The last few days I spent in Hawaii were a bit less structured than the beginning of the trip. The morning of June 26th we all woke up to the news that the US Supreme Court had struck down all bans on same-sex marriage. We were all thrilled! It was really funny sitting around the breakfast table with everyone on their phones, reading about the historic decision, adding the rainbow overlay to our Facebook profile photos, and blocking or unfriending anyone who posted anything disparaging about it. It was so nice to be in a group of like-minded people that morning. We spent most of the day relaxing in our amazing beachside mansion. Some of the ladies unfortunately had to fly home that night so we seized the opportunity to take a bunch of group photos before anyone left. As you can see in the above photo, we even had matching PJJ Maui t-shirts! (I guess I should take a moment to explain that “PJJ” stands for “Pajama Jammy Jam.” We just moved our pajama party to Hawaii and extended it into a week!)
On my last full day on Maui a few of us decided to try to catch the sunrise at Haleakala again, hopefully without the truck convoy (or the associated observatory construction protest) getting in our way this time. (See PJJ Maui (Part 2) for more details.) So we got up at 2 AM to drive to the summit for the festivities. Fortunately the trip was uneventful that morning and our quest was successful! It felt a little strange wearing pants and jackets and packing a bunch of blankets for anything in Hawaii, but it was worth it in the 40 deg weather at the top of Haleakala. And the sunrise was indeed beautiful. I didn’t get any good photos myself, but I loved seeing it in person. On our way back to the house we stopped at a French bakery that’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere and had an absolutely delicious breakfast of quiche and pastries. It was amazing. After that we spent the majority of our day swimming in the ocean and the mansion’s swimming pool. Ladies of leisure! Our numbers dwindled even more that afternoon/evening as more folks hopped flights back to their hometowns. In conjunction with a few airport drop-offs that day we indulged in some Hawaiian shave ice, visited a sugar museum, and stopped briefly at McDonald’s to take pictures of their “Aloha” and “Mahalo” signs. We are classy broads.
I reluctantly flew back to Los Angeles on the morning of the 28th, but I had a three-hour layover in Honolulu first. That gave me a chance to wander through all of the airport shops (and eat a terrible Burger King breakfast) and savor Hawaii for just a little bit longer. I was sad to get home that night. PJJ Maui had turned out so much better than I ever imagined. I loved spending time in a tropical paradise with such an amazing group of women. This was the sorority experience I should have had in college. Several of us made similar comments during the week. It’s rare that you find people that you connect with like that and by some miracle we had all met each other through a Craigslist wedding forum almost a decade ago. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I’ll always be grateful.
So what did I do on my Hawaiian vacation with a bunch of women I’d been conversing with online for nearly a decade but had just met in person? Everything! The day I arrived on Maui was pretty uneventful. We had lunch at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea (I highly recommend it) and then bought a whole lot of groceries at Costco. Can you believe that’s the first time I’d ever been inside a Costco? It was quite an eye-opener! We got food for several different meals to cook in the huge kitchen of the enormous beachside mansion where we were staying for the next week. (It was something like 15,000 square feet with 10 bedrooms and a swimming pool! I never wanted to leave!) The next morning eight of us decided to drive the Road to Hana, which is practically required for visitors. After about an hour we stopped at a winery to wait out some rain and some of the folks in our group had a change of heart. The winding road had caused three people to develop motion sickness so one of the two cars on our journey turned back. Luckily I was in the car that kept going. To avoid traffic we went the opposite direction on the Road to Hana than most tourists because we had a sturdy Jeep that could handle the rough, unpaved southern portion of the road (the part that rental car companies highly discourage their patrons from taking). It was a beautiful drive, but it took us nearly 12 hours! And it rained on us just about every time we got stopped, especially at Ohe’o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools). We had a nice lunch there, but we got soaked when we tried to hike to the pools. It was a good time, though. That evening we played Cards Against Humanity with everyone in the house and it was a blast.
The next morning was a bit of a mess. A group of us decided to get up at 2 AM and drive up to the peak of Haleakala to see the sunrise. It’s a very popular activity. About 10 miles from the house as we were all yawning and missing our comfy beds we noticed a group of protestors next to the road. We all wondered what that was about, but none of us thought to look it up on our phones (while we still had cell service) and see what was up. About two hours later when we got to the gate of Haleakala National Park we figured out what was going on. The peak was closed for sunrise viewing that morning due to a truck convoy that was scheduled to deliver equipment to the solar observatory at the top of the mountain. The demonstration on the highway was protesting additional construction on the telescope due to desecration of sacred lands. Apparently there’s a case before the Hawaiian Supreme Court that hasn’t been settled yet. The funny thing is that the protest was actually successful in preventing the convoy from making it’s journey up to Haleakala that day. I’m not sure if we could have seen the sunrise that morning either way because we turned around and drove back to the house before finding out. The rest of my day was spent relaxing (reading by the pool), eating Hawaiian shave ice (passionfruit, mango, and coconut), and driving to Lahaina for a submarine tour with three of other housemates. It was a great day.
To be concluded in Part 3!
In June I went to Hawaii on vacation, but the premise of this trip was a little unorthodox. It all started back in early 2006 when Dan and I had just gotten engaged. In the beginning stages of planning our nuptials I discovered a Craigslist forum devoted to weddings. It was full of brides-to-be who were all getting married around the same time I was. A few of us from that group created a smaller forum where we discussed our dresses, rings, flowers, cakes, etc. We helped each other plan our big days. And then after the weddings were over we posted photos to show the group how everything turned out. In short, we bonded over this rite of passage. A few years later this group of ladies reconvened in a private Facebook group where we could share the joys and struggles of our lives after saying “I do.” For one reason or another not all of the brides made it down the aisle with their intended grooms, and others hadn’t stayed in their original marriages (like me). As a group we celebrated the births of children, supported each other through painful divorces, and everything in between. We asked for and gave advice on fashion choices, career paths, medical problems, family conflicts, weight loss, and anything else you could possibly think of. Although most of us had never met in person since we live all over the country (and some abroad) we had still formed a really close relationship through our virtual interactions. So when one of these lovely ladies suggested a trip to Hawaii I was really excited. She works for a wealthy entrepreneur who owns multiple beachfront houses on Maui, and she negotiated a vacation at one of them as part of her annual bonus. And she invited us to join her there! Isn’t that incredible? In the end ten women from our Facebook group (and two boyfriends/fiancées) made the trip to Hawaii and we had an absolutely amazing time. The funny thing is that I hadn’t met any of them before arriving on the island! How do I explain that I flew all the way to Maui to vacation with a bunch of women that I only knew from the internet? I am completely aware of how crazy that sounds, but I can easily say that I couldn’t have made a better decision.