Kona, part 1

Andy and Ella throwing rocks in the warm ocean
This is sorely overdue, but I wanted to mention a few things about our trip to Kona-Kailua in November. It’s a trip we’d been planning for nearly 9 months with the sincere desire to get out of town. We were very curious how this whole traveling with kids would work, and we wanted to start making an effort to vacation with family.

The flight to Kona was spectacular. There was a short leg up to Seattle which was uneventful, then the 6 hour flight to Kona went splendidly. Ella was entertained most of the time through a combination of coloring, toys, window screen movements, bathroom trips, and cartoons on the iPhone. Madeline for her part slept most of the trip, which really helped.

We met my parents at the airport in Kona, picked up a Grand Crapavan from the rental company, and headed to our rented condo just south of the main strip in Kailua. The condo was fantastic (you never really know until you arrive), and we grabbed some fast food while setting up base camp. (There were mongooses wandering around the parking lot, something I’d not seen on my previous trip a decade ago.) After that we split up, shopped for groceries, swam in the pool, and hung out on the lanai looking for where to go the coming days.

The second day we drove the van north with a picnic lunch to Makalawena Beach, in Kekaha Kai State Park. It was a bumpy, slow ride from the highway down to the trailhead, and likely not some place that the rental should have gone. From there, a 30 minute trek past one gorgeous beach, some wild goats, and a barren lava field to a white sand beach that was heaven. As it turns out, you can get there by 4×4 if you have one, as there were several trucks on the beach. From the moment we arrived, it was quickly clear that everyone was happy here. Both girls loved the gentle waves, and Ella loved playing in the sand in the “warm ocean.” We’d been promising her that she’d enjoy the warm ocean since a disaster during a storm in May where she was knocked off balance by a quick rush of water past her feet and fell in the cold Pacific near Manzanita, OR.

Now I’m trying to remember the order in which we visited beaches, but by in large, the order of the day was something like this: Get up, have coffee and breakfast, watch Curios George, make sandwiches, spend 30 minutes trying to get sunscreen on everyone, then load up the van and go to a beach. We didn’t stray from this formula much, largely because it was so perfect. We didn’t attempt to see the volcano or Hilo simply because a long day of car travel with the girls wouldn’t be any fun. And it’s really hard to improve on a working formula.

We ended up visiting several more beaches, but I’ll pick up again in another post. It’s time to wake the girls up, take them to Grandma’s and go to work in the dark.

Here are some pictures of the trip to Kona though.

To telemark again

Cost and time have been preventing me from skiing much the last several years. However, I started this year with a trip up to Mt. Hood Meadows with my sister for a half-day on the slopes. We were virtually alone on the drive up and the parking area never really got more than 1/4 filled. Somewhat of a surprise for the first day of the year. I guess folks knew about the wind and decided to nurse their new-year hangovers off at home.

After putting stiff boots on in the rain, we headed up to the lodge for tickets and a bathroom stop. I was able to use a $50 gift card I’d received several years earlier that has been in my daughter’s play purse much of that time. Meadows is surprisingly expensive, and the gift card only covers about 70% of the ticket cost. The whole endeavor is rather expensive.

The first few turns were awkward, off-balance, and I typically over-turned and did a lot of stopping. With each dip, I asked my thighs if they remembered the balance required for a stable telemark turn. Eventually we reached an agreement and my feet settled happily in to the massive plastic boots. On the third run, the slopes pushed back at my feet with a comfortable force that I had sorely missed. The burn in my thighs, the snow sticking to my beard, and sensation in my fingertips as I brushed the ground during deep turns were intensely therapeutic. They also unlocked wonderful memories.

My sister and I were able to ride just enough to satisfy ourselves without actually getting hurt. It was a lot of fun to spend the day with her without any of the other noise of life. She’s much better than I remember and it was a bit of work keeping up. Now we just need to make time to go again.