Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vacation Ruminations

Being far from home in an entirely different setting surrounded by those you love is causing me to reflect on the course of life, ponder the direction of things, and dwell on what really matters. Its as if our daily work-a-day life is performed in some sort of repetitive fog, and being away from that pattern can help the fog lift.

We experienced this just this past Sunday as we visited the famous Kalalau Valley, at the top of Waimea Canyon, on the west end of Kauai. The drive from the coast into the canyon is about 23 miles, but takes about 45 minutes to complete, as the road is very windy along the western edge of beautiful Waimea Canyon, dubbed by Mark Twain as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific". We arrived at the end of the road, in the remote northwestern part of the island. In the past crews have tried to construct further roads here, only to literally abandon their equipment on hillsides and swamps, overwhelmed by the forces of nature. Soon, our family almost felt overwhelmed by nature as well.

As we arrived at the end of the road after the lengthy drive, we found ourselves in fog bank, with whisps of clouds floating over the parking lot. Now imagine this scene for a minute, my wife and I with two girls of 11 and 14 years in the car. Can you not just imagine their wonderfully cooperative and happy spirits after 45 minutes in the back seat of a Mustang Convertible? Might I just trust you to understand that their collective mood was somewhat less than optimal? Very well then.

As we approached the railing the view was stunning. Of clouds and more clouds, that is. Clouds in front of us, clouds behind us, over us, and around us. Normally in situations such as this, I am inclined to sigh deeply, or perhaps even emit a "harrumph!", and venture back to the car to head home. But for some reason, there was something calming about being there in the clouds. I didn't feel a need to leave immediately, nor did my wife. I thought outloud, perhaps if we just wait, the weather might change. And so, we waited. Five minutes turned to ten, and ten to almost twenty.

And then, within seconds, the clouds vaporized, and there before us was a glimpse of heaven, the striking Kalalua Valley, awash in late afternoon sun, all the way to the Na Pali coast. I snapped the photo above right at the moment the fog cleared.

Perhaps if we let Him, God might clear the fog in all of our lives. If we let Him. I wonder.

Charles Warren Stoddard has gone to the Sandwich Islands permanently. Lucky devil. It is the only supremely delightful place on earth. It does seem that the more advantages a body doesn't earn here, the more of them God throws at his head. This fellow's postal card has set the vision of those gracious islands before my mind again, with not a leaf withered, nor a rainbow vanished, nor a sun-flash missing from the waves, & now it will be months, I reckon, before I can drive it away again. It is beautiful company, but it makes one restless & dissatisfied.- Mark Twain's letter to W. D. Howells, 10/26/1881

The Exotic Isles - Past and Present, and 10 Things

Friday – Sunday – August 19-21

Greetings from our nation’s 50th State, the Land of Aloha. I ventured here several times as a child with my parents, but those vacations typically consisted of a view of the interior and pool area of the Hyatt, Marriott, or whatever, and not much ground level experience of life in the Islands. I also found
this website, which celebrates the old Coco Palms Hotel on Kauai (note snazzy photo herein – that is NOT my wife and I) , which has been closed for more than a decade following the 1992 devastation of Hurricane Iniki. I learned about it while doing this, which is something I have always wanted to do.

This is a special time off for our family. Our girls are promoting from Middle School to High School and from Elementary to Middle School – both this fall. We felt it was time for a special vacation, one in which we can enjoy the gift of family and splurge a bit. So here we are 2,300 some-odd miles from home, and happy as clams.

Our family is big on exploring and experiencing new things. For instance, today we did
this. I learned also today that Steve Case, the founder of AOL, purchased 17,000 acres of former sugar plantation land in eastern Kauai several years ago, and leases the land to various public and private uses. For a real estate guy, there is lots of interesting stuff to learn. We went tubing on his land today. From one Steve to another, thanks.

During some exploring and snorkeling downtime last night, our family together watched
Because of Winn Dixie, based on the classic childrens’ book by Kate DiCamillo. This is a wonderful film, full of love, heartache, magic, and good moral themes that I can recommend to anyone. Outstanding film-making! India Opal, the girl who is the main character in the story, wants to learn 10 things about her mother, whom she has been separated from since she was small. In this theme, I thought I should post 10 things about myself for my readers (all 12 of you) to know about me (not necessarily in any particular order).

1. I am an only child, and intermittently shift from blaming all my weaknesses in life on this one fact, to attempting to just “get over it”.
2. My finding Christ at the age of 21, and meeting my wife at age 29, remain to this day the first and second greatest miracles of my life.
3. The birth of my daughters Kelly and Heather, in 1991 and 1994 respectively, are the third and fourth (not necessarily in that order) most wonderful things ever to happen to me.
4. Everything I like to eat best, is not good for me. In N’ Out Burger, Dove Bars, and chocolate brownies. I rest my case.
5. I fall half way between and introvert and extrovert in most personality tests. This can be hard to live with, just ask my wife. It is sort of like being socially pi-polar.
6. The last Democrat I voted for was Jimmy Carter.
7. The first Republican I voted for was Ronald Reagan. I have a story about his change of mind, which is partially informed by
8. The three people I respect most in the modern context are; Billy Graham, John Wooden, and George Bush.
9. I struggle daily with the story of the Rich Young Ruler. It feels like it is about me. Probably will for the rest of my days.
10. In my mind, the greatest moment in baseball was Kurt Gibson’s homer in the 1988 World Series. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

There, 10 things. Up next, more on vacation.

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