Camping in Hawaii

Another weekend, another stab and blogging my Hawaii trip when honestly all I want to do is collapse. It has been a very productive – and very – tiring week.

My sweetheart just left for a trip to Alaska this morning, he’s embarking on a “glamping” adventure that I hope puts more of the “glam” in camping than mine did, but more about that in the meat of the post. The net of it is that we tried to spend as much time together as we could and that included going to a picnic for his law firm (he’s a partner in a firm, did I mention that?) and then immediately driving to Red Rocks in the rain to see Tokimonsta and Bonobo (was great!) and then spending the night in Boulder and then camping a day later. Then the weekend. It was a lot.

Then I decided that what I really need in my house is a king sized bed in the main bedroom and my queen in the guest room which has been the weakest part of my home, it has always felt like an afterthought. Anyway, I came back from FOCO on a Monday and found a free king sized platform bed after work with under bed storage and a good mattress. Did I mention it was free? So starting at 7pm on Monday I proceeded to blow up two houses, because Micah wanted the trundle bed I was getting rid of.

Casey was amazing, he helped me toil until midnight on Monday, taking two trips to North Boulder to get the bed, disassembling my beds at my house, moving the trundle to Lonny’s, and then reassembling the beds at my house. Micah helped, too, but Casey really stuck it out the whole night. He didn’t understand why I needed to get as much done that night as possible but he soon found out how time consuming that process is. And I promised I’d take some bookshelves off a friend’s hands and put them in my attic which was not easy.

Then my Sweetheart came to Boulder the next day and I wanted everything to be perfect because it was his last night before leaving and being perfect seems to be my coping strategy to deal with anxiety. So yeah, I needed shit to be done. Also, I had guests moving in the next day so it’s not all anxious relationship styles.

If it seems like all we do is eat and go to shows, you would be correct. How do I stay thin? It’s a goddamned struggle.

Anywho, now we are caught up on what I did when I wasn’t blogging (I also worked) and also why I just want to watch Broad City and sleep right in front of the AC. Oh, Casey also got his wisdom teeth out yesterday and it was a major fiasco. I am livid about how unprofessional the dentist was and just hoping that he recovers enough to be able to enjoy his 8 day canoeing trip with the Scouts that the dentist’s office said would be NO PROBLEM even though all four of his teeth were impacted, the conscious sedation failed, and he’s on antibiotics, prednisone, ibuprofen, hydrocodone.

It’ll be fine, they said. I think they were more concerned about filling up their schedule than whether he would actually be fine.

Ok, so, Hawaii.

I planned this trip forever ago in hopes that Covid would ease up and we could travel again. These days I feel like we were shooting the gap as the Delta variant looms large.

Hawaii required pre-travel testing (they didn’t honor vaccinations until after we arrived) and their protocol was, um, specific. For example, they required a PCR test but not just any PCR test, only one from their “testing partners” which meant I had to drive to Superior to get the same test I could have gotten in Boulder. There were many hoops to jump through, booking calendars to maneuver, and accounts to be created. Let’s just say I was concerned we’d be turned away because my test was logged 2 minutes before the boys’ tests were and the system said I was out of the appropriate time window. It didn’t end up being a problem but whoo boy, travel is complicated.

Our flight was suuuper early, we had to get up at 2am to be there in time for our 6am flight AND we almost missed it because I’m really not good with details like gates and cities and stuff. Thank god the boys noticed that for a flight leaving in 20 minutes there were no other people at the gate. There’s a reason I don’t want to be a PA anymore, I suck at times and dates. I miss so many appointments lately, even with them on my calendar.

Anyway, we changed planes in LA and I got the bulkhead and we landed no problem were allowed entry. It was kind of cool to get off the plane using a ramp on the jetty, old-school style. We picked up the rental car – the tiniest thing ever – and went to Costco for food and fins, and then grabbed a coffee to kill a little time before checking in. We grabbed some Poke for lunch, too. Micah and I loved it. Casey, not so much, but I credit him for giving it a shot.

So the airbnb we stayed at advertised itself as glamping, which technically it was. We had a 10×10 tent, real beds (I shared mine with Casey), hot showers, and flush toilets, and a lounge with a kitchen area. In some ways it was nicer than I expected, but in some ways worse. When I was bored I fantasized about all the ways I would do this space better. With $20k it could be completely leveled up and it would be easy because apparently there are no building codes in Hawaii.

There were sand floors and the sinks dumped onto the ground. Who knows where the toilets dumped into.

Kitchen and showers drains just went onto the ground, power was just electrical cords in plastic bins to protect them from moisture, and everything had a very developing country feel. The possibilities are endless but at the end of the day it rained so much that simply elevating the structures onto pallets would have been a game changer. Fiberglass or corrugated roofs would have been amazing compared to the plastic tarps.

What was good about it was also what was challenging about it. The property was amazing, we were in a full-on rainforest, which meant it rained all the time. It rained 7 out of 10 nights and while we stayed dry inside the tents, everything was always damp. If we had been there for 1 or 2 nights it would have been fine, but 10 nights was a lot, especially given the tight quarters. The sounds of the jungle were deafening and definitely my favorite part but there were slugs everywhere, in the bathroom, the kitchen, the sofa, everywhere.

I have a high tolerance for grubby but I quickly realized that I could not cook in this space. For one, it was too rainy to use the eating areas, and it was simply unhygienic. I’ll spare you the details but it was cheap and had I found an $85/night beige motel on a lava field we would have been dry, we would have had AC (not that we were ever hot), and we would have had a decent bathroom, but it would not have been an adventure. Even the boys agreed that this was better than a motel. Now a luxury hotel with manicured grounds and a pool would have been okay, but we’ve done that and we wouldn’t have spent as much time together.

And at the end of the day we can say we camped for 10 days in a Hawaiian rainforest which sounds way cooler than we stayed in a motel.

The drive from the main road, past the tent village, to the big house which seemed to be populated with cultists.

It was good because even though we weren’t comfortable, we really had to get along with each other. Given how much things have changed in our living situation with me all over the place at all times, it felt right to connect. It wasn’t easy but I think we all learned about how to coexist and I appreciate how the boys rose to the occasion.

(Rain makes it harder)

While I feel like I am rarely alone in my normal life, this was a whole new level of being together, we were usually within arm’s reach. I never fully adjusted to Hawaii time (four hours earlier than Mountain Time) so I usually woke up around 4 or 5am. I hung out in the lounge area – wary of slugs – to meditate and journal. I really enjoyed that time. Then I would get the boys up and after trying to make breakfast once, we found a local place with cheap breakfast and good to-go lunches for beach days. The first day we drove to the Hilo side of the island. It’s a 2-hour drive and I discovered that I was going to spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

Narnia Falls supercut

We quickly learned about “island time” and the challenges of trying to schedule more than one thing a day. We also found great local haunts like this little Japanese run joint that has great Spam and eggs, or Pine Tree, that had generous portions and reasonable prices. This was important because cooking was a non-starter.

We checked out downtown Kailua and then hopped on a very choppy – and very fun – zodiac ride to Captain Cook’s reef where the snorkeling was great. Our guide steered us to a fabulous fried chicken place in an industrial park and then back to camp for showers and, soon, to bed with the frogs singing us to sleep.

Our first beach day was at Waialea Beach (aka Beach 69 because it is found at mile marker 69) for the gentle surf, the snorkeling, and the shade. Casey saw puffer fish and an octopus and later on we went to a tide pool after lunch at the Lava Lava club and Micah found a sea cucumber.

By day five we finally got a handle on making beach days comfy. First, FUCK WALMART! We found a Target and got some chairs and a beach blanket, loaded a cooler, and set up in the shade. We had the nicest, most relaxing (at least for me) time at A-Bay.

I also found this Airbnb that if I ever have $1100/night to spend.

I mean, really.

I dropped laundry off in the morning so by the afternoon we had clean clothes and towels and we had dinner at a little local taco shop. I found a place that sells Dole Pineapple Whip which means nothing to those who have never been to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disney but IYKYK. We ate ours watching the waves and then went back for seconds because we were on vacation! I also found out that the owner’s sister is opening a shop in Fort Collins which makes me super happy.

It’s hard for me to not stress out about making things “perfect” because they never are. My sweetheart reminded me that what is great about being in Hawaii is being in Hawaii. Not every moment has to be action packed; napping, reading, and chilling in the lovely surroundings is enough sometimes. I won’t lie, I miss him tons and will be glad to be back home. AND we are having a great time in-between moody teenager times, mom stressing out/bonking times, and why does our tent smell like dog shit times. (It was the seedpod!)

Casey got certified to dive at the end of 2019 so he could go to Belize with the Scouts. Covid put an end to that yet I wanted him to have an ocean experience. I was lucky enough to find an outfit that would take him out as long as I rode along because I dove enough with my first husband to last me a lifetime. Diving with him turned a perfectly nice vacation into a grueling job so I was happy to hang out on the boat and snorkel.

Micah didn’t want to come, which was disappointing for me because he could have seen the pilot whales and snorkeled with me, but I can’t make him do things he doesn’t want to do. So I took the opportunity to flirt with the captain of the ship and take lots of pictures.

Afterwards we went to Umeke’s for our one meal out of the day. It was spectacular poke. Micah was particularly keen to try the ubae ice cream with the coconut cake. He is really fun to eat with because his sense of culinary adventure knows few bounds. We all reveled in the beautiful meal after swimming as hard as we could in the deep ocean.

I thank my sweetheart for helping make these experiences happen even though he wasn’t there, I wish he was. We drove into the rainforest where the afternoon rain started up.

We had to see volcanos on this trip so we headed south and went to Volcano State Park. That day I drove at least five hours, but on a “chill” day I drove around two. It’s a pretty spread out island and our camp was just off the Mamalahoa Scenic Byway which was 18 minutes from Kailua, the closest city. From there it was between 30-55 minutes to any worthy beach. There were plenty in town but they were of the crappy hotel variety. So that meant even just doing one beach trip means plenty-o-driving. Gas was pricey but our tiny car was cheap to fill up and there was a Costco nearby where gas was $3.50/gallon.

One of my to-dos was to see the sunset from the Mauna Kea observatory but it was way too socked in with fog to see anything so we did Volcano Park, saw a few more things at Hilo, and went back to camp.