurants at our finger tips, happy hours, food, extra time in one location...), taunted us in Hawaii. We had to be selective, focused, and make sure we were leading a balanced life. Easier said than done!

Without noticing it, some of the white noise and distractions also came creeping back into our lives. We found ourselves reaching for our phones and computers more often. Social media platforms and certain websites can captivate us. Generally speaking we are engrossed with the amount of information and knowledge at our fingertips - the scrolling and (mostly) depressing news, the pressure to 'like' people's stories or photos, the politics, and all the advertising and negativity that is hidden within these sites can be overwhelming to the eyes, ears, brain, and mind. Eventually, we asked ourselves one question: Were these sites adding to our lives or hurting them? It took us a moment to admit. Have you had that convo with your spouse before? "Noooo, I'm not on Facebook that much." Silence. Thinking. Lots of thinking. "Am I?" Silence. "Yes, honey. You kind of are." Or in Chip's case...the Samba (it's a VW thing...). But once we really thought about it and the negatives outweighed the positives, we felt compelled to discontinue using them (or at least scale way back). 

It felt pretty satisfying all around. I remember thinking to myself: when else (in our previous lifestyle) would my spouse and I have had time to sit down, hash out what isn't "good" for us, and come to a conclusion all in one moment? With schedules as busy as they were, we probably never would have even brought it up with one another, let alone noticed. We took this as a great opportunity to strengthen our communication which I admit, can be hard on and off the road. But I've noticed we have been working through discussions more quickly than we did in the past. 

As normal life resumed (and just so you don't think we got off easy), plenty of unpleasant moments happened in Hawaii. There were random noises that kept us from sleeping soundly at night, hyper children confined to houses, a bladder infection (me!), a 24-hour fever that hit the boys, scheduling excursions around nap time, longing for our neighbors and friends, off days (sometimes you're moody in Hawaii too), and parenting moments that left us exhausted and depleted. Some days we wanted to throw in the towel and head back to Durango (a first for us on the trip) and others we were ready to conquer the next five months head on.

To this I will say, first of all, it's okay to have bad days (even in Hawaii). We had to remind ourselves that life happens no matter which paradise or situation you're in.

Secondly, we have been digging deep on this trip. Really trying to get to the core of our purpose. We are asking ourselves hard questions like: What is the purpose of this trip? And even bigger, what is the purpose of our lives? Are we doing what we set out to be doing? Do we need to rework some of our goals to make them fit in with where we are now? Where will go next after Baja? What will life look like when we return home? How will we ensure our core values and goals don't go out the window when we settle back into a big, comfortable house with a routine, and life, and work, and more help with the kids? It's a mystery at this point. But we are learning and working on ourselves individually, as a team, and as a family. We are being tried and tested on this trip but also learning big lessons while having a really great time together along the way. 

Feeling Accomplished

A view looking towards Makapu'u. 

But like a popsicle on a hot summer day, those tough moments and unanswered questions slowly melt away when I think about everything we did, saw, experienced, laughed about, and learned in Hawaii. Swimming skills progressed, we made new and met up with old friends/family that completely changed the dynamics of our visit, fitness and diet goals were reinforced, I was able to take on work assignments, and the boys' bond grew stronger. Chip & I continued to work on our patience (an easy thing to "work on" with toddlers), the boys made (A TON) of new friends, we learned new skills and completed goals, we strived to complete random acts of kindness daily, we gave the boys additional chores which they mostly do without being asked, we became more aware of how we're treating our earth, and we continued to enjoy life together as a family. All of these things kept us on the right track. They kept us pressing forward. Looking back, I feel as though hundreds of memories were made and for that I'm so grateful. 

Friends & Family Are The Best Medicine

At Kailua Beach Park with Mimi/Teedo/Marti (she has many nicknames). 

As a final mention (I'll try not to ramble and cut straight to the photos...) but as I've said many times over, the people we are connecting or re-connecting with is one of the primary reasons we wanted to "hit pause." These relationships are priceless to us. We are so grateful for the friends and family we've already seen on this journey. When else would we be able to reconnect with friends from residency/medical school/college/high school, aunts & uncles, brothers & sisters, moms & dads, nieces & nephews, cousins, grandmas, and friends we met during our year in New Zealand - all in a six month time frame? And some of them more than once!! Hawaii was no different. Here, we added four sets of visitors to our growing list of people we've seen this year. Our hearts feel fuller than ever!

Now get ready because I'm about to get real for a moment so bear with me. Visitors and friends are like a mini glimpse of home to us. They're a part of our past and they hold a special place in our hearts already. Going days or weeks (or sometimes a month) without seeing someone that you really, truly know is hard. You know? Those people that "get you" and laugh at your awesome (or terrible?) jokes. Those people that you can sit on your back step with while your children are napping and ugly cry to when you've had a bad day. Or those people that you have come over for a sloppily put-together barely adequate dinner just because you want the company. We have moments or days on the road when we miss those deep connections that are so easily at our fingertips at home. 

Long story short, it felt so incredibly good to experience Hawaii with the friends and family that made their way here to see us. It felt like home. I can whole heartedly say that the boys feel the same way. They really connect with the people we welcome into our lives and often can recall certain parts of the trip from months ago (we should write them down, it's astonishing what they remember). As a parent, that is an exciting thing to see. So thank you for making this chapter of our trip that much brighter. The memories made with you all have been priceless.

ANd now, the PHOTOS!!!!

With that, I will close with photos (& a small handful of videos). Photos of the friends and family that visited. Photos of us. Photos of Hawaii (much of them on the West Side since I've covered the other areas in previous posts). Photos that will remind me of our time here. A lot of cherished memories were made over the last two months. I hope you enjoy! And if you find yourself planning a trip here, I'd be more than happy to offer stoke and advice!

Some pretty amazing jump shots took place in Hawaii. This one make me giggle. With Rach, from New Zealand.

The insane views from Pillbox Hike, overlooking Lanikai Beach.

A day on the North Shore (Waimea Beach here) with our friends from New Zealand, Rachel and Jeff. We hadn't seen them since 2013! And we picked up right where we left off.

Reid. This kid has a JOY for life. Always: smiling, telling someone a story, asking new friends to play with him and Bennett, laughing, coming up with new ideas. He's the life of the party, this kid. 

My best pal of 17 YEARS! The gal who I've been lucky to call a friend since my first day in college. The gal who introduced me to Chip. The gal who lives in the same town as me in Colorado! 

Rachel and Chip have mad skills. They can walk on water. But only on the special water of Waikiki. In a select location. 

Watching the big wave surfers at the 2018 Billbong Pipe Masters. See that surfer in the background? It might not look like it but those waves were over 20 feet tall!

Bennett's idea of the day: "Hey mom, look! I'm kitesurfing like dad!!!!"

A couple of old pals just hanging out on Lanikai Beach. Sam, Reid, & Owen Butzen.

Mimi came for a special visit and stayed with us in Kailua. We had a really neat time reliving many of the things we did years ago when we'd come with my dad. Some places were very hard to visit, as a flood of memories came with each location. What a great way to experience them though many years later. 

We came here with my mom and had been before. Only previous times it was always windy, cloudy, rainy or all of the above. But this day it was PERFECT!

Our favorite beach on West Oahu - Pokai Bay Beach Park where we spent 8 of our 14 mornings boogie boarding into the day. 

Reid, Penn, & Bennett - We met up with the Jimingers (Jesse & Michelle) on the North Shore one day. 

Do yourself a favor, don't miss this video. Don't you wish adults could dance like this any time, day or night, like kids?!?!

Snorkeling at Electric Beach on West Oahu with Jeff and Rachel from New Zealand.

A visit to see Jesse, Michelle, and family at a friend's family house on the side of Diamond Head. Complete with views, a pool, and lots of space to run around. 

Again, our favorite beach on the West side (possibly the whole time we were there). This is Pokai Bay Beach Park and the surrounding views were unbeatable!

Just hanging with our best friends, the Butzens, on a stretch of beach claimed to be one of the world's best. 

Just hanging with our best friends, the Butzens, on a stretch of beach claimed to be one of the world's best. 

Our Christmas present to the boys - a kayak ride out to Flat Island! It was so much fun for us all!

I wish I could say we put Reid up to taking this picture but a friend did instead. 

Loving our time with Mimi - here at Kailua Beach Park, warming up!

Keller boys reunited with the Butzen boys!! It was AWESOME to see these four getting wild together again. 

Pali Lookout views are pretty spectacular! 

A day at Yokoahama Beach with Angie, Cy, Elijah, and friends. 

Swinging on a rope swing during our final hours in Hawaii!

Kailua Beach Park - a favorite stretch of sand and sea. Look at that water!

Bennett, Elijah, and Critter the dog.

Cheering dad in from a surfing sesh.

Heading out to the beach via wagon rides! Reid, Elijah, and Bennett. 

A boat ride in Kaneohe Bay with friends - Bennett taking a quick dip.

Beachmat: check. Boat: check. Smiling Reid: check.

B: "Here Reidy, I'd love to share this towel with you!"

Final Hawaii Stats:

Days in Hawaii: 59

Island Visited: Oahu

Number of Visitors: 11

Places We Stayed: Kailua 30 days, Waikiki 14, Waianae 14, a friend's house 1.

Holidays Celebrated: Christmas & New Years

Number of Shave Ices Consumed: 11

Number of Poke Bowls Consumed: 16

Books Read: Half a book (it's pathetic, I know)

Ballistic Missile Threats Survived: 1

Device that got launched across the room: iPad (& yes, it is now broken)

Things We Missed Most About Living Out of Spud: Knowing the moon phases, seeing every sunset, and loud music/dance parties

Where TO NEXT: Baja California, Mexico