It’s been a flurry of activity, excitement, tension, and melodrama the moment I landed back on the mainland. Largely for two major reasons: I was engaged & I also became a homeowner. All in the time span of 2 weeks. It was all too easy to get caught up in the craziness of this turn of expected, yet still overwhelmingly exhausting, events. Thus, my delay in the desire to properly document my travels and photos. I figure as long as I post them before I reach the one month mark, it’ll be somewhat fresh in my memory.
When I came back, the next question I received after “SOOO… Are you ENGAGED?” (Yes) would be “How was Hawai’i?” I wrestled for the right words to answer such a question. There’s too much to say about this place that can’t be justified by a gushing “beautiful”, “amazing”, “sooo fun”, or “great!”
I will say: I completely understand why it is a place people enjoy visiting again and again.
I’ve put together a photo blog 3-part series on Hawai’i. And be aware that there will absolutely be no mention of running/jogging/working out during this trip because…it didn’t happen. But that’s a whole separate entry. Aloha!
Day 1. June 25, 2009 (Thursday).
My first glimpse of Oahu from Hawaiian Airlines. Seeing all of the green and blue already made me feel like I was entering paradise.
*After a 6 hour flight and then checking into the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, J & I were hungry. Hawaii is known for its sporadic light showers, so we ducked into Hatsuhana Restaurant to avoid the drops and for a quick bento box lunch.
*We head over to the Manoa Falls Trail, in the Upper Manoa Valley. The drive itself is quite elevated and the trail took us deep into the lush green rainforest. It was a 1.5 mile hike through a worn path that often was muddy, rocky, and slightly steep. When I read about the trail in my Lonely Planet guide, it was labeled “relatively easy.” I thought perhaps Hawaiians must be in better shape than Californians as I sweated my way across rocks, lunged up stones and thick tree roots, and nearly slipped more than twice.
For some time, it felt like J and I were the only two people on the hike. The only sounds we heard were birds chirping, the wind rustling the tree branches, and the distant sound of water rushing. I felt like I stepped onto the set of Jurassic Park and imagined a velociraptor stealthily following us in the thick bushes. We pass by a sign that says: Warning. Beware of flash flood. “Do you think we’re almost there yet?” I ask J, in a near panic that we won’t make it back by nightfall.
After woefully mourning the muddiness of my white Nikes, I see a streambed of water and hear the increasing sound of an approaching waterfall. We scramble to the top lookout point and gasp at the sight of the beautiful 150 foot waterfall drop. J smiles and I’m smiling, too, as we hug each other – a silent appreciation of such a moment.
There’s no one there, but us, to bask in the beauty of the Manoa Waterfall. J then nervously drops down to one knee, pulls out a red heart shaped box out of his pocket. “Pauline…” he says.
I don’t let him finish his sentence because I’m screaming in pure surprise, joy, and semi-confusion. He repeats my name again. Three times. I’m still screaming “Oh my god! Oh my god! Is this really happening?”
“Will you marry me?”
The 1.5 mile hike back down the Manoa Falls Trail was damned quicker and easier, given my high spirits and a brand new sparkling diamond on my finger. I’m grinning the whole way down.
“Aren’t you just EXCITED?” I gleefully ask J, as I bound and skip from rock to rock.
“Not at the moment. I just want to make sure you get down this trail SAFELY,” J says with a slight grimace as he quickly follows me in my frenzied state.
*We celebrate our engagement at Bali by the Sea for dinner, one of the Hilton’s fancy restaurants. After enjoying a filling meal, where we chatter nonstop about the Manoa Falls hike, we take a moonlit stroll down the beach. The entire day was a perfect way to start off an already memorable vacation.