Oh Canada!

I’m now safely back in Edmonton and in the process of getting settled into my new room at Slanty House.  I was disappointed in the lack of snow in Edmonton right now, but I’m glad to be here.  I spent a few days in Kelowna, during which my mom put me to work making jewelry, and then the two of us made the drive over to Edmonton.  I just love Jasper National Park.

Ooops! Traffic Jam!

Now that I am back in Canada, there are many things I am excited to have around me again.  The following list is in no particular order.

1) My roommates.  It was so nice to feel that I had a place to come “home” here, and fitting in at this house is just so natural for me that many of us agree that it’s almost as if I’d been here all along.

2) Hockey.  It’s nice to be able to see hockey games on TV, and even to see shinny games happening on outdoor rinks.  One thing that I didn’t even notice I missed was seeing people wearing NHL jerseys at all times.  I was walking through the Vancouver airport when I saw a guy wandering around in a Canucks jersey.  That really brought home the fact that I am back in Canada.

3) Fall/Winter clothing.  I love sweaters, turtlenecks, layering, boots, leggings, and mittens.  I was able to wear none of these things in Hawaii.  Which brings me to my next point…

4) Having a full closet.  I’m excited to have more than a few select outfits to wear.  Living out of a suitcase is totally reasonable, but it also gets old after awhile.  I don’t know if I’ll want to touch any of the clothing I had with me for a few months.  Then again, I definitely don’t need summer clothing right now and won’t for awhile.

5)  Loonies and Toonies.  I despise carrying around $1 bills, always thinking I have a lot more money than I actually do.  Not to mention, who doesn’t love being able to pay for purchases entirely in change?

It’s very strange to be here while everyone is frantically studying for exams, but I guess that means I have lots of time to settle into my room and try to accomplish things (such as posting to my blog, obviously).

Happy Holidays!

Love KG

Aloha, Hawaii!

Saturday was spent in Kona with Stacy and the kids.  We hit up Costco and I was able to pick a few last-minute things up on Ali’i Drive.

I had my last guitar lesson in the evening, which was sad.  It’s tough when you find an instructor you like with a style you like, and you can’t continue.  Mine was awesome though – we’re going to keep in touch so that if I have questions or get stuck on anything or just need help, I have someone to ask.  Also, as he pointed out, I’m obviously going to return to Hawaii at some point (I hope!) so we can always pick things up again then.

I spent the evening doing laundry and just crossing things off my list of things to accomplish before I leave.  Leilani spent the evening drawing pictures for my brothers, which was really cute.  She is amazingly artistic – I am always surprised by the things she creates and the way she does it differently from how everyone else would.

Today (or I guess it was yesterday) was a really long day.  I woke up around 8AM and hung out around the house, packing and getting ready for the beach at the same time.  Leilani, La’a and I had a bit of a bunny photo shoot at one point, but the pictures are on Stacy’s camera so I don’t have them right now.  Sean was off today as well so we all had plans to spend the day at the beach.

Eventually we were all ready and I was all packed.  We hopped into the truck and went to Hapuna Beach.  As you may or may not recall, this was the beach I spent my very first beach day in Hawaii at, so it was a fitting place to end.  Despite the fact that the weather wasn’t perfect, we all had a great afternoon at the beach.  I’m pretty sure La’akea was the happiest kid in North America when he found a giant mud pit to play in and got himself covered in muddy sand from head to toe.

I’m a mermaid!
Leilani made a bunch of sand angels, which I thought was pretty cute. It’s just like you would make a snow angel… but in sand!

Sean grilled fish he had recently caught on a fire at the beach and made sandwiches for us for lunch.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet for the benefit of those of you that don’t already know, but Sean is a chef.  I’m definitely going to miss living with a chef.  We got the star treatment for sure.  I sometimes felt like I was eating at a restaurant with the food he would make.  Which isn’t surprising since he does work at a restaurant.  Obviously.  Sadly, it’ll be back to eating like a poor student again soon enough.  Even though I’m not a student any more, I’m still poor… so that makes this necessary.

The fish Sean caught last week, which we have been eating recently.

Eventually it was time to head back to the house.  I showered, packed the rest of my stuff up, ate my last chef-prepared dinner, said goodbye to the kids to Stacy, and hopped in the car with Sean to head to the airport.  And that brings me up to now.  It’s 3:50 in the morning for me right now, Hawaiian time.  I’m on the airplane, landing in Vancouver soon I think.  I was able to sleep for a bit as my flight isn’t too full.  I have a whole row of seats to myself.  I popped my headphones in, blew up my airplane pillow, and covered myself in the jacket Stacy gave me since she doesn’t use it in Hawaii, and was able to actually fall asleep.  I’m excited to be back in Canada for many reasons, but I’ll also miss many things about Hawaii.

Things I will miss about Hawaii:
– My cousins and the rest of my Hawaiian family
– My guitar instructor
– The beach
– The sun
– Going everywhere with a bathing suit
– Buying liquor at the grocery store
– The little reflectors on all the roads… they are amazing!  They make street lights absolutely unnecessary.
– The Hawaiian night sky
– Golf
– The accessibility of adventure
– My bunnies, especially the poor little renegade bunny.
– Unrestrictive footwear

Reasons I am excited to return to Canada:
– SNOW!  I don’t think it’s really sunk in that it’s Christmas yet, but I’m excited to feel festive.
– My dog.  I’ll get to see him for a few days in Kelowna.
– I can’t wait to quit living out of a suitcase.
– I am excited to return to my own guitar and start to practice on it.
– My friends, of course… as much as I was surrounded by many people in Hawaii, I rarely hung out with anyone around my age.
– Winter clothing.  I know this sounds silly, but I’m excited to get all bundled up against the elements.
– Hockey coverage!  I’m tired of endlessly watching NHL on the Fly, hoping that they choose to cut to the game I want to see at some point.

I’ve loved so many things about my time in Hawaii, and I’ve got a bunch of things I want to do when I return.  I really was able to do so much this trip, and got to see so much of the island, but I just feel like there is so much more out there.
– More hiking.  Maybe at the Volcano or in Waipio Valley?
– Night swimming with manta rays
– Swimming with dolphins in the wild
– Go sailing
– More paddling adventures
– More snorkelling

I am so happy that I was able to just take this time off and spend it with my Hawaiian family.  I only hope that it isn’t too long before I can go back.  It’s sad to think that the kids will probably have grown up so much by the time I get to see them again, but at least I got to know them a little bit now.

Love KG

The Magic of Mauna Kea

On Friday, Stacy and I had plans to go up Mauna Kea.  We had invited Rhinehart to join us as well… partially because we wanted to hang out with him and thought he would enjoy it, and also partially so he could drive the vehicle for us.  We spent the day casually hanging out at the house, until around 3 PM.  Rhinehart met us then, and we all hopped into the Jeep we had rented for this trip.

We made our way up to the Visitor Information Center at the 9000-ft level.  Here we stopped to acclimatize for a half hour or so, and also to check out the gift shop and a short informational video.  We then ate the pea soup we had brought up with us, and all tried a bit of Rhinehart’s dehydrated spaghetti.  Weird.

The Visitor Center
Our makeshift table

Eventually it was time to head up to the summit.  We all hopped into the vehicle to drive up.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve thought about it many times.  The Hawaiian night sky is absolutely beautiful, even just from Waikoloa.  The stars are brighter than I’m used to, and probably brighter than almost anywhere on the planet.  The Hawaiian Islands in fact have restrictions on street lamps and many other types of lighting in order to keep light pollution down and preserve the Hawaiian night sky at its best.  This sky and the brightness of the stars is definitely something I will miss when I head back to Canada.

Because of how clear the sky is, Mauna Kea is home to a lot of expensive space observation equipment.  The facilities on the summit of Mauna Kea are some of the best in the world.  Now, if you have been following my blog, you might know that Mauna Kea is also an active volcano.  Interesting that they chose to put all this fancy equipment on top of an active volcano…

It took about a half hour on a bit of a sketchy road to make it to the top.  Stacy says that this is the only road in Hawaii that she gets scared on.  I could see why, though for some reason I didn’t feel the same fear she did.  At the top, we parked the car and hopped out.  We all decided that many movies set on the moon or Mars could easily have been filmed on top of Mauna Kea.

Snow! In Hawaii!

We wandered around a little bit, but found that we all got lightheaded extremely quickly so tried not to exert ourselves too much.  We did end up doing a very short hike to the true summit.  We took it very slowly but still felt a little lightheaded.   I can’t imagine actually climbing mountains like Everest and exerting yourself like that on a daily basis.  Up on the very top, there were a bunch of offerings for the Hawaiian gods.  It was an amazing spot for something like that.

Short hike!

For those of you who have been following my blog, and wondering about the mysterious Rhinehart… this is him.

After taking a few more pictures, we hiked back down to the Jeep and watched the sunset from there.

Before long, it was dark.  We got back into the vehicle and went back down to the Visitor Centre to do a little stargazing.  We watched a short video about Mauna Kea’s observatories, and looked through a few telescopes.  It was a pretty neat experience to gaze at the moon and be able to see its craters, or to see all four of Jupiter’s moons.

Eventually it was time to head home and pick up the kids.  Despite the fact that our adventure wasn’t overly strenuous or long, we all felt exhausted afterwards.  We spent the rest of the evening watching Country Strong, and Stacy and I even convinced Rhinehart to join us for that.

My favourite thing about today was seeing the Hawaiian night sky from an even more beautiful vantage point.

Love KG

A-Hiking We Will Go!

Stacy, La’a, and I hiked Pololu Valley on Thursday.  It was an absolutely perfect day to do this trip!  La’a got very excited about hiking in the morning and dressed up in all his safari gear.  It was adorable.  We started off by heading to Waimea where Stacy had a morning appointment.  La’a and I went to Starbucks to sit for a bit while we were waiting for her.  He practiced his alphabet while I wrote a few postcards.

After that, we drove the upper road from Waimea to Kohala, and made our way towards Pololu.  The valley was beautiful. I was very excited to be heading down the hill this time instead of just looking from the top.

We hiked down to the bottom – it only took 15 minutes or so, even with a 4-year-old in tow – and hung out down there for a while.

We then made the trek back up.  La’a did so well – I think Stacy only had to carry him for one stretch of a few minutes on the way up.  So a note to everyone else out there:  4-year-olds can totally hike Pololu.  And everyone they walk past is extremely impressed that they are doing it, especially when their backpack is full of rocks that they want to bring home.

Next, we had lunch in Hawi, did a little shopping, and again got the most heavenly coconut ice cream on Earth.  By that time, we had to head back to Waikoloa to pick Leilani up.  We spent the evening watching Mulan and relaxing.

Wednesday was a mellow day to get things done around the house, which definitely necessary at this point.

On Thursday Stacy and I went golfing at the Waikoloa Village course.  We had probably a perfect day for that as well – the gale force winds of Waikoloa weren’t in force and a nice cool breeze had replaced them.  We had a good morning on the golf course, even though Stacy hadn’t been out in ages.  We did manage to get lost near the end and played a couple holes twice.  We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but it was ridiculous.

That night, a couple came over to check out our bunnies.  We already had a home lined up for one of them, but were really hoping to find another home for the pair that had been together the whole time.  As it turned out, this couple wanted to take two of them!  They’re waiting to pick them up as a Christmas surprise, but we were quite happy to find a good place for them to go.  It looks like little renegade bunny will be heading to the other home Stacy had set up, as the other two already seem bonded.

My favourite thing in this blog post was definitely hiking Pololu.  It was a perfect day.

Love KG

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi

Today Stacy and I took on another super-touristy day, much like the day we did Green Sand Beach and Volcano all at once a few weeks ago.  A lot of people might not be up for such strict schedules, but we love packing our days full of everything we possibly can. Today also happened to be a highly educational day… who doesn’t love learning?

Around 9AM, we climbed into the car and went toward Kona.  Our first stop of the day was the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm for a tour.  Check out www.seahorse.com if you are interested in this awesome organization.  Ocean Rider is a small “Mom-and-Pop” type of farm – it just happens that they farm seahorses instead of crops or other animals as you would usually expect.  This is the only farm of its kind in North America, and they are on the cutting edge as far as breeding seahorses and other aquatic life.

Our tour guide was great.  I now feel very informed about seahorses – and what interesting creatures they are!  It would be sad to see these little guys become extinct, and this is part of the reason that organizations like Ocean Rider are so important.  They are breeding seahorses to be pets in order to avoid having seahorses taken from the wild at all.  Their populations in the wild are dwindling as is, and the hope is that one day Ocean Rider may be able to re-introduce species into the wild if they do become extinct.

Seahorses are in fact a fish, and they are actual predators when found in the wild – at least as far as plankton is concerned.  The seahorses that Stacy and I met today have become accustomed to eating frozen versions of the food that they may have found in the ocean, but these guys were all bred in captivity.  When this farm began, they had only one seahorse that would eat the food they provided.  Because he liked it, they named him Mikey (as in “Mikey likes it!”).  Seahorses learn by observation, so Mikey was moved from tank to tank, teaching the other seahorses that they could eat this food and survive.  Eventually, young seahorses began to eat this food without question, which the biologists think is due to some sort of genetic mutation or natural selection.  This meant that Mikey could retire from his job, and he now lives happily in an aquarium with the owners.

Seahorses naturally mate for life when left to their own devices in the wild.  This animal is one of only a few that are monogamous, but the really fascinating thing here is that, by placing their seahorses in large groups, mixing them around often, and allowing for much social interaction, the biologists at Ocean Rider have now produced swinging seahorses.  A problem with pet seahorses was that if you had a pair of them and one died, you usually had only a week or two before the next would follow.  Now, these seahorses will usually recover and move on, pairing with a new seahorse.  Another reason that I think seahorses are highly fascinating is because they are one of only a few animals in the world that have a male pregnancy.  Male seahorses have a pouch on their stomach, and when they impress a female, she squirts her eggs into his pouch.  He then fertilizes them internally and carries them to term, eventually going into labour to deliver perhaps over 1000 babies.

The pet industry has severely hurt the seahorse population, but another use has had an impact as well.  Seahorses are thought in some types of herbology and naturopathic medicine to be a cure for everything, from sexual dysfunction to kidney ailments to joint pain and circulatory problems.  This industry is incredibly damaging to the survival of seahorses in the wild as aquarium seahorses are not thought to produce the same results.

At the end of the tour, I got to hold a seahorse.  It was actually a much more magical experience than I expected.  My seahorse’s name was Nova.

We had to mimic coral and keep very still so that the seahorse would feel safe.

At this point, I also want to discuss another project that Ocean Rider is currently undertaking as I think it is absolutely amazing.  The organization has purchased four Leafy Sea Dragons.  These animals are extremely close to extinction.  They exist only in a very tiny location in Australia.  These Leafy Sea Dragons reproduce interestingly as well.  The female will spurt eggs onto the tail of the male Dragon, where they will stick and become fertilized.  At this location in Australia, only one pregnant male Leafy Sea Dragon may be taken from the wild per year.  These Dragons are incredibly popular in aquariums everywhere, so this means that they are in high demand and are in danger of continuing to exist in the wild.  Ocean Rider has two males and two females.  In the wild, Leafy Sea Dragons reach reproductive maturity at 4 years of age, and in the past, Dragons have often died after living only a year in captivity.  Ocean Rider has a female Leafy Sea Dragon that is showing signs that she may be ready to reproduce.  She has actually spurted eggs twice, but has missed the male’s tail both times, leaving the eggs to fall to the bottom of the tank, unattended.  The biologists at Ocean Rider are working towards having the first successful captive breeding pair of these amazing animals.  Here is a picture from the internet, if you don’t know what they look like.  We weren’t allowed to take photos of the Leafy Sea Dragons we actually saw as they were quite skittish.

Stacy and I bought a few trinkets, left a few tips for our guide and donations to the organization, and then got back into the vehicle to head to our next stop.  By this point, I was definitely feeling a caffeine withdrawal headache coming on… so it was a very happy time for us to do a coffee farm tour.  This was something I had expressed an interest in doing while I was here.  I mean, if you know me, you certainly must know that I am a fan of coffee.  How could I be in the heart of this amazing coffee-growing area for two months without learning more about it?  Stacy wanted to do the Hula Daddy tour as this is where she sends many of her guests interested in a similar experience, and she had not yet seen this farm.

We arrived at an adorable country-style building, complete with clock tower.  I can’t believe I completely forgot to get a picture of the building, but I did.  We walked inside, and it was a modern but cozy store and office with a beautiful view.

Stacy and I drank a few coffee samples while our tour guide, who is also in charge of marketing for the organization, chatted away about coffee and everything to do with it.  We hit it off well with our guide, whose name was also Stacy, so we ended up enjoying an extremely leisurely and informative tour.  We walked down to the coffee plants and tasted coffee cherry, then went to the roasting room to watch as one lady had the job of roasting, taste testing, and packaging every single bag of Hula Daddy Coffee.

Hula Daddy is a boutique coffee farm in that they specialize in putting out an amazing product, but not necessarily mass producing it. The focus is on putting out the best product that they possibly can, and that has paid off – a few Hula Daddy coffees are among some of the the highest rated in the world.  The Hula Daddy “Kona Sweet” is rated as a 97, which is extremely high on the coffee rating scale, for those of you that have no idea what this means.  In fact, no coffee in the world has been given higher than 97, and there are only a handful that have achieved this rating.

On the Big Island, the coffee growing season runs from February to July, and the harvest goes from August to January.  For those of you that know anything about farming, a 6 month long harvest is ridiculous!  They have pickers at work every single day during the harvest season.  Hula Daddy does things differently from many coffee farms in that they actually hand sort the coffee cherry after it is picked.  Any cherry that is over-ripe or under-ripe is discarded and actually sold to another company.  The defective cherry is still 100% Kona coffee, it just isn’t necessarily something Hula Daddy would put their name on.  This means that every Hula Daddy coffee bean is roasted evenly and to perfection.

Coffee cherry
Beans roasted to different levels. We watched a batch roasted to 420 degrees.
Coffee roaster
Mmm… freshly roasted coffee beans, cooling before packaging

Kanane – A game the ancient Hawaiians used to play.
The royal canoe landing… if a commoner set foot here, the penalty was death!

The wall surrounding the Place of Refuge – it didn’t have a pathway through it when this area was in use. Warriors would stand on top of the wall to protect the area.
An ancient canoe

After we were finished wandering around the Place of Refuge, we went to a popular snorkelling spot near there and got into the water.  Despite the fact that it was “cold” out (Stacy’s word, not mine), it was lovely in the water.  There were lots of fish and the water was quite warm, especially around all the coral.  This was a beautiful spot to snorkel.  Here is a view of the Place of Refuge from this area.

After we were done in the water, we got back into the car and made a stop on Ali’i Drive for a drink on the way home.  This was the view we were treated to at the bar.  What a way to end the day!

There were so many amazing things about today, but I think my favourite part of it all was how very educational it all was – and I love how much I was able to regurgitate in this blog post!  I learned so many interesting things and heard so many captivating stories that I am happy I was able to share at least some of this knowledge with all of you.

Love KG

“Let me know when you’re drowning…”

I have just a week left here in Hawaii, so Stacy and I have a ton of activities planned for the next little while.  It helps that she is off work as well!  I’m excited about all the cool activities I will get to cross off my “To-Do” list in the next bit, but I think it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Hawaii.

The last couple days have been fairly mellow.  On Friday I drove Stacy to work and had her vehicle for the day.  I spent a bit of time shopping at Target in Kona, mostly just to buy a suitcase to haul all my Christmas presents back in.  As it was Black Friday, shopping was just a little bit intimidating after all the bad press that this crazy day gets – there were even police officers roaming the store!

On the way back to the Kohala Coast, I stopped at the Kaloko-Honokohau Park and snapped a few photos of all the surrounding lava rock.  I wish I had hiking gear with me… I would’ve loved to have wandered around there.

As it was, I soon hopped back into the vehicle and decided to head to Starbucks at the Queen’s Shops with my laptop to wait for Stacy to be done work.  I had a productive afternoon there, and ended up being able to meet Stacy a little bit early so that I could see the floor she manages at the hotel.  It took a bit longer than usual for her to get out of there as this was her last day of work before her vacation.

I spent pretty much the entire evening practicing my guitar.  I’ve come to the realization that I only have a week of instruction left, and I’m on my own after that.  I’m really hoping to be at a somewhat self-sufficient point by the time I leave here.  Leilani’s friend Lola and her mom Leah were over that evening.  They were actually the ones that connected me with my guitar instructor as Lola takes lessons from him as well.  She and I spent a bit of time talking about guitar and teaching each other.

On Saturday Stacy and I took the kids in to Kona early for gymnastics, but it turned out that class was cancelled.  We went shopping instead, hit up a park for the kids for a bit, and met Leah and Lola at a Thai place for lunch.  We had originally talked about heading to Makalawena Beach that afternoon, which you need to off-road into, but it turned out that it was far too windy and just not an ideal day to do that, so we have postponed that trip to next weekend.  Instead, we spent the day at the pier in Kona.

We relaxed on the beach, rented a paddle board from a charming beach boy, and got in the way of a wedding .  Well… we didn’t really get in the way, we were politely “asked” to move, as the organizer was not really able to tell us to leave a public beach.  We moved over a few feet to (hopefully) make our way out of the happy couple’s wedding album.

I got to play around with stand-up paddling for the first time.  I got a quick lesson from the guy running the rental shack, and away I went.  We all took turns on the board – I really enjoyed it.  Stacy was the only one, along with a couple of the kids, that flipped the board.  I didn’t go far out into the ocean.  I mostly stayed close, but every once in awhile would make my way around the corner and into the waves, then promptly get scared and turn back around to ride the waves in.

I hope we do get to make our way to Makalawena Beach next week, but this turned out to be a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Love KG

The Big Island and the Yukon: Too Similar to Ignore

During my time on the Big Island of Hawaii, many similarities to my home territory of the Yukon have come to my attention.  I know what you are thinking right now – “you’re crazy” and “I can’t think of two places that have less in common”,  but hear me out.  I thought the same thing coming here, but I’ve seen too many similarities to ignore.

Yes, the Big Island is an island, while the Yukon is surrounded mostly by land (but for a few exceptions).  The Big Island is a year-round paradise, while the Yukon is thought by many to be a desolate land of ice and snow (though this is not the case all the time).  The similarities I see are more in the lifestyle and the people than anything.

Both of these places are quite isolated and have that everyone-knows-everyone feeling as far as residents are concerned.  Both of these places also thrive on tourism.  Though the Big Island is a bit more of a tourist destination than the Yukon, many people looking for excitement and adventure tend to head to the Yukon, or Alaska via the Yukon, so we get quite the crew of interesting characters there as well.  Tourism is one of the largest industries in the territory.

In the Yukon, it is not uncommon to meet residents that traveled there once and decided to stay, or to meet tourists that keep returning again and again.  Everyone has a story about how they ended up in the Yukon for good.  I will never forget about my high school history teacher and how he ended up there, or at least the story he told us about it.  He had just graduated from the University of Alberta and was married to a girl.  One summer, he took a motorcycle trip through the Yukon to Alaska and just absolutely fell for the Yukon.  He vowed that he would return there to live.  When he arrived back to his wife in Alberta, she flatly refused to move somewhere as far away and desolate as the Yukon.  Not long later, they got a divorce and he moved up north.  Many years later, he was happily married to someone else and teaching high school students in Whitehorse, never regretting his decision.  My own parents arrived in the Yukon planning to stay only a year or two, when I was two years old.  I ended up spending my entire childhood there.   The Yukon is full of stories like this, but I have found that the Big Island is as well.  Many people just have a feeling that “this is where they belong”.  People leave behind perfectly good lives on the mainland to come and struggle to make ends meet here in Hawaii, but they stick to the idea that this is where they are supposed to be.  Some come to visit once, and then decide to move to the Big Island.  People are attracted from all over the world to settle in both of these places, and I find that amazing.

The inherent culture of the Hawaiians is very central and obvious here, and I found the same thing with Native culture growing up in Whitehorse.  My elementary school used to have “Native Culture Days”, where we would eat bannock and make Native crafts, or learn how to snare a rabbit.  Hawaiian culture is apparent everywhere here, and I know that the schools teach children Hawaiian Culture classes, as this is probably the favourite of my 6-year-old cousin.  I think that tourists enjoy the injection of culture at both of these locations.

There are a few small ideas that hilariously carry over between the two places.  In Hawaii, there is this idea of “Hawaiian Time”, or always being fashionably late.  More than that, I think it is being a little bit zen and living in the moment, and if you end up being late for something, well, so be it.  I grew up learning of “Yukon Time”.  In the Yukon, things never begin on-time and people are rarely expected to be on-time.  In the Yukon, we also have this idea of “Yukon Formal”.  Events rarely have a strict dress code, and this idea is merely one that reflects that.  It is the idea that whatever you are wearing is fine for wherever you are going.  Don’t get me wrong, we often have events where the majority of people are dressed up nicely, but you always have to arrive in boots and a winter jacket.  Not to mention, that old guy in the plaid shirt and huge winter boots with no change of clothes always shows up fashionably on “Yukon Time”.  It’s the Yukon – you can’t expect to change people.  I bring this idea up because here on the Big Island, the trend seems to be “You’re in Hawaii – no one cares what you’re wearing”.  There is no appropriate level of dressiness for almost anything here, or so it seems from my experience.  Even on the resorts, the staff are dressed rather casually compared to upscale hotels on the mainland.  In fact, I often feel silly spending too much time on my hair or clothes here, much like I do in Whitehorse.

The final reason that I see so much in common between these two places is the connection with the outdoors and all the activities it affords.  Yes, in Hawaii, many of these activities are on the ocean – but in the Yukon we do many similar things, just on lakes and rivers instead.  The Big Island has many beautiful hikes that tourists and locals alike flock to, and this is true of the Yukon as well.  During my day off-roading all over Waipio Valley, it hit me that this was probably the biggest reason that I felt these places had so much in common.  That day was totally something that a group of people would have done in the Yukon, it just would have been a different type of location.  Overall, both of these places have an amazing attachment to the land that they exist on, and the people make full use of that.

This is a topic I never would have considered writing about when I first arrived here, as it had never occurred to me that this could be possible.  I have found two places that just feel incredibly similar to me, more so than any other two places I have been in my life. I find it amazing that two places that really are so different have so many inherent similarities.

I don’t mean to take away from either of these amazing, unique places.  The similarities that I see don’t make either of these places ordinary – in fact, I really do think that they are both extraordinary locations.  There are still many things that make each special, but it is in parts of the people and the lifestyle that they feel the same.  Maybe this is why I have had such an easy time adjusting to life here in Hawaii.

Love KG