A couple weeks ago Jeff and I took a trip to Hawaii and it was a dream come true. When I first saw the post on Facebook that Erika & Lanny Mann were speaking at a conference called Hi on Life in Hawaii I knew that I had to go and that somehow I had to figure out a way to convince my husband that it was an awesome idea! I’m pretty sure he realized he did not stand a chance and that the only “approved” answer was yes when he heard the excitement in my voice and saw the determination in my eyes. He is a great husband!
We started our adventure in Oahu at the Hilton Hawaiian Village where the conference was being held. After close to a fifteen hour travel day, we were greeted by the soft sounds of the ocean and a beautiful warmth on our face. Our first full day we did nothing but sit by the pool or beach, swim in the ocean and eat! It was perfect.
Our second day we went on an amazing tour of the island with Hawaii Jeep Tours. Sean, our new friend, showed us what real Hawaii was like. He made us feel welcome and introduced us to many of the local customs, scenic locations and food. It was a perfect day.
Then it was time for the Hi on Life photography conference. I was very excited to hear all of the wonderful photographers speak and meet some amazing new people. Over the course of three full days I learned from: Jenna Leigh Photography (our conference coordinator); Right Start Photography; Jeremy Chou Photography; Susan Stripling; Trevor Dayley; Rachel Brenke from The Law Tog; Abby plus Dave; Julie Paisley; Theilen Photography and Two Mann Studios!! Plus I was treated to a sunset shoot at Eternity Beach. This conference was more than I could have ever imagined. I have made new friends, I have a renewed sense of excitement for photography and I have an action list a mile long. It was awesome!
After the final Luau conference party Jeff and I packed up and said goodbye to Waikiki and started the second part of our adventure to Maui. We rented a beautiful condo right on the ocean so we could see the sun set from our balcony and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
Jeff was really excited for our first full day in Maui because it involved “Snuba” diving in the ocean with the Pride of Maui Tours. Snuba is a combination of snorkelling and scuba diving where the tanks are held in a floating boat at the top of the water and you are attached via regulator to a twenty-five foot air hose. Jeff loves the ocean and being deep below the surface… I on the other hand am happy to respect it from the shore where I can walk in and out of it. But 2017 is the year of me being “Brave”… so I promised him that I would try.
While we were waiting for our Snuba group to leave we floated around with snorkel equipment for a little bit. I truly can’t describe how blue and clear the water was. It was as if it wasn’t even real. There were lots of fish and coral beneath us and I was trying not to panic so I could work on my breathing. When it was time for us to suit up for Snuba I’m ashamed to say the hyperventilating started! And I soon found out that if you can’t calm your breaths it makes breathing into the regulator very tough. So after about ten minutes of our guide and Jeff trying to get me to relax enough to come even a foot under the surface, I told Jeff to just go and have fun. I really didn’t want to ruin this for him. So he ventured off away from me very unwillingly, (only twenty-five feet as he was still attached to the dingy I was clingy to) and began to explore.
One of our deals for me getting in the water was that I was able to purchase a new underwater camera. Again I have a great husband! So from the surface, with my Nikon Coolpix, I was able to capture his pure joy. After being on my own for a few minutes I was able to calm down enough to let go of the dingy and come “slightly” below the surface. Just as I was feeling like I could go a bit deeper and join him…our tour was over! But I was happy that I at least tried, and so was Jeff. Just as we were getting out of the water back on the boat our camera came unhooked from Jeff’s regulator gear and floated away! Yes there was a few choice words said by Jeff and a look of pure despair. All of our memories under the ocean were now at the bottom of the ocean. Fuck!
BUT…after about an hour of searching by Jeff and a very kind scuba diver our camera was retrieved and returned to us. YEAH! To our extreme pleasure it still worked and had all of our pictures and video safely stored! Thank you Nikon!!
Needless to say we ate and drank very well that night. I had conquered the ocean (ok ok maybe just the surface of the ocean), we had lost and found our camera and memories and we had another amazing day. The very next day was the one that I was really looking forward to in Maui. It was the day we would get up at 3am and drive two hours to the top of Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise and then drive the Road to Hana to the Pipiwai Trail and hike to the bamboo forest!
I do not think that either of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into. All I knew is that we were going to be extra brave today and experience something we had never before. Had we know that we would spend sixteen hours in a car driving a crazy, barely two lanes, sometimes only part of one lane, winding road on the side of a crater and then cliff we maybe would have given it a second thought. But instead we experienced the single most thrilling day of our lives.
After our early morning pitch black drive up to ten thousand feet above sea level on the Haleakala Crater and thirty degree drop in temperature, we were treated to something I’m still having a hard time describing. As the sky began to turn a stunning shade of blue on the horizon line, the clouds that were below us looked like someone was setting them on fire. Then the sun rose right before our eyes through the clouds and it was like we were in heaven. Honestly if you ever find yourself in Maui, please put this on your bucket list. There truly are not any words.
Then we were on our way back down the crater (which was significantly much easier in the daylight) to make our way to Hana. Jeff rocked this drive! It started out all beautiful and scenic and then turned into a scene from a James Bond movie! We were driving two lanes by a cliff, then one lane by a cliff over a bridge as we had to honk to see if oncoming traffic was coming around the ninety degree corner, then it was two lanes on a cliff through the jungle, then it was one lane on a dirt road on the side of a cliff going over very large hills… again my words cannot do it justice!
At the end of this road was the Pipiwai Trail and the bamboo forest. From the research I had done, she said that it was a relatively easy two mile hike to the bamboo forest that most anyone could do. The BITCH lied! Oh yes it was two miles, that part was correct, but it was two miles of walking over tree roots and stones up steep hills on the side of a cliff! So I’m not in the best shape of my life and I freely admit there were multiple breakdowns and “I can’t do this I want to go back” moments. Not my finest hours as my husband just drove for 6 hour on the death road to get me here. But… 2017 is the year to be brave… and my amazing husband took my hand and reminded me that we could do anything together. So I wiped my tears and continued the walk…hating every moment of it. And then I looked up…and we were surrounded by beauty and what me being brave really looks like. I’ll let the pictures and video show you what we saw and my words just won’t do.
And then we drove back from Hana. Fuck!
When we finally arrived back to the condo sixteen hours later we just looked at each other and high fived. We did it! The last day was a lot of laying around by the pool and being lazy. It was the perfect way to end our vacation.
Jeff and I will remember this adventure for the rest of our lives and always have fun stories to tell. I feel very blessed that we were able to experience this together. We are braver individually and a stronger couple because of it. The video and pictures below tells a bit of our story… Aloha…Sarah and Jeff