Jeffrey Vallis is a freelance writer and communications specialist living in Toronto.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Is my love for Hawaii hereditary?

It’s no secret: I love Hawaii! My first trip to Hawaii was in April 2015 when I spent one week on the Big Island and one week on Oahu. Ever since that first visit, I feel the magic of the islands pulling me back again and again.

During the early days of dating Chris, I spent a month on the Big Island. We texted and chatted on FaceTime whenever possible, and I fantasized about exploring Hawaii with him one day. So when he surprised me for my 30th birthday with a two-week trip to Hawaii, I almost passed out. Then he proposed to me in our secluded jungle hut, surrounded by palm trees and coqui frogs, and I knew I had to marry this guy! Preferably on a yacht in Hawaii (Beyoncé, can we borrow yours?).

My fascination/obsession with Hawaii isn’t exactly surprising, but I think it might actually be in my blood. It was a special place for my late, maternal grandparents, who visited Oahu four or five times with friends and brought back paintings and artwork from each visit. Their basement was adorned with these keepsakes from Hawaii, and they even converted the steel, load-bearing pole in their basement into a palm tree (complete with a monkey, despite the distinct lack of monkeys in Hawaii).

I remember talking to Grandpa Lloyd about his love for Hawaii a couple of years before he died. “It was always a good trip; Never a bad trip,” he told me. “We’d cook steaks on top of the condo, and then we went out dancing. We had a lot of good times out there.”

He shared a story about renting mopeds with his friends to drive around the islands, only to end up pushing one of the mopeds up the hill because his friend was too heavy. He also had fond memories of traveling (slash drinking) with the now defunct airline, Wardair Canada, with direct airfares from Winnipeg to Oahu (unheard of today) and unlimited alcoholic drinks included in the fares.

When he visited with Grandma "Poops" (pronounced PUH-PS, short for Pauline) they would typically stay for two-to-three weeks, at a time when the exchange rate was even worse than it is today (is that even possible?). He also visited the other islands when he was serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. He told me he would love to return to Hawaii one more time but, unfortunately, that never happened.

As we’re planning for our wedding in Hawaii in 2019, I love thinking about my grandparents’ Hawaiian adventures and looking through old pictures. I can’t wait to share all the fun stories of our trips with our kids and grandkids one day. For now, we'll countdown the days until our next visit and daydream about our most recent trip to The Big Island and Kauai.