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This story is about a trip to Hawaii

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to run your own retreat? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the area you wish to visit, don't quite know how or have the time to organize, book and plan logistics? Well, that is what I’m here for. To help you create an experience. A deep love and connection with nature began as a child and has flourished during many years as a professional photographer, biologist and guide. I’ve had the opportunity to take people hiking, scuba diving, snorkelling and organize meditation retreats in many locations around the world. I’ve always been struck by the effort and commitment made by people to travel to a unique locale for retreat, and often end up with little time to truly explore the area. An area they may never travel to again. From this came an interest in creating something that combines the power of inward reflection with the exhilaration of the open road. A Roadtrip Retreat. An Epic Roadtrip Adventure Retreat.
Ferns poking through the lava flow Photo by susanknightstudios

There are several reasons people tend to go on retreat: a solo getaway, connecting on a different level with a group of friends, as a leader with inspirations to support others in growth and expansion, and for fun! Sometimes these are people who feel they have never really had a chance to step out of life’s daily responsibilities, breathe, and check in to see if they might be missing something. Something that could truly fulfil and enhance their life.

Barnacle Babes founder, Jodi Mossop, was a good fit for a retreat collaboration. Plus, she has a deep love for the ocean which bonded us from the get go. As a business woman experienced with logistical planning of events, she was without the time or familiarity of a place she wanted to visit; Hawaii. She also was aware of the need for some personal down time from a busy year of projects, family responsibilities, and feeling like she could never slow down.

After discussing working together in this capacity, and aligning our intentions, Jodi provided me with a list of interests, locations and goals for the experience. Her main mission was to design something with the purpose of creating community and a connection with nature. Lovers of the ocean and the land, adventuring to I felt happy with the final design. It evolved into an eight day roadtrip adventure retreat around the Big Island of Hawaii, focused on ocean discoveries, mermaiding and visits to the active volcanoes. Jodi approved and we posted the retreat. This particular trip became a women’s retreat that attracted a mother and daughter to travel together, which was super cool and quite inspiring.

There are several reasons people tend to go on retreat:

 a solo getaway, connecting on a different level with a group of friends, as a leader with inspirations to support others in growth and expansion, and for fun!

Photo by susanknightstudios

Here’s what Jodi, Karolina (Mom) and Maya had to say.

What were some of your favourite experiences?

Jodi: Some things that stood out was seeing a turtle for the first time, randomly being serenaded by a guitarists as we walked up a pathway from the beach one night, the gong bath on top of a hardened volcanic lava bed, snorkelling with mantas, making offerings to Pele.

Susan: Once we were on island, everyone in the group experienced a desire to prepare an offering to honour Pele the goddess of fire. This unfolded into a unique and beautiful afternoon at the rim of Halema’uma’u crater, the home of Pele.

Jodi: Also, pretending I was a mermaid, meditating on the volcanic fields, making a new friend with Karolina and deepening my other friendships. Experiencing the many different climates, terrain and going between land and sea was very cool!

Karolina: The black sand beach and the manta rays stood out for me. Mermaid Dreams bed and breakfast hosted by Mermaid Vyana. Spending 30 minutes hanging out with a sea turtle was one of my favourites.

Jodi: Having the logistics of everything taken care of was amazing. We didn’t have to think about what was going to happen next, it was taken care of but appreciated some flexibility in the tour.

Maya: Everything about the trip was Awesome.

Did you learn anything new about Hawaii?

J: Yes! I was fascinated learning about Hawaiian history and the lack of predatory wildlife.

S: I remember driving a stretch of windy road at night and Jodi being amazed that we didn’t have to be on alert watching for large animals like bears, deer and moose.

J: How perfect the temperature is of both land and sea. I was fascinated with the volcanoes and learning about the islands shifting and the creation of new land, while destroying the old. I loved the energy of the land around Kilauea volcano.

K: I really liked how Susan was constantly giving us more information from different areas of the nature, culture, land and sea animals. I felt like if I went on my own I would not see half of what we saw. What struck me was learning how new the island is and that all the islands are moving.

Was there anything that surprised you?

J: Watching Maya come out of her shell and how colourful and beautiful the fish are!

K: The connection with wild animals, manta rays, turtles, dolphin games and the diversity of the island. How cold it could be at 4000 ft above sea level, even though we were told, even though it was hot and sunny at sea level. I thought it would be Hawaii cold, not Vancouver cold. How avocado and wild orchids look. I was amazed to see people building already on new land. In earth time, that lava flow just now happened.

S: We met some incredible people in our travels. One can never plan for that. I really enjoyed the friendships that developed, the laughter and what I learned from the knowledge and sharing of the other women. The group synergy was amazing. Everyone truly was so into helping each other out and up for any adventures. Maya and I spontaneously decided to get up before 6 am one morning to photograph sunrise at the crater in Volcanoes National Park. What an epic morning. I was also super happy to see everyone become more and more comfortable in the water and capture some once in a lifetime images.

M: Being more steady with my GoPro. I had assumed everything would be smooth because it was in water. Not only do you have to swim but also take video. There was lots of practice as I got to document what we saw.

S: I was impressed with Maya’s packing skills. It was well thought out. She had everything she needed in a tiny backpack; clothing for a multitude of climates, small sleeping pad, as well as all her camera and video equipment. Karolina is a massage therapist. One night she just reached over and started rubbing my feet. Wow did that feel amazing. I feel like I can already give her a great testimonial. For Jodi, her youthful exuberance every day and openness to talk about anything. A person getting excited about exploration really gets me even more excited.

Mermaid Vyana, Jodi and Maya in the pool learning to swim with mermaid tails at Mermaid Dreams B&B

Photo by susanknightstudios

Did you discover anything new and interesting about yourself?

J: That I don’t allow myself enough feeling…I feel a lot and I shut it down. I need to allow myself to feel what I feel and be ok with it. Also…the importance of intention setting. One morning, Maya and I set an intention of swimming with dolphins. It was a dream of mine. When we got there, there seemed to be dolphins. But when we got in the water, they were gone. So, once again, Maya came to me and asked to mediate together on the dolphins, while doing so she began to sing softly too. And…they came back! Susan took photos of us meditating floating together in the water and with the dolphins. The experience of playing with the one dolphin for about 20 minutes is something I’ll never forget. It was magical affirming that we all have the ability and opportunity to create what we want and experience “magic”.

M: How much I like Hawaii and warm weather…

K: I went on this trip with my daughter that is 20 years young, and it was wonderful to see her and experience her as an adult, experiencing/ observing the shift from teenager to adult. I feel like, after the trip, she is more mature in her life decisions and more confident. She is discovering a love of travel. I am also observing myself as a parent shifting from wanting to hold on to learning to let her go.

" It was a dream of mine." - Jodi Mossop

Photo by susanknightstudios

What was it like having a professional photographer accompany your group?

J: Having Susan there to take photos during the trip and have images afterwards absolutely sets this trip apart. I think that when you go away on an epic adventure, you’re looking to share yourself in your best light, especially in this day of social media. She was able to capture us in a beautiful and authentic way. To be able to enjoy the moment and have someone else capture it is priceless.

K: I started to look at things differently by how they were pointed out. Try looking at it this way, notice the light and such. It was awesome for Maya as it was her first time diving under the water with video. She had the freedom to experiment, like having a course.

M: It was cool because I got to learn new things about photography along the way at a bunch of places. Susan saw a different perspective. It’s not like being on a tour with random people talking facts. This felt natural. It just flowed.

When pondering one’s life, sometimes we don’t even know what questions to ask or where to ask them. I am convinced again and again the answers are in nature. Simply be in nature. Sometimes, all you need is an open mind, a sense of adventure and a special place to be you again. Thank you Hawaii.

Watch for the next Barnacle Babes hosted retreat in the coming year! And ask Jodi about the dolphin leaf game if you get a chance.

Interested in hosting a retreat? Contact Susan to co-create a retreat or sign up with a listed retreat. You can also have Susan join your existing retreat as a photographer and/or nature guide.

Susan Knight

Connect with nature. Find the stillness. Sea yourself.

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