Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Much Needed Getaway

It's been a little over two months since we went to Hawaii, and I've finally gotten myself organized enough to blog about it! For this trip, we decided to go to the Big Island and then head to Oahu. Since the house is on Oahu, ending there means we can do laundry before we come home, which makes me suuuper happy. I don't think I've ever felt like I needed a vacation until this trip. I've always been excited and ready when we take vacations, however this was the first time I felt like I would probably implode if I had to wait one. more. second.

Day 1: unpack and eat

We arrived mid-afternoon, grabbed our car, and drove to the hotel. We stayed at the Mauna Lani which is on the beach in Kona. While pretty much nothing we were planning on doing was in Kona, there weren't any hotels we were jazzed about closer to the other side of the island. We knew that meant we'd spend a few hours driving each day since it's about an hour and a half from one side to the other, and we were happy to do that thanks to the view!

The whole hotel was open air which felt glorious!

There were little lanais all over the hotel that would have been perfect little reading nooks

After we got settled we did the only appropriate thing there was to do... a long walk on the beach on the way to dinner!

Day 2: eat, segway, eat, volcano, eat... do you see a pattern here?

Each morning we'd start the day with a walk on the beach which felt like the ultimate luxury. I haven't been as relaxed and unplugged as I was on this vacation in a solid three years. It was a conscious choice to really and truly disconnect, and the only purpose my phone served was to take and post pictures to document the sheer joy of togetherness and adventure. I even decided I wouldn't do my hair other than a quick braid to keep it out of my face, and oh how liberating it was to just let it air dry and be done with it!

What's a Hawaiian vacation without lying in a hammock on the beach?

We found ourselves at Hawaiian Style Cafe two of our three mornings on the Big Island. We severely underestimated the portion sizes. 

Left: kalua pig hash, fried rice, over hard egg
Right: churro style French toast
Not pictured: an entire plate of bacon, which they falsely labeled as a "side" of bacon on the menu 

After breakfast we drove to Hilo for some sights and segwaying. Judge all you want, segwaying is the most fun thing on the planet. You can cover a huge distance and it's just plain FUN. If you're against fun, then fine, be against segwaying. Otherwise, let go of the fact that you look like a complete goof and just embrace that it's worth it.

This stretch was one of my favorites on the way to Hilo!

We were supposed to go on an advanced off road segway tour, however the trails on the side of the mountain had largely been washed out from a ton of rain, so it got cancelled and we went on a tour that I figured was going to be significantly less fun. We were very pleasantly surprised that a big focus of the tour ended up being going around their property and picking fruit off of trees. We sampled tons of indigenous fruit, pretty much none of which I remember the name of, except for my favorite which is called abiu, pronounced ah-bee-you (our tour guide helped us remember its name with the saying "I be you, you be me").

Abiu is now, by far, my most favorite fruit. Imagine a fruit the size and shape of an orange, the color of a lemon, and smooth like apple though thick like an orange. The meat inside has a consistency somewhere between an extremely juicy peach and an orange, and it tastes a little bit like a pear. Spoiler alert: I loved it so much it turns out John is shipping some in from Brazil as my Christmas present!! What a husband I have :)

View from the side of the highway

Akaka Falls

After our tour we headed to Kilauea to see the lava. It's hard (impossible?) to see in this photo that there's lava in the crater. We could see it with the naked eye from this vantage point, and there was a rainbow right in front of us as well! This is the first rainbow I've ever seen the end of, and, hate to say there was no pot of gold. Maybe on the other end?

Day 3: eat, zipline, eat, eat

The next morning at Hawaiian Style Cafe, John went for some pancakes that ended up being the width of his torso! We were thoroughly fueled for the day ahead of us.

The zipline experience we had on the Big Island was the best one we've had. The focus was 100% on the zip and the view, and they had customer service that went above and beyond what I could have hoped for. If you ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend KapohoKine Adventures.

Our first step was to drive out to the prep site. I wish I had taken a photo--this was a fully fledged log structure on stilts that was the most legitimate beginning to a zip we've ever had. Backpacks were complimentary which was a great perk, so John carried our water bottles and other essentials.

Our first zip was quick and easy, though very high off the ground. Heights make me queasy so zipping is always outside my comfort zone!

A few zips in I was starting to feel a little less panicky!

The views on this tour were the best we've ever seen. We went over tons of big water falls, and we had a little lunch break in a really nice covered area that overlooked some gorgeous scenery. Lunch was an additional charge, and I almost decided to skip it because the usual deli meat wrap never leaves me feeling like the money was worth it, however I was concerned we'd be starving so I decided to pay for it. Little did I know the lunch would be delicious! We had kalua pig sandwiches from a local shop on some delicious bread with ice cold water (anyone else not a fan of room temp water?!), taro chips, and baskets of fresh fruit to graze on! It was a true little meal and is just one of the many reasons I can't recommend this company enough.

John was a fan of the cannonball position to maximize his speed.

Gorgeous views!

Can you see John? :)

One of my favorites of the whole trip!

After zipping we got some malasadas from a local place and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up. Our last stop of on the Big Island was dinner at Merriman's, which was by far the best meal we'd had up to that point. Casual fine dining was the perfect way to end our time on the Big Island!

Day 4: eat, fly to Oahu, eat

The airport on the Big Island was all open air. I'm used the airport in Honolulu which has a lot of outdoor elements, however the one on the Big Island was just semi-covered seating. It made me very glad it wasn't raining! We flew Hawaiian Air and the seats were teal leather and seemed super sleek and modern, which are not words I would have ever thought I'd use to describe a plane!

When we landed, my dad's cousin Gayle picked us up and then we headed to the grocery store to stock up! A few musts on our list: Hawaiian sweet bread (I get plain, John gets cinnamon), mangoes, and lilikoi jam,

No big deal... just $8 for this half gallon of milk

Once we were settled in at the house, we went through some of my grandfather's old documents. It was so cool to look at his accomplishments as he became a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force.

My favorite things to do in Honolulu are the same each time--for me, there's comfort and happiness in familiar places and I love the feeling of recreating what I did when I was a kid. One of those places is the apartments my grandparents built in the '50s, which is where we used to stay when I was little. Ever since my grandparents sold them a decade or so ago, they've never looked the same and I know my dad's heart is more than a little broken that they cut down the avocado and the mango trees.

I found this photo of them from back in the day. They look just like I would expect them to knowing my grandmother was caring for them--immaculate and inviting.

In the '90s, my grandparents built a home about half a mile away from the apartments where they lived for many years to come. Like the apartments, it was immaculate.

Another favorite childhood activity was to drive and/or hike up Tantalus to get a great view of the city. Going up always makes me wonder who in their right mind would live up there... hairpin turns and homes on the edge of the mountain are outside my comfort zone!


Did I mention we ate a lot?

Koren plate lunch

Best shaved ice on the island!
As much as I enjoy our trips, I'm always happiest to come home to this little love of ours. 

Next up on the #bohnevacation agenda: New Orleans in the next few months and Chicago for my birthday!

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