KAANAPALI - To look at the strikingly beautiful woman and her handsome husband, you would think they are honeymooners as they frequently hold hands at a music venue or even during an interview. Yet they have been married 17 years. Clearly, they are in love with each other and also with Kaanapali.
It was love at first sight for Doreen and Damon one night in Memphis, Tennessee.
Damon met Doreen and found her again the next evening at a similar venue. "I invited her to see James Taylor." The romance has been full speed ahead ever since.
Doreen and Damon Stoner celebrate the Fourth of July, 2012.
Most couples pick a honeymoon location without much thought. Doreen and Damon Stoner, now from Nashville, researched it, talking with travelers on airplanes and consulting guide books and magazines (no Internet at the time).
Doreen: "Hawaii seemed like a tropical paradise. It looked like a beautiful place."
Damon: "We wanted someplace special; a peaceful place you were going to remember the rest of your life."
Today, you can run into the Stoners to strike up a conversation most every Fourth of July, though they have decided recently to come back during whale season, too.
It turns out the couple has come to the Hyatt 15 straight years after a first honeymoon trip in 1996.
"We like the fact that everything is nearby. We have made friends - people who appreciate and know us and welcome us back, the staff. When you see so many friends here, it just feels like home," Doreen observed.
Damon admitted that during the year, he works constantly. "But I always picture in my mind the waves coming in (on Kaanapali Beach). When I am here, I can just relax and decide on my own what we are going to do each day.
"I like to be able to walk up to places, to good restaurants. We like the music. There are things to do. The Kaanapali beach walk is addictive, and we do it a couple times a day. We will eat breakfast, walk down to Black Rock, watch the surf and people watch." Doreen added. "And it's exercise!"
The routine is pretty much the same every year. "We have done the touristy things, so we mostly relax near the pool. At night, it's Pacific'o, Lahaina Grill, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Cool Cat Cafe and three to four times a trip, Hula Grill down the beach path," he said.
Chicago-reared Damon joined a major pharmaceutical medical company as a sales rep 23 years ago after securing degrees in chemistry and biology from Indiana University and the University of Illinois. Assignments followed in Chicago, Philadelphia and Champaign, Illinois.
Doreen worked in sales, too, recognizing with her husband being transferred so much, it would be easy for her to get a job anywhere. "Salespeople are always in demand," she explained.
Later, she earned a master's degree in counseling and now offers guidance at an elementary school.
The Stoners are always touting Maui. They tell friends "you can spend ten hours on an airplane to get to a beach or ten hours in a car to get to someplace not as nice."
Both are clearly good at what they do. Damon volunteers that he has had diabetes for years and is active with the American Diabetes Association when he is not involved in his hectic work schedule.
Like many people who love Kaanapali, they think about living here permanently someday.
For now, it is just going to be ten days around the Fourth of July and a February trip to see the whales. (Damon: "I may go out three times.")
Their only disappointment is that performers in training with the awesome Citrus College Band (also a personal favorite) who played afternoon and night for years at the Hyatt no longer come.
Guess they will just have to confine themselves to going to the pool, strolling the beach path, dining at Hula Grill and listening to music at Leilani's on the Beach.
Damon noted that not only do you get JD and the band but a view of the comings and goings on the path (the bikinis appear to be skimpier this year, he observed). Precisely...
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