Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Aloha from the Big Island - Hilo, Hawaii

The Captain decided it was time to take a family vacation with our kids and grandkids so we decided to fly to Hilo, Hawaii.  Brett's sister, Debra, also joined us on our adventure which made it even more fun.  We stayed at a a resort home called the Royal Palms Estate about 25 minutes north of Hilo overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Our daughter, Beth, and grandkids, Katelyn and Lee, enjoying the flight to Los Angeles.

The entrance to the Royal Palms Estate where we stayed.

The home sits on 13 acres of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

A hot tub sits next to the infinity pool and 

the pool also provided a minibar.

There were fruit trees everywhere on the property.

We found lychee, lemon, orange and lime trees.

And, of course, banana trees abounded.

There were also quite a few coconut trees.

The Captain and Lee exerting too much energy trying to open a coconut.   

But nothing beat the views of the ocean.

The early mornings were often cloudy because this side of the island gets over 120 inches of rain annually.

The sky was constantly changing.

Often, the sun was shining in one spot and raining in another.

But the rainy weather cleared up early giving us beautiful, sunny days to play.

Lee sitting on the veranda enjoying the beautiful views and an early breakfast.

It was also a good place for a glass of wine later in the day.

The main house had a gourmet size kitchen, a theater room, several sitting areas, and a pool table that was often in use.  

When we weren't running around seeing the sights everyone enjoyed playing in the pool.

Grandkids Madeleine (on the left), Dane Matthew with the goggles, and Katelyn keeping a watchful eye on the two.

Besides playing in the water, our son-in-law, Anthony, used the pool most mornings for exercise if he wasn't jogging down the road somewhere. 

The Captain and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in March so he surprised me by planning a renewal of marriage vows while we were on the island.  Daughters, Lynn and Beth, helped with much of the planning and I was, of course, oblivious.

The evening we arrived he asked me to marry him again and presented me with a black diamond solitaire engagement ring.

I accepted and here he is trying to help me get the ring on my finger.  After 20+ hours of travel the hands were a little swollen.
The next day we repeated our vows on the veranda with Beth and Lynn officiating, Lee and Katelyn acting as best man and maid of honor, and Madeleine and Dane Matthew leading the procession by tossing flower petals.  The dinner was catered, and they even hired a photographer to take pictures which we haven't received yet so we have little of the event to share with you.

Sitting for a group shot taken by the groom. 

The wedding dinner was followed by a yummy dessert.

It was quite a surprise and a lovely event. The Captain always knows how to treat a girl!

While in Hawaii we went to many of the sights.  Our first stop was Akaka Falls.  The water crashes 442 feet down into a thundering pool. Akaka Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls but does not have the width or volume.

There is a fish called  'o'opu 'alamo'o, a native goby that lives in the stream below the waterfall.  Every year the fish climbs the 442 feet straight up against the flow of the waterfall to lay its eggs.  The fish uses a suction disc and pectoral fins to climb up the watery surfaces along the rocky sides of the waterfall.  Although the male is quite colorful,the fish is very hard to see because an adult 'o'opu measures only five inches long. 

The Akaka Falls park is like a tropical rain forest lush with growth and flowers.

This guy was enjoying a good meal.

Roots of a banyan tree climbing over rocks to reach sustenance.

We saw many strange looking but beautiful plants. 

We drove over to Laupahoehoe Point, north of where we were staying, to enjoy the grandeur of the ocean.

Everyone enjoyed climbing among the rocks.

Katelyn and Lee posed for a picture for Grandpa.

Lynn climbed up the rocks to get a really good shot.

The next two days we spent at Volcano National Park getting a first hand look at lava rock.

It was like walking on the moon.

Walking around on the lava could be treacherous because it could be loose in some places with open pockets unable to support your weight. 

Family portrait on a lava destroyed tree.

Ditto with a change of photographer.

This tree is one of the first plants that rejuvenates after a lava flow destroys an area.

Below was a caldera formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption.

A lava pool that stopped flowing after it cooled.

We stopped at the Thomas A. Jagger Museum to view the southwest rift zone with fissures running from the edge of the Kilauea Caldera and a series of  volcanic cones that appear like small bumps on the horizon.

Kilauea is a restless volcano covering more than 600 square miles.  Periodically,  hot molten rock (magma) rises from a reservoir below and erupts at the summit as lava. But magma can also move sideways underground triggering earthquakes and eruptions along the flanks of the volcano called rift zones.

Beyond the horizon lie more fissures, including one 10 miles long known as the Great Crack.  The fissures extend beyond the coast underwater.

The Big Island contains 8 of 13 different climate zones in the world, each with unique ecosystems ranging from tropical forests to alpine deserts and windswept coastal dunes.  While in Volcano National Park we were able to venture through several of those zones.

Fumes emitted from the earth include sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.  These two gases react chemically to produce pure sulfur , a yellow mineral.  Sulfur deposited on the rocks leaves a feathery crystal while water vapor condenses to make steam.

  1.  Walking on a trail, we very quickly found ourselves in a tropical jungle.

Fiddleheads of this tree fern are covered with absorptive pulu (golden wool) that protects its new growth from drying.

Over time the fiddlehead begins to open 

and long tendrils appear that eventually

grow into new ferns.

On our walk heading toward the Thurston Lava Tube, Lee was greeted by a friendly bird who took a real liking to him. (The owner of the bird was close by keeping it under control).

We walked into the lava tube.  It was very cool and wet with water dripping down the top and sides.

Dane showed us his scary monster imitation while in the dark tube. 

The second day in the park we took a drive to the ocean to view the scenery created by the lava flows there.

Below us is new land that was created when the magma flowed into the cool waters of the Pacific.

This beautiful arch was created by the lava flow and over time will eventually collapse from the surging waters below.

The area was breath-taking.

While in Volcano National Park several of the adults decided to take a trail down through one of the calderas.

The trail is extremely rugged and the hike is a four mile trek.

Even in the middle of the caldera plants were growing.

You could see the steam spouts along the trail and in some places actually walk over to one.  They were very hot.

This plant almost looked like a bird trying to land.

Even on the floor of a caldera there is beauty.

The middle of the week Lynn and Anthony took Madeleine and Dane over to Kona on the west side of the island so the kids could enjoy some activities geared to their ages while the remainder of the group got more adventuresome. 

But just for fun, we decided to take in the local Hilo open food market and on the way there we stopped to take a picture of this amazing banyan tree in a local cemetery.

The food market had a lot of different items so we purchased a few things.

This big boy is called a jackfruit which we might have bought if we had known what to do with it afterwards.

The market had food and clothes and flowers and just about anything you could think of.  It was very hot there that day and all the vendors were complaining.  Hilo had broken a record the day before reaching a temperature of 91 and they were having a tough time adjusting. to the heat and humidity.  Guess they've never been to South Carolina :)  

Our next stop was ziplining.  What a blast that was!!!

Debra getting all geared up.

I think we were quite the fashion statement.  After we had our gear on they took us on a 20 minute bus trip up the mountain to the first stop on a series of 9 lines we would be descending on.  

Katelyn and Lee have ziplined before.  The Captain, Debra, and I were new to it.  Daughter Beth has done it twice before and she said  'no thanks' this time.

Heading down as a tandem, with me on the left and Brett on the right.

I hate to admit it but the guides kept calling me 'grandma'.

Debra's reaction was classic!

We started out slow in the beginning and then they showed us a few tricks.

Hanging upside down was a blast.

The more I did it the more fun it was.

Katelyn kept trying......

On this particular run Katelyn didn't have enough speed to get up to the next platform so one of the guides climbed down the rope, hooked onto her line, and pulled her the rest of the way.

I think the guides had as much fun as we did.

Looks like they are trying to land a whale......

Eventually we all got into it and everyone went 'hands-free'.  Here Lee is taking pictures with his Go-Pro.

Katelyn finally figured it out.

Debra, too.  You go, girl!!!

And then it was the Captain's turn.

It really is a fantastic feeling.

 On to quieter times we decided to visit the local botanical gardens to see all the unique plants.

Rose of Siam.

Clerodendrum originally from Thailand.

Some of the flowers we were able to identify but not all had markers on them.

Jackfruit like we saw in the market.  

The long strands hanging down are roots from royal palms above.

I thought this flower almost looked like a dessert.

This monkey tree had other plants growing up on its limbs

The gardens were alongside the ocean.

This plant is called 'Ten Day'.

Glowing Orb.

Hawaii is the Orchid Island.

Our second adventure was taking a 22 mile ATV ride through the woods and over the dale to places unknown but exciting just the same.

Getting geared up for the big event.  You were required to wear long pants on the ride.  The operation provided head scarves, helmets and gloves.

The head scarves were also meant to provide protection for your face from the dust and dirt.

The Captain was getting excited since he was going to be the driver on our ATV.

Getting ready to head out they gave us a few times around a track to make sure we could all handle the ATVs.

And away we went.

Debra drove with Katelyn riding alongside.

The third ATV had Beth and Lee.  With all the gear we were wearing it's hard to see who was who.

The Captain pulled the head scarf up on his face and all of a sudden got a glean in his eye. The next thing I know I'm riding with 'Mario Andretti' Smith and he was having a ball! 

We were flying along trails at breakneck speed and I was hanging on for dear life.......while trying to get some photo shots in, too.
These tree roots are amazing trying to hang on to the soil.

This particular tree's roots climb along a ridge and rap themselves around a mature tree, climbing up it and eventually suffocating the original tree while the roots move on to the next tree.  

This is a good view of the roots taking over a host tree.

Along the trail we stopped at a waterfall and climbed down to the water pool that was created below.

The brave of heart swam in the icy mountain water.

Katelyn said when she jumped in, the cold water took her breath away.

Her face says it all...........

The Captain splashed Lee as he tried to wade in slowly.

They made it to the waterfall.

I think Lee was praying for a way out.

On we journeyed through forests and old cane fields.

Since this acreage is also a working farm we saw several crops including these macadamia trees.

The trip took several hours and the dirt took its toll on everyone.  

The guides were great and very knowledgeable.  They really love the land and the work they are doing. 

We stopped near the ocean and saw these black crabs sitting on the rocks near shore.  One of the guides told us they come here at night and flash a light on the crabs so they won't move.  Then they catch them and if they are small enough they will eat them raw.  It is considered a delicacy. If they are larger they cook them in a pot.  This guide has lived here since he was three and he said they live off the land and the ocean as much as possible..

Having a great day in Hawaii during our ATV ride!
After the ATV ride we stopped at a shop for Hawaiian shave ice (which was quite good) and Beth found the man of her dreams!
On the drive from our estate down to Hilo you can see the ocean on one side and beautiful gorges on the other.

Waterfalls flow into rivers and the river empties into the sea.    

We stopped at one of them called KoleKole Park.

The water from the river surges into the ocean.

The waterfall had a swing so the Captain, Katelyn, and Lee tried it out.

Crossing the rocks was a challenge even wearing water shoes. 

The Captain jumped in first to set an example for the kids :)

They had to be careful so the river surges didn't sweep them into the ocean.  

The currents were so good that a surfer was riding a wave below the mouth of the river.
The next day we drove to an area with a hot springs.  When Lynn and family came back from Kona  the next day we took them there, too.

The water is warm like a hot tub and many people come here to enjoy it. 

My honey blowing me a kiss.

Since the water is fed by the ocean it is salty and easy to float in.

Madeleine had her little ducky with her 

enjoying the water........

that is until the Captain borrowed it.  He's giving the Hawaiian hand signal 'shaka' which means hang loose and enjoy.

The week slowly came to an end and we planned one last meal in Hilo as a group.

It was a great meal and we all had a fabulous time during our stay in Hawaii but, alas, the next day we had to board our planes and fly back home.

But we will always have pictures and memories to remind us of our family trip.

Aloha and peace be with you !!!

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