Chaos to Kona: This Will Be Epic

SFO –> AUS –> SJC –> LAX –> KOA –> LAX –> SFO: This will be epic.

It happened like this: my brother’s family was going to Hawaii. It’s an annual thing. My sister-in-law has a good family friend who is famously, fabulously wealthy, and owns a private villa along the Kona coast (“It’s like your own personal Four Seasons,” my parents told me). They go down and stay at the house every year, usually with a big group of people in January (when you can watch the migrating whales from the pool deck). The imminent arrival of my new baby niece pushed the party back till the end of May this year, which gave me enough time to scrape together airfare and justify taking a proper vacation (travelers don’t vacation, see below…). I roped my hard-working best friend into getting some time off from her fancy scientist job and come along with me.

Aside from the not-paying-for-a-place-to-stay bit, it’s kind of the classic American vacation: a relaxing one-week Hawaiian beach vacation. We’re renting a car (which I’ve never done while traveling), traveling with family, have nothing on the agenda other than morning yoga, noontime naps and all-day sunbathing. Which means, of course, it was nearly impossible to justify. I don’t relax when I travel; that’s not the point. If I need to relax, I’ll sleep till noon and go eat ice-cream cones in Dolores Park. I travel to see the world, dig in, explore, run myself ragged on third-class busses. When I travel, virtually no sacrifice is too big: I’ll bankrupt myself, take as much time off work as I can without getting fired. But when it came to taking 5 days off work and spending $436 to fly to Hawaii, I balked. It seemed like a lot to do nothing, learn nothing, gain nothing but a couple pounds from my brother’s bad-ass cooking.

I took it on as a sort of spiritual challenge: a traveler vacationing. In a lot of ways, it’s going to be my first vacation in 5 years. Unwinding, unplugging. But of course, I’ll have to write about that. And bring my laptop along. And then a friend gave me some tips on non-touristy places to go on the Big Island. An independent traveler tackling the most touristy place in the US? Sounds like a killer article…

Already, I was chipping away at the “vacation” element of my vacation. And then came Chaos.

It’s the dirtbaggiest, DIY-est music festival of the year. Organized by one dude with a blog and Xeroxed flyers, Chaos is Tejas brings out some of the biggest names in punk/crust/sludge/metal for four days of sheer debauchery in Austin, Texas. Friends had been road-tripping out since its inception 6 years ago. I finally went 2 years ago, and partied like I was 15 (minus the malt liquor and methamphetamines). I stayed with a tattooer/artist friend of mine, and ran around the streets till 4 in the morning, lighting off fireworks at after parties and making out in the back of a truck with some dude while his friends careened us around the city. And that was stone-cold sober.

I remembered the festival as being in early May. A tight squeeze, but I could fit it before Hawaii, right?

Turns out Chaos in Tejas (which has entered the digital age this year with a Facebook page) is Memorial Day weekend. And I was leaving for Hawaii on that Sunday. Some friends were planning to drive out. A hair-brained scheme began to hatch.

The road-tripping part had to get chopped out, but here’s how it’s ended up working out:

Wednesday: Fly to Austin with Liz and Melissa.

Thursday – Saturday: Rock our effing brains out. Killer bands from all over the world playing nearly 20 different shows. 3 single girls in a sea of crusty boys: think “Girls Gone Wild,” but with more tattoos.

Sunday: Fly from Austin to San Jose. Meet Alicia at the airport. Fly from San Jose to LA, where we’ll connect and fly to Kona. Grab our rental car and traverse the dark turns of some deserted highway, arriving at the gate to the mile-long driveway.

Monday-Saturday: Chill-ax.

Saturday night: Red-eye back to LA.

Sunday morning: Fly back to San Jose. Get a ride back to Oakland. Be at work by 2:30.

It’ll be one end of the spectrum to another: ridiculous partying to ridiculous relaxing. Punk rock shows to private properties, dirtbags to nieces, stinky clubs to island paradise. 11 days, 2 destinations, 7 flights, 1 rental car, 3 girls in 1 cheap hotel room, 15 people in 1 oceanside villa, 99 bands and 1 me to live (and write) it all.

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5 Responses to “Chaos to Kona: This Will Be Epic”


  1. 1 Ekua May 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I’m also about to have my in country cross-cultural experience soon! Outside of the resort area and the main attractions, I think the Big Island is pretty chill and down to earth. But don’t expect to relax, as a non-vacationing type, you’ll probably end up wanting to do everything. And there is a lot to do, especially if you are renting a car. I’m sure I already mentioned that kayaking and snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay are awesome. And I didn’t get a chance to go, but I hear Waipio Valley is amazing. You wanna take my Vegas bachelorette spot and I’ll go to Hawaii in your place? 😉

  2. 2 Jessica May 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Sounds like a blast….. laying on the beach should be a nice way to recover from several days of partying your ass off at a festival that sounds f’n awesome! Def stoked to read about your thoughts on Hawaii. I’ve never been and never really had any desire to go, I’d rather spend my money on trips to Central or S. America…. But I have a friend moving out to Hono this summer and he’s trying to get me to come visit, with a free place to crash its definitely tempting. And good luck with work on Sunday, its always a little extra rough to not have a down day between travel and work, especially in the service industry!!

  3. 3 Candice May 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Oh damn, totally the kind of vacation I’d love to have right now. You will LOVE IT.

  4. 4 Lesley May 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I think I’m officially old, because my first thought after reading this was “Oh, the glory of youth.” Sounds like a blast, even though I know I could never do a trip like that anymore. 🙂 Enjoy it!

  5. 5 Abbie June 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    It’s going to be totally epic – have a great time!!!


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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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