I’m finally catching my breath between nearly three weeks on the road and before a slew of upcoming trips. And apparently some holidays aren’t far away. ‘Tis that time of the year, I guess. So in no particular order and with little thought to organization, some snippets … Big Island Hilton Waikoloa Village—Always wanted to dislike this place. Then when you spend three or four days there, you realize it works. And service could be its strongest suit. Hapuna – Unloved step-sister to Mauna Kea? Unfair. Couple holes don’t work real well, but that’s what happens when you need to stairstep between floors, and the thin9 is SOLID on the back 9, middle of the front, too. Love the wild goats all over the place. Waikoloa Beach – 7 gets the photos and the cred. Nice. Any time you play down to Big Blue it’s awesome, even if Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea have better ocean holes. And it’s too bad one spot gets all the attention because there are three or four of the best holes on the islands out there. Waikoloa Kings – A tale of two nines, and the inward steps it up. Broad shoulders a good way around and overall the stronger of the two plays if not as visually interesting. Kona Airport – Don’t care how many times I see it, it just looks cute flying in. Saddle Road – LOVE the new road over to Hilo. HVNP/Kilauea Crater – What do you do when a scenic wonder is over-run by the black socks/shorts crowd (even off-season and midweek)? Walk about 100 yards away from the road or turnout and voila. I thought the coolest part was the ocean headland; that was awesome. Need to go at night to see the glow and pack my hikers next time to find the active flow. Volcano Winery – Yes, I did wine taste at America’s southernmost winery. I didn’t buy anything but it was fun seeming someone trying the craft in an unlikely spot. The Cal-sourced Pinot was actually quite nice, but living in Pinot country here … Oahu Waikiki – Sucks. Hawaii Prince Hotel – Props. And go check out some of my room shots on facebook. Damn, great sunrises and sunsets. Hawaii Prince Golf – Loved it. Who knew something that seemingly flat could play with crinkles and corners so well? Seriously, worth a visit. Turtle Bay Resort – Not a real fan of Ko Olina, overall, so it’s nice to see Oahu get what for me is a commendable, go-to destination resort. TB certainly isn’t new but the new ownership group and management team understands the ideas of ohana and heritage and place. And can you beat that setting? I also love a place that has spam musubi in the pro shop. Fazio Course is perfect for families and a nice place to walk (yes, a golf resort that understands it is a walking game, if you want). They also are testing out these funky skateboard-like “carts.” Palmer Course is still wet wet wet and that back nine can kick your ass. Helicopter over the North Shore – What needs to be said? Getting Kicked Up to First Class Coming Home – Maybe better than a North Shore helicopter tour. Always amazing how getting out of steerage makes that five-hour flight feel so quick. Whistler Four Seasons – We both needed several days to kick and cruise, and that’s what we did. Beautiful accomms, superb service, nice and chill, food you really wanna eat. Spa Scandinave – How cool is this place? Various outdoor hot/cold pools, sauna, steam, solarium (very Gatsby, I thought), all under the pines and firs. I had a 90-minute shiatsu and Terri did 90 at deep tissue. She’s a stud like that. Big Sky Golf – Pemberton, actually. Shhh, like it more than Banff Springs and about as much as Jasper. Reminded me a lot of Crosswater (one of my life’s top 10s) without the excruciating length and angles. If you play golf, find this place. (And if you take a cart I will sent the Mounties after you.) Sea to Sky – One of North America’s most scenic drives. Vancouver There is just WAY to much to say about how wonderful Vancouver is – gardens, museums, bars, distilleries, aquarium, the shoreline, the people, the people, the people (I find that everywhere I go in Canada, of course), hockey freaks, food, scenery, produce, wine, restaurants and that airport! I need to break this out separately some time. Oh, and more first-class legs via Alaska Air – TYVM!!