Tags Posts tagged with "Hawaii"


When the topic of a family vacation comes up or when friends want to celebrate with an excursion, many places come to mind.  Should they go rent out bungalows in the jungle of Costa Rica?  Maybe booking a private villa and ski trip to Colorado comes to mind or even visiting a few national parks on a road trip.  Another great idea is renting a luxury Maui vacation rental with friends.  This is exactly what my group of friends decided to do when my best friend had his wedding and decided to go to Maui.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I would recommend anyone contemplating a trip to Hawaii to take into consideration.

A beautiful villa on the island of Maui

Where exactly is Maui?  Maui is one of the islands that make up the state of Hawaii.  It is just a short plane ride of less than an hour from Honolulu.   What exactly does Maui have to offer?  This wonderful island has it all.  Relaxing on a white-sand beach with a cool cocktail in hand, exploring the dense and lush, pristine jungles and swimming with sea life are all fantastic experiences that can be had on this island.

After deciding that Maui is the best island to visit, the first thing that usually comes up is where to stay.  While there, many tourists decide to stay in hotels.  While this is a good idea if traveling with only one other person, if you want to go with friends, more than likely the only option with a hotel is to book multiple rooms, which can become expensive and impersonal.  One option besides a lonely hotel room that is becoming popular is the option of renting out an entire villa.

A private villa available for rent in Maui

Renting out an entire house or villa instead of multiple hotel rooms at a hotel is a fantastic idea because everybody can use the whole house at their convenience instead of staying in cramped hotel rooms.  Feel like swimming in your own private pool without the annoying strangers you’ve never seen?  Go for it.  Want to make plans to visit the beach with your friends?  No need to go door to door to get together, just meet up in the living room and make them there!

The joy of having your own personal villa in Maui is an experience that will never be forgotten.  When my best friend decided that he wanted to rent out a villa instead of multiple hotel rooms, I thought he was crazy.  After returning from our trip, I could not have asked for a better vacation.  I would highly recommend anyone planning a trip to Maui to take into consideration before booking anywhere else.

Read Part 4

“The Dream Begins,” Italy: Blood and Sacrifice Part 5

There are many explanations for déjà vu. Precognition, or prophecy, the overlap between short term and long-term memory, or if accompanied with hallucinations it could even be considered a form of neurological illness.  When I was eight I had a dream about an island, seven of them actually. Maybe I had heard about them, or seen them somewhere? That’s what I told myself at least, but the truth was I hadn’t. The dream was so powerful I woke up the next day and drew what I remembered. I went to my father and showed him my drawing.

As I gave him my drawing I spoke, “Dad, what is this?”

He didn’t respond verbally. He looked at me thoughtfully for a second, took the drawing and led me into his study. He took out an atlas and found the page he was looking for.

“This,” he said.



It wasn’t exact, but it was pretty darn close.

“Do you want to go here?” He asked me.

“Where is it? What is it?” I replied. He chuckled.

“It’s Hawaii, and that’s a pretty good drawing.”

Seven years later he would call me to his bedside. His body was weak, ravaged by numerous tumors and ninety pounds lighter than his normal weight. The strong mind he once had was now in another place.

“Son, come here,” he managed to utter between coughing fits. I went to his side, where he waved a hand at me and with a twinkle in his eye and strength in his heart he spoke out, “closer.” I put my face next to his. He grabbed my face between his feeble hands and looked at me with a tear in his eye.


“Son, life is too short. Go see the world.”

He then kissed my cheek and hugged me as best he could. The next day the man who taught me right from wrong, the man who gave me the greatest advice on his deathbed, was gone. One month later I began what would become a lifetime journey to see the world. It started in Hawaii and would eventually span five continents, countless countries, close calls, life, death and love.

To be a part of this world you first need to understand it. To understand it you need to live it, not just read about it. Traveling encompasses so many conditions.  Maybe we’re an art major, or we like to cook and drink wine, so we base our travel plans on those conditions. It could be the displacement of family, friends, or lovers. It might be the simplicity of just relaxing and do nothing. For me it was always the human condition and that sense of déjà vu. So many times my emotions outweighed my thought process. Wherever I went I had to go at all cost, as if my soul was calling out from ages past. As I’ve gotten older and look back at all the places I’ve been to and what has happened it all makes more sense.

Lying down in my bunk watching the moonlight on a night train from Rome to the deep south of Italy back in November of 2000 I had no real plan, but I knew it felt right. I was headed to a place that had captivated my imagination and where hardly anybody spoke English. It was the perfect place to get lost.

“The Dream Begins.” November 13th, 2000.

On a night train from Rome headed southeast all I could think about was the description of the place I would call home for what I thought would be the next two months.

“If you want to write a story come to where I am from,” said Sergio.


I met Sergio in Florence the previous summer. He was visiting his ex-girlfriend, who I had also met through a mutual friend. This group of friends, all Italians, had become my main core of friends during my summer sojourn in the majestic Renaissance city. I won’t go into too many details here, but Sergio and I GC-QX5 Imagehit it off right away. He spoke some English, had lived abroad, was extremely intelligent and for some reason I felt he had been through some crazy things.  When he told me I was invited to his home whenever I wanted to come it was intriguing.

“You must come. The seawater is as the Caribbean.

The people are warm and the women have olive skin, long dark hair and their beauty is like no other. There is great food and great wine and the land is red. You will be inspired like a Renaissance poet was with his beloved Firenze.”

I wanted to go right then and there, but timing was everything and that summer timing was not on my side.

Coming Soon: “The Dream Begins,” Continued.

Read all the articles in this series.

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I sat on the beach over a coconut that I’d just broken open.  I’d never opened a coconut without a hammer or another tool.  There was no hammer here at Secret Beach where I’d run away to be alone. I didn’t expect to find a coconut. I didn’t know what I’d expected to find on the north shore of Kauai but what I found was beyond imaginable.

Secret Beach is remote.  I’d walked a half hour from my jungle apartment, through banyan trees, past the beach dog, a cat, singing birds, and a gekko. 

I’d come a long way to make peace with several tragedies in my life which had worn me down. I needed to find a new me; I needed to rejuvenate.  I was exhausted from family deaths, diseases, caregiving, and losing my beloved job.  I thought maybe a month on an island, alone, would heal me.  After all it was called the Home of the Healing Spirit of the World. 

In fact, it was my birthday when I arrived.  I’d rushed to the sea before doing anything else; I couldn’t wait to find Secret Beach.  I’d seen it from Google Earth but that was a digital image.  When finally I made it through the jungle, I was astounded at the scene — cerulean ocean, balmy breeze, swaying palms, white waves crashing over giant rocks.   I shivered in awe of this majestic Pacific panorama and at my gratitude being in this paradise.  

No one was in sight.  It felt surreal, this scene, like it had been painted just for me on my birthday.  About a mile down shore I spotted an old lighthouse.  I started walking, footfalls sinking into wet sand.  I found a single delicate sand dollar as I made my way past huge ocean rocks that looked like a gathering of gray elephants.

In the distance was something colorful.  As I moved closer I saw it to be something made of beautiful bright hues. I thought it someone’s forgotten towel.  I came closer, then expecting to find a swimmer, coming soon to dry off.  I got closer and then to my amazement I was standing over the lovely towel, which wasn’t a towel.  It was a blanket and it held a tiny baby.  A live, breathing baby!

She was about three months old, pink skin, long eyelashes, curly hair with a bow.

I scanned the beach, up, down, for the owner of this baby.  No one was there, in the water or on shore.  The baby was alone.   She looked like a sleeping angel.  She did not move but was completely serene.

I took a photo of her with my phone.  I settled in the sand beside her and tried to figure out what to do.  How could this be – a baby on the beach wrapped in a gorgeous blanket?  What if she woke up?  Would I touch her? I decided to trust.  Trust that nothing bad had happened.  I decided to not worry, but just to be… be with this special baby.

As I sat gazing at her I thought of my own children.  They had been beautiful babies.  I wondered if I had been a good mother.  I became completely immersed in the past, remembering my three babies.  How I loved them, how I missed them.  I began to cry big salty tears. 

 I heard splashing noises and saw a woman rise up from behind one of the elephant rocks, like a mermaid.  I could only see the top half of her.  She had been completely hidden, snorkeling in a tide pool.   She came toward me, smiling, as stunning as any goddess.

She tossed her long wet hair and laughed, showing me a handful of tiny shells she said she used for making jewelry.  She found them every day after the tide went out.  She, the baby’s mother, turned out to be the housekeeper of my apartment.

“Would you like some fresh vegetables?” she asked.  “I can bring them, from my garden.”   I must be dreaming.   A baby on the beach, with her flawless goddess mother.   

After mother and still-sleeping child left, I walked high on the shore and found the coconut near the lighthouse.  I tried to break it open, first throwing it against banyan tree trunks, several times.  It wouldn’t crack.  Then I got the bright idea to slam it against one of the big elephant rocks.  I threw it as hard as I could and, at last, it cracked open.   Juice oozed out.  Thirsty, I let it dribble on my tongue, over my face – it was a fresh, raw, delightful taste.  I felt primitive.  I felt new again.  Strong.  I waded into the tide pool.  I splashed and sank under warm water and rose up again like a goddess.

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Iao Valley

The chilled stream, which traverses through peaceful botanical gardens in the depths of Iao Valley, once turned a vibrant crimson from the bleeding bodies of fallen soldiers. In 1790 Kamehameha I, in an attempt to unite the Hawaiian Islands, battled Kalanikupule, leader of Maui and Maui’s army. Maui’s army, equipped only with spears and rocks, proved an infantile challenger to the muskets, bows and arrows, and canons that Kamehameha I’s army brought. Even though Maui’s army was victim to a slaughter, the geography of Iao Valley extended the fighting time.

The Iao Needle, Kuka’emoku, proudly stands in the center of the valley and provides a 360-degree view. Kuka’emoku once connected to the West Maui Mountains that roam the coastline, but heavy rainfall has eroded the surrounding sediment. Iao Valley is one of the wettest places in the U.S., rivaling only Mt. Wai’ale’ale on Kauai. The 1,200-foot spire is the last survivor of that battle. While it provided a vantage point for Maui’s army, the soldiers lacked the weaponry to successfully counter Kamehameha’s persistent attacks.

It’s difficult to fathom the macabre history of this valley because of its present lush, manicured beauty. Sturdy guava trees arch over the stream, occasionally dropping fruit for guppies and crayfish. Various species of heliconia dangle amid the bounty of banana palms, which are like the shoji screens of the forest. From the palm trees to the myriad orchids, Iao Valley breathes life that was once taken away from it. While exploring the trails reveals Dr. Seuss-like floral scenes, visitors fail to notice the valley’s tender scars. I have stood in Kepaniwai (damming of the waters) the stream that was duly named because of the bodies that dammed the water. The water is fresh and calm, yet can transform into a vicious, rushing river in a matter of minutes because of the severe rainfall.

Reaching the summit of Kuka’emoku, while not an arduous journey, is incredibly rewarding. Umbrella trees shade the valley’s floor, Haleakala, Maui’s 10,000-foot tall dormant volcano, ascends into the clouds to the west, and if fog isn’t haunting the valley, the ocean is visible. I can’t even imagine the fear those Maui soldiers had, watching from the top of Kuka’emoku as the enemy swarmed the sacred valley. Could they have known that it would one day surpass the beauty before the battle took place? Perhaps they only hoped that it would be treated with the respect it deserved.


The state of Hawaii now protects Iao Valley, where visitors flock to in order to hike muddy trails and explore the luscious, botanical gardens. I am continually taken aback at the valley’s beauty each time I return. And seeing the glistening ocean, colored by sharp oranges of the sunset, from the top of Kuka’emoku proves that natural beauty still exists in the world. That view parallels the splendor of witnessing a green flash at the culmination of a sunset. Even though the moment is brief, it’s an image that sticks in your mind forever. And then there’s an ounce of questioning of whether it will be as beautiful if you see it again. It’s unpredictable, but dwelling in the past clouds whatever beauty the future holds.

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Saying Goodbye

Waves rushed up the beach, displacing frail shells and frosted pieces of sea glass with each surge. I sat at the top of the sandy slope, letting the lukewarm ocean water barely wet my feet. One by one, beachgoers packed up their towels and brushed off the sand clinging to their bodies. Three shirtless old men with leathery skin as bronze as the setting sun drank their tall beer cans, wrapped in brown paper bags, behind me on benches surrounded by intrusive pigeons awaiting food. I was going to miss Kaimana Beach on the south shore of Oahu, Hawaii, which sits a few hundred yards from the base of Diamond Head, a dormant volcanic crater. I was going to miss Hawaii and the continuous beauty it provided me my entire life.

I remember feeling an excitement laced with pain as the sun submerged below the horizon. Sometimes taking your home for granted is easy, but when you can call Hawaii home, under-appreciating proves impossible. The ocean, whether I snorkeled under coral arches to trail green sea turtles and spotted manta rays or carved waves on my surfboard, was a sanctuary unparalleled to anything I knew. I faced my fears out in the water, and escaped there to make sense of life when it seemed unexplainable. The ocean provided a regenerative cleanse, which inspired me to confront my father about his drug relapse, and yet it was comforting when aunt died. Perhaps the ocean connected me to my aunt, Lyn, whose ashes I scattered in the ocean when I was sixteen years old. Lots of Hawaii residents relinquish their mea aloha, loved ones, into the oceanic limbo to free them from any earthly ties.

The same ocean that has empowered me, however, has been humbling when I didn’t give it the respect it demanded. I nearly ran out of breath while free-diving through caves under the water. I snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, a marine life preserve, in the outer reef about fifteen to twenty feet below the surface. I dove down and swam through a small pocket in the reef to explore a cave. A small black and white puffer fish was my guide, like Virgil to Dante, through the hole into an opening, where the sun beamed into the darkness. While swimming through that opening towards the surface, I realized that I was too large to wedge through. First my shoulder scraped a purple, bulbous coral head, protruding out of the algae-ridden coral wall, in which spiny wana, sea urchins, hid. I grazed my ribcage on that wall, luckily avoiding the urchin needles, but then I got stuck. I started to panic and watched bubbles filled with my oxygen rise to the surface. Death resembled an incoming set of waves that I wasn’t ready to catch. Refusing to submit to death, I planted my hands on two coral shelves and pushed up, gouging my back in the process, squeezed out of the opening, and bolted to the surface.


I can’t explain why my near death experience resurfaced on my last day in Hawaii, while sitting at Kaimana Beach. As I looked down the Waikiki strip, illuminated by fluorescent hotel room lights and flaming tiki torches at beachfront restaurants, I wondered if I would ever find a place as stunning in the next chapter of my life. Perhaps leaving Oahu would be like dying, amputating my connection to home. But even beauty exists in death, and it’s in these moments that one catches a glimpse of the truth. Hawaii does comprise a large part of my identity, and it took removing myself from the island to realize that.  

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One Thousand and One Travels


In July 1994, “tarmac” wasn’t a word I knew. I called it “the magic carpet main station,” as every plane had to start there if it wanted to go for an air ride.  I was eleven years old, on my own, and vastly excited as I walked down the jet bridge. Magic carpet would take me from Istanbul to New Jersey, with a brief break in Germany. Once in the United States, a guy I had never seen in my life was going to pick me up and take me to summer camp. I was to spend a month with American kids.


In Germany, airline crew took me to children’s playroom. After a while, I, the shy princess who had never left her palace before, calculated the time difference, checked the flight time, and realized something was wrong. I walked up to the woman in charge and told her in English that I needed to be taken to America.


“Don’t worry,” she said smiling. “You have time.” She checked my ticket and her cheerful smile left her face. She made calls, yelled in German and soon another woman grabbed me by my arm. We ran on long corridors with carpets that had nothing to do with fairy tales.


Then I was on the flying carpet again. The excitement. The giant grin. The anticipation. When the ride ended in Jersey, there was no one around to pick me up.  I went to the information desk and asked to announce Jeff Summers – a name I’ll never forget. Within a minute, a tall, handsome Jeff appeared. He looked like a prince; I wished I were older.  


Camp opened my eyes. I learned wall climbing. I hiked in the woods and slept in a tent. I saw it was okay for girls to be in tiny shorts and I realized it was okay for a twelve-year old, green-eyed Ethan to ask me out. I learned how to be on my own in the world and how things always turned out fine. Like in the legend, for those who trust, the wind always follows the carpet.


I’ve since been on a plane at least a hundred times. And it still is nothing short of magic. I spent years in the United States. I studied in Spain, then in Germany.  I went to Costa Rica for language school. I showed up in Hawaii with no travel plans. I went to Cambodia and saw real poverty. Then I went to Singapore and saw extreme posh. I flew to Latvia, Slovakia, followed by Hungary, then Czech Republic. I went west to Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. I went to Italy. I visited many cities in Turkey, including poet Rumi’s abode. I attended nights of mystic religious chanting led by women in red veils and red lipstick.


Through many carpet rides, wonder-by-wonder, I absorbed the American zest for life’s pleasures, the Buddhist contentment, the Israeli courage, the European culturedness, the Middle Eastern hospitality, and the Latin American amor… all on the go. Like lovers Aladdin and Jasmine’s song goes: “a whole new world… through an endless diamond sky.” Traveling is personal revolution in disguise. If we want a peaceful world, if we want our hearts to be like diamonds, we must travel.


I’m my spiritually most flexible, clearest self on the tarmac. It is the main station of many tales and it makes me feel strong, hopeful and free. I’ve sat next to religious Iranian men, Orthodox Jews, young people, old people, an opera singer, an NGO person, businesspeople, devout Christians, atheists, punks, veiled women… I’ve sat next to all kinds of wonderful people on the tarmac. I’ve also sat next to my Aladdin.


In our everyday, seemingly non-magical lives, many of us turn money into a convenient excuse. If you want to go, just grab your can-do attitude and go. Work in a farm in New Zealand. Teach English in Japan. Bartend in Costa Rica. Volunteer in Africa. Live in an ashram in India. Ask your company to transfer you to a branch abroad! Just go! Every turn is a surprise.


The world is a boundless place and it is such richness that we’re all so different from one another. The tarmac is the real red carpet and we are all celebrities. Put your best spirit on and get going! What are you waiting for?

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

I didn’t learn to snorkel as a kid. I had one visit to Barbados when I was 22 and a friend of the family taught me the basics. I was amazed at how hushed the world became when I put my head underwater with the ability to breathe. Everything went away except my heartbeat, my breath and the beautiful world under the sea. I went another couple of times in Hawaii in my 40’s after my kids were old enough to go along. Again it was magical and special.

Then I got cancer. Out of left field my world changed. While I was going through the multiple surgeries and the treatments and the general lousiness of cancer I dreamed about two things: snorkeling and skiing. I imagined myself snorkeling while face down in the MRI tube. I told myself that skiing would happen again. That I would find myself on that mountain and I would fly down it with the wind in my face and I did. A year after the majority of my treatment was over I skied and it was fabulous. There were still many things to come that would challenge me feeling free and easy again but at that moment, in Colorado I didn’t know about them. I just felt the sun and the cold and the wind and strength in my body as I cruised down the mountain.

The following summer we planned a trip to Hawaii. It was a well deserved trip after a bout with a nasty case of pneumonia caused by valley fever. My best friend told me I had to go out on a boat belonging to a friend of hers and swim with the dolphins. There are many people who have issues with this, suffice it to say if the dolphins didn’t want to be where I was they would be gone.

We got up early and went out on the boat. Just the four of us, my husband, our two daughters and myself went with the Captain and his assistant. When we got close to a pod of dolphins I was first in the water. I panicked for a moment before I trusted my snorkel completely and with my heart pounding I convinced myself to let go. Then I just floated on top of the water and watched them dance beneath me. 40 or more dolphins were spinning and swimming and playing beneath me.

In that moment I was free. As I held my breath and dropped beneath the surface I felt all my fear vanish. The quiet surrounded me and all I could hear were the sounds of the dolphins, my breath and my heartbeat. All those fears of the last 2 years just melted away and I was one with the life underwater. The questions of would I live or die, would they have to remove something else, would my kids lose their mom early or would I get to be an old woman and grandmother, would my husband become a widower or would we have a 60, 80,100 year marriage– all of them floated away and I was just there feeling peace.

Where do I feel free now? Anywhere I am because of the rhythm of nature and the hearts of those dolphins. Anytime I start to get scared again I just think of them and how they are waiting for me to return for another swim in peace.

About the Author: Angelique L’Amour is a wife, mother, writer and cancer survivor. She loves to travel and gives her time to her family, her writing and to The Get In Touch Foundation

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Going with the Lava Flow Navigating the treacheries and discovering new land at one of Earth’s fieriest national parks

By Dale Patrick Myers

A towering plume of sulfur-smelling smoke explodes from the crater of this desert landscape as a tepid breeze blows the sweet scent of jasmine and pushes the sinewy smoke over the devastated plateau that tumbles down into an abyss worthy of Mordor. However, this isn’t fictitious Middle Earth, and this smoke-filled scene is not the cause of Mt. Doom. This is Hawai’i, and this smoke is belching forth from one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Having been plagued since childhood with reoccurring nightmares of running from erupting volcanoes and being engulfed by lava, which stem from watching “Krakatoa, East of Java” with my parents and further compounded and solidified by being repeatedly subjected to footage of the Mount St. Helens eruption while in grammar school, I want to experience the freedom from fear of free-flowing lava, pit craters and steam vents. What better place to eradicate this fear than at Kilauea, a volcano that has been continuously erupting since Jan. 3, 1983? However, 4,000-foot-plus Kilauea isn’t the only monarch of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, as its majestic and imposing cousin Mauna Loa is also active. Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984, looms over the fuming and immensely sprawling park and casts an ominous shadow as it is at the beck and call of unpredictable Pele, the volcano goddess, and is the most dangerous volcano in Hawai’i. Mauna Loa is still, silent and snow-capped on this October day, but looks like it could literally blow its top at any moment depending on the mood of Pele. Conversely, there is a seemingly infinite emission of volcanic gas escaping from the mythological home of Pele, Halemaumau crater, an angry pit where after dark the glow from the cavernous crater looks like a downed, simmering meteor that has just rent the earth.

At night, Halemaumau, which is part of the Kilauea caldera, illuminates its eerily beautiful immediate surroundings; however, witnessing this frenetic spectacle in the daytime, I am awarded sweeping vistas of immense and contrasting beauty: from a stripped lava-rock plateau that spills down to endlessly blue and shimmering Pacific waters to rainforest as lush as any found in the tropics. Leaving Halemaumau emboldened by having stood near the rim of the smoldering crater, one of two current eruption sites in the park, I set out on the Chain of Craters Road with the idea of seeing as much volcanism as possible before ultimately reaching the end of the road where lava has literally crossed it, making it impassable except on foot. I choose a pit crater first and hike to the floor of Kilauea Iki, which in 1959 after a series of earthquakes literally turned into a lake of fire. But I didn’t encounter what in 1959 must have seemed like a circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno, but rather a dense, vertiginous tropical trail on the rim of the crater that occasionally opened up to reveal lofty views of the park and the 400-foot crater below. Once reaching the floor, instead of a lake of fire I find a black-sand lava bed that I can roam in any direction.

Traversing the crater, I can imagine molten lava bubbling and gurgling with flaming lava fountains exploding almost 2,000 feet in the air and a shower of lava raining down, which it did in 1959 in this mile-long, 3,000-foot wide pit crater. On this day, however, it is a tranquil sojourn across a soft, opaque floor dotted with ohi’a trees with sanguine flowers and steam vents that hiss like cappuccino makers while trade winds ruffle the tops of the Koa and fern trees 400 feet above on the rim of the crater. Getting back in the car and checking the odometer, I realize there are miles to go and not enough time to see everything along this fiery freeway so I tear off down the road anxious to see where the active crimson lava flows into the sapphire Pacific. A crowd gathers on the serrated sea cliff where the road ends (due to layers of hardened lava that crossed at this point when molten) at the Holei Sea Arch – a medieval-looking natural arch that was caused by surf and erosion that will eventually crumble into the ocean.

From the arch, I set off across seemingly solidified lava but see a posted warning that states “Collapse of lava bench occurs without warning, causing violent steam explosions…” Still determined, I gingerly trek across the potentially perilous ground and spy the smoke rising from where the lava is introducing itself to the sea. I am literally witnessing earth being born, and I know my dreams that night will be of an island that is alive and pulsating whose fiery lungs are breathing new life into it at every moment, and I won’t be running from lava but toward it.

About the Author: Dale Patrick Myers is a travel writer, journalist, editor and novelist from Ventura, CA. He was the editor of MotorHome magazine and is a frequent contributor to Global Road Warrior and The Circumference.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.


In August 2013, I had an amazing adventure in Maui with my wife Kathy, our two kids Ben (12) and Leo (10) and my incredible in-laws.  This Hawaii adventure changed my life. I had worked as a TV and digital programming executive at networks like Playboy TV and ABC Family and produced reality shows, like American Gladiators.

I felt like I was at a mid-point in my career and wanted to try a new challenge.

iPhone 5S wallet case
jimmyCASE prototype August 2013

I had built a prototype for an iPhone wallet case — a generic iPhone case with a strap of elastic stuck together with blue painters tape. The improvised case could carry my drivers license, credit cards and hotel key card, strapped to the back of my iPhone.

As we traversed the island with the kids from one adventure to the next, snorkeling, surfing, parasailing, zip lining, road-to-hana, I quickly dumped my Costanza wallet, and was carrying everything I needed on the back of my iPhone.

jimmyCASE iPhone wallet case Maui stick dance
the family that stick dances together…

Spending this time with my family in the relaxed beauty of Maui, I realized that I didn’t want to be an executive working in an office for the few years left with my children at home. I wanted to take them to their after-school activities, make them dinner, and be with my family. I wanted to be a stay at home dad and entrepreneur-in-residence.

When we returned home to Los Angeles, I gave up my corporate career focus and started full time on the launch of jimmyCASE. The case allows you to carry the things you need most (credit cards, drivers license, a little cash) strapped to the back of your phone.


jimmyCASE iPhone Wallet Case
jimmyCASE sewn on old school Singer machine


I’m hoping the launch of this new endeavor will lead to many new adventures with my family. Thank you Maui for showing me the way.




Special Discount for We Said Go Travel reader: 

Promo Code: TRAVELWITHjimmy  20% off plus free US shipping. Good through end of May 31, 2014.

More about HAWAII from We Said Go Travel:




waikiki view
Waikiki, Hawaii

During my first hula-hoop class I was not happy because the hoop often dropped on the ground. Our instructor, Tisha, reminded us to be gentle with ourselves; each time we picked up the hoop, she instructed us to tell ourselves something nice. My internal monologue grumbled as I initially thought my friend Amy was right. What was I doing wasting my Saturday morning trying to hoop? It seemed ridiculous until the hoop began gyrating around my torso. Not only did I feel accomplished, but it was fun!

Positive self-talk is supported by the latest research from Shawn Achor, an award winning Harvard Professor. In his recent book, Before Happiness, he states: “Before happiness and success comes your perception of your world. So before we can be happy and successful, we need to create a positive reality that allows us to see the possibility for both.” Tisha taught the class to construct an alternate reality where we could be successful. Anchor explains: “If you can open your eyes to more positive details, you will have not only high positive genius but also the greatest possible buffer against down times.” As we complimented ourselves each time we reached down to pick up the hoop, we were mapping a new world of positive outcomes.

I had no idea at the outset when I picked up that hoop in class that I would not only end up owning a giant custom hoop but later travel around the world with a collapsible hoop anchored to my backpack. After learning a few basic techniques, I hooped up to 30 minutes while watching television or listening to disco tunes. At my elementary school during recess duty, I hooped with my fourth grade students. They were thrilled to hula-hoop with a teacher. We invented a game of football toss-pass while hooping in a circle. Our dedicated group eventually made 200 tosses in succession without a drop. Each Friday afternoon we focused on improving our record by encouraging each other. Anchor shares: “Positive genius is all about focusing more of your brain and its resources on success rather than on failure.” Whether learning a new skill like hula-hooping or teaching physics lessons to students, preparing for accomplishment creates a better map to your goals.

waikiki beach wow
Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Waikiki
Photo Credit: Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

When I left Los Angeles in 2008 with my boyfriend George on a year long sabbatical, I was in the process of losing weight. After getting married to George in 2009, I kept the weight off by walking two miles each way to work daily. In July 2012, we departed on another long journey. Almost a year into this second sabbatical, I purchased a hula-hoop in the game aisle of Big-C, Thailand’s Walmart. The hoop was child’s size in circumference and I was out of practice. It took a bit of practice, but within no time I was hooping 30 minutes on the beach each day.

Hooping is an exercise that utilizes core stomach muscles, requires concentrated balance and it truly makes me happy. Anchor illuminates: “Positive geniuses know that to see the things others miss we must step back and take a departure from the way we have lived life up to this moment.” Due to my willingness to try something new and take a group class, I learned a new hobby. Even though a few teachers deemed hooping with our students as foolish, the children thrived from the attention and for me, it became a favorite part of the workweek. In the hula-hoop circle, we were all equals. Many of the students had the opportunity to turn into teachers; they taught me new tricks and proudly showed off their skills.

Outrigger Reef room
Stay at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach
Photo Credit: Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

During our sabbatical travels, hooping has become a great way to meet new people. While staying at the gorgeous Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Honolulu, we went for a stroll on Waikiki beach and saw monk seals. Later we tried out SUP Paddle boarding using our Smart Destinations Go Oahu cards.. In the evening we went to a delicious dinner at Ocean House Restaurant with our new friends, Nancy and Dan. My husband loved the edamame humus that nicely accompanied a variety of delicious fish and beef dishes. Friday night fireworks on the beach could be seen from our seats at Ocean House Restaurant where we had earlier marveled at the stunning sunset!

Nancy informed us about entertaining and educational activities in the hotel and at Waikiki Beach Walk, most notably the hula-hoop exercise dance class Saturday afternoons at 4pm.  The teachers, Saarika and Kate, the duo behind Twirling Girlish, arrived with their families and friends, armed with over thirty hoops in a variety of sizes and colors. We were swept up into a storm of circles, forming a hula-hooping frenzy. With a large hoop and encouragement, even my husband George was hooping among the mix.

Not only did we have a wonderful time, but also learned new tricks. It was so fun to hoop together with the group. The instructors invited us to Sunday Circus Jam during sunset on Waikiki beach. When we arrived a day later, we were greeted like family. We participated in the various circus activities and even helped film the video for World Hoop Day. This evening would be the final sunset of our second sabbatical year abroad but while hula-hooping together, I knew many more days of travel, happiness and friendship were on our horizon.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

About the Trip: Lisa and George would like to thank the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts as well as the Oahu Visitors Bureau for their generosity. All opinions are ours and we highly recommend you visit Hawaii as soon as possible to enjoy SUP, hula hoop jam and whatever makes your dreams come true! We have added the new Outrigger Mauritius to our bucket list! Maybe we will see you there!

Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna are authors of Traveling in Sin and founders of We Said Go Travel. They are accomplished writers, speakers and travelers who are members of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries.

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This article was first published on the Jewish Journal.