Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kolekole Beach Park.

On our way to Akaka Falls, Bill noticed a small sign on the side of the road for Kolekole Park. "Let's check it out," he said as he pulled off the main highway and onto a much smaller road.

As we made our way slowly down the unknown road, it felt like we might be swallowed up by the jungle. We had no idea where we were going but I didn't really care. To me, feeling dwarfed by nature is always worth the trip.

When we emerged at the park, we knew we had found a treasure.

On one side of the park (under the highway) is the ocean which feeds into Kolekole Stream. The fresh water stream is shallow and rocky in some places (great for climbing around and exploring) but deep enough in other places for swimming (or jumping in with the rope swing!). There were even a few people fishing. On the far side of the main stream, Ka Ľahakini Stream feeds in with a beautiful little waterfall. Throughout the day we saw people exploring the waterfall (climbing all over and even behind it!) but since only the boys had swimsuits (go figure), we'll have to go back for that another day.

My favorite thing about Kolekole Beach Park was that it instantly turned Liam into a fearless explorer. As soon as he saw the stream, he tore off his shirt and started jumping on rocks, determined to get across to the other side.   

You remember Liam, right? My easily intimidated, indoor kid who would just as soon wait in the car and do NOTHING than jump in some random stream. Even if the stream was filled with chocolate milk I still imagine him just taking a pass like, "Nah, I'm good. I'll be in the car doing nothing if you need me..." But that Liam is looooong gone. 

New Liam doesn't even stop to find out if anyone has noticed he's in the stream. He's just IN THE STREAM swimming across to see if he can reach the vine he spotted hanging off a tree.

New Liam freaks me out a little. We finally found a way to drag him out of the stream and got on with our trip to Akaka Falls. But as soon as we were done he was begging to go back. "Please!? It's my favorite place in the WHOLE WORLD!!!" How could we argue with that?

The tide had risen since we had left so the rocks in the stream were underwater and the current was much stronger. Thankfully Liam found something new to challenge himself with so he wasn't too disappointed that I wouldn't let him swim to the waterfall by himself (what?!).

The waves were intense. I had no desire to get any closer than I had to and since Finn perfectly happy to watch from the sidelines (phew!), we hung out on the rocks that were still dry. But not Liam. Even when the tide started coming in and Bill and I got nervous, he refused to budge. And since it was his FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD, we did what we had to do.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! I can't wait to see this kid climb that waterfall...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day trip: Akaka Falls.

The Big Island is such a unique place with so many different environments and natural wonders. There are active volcanoes, snow capped mountains, lush rain forests, volcanic desserts, black sand beaches, waterfalls, rolling green name it, you can most likely find it in Hawaii.

(I know the correct spelling of Hawaii is Hawai'i but I just can't bring myself to spell it that way. Watch the South Park episode about Hawaii and you'll understand. I don't want to be a jack ass "local" or anything...)

The last couple times we visited we had a baby with us (10 month old Finn and before that 15 month of Liam) so I'd kind of forgotten how much fun it could be to explore. But now that they're bigger, we're really enjoying some of the amazing stuff this island has to offer.

First up? Akaka Falls!

The drive from the south Kohala Coast where we stay to the northwestern Hamakua Coast where the falls are located took about an hour and a half but it was so beautiful, we hardly minded it a bit. We drove from our resort oasis through volcanic dessert, rolling grass ranch land, dense rain forest and the rocky shore. We even made a great discovery along the way - Kolekole State Park - which was so much fun, I'll have to post about it separately.

When we got to Akaka and realized most of the hike to the falls was stairs, I wasn't sure how far we'd get. It's not far - less than half a mile round trip - but Finn has gotten pretty used to having his stroller near by. We bring it when we walk to the beach and even though he is perfectly capable of running the entire way, he usually hops up for a ride at some point.

But our little guy totally knocked our socks off. Not only did he make it the whole way down to the falls, he also made it back...with gusto!

He hardly ever even asked for help. And when he did? There was plenty of positive encouragement to get him through.

And when that didn't work? He caught a ride...
The hike/walk was insanely beautiful. I'd never seen orchids growing wild before and they pretty much blew my mind. 

We raced each other and walked backwards up the stairs and goofed off and before we knew it, we were at the falls.  

Pretty awesome. I mean, like, 450 feet of pure whoa

After the hike we stopped at a little roadside stand to rehydrate with some fresh coconut water (i.e. a coconut with a straw). We also tried raw sugar cane, met the friendliest dog in the world, took some hula girl pics with our favorite stufties and hung out with some peacocks and chickens.

Akaka Falls was a great day trip (especially considering we spent most of the day at Kolekole State Park...) and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Big Island. And if you need a place to stay, our condo is beyond paradise...let me know if you're interested in renting! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Big Island of Hawaii, 2013.

More later...right now I've got to get these kids to bed so Billy and I can drink a pint on the lanai while watching the moon rise and listening to the palm trees sway in the breeze. I know. I hate me, too...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finny's 3rd birthday pARTy.

This LAST weekend we celebrated Finn's 3rd birthday with an art party for him and his buddy Coen. They share a birthday and friends so it only makes sense to combine efforts. Half the work, twice the fun!

(Doesn't my friend Erin make the best stuff?! She's my graphics design hero.)

I ordered a face painting kit at the last minute (Amazon Prime is my BFF) and at the VERY last minute asked a friend if she would man the station. That was a stroke of pure genius because her face paint awesomeness was the hit of the party.

She did an amazing job and the kids LOVED it. (Except Finn who always prefers to DIY.)

We had a couple card board houses for the kids to decorate/play in which were a great way to keep everyone engaged and outside. At about $35 bucks a pop, they also made great gifts for the birthday boys and would probably have been a fun little keepsake if I had brought ours inside before it rained. (Although, I'll admit, it wasn't totally an accident. The last thing we need is more stuff in this house. And besides, it's the process that's important, not the product...)

I also made a photo cut out from the box our house came in which was super cute and would have been just as good to paint and play with as the house if only I had found a better way to prop it up. Next year...

Instead of cake or cupcakes, we decided to do an ice cream sundae bar. It seemed like such a good idea. An artistic dessert! No baking! Cold ice cream on a hot day? Perfection! But as soon as we told the kids it was time to make their sundaes, absolute chaos broke out. 

Overwhelmed grown ups are no match for a hungry mob of little people and the DIY toppings that seemed like such a creative touch suddenly seemed a little WTF were we thinking.

(Just smile and scoop, smile and scoop...hopefully no one will remember this was my idea...)

At least we warned people their kids would get messy!

All in all it was a great party and a wonderful way to celebrate our special little guy (and our Coco!). We are so thankful for our Nashville family and beyond happy that our boys get to grow up with such amazing, supportive people in their lives.