Where am I now?

That is a very good question!  Seems I’ve been in a different zip code every couple days for the last 3 weeks.  I flew back from Maui to Oakland on Dec 17th and hit the ground running with everything from holiday card sending to swapping out my Hawaii clothes for ones more appropriate for the 30+ degree drop in temperature.  El Nino is bringing it real to this drought stricken state which barring floods and landslides, is a very good thing.  It’s also a big shock to my system as I’d grown to enjoy the 80 day / 70 night temps of Maui.  Socks, what are those?

After Oakland it was Monterrey for a few days then onto to Ventura/Ojai for the holidays with family. I have scads of relatives in Southern California so I’ve been making the rounds of guest rooms.  When you work for yourself, taking time off can be tricky even around the holidays but I managed to do very little work over New Years weekend and planted myself on the couch reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) SO GOOD! and catching up on the latest season of Dr. Who.

Being back in Cali I can’t help but compare life here to the islands. It really is vastly different and the weather is the least of it.  Driving here again was a shock.  Not only are highway speed limits 20 mph slower on Maui but people are WAY more chill on the road. If an ambulance is on the road in Hawaii everyone pulls over and stops, EVERYONE.  If there is a merge coming up, there are rarely people speeding into the merge lane trying to get ahead.  That shocked me the first time I saw it – people were not being jerky drivers!  I guess they know it’s an island and you can only cover so much ground. There are loads of reasons for the giant differences in culture, not the least of which is that when you are living in paradise why would you rush anything?

Everyone has been asking me if I want to go back to Hawaii to which I of course answered a resounding YES! More on that later. 🙂

I’m in LA for the next week and will head back to SF on the 16th.  After that, I fly to Washington DC to stay with my Mom and Brother for a while before heading west again.

I have posts drafted for my Maui travel guide as well as about my week on the Big Island so those will be out soon(ish).

Here are some photos from my recent travels, my holiday card and a fun map outlining trips taken since October.

Aloha!

TravelMapJan2016

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‘Mo Mana on Maui

Mana is a Hawaiian word for spiritual force akin to the Chinese term for qi / chi.  Some places & people have more mana than others, while nothing on this island so far has given me the heebee jeebies I have found some places that feel like they have more mana flow than others.  Take that as you please – it’s really difficult to describe in that ‘you have to be there’ kind of way.

Upcountry

I finally ventured “upcountry” which is up along the outside of the Haleakala volcano crater. It’s always cooler there and it’s where a lot of the farms are. The drive is impressive and breathtaking in both fun and scary ways.

The highway to upcountry towards the top of the Haleakala Crater.
The highway to upcountry towards the top of the Haleakala Crater.

I visited the much famed Ali’i Gardens and spent the rest of the morning checking out art colonies and out-of-the way places that my friends recommended. The drive was impressive and luckily the tuna can and I made it there and back.  I’m totally addicted to local Hawaiian food which is a mash up of a bunch of different cultures.  I stopped at the Pukalani Superette and grabbed some of the best local food I’ve had here – and it was super cheap too.  Win!

 

Nakalele BlowholeNakaeleWheeffeew

Yep, that’s what it’s called and I drove there windy roads, single lane bridges and all. The cliffs are impressive and downright scary. I started the hike down to get closer to the blowhole and my phone slipped out of my hand and bounced down the cliff side – luckily it landed before the next big drop into the ocean. Wheeewwff! I managed to crab crawl down v-e-r-y slowly and carefully to retrieve it. This is me after I got back up safely. —->

And here is a short video of the famed blowhole doing it’s thing.

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There she blows! Nakaele Blowhole – Maui, Hawaii

A post shared by Rev Julienne (@juliennejg) on

 

La Perouse Bay / Keoneʻoʻio Bay & Lava Fields
Almost the end of the road La Perouse Bay / Keoneʻoʻio Bay
The road along La Perouse Bay / Keoneʻoʻio Bay

This has to be one of my favorite places on the island so far – granted I have *not* been to 2 of the most popular places, Hana and the top of the Haleakala crater.  I went for a morning hike and ended up staying pretty much all day.  Keoneʻoʻio Bay is the end of the road past a very large beach park called Makena.  If you have a tough enough vehicle you can keep going on the trail/road but it will be very tough going over scrub and lava.  I hiked in and kept walking till I found a sandy bay to sit and have lunch.  I can’t put specifics to it but I just felt really good there, like time slowed down and I felt like I was supposed to be there.  The lava fields go all the way to the ocean and it’s a great place to fish.  I hung out with a family of locals that was fishing there. Evidently they had started catching fish when I showed up so when I got up to leave they called over and asked me to hang out.  I said sure – gimme one of those beers.  It was a really lovely afternoon and I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

 

Aloha-ness

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy. We have no equivalent word in English, which is sad when you think about it.  Commonly ‘aloha’ is used as both a greeting and salutation.  Every aloha is a blessing!  That – I think is wonderful and wish more people understood what aloha-ness means when they say it and receive it.

Maui has her own spirit and sense of place that is quite different from the other islands visited in the past.  I’ve been trying to think of parallels or metaphors to delineate the experiences but they have yet to form.  Maui has a slowness to her and the sense that I was still arriving from the last post has begun to dissipate – but quite slowly and subtly.

I haven’t found words yet for this sinking in and waking up feeling of being here (ok maybe those words will do but there is SO much more – only time will tell).

For now, pictures will tell the story.  Roll over for captions, or click any to open a slide show.

Aloha!

Still Arriving

There is no ‘why’  – just ‘go and do’.  My walkabout was built on news that shouldn’t have been news and then 8 months of “what the hell do I do? & where should I go?” plus some working my butt off to make things happen. Things that involve getting me to leave the place I called home for the last 18 years for places unseen. And friends – really fricking amazing and generous friends. And family. And understanding clients. 😉

After 8 months of kvetching and wondering I decided that the the ‘why’ was really a ‘why the hell not?’ so I booked 10 days in a Maui bungalow to start, then I looked for a cheap one way ticket.

I’m blessed with a job and a life that is not strictly tethered to one location – just decent WiFi.  I sold or gave away 85% of my possessions and headed west to Maui 6 days ago.

I’m still arriving. You know, in the existential sense.

Half filled storage unit, boxes, gypsy car, the corner trading post/giveaway
Half filled storage unit, boxes, gypsy car, the corner trading post/giveaway

I’ve also been working on my relationship to ambiguity (as in trying not to wrestle it to the ground and force it into a nice neat controllable situation).   Ain’t nothing in this life that is for sure ‘cept death and taxes, so why fight it eh?

I could never say that this walkabout has been on my own steam.  Not by a long shot.  I’m blessed with friends & family who helped me sell my stuff, move my stuff, store my stuff, provided a mailing address, surprised me with birthday/travel gift$, wrangled my car and drove me to the airport. I also have an amazing team who covered projects so I could take my first real vacation in years.  It takes a village yo!

OAK-->OGG
OAK–>OGG

Stepping onto the plane at 6:30am I was groggy but still awake enough to wonder WTF I was doing.  Then I got the back row of the plane all to myself and watched movies which knocked out the part of me that still thought this was a crazy idea. Distractions can be lovely.

A tail wind and a half empty plane made for a quick 5 ish hour flight to OGG (Kahului airport Maui).  No turning back now lady!  The valley isle awaits!  Also waiting was my 2004 Toyota Echo which I nicknamed “The Tuna Can”.  She makes a funny sound in reverse, has seen better rust-free days but the A/C works and doesn’t scream ‘Rob me I’m a tourist”. Also the price was right. When in Hawaii – do as the locals do – don’t be a jerky tourist.

I was also greeted by my pal Pete who has been super awesome and helps me not look like the jerky tourist mentioned above. #ihavethebestfriendsevah

Aloha Hawaii! So many vowels and glottal stops! I love you already even if I feel like I’m not really here yet and there are ants crawling all over my laptop.

More soon but for now, here is my trusty Tuna Can:

The Tuna Can - 2004 Echo from No Ka Oi motors (No Ka Oi means 'the best')
The Tuna Can – 2004 Echo from No Ka Oi motors (No Ka Oi means ‘the best’)

If you are going to Maui you’ll need a car. The folks at Maui Car Rental / No Ka Oi Motors  have been fantastic!