Hartford had quite a schedule of events planned for our group, that would entertain us and show off the beautiful island. They planned evening events every night except for the night that followed the Tour of the island and Volcano National Park.
The first night's event was a welcome reception down at the Hotel pool/beach.
Isaac went to sleep just as it was starting, so we put him in a stroller, covered it with a blanket, and "parked" him near our back corner table. We filled our plates with food from the generous, fresh, seafood buffet, and headed back to our seats.
Before we got back, someone pulled Flint aside and politely as possible let him know that under no circumstances were children allowed at any of the events. NO EXCEPTIONS! Isaac and I were kink of upset about this.
I had been worried about what we would do with Isaac if we were faced with these objections and couldn't see any other options. I can't get Isaac to take a bottle of pumped milk, let alone formula, so leaving him with someone seemed like it would be out of the question.
We just decided to just enjoy the fact that we were in Hawaii together, and not worry about whether or not we could go to any events. With that said, I started researching any options we had to see the island on our own, and/or attend an event or two.
The next day, Flint had meeting till noon. I got to hang out at the hotel beach and pool. I visited with someone I met at last year's convention and she mentioned that since she was feeling sick, she was not going to go the Luau that night. I took a mental note of her room number for future use. At 6:30 the group all headed off to the luau, but I was happy to find out that it was being held at the adjacent hotel (shuttle service was available). Isaac, like the angel he is, fell sound asleep for the night promptly at 7:30. I called my friend who was happy to keep Isaac in her room. I and rolled his stroller into the vanity area of her bathroom, where he continued to sleep soundly, and I rushed off to join the party.
We had so much fun! It turns out that the party was just beginning. I had only missed the sunset photo-opp and cocktails.
The food, flowers, music, and dancing were wonderful!
I know that I'm crazy, but can you believe that everyone was leaving their leis behind! I took a couple extra on my way out.
Mom helped me reserve a rental car for our day trip around the island, since we wouldn't be able to ride on the bus with Isaac. (That reservation didn't end up working out, since the Internet and call center information was wrong, and the promised car delivery was unavailable. Plus, the pick-up location was a $90 taxi ride away). We were saved by Aaron (Flint's boss) who gave us the car reservation with the hotel that he had booked and didn't need after all.
It turns out that most of the people on the tour bus envied us the freedom that the rental car gave us. We went to Rainbow falls,
... then out to a nice lunch, the black sand beach, to Volcano National Park, and to a fun local Hawaiian food drive-in for dinner.
Volcano National Park felt like Jurassic Park. Maybe it was the tropical forest mixed with the strange sulfur smell and the thick overcast sky. Maybe it was the craters and tunnels that made up the rest of the scenery, but it was kind of eerie once it got dark.
Here I am with Isaac in narrowest part of the "Lava Tube" in Volcano National park.
Here is Flint in the biggest part.
The next day was a free day, so we played at the pool and beach all day and recovered form our road trip. We hung out with Mike and Vicky, who had brought their 8 and 10 year old boys. We did some body surfing and snorkeling etc., and came up with a plan to that evening. Vicky didn't want to leave her boys in the hotel room from 5:00-10:30 (the scheduled time for the evening's events at Kohala Ranch) and I couldn't leave Isaac until he was sleeping, around 7:30. We decided that we would split the cost of a rental car so that we could tag team the kids.
We drove up to the ranch together. What a gorgeous drive! The sunset and light were just beautiful when we got to the ranch.
The hillside pastures were breath-taking. These are what I call Happy Horses!
After taking a few pictures, I dropped off Flint and the other couple and took Isaac on a little sight seeing drive across the country side. I wanted to check out the Northern point of the island. I drove back to the ranch by 7:00 so that I could feed Isaac and get him to sleep. When he went to sleep around 7:45. Mike and Vicky took him with them (and the rental car) back to the hotel so that they could spend the rest of the evening with their boys, and I could spend the rest of the evening with Flint at the ranch.
They had an amazing paniolo ranch barbecue dinner with steak, ribs, chicken, baked beans, potatoes, corn on the cob ..... They had a couple horse shoe toss games going (which I am really bad at, and Flint is pretty good at), a lasso toss station (which I am pretty good at, but Flint is not so good at :), a branding station (where we could brand a piece of wood with the ranch brand), a star gazing station with a telescope (we saw Saturn and its rings), a s'more station, and a live country band playing! It was great fun! Doug (one of Flint's Hartford friends) even got up and took a turn with the microphone.
The next day, we used the rental car to drive to Kona and then the Pololu Valley (I'll tell about that in another blog.) That night I decided to play with Isaac at the pool and watch the band and hula dancer on the terrace instead of joining Flint at the "Surprise" final event.
They ended up going to a boat club on the Kuilia Coast for dinner and dancing. Since Flint went alone...
he spent his time taking pictures of the sunset and thinking wistfully of his wonderful wife. :)
(Great pictures don't you think?)