October 16, 2007
Goth Girl... Tanned?
"Back to life... back to reality..." Yeah. Coming back to Seattle from a week in Hawaii is a little hard. It's not that I don't want to get back to work. I do. It's figuring out what needs to be done when. I have a couple of things I need to work on before November - the Draft One of Novel #2 and my Chill contract as well as the outline of Novel #3 for NaNoWriMo. Plus, there are all kinds of house stuff to deal with in the short term - deliveries, carpet installations, etc...
But enough of that. Hawaii! Oh my. What a vacation. I think I can honestly say this was my first real, traditional, non-family vacation. A week in Hawaii to celebrate Jeff's birthday. I have to say, it's going to be hard to top this birthday for him. The benchmark is set very high. We both loved Hawaii. It was a busy vacation. Lots of things to do.
Swimming with wild dolphins. This was the one thing that I told Jeff I wanted to do when we went to Hawaii. I wanted to swim with dolphins. He asked me if I wanted to swim with tame or wild ones. Wild, I said and I'm so very glad I did. He found "Sunlight on the Water" - a local man named China who has been doing this for 15 years and swimming with dolphins for much longer than that. This was the highlight of the trip for me. No doubt. Baby spinner dolphins. I cannot express just how cute these guys were. Even though Jeff and I were in a group of 15, we ended up by ourselves several times for very personal moments with the dolphins. Jeff was circled by one while another checked me out. I got nodded at by two babies and an adult dolphin. That is their way of acknowledging you as a sentient creature. We swam with the dolphins several times and I came within 5 feet of one that rose up under me to see me and China. When we go back, swimming with dolphins will be on the top of our list of things to do.
Hiking at Hilo. Hilo is on the east side of the island. This is also the side of the island that is most like Seattle weather. It is cold and rainy. I'm glad I brought a range of clothing. We hiked down into a volcanic crater and over to the main steam vent for that crater. I would love to give you names but I'm lucky if I remember where I was for when, much less the Hawaiian names. The crater hike was about 5 miles round trip with a brief stop to check out a lava tube. I didn't go all the way into the lava tube. I was exhausted by that point but Jeff was all over it. Being inside a volcanic crater is like being on the moon. The land is so different than what I'm used to. Plus, Jeff and I went early enough that we were alone until the very tail end of the hike which helped with the isolated, otherworldly feel of the crater.
Helicopter ride to see lava. Jeff came to Hawaii to see lava. That was his one wish. We found out shortly after we arrived that the only way to see lava was to do so by helicopter. After the last earthquake, one of the lava tubes shifted and lava was no longer pouring into the ocean. It was no longer in a place that could be hiked to as we planned. So, we booked the helicopter ride. There is something amazing about seeing flowing lava, molten rock, with your own eyes. We could feel the heat of the lava as high up as we were in the helicopter. It was raw beauty. I know Jeff got some fabulous pictures of it.
Star watching on the top of Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea. From being in the ocean to star watching on the world's tallest mountain. Mauna Kea is 14,000 feet above sea level. However, it starts 19,000 feet below that on the sea floor. We stayed up at the 14,000 foot mark with all of the observatories for about 30-40 minutes to watch a stunning sunset over the clouds. Believe it or not, the trip required artic parkas and I was very glad for them. It was very cold up there, averaging about 2 degrees above freezing. Then, because being above 10,000 often causes high altitude problems due to the 40% less oxygen in the air, we went back down to about 9200 feet for the star watching. I have never seen so many stars in all my life. Never. With the naked eye, you can see about 2000 stars from that point on Mauna Kea. I now know how to recognize Sagittarius and Scorpio. I also got to see some amazing sights through a high powered telescope and I now understand why people spend so much time watching the night sky.
Petroglyphs and ruins. Back on the hot Kona side of the island, Jeff and I stopped to visit the petroglyph fields and a couple of temple ruins that are still active today. The petroglyph hike was hot and dusty through a strangely half dead forest on lava rock. Part of me is fascinated by these petroglyphs. Part of me thinks they are just ancient graffiti. The ruins of the temples were interesting because of the way they were built - just rocks piled on top of each other. I could see nothing binding them together. The rocks themselves were interesting in the fact that for religious reasons, they had to be ocean washed lava rocks.
Kona Village Resort and snorkeling. The last three days of our visit were done at the Kona Village Resort. Of all of the places we stayed, this one was the nicest by far. It is the place we will come back to next time. It was comfortable and had the best snorkeling. The bay was amazing and well worth the couple of days of snorkeling that we spent there. I am in love with snorkeling. It is way better than any submarine or glass bottom boat ride. It is so much more interesting to be in the water, swimming with the fish and discovering the underwater coral arches. We were the only ones to sign up for the Snorkel Adventure, so Jeff and I got a private tour out to one of the most beautiful bays in Hawaii for snorkeling. The views were amazing. Oh, you should never worry about sinking in the waters of Hawaii. Salt water is denser than fresh water and it was a fight for me just to get 3-6 feet below the surface.
"The Big Island Revealed" book. Jeff bought the tour guide "The Big Island Revealed." We discovered that this book was spot on for ALL of its recommendations (and non-recommendations). It led us to some of the best eating we had in Hawaii, some of the prettiest beaches and the temple ruins as a point of interest. This book paid for itself many times over with its excellent hiking recommendations and what to do when. If you are going to Hawaii, you should pick it up.
Shave Ice. Shave ice is a Hawaiian treat not to be missed. It is like a gourmet snow cone but better. Jeff and I sampled shave ice from all over the Big Island and the best we found was in Kona, at a Tiki Freeze off the main drag. Be warned, there is such a thing as bad shave ice. People who pack the shave ice too tightly turn a good treat into an impossible mess. Those who use the plastic shave ice cups usually have it down good.
Pictures. Yes, there are pictures. From splashing in the water to standing above the clouds and everything in-between. Some of the land. Some of Jeff and me. I'm usually burned. He's usually photogenic. I do have a tan for me. I'm not just red from the sun. It's amazing. I'm not sure it will last very long. I don't know when the pictures will be posted but they will be posted soon. (I hope.) We'll see. This was an amazing and wonderful trip and I'm so glad I got to go with someone I love. I can't wait to go back and this next time, we'll tackle scuba diving.
Tarot Card for the Day: Four of Wands, Inverted