It’s been a lot to digest. I woke up this morning feeling like I was just run over by a semi. Had I been dreaming? I rolled over to turn off my alarm on my iPhone, and as I did I felt a sharp pain on my right forearm. Well if I had any doubts about whether yesterday had really occurred they were washed away at that very moment. My arm still puffy, red and sore from yesterday when I was stung by a Man-O-War jellyfish while swimming to the beach from the boat. It was worth it though. Every penny spent, every aching bone, every sore muscle, my sun burnt skin…. It was all worth it.
I recently started back up working on another personal short film: The Aloha Project 2. I frequently get asked what “The Aloha Project” is… Really there is no direct answer, because the answer is in the name. It’s a project. I don’t really have a direction, deadline, or some major corporation telling me what I can and cannot do. It’s a breath of fresh air really. I go and follow my friends around and document their crazy antics while showcasing Hawaii and all of its beauty and glory. In a way, it’s just a means of giving back to my friends and a place that I’ve been fortunate enough to call a second or third home. When people watch these short films, I hope they get a sense of how truly special these islands are and want to preserve them and keep them beautiful, natural, and clean.
So it was 3:30 am when Shane Grace, Aimee Harrison, Justin Ridgley and myself met up at Justin Ridgely’s house in Pearl City. We from there caught a cab to the airport, checked in, made it through security and then boarded our flight to Kauai. We all didn’t really know what to expect. We had high hopes, but no real idea of what would become of this last minute, not so well planned out, possible pipe dream of a trip.
Coordinating these types of trips becomes mentally testing at times. Aimee just left Hawaii to spend the summer back in Winnipeg where she is from. Shane was in California at the time enjoying his break from his college classes for the summer. Justin had just gotten back from California with his 5-year-old son and just opened a new climbing gym on Oahu. Myself…. Well I’m always floating around from project to project and in my downtime I dream up these crazy ideas and try to figure out the logistics of making them possible.
Fortunately Shane and I were in Hawaii together around the same time working on a few different projects. Justin managed to find a baby sitter for Ronin (his son) and some time away from managing the gym. Aimee was kind enough to fly back from Canada for 10 days. We had a window of opportunity and had to pull the trigger at some point. I was on an emotional roller coaster all week while staring at weather and wind patterns for Kauai. Our boat driver and good friend Steph Koehene I’m sure wanted to kill me at some point as I probably called and texted well over 500 times asking about weather and what his thoughts were. With only 2 days left before Shane and Aimee had to fly back to Winnipeg and California, the weather and winds came together and we booked our tickets.
Packing for trips like these is simple and complex at the same time. You only have room for so much equipment and it should be mindless. Pack your camera gear, board shorts, wetsuit top, fins, sunscreen, CF cards etc. But, you also have to remember and find room to pack webbing, a locking carabineer, a Fugoo Speaker to keep you entertained throughout the day, first aid kit, hats, rain jacket, lens wipes, alcohol wipes for your equipment, back up camera body. With limited time before we had to be on the boat, it was a challenge to fit everything into 1 carry on item and make it through TSA security.
We arrived at Lihui airport at 5:45am and of course, I forgot to book a rental car. So that was our next project. After that went semi smoothly we next headed to Foodland where we bought supplies for the day, which included but not limited to:
- 2-18 packs of Beer
- 2-Bottles of Champagne
- 3-Bags of Lays Baked Potato Chips
- 4-Red Bulls
- 3-Rockstar Energy Drinks
- 6-Tiger Milks Bars
- 2-Cliff Bars
- 1-Bag of Korean Fried Chicken (16 Piece)
- 2-Containers of Shoyu Poke
- 8- 1.5 Liters Water
- 2- Bottles of Sunblock
- 1-Container of Mixed Greens
- 1- Container of Ho Farms Tomatoes
We checked out and after being reminded that in Hawaii everything has to be imported so it costs exponentially more than anywhere else in the world we made our way to the boat dock. The 30-minute drive went incredibly smooth and was really enjoyable. The winds were surprisingly light and the weather was beyond ideal. We met Steph at the boat harbor around 8:15am and set off for the west side of the island.
As we made our way around the northern bend of the island our jaws all dropped. Everything was bigger, bluer, more beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined.
It took us a few moments to take everything in. An endless playground was now at our fingertips and the possibilities endless. Justin, Aimee, and Shane all wore smiles that day that I will never forget. To me that’s what The Aloha Project is all about. Going anywhere with your close friends and creating memories that you will never forget. Aimee did some backflips off of a Sea Arch we found that was draped in two waterfalls. Justin managed to star some deep water soloing projects while Shane and I ran around trying to stop from exploding because of sensory overload.
The day seemed to go by way too fast and it wasn’t long before we popped both bottle of champagne to celebrate a successful trip. The music was blaring, the toasts were made, the champagne was passed around and everyone was laughing and enjoying the last few moments we had together. People will often tell you, “It’s too hard, too expensive, it can’t be done, the risks are too high, you’re not ready.” But that’s the beauty of life. Life never throws you the perfect pitch. It’s always been and always will be for me at least about surrounding yourself with positive influences,people who share the same dreams and visions. The type of people who are willing to #GoAnywhere and never take “No” for an answer. These are the people that are incredibly hard to find and they are the ones you should celebrate every moment of life with.