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Stop and smell the roses

Tonight I had an epiphany. This happens to me every once in a while, and this particular time it was really just a manifestation of what has become a popular turn of phrase. Thought to be more than 100 years old, with no known point of origin, the phrase 'stop and smell the roses' is familiar and most recently re-popularized by Ringo Star in the 80's with the release of his solo album.

What caused this epiphany? 

My beautiful wife and I were busy on the lanai playing gin rummy. Once again, as is usually the case, she was kicking my ass. When it got too hot outside, like it usually does early in the evening before the sun goes down, we headed inside. It was 5:50pm. My first thought was - damn I missed the world news again. - then I realized it was Friday and I have not watched the world news all week long. In the same breath I also realized - oh well, I don't care. I did not need to know if there was another bombing in Afghanistan, if Mayor Bloomberg was hot on his next cause to reduce obesity, or if there was more rioting based on race relations in the country due to the latest murder verdict. (on that note - have you ever noticed that the world news only has two types of commercials? - Drug companies, especially those pushing ED solutions and car companies. Seriously….)

Some may think it is a myopic view of the world. Those that know me, will know that that is not like me. When I lived in the corporate world, I religiously DVR'd the world news and would care a lot about the orphans in Somalia and their latest plight. 

Now, after moving to Hawaii, and spending a significant amount of time on the island, I have come to realize what I think I have always known. Recent events within our family have also just cemented this notion.  Home is where your family is and spending quality time with them is important. … and if you had not heard, I'm going to be a grandfather. - and a damn good one. 

I have always preached 'follow your bliss'. My EMS partners will attest to the fact that my philosophy on life has always been to do what makes you happy, and don't sweat the rest - as it will work itself out. 

I'm not the first to have this epiphany, and I won't be the last. What I have come to realize with my time here on the Big Island is that family makes me happy. Spending time with my wife, seeing my daughters, and the anticipation of my very first grandchild are what is important in this life. Taking the time to take a year off and just get totally bored has helped. While I love 'paradise, the beach and all that….  Hawaii is not home. Colorado is an amazing, beautiful place and growing up there I have totally taken it for granted. 

I'm looking forward to heading back and exploring all over again.

Where ever you are - if you are reading this blog post. Stop - and smell a rose. Kiss your child. Tell your spouse / partner / friend you love and appreciate them and enjoy your time on this big blue marble. The work you blow off tonight will still be there tomorrow. - family might not be.


Lazy procrastination or adoption of 'Hawaii time'? - you decide.

I was recently reminded that it has been two full months since my last blog post. It is amazing how fast the time has been flying by. Although we have been spending the time doing a whole lot of nothing, we have also accomplished a significant amount of sight seeing and poked our heads into almost every nook and cranny on this Big Island. On a personal note, Colleen and I have been through several gyrations regarding our future on the island and what is next for us (more on that in a future post) but for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this photo blog on the last several weeks of our adventures. 

I promise (myself) to try to be a little more diligent about updating this little mind dump of mine - it is nice to get these random thoughts out on virtual paper if for no other reason but to have something to look back on in a few years. I must admit, however, the 'apopo mentality (mañana for us southwestern folks) is very contagious. It is experienced most readily here when visiting the DMV. The fine government folks on the island are very nice, but most definitely on Aloha time.


One of the fun things we recently did was visit the Hawaiian Chocolate farm and factory. This is a little place very close to Kona where a guy has about 10 acres of Cocoa trees and (according to him) is the only place in the US, where you can get 100% US grown and produced chocolate. He and his little staff of 7 have a small production facility where they grow, process, ferment, temper and mold some pretty good chocolate. - not that I frequently experienced BAD chocolate - 


 This is a shot of one of the cocoa pods freshly plucked from a tree. Apparently the pods ripen continuously throughout the year and the trees had lots of pods in various states of growth. The trees are harvested every other week or so. Inside the Cocoa beans are covered by a slimly, sucrose based mucus layer that the local gecko's absolutely love. As soon as he cracked it open on the table, the little guys literally came out of the woodwork to grab a bit and then scurried back off for a yummy breakfast.

The covered beans are put into a sweat box, where natural fermentation occurs and as a result the temperature increases significantly. This melts off the sucrose layer leaving behind the bean.


Once out of the sweat box, the beans are dried on open tables


They are then ground, mixed with vanilla and tempered before being molded into yumminess.


Next stop, we head over to a little place called the Paleaku Gardens. It is a very interesting hybrid of several influences. Initially a Buddhist temple, it has morphed over the years to include influences, and separate, but combined, side by side homage to many different religions, including Islam, Christianity, and even Atheism. One of my favorite areas is the Carl Sagan galaxy garden. a spiral shaped flora layout with many arms that you can wander in-between intermixed with fountains and secluded benches. At one point, on one arm of the galaxy, there is a little baby sign stuck in the ground that says 'you are here'


There is a display of several of these Buddhist sand paintings. This one took two monks, two weeks to complete and has no glue or mold. Should a small tremor from Pele choose, (frequent here) it would be lost.


The flowers here are unusual and vibrant


there were probably 10 different types and colors of hibiscus.


These pacific pines are one of my favorite


You can't help but feel tranquil when walking among the gardens


This is the majestic main walkway


and one of the cooler trees


this little guy was about 3 inches long and had spun an amazing web, about four feet across. Colleen was less enthused with the handiwork.


Just down the street from the gardens is the painted church. Its pastel frescos with a tropical theme lend an entirely different take on church art. I imagine this is what Michelangelo would have produced, had he consumed a couple two many Mai Tai's


Moving randomly across the island now, and not fitting into any particular category are some notable things like this driveway gate found along Alii drive.


A cool old rusty jeep that lives next to an outhouse and random old gas pump.


And the ever present horde of gecko's that invade every lanai space on the island. In this case, someone had put out one of those little while jelly packets, leading to a steady stream of amped out Strawberry Jam filled "Freddy's"


One of the pervasive flavors on the island is Liliquoi (passion fruit) - and they can be found growing wild along the side of the road.


I have often spoken of the work I have been doing while here with Advocats. This is one of the feral's in a colony that I feed. We have named her Beba 2 (after our Cat Beba that is now living with a friend on the mainland and looks - and acts the same - they are both also very well fed…..


One of the best things about living here as been the steady steam of visitors who have come to visit - Here is my Stadium EMT partner Sara, and I on the summit of Mauna Kea


And, of course, just hanging out and doing nothing. In this case with the most beautiful woman in the world, sharing a lava bowl full of sangria at the Lava Lava beach club at A-Bay.


A- Bay ( or Anaeho'omalu bay for the locals) be we can't pronounce it, always has turtles on the beach. This one appears to have missed the cleaning station on his way in for an afternoon nap.


Here is a better view of A Bay


One of our favorite things to do is head up to the resorts and hang out on their beaches. Because all the beaches on Hawaii are actually public, all the gated resorts have to let you in to access the beach. Many have incredible facilities that nice to spend the day at. They make their money, however, and we always partake in their pool side bars, that serve icy cold albeit it a tad expensive local barley pops.


When we are not gallanting around the island, we also spend a bunch of time around our complex infinity pool. Here we have met several other fun folks, and have enjoyed several dinners with other complex residents.


It is a good thing we found this particular vegetation growing on the Hilo side in the Botanic garden. 


This is also were you can sit and ponder your thoughts, while listening to an amazing waterfall……  try it (below)

30 seconds of tranquility


Also while in Hilo we headed up to Rainbow falls. The falls themselves are actually not that spectacular. what is, however is this Banyan tree. The picture does not really show the perspective very well, but I could not reach the lowest branch (yes it's that big)


Down in the Puna district there is some amazing vegetation and small, single lane roads covered with vegetation like these really tall trees that completely canopy the road.


We also hit Volcano national park again. Here is the caldera at night, under a full moon


and one of my favorite parts, the Thurston Lava tube.


This is the overlook, over the Kilauea iki, a section that erupted in 1959. Now you can hike down and walk across it (although we have not done that yet)


We did manage to hike over to one of the more interesting sections of crater rim drive (now closed to cars) but you can still hike along it for about a mile to the area of a bunch of ribbon craters, that last erupted in 1984, and covered the existing road.


What do you call a selfy, that includes your wife? a couply?


one of my happiest accomplishments thus far was to both find the old road (not easy) then accomplish the trip, to the top of the old twin cinder domes next to Kua bay (commonly referred to as the Butt, because that is what it looks like, sticking out of the landscape). One of the most difficult 4-wheel drives I have made thus far, the sand and gravel are deep and at one point I had Jethro up to his differentials. But I made it!


Sitting on top of the world, or at least my little works for the moment, enjoying the view of Kua bay below


In May, Colleen headed back to the mainland to help our oldest move into her new place. Meanwhile I got a little lazy with taking out the recycling.


However that week I did participate in a charity walk…..


with my AdvoCats peeps (yes, it is true - I have officially turned into a crazy cat lady)


Also, while Colleen was away, I spend the requisite time going through the online classes at Padi and became certified to dive. The local dive shop, Jacks diving locker was great and I have now logged 5 dives. It's funny. I really thought I would like it more. However, my overall take on the experience has to be summed up as  …. meh 

I'm glad I did it, and I  want to dive with the manta rays still, but what is all the fuss about? - I guess I was not destined to swim with the fishes, for I really just don't enjoy the experience that much. Check it off my list as been there done that…. Next?


The next week Colleen returned and soon after my baby Taylor was here. - I loved spending a week with my little girl showing her our favorite beach.


THIS, is why we moved here.


Tay met a local honu at A-bay


…. and got a 'tako' on her leg (… just henna)


One of the best waterfalls on the island is Akaka falls near Hilo


One of the other things that is amazing about this island is the diversity of geography and geology. Like this black sand beach on the South side.


I tried - but could not even accomplish my artwork before a wave came and already started to claim it back.


Tay and Colleen at cocktail hour…. Buggy is coming in July!


We also spent the day one recent Saturday volunteering for the Ironman Honu half triathlon. The athletes are amazing - and a little bit nuts. The fastest pro did it in 4:06 with average folks taking 6-8 hours.  The whole Ironman in October should be very cool to watch.


We helped out at the swim / bike transition.  Here is a shot of the calm before the storm, while most of the athletes were still in the water.


After the race, we spent the afternoon at the Fairmont Orchid, soaking up the sun and again, patronizing the beach bar.


This is actually a shot of a piece of art from our condo. I'm not sure why it speaks to me, but it does….


Again, - we spend the day at Kua bay, now outfitted with a new Tommy Bahama umbrella!


On a recent hike along the shore we came a cross this rock in a very remote place. - not so remote, however, that someone hauled a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the day.


Also of note are these pieces of rock / coral scattered about that appear in interesting shapes - this one like an engine block?


The island teams with ocean life. On a walk along the shore recently we came across this crab, now we know it to be called a 7-11 crab for its spots. It was huge.



Well - thats it for now - Apologies again for the long post - but that takes us through the beginning of June. - Still on the bucket list while we are here; to see actual lava flowing into the ocean. - Also brewing in my head, more thoughts about island fever - a potential job / career opportunity and what is next for us in our Hawaii adventure.






Our evening on the summit of Mauna Kea. - with some incredible stargazing

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Our latest trek and adventure was to the top of Mauna Kea. The big island is comprised of five volcanos and Mauna Kea is the tallest, topping out at 13,796. Not quite a 14er, but technically it is the tallest mountain in the world as measured from the sea floor. It is also one of the few places in the world that you can drive from sea level to almost 14k in just two hours. - and believe me your ears feel it.

We had heard the stargazing up on the mountain was unparalleled and we were not disappointed. We headed up about three in the afternoon, where it was a balmy 84 degrees at the condo - and only 30 at the summit. 

Mauna Kea is home to more than a dozen of the worlds most powerful observatories including the Keck, the Suburu and the combined Canada, French Hawaii telescope (CFHT). 



According to the astronomer that we spoke with, this particular summit is one of the best in the world for observatories because of a combination of factors, including its accessibility (you can drive to the top), it is very dry, so the air molecules contain very little precipitation that refracts light, and the light pollution from nearby cities is minimal. In fact, if you have ever been to the island you probably noticed that the street lights are yellow. DiamondRanchHSLPSThe cities use a low pressure sodium street light that both reduces light pollution and emit light on a particular wavelength that can be filtered out by the telescopes.

The road up is paved until you get to the visitor center, which sits at about 9600 feet. This is a good stopping point to acclimate for a few minutes and check on the weather conditions at the summit. There are also dorms here and astronomers working on the summit are required to stop here for 24 hours prior to heading up. Divers are not allowed to go up if they have been in the water in the last 24 hours. This is also where all the stargazing happens. (more on that later) as the observatories are not open to the public. The visitor center has a collection of telescopes that can be used to view the sky - once dark. Getting to this point is an interesting drive as you literally go up, through the clouds. We experienced rain, fog and at one point visibility that was less than 100 yards… but then you break through above the clouds and it is a different world.

The last bit of road from the visitor center to the summit is dirt, bumpy and VERY steep. It ascends the last 4000 feet in just four miles. On a clear day, from here apparently you can see Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i and occasionally even Oahu. Four wheel drive is strongly recommended and I was again happy to have Jethro. We only saw Maui as the marine layer below was pretty thick this particular afternoon. - maybe we'll have to come back for sunrise.

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We settled in and unpacked our picnic dinner and watched the world go by, - and an amazing sunset.

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One of the observatories

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Maui in the distance

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waiting for sunset with our summit friends

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We were not disappointed

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The sunset with the Subaru (left) and twin Keck observatories in frame

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At one point the light literally streaked across the sky

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it was one of the best sunsets we have ever witnessed

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As the sky darkened, the observatories all came to life - rotating in position and opening their observatory doors.

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For my Colorado peeps - yes - there was snow on the summit - but just a little….

Once the sun set - everyone hopped back into their cars for the four mile trek back down to the visitor center. Here they had hot cocoa and several telescopes set up to view the night sky,along with several people on hand to explain what you were looking at. This particular night was perfect. We chose it on purpose, on some great advice, because it was a new moon - so it was very dark. The island does not create any clouds this high up, so it was completely clear and the milky way could be seen from one horizon to the other.  I wish I had a camera that could have taken a picture to share. I have spent many nights in the Colorado mountains camping and seen many starry nights - but nothing like this before!

2012 April MaunaKea Skies Milky Way

This is not my photo - but this IS a shot of the visitor center building we were at - and what we were able to see. In fact it was almost hard to pick out constellations. I only know a few, but the big and little dipper were actually hard to see - because there were so many other stars visible in-between the constellation it was hard to recognize. The astronomers had these very cool green laser pointers that they used to show you everything. We saw several shooting stars and you could even see satellites with the naked eye slowly crawling their way across the sky.

That night we were able to clearly see Jupiter with the naked eye and several of its moons through a telescope. We saw Saturn's rings and several zodiac constellations. my favorite part, however was to just sit and look up without a telescope. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

There were a few people that had iPads or iPhones and a pretty nifty program that I have since downloaded.

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Its called The Night Sky and is only 99 cents. It uses the iPad's GPS, compass and clock to determine your position and then will overlay the constellation and its name across what you are actually seeing. - God I love technology!

the other VERY COOL thing that the visitor center had was a powerful motor driven and satellite guided telescope connected to a Microsoft Surface. 

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If you have never seen one of these before click the link above (but then come back!) - it is an interactive coffee table sized computer and monitor and it's pretty nifty. I took this shot with my iPhone of the surface of the 'surface' ;-) Here the astronomer had focused in on the Orion Nebula - but you could ask him to find just about anything and he would hit a couple of key strokes. the telescope would reposition and the image would then display on the screen live. You could actually see Jupiters moons moving in real time.

The evening was amazing and a not to be missed experience if you are ever here.

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I spent the next day with my toes in the sand - pondering my existence on this little blue ball.

More soon! - thanks for stopping by.


Kona Update: Two more weeks, several day trips and a ton more photos

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Well it has been two weeks since my last post, and as of today, we have officially been here a month. We are beginning to settle in and every day this place feels more and more like home. Our new home. Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing the Hawaii DMV first hand in order to get plates for the jeep and a Hawaii ID card so we can start to get Kama'aina discounts at various places. Two and a half hours later I now have a first hand appreciation for what is meant by 'being on Hawaii time'. - Maybe I need to look for a government job here….

With that said, the people here are so stinkin' friendly. Everyone that we meet in town or encounter on some back country, four wheel drive only trail or just walking down the street is incredible. They all have stories to tell and will throw you a shaka as you pass. We are about as haole as they come - but so are most of the people on this particular island, and the few native Hawaiian people we meet are happy, friendly and genuinely nice. - Heck, whats not to be happy about. - they live here!

Over the last couple of weeks we have tromped all over the place, circumventing the island a couple of times and exploring its nooks and crannies. Our condo had a great book in it that we have since decided is really the definitive guide to this place. If you ever plan on visiting, It's called Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed. I highly recommend grabbing a copy off Amazon or from your local book store. They also have a companion iPhone app that is integrated with GPS maps and will tell you 'what your near' at any time. 

So without further delay - here is a photo tour of our last couple of weeks of amazing exploration. I even tossed in a couple of videos….

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This island is very diverse with cliffs, sandy beaches, green pastures, dense tree forests, and rain forests. Change elevation just 1000 feet and the climate, topography and views are completely different. Drive south around the Southern point to Naalehu and you would swear you were in an African Safari, crossing vast green plains with scrub trees. I swear I saw Simba sitting on a rock outcropping. The above pic is the Sheridan at the South end of Kona.


This is the road along Naalehu


Tree forrest near Hamakua - (North side)

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More coastline near Kona

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 There are gecko's everywhere here. This guy's name if Freddie. He lives on our Lanai and likes to hang out in the lampshade. - Colleen says he wears a lampshade on his head because he drank a little too much last night.

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We were recently down at the Four Seasons beach and there was a Honu (turtle) party going on. One of the things we discovered shortly after being here is the whole beach access thing at the resorts. All Hawaii beaches are public - so as a result there are beach access signs and paths every mile or so on the shoreline. Even in 'private' communities or between rows of nice beach houses. What that means for the private resorts is that they have to let you in, and give you access to their beach. All you have to do is drive up to the gated security shack and say, I'd like a beach pass please' and they will check you in and BAM - you're on their beach. Actually - they are all very nice about this and do a really good job of welcoming folks that are not staying in their resort. In the case of the Four Seasons, they also choose to place some of their really nice chairs on the public beach - so if they are not full (they never are) you can use them also. - Pristine beach access with a bar just steps away…. - what could be better.

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As the afternoon progressed the number of honu increased until they had a quorum. - I heard the resolution to hang loose on the sand for the next few hours passed unanimously.

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Jethro (my Jeep) arrived right on schedule from Matson so now we were able to shed the little rental car and really explore the island. There are lots of beach access areas and back country valleys that are four wheel drive only. - Although we did hear a good joke. Do you know what the difference between an jeep and a rental car is? - you can take a rental car ANYWHERE!  

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Next stop on our trek was Volcanos' National Monument. Madam Pele has been active here continuously since 1984. At the summit of Kilauea, the lava dome fills and drains as the eruption continues. After the Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami the dome emptied and the vulcanologists were not sure where the lava was going. It has since re-appeared and lately the dome has been so full the crater rim road is closed due to the sulfur dioxide levels in the area, so this is as close as you can get. At night we hear it glows - We had to leave but we'll be back for a night visit soon.

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Pano across the lava field

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The end of the road. Down chain of craters road at the end, you can still see where highway 130 was taken back by the island.  For a while they were maintaining it and charging $5 to pass but subsequent lava flows kept covering it again and now this way back to Hilo is gone - along with all the houses in the little village that used to be down this road. Currently lava is flowing from the Pu'lu 'O'o vent on the edge of the park property. The only way to see live lava flows is by helicopter, boat, or to hike several miles from here or the Hilo side of 130 across the old lava flow. After walking this lava field during the day I'm not sure if I have the skill to do the night hike… We might have to shell out for the chopper.

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Some street signs still exist - sort of….

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Hike in a bit and you can see remnants of the road.

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And very cool lava flow formations.

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The coastline here is steep, and very beautiful

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Arch at the bottom of chain of craters road

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Then - back across the saddle road for another fabulous sunset. This is the view from our Lanai - and it never gets old. I think i could probably publish a coffee table book with nothing but sunsets from here - every one is amazing and different.

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I've been keeping busy (when not exploring) volunteering for a non-profit called Advocats. So far I have helped out in two clinics and we have spay or neutered 218  feral cats. The organization has done more than 13k since 1997. More on them later in a future post.

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I have also adopted a feeding station for one of the feral colonies that live in town. About 20 cats total in this location I think. After cats are trapped and spay, their ear is clipped so you can identify them as such from a distance. Right for girls and left for boys (because girls are always right!) They are then returned to the colony to live out their life - but not produce any more kittens. Feeders monitor the colony for newcomers without clipped ears and if one shows up - notify a trapper. Stats on Oahu show this TNR (trap neuter return) program is humane, and effective reducing the population. They had more than 1 million cats and now estimate the population at about 300k. 

This guy (above) is waiting for me every night along with 3 of his similar marked siblings. In just a couple of weeks he has let me get much closer to him. 

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 We found this little girl at the BrewHaus in Waimea, although we don't think she was feral - as she had a collar and jumped up on our laps.  I sure miss my kitties in Colorado.

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Amazing colorings on this one. We named her Cloie.

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We had to chuckle at this one. - At the resorts the milk is on SALE for $9.99 a gallon. Most food is reasonable and commands about a 10% premium over what you would pay in a mainland city but perishable items and produce not locally grown is significantly more expensive.

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We found a great breakfast and lunch place just past Captain Cook called the Coffee Shack. It has good food and even better views.

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Next we stopped at Laupahoehoe Harbor. 

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Harbor is a bit of a misnomer. In 1946 a tsunami killed 159 people including 21 schoolchildren here. Then in 1960 another 38 people perished in a tsunami. Since then there are no more houses allowed and its not a working harbor, it is a park. The ocean here feels incredibly raw and powerful. Swimming is STRONGLY discouraged and I can see why. Our guide book tells of a Toyota barge that broke loose and dumped a bunch of new cars along this coast in 1985. The Lloyds of London insurance adjuster that came out to check it out insisted that his helicopter land on the deck of the wrecked ship. A rogue wave took out the chopper and him.

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Colleen captured this great shot from a safe distance. Mother nature is both execrating and a little scary from this 'harbor' - You really feel the oceans intensity here - and that was on a beautiful calm day….

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The color of the water is astounding.

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Time for another sunset. This one from the lanai of our new friends Debbie and Todd. - Their building is behind and a little higher than ours, providing for a completely different perspective and panoramic view of the coastline.

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The big island is also a Denver fan. It provides its own Kona version of a Bronco blue and orange sky.

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We have spent many hours walking along the coastline discovering sea arches, crabs and various other shore bound sea life.

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Including these guys that I have never seen before. They are called Helmet Urchins and have evolved to only have the bottom half of the typical 'urchin' spokes which allows them to be more hydrodynamic. (is that a word?) They can survive pounding surf without getting knocked off their perch.

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(not my photo) - they are brilliant purple and instead have these cool patchwork of scales where their predecessors had regular urchin spikes.

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Many people think Kona is nothing but lava rock and the few beaches it does have are small and not very nice. Not the case at all. Hapuna beach is a long crescent shaped example of a quintessential Hawaiian beach with beautiful sand, calm water, and a gradual slope that allows you to wade in for 40 or 50 yards and still only be up to your chest.

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And even though there were lots of people here this day - it never felt crowded.

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Along the Qween K highway, just north of Kona are several lava fields and thus lava tubes to explore.

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This one continued back for several hundred yards and had several skylights where the tube has collapsed above allowing for exploration without a flashlight.

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Here is the view into one of the skylights.

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Another cool area is the 'Queens Baths' at Kiholo bay. These are lava tubes that have since filled with natural springs. You can take a refreshing dip and if you want you can swim under the arch back for several yards to the next skylight.

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We were not bold enough to give it a try.but the water is cold, clear and full of little fish.

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Maybe next time - 

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Along the beach here the Honu are plentiful and just hang out in the shallow water.

Video of Honu at Kiholo bay

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The Paul Mitchell hair guy has a house here called the Bali house. It has very intricate carvings in the roof and was built in Bali the disassembled and shipped here in pieces.

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Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all drink it all up!

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Someone built a sundial on the black sand beach here out of white coral rocks and coconut husks. The metadata on my picture says I took this at 10:47 am - not too bad.

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Next up - the north shore of the island. Up North by Hawi is a great little four wheel drive path that takes you from the main road all the way to a green grassy bluff where a light house used to be. Now there is just a light beacon here. At this point you are only 30 miles from Maui and can clearly see it and Haleakala in the distance. The terrain here is very different with large quantities of very soft topsoil that just falls off the cliff and into the sea. Many signs warn of the danger and a few cars on the rocks below warn of the picnickers that did not heed the warning.

Here is a pano video.

Apparently when I shot this, I must have thought the area was 'absolutely beautiful'.

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The ground here is soft and squishy and covered with green grass

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The perspective in this picture does not do the place justice. It almost looks like a little cliff with small rocks at the bottom. - but check out the scale compared to the jeep on the far right.

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Also on the North shore is the Waipi'o valley. This is a stunning vista where Hawaiian Chiefs would meet to make important decisions and where Kamehameha I was hidden away as an infant. Lined by a black sand beach it was lush farmland but also devastated by the 1946 tsunami. Since then it has been sparsely populated by only a few people that live without power, water, sewage, TV or cell coverage. If you want to drop off the grid - this is the place. Residents practice subsistence farming and access is down a very steep (25% grade) four wheel drive only 1 lane road. Once in the valley it is lush, tropical and 'road' is more of a loose term.

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View back up the side from the bottom. Lots of waterfalls here and moss along with 100% humidity - Colleen thought it was more like 200%

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Most would call this a stream - 

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Nope - this is actually part of the road up the valley floor.


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There was a pretty cool 'parasite' tree down in the valley that was living and growing around another tree.

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One more sunset from our lanai for the road. Next up: We learn to scuba dive, try out the underwater camera, and hit the mountains for some star gazing on the top of Mouna Kea. I can't help but feel that we have just begun to scrape the surface of this amazing place. - check back soon - or subscribe to the RSS feed above for updates!



Kona Coffee 101: An Introduction


We have all heard of Kona coffee, but I knew little about the coffee growing process, and specificlly how labor intensive it is. We spend the day at a local coffee plantation and this is what I learned.

Greenwell Farms is a fourth generation coffee plantation started back in 1850 when Henry Nicholos Greenwell left England with his wife, and relocated to Kona to start a cattle farm. Coffee was a sideline business for the family, with only a few acres of trees dedicated to it on the land and the majority of the area was used for cattle ranching.  He would export some to relatives back in Europe. In 1873, Greenwell's coffee won a recognition diploma at the worlds fair in Vienna, and his Kona Coffee was now on the world map.

When he passed, his wife, who had no interest in continuing to cattle ranch, slowly converted the farm more to coffee and other fruit trees. Today, the fourth generation runs the 90 acre farm and has about 70 acres of coffee, 10 of macadamia nuts and 10 of random fruit trees, to include avocado, apple banana's, pineapple, and island oranges. - needless to say it would be hard to starve on this island.

Coffee trees are a pretty hardy bunch and grow like weeds, in very little or no topsoil, but they like the very rich volcanic rock. Taking a page from viticulture, in order to be 'Kona' coffee, it has to be grown in this terror, a section of the island about 20 miles long and only 1000 feet or so wide (in elevation). Not unlike a  vitas vinifera varietal, pure Kona coffee must contain at least 90% Kona Typica plant. In another interesting parallel to wine, a 1990 infestation of the rodi-knot nematode damaged many trees in Kona, and was solved using root grafting to a resistant strain. 

A coffee tree left alone will grow to 20 feet high, and mechanical harvesting still has not resulted in an adequate solution, due to the steep terrain and difficult landscape. As a result most Kona coffee is harvested by hand. Another reason its prices command a premium. To help facilitate this, coffee trees are cut - a process called 'stumping' ever three years or so (photo below) After a tree is stumped, it will not fruit the next year so usually a third of a farms coffee trees are not producing in a given season. Reason two its expensive.

A tree will bear fruit three or four times during a harvest season - from October to February. Fruit is harvested when the cherry is red. Wait too long and the result is bitterness.

These trees were harvested last a couple of moths ago and are just now beginning to show buds of flowers again. When in full bloom, the flowers are white and completely cover the trees - hence the term Kona snow.

 A typical tree will yeald about 15 pounds of fruit, which results in about 2 pounds of coffee, once all the multiple layers of the cherry are stripped away.

Once the cherries are harvested, they are 'wet processed' in a pulper that removes the bean from the cherry pulp.

As an interesting side note: this pulp used to be returned to the ground, but has recently been found to have extremely high levels of antioxidants. As a result t is now typically sold off to companies that will then juice the pulp, and turn it into a health drink such as Kona Red.

Once the coffee beans have been through the pulper, they have a green slimy surface layer on them called the pectin layer, that is full of sucrose. If they are not processed in a day or so, they will mold (yuck) and the flavor profile will be put off. In order to accomplish this, they travel down the PCV pipes, and get an overnight soaking in a big vat. This process is called fermenting.

Another interesting side note that I did not know: most coffee cherries contain two beans, and look similar to the two halfs of a peanut. Occationally (about 5% of cherries) however, contain only 1, smaller whole and round bean. This is called a peaberry. Initially thought to be 'runts' and discarded, the peaberries are now separated from the rest and when roasted correctly, produce a very good (some consider premium) coffee. - so its sold at a premium! I never knew where the "Peaberry Coffee' name came from…. now you do too.

Back to our little coffee story. Once the beans are done in their tub, they move to drying. they are laid out on large slabs and the sun kicks in and is allowed to naturally dry the beans. every couple of hours the workers use a rake to turn them and the moisture content is slowly reduced. - It''s pretty labor intensive to do it this way rather than use a mechanical drier. Reason number three Kona coffee is expensive.

Greenwell uses these cool little houses to dry their coffee beans. When the trade winds bring a shower, the roof of the building can be slid on and off (shown here in its closed position) to keep the rain off of the drying beans.

Finally, when the beans are dry enough, they head to a mill for processing. Here the beans are graded, and separated by size into several size classifications, that produce different flavor profiles. The peaberries are also separated at this point and the last couple of layers (the parchment and silver-skin) similar to a peanuts red skin is removed. 

Once processed and separated, the 'green' beans are then shipped to cofee suppliers who will roast them and possibly add other flavors, based on their particular specifications.

Our fantastic tour guide Keko, let us know that only about 1% of the total coffee market is comprised of Kona coffee. for Greenwell, they ship 90 percent of their beens wholesale to coffee roasters such as Starbucks and reserve about 10% to roast themselves and sell on the farm, so you won't see the name in stores, but yo can order it online from their website.

Our personal favorite is their chocolate macadamia nut. An A-M-A-Z-I-N-G blend produced with what else, local Kona chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Keko said that their farm produces about 250,000 pounds of coffee annually. If I'm doing the math right - at an average retail of $18-$20 a pound, - that farm is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Overall - a very interesting way to spend an afternoon in my new home, here in Kona. I would highly recommend the (free) tour, and the (not so free) coffee if you're in the area.

More random photos below.


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There is one section of the farm that still has very old coffee trees on it. These are about 110 years old. a coffee tree will last about 125 years, but apparently its yield will significantly reduce after about 25 years or so. As a result most are replaced at that time.

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these trees were 'stumped' last year and will not produce anything this year.

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Shot of the Greenwell Farm

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In the fall, during harvest season migrant workers from mexico also head here. its backbreaking, not very fun work so no one here wants to do it, similar to agriculture on the mainland. These are their bunkhouses. It takes 30-40 of them to harvest this farm.

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this is the old processing house on the property - very cool

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one of my new favorite things to eat on the island are these apple bananas. A local grown little dude thats about a third the size of a regular banana, and incredibly good.

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There are several different varieties of avocado here also - some as big as a melon

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A little baby pineapple growing near the old mill house

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This has nothing at all to do with coffee - but the hibiscus on this island - just growing wild and in random places is absolutely beautiful. 

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It comes in many different colors and we often find them just lying on the side of the road after falling from their plant. All you need is a hair clip and you're all set.

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I also like the fan palms in several places here. They are pretty cool.

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Again - nothing to do with coffee or the farm - this was just a random old dump truck that is sitting on Ali'i drive about a mile from our condo. Looks like it has been there quite a while!

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Aloha! - another great day in paradise.


Kona Blog - 10 days in - the good and the bad.

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My first 10 days here have been completely fantastic. This place truly is paradise. I can't imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else. The fears about everything being incredibly expensive are mostly unfounded. - Sure there are some things that are outrageous compared to home. But for the most part - if you stay out of the mega resorts bars, and shop smartly, there is not a huge difference. Gas on the street is $4.55 currently, but only $4.19 at Costco, We have found that produce in the grocery stores is higher (3.99 for a head of iceberg lettuce) - but there are farmers markets all over where the prices are normal. It just necessitates dispersing your shopping between 3-4 places rather then just running down to King Soopers for everything.

So far we have traveled up and down the entire west coast of the Big Island from North to South tip, exploring various beaches, restaurants and bars. Highlights include '69' beach - named thusly due to being across from the 69 mile marker. We also met a great couple in our complex, Debbie and Todd, who introduced us to the Kona Brew Pub. - Needless to say the Kona Coffee Porter is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!. I had to buy a two liter growler to take home, but it did not last long. - Thank goodness it is re-fillable!


We did experience a bit of a scare last night - well, Colleen did anyhow, as we discovered this little critter cursing across our bedroom floor. Apparently these centipedes are pretty common in Hawaii and can provide a vastly little bite - equivalent to a bee sting, if you don't check your shoes before you put them on. The Hawaiian people say it can feel like a gun shot… I hope not - lets try to avoid that particular experience. Our new little friend - a four inch wily little sucker that was VERY quick if I might say so myself, has been safely deposited in the bushes WAY down the block.

Colleen is a little homesick after ten days - but mostly for our stuff. We are in a vacation condo, still driving a rental car until Jethro the Jeep arrives next week. Its harder then we thought hanging out on 'someone else's' couch and sleeping in someone else's bed. It just feels like vacation. We may have to think again about bringing a shipping container here. We both miss our big bed and a comfy couch that you can sprawl out on. - Home appears to be where your stuff is - and although we are here - our stuff is still in a storage shed in CO. - Don't get me wrong. We're not headed back anytime soon! - but I also miss being able to cook with some decent kitchen equipment. More than I thought I would.



On a very positive note, Colleen and I were meandering down the main street on our second or third day here, and of corse we had to go into the Wyland gallery. Those who have been to our house know he is one of our favorite artists and we have 6 or 7 pieces from him. Colleen was resistant, because when ever we hit a Wyland gallery - we usually end up spending a bunch of time there, and walk out with something expensive. She did not want to get piece number 8. Well as it turned out, we did spend a fair bit of time in the place, chatting with the gallery director, a very nice lady named Jill, who in the end, offered Colleen an job!

The plan was not to work for the first few months, but if something falls in our lap - especially something fun and new like a gallery job - you can't pass it up. Colleen goes back for an official interview today. Wish her luck! I still have to work through my reciprocity with the state, in order to practice here. That should take about 90-120 days. Most everyone we have spoken to tells us getting a healthcare job on the island should not be a problem for me once thats complete, as the island is short staffed. Meanwhile I will likely volunteer for an organization I found that is working to deal with the feral cat population on the island. - its a pretty big problem here with several colonies in the resort areas as well as up on Mouna Kea.



This weekend we will likely head over to the Hilo side for some more exploration. There is just so much to explore and do - however much of it requires a four wheel drive. Jethro can't get here soon enough.  The vehicle tracking page that the shipping provider has, says he is currently over in Honolulu and will be on the big island in a few days. I hope his trip was uneventful across the pacific. - He's and island jeep now!

Well - thats enough for now on this rainy Kona morning. As always, more photo journal below.






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I liked this pic of some lava from 69 beach - if you look, it appears to be a dragons head resting on the sand.

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Hanging out on 69 beach. - still can't pry that iPhone from my hands…..

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Headed up the side of Mauna Loa looking back at the Kona coast

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Looking out over the Pololu coast on the north side of the island

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The foggy Pololu valley

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Pano of the whole area. I love this iPhone feature.

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These guys were parked out right on the side of the road right at the end of the trail head for Pololu valley - waiting for passers by to bring them an apple

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At the beach near Hawi, several locals had just come in from and afternoon fishing on their jet skis. Colleen took picktue of this 'little' fish they caught.

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Just hanging out of for the day at Honl's beach. This is the one directly below our condo and is about a 2 minute walk.

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Honl's beach again - I got in trouble for taking this picture…..

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It would not be a Hawaii blog post without the obligatory sunset shot.

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This was our view from the restaurant lanai at the Mauna Lani resort - where the expensive drinks are….

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Hard to complain when this is what I have done for the last 10 days…. but as I re-read this blog post - it appears i'll find a way!


Kona - Our new home!

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A few days ago I was actively bitching about moving out of Colorado in a blizzard. Well - it was all worth it! - I still can't believe we actually live here now and I feel truly blessed. We have been 'on island' for a little more than 48 hours now. When we arrived, we had nothing but our five (yes 5) suitcases and a couple of carry-on bags, so yesterday we spent the day at Costco, Wal-Mart and the local market stocking up on food, shampoo and all the normal household items we could not drag with us. 

Of note: - This was our first jaunt on Hawaiian Air and I would highly recommend them. All of the staff, from the counter folks in LA to the Flight Attendants and even the baggage claim folks are so polite. Its like they know they live in paradise and it has infected their soles to the core. Fantastic customer service.

When we arrived, our condo was everything we expected and more. It has a fantastic view and is just a short walk from a small beach as well as the main restaurant and shopping strip on Ali'i Drive. We've spent the last two days getting our island legs and exploring our immediate surroundings. Today we also jumped in our rental (Jethro the Jeep should arrive in about two weeks) and headed South.

Here is the first set of photos from the last couple of days.

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This is our little condo building on Ali'i Drive

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Here is what it looks like inside

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This is the kitchen

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This is the view from our lanai. I woke up the first night to the sound of waves crashing in the distance - very cool.

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This was our sunset tonight.

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This is the little beach that is just across the road from our complex. Yesterday there was a cruise ship, the Pride of America, in port. Ironically that is the ship Colleen and I were on in April 2011 for our 20th anniversary and was when we fell in love with this island. We mentioned 'someday we should move here' then - now we do! - I still can't believe it.

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This is another view

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The street is lined with amazing colors and flowers

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These are the little flowers that Colleen wears in her hair. She has some plastic ones we bought when we were here before. they grow in the tops of trees and the real ones look and feel just like the plastic ones - or vice versa.


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This is one of the bar's across the street from our condo.

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Lots of little black crabs and small blow holes in the surf

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Today we headed South to the Captain Cook monument. Great snorkeling and beautiful water here.

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no beach here but cool surf.

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Next stop was Pu'uhonua O Honaunau beach

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Again, not a lot of beach here, but lots of people laying out on the lava rocks and snorkeling. We saw a pod of 20-30 spinner dolphins.

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One of the cool things is the tidal pools formed at low tide. they usually have a bunch of little fish in them - trapped there until the next high tide.

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Next stop a little further South was Hookena Beach Park. This was a neet little black sand beach that you can camp on. Half the beach was filled with tents and the black sand was seriously H-O-T.

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Colleen on the beach

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Aloha to all my mainland peeps.

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Then its Southbound again to the southern most tip of the USA (no it is not on Key West!) Along the way we passed this cool windmill farm.

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Clearly it is very VERY windy on this part of the island as attested to by this tree. It was very interesting driving through the different climate zones as we headed south. Tropical, dry, Vog, Lava field, then tropical again. Someone told us today that there are 14 different climate zones in the world, and the Big island has 11 of them.

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Once at the southern tip of th island, the cliffs were amazing.

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The water here is turquoise blue.

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someone spent some time carving this into the cliff. iEach letter was about four feet high.

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There was a big blow hole here that some guy jumped into while it was full.

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Then it drained and he swam out the tunnel to the ocean.

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There were several canoes in the water and these little frames have pulleys on them so that they can be raised and lowered in tot he water. The cliffs here are probably 40 feet high.

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Looking down from one of them, there is a ladder that stretches into the water. This whole area reminds me of a computer game I love called URU, one of the Myst series. Surreal cliffs and amazing color water.

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anyone want to jump?

Thats it for now… more exploring to come.


Goodbye Colorado - thanks for the sendoff!



This last week has been quite a challenge. For those following along, we are in the process of moving to Hawaii. We have been busy packing and purging stuff and had planned to have a big garage sale to get rid of years of accumulated household junk. Colorado, however, had a different plan. Having lived here all of our lives, we should have known better then to try to plan a move for the end of February. Needless to say because of the cold snap, all the garage sale stuff went to goodwill instead. We got ourselves all packed up and ready to rent the truck because we had additional help last Sunday. - Of course, we ended up with six inches of snow….

With not much choice, we rented the truck anyway, and started loading it about 9am. By the time we hit storage at about 1, we were in a full fledged blizzard. - we got it done, and a huge thank you to Josh - and my Daughters boyfriend Michael for putting up with miserable conditions to try to load a storage shed. When we finally finished about 3;30 - the icing on the cake was getting the U-Haul truck stuck in a drift at the storage facility lot. - 

Thank god I had a good Jeep and a tow rope. We pulled it out - and fishtailed the empty truck back to U-Haul all the way down Buckley road.

Thursday morning we pulled out of Denver headed west. - A beautiful Colorado day with bright sunshine. - until we hit I-70 at Floyd hill. Road construction and one lane traffic intermittently all the way to the tunnel let us crawl at 15 miles per hour.

I'm not sure if Colorado was trying to tell us not to go - or just giving us a memorable sendoff…. 

We love you Colorado - but we won't be missing the snow and traffic anytime soon!


Celebrity Eclipse 2013

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Finally back on terra firma, after an amazing 14 day adventure and several more ports, including Antigua, St Lucia,  Barbados, Granada, Aruba and Curacao.  This itinerary has been lots of fun for us because we got the opportunity to visit several islands we have never been to before.  Below is a photo journey through these islands, along with some scenes from around the ship.





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The infinity pool at the Sheraton in Ft Lauderdale

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Just onboard, waiting for the rooms to be released. - now in official vacation mode.


Bow to the Banana King!


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This ship has some very cool art on board

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Coming back to port in St Thomas after spending the day in Tortola 

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Swimming with Dolphins

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Getting launched by Hippo - the big male dolphin

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Day two was St Maartin. The gargantuan Oasis of the Seas is here - along with 6 other boats. 

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Today we rented a jeep with our friends and took a lap around the island.

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Colleen, with our cruise buddy's Robyn and Doug from Alberta

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I got to check an item off my bucket list today. Maho beach is the one in St Maartin where the runway is right on the beach. This is the place where the fools (yes - you can count me in with that group) stand on the beach while jets take off and land right overhead. Aparently once a day, a KLM 747 comes in and it literally blows people off the beach and into the water. I did not get to experience that - no do I think I want to… This was just a regular jet and it was crazy enough.


Jet takes off on Maho Beach

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Pano of Maho Beach 

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Then we headed over to Orient beach on the other side of the island for a little sun.

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Then back to the boat.  The port was crowded with 5 ships, including the Oasis in that day.

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but nothing a cocktail on the lawn couldn't fix…..

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Next stop = Antigua - and a island tour from our great driver, Charles. 

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Today there was only one ship next door. A Costa that had come from Paris. So that's what one of those looks like, when its not on its side…. (too soon?)

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We ended up at an absolutely picture postcard beach called Vally Church. Crystal clear aquamarine water, nice locals, good shopping and ice cold El Presedente beer.

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Back on board again - The Martini bar on deck 5 has an ice surface. Each night I would build a snow man.

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This was my first attempt.

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The second one was a little better….

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Then I discovered a small martini glass makes an excellent mold.

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The stairs to the atrium

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the wine collection in the main dining room

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the 'mixology' bar. Here they served amazing cocktail creations with dry ice and exotic fruits

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Art instillation on deck 5. - there is definitely a bit of a ice / snow theme running through the ship.

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I call this the 'melty' bench

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Next port - St Lucia.

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this beach, although beautiful to look at, was not as nice. Black sand and steep drop off into the water. 

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This was where one of the seasons of the Bachelor was filmed. Apparently an $1800 a night hotel that overlooks the Pitons

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The Pitons

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Also in St Lucia at Marigo Bay

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Several nice yachts here including the 2 Ladies - available for charter - for a mere $245,000 per week.

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This Catamaran made me laugh. - how exactly do you sail from Durango Colorado to St Lucia?

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The wine lounge on board - Cellar Masters - has an extensive tasting system. Here you can try an 2008 Opus One for $49 a glass.

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This also made me laugh.  The sinks sport a Mercedes Benz logo in the overflow drain.

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More 'ice' themed art from the Martini Bar Area

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Day 7 in Barbados on another picturesque beach with beautiful water.

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Pano at the beach

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Colleen got a wild hair and decided to get braids - 

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Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to build a sandcastle. - not my best work, but good building sand here.  There was a nice German guy here who apparently was a sand engineer… each time I would dump out a corner turret her would critique it and comment 'more water next time' or 'still too dry'

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The Library on board

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The atrium tree

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Next stop was Grenada - many of the buildings here were devastated by hurricane Ivan eight years ago - and still have not been repaired.

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Pano of Grenada

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This guy followed us as soon as we got off off the ship - but then ended up being very cool. He have us a waling tour of the island with an extensive history.

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The port in Grenada

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After a day at see we shot across the bottom of the caribbean and made it to Aruba. - I loved this sign. Be careful where you park…. you never know...

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The beach in front of the Riu hotel in Aruba

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Walking along the boardwalk there were several of these very cool shade trees

IMG 1182Next stop for us was Curaçao, it had a great little shopping district were you could pick up Tommy Bahama shirts, 3 for $99

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This was the floating 'draw' bridge in the port in Curacao. It's just starting to open to let a boat go by. When that cruise ship behind leaves, it will swing completely sideways to allow it to pass.

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One last port bar and a chance to try the local special, a frozen Mojito

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Very refreshing on a sweltering day.

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Back aboard again for two more sea days home

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Another chance to practice my snow man making skills at the Martini bar. 

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Colleen with her new best-ie Robyn

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The obligatory towel animal for the last night home.

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Thats all folks! - 


Southern Caribbean on the Celebrity Eclipse Days 1-3 

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Last year when we were on the Eclipse / Solstice combo cruise we met a great couple form Calgary, Robyn and Doug at our dinner table - so before we left, we decided to book another cruise together this January - and the day finally arrived. After a couple of weeks of single digit temperatures in Denver, it was nice to get out of the cold weather and head to the Caribbean. Our itinerary this time was 14 days on the Eclipse. It is one of our favorite boats, simply because it has a huge acre sized lawn on the top deck. In fact, as I sit here and write this, I have a cold coors light in my hand, my toes in the grass, the afternoon sun behind me and island music playing in the background.

Travel to Ft Lauderdale was uneventful. - we went through Atlanta and were a little worried we wound run into ice storms, but no glitches and our suitcases all arrived without problem. Lauderdale, however, was packed. We always fly in the night before just to give ourselves enough time to deal with any delays. There was one poor guy on our airplane that was trying to get on a boat that afternoon - and when we landed at 3, he was trying to push past everyone in the isle saying "I have to catch a boat!" … fool.Hotels were a little harder to come by this trip, because there were eight (county them 8) other ships in port on this particular Saturday - including the massive Oasis of the seas - so all the port hotels were $$$$. We did find a deal at the Days inn - but instantly regretted it once we got there. - Luckily we had a car for the day, so we pulled up anchor and ended up spending the night in a Westin, up in Plantation.

Embarkation was painless as always on Celebrity. Budget has a rental location directly outside the port gates that has a free shuttle, and we have the process down pat. We rent at the airport - then hit a liquor store on the way to the ship and grab four bottles of wine and a case of water. Celebrity lets you bring on one bottle per person so two go in the checked bags and two in our carry on backpack. We slap a ship luggage tag on the case of water and drive the car into the port and drop all our bags and the water off with the porter at the ship. Then drive back out, drop the car off at Budget and catch the shuttle back with just the backpack…. Easy Breezy.

We did run into a bit of a traffic jam getting out of port, with the seven other ships - and did not leave until almost 630 - Too dark to wave to the sail away cam - bummer. On this particular itinerary - our first two days were at sea so there was no need to try to get anywhere in a big hurry… Decent weather for both days, and lots of deck time, followed by a bit of gluttony and washed down with a great bottle of Zin. The one item of note on this particular cruise, however, was the mean age of the other passengers. When we traveled last year at this time, we did 2,  seven day back to backs and most forks were in there 30's- 50's with some younger and some older. I'm not sure if it is because this time was a 14 day strait, but the average age seemed to be mid 60's. Celebrity has very few kids - and that suits us just fine. Our days of belly flop contests and limbo by the pool are long over…  On a positive note - you never have to battle Edna for a prime deck chair!  

Our first port was St Thomas. Since we have been here several times, we ended up grabbing a ferry over to Tortola to swim with the dolphins. This ended up being a amazing experience. Colleen has always wanted to swim with the dolphins - so this time we took the plunge (pun fully intended) and booked the whole swim encounter. The facility (Dolphin Discovery) was very clean, and seemed to have nice accommodations for the dolphins. - We have always had mixed feelings about paying to support a captive dolphin program. This one seemed to be pretty well run - compared to some we have seen down Mexico way. Our two dolphins, Hippo and Kepler were great. They are beautiful, powerful beasts that are incredibly docile and you can just tell how smart they are when you are next to them. We got to practice several behaviors with them, including a rocket jump, where they come up behind and below you and each one pushes on a foot, launching you out of the water like a rocket. - simply amazing. (photos below).

Thats all for now…..

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