Friday, June 1, 2012

Off The Beaten Track: Hawaii Revisited

Palm and ocean and happy kids
This week’s Off The Beaten Track post is by the intrepid Jules and Effin Older. Jules and Effin live at Their apps are Auckland Insider and San Francisco Restaurants. The ebook/ski book is SKIING THE EDGE: Humor, Humiliation, Holiness and Heart. And the new kid’s book is Snowmobile: Bombardier's Dream Machine. Text by Jules Older and photos by Effin Older.
On our first trip to Hawaii, our twin daughters were two-and-a-half. On this trip, our grandson Max was two-and-a-half. Max’s mother, Willow, and her sister, Amber, were now 35. And his young sibling, BabyBrotherBen, just turned eight months.

On the first trip, we four — Effin and I and our twin daughters — stayed in a cottage at Puunalu on the (then) largely undiscovered north side of Oahu. This time we eight (add Willow’s husband Leroy and our dear friend Barbara) stayed in a slightly bigger cottage on the south side of Kauai.

Travel with Kids
In some ways travel with kids is harder today. If you intend to drive, you have to lug along awkward, heavy car seats. You have to make your way with kids and car seats and fold-down strollers and disposable diapers through airport security. On the plane, there's much less legroom and even less food.

On the other hand, these days you can rent a van, and you can rent or bring along a portable DVD to keep the kids amused.

Max did pretty well through the taxi to San Francisco, the airport wait, the five-hour flight to Honolulu, the Wiki Wiki bus to the other part of the airport, the two-hour wait for the next flight, the next flight, and half the mini-van ride to our cottage. We made a big deal of driving in a “brand new blue mini-van.”

When the rooster crows at the break of dawn
Hawaiian Meltdown
At precisely the halfway point between airport and cottage, Max went into meltdown. His lower lip quivered ominously. “I w-w-want to go h-h-home.”

“We are going home,” I said brightly. “We’re going to our Hawaii home.”

He wasn't buying. “Want to go to Max’s home. Want to go to MAX’S home!”

He added, more quietly but with some force, “In the blue mini-van.”

“Want to go to Max’s home” was to be his mantra for the next 48 hours. Literally, the next 48.
At 4 a.m., his mother sighed, “So do I, honey. So do I.”

Roseola Rising
Halfway through day three, the whining abruptly stopped. Max was suddenly happy in Hawaii.

That’s when BabyBrotherBen got hot. Hot and cranky. And running a temperature of 102. Followed by spots. Roseola.

Confronted with not one, but two crying nephews at the start of her Hawaiian vacation, Aunt Amber announced she was reducing her own future baby plan from two to one. Or maybe she’d just keep her cat.

As for the grandparents, it had been so long since we’d traveled with young kids, we had to make some adjustments of our own.

Max and his father, Leroy, get in some pool time
Grandparent Adjustment
For instance, I'd automatically brought along a hydration backpack for the hot-weather hikes I'd assumed we’d take. Negatory. No hikes.

Ditto, long bike rides. Ditto, any bike rides. It wasn't until day four that we got in half an hour’s snorkeling.

We, who were so accustomed to roaming free, suddenly rediscovered the TTYO — the tyranny of the two-year-old. You're on his schedule, not your own. You walk to the beach at his pace, not yours, and stop along the way to see the monk seal, to play on the playground, to run around the trees, to ogle the chickens.

Kauai Fowl
The chickens. Kauai is rich in free-ranging, queen-of-the-road, exotically colored chickens and their adorable young broods. And, for better and worse, their mates.

“When the rooster crows at the break of dawn…” was probably written on Kauai. The island roosters — and there are at least 740 of them under my window, alone — all crow at the break of dawn. And worse, much worse, before the break of dawn.

I still don’t know whether the four air-gun shots I heard on day two were real or merely wishful dreaming.

Exploring small creatures in the sand
Pleasures of Child-based Travel
In the end, we adapted. We lived at Max’s pace and simply gave up hiking and biking. And while I'd forgotten that giving-up part of travel with young kids, I'd also forgotten some of its great pleasures.

The feel of a warm baby’s stomach on your palm as he sits contentedly on your lap. The effect of a gecko on two-year-old eyes. The enforced slowing down when you walk at Max’s pace through jungle gyms and “jungles” that are home to geckos and other wild, exotic creatures. Hearing your pre-coffee walk around the cottage rewarded with, “Mommy, we walked through Max’s gate and we saw a gecko. It was green. It was very big. And I was very scared.”

We’ll bike another time. This is good enough.


  1. Jules, having recently spent a week on the Caspian Sea with a 3 year old, I can relate to both your joy and your pain. :) Sometimes the most tragic event in a small child's life is when her beautiful blue balloon goes sailing away into the sky. But then there's nothing like the joy of building sand castles in the sand. Thanks for sharing another wonderful blog post with us.

  2. Ah, Jules, memories of kid-free travel came flooding back after reading this. These days I love taking my rugrats to places I went pre-kidlets and seeing it for the first time through their eyes. Pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience with us!

  3. As difficult as traveling with children can be, nothing beats seeing the world through their eyes, especially on a holiday. And Hawaii's been on the top of my list for where to take my little ones next. Thanks for the reminder. Yep, the biking can wait...