Reflecting on Hawaii - Time to Say Aloha - Day 7

Our daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay! Saturday, 5.18.13

Instead of packing our last day with a bunch of activities we decided to chill at the Puako House. We easily could have spent most of our vacation just hanging out at the house as it was pretty amazing. Right on the water, beautiful beach, sea turtles, ocean breeze flowing gently through the house. We enjoyed a late breakfast, took the kayaks out, and sadly started packing.

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The Puako House

My island Aloha tradition is to stop by the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai for a Lava Flow at the Beach Tree Bar & Lounge on the way to airport. We enjoyed a few drinks with old and new friends at the bar and then headed to one of the resort houses that our friend's brother recently bought. We watched the sunset from the house and said our sad goodbyes. It is nice to know I have Ohana on the Big Island, but this trip really reminded me how much I miss and love these peeps.

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The air at the airport was warm and wet with some tropical showers and a heavy heart. I left knowing for sure that it will not be 7 years between visits again. My love of the island and my friends there will bring me home again soon.

Reflecting on Hawaii - North Kohala Fun Day - Day 6

Our daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay! Friday, 5.17.13

With our week coming to a close we headed to North Kohala.

It was recommended that if heading up north to stop at Mahukona Beach to go snorkeling. Approximately halfway between Kawaihae and Hawi is an abandoned harbor once owned by a local sugar company.  We heard that there is a sunken ship and to find it you follow the chain on the bottom. The chain was easy to find despite being covered in coral because it was huge. We followed it out... a little further... and a little further...and a little further out to sea... we decided to turn back as we were getting pretty far off shore... the water was getting deeper and the sea life getting less interesting. We headed back to the harbor where the coral and fish were abundant. Directions: To get there take Highway 270 north from Kawaihae. Take the road to the ocean between Mile Markers #14 and 15.

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From here we headed to Kapa'au and ATV Outfitters for a 2 hour waterfall ATV tour. Everyone opted for their own ride, but Paul and I wanted to go together so we were put in a side-by-side ATV. The trip took us up onto private property into the Kohala mountains through the old sugar cane fields, in and out of forests and to waterfalls. The first waterfall was approximately 1000' into the hills and was viewed from a lookout. We headed another 1000' feet up into the hills and this time hiked down a short but steep trail to a waterfall. It was something out of a movie.... a perfect waterfall landing in a pool of water. We all headed in for a swim. The part they don't show in the movies is the not so graceful slip sliding entry over the slippery rocks into the *GASP* freezing water. The water wasn't so bad after you got used to it.  Cue the movie again... now it was a bunch of friends hanging out in a beautiful waterfall in Hawaii! Good times! I never did anything like this when I lived here and wished I had. It was super fun and a great way to see parts of the island you would normally not see or have access to. The guides from ATV Outfitter were great!

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After a quick ice cream stop we headed to the Pololu Valley Lookout. It was too late to hike down to the black sand beach, but the views were stunning.

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We then headed back to Hawi to meet up with the Buczyna gang.  This was our first time to the Buczyna Ohana to see Maka and Nani the pooches and to meet the chickens. Even for Hawaii standards this is a slice of heaven. And as if it wasn't good enough just to be hanging with loving old friends, we were greeted by the most amazing rainbow I have ever seen and watched as Madie released a butterfly that had hatched out of its cocoon that day. After a game of hide and go seek, freeze tag, papaya picking and after a very important conversation with Madie about our favorite princesses it was time to go.

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The drive back to Puako involved a few random rainstorms... totally dry road... then torrential downpour... then totally dry road. As we turned into Puako Beach Drive... no rain. About a quarter mile from the house downpour again... made for a great dinner on the lanai listening to the rain.

Reflecting on Hawaii - Favorite Parks - Day 5

Our daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay!

Thursday, 5.16.13

We "forced" the gang to visit each of our favorite parks.

My favorite beach is part of Kekaha Kai State Park. This was the first time that I hiked in to Makalewena Beach. In the past I had a 4WD so we would drive in from the north on a "road" through the lava fields. This time not willing to pay to replace a rental car, we took the drivable road to the shore and hiked in from the south. You walk past the Red House, formally the Magoo residence, into the lava field where a trail cuts straight though. All you can see is black lava and the tops of some trees far off in the distance. Luckily there was a little breeze otherwise the mid-day walk across the lava field would have been cooking. When you get to the other side there are some trees and brush that you head through, then up an over a sand dune and you have reached paradise. This is hands down my favorite beach. The perfect place to do nothing... play in the water... look for shells... visit the queen's bath. Heaven. The island has many queen's bathes, this one has fresh water that come up out of the lava.

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There was only one thing that could tear us away... and that was Paul's favorite park, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park (aka Place of Refuge). If you had broken a sacred law and could escape your pursuers and get to a Place of Refuge you would be out of harms way. The grounds are beautiful, the history fascinating and the sunset view magical, but that is not the reason this is Paul's favorite park. The reason of course are the tiki's. Big tiki's, little tiki's, lots and lots of tikis. We didn't get there until pretty late, but made it in time to watch the sunset. Stopped for dinner at the Kona Brewing Co. and then headed back up the coast to Puako.

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Reflecting on Hawaii - Volcanoes, Stars & a Dance Party - Day 4

Our daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay! Wednesday, 5.15.13

After having a super yummy and oversized breakfast of loco moco, kalua hash and pancakes that were over a foot in diameter at the Hawaiian Style Cafe, our merry gang divided to explore the island's volcanoes.

Half of our party headed over Saddle Road to the Hilo side and Volcanoes National Park, while we headed up Saddle Road to Mauna Kea. I had been to Volcano NP before, but never to the observatories atop Mauna Kea. It is recommended that you stop at the visitor center before driving up the final 8 miles to the summit to check the conditions. We were advised that only 4WD vehicles should go up, keep it in 4 wheel low and, be sure to have a full tank of gas and be sure to have warm jacket. With all requirements met, we headed to our car.

TRAIL SHOUT OUT: We were stopped by 2 fellow tourists wanting to head to the top, but not having a car that could get them there. The Armada was plenty big so in jumped our new Brazillian friends, Bruno and Leo.

The road starts off from the visitor center as gravel/dirt then about halfway up it turns to pavement. After numerous switch backs and amazing views you turn a corner and see the observatories. They look like little white and silver ornaments decorating a planet. Then you get up close and realize they are huge. You drive to ~13,500' then hike the last few hundred feet to the 13,796' summit. It was fitting that our easiest "summit" was on a tropical vacation.  After our mini summit hike we head it Keck Observatory I. The setting made for some great photos... all taken with my iPhone and olloclip.

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We had a little time to kill so we headed to the Waipio Valley Lookout and had some ice cream, before heading back to Waimea.[gallery type="circle" ids="867,865,864"]


An old friend played hookie from work to meet us at the Big Island Brewhaus.  I was pleasantly surprised to like ALL 7 of the different beers in my sampler and the mexican food wasn't bad either. The whole family joined us for dinner.

The night ended perfectly back at our friends house where we took part in a before bed dance party with kids and grownups dance dance dancing. Sadly we have no dance party pictures because we were too busy having fun dancing!

Reflecting on Hawaii - Dolphin Quest & Happy Hour - Day 3

Our daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay! Tuesday, 5.14.13


There is nothing like be woken up on vacation by a rustling in the bushes just outside your window... a loud rustling... what kind of animal is it... will they get through the screen door. Wait. The noise is coming from outside the window behind the bed... you quietly peek out the window to discover what critter is making all the racket. Ferret? Dog? Goat? or how about a turkey family! It was a momma turkey and 4 chicks making all the ruckus.

Another chill morning at the Puako house until we headed to the Queen's Marketplace at Waikoloa for lunch. Last time I was in Hawaii there were only the King Shops... now there are the Queen's Marketplace and tons of new housing/apartment developments. It never ceases to amaze me how they can develop entire resorts in lava fields.

We then headed to the Hilton Waikoloa for our afternoon plan of swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Quest. This was a trip down memory lane for me as I moved to the Big Island 15 years ago to work at Dolphin Quest as a trainer. It was great to see how much the facility has changed over the years. There is a new education building that I would have loved to have taught at back in the day. As we were getting ready for our program one of the trainers, Ashley,  came up and introduced herself. She told me that she interviewed me for a school project when I was a trainer and decided then that someday she would be a dolphin trainer. And here she was after a lot of work and perseverance living her dream. She then told me that we were going to be getting in the water with Kai who was one of my favorite dolphins when I was there. The combination of the 2 reduced me to tears.... super emotional.

I then got to share this special part of my life with my friends as we all got to play with Hali'a and Kai. Carla, one of my close friends, was our trainer and we had a great time. It was super fun and I love that fact that I will never take this part of my life for granted and love the animals just as much to day as I did then. Dolphin Quest does a great job educating and inspiring people through their programs.

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We figured what better way to end the day than sunset in Kona over tiki drinks. Paul had been talking about a trip to Don's Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Kona Resort since we bought our tickets. Happy hour started with a round of mai tais and pupus. There may have been a flight of mai tais, lava flows and some other tiki libations. An evening rain storm tried to scare us off the lanai to no avail.

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Another perfect end to a great day in paradise.

Reflecting on Hawaii - Puako & Ohana - Day 1

The AdventurUs recently went on vacation... no really just a good old fashion vacation. No epic climbs planned, no training or certification required... just sunscreen, bathing suits and friends. We will be posting a daily recap from exactly a week ago... a selfish way to relive the vakay! Sunday, 5.12.13

Ohana at Puako. Our first day at the Puako house we woke up to an amazing view of the ocean right off our lanai. We wandered to the beach where we say our first sea turtle napping in the sun.

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The plan was to hangout at the house and for local friends to come over in the afternoon. We headed up to Waimea for a quick trip to the grocery store for some poke and misc food for the house.

Most of the day was spent just enjoying the house... until my Hawaii ohana (family) started coming  over. It had been 7 years since my last visit and I had only met 2 of my friends' keikis (kids). It was amazing to have friends old and new all hanging out and watching all the kids running around playing. In some ways it seemed like no time had passed.

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It was the perfect start to a great week... daily recaps to follow.

Coming home to Hawaii

The thick heavy air is like a welcome blanket being wrapped around you. You know as soon as you step off the plane you are in Hawaii. I'm always worried when I come back that everything will be different... that I won't recognize anything. Things have definitely changed, but from a quick glance much remains the same. I was so excited at LAX that I was asked twice if this was my first time going to Hawaii. My impulse is to say no I'm excited to be going home, but then I realize that seems silly. It has been 13 years since I moved back to the mainland and I only lived on the Big Island for 2 years and yet there is something about those years that I hold dear to my heart. Those years were ones that shaped my life and who I am. The happy home... The best roommates... Brothers and sisters really... Dr. Happy... Memories that make this feel like home.

We are staying at an awesome house in Puako, but arrived at night so I'm excited to see it all in the morning. As I write the geckos are laughing at me, the"giant Hawaiian flies", aka cockroaches, are sneaking around not so sneakily and the ocean outside our room is making me sleepy.

Good night!