Monday, October 25, 2010

Janet Jackson - Son Of A Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is...

Happy Halloween!

Rihanna - Only Girl (In The World)

I love, love, love this song!

Willow Smith - Whip My Hair

I managed to avoid posting this for days now. You're welcome.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hawaii Day 7 - Snorkeling, Beaches, and Ironman

Breakfast with the geckos
Breakfast at the B&B was provided by our hosts on the lanai everyday. Mary served some delicious fruit to start, then banana pancakes. So we ate while Bob happily gave guests recommendations for things to do and places to go. While we ate, we noticed a few geckos scurrying about on the lanai, on the chairs, on the tables. After we finished our breakfast, the geckos got more brave and joined us on the table and to Mom's horror, on the plates to get a lick of the delicious syrups or the cups to finish our juice. As cute as they were, Mom was skittish as all get out every morning.
Kona Boys

We wanted to go snorkeling, so Bob sent us up to Kona Boys beach supply rental. If you are on the Kona side of the island, I'd definitely recommend this place for reasonable supplies, boards, or cameras.

As always, Jack makes a new friend wherever he goes.
Snorkeling at Two Step
Near the City of Refuge, there is a nice area for snorkeling nicknamed Two Step because you take two rocky steps to climb into the water.

The area is beautiful for seeing tropical fish (and Jack saw a turtle). The coral is lovely and we were told you could see spinner dolphins near the shore on good days. I'd recommend this spot probably third of our beaches to snorkel, because the problem with coming out of the water is the steps at Two Step are RIDDLED with sea urchins hiding in holes in the rock. One wrong grab and you are a human pincushion.
Lunch with Donkey Balls
After a couple hours of fun and sun, it was time for lunch, so we made our way up to a restaurant along the road called Keoke's.

They serve a nice hot, grilled to order meal, but the real draw are their delicious Donkey Balls, chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Mmmmmm! Again, Jack found new friend, Boots the cat.
Hapuna Beach is Perfection
We couldn't come to Hawaii without visiting the #1 beach in the country, Hapuna Beach. Once we arrived, we would never disagree. It. Was. Beautiful.

Without question, this is a stretch of beach unblemished by nature. Wide enough to accommodate large crowds, but during the week is empty enough that every spot is a good spot. Do not miss it. Snorkeling is good. Swimming is good. Sunbathing is fantastic!

Ironman is THIS WEEKEND?!?
Quick note: part of the reason we ended up at the B&B is EVERY hotel in town was booked for the Hawaiian Ironman. After lunch, we drove north through town and discovered athletes training for the competition. Crazytown!

Motorhiking with Jack Up one side and Down the center
Bob recommended a great scenic drive up the northern coast and down a mountain pass near Mauna Kea. We drove past the Ironman bicyclists on the road through a major lava flow, up to Hawi, down through the Kohala Mountains, thru Waimea. We passed ranch land, desert, and tropical rainforest. The road dropped us back on the coast where we watched the sunset from the beach.

Dinner at Manago
Tired from a LONG day of activity, we wandered back for dinner at Manago, then picture downloading and rest before our last full day in paradise.

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Hawaii Day 6 - The Road to Captain Cook

Packed up and checked out, we made our way to the other side of the island to finish our vacation. We wanted to see the volcanoes, so we drove south to catch the road near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Actually, we stopped first at Kapoho, a little tourist area at the coast where the volcano can be seen and the lava once destroyed everything in its path. There is also a beautiful black sand beach there. As the lava hits the water, it rapidly cools and crystalizes, creating the beautiful sand.

We ate at the diner near the beach, then moved on to the park. It is just awe-inspiring to see the grandeur of nature. The pictures don't do it justice.

We entered the park and got a few quick pictures from the main photo area, then Jack drove us around Chain of Craters Road, a stretch of road that goes deeper into the park than the regular tour drive, and brings you through lava flows and near craters that are smaller than the main one at Kileuea. It is a drive not to be missed. Not always easy, but what are rental cars for?

Done with our tour and kinda ready to pack it in, we made our way across the island and up the western coast to our B&B near Captain Cook. Booked at the last minute and blessed to have it, the Hale Hoola was a nice B&B run by Mary and Bob. To be honest, we might've done better in town with a hotel less prone to...infestation (we were constantly on the lookout for flying ants and gnats, there was a rooster that began crowing at 1am, and breakfast was always joined by the hotels endless geckos), but they were absolutely the most welcoming hosts we could ask for and we always had a lovely breakfast in the morning and great information for things to see and do.

We got settled, got the lay of the land, then headed off to dinner at the Manago Hotel, a throwback to old island living. The 30s styling remained, as did the amenities. No paper menus, just a board with about 15 menu items to choose from, 6 breakfast and 9 dinner. Sides were served family style and featured interesting items like pork and squash sauté or potato noodle salad. Jack and I had their pork chops and Mom had the teriyaki beef and all was well with the world.

Hawaii Day 5 - Hilo and the Eastern shore

We decided to explore the Eastern coast of the Big Island today. We got dressed, grabbed some food from the gift shop, then drove north along the coast.
Picture taking opportunities abound as you take H19 toward Honoka'a.
First stop was Akaka Falls so we could see one of the breathtaking waterfalls on the island.

We did a short trail to get a better vantage point, got some great shots, then headed up to Laupahoehoe Point for more picture-taking.

Then we travelled up to the Waipio Valley and one of the last naturally preserved areas of the island.

We had a full morning of driving, so we headed back to see a few other sights before dusk. We had a delicious lunch in a shop at Honoka'a owned by a pretty blonde native of Hawaii.

On our way back, we visited Rainbow Falls (because we're gay and want to see rainbows and junk). The waterfall is stunning to see. See?

Then we ventured back to our hotel area to walk along Banyan Drive and see the trees planted by dignitaries and stars who visited the island, like Babe Ruth and Amelia Earhart.

We finished our tour in the Japanese Gardens at Hilo Bay. Wonderful gardens filled with manicured trees and koi ponds and surfers.

Jack is good formaking friends and this trip was no different.

We killed the day with a delicious dinner at Ken's. Mmmmmmmmm, French toast!


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Hawaii Day 4 - Happy Birthday

Started my birthday REALLY early with lots of well wishes from friends and family (THANKS!). No matter that they started ringing in at 4am Island time, I did truly appreciate it. The day was a travel day for us, as we were leaving Oahu for the Big Island, so we packed up, checked out, shopped, then headed to the airport to fly to our next exciting island.

The Big Island was the birthplace of King Kamehameha and has to active volcanoes, Kilaweha and Mauna Loa. Plus, it is home rto some amazing black sand beaches and beautiful gardens. We landed late in the afternoon, then found our hotel, then went to dinner. the Hilo Hawaii was a nice hotel with an awesome view, but the turndown service left a LOT to be desired.

Dinner for me were Ken's AMAZING French toast, while Mom had the same and Jack had a saimon bowl (basically, a big ole bowl of Ramen, with veggies, and chicken and wonton.

Back to the hotel, Glee and NCIS, then sleep for another day.

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Hawaii Day 3

Day 3 we got our drive on! We woke up superearly (6ish) to go kayaking on the northern end of Oahu. Mom joined us to take pictures and spend the day looking at the many scenic points we'd hoped to encounter during the drive. From Waikiki, we drove to Kailua and the beach of Lanikai. We rented a two person kayak and paddled out to where we could see the flat island bird sanctuary. In the Fall, the waters get a bit rough and that morning was no exception, but we were the only kayakers heading out from the entry point at the time, so we didn't get to see the hilarity until the end of our trip.
Jack and I are semi-practiced kayakers, so we were kinda prepared for the row out to The Seabird Sanctuary. A half hour later, we'd arrived and began walking around, cursing the lava rock under our feet and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Once on the leeward side of the island, we could see and hear the way the waves pounded the flat island and decided not to get slammed against the rocks. We finished walking around the island and reboarded our kayak, upending it once before getting it settled, then fought it back to shore. Fought it not being overturned, fought it not losing our clothes, fought to keep it heading sideways to the big waves. When we finally got close to shore, the final wave unceremoniously dumping us at the shore in one HUGE push! We made it out of way just in time to watch another kayaker was swept in and flipped out of her kayak onto shore.

We cleaned up, then headed up the coast and basically circled the island taking pictures at every beach we could get close to.
Kaneohe, Waiahole, Punaluu, Kuilima, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, all the way to Keana Point State park...we travelled north to all the surfing spots and saw all the great beaches of the island.

After a quick stop for lunch, we made our way to the Waianae Coast to watch the sunset. Apparently, this side of the island is the...more financially-challenged side of the island (ghetto, if you will), complete with beat up rides on $1200 rims and rest stops and beaches with its own homeless people. We bypassed a supercrowded beach to go to a quiet beach area further North. That alone shoulda said "Danger Will Robinson," but the fact that there were only a handful of people at picnic tables and lying in the grass might have been a clue to move on. We got out to use the restroom as the homeless people descended on it. Jack and I made it out unaccosted, but Mom made a new friend we'll call Frieda. Frieda was nice and friendly and chatty, but would NOT leave Mom's side. In fact, she was in TOTAL violation of Mom's personal space. I go over to rescue her and Frieda introduces herself and gets to talking and I quickly realize Frieda is a bit cray cray. I send Mom to go use the restroom as Frieda had stopped her to chat, and Frieda decides to walk Mom into the restroom. Luckily, there wasn't any paper in the restroom because I think Frieda was there for a show. Mom came out and Frieda invited herself along to see our rental car. If I didn't already know Frieda was off, now I'm trying to figure a way to ditch the crazy lady. Jack, often late to the crazy train, but often willing to avoid it, saw crazy coming and said it was time to go. Frieda decided that she couldn't let her new friend go and wrapped her arms around Mom's waist and wouldn't let go. Crazy had gone too far and I grab Mom and she starts a tugowar with my Mother. She let go before it got serious, but Frieda provided a good lesson in personal space for the rest of the trip.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hawaii Day 2

Day 2 started out early as we wanted to go to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Quick breakfast and long drive to the Memorial Plaza and we met the rain, but beat the crowds.

The Memorial is divided into several parts, basically the ships attacked or sunk during the attack on Dec. 7th, The Arizona, the Blowfin, The Missouri, plus there is also a museum and a short film of the events of that day. We visited the Memorial, a monument erected above the sunken Arizona to pay respect to the many men who died that day. In addition to the men who never left the waters that day, the survivors banded together and are being cremated and interred with their shipmates as they pass away.

We visited the Bowfin, an important WWII submarine and heard stories about how sub warfare played an important part in winning the war. We then toured the sub museum and gift shop and moved on.

We took a drive from there and decided to take a tour of the Dole pineapple plantation. The Dole Plantation has been in existence since 1903 and was once the largest cannery in the world. Today, it is a major supplier of not only pineapple, but also mangoes, macadamia nuts, lychee, plus many other fruits and nuts. We rode the Pineapple Express and took pictures and tried not to make too many offensive pot smoking jokes.

As our morning came to an end, we came back to the hotel to change for our final event for the day, Germaine's luau. Our tour guide, Travis, told us basic island stand-up to pass the time between the city and the luau venue. We arrived and our "family" was treated to food, alcohol, and a HUGE smoked pig. We tried coconut pudding (eh), poi (le ewww), and some other island treats and delicacies. The stage show offered some of the hottest dancers this side of the main stage and some fantastic singing. All in all, a good good night was had by everyone!

Hawaii Day 1

Okay, I won't bore any of you with flight stuff. Let's just say it was long enough to watch Toy Story 3, The Karate Kid, 30 Rock, Glee, and The Office and still have a couple hours to kill. Vaguely hungry.

When we checked into the hotel, I found an ABC store (the island's version of Starbuck's, fighting with Starbuck's for island domination), got some Theraflu and a box of tissues, and crawled into bed.

The next morning, Jack and Mom got up all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and I was running a fever. Sooooooo, Mom and Jack hit the beach and did a walking tour of Waikiki, while I dosed up again and slept. About 4 hrs. later, they returned and I was well enough to venture out.

We went to the beach down from our hotel (Waikiki Aqua Wave), and got in the water to flush some salt water up my nose (nature's little neti pot). The water was AMAZING! Crystal blue and active. We had a fantastic time. Then we came back to the hotel, changed clothes and drove up to Diamondhead.

Not realizing the amount of exertion I was about to endure, we got all jazzed to hike up Diamondhead. Mom was a bit tuckered from her hike with Jack, so she stayed at the base and took pictures. Jack and I walked. And walked. And walked. And then we climbed. And climbed. And climbed. The literature is either not really clear about the sheer number of stairs we had to climb (steep, endless, and occasionally spiral), or we ignored it, but whatever the case, we TOTALLY underestimated the amount of work involved in the climb to the top.

Sweaty and exhausted, we reached the top, took some fantastic pictures, then made a rapid descent to the bottom, greeting suckers in flip flops and dresses on the way up with a smile. Mom met us at the bottom with some fresh cut pineapple spears and off we drove to take photos of the landscape. Hawaii is a photographer's dream! I'll try to add some more pictures as I go but this is the view we ended our evening with.

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