Who would ever turn down a free trip to Hawaii? Well not us that is for sure. Brandon was so amazing at his job last year that his company invited him to a conference on The Big Island. Chairman's is held every year at Schwab to honor those employees who performed in the top 1% in their area. Isn't that awesome? I am so proud. Honestly he mentioned it to me a few months ago but said he probably wouldn't get it and then to my surprise one afternoon he calls me and tells me that he got it and we have a fully paid trip to Hawaii in April. So we packed up our cramped car and drove to AZ to drop the kids off at Brandon's parent's house before heading to the Big Island for 5 days of paid for fun in the sun. And since we haven't taken a vacation in like 4 years we decided to extend our stay for an extra 4 days.
Schwab set everyone up in an incredible hotel, The Fairmount Orchid in Kona. It was beautiful. Right on the beach with a great cove for snorkeling, fully stocked and paid for mini bar, and a stipend for any food that wasn't covered during our stay. Brandon had to work on Sat morning, and all day Sun but the rest of the time he was free to hang with me. We met some great people and there was a party every night with live bands, drinks, food, and the smell of the ocean. I even did yoga by the seashore, talk about relaxing.
We laid on the beach, played volleyball, and even went on a catamaran boat for some snorkeling and sailing.
Brandon even bought me a oceanside message for mother's day while we were there.
We also got to hear from the creators of Planet Earth on how they made the movie and what they enjoyed most about it. It was incredible to hear their stories and see the behind the scenes of such a great documentary. Seriously, best vacation ever.
Then after the conference we switched hotels (the first one was a little pricey for us) but the beach was even better at the second hotel (Waikoloa Beach Resort and Spa).
We took the next 4 days to explore the island. We went to downtown Kona for some shopping and sight seeing, and even attended a luau. Then on Thur we took a tour around the island and hit all the great sights. We saw Rainbow falls which was really flowing with water because it had been raining the previous days.
Then we went to the zen gardens for lunch and the Volcanos National Park where we walked through a lava tub, saw a giant smoking crater, and enjoyed the beautiful rainforest.
Next we went to a macademian nut farm for dinner where I tried about 12 kinds of mac nuts and got to crack a nut. We also tried apple bananas and strawberry guavas. They were so fresh and tasty.
We finished our tour at the lava fields. We stopped in this great local town with shacks for a bar and ice cream stand. It was awesome to be around so many of the locals and talk about life on the island. I even tried their local drink Kava which is suppose to be a natural healing drink made from the roots of the awa plant. Honestly it tastes like muddy water and didn't feel any effects. Then we made the treck out on the lava fields in search of some lava flowing action. Unfortunately no lava was flowing but about a month ago there was spiting lava everywhere so I guess we missed it by a few weeks. We did collect some really neat lava rocks on fresh lava (only about 3 months old) with gold and blue speckles in it. We left on our tour at 10am and didn't get back to the hotel until 11pm so it was a long day but full of interesting places. The only annoying thing was this tour guide from another group that kept making us move for our pictures. He was terrified of us falling into the water. Seriously we weren't even close to touching the water and I didn't know that the tour provided a babysitter for people in their 20s.
Friday was the relax day, we got some sun on the beach and bought gifts for our family before catching the red eye home to get back to AZ at 7:30am.
It was a great trip and kind of an early honeymoon gift. It was so nice to spend time alone with Brandon knowing the babies were well taken care of by Grandma and Grandpa. I don't think we will be attending Chairman's again next year with Brandon's new position but I told him he has about 5 years before he has to take me back (we were in Hawaii 5 years ago for our honeymoon).
I think Jackson is ready to join us next time.