The entrance to the swimming hole was marked only with a “Danger” sign:Â Warning,Â no swimming at high tide. We’d read about it in the guidebook and knew that it could be treacherous if the tide came in. A rogue wave could sweep you out to sea.
We’dÂ committed to exploring one new spot on the island every day. Queen’s Bath on Kaua’i wasÂ the adventure of the day.Â Â
This year, I am spending Christmas in Kaui’i,Â Hawai’i with my parents, siblings, two-year-old-niece and three-week-old nephew. It is a dream come true to vacation on the islands, and a gift to spend this time with family.
Braving It In Bare Feet!
My sister Margaret and I ventured down the path to Queen’s Bath in our bare feet, since we’d seen an islander head down the path with no shoes, and since the guidebook warned that the red clay path was slippery near the waterfalls. We left our flip-flops in the car. Â
We walked down the gently sloping path of slippery red clay and soon saw the first small waterfall to the right. The path was covered with pine needles from the fir trees which are plentiful, along with palm trees, here on the island of Kaua’i.
The clay was soft under our feet, but soon we passed the second waterfall, and began to walk across the lava rock. The surface was reasonably smooth in the beginning and then got bumpier as we walked.
The pocked rock didn’t feel good to my bareÂ feet. Yet here we were already on our adventure, with no shoes, and our target location within walking distance. I had to brave it!
I focused on repeating in my mind “smooth, easy,” as we walked across the lava rocks toward the swimming hole. According to the guide book, it was located about 260 yards across this cooled lava rock.
Certainly, if people walk across hot coals with bare feet I could make it across a few hundred yards of rough black rock!
First we passed another cove formed by the cooled molten lava that was open to the ocean. This one was unsafe for swimming, as the waves could easily pull a swimmer out to sea. Queen’s Bath was further along the path.
I gingerly set myÂ feet down, one after the other,Â rocks rough against myÂ bare feet, hoping the walk would seem short. Luckily, it went by quickly, and the views were spectacular.
Soon the pool came into view, about 20 feet down. There were people seated around the edge of the enclosed pool, and a few in the middle, swimming in the green water in their snorkeling gear.
We figured out a way to navigate our way down the rock walls to reach the pool. Victory!
We satÂ at the edge of the green waters and dipped our feet in. To the right were mountain ranges encased in mist. The sunÂ was starting to set, and it shone through the mist.
The waves lapped at the outer walls of the enclosed swimming pool. As we sat there and swam and visited for a half-hour, the waves crashed higher and higher against the rocks, until they threatened to spill over.
At that point, we decided it was time to head back. Soon the clear surface of the swimming hole, with green water still like beach glass, would be rough and whiteÂ with the waves. I didn’t want to wait to see what itÂ was like at high tide!
We scaled the rock path again, hiking upÂ in our bare feet.
The walk back went quickly since I knew approximately how long it would take. Psychologically, it was easier than the approach to the swimming hole.
Another adventure conquered, in bare feet!Â
The Gift of Time Together
This trip to Hawai’i was made possible in part by my parents, who decided this year that instead of giving wrapped presents, they wanted to give us all the gift of sharing an experience together. I was totally prepared to pay for my own plane ticket to Hawai’i, where my sister Carrie had given birth to her baby boy, Nicolas, on Thanksgiving Day. I wanted to meet him and to spend time with my two-year-old niece, Luna.
Then my parents offered to pick up the cost of the plane tickets to Hawai’i. Of course, I gratefully accepted!
Here, we will spend a few weeks together enjoying each other’s company on this beautiful Hawaiian island. Granted, not everyone is in a position to travel this holiday season. I realize how very fortunate we are.
Yet I love the idea of giving the gift of time and shared experiences, vs. wrapped presents. What gifts can we give to ourselves and others this holiday season that can’t fit into a box, but that can create beautiful memories, or change a life?
Especially during challenging economic times, giving a gift of ourselves and our time can be perfect for both ourselves and the gift receiver. For example, I’m donating life coaching services to help my brother map out his future as he makes some key transitions in his life and career. I’m teaching my father how to meditate to help him lower his blood pressure.
Here in Kaua’i, I am spending as much time with my adorable niece Luna as I can both to enjoy all of her delightful energy, and to give her parents, my sister and brother-in-law, a break so they can focus on caring for Luna’s baby brother and also getting work done.
What Adventure Teaches Us About Life
I have been loving all the adventures on Kaua’i. My family plans in the coming week to hike the Waimea Canyon, hike and camp on the famous Na Pali coast, take a helicopter ride around the island (since my father has a bad hip and can’t hike or walk easily), and I plan to take hula lessons.
Pushing myself by trying new things always teaches me something.
Life can be like the path to Queen’s Bath: slippery sometimes, smooth sometimes, and you are never quite sure how far you will have to walk along the pathÂ to live the dream. Or what you will have to endure along the way.
Living my dreams is always an adventure. Sometimes I have to do things that are uncomfortable. Sometimes, I have to feel the fear and do it anyways.
In this coming year, I’ll be looking to edit and publish my memoir, Burning Down The House. I’m expanding my life coaching business, offering more individual and group coaching services to help people live happier, more fulfilled lives.
Along the way I’m going to face challenges that may feel much more daunting than scaling volcanic rock walls or walking across a few hundred feet’s worth of cooled lava. Yet my time and intrepid adventuring here will also be a reminder to me that I can conquer anything I set my mind to. It’s just a matter of focusing my time and energy on my passions, and being in action.
Doing what it takes to live our dreams is also a gift to ourselves. As Helen Keller wrote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
What gifts will you give to yourself and others this holiday season, and in the New Year? Can you offer the gift of your time and skills, where it will make a difference for someone else? Can you give yourself the gift of doing what it takes to live your dreams?
Life is short ~ live the adventure fully!
Happy holidays to all from Hawai’i!
Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton, and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House – a dream come true! Now, to get it published! Lisa is also a lindy hopper, blues dancer and belly dancer, and a globe-trotter. Her post day is Tuesday.