Mind Over Miller: See you in Hawaii

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Jan 01, 2006


Dr. Robert M. Miller
The 143rd American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention will be held in Honolulu, July 15 through 19. This will be the first time the AVMA has met in Hawaii, and I am pleased. If you have read this column over the years, you know I love our island state. I have been there more than 30 times as a speaker, and I always stay at least one extra week to enjoy the beauty of the islands and the friendliness and relaxed tolerance—the aloha spirit—of the people.

This year's convention is a great opportunity to combine continuing education and an amazing vacation. So colleagues, do yourselves a favor and attend. And if this is your first visit to Hawaii, extend your trip so you can see more of Oahu than just Honolulu. At the very least, spend a full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, seeing as many of the Polynesian villages as possible—it's entertaining and educational. And the night show at the center is sensational and unmatched anywhere else in Hawaii.


Dr. Miller and his wife, Debby, enjoying Maui.
Ideally, you should stay two weeks, taking your time seeing Oahu—don't miss the Pearl Harbor Memorial—and then visiting a few of the other islands. They are all beautiful and all require at least four days to see even superficially.


A native dance at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Personally, I will be visiting the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island, after the AVMA convention ends. To me, the Big Island is the Earth in miniature. Every climate and topography found elsewhere in the world can be found there. There are barren lava deserts, dry rangelands where cacti and kiawe (mesquite) grow, vast grasslands grazed by tens of thousands of cattle, live volcanoes, rich farmlands, and temperate forests. Above these forests is an alpine tundra with mountains that are more than 13,000 ft above sea level and snowcapped in winter.

The island's largest town is Hilo. It's on the wet side of the island where annual rainfall is measured in hundreds of inches. Paralleling the main highway north from Hilo is a scenic road that follows the shore through a gorgeous tropical rain forest. Continue northward on the road, and you'll arrive at the peaceful Waipio Valley. To see a bit of ancient Polynesia, hike or travel on horseback or by Jeep through a canyon that ends at a waterfall that drops more than 1,000 ft. Farther down the highway is the community of Waimea, also known as Kamuela, the heart of the ranching country and the site of the Parker Ranch Museum—a rich historical experience. And the north Kohala region offers another scenic adventure: a boat ride through an old irrigation flume.

That's just one island!

Don't let the legendary expense of a Hawaiian vacation intimidate you. Car rentals are reasonable in Hawaii. And asking residents to recommend local restaurants and motels is the key to finding inexpensive, high-quality food and lodging.

See you in Hawaii!

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at http://www.robertmmiller.com/.