Last week I did a decadent thing for a Wednesday –– and this is Hawaii, so that really should be more the norm, but we all have busy lives and responsibilities that interfere with life in the tropics. Every so often, though, even us residents get to play tourist.
The treat? The Paradise Cove luau. Even better, I brought my friend Valarie for some girls' time (pictured far right, with me, on the Cove's grounds).
Valarie moved here four years ago as part of her rotation with the Army: She's a captain and a nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center. When she touched down she threw herself into every imaginable Hawaii "experience" to be had, including the sunset dinner cruise on the Alii Kai (where she met her husband, Marcello, a month after moving here), the Dole Plantation and Hawaii Plantation Village. She's done the Polynesian Cultural Center –– I kid you not –– about three dozen times. She learned to surf sponge boards (a.k.a boogie boards) and even hit the big winter breaks at Velzyland, near the Turtle Bay resort –– a feat for someone with a fear of the ocean (she grew up in land-locked Nebraska). And she became something of a luau connoisseur, hitting them all; Paradise Cove was her favorite. (See Paradise Cove Unleashed »)
Now a mother of two young ones (6 months and 1½ years), Val was mostly eager to spend quality time with adults. But there was something else, a pressing need to be connected to friends and experiences here. Just after the holidays, she's going to be leaving on duty again, a two-year post on the Mainland.
Val will be back. Marcello owns two surf shops here and this is home for their young family. But the separation will be hard on all of us, her extended Hawaii ohana (family), who love her vibrancy and open heart. So we adorned ourselves in plumeria, enjoyed fruity cocktails, swayed with the music, gushed over the gorgeous Leeward coastline (see photo gallery, below), talked story with visitors from Michigan and Ohio, feasted on too much yummy food –– and made another memory.