ALOHA, friends! I’ve been off gallivanting around the Hawaiian isles in celebration of my step-sister’s perfectly beautiful wedding.
We love these two crazy kids.
My step-sister and her husband (weird!) got engaged on the island of Lana’i two years ago, and our families traveled across the Pacific to watch them tie the knot on the very same island. I couldn’t wait to spend a week in paradise with my favorite people, and I got even more excited when I saw Denver’s forecast the day before we left.
We arrived on Maui (our home for the next five nights) exhausted but ready to have a rockin’ good time, and we did! We snorkeled, ate a mahi-mahi caught by my brother, and drank Kona coffee every morning as the sun rose. (SERIOUSLY, GUYS – Kona coffee is the bee’s knees.)
I was most excited for our surf lesson with the Maui Beach Boys at Kalama Beach Park. Now, in case you don’t know this about me, I am terrified of a lot of things. I nearly had a panic attack during my first snorkeling experience (on day 2 in Maui)…in waist-deep water. By the shore. I screamed so loud on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a couple years ago that an elderly couple turned around and asked if I was alright.
I also refuse to be a ninny, so even though I hate flying, I once strapped myself into the co-pilot seat of a 6-passenger plane flying across Botswana and over Victoria Falls because why would you let some stupid emotion stop you from experiencing that? So despite my lack of agility and general unease around fast-moving objects and large bodies of water, I was going to surf, dammit.
And surf we did! It was exhilarating! I understand why people drop out of corporate America to live in search of the next big wave – it’s invigorating to feel the water surge behind you as you paddle hard and jump up on your board. It’s very zen: there’s nothing but your body, your board, and the water. Awesomely enough, my mom was arguably the best surfer of the group.
Step-sis Katie with surf instructor Kyle.
We bid “aloha” to Maui and boarded a catamaran bound for Lana’i, stopping to snorkel along the way. Five eagle rays swam directly under us! It was also a little choppy, and a couple people got seasick – I have never seen fish swim so fast. It was like last call at the Shoney’s buffet.
We disembarked on Lana’i and got settled in at the Four Seasons Resort, half down at the beach resort and half of us up at the mountain lodge. Both were stunningly beautiful. We spent a day lounging by the pool and hiking through the rainforest, and then the wedding day arrived! They were married under white orchids with a white sand beach below – Sweetheart Rock a beacon of undying love in the distance.
Some Hawaiian ladies taught us to dance the hula at their reception, and we ended the night toasting to the bride and groom in the hotel bar, so sad to be leaving the next day.
Before our journey, my now brother-in-law sent the following message:
As we learned on our trip, Aloha is more than a word; it is a way of life. The literal meaning of Aloha is “presence of breath” or the “breath of life.” It comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, and “Ha,” meaning breath. Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings followed by spreading love to others through our “Ha.”
We’re a motley crew of step-siblings, and some of us didn’t know each other well when we arrived. By the time we lifted our glasses to the newlyweds, we were all hugging, trading stories, and “friending” each other on Facebook. Seeing everyone come together in this atmosphere of love and acceptance was the perfect embodiment of the Aloha spirit.It was a beautiful wedding – a fitting start to their new adventure. I can’t wait to see where life takes them next!
Wherever it is, I hope it’s someplace warm and sunny…