40 on the Big Island

Is there anything better in the whole wide world than a surprise 40th birthday trip to HAWAII with your besties? 

Micah hatched a plan to surprise Rachel foe her birthday. He very generously used his air miles to purchase our flights, and we stayed in their Condo in Kona. What a kind and thoughtful gift—for all of us. He was so sweet in saying this trip was to celebrate all our 40th years and to celebrate our incredible friendship. 

I can’t believe that 9 mom’s could pull this off in December, but we did! And it was just as dreamy as it sounds. 

Amanda, Laura and I flew in first. We picked up the cars, shopped and Costco and Foodland, and put up lots of birthday decorations at the condo. Everyone else got there late that night. What a happy reunion it was! 

The next morning we were all up bright and early.  We headed south to kayak. The kayaks were down a tiny one way dirt road and they only wanted cash. Which we did not have. They settled for Venmo. Venmo came through for us in a few sketchy situations this trip 🙂 We kayaked over near the Captain Cook monument and donned our snorkel gear. Jess said it’s the best snorkeling she’s ever done. The water was an unreal color—so blue and so clear. The best way I can describe it is that it was the color of blue jello. So vivid. That made fish spotting so easy and fun. 

Next we grabbed some delicious tacos for lunch and were mobbed by geckos. Seriously—they came out of the woodwork as soon as our food arrived. Blake and I love to watch animal reels on Instagram. I was pretty proud of myself for my gecko one.

We spent a lot of time in the car on this trip—which was actually really perfect. It gave us plenty of opportunity to talk and laugh together. Our next destination was the Southern Most Point of the United States. I thought Key West held that honor, but that’s only the most southern point of the continental US. Big Island is even further south. We drove through wild fields of green grass and arrived at a beautiful cliff side. Which Rachel convinced a few of us to jump off. Amanda said she was doing it for her kids—I liked that. Show all 29 of our children that their moms still know how to have a great time. After the jump you have to climb a ladder back up the cliff face. That might have been the scariest part. There was a cute sea turtle floating nearby watching us jump. It feels so good to do something that scares you every once in awhile. Laura said one of her favorite moments was when she and Kasey were laying on the ground, peering over the edge, watching us jump.

We also wanted to hike out to the green sand beach. The hike was so wild and beautiful. I can’t believe how much open space there is on the Big Island. I love how unique each island is. The green sand wasn’t quite as green as I had imagined, but the view was just stunning. 

We hiked back as the sun was setting. It got dark, which caused us to miss our cut off on the trail. So, we got in an extra 1.5 miles for a total of almost 8. 

On our way home we wanted to get Thai Food. But we were crunched right against their closing time. We called in and placed our order and when we got there is was all dished up out on the table waiting for us. It was awesome.

The next day was beach day!! We went to Hapuna beach, which reminded us a bit of Waimea. It was lovely. We played in the waves, took naps and basked in the sunshine.  

We came back to the condo for a late lunch and some fancy pants shave ice. We watched the sunset near Lava Lava Beach Club and out or name on the 2 hour waiting list for dinner. It was perfect because it gave us just enough time to hit the hot tub for a bit and shower before dinner. The ambiance was so fun—tiki torches, the waves crashing nearby and Christmas lights on the palm trees. We all agree it wasn’t the best food we’ve ever had, but it was just fine. 

Saturday was White Road hike day. Rachel’s favorite hike! As we were getting in the cars at the condo an older couple drove by and stopped. The woman leaned out and said, “tell me what you all are doing here!” We told her and she clapped her hands and giggled and said, “oh! We’ve heard about you ladies!” So we’re pretty much #condofamous. Poor Cassie wasn’t feeling great. She rallied and came with us and we kept teasing her that she was pregnant. She still wasn’t feeling well after the trip and posted a pic of her negative pregnancy test. So, no even 30 kids for us.  The weather wasn’t super cooperative, it was pretty cold and VERY foggy. But the hike was one of the most unique I’ve ever done. After hiking through lush jungle forest for a few miles the hike concludes with hiking through some long, pitch black aqueducts. Hawaii had a huge storm just before we all arrived and the water was high and swift. What an adventure! It was pretty funny watching everyone try not to get swept away in the water. Steph said she felt like Laura Croft and Kasey worried about a flash flood sweeping us all away.  She was certain we were all going to die. We reached the end, which is a slide down one of the ducts. It looked SO FUN, but not quite safe. The darn high water was barreling down and churning and bubbling at the bottom. It’s a good excuse to come back another time 🙂 I’m so glad we did this. It was so cool.

We hiked over some private land to get to the trailhead, and as we got back down to the bottom there was a man waiting in his truck. In the most pleasant voice you can imagine, but with a menacing undertone, he said, “you know you are on private land, right? How about you all pay me $10 or I call the cops?” Extortion at its finest. He said he was honoring the spirit of Aloha by letting us pay the money. We were happy to do it. Jail didn’t sound like a great addition to our trip. No one had cash so Venmo came in clutch. I wondered if in the comment section I should have put “blackmail for trespassing.” Ha Ha. 

We stopped at Waipi’o Valley to get an incredible look at the coast time. Legend has it that King Kamehameha is buried here. It’s also where he was hidden as a baby for 5 years while other chiefs were warring.

We went to Tex’s for some malasadas that weighed like 5 lbs each. Yum! On the way back we were listening to 90’s Country Music. We jammed out to “Earl had to Die” by the Chicks. Kasey told us she was in charge of a YW lipsyncing activity and the girls asked if they could sing that song. Kasey said, “sure!” and then sat in horror as she remembered the lyrics. When the song was over she got up and said, “So…we don’t condone murder. But also don’t feel like you have to stay in a bad marriage.” And then she sat down. We were all howling with laughter as she retold the story.

As lucky coincidence would have, not only did we get to celebrate Rachel’s birthday, but Mandy’s too! We went to …… and swam in the water as the sun set on Mandy’s 30’s. Katie said this was her favorite moment. She didn’t bring her swimsuit for the hike so she was I. Her sports bra and biker shorts. Hot mama! Body surfing, sand in your scalp watching a beautiful Hawaiian sunset. I’d say that’s a pretty perfect way to end a decade. Right as we were getting out of the water Rachel, who was running to get in our picture, hit a big sip in the sand and totally ate it. I’m sure it wasn’t that funny for her, but it was hilarious for us to watch. We went home and sat in the hot tub and showered Mandy with all the reasons we love her. After showers We had Haupia cake to celebrate the birthday girls.

We ate protein shakes and eggs every morning to give us sustenance for all our adventures. It was Mandy’s birthday! We woke up on Mandy’s 40th birthday to pristine sun and bright blue sky. We raced back to Hapuna beach to make the most of it. Katie, Amanda and Steph sat in the back of the truck with their blonde locks flowing in the wind. It was the perfect beach day. To top it off, there was a whale out in the distance just having a grand old time. He was breaching, using his blow hole, and he must have slapped his tail at least 20 times in a row. I’ve never seen anything like it. We named him Fred the show off Whale. It was so much fun. 

After a quick lunch back at the condo we made the long drive to Volcano National Park. On the way there, all of the sudden Laura started fo scream. And then everyone in the backseat started to scream. Kasey, Rach and I were up front and had no idea what was going on. We quickly pulled over. The door was flung open and Laura tossed a giant centipede out of the car. It had crawled up her leg and she didn’t notice till it was up by her knee. Seriously—the thing was huge. We couldn’t stop laughing for a long time. We carefully checked to make sure he didn’t have any friends hiding under the seats. Oh, Hawaii. I don’t know which was most gross—that centipede, or the dead fish someone put under or floor mats freshman year. 

Volcano National Park was stunning. The juxtaposition of the stark black lava rock and the lush vegetation is so unique. We were having so much fun at the beach that we didn’t make it in time to do very much at the park. We went through the Thurston lava tube, then grabbed dinner at Volcano House. They didn’t have any tables available and it was pretty chilly outside. So we took out burgers and fish sandwiches and macadamia I crusted fish and chips to the truck and enjoyed our dinner there. We got Mandy a slice of chocolate raspberry cake and sang HBD in the truck. We were pretty sad to learn that the lava in the ….crater, our main reason for making the 2 hour drive, had ceased erupting that day. Apparently the day before was incredible, but all we saw were some hot embers. It was still cool, and I’m still glad we went, but it was most definitely underwhelming. So next trip to the Big Island we have to do the slide on the White Road hike, and see lava at Volcano National Park.  Rachel said walking through the lava fields by the light of the moon was one of her favorite things. There is no light pollution on the Big Island so even though the moon was pretty bright, thousands of stars were still visible in the sky. The Big Island had so many big, wild, beautiful nature moments. It makes you realize how small we are in this great big universe. 

We spent the car ride home reminiscing on our days in Oahu. The boys we liked. The fun adventures we had. We got home late and stayed up even later chatting into the night on our last night in Hawaii. 

At about 6:30 the next morning Katie whispered, “wanna go see the sunrise with me?” Heck yes I do. We recruited Kasey and Steph and off we went. Laura and Amanda had an earlier flight to catch and Rachel had to go check on another property before we went home.  We didn’t have long so we were trying to find a shortcut to the water. We had to hop a few gates, but we made it! We soaked up the pretty pink clouds and the mellow blue water. 

We rinsed the sand off our flip flops one last time and headed to the airport. How come fun days always go by so fast? It feels like we just got here and it’s time to go. We packed a lot of fun into just a few short days. I can’t believe I’m so lucky as to have these women in my life. We can talk about anything under the sun and they are always up for an adventure. Here’s to sharing great memories, both then and now, and to another decade of making more! Maui 2023?? 

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