This last month was filled with all sorts of fun, starting with a visit from Jason's parents, Paul and Sue, who stayed in town for a week at the resort down the road, about five minutes from the house. Turtle Bay is actually the only resort in the North shore "country," and the island has done a pretty good job keeping it that way thus far. I had kind of envisioned O'ahu looking much like Maui, which I had visited three times in my life before moving here, packed with hotels, restaurants, and shops on every street in most areas. Thankfully, if you're into that, there's Waikiki. Otherwise, we're blessed with a nice laid-back atmosphere that feels a world away from the big-city scene.
Hanging around the resort, beach-hopping, and being wined and dined by the Benfits for a whole week made for quite a lovely "pretend vacation" for us! We got to do some fun tourist-y things like going to a big luau, checking out the Polynesian Cultural Center, and playing around downtown. Still not working, I spent most days with Jay's folks and their long-time good friends, Ron and Debby, vacationing with them. For those of you who don't know or may not have met them, you really could not ask for better parents of your significant other than Paul and Sue. They are just as sweet as can be and super fun to hang out with. And they have an incredible story to their relationship -- they have been together since they were fifteen years old! Paul told me that his very first date was when he took Sue out to an ice cream shop when they were just kids. All these years later, looking back and telling me about meeting and marrying his first love, he still had that unmistakable look of pride and affection in his eyes as he smiled and said of his marriage, "I wish the same for you two. It's been a good ride." Talk about a legacy to live up to! How beautiful...
One of the highlights of their visit was taking them out to the ranch for a ride on the beach! Now, we don't do the whole nose-to-tail, leisurely single-file stroll through the scenery. No, no -- unless you request not to, you can expect to be jetting through the sand at a full gallop, gripping onto that saddle with all your might when you ride with us! It's quite the experience. Paul and Sue did a great job keeping up, and we even got a couple of pictures along the way.
I've been having a ton of fun hanging around the ranch lately and I've even become somewhat of the go-to guinea pig for taking out the more difficult or less-trained horses when needed. I've been going riding with a lady who is a friend of the owner of the ranch (and most of the horses there), when she takes out the stud. "Naughty" is a fiery little Arabian stallion with more than a "mind" of his own, shall we say... His current lady-in-waiting is a sweet but spirited little mare, and the pair are extremely attached to one another, so when Naughty needs a bit of exercise, it's best that she comes with. The woman who rides him is one of the bravest riders I've ever seen! This horse has just some of the craziest antics that you have to put up with. He will stop dead in his tracks, from an all-out gallop, if he smells another horse's mark of territory on the ground, which he must poop over to prove his dominance, of course. It's a ritual filled with loud snorts, grunts, and cries along with fierce pawing at the ground, and it happens at least half a dozen times throughout the course of the ride. I also have been taking out a young filly, not quite 3 years old, who is starting her training. She spooks really easily and can be a bit difficult to handle when she's spinning around over backwards or leaping sideways to avoid a scary-looking coconut. Of course, even Novalee, five times her age, can relate... We are still slowly introducing the beach monster in small doses and have yet to ride out there. But the good news with her is that she's out of quarantine and can hopefully be pasture pals with another horse or two who might be able to convince her that it's not so bad!
Another big event from last month was our trip to Maui! One of Jay's cousins was visiting the island with some friends from Las Vegas (where he lives), who had access to a family beachfront condo where they were staying. We played on the beaches and even tried a little surfing -- and I sort of got up for the first time! One thing I learned while we were over there was that having a Hawaii ID comes with some pretty awesome perks. Many businesses that cater to tourists will offer kama'aina rates for residents which is often a really great deal! We rented a brand new 4-door Jeep wrangler for $15 a day! It was a fun weekend, and it was really nice to meet and get to know another member of Jay's huge extended family. (Sue is one of seven, and Paul is one of eight! Oh and Grandma? One of fourteen!)
Aside from our adventures, it's still been great getting a feel for living here and just doing everyday things. It almost feels normal now, looking out the window and seeing the ocean, or walking across the street to a beach. I even get cold at night sometimes when the temperature drops below 80 degrees! Other things don't seem as strange anymore either, like geckos crawling all over the walls and furniture, or people walking around town in bottom-baring swimsuits. Even the smell of marijuana seeping over from the next-door neighbors (only a thin wall separates us, and we share the lanai) barely registers as out of the ordinary! The surf culture, in this town especially (Hale'iwa is one of the top surfing destinations in the entire world), is quite different from anything I've ever known, and they're usually pretty big on the stuff. It's even being grown in pots on the porch. Don't worry though, neither Jay nor I have any interest in it!
Well, we'll see how well I do from here on out, but I'm going to try to keep to a habit of at least one update a week... and maybe they won't take as long for me to finish!
A hui hou!