Learning to Fly

Nearly every day for the 3 weeks that we were on Maui, Tom and I rose early and headed over to Polipoli Spring State Recreation Park to paraglide with the Proflyght Paragliding School of Maui. Sometimes we would spend time kiting before driving the steep, curvy road all the way up to the launch site. Here’s two short videos of footage from my first, tandem, flight — you mostly get to see my legs and Tom’s superb flying skills (his wing is black, white, red and blue).


Here are excerpts from my journal:

Sunday, Nov. 17: T’s gratitude – improving forward launch. R’s gratitudes began paragliding pilot training.

Monday, Nov. 18: R’s 2nd pilot lesson! T’s gratitude: getting two amazing flights in from Ferns (flew in clouds a bit). R’s Gratitude’s: how supportive Tom’s being about my slow progress paragliding.

Tuesday, Nov. 19: R’s 3rd pilot lesson – got in 4 official flights.

Wednesday, Nov. 20: 5 more flights added to my repertoire, learned how to sit back in harness seat. Took p1 rest.

Thursday, Nov. 21: Paragliding, Laci & John’s tandem flight, Luau with Laci & John . Tom and I aren’t the type to do a Luau but our friends were really excited about it and it was relatively  cheap, ($100/person), so we gave it a try. While it felt like it was created with the tourist in mind, it was neat to see once.


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Friday, Nov. 22: Spent the morning paragliding, big thrill as I completed my first flight from Echoes, the top of the training hill, which is 4,500 ft. above sea level and 1,000 ft. to the landing zone. Soon afterwards, Heather, a fellow paraglider, lost control of her wing, crashed into the hill and broke her femur directly in front of us. Her partner ran to her my instructor, Dexter, called 911. I bought health insurance.

Saturday, Nov. 23: Took a day off from paragliding, spent it going from the pool to the hot tub and sunning at Grand Champions resort villa.

Sunday, Nov. 24: Made 1 flight from Echoes and another from RC, a lower training launch. T and I spent the afternoon with another couch surfer, Reiko, from a small town in Japan, at little beach. There, we stripped down to match the common attire and enjoyed a fire dancing infused drum circle.

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Drum circles and naked #poi.

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Monday, Nov. 25: We spent the morning paragliding and I made 3 flights from RC. After paragliding, I felt particularly dizzy and went to the doctor. Turns out, I had an infection in my mouth that had spread to my inner ear, leading to some internal calibration issues. This marked the beginning of the end of my self-piloting paragliding days.

Sunday, Dec. 1: T spent the morning paragliding and the afternoon bodysurfing in the ocean. My nose ring fell out and the hole left began healing immediately. We weren’t able to get the ring back in it so I ended up getting it re-pierced by guy with gentle hands and a British accent. We had egg nog and enjoyed our last night camping at Polipoli. It was a frigid night and we slept in one sleeping bag to stave off the cold.

Monday, Dec. 2: We packed up our tent gear then went to the flight park. Tom enjoyed a morning of paragliding. Afterwards, we volunteered at Leilani animal sanctuary where I spent most of my time pulling weeds as Tom made the acquaintance of a baby goat. That evening, we stayed with new friends, Garrett & Crystal. We felt right at home in a pod in their backyard, which was an outdoor shed converted into a polished, cozy and delightful bedroom with a private lanai overlooking the ocean. It was luxury.


Tom’s Nature Photography – 3rd Installation

Help me pick art for my new home! Which pieces from Tom’s nature photography should be blown up and put on the walls of our place in Santa Barbara – which one (or two or three) do you like best?

(Nature photography refers to a wide range of photography taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures).

Maui (1 – 7)

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Kauai (8 – 16)





O’ahu (17 – 23)

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Maui Wowie

T and I spent 3 weeks on Maui, the Valley Isle, which is the 2nd largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Maui is known for long stretches of beautiful beaches and the landmark Haleakala Crater, the House of the Sun, which is a now dormant volcano (the only active volcano in the islands is on the big island, Hawaii). The summit depression is 21 miles across, and 4,000 feet deep, large enough to hold the island of Manhattan! Tom and I hiked to the top (Maui’s highest point) via the Crater Rim Trail, which is a 5 mile hike with 1,600ft gain in elevation.

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We stayed overnight at a total of 7 different places through couchsurfing, camping and AirBnB’ing spending only $1,254 total for  accomodations (which is proportionately much less than our rent in NYC) and nearly completed a circuit around the island. Each place offered uniquely pleasant experiences and surprises. A few of the highlights are the fresh pineapple waiting in the room for us when we arrived at the Tiny Cabin located in the quaint upcountry town of Makawao, enjoying Garrett & Crystal’s company in their beautiful home in Pukalani, meeting Jamie & her daughter, Kaya, who taught us how to properly open, drink and nom on a coconut and last, but not least, sharing a 2 bedroom condo with our ‘frainds’ Laci & John at the Grand Champions Resort in Wailea (more on that in another post!)

 T’s highlights & gratitude’s

The three miles of white sand and crystal clear water at Ka’anapali beach offered T & me a playground for acro & snorkeling as well as a canvas for our sand sculpture – the green sea turtle! People all along the beach hiked over to check it out – we were so proud :3.

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Sneaking into the Hyatt regency resort hot tub & dining at Mala Ocean tavern with Jon, a friend we made through paragliding and an amazing guy with tons of great ideas on how to make the world a better place.


Exploring the Iao Valley, aka “cloud supreme”, a lush, stream-cut valley in West Maui where T picked passion fruit from the trees along the unofficial  hiking trail which crested the ridge, giving us spectacular views of the 1200-foot Iao Needle.

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The cerulean blue water of the many beaches, this short vid is from Big Beach….

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#Sunset #Romantic #Maui

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and here’s Red Sand beach!


R’s highlights & gratitude’s

Sunning, swimming & hot-tubbing at Grand Champions resort villa (our paragliding friend, Vin, broke his ribs (while mountain biking not flying) so he and his gf, Lauren, joined us for a few nights of hot-tubbin’ – so much good times).

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Hiking the waihou spring trail (moderate, 1.7 miles). Along the trail there were monterey cypress and eucalyptus trees, as well as the native tree species `ala`a, halapepe, and koa. The trail ended on a ridge top offering views of the Central Valley.


Pineapple upside down cake at Hali’imaile & Pineapple wine tasting at Tedeschi Winery


Visit to Paia, which is a reflection of Maui’s history as a booming sugar cane plantation town with its old plantation style wooden buildings still intact, T & I  stopped at Ono Gelato for their infamous (and very yummy) sandy beach gelato.

Taking the ‘Road to Hana’ which has 620 curves and 59 bridges, most of which are single-lane bridges – along which we played in the waterfalls, sniffed the tropical flowers, hiked through bamboo forests, and marveled at the spectacular scenery. Waimoku Falls, this gigantic waterfall drops 400-feet down a sheer lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool.

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We found a heart :3

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Hiking the Pipiwai trail (this name delighted T)


We stayed overnight in Hana camping on the front lawn of a friendly yet ‘tuned out’ couch surfing host who nearly left us to sleep in our car on Thanksgiving.  Keeping the tent up in the rainstorm (and ignoring the creepy screaming noises that kept waking us up) proved to make the night spent camping there a bit of a harrowing experience (and probably the closest thing to a thorn that we experienced during the time period this post covers!). Thankfully, things worked out (sorta) and T & I had scrumptious shrimp for our T-giving dinner while enjoying live music and hula dancing.