Few occasions bring a larger smile to Beanie's face than the annual announcement I've purchased tickets to visit Colorado. ("Beanie", because in our early dating life I referred to Darlene as my "little brown coffee bean" .. not quite 5 feet tall, with beautiful skin the color of our finest Kauai coffee). We have made the Colorado trip many, many times over the years to visit family, friends, and to also enjoy the majesty of southwestern Colorado, where I was raised.
I have flown all my life and debarked in airports around the world. As all of you know, airports can be a brutalizing experience .. an inhumane pile of concrete and steel, complete with "zombie faced" travelers who simply want to get where they are going. Not all airport experiences are horrific, but given the choice of hiking LAX, SFO, or CDG .. one might consider Hara-kiri as a viable option.
Announcing good news! Please know there are two airports on this planet that are actually an enjoyable experience. It is not the purpose of this post to describe them completely, but I hope each of you has the opportunity to land at the wonderful airports on beautiful Kauai and outside Durango, Colorado in your lifetime. Both places are so small, so accommodating, and both are filled with such happy people, they will transform your expectations for Debarkation Bliss forever. Not only are these two, small "plane acceptors" pleasant within themselves .. they are the gateways for two of the most beautiful places I know on our planet.
Bean and I have a tradition. Inside the Durango airport is a little Curio shop. You know, the kind that has T-shirts, coffee mugs, and all other touristy knick-knacks to take home as memorabilia. Just outside the door of this little shop stands the friendliest, warmest, most welcoming, and always present Durango Bear. A photo with this welcoming presence is an absolute "must" on every Colorado excursion. I pray he never leaves his post .. we can't imagine a trip to Colorado without saying "Hello". The Durango Bear is an integral part of every visit. He is alive, real and comforting to us as the Teddy is to a small child who holds it in his or her arms for companionship and protection each and every night. Somehow, he magically embodies a feeling of security and peacefulness ... and for a few moments, in his presence, we too are children.
So ... you will understand completely why the following story came to be:
I took Darlene to Hamura's Saimin Stand for lunch the other day. Hamura's is a Kauai tradition that you MUST enjoy when you visit the Garden Isle. Winding counter tops with the old soda fountain type stools firmly bolted to the floor and the best saimin ever! When you walk in the door, you look around, find a couple of empty stools, sit down next to those who are already "slurping" and enjoy one of life's simple pleasures. Trust me on this one .. Hamura's is "no ka oi" (the best)!
When we walked into the door of Hamura's for lunch, my eyes immediately flew to a most welcoming sight. There he sat .. Hawaiian cousin to the Durango Bear. I sat right down next to him and his friend. Seems they had just "met" at the toy store and his new friend and her daughter were enjoying a bite to eat after their morning of shopping. Little did they realize he was famished ... but being a loving friend, she soon saw the look on his face and shared a wonderful meal .. until he was satiated and ready to go with his new family, to their new home ... where he will, no doubt, be loved and cherished for years to come.
Here's to the child in us all ... may we never lose the magic & the wonder ...
from Kauai to Paris ... and all places between