Paradise promises family of friends

By Dave Greber

November 13, 2013 Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 2:57 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Holiday Vacations did it again. They promised us 10 days of paradise, and they delivered. But the sights and tastes of the island weren't even the best part.

Just like my trip with Holiday Vacations last year, it was also an opportunity to meet new friends. And what better place than paradise on earth.

The vacation began on the island of Oahu in Honolulu. Unfortunately, thanks to the government shutdown, the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbour was closed to the public.

Instead, we hopped aboard the USS Missouri. While touring the massive, storied battleship, it was easy to feel what it must have been like those fateful days when the harbor was attacked and when the surrender was signed

The wildlife in Hawaii is far from a safari because of the island group's isolation from the rest of the world. But it is interesting and colorful, very much like some of our favorite people on the trip.

Then it was off to Kauii, where the scenery was vastly different. Rich, lush hillsides, extinct volcanoes, and canyons that rival those in Arizona and Colorado.

We finished the tour with the best stop off all: Maui, a place where a man can really get some thinking done; brilliant sunsets and vistas in every direction.

And what Hawaiian trip would be complete without an authentic luau. After a bit of prodding (a very little bit) my new friends made sure I learned how to hula.

It's easy to make friends in Hawaii, when everyone's at ease and having a great time. But the 26 folks with whom we traveled -- all but four from the Greater Binghamton area -- made an amazing trip that much better.

Also, a special thanks to Rod and Judy for some of the video in the accompanying story, including my one and only foray into hula dancing.