As the title suggests, the last part of our trip was two very opposite experiences. Since we had booked the Westin time share pitch early last year, it did not go into our housing budget, therefore, we were very much looking forward to some luxery R&R. We pretended to be rich, working people once again. It was delightful.

These next five days were filled with late mornings, breakfasts of bagels and lox, rum by the pool, reading in the sun, lounging in fancy robes, and the occasional dip in crystal clear water to snorkel around a reef right off the beach. I felt refreshed, relaxed, and totally out of place. We also told them it was our anniversary and got a free bottle of champagne, so there's that 🙂

Though I will say, I am glad and grateful I have had the opportunity to experience the resort style vacation, it was not my favorite part of the trip. In the future when my vacation time is limited, I would take this type of vacation for a specific reason, but it would not be the norm for what I strive for. Even with all the money most people pay to stay in these high end hotels, and the airfare it takes to get there, they still have to pay ridiculous prices for food, drinks, and activities. Because you spend so much money booking this kind of vacation, there is so much pressure to 'enjoy' every moment and you feel overwhelmed with what to do or do so many things that you don't end up relaxing at all. The other side effect of these vacations are looking at all the amenities through 'vacation goggles'. Basically, because you spent all this money, everything has to be great, even though it is just watered down pina colada in a plastic cup, it is the best because you need it to be. Now, I do see the point to go on these vacations with large family groups or with children because there is plenty for every age group and you don't have to leave the premises at all. At that point, a cruise is much cheaper and achieves the same thing.

I will say I now know the joys of resorts, so I don't feel like I have to fly across the world to get the “relax by the pool, go to the beach, be pleasantly buzzed get-away”. In the future, I would be totally content to take two or three nights at the closest high end hotel that offers these things and it wouldn't make a difference. At least for me. Sometimes you just need to sit in a lounge chair with a blended drink during the day, and sleep in a cloud bed at night.

The best sleep I have had this whole month, however, was at the Westin. Holy goodness the bed are soft pillow hugs that swallow you whole and put you right to sleep. We also had a killer Jacuzzi tub, which I enjoyed every night we were there. At the price we payed, it was totally worth it. At the price people normally pay for this, hell no.

It was exactly what we were looking forward too after living outside for 6 months.

After the Westin, we concluded our month in Hawaii with five days unencumbered by a plan, or schedule, or any expectations at all. We decided to wing it with some 'free' camping and had an interesting few nights. Thanks to the lack of efficiency from the Westin and Avis deal, we got a rental car for a total of $26 for five days, and the first night out of our luxury hotel, we ended up sleeping in it at a trail head. The next few nights we camped at one of the road side beach parks with a few .... locals? Basically we were hanging with the homeless as we hammock camped on the side of the highway. It worked, but wouldn't recommend. Maui would have been a perfect place to do 'Vanlife,' so we are now considering that for future trips.

We hadn't surfed much by this point, so we decided that would guide how we spent the rest of the time, and then fill in the blanks if the surf was not good. We had bought a Wave-storm from Costco (we are now members, yuk) at the beginning of our trip naively thinking surf would be easier to come by. Now that we knew the island better, we had an idea of the spots to go to, where to camp, times to be there, and what boards we needed. We rented a 7' 10” NSP epoxy board to go with our wave-storm and had a blast on the 2'-3' waves that were around. We were lucky and were able to catch a wave at most of the beginner spots such as the cove, the pines, breakwall, and Hanakaoo point. We also checked on S-Turns which was an awesome spot, but was not breaking at the time we were there. However, that spot had the most turtles I have ever seen! So we stayed there for a while at low tide watching the turtles feed and swim while talking to people.

Our second to last day we closed out with spam fried rice and a final sunset. It was perfect to camp-cook the meal we ate the most, at one of the beach parks that we frequented so often, and watch the sun go down. While the sky exploded in pink hues, two outrigger canoes cruised by, and I felt such a since of pride, accomplishment, and peace. It was a perfect moment, a fitting meal, and a beautiful day. Hawaii provided so many new 'happy places' to go to, I am so grateful for this entire trip, but this portion in particular brings tears to my eyes.

Taking time to do this trip, the whole thing, is the best decision we have made. Even if nothing else goes well, time to explore, step back, and slow down has changed our outlook on life forever.

Now, what island should we live on next year?

11/10 would live in Hawaii again.

Song: Wanderer - Mogli

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