We recently took a trip to Oahu. It was after our son's wedding and we figured if they could go on a honeymoon, so could we. Our 29th honeymoon to be exact. (I'll add a note here about those who think Oahu is all flash and traffic and tourists and LA-like development. Well it is in some places but there are other parts of the island that are just magical and I'm glad we chose to go back)
15 years ago it was the boys first trip to the islands and we chose to go to Oahu first because of the historical significance of Pearl Harbor. Yep! We're those parent to try to jam some sort of education into our vacations. It usually works out. Not having the internet I chose the place to stay, sight unseen, out of a travel guide. Owen's Retreat was a small 5 house compound located right on the beach at the very northwest tip of the island. We picked up our car and headed out into the island wilderness. Four U-turns and one dead chicken later we found our place. We spent 4 days exploring, not only Pearl Harbor, but the North Shore surfing mecca of Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Wiamea. We had fun but it was a bit rural with too much time in the car and not enough on the beach for the boys so we were off to Maui for the remainder of our vacation.
On this trip to Oahu, Jim and I took our time poking around the towns and beach parks, going to farmer's markets and sitting on our little deck looking at the ocean and turtles. But if I listened carefully, I could also hear the sounds of my young(er) boys playing on that beach. It made me yearn a bit for those family vacations.
On our 3rd day at Owen's Retreat a big passenger van backed up to the gate and threw open the doors. People, boxes, fishing gear, food and even a shaved ice machine rolled out. From our deck, Jim and I watched the military precision of setting up this multi-family operation. After only a few minutes the leaders of this pack, Scott and Julie, came over to introduce themselves. They and their extended families had rented the large yellow house and the even larger white house and yea, there would be about 22 people...mostly kids. Cool! We LOVE little kids! I told Julie about our previous trip with our sons and how they played on this very same beach. She looked out at the sand and asked if I looked really hard could I see their footprints? Had she read my mind? Scott and Julie's clan were Hawaiian and they told us they firmly believe in "Ohana" which is family and because we were there, that meant us too. There would be food and music, singing and fishing and we were welcome to all of it.
Well, there was all of that and more. Soon we were sitting on their porch having a beer and Jim was getting a ukulele lesson. There were little kids with fishing nets and flashlights on the beach. Adults who were able to lay it down for a couple of days and catch their breaths while they caught up with each other. There was laughing and running and the joy that comes from a weekend spent with family; a rarity in this busy life. This family, right down to the babies, knew no strangers. We were greeted with smiles, waves and one "Hey where ya been? We already had lunch" from the 6 year old playing in the courtyard upon our return from town. As Jim and I left Owen's Retreat, Scott and Julie's clan were beginning to pack up. We gave our thanks and hugs and left with the warmth of a great memory. Mahalo.