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Kona: Why we chose it for the Piece of Mind Retreat
I come from a family of travelers. I am the product of an international, bicultural marriage. My extended family lives across the globe. I studied abroad in college. As a young teacher I road-tripped – across the country, touring countless national parks, and then an epic drive to Alaska with my now-husband. When I met my husband, who is also an educator, we planned a trip for every school break: a long weekend in the Channel Islands, a week in Utah, a month in Australia and New Zealand.
But there was always Hawaii…
Sprinkled among these far-flung adventures were always trips to Hawaii. Pearl Harbor for the 60th Anniversary of the attacks. (Who knew, at the time, that trip would be the last one where I freely packed a bottle of full-sized shampoo and nail clippers?) After a school year with a particularly unstable superintendent, we recovered with a week on Kauai and another week on Maui.
But the island we have returned to over and over again is the Big Island of Hawaii. Great food, amazing snorkeling, hiking in Volcanoes National Park, raw coastlines dotted with less-crowded beaches than the other islands. When our older son, B, turned one, we took him and the extended family to Kona for a week – something we thought might do again at regular intervals.
But life intervened.
Soon we had a newborn, then two active kids under five. And just when we might have thought about booking another trip to our favorite home-away-from-home, an autism diagnosis landed in our lives, changing everything.
Despite the curve ball of a severe autism diagnosis for Mr. Diggy (and apraxia, pica, and…), we have returned to Kona whenever possible. When we endured a massive flight delay on a family trip with both kids in tow, the silver lining was enough airline vouchers for a trip for two to Kona. It was our first – and to date, our only – kid-free trip of more than one night that was truly a vacation. Twice, we have fundraised mightily to take my husband’s volleyball team to tournaments on the Big Island – not quite vacations as we were the sole chaperones for a gaggle of teenage girls, many of whom had never been on a plane nor crossed an ocean.
Picking up the Pieces
And when Mr. Diggy had just turned nine, we mustered our energy and flew the entire family to Kona. It was taking that trip that helped solidify our choice. His little non-verbal self was thrilled with water and the sand, the sun and the waves. His face lit up over and over again that week as we stayed in a home that had a lot to love – and a few things that made it difficult to manage him and his needs.
So we are working to make a place that brings joy and rejuvenation to our family more accessible for us – and for others like us. Kona is an ideal vacation destination for families of all shapes and sizes. Kids can splash and swim, teens can snorkel and surf, and adults can shop and golf. Everyone can hike, enjoy great food, and watch the sunset. You can read more about our favorite spots on the island here and here.
We hope you will enjoy Kona as much as we do. And we hope the Piece of Mind Retreat will allow you to have some peace of mind as we all juggle the puzzle pieces of autism and other similar challenges.
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