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Day 2 – Standing Up and Stepping Out

How is it that even with no SwimVacation guests to take care of I am still running non-stop and up at all hours? These days are proving to be good and full. I fell asleep last night before I could manage to get to the blog. So it’s 415 am and I’m taking a whack at it. I’m swimming at 830 and would like to sleep again so let’s get a move on here…

First order of business Friday – stand up paddle board lesson. Now listen. I know what you’re thinking – this chick isn’t working! She’s on a vacation! And I can see why you’d say that. But really, when you come to Hawaii with us next year, don’t you want to know exactly who the best SUP instructor is? Or if it’s something you might be interested in at all? Yes. Well. That’s why I’m here – to figure it all out for you. You’re welcome.

Right, so. Down to the pier to the Kona Boys surf shack where I meet my SUP instructor Matt. Immediately I’m insecure because I’ve never tried this before and I wonder if he gets so sick of taking newbies out to paddle. He’s young and Hawaiian (and very pretty) and immediately puts me at ease. We stand on the beach for a while with paddles, and he’s explaining it all to me – the principals of paddling and making the most efficient strokes without the need to muscle through it. I’m delightfully surprised to learn this is just like swimming, only standing up. It’s all about engaging your core and using the power of rotation – side to side, rail to rail – just like swimming. It’s not about shoulders and arms, it’s about lats and back and abs. The most important thing? Connect with the water. I start to think I might be good at this after all.

We get out on our boards – starting on my knees paddling through the lagoon till we get out where it’s deeper. I stand up exactly the way he showed me, and whaddya know I’m SUPing. Arms anchoring, using rotation to power smooth movements, keeping legs relaxed

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to absorb waves, i’m doing it. And I love it.

SUP instructor Matt, me on the board, my board from below. Thanks, Matt for all the pics!

Hawaii is about activities which put you in touch with nature. The basis for everything Hawaiians do for recreation is connection with the elements. Feeling the water. Listening to it. Becoming one with it. I get that. And I fit right in.

Matt tells me I’m killing it – that I’m one of the best newbies he’s ever had. Aw shucks, Matt, I bet you say that to all the girls, but it sure sounds nice coming from you, Cutie Pie. It’s true I didn’t fall at all, and we traveled over a mile. He even showed me how to surf the board a little when we turned our backs to the rollers and caught a ride. Our amble back was slow and easy, just enjoying the sea, chatting about life and what it’s all about, which is a very calming conversation to have with a Hawaiian. Great way to spend a few hours. And thank you Matt for catching some great pics and video of me in action!

So yes, you do want to stand up paddle board when you come to Kona, future SwimVacationers. I’d call it a sister sport of swimming. And Kona Boys and instructor Matt are the place to learn. Hopefully we’ll have that all set up as part of our program.

A big part of what I’m trying to do here is build relationships with some of the amazing resources to be found in Kona. A lot goes in to finding a good swim guide, the right accommodations, the right chef. We’re not looking for contractors, we’re looking for team mates. For friends. We want to create the same sort of family feeling we have when we get on the boat with Kerry and Bazza every year in the BVI. These are the connections I seek.

In the afternoon I met with the folks at Island Thyme Gourmet. Clare and Dan are personal chefs who also run a commercial kitchen. They have clients like Alaska Air and the IronMan VIP house – these guys know what they are doing. More than that, they are great people. I liked them immediately. They seemed to totally understand what we are about and that we’re looking for chefs who will contribute to our experience by doing more than just cooking. They use all local and fresh ingredients and they fold culture and the diversity of the island into every meal. Yes, I’d love to hang out in our SV house kitchen with them as they whip up a fabulous dinner, chit chatting about this and that and all things Hawaiian. When I asked Clare if she thought they’d be a good fit for us, she said “We will rock you”. And I think they would. Definitely filed in the Like column.

Which brings me to dinner….I decided to hit the town. My goals were:

1. find a great local eatery to recommend to guests spending an extra night or two here before or after our trip.

2. meet people, chat it up, make a new friend, preferably someone from Kona.

I gussied up a little and jumped in the Hyundai full of high hopes as i cruised down to Ali’i drive. A funky happening stretch right on the water, lined with banyan trees and colorful buildings. I’d asked my boys at the surf shop to recommend some good local places to me, and followed their lead off the beaten path a bit.

Sites from Ali’i drive – lava rock wall with bougainville, big beautiful banyan tree, the place i wish i’d gone to eat (maybe tonight?)

Dining out alone is tricky business. You want to maybe meet someone who will be interesting and not creepy. You need to find the right place to do this – some action, but not too much or with loud music. You want atmosphere, openness, authenticity, good food. You also want to throw a book in your bag in case you end up alone for the whole meal. So i set out with these intentions. I parked in my now usual spot near the pier and hoofed it down the street. Wandered by lots of interesting looking places, took a few alley ways to find the places the boys had told me about. One was closed, the other was empty. I can eat alone at home, so I decided to move on. Now pretty hungry and tired, I began to wain – I just couldn’t seem to make a decision. So i wandered into this place on the water that had a great view but little ambiance and no one interesting to talk to. And the food was crappy. I pulled out my map and list of swimming spots and tried to plot them all out, but the Ks and Hs won the battle and I couldn’t put it together. Overall, the evening was a fail. I returned home, a little deflated, took off my clothes and jumped in my private pool. A naked swim makes everything better. I turned in early and fell asleep thinking about blogging…

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what our program in Hawaii will look like. Both Hopper and I agree it’s important that SwimVacation is the destination for our guests. What I mean is that when you come to a place like this, it’s really easy to get lost in the many unique and exciting things there are to do here – surfing, bike riding, hiking, seeing the volcanos, on and on. But no. We are not a cruise ship taking you to Kona for a week. We are SwimVacation, and when you come to us for your vacation, you come to swim. You come for the experience of recharging your batteries, improving your efficiency, celebrating your love of moving in the sea, reaching beyond the bounds you’ve held for yourself – and you do that by swimming. A by product of what we do is that you leave us fitter, stronger and more confident in your abilities then you were before. And you’ve made a great group of friends in the process. Living on a yacht together for a week will do that to a group of people with a common goal. So we want to have some enhancements to our trip (e.g. SUP), but not too many things to pull us away from our mission and our home away from home.

Which brings me to the next challenge – finding the perfect accommodations. Today I’ll be looking at another house and a charter boat….I’ll report back on my findings tonight. But these are the things I’m considering as I try out the different offerings of Kona – what fits, what might be a distraction. When you come to SwimVacation, we don’t want to run you ragged. We want you to swim and connect with the sea and one another. I’m here to tap this one of Hawaii’s many rich veins.

Speaking of swimming – I’ve got less than 2 hours till swim time. I’ll be meeting Karlyn and some of her friends at White Sands beach, or Magic Sands, or a million other names for the same place. I’m hoping to do some swimmer pics afterward, but I have to see a man about a house at 1130 so not sure it’ll happen. For sure tomorrow after another big swim.

Hoping for a home based afternoon to organize thoughts, notes and get a jump on the blog. Who knows, maybe you’ll wake up to it and I’ll actually sleep till 6.

Aloha…

– Heather

PS. Here’s a little video of me on the SUP. Might have to get one of these back in Maine. HP on the SUP

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Alison says:

    Heather, you marvelous girl you! Thanks for letting us come along on your scouting trip, what a treat! If you’re trying to sell us on Swim Vacation Hawaii – done! I’m hoping you find a perfect charter boat. It won’t be the Promenade, of course, but special in its own rite.

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