Chicago, here we come!

The big day arrived. The Subaru was packed; the ladder stuffed into the rear to ensure we could reach our suitcases piled on top of the car. The long awaited road trip with my daughter, my ex and I was about to begin!  Baby Boy in Chicago was about to get a most important visitor, his Grandma!  That is, if we make it in one piece, driving across four states in a compact car on a limited budget.

The Ex thoughtfully suggested we might camp along the way. I expected that suggestion long before the trip so I took a preemptive strike with a brand-spanking new credit card in tow, blue color with a chip, and with  a cash-back feature. Positively will only use this card on this trip, I told myself, as insurance against having to camp outside along the way. Ask anyone my age if they enjoy sleeping on the ground. There may be someone, but it’s not me! Ex does, and he is older than I am!

Just ten minutes into the trip, after settling into the back seat surrounded by purses, blueberries, trail mix, Diet Dr Pepper and piles of other “must-haves” my worst fear came true!  My daughter and her dad had conspired against me!  Blaring from the front  came  a slow talking southern drawl something like this: “y’all know he is real”. I am being forced against my will to endure days of BIG FOOT stories, I thought. My ex has, for many years, colluded with our five children to believe in Big Foot, UFO’s, Sasquatch, and conspiracy theories, all to my annoyance.

I am a nice person. I thoughtfully prepared for this trip, keeping in mind that Ex doesn’t like Hawaiian music, “Hawaiian yodeling” he calls it. I had planned to bring my stash of Hawaiian music for my enjoyment on this long car trip but thoughtfully left all my CDs at home, instead bringing only a few Hawaiian tunes on my iPhone. A lot of good it did me to be so thoughtful! I was being bombarded by the thing I hate most;  Big Foot stories being told for hours in a slow southern drawl, from a carefully prepared stash of nonsense directed from a tablet through the car speakers.  Being the nice person I am, I suffered through twangs, y’alls, fake fears and Sasquatch sightings for about two hours, until I could no longer take it, and finally burst out “please turn it off! I can’t take it anymore!”

Leaving Idaho and on to Jackson, Wyoming!….. to be continued……………


The Road Trip continues…..on the mainland.

I landed in the city of forest fire smoke, wide streets and drought for weeks or months… Boise, Idaho. The City of Trees it is famously called.  A bit difficult and out of the way to get to from Hawaii or anywhere and so different from my home in Paradise.

Mom was there on time to pick me up at the Boise airport. She is a young eighty seven years and yes, she still drives!  There is no one on this planet that will be able to convince her to give up driving so don’t even try.  She must have been wearing her hearing aid because we made it safely to her house across town. I asked to drive, you know, to give her a break, but she wouldn’t hear of it!  “Caryn, I can still drive! It’s the one thing I can still do!”

This trip was going to be different. Each year I travel from Paradise to visit mom and my many family members on the mainland but this year was the big road trip!  I gently broke the news to mom that I would only be staying with her one night as I was leaving on a road trip to Chicago the next day.  She tried, as my mom always does, to sound supportive and happy for my upcoming adventure, but I am sure she was hoping I was going to spend more time with her. Last year I took her on an eight hour road trip to Utah to visit her older brother , age ninety four, who was healthy and happy during our visit, and who has since passed away peacefully in his sleep. Grateful we took that road trip, I will forever be, as that was the last time I saw my beloved uncle in this lifetime.

“You are doing what?” mom shouted, her hearing aid possibly not in. ” I am going on a road trip with my daughter and my ex-husband” I replied.  Mom was clearly unsettled, unsure of whether to support me as she always does, or to ask how I could be contemplating two weeks in the same car and hotel rooms with her ex-son-in-law.  I assured her I would be fine, and that the trip would be great for everyone involved. She shyly asked, “you mean you are staying in the same hotel rooms?” as if I was contemplating the moral disgrace of the century. You see, we are divorced and now “single persons”, who in the church norms, should not be sleeping in the same room, for reasons of impropriety. Never mind that we were married for thirty years, know each others bathroom habits, and that our adult daughter was going to be sharing the same room with us to save on costs.

The next day arrived with the expectation that Mr. C., my ex-husband , would be arriving  about noon.  I hurriedly told mom I needed to borrow her car to do a quick errand, and was out the door, to speed across town to the mall, where a glorious choice of “Woman Size” clothing awaited my perusal, an experience lacking sorely in my little corner of Paradise. I snapped up several “clearance ” priced summer clothing items from Macy’s and made a pit stop to See’s for my “free sample”, doesn’t everyone go in there for that?  We don’t have a See’s in Paradise, so this trip into the black and white heaven, sampling, and purchasing is my annual ritual for sanity.   I was back from my “errand” before Mom really noticed I was gone, so suitcase packed again, I was ready for Mr. C’s arrival.

to be continued…………………



The Real Road Trip

DSC02497.JPGIn August this year I took a real road trip. Not just a trip across this island all the way  to Costco.  A real drive- for- days road trip across four states.

The plan was to go meet my seventh grandchild, a newborn baby boy , first born of my youngest son and daughter in law.  The plan was that I would fly into Idaho from Hawaii, ride with my adult daughter and share expenses from Idaho to Chicago, where the darling  three week old baby lives and to a city we had never been to.

I look forward with great excitement each year for my annual trip “off the rock” (Paradise) and to see all my children, grandchildren and loved ones on the “mainland.” My two weeks get away from work and other peoples’ problems as well as the change in scenery and renewing family bonds is a life saver for me. But here is nothing simple about a simple flight to Boise, Idaho.

I finished work at 5:00 pm on Tuesday and was dropped off at  our little airport in Hilo to begin my much anticipated adventure. It was hot, humid, and the sofas smelled of a wet baby diaper, mildew combo. We eventually boarded for the fifty minute  flight from Hilo to Honolulu, then a wait of two hours until I could get soaring over the “big pond” for five hours landing in San Fransisco. A wait again and then the last remaining flight to Boise.

Flying is fun you say. Flying is an adventure. Flying sucks. I have a fear of using the lavatory (correct term of airplane pee spot?) so I have not used one in six years!  I should not have watched “Castaway”. Ever since that scene in the plane where the lavatory blows up I have been determined to never use one again!  How do I manage the over five hours of non-stop flight over the Pacific?  No Diet Dr. Pepper for hours before or during the flight. Sip only enough water to keep my throat from drying up and try to nap to make the flight seem faster. I did it!   No blowing up in the bathroom on this trip!

To be continued………


To be sick or not to be sick…….

I have had a sore throat off and on for about two months. I hesitated going to the doctor because I have many days of slight sore throats due to allergies, ( allergic to some plants in paradise, mildew and the volcanic vog) and asthma. Yesterday I woke early and decided to go to the local urgent care to check out this throat. You guessed it…..Strep.

I am home today on sick leave, not because I feel too sick to go to the office, but because if  you tell someone you have strep, it sounds like you have the plague,  not to mention that others don’t want to catch it.   So even in Paradise, we have to call in sick and take “horse pills” and rest.  I don’t have air conditioning, we rely on the tradewinds for that, but this house design was built for mainlanders I  am guessing. No windows facing the ocean breezes, and small windows at that.

I will return to work tomorrow. Humidity, allergens, and much work to do in the office  require it.  But for today,  Chico has a playmate, I am typing, and there is a slight breeze coming in my home office window. Most of all there is SUN today! This is the Hilo side, if you know what that means.

What is a road trip?

A road trip on the Big Island is an all day journey from Hilo to Kona or if you have a lot of time on your hands it is around the island in one day. Hilo is about a two hour drive from Kona over Saddle Road, now called Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Saddle Road lies  between two huge volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. If you haven’t been across it for awhile there are new improvements at the “rest stop” called Mauna Kea Park, including remodeled bathrooms and a new climbing structure for kids. The air is still fresh and invigorating, often in the mid 50’s compared to in the 80’s down at sea level.

I drove over to Kona on Saddle Road last week, first road trip in a couple months! I usually refer to this trip as my “Costco Run”. There is only one Costco on this island and it is located in Kona. A must is to bring a cooler, as anything cold will be spoiled by the time I reach home. Have you tried “Island Lava”, a baker’s brittle with Lilikoi flavor? It is so ono (delicious) that I polished off a bag in three days!  Anyone have a recipe for this treat to make at home, please share!


Don’t jump!


Life is funny but you have to look for the humor. Laughter is a great stress buster so find something funny in your life!  When I can’t sleep I often watch reruns of I Love Lucy or Mike and Molly.  Just listening to the dialog for a few minutes usually has me chuckling over Lucy’s antics, or Mike’s mother’s hateful comments.

Feeling down or depressed is normal for most of us at times. If you feel “too low” and your world seems dark, as if the sun has hid itself, it’s time to reach out for help from your family, friends or physician. Most communities have a Crisis Hotline you can call and someone will come visit you in person within a few hours. In Hawaii the phone number to Crisis Line of Hawaii is 1-800-753-6879.  I used to work as a Crisis Therapist and this service can help if you are on the edge. If you call, now is not the time to say you are feeling OK. Remember your worst feelings and let all that out on the phone to the Crisis Line. They can’t help you if you are feeling fine.

The main point is Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem, so take action before all the lights go out. You mean the world to your loved ones and turning the lights out will pain them for the rest of their lives.  Life is good and you are only a few days or weeks from feeling better!

But Why?


Aloha,  my name is Caryn or Kalena depending on  what you choose. I am a middle age family therapist living and working on the Big Island of Hawaii.  But Why?  Because maybe I can.  We have a saying here……”If can, can. If No can, No can.”   I moved back to Hawaii from the mainland twenty three years ago to see ” if can”, and I’m still here, so yes, can.

Paradise you say.   Yes, Hawaii is beautiful and there is so much to love. Hawaii is my home and has been for most of my life. I have normal challenges daily like you. The cost of living in Paradise is high, although the Big Island is less expensive than Oahu. We have bugs, rain, humidity, yearly hurricane threats, lava flows, earthquakes……the list goes on. Did I say bugs?  Yes, but I’ll save that for another post.

I have a twelve pound dog named Chico. He is half Chihuahua and half “poi dog”, meaning undetermined paternal parentage. He threw up today on the carpet after I fed him cottage cheese. I let Chico out one night to pee then forgot about him while I was on the phone with my mother for forty five minutes. The result? Poor little dog was gored by a wild pig and had to undergo two surgeries. Paradise yes, but also normal life. img_0057img_0149