Sunday, July 8, 2007

Gilmore Girls: The perfect mother/daughter relationship?

Last night, we finished watching the last episodes of the seventh and final season of Gilmore Girls, including the season finale from May 14. Yes, we are a little behind. We always are, as we Tivo everything. But we like doing that, as it allows us to watch the shows in the way we would enjoy the most, and sometimes that means waiting and watching a whole chunk of episodes at once.

I loved the ending of GG - by the end, when Lorelei and Luke kissed, I felt as though I had actually been living in Stars Hollow for the last 7 years, watching their lives unfold. When Rory graduated from Yale, I felt as though we had been there with her the whole time, watching as she went through a private high school, struggling with the relationship with her grandparents and mostly absent father, getting into Yale and the excitement and challenges that faced her there, and the drama created by her relationships with her peers, including Paris and Logan. I liked how Paris became her best friend and her quirkiness at the end of the show was really refreshing. I loved how she decided to ditch Logan in the end, to find out what her life was going to be about. And my husband and I both got a chuckle from all the Palo Alto references, explained by Logan as he tried to sell Rory on the idea of marrying him and moving to the Bay Area. Who actually has an avocado tree in their back yard?

The aspect that I loved most about this show was Lorelei's relationship with Rory. While many of Lorelei's relationships on the show sucked, the one with her daughter made me forget that it was TV and hope that their bond could be an example for my daughter and me. How I would love it if Alice and I were such great friends when she hits her teen years. Shopping together, Friday movie nights, big orders of take out and fried food. Will Alice be the kind of daughter who calls me from college everyday, just to check in? Is it possible that a relationship between mother and daughter could actually exist like theirs, or is it total TV fantasy?

One thing I did notice was that Lorelei was very present in Rory's life, she was not a bystander and even managed to find a career that allowed her to spend time with her daughter on her daughter's schedule (although, any job that allows you to check in with your head chef, grab a bit from the kitchen, and then be absent for the better part of the day has got to be only on TV fantasy land!). It was clear that Rory was her first priority, with other parts of her life in distinct second place. I don't think Lorelei had any hobbies and it did seem like most nights she was at home by 8pm. Occasional Town Meetings were her way to connect to the city, but I don't recall any additional volunteer work. Can you imagine living a life like that in Silicon Valley, where everyone seems to be graded on their impact in their communities. It would feel like stepping back and allowing my kids to become the center of my world. Oh wait, that is the way it should be, right?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Treasure Hunting in Lahaina, Hawaii

For my birthday this year, I received a Garmin eTrex Legend personal navigator, better known as a GPS device. I asked this for this little wonder, so our family could engage in something called GeoCaching. After a few test runs around our neighborhood, we were ready to take it on vacation, and what better place than the beautiful island of Maui!

Our family loves to travel, but with two kids age 5 and 7, spending long days looking at tourist spots is not going to cut it. And in Maui, too much time on the beach turns us all into lobsters. A mid-day treasure hunt would allow us to learn more about a locale, at the same time providing my kids an outlet for their boundless energy.

Consulting, an online repository for hidden caches, I downloaded a plan to find a cache in downtown Lahaina. This was not far from where we were staying in Kaanapali, and a quick ride on the West Maui Shopping shuttle put us right behind the movie theater on Front Street, a good starting point for our search.

I already knew from reading the other reports about the cache, that it was hidden close to the Banyan Tree on Front Street. That tree alone isBanyan Tree worth a trip to Lahaina - the tree was planted in 1873 and is currently 60 feet high and takes up about 2/3 of a acre at Banyan Tree Park. After snapping the required photo of kids next to one of the huge trunks, we moved away from under the tree (the signal was not able to make it through the canopy) and got a line on our treasure.

Lahaina LighthouseWe were after a virtual cache, which meant there was no hidden treasure to find, but there was a plaque for us to locate with some significant historical information. We were to find the plaque and email the answer to the question to the cache owner. From Front Street, we headed towards the water, around the side of Banyan Park. On the way, we went past local musicians playing ukuleles, and many island crafters with their wares set up on blankets in the park. As we got closer to the water, we could see the cruise ships out at sea. Our GPS device was telling us we were very close, so we started to look for a plaque. The only one we could find nearby was in front of the lighthouse. And reading the plaque indicated we had found the right place! Our job was to find out how much the Hawaiian caretaker was paid - $20 a year! In addition, we learned that the Lahaina Lighthouse was constructed in 1840 to help navigate the tricky waters through the narrow coral reef. At this point, my kids lost interest and spent the rest of the time climbing on the posts around the lighthouse. However, we decided that all in all, the adventure was pretty successful. The husband and I learned more about our destination and our family had a fun puzzle to solve. As soon as we found it, the kids were asking what our next cache was going to be!