Thursday, June 22, 2017

the island Hawai'i

Saturday was our travel day to the Big Island so after breakfast we checked out, turned in the car, and got the shuttle to the airport and once again waited for our flight which was basically just a big jump.

leaving Maui...

arriving Hawai'i...

Very different from Maui, which was clear and sunny all day and lush. Hawai'i is mostly lava rock but has its share of rain forest and beautiful flora. Typically, while we were there it would be sunny in the morning and overcast the rest of the day.

Getting our next car turned out to be a real hassle unlike on Maui. There were people in line before our van load arrived which made the line all the way to the door with only one agent and another van arrived shortly after ours. They did get two more people to the front desk but it was a long wait nevertheless. When it was finally our turn the agent pressured us to up grade, pressured us to get the full coverage both of which we declined and then wanted to charge us extra for bringing the car back at the time we had scheduled on our itinerary so I had to argue with her about that telling her we had already paid in full up front and here was the agreement. Finally we got the keys to the car and the trunk space wasn't big enough to hold all three suitcases so one of them had to go in the backseat with the girls. Needless to say, we were a bit cranky by this time.

Fortunately, the resort was only about 15 minutes away in Kona, right in town...Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. Turned out to be a Marriott which was not what I was expecting. It was a huge complex with at least a dozen or more shops or activity offices in the gigantic lobby behind the check-in desk with a spa and fitness center. We were on the 4th floor and the one small pool was below and full of people and kids and the noise echoed up into our rooms. The pool and the little beach, which I think was man-made because the sand was fine like the sand on the beach in Galveston and unlike any sand we had seen so far, was open to the public as well and next to the public pier/wharf.

The view from our room the next morning.

As it turned out, the reason it was very crowded and noisy that day and well into the night with drunken revelers was because there had been some sort of canoe clubs event or race and the destination was our resort and there must have been two dozen or more outrigger canoes on the grounds.

Another late lunch/early dinner and then while Marc and Autumn took naps, Jade and I walked around the grounds and found a place across the way that had shaved ice until the other two texted to see where we were and then just hung out in our room while the canoe clubs reveled.

After breakfast Sunday morning we rented our snorkel gear and headed to Kahalu'u Beach Park which was about a 15 minute drive down the coast snagging the last space in the small parking lot.

picture via:

I went out for about 10 minutes, long enough to see lots of colorful fish, and then came back to check on the girls to discover that Jade's snorkel leaked so I gave her mine and went and laid on the beach in the shade while they paddled about. Jade had bought a waterproof cover for her phone.

Back at the hotel and showered we went for lunch and then a long afternoon of shopping. Once a month, Kona closes the street that runs along the coast starting at our hotel for an arts and crafts fair so we meandered along to the end of that, stopping now and then to buy something or chat with some of the artists, well, I stopped to chat with some of the artists 

and then on the way back, Jade wanted to go in every shop that lined the street. Autumn abandoned us and went back for a nap. We did see this cool enclosure, a walled in on four sides ocean pond butt up against the house it was behind with an opening to the ocean with vertical slats. The sign said it was an historic Ki' Ope Pond with no explanation of what that is and I haven't been able to find anything out about it.

Once we got back, more naps were in order. Then Jade and I checked out the wharf 

where we found this, something I haven't seen in years

wandered around, and finally planted ourselves at the poolside bar and listened to the live music where Autumn eventually joined us.

next: another long drive and volcanoes

links to previous posts in this series:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

another day in paradise

Friday, after our long day driving around Maui, we stayed at the resort all day. One of the things on the grandgirls list was snorkeling but the beach I first thought we would go to on Maui, after reading about it again, they would have to swim a ways to the reef and the water was 9' – 12' deep. Um, no. Especially since they had never snorkeled before, not even trying one out in a swimming pool and aren't real strong swimmers. So I researched snorkeling on the Big Island and there was a very pretty and shallow cove and all you had to do was wade out and see all kinds of fish and some coral and sea turtles were supposed to hang out there as well, perfect for beginners the description said and it was close to where we would be staying.

After breakfast I rented paddle boards for an hour, snorkel gear for the two of them to practice with, and an umbrella and we settled in on the beach for the day. The young man threw in three chairs and set them up for us.

The girls tried out the paddle boards first. 

After they got their sea legs they paddled to the left towards where the land curved around fairly close

and then returned, paddling to the right 'til they passed me 

and kept going...and kept going...and kept going until Marc finally asked if I could see them.

I think I can see them,” I said as I was peering into the far distance looking at large and small specs in the water. “I think that's them. I think they're coming back” still peering in the far distance. “Um, maybe not.” I finally got up and started walking down the beach not seeing them, walked further still not seeing them and further still and seeing what looked like skegs sticking up out of the water in the distance and now imagining flipped boards and drowned girls and how do I call out for a search party and their mother is going to kill me! They're grown capable women, they'll be fine. The skegs turned out to be snorkelers and walking a little further they finally came into view heading back my way. We were a loooong way down the beach from our red umbrella.

You girls about gave me a heart attack!” I hollered while they waved and smiled at me, “Hi Granny!”.

So they continued on back while I stopped and chatted with a woman who lives on Maui from Oregon originally, been there 7 years, retired 4 years ago. So how does a woman get from Oregon to Maui I asked her. There was a man she met on-line, visited. He turned out not the be the man but Maui turned out to be the place so she sold out and moved. Eventually I made it back down the beach not long after the girls got back to the red umbrella. Their one hour paddle boarding had turned into two but the young man at the rental shack was unconcerned.

They practiced with the snorkels 

and sunned and swam while I hung out in the shade of the red umbrella until we got hot and hungry and headed into Lahaina for another late lunch/early dinner 

and the girls finally got their shaved ice 

and we returned to the resort and lounged around the pool for our last sunset on Maui 

and watched the evening entertainment for the diners 

and took a last stroll on the beach 

and the girls and I hung out longer after Marc went up to the room just talking about life and stuff and then at 9 PM an unexpected fireworks display started up just on the other side of the gear rental shack in front of the bungalows, a celebration of a wedding perhaps. This was no cheesy at home display but went on sustained for about 15 minutes, a nice professional display.

When it ended, we turned in for the night as we had another day of travel the next day heading to the Big Island.

next: the island Hawai'i

links to previous posts in this series:

Monday, June 19, 2017

the drive to Hana

Thursday was Jade's and Autumn's 19th birthday. It was also the day we planned to do the drive to Hana. The drive to Hana along the coast and through the forest is one S curve after another, about 617 curves, about 52 miles of them, going an average speed of 20 mph, sometimes 10 mph, including 56 bridges most of which are one lane bridges. 

photo via:

photo via:

It is a beautiful and sometimes harrowing drive with many scenic stops along the way. Depending on how many times you stop and how long you stay at each, the trip takes about 3 hours they say. They tell you to start early, that there is no food available along the way so bring a box lunch. Turned out that part wasn't quite true as there were many fruit and food stands along the way. Also as it turned out, we didn't make it all the way to Hana, almost but not quite as we didn't start out early enough and we still had to do the same drive in reverse and we wanted to get back before dark.

We should have started out about 7 AM but it was probably close to 10 before we got on the road with a nearly hour drive to Paia where we got our lunches and the road to Hana starts.

Our first main stop was Twin Falls, having twins with us. Twin Falls has a small lower fall which was about a 15 minute walk from the road. The actual Twin Falls was another 30 minute hike (and 30 minutes back) and the girls decided we would just continue on.

We stopped a few times here and there for the scenic views but driving that road, for the people in the front seat at least, was a riveting proposition. Those turns were tight and often blind and we would pass things before we realized that was the turn. The one lane bridges, sometimes crossing the gully of a small waterfall, weren't so bad after awhile as those were rarely blind and the etiquette was to let whoever got there first go first. But we did stop at the Garden Of Eden, a private little arboretum that had some cool stuff growing and mostly labeled but it was a little pricy I thought, charging by the person instead of car.

and we stopped at a lava tube. This was pretty cool, a linear cave formed by flowing lava. We could only go in so far as the property line allowed, which was pretty far, then we had to turn around and retrace our steps. The cave was unlit and they provided mag lights. The lava around and above glittered like fool's good but it was actually a life form, a rock eating bacteria that lives chemically off the stone, a very old form of life.

a scenic overlook

And we reached Wai'anapanapa State Park which boasted a black sand beach and a seaside cave. There were other features like freshwater caves and some historical ancient sites that I would have liked to visit had I been aware but it was late in the day by then anyway and we did spend some time on the black sand beach 

and hiked up a little trail above the beach and so we got to see a sea turtle swimming along the side of the bay below where we were standing. Hard to tell from the picture but this one was pretty big.

Driving back was not quite so gripping having some experience now on the road and without stops we made it back in time to get dinner in Lahaina.

I really liked this painting in the little hole in the wall 'asian fusion local' with an open kitchen

and the waiter (maybe 4 employees total including the cook who was this really skinny woman about our age with a big dog that she took out for a walk after we were served) folded Marc's napkin into a bird of paradise. Also, they let me wash my hands in the sink in the kitchen after I had eaten my messy fish tacos.

note: I had a very hard time selecting the few yes, comparatively photos for this post. I plan at the very end to do a post of just some of the pictures that didn't get included in this and other posts.

next: another day in paradise

links to previous posts in this series:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

our first full day

Our stay on Maui was at the Royal Lahaina Resort. Check in was easy, the staff friendly, courteous, and helpful and we took advantage of the valet parking as it was only an extra $5 over the self park fee. Whenever we would leave and return, we were greeted with 'welcome home'. It's a lovely open air resort on a beautiful beach with with water ranging from light blue to turquoise to indigo, not too large with high rise hotel rooms or bungalows, a conference center, a location for the luau they had almost every night, travel and visitor services, and a small general store where you could buy clothing or food items and everything in between. Apparently it's a popular place for weddings as well.

We opted for rooms with a partial ocean view, that's Molokai in the distance...

Our first full day there, Wednesday, we spent at the resort resting up from our long previous day (we'd been up nearly 22 hours by the time we went to bed since Hawaii is 5 hours behind us and when we finished dinner the previous night at about 8:30 PM it was 1:30 AM the next day on home time). We started out the day with a (free) guided yoga session on the front lawn with mats and towels provided at 7:30, the only day it was offered during the time we would be there. After breakfast, where we sat out on the covered patio by the pool and attended by sparrows and spotted doves and red crested cardinals and mynahs (you didn't want to walk off and leave your plate full of food for even second) 

the girls and I sprawled out on the coarse sand beach, 

taking the occasional swim (them) and the occasional stroll on the beach (me)

here's another view of Molokai.

We could actually see two of the islands from the beach, Molokai on the right and Lanai on the left.


until we got too hot and moved to the pool where I sat in the shade and the girls lounged on the chaises until it was time to go to the lei making class at 1:30.

The lady had a huge bag of orchids and she dumped handfuls in a pile in front of each of us and we strung them on needles that were about 18” long, and then gently pushing them down onto the string that was attached, about three needles worth for one lei.

Properly bedecked with orchids we went into Lahaina for a late lunch/early dinner and then later strolled along the waterfront, going into the shops while the girls picked out things for their friends and family and themselves (we did this a lot throughout the trip).

I bought a rainbow plumeria stalk and a bamboo and coconut wind chime of course.

next: the twins birthday and the road to Hana