Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Car Trip to Florida

November 20-25. As if it wasn’t bad enough to leave sunny, warm Hawaii, we arrived at Bradley Airport in Hartford, CT to their first snowfall of the season! It was only a few inches of wet snow but still . . .

Wednesday we visited Fort River School at lunch time. It was fun to say hi and let people know that yes, we really were having a great time on our retirement travels! Sandy really enjoyed saying hi to a few of his former students. We also went up to Pelham School and got to talk to Meg Gallagher during her kid's recess.

We had a fabulous time visiting friends and family: Doug and Denise, David and Betsy, Don and Melissa and David, and Ron and Karen.

We usually spend Thanksgiving at Sandy’s brother, John’s house near Albany, NY. This year we actually spent 2 nights as well. Besides John, Diane, Trevor and Gavin, we also got to visit with Sandy’s other brothers, Scott (and Amy, Megan, and Kerri) and Rob (and Nancy, Jenny, and Stephen). Julie and Michael drove up from Brooklyn for the day so we were 16 for dinner. (Scott and Libby were with friends and then visited Ann Hallisey and her kids whom Scott hadn't seen in many years.) It was relaxing and fun to visit and play cards and not have to drive home after dinner. (Pictures coming from Diane of the Thanksgiving crowd.)

Friday we drove Sandy’s mother’s car from John’s to Amherst as well as our car. We took off the license plates of the Nissan Altima (with a little elbow grease-actually Sandy had to rip them off), left it in our garage and returned the plates to the DMV. (We thought we’d save a few dollars since we won’t need the car until the beginning of June.) While in the DMV we had the pleasure of running into former neighbors, Ned and Laura Woodbridge. She was taking her learner’s permit test.

That night we celebrated Kate’s and Owen’s engagement at the Gagnon’s with Owen’s parents, Willy and Lynn, the Mullins, Chris and Chelsea (and Ryleigh and Carter), Bob and Pat Hursh, and Owen’s brother, Ally. Kate has a gorgeous antique white gold ring!

Saturday morning it was 16 degrees when we left on our 9 ½ hour drive to Stanardsville, VA (north of Charlottesville) to Sandy’s sister’s house. We’ll really miss our friends here but we’re really looking forward to warmer weather.

The drive was easy. We enjoyed the fading colors of fall and the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and Virginia. It was sunny and we didn’t hit any traffic at all.

It was great to see Gail and Dale and 2 of their grandchildren, Quillan (13) and Zeya (10). We usually only see them once a year in the summer. It’s also nice to visit people on their own turf. They live in beautiful country! We’ll be back!

Monday, Nov. 26. Columbia, SC. We left Monday morning with rain and temps expected in the 50’s. Our next stop was to visit some friends from Amherst, Harris and Patricia Pastides, who moved to Columbia in 1998. We had such a great time visiting and catching up on the latest about their children, Andrew and Katherine. Andrew recently moved to NYC as an actor and Katherine works at the Getty Villa in Santa Monica. They both have acting ties to Julie. Andrew and Julie were first in “Sound of Music” together years ago and in 1998 they were in “Runaways”. And Andrew and Katherine were both in “Anne of Green Gables” with Julie.)

We hope to visit again and spend more time in South Carolina.

Nov. 27-29. Savannah, GA. The sun came out shortly after we left. It was a beautiful drive with lots of trees on either side of the road. We thought it was going to be warmer than mid 60’s but that was better than the 40’s in Amherst!

We really had no idea that Savannah had so much history and firsts and that it was a planned city. We learned so much at the Visitor Center. The movie was a great overview of the history. There are hundreds of different kinds of tours: architectural, history, ghost, trees, etc. We decided to buy the booklet and do a self-guided walking tour and then go back and do specific tours.

In 1733, General James Oglethorpe was sent to Georgia to start a British colony (and became its governor). He laid it out in a grid about 1 mile square. In the early 1800’s it was the center for cotton export. There were lots of squares with live oaks with Spanish Moss and magnolia trees. Many had a monument, a statue, or a fountain. The little parks are gorgeous. The Forsyth square was much bigger than the rest and had this really beautiful fountain.

The streets were gorgeous with overhanging oaks. Many of the house foundations and some sidewalks and parts of streets were made out of tabby, a mixture of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water.

In the movie, "Forrest Gump" he sat on a bench in Chippewa Square waiting for the bus with his box of chocolates.

After doing the walking tour we decided to pay for 2 individual tours: the Owen-Thomas House and the Temple Mickve Israel. Both were very interesting. The house, built in 1919, had some unusual features such as indoor plumbing and a dining room with one round end. The Temple is the only Gothic Style one in the US. They have a museum showing a torah brought over in 1733 written on deerskin that was probably written in the 1400’s! (We also wanted to tour the Black History museum but missed the last tour.)

They have a very nice River Walk on River Street, renovated from the old cotton warehouses. It’s a pretty area with lots of shops and restaurants. There’s a cute fountain depicting the Savannah, the first steamship.

The Savannah School of Art and Design had a part in redesigning a number of buildings. What great experience they’re getting!

Since Savannah is noted by the Travel Channel as the most haunted city we decided we had to go on a ghost tour. There were just 4 of us and a (Hauntings Tour) who walked us around the historical section and stopped every now and then to point out a place where there had been strange occurances. It was fun to hear the stories. She said the reason that area has a lot of ghosts is that it was built on a cemetery. She told us to take pictures of certain buildings where some people’s pictures had shown orbs (balls of light), i.e. energy. Mine didn’t. One example of a ghost-inhabited building was a building that was being renovated and contractor after contractor quit because of things happening! We know it wasn’t for real but we saw this sign on a storefront.

We learned the original of some words. 1-Indentured, as in indentured servant. It refers to how they identified those people. They took impressions of their teeth. 2-A pub is short for publik tavern. 3-A mad hatter refers to the condition that afflicted many hatters (hat makers for males). They used beaver fur to make felted hats. The beaver pelt had to be soaked in a solution with mercury and then the fur was pulled off. The mercury got in the hatter’s body through his hands and eventually affected his brains and other organs. 4-Daisy Scouts, girl scouts for Kindergarten and First Graders, got their name from the nickname of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. (She was born in Savannah.) 5-Graveyard shift is a reference to the 19th century problem of accidentally burying people who were still alive. (People who died of yellow fever were taken to be buried immediately.) To prevent this from happening, the caskets had a bell-ringing device attached to fingers of the corpse so a waking "corpse" to notify the world that they were no longer dead. The graveyard attendants worked the graveyard shift.

We really liked the architecture of these. (There were actually a lot that we really liked.)

We took a beautiful drive out to Tybee Island just east of Savannah. We saw homes built near the marshes with long docks out to the inlets to either the Savannah River or the ocean. But it was very windy and cold by the beach so we didn’t walk around there. Instead, we visited the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum and learned about its history. While there we saw this hawk eating.

Nearby the lighthouse were some beautiful houses.

Last stop was Fort Pulaski near the mouth of the Savannah River. It was a really cool fort made out of tabby and then brick with a moat around it. It was supposed to be invincible. However, a significant battle, the “Siege of Savannah” took place in 1862 where cannonballs breached the walls. After 30 hours the confederates surrendered.

What a cool city! We're very glad we visited.

Next stop is June McNiven’s in New Port Richey and Club Med in the Turks & Caicos from 12/3-10. We look forward to spending parts of the rest of December with Scott and Libby and Julie and Michael.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oahu Days 1-2

Day 1, Sunday, Nov. 18. Sandy wanted to see the USS Missouri docked in Pearl Harbor. (I honestly didn't know the significance of the ship.)

It was the battleship where the WWII peace treaty was signed. Sandy's sister, Gail, had suggested we take a guided tour like she did in June. It was quite interesting and we learned a lot. Right away we were surprised to see that the deck was made of wood (we expected metal). It was 2 inch thick teak. It turns out that teak is not slippery when wet. We also watched a movie about the history of the Missouri. The last thing it did was fire its guns and cruise missiles in Desert Storm.

Also docked there was the USS Bowfin, a submarine. We took an audio tour of that. What small quarters!

I had really mixed emotions looking at these warships and the torpedoes. As interesting as they were it was sad to think so many people died because of them.

When we visited the Botanic Garden north of Hilo some people suggested we visit the Waimea Audubon Botanic Garden on the North Shore. There's a path to the Waimea Falls, through lots of trees and bushes and flowers from all over the world. The falls weren't that impressive but it interesting to see what they had done to the area. It was like a water hole with a park. There was a life guard and even bleachers set in to the side of the hill. We chose not to swim. The water was cold and it was cloudy and a comfortable temperature. We just enjoyed all the foliage, banana trees, and flowering trees (although there weren't too many of these).

We went through a driving rain to and from this garden but it was only for a few minutes.

(The GPS system continues to be very helpful to us.)

We went to a melodrama put on by a local theater group tonight. It was a lot of fun - just over-top stuff. The setting was typical Hawaiian but different for us. It was in a park under a roof. There were small round tables surrounded by 4 chairs each. These were on concrete tiers with room for about 150. They just had one set. By Hawaiian prices the ticket price was a steal, only $5.

We asked George about the ethnic makeup of the island since almost everyone at the play was caucasian. He said that about 40% caucasian, about 40% Japanese, about 14% Filipino, and the rest Korean and Hawaiian. Most of the causasian are or were military since there's a big naval base. The area where the theater is is mostly caucasian.

Day 2, Monday, Nov. 19. Our last day in Hawaii!! It was kind of sad. We'll miss the trees, the shape of the mountains, and flowers and you certainly can't complain about the temperature.

The last time we were in Oahu we spent a few hours in the Bishop Museum and needed longer so we made it a point to visit again. This time there was even a new building, a science building that was very much hands-on. We got to make a volcano erupt. We saw lava (melted volcanic rock) flow from a container. There was a great display of the entire island chain above and below the water and a computer generated model of all sides of each island. There was info on tsunamis, volcanic rocks, and plants and animals.

There was also lots of info on natives of other polynesian islands and planetarium shows. We saw how the night sky looks here. Some was a rehash from our trip to Mauna Kea with lots more added.

We took a night flight and slept fitfully on our 7 hour flight from Honolulu to Dallas. Then it was a 2 hour flight to Hartford. It was about 75 when we left Honolulu and 34 when we arrived in Hartford. And, they had just had their first snow!! Just what we wanted to see. We're glad we're back to New England to see our friends and relatives but won't be too sad to get back to Florida and some warmer weather.

Big Island Days 12-15

Day 12, Wednesday, Nov. 14. Here’s the cruise ship docked near our condo. One left Saturday night and this one arrived during the night.

They do things a little different in Hawaii in regards to plastic bottles-they’re deposit bottles. They have what they call a Transfer Station. This is for garbage, recyclables and deposit bottles (water and other drinks). Also, here there is no recycling pickup. They just started it in Oahu a couple of weeks ago. But the deposit bottles you have to collect and take in yourself.

We went exploring the northwest coast today using our guidebook as our guide. The first stop was Mauna Lani Resort. All the beaches on the islands are public so even resorts have to have their beaches public. What they do is put up signs that the lounge chairs or whatever are for their guests only. This one was gorgeous, with ancient Hawaiian fishponds still being used by the resort. Here is one surrounded by palm trees and the wooden gate that lets in the smaller fish but prevents the bigger fish from leaving. 1621 1623

We walked an historical paved trail showing lava tubes where there was evidence that natives lived here from 1500 to 1700.

The golf course shows the lava in the foreground. There are some sand traps here but mostly they’re lava traps!

We then drove down to Kiholo Bay where we followed a trail along the beach. We saw some big green turtles, black crabs, a kite surfer and a couple of really nice houses. It was pretty but not as nice as Mauna Lani Resort.

Day 13, Thursday, Nov. 15. Today we went back to the Place of Refuge to walk the 1871 Trail and go snorkeling at Honauau Bay.

We gassed up for $3.53!!

The 1871 trail was an interesting self-guided walk (with a brochure) through 3 ancient villages that stretched from mountain to sea. It ended at a sandy picnic grounds. It was a beautiful setting with palm trees and then lava down to the ocean. (No pictures. Left my camera in the car!)

The guidebook said that a short walk from the visitor center is a great snorkeling place. We saw lots of different kinds of coral and lots of different fish but today the water was a little murky and there weren’t nearly as many fish as we saw at Capt. Cook Monument. We were spoiled by that place.

Have you ever had a seahorse wrap his tail around your finger? This afternoon we had a tour of Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. It’s the only seahorse farm in the world. It was started by a couple who realized about 10 years ago that seahorses were endangered. The Chinese use them for herbal treatments and people want to buy them for their tanks and then they die. So they started this farm and sought to educate people.

We saw tanks of different ages of seahorses, fed them sea monkeys (brine shrimp), learned about their behavior, and got to have one wrap its tail around our finger. What cute animals! The male is almost constantly pregnant and doesn’t like to be held. The very enthusiastic biologist had names for these seahorses. They raise these to sell directly to people. It was really interesting! Within a few months they’ll start breeding a seahorse called a sea dragon that looks like it has seaweed growing out of it. Here’s a male (left) and a female (right) in tanks. Becky’s holding 3 year old female, Goldy.

Tonight, we went to our first luau at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. It was great food and entertainment. Before a buffet dinner they had different learning stations: make a fish from a palm leaf (my activity), learn the hula, get a maori tattoo, and learn how to open a coconut. After a delicious dinner with lots of choices (the pork was yummy), the entertainment included a history of Hawaiians, a number of songs by the emcee and hula dances with male and female dancers. Great fun out on a point in downtown Kona overlooking the water. It’s so nice to be able to do things out in the open air.

(It’s so weird to see ads on TV for Christmas where they show snow. We just can’t relate! It was up to 86 today with lots of sun.)

Day 14, Friday, Nov. 16. Today was so much fun kayaking over to a snorkeling spot.

We first took a walk about 1/2 mile towards Kailua-Kona and visited the Hulihee Palace. (Keith Kaneta, the realtor in Amherst, has this family name somewhere in his ancestors.) It was built in the early 1800's by the second governor of Hawaii for his summer home. It was damaged in Oct. 06 by an earthquake and they had to keep people out of the top floors. But we could watch a video of its history and how each room should look. It was right by the harbor wall and must have been quite some place in the 1800's!

We rented a 2 person kayak from Aloha Kayak Company in Kealakekua for a 1/2 day. At first they said the rental was from noon but we wanted to be in the water by then so we just arrived about 11:15 and fortunately there was one available. We then had to drive Hwy 11 to Napo'op'o Road to the Kealakekua harbor. We had our towels, camera and snacks in plastic grocery bags that we put under bungee cords. We started paddling out and about 5 minutes later I realized we didn't have our snorkel gear!! So back we went and then set out again. The water was a little rough but no whitecaps. It was strenuous but exhilerating. We paddled almost nonstop for about 30 minutes over to the Capt. Cook Monument where we had taken a snorkeling trip on Tuesday. And today it was sunny! (There are sometimes pods of spinner dolphins in the bay but we didn't see any.)

We were anxious to get in the water with our underwater camera. It actually was a little more murky in a couple of areas but we saw and took our 27 pictures of beautiful Hawaiian fish. Here are a couple of pictures from that camera. The small yellow fish are butterfly fish and the long yellow one is a trumpet fish.

(We try to stay connected to the world by listening to NPR whenever we can.)

Day 14, Thursday, Nov. 17. We had to fly out of Hilo on the east coast so we packed up and said goodbye to the Kona Coast. It was beautiful, warm, and sunny here.

We took Hwy 11 to 19 and then 190. This time it was a morning trip through that area so it was sunny and just looked nicer.

It was a 2 hour trip. Before we got into downtown Hilo we checked out Waielele Falls. It wasn't very big - maybe it hadn't rained that much.

In Hilo we parked downtown and walked around. We stopped into what looked like a storefront but was really a museum about the coast and marine birds and animals. It was really well done and we learned a little more.

We wandered around a farmer's market and found a van selling delicious and inexpensive Thai food for lunch.

When we first arrived 1 1/2 hours early for our Aloha Airlines flight, to make sure our luggage made it with us, we were the only ones in the lobby. Spooky! We had fun playing cribbage while we waited.

An hour after arriving in Honolulu we got our Hertz car rental. Too bad they didn't have an economy car. We had to take a 2008 Camry with 500 miles. Nice car! New sleek control panel.

We wandered around Chinatown but found a lot of stores closing. When we found a retaurant open we ordered take out.

We headed for Kuhio Beach in Waikiki to see a hula show at 6:30. After finding parking and walking 1/2 mile we arrived at the beach and found a place to sit and eat. We couldn't see much but we enjoyed the music.

We stayed again with the same couple, George and Mary Ann Wyman, in Kailua, that we stayed with when we first arrived in Hawaii. They're very nice and we enjoyed talking with them.

Big Island Days 9-11

Day 9, Sunday, Nov. 11. We had a day of complete contrasts: snorkeling and 82 at the beach and snow at the top of a volcano.

We went snorkeling 5 miles south at Kahalu’u Beach Park. We saw more fish here than other places on Kauai or here, even some we can’t identify. There were lots of other snorkelers (it’s a weekend) but not too many. The water seemed a little cool even with my wetsuit top on but we stayed in until we got the shivers.

We went on this great trip called the Mauna Kea Summit Adventure. Two guides took 13 people in two vans to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center, elevation 9200.

All the way there (about 2 hours) the guide talked about what we were passing by. They have “Kona Graffiti” which started as people put runners names in white stones and coral when they ran in the Ironman competition in the 70’s (I think). Then it just continued.

At the Visitor Center we got acclimated to the altitude and had an early dinner. By this time we all needed a light jacket. Then we drove up to the top of the mountain where there are 13 observatories (1 is down the mountain a bit). On the way we saw Haleakala, the extinct volcano on Maui, seen in this picture between 2 of the observatories.

At the top, elevation 13,796, we saw the remains of the snow from last Sunday night. They passed out down jackets with hoods since it was in the mid 30’s! It was just amazing being up this high with the clouds below and seeing Mauna Loa in the distance. We could see 175 miles.

We saw the sun set about 6 PM and then saw the moon and Jupiter rise. We were lucky in that it wasn’t really windy and there was just a sliver of the moon. We got to look at the craters of the moon and see the two moons of Jupiter through the two 13 inch telescopes they set up. This was an awesome sight! By the time it was pretty dark we had to pack up the telescopes and go down to a different site. This picture just shows the moon.

One of the neatest things about being up there was seeing stars at the horizon. Usually you don’t see them there because of light pollution. In fact, the whole island has special yellowish streetlights that affect light pollution the least. (Fellow canyon rafters: and we thought we could see a lot of stars there!) They also paved the last 3 miles from the top to cut down on dust.

At the new sight they set up the telescopes again and put on a star show. They talked about and showed us Cassiopeia, Perseus (including now bright Comet Holmes), Sygna, a star that exploded 3000 light years ago, and a couple of other stars. It was really interesting. They did a terrific job! We were picked up about 2 and were returned to the spot a little after 10. What a great night!

Day 10, Monday, Nov. 12. We decided to explore the northern shore that we missed on our way over on Saturday. Some different landscapes we saw.

Our first stop was the Pololu Lookout. It was the back side of what we saw at Waipio Valley on Saturday. We walked down a steep path that had been reinforced with logs and rocks. It was a beautiful black sand beach. I’m inspecting the many different colors of the sand: black, white, clear, brown, and green.

By mid afternoon we were at the Mauna Kea Beach (aka Kauna’oa Beach) at the Mauna Kea Resort. We were lucky to get the last parking spot. The grounds were beautiful as well as the beach. Unfortunately, the snorkeling, which the guidebook said was very good, didn’t pan out. We only saw a few fish. But the water was warm and the setting beautiful. We just enjoyed reading on the beach.

Day 11, Tuesday, Nov. 13. The ancient Hawaiians had a “Place of Refuge” where if you broke a rule (a kapu) you could save yourself from certain death by quickly getting to this place on the volcanic coast. Then you’d be forgiven. Some kapus: letting your shadow fall on a king’s shadow or speaking to royalty without permission. There’s a little self-guided walk showing temples, a very impressive 12’ high and 17’ thick Great Wall to divide the royalty from the warriors, and some fishponds.

We also went to the “Painted Church”. It’s a small church with scenes from the Bible painted on the walls. It’s unique but we didn’t find it too interesting. What we did find interesting was along the roadside: many poinsettia trees about 10-12 feet tall.

The best part of the day was our snorkel boat ride with Sea Quest to Capt. Cook’s Monument. It was a 3 hour trip and there were only 4 of us. They can take up to 15 so we were lucky. When we got to the snorkeling spot there were no other boats there, only a few people who had kayaked over or hiked a long hike down. What’s unique about this spot is the 90’ drop off and lots of coral, therefore, lots of fish. We saw moray eels, longnosed butterfly fish (only in HI), moorish idol, schools of yellow tang, spotted pufferfish, yellow trumpfish, needlefish, and orange-spine unicorn fish. (This was much better than the snorkeling at Kapalu’u but cost money to get there.) The guide took the boat slow on the way back to show us lava walls up close (with the small boat we could actually go inside one and see a lava tube that had broken off), other lava tubes, and lots of crabs and a limpet type crustacean that you can eat. It was very cool to see all this up close. We’re planning on renting a kayak and coming back on Friday to the snorkeling spot with an underwater camera.

Our snorkeling guide told us about seeing manta rays at the Sheraton so we checked it out. They come near the shore at night to feed on plankton. Apparently the come toward the light. We saw only two in an hour but plan to go back tomorrow night a little later. They’re really big!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Big Island Days 6-8

Day 6, Thursday, Nov. 8. We took a day off from the volcanoes to go into Hilo. This is where the cruise ships come in because of the deep harbor.

First we took a walk around the neighborhood. Some of the lots are about ¼ acre and some homes have warm ponds from thermal activity (warm rocks, not lava) below. We saw a family at 9 AM in their warm pond. Very cool! Some of the lots are acres with fences and gates.

The Lyman Museum was started by a child of the Lymans, missionaries who came from New England in 1830's. We had a tour of the original house next door where we saw where the wife raised 8 children, home schooled them, sewed uniforms for the high school kids in their boarding school and taught herself piano as well as cooked for everyone. (Definite Type A personality with a puritan background, i.e. she felt guilty when she did something she really enjoyed.) The house is the oldest clapboard house in Hilo.

The museum was excellent. It’s a perfect first stop if you have never been to Hawaii before because it has a lot of info on volcanoes, all the different climate zones, animals, plants, birds, shells, and minerals. There was also info on immigrants. Captain Cook (late 1700’s) and later whale hunters brought white people’s diseases which killed a lot of natives. By the mid 1800’s the sugar plantations needed more workers. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese from the Azores and Madeira were brought over, different cultures at a time. (The Portuguese first went to the gold rush in 1850.)

There was also a special exhibit on a turn-of-century Korean house in a rural area. It started with a great video about the kids who live in New Jersey planning a trip to their grandfather in Korea to celebrate his very special 60th birthday.

We watched a very moving video of the lava flow of 1990 which took the town of Kalapana on the south shore. They interviewed people as their houses were being approached by the lava and then as they burned. It virtually wiped out the entire town. Very sad.

I asked the museum guide about the weather in Hilo. She said that it pretty much rains a little a couple times a day and then sometimes more at night. We did have a lot of sun this morning which was great. I’m really getting sick of the clouds and rain, even if it does make things green! But it was 85 degrees when the sun was shining.

We walked down towards the waterfront where so many were killed in the 1960 tsunami. Now it’s a park. We ate at a Thai restaurant and walked through a farmer’s market where we tried a Hawaiian apple (pretty good), passion fruit (very seedy and tart like a lemon), and an apple banana (a banana taste with a hint of apple-very good!).

Here’s a typical house in the Big Island with a corrugated metal roof and big overhang.

So, has anyone ever had a fried Twinkie? This was a sign on a Hilo restaurant.

We spent some time posting the last blog at a McDonald’s. (It rained while we were there.)

Day 7, Friday, Nov. 9.
Sandy’s birthday. Sorry, no Boston Cream Pie but it was a fabulous last day on the east side of the Big Island.

You’ve seen Falling Rocks signs but here is a Falling Branches sign within an albizia tree tunnel.

It was very exciting for me to see 6 apapane (red bird) in the park. They like the ohia trees with the red blossoms so they’re not easy to spot unless they move.

We arrived at the Volcanoes Park for the last time and did a 3.5 mile rim hike on the Kilauea Iki trail, partly through rain forest and partly on the crater bottom. This is the crater that erupted in 1959 and filled the crater with 400 feet of lava. Here are some highlights. It was very cool to walk near the steam vents that are really just moisture falling on the hot rocks under the crater. It was only 60 degrees and misting for much of the hike but anything warmer wouldn’t have been comfortable.

After lunch we saw a living history presentation by Dr. Thomas Jaggar whose name is on the museum. We went into his actual first lab at the edge of Kilauea. It was April 13, 1912. He talked about his concern for keeping people safe from volcanoes through the use of seismographs. We learned a little more about how seismographs work.

The sun was coming out and we finally said goodbye to the park and headed home to change into our suits, grab our snorkel gear and head to the Kapoho Tidepools a few minutes from us. These pools were formed by the 1984 lava flow. There was lots of coral, mostly flat, and one cool blue coral we’ve never seen. There was also lots of fish. They’re great safe places for the fish. The sun was still shining brightly but the water was a little cool, probably about 76-77 since it’s been so cool and rainy.

Next stop was Ahalanui Park down Hwy 137 past the 10 mile marker. In contrast to the last one this is volcanically heated to about 92 degrees. It was heavenly! We stayed in until our fingers started to wrinkle and then sat in the sun and read. So relaxing!!

Day 8, Saturday, Nov. 10. We checked out of our apartment and drove through Hilo to the Hawaii National Botanic Garden. It’s a gorgeous place filled with plants from other tropical regions (Indonesia, Australia, India, etc.) as well as native plants. It goes right down to the ocean. Even though summer is the time of the year when everything is in bloom, there were lots of flowers to see. We saw some very interesting plants: Pink Quill and Indonesian Ginger are just two of the beautiful ones.

(We’re using the Ultimate Guidebooks for Hawaii, different ones for different islands. They’ve proved to be great sources of info.)

Next stop was a food stand called What’s Shakin’. Obviously, a lot of other people knew about it too as there were a few people when we arrived at 11:30 and they just kept coming. The guide book said they have great smoothies made with frozen fresh fruit. We had a Papaya Paradise with papaya, bananas, coconut, pineapple, and passion fruit. Yum!

As we drove north on Hwy 19 we saw eucalyptus forests on either side. Not sure what they do with the eucalyptus but they've replaced the sugarcane here.

One sad lookout was Laupahoehoe Point. There used to be a school here but in the 1946 tsunami many of the children and teachers were killed. Now there’s a memorial there. It’s a beautiful point! (There are lots of beautiful points/lookouts in Hawaii!!)

We continued up Hwy 19 to Kalopa State Park where we went on an exercise walk through the woods and then had lunch. It was very pretty and well maintained but there was only 1 other person there.

While we were on the east side of the Big Island we had to check out Waipio Valley. We could only go to the lookout because we didn’t have a 4WD car. But it was an amazing sight. In the valley behind the beach were fields of taro.

In Waimea we stopped at The Parker Ranch. It was started in the early 1800’s and raises beef cows. The last person who owned it (he inherited it from his parents) was stage and film star, Richard Smart. Such different scenery: pasturelands and rolling hills! The east side of Waimea is cooler and gets more rain so it was misting there and cool. By the time we left and were heading west and south it was dry.

Going south to Kailua-Kona we passed by lots more lava flows from both volcanoes on that side: Mauna Loa (still active) and Mauna Kea. You can see how dry it is and how little has grown back.

We drove down in complete sunshine, how nice! And it was over 80 degrees!! Warmth, sunshine and palm trees just make me feel happy. Our timeshare is beautiful, the nicest accommodation yet. Here’s our view on a calm evening. (Other days we had numerous surfers both in the morning and afternoon.)