Whew, I'm back from Hawaii and done with the holidays. But boy, have I got some BIG news!
Nope, not pregnant.
Big as in just bought a condo for retirement in Kona!!!
Let me tell you how this all came about.
First of all, you know a place is really special when every time you return you can only think of going back, even if means parking your butt on a plane for 13-14 hours.
You know you can handle the stress of making a big commitment and traveling a lot after having signed up to do an ironman and set out on a goal to run marathons in all 50 states.
You know you can make ends meet if you've been managing to do it year after year to keep your race habit alive. And now, no kids are left on your payroll.
So why not retire to the Big Island?
Since my first visit in the early 90’s, that rock in the Pacific has felt like home to me, much more so than where I actually grew up (S.F. Bay Area) and where I've lived the past 10 years (Orlando). I love the turquoise waters, ocean sunsets, black lava beds and warm tropical weather. But more importantly, I feel really comfortable in the laid-back, small town of Kailua Kona … blending in among the many Asian-Pacific Islanders and being mistaken for a local rather than a foreigner, seeing familiar Oriental foods in supermarkets, and even adhering to the custom of removing one’s shoes before entering a home.
During my recent visit to the island, the list just got much longer.
This time, as a triathlete, I noticed several excellent places to do some open water swimming, miles of dedicated bike lanes as wide as car lanes, challenging hills and wind conditions. I fit right in with all the other nut-cases -- I mean, athletic types -- swimming, biking and running around. If I need extra motivation to train hard, there are special Kona Ironman slots at the Honu Half Ironman, which are only available to Big Island residents who have lived there for 3+ years.
Besides having all the things I'm looking for in a place to retire, the Big Island is also one of the few places in the U.S. that is far enough away from everything so that workaholics like my hubby would have a chance to relax, put down the dam Blackberry and smell the plumeria. He's one of those guys who has a hard time saying 'no' at work and ends up having to do and travel a LOT more than he should, it seems.
But what about earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?
Well, I've spent most of my life living in earthquake country (CA) so occasional ground shaking doesn't bother me much. I would gladly trade a 6 month Florida hurricane season for a rare Hawaii hurricane. And since oceanfront property in Hawaii is outside our budget, the biggest threat of flooding would come from a backed up toilet. (For the record, only cold and snow would cause me to rethink living in Hawaii.)
So next month I head back over to Kona to close on the new condo. Though we won't be retiring and moving there full-time for several years, we'll have a place to call home during future visits. I promise to take more pictures and post them on my blog. Just got a cool broadband card so I can bring my laptop and stay better connected while on travel, which looks to be a lot in 2007.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (which means "Happy New Year" in Hawaiian)