Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Hawaii

Ultimate Family Gift: A Themed Vacation

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season. Are you still looking for that perfect family gift to remember all year long? Consider a themed vacation in a sunny place.

Winter doldrums will hit, but there are a number of ways to benefit from the warmth of the Caribbean Islands and those in the Pacific as well. I’ve enjoyed a few days away now and then to simply read, enjoy friends and family, savor the local foods, and of course, run.

There are any number of resorts that will cater to your needs as you let the cares of the world wash away. There is another way to spend some time with family: dig deep into a topic they would find worthwhile or intriguing. I just experienced one of these on my first visit to the Caribbean in many years.

My recent week away on the French island of Guadaloupe included a study on the topic of the Slave Trade History in Post-Colonial Guadeloupe. 

Ruins of a colonial prison

I came away from my week in Guadeloupe with a deeper understanding of the complex, violent past of many of the islands in the area.

Historian interpets signage at a slave rebellion site 

I also learned some about the plant life and the topography of this beautiful island, much I would have overlooked had I chosen a more passive vacation.

We also had opportunity to enjoy the many beautiful and varied beaches of Guadaloupe

On a much earlier trip to Hawaii, just by chance I happened upon an announcement in a local windward side free newspaper. A local civic historic group was offering a tour of ancient sites in the area. I was surprised that with the myriad  of tourists on the island of Oahu, we were  the only non-residents of Hawaii taking the tour. It was a magnificent opportunity to learn about ancient fish ponds. sacred burial grounds and a drive to some cliff locations that mark the historical changes of power on Oahu.

As a proponent of both the get-away-and-be-pampered vacation and the thought-expanding vacation, I’ll provide my ideas on what makes the latter a success.

1.Prepare well for the subject or territory you will be exploring. In my recent trip, I sought out fiction and non-fiction literature to give me a basis for the history and a sense of place. Ask your tour contact for their suggestions for advance reading.

2. If you are not on a specific topic tour, keep an eye out for information, both on the web and in print, that may be offered by local groups such as the one I ran across in Hawaii. Generally they know their subject matter well and are eager to share their knowledge.

3. Consider a trip that includes a homestay, at least for a portion of the trip. My trip to Guadeloupe did. I stayed in the home of a professional young woman and came to understand much of family life, residential architecture designed for the lifestyle and the climate, and the favorite restaurants and home cuisine that are preferred by locals.

4. Learn in advance who will be your guide and who will be providing information of the credentials of your primary guide. If you are doing a study tour, the background of the leader should be available to you. Is he or she an educator, a resident or former resident, a frequent traveler to the area?

5. What is the maximum size of your group? A smaller group can move more efficiently and sometimes have access to venues not available to larger groups. It also offers more opportunity for individual questions and discussion, but may be a bit more costly. There are always trade-offs.

6. Will there be downtime to digest information and enjoy time with your host or fellow participants? Simply taking a drive for the mountain view, enjoying a warm walk on a sunset beach, or following up on a lead of a wonderful local eatery can provide a break and add to your memories.

7. Will the tour be age-appropriate and of interest for your entire family? Will there be recreational time for those less interested?  

Do you search for something more intriguing for family vacations? Is there a topic or activity your entire family enjoys? Have you tried a vacation exploring a specific topic or engaging in a home stay with a local? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Best Intentions and Almosts

via Daily Prompt: Almost

I planned with the best of intentions. Barring bad weather getting in the way, I could get some rest after an 11-hour flight, then make an early morning drive to the eastern shore of Maryland for the 50K Pain in the Neck.

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My view from morning run before departure flight

Arriving home and with snow in the morning forecast, I pondered instead of an early morning drive, leaving several hours after my flight arrived, then spending the night near the race start. I almost followed through, but decided instead to unpack my bags and make my way through several weeks of snail mail.

As jet lag began to set in, my desire to do the race was offset by my desire for some sleep and downtime, so I considered a fallback to my almost.

My fallback was  The Last Mile, a race I enjoy doing with friends. It offers pottery age-group awards and the local fire company makes chicken corn soup for the runners. I always buy an extra container to take home when they have any to spare.

 

Last Mile (it’s actually 5 miles) AG award from a previous year when I did better than an ‘almost’

Well, I almost went. But, I slept in (jet lag, you know) and the snow coming down looked so pretty from my side of the window and the temperature was hovering around 15 degrees F. So, I almost went to my fallback race, but no.

By afternoon with the almosts behind me, temperatures had tilted up past 20 degrees. 

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24 hours after my tropical pre-departure run, I’m running along the frozen Susquehanna.

Out the door I went, running through some lovely light snowflakes. It’s good there are 24 hours in a day (sometimes more – or less – when you’re moving between time zones).

Wishing you a wonderful new year and courage in working around your almosts.

 

 

 

 

Tropical Solstice

Saturday, December 21
Winter Solstice at 7:11am HST – Winter officially begins on Oahu.

7:11 a.m. the sun peaks out 20 mies down the coast near Diamondhead

7:11 a.m. the sun peaks out 20 miles down the coast near Diamondhead

I’m the only runner out with the sunrise. My fellow humans at this dawn are fitness walkers, a few accompanied by dogs. Otherwise, tropical sounds of early morning bird calls and the brush moving with the trade winds are my company.

I’ve planned the morning run to take me to a dead-end street with a view of the coastline a few minutes before the appointed sunrise hour of 7:11 a.m. This day has the southernmost sunrise and sunset. It is also a day with the longest night, and shortest amount of daylight.

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Seconds later most of the sun’s view has emerged

If you live in the Hawaiian Islands or have visited during the month of December, you’ve experienced daylight hours that are somewhat longer than those where most of us bundle up like a well-dressed Frosty the Snowman.  In June, there is just over 13 hours of daylight.  In December, just over 11 hours of daylight.  The difference in hours of daylight throughout the year is not as extreme as in the Northeast U.S. where we can be in the late shade of twilight nearing 9:00 in the evening.

Hawaii does not observe Daily Savings Time. Why bother, with such a small fluctuation in daylight hours? All of this to say, that it has an odd feel to be in a place where there is more winter daylight than I usually experience.  That doesn’t stop anyone on this island from joining in the always adapting ancient winter solstice rituals burning candles and stringing lights to celebrate the season.

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In a brief minute, the full sun has cleared the horizon.

On this island you must be quick.

On any day of the year both sunrise and sunset send their early alert streaks across the sky. But when the full sun rises from or falls into the ocean of the horizon, it is mere seconds as that full orange ball makes its appearance or disappearance.

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Boldly shining through heavy cloud cover before the end of day

5:53 p.m. sunset occurs. Shortly beforehand, we pull into a parking lot near the lagoon beside the airport. Not a touristy spot, this lot has a view of cargo planes loading and an airfield surrounded by barb wire.

A last brief flare in the night sky

A last brief flare in the night sky

A few other cars are parked, huge cameras on tripods set up, people ready to chat about the cloud cover obscuring today’s setting sun.

Hawaii says good-bye to another solstice as the sun appears to disappear into the Pacific.

Hawaii says good-bye to another solstice as the sun appears to disappear into the Pacific

As this day with the most darkness and the shortest daylight ends, I’m wishing you light in the dark, friends and family at your side – sweet solitude if that is your desire, memories of the past and dreams for the future, and running during many more sunrises.

Hawaii Holiday Hill Run

Up and about in the early morning hours of my first Hawaii daybreak, I try to be a good houseguest and avoid waking my host.  I bide my time with a delicious cup of Hawaiian coffee and quiet time on the lanai. Patience brings the dawn and I’m off for a brief sunrise run.photo Makakilo, ‘observing eyes’ in the Hawaiian language, is a superb lookout point.  As I turn out of the street from my son’s home, the view extends down the island past Waikiki Beach all the way to Diamond Head. This morning, the landmark is shrouded in clouds but still visible. This vista was once a strategic spot to observe approaching visitors, be they friend or foe. Now, it’s a residential community far off the tourist circuit.photo

I run downhill on a wide boulevard under a canopy of monkeypod trees. A simple 4-miler will be  great for stretching out after a long flight, which is also a great excuse to run an out-and-back to the Malama Market and pick up a few goodies.  lThis little store at first glance appears to be a typical mini-market.  Inside, it has the feel of  an old fashioned grocery, with a deli area of fresh sandwiches, breads, salads and seafood with a local touch, and a great little coffee shop next door.  I snap up a pack of warm Hawaiian-style andagi, and a couple of other items.  Three favorites:  travel, running and a kickstart with a fresh morning local food treat.

"Sata andagi" is Okinawa doughnuts.サ...

“Sata andagi” is Okinawa doughnuts.サーターアンダーギー (Photo credit: Wikip

This is daunting running territory, with tough uphills and downhills. With a little less than two miles distance, my mini-grocery run requires a straight downhill with more than a 70 foot drop in elevation  (This U-tube video is a good visual of the downhill), which in turn means 70 feet elevation gain for my return trip.   With goodies loaded into a running backpack, I begin my reverse trek uphill with a jog, which quickly becomes a fast walk. 

I’m seeing a few other solo runners, retired boomers like myself along with a few military folks sharing a portion of my route.  On O’ahu, most runners are out early and in before 9 a.m. or so. With this year’s Honolulu Marathon taking place last weekend (Sunday, December 9), this is a recovery week for some.

The sun is quickly rising in the sky but soon enough I’m back to the house.  It’s time for some holiday gift baking before the second phase of my jet lag sets in.

Wishing all good family visits, good food, safe travels and few moments to get out for run.