Happy New Year…Celebrate or not…A year ago, a scary photo…

View from shore.

Years ago, Tom and I held parties on New Year’s Eve at our home with lots of fanfare. We always had a great turnout with dozens of friends enjoying the labor of love we put into the party planning, the food preparations, and on some years, costumes.

Cloudy morning today.
View of the house next door which we’ll move back to on January 3rd.

The last New Year’s Eve party we’d planned was for the rollover from 1999 to 2000. We had a costume theme of the much-anticipated issues that were expected to result when the clocked chimed 12:00 am on January 1, 2000.

Neighborhood shoreline view.

Tom and I wore custom-made bug costumes to represent the expected “computer bugs” (so they called them) and decorated our house accordingly. Much to our shock, only six guests appeared for the party, the others staying behind, fearful of the long drive on what was a scary night.

Red Road shoreline view.

From that point on, we no longer planned New Year’s Eve parties, preferring to acquire the typical older adult’s attitude that the occasion was for youngsters, not the mature types such as us.

Shoreline view on a drive in the area.

Now, we give New Year’s Eve little thought. Instead, it reminds me that taxes have to be done and other painstaking year-end related “paperwork” must be accomplished sometime soon. 

Numerous beaches line the shores of the Big Island attracting sunbathers and picnickers.

For Tom, he never gave New Year’s Eve a good thought.  His grandfather on his mother’s side was killed in a wagon accident on New Year’s Eve day, hauling a load of wood, falling beneath to his death. His mother was only three months old at the time. Her mother was left a widow with three children, never to remarry. This tragic loss remained in the hearts and minds of the family tarnishing the prospect of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Pods that will open to lilies in our yard.

When we decided to forgo future celebrations, Tom didn’t waiver in respect for the memory of his grandfather and was content to let the “holiday” remain relatively unimportant.

Still searching for the name of this flower.
Pink Ginger Flower.

I suppose we all have our reasons to celebrate or not. Some fear driving on the roads with possible drunk drivers out in full force. Others fear themselves driving after imbibing on a glass of wine or two. Others simply fear the disappointment of not having the good time they’d hoped to experience. And others, are simply bored by the whole thing.

The raging sea with heavy mist.

Tonight, whether you may celebrate or not, we wish each and every one of our readers, family, and friends a New Year filled with the opportunity and execution of reaching for the stars to fulfill whatever dream you may hold dear to your heart with health, happiness, and love.

Happy New Year…

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2013:

On New Year’s Eve, we returned home from a casual gathering and dinner at Jabula Lodge in Marloth Park. After a wonderful evening, we found this foot-long “thing” on the wall in the bedroom near the bathroom. I must admit, I had the creepy crawlies all night long wondering if more of these were waiting to walk over me while I was sleeping. At this point, I had overcome many of my insect fears but this one was pushing it. Tom swept it into the dustpan and took it outside where it belonged. For details from that date, please click here.

Fitful night…Worrying…Up at 5 am…A new beginning in a New Year…A year ago closeup of a visitor…

Late in the day yesterday, we spotted these whales. The much-anticipated fluke, the tail was the prize. Wonderful! 

Even an overly bubbly type has a bad night now and then. Last night was mine, worrying about my sister, unable to speak to her until this morning when she was able to take the call, somewhat awake and alert.

First, we saw the blowholes of these two whales.

We’ve always been very close, my sisters and I. The distance hasn’t changed a thing. We haven’t lived near one another for many years but, we’ve never missed a beat in each other’s life. On any given day, we could easily imagine what the other was doing, our plans for the day, our hopes, our dreams, our sorrows, our shortcomings; always accepted, always loved.

This morning at 7:00 am Hawaii time, 9:00 am in LA, we spoke and I was relieved to hear her voice, so relieved and comforted to know she’ll now begin the healing process. 

The dorsal fin appeared.

I am sorry that I couldn’t be with her. I had been in the past. This time, with family here with us, her partner, and friends of which there are many, were at her side, keeping me informed.

So the days continue on, in the Big Island. The three remaining family members were gone overnight to Kona for swim-with-the-manta rays late-night outing and overnight in the “big city” of Kona. 

Another whale’s dorsal fin.

In three days, they’ll leave the Big Island to return to Minnesota, and once again, we’ll be together alone. Are we sad? Not at all. We loved seeing them all and now as we all roll into the New Year, back into our “real lives.”

For us, our “real life” at the end of the family holiday, begins a new year in our travels which we anticipate with excitement and joyfulness…the vacation that sees no end. How couldn’t one be happy to begin again?

This morning from the lanai.

Over the next few months in Kauai (we leave for the island in 17 days), we plan to explore, learn the nuances of the garden island, lick our wounds from the pricey family get together, take care of insurance, taxes, investments and other such necessary “paperwork” and, most of all, take as many photos as we can to share with our readers each and every day.

Today, a trip to the village is in order for a few things at Island Naturals, the only open grocery store in Pahoa after the evacuation for the still moving lava toward the Pahoa Marketplace. 

The sun desperately tried to peek through this opening in the clouds.

I’m now writing on my new Acer, 15.6, touchscreen, 1 Terabyte, lighted keyboard, Intel Core, i5, 8 gigabytes, la la la…laptop I purchased at Costco on Sunday night for a reasonable $589 including tax at less than half the regular retail price.

Yesterday, I transferred all my data, installed all my apps and email folders, MS Office, and Outlook and I’m loving every moment. It’s been almost a year since my last Acer died due to my dropping it in South Africa and I’ve suffered using an international version of a not so good notebook with keyboard issues from the get-go that finally went kaput in the past two weeks.

Had I been there seconds earlier, I could have taken the rays from the sun reflecting on the ocean. This was the view by the time the camera loaded.

Finally, I feel at ease as I write here each day no longer struggling with the keys and look forward to sharing the future with all of you as we continue on…

Have a terrific Tuesday!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2013:

This kudu looked me in the eye, “You got any pellets this morning?” he asked.  I dropped a handful onto the ground and backed up so his huge antlers didn’t stab me. For details of this date, please click here.

And then there were three…Winding down as the days pass…An unreal video a year ago…

The fog began to roll in as the day wanes.

Yesterday afternoon, the six of us, TJ’s family of four and Tom and I, piled into the minivan for the two-hour drive to Kona. I had yet to experience this long drive across the Big Island from ocean to ocean. Tom had been too preoccupied to take photos when driving to Kona to pick up the family on December 6th. But, he also enjoyed it yesterday.

From left to right; Sarah, TJ, me, Tom, (front) Vincent, Jayden, Nik, Tracy, and Tammy, a photo we took yesterday of our remaining family members. Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent remain in Pahoa for four more days.

The terrain rapidly changed from ocean induced lush greenery to almost desert-like sparseness and dry vegetation. Signs were posted warning of extreme” risk of fire.

Low lying clouds surround the mountains.

By the time we arrived in Kona, the sun was setting. I couldn’t get a good vantage point for a sunset photo when our imminent goal was to get to Costco before they closed at 6 pm. TJ and family’s flights were at 8:10 pm.

Many mountain ranges on the Big Island are higher than an elevation of 10,000 feet.

They were thrilled to stop at Costco for a quick bite to eat before flying back to Minnesota while I found my awaiting laptop and purchased some nuts. We wouldn’t be driving back to this Costco anytime soon.

With many power lines obstructing this scene we still were in awe of this border of trees in the distance.

And then they were gone. And we began the long trek back to Pahoa in the dark. The winding mountainous roads weren’t so pretty in the dark and fog. 

As barren as the scenery is, it offers its own reflective beauty.

At some point, high in the mountains, Tom noticed the outside temperature was only 43 degrees, the coldest temperature we’d experienced since winter of 2011/2012. Even when we were in Iceland in September, it never got below 48 degrees.

The road ahead of us was long and desolate.

Finally, we returned home to an empty house for the first time since December 6th with Tammy’s family of three next door until January 2nd, a mere four days away. Adventurers that they are, we’ll see them here and there, as they complete their remaining Big Island “must do’s” seeing us in between their exciting water-related challenges. We’ll cherish every last moment together.

As we drove by this dry vegetation at 60 mph, it was evident as to why there were fire warnings.
We find beauty in the simplicity of barren land.

Today, my dear sister is having big surgery in LA. I’ll stay close at hand to take calls from her partner with updates on her progress. I can only pray for a good outcome and recovery as she works her way through a difficult time.  Although far away, I am at her side, as we always have been for one another. The same case applies to my older sister in Nevada who also suffers from ill-health.  (It’s in the genes).

The terrain was mostly lava rock interspersed with vegetation that eventually makes its way through the dense lava.
It was sunny but late in the afternoon as we shot the wilderness in the center of the Big Island.

While hanging out a home today, I’ll begin the process of setting up the new laptop. It’s been quite the task, typing on a $10 external keyboard these past few weeks. What a relief, a year later to have a laptop that works well for me as opposed to the keyboard problematic version I’d purchased in South Africa last February with some unfamiliar international aspects. 

Have a meaningful Monday. Back at you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2013:

It was one year ago on this date that we posted this video of tree frog mating in the tree over our pool in Marloth Pak. For the details of that story, please click here.

Winding down…Family heading back…Trip to Kona today…Two plus hour drive…New whale sightings photos!

Tom captured this morning’s sunrise.
At this house, we are able to see the sunrise whereas as the first house, it is blocked by this house.

We knew this time would come and we’d carefully planned for it. We’re all good about saying goodbye having had a great family visit. We all have our busy and fulfilling lives awaiting us.

It’s hard to say goodbye to the grandchildren knowing they’ll be so changed when we see them again, when that will be at this point, we don’t know.

A whale’s back, spotted yesterday. I took all of these whale shots from the lanai.

The life we’ve chosen has a price to pay. But then, every kind of life we choose has its limitations, restrictions, obligations, and challenges. It’s the way it is. Choosing to be happy in those choices, whatever they may be, is the key.

We choose happiness, not sorrow and sadness for being away from our kids and grandchildren, our siblings, and other family members and friends. For many, if not most, being in close proximity to family is their way to achieve happiness

The dorsal fin.

For me, after years of illness to finally feel well, inspires me to see the world for as long as I can. For Tom, after 42 years of working on the railroad, the regimented schedule, the often long hours, and the hard work inspired him. 

For us as a couple, the adventure, the excitement drives us on with a wild sense of discovering as much of the world as we can, sharing the experience together as lovers, companions, and friends. 

More dorsal fin.

Documenting these experiences only add to the depth of our choices as now we say goodbye to this chapter, rapidly approaching the next months in Kauai, with time spent exploring and, time spent in quiet contemplation of where we’ve been, where we are at the moment and where we hope to be in the future as the planning continues.

After today, they’ll all be gone except for Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent who are staying until January 2nd, a mere five days away. After today when TJ, Sarah, and the two boys leave, we’ll spend our remaining time in the two houses winding down our rental agreement.

not the best angle, the tail known as the “fluke.’

On January 3rd, Tom and I will move back into the first house to spend our remaining days in the Big Island until January 15th when we fly the short distance to Kauai.

Today, we’re driving to Kona to take TJ and family back to the airport after their three-week visit. A stop at Costco in on the agenda in order to pick up the new computer awaiting me that I ordered over the phone yesterday morning.

Another whale spotted a short time later.

We’ll be back with more while spending Tammy and family’s remaining days on the island. They are quite the adventurers so I’m sure we’ll have much more to share in photos on the Big Island of Hawai’i (as spelled by locals).

Have a satisfying Sunday as we wind down to the New Year.

                                             Photo from one year ago on December 28, 2013:

It was one year ago today that we spent time at the Crocodile River wrapped up in the magic of a small herd of elephants engaged in their usual routine.  For more photos and details, please click here.

A nighttime visit to Mount Kilauea…Astounding!

This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow from Mount Kilauea.

Yesterday, at 5:15 pm we all piled into our vehicles and heading up the mountain to see the volcano at Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. As the crow flies, it may have been a 20-minute drive. However, based on the roads that have been closed due to the crossing of lava, it took us nearly an hour.

Preferring not to use any flash to avoid disturbing others, Tom is a little muted here. 

Here is a link to live webcams from Mount Kilauea.

Shortly before the sun went down, we were separated from the family and unable to get a group photo as we’d hoped. Instead, Tom took this of me and the telescope. Oh, well.

It is this very volcano from which the lava has been flowing toward Pahoa that attributed to our concern these past months and the evacuation of the Pahoa Marketplace.

As darkness fell, we had a better view of the glow.

Seeing firsthand the source of that flow was indescribable, to say the least. The pleasant drive to an elevation of only a little over 4000 feet caused some ear-popping but wasn’t felt by the nature of the smooth and easy to navigate roads.

The crowd roared with excitement as it became more visible.

We’d expected to find only a handful of visitors to Volcanoes National Park and were surprised to find the parking lot jammed with vehicles and anxious tourists. 

Then, the glow was in its full glory.  What a sight to behold!

Darkness fell within minutes of our arrival. However, while there was still a little bit of light we were able to get a good perspective of the vastness of the park and the volcano. 

At one point, these trees provided a backdrop and I attempted to take advantage of that fact.
The intensity of the glow changed as the magma at the crater burst into many explosions.

Moments later, it was pitch black with the only light from the hundreds of cameras held over the heads of the excited visitors attempting to get a peek and a photo.

The trees impeding a portion of our views ultimately gave us a better perspective of the glow.

Of course, a determined amateur photographer that I am, I diplomatically maneuvered my way to prefect spots aided by my equally determined husband Tom. We weren’t getting out of there without some great shots.

Inside the visitor’s center, we took the time to appreciate local artwork. Here is a rendition of Madame Pele, the fire goddess.

Experiencing this once in a lifetime adventure as a family was rewarding and fulfilling. Our grandchildren loved it and were fearless and in awe as were all of the adults.

Perhaps, how it may have been for seafarers seeing the Hawaiian Islands for the first time, as the molten lava flowed to the sea, creating new land.

So, dear readers, we share these photos with all of you, with considerable enthusiasm and joy knowing we have this arena on the web to bring all of us together in however a small way, as our travels continue on.

Its Saturday! May sunshine and smiles brighten our day.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2013

Nothing like stopping for the crosswalk in Marloth Park, one year ago today. For details of that day’s post, please click here.

A day at the beach…Cloudy, yet fun and fulfilling…A year ago, an ironic visitor on Christmas Day!

Yesterday, Tracy took this underwater photo using their GoPro camera. She said he was much larger than appears in this photo.

Christmas is over. Santa came and went. Laughter wafted through the air as the grandkids played with the items Santa had placed in their stockings, in our case Santa hats, when the evacuating store in Pahoa was out of stockings.

I put their names on the hats by making block letter cutouts using the cards from a box of $.60 Christmas cards and glue. We attached the hats with the contents stuffed inside with a variety of interesting rocks, shells, and stones in various packages we’d purchased at the Lyman Library.

Tide pools Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo where we spent the day on Christmas.

We included the usual grandparent requisite gift, a Visa gift card so when bored, they can begin looking on their tablets what they’d like to purchase when they return to Minnesota.

Making and packing enough food for 14 for a full day was definitely challenging, to ensure we had everything everyone would like. We did our best and it ultimately turned out well which included.

Burgers, brats, hotdogs, and buns with sliced cheeses
Foil packs with diced potatoes (Tom peeled)
Bacon, Almond, and Raisin Broccoli Salad
Roasted Vegetables
Cut up cantaloupe and pineapple
Sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce

Tom on Christmas Day at the park.

Then, of course, we hauled paper products, beach towels, lawn chairs (Tammy and Tracy purchased two folding chairs for Tom and me), two small grills, water toys and it goes on and on. Three vehicles were loaded to the gills with people and “stuff.”

It rained off and on all day. Luckily, Sarah kept her eye on an available covered pavilion and shortly after we arrived we were in luck. Being undercover all day made it possible to enjoy ourselves chatting and watching the kids.

We were in good spirits and ended up sharing food with a man sitting near us as, apparently alone on Christmas. He had a boom box playing Hawaii rap music but later changed it to a more mellow variety, adding to the festivities of the day.

With the flurry of activities at the beach, it was tough to get a photo of everyone together.

All of us cooked in shifts for each family. Tom and I usually don’t eat until early evening but the smell of the meat on the grill put us right on track with the others, wolfing down the good food. TJ said he’d never had a burger on Christmas Day. How true it was for all of us.

Many spent hours in the water snorkeling, reveling in the fish, eels, and sea turtles.  Vincent didn’t get out of the shallow tide pools until long after we had lunch. Maisie, Miles, and Madighan, new to snorkeling, couldn’t get enough. Nik and Jayden now with us for three weeks, couldn’t get enough.

Birds at the beach peeking on beach-goers leftovers.

And, of course, Tammy, Tracy, Greg, and Camille, spent time with the kids in the tide pools while TJ and Sarah hung out with us under the pavilion. All of us were in awe as to what they could see, excited to share it with the grandkids.

Home by 5:00 pm to whale watch, nibble on leftovers and snacks, it was a laid back evening befitting all of us.

A rainbow, a perfect finish to the day..

I spoke to my sister on Skype and later chatted with son Richard on Facebook. There were many others I’d have like to speak with to wish Merry Christmas. Time somehow slipped away as it often does.

Last night’s crescent moon.

Today, the kids are leaving for beach activities and a few staying behind with us. We have no doubt it will be another good day.

May all of you have a stupendous day after Christmas. We plan to do the same.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2013:

Mr. Kudu was standing near our carport in Marloth Park on Christmas morning last year. Tom teased me stating, “Here’s your Christmas gift, Sweetie.” That was all I needed!  For details from that date, please click here.

Merry Christmas!…It snowed an hour from here…Welcome to Hawaii, Santa…

The next-door neighbor’s chair gives a good perspective of the massive size of these waves.

Here’s a link to the news report on the snowfall and subsequent road closing on the Mauna Kea volcano.

Tom says that our kids from Minnesota brought the white Christmas with them. On top of that Tom and I, alone at home preparing Christmas Eve dinner while the kids all went to the beach, saw some of the biggest waves we’ve seen so far!

The pool in our yard is located in front of these white chaise lounges.

In our travels, Mother Nature seems to gift us with something wonderful for Christmas, a treasure she seems to pull out of a hat, a treasure she knows we’ll love.

It almost appears to be a waterfall.

Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Appreciating God’s wonders, the birth, and life of a son. the birth and life of those we love and the myriad gifts we receive when we put aside the presents, the shopping, the laborious tasks in preparation of the next celebration with those with love.

The wave as it builds momentum.

This year, the gifts we receive are that of our grown children, their spouses, and our precious grandchildren right here beside us. In the past two years, they’ve been with us in our grateful hearts, and today and over these next many days we see their smiling faces, taking a hug, a glance, and a moment, always to be remembered, always to be treasured.

What a beautiful break in this wave.

Oh sure, it’s not all sweetness filled with perfection. But then, who’s family is? For us, we all get along even with our varying views on life, politics, and even child-rearing. But, we choose to keep those staunch opinions to ourselves for other places and other times in order to bask in harmony and lightness. Time and life are too short.

Our yard in the second house, so close to the surf.

Yes, the questions are asked, “Will we settle down in the US anytime soon?  When, where, and if we will we ever settle down.” At this point, we have no clear answers other than the one we cling to whenever we’re asked,  “Health providing, we’ll carry on.”

The aquamarine color of the wave as it breaks near the shore is breathtaking.

Who’s to argue with happiness? I remember as a child, longing to see happiness reflected in the faces of those I loved and that wish continues today for all of our loved ones.

We were curious as to this shape on the left side of the upper portion of this wave. Do any of our readers have an idea as to what this could be?

Today, we reflect on our joy in these photos we took last night on Christmas Eve shortly before sunset. It bespeaks the magnificence of this magical world we live in with all its ills, political unrest, and waning bounty that Mother Nature tries so desperately to gallantly protect.

The variation in the colors of the sea is amazing.

We sign off today wishing each and every one of our readers, our family, and friends the utmost hope, passion, and contentment in the holiday season and year to come. God bless.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2013:

This lovely female impala came to visit us on Christmas Eve while we were in Marloth Park last year. For details, please click here.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone…Events of the past day…More to follow as we celebrate the holiday season…

Nature abounds on the island.

It’s hard to believe that it’s Christmas already. Last night, for Tom’s birthday, three families were in attendance for dinner at the restaurant except for Greg and Camille and two of three little ones who returned home, exhausted after a long day.

The view through the hearty vegetation that seems to be immune from the ravages of salty seawater.

Maisie, the oldest, joined us for dinner at the Hilo Burger. Tom had spent the day with his side of the family swimming at a tide pool in the rain while I joined Greg and family for shopping and a movie on the heavily rainy day.

Peculiar looking plants growing in our neighborhood.

For Tom’s birthday, Tammy and family had purchased a huge beautiful cake, decorated with “Hau’ oli La Hanua” which is “Happy Birthday” in Hawaiian. He and the family loved the moist and delicious cake with more to spare over the next few days.

Beach scene.

Typical from years passed, Greg and I watch a science fiction movie, “Interstellar” while Camille took the little ones to “Penguins of Madagascar.” It was a great day.

Boating could be challenging in shallower waters near the coast with many large and small lava formations.

As a blended family with both Tom and I having two grown children, we’d decided early on, that we’d split up and be with our biological families if activities varied and we couldn’t all be together. Of course, we’re spending Christmas Eve and day together, all 14 of at a local beach park. 

A field of lava on the right side of the road.

They all took off today for a day at the beach, an over two-hour drive from here. Tom and I stayed behind to prepare food for this evening and for tomorrow’s day at the beach in Hilo. Our hands will be full but we’re content to stay home on yet another cloudy day with much to prep.

Yesterday, I made a mistake and purchased a new Acer computer at Walmart with what appeared to have all the specs I desired. Alas, last night, I discovered that “touch” referred to the mouse pad, not the screen.

A field of lava on the left side of the road.

After using touch screens for over two years I’m not about to go back to the old way and will have no choice but to return it in the next few weeks after the holiday return season has passed. In the interim, I’ll order the correct model online in the next few weeks. Oh, the digital drama never ceases, for us, often self-induced!

With varying sleeping schedules, it’s never easy having families together. I’m an “early to bed and early to rise” person. It’s ironic how our own families seem to follow suit on the sleeping schedules. 

A pretty shoreline.

But, we remind ourselves, it’s only sleep, and being together is what matters the most. I need to bite the bullet and have toothpicks hold up my eyelids to stay up later. It will cost me two hours of sleep but, in the realm of things, it doesn’t really matter. I can sleep more in January.

Tom is the proverbial night owl, having accommodated me for over two years. It’s time for me to step up to the plate. Over this holiday season, I will definitely do so.

The raging surf creates many swirling pools.

So now, it’s time for me to take care of Christmas festivities, do some chopping and dicing and get ready for Santa who apparently is going to be able to find the kids enjoying life on the beautiful Big Island, with the lava flow stalled at the moment.

May all of you who celebrate Christmas have a fulfilling and blessed holiday season. We sure will.

                                         Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2013:

A tree frog croaking within feet of the quickly disappearing white foam nest that had been fertilized by the males a week earlier. For details and our annual Christmas poem, please click here.

Happy Birthday Tom…It’s your day to celebrate…It’s our day to treasure…Big guy, one year ago..

Yesterday, we spotted this humpback whale and got this shot from the lanai. We couldn’t have been more thrilled!

There’s a 100% chance of rain today. Our day trip plans are squashed.The mist across the ocean impedes our views making whale watching fruitless.

The raging sea.

But, last night the last of our family arrived and it’s Tom’s 62nd birthday. What more could we ask for? Oh, most likely some of the kids will take off to explore in the rain while Tom and I will happily stay behind with those who prefer to stay in like us. We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in the pouring rain. 

Picnic area at the park at the end of our road.

Besides, we have five more months in the islands with plenty of sunny days to explore. And, this is their family vacation and we encourage them to do what makes them happy.

The side view of our second house.

Last night, we chatted with son Greg for a few hours. After two years and two months of not sitting face to face, it was beyond enjoyable, as it’s been chatting with all of our family.

The park at the end of the road.

As for Tom’s birthday, we’ll find something else to do instead of going to see the volcano, a much better outing on a clear day. Tonight, we have a reservation for dinner at 6:00 pm for his “birthday party.”

The entrance to the park at the end of the road.

With all the activity on hand at the moment and plans being considered for the day, we’re cutting it short with a few new photos.

Along the path to the park.

Happy birthday to my darling husband. Thank you for being the best travel companion, lover, and friend in the world. I love our lives together and love you with all of my heart.

The path at the park.

Have a tremendous Tuesday as we approach the holiday season.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2013:

A year ago, on the previous night, we’d gone on a safari in Kruger National Park and got this shot of a hippo at sunset with the sun behind him. For more safari photos, please click here.

More family has arrived…Moved in next door…Great to see them…

Sunrise this morning.

Yesterday, around 5 pm, Tammy, Tracy and Vincent arrived from Maui where they’d spent an action packed last week, snorkeling, scuba diving and zip lining.

More views from the master bedroom lanai.

Last night, we sat around the computer while watching videos from their adventures and we couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces. Nothing brings more joy to us parents than seeing our children and grandchildren living fulfilling lives.

Today, the remaining arrive. It’s hard to believe they’ll all be here. We’re making dinner to enjoy together at the first house tonight as the last of them get unpacked and settled in. 

The sea, the pool, the morning doesn’t come soon enough.

Tom refers to the first house, as the “birdhouse,” since the aerial photo online reminds him of a cute birdhouse.  Henceforth, for the purposes of explanation here, I will also refer to it as the birdhouse.

Last night, at 11:30 I made the announcement that I was turning in for the night, hoping everyone else would do so. Off I went and Tom followed shortly. By midnight, we were all tucked in, hoping for a great night’s sleep.

The neighbor’s pool on the left is drained.

Alas, a good night’s sleep was not in the cards for me last night when fitfully I tossed and turned. Having spent hours cooking yesterday’s meal, something I hadn’t done since the dinner party in South Africa last February, my legs and back were tired from hours on my feet.

Even my carefully executed way of eating is no insurance against wearing out from overuse. But, the excitement of seeing everyone made sleeping almost impossible and this morning I was in the shower before 6:00 am, ready to start the day.

The shoreline on a drive on the Red Road.

The Kona coffee has been the first order of the day since arriving on the Big Island where we’ve purchased no less than 12 packages of 100% pure Kona, making it each morning with considerable enthusiasm. The price of a 12-ounce bag of 100% Kona ranges from a modest $7.95 (on sale) to a high of $20 here in the islands.

We tried a few different price ranges finding no difference in the mid-range coffee than the higher-priced options. Once we discovered which we liked, “safari luck” kicked in and when Long’s Drugs was preparing to evacuate due to the impending lava flow, we were able to purchase the 12 bags at $7.95 at half the usual price.

The rocky shoreline.

Stocking both houses with an equal supply, our family members that drink coffer (only about five of us) will enjoy the fine taste of Kona coffee while here. Back in Minnesota, I always purchased a Kona Blend at $7.95 a bag. At that time 100% Kona was $24.95 for a 12-ounce bag prohibiting me from ever making the purchase other than on a few special occasions.

Other less pricey items on the island are pineapples. In Maui, they were $.99 each. Here on the Big Island, they are $.69 a pound averaging at about $3.69 each. Other than those two items, the Hawaiian islands offer few bargains.

The ocean spray.

They’re all taking off for the day, leaving us to prepare tonight’s meal, and if we’re lucky spend a few hours outside by the pool, lounging for the first time in days. The kids are worried about leaving us behind but we’re content to stay behind after many days of riding in the car in these past weeks and more upcoming when everyone is here. 

Once the others arrive, most likely we’ll all be gone most days exploring together as a family; visiting the tide pools, the community pool, and the beauty of this gorgeous island. 

Leaves growing on a tree trunk.

Tomorrow, is Tom’s birthday and the plan is to head to Volcanoes National Park to see the source of the lava, Mount Kilauea and it amazing surroundings and then out to dinner for his party at the Hilo Burger Joint. 

Typing right now is cumbersome and challenging especially when it requires that I use the laptop’s mouse pad and also the external keyboard. Where to place the keyboard present an issue in itself. Oh well, the digital and electronic issues will always be a part of our lives.

Hawaii Snake Plant.

It’s Monday. TJ and family leave in six days. It’s hard to believe their time is coming to an end. No doubt the departure of the others will come more quickly than we’d prefer. But, for now, we’ll live in the moment cherishing every aspect of our time together.

Have a meaningful Monday, only days away from the holiday festivities.

                                         Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2013:

Catching this kudu with his mouth open while munching on leaves was quite a sight! For details from that date, please click here.