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Two Mai Tais, 25 Years Apart

Adult beverage Beach Bar Moana SurfriderTwo drinks, one life.

The first drink launched the first life in 1984. The blurry cell phone photo is the second drink; stirred and sipped 25 years later in 2009. Although it’s never been my favorite entry in the squishy-sweet umbrella beverage category, each Mai Tai celebrated a significant occasion. One heralded the beginning of my Navy career, and one marked my post-Navy life as a writer.

Both reflected a pinky-orange Waikiki sunset viewed from the Moana Surfrider hotel (where a cocktail, then and now, is about the only thing I can afford at such a swank establishment.)

In 1984 I’d flown into Honolulu to report aboard my first Navy ship, homeported in historic Pearl Harbor. My assigned guide from the crew took me directly from the airport to the Surfrider in time to catch one of those spectacular sunsets. I was actually a little crabby because my first-choice ship was homeported in Italy, and I’d had to jettison a whole Alfa-Romeo-on-the-Amalfi-Coast fantasy to be stationed on Oahu with my 1973 Ford Gran Torino.

Twenty-five years later, I’d just finished a jam-packed blogger press trip across the Hawaiian Islands; a group of us were invited by the Hawaii Tourism Authority in an effort to boost Hawaii’s visibility in social media channels. As the “family travel” person, I was there with my 9-year-old son, who at this Mai Tai moment was blessedly occupied jumping around in the surf and out of my hair.

25 years.

A bunch of gray hair and crinkly skin and a 22+ year Navy career enjoyed but finished, and here I was on the same beach drinking the same drink, a lot wiser and YES, dammit, I was pleased to admit….quite happy with my lot in life.

I ordered another one.

Sheila is co-founder of Tourism Currents, which helps make sense of social media for destination marketing for tourism professionals, and she writes for the multi-author Perceptive Travel blog. She hopes it doesn’t take another 25 years to return to Hawaii.

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