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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff


Yes, I am paying homage and praying to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Lahaina, Hawaii. Our family was lucky to travel to Hawaii in December 2019, and today, we are devastated by the swift wildfires that wiped out a fantastic and historic part of Maui and mourn along with the deaths of nearly 100 people.

If you have traveled to the area, you know of what I speak. On Wednesday, the islands were having a few strong winds, but nothing prepared West Maui for the deadly fires that ruined an entire city.

The Maui wildfires are now the deadliest the US has seen in more than 100 years.

Back in 2019, we had a wonderful journey there, and the people we met around the island, even for a few days, were awesome. If we thought the people there were friendly and welcoming, the light is amazing anywhere around the island, but especially in Lahaina, which was one of our favorite memories of our trip while visiting the iconic and historic city.

So how did we get there? (of course, by plane from the East Coast). But...

In 2018, Bill and I decided to get a new roof, as the one the old one was more than 30 years old. Nothing was leaking, okay; maybe one leak in our addition that needed to get checked out before any other disasters struck in other parts of the house, but we were due for a new roof and kept holding off.

When a friend of ours recommended a friend of his, we became impressed after our initial meeting, and then his meticulous notes on our roof after his complete inspection and information on what was needed. In a couple of weeks of going back and forth, he was hired!

And then the money part. There is always the money part. In between the time we signed for the roof replacement, I received an offer via email about a Southwest Airlines credit card offering a companion pass for a year, as long as one spends $4000 in the first three months of the when the credit card is issued. So, I called our roofer and asked if he accepts credit cards…and he did! Phew! I couldn’t apply fast enough for us to get the card, pay our roofer, and enjoy a year of traveling with a companion for free (except tax which is $11.20 per trip).

Immediately, I had designs on Hawaii with hubby Bill. By December 2019, our two became four when both kids decided they wanted to go too. The kids financed their own plane tickets, and Bill and I flew on one fare. It was a great promotion, and the timing was good for us then in using the companion pass. We were, and still are, thankful for that wonderful family trip a couple of weeks before Christmas. Our timing on Oahu and Maui was still considered the shoulder season, so our lodging and car rentals were reasonable (enough) for Hawaii.

I cannot remember who told us to have dinner at the Lahaina Grille, but we did. I had made reservations a few weeks before our trip to ensure a dinner meal there, and so glad I did. It was one of those super special places with delicious food and a wait staff to die for. It was an impeccable experience for all four of us, plus a night to treasure and fondly remember for the ages. It was the light...

Although a tourist area, of course, we walked the streets and stayed for the sunset. We shopped in the cute stores dotted along the ocean and enjoyed talking with the locals when we had the opportunity. The strong Hawaiian people have made their islands a happy place for people to return to over and over if they can. They are the most hospitable people in the USA. Tourism revenue is how they survive, but that is in the background of “Aloha” and “Mahalo” in every interaction with them and more.

As our nation and the world mourn the devastation and loss of life on West Maui, our hearts are with all of them at their darkest hour. The wildfires destroyed most of Lahaina, with many people still missing; it will rise out and up from the ashes.

The residents of Maui, Hawaii, will stand strong together and rebuild their homeland. It’s not going to be pretty at times, but they are resilient loving people who will manufacture sunshine needed to carry on.

With gratitude,



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