20.05.2014 - 20.05.2014
Traveling with a baby really is a game changer.
Not only does one travel with far too many items for said baby, but one also leaves behind the ability to do whatever the hell one wants, whenever the hell one wants.
Clearly Zac and I are said one.
Today was a pretty low-key day, which is to be expected in this low-key area. Hamakua coast has beautiful hiking and outdoor activities, none of which are realistic for us to do with D at this time. Long hikes are out since we only have his Ergo (we will be getting a baby hiking pack for the summer), not to mention the fact that we don’t use his Ergo enough to really gauge how he’ll do in it for more than 45 minutes. Many of the outdoor activities aren’t baby friendly, like horseback riding. Though let’s be honest, horseback riding isn’t really Jorie-friendly either.
What to do with ourselves?
We first tried to do a tea plantation tour at Mauna Kea Tea, which is right down the road and walking distance from where we’re staying. Unfortunately it’s harvesting season, so they aren’t currently doing tours. Their bathroom is busted in the tasting room, so they’re not doing tea tastings at this time either. I think they just didn’t want us to show up because they heard we have a six month old with us
You don't want to visit with me? Impossible!
By the time D was up and ready to go we’d spent so much time hmmming and hawing that we really couldn’t go far before he’d need another nap. We decided to venture over to the Hawaiian Vanilla Company and take a gander at the small farm. The HVC is the only location in the United States that produces vanilla, and one of the handful in the world for that matter. It’s a family run operation, started by a man who had no idea what he was doing. The farm is in the hills above Hwy 19, just south of Honoka’a. It was a beautiful drive through rolling hillsides and sprawling green pastures overlooking the ocean as we made our climb. We arrived at a bright yellow house a few miles up the quiet road from the highway. It was inconspicuous and I could have passed by without really noticing that it was a place of business. I LOVE that.
The drive up to the farm
We were greeted with the delightful aroma of vanilla as we walked through the doors of the shop, which is run out of the family’s home. Meals and tours are available with reservations, but we just stopped by to look around. There is a small cafe inside that served sweets and treats, and Zac ordered himself up some vanilla bread pudding and an unsweetened vanilla ice tea. Everything prepared in the kitchen uses vanilla in some method of cooking and preparation.
Checking out the kitchen
We sat out on a relaxing patio in comfortable wicker chairs as we sipped delicious tea and munched on some very sweet bread pudding. The bread pudding itself was too much for me, but the vanilla ice cream (homemade at the farm, of course) was phenomenal.
"Bring me my pudding!"
I wouldn’t have thought to stop at the farm if we weren’t looking for something, anything, to do close by. Having gone however, I’d highly recommend it if you’re in the area. The tour seems overpriced ($25 per person, with a free drink of choice), but stopping in, grabbing a snack, and looking around seemed perfect.
Hanging with mom
The rest of the day got a little hairy after our mid-morning outing. D returned to the house for his nap, but woke up early. Rather than try to get him back down we decided we’d drive to Waimea and check out some local hiking spots. Waimea is only about 30 minutes from where we’re staying, so it didn’t seem like an issue--and it wasn’t, except that we couldn’t find any of the hiking spots, what we thought we were looking for was actually much, much further away, and Waimea literally has nothing to do. We found an observatory museum that sounded like it could be interesting since we won’t be taking D up to the top of Mauna Kea this trip, but it closed at 2 p.m. and we had missed it. Two p.m.?! That’s so early! Such is life.
It felt like wasted time, and it really was. We ended up driving through Honoka’a and the surrounding area to check out the neighborhoods and get a better sense of the small town. While the main drag of the city is short and has few offerings, it is absolutely adorable. Many of the homes in the area sit on properties with beautifully manicured lawns that overlook the ocean. It was a lovely drive, which D slept through.
One of Honoka'a 's adorable shops
Clearly enjoying himself
Once back at the house D was back up. We played for a while to give him a break before trying to put him down for a small cat nap for the late afternoon. He was having none of it. We’d messed with his nap schedule and he’d had just enough sleep earlier to take the edge off, but not enough to be well rested. This meant he went into crazy baby mode. Crazy baby mode isn’t screaming and crying, it’s...well, mostly screaming. Crazy screams. Like “what the hell was that?” screams. He shrieks and laughs in this maniacal way that sounds like he’s going insane. It’s both adorable and sad.
We stopped trying to get him down for his nap and instead ran out real quick to pick up dinner. If he wasn’t going to sleep we may as well be productive. We stopped by Tex Drive In, which is at the bottom of our road. The restaurant is well known for it’s malasadas, or Portuguese fried dough. Basically a donut. Nope, no basically about it. It is a donut. We chose to split one filled with apricot. Tex serves fresh malasadas all day long with a variety of options for fillings. It was delicious. Like, really delicious. We showed up at 6 p.m. and *still* managed to get a fresh malasada. It was soft, airy, not greasy, and not too sweet. Perfect. We also picked up dinner--and the grilled mahi burger I had was really good. Once I was able to eat it, that is...which wasn’t until D was bathed and put to bed.
Oh, what a day. A lot of driving, a lot of just looking for something to do, but trying to do it in the most compatible manner for D’s schedule and needs. It wasn’t a disaster by any means, but it certainly wasn’t a day of smooth sailing. Poor D was so tired when we got back that he just passed out. I’d say my biggest successes of the day were choosing to visit the vanilla farm, getting in a four mile walk while D took his second nap, and that goddamn delicious malasada.
Goddman delicious malasada
Along my walk
We are literally staying in the middle of nowhere
Tomorrow we leave Honoka’a and head for the Volcano National Park. We’ll be staying in a treehouse, which will hopefully be awesome. It’s totally off the grid, has a cedar hot tub that we have to light hours before using, is solar powered, and even has a compostable toilet. Good times ahead. The last time I stayed in a treehouse was when we were in Knysna, South Africa. It was such an amazing place to stay, but I ate a bad pork sandwich earlier in the day, got the shits, and spent a good part of my night on the open air toilet in the trees above the forest floor, fearful that a baboon would attack me while I was relieving myself. I’m hoping for a better treehouse experience this time.
Wish me (and us all) luck.