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Snow in Maui

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After wrapping up a particularly gruesome case, Jim and Blair were looking forward to ten full days off from work. Getting away from the miserable Cascade winter with a trip to Hawaii was a brilliant idea. The only choice was which island.

"Definitely not Oahu -- too commercial," Jim said.

"Well, what do we want to do? That will help us decide."

"Surfing." At Blair's eyeroll, Jim added, looking out at the grey day, "I don't want to do anything inside except sleep."

"Fine, I have no problem reading on the beach and watching you hang ten. I want to do some snorkeling."

Jim nodded. "I can do snorkeling. What about hiking?"

Blair paged through the travel book he'd been perusing. "Here… look at this." They put their heads together.

"So… Maui?" Jim suggests. "We can do everything we want without having to island hop."

Blair nodded and picked up the phone. Fortunately, Naomi's capriciousness meant she had a wonderful travel agent. He was able to get them a great price on last-minute tickets and a time-share on the beach.

They wanted to hike the Pipiwai Trail but decided to put off the grueling trip to Hana until later in the week. Today, they were trekking the Haleakala volcano, hiring a local guide who gave them historical and geological information as well as taking them on less traveled trails, avoiding tourists.

"Wow," Blair said as they crested the peak to the caldera, "this looks almost like pictures of the moon."

Jim nodded but didn't say anything as they made their way down into the crater. That was not unusual; Jim often stayed silent, especially in the face of natural beauty. Blair often wondered whether Jim's innate spirituality coupled with his hyper-sensitivity made Jim's experiences difficult to articulate.

The guide, sensing their desire to feel the powerful beauty of Haleakala, allowed them to wander at will, using gestures to point out items of interest.

The temperature on Maui in December rarely broke 80°F, although it was a good 20 degrees cooler at the top of Haleakala. The hike, while beautiful, was long and exhausting despite the cool weather. By the time they arrived back at the visitor's center, they were tired, hot, and hungry. Blair was envisioning a seafood dinner when he noticed Jim had stopped. Familiar with his "bird dog" stance, Blair hoped Jim wasn't homing in on a crime, considering they were out of jurisdiction and, more importantly, on vacation. Suppressing a sigh, he asked, "What are you looking at?"

"Snow cones," Jim said succinctly.

Blair fell into step as Jim started walking, squinting until he could see the stand that caught Jim's attention. "No, no, no, no," Blair protested, "those aren't snow cones. That's Hawaiian shave ice, one of the best treats you can get here. See, snow cones are made from crushed ice, but shave ice is softer and fluffier, almost like snowflakes. They have special machines that shave it off big blocks of ice. And when they put the flavorings on, it absorbs into the ice, instead of floating all around it. It's an entirely different experience! And the extras -- fresh fruit, adzuki beans, mochi balls, even bee pollen! You can really see the Asian influence."

Jim said nothing as he continued his beeline to the stand. "I'll take sweetened condensed milk, lilikoi and crushed macadamias, please," he ordered from the server without looking at the menu. "What do you want, babe?" he asked as he pulled out his wallet.

Blair just stared at Jim for a moment. "Lilikoi? You dog, you already know about shave ice! Why did you let me just ramble on like that?"

Jim grinned. "I used to stay at a buddy's place on the Big Island when we got leave. Shave ice was amazing after a day in the sun." He took his order from the server. "And I like your rambling. So, you gonna order? We're holding up the line here."

A line was indeed forming behind them, but no one seemed particularly upset about it. Well, it was Hawaii, after all. Blair looked at the menu. "I'll take pineapple and mango chunks, leche syrup and… ah what the hell, I'll try the bee pollen."

They ate at a table, the refreshing treat made all the more enjoyable by their surroundings and the day's exercise. Blair watched as Jim savored one spoonful after another. He might not be able to experience the same nuances, but seeing Jim use his senses purely for pleasure always gave him a vicarious thrill. He decided this trip was one of his better ideas. "So, what's next?" Blair asked.

Jim smiled dreamily as he swallowed his last spoonful. "How about a quick swim and then dinner?"

"Sounds perfect. And maybe another one of these snow cones for dessert?" Blair asked with a smirk.

Jim leaned over to give him a leisurely kiss, pulling back and licking his lips. Blair knew he was tasting the echo of Blair's shave ice and smiled. Share and share alike, he thought with a grin, knowing they'd be sharing something even sweeter tonight.