Posts Tagged ‘hawaii’

Day 6

Sea turtles and submarines.

Sunrise over the volcanoes…a great way to start the day.  We were staying on the wrong side of the island for the full view (though the right one for sunset), but still it was pretty.  Then a walk along the beach, where we saw the honu, green sea turtles, which are native to Hawaii and enjoy eating the algae along the rocks as well as the cooler waters from the freshwater springs that vent out into the ocean.  They’re so beautiful and peaceful to watch.

Next was our underwater tour aboard the Atlantis submarine.  My husband pointed out that we’d been on the island (walking), over it (in a helicopter), and through it (lava tube).  Now we were witnessing it underwater, so we’d seen it from just about every angle imaginable.  The array of fish was amazing—longnosed and ornate butterflyfish, yellow tangs, silver dollar damselfish, parrotfish.  We learned that some of the white sand we’d been walking on the whole time came from parrotfish poop.   It’s true!  Much like owls don’t digest the bones of the animals they eat and excrete them in discrete little pellets, parrotfish can’t digest the bits of coral they ingest and so poop it out again.  One parrotfish can excrete a ton of white sand every year!

Unfortunately, except for the photos around the wrecks, none of our pics turned out very well, given the thickness of the porthole glass and other factors.  We bought the CD of our touristy picture taken before we got on the boat that would take us to the submarine because we were told it would have other pics of our submarine trip as well.  The implication was that they’d be of the ocean life, etc., but when we got it home, we were very disappointed to discover that it was only of the other passengers who got their pictures taken before we cast off, so be warned.  We saw two wrecks, our favorite, of course, being the Naked Lady (see story).

Overall, while it was pretty incredible being underwater in the submarine and Ty loved it, I’ve decided that I will learn to scuba, because I’d like to get a lot closer to everything than I can through portholes and the end of a snorkel.  Speaking of which, after shopping (because, you know, shopping) and tasting some more Kona coffee, we came back to the hotel and while the others rested, I snorkeled.  I didn’t go far or for long, because I knew I was supposed to have a buddy, but I’m glad I went.  The parrotfish, convict fish and some I wouldn’t identify were beautiful.  Of course, I’d used up the very last picture on my underwater camera just before the group of ornate and longnose butterflyfish swam right beneath me—close enough to touch, though I didn’t.  Then they turned around and swam back.  It was one of the high points of the trip for me.  I’m totally addicted to snorkeling, though my mask and snorkel leave something to be desired, and I’m definitely going to have to invest in much higher quality equipment.

The rest of the day was dinner, drinks, a live band in the hotel restaurant, more sea turtles and another amazing sunset.

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It’s a little odd to be posting my vacation pics so long after my return, but live (and work) have intervened, and I hate to leave an incomplete travel journal, so I continue with:

Day 5

One word —volcanoes.

We started the day bright and early with a trip to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.  I give it the full title here, because our GPS was strangely unable to find it under just Volcanoes National…

OMG, let me just say—amazing.  To be standing on top of one of the two still-active volcanos (well, potentially three, but Hualalai hasn’t erupted since 1901), smelling the sulfur and seeing the steam vents still steaming, feeling the heat rising from them…incredible.  We took many, many pictures of the Kilauea Crater, the vents, the amazing (cooled) lava flows…and then decided that since the current volcanic activity was outside the scope of the park and not hikeable, that we would take a helicopter tour over a hot spot.

This was a first for all of us.  Ty was incredibly nervous, as were we all just bit, especially after the crazy tourist flight Pete and I had taken in a small plane over the Grand Canyon years ago where we were buffeted around like a kite in a high wind.  But the helicopter flight was surprisingly smooth and exciting.  From both the Jagger Museum at Volcano National Park and from our pilot, we learned about the two types of lava: a’ā & pāhoehoe.

a’ā is much more jagged and rough.  It’s a cooler lava and so solidifies more quickly.

pāhoehoe is a hotter flow and when it cools is smoother and often ropy in appearance.

We saw first hand what it did to the Royal Gardens subdivision, destroying it but for part of a carport that could still be seen and a portion of road, which is now, of course, inaccessible in the midst of a vast lava field.  There was no flowing lava still to be seen, but we did see hot spots, like red glowing coals, among the unremitting dark of all that lava.  We also saw the town of Kalapana (I think it was), which had been mostly destroyed, rebuilt and…well, you get the picture.

Because rain stopped us from seeing waterfalls as well on the flight, we then drove to Akaka State Park to see Akaka and Kahuna Falls.  They were impressive (see pics), but what really blew me away was the vegetation and the sheer size and variety of it all.  It looked like Jurassic Park, which was apparently filmed in Hawaii, with trees, leaves, vines and bamboo that dwarfed us in comparison.  There were flowers that I couldn’t identify and had never seen anywhere else.  In a word, it was magical.

We also saw our third—third!—wild mongoose.  When we saw our first (at Hanauma Bay), we thought it was a light-colored ferret, but local educational materials have shown us the light.  Unfortunately, mongoose are crazy-fast, and we were never able to get a pic.

On the way “home,” we stopped at Tex’s Drive-in in Honokaa, where Su got another loco moco, and we all tried their famous malasadas, square sugar-coated donuts filled with whatever  you’d like.  We liked chocolate and Boston cream.

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Hawaii – Day 4

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
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On to Kona.  The views from the plane just getting from Oahu to the Big Island were amazing (see slideshow).

We played the first day pretty low key, taking the historical tour at our hotel—the Keauhou Resort, which sits on the site of three ancient heiau (temples).  Sadly, on is accurate for one of them, which they’ll have to tear out the pool area in order to restore.  Restoration has already begun on the other two, using the stacked stone building technique—no mortar—which allows the water to flow in and out rather than offer a solid wall for its force to act upon, a much better method of construction for the location.  The heiau most directly out from the hotel was dedicated to royal ritual, introducing new heirs to the people, saying good-bye to royalty who’ve passed.  It also acted as a calendar, with a set of stones to orient the people on the time of year.  Since there’s very little climate change, planting, sowing, and all of that has to be determined by external factors, like the position of the sun, because while crops could be grown all year round, rotation and renewal were necessary for sustainability.  This is something our tour guide emphasized.  While the museums and historical videos will tell you, for instance, that something like 80,000 birds were used in the making of the royal feathered cloak, they don’t tell you that the bird catchers used a catch and release system, where they’d put a sticky substance on the branches of favored trees and take just a few feathers from each bird before releasing them, alive.  Now, I don’t know that it was always this way (Wikipedia says not), but it’s certainly nicer to believe than the alternative.

The Kailua-Kona side of the island has freshwater springs that are partly responsible for attracting many of the fish, rays and sea turtles.  We learned about how those who came to the islands could find fresh water by looking for the coconut and another tree that looked like a slender banyan but had a name starting with a p that I didn’t catch.  Both grew beside fresh water, and dowsing on the side where the roots grew thickest would be likely to lead to a spring.

It was a lovely tour, after which Su and I explored the tide pools while the guys napped.  Later, we had a lovely dinner (and some of us too many mai tais) in the lanai bar, which opened on a perfect and unobstructed view of the sunset.

Starting with some stunning news before I get to more stunning travel photos: Chloe Neill‘s wonderful new Chicagoland Vampires novel, BITING COLD, has hit the New York Times bestseller lists at #27 for Trade Fiction and #34 for E-books and the USA Today bestseller list at #79.  Go, Chloe!

Also, my new Latter-Day Olympians novel, CRAZY IN THE BLOOD, came out last week while I was off on vacation (bad timing on my part!) so I haven’t done nearly as much promo as I’d like.  I’d love it, of course, if you all want to run out and buy a copy!  (And of the first one, BAD BLOOD, if you don’t have that already.)  Gods, gorgons, murder and mayhem…what’s not to like.  Did I mention very hot heroes?  No?  Bad me, no cookie.  BTW, I’m over at Fiction Reboot today, talking with Brandy Schillace about all things writing. Hope you’ll stop by!

And now, without further ado…

Hawaii – Day 3

(note: for some reason, the slideshow wants to include the covers; sorry about that!)

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We started day three on the pool deck of our hotel—the wind blowing, a guitar-player /singer serenading us, and a hula dancer performing the words to the songs.  I could have sat there all day eating (Ty’s favorite thing was the taro donuts) and listening, but we had to rush off to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before all the tickets were sold/given away for the day.  The tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial are free, but they’re first come, first served, and even arriving by 9 a.m. our allotted time for the movie and ferry to the memorial wasn’t until 11:45.  This was just fine with us, as it gave us time to visit the Pacific Aviation Museum and for Ty to try out the flight simulator there.  The museum was fascinating and heart-breaking all at once.

The USS Arizona Memorial was peaceful and grave, in every sense of the word.  Oil still rises from the sunken ship, as though it’s still leaking mermaid tears for the fallen sailors.  Some of those who survived have chosen to be interred with their fallen fellows upon their deaths and have had their ashes returned to the ship.  It was very sobering.

From there, Pete, Su and Ty went to the Bowfin Submarine, but since I wasn’t feeling well, I stayed behind to watch the drinks, which weren’t allowed on board.

Next was Iolani Palance.  I’d wanted to bring Ty there because I remembered it from my trip to Hawaii with my family when I was about his age.  (Though I mis-remembered the statue of King Kamehameha as being in front of the palace rather than the government building across from in, but then, it was (cough) thirty years ago.)  Unfortunately, we arrived too late for a guide, but we were able to get an audio tour, and while it was still interesting and gave some nice history, it left out some of the more intriguing things I’d heard as a kid, like that royalty (as was not uncommon) married family, often brothers and sisters, until the missionaries arrived and put a stop to it.  The woodwork at the Palace was particularly impressive, and the inlay gorgeous.

Sunset was spent on Punchbowl Crater.  We couldn’t get into the cemetery at the very top, because the gates closed just prior to our arrival, but we sat near the summit and watched the sun go down, taking enough pictures to clearly mark us as tourists…as though there might be any doubt.  It was peaceful and glorious.

Day 2

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Starts out on Waikiki Beach, journaling and getting hydrated before running off to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  From too far down the beach to capture on film, we saw a pair of surfers, one on top of the other doing tricks as the waves carried them toward shore…amazing.

The drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center itself was gorgeous.  I took pics as we drove, and we stopped at a scenic spot to get great photos of Mokoli’i Island and other gorgeous sites.  We also stopped to shop (mummus for mom & grandma from me, a robe for me from Pete, and a coral necklace for Su) and grab an early lunch.  Su got the loco moco she’d been craving (a beef patty over steamed rice with an egg and gravy on top of that).  I went for the chicken curry, which came to me looking a lot like school lunch from when I was a kid, but tasted wonderfully.

At the Cultural Center, we started at Samoa, where the warrior who did the cultural presentation was informative and amusing.  We learned how to make fire, how to open a coconut on a sharpened stake and get the milk (scraping out the meet, wringing it out and filtering it through the shell fiber) and a little of the language.  We also got to watch two strong young men (two because we enjoyed this presentation so much that we came back for more) climb a coconut tree.  In the Hawaii presentation we learned a little hula and the correct ways to pronounce Honolulu and ukulele, among other things.  In Aotearoa we learned about their greetings and their dance.  Ty later tried the poi balls…with limited success <g>.  In Tonga we marveled at their beautiful textiles and construction, including an amazing two-hulled canoe, which is what was used for travel between islands (and the way that people came to settle the various Hawaiian islands).  Impressive, the thought of crossing an ocean in such a craft.  Pete, the knot guy, was, of course, focused on the lashings.

We stayed for Ha, the Breath of Life, their big show at the end, which was absolutely beautiful.  I loved best where the big, strapping warriors danced and fought, but Pete’s mileage on that would likely vary.  I’m fairly certain the fire dancers were Ty’s favorites.

Before I start posting away with my Hawaii pics, three quick things that I want to mention:

-this Wednesday, August 15th, Steven Harper, author of the amazing Clockwork Empire steampunk series as well as Writing the Supernatural Novel and many other books, will be doing a virtual chat on Shindig.  It’s a VERY cool thing, and you won’t want to miss it.  Click here to RSVP for the event.  Very important!

-a little over a week later, three fab authors, Rachel Caine, Chloe Neill and Christina Henry will be doing a Knight Agency chat on Twitter at 8 p.m. ET.  You won’t want to miss it!

-if you’re an instant gratification junkie, you can get a start on hearing from Chloe Neill, who’s Once and Future Podcast interview is up today.  Anton Strout does such a great job with his guests, and Chloe is so interesting that you’ll definitely want to check it out.

And now…

Hawaii Day 1.

Your cast of characters:

Su: the whitest  brightest red  peelingest person we know

Pete: knot guy, chauffer and comic

Ty: turtle boy, tiki-talker

Me: um, just me

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We arrived in paradise at about four o’clock local time, determined to at least see the beach and have a tropical drink before dropping like stones given the time difference and jet lag.  We succeeded and witnessed a beautiful sunset on top of it.

For our first full day, we headed to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling.  The caldera itself is gorgeous.  The color of the water is…perfect, and the fish are so used to swimmers that they’re totally unintimidated by our presence.  I wish I could have captured on camera everything I was able to witness with my eyes—the shimmering colors, the quicksilver movements of some of the fish, particularly the huge and most beautifully marked parrotfish, which was always in such a hurry.  I can’t wait to develop the pictures from my underwater camera to see how they turn out.  Hopefully, the silt and non-stop motion of the sea life will not defeat me.  I live in hope.

We arranged to go to a luau that evening, and had a wonderful time.  Our escort, Georgie, was a hoot.  She kept us entertained and informed, and we learned about the spirit of aloha as well as many other words in the Hawaiian language:

Smile = mino’aka

Kiss = honi

Until we meet again (which is what you say instead of aloha for good-bye, because that one is final) = A hui hou kākou

Pig = pua’a

Beef = pipi

We ate pineapple coleslaw, teriyaki beef, kalua pig, etc.  I’d been looking forward to the kalua pig ever since we began planning the trip, because I remember it as being the best stuff on earth (whole pig seasoned only with sea salt, wrapped in leaves and slow cooked all day in a deep pit), but, unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing at this luau as I remember it from when I was a kid.  We drank tequila sunrises (me), mai tais (Pete & Su) and virgin pina coladas (Ty).  We watched traditional dances and even learned some hula.  Su is extremely thankful that the pics of this didn’t turn out at all, so there are no blackmail photos forthcoming.  (Sorry, Judi, I tried.)  We saw an amazing fire dancer and just generally had a wonderful time.