Hawaii’s Top Ten

30 09 2013

Sun sets behind Lana'i

Sun sets behind Lana’i

Anyone who enjoys the ocean, the beach, green scenery or balmy nights should plan a trip to Hawaii. In short: everyone needs to experience the fiftieth U.S. state at least once.

It may prove challenging to visit only once.

I recommend Oahu for those people who want a fast-paced trip. A varied night life awaits once the pulse of Waikiki beach fades under the setting sun.

If you want a wide variety of hiking, biking, sightseeing, snorkeling, shopping and adventure, I suggest the island of Maui. On my next trip (See? I warned you this might happen), I’m going to hike to waterfalls in the Northern mountains and zip line through a jungle.

DSC_0001_20130927_922

Here are the top ten most memorable moments from my recent vacation in the Aloha State and, specifically, to the Valley Isle:

10. Snoozing beneath crystal blue skies beside a sparkling swimming pool

9. Quality time with people I love while basking in sunlight and inhaling balmy air

8. My inner pyromaniac salivating as men in loincloths spin fire overhead and between their legs

7. Whooping down Haleakala atop a bicycle

6. Building my ocean-colored Pandora bracelet with a turtle charm to cement this vacation in memory

5. Enjoying each meal on the lanai with friendly birds and full view of the trip mascot: turtles

4. Admiring the “neck” of Maui from 6,500 feet above sea level

3. Swimming in the warm ocean with sea turtles bobbing up all around me

2. Lapping waves as a lullaby every night and a daily wakeup call

1. Dolphins racing the boat and spinning in the air a few yards away

Dozens of these Spinner Dolphins chased the boat

Dozens of these Spinner Dolphins chased the boat

Take a moment to reflect on your best moments from your last trip away from home. Make a list. What tops your list? What made that moment so special?

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Moon over Maui

27 09 2013

Moon over Maui

Moon over Maui

At ten in the morning, the moon sits at eleven o’clock in the azure sky. This Maui moon paraded around in daylight with all the bravado of a Harvest Moon at midnight.
In our world, the moon shares the sky with the sun for more days than not. I have noticed this at home in the afternoon. Rarely have I spied it flying so high in the morning. This might suggest that I don’t look at the morning sky as often as I do the afternoon sky.
More than likely it means that I’m thinking about other things and take no note of the moon smiling from the sky during the day. Kicking back on the lanai in Hawaii: a totally different story.
A bright moon on the brilliant blue backdrop gave me the title for this post. Reflecting on the title brought other thoughts to mind (no, my brain wasn’t on vacation in the same way as my body).
I will moon over Maui on Monday. Webster says moon means ” to spend in idle reverie.” This definition surprised me because I thought mooning involved melancholy reflection.
In either case, I will think about Maui for many days and weeks to come. When autumn rain pelts my windows, I’ll recall the warm drops experienced while sitting beside the pool in Maui.
If gray skies dominate the Oregon weather scene, I’ll open the picture folders and remind myself of the special shade of sky in Maui. In turn, I’ll marvel again about the truly blue waters of the Pacific Ocean when dreariness turns the Columbia River a greenish-gray.
When I’m creating the setting for the underwater vault in my novel, I’ll study the photographs of the coastine of Lana’i and return to the golden day when dolphins frolicked alongside our catamaran.
What places do you moon over? Is this a good practice? Does mooning over special places and times keep us from savoring the present moment?





Hawaiian Adventure in Pictures

25 09 2013

View from the Room

View from the Room

Adventure #1
Adventure #1

Boat to Lana'i

Boat to Lana’i

This Guy's Hot

This Guy’s Hot

Adventure #2

Adventure #2

Dolphin Sighting

Dolphin Sighting





Paradise: Found

23 09 2013

Underneath the veneer of this Paradise, the surf thrums. Its regularity relaxes me. The steadiness acts as the heartbeat of my vacation.
Blue water, reflecting sunlight and mirroring the azure sky above, swells against the reddish sand. With this pulse, life continues.
Images included with this post display the Paradise I view upon awaking and the last thing seen at night. In fact, I have spent many wee morning, pre-sun, hours on the lanai staring at the midnight waters rolling ashore.
The only plan for the day is a luau this evening. The Royal Lahaina Luau takes place about 10 minutes (via the rented Tahoe) south of my temporary home. A manicure may compel me to shower and dress this morning. Or I might just put on my bathing suit and stretch out beside the pool until lunch.
Thus, my definition of vacation becomes clear.
I sat by the pool in a rain shower yesterday. Most of the tourists fled the pool deck. I held my towel over my head (trying to preserve my hair) and let the warm beads refresh my skin. My husband plunged into the water.
Within three minutes, the rain tapered into a mist and the sun smiled on us again.
My definition of Paradise used to be a sunny place where it only rains at night. Now I know better. Paradise and Maui are synonymous.
If you think I’m squandering this week in Paradise by lounging by the pool instead of taking in the sights, never fear. Tomorrow is a snorkeling trip to nearby Lana’i with a 95 percent chance of catching sight of dolphins.
Wednesday morning is the sunrise on Haleakala followed by an 18 mile downhill bike ride. I hope to share pictures from said excursion in my Wordless Wednesday posting.
We have been shopping and will go shopping some more. After all, both Jeff and I had half-empty suitcases when we left home. It would be a crime not to remedy such a travesty.
What is your definition of Paradise?

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Story Engineering

20 09 2013

At the behest of my Jedi Master, Kristen Lamb, I’ve begun dog-earring a copy of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. It’s a masterful guide for creating a strong, complex story.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve got story structure down,” I thought similarly after highlighting James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure into rainbow-like proportions. Brooks subtitled his book “Mastering the 6 core competencies of successful writing.” Structure is only one of the six.

Two hours on the phone with Kristen reiterated for me the fact that I’m still a noob in the writing arena. Sure, I’ve been writing stories since I was nine. Does that mean they were well-written stories?

My first attempt at young adult fantasy flopped because I didn’t understand my antagonist’s motivation before I started writing. In the past, I had an idea and I sat down and wrote it. That might work for a short story, but all it provides in the novel-writing world is 60,000 words of warming up to the real story.

Trust me. I was halfway through the revision process when Master Lamb tapped the major plot points with her force push. The resulting pile of rubble buried my heart. A novel shouldn’t be a wobbly house of cards. It needs to have bones of steel beneath its thin skin (or maybe it’s the writer who has thin skin?).

Most of us right-brained artistic types see the word “engineering” and lose our appetite. Isn’t engineering all about calculus and equations with 18 variables and figuring out how to use all the buttons on a $200 calculator? So not interested.

The point behind Brooks’ use of “engineering” in his title is that writing a great story doesn’t just happen. We all know that only a fool would run out to build a tower without having blueprints and expertise. Brooks presents a logical (yes, very left-brained) argument for planning the major plot points and character arc before you attempt to build your novel.

The six core competencies of writing according to Brooks are:

  • Concept
  • Character
  • Theme
  • Story Structure
  • Scene Execution
  • Writing Voice

I was directed to this stellar directory for story-planning for the lesson in story structure. I started with Part Five of the book so I could take my medicine and “do” rather than “try” to plan a successful novel.

In reading the entire book, I see that Brooks marries character arc to story structure in a way that simplifies the planning process. He offers sage advice for weaving theme between these major elements, as well, and erases the gray area between concept and theme.

In short, this book should be required reading for newbie writers. Using a conversational tone, Brooks invites the panster to do a little planning and gives the outlining mavens a blueprint to follow. He never talks above our heads or down his nose and he uses examples from fiction and film to illustrate every point.

Is your work in progress a mess of Bondo? I highly recommend Brooks’ book. It works better than an air sander at smoothing out the rough spots.





Vacation Motivation

18 09 2013

Scenery - Yellowstone 2009

Scenery – Yellowstone 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun - Lake Billy Chinook

Fun – Lake Billy Chinook

 

 

Amusement Parks - Orlando 2008

Amusement Parks – Orlando 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sights - Munich 2013

Sights – Munich 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun - Palm Springs 2002

Sun – Palm Springs 2002

 

 

 

 





To Plan or not to Plan

16 09 2013

Vacations serve many purposes, don’t they? Some people use them to escape daily drudgery. Others need a different environment to relax and unwind. Expanding horizons and experiencing different settings might be a third motivation for vacationers.

In my mind, a vacation is for relaxing. I do find it easier to relax when the responsibilities of home aren’t staring me in the face. It’s great to experience new things and see a variety of flora, fauna, landscape and personality, as well.

Apparently, I demand a multi-purpose vacation. The question is: does vacation demand forethought and planning to be successful?

Again, depending on the purpose of the vacation, the answer to this question varies. Some people can’t relax if uncertainty hangs overhead. Those people need a plan.

I’m a person who makes a daily list of priorities. I relish making a slash through each one when I complete it. Here’s my list for my upcoming vacation:

  1. Relax
  2. Sit by the pool
  3. Walk on the beach
  4. Relax
  5. See the sunrise from the mountain
  6. Shop
  7. Read a book on the beach/by the pool
  8. Relax
  9. Eat plenty of fresh fruit
  10. Relax

This is what I consider an unplanned vacation (and my idea of a true vacation). It contrasts wildly with the list for our trip to Disneyland in 2011:

  1. Go to Disneyland
  2. Ride the Star Tours attraction
  3. Go to California Adventure
  4. Be sure to see the evening show at least once
  5. Go to Disneyland
  6. Go to California Adventure
  7. Head to Universal Studios
  8. Check out the stars in downtown Hollywood
  9. Go to Disneyland and California Adventure
  10. Sit by the pool

I consider that trip, and most of the trips I’ve taken with my family, a planned vacation. There were sights we wanted to see, places we needed to go and specific things we desired to do.

Coming up is a week in Maui. I don’t want to make plans. Planning is synonymous with the life I’m trying to take a vacation from. If I plan, I won’t relax and I want to relax – it is number one through ten on my list.

What’s your thought on vacationing? Are vacations more successful when they are extensively planned? What do you consider a “planned vacation” versus an “unplanned vacation”?








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