Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fabulous Family Fun!

Ridiculous.  That's what we kept saying all week.  Everything was ridiculously fantastic.

Our 8 days on the Big Island of Hawaii with Brad's company trip (Valve Software) had it all.  First and foremost, the five of us were together.  Throw in opulent accommodations at the Fairmount Orchid, loads of extras care of one of the most incredible companies I've ever heard of....and well, it was ridiculous!
Everyday we received an agenda of events we could participate in.
Valve thought of EVERYTHING.  There were two games rooms --- one for teens and one for younger kids.  Both had video games (of course!!), air hockey, games, and refreshments.
Magnus and Roger (aka RaRa) playing air hockey

The 3 boys playing video games
There was also a Hospitality Suite -- complete with a candy buffet, granola bars, fresh fruit, iced Kona coffee and a photo booth!

Playing in the sand in 2017.....

....and in 1987.

Every afternoon, games were set up for the kids on the lawn near the pool.  There was a "snack of the day" that was always a hit with everyone.

On April 2nd I reached a big milestone birthday and turned 60.  It was fantastic being with those I love the most and I will never forget it.  I jokingly said that Gabe (Valve's co-founder and President) threw me a Luau for my 60th -- it was another spectacular event with more than 700 people attending!
We started the celebration with cocktails that were a treat from my
brother Russ and his wife Margaret who coordinated with Brad to arrange it all.
Leis....Mai Tais....Yes and Mahalo to everything!
The dinner was amazing and then the kids were taken away for a crash course in hula dancing before coming on stage to entertain.  There's little Magnus in the back row intently following the leader.

Gorgeous sunsets were a nightly occurrence
I remember my first helicopter ride was when I was 9 and my dad, brother and I went over the badlands of South Dakota and it was thrilling.  Since then, I've been a few more times and lucky enough to fly over Victoria Falls in Zambia with Brad, Anette and Roger, then over Uluru at sunrise in Australia with Roger.  We just couldn't pass up this opportunity to fly over the Big Island and to see the volcano with our family.  And seeing it through Magnus' eyes just made a great experience even better.

The last time I was near a helicopter it was the LifeFlight taking Roger to hospital.  That was a matter of life and death.  This trip was all about life.
Anette and Magnus were beside the pilot --- love this picture!

My usual poker face.

Kilauea Volcano has been erupting since 1983 - a year after Brad and Anette were born!

A lava tube flowing into the ocean

Love that man.  He's given me so many opportunities to test myself and embrace the unknown...and to seek out adventures.
We had a "ridiculous" suite with Brad, Anette and Magnus:  2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, dining room, 3 lanais....It gave us lots of opportunity to be together and we spent a lot of time laughing.

The beautiful beach area.  The quiet bay had lots of fish swimming in gorgeous coral, and there were huge turtles just past the breakwater that we had the privilege of swimming near
We had another fun "Magnus Day" while Brad and Anette were in a Valve golf tournament.  We went to a Seahorse Farm near Kona and it was a real highlight of the trip.  There, the 3 of us learned about seahorses and saw how they are being raised from wee little specs to some that are well over 6 inches long.  The best part was at the end of the tour when we all had a chance to hold one.  Magnus listened very carefully on how to do it, and he did a great job.
By touching fingertips together, the seahorses could curl their tails around our fingers.  A very special experience.

Magnus watching RaRa holding a seahorse

Crystal clear water.  Magnus is a true water baby and loved every minute in the water.
Anette took out a paddle boat and Magnus happily hopped on and off and even did a couple of yoga poses!

The black lava was a stunning contrast to the blue ocean

We played a LOT of Old Maid! 

My boys.

It's all fun.

Hanging loose with Anette.  So much fun.
Magnus being a cowboy and having a ball as he bucked on a floating bull!

Our last night dinner together
So what kind of company would fly 400 employees and their families, and enable extended family and friends to take part in many of the perks and activities?  Here are some fun Valve facts:

  • Number years Valve has existed:  20 
  • Number of full time employees:  342
  • Number of games Valve has shipped:  27
  • Duration of player hours of all Dota 2 (one their most popular games) matches played last year: 3.57 billion
  • Approximate number of hours that have passed since humans first appeared on Earth:  1.75 billion
  • Number of CS:GO players per month:  11.1 million
  • Number of employees and spouses participating in Valve's in-house personal training program:  245
The Valve Hawaii handbook included a note to spouses:  "This is not a normal business trip.  It is a vacation.  If your Valve employee is spending too much time (say...thirty seconds!) talking "shop" in front of you when you'd rather be building a sand castle shaped like Barack Obama's head, or drink 7 Mai Tais, or do literally anything else --- report them to the nearest Valve Vacation Compliance Officer."

There are many reasons Valve is so successful and attracts talented and passionate people to work there. They just really get it, and Roger and I are so happy and proud that Brad's hard work has led him there.

It was a truly ridiculous week, but oh, so very happy being with my amazing family.  We can't thank Brad and Anette for letting us join them on this trip.

My 50's were full of adventure, and I expect my 60's will be absolutely sensational.  Bring it on.

"If you never did you should.  These things are fun and fun is good."
                                                                            Dr. Seuss

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