Following the Sun

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes it comes home to haunt you. But as we all know, life is not 100 percent proof positive. I found that out when my travel agent daughter helped my friend and me plan a two week sun escape to Maui. This special island is known to be one of the pleasantest places to sun on a warm beach or go whale watching. Don’t ask me how whales know to venture clear from Alaska to find the shelter of this island paradise but they do. Mothers come there to give birth and males know that even though they won’t be eating all the time they are there, the females provide an attraction that cannot be denied.

The first week I interrupted our sunning on the beach by calling my health care provider to get medical advice. That didn’t totally dampen the joy of never having to wear a jacket outdoors or walking on the sandy beach looking out at the cruise ship moored just offshore. Passenger boats flitted back and forth as water birds scuttled along the shallow tide waters and children dug holes in the sand play acting about living in castles.

You know pale people who return with dark brown tans after basking in the sun too long. They are candidates for skin cancer, bigtime. I have never been one to sit still very long in one place, period, and certainly not to overdo the tanning process. More than once I have had a new acquaintance remark, “My, your skin doesn’t have near the wrinkles of most people your age.” And I must admit that I would like to keep it that way—not vain, you know—but wanting to be as cancer free as possible.

As anyone who ventures to this paradise island knows, marketing to attract the tourist dollar is everywhere. I spotted a sign in one Lahaina shop window claiming everything inside was 40 to 60 percent off. The sign was reported to have been in that window for years. My friend and I avoided being scammed by time share hucksters and jewelry displays of oysters with a sign guaranteeing a pearl in every one.

We preferred being taken in by the full moon floating clearly in the night sky or the sun sinking behind Molokai in the near distance. For two people who have been around the block it still was exciting to drive into the lush Iao Valley with the needle of eroded rock--now covered by lush green--rising above the landscape, a phallic symbol of the power of King Kamehameha. Those who read history can bring back memories of the battles that took place here when this king determined to add Maui to his conquests. The picture of Hawaiians as being those laid back people who dance the hula and play the ukulele is clouded by the warring of opposing tribes led by a ruler who was never satisfied until he had it all.

Quilting introduced by the missionaries has been taken over and made a Hawaiian craft specialty. I felt a sense of joy in seeing this quilting craft blooming everywhere. I dabbled in quilt making even as a child when I embroidered birds in outline stitch for a quilt that my babysitter and my mother completed when I was just eight years old.

I never feel that a vacation is complete unless I have sung Karaoke or danced. When at Lahaina Cannery Mall, the hula teacher and her troop invited the audience to participate. I could not resist scurrying up on stage to sway my hips and lift my arms in what I thought were pretty authentic moves. However the hula originally was a dance providing exercise for pregnant women. I still loved the dance even though I did not qualify as an authentic pregnant Hawaiian woman. Maybe sometime in my next life.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at or 206-935-8663.

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