After our trip to the Kona coast, where we decided that despite our previous plans we didn't want to do that again, the rain really started to come down. In fact, on Sunday night the whole state of Hawaii was under a state of emergency with flood warnings on several islands. It was only projected to get worse, so we decided to risk it to get one last thing checked off of our vacation bucket list. We hadn't seen Akaka Falls yet, and according to the maps it was a pretty quick drive from Hilo. We went back to Ken's Pancake House for the famous macadamia nut and banana pancakes and then headed up to the falls.
It rained the whole time, but by the time we reached the parking lot it was literally dumping so hard that our windshield wipers couldn't keep up. We'd packed warm coats, but we had two raincoats for the five of us, and both mysteriously did not make it into the car. After waiting for about 30 minutes for the rain to let up, we decided to try again later and drive in search of both ponchos and cool stuff to see. Monday ended up being one of our favorite days. We drove north on the coast and because of the rain, the forest was especially spectacular. The rivers were raging and we found several waterfalls. We drove slow and took a lot of detours before ultimately deciding to commit to the journey and head to the Waimea coast. When we come back we want to stay in that area next time. It was so beautiful! We ate at the Big Island Brewhaus where we were pleasantly surprised by their southwestern food. It's hard to nail a green chile stew!
After lunch we tracked down rain ponchos and headed back to the falls, figuring it was now or never. When we got there it was still raining, but we were committed to the cause. We threw our ponchos on and started down the trail (paved the whole way, with handrails), quickly realizing that despite the cars parked on the road that we were the only people there. I did have a moment where I realized that without good cell service no one knew where we were and that if something happened we'd be screwed. We were at a giant waterfall in the middle of flash flood warnings. Next time I'll live tweet our adventures or at least leave a note on the dashboard.
The hike was SO FUN, and totally worth it when we got to the falls. I don't know what they usually look like but I have to imagine that the rain made them even more spectacular and the pouring rain made it that much more of an adventure.
There are no pictures of Tuesday because it was boring and rainy. We went back to Hilo hoping to hit the Tsunami Museum and the Discovery Center. Both were designated as open when we checked on-line, but were definitely not when we showed up. We wandered downtown Hilo a bit, bought some last minute souvenirs, and then headed back to the house for laundry, school, and packing.
I didn't sleep well Tuesday night, both because I was petrified I'd miss our 5:00 alarm and because the rain was coming down so hard that whenever I did sleep I dreamt that I was underwater. We all were up in time and getting loaded was easy. Have I mentioned how wonderful traveling with sentient beings is? Eli gathered trash while the girls corralled day packs and C and I did the final house sweep. Teamwork! In the car, all of our phones started pinging with emergency alerts telling us all to stay home unless we were fleeing :/
We made it to the airport and even got to the gate in time to fill water bottles! We were still all getting flash flood warnings (including the pilots) but the rain had slowed down so with a gorgeous sunrise over Mauna Kea, we waved goodbye to the island.
At one point in the flight Averson put her sweatshirt on backwards and was asleep in about 10 seconds. I think she's reached a new level of traveler status.
The kids did homework on our layover in Honolulu and we all ate BurgerKing for breakfast. I lamented my absolutely ridiculous outfit/sweatsuit.
It was SUCH a good trip. We did enough to make it awesome but left enough to make us want to go back. I'm so grateful to know that this is an option for us and just how lovely and pleasant all these people in my family are. I couldn't believe how easy going and flexible the kids were. I really think that made all the difference. We were nervous about traveling during COVID, but we felt very safe and comfortable the whole time. The flights weren't crowded, restaurants all offered good social distancing and take out options, every store required masks and hand sanitizer upon entry, the house gave us plenty of room, and nothing felt too crowded.