TimmyDaddy: a once in a lifetime adventure

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From left to right: Celia, Margo and Emma in Lahaina, Maui.

I’ve never really been a bucket list guy and the pandemic has neutralized any adventurous travel cravings I might have. A few of Kristen’s sisters were planning a trip to Hawaii with their families, which just sounded crazy to me, but the COVID lockdown had them in the mood to get away from it all. So be it, I thought. 2021 being what it is, I’ll trade a measure of jealousy for a barrel of security, mahalo a lot.

One Happy Hour Friday in my mother-in-law’s downstairs suite (The Pattyshack), the planned trip to Hawaii arrived in the mixed company of adventurers and pragmatic wet blankets like myself. Drinks were poured and a kind of motivational pep talk / ambush took place. Platitudes like the opportunity of a lifetime and get out of your comfort zone were exchanged for.

Elliott in Kihei, Maui

I would love to watch the tape again and see how it all turned out because by the end of the night we were all going. Did they know that it takes 10 hours of flight to get to Maui? Did they know how much it would cost? Does anyone remember the Hawaiian episode of “The Brady Bunch” where everything went wrong? Aloha?

We Sullivans don’t just jump on planes to Hawaii. When I was a kid I was grocery shopping at Pathmark, marveling at my mom – running two carts packed with supplies and an equally full coupon envelope. Kristen managed the equivalent of the trip. Using Skymiles and Delta vouchers and AMEX points and yes, more real money than we were necessarily comfortable with, she showed us around the 50e State. I don’t often give relationship advice, but people should really make sure that at least one partner has these skills before they go too far.

After landing at Kuhului Airport in Maui and driving down Puunene Avenue and Kuihelani Freeway, our niece Erin gave us a wise advice “say all the vowels”. It’s easier said than said. It was like a kindergarten where the teacher asks the children to spell things as they sound, and everyone got down to it.

I was struck by the diversity of the topography. There were drier, more desert areas and mountains in the distance. The place we stayed in Wailea was as lush as it gets. Maui is like Jamaica and Colorado had a baby and that set the tone for a week that was so much more than a lazy daiquiri on a beach.

The children learned to surf in Kihei. We had lunch and shaved ice in Paia, a little town so cool that Willie Nelson calls it home. I played two rounds of golf where a wandering shot was just an opportunity to enjoy a different angle with a breathtaking view. We ventured out to Lahaina for dinner at Fleetwood’s. Some of our group took the road to Hana and walked to some majestic waterfalls. We spent a day snorkeling at Molokini Crater where the water was the color of fierce Gatorade blue and the sea turtles were about the size of a Volkswagen.

Our adventure to the 10,000 foot summit of Mount Haleakala required a 2am wake-up call. Children battled motion sickness through the twists and turns of the long drive. But we’ve seen the most incredible star canopy turn into a surreal sunrise. It was freezing cold and the wind was relentless, but no one complained. It seems all we had to do to make sure everyone had the perfect vacation was spend the big bucks and travel 4,400 miles to one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Who knew?

We returned to Atlanta looking like a tanned zombie pack, but I’m so thankful I was pushed out of my comfort zone that night at The Pattyshack. We should start a bucket list consulting business out there to help pay those credit card bills… and start saving for the next adventure.


Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the North East and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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