Back in September of 2013, we were still on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Having already been there a little over a month, I had found some great swimming spots with little to no waves and zero depth entry good for toddlers learning to swim. One of our favorites was located at Ko'Olina just minutes from where we were staying in Kapolei. The beach park consisted of 4 lagoons adjacent to the Aulani Disney Resort and the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort. Hawaii has an open access beach policy meaning public access and parking must be provided to all beaches even those that are resort front. To me it was the real life example of every picture of Hawaii I had ever seen.
|First visit to Ko'Olina August 2013|
While surfing Facebook one late September afternoon, I noticed my friend Ken (originally from my home town) was visiting Oahu and staying on the North Shore. He was posting pictures of all sorts of food porn and hot spots from around the island. I reached out and recommended a mini reunion. Ken wrote back and said they were in! They had been doing the traditional tourist attractions and wondered if I could recommend a good place for a family beach day. Ken is married and has a little one about 6 months older than Truman. I immediately thought of Ko'Olina. Ken agreed and we made plans to meet before they left the island.
|Amber and Truman Aug 2013|
My anxiety immediately began to kick in once the plans were in place. Ko'Olina was a good distance from the North Shore. Opposite ends of the island, in fact. Hawaii is not know for excellence in the department of transportation. There is only one highway between the two destinations and even on a good day Oahu traffic rivals that of DC. Yes folks, it is worse than the US capital at rush hour in a snow storm. What if they got stuck in traffic? What if they didn't find this hidden gem nearly as charming as I did? I almost canceled to avoid preceived humiliation.
|Truman and Hara|
The day arrived and so did I...on time for once in my life. I parked and proceeded to walk to the lagoon that contained permanantely fixed palm beach umbrellas. It was a sunny day and I wanted to make sure we had some shade for the kids. It did take them longer than expected to arrive, but they weren't upset. The essence of Hawaii had rubbed off on them this week and they were in a relaxed state of mind.
|Truman waiting for his new friend Hara to arrive|
We got right down to the business of being beach bums for the remainder of the afternoon. The kids played in the sand and enjoyed splashing in the warm water. As the sun began to set we packed up for an evening stroll along the beachfront path. Ken asked about dinner options and I recommended a few places within walking distance. I was ready to part ways advising them that dinner out was just not in our budget, when Ken said they had had such a fantastic day they wanted to thank me with dinner...their treat!
|The sunset September 23, 2013|
|Group Photo Op while waiting for dinner|
Our table was ready and they took us upstairs. The restaurant had a tropical feel with dark wood and shutters and palm trees and windows. We were seated and our order was taken quickly. The staff realized the kids might struggle with the wait so they dropped off some Mr. Potato Head dolls to keep them occupied. They really seemed to cater to families.
|Mr. Potato Head Fun|
The adults indulged in some amazing ramen, while the kids chowed down on Mac n Cheese. For some reason I think we had dessert, but I don't remember. Ken might? We wrapped up dinner loaded the kids in their respective strollers and headed for the cars.
|Monkey Pod Menu|
On the walk back Ken and I remineced about our hometown and growing up Gateway. We talked about mutual friends and how we genuinely felt lucky to have grown up with people who turned out the way we all did.
Back at the cars we exchanged hugs and checked directions. Oh and placed bets on who's little one would fall asleep first in the car. If I didn't say it enough that night, thank you and your little family for one of my fondest memeories from our time in Oahu! Next time dinner and drinks will be on us!