This was a big big day for us. Not just because we were going to the Big Island. It was Dan’s 16th birthday. It was a travel day. We had a fabulous dinner planned for Dan’s birthday. Oh, and we just happened to be going to our most favorite place in the entire world. My fabulous parents gave us a week of theirs (they belong to Exclusive Resorts) at this amazing house on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. We first visited this place in 2007, when they invited us along with Mike’s parents, to join them on a week long vacation. Casey was too little to join us across the pond, so my gracious sister babysat her all week, while we took little Danny, all of 5 1/2 years, on one of the best vacations we have ever had. He had finally grown out of his tantrum phase and had turned into this charming little Kindergartener who idolized all four of his grandparents and was obsessed with the ocean. In fact, we had surprised him on that trip — first, about the trip itself and then about the fact that we would be joined by ALL 4 of his grands. He was in heaven. He was also so well behaved on that trip, I still can’t believe it. (Of course, when you are surrounded by the ocean on vacation and have 6 adults that all want to give you their undivided attention, it is pretty easy to maintain some decorum, even as a 5 year old.) We had so much fun exploring this amazing island that trip and have found new places to explore on each subsequent visit. We still haven’t seen it all. Yet.
Anyway, since that trip, we have been back 4 more times, with and without them. Besides being on this incredibly diverse and beautiful island, the house itself could not be more luxurious. If money were no object, (but alas, it is) Mike and I would purchase this very house, on this very street, in this very neighborhood on this very island. We would not change a thing. Not the outdoor shower, the amazing view, the ‘bungalow’ of extra bedrooms in the back, where our 16 year old has settled into… nothing.
Before this month, Michael and I were curious as to whether our love of the Big Island would be outweighed by a new love of Kauai. I had heard so many people confess that Kauai is their favorite. After 11 days there, I can understand why. It is definitely old Hawaii… little Hawaiian towns along the beach, lots of local fruit, smoothie and shave ice stands, food trucks serving amazing plate lunches, ‘sick’ surfing spots, breathtaking beaches that require heart pumping hikes to enjoy, and of course, that gorgeous Na Pali Coast. It is hard to beat all of that. No wonder so many movies have been filmed on that spot of paradise.
But the Big Island? It’s our Hawaii.
The lava fields, conspicuously marked and separated by the level of vegetation apparent in them, the volcanic (and sometimes snow covered) mountains rising high into the clouds, the vast open and cascading grasslands (very very old lava fields) flowing into the ocean, the lush rainforests, and the hot, flowing lava currently visible with a 3 mile hike… it is all here.
Anyway, we arrived here yesterday, got unpacked, and the kids immediately jumped in the pool. Mike and I relaxed on the lanai and I got to enjoy my family. Mike was finally truly relaxed; so much so that he fell asleep for 2 hours out on that patio. (I think that even though we have been on vacation for 2 weeks, Michael has worked so much that he hasn’t quite gotten into full vacation mode, that is, until now.) Meanwhile, the kids played together for those two hours, first in the pool and then at the beach.
I have been watching their interactions evolve over the last 14 days. The beginning of this month, they got along ok, but just weren’t quite in sync, bickering at each other a bit and essentially doing their best to ignore and/or tolerate one another most of the time. Dan had expressed some frustration about her back in Oahu. She couldn’t keep up, didn’t want to go to the beach as much as he did, and invaded his space more than he could tolerate. He and I talked through some of that, with some gentle reminders that she is NOT like him. She doesn’t have the stamina and she struggles a bit with change. She wants/needs to know the schedule constantly. But that has evolved into a sweet and more loving interaction; he has been more tolerant, more helpful, and more playful with her. She has always been his biggest fan, but knows how to push his buttons. Lately, she has just been her sweet self with him and ready to play when he is. It has been wonderful to watch them on this trip.
After the beach, we got all gussied up and went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our son. The Four Seasons at Hualalai is a little too rich for our blood, but did get to enjoy their amazing beach and most beautiful sunset while we had dinner at Ulu’s. It honestly was one of the most wonderful nights I have spent with my family. The food was no less than outstanding and the ambience was exceptional. It was so much fun to celebrate our wonderful boy and this was quite the place to do it.
These pictures don’t do the night justice, but they don’t suck either.:) Enjoy…