Monday, December 24, 2012

Mully all snuggled up

I love how my dog is all tucked in except for his tongue:
Christmas Eve doggie!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Skydiving

We finally used our skydiving jumps we bought several months back. It was amazing. I don't think I could have jumped out of the plane if I wasn't attached to the skydive instructor. The free fall was about a minute--we jumped from 15000 feet. As fun as it was, I'm not sure I need to do it again, but I sure am glad I did it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our refreshed apartment

Our vacation to Hawaii was not nearly as relaxing as one would expect it to be. This is mostly because we moved all our furniture into storage before vacation, and returned to a repainted and re-floored apartment only to get to move all of our furniture back into the house, and build some new furniture.
And this is the end result. The new floor is that vinyl that looks like wood, and I'm surprised that it looks as nice as it does. We bought modular carpeting to use as an area rug in the living space. The couch is the same (and looking pretty worn compared to the new stuff).
The office nook was my personal project. Beeker likes it. And it's growing on Steve.
We got a new dining table and gave the kitchen a splash of color (well, more than a splash, but that was Steve's thing).
The bedroom really just got a splash of color and some new linens. But it's always nice to change up your living environment even if it's just a little bit.
The media center is pretty much the same. We upgraded our storage--yes, I know CDs are SO 1990, but we can't help it.
Even Mully likes it. Somewhat. He can be a little asshole sometimes.

HAWAII LAST ENTRY

Our first day in Kona, Chari, Steve, and I went snorkeling. We took these totally awesome rafts out to our dive locations. We hit two spots--the first was by Puuhonua o Honaunau. We were excited to be out on the water, and we saw some interesting fish, but the water was a little bit murky.
Then we headed towards the Captain Cook monument and explored some caves on the coast. We had a pod of dolphins accompany us along the way!
The visibility was better there and the coral and fish were beautiful. Unfortunately, it was also a quite popular snorkeling spot. It was difficult to avoid other people while swimming and I nearly was run over by a kayak.
We were in Kona so we figured we had to visit a coffee plantation, which we did the next morning. This one was a small, super cute operation. They only sell their beans direct to online customers, who pay upwards of $50/lb for their specialty coffee. Kona is clean and bright, but not totally my type of coffee drinking experience. The coffee here was the same experience, but I appreciated what a cute operation this was. We got to watch them roast a batch of coffee and we even got to taste it.
After hitting the plantation we headed North towards the Kohala coast. The road over ascends to a pretty high elevation and coming down you can see Maui off the coast. It was very foggy the morning we took the ride, but you can just make it out.
We headed through Kapauu, where we stopped at the King Kamehameha statue, close to his actual birthplace. We then headed down to the end of the road to take a hike down to the beach far below.
This is one of the more breathtaking places I have ever been. The hike was steep and looked out over one of the more inaccessible parts of the big island. Along the coast there is actually a big gap in pavement following the end of this road. You have to drive back down to Waimea and then back out toward the coast on the other side. It's just backpackers and helicopters, and probably some 4x4s and horses in this undeveloped area. Based upon our preview, I'm sure that it's worth the effort to venture farther into this area.
The beach below.
And this is the river leading out to the ocean bringing all the volcanic rock down to make such a beautiful black sand beach.
Our last full day in Hawaii was our last chance to get our fill of volcano, so Steve and I drove back across the island to Volcanoes National Park. This is the Kilauea Iki crater where there was an impressive eruption back in 1959.
We headed down to the end of the Chain of Craters Road--well the current end--to see the other side of the lava flow we had hiked out to from the Hilo side. We were even farther from the actual flow than we had been when we headed out to the flow.
Here we were closer to the coast and got to see the result of the lava hitting the water.
Sometimes in dramatic ways.
Thanks for checking out our pictures. We sure enjoyed our vacation and loved the Big Island!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

HAWAII PART III: The drive to Kona

The next morning Steve and I got massages at the local school and then we all packed up the big-ass car and headed across the island on the southern route. First stop--black sand beach and sea turtles!
This is our version of the girlfriends out on the town Facebook shoe shot.
Next onto the Southernmost point in the U.S.! Yes, we took our picture next to the Southernmost point of the 48 in Key West, so we had to take our picture here. No marker unfortunately.
There were petroglyphs, though. (Sperm?)
and awesome, but dangerous, tide pooling opportunities
Ah! There's some proof. I guess. I'm pretty sure we voided our rental contract prohibiting off-road use, but fortunately we didn't do any substantial damage besides leaving behind a whole mess of Stone Cookie crumbs.
Of course we made it to the hotel in time for happy hour. We have our priorities after all.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

HAWAII PART II: LAVA

On Monday we hired a Kalapana resident to guide us out to the active lava flow. We drove out to his house ridiculously early. It was located on top of the 1980s-90s lava flow that covered up the subdivision that used to be there. A handful of independent spirits have rebuilt houses on top of the lava and are living pretty much off the grid, but not uncomfortably.
Hiking out over the lava field was fascinating but really difficult. The slow moving pahoehoe lava flow hardens in such interesting patterns and shapes that are a real pain in the ass to walk over.
Sure, we were smiling at first. But blood was drawn, the sun was merciless, and about half-way there I had one of those "I'm not as young as I used to be" moments. We soldiered on nonetheless.
When we got there, I felt the heat before I saw the flow. Our guide took us across some very recently cooled lava and you could still feel heat emanating up from the ground. It was a little unnerving, but awesome.
We all regressed to childhood and wanted to poke the lava with sticks and throw rocks into it. Watching it was mesmerizing. Although it moves slowly it just keeps coming and we had to retreat several times as the lava overtook our viewing area.
We sacrificed a banana to Pele.
It was mesmerizing to watch. Maybe it was part heat-stoke and/or post-work-out euphoria, but seeing new land being formed before my eyes was both awe-inspiring and humbling.
The hike back happened. No one got injured and we all made it. We rewarded ourselves with cold beer and margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Pahoa (which also had excellent, though non-traditional, fish tacos). We had to complete the volcano circuit, so we visited Volcanoes National Park and got a look at the caldera before we called it a day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HAWAII PART I: HILO

Here is my first post from our Hawaii vacation of 2 months ago! We had the pleasure of taking this trip with our good friends John and Chari. It was my first time to Hawaii and I was apprehensive that it would be some seriously cheesy American tourist vacation. Maybe it would have been had we stayed on Waikiki, but the Big Island was sparse, friendly, and amazing! Arriving at Kona on March 31 was awesome--the airport is totally open air and the weather was fantastic. It was not nearly as humid or hot as I anticipated it might be; it was just temperate and beautiful. We immediately picked up our enormous rental vehicle and drove across the island to Hilo.
Our first stop was in Waimea at a local diner for our first shot at some loco moco! Here is Steve and I eagerly anticipating the artery-clogging goodness. Actually, I had a local concoction of kalua port hash accompanied by the ubiquitous fried rice.
John and Chari were not nearly as impressed with the greasy brunch as I was, but smiled happily anyway. Or at least Chari did :) We hopped back in the car and motored on to Hilo to check into the Dolphin Bay Hotel. It was friendly but utilitarian--see our review on Trip Advisor if you want the full scoop (username: MullyDad). We headed out to the farmer's market, got some provisions for the room, and ate at an interesting sushi place for dinner. The fruit on the island is amazing. The little apple bananas don't look like much, but are super-tasty. They also have a bunch of different varieties of mango and pineapple that I'd never seen before (that were all different types of delicious!) and a lot of papaya with which I was a little less endeared. Later in the evening, we found the kava bar.
I had listened to the book "Getting Stoned with Savages" on CD last year and was anxious to try some kava, though I knew it wouldn't be the same experience that the kava on Vanuatu provides. The taste was of earth and it looked like dirty dishwater. It was tolerable, though, and after a couple shells, you pretty much ignore the taste anyway. It produced a nice tingling sensation on the lips and tongue. We had been drinking already that night, so it's hard to say what overall effect it had, but it was not unpleasant by any means.
Day 2: We headed to the local waterfalls and botanical gardens, which were all gorgeous! The rain came and went all day every day we were in Hilo and we seemed to be the only folks bothered by it enough to even pull out an umbrella. This is Rainbow Falls, which was pretty nice, but there were more impressive waterfalls yet to come.
This is Chari on the walkway through the botanical gardens. Steve and I brought our leftover DEET from our Cambodia vacation and although there was little need for it on the rest of our vacation, we stopped and happily slathered up about here. The gardens were beautiful, but all those plants made it humid and the mosquito bite situation could have been much worse than it ended up being!
Gorgeous flowers everywhere, and of course I can't remember the names. Help from the horticulture student (Chari)? :) *UPDATE: Steve has informed me they commonly known as "Cat's Whiskers"?
Now I know this one is ginger, though I couldn't tell you what type, because we saw about 50 varieties of ginger from all over the globe. *Update* Looked at it again and am positive this is not ginger! You an tell I've never taken botany and have NO memory for any plant names whatsoever.
The gardens went all the way down to the coast, which was amazing. It's a cliche to say the earth meets ocean in a violent manner on the Big Island, but it doesn't make it less true.
Akaka Falls was next, which was truly breathtaking. It's not really a record-breaker, but it is one of the highest falls I've ever seen. The mist and sound make this a very romantic spot. I love how waterfalls seem to create their own weather systems!
We finished the day with a trip up to the visitor's center on Mauna Kea where the scenery becomes distinctively martian. We didn't go see the telescopes, but the view from above the clouds was worth the trip.
Stay tuned for: a hike out to the live lava flow! Coming soon...