It’s a new year with new beginnings. We ended 2010 and started 2011 with a visit to Hawaiʻi—my first trip to the islands. My husband, David, and I flew to Hawaiʻi the day after Christmas to visit our son, Zachary, and his wife, Julie. They both attend Brigham Young University—Hawaiʻi, located on the “Gathering Island” of Oʻahu in Lāʻie, a community of about 5,000.
Lāʻie is best known for the Polynesian Cultural Center, the 50th state’s largest living museum and has drawn millions of visitors since it opened in 1963. Cast members, many of whom are students at BYU-H, put on historical dances and presentations depicting what life was like in seven different cultures in the Polynesian Triangle: Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaiʻi, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Sāmoa, Tahiti and Tonga. We spent last Monday at the PCC (as the locals call it).
The Lāʻie Hawaiʻi Temple, fifth oldest operating Mormon temple in the world, is also located here. This elegant white building, dedicated in 1919, sits at the end of a half-mile boulevard lined with majestic royal palms. Large, bright yellow Hibiscus flowers fill the median. Monarch butterflies flit overhead in search of nectar. Green volcanic mountains rise up behind the temple. Truly a beautiful sight.
Friends of Zachary and Julie graciously let us stay in their home located on Lāʻie Point, a natural protrusion jutting eastward from the sandy coast. We enjoyed spectacular scenic views of the Windward Coast and parts of the North Shore as well as Goat Island. Sounds of the waves crashing on the volcanic rocks were mesmerizing.
Another first was taking a boat last Wednesday from Kewalo Basin Harbor to go whale watching. Humpback whales spend their winters near the Hawaiʻian Islands. Warm, tropical waters attract the whales, which come to mate and give birth. We actually were able to see the whales breaching just off Waikiki with picturesque Diamond Head as a backdrop. They also came to the surface and expelled breath through their blow holes. Filling their lungs with new air, they dove and often pushed their flukes skyward. It was thrilling to observe. Our thanks to Julie and Zach for a very memorable Christmas gift.
My son told me that he is living his dream. Zachary lives to surf the waves on the North Shore. He drives their 1988 sage-green Range Rover, which he lovingly calls “The Beast,” with Julie and their surfboards packed inside to whichever beach has the best surf conditions. We enjoyed watching him ride the waves.
On New Year’s Day I learned how to surf. Yes, this 54-year-old lady actually went surfing. I hopped onto the board, paddled out to the waves and rode them in all the way to the shore, managing to stay on board the whole time. Before you try and visualize me standing and balancing on a surf board, please realize that there is more than one way to surf. I laid on my belly and held on as tight as I could to that board. It was absolutely exhilarating!
We are never too old or too fat or too anything to learn or experience something new. In fact, the very act of trying something new empowers you with new confidence. “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” —Eleanor Roosevelt