What I Did Yesterday: A Photo Essay

If you know me very well, you quickly become aware
that I am a mass of contradictions.
One minute, calm and self-confident,
the next minute, a mess of insecurities and fears

I’m working on it, but somehow perfection eludes me.

Case in point —
I live in fear that something I say or do
will embarrass my children.
Some days, this fear stays quiet
and seems to be fast asleep,
hiding comfortably under
a bushel basket of busyness.

Other days, however,
like these days — right now —
when I am living without a schedule,
without deadlines,
without commitments.
Well, on those days,
that fear gets loud and snarly.

We are vacationing at the same time as two of our three kids.
We’re not exactly vacationing together,
but we’re staying in close proximity and doing things
together from time to time.

Yesterday the whole kit and kaboodle of them
(one kid/wife/one of their two kids, one kid/husband/three kids,
one kid’s spouse’s parents (who NEVER embarrass their children),
one kid’s friend’s family of 5 . . .
if you’re counting, that makes a group of 15 so far)
decided to take a snorkel tour up the Napali Coast.

They invited me to go along,
and I said, YES, surprising us all.

Four hours long, beauty that stops the heart,
a chance to swim with tropical fish,
and a big old turkey sandwich and cold guava juice
to finish the day.
Oh, yes. And a one hour return ride
through the afternoon swells,
directly into the wind.

My husband gets seasick,
so he kept the 3-year-old and they had a ball.
I carefully sun-screened my entire body,
wore one of Dick’s t-shirts over my suit,
packed (as usual) more stuff than I’d need
and quietly clomped my way down the stairs
to join the crew.

So there’s this piece:
I have two bad knees
and a recently flaring achilles tendonitis.
Oh, and I’m old and a scaredy-cat.
So the opportunities for
being awkward, slow, and
so-much-less-than —
well, they abounded.
Yes, they did.

But, I went anyhow.

And I am so very glad I did.

Getting there required:
driving down the hill from our condo
to the town of Hanalei,
parking behind the garbage container of a seafood restaurant;
(not the ideal aroma before a sea voyage of any kind);
waiting to sign in and get a waterproof bag for our stuff;
waiting four times for a 12-passenger van to shuttle
50 people to two 25-passenger boats;
riding said van to the river that flows into the bay;
then walking through knee-deep water
to board a six-passenger dinghy

which would take us out to the boat.

I, of course, was in the very last dinghy.

On board, I sat next to someone I did not know.
And out of all the towns, and all the rivers,
and all the boats in all the world,
I sat next to a woman who,
when I asked where she was from,

said to me: “Santa Barbara. Well, actually, Carpinteria.”
“Oh,” I said, “my kids are from there,”
pointing across the aisle,
“and my DIL practices medicine in Carp.”
“Omigosh,” she hollered.
“That’s my most excellent doctor right there.”

So SHE took that embarrassing moment I was so afraid of,
and captured it all for herself.

The trip up the coast was magical;
there is no other word for it.

The captain set a leisurely pace,
stopping to look at caves,

dolphins, hikers, kayakers
and green, green valleys.

At one time, about 3000 Hawaiians lived and fished
in these valleys, leaving only
when they needed medical attention
because of infections brought by explorers and traders.

When you look up these cliffs, you cannot imagine
how anyone ever lived here.
In the winter months,

40-foot waves hit these walls with such force,
they leave permanent scars of white calcium
and red-dirt run-off.

Parts of the Pali are open to campers,
with permits,
but the trail is rated a 9 out of 10 for difficulty,
and is often slick, muddy and very, very narrow.

If I were 40 years younger and a whole lot fitter,
kayaking to the first valley might be on my list.
(I say ‘might’.) But hiking it? Not a chance.
After we got to our snorkeling spot,
at the very end of the northern tip of the island,

I waited and was nearly the last person into the water.
Once all my children and their children
were safely looking down into the water through their masks,
I oh-so-gracefully,
slid myself over the side of the boat
and  plunged into the warm Pacific.

Maybe someday, I’ll have a photo from
my son-in-law’s underwater camera to
add to this story,
but for now, you’ll have to take my word for it:

God is a genius.
A GENIUS, I tell you.
Coral of all sizes, types and color,
tiny fish, mid-sized fish
and one midling sea turtle
yes, a real live sea turtle,
the sight of which made me say
through my snorkel,
“this is so cool, so cool, so cool.”
(So glad none of my kids can hear me through that snorkel.)

The trip home was. . .  how shall I say it?


But  you know what?

It was tremendous fun.
We got bounced and bumped and WET.
But we also saw a pod of about 30 spinner dolphins,
three of whom jumped the wake of our boat.

Sittin’ on the bay, waitin’ for the dinghy to go home.

And that night, we all ate together, saw the best sunset yet,
and enjoyed watching some neighbors
sail paper lanterns,
lit with specially coated, biodegradable wicks,
while all the children around sang
that song from “Tangled.”

That’s the word for the entire day.

And I didn’t embarrass my kids.

There was that one time I laughed a little too loudly, 

but they’re pretty much used to that.

And there was the fact that I cannot, in any way, shape or form,
manage to straddle a picnic table that’s low to the ground.
Other than that, I think I made it through
and lived to tell about it.
I’m glad I chose adventure
over my fears and insecurities.

And I loved every minute of it.
It was nearly completely dark, so this is very blurry, but I loved that lantern against the colors of the sunset.
It’s Monday, so I’m joining this one with Laura, Jennifer and Michelle, because even though it happened on Friday rather than Sunday, that snorkeling was the most wonderful worship experience in a long while.


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  1. I loved every word of this post. And the images – oh my, how beautiful. Truthfully, I can relate to all you shared about your family (adult children) and your quest to not embarrass them. I do the same thing (i.e. purpose to not embarrass my family, and then turn around and do that very thing … usually by laughing loudly, enjoying fully and being too much of myself). Don’t get me wrong, they love me. As I know your family loves you. Still, there is the tension of being myself and not being TOO much.

    So I hear you. I’m so proud of you for going on this trip, and I don’t even know you in real life 🙂

    thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much, Susan, for making me feel just a little bit less crazy! Yes, parenting adult children has its own set of quirks and adjustments, doesn’t it? I have no clue how you found this as I haven’t yet put a link up on Facebook or Twitter. I scheduled it to post at midnight – and here in Hawaii it is not yet midnight! My posting calendar, however, is set to CA time!

      • Hi Diana, your post came into my “Feedly” catch-all. Since I am all the way over in Zurich, I was reading along with my morning cup o’joe. Enjoy your time in Hawaii; it looks really lovely.

        • Okay, so now I know which Susan you are!! It is lovely here – just now, however, we’ve got a big tropical storm in the offing. . . and two families of our group flying home in the midst of it. One is safely up and away, the other has about a six hour wait til their flight!

  2. Diana, YOU ARE THE BOMB! I’m sitting here reading and bubbling over with excitement at each word. What a grand adventure. Trying not to be envious here but celebrating with you. Fun, fun, fun. Now that’s my kind of playdate 😉

    • Yes, it was most definitely your kind of playdate. If you ever make it to this island, save a few pennies for this trip. It is remarkable. Thanks, as always, for your encouragement, Laura.

  3. I love the island, We were there 14 years ago for our honeymoon. They told us that Feb was Humpback whale season. We were on a boat headed to snorkel when the boat caught on fire. I laugh now, but my husband was so busy saving his camera equipment, that I had no doubt, if the boat went down, I would have to save myself!

    We made it safely back to shore, camera equipment and all.

    I love your pictures and love that your big family vacations together! You rock, Girl!

    • Caught on fire?? Good grief! So sorry that happened, but glad that you’ve now reconciled yourself to the priority list your husband carries in his head. :>) Thanks for reading and commenting, Diane.

  4. Wow … you were so brave.


    • A little bit brave. Mostly, just fiercely wanting to see all that beauty and try and capture a little of it with my camera. It was just terrific.

  5. For just these 5 minutes Hawaii seemed near Minnesota – and I almost caught a whiff of the sea air -and heard the gulls – and laughed with the dolphins – What fun !!

  6. isn’t it our job to embarrass our children? Is that Kauai? Love the photos of the dolphins following!

    • Our job, David? Maybe that’s a gender thing. . . I don’t think my husband worries about this much at all! I, on the other hand, seem to worry about it way too much. And yes, we are on Kauai. And I was thrilled that I hit the button on my camera at the exact right second to capture those dolphins.

  7. I’m echoing the comments above I’m afraid…I too loved every word of this post. Happy, I felt the happiness of this beautiful day as I read.

  8. Oh, Diana, you write the most wonderful, illustrated stories! I feel like I was right there with you… and almost wish I had been. I say almost because I have arthritic knees that now prevent me from indulging in some of the adventures my heart would willingly tackle. But there are always others things to pursue.

    So glad you had such a great experience!

    • Thank you, Carol. I have badly arthritic knees as well (one of them bone-on-bone) and I DID this thing. You could, too. Yes, you could. (I will admit that climbing the ladder back into the boat, I had to ask the 1st mate to help pull my ankle over the top of the curved side of the boat because that knee simply does not bend enough! He did and I made it.)

  9. Vicariously, I greatly enjoyed your perfect vacation day. ‘Haven’t been snorkeling in Hawaii, but the Florida Keys? Yes. The first time I was overwhlemed by the astounding beauty beneath the ocean’s surface. You are so right–the shapes, colors, and graceful movement (even of the seaweed!) definitely cause the heart to well up with praise to Creator God. ‘So glad you didn’t miss out! (Note to self: Don’t pay attention to those overly-cautious, self-conscious voices that try to steal away such joyous God-moments as these!)

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Nancy – and yes, even seaweed (although there is not much of that in HI) looks beautifully underwater. And I will try to repeat your ‘note to self’ daily!!

  10. Deep sigh. Yep. This is beautiful.

  11. Diana, oh my gosh. There will be a special place in Heaven for moms(grandmas) who didn’t embarrass their kids, and it will be full. But the Queen who will sit on the throne in the place marked “Doing Things Even tho’ You’re Old(er) and Scared”–that will be you. And there will probably be a LOT of people there….
    What a gracious, amazing God. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. You are an inspiration.

    • You are too kind, Jody! I really, really wanted to see these sights again before I die, so I went. And I tried to be as unobtrusive as any tall, overweight, white-haired woman-who-is-precariously-close-to-70 can be! (Which isn’t very.) And I just loved it all! YOU, I am sure, do all kinds of things physically that I would never even dream of and yes, you would love this trip.

  12. I don’t even know what to say, Diana, but reading this was a highlight of my day. Thank you!

  13. Oh thank you!! I was there 3 summers ago and loved every minute. My “fear” was flying over the ocean, but it was so incredibly worth it… I’m not a water lover (living in the middle of the US in a land-locked state), but I did tour the Napali coast via helicopter and my goodness… breathtaking right?

    Your photos took me right back. Someday I tell myself, I’d like to live there. Not long term… but for awhile at least to soak in a space without walls, a space where the pace of life is just… different. What a fabulous trip… kudos to you for being brave and brilliant!!

    • You are welcome, Hot Cup (no name visible :>) I’m not a fan of flying, period (though that particular phobia is much better than it used to be when my kids were little and I was flying away from them!) And I could NEVER do a helicopter tour. Now that is terrifying to me – so BRAVA!! It is truly breathtaking. We’re here for 4 weeks, so we have ‘lived’ here a bit. One week left.

  14. Diana, I shared your post at the RevGalBlogPals’ Wednesday Festival. I love the pictures and the story of your day.