Saturday, May 4, 2013

we are here!

Sitting at a ramshackle breakfast joint in the tiny town of Hana, Hawaii, we are still processing that we are actually in Hawaii.  We arrived safely at our very charming jungle treehouse just before dusk last night, settled in, took photographs, and ran into town for some dinner.  We slept very comfortably in surreal surroundings. I am dying to share photos... and stories...  but the erratic cell read in this remote part of Hawaii is not allowing it.

I will share more as soon as I can.  We are off to hike the Seven Sacred Pools enroute to Waimoku Falls.  Aloha.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

hawaii bound.

You might have guessed that Mother Rabbit is going to devote this blog to Hawaii stories for about two weeks.  I thought I would write the posts as a series of TRAVEL TIPS.  You can learn from our well-laid plans and our mistakes, our wisdom or lack of it. 

Today's travel lesson:

Be Prepared.
Our suitcases are sprawled across the floor of our bedroom.  The packing process has begun.  Above is a photo of stuff for the resort-side of the trip.  What do you really need for Hawaii?  A couple cute bathing suits, a creative collection of cover ups and some clothes to wear out at night.  A wise friend shared this Hawaii packing advice: Take half the clothes you think you'll need - and twice the money.  The biggest decision was what book to read on the beach!  Fortunately for me, Michael Pollen's newest book Cooked was released just in time to get zipped in the suitcase.  I also selected The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher because someone special to me recommended it.  Done.

Now this is a photo of some of the goods we are packing for the Maui adventure-side of the trip.  After reading the eye-opening reviews (see previous post) about the mosquito population, the mongooses that suck the egg right out of the shell, the ants that look like the movie 300 if food is left out, and the less than pristine conditions --- we secured a few more supplies. 
The reviews shared that sleeping in the jungle in the nightly monsoon rain is an epic experience.  We are truly excited for our jungle experience --- but don't want jungle fever.  The three story TREEHOUSE was built 10 years ago by a guy named David, whose hobby seems to be building these tree house structures in exotic places around the world.  This one is couple miles off the Road to Hana and then a quarter mile hike into the house in the tree.  Animal Planet filmed something on the property a few weeks ago.  To help us enjoy the "grandeur" of the experience without being distracted by the critters and insects, we are packing the following extras:
Mosquito netting bed tent, mosquito insect helmets, Deet, mosquito coils, toilet paper, matches, a deluxe array of flashlight & head lamps, and a fancy survival hatchet.  My Marine husband had a blast last night at Cabala's collecting our final necessities.  Honestly, I am sure he had as much fun getting this stuff as I did selecting my new bathing suits. 
There are a few "extras" that I packed too.  When I read about the 'dirty sheets' in the review, I decided that I would bring a set of sheets with me - and leave them there after our two night stay.  I headed to our favorite consignment shop, Nifty Thrifty, and found a brand-new, unopened set of full-size sheets for $6.99.  Score.  They are washed and in the suitcase.  I also secured a hiking camera bag, some hiking-friendly Keens, and carefully packed my Frommers Guides in the suitcase. 
One of the things I was most excited to pack is... my "Don't Bug Me" oil.  I happen to have an I-Don't-Wear-Deet policy.  Sara Jane at the TREEHOUSE said that I might want to by-pass that policy for the 48 hours we are living in our jungle paradise.  I am agreeing to this, BUT I asked The Little House Day Spa's excellent massage therapist to make me a natural, organic bug repellent to bring as well.  I am excited about this... something that I won't be afraid to lather on my body at night and during our hikes.  Tara made it with citronella, thyme, cedar, spearmint, lavender, lemon grass and vitamin E.  I will give a full report on the effectiveness of Tara's "Don't Bug Me" oil.  If it works, we will market it with the tag line: Tested in the jungle. ha.
I am not sure how extensively I can post with just my iPhone on our trip, but I am going to try --- so stay tuned. Aloha.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

the hawaii treehouse.

On Friday morning, Mike and I leave for Hawaii.  We are crazy excited, and not just because it is May 1st and there is snow in the ground.  Neither of us has ever been to Hawaii.  We are excited out of our minds.  Did you get that part?

I work for a wonderful and amazing company that allows me to work from home, doing things that I would call "play" more than "work".   I have been with Creative Memories for 20 years this spring.  Besides providing some of my richest relationships in my life, Creative Memories also offers incentive trips to their sales team from time to time.  This dream vacation to Hawaii is an all-expense trip from Creative Memories.  We are still pinching ourselves.

The company allows you to extend your stay (at your own expense) so I got busy reading the Frommers Guide to Hawaii from cover to cover.  The CM part of the trip is at the Aulani Resort on the island of Oahu.  We had to decide what to do for our extra two day adventure...

After reading and studying, I decided that the ultimate Hawaiian adventure would be to swim in a clear pool that a waterfall is cascading into!   Mike concurred.  After reading and studying some more we decided that ultimately, we wanted to hike the Seven Sacred Pools in Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui.

In this remote part of the island of Maui around the little town of Hana, the accommodations are tricky.  There is one magnificent (and very pricey) resort in the area and several what I would call more-janky options.  Since we were being treated to the deluxe resort experience with CM on Oahu, we decided to look for something more rustic.  We found yurt accommodations at a spa in Hana but to our disappointment, they were booked.  Then, we found THE TREEHOUSE.

The web site clearly says "not for everybody"and located "in the jungle", but even the no electricity and "lit by tiki lamps with mosquito netting over the bed" sounded charming to us.  Just the Hawaii adventure we were looking for to accompany our hiking adventure! We made our reservations and started day dreaming about our dream trip...

Then last week on a fluke, I stumbled on some reviews I had missed before.  I did not know whether to laugh or cry.  I knew that the photo of Our Treehouse (above) was in "soft focus" and I actually had the thought that the photo probably looked better than the real thing.  Well, the reviews brought the negative aspects into sharp focus!

If you want to share my alarm, please take a moment to read a few of these reviews here.

After doing some laughing and crying - and talking to Mike - we are excited again.

More to come...

trip pointers.

Planning a vacation adventure is one of my favorite things to do.  Once I know the destination, I immerse myself in the preparations.  I believe with all my heart that anticipation and preparation should be treated as part of the vacation FUN.

If you were to ask Mother Rabbit for some vacation planning basics, she would say:

1. Read the Frommers Guide.

2. Read a novel set in your destination. 
Watch movies that were filmed where you are going.

3. Buy new clothes.

4. Keep a journal & take great photos.  Make a memory book.

Let's get more specific:

1. Read Frommers.
I never, yes never, travel to a city or country without reading what the Frommers Guide has to say.  Granted, there is not a Frommers Guide that rates Lindsborg, Kansas - or Nebraska - but most major destination cities are covered.  Frommers is my favorite of all the guidebooks.  Yes, I have tried the others. 
You are investing a considerable amount of time and resources to travel.   Being well-read and knowledgeable about the area you are going will give you more bang-for-your-buck.   It will improve your chances of enjoying your activities and being delighted about your meal choices.

I recommend you read Frommers thoroughly - curled up with wine & a blanket.   Mark up the pages when you read something that interests you.   Since Frommers has been helping guide my vacation steps for decades, I have learned to respect what they say and even read between the lines.
Basically, if Frommers gives something *** three stars - you want to consider doing it.   If Frommers doesn't * star the activity you were planning and your time is limited, I would re-evaluate your plans.

2. Read a novel(s) and watch movies set in your destination.
This is to help you start enjoying the trip before you even leave!   It helps you prepare your heart for the adventure.  It adds richness to know some history about the place you are venturing.   It is fun to stumble onto something you have seen in a movie!   (Ever had dessert at Serendipity when in NY from the movie of the same name?    My favorite movie adventure was finding the very restaurant where Russell Crowe was filmed in A Good Year in Gordes, France.  We watched the credits at the end of the movie to point us in the right direction.)

3. Buy new clothes.
Aren't we talking about adding more FUN to a trip?   I like buying something new for a special trip because whenever I wear the outfit again it reminds me of the vacation.   New clothing purchases are also very practical:   1.) You love them so much that you don't mind wearing them repeatedly, helping you to pack lighter. 2.) The sizing in new clothes keeps them looks fresher longer.  (This makes it almost a necessity, right?)

4.  Journal every day, take lots of photos and make a photo book when you get home.
These are separate things.  All are very important. 
Take a notebook or blank journal with you - and jot something down at the end of every day. I don't care how tired you are.  Do it.  You will be forever grateful you did.  Vacations happen so fast that it is difficult to remember what happens in a single day... let alone on the whole trip.
An easy way to do it:
Ask everyone to share "3 Favorites" from the day.  It will change your life.

Take photos that tell "the story" of the adventures you having.  Be creative.

Want to know how to maximize your investment after a trip?  Print your photos in a photo album with your stories.  This is easy with the advent of digital albums.  (Talk to me if you are interested in purchasing the best photo software in the world or go to My Website.)
In some ways I enjoy making the photo book as much as the trip itself.  Really.  When you take time to savor the photos and write the stories, you truly "re-live" the experiences in slow-motion.  This can be glorious.  And when you are done you can re-live the vacation again and again.   Want your kids to remember what you just spent (I mean invested) on your vacation?  Make a photo album.  It will etch the memories in their minds for a lifetime.

Maybe this week is a good time to plan a little (or BIG) trip!