For Christmas this past year, my parents gave me a ticket to HAWAII! My dad was in charge of a big sales conference in Kona for the company he works for, so they thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get away for a few days and also give my mom some company while my dad focused on his meetings. You know the old idiom, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"? Well, that pretty well describes my mom and I---we are a lot alike. We both like shopping, photography, chick flicks, exercise, American Idol and eating out. We have similar tastes in decorating, clothes and even food (we are both chocoholics). Over the past four years she has been amazing in helping me with all the ups and downs of having quints. My mom is my best friend (next to Jayson), so spending four days in Hawaii with her was a BLAST!
Before I get into all the trip details, I must mention that I have the BEST husband and the most amazing friends on the planet, without whom this trip would not have been possible! As soon as my friends found out I was going on this trip, they immediately cleared their schedules and started "staking claim" on each of my kiddos. Ryder and Rustin ended up spending the entire time at their "church family's" houses. GG, with the help of Cassaundra and Barbara,
took care of the girls, and Natalie watched Riley and Kaiya after school everyday. GG made sure that my family was well fed and well cared for in my absence. In fact I started to wonder if my family would want me to come back! Jayson's responsibilities were actually lighter with me gone, than with me here! I feel truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life!
It took nearly all day to get to Kona with layovers and the long flight times. I was "forced" to read books and watch movies undisturbed for several hours...it was rough :-) (It is amazing how having seven kids can really make you appreciate being ALONE on long plane flights and layovers!)
We stayed at the Waikoloa Hilton Resort (where my dad's meetings were). It was incredible! Right on the ocean, beautiful pools and scenery. It was also HUGE---there were boats or trams available to take you to your room if you didn't want to walk. One morning it was raining, so we weren't able to walk outside, so we just walked from one end of the resort to the other under the covered walkways. The GPS said it was about .6 miles from one end to the other.
On one day, we drove all the way around the island. When I was in elementary school, my family actually lived in Hawaii for a few years, though we lived on the island of Oahu. Oahu is very crowded and it was such a contrast to see how uncongested the big island is.
On the "wet" side of the island, we drove through miles and miles of these tall, tall trees.
On our way around the island, we took a tour of the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. This is a picture of the how the famous chocolate covered macadamia nuts are made. I was fascinated by how much of the process was done by people instead of machines---in this picture, four workers fill the boxes of chocolates by hand.
The most amazing part of the whole trip was seeing the active volcanoes. Here, my mom and I are standing by a steam vent from the Mauna Loa volcano. The last big eruption from this volcano was back in 1984 (which was when I was living in Hawaii, so I have vivid memories of it) and it could erupt again at anytime.
On the other side of the Kilauea volcano, there are active vents with lava flowing. We were fortunate to be there on a night when there was a lot happening! When we first got to the viewing site, this is what we saw. In the spot we were looking at (above) there was actually a house two days earlier. Lava reached the house and within hours there was nothing left.
We walked a little further up and actually stood about eight feet away from the river of lava above. It was absolutely fascinating to watch the lava flow, start to crust on top and get dark and then bubble up again.
This picture shows the blockades that were set up (and how close we were to the lava)---when the lava first started coming nearer, the park rangers started moving everyone back, but after a while they gave up.