Worst seasickness in my life. The seal on the underwater camera broke and ruined the battery. A floating urchin or something stung my foot (finally got the last of the stingers out yesterday, I hope). The vog was so bad even the natives kept saying, "It's never this bad for this long." El Nino keeping the coastal waters too warm for the whales so very few in close to shore. Huge flocks of birds every morning at 5AM that would scream until around 7. A cancelled snorkeling trip because of rough seas. An entire area of the island closed due to dengue fever and oh yeah, one case of dengue fever to bring home. And yet...fabulous vacation. So much fun.
Hawaii is that attractive. It can get away with a ton of shit and still leave us thinking it was awesome.
This is our third year in a row escaping Oregon's extended winter for some time in the sun. This year it was the Big Island. We are trying out each of the vacation islands to see which one is our favorite. We had already been to the Big Island so it should have been Kauai's turn this year but when we went to the Big Island last time I was working during the trip so we felt like we didn't give it the full vacation treatment and headed back this year. So maybe Kauai next year.
I am a lousy vacationer. Or at least a lousy typical vacationer. I want to see and do and experience as much as possible so I tend to really schedule our time. It is going to be rare that you find me just lounging by a pool reading a book. First off, I burn I don't tan so that's not going to be fun, and secondly, I read all the time. Why would I want to have my nose stuck in a book when I could have it pointed to sea? Or under water? Or tilted straight up staring at the stars? BUT...I tried this year to schedule a little less heavily so Brent got some down time to just do nothing. It didn't really work out that way, I tended to make him wander around the resort instead of just sitting, but at least it was free form rambling.
So what did we do? We started with a sunset cruise. I thought that would be a really nice kick off to the trip. A couple of years ago I scheduled a luau for our first night and it really set the tone of "you are now on vacation" I thought this would do the same. And it did. Except for this part:
Yeah, those are clouds for our sunset cruise. Oh well! It was an open bar with a very generous pour so it was fun anyway. There was a birthday group on board who were enjoying everything VERY much and a couple who renewed their wedding vows which was lovely to see. We also got a little bit of this:
And that always makes me happy.
This is all we got. What you can't really see is the line of vog that takes over about 2 inches below the sun. We never did get a full on sun setting in to the sea this trip. But it's still gorgeous.
The next day was an early up and at 'em for a five hour three stop snorkel extravaganza! We love snorkeling. One of these days we will learn how to scuba dive and leave the surface behind, I'm sure, but for now snorkeling is one of my greatest joys when we travel.
So this was the water as we left the boat dock. Should have been a warning...
The first place we went to is listed in the guide books and online as one of the BEST snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Just great for turtles and fish and the water is beautiful and...
"How are you doing?" "Nauseated as hell. But other than that...."
One nice lady gave me dramamine. Seems she gets sea sick but her husband loves to snorkel so she goes on one trip a year. I thought, if I felt like this every time I would kiss him at the dock, go for a hike, and pick him up when he was done. But good for her! Another lady gave me a ginger candy to chew on. That was lovely as well. Because there was more snorkeling to be done and I was NOT going to miss out! (you actually feel better if you are in the water and not on the boat as well so even if I wasn't going to snorkel I was at least going to float)
This was the next spot. So much better. Lots of fish. And we stayed for a bit until the water got cold. Then on to the next stop.
Oh look! A bathing suit shot of me! Aren't you all so lucky! But really look how clear that water is.
The best snorkeling was at Captain Cook and we stayed there for quite awhile exploring the whole shoreline. Including where freshwater streams came in to the ocean underwater. The mixing of the salt and fresh water was really cool to see. It looks totally different. There is also a very steep and sudden drop off in the area and seeing how deep blue the sea got along the edge was very cool. Swimming along the edge wondering how deep it went and what was under you right there was great.
Speaking of under you...we also saw the shadow of a shark in the water. We were in the boat at the time so no worries. He didn't surface so no fin action but you could see the shape of his body gliding along and then he was gone. I also got a quick glimpse of an octopus while we were swimming. It was a very cool trip. Right up to the vomiting on the pier part, but hey, that means that I truly burnt more calories than I took in that morning right? And I did feel so much better as soon as I hurled so that was great too.
We were going to do a night time dive that evening but rescheduled it for later in the week. Brent was pretty sure I wasn't going to want to go back in the water that soon. I fought him a little but he was right. It took me the rest of the day before I was really back up to snuff. So instead that night we took a sunset walk by our hotel and explored a little there.
We found some tide pools.
A protected marshland.
And watched the sunset into to the vog.
The next day was a "free morning" meaning that I had 4 "suggestions" for things to do but nothing we HAD to do. Turns out we only did two of them, so that was relaxing. One of the things on the list was closed due to the dengue outbreak and the other one we ran out of time but we did it the first time we visited so we didn't feel like we missed out.
So the things we did do were drive to the other side of the island to see Rainbow Falls:
Which was an hour and half drive from the hotel to see a fall that wasn't as nice as the ones we have here at home. It was also right by the side of the road so there was no hike or anything to make up for it. But it was nice enough AND because it didn't take much time it gave us a chance to go to the Botanical Garden which was lovely. I love our Japanese garden here in Portland and this is the only garden I've been to that I could make the argument for being better.
It was stunning. So many things to see. Quite the hike around the grounds as well. And when the woman in the gift shop asked about bug spray when we bought our tickets we should have said yes please. See, I brought bug spray for our flume trip, thinking that a water trip through the rainforest was probably a mosquito banquet, but a garden in a rainforest? Didn't even cross my mind. Because I'm slow. So we didn't get bug spray and Brent left with one mosquito bite on the back of his leg.
After the garden we headed back to the other side of the island to wait for our ride for the evening. Sunset and stargazing on Mauna Kea.
Temperature at the summit before sunset was 30. With wind gusts that moved me. After sunset it was mid 20s right quick. The tour company provided parkas.
So many observatories. They opened as the sun set.
The sunset was simply stunning.
And then there was the stargazing...
Okay, so I told you how much I love to snorkel. And I had a great time even with the seasickness. But if you do one thing on the Big Island I am telling you do this. I cannot even describe it completely. And as I am just a point and shooter with a simple camera I couldn't even take a picture to show you. But there was a lot of "wow...." "amazing...." "incredible" going on! When I was younger I would go to camp in the mountains of New Mexico. No cities so no extra light. We saw a lot of stars. But I have never ever seen anything like this. It practically gave you vertigo there was so much depth there. And the tour company had high powered telescopes so we saw other galaxies and the Crab Nebula and Jupiter with four of its moons. I cannot even tell you how incredible it was. It made me feel small and large at the same time. I thought of my friend Rex who could have done justice to the view I had of the Milky Way and not only Orion's belt and dagger but his bow! I saw Leo clearly and Taurus' red eye. I saw three shooting stars and Brent watched 2 satellites cross the sky. I thought of Chad and N and how much they would LOVE to be there. It was incredible. Don't skip this if you go to the Big Island.
The next day was Flumin' Kohalo. It was fun. Not super exciting, don't think you are going to be riding the rapids, but it was something you couldn't do anyplace else. This is where I discovered something was wrong with the underwater camera. I had checked on pictures the day before to see if they came out and all was fine. Then when we got to the Flume the battery was dying. At first we thought it was because we used it all up snorkeling and just should have charged it. Found out later the seal had busted and salt water and batteries are not a good mix. So I only got a couple of shots of the flume.
Things that amuse only me...It's like a minion. A minion named Kev.Also the fact that insurance required us all to wear these flotation devices in 2 feet of water...
We look kind of beat here but really we are just a little bored. When you are the type of people that get places on time it's boring waiting for those that are always late.
Above the flume carrying the irrigation water.
In one of the 10 tunnels. Brent had to paddle. I felt badly for him. He always has to drive while I look around at the cool stuff. I did offer to switch but he said no.
The next day we had our helicopter tour of the island. My thought was this was a good way to make sure we didn't miss anything. Since I was only lightly scheduling our time. LIGHTLY!
Staring in to the sun...
See that??? That's HOT LAVA!
Then we headed back to change for our re-scheduled evening snorkel trip. Which got cancelled as we were driving there. The water was just too rough. I felt horrible. It was the number one thing we were both looking forward to on this trip and my seasickness screwed it up. Then today I looked online and found out that the trip we were going to take had been cancelled as well. So I don't feel as personally responsible. Still bummed, but nothing would have changed if I hadn't gotten sick so not as bad.
The last day we took a pre-breakfast walk to soak up the last bit of the island before we had to head home.
And off we went. I, of course, have hundreds more pictures which I will post on Facebook later. But this is a good sample. We had a great time. Saw some incredible things. Got in some snorkeling, some hiking, saw some beautiful sites, ate some great food and came home happy, relaxed and with just a touch of dengue fever for Brent...
He's fine now. Seems the first time you get it is the easy one. We won't be skipping bug spray ever again though!