For Thanksgiving, my parents treated the family to two weeks of vacation on the Big Island, which I had never been to before. Unfortunately, my older brother and his family couldn't get away, and we could only stay for one of the two weeks, but we had a great time while were were there!
Our trip began with a delay in airport security, where we were the lucky recipients of a "secondary check," which meant a full search of all our carry-ons...
...and a pass through the "Puffer," which blew puffs of air at us trying to sniff out explosive residues.
Once on the plane, we were treated to a non-alcoholic drink of our choice during the 5 hour flight, and snack boxes were $5. We made do instead with some cookies I had baked the day before.
The hotel my parents reserved for us was very nice in the downstairs lobby, where we spent a fair amount of time because they had free wireless there. The hotel was called the "Outrigger," and had a couple of genuine articles on display.
Not my mess!
Once in our room, Tessala immediately scattered her things about the floor, which I put a stop to by giving her a drawer of her own to mess.
Alina tried out the bed, but didn't want any photographic record.
The hotel was situated next to one of the best snorkeling beaches on the island, with tropical fish and green turtles galore.
The viewing was much better of course with a snorkel and mask, but even without you could count quite a few species just by wading about.
The turtles are an endangered species, though they've made a remarkable comback thanks to a breeding program on the island. They didn't seem shy of tourists, and if you aren't watching you might be startled when one brushes your leg.
Tropical flowers were planted around the grounds.
I couldn't tell you which ones were native and which were not.
Not long after we'd settled in, my parents and my brother and his wife checked into their condominium across the way.
The condo was very roomy inside, and here's Tedd on my old laptop, which he bought off me that summer.
Folks spent a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing food or cleaning up, and the open design invited pleasant conversation throughout.
Our first night together we had Costco roast chicken, and my mom had even bought a fresh turkey to cook for Thanksgiving, which went in the fridge.
The next day, we did a bit of snorkeling in the morning, then headed into Kona to see some of the historic sights, including the Hawaiian Palace, where the royal family lived in the early 1800's.
It wasn't a huge place, but the interior was quite nice.
Here is one of the few bedrooms.
Sandy, Mom, & Tedd in front of a very old and well-developed banyan tree.
And a well-developed spider, about the size of my palm.
This is a reconstruction of the 'Ahu'ena Heiau, which was the Hawaiian capitol from 1812-1819.
Lava rocks were a popular medium for walls, oddly enough.
This royal cloak was made of exotic feathers that took 5 years to gather, and 7 years to sew together.
The sea wall in Kona.
Someone had spread birdseed in the gravel near the walk, and we got to see many colorful takers enjoying the feast.
Thsi red-headed sparrow is not an original native, as is true of most of the common birds we saw near the seaside.
The following day, we took a car ride down the Kona Coast to visit Pu`uhonua o Honaunau, or the "Place of Refuge."
This is one of my dad's shots, which I liked.
Tedd and Palm. (Tedd is the one in the hat.)
We were all checking out the huge moths in the little shelter.
Here we see a gecko, eying his Thanksgiving meal.
I don't know what kind of tree this was, but it seemed like a lot of the tropical trees developed their own stilts to deal with occasional high water.
The Place of Refuge was so-named because it was a place to escape the god's vengance if you broke a sacred law, or "kapu." The penalty for breaking a kapu was death, and it was everyone's responsibility to carry out the sentence. The only way out was to make it (as fast as you could) to Pu`uhonua o Honaunau, where priests would absolve you of your sin.
A sunning turtle. (Or, perhaps, a sinning turtle?)
No blood could be spilled in the Place of Refuge, so the old and injured would also go here to escape death in times of war, where the priests and the kapu against bloodshed here would protect them. (Don't ask me what happens when you break a kapu in Pu`uhonua o Honaunau -- I didn't want to try it.)
My dad also took this shot.
The refuge wall, marking the boundary of Pu`uhonua o Honaunau.
These huts were used to protect artists and their handiwork from the elements.
Here we see some totems being carved, but we didn't come on a day when they were carving them.
After wandering the grounds for a bit, we all got back in the water for some lovely snorkeling. My parents left a bit before we did, and stopped by an old coffee plantation on the drive back.
Alina held still for me while I took the 5 exposures needed for this HDR sunset shot.
Another HDR shot.
Not HDR, but very nice. My dad took this one.
My dad took this one of Tessala and Alina just after sunset.
Big Island Grill
That night, we had dinner at a local favorite, the Big Island Grill. The atmosphere was OK, but the food was fantastic!
The following day was lost to illness and poor planning, and we spent the morning of Thanksgiving kayaking and snorkeling down at Cook's Monument. I didn't take my camera.
This shot and the one before shows the high surf we had to contend with while kayaking. A couple of locals helped us dock our boats, claiming they had saved our lives. Tedd tipped them $10 for the both of us.
Here we are, all seated for a proper Hawaiian Thanksgiving, complete with purple sweet potatoes. (Yum!)
Friday morning, I made friends with a gecko I picked up on my parent's front stairs.
He was a cute little fellow, and sat a while on my shoulder so everyone could admire him.
This day, Tessala stayed at the hotel to finish her math homework while the rest of us headed around the south point of the island to see some forested and volcanic regions. On the way, we stopped at a bakery in Na`alehu, the southernmost city in the United States (or so they claim).
An exotic spider, mimicking a flower(?)
This is the forest trail we found, which led to a volcanic lake.
Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also knew how to find this trail, and we didn't last very long before we turned back, seeing no birds and worried that we might not get to the National Volcano park before dusk.
A wild orchid along the trail.
At the National Volcano park, we scaled back our ambitions to an overlook of the caldera and a visit to the lava tubes.
The ferns in Hawaii are BIG.
I loved the cracks at the edges of the caldera. I'm not sure how far the molten rock is below the surface, but I heard it isn't warm to the touch or anything.
Mom and Dad headed back early to keep Tessa company, leaving Tedd and Sandy and Alina and I to explore on our own.
Here is an HDR view out of the lava tube.
It was difficult to get a reasonable shot looking into the tube, as the walls and especially the floor were so dark and dimly illuminated.
Another good-sized fern.
Alina just outside the lava tube.
Our last day, after a morning of snorkeling and body-surfing near our hotel, we headed into Kona to return our rental car and catch our red-eye flight back to San Francisco.
After numerous delays due to a mechanical problem, United finally admitted that the plane wasn't going anywhere that night, and decided to put us all up in a hotel. Unfortunately, they couldn't find a bus to get us there, so we ended up waiting three hours for cabs to take us in rotation.
Once we got there, the night was nearly over. And guess what? They had taken us back to our SAME hotel! We had just lost a night's sleep getting nowhere at all.
My parents and Tedd and Sandy, who were staying an additional week, were a bit surprised to get a call from us in the morning, but we made the best of it.
We hung out at their condo for a bit. (Tessa found a nice book on local birds.)
Went for a swim in their pool.
Visited with the birds in the pool's waterfall.
And finally boarded our bus back to the airport. We arrived "about a day" late, and more than a little exhausted. It was like two red-eyes for the price of one!
Page created Dec 3 2005 8:50:14p