Empty Nesting Test Drive, part I

Monday Musings by Melinda M.

A weekend without the kids?? A weekend without the kids!! There was a time when that phrase would have immediately relaxed my shoulders, put a smile on my face and sparked a ton of ideas of all the things I would/wouldn’t do.

But this long weekend, when we realized we’d be without our now-teenage girls, I didn’t feel that euphoric. I mean, we like our kids, now that they sleep through the night, and the things I’d want to do – from the beach to hiking to camping – I’d want to do with or for them.

I like my kids…now that they sleep through the night!

But the next phase in life is coming and we have to soldier on! Time to practice this so-called Empty Nesting life.

With an itch to try something new, we took our dog daughter and went for a drive we hadn’t done in forever – the Hāmākua Coast. We kinda live on Saddle Road, so any journey to Kona or even Waimea, we take that. We considered walking down to Waipi‘o Valley – neither of us have been – but knew we weren’t in that kind of shape and didn’t have the 4WD to drive down. So, the lookout would have to be our destination!

Daisy is our faithful car ride companion

Without the need to be there at a certain time, we drove like Sunday drivers: slowly, taking in the surroundings, and with a mindset to turn down whatever road grabbed our imagination. Immediately out of Hilo, we took the Scenic Route by Kalaniana‘ole School, passed the botanical garden and Onomea Trail (making a note to investigate both on another Empty Nest Practice Run), passed the delicious What’s Shakin’, and even pulled into the historic Low Store. But when we realized neither of us were hungry, we vowed to return when we were!

Off to Hāmākua. My husband was too busy concentrating on the wet roads and This American Life podcast while remarking on the changes since our last drive this way, so we didn’t take anymore turnoffs. When we reached Honoka‘a Town, we noted several places we could stop and eat but, like they say, we blinked and there went Honoka‘a! Oh well, we’ll stop on the way back.

It’s another 6 miles to Waipi‘o – I always forget that! – and by then my stomach was grumbling. We noted one or two places to eat in Kukuihaele, the community right by the lookout, and then we were there: stunned by the grandeur that is Waipi‘o. Rain wasn’t coming down, but it was in the mist, air, and clouds that sat on top of cliffs bleeding waterfalls. It was literally awesome.


She might not look it, but Daisy was impressed!

Picture, picture, picture and: food, please! Too hungry for the drive to Honoka‘a, we stopped at the Waipi‘o Cookhouse. It. Was. Fantastic. I highly recommend this roadside stop that uses fresh, local ingredients from lamb to goat cheese to lilikoi and more. We were more than satisfied and felt really fortunate that we ended up there. Maybe when we’re full-time Empty Nesters, we’ll head out there just for lunch, just because. It’s worth it!

More on our not-so-adventurous adventure next week!


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