We decided we needed to head for the sun this winter and we settled on the "Big Island" of Hawaii because we wanted ocean and volcanoes. Alice informed us that she "only wanted to visit the extinct volcanoes," but we decided to head to Volcanoes National Park anyway. We rented a house through VRBO that was in Hilo on the eastern side of the island. It's the non-touristy side which is to say there are still a lot of visitors, but no fancy hotels at all, never saw a golf course, and a lot of actual Hawaiian folks at the beach with us.
Alice and Clyde were great on the flight over.
We headed right to the beach the next day... well, Alice and I had to detour past the store to buy her a swimsuit. We found her a cute neon one with some Hawaiian print board shorts. She was easy to spot on the beach!
This is the rambutan fruit we got at the market. Under that prickly outer shell is an extremely sweet fruit with a large seed. It was kind of a tough fruit but the kids liked it.
King Kamehameha became the first ruler of the entire Hawaiian archipelago by pushing over this stone, the Nala Stone. Even with all three of them working on it, we couldn't budge it. So I guess we'll not be ruling Hawaii until our next try.
Here are Tarzan and Jane out in the back of the house. They kept asking "Mom, can we go to the jungle?" It was an amazing yard and so nice to have space to play safely right at home.
We trekked south to check out Volcanoes National Park. In August of 2013 the lava flows changed so now the fresh lava is flowing into a rainforest in an inaccessible area and not into the ocean as it had been. So we didn't get to see hot lava, but we saw miles and miles of the hard stuff! You can really see the pahoehoe (pu-hoy-hoy) and aa (ah-ah) types. The kids were great at identifying them. Pahoehoe is also called rope lava and looks like this photo. It cooled slowly as it flowed. Aa is sharp and chunky. It cooled quickly.
Here we are where the lava flowed into the sea many years ago and now the ocean has beaten an arch into the cliffs. It was really dramatic and the waves crashed into the cliffs, and got us wet at the top even though we were probably 50 feet up.
We took a long hot hike through the desolate lava field to some petroglyphs at Pu'uola. I couldn't fathom that anyone would want to live out there with no trees for shade, no fresh water streams. Ben thought maybe they'd been banished or something. There are more recent flows near the site, so maybe there used to be trees closer, but it didn't seem like a great place to live.
We walked through the Thurston lava tube which is highly trafficked but still really cool.
We stopped at the Mauna Loa factory. It was Sunday so they weren't packing nuts, but we learned how they harvest and pack the nuts. Then we played in their garden. Alice kept saying, "I'm in my chickee. This is my chickee." I didn't get it at first but then I remembered at Thanksgiving time we read about Native Americans' homes including the Seminole chickees which did look a lot like this little shelter in the garden. It's wonderful to realize they really do listen to what I'm reading and remember it months later.
We headed north to Waimea and stopped at Akaka Falls which drops about 420 feet. It was a great walk through the thick rainforest.
In Waimea, I was looking forward to the Parker Ranch Visitor Center, but as it turns out it's just a store in a large strip mall. We did eat some great, but very expensive, burgers at the Village Burger next door. I did like the stop signs though!
Downtown Hilo was hit by a tsunami in 1960. Rather than rebuilding, they made some big parks. The kids loved the crazy bridges.
Clyde said this was a "Darth Maul" duck. It really did kind of look like Darth Maul with it's red and black skin.
I tried to get a good photo of Alice in her new Hawaiian dress, but she was not into being a model that late in the week....
Clyde loved the boogie board. We spent a lot of time at Richardson Beach State Park right across the street from our house. There was a big lava rock outcropping that blocked the big waves and made for a nice fairly safe swimming area. The sand was black and if you looked closely it had a lot of white shell bits and a lot of green sand in it too.
One day we went for a walk in the rain out onto these rocks where the surf was crazy - we called it the washing machine. We saw a pod of whales jumping out in the water. I didn't have my camera that day, but I can still picture it. I also didn't get a photo of any of the sea turtles, but there were a lot of them right where we were swimming. I even tripped over one while pushing Clyde on the boogie board.
We visited a huge botanical garden with a very steep walkway. It was great to see all the different plants and the great views of Onomea Bay and Onomea Falls. I'm always so overwhelmed by the scale, variety and abundance of plants in the tropics. Growing up in the desert sure makes you appreciate the rainforest environment.
The first day in our house, Alice started screaming in the hallway, "There's a lizard!!! There's a lizard in the house!" We had a hard time convincing her that geckos are harmless until I read in the house information book that they are lucky. The rest of the trip she kept talking about how lucky she was to see the first one. She was also really consumed with worry about tsunamis. I don't know how the subject first came up but she was so worried about it. She kept asking how we would be safe and wanted to go away where there were no tsunamis. There was a siren right in front of our house with solar panels on it. She wanted to know what would happen if the regular electricity and the solar panel both were not working when the tsunami came. We tried to tell her that we were safe but she was hard to convince. So then we talked about how there's danger everywhere. Which may seem like not the best approach, but I think it helped for her to know that in Idaho we have avalanches and forest fires and that we've managed to be safe. And we talked about how people have jobs to watch for tsunamis and other disasters, how they're watching around the clock. I think that made her feel better. It's wonderful to have a discerning intelligent child.... most of the time! Boy, that was quite the tangent... anyhow, here's a cute gecko.
Hang Loose Friends!