*it was really mid-morning, but that's not poetic
New Year’s Eve! We were excited for our next adventure. Our plan was to take the southern highway to the east side of the island, making a few stops along the way. We had planned two nights on the wet side of the island so that we could spend a good chunk of time in Volcanoes National Park. I chose one of the bigger hotels in Hilo, figuring that it would present the best options for some family fun on New Year’s Eve.
It was hard to choose which of the gazillion options for stops we should take along this route. Everything in the book sounded like a veritable paradise, and who knew when or if we’d ever pass this way again?
On the other hand, we figured that if we just let go of those expectations and fears of missing something, we knew that any stop we made would be pure perfection.
We call this the sea turtle sighting stance
This place was un.real. We had taken some bizarre access road that I was only partially certain would get us there – but of course I insisted that I knew exactly where I was going, don’t you people trust the navigator?
The thing about the Big Island is that you often find yourself amidst a sea of lava rock, and it seems entirely possible that you’ve taken a detour to mars. So we’re tooling along in our mustang convertible on a one lane road that winds down, down, down to sea level. My fingers were crossed that the road was indeed a loop, as the maps seemed to hint but not admit outright. The road ended in a parking lot full of people who were adamant that we should rent a kayak and hit the open sea, but we tried another skinny lane and hit paydirt when we came to Honaunau Bay. We opted to enter Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park because I’m not the only one in the family who loves a good park pamphlet – especially one that has a numbered self-guided tour to locations like the place of refuge.
I knew the kids would love that story.
we all enjoyed a refreshing dip with the fishies
Then we continued on the beautiful mountain-meets-ocean drive toward the rugged peak that soon appeared in our sights. Kilauea volcano was on the schedule for the following day, but we marveled at the visible signs of its ongoing eruption as we navigated along toward our next destination.
That next trek was the portion of our journey that had come to be known as Destination: Black Sand.
What words can I possibly say?
Eventually, we made our way to Hilo and checked in to a very pretty hotel with a beautiful park right outside the door.
The kids were disappointed that once again, there was no hot tub, but the pool looked promising. They got into their suits and I dared them to jump in without testing the water. Prognosis: freezing.
Okay, we don’t need no stinkin’ pool. Let’s go check out the bar, I think it’s happy hour!
We had a few bar snacks and a bev, just enough to tide us over for a late dinner and associated holiday merriment. We headed out around 8:00 pm with a weird map that the concierge had given us, meant to highlight a few places that might be good for dinner.
And here, my friends, is where the idyllic island zen family lovefest hit its first unfortunate snag. You see, my research had not revealed the fact that the city of Hilo is a veritable ghost town after dark. Everything was closed! We were shocked. It was New Year’s Eve! We went back to the hotel and parked the car, deciding to walk along the string of hotels to find a place to eat and drink. And yeah, to also be freaking merry.
Turns out the hotel restaurants and bars were all closing early as well. What the hell? We hadn’t even picked up a bottle of champers, we were just caught completely off guard. We finally found a little restaurant that was open super late – they were serving dinner until 9:30! We got in, sat down…. and opened our menus to find that they were blank. That was it for me, I cracked up and didn’t stop laughing until 2010.
Back in the room, we made a halfhearted attempt to stay up for the countdown, but my boy was the only one truly invested. Finally, we just handed him the remote and told him to wake us up at 11:55. To my girl’s eventual dismay, When the appointed hour arrived she could not be roused from her much needed slumber. She was truly pissed off in the morning. The rest of us endured poor Dick Clark’s excruciating countdown, and lit many a sparkler to mark the occasion.
We were all tucked in by 12:02.
But the next day, the first day of 2010, was high in the ranks of my Best Days Ever. I can’t wait to tell you!
to be continued…