Travel sort of sneaks up on you. When you least expect it, a new place, experience or even an image can sort of, I don’t know, change you. Ok, before I lose you, I have to say that excluding the occasional Disney movie, I’m not a sappy person. That said, there have been a few moments during my years of travel that I will forever hold so exceptionally close to my heart. It was a quiet, misty morning – about 4:00AM in London while I stood out front of my hotel waiting for a cab to take me back to Heathrow. The city had an incredible peaceful silence about it. I felt so small, so young and incredibly blessed to be there. I was sad to see my time there ending, but knew I would have to go back. It was riding in a small boat past the famous Cabo arch heading out to see humpback whales, and of course, finally spotting them traveling in a pod, or a family of sorts. It was that first gigantic whale shark rising from the deep off of the coast of Cancun, and watching it swim past me so gracefully, knowing that Jacques Cousteau, a man I admired as a child had spent his days searching for these creatures, and here they were. And finally, it was Hawaii. I can’t say there was one particular moment in Hawaii that changed me. It was the place as a whole.
I was heading to Oahu on another travel research trip and aside from what the Brady’s and the Tanner’s taught me on TV, I was pretty clueless. I was told to expect Chicago with a beach. I was told it was ‘nice’, but I really should have gone to Maui or Kauai to get the ‘true Hawaiian experience’. So I went, and I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting a nice beach, a new location added to my repertoire and a really long flight. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From the moment we arrived and were greeted, at the gate, with a lei, I could tell this trip was going to be different. We transferred into Waikiki, to our hotel the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We checked in and headed to our rooms. Up the elevator I went, I swiped my key, threw my purse on the bed and, as has now become habit, I immediately threw back my curtains to my balcony. I was presented with, hands down, the most amazing view I had ever seen. I looked straight down Waikiki to Diamond Head. I saw an ocean with amazing personality – not just the beautiful turquoise water I was used to, but one with reefs, sandbars and *gasp* surfers! The first day was a tiring one heading from hotel to hotel and I thought I would easily sleep away any time change issues but, thanks to the old internal clock, I was up at 3:00 AM. Instead of cursing the lack of sleep, I got to witness one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen.