Hawaiian Paradise – An Ode to My Father

The warm breeze grazing my skin, palm trees swaying against a picturesque sunny backdrop, sunlight peeking through the sheer flowing white curtains of our ocean front 18th floor resort room with views of Diamond Head, and the faint sounds of a Ukulele playing in the background. THIS was our Hawaiian home for one blissful, perfect week…

On Christmas day this past year, my father lost his battle to ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), a sinister and fatal disease that eventually robs your ability to walk, write, swallow, speak, and breathe.

The last things I remember my Dad talking about (before he couldn’t), were dreams of travel to exotic places. Something he did much of in his 73 years of life. He was a true explorer in every sense of the word. I have him to thank for the ability to make this adventure a reality.

Hawaii had been on my bucket list for years, but never did I imagine I would ever get the chance to sit on the shores of some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and dig my toes into the sand while watching the crystal blue waters roll and crash into the shore.

Not only was this my first time to visit Hawaii, but my first vacation with my 16 year old, without friends or other family members. A trip that holds a lot of firsts for us both..

One of many firsts was trying the local cuisine. A lot of the offerings have a Japanese influence which put us in many a food comas, but isn’t that what vacation is all about after all?

We had some of the best Surfer’s fried rice at the Barefoot Beach Cafe on Queen’s Surf Beach on Oahu. Shave Ice (as the locals call it) from many places.  Let me tell you, shaved ice on the mainlands doesn’t hold a candle to some of the tasty and beautifully artistic creations that Hawaii serves up. We had some of the tastiest at Island Vintage Shave Ice in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center not far from our hotel.

We had sushi delivered by conveyer belt, famous malasadas from Leonard’s, fresh acai bowls for breakfast or a late night snack, the freshest poke bowls you can imagine, some utterly satisfying Spam Musubi from Lawson Station, Giovanni’s famous shrimp truck, and some of the best Kona coffee.

We hiked & had family photos taken at Makapuu Beach Park, parasailed 800 feet above Maunalua Bay with some of the best views of Koko Head, lounged in our resort’s infinity pool, drank out of coconuts at a traditional luau, snorkeled at Haleʻiwa Aliʻi Beach Park, saw the infamous man of war jellyfish (without getting stung), encountered some of the best (and some of the worst) uber drivers, gave leftovers to a very friendly homeless man, made an emergency run to Walgreens thanks to some freak allergic reaction that my daughter had, and got a tattoo, hours before boarding our plane. (That’s a whole other story, but I would highly recommend not doing this the same day..)

It was one of those experiences that stays with you for a lifetime. By the end of the trip, we were ready to come home, sell all of our belongings, and move to paradise; even if  that meant living in a little shanty hut and showering at public beach rinse off areas for a while until I could make my Uber career finally pay off. I never felt more alive or appreciated how amazing this world we live in truly is.

After coming home, reality set back in, and my dreams of Hawaiian relocation have been placed on hold. I will say though, that if you want to experience a truly magical  place that awakens your soul, Hawaii is absolutely one of the dreamiest places to do just that. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for the islands, and cannot wait to get back one day. I think my Dad would have been happy that he was able to help create a memory that will be with us for a lifetime.

Aloha.

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