Last year, hubby and I were lucky enough to take a magnificent trip to Maui (Diana stayed with my parents). He won the trip from a drawing at his company's Christmas party, or we would never have gone. Before we even left the island, we were talking about coming back. When we got back from out week in paradise, we learned that not only was Diana not pleased that we left her for a week, but that now she's afraid that every time we visit Grandma, she's going to get left again. "We are not going to the Hawai'i," she tells us. "I promise," she parrots our reassurances.
Well, then we discovered the Hawai'ian Airlines frequent flyer program. And the Microsoft Live Search Club. Now it's a question of when, not if, we're going. Dad is a happy homebody, but Mom wants to go. And we're not leaving Diana behind again, especially knowing how well she flies. (That trip to California was a breeze!) Traveling with Diana will mean that we don't get to do some things, at least not all of us together. I don't know if we will be able to take her to a luau - Diana, eat kalua pig, and *snort* poi? [insert maniacal laughter here] Unless there's cheese pizza and chicken nuggets at the buffet, we can forget that.
So now that we have established that we are going to the islands, we had to discuss which island in the chain. Maui was wonderful and I would love to go back, but it's not quite Diana-friendly (she's a pretty urban kid). The Big Island of Hawai'i doesn't have enough paved surface, either. Lana'i, Kauai'i and Moloka'i - too exclusive and rustic (not enough fast food). That leaves O'ahu - the most densely populated, urban and modern of the island chain.*
Unfortunately, O'ahu would be my last choice, for those very reasons. I like to get off the beaten path. Diana's idea of "off the beaten path" means getting off the Metra train and walking on a sidewalk to the aquarium. But if we're going to all have a good time, concessions must be made. And in this particular case, catering to the needs of an autistic child firmly entrenched in the 21st century. While Marc and I were perfectly happy with our Hana guesthouse room with no television (our Ka'anapali room did), Diana would be mortally offended by such a thing; although she was pretty good in Oceanside without 24/7 TV noise. We grownups, we were in Hawai'i - who needs TV?!
So what does this mean? It means that for every Diana-friendly activity, there will be something she doesn't want to do as much [read: "at all"]. So, daughter-dear, that means "First we go to Shangri La, then we go to the zoo." Fortunately, she understands perfectly well "first this, then that," even if she doesn't much care for whatever "this" may be. We have time to plan, so we also have time to work on her attitude toward Hawai'i - she already loves flying, the beach and hotel swimming pools, so we're more than halfway there!
*Population by island (2000), rounded to the nearest 1000:
O'ahu: 876,000 (49 McDonald's, 23 in Honolulu alone!)
Hawai'i: 149,000 (9 McDonald's)
Maui: 118,000 (11 McDonald's)
Kaua'i: 58,000 (5 McDonald's)
Moloka'i: 7,000 (0 McDonald's)
Lana'i: 3,000 (0 McDonald's)