As the lead blogger for View from Here, I write, on average, two blog posts a week. I also write a feature story or two per month for OutriggerHawaii.com. That’s approximately 128 stories I’ve written in 2013 alone. I have my favorites. Those I don’t need to review the year’s blog entries to remember. But when I scanned the entirety of blog posts for 2013, I discovered a few more goodies that I’d clean forgotten about. Then, I took a look at some website analytics to review my readers’ favorite blog posts and re-discovered a couple more.
Today wraps my Big Birthday Year, and I have to say 2013 was a good year. A Big Year. Got a Big Year coming up in 2014? I encourage you to make it Big.
Here’s a list of the year’s top blog posts, in order, with a few cherry-picked lines.
1. Hiking Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
But in addition to stats and photographs, the paved hiking trail that switchbacks up Makapuu in one big “z” holds stories.Like the one about the distinctive opening of Koko Crater, known as Kohelepelepe, which translates to English as “traveling vagina.” The story goes that the clever goddess Kapo exposed her private bits in order to save her sister Pele from the clutches of Kamapuaa, the pig god. Is anyone surprised that this diversion tactic worked? To celebrate, Kapo left her mark—the rocky cliff in the shape of, well, you get the idea.
2. A Whale of Whale Watching
I filled one memory card and had to borrow a second from Bryan. I captured images of Lola—the boat named her Lola—breaching away from us, breaching toward us, breaching down the coastline, breaching left, breaching right, breaching completely out of the water, breaching halfway out of the water, breaching, breaching, breaching.
3. Kauai’s Breath-taking Napali Coast
Sometimes, your kayak tilts to the left. Other times, it slides right. Sometimes the back end lifts and points the nose down, hard, as a wave gains on you. Your stomach dips. Your breath catches. Your heartbeat picks up. And, then, you look up, and you see a dozen spinner dolphins heading your way. It's a super pod, hundreds of animals. They swim in small groups, synchronized, alongside our kayaks, cris-crossing our wakes, porpoising in the air, spinning in circles. And that's when Napali gives you your breath back again, and you think, This is my life? I am so blessed. I am so grateful.
4. Maui’s Great Banana Bread Taste-Off
The last time I drove this road, about six or eight years ago, I was disappointed to find the school-bus-turned-snack-stand closed. Not this time. Situated above the village of Kahakuloa, the school bus had even gone through renovations—with the addition of a wooden roof, expanded kitchen and satellite T.V. But the bus still sat on flat and eroding tires. One of the friendliest Hawaiian men I’ve ever met ran the thing. He said ever since he installed the satellite TV, all the kids in the valley suddenly wanted to work for him. (There are maybe 100 residents of Kahakuloa.)
5. What I Have Discovered in 500 Blog Posts
My parents gave me a four-piece set of luggage for my high school graduation—Samsonite. The luggage industry had just discovered wheels in 1981, and the larger of the two hard-sided suitcases had a tiny set on one end and a pop-out lever on the other, a design that would prove entirely impractical. Wheeling that thing was like trying to balance a giant domino on its pointy end. There was also a foldable, carryon garment bag, because this was a time when garment bags were all the rage. A vinyl shoulder bag for cosmetics and toiletries completed the set. All matching. In burgundy.
Is it any wonder that I would leave the comfort of my childhood home never to return again? Is it any wonder one of my favorite joys is travel? Is it any wonder I cherish suitcases? And, by that, I do not mean the metaphor of the suitcase—what is represents. But the physical bag itself.
6. Oahu’s Trail to Kaniakapupu Palace
The area may have once come alive with singing land snails, and the place may have hosted some magnificent parties back in the day, but when I visited, it was peace and quiet that greeted and impressed me.
7. Gone to Kalalalu: Practicing the Art of Doing Nothing
And, then, I swear this is true, I heard a leaf twist loose from its tenuous hold on a tree limb and watched it wander--Kalalau-style--to the ground.
8. Waves of Waimea
“Lady in the black and white swimsuit. Get back from the shoreline,” a lifeguard, his hair cut in a Mohawk, cautioned. “The guy about to get in the water without fins. Yes, you. The beach is closed to swimming today unless you’ve surfed here your entire life.” And “Hey, mom, get your two kids onto dry sand. Go only where you can see footprints. If there are no footprints, you are too close.”
9. Talk-Story with Maui Author Toby Neal
“I don't actually have much in common with Lei other than a tendency to nervousness and a need to run and move when I'm upset or agitated,” said Toby Neal about her protagonist. “I have a bubbly personality and quick wit and I laugh a lot, I think I have more in common with Dr. Wilson, Lei's therapist, than any other character. But Lei is physically brave, a characteristic I admire and seek to cultivate in myself, and I've become braver, more daring physically since the Lei books. I think I always have had a brave streak physically, growing up on Kauai I played hard, ran hard, surfed, climbed trees and waterfalls, all that. But I lost touch with it in middle age. Lei has revitalized me and made me more aware of actualizing that.”
10. People You Meet on Planes
Earlier this week, en route home, I took my usual window seat. A man toting a big cowboy hat sat next to me. He didn’t cram a suitcase into the overhead compartment. He didn’t shove a bag under the seat in front of him. In his pocket, he carried a cell phone, a packet of Hall’s cough drops, and a roll of wintergreen mints. “I travel light,” he said. He didn’t flip through Hana Hou, the in-flight magazine. He didn’t watch the movie. “I’m Portagee,” he said as if to explain. By the end of the flight I’d come to believe in the stereotype I’d always heard about the Portuguese and how they liked to talk. He told me about his commercial fishing adventures off Molokai and how he used to sell his catch to Mama’s Fish House on Maui. He told me how he spent his youth on horseback roaming the hills of Haleakala. That he was returning to Maui after a couple decades on the mainland to sell his auntie’s old plantation house, because after a lifetime of 16 surgeries, she’d finally died at the round age of 100. And when he didn’t talk, he dropped his head back against the seat, closed his eyes and snored. The man was never quiet.