Cassie had been to a lot of places, but she had never been to Hawaii. Her parents had been talking about it since the twins were born. They had always wanted to go, but they wanted the entire family to enjoy what the islands have to offer –
the warm beaches without sunstroke, the blue ocean without needing those irritating floaties, the delectable seafood that little ones aren’t supposed to eat.
Cassie was a swift arrival after they were married, and the twins were a nice surprise soon after. So, Hawaii had to wait.
In the meantime, the family enjoyed all sorts of activities and vacations together. All three kids grew up playing T-ball and taking swimming lessons in the summer.
They had been to several national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore.
They had been to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
They went to the State Fair every year, had visited eight Six Flags parks, attended dozens of professional sports games, and still Cassie, Stevie, and Davie managed to get straight A’s in school.
Now that Cassie was heading into high school, which meant she would have a lot of growing-up stuff to do, the Arlington family decided it was finally time to make the big leap: HAWAII!!
The unanimous decision was to visit the Big Island to see something they had never seen before: a VOLCANO. The Arlingtons packed up for their winter break vacation getaway to paradise.
“I wonder if we’ll see snow while we’re there, too?” Mr. Arlington asked as they drove to the airport.
“SNOW?!” Davie exclaimed. “It doesn’t snow in Hawaii, dad.”
“Sure it does. Way up at the highest point in Hawaii, on Mauna Kea.” Mrs. Arlington explained.
Wow, Cassie thought. An island of ice and fire, raging seas, and adventures galore. She could hardly contain her excitement.
The plane ride was long, but the view of the ocean beneath them, beckoning them to come made the ride much more pleasant.
Stevie thought he saw a whale, but then realized it was just a barge.
After landing in Kailua-Kona, the Arlingtons rented a car for the rest of the trek to their resort. As soon as they arrived in their hotel room, they went straight to bed. They were exhausted, and wanted to be up-and-at-‘em as early as possible.
Bright and early the next morning the family geared up for a helicopter tour. Mr. Arlington thought that it would be best to start with a broad-scope experience of the island, then start in on the ground-level activities. Mrs. Arlington couldn’t wait to do everything – especially shopping. Stevie couldn’t wait to go ziplining. Davie couldn’t wait get in the water for some snorkeling. Cassie wanted to tackle that mountain and see some Hawaiian snow. But first, they were going to peer down at the smoldering volcano.
The view was breathtaking, and you could see everything, including Mauna Kea. Cassie was disappointed; there was no snow. But there were still two weeks left on this vacation, and she knew in her heart that she would see a Hawaiian Snowflake.
After the helicopter tour, the Arlingtons stopped to eat and take a rest watching the ocean. They decided to go snorkeling next, since there was a surf shop nearby and they were right on the beach already. Davie was thrilled. He bought a disposable waterproof camera so that he could take pictures of the reef fish. Stevie showed off how deep he could swim down, and found some nice shells. Cassie had fun, too, but she couldn’t get the idea of seeing snow in Hawaii out of her mind. The long day of swimming had them spent. After a generous luau dinner, the Arlingtons crawled back to their room and fell fast asleep.
Stevie was awake before the rest of them, dressed, ready to go, and impatiently sitting in the corner chair pouring over the ziplining brochures. As soon as he saw his mom’s eyes flutter he began clamoring for everyone to get up.
“Get up lazy bodies, we’ve got adventures to attend to!!” Stevie shouted. He was always a bit dramatic.
Cassie groaned, and rolled over. She wasn’t as excited about ziplining as she was about going to Kohala because it was near Mauna Kea. Maybe she would get a peak at some Hawaiian snow today.
They packed up the car and headed north to Kohala. It wasn’t nearly as close to Mauna Kea as it looked on the map. Cassie sighed. Another day, maybe, for Hawaiian Snowflakes.
Ziplining was a blast for everyone except for their dad, who got a little queasy looking down from the top. He couldn’t even open his eyes as he flew back down to earth. Everyone cheered when he made it to the bottom without passing out. Their mom went three times. Davie thought it was okay, but he had his sights set on learning to surf now. He was definitely going home a merman. Stevie loved it, and insisted on heading to other ziplining sights. Cassie agreed; the other sights would put them closer to Mauna Kea and her elusive Hawaiian Snowflakes.
“Look, Cassie!!” Davie shouted as they rounded the turn towards Laupahoehoe. “Hawaiian Snow!!”
Cassie gasped as she looked around for the flakes dancing in the sky. Then she saw it. A shave ice stand.
“Very funny, Davie!!” she retorted, punching him playfully in the arm.
“Not as funny as you expecting snow in Hawaii!!” Stevie added.
“Hush, fellas. Don’t make fun of your sister. You just might end up with egg on your face,” their dad said. That ended that conversation. The family rode in silence the rest of the way to the next ziplining adventure.
After the second round of ziplining, everyone had had their fill. Cassie found herself craving shave ice. Perhaps it was an omen? Maybe getting a taste of some “Hawaiian Snow” would bring on the real thing. The Arlingtons headed back towards the shave ice stand for the famous treat on their way back to the resort for the rest of the day. Their mom wanted to do some shopping and sunbathing by the pool, and their dad wanted to do some journaling about the trip so far. Davie went shopping with their mom for some surfing gear, Stevie watched the videos of the family’s ziplining, and Cassie picked up a book about hiking Mauna Kea from the gift shop at the resort. She was officially obsessed. At this point, it wasn’t even about seeing snow in Hawaii anymore, but about conquering Mauna Kea itself.
The Arlington family Hawaii vacation rolled on. Cassie kept reading more and more about Mauna Kea. Davie learned how to surf, and actually got pretty good at it. Dad and Stevie took another helicopter tour, and went to Volcanoes National Park. Mom shopped until she dropped (lots of money, that is). Everyone was having a great time, but Cassie desperately wanted to go to Mauna Kea. The rest of the family was not so keen on it. The hike was touted as being rather difficult, and not recommended for kids. Cassie pleaded, and pleaded.
“Everyone else has done exactly everything that they wanted to do. All I want to do is touch this mountain, and you won’t even drive 20 miles to spend an hour somewhere. It’s not fair!!”
“You’re right, sweetheart. It’s not fair,” her dad replied. “So tomorrow, we are going to see Mauna Kea.”
The next morning at sunrise, the family loaded up the car once again and took the drive to the east from the resort. When they arrived, they were surprised at the number of activities available, including a star gazing program that their mom was particularly thrilled about. They decided to spend the whole day touring the area. Since it was Cassie’s personal destination choice, they allowed her to roam alone. She was 14, and had a cell phone, and the area didn’t seem all that large or dangerous.
Cassie hiked up a little here and there, took a lot of pictures, and was minding her own business doing the usual tourist thing when a young man approached her.
“Aloha, I’m Kahiko. Are you having a good time?” He sure was handsome.
Cassie blushed. “Yes, but I really wish I could hike to the summit. Or that it would snow. I would love to see a Hawaiian Snowflake.”
“Well, come with me,” Kahiko said. “I’ll take you up higher. Then maybe we can see the snow.”
Cassie was mesmerized.
“Let me go get my friend Hokukalani first. She would want to come with us.”
Cassie was a little dismayed that Kahiko had a female friend, but she was excited at the same time. Hawaiians were going to take her up Mauna Kea!! This was better than any snorkeling, or ziplining, or surfing. Her friends at home were going to be so jealous.
“Alright, let’s head up!!” Cassie heard a young woman shout. “Nice to meet you, Cassie. I’m Hokukalani. But you can just call me Kalani.” She was a large girl – tall, and very stout. She was very intimidating in stature, but her voice was so calm and gentle Cassie knew she was in good hands.
The trio set off up the mountain, careful to follow the trail instead of wandering off of the beaten path. It was cold, and Cassie recognized the nip in the air that usually signaled snow. Her heart was pounding; she didn’t know if it was from the hike, or from anticipation. It took them a few hours to make it to the top. As soon as Cassie saw the telescope, she gasped.
“Oh, no!! The stargazing program!! If my parents realize that I hiked up here without telling them they are going to be so mad!! They are probably worried sick looking for me right now!!”
“Relax,” Kahiko said. “Look up.”
Cassie looked up into the sky and was in awe. The first snow had just started to fall, and in the sunlight the flurries swirled in bright pink, blue, and purple hues as they fell to the ground. It was like watching a rainbow fall from the sky.
“It’s like watching a rainbow fall from the sky, isn’t it?” Kalani said. “I suppose it is; the drops of rain frozen, dancing in the sun.”
“And don’t worry about your parents, Cassie. We’ll be back down way before the stargazing begins. It’s only 2 o’clock.”
Cassie still couldn’t believe that she had seen Hawaiian Snowflakes. As the three of them made their way back down the mountain, the snow continued to fall. Cassie kept looking behind her, taking pictures. It was absolutely delightful the way the snowflakes twinkled in the dwindling sunlight. They made it to the Visitor’s Center just in time to meet up with her family for an early dinner before the stargazing program.
“Cassie, honey, you look exhausted!!” her mom exclaimed. “What have you been doing all day?”
“I had the most amazing time. I met two local Hawaiians that offered to take me up the mountain to see if it was snowing. And it is!! I’d like for you all to meet my new friends, Kahiko and Kalani.”
Cassie looked beside her and saw that there wasn’t anyone around.
“Where did they go?” Cassie was so confused. They were just right there. How did they get away so fast?
“Sis, I saw you coming from mile away down the trail. You were alone,” Davie said with seriousness in his eyes.
“I saw you too, sweetheart,” her father added. “I didn’t see anyone with you.”
“Huh,” Cassie shrugged. “I guess I just didn’t notice them say goodbye. Let’s go eat, I’m starving!!”
“I don’t see any snow,” Stevie whispered to Davie.
“Cut it out,” their mom scolded. “She’s probably dizzy from the altitude or something.”
The stargazing program was amazing, and everyone enjoyed learning the history of Mauna Kea. By the time the program was over, it was getting late. The Arlingtons trudged back to the resort and fell into bed. All of except for Cassie, that is. She stayed up, staring out the window at the stars. She could see the snow falling on Mauna Kea glowing in the light of the big, full moon. She reminisced fondly of her time with Kahiko and Kalani. She knew in her heart that they were real. But really, where did they get off to so quickly? She began to yawn, so she took herself to bed. She had the sweetest dreams she has ever had that night.
The next morning, Cassie was the first out of bed. She couldn’t wait to look out of the window and see a beautiful, snowcapped Mauna Kea. She leapt up, ran to the window, and threw open the curtain. The sunlight woke the rest of her family up immediately.
There it was: Pure, glistening white snow capping the desert-like mountain that they had just visited the day before.
Cassie grinned, turned to her family who were still groggily squinting in their beds and said: “See. I told you it was snowing.”