It’s hard to believe exactly one year ago Andres and I set off on this quest to visit all 59 national parks. To say we’ve changed and learned a lot since then would be quite an understatement. After all the miles and nearly 30 parks, our most challenging adventure so far took us to the paradise islands of Hawaii, where we visited Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes NP’s – and where we attempted to visit American Samoa NP.
Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned when we reached the gate. With minutes left until take-off, we discovered we were barred entry into the American Samoa due to passport issues. In fact our bags didn’t even make it off the plane, so they traveled to that remote Pacific island all on their own. Does it technically mean we went there too?
Despite this setback, we appreciated the extra time to soak up more of Hawaii’s two enchanting parks. We were truly mystified by the silent craters of Haleakala and the magnificent lava flows of the volcano on Hawaii.
There is something in the Hawaiian air; a spirit of gratitude and respect I haven’t felt in many other places.
So while walking through one airport in Hawaii, I wasn’t surprised to discover a sign which revealed the attitude of these unique islands:
Somehow, the spirit of Aloha seemed to radiate not only from the majority of people we met, but from the land itself.
Here, we felt harmony and peace. A slower pace of life and plenty of opportunity to reflect on the meaning of it all while existing for just a moment in these magical vistas. Certainly one can take leave of a place but carry forever the spirit of Aloha, and that would do a little bit of good for all of us.
*photos are a mix from Haleakala (on island Maui) and Hawaii Volcanoes (on the Big Island).