You Know You Need a Vacation When . . .

Photo by Montana Vince

Photo by Montana Vince

Recently I shared that, due to a pre-cancerous condition coupled with strong family history of breast cancer, I will soon be undergoing a preventive mastectomy. The adventure started with a call from my doctor on April 30th.

From that point on, as you can imagine, I thought of little else. By the end of May, not only was my mind consumed with thoughts about my condition and the upcoming surgery, but I began to see signs and symbols everywhere.  For example:

Mammogram or Blue Sky? Photo by Suzanne Vince

Mammogram or Blue Sky? Photo by Suzanne Vince

This picture was taken in early May at a writing retreat I attended in Lake Tahoe, California. I glanced upward and saw not a gorgeous blue sky but a mammogram picture.

Image courtesy of Google Images

Image courtesy of Google Images

At the beginning of June, on an early morning run, I began seeing water marks on the pavement from sprinklers that somehow seemed to form the perfect outline of a breast.

That’s when I knew it was time for vacation.

Fortuitously enough, I had one scheduled in a matter of days. Timing, they say, is everything.

On June 14th we arrived on the beautiful island of Kauai and promptly checked into our beachfront cottage at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF).

Image Courtesy of Google Images

Image Courtesy of Google Images

The PMRF is the world’s largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range (where they do lots of secret squirrel stuff) AND they happen to have 25 fabulous ocean-front cottages on a pristine, nearly isolated beach. Take a look:

PMRF Cabin (view from living room). Photo by Suzanne Vince

PMRF Cabin (view from living room). Photo by Suzanne Vince

Beach at PMRF (Barking Sands). Photo by Suzanne Vince

Beach at PMRF (Barking Sands). Photo by Suzanne Vince

And did I mention it’s only $85 per night? But, you must be active or retired military (any branch).

Shortly after we arrived, I took a long walk by myself. When I turned around I noticed that, while some of my footprints remained in the sand, most had been washed away by the tide.

Photo by Suzanne Vince

Photo by Suzanne Vince

It was like a parable for life. One day we will cease to exist. All we ever have is this moment. And how we spend this moment—this very moment—will determine whether we will leave a footprint behind or be forgotten forever. And I was reminded that every moment (especially our struggles) are put before us to learn and grow from.

That night we went to the free, walk-in Outdoor Movie Theater to watch the Croods. Very cute movie with a good message: Come out of the dark (fear) and live in the light (be open to new experiences and put fear in its proper perspective). That, and pets make everyone’s lives better.

Walk-in Outdoor Movie Theater at PMRF.

Walk-in Outdoor Movie Theater at PMRF.

The Croods, playing at the PMRF Outdoor Movie Theater. Photo by Will Vince

The Croods, playing at the PMRF Outdoor Movie Theater. Photo by Will Vince

The next morning, after sipping coffee on our private beach and watching sand crabs build their castles under the sand:

Underground Sandcrab Castle. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Underground Sandcrab Castle. Photo by Suzanne Vince

I took another walk and found my first Hawaiian seashell:

Hawaiian Seashell. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Hawaiian Seashell. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Spent the afternoon reading the fabulous debut novel from Laura Spinella.

Beautiful Disaster, by Author Laura Spinella. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Beautiful Disaster, by Author Laura Spinella. Photo by Suzanne Vince

To have your debut novel published by Pocket Books (Penguin) says something about the quality of the book and I was NOT disappointed. Her prose just sings on the page and I literally (channeling my inner Rachel Zoe) had to lock myself in the bathroom to read the last 20 pages because I was crying that hard (but in a good way).

And spent the evening dining at the seaside restaurant, Shenanigans, on base.

Sunset at Shenanigans on PMRF (Barking Sands). Photo by Suzanne Vince

Sunset at Shenanigans on PMRF (Barking Sands). Photo by Suzanne Vince

Some of the other highlights of the trip included:

Two hikes. The first was in the beautiful Waimea Canyon:

Waimea Canyon. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Waimea Canyon. Photo by Suzanne Vince

The 2.5 mile hike on the Kukui Trail, while beautiful, was arguably the most challenging physical endeavor I’ve undertaken (including Ironman). While 2.5 miles doesn’t seem that long, the trail is covered in gravel and you descend 2,000 vertical feet in that short distance.

In a word, it was brutal. And beautiful. It was brutiful.

The second hike was on the Kalalau trail on the incredible Napali coast. Another challenging course—mostly because it was raining and our shoes were caked with mud—but the views were spectacular. Here are a few of the many photos we took:

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Kalalau Trail Hike. Photo by Suzanne Vince

Other adventures included:

Stand up Paddle Boarding:

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Watching the sun set:

Photo by Suzanne Vince

Photo by Suzanne Vince

Watching the full moon rise:

I

Photo by Montana Vince

Photo by Montana Vince

What about you? Do you have any vacation plans this summer? Where to? And if you’ve just been, I’d love to see some photos.

I love hearing from you. And to prove it, for every comment you leave, you’ll be entered into a drawing. At the end of the month, I will draw a lucky winner who will receive a $10 gift card (your choice, Amazon, Starbucks or iTunes). Winners will be announced in the first post of the following month.

Lucky gift card winner for June: Florida Fiel (Florida – please email me at suzanne@suzannevince.com to claim your lucky prize).

Coming Up:

Friday: Sacrificial Virgin Wanted: Stupid Tourist Will Do

Next Tuesday:Study: 25% of Men Travel with a Teddy Bear