In March of 2023 my wife Cindy and I took a trip to Hawaii, and these photos are the result. I don't really have a bucket list, per se, but I do keep a loose set of goals that are fun to check off. One of them is to visit all 50 states, and after our Hawaii trip (and now our 2024 trip to Alaska) I only have three states and the District of Columbia to go. The other goal, which Cindy and I share, is to visit as many national parks as we can. On this adventure I was able to check off Halaeakala and Hawaii Volcanoes national parks. bringing my total national parks (not to be confused with national monuments, seashores, battlefields, etc., that's a whole 'nother list!) to 39 of 63. Our plan to take an extended trip to Alaska sometime in the next few years will allow me to expand the list substantially. (The more I reread this, the more it sounds like a bucket list. Maybe I just don't like that phrase...)

We never know where life will take us, so we planned this trip as though we might never return, since there are so many places around the globe we'd like to see. Therefore, we planned to visit three islands. We started on Maui, then hopped over to Kauai, and finished the trip on the Big Island of Hawaii. We spent an inordinate amount of time away from the ocean, which in retrospect seems like some missed opportunities that we might explore later, and spent a lot of time in the more mountainous areas of the islands. The vast, deep blue Pacific Ocean was rarely out of sight, however. Each of the islands had its own distinct character and we loved them all, but we were particularly fond of Kauai's wild nature. They don't call it the Garden Isle for nothing. It was so lush and beautiful! A highlight was our 5-hour boat tour of the wild Na Pali Coast, an area inaccessible any way other than by sea. Cindy made the unfortunate discovery that she gets seasick, so each time the captain stopped due to yet another humpback whale sighting, she struggled to maintain her faculties. Even in her less-than-ideal state, she recognized the incredible beauty of the coast.

The only things lacking on the trip were sunrises/sunsets and rainbows, which the islands are famous for. Perhaps it was the time of year, or the fact that there's been nearly two months of steady rain. The best sunset we saw was while waiting to board our flight home. We left the temporary 80-degrees-and-humid lifestyle on a Saturday night, and on Monday morning I was shoveling snow in the driveway back home in Colorado. Despite our initial thoughts that this would be a one-and-done visit to Hawaii, I suspect we'll be back someday. We want to return to Kauai to hike the infamous Kalalau Trail that we missed when our boat tour had to be rescheduled due to rough seas, and I'd really like to visit Oahu and pay respects at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.