Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hawaii-Day 7, Part 2

After leaving Akaka Falls, we made a pit stop by the open-air farmer's market in downtown Hilo.  Our senses were on overload - the sights! the sounds! the smells! the touches! and oh, the tastes!  We have never experienced fruits like these before.  After a local hand-whacked a young coconut open, we enjoyed coconut water.  I use the term enjoy loosely here...it was an odd taste; something I will probably never drink again.  But I can say that I tried it.  We also loaded up on some yummy fruits such as my favorite-white pineapple, Christopher's favorite-lychees, apple bananas, and some grape-like fruit (I can't remember what it was called now).

We made a quick stop at Mauna Loa mac nut farm and processing plant.

Then we drove down a tiny dirt road to our quaint, little cabin in the rain forest in Volcano, HI. It was so cozy and private.  A perfect place to spend our 10-year wedding anniversary!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hawaii-Day 7, Part 1

We left the beautiful, warm, sunny side of Hawaii for the wetter, cooler side.  Why leave the sun?  For the active volcano, of course!

Before arriving at our sweet little cabin in the rain forest, we made a few stops.  The road you see below is a typical Hawaiian road.  

We visited the quiet little park at Laupahoehoe Point, where we walked around and took in the beautiful landscape.  We came across an adorable older couple walking hand-in-hand who lived on the island and had a nice chat with them.  We also were lucky enough to come across a second monk seal.  We kept our distance from this guy as we didn't want him to feel threatened as he sunbathed.  We also paused at the memorial for the loss of 3 adults and 21 schoolchildren that were swept away here during the 1946 tsunami.

We were able to see many beautiful waterfalls and flora before taking in Akaka Falls, which plunges 420 feet (the last waterfall picture).

This side of the island is definitely cooler and wetter, but so lush and beautiful. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hawaii--Day 6

Tired of Hawaii pictures yet?  Well, we're only halfway through...

We took at trip up to the very top of the world, actually to the top of Mauna Kea, which felt like the top of the world.  It's the highest we've ever been.  Mauna Kea measures almost 14K feet about sea level but extends about 16K feet below the ocean to the base of the ocean floor.  Mauna Kea, meaning White Mountain, gets snow about 2 weeks out of the year.  It wasn't snow-capped when we were there, but very windy and chilly.

Scientists recognize this spot as possibly the best place in the world to observe stars and have placed many of the world's finest telescopes here, like the Keck I, Keck II, and Gemini.  There's also a VLBA (Very Long Baseline Array) radio telescope here, which acts in sync with 9 other antennas across the US to simultaneously capture data to study celestial objects.

We slowly ascended to the top, stopped along the way several times to acclimate to the thinner air.  We stayed at the top for about 30 minutes to watch the sun set on the top of the world (and sadly our last sunset on the ocean of Hawaii as we departed for the the eastern side of the island the next day).  It felt like I had drank a whole bottle of wine but was soon feeling normal once we came back down a little.  We hung out for a few hours stargazing and drinking hot cocoa.  The stars were amazing!  We were able to see a few constellations from the southern hemisphere, like the Southern Cross, that we aren't able to see at home.  And check out our shot of the Milky Way!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hawaii-Day 5, Part 2

We couldn't go to Hawaii without going to a lu'au. And oh, what an experience!

First, the pig. Early that morning, they prepared the pig, wrapped him in leaves and then cloth. They laid him on a bed of hot rocks in a pit, and covered him with dirt. He laid in this underground oven all day smoking just for us. Watching them pull the pig up to prepare for our feast was amazing!

It's not a Hawaiian night without the beautiful sunset.  Don't we look happy (equate that to lots of Mai Tais!)?

And, oh the show.  We were taken on a journey through Hawaii's history, told by these very beautiful women and men.  These pictures cannot truly translate just how beautiful this show was.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hawaii-Day 5, Part 1

Waipi'o Valley is such a beautiful place with its steep cliffs and waterfalls around the perimeter. Once a thriving community, the valley was wiped out when a wave came 2 miles inland as a result of the 1946 tsunami. Now, there's a handful of hippies that live off of the beautiful land, mainly taro farming. They have no power, water, phones, or TV. They use solar power and generators for electricity and gather their water from a nearby spring. The one-lane road down into the valley is at a 25% grade, which is about a 45-degree angle (that's STEEP, y'all). It drops 900-feet in less than a mile! Of course, we did not attempt to drive our vehicle down in there but instead road down in a 4-WD van. We went on a horseback ride and took in some of the most beautiful sights I have seen on the island. My sweet horse, Smokey, was a really good boy...but he was a hungry boy. He liked to eat avocados, apples, and mangoes off the ground. I had to keep him moving; he was not happy about that. He also wasn't very happy with me when I tried to get him to move on out of the stream; he actually stomped his feet. This crazy horse stuck his entire face in the water while drinking, blowing bubbles! It was such a funny sight! Check out this beauty...