Pausing between Stop and Go on Oahu’s North Shore [pt 2]

Previously, I shared how I eased into a week of island life by wandering around some of the North Shore’s laid-back beaches, towns, and nature reserves. Looking for a rinse, lather, repeat scenario? Then read on.

Back when I had more of a brain, I swear I read that new experiences—be they pleasant or stressful—focus the senses. How else to explain the fact that I’m terribly oblivious to things in my real-life surroundings, but tend to skew much more I was blind but now I see on vacation?

On Oahu’s North Shore, a watchful figurine keeps an eye on the waves and those who ride them

Even if I’m mistaken, surely being relaxed enough to notice the striking markings on neighborly geese, green sea turtles, and dogs was a sign of positive things happening to my body and/or soul.

Renting a tucked-away space on property one hour and a world away from Honolulu airport increases the odds of sharing space with real personalities

Since the line between “attentive” and “obsessed” can be a bit blurred for me, though, I’ll keep mum about how many times rocks had a starring role in my photos.

The historic Lili’uokalani Protestant Church sits right in the thick of what passes for action in low-key Haleiwa

Admittedly admiring the stones’ craggy textures and subtle shadings was easier from land than from sea. Bad enough that I’m incapable of getting out of ocean swell without banging myself up on any nearby rock—once Mr Vix and I decided to attempt standup paddleboarding my seemingly magnetic attraction to hard, jagged lumps became even more problematic.

I didn’t realize that until I was actually on (or more accurately off-and-on) a board, of course. Others made wafting across glossy water look so effortless!

At least my athletically inclined companion was also quite…challenged…by the activity. As the dunkings mounted and the learning curve refused to budge, we exchanged meaningful looks with the small dogs hitching a ride with their paddling owners.

Top, standup paddleboarding in Waialua Bay looked so simple; Bottom, my trusty hat and I were both wet and bedraggled after my first attempt at monkey-do

Luckily, our second attempt to SUP was a much closer match to our fantasy script. Late afternoon sun, stretches of the stunning Anahulu Stream to ourselves, green turtles sunning themselves on the banks, and actually STANDING UP versus kneeling or falling in.

While mere onlookers a few years ago, this visit we were the ones standup paddleboarding along the ridiculously picturesque and tranquil Anahulu Stream while bathed in golden light

Though I’d arrived on the island wanting to spend every daylight minute of my trip in the water, laziness and nosiness won out. Even in the relatively remote North Shore area, we had to make concessions as to which activities could be fit in and which canned due to time. Which may be why Haleiwa was officially named a historic, scenic, and cultural district in the early ’80s, but what do I know?

What I do know is that there were plenty of minutes on our trip for both repeat stops at juice bars and for capturing the business end of a watersports shop…

L, Don’t even think about leaving Lanikai Juice and its heaps of locally grown goodness without an antioxidant rainbow in your hand; R, a local watersport landmark continues its bold color scheme around the back

…as well as for aimless driving around that let us admire small businesses in action and repose…

A moment of rest at Paradise Shrimp Farm’s roadside stand in Waialua

…and for taking in views where volcanically pigmented earth met up with sky and luxurious growth.

While sugarcane’s influence continues to decline, this drive-by shot gives a glimpse of how agriculture still rules on Oahu’s North Shore—good news for fans of the island’s pineapple, coffee, vegetables, and more

All of which made me (once again) glad that so many West Coasters consider Oahu the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the islands. I don’t know how anyone can turn up their nose at a spot that has all of the above plus the gorgeous Waimea Valley Reserve, but hey: more exotic tropical foliage, wildlife, and archeological remnants for me.

Enter the public portion of Waimea Valley Reserve’s nearly 2000 acres and discover a setting filled with tropical foliage and wildlife…including some endangered strains and species

At the Waimea Valley Reserve, beauty and critters are around every corner, and amazing birdsong seems to accompany one along every path

Though just a North Shore visitor, I’m aware that the area’s last 100+ years of history includes colonialism and careless use of the land as well as typical 21st century social problems. And while the busy town of Wahiawa may not be full of rural delights, I’m glad there’s a story of renewal and preservation unfolding there that’s a counterpart to the conservation efforts in the Reserve.

Wahiawa’s 2011 public transportation center acknowledge’s the town’s present needs and pineapple plantation-centric past

So here’s to places that share their beauty and their history, their changes and their struggles, their stories and their bounty. Sometimes the exchange is exactly what’s needed to create a bridge from one’s own past to a richer, more colorful future.

Kamehameha Highway has little in common with its 4-lane-plus cousins, winding along the North Shore’s beaches, towns, and agricultural parcels

PSA: Take a history-laden video tour of Waimea Valley Reserve

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Moroccan meets Modernism in Palm Springs [pt 1]

Last December I said to my beloved, “Let’s skip getting each other holiday gifts and put the money towards a short getaway in late winter!” In theory, it seemed brilliant; in actuality, though, it helps to have a life—and personality—conducive to executing such proposals.

While I’m proud to say my ability to rationalize vacations is so well-developed it’s available for purchase, the job that makes it possible for me to justify indulging wants vs basic needs is wedged in a “significantly under-resourced” workplace where being out for any reason makes coming back worse.

As those who are or have been in similar environments know, trying to engineer one’s escape becomes yet another time-related pressure. Make a run for it too early, and the benefits of leaving fizzle out quickly; break away too late and recharging becomes a pipe dream.

By mid-February even the optimists around me were taking massive hits to their sunny-side-up outlooks. Not at all coincidentally, that’s about the period I told Mr Vix that if he couldn’t get his convoluted schedule to coincide with mine in the very near future, I’d be taking a romantic trip with me myself and I.

Finally, however, we managed to carve out 50 joint hours for sun. And sights.

Enter Korakia,* situated approximately one million miles away from my PNW life:

The courtyard of Korakia’s Moroccan-influenced half sets the tone for the rest of what one discovers on the 1924 property

Or more precisely: located in Palm Springs, formerly and regaining-ground-as California’s desert playground.

While Mr Vix and I had given serious thought to staying in one of the area’s restored 50s/60s hotels for our first trip to the area, the chance to spend a few days wandering around the 1.5 acres where Korakia’s 28 rooms, suites, bungalows, and guesthouses sit in all their 20s and 30s glory won out.

I admit my Persnickety Bohemian side might have been a little vocal about picking the spot with a half-Moroccan, half-Mediterranean, all-boho luxe setting. And from the moment we drove up to the second I left, I was in heaven. Textured and patterned meets stark! Color meets neutrals!

Korakia’s aesthetic — a mix of textured and stark, color and neutrals — is used to great effect in the lobby

We may have been staying in one of the most budget-friendly rooms, but we had free reign of both sides of the property. Eyes, ears, nose, taste, skin—engaged and delighted in ways that took me exactly where I wanted to be: far far away from elevated cortisol levels.

A detail from Korakia’s bar area, located on the Morroccan side of the pensione

It didn’t hurt that 80+ degree daytime weather meant I was able to trade raingear for sunhats, ridiculously large sunglasses, and SPF’d bare skin. Or that the pensione’s rooms have no telephones, TVs, or clocks to tether one to time or the outside world.

My Persnickety Bohemian side was only too happy to trade in cold rain for 2 days of 80+ degree weather and a boho luxe setting 

With the property designed to minimize overnight guests and maximize privacy, I had no regrets about having to compromise my preferred vacationing like the other half lives style due our abbreviated time frame.

When the San Jacinto mountains are one’s backdrop, it’s hard to go wrong…but I saved my pennies for one of Korakia’s most modest room offerings due to how they get it extra-right

Now, I get that my appreciation for Korakia’s design may not be universal. And I have no doubt that the weathered-to-pristine ratio is carefully calibrated for effect. But when the “weathered” portion includes rustic candleholders that light one’s pathways and glimpses of 1920s tilework, I have to say the math works for me.

I’d bet the pensione’s decisionmakers calibrate the weathered-to-pristine ratio very carefully — but who can fault an equation that includes rustic outdoor candleholders and 1920s tile?

There’s no doubt in my mind that it takes a lot of work to do surface imperfection so perfectly, and I applaud the effort.

If excellent coffee, fresh-squeezed juice from on-site oranges, and friendly low-key service don’t outweigh slightly frayed table mats, non-starched linen, and blossoms that were at their best for early vs end-of-service eaters, Korakia may not suit

If there hadn’t been so much we wanted to do during our 50 hours away, I would have spent more time lounging poolside on the inviting daybeds

Given our time frame/decompression challenges I’d deliberately chosen someplace touted as highly experiential and illusory, and Korakia offered those qualities by the bucketful. It was tempting to stay put the whole trip, sure…but with mountains, museums, and modernist landmarks out there, how could two soggy Oregonians resist soaking up a variety of desert goodness?

* No monies were received for the writing of this post, though I probably owe the talented Linda of Lime in the Coconut a kickback for bringing Korakia to my attention in one of her “here’s yet another gorgeous setting” features.

Next: Part 2 of Moroccan Meets Modernism in Palm Springs, in which I semi-reluctantly engage my brain by visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum (and share a bit more of Korakia)

Gratuitous Color Shot #8: Could you elaborate on that?

At the risk of messing with my street cred as “the least Zen person I know,” “kinda tightly wound,” and “a massive overanalyzer,” I am constantly trying to be more accepting of what the universe sees fit to offer me.

Especially when it sends me signs—sometimes literal signs—to chill no matter how ragged and beset I may feel:

Is the message behind the message ‘last one standing’ or ‘doesn’t stand a chance’?

LIKE WOW, RIGHT?

Unless I’m misinterpreting the message and I’m supposed to aim myself at people and try to take them down, way down.

[Which actually fits better with my grudge-holding, argumentative personality. And it’s not as though the universe’s micro- and macro-level choices are above reproach…so why SHOULD I trust it will take me in a useful and/or life-enhancing direction?]

If I’m going to get serious about ceding control/practicing acceptance, however, I really need a Quick Start guide. Because otherwise I don’t see myself mastering Being the Ball anytime soon. I mean when my days aren’t PACKED FULL of trying to influence people over whom I have zero control, they are positively brimming with passive, slack-jawed waiting for various proverbial stars to align in my favor.

Sure, Kathy the Idahoesque Acupuncturist offered a morsel of help when she recommended I visualize being a fish who lets the currents take me where they will.

[Me: “I feel more like a salmon. How about I visualize a salmon getting upstream in spite of the currents?” Her: “No.” Me (silently): “Killjoy.”]

But I need a little bit more direction than that.

Especially since I have to say that stumbling around trying to be the Ball or a Fish or the Wind Beneath My Wings usually leaves me depressed or fed up. And when I hit a certain point of fed-upness I start to detach from my usual outcome-oriented desires/fears, a state of mind I like to call “going all Thelma and Louise.”

POLICE (O.S.)

(over loudspeaker) Place your hands in plain view. Any failure to obey that command will be considered an act of aggression against us.

I repeat, turn your engine off and place your hands in plain view.

INT. CAR – DAY

THELMA
What’re you doing?

LOUISE
(loads gun) I’m not givin’ up.

….

POLICE (O.S.)

(over loudspeaker) I repeat, cut your engine off and place your hands in plain view.

THELMA
Ok then, listen. Let’s not get caught.

LOUISE
What’re you talkin’ about?

THELMA
Let’s keep goin’.

LOUISE
What d’ya mean?

THELMA
(indicating the Grand Canyon) Go.

LOUISE
You sure?

THELMA
Yeah. Yeah.

Maybe Going All Thelma and Louise is a subset of Being the Ball; hell if I know. I also don’t know how people in truly life or death situations weigh their odds without losing their minds.

But when it comes to fraught yet garden-variety decision making, I’m starting to realize it’s only when I really and truly stop trying to please others that I’m likely to be rewarded.

And it kind of bothers me that I usually get what I want when I demonstrate that I’d rather go over a cliff than surrender. How does that jive with what one hears about compromise and cooperation and everyone loving a team player, huh?

But I guess people with power—people who have something others want—often respond better to bravado than supplication. Or often enough, anyway. So after recently negotiating for something fairly big in my generously termed professional life, I’m adjusting to (and cautiously celebrating) the results.

Trouble is, there’s a part of me that can’t stop remembering how good my foot felt on that pedal….

Oh Honestly

For whatever reason I struggle with not starting off every entry with “So….” I guess too many bad jokes about a rabbi, a priest, and blind squirrel rattle around in my head.

“Frankly” tempts me way too often as well, but comes with the added bonus of making me feel like a liar thanks to decades spent watching trashy TV shows in which the completely adulterous/embezzling/serial-killing character reassures a spouse/board member/officer of the law that honest, he or she is innocent.

I mean, here I sit, trying to be HONEST, and yet if I use poor frankly, honest’s cousin, I risk head shakes and doubt. And FRANKLY that ticks me off because while it may be unimaginative to prefix the obvious—“I think X”—I feel my opinions gain a little looking-down-my-pince-nez gravitas when I use the term.

Apparently I have this hypersensitivity to implied guilt? That makes me break into a cold sweat when I see a police car or contemplate using “frankly” when I am telling the truth?

I’m sure it has nothing to do with my Catholic upbringing, though, which required me to say, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed” as part of Mass, even when I thought I might well be worthy since I hadn’t DONE or THOUGHT any of the seemingly endless wrongs. According to Father Pat I was mistaken about that, of course:

How do you know when you are worthy to receive the Eucharist? Strictly speaking, no one is ever worthy. Jesus’ healing makes us less unworthy.”

Naturally in my head I both edited the proclamation to “only say the word and I shall be heeled” and flashed on Billy Joel belting out that he’d “rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” You could put my past, current, and future resistance down to a generally ornery disposition (my take) and/or “that Protestant blood running through your veins” (the opinion of certain people with whom I share DNA).

Self-imposed idiotic guilt aside, my love for frankly holds true. It’s forever pure.

You can have “honestly,” though. It’s a word made up of frustration, anger, shame, and insecurity; if you sent me back in time to use it in spelling-test sentence I’d have Aladdin’s riches before me: “honestly I don’t know where you get that from—that never happened;” “honestly I don’t know what I’m going to do with you all;” “honestly I don’t know where I went wrong;” “honestly what are people going to think?!”

Yeah, I go all Scarlett O’Hara kneeling in the dirt when it comes to using “honestly.” But I sure catch myself narrowing my eyes and thinking it way, way too often for comfort.

Imperfection

Thanks to my whole control freak, constructive-criticism-is-an-oxymoron, so-not-Zen thing, I simply can’t post these photos without text.

I was able to lay off the all-caps. I dragged myself away from improper use of the drop quotation box. But I couldn’t forgo the bold because OMG what if you thought that I thought these were “normal?”

attention…yes the photos are technically poor…but I like the world they reflect

Naturally I’d like the photos MORE if someone else had taken them.

Tag you won’t see associated with this post: BAGGAGE FREE, ME

(top to bottom: Kauai; PNW; Venice)