Family Vacations ROCK!

Ocean fun!
Ocean fun!
The view from Hawaii
The view from Hawaii

Thom is feeding Mia a native apple banana on the patio while James and Hannah are drinking pina coladas and, tired from all that pool time, taking a break out of the sun to watch Scrubs, a longtime fav that never gets old despite repeated viewings.  Everyone is enjoying our final day of family vacation just hanging out.  Damn.  Time needs to stand still for just a while.  What will we do when we can’t see our family especially Baby Mia every day????  Yes, family vacations do indeed ROCK but need to be more like two weeks or a whole summer instead of a puny week.  We barely just got into our vacation rhythm–breakfast/beach/nap and repeat.  How will I ever work a whole day again??  Of course, I do realize no work means no vacation so off I will go on Tuesday when we return but only under protest.  Serious protest.

Grandpa & Mia discussing life
Grandpa & Mia discussing life

With two grown kids, a granddaughter now and everyone with busy, busy schedules working and going to school, we haven’t gone on a family vacation since Florida four years ago when Mike was newly dating Hannah and Mia wasn’t even a possibility thought about yet.  Since then, Thom and I have lived in Seattle/NYC/Seattle/China/Seattle, James has graduated from college and is set to go to law school in the fall, and Hannah graduated from college, married Mike and had Mia-she’s been a busy girl!  Mia just began walking last week and had us all running so hard we needed those multiple naps a day more than she did.  Yikes!

With the dishwasher and laundry running non-stop to keep up, we ran to the beach, the pool, and cooked all that food we got at Costco after we landed on the Big Island.  Somehow we were able to drink up all the booze we bought but the leftover food will hopefully be of benefit to the cleaning crew tomorrow when we leave.  I hate to waste but goodness we bought a lot!

We found our home away from home on VRBO, which we also use to rent out our cottage in Boise.  We have always had great luck, using VRBO places from Florida to Barcelona with great results.  Our 3 br/3ba condo here was no different with lots of room for everyone, a view to die for from all windows but especially our master balcony and a pool that was perfect for baby Mia.  The beach was just a short walk down the road where the surfers rode the waves and the snorkeling was the best on the island.  Paradise found indeed!

At the last minute, I insisted on my own checked luggage and then ended up not wearing hardly any of what I packed.  Next time, a carry on is all I need with shorts, bathing suit, flip flops.  It never got cold and there was no nightlife on the Big Island so quiet nights at home needed very few wardrobe changes.  Live and learn and always pack light.  Really no need for the six pair of shoes I brought.

Siblings together again
Siblings together again and enjoying ziplining over waterfalls

Tonight is our last night together and we are hoping for an awesome sunset.  While there are always rain clouds over the middle hills of the island, the sun is usually shining by us on the beach side.  Unfortunately, a few of us got a little too much sun despite repeated sunscreen applications.  The weather woman talked about being burnt in just 10 minutes in this sun which is frightening.  As a skin cancer survivor, I use SPF70 and move to the shade whenever possible.  With Mia being a “ginger”, her momma put her in l/s swim shirts, large hats and sprayed liberally with sunscreen at every opportunity.

Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water
Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water

Though no one wanted to play euchre with me (Midwest card game I grew up on) or Scrabble with me, we may try to do another round of Cards Against Humanity again, though I usually need to look up in the urban dictionary some of the more crazy terms that everyone but me seems to know.  WTF!  Yes, I know that one.  It’s weird playing this with my kids but they get a kick out of Mom’s responses so it’s a fun time.

Now, it’s on to Italy (Cinque Terri) in late September and planning for another family vacation back here in Hawaii next year.  After all, Mia needs to run in the Keikei Run every year now and try to beat her record.  She was so adorable trying to walk the 100 yard course with her mom and dad assisting as needed.  They are putting her on a path of healthy habits.  With her dad’s love of all things baseball and Mom’s expertise in swimming, tennis & soccer, I see sports in Mia’s future.  I can’t wait!  So, ALOHA for now as the sun sets on our family vacation.  Mahalo to all and to all a good night!

Mia's first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona
Mia’s first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona

Waterfalls, wild pigs and zipping through the air with the greatest of ease!

Hannah, James and I after ziplining by this gorgeous waterfall
Hannah, James and I after ziplining by this gorgeous waterfall

The day ended well but boy did it start out rough.  So bad, in fact, that we wondered if God really wanted us to zipline today at all with the obstacles we faced.  I never give up, not now and not ever, and so when the cars stopped ahead of us and then started turning around on the two lane highway as we approached the Hilo side of the island for our big adventure, we groaned and followed the guy driving away who told us that there was an accident and the road would be closed for hours.  Damn.

As we beat a hasty retreat north back through Waimea where we had just come from, Hannah got on with spotty cell coverage and, never giving up, talked persistently and politely with our tour group manager several times before they magically found a spot for us in a later outing, which we had to madly drive another two hours on the only other road to get to them.  This road being one lane in spots with dead wild pigs lying by the side of the road-okay, only one dead pig but it was BIG!  Bleak volcanic fields on either side of the lane, that poor pig didn’t make it out alive but we did, dodging wild drivers in our lane who obviously were new to driving and, with one minute to spare, the rest of our group already on the course, we signed away our lives on the liability release forms that none of us had time to read and, after a bumpy gut-wrenching trip over rutted dirt roads through fields of purple sweet potatoes and apple bananas, , we   lined up and got ready to practice.

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James zipped with style and finesse

Our kind guides, Corey and Phillip, instructed us in the proper way to hurl our bodies down through the forest without killing ourselves.  Check.  Ready.  Set. Go.  Since this was an “Eco Adventure”, our knowledgeable guides pointed out the local crops of ginger, pineapple, sweet potatoes, taro, and apple bananas, which we thankfully got to eat right off the trees since we didn’t have time to stop for lunch.  Who knew that pineapples grew up on little cute bushes???

Waterfalls everywhere-thankfully didn't rain the day we zipped
Waterfalls everywhere-thankfully didn’t rain the day we zipped

The rest of our group hailed from the great State of Texas which became very apparent when the guides were discussing how locals liked to capture the wild pigs, more prevalent than people on the Big Island, and somehow gun control came up.  Our Texas clan proceeded to excitedly share with the Hawaiian guides how easy it was to get “same day” guns in Texas at their local WalMart with very little background checks.  No kidding.  So happy that Thom didn’t come with us (bad back and all) because he would have never been able to hold his tongue and would have proceeded to throw the guy down the line for his remarks, which most would consider a tad insensitive (and just wrong on so many levels) given the innocent people recently killed in Charleston.  Looking at my caring kids who were visibly biting their lips to hold back the opinions on gun control they longed to share, we took our turns and off we went to fly over the gorgeously green forests and valleys filled with waterfalls and rivers.  Needless to say, we didn’t mingle with our Texas group much.  Thank goodness.

Each of the seven lines got progressively longer until the final BIG one, almost 2/3 of a mile, where we went soaring by a huge waterfall too quickly for me to take it all in.  What a fantastic way to experience the beautiful back country of Hawaii that most people never get to see.  We are truly blessed.  Aloha!

ALOHA!
ALOHA!

Enjoying Family Time on The Big Island

Best thing hands down about the Big Island… not the beaches or the palm trees.  Nope, though they are nice and all.   The very best most wonderful thing about the Big Island is my family being together again.  How often do I get to spend a week in paradise with my grown kids who lead very busy lives???  Well, this is a first in the last few years as they pursued their college degrees–both are now college grads, Hallelujah!!!–and Hannah got married to Mike and gave us the magnificent Mia.  How time flies by!  With Thom and I moving between Seattle, NYC, Shanghai and back to Seattle and the kids’  busy schedules, we have only connected at the holidays, which are hectic and action-packed.

Thom and Mia exploring the great outdoors
Thom and Mia exploring the great outdoors

This week the biggest decisions are:  pool or beach?  Pina Colada or Wine?  Yep, that’s pretty much it.  I had Facebooked that there was no one more in need of a vacation than me.  My daughter countered that she was much more deserving than me, because not only did she work all day but then started Mom duty at night capped off with baby Mia doing her business while taking her bath.  Okay, she wins.  Hands down.

Getting to Hawaii from Boise and Seattle was no mean feat but after James graduated Sunday from Seattle University, we all took off on Monday, starting with Mia running us around the airport with her newly found walking skills.  She was a joy on the flight, taking two naps and playing with all the other babies on the flight.  After quaffing free Mai Tai’s (adults only)–thanks Alaska for the free booze–we found our new home for the next week in Kona, otherwise known as the sunny side of the Big Island.  With water views from every window of the condo and everyone with their own bed/bath, we were ready  to start relaxing.  A workaholic, A Type for sure, I haven’t disconnected from work on a vacation in years.  This week I unpinned my work email tile from my start screen and ignored the need to check in.  They’ll manage without me and maybe even appreciate all I do even more with me not doing it.  Maybe.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying trying very hard NOT to think about work and concentrate on my lovely family and pool time, which Mia enjoys very much.  Glad to see she is taking to the water and will probably be a great swimmer like her Mom.

Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water
Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water

So far we have walked to the snorkeling beach from our place a few times and had a close encounter with sea turtles, which I like from afar but really, really don’t like touching me in the surf.  Icky!!  They are large and have snapping, sharp teeth which I don’t want to encounter personally.  I swear they were attracted to my sassy red toes–note to self, next time go for beige vs. red for the pedi if going to be in an ocean with animals who can chew.  Thom said I screamed loud enough to be a tsnumai warning signal, which is probably a useful skill here on an island where those things happen.  I think being called a “siren” is a good thing.  Right?

Tomorrow we are off to a new beach in Waimea and later this week we will be zip lining down mountains and across waterfalls.  That should be a good tale to tell!  Aloha!