Friday, April 30, 2010

Final thoughts on Hawaii

Sometimes when you're on vacation, you have experiences and photos that defy categorization. This final Big Island blog post is all about those miscellaneous things worth sharing...somewhere.

Like how amused I was by the conversation I had about muumuus with a man who grew up in Malaysia and then moved to Hawaii for his work. His first Friday in the office, when he saw a female coworker wearing a muumuu, he thought to himself "Poor her! Her home life must be incredibly busy, since she didn't even have time to get out of her pajamas to come to work!" Only later did he learn about muumuus and "Aloha Fridays" where people get to wear their favorite Hawaiian clothes.

Then there was the man who brought his ukelele with him to church.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Onomea Bay Ranch

"Good morning!" Ben's loud voice boomed through our open window. "It's April Fools day! Will you play an April Fools joke on me?"

We thought all day to come up with a good joke to play on Ben, the gregarious 35-year-old developmentally disabled son of Vicky and Ben Dalauidao, the owners of the Onomea Bay Guest Ranch where we stayed in the Hilo area. By the time we made it back to the ranch after the day's adventures, however, Ben had already gone to bed and we didn't get to play our joke on him.

Here's a photo of Ben, bringing us smoothies:

Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, Hawaii's most prestigious hula competition involving hundreds of dancers, started the day I flew home. Although I missed the main event, attending the opening ceremony for the related Merrie Monarch craft show was a highlight of my time in Hawaii.

The ceremony opened with a chant. For those who can't view video, here's a photograph of some of the chanters:

Hilo Waterfalls

"This is a healing place" the man said as I stopped to take a photo of this enormous banyan tree, just above Hilo's Rainbow Falls. (Look for the person in the lower right corner of the image, to get a sense of the tree's size.)

"I used to bring my children here when they were young, and now they are all grown up and gone" he said wistfully. "It's important to create beautiful, happy memories, because eventually, that is all you have."

Pacific Tsunami Museum

As you drive around the Big Island, you see signs like this one, letting you know when you are entering and leaving tsunami evacuation areas, so you can know how far inland you must go for safety in case of an incoming wall of water, the consequence of a distant earthquake.

The Pacific Tsunami Museum, located in a former bank building in downtown Hilo, is a very sobering place. Here you can learn about tsunamis that have happened around the world over the years, including the huge 1960 one that swept through that very building. You enter the former bank vault to watch a video where survivors of the tsunami describe their experiences. It's a sad place.

Hilo Farmers Market

"Did you make these muumuus yourself?" I asked the 80-ish Hawaiian lady tending her booth at the Hilo Farmers Market.

"I made the ones on this side" she replied, "but these others were made by my partner, who is 90 years old!"

"When my partner was fifteen years old" she continued "she loved to hula dance near the dock where the cruise ships arrived. She was such a good hula dancer that the tourists gave her money. But she didn't want money...she wanted lipstick, so she could attract some boyfriends! Her mother did not approve of her buying lipstick, so she just asked all the lady tourists if they'd give her their used lipstick tubes instead of money."

"She got a BIG collection of lipstick," the muumuu maker said as she opened her arms wide to show just how huge the collection was, and then her eyes widened with excitement as she continued "and used all that lipstick to attract not just one, but TWO boyfriends!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

South Point

Along the way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you can take a 20-mile detour to visit the southernmost point in the United States, Ka Lae, or South Point.

There's not much to do or see there, but we took the detour, just for fun.

Along the way, we saw this funny sign:

We also saw these satellite dishes, and dreamed up all sorts of conspiracy theories explaining why they might be there.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

As I walked past the tiny photography shop, the 8-foot-tall print of this photo caught my attention:

"That was taken by my partner, CJ Kale, about 4 months ago." Nick Selway mentioned as he saw me gawking at it. "We visit Hawaii Volcanoes National park several times a week to capture photos like this. This one was taken at sunrise."

I loved the photo, and was excited because I had planned a sunrise boat tour to get an up-close-and-personal view of hot lava flowing into the ocean. I was looking forward to watching the creation of new earth.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visiting a Coffee Farm

Because of my Mormon faith, I'm not a coffee drinker. But, as I drove through the "Kona Coffee Belt", a 20-mile section of the Big Island with the perfect climate for growing coffee, I found myself curious about how coffee is grown and processed. So, I toured Greenwell Farms and the nearby living history museum, and was glad I did.

The folks at Greenwell Farms were incredibly gracious, offering me samples from the 10 or 11 varieties of coffee they had. When I politely declined, they offered me a chocolate-covered coffee bean. When I politely declined again, they asked if I'd like to pick an orange off of one of their trees, which I enjoyed doing, especially since the experience was a life-time first for me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sea Kayaking Adventure

"Hawaii is a great place to be homeless" Adam commented as the two of us drove in his rusty old blazer to Keauhou Bay. Earlier he'd asked if I wanted to strap our bright yellow sea kayak, with the message "Aloha Kayak: the best outfit in Hawaii" written in magic marker along the side, to the top of my rental car, but I preferred to take his vehicle.

"There's fruit everywhere, and you can easily catch seafood, so you never have to worry about starving here." Adam continued. "There are places where you can sleep on the beach, although there are people who have certain territory that you need to stay out of if you don't want to get hurt." He spoke about being homeless in Hawaii with enough detail that I wondered if he had experienced it first hand. He had moved to Hawaii from the mainland a few years earlier, to get a new start, and chose Hawaii for that very reason. He explained that he currently rooms with his boss, the owner of Aloha Kayak, but sometimes when they have a lean month and he's concerned about being able to pay the rent, he's glad that being homeless in Hawaii is not too bad.

The word "adventure" is very versatile. Sometimes when I write about my adventures, I'm referring to thrilling, wonderful experiences that I would happily repeat. Sometimes, though, calling something an "adventure" is a way to put a positive spin on what was really a negative experience, which is how I'd describe my day spent sea kayaking and snorkeling on the Kona Coast.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My lucky friend Juan

When I asked Juan to pick up the dog poop in an area of my yard frequented by dog walkers, I could tell he really didn't want to do it. Armed with gloves and plastic bags, he started walking towards the area anyway. Then he turned, smiled, and with an optimistic tone, said: "I'm going on a TREASURE hunt!"

I met Juan for the first time just that morning, when my friend RoquesAnn, who owns an employment agency, dropped off Juan and Daniel to help me do yardwork. I had hired them in hopes of making good use of the Murray City Green Waste trailer I had rented for the weekend.

When RoquesAnn introduced me to Juan and Daniel, Juan said "You mean we get to stay HERE to work?! I like jobs like this!" His enthusiasm and positive energy were contagious, causing me to have a fun, uplifting, beautiful experience as we worked together.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heiaus (temples) of Hawaii

When I saw the farmer working in his yard, I was happy to see another human soul. I'd been driving on a rough, remote road for quite some time and thought I might be lost.

"Is this the road to the Mo'okini Temple?" I asked him.
"Yes," he replied "You are about a mile away".
"Is the road good enough that I can drive it in this car?", I queried.
"I don't know." he responded. "I've never been there. There are too many ghosts around there, so I stay away."

The Mo'okini Heiau was a place of human sacrifice. I pondered the farmer's words, but decided to continue on, since I had come to the northern tip of the Big Island specifically to see this heiau. It is one of the oldest on the Big Island (built around 400 BC), and also one of the most sacred, being off limits to commoners clear until 1978.

Mauna Lani resort

I tend to be a budget traveler, cheap on food and hotels so I have money to spend on experiences. Since I wanted to attend the Twilight at Kalahuipua'a event held at the Mauni Lana resort, though, I splurged to spend one night there. I LOVED it. It. Was. Worth. Every. Penny.

Thinking back on my arrival makes me laugh: I had been hiking and swimming in waterfalls that day, so I was still wearing my swimming suit under muddy clothing when I arrived at the gorgeous resort entrance, and felt quite awkward and under-dressed to be so dirty in such a grand place.

Despite my dirt, the employees warmly welcomed me with a lei and offered to take my luggage, which I was embarrassed about because it was also a mess after the day's activities. They were kind, though, and put cute little stickers on my various plastic shopping bags full of dirty laundry, canned chicken, and other budget-traveler stuff to make sure it was routed to the right room. I was just too embarrassed to put my jar of pickles on their shiny luggage cart, though, so I left it in the car and retrieved it later under cover of darkness!

One employee escorted me through this beautiful entranceway to a comfortable chair at a desk, where they offered me fruit juice as I checked in. When he noticed that I was only staying one day and that I was muddy, he kindly told me about the free laundry room and offered to extend my checkout time till 6 p.m. the next day so I could have more time to enjoy the resort. He also kindly upgraded me to a room with an ocean view. He did it in such a way that I didn't feel judged or looked down upon, but where I felt highly valued. All the people were that way...I love that place.

When I reached my room, I was delighted to see a plate of exotic fruit beautifully arranged and waiting for me. Even though it wasn't on my diet, I ate it, and savored every bite. I was also tickled to see the "his" and "her" sections of the bathroom, with a chair and makeup mirror on "her" side, and shaving-type stuff on "his" side.

Here's the view from my room

At night, I enjoyed opening the big balcony doors so I could relax to the rhythmic, gentle sounds of the waves lapping up on the beach. As I drifted to sleep, I thought to myself "Maybe this is what it's like to sleep on the beach, except in a totally comfortable bed, minus all that pesky sand getting in your shoes and clothes!"

They have tons of activities going on there, and I'd like to stay there again sometime, so I can participate in their classes on snorkeling, coconut husking, lei making, ukelele playing, hula, and throw net fishing. Here's an image of a yoga class I happened to walk by:

I enjoyed seeing the torch lighting ceremony, which is held each evening as a man in traditional dress blows his conch, and then spends about 15 minutes running through the resort, lighting all the torches. Here's a little video of the start of the ceremony:

I ran after him so I could get my photo with him, but the photo didn't turn out well. Not only did I run after him, but lots of children also followed him around like a Polynesian Pied Piper. Here's an image I captured of them all:

Here's the main atrium at the hotel. One of the things I loved it was that the entire hotel was open, so you would feel the gentle ocean breezes as you walked through the hallways and interior areas of the hotel (except your room, which you could choose to close completely, or keep open).

Here's a closeup on some of the beautiful plants they had in the atrium:

Here's a view of the Koi pond they have at the hotel entrance:

Here's what the resort entrance looks like from the highway

I was surprised to see that once you turn off the highway, you still must drive a mile through barren black lava fields, before you finally arrive at the seaside resort.

I loved the contrast of the bright green golf courses built on top of the black lava.

They have surfboards and snorkeling equipment you can use during your stay.

Here's a photo of an employee using the traditional blow-torch method of lighting a fire for the S'mores making party:

They also have lots of hammocks around, in case you just feel like chilling out at the beach.

I met these young boys as I was out enjoying the sunset. They were concerned about the turtle, saying "Either it's really old, or it's giving birth", because it wasn't moving, which I had to smile at.

Here's an image of the sunset I captured there:

Here are the freshwater fishponds, which once belonged to the king, and have fish that like to jump several feet into the air.

When I looked to the west, I saw the big orange sun sink, and when I turned back to the east, I saw the big full moon rise over the palms:

In Hawaiian, the name "Mauna Lani" mean "Heavenly Mountain", and I had to agree--it was heavenly there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From "Rocks for Jocks" to Mauna Kea Summit

It was 10 p.m. when we began our descent down the enormous Mauna Kea mountain, but my body was still on Utah time, so it felt like 2 a.m. to me. I closed my eyes and let my head nod; I trusted J.R., my guide with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures, to drive us safely down the mountain, despite the dangers of "Invisible Cows" and Saddle Road (which is narrow and poorly designed, since it was originally built just to supply a military base--the rental car agencies make you promise not to drive their vehicles there).

But J.R. was in the mood to chat, and so I opened my eyes, lifted my head, and enjoyed a conversation I wouldn't have wanted to miss.

Since I was traveling alone, instead of as part of a couple, I had the privilege of sitting shotgun--right up front with J.R. My seat was right next to the oxygen tank we carried with us, in case anyone in our group of about 12 needed it as a result of altitude sickness at the 13,796 foot summit.

Shotgun had been a great place to sit, because I could ask J.R. questions and converse with him the entire trip, although most of the way up the mountain, he was speaking to the whole group on his microphone, explaining the unique geology of the area, the lives of astronomers who work on top of Mauna Kea, the interesting history of the area, and the sacred nature of the area to Hawaiians (which I blogged about here).

He knew his stuff. I'd been very impressed. He had multiple degrees in Geology, and had worked for the National Park Service. As we descended down the mountain, I asked him how he came to study Geology, and he told me this story.

As a young man, he hadn't been interested in school much. He was a football player, a serious football player, and his life revolved around the game. He went to college for the purpose of playing football. But during his junior year of college, his football career was abruptly ended when he suffered a serious back injury. His physical recovery was difficult, but his emotional recovery was even worse--football, the core of his life, was now gone. He floundered, not sure what to do next or if he'd finish school. His father finally gave him a deadline, telling him that if he didn't pick a major and get serious about school by a certain date, he would be joining the marines.

Desperate to pick a major, a friend suggested he take Geology 101, because it was easy that it was nicknamed "Rocks for Jocks". So J.R. took it, and was surprised to find that he loved it. The thing he loved most? The field trips. He loved to see and touch and experience the things they were learning about, instead of just reading about them in a book. Experiencing things changed his entire perspective about school, and suddenly he became a very motivated student, eventually earning even a graduate degree in Geology.

That story resonated with me. I always liked school myself, but liked field trips even more. I've noticed that dull topics magically transform into fascinating ones once I get a little real life experience with them. That's one of the reasons I like to travel--it makes me curious about things I never cared about before. Travel makes me realize what a fascinating, beautiful world surrounds us, and introduces me to magnificent strangers with amazing stories to tell. Yes, travel's expensive. Yes, it's inconvenient. Yes, it's work. But, it's also a great way to continue your education and enrich your life. I'm thankful that my life circumstances allow me to make the choice to travel.

Here's a photo of J.R. and me at the Mauna Kea Summit:

Here's some of the unique, foggy landscape that we drove through on our way to the summit. (This is where the invisible cows often like to hang out).

At one point, you drive past an area that NASA scientists use as a testing ground for their Lunar Rover vehicles. I had to laugh as one of the passengers asked "Is that where they faked the moon landing?" Here's what the area looks like:

Here's a shot, taken from about 11,000 feet up the mountain, overlooking the visitors center where you must stop to acclimate to the altitude. The visitors center is in the bottom left quadrant of the image. The large mountain you see in the distance is another of the 5 volcanoes that make up the Big Island: Mauna Loa.

The "cinder cone" mountains around here reminded me of some of the mountains I'd seen near my hometown in Soda Springs. I never expected to be reminded of Idaho while I was in Hawaii, but it made perfect sense that parts of the landscape would be similar, because both areas were formed by the earth's crust moving over a hot spot in the earth's mantle. (Soda Springs is not far from the Yellowstone-related hot spot, and the Hawaiian islands likewise have been formed as the Pacific plate of the earth's crust moves northwest at the pace of 4 inches a year over a hot spot.)

Sometimes when volcanoes spit out their lava, the lava cools before it hits the ground, and that's what causes the little rocks called cinders to be created, often being spit out into cone shaped piles. J.R. taught me that you can estimate the age of a cinder cone by looking at its color: it starts out black, but because it contains iron, it "rusts", turning more and more red as it ages. Some cinder cones, like the one you see in the distance here, are very, very red, because they have lots of manganese in them.

When I visited the ladies restroom at the visitors center, I was surprised to see pink lights! I commented on them to the Japanese tourists next to me in line (yes, there's always a line at the women's restroom--even at Mauna Kea), and was very impressed by the tourists' command of the English language. If I were learning Japanese, I suspect learning the vocabulary that would allow me to have a conversation about pink lights in the ladies' restroom would be pretty low on my priority list, but those ladies could do it.

Later, I asked J.R. about the lights, and he explained that they are pink to avoid ruining your night vision, like white lights would do. All the street lights on the island are yellow, not white, and are all pointed downward, in order to provide the best possible conditions for the 11 observatories at the top of Mauna Kea.

Which reminds me: because of the expense of getting materials, workers, and equipment up Mauna Kea, most of the road to the summit is unpaved. The exception is the last two miles, which were worth the expense to pave in order to avoid vehicles stirring up dust, which would ruin the world-class view of the cosmos available here. Here's a photo where you can see the paved road leading up to the observatories.

The scientists who work there normally stay at dormitories near the 9200 foot level. If they go down to sea level, then they must spend at least a day at 9200 feet before their bodies are adjusted enough to spend a three-day shift at the summit.

There are often severe winds at the summit, reaching up to 200 miles an hour occasionally, so the signs have holes in them to avoid being blown down by the wind:

We first stopped just below some of the observatories, where JR told us about each one of them. If you'd like to learn more about them, check out this website. Here's a photo where you can see 6 of them together, under the rising moon:

This is a favorite sledding spot, and is often covered with snow:

We moved to the area at the base of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in order to watch the sunset:

Typically, because the scientists are working, you cannot go inside the telescopes, unless you make special arrangements for a private tour. Even without going inside, we enjoyed being there to see a magnificent sunset:

J.R. pointed out that we could see three other Hawaiian islands from our 13,796 foot vantage point. In this photo, you can see the northern Kohala coast of the Big Island. The mountains you see in the distance are the island of Maui.

As we watched the beautiful sunset, we also saw the telescopes open and their domes rotate to prepare for the night's work. One of the telescopes that was moving most actively was the Gemini one, shown open here:

We spent about 30 minutes at the summit, enjoying the sunset. I definitely noticed the thin air there--the atmospheric pressure on your body is about half of what it is at sea level. I felt a little short of breath and moved a little slowly, but it wasn't too bad (not like when I traveled to La Paz, Bolivia and woke up in the middle of the night, gasping for air). I was interested to learn that if you are pregnant, under 16, have been scuba diving recently, or have high blood pressure, heart, or respiratory conditions, they advise you to NOT go to the summit of Mauna Kea. So, I felt thankful to have the opportunity to have the experience at this point in my life.

After the sun went down, we went back down the mountain to a spot near the visitors center, where JR setup a smaller telescope and showed us the night sky.

One of reasons we went back down to a lower elevation is because one of the symptoms of being at a high elevation is that your vision can become somewhat impaired, especially if you haven't taken enough time to acclimate (which we didn't do). I was happy to be down at a lower elevation, because not only was it easier to breathe there, but it was also slightly warmer.

That night didn't have ideal star gazing conditions, because of the full moon, but we did get to see Saturn, a great close up on the moon, twin stars in the big dipper's handle, and some of the other bright parts of the night sky.

I loved the experience, and was thankful that many years ago, J.R. decided to take "Rocks for Jocks", which started him down the path that brought him to be my fabulous guide to the summit of Mauna Kea.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spirit of Aloha

"The first word uttered by every human being is a Hawaiian word" said Danny Akaka, Jr., as he took me on a historical tour of the Mauna Lani resort, where he serves as the director of cultural affairs.

"When each infant exhales for the first time", pausing to slowly exhale so I could hear the haaaa sound, "the infant says the Hawaiian word ha, which means breath".

"Alo means being present together, and so the word "Aloha" literally means that we are together sharing breath, the life force that sustains us and keeps us alive. That's why the traditional Hawaiian greeting is to place your foreheads together and inhale, both sharing the same breath of life."

I love the sense of togetherness, of community, of love and respect that the word "Aloha" represents, and nowhere did I feel it more strongly than when in the presence of Danny Akaka, Jr.

Here's a photo of the two of us, while on our walking tour:

I felt very lucky to be the only tour participant, so I could have Danny completely to myself, to ask him questions about the things I'd seen in Hawaii so far, and to discuss the "Twilight at Kalahuipua'a" program he had hosted a few days earlier.

The entire reason I stayed at the Mauna Lani resort was so I could be there for the "Twighlight at Kalahuipua'a" program, which Danny founded. Held once a month, on the Saturday closest to the full moon, it's a time when resort guests and local Hawaiians gather around the front porch of a little cottage to "talk story" and enjoy music and dance together.

It's held at the historic Eva Parker Woods Cottage:

I loved the informal, intimate event, and saw the spirit of aloha in action there, even before the event started, as people of all ages gathered, mingling and sharing food together. One sweet Hawaiian lady approached me with a tray of deviled eggs, offering me one. I accepted and said "They look fabulous!" and she replied that she brought them every month, since people loved her deviled eggs.

Danny opened the event by explaining the reason he started it: to give others the opportunity he experienced as a youth to spend casual evenings with kupuna (elders) enjoying stories, music, and dance. Those moments were treasures in his life, and he wanted to pass them along.

Danny then reminisced about how much they missed the people who had been involved with the program in the past, including Auntie Eleanor, who recently passed away. As he spoke about her kindly, in his soft-spoken manner, the messages that sunk into my heart were "People Matter", and "Value the wisdom and experience of the elderly".

When it was time to offically open the program, Danny sang the traditional opening chant. I captured this short segment of it on video:

(By the way, while on my walking tour, I learned that Danny once performed at Carnegie Hall. He played the guitar with a radio program called "Hawaii Calls". Another really cool thing about him is that he has taken several long-distance ocean voyages on traditional Hawaiian vessels, using traditional methods of navigation. You can read more about it in this wikipedia article. )

This month's program, Danny had arranged for three musicians to perform:
  • Henry Allen, who has the voice of a young crooner (even though he's probably in his 70's) and who played the ukelele and steel guitar,
  • Archie Grant, who played the keyboard with a light touch and who very skillfully improvised as they figured out what to do next. (Danny later told me that the three of them had never performed together before). I was impressed that Archie didn't look at either the piano or at sheet music as he improvised.
  • Bill Noble, a wonderful jazz musician who played the saxophone and percussion.

Here's a little video to give you a taste of their music:

Between songs, they'd talk about their lives, their experiences, and the things they had learned along the way.

Later, we had the privilege of watching hula dancers perform. Both Danny and his wife Anna performed with this group, which was doing a fund raiser so they could travel to a performance on another island.

For those of you who can't watch video, here's a still photo of some of the dancers. They had serious faces for most of the performance:

For those who can watch video, here's a little video of one of the dances that told a story.

Here's a video of one of the men-only dances:

And one of the women-only dances:

Before the English missionaries came and brought writing with them, the Hawaiians preserved their traditions through chants and hula. One of the dances they performed for us represented the process of planting their crops. Their leader said that the planting process presented in the dance is different than the process the scholarly archaeologists and anthropologists believe was used, and, of course, they believe their dance more than they believe the scholars!

Here's an image I captured of the sun going down on audience enjoying the program.

Danny blew a conch shell to announce the end of the intermission that started when the sun was down. A much smaller crowd re-convened, and the music and dance began again. This time, however, it was much more informal. I was delighted to see Danny's beautiful and gracious wife, Anna, spontaneously jump up and dance as the musicians performed.

Whenever the saxophone began to play, Anna would dance her way to the porch rocking chair and sit down. I wondered if it was difficult to dance to saxophone music, so I asked Danny about it later, who explained that you dance to the words, not to the music, and since there were no words to the saxophone parts, there was nothing for Anna to dance to!

I was impressed with Anna's grace and kindness. After dancing a bit herself, she selected an older couple from the audience, and invited them to come dance with she and Danny. This triggered much spontaneous dancing all around. Here's a photo of Anna and Danny, along with other couples, dancing:

Towards the end of the program, Anna pointed out that tomorrow was the birthday of one of the elderly ladies there, Auntie Jane, and so Anna made a point of bringing her up on the porch so we could all sing "Happy Birthday" to her. As we sang, Anna untied the beautiful lei that was around her neck and placed it on the hat brim of the grateful auntie, and then they all posed for a picture. I was reminded again of the messages: "People Matter", "Value the wisdom and experience of the elderly".

This program ended as Danny invited us to each hold hands as we sang "Aloha Oe", and then he said a prayer in Hawaiian. I didn't expect such an ending, but it fit the mood perfectly... a beautiful ending to a beautiful program.

A few days later, when I was on the historical walking tour with Danny, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the program, and how it was highly recommended in the "1000 Places to See Before You Die" book. He hadn't heard of the book before, and almost seemed a little disappointed that the program was getting more publicity, because he wanted to make sure that it kept an informal, intimate feel.

"I always invite the families of our featured guests", he said, "and sometimes they haven't even heard the stories our guests tell. I'd like to keep it a place where people feel comfortable sharing the portions of them that are closest to their hearts."

I loved the sense of community I felt there, and the other good feelings I had--the reminder that people matter, and the reminder to value the elderly and experienced. I also found myself wondering if I had cultural treasures of my own that I likewise need to pass along; the experience reminded me of wonderful childhood moments sitting around the campfire singing songs with my family on our farm. I wondered if perhaps it was time for me to follow the example of Danny Akaka Jr. and do more to keep alive the beautiful traditions I've inherited.

Thanks Danny, for giving me such a beautiful way to experience the spirit of aloha.