One week from today…Leaving Kauai!…A long haul in Paradise…Tom’s funny expression…Thrills?

Our favorite bird aptly named Birdie, lives in our yard with his significant other, waiting for us when we open the blinds in the morning and looking at us as we have dinner each night.

It’s hard to believe that we’d make a comment about being in paradise for too long. How can that be?

Looking back, we could have spent less time in Hawaii.  Good grief, we’ve been here for eight months, certainly long enough. At the time we booked the long stay we had two reasons to be in Hawaii; one, our family coming to Big Island for Christmas, and two, taking the cruise to Australia on May 24th from Honolulu. 

The waning sun at the overlook.

Those two reasons resulted in these required extra months with the remainder on the front end in Honolulu/Waikiki, Maui, and Big Island.

For some odd reason, we assumed time in the US would be useful while doing US-type things; doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and some arbitrary paperwork which we’ve discovered we can easily do while living in other countries. We’ve never had the doctor appointments (other than my recent illness which is slightly improved again today) or the dentist appointments we’d planned. We hope to do this in Australia.

The overlook last evening.
We’ve learned a valuable lesson to never spend a straight, four months in any one location. It’s just too long for us.  We aren’t staying long enough in any one location to feel totally settled in and we aren’t leaving soon enough to give us that feeling of excitement and adventure we both so crave.

Not to contradict ourselves, we must admit that we’re booked in Bali for four months total but, in two separate two-month stints, separated by over two months. Hopefully, that will work out well for us. But, let’s face it, whatever the circumstances, overall we always have a good time, even if the only friends we made were the household help, the non-English speaking butcher at the meat market, or if available nearby, the property owner or manager.

A miniature orchid, smaller than a dime, growing along the railing at the overlook.

We’ve managed to do well without a living room only sitting outdoors all day in 100-degree heat (38C); living in countries where no one speaks English and we never made friends; living in Marrakech a year ago in the confines of the riad, the souk and the Big Square with little else to do and now this extended period in Hawaii. 

It’s like everything else in life, too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. Tom has an expression he uses from time to time: “The most beautiful woman you’ve ever laid eyes on, there’s some guy who’s sick and tired of her “sh_ _!” He always qualifies it by saying that it goes both ways when I eyeball an adorable muscular 20 something at the beach. 

This yellow flower is not much bigger to the eye than a pea. Zooming in to capture its beauty is exhilarating.

This always makes me laugh out loud including moments ago when I asked him to repeat it. This comment reminds me that no matter how beautiful and friendly Hawaii has been it’s not perfect for us for the long haul. 

Why are we living this crazy life anyway? We could say to enrich our knowledge and experience by exploring various parts of the world. We could say to expand our personal horizons in this final hurrah of our lives to become more well rounded. We could say it’s to stretch ourselves beyond the confines of our previously pleasant but mundane lifestyle.

A colorful sunset.
The reality? I say this with a little bit of trepidation over a possible backlash from the few naysayers and haters that lurk out there. WE DO IT FOR THE THRILL!

Yes, there is a thrill in stretching oneself beyond our limits; a 4×4 day-long adventure in the mountains of Iceland; cruising through pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden with specials forces on board; sitting in a tiny vehicle with 25 elephants blocking the road; dining at night in the bush with armed guards to protect us; standing outside for an hour and a half in the pouring rain in Versailles with no umbrella and yet a smile on our faces; taking the strenuous long trek to Petra to see The Treasury; chasing a fish truck up the steep road to ultimately catch it and buy an entire yellowfin tuna to watch the fisherman fillet it with a machete. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Although this bloom appears to be a future flower its actually a growing leaf.

And then, there’s the joy and satisfaction of promoting local artists and businesses with positive reviews, stories, and photos posted here hoping that our worldwide readers will consider partaking of their services should they travel to their locations. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Then, the other piece, however repetitive it may be for our less than interested readers, sharing our way of eating with information, links, books, and recipes, hoping that one person along the way may be able to make it work for themselves, relieving pain, improving health or eventually getting off or reducing the need for medications. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Pretty flowers on a bush near the albatross.

We’re ready to move on from beautiful, magical, friendly Kauai. It’s been heavenly living on the Garden Island.  We’ve made many wonderful friends at social events we’ll always remember. We’ve loved watching the hatching and growth of the Laysan Albatross, a bonus we never expected. And, of course, we loved Birdie and the Redheads who’ve visited us several times a day singing their songs in an attempt to successfully gain our attention.

We move on with a sense of freedom and adventure knowing we gave Kauai everything we had to give and Kauai, in return, bestowed its wonder upon us.

Happy Saturday, worldwide friends! Thanks for hanging in there with us during this extended stay in Hawaii.  Soon, the thrills will escalate…

                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we were on the move from Marrakech, Morocco to Madeira, Portugal which resulted in a much more lengthy travel time than expected. Tom and Samir are shown in this photo wheeling our luggage at the airport. For details, please click here.

Part 1…Why would YOU visit Kauai?…Facts about the island…

If one can safely make it down the cliffs in Kauai to the beach, a treasure awaits them such as in this location, Kauapea Beach, also known as Secret Beach. This is my sister Julie’s photo.
Many people we’ve met during these past 2½ months in Kauai have asked if we’ll ever return to Kauai. The answer for us is clear. If and when we ever stop traveling the world, having decided to somewhat settle down, perhaps living between one or two or three locations Kauai would definitely be on the list. But, then again, so would Marloth Park, South Africa, certainly my two favorites to date. Tom says he can’t commit as to his favorite location since he hasn’t been there and it’s yet to come.
Many paths down to the beach begin innocuous such as this ending up to be quite challenging as it nears the ocean. One must exercise extreme caution on many of these trails. Almost every evening on the news we hear of yet another tourist falling to their death on difficult treks.

Today, based on our longer than usual vacation/holiday than the average traveler, we offer our perspective, as to why you, our reader, may choose to visit Kauai (and tomorrow, why not).

First, let’s start with some basic facts about the “garden island” as Kauai is so well known.

Kauai General Facts

Kauai Highlights:
Napali Coast: Take an air tour or a boat tour to witness the towering cliffs along Kauai’s North Shore.Waimea Canyon: Enjoy the panoramic views of “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”Wailua River: Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii and Wailua is one of the most popular. Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse: Visit this beautiful scenic point at the northernmost tip of the island.Kauai Beaches: From Poipu on the South Shore to Hanalei Bay on the North Shore, explore Kauai’s amazing beaches.
Kauai’s main airport is Lihue Airport (LIH) in southeastern
Kauai Resort Areas:
There are five major resort destinations on Kauai:
North Shore (Princeville), East Side (Coconut Coast), Lihue (Kalapaki), South Shore (Poipu), West Side (Waimea).
Capital City: 
68,434 (2012)
Time Zone:
Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), 5 hours behind the US East Coast, 6 hours behind during Daylight Saving Time (Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time).

English, Hawaiian

MokihanaFive Largest Towns:  Highest Point:
Kawaikini Peak (5,243 feet)
Island Color: Purple
State Bird:
Land Mass:
552 Square Miles
US dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted. Traveler’s checks are accepted at many businesses.

Average temperature: 75˚ – 85˚F.

Ocean Temperatures:72- 80 degrees year-round
Average Daily Visitor Population:
16,160 Kapa‘a 9,472, Līhu‘e 5,674, Wailua Homesteads 4,567, Kalāheo 3,913, Hanama‘ulu 3,272

Miles of Shoreline:  90

Number of Beaches:  59
Area Code/Cell Phones:
The area code for all of Hawaii is (808). Cell phone coverage is readily available in most places if you’re coming from the United States.

Internet Access:
Internet access is readily available on Kauai and at many hotels.

resorts, hotels, vacation rentals including cottages, homes and condos, as well as bed and breakfasts are located throughout the island.
Rent a car at Lihue Airport (LIH) to explore the island. Other options include tour buses, taxis or city buses.

Dress casually. Bring a light jacket for nights. Semi-casual dress clothes for restaurants and nightlife. Suits and ties are rarely worn.

U.S. standards apply 15-20% on meals, at least $1 per bag for porters, and at least $1 – 2 per night for housekeeping.

Kauai has more miles of beach:

And hiking trails than any other island in the Hawaiian Islands.
Kauai has been the backdrop to many Hollywood movies including Soul Surfer, Pirates of the Caribbean, Six Days Seven Nights, Jurassic Park, South Pacific, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Honeymoon in Vegas, Tropic  Thunder, and many more.

Some of the above facts may be useful in aiding you in making a decision to visit Kauai.  Of course, when arriving in the Hawaiian Islands, most visitors tend to stay a few nights or more at the other major islands, as we’ve done since arriving in late September by cruise ship:  Oahu (where Honolulu and Waikiki are located; Maui (where Lahaina and the road to Hana are located); Big Island, aka Hawai’i, where Mount Kilauea is spewing lava at present) and of course, Kauai, the garden island.

Many palm trees grow giant pods such as these from which more leaves and flowers bloom.

There are other islands to visit, also beautiful but, more remote. Many tourists visit these four major islands before heading out to Molokai and Lana’i which we haven’t visited at this time. 

Plumeria is often used in making leis. Many years ago, when I visited Hawaii, (before Tom), one would exit the plane via steps down to the tarmac. Waiting at the entrance gate, Hawaiian people would be waiting to drape a plumeria lei over the heads of visitors. This tradition has long since passed unless privately arranged in advance for a fee. 

As appealing as it would be to see these other two islands, the cost to travel to stay for a night or two wasn’t included in our budget. And, of course, we’ve been happy being able to visit Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai during this extended period of time.

This photo, although taken on a cloudy day easily bespeaks the beauty of mountains, lush greenery, and the sea. 

Let’s review some of our reasons why we’d suggest visiting Kauai, in order of our preferences:

1.  Kauai is the most beautiful island we’ve seen to date: If you’ve followed us in our travels it’s evident we’ve visited many islands to date, some for only a day on a cruise ship and others for longer periods. Without a doubt, the combination of the vast coverage of lush green vegetation over land and mountains and, the aquamarine sea and pristine beaches have made Kauai the most visually appealing island we’ve visited to date.
2.  Friendly people: Aside from South Africa, there is nowhere in the world we’ve visited that is easier to meet people. Not only have we been fortunate to meet friend Richard who’s been instrumental in including us in many social events with the local residents, which has extended to many budding new relationships. But, on our own, we’ve met literally dozens of friendly tourists most of whom have frequently visited Kauai and keep coming back for more.

Although there are many beaches in Kauai in some areas such as the northern coast a hike is often required to get down to the beach, at times treacherous and difficult unless one is in great physical condition.

3.  Grass-fed meat, non-GMO products, organic locally grown produce: Although prices on food are high in the islands, we’ve found the prices on grass-fed meat, free-range chicken and eggs, and organic products to be slightly less than we’d paid three years ago on the mainland in Minnesota. The Hawaiian people are dedicated to keeping their meat, fish, and poultry, and eggs as free from chemicals as possible. Of course, there’s plenty of lower-priced farm-raised fish, poultry and beef available at the grocery stores if one so chooses.
4.  Low crime: Lihue is the largest city in Kauai where the airport, many restaurants, shopping centers (Costco, Walmart, and more) are located. As is the case in most larger cities, the crime rate is considerably higher than in other quieter areas. It is these numbers that throw off the overall Kauai crime rate statistics. We’d never stay in Lihue with our aversion to larger cities with traffic, lines, and a higher risk of crime. Away from the “big city” the crime rate is low. Bear in mind, our comments are based on our perspective both from experience and speaking with locals. There is no available statistic on this variance from Lihue to the more remote areas.   Never on a single occasion during our time here in Princeville or in visiting the resort areas and sightseeing in other areas of the island away from the big city, have we ever felt unsafe. That feeling of safety doesn’t prevent us from locking doors, securing our equipment, and keeping a watchful eye wherever we may go.

It’s only a one minute walk across Ka Haku Road in front of our condo to the ocean and this beautiful coral sea.

5.  Chickens and birds: Although most of Hawaii’s wildlife lives in the sea and we’ve certainly seen our share of the Humpback whales who’s season in the islands is coming to a rapid close, we’ve particularly enjoyed bird watching; the Laysan Albatross and the wide variety of birds even seen from our lanai on a daily basis. But, the chickens have provided us with an enormous amount of heartwarming and laugh-worthy experiences we’ll always remember. Sure, many locals are annoyed by the constant presence, some taking extreme measures to keep them off of their property. We’ve heard tourists complain about being unable to sleep with the rooster’s crowing beginning as early as 4 or 5 am. For us, in a matter of a few days, we adapted to the noise eventually not hearing it at all, as is the case for most locals. As for them running around parking lots, on the side of the road, at every venue where food or people may be present, we’ve loved it all. Also, Hawaii is a bird watcher’s paradise, particularly when hiking and visiting more remote locations. 
6.  Multitude of recreational activities: At this point, we’ve toured almost all of the island accessible by our tiny rental vehicle. There are endless opportunities for surfing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, hiking (a hiker’s paradise but with many dangerous trails), or simply walking and taking in the scenery. With 59 beaches in Kauai, one could easily enjoy visiting as many as possible. Also, a strong sense of community pervades Kauai and many planned social activities and events are open to the public, some at no cost and others for a nominal fee. 

Ah, a lazy day sitting under a tree with a cold beverage and a good book in hand is all many visitors to the island require to make a glorious vacation. Not everyone is into adventure hikes and sightseeing. Many tourists come to the islands to get away from a “must do” lifestyle, preferring to relax and unwind from busy everyday life.  Lounging on the beach, dining in a fun popular restaurant, and drinking Mai Tai’s is all some travelers need for a perfect vacation.

7.  Easily accessible roads: It’s easy to get around Kauai and almost impossible to get lost. There are only a few highways that wrapped around the island from beach town to beach town. If traffic and road construction weren’t an issue, one could easily travel from one side of the island to the other in 90 minutes. However, with traffic in certain areas and road construction often in the works, one must plan their travels accordingly. The northwest coast of the island is inaccessible by road suitable for most cars. Thus, one cannot drive around the entire island.

A scene of a part of the grounds at the Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei where Julie and I had lunch a few weeks ago.

Other travelers may add to or change this list based on their personal preferences. For us, senior citizens, world travelers, these are the reasons that we’ve loved Kauai and are most glaring. If you’ve spent time in Kauai please comment sharing your experiences at the end of today’s post. We’d love to hear from you!

We’ll return tomorrow with “Part 2, Why would YOU visit Kauai?” including some of the reasons, you may not choose to visit Kauai or for that matter, Hawaii in general. Please check back!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2014:

We posted this video when it was raining inside our riad in Marrakech. During rainstorms, we stayed in the salon, one of the many rooms that surrounded the open air courtyard. For details of that day’s post, please click here.

On our way to Kauai today…Good hotel and dinner…

View from the lanai at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.

With horrible construction traffic all over Hilo, we were thrilled we’d arranged a hotel near the airport for this morning’s flight at 10:30 am. The airport is no more than two miles from the hotel.

As usual, Tom will leave me at the airport after checking our baggage while he returns the rental car and meets me after he returns to the terminal when we will make our way to the gate. Hopefully, all goes as smoothly as our past two inter-island flights.

View of the beautiful grounds at the hotel.

The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, although dated from the ’80s is located on the ocean is clean and otherwise modern. WiFi is free in the common areas with a $10.60 charge for use in the room which was slow with only one of us able to be online. With as little time as we spent in the room, it didn’t matter.

Notice Tom’s red face and forehead from too much sun on Tuesday when visiting with the new neighbors.

The hotel’s rate of $158 for a king room was reasonable for Hawaii. When we checked in at 1:00 pm, two hours before their specified check-in time of 3:00 pm, we were able to get a room with two double beds if we didn’t feel like waiting for two hours.

Having slept in a double bed recently at the “birdhouse” we had no trouble taking the room with two double beds. We had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant which we’d read was good and the reviews were right. 

Views of tide pools near the hotel.

We only brought the duffel bag, pill bag, and computer bag into the hotel, leaving the big pieces in the car which we wouldn’t need to use overnight. We parked close to the main entrance feeling relatively safe leaving our larger bags in the trunk of the car overnight in the lighted parking lot.

On the way to the hotel, we stopped at a recycling facility to drop off my old laptop with the bad keyboard. I’d removed everything I could including the battery and power cord which we’ll have the hotel recycle. 

With the sunburn on Tom’s forehead from chatting with neighbors on Tuesday afternoon by the pool and the cloudy day, we had no interest in the hotel’s pool.

We decided to have dinner at the hotel since the traffic around this area is outrageous. No need to stress my DH who has a tendency to become “overly grumpy” when driving in traffic. We each had a delicious dinner of rib steak with shrimp and scallop scampi for $66.29 including tip, without cocktails, and with only hot tea for me.  The meal easily accommodated my way of eating with a side salad in place of the potatoes.

On Monday night, back at the birdhouse, we met a fabulous couple that had moved in next door to the house we’d also rented in Pahoa. Jenny and Bruce were from New York and were staying for a week. On Tuesday, we spent the entire afternoon chatting by the pool with them enjoying a lively and animated conversation. We couldn’t have enjoyed it more!

Inside the hotel lobby area.

Afterward, we fired up the grill to make our last dinner using what we had left in the freezer which included two burgers for Tom and one small burger and an organic chicken brat for me. Lo and behold Tom dropped my chicken brat on the ground when he was taking it off the grill. At that point, my entire meal consisted of one small burger.

Then, I’d forgotten to take out the bacon I’d cooked earlier in the day to top the burgers. Tom ended up giving me half of one of his burgers. Then, my entire meal consisted of one small burger (of course, no buns), cheddar cheese, and some iceberg lettuce. It didn’t matter. There were some nuts left for snacking after dinner and I’d be fine.

Banyon tree outside the hotel lobby.

After cleaning up the house yesterday morning, washing the sheets and towels, and loading up the car, we were on our way to Hilo by 11:30 am.

We’ll miss the whale watching from the yard, the roaring sound of the ocean beating against the huge lava rocks only feet away, and the easy convenience of the house. But, moving on is always delivers a fair share of anticipation and excitement.

The expansive hotel entry driveway reminded me of hotels on the strip in Las Vegas.

On a few occasions, Tom’s mentioned, in a concerned voice, if we’re going to feel “stuck” in one spot for four months.  Neither of us would ever want to stay put any longer. If the condo is as nice as it appears and Kauai is as beautiful as I recall from my last visit over 30 years ago, we’ll be fine. The owner informed us that he’d recently done $90,000 in renovations we’ll surely appreciate.

With ocean views and the ability to merely walk across the street for closer proximity, the endless white-sand beaches, the convenience of grocery shopping, and a health club (for me only), I’m sure we’ll feel right “at home.” 

The road leading to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our new home, the beach, and hopefully a story of yet another uncomplicated bit of travel.

Have a tremendous Thursday. See you soon.

                                                Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2014:

No photo was posted on this date one year ago after we’d arrived at the resort at Blyde River Canyon for a three-day mini holiday. The poor WiFi signal made posting tedious, although we eventually were able to post. A photo will follow tomorrow.

Final expenses from the Big Island including family reunion…Favorite scenes from Hawai’i…Heading to Hilo for an overnight…Flying tomorrow…

Sunrise reflections are taken from what Tom referred to as the “birdhouse.”

We’re packed. The house is cleaned. After all the stuff we had here for the family get together, it was a bit more challenging than usual. But, now, the sheets and towels are in the laundry, our bags are in the entryway ready to go into the rental car.

This was one of my favorite photos, the chair where neighbor Yoko sits each day whale watching. The waves were huge that day.

Once the laundry is done and our post is uploaded, we’ll load the stuff into the car and take off to begin the painstaking drive on the highway through the construction zone. Expected transit time to Hilo, two hours, an otherwise 30-minute drive.

Our nighttime visit to Mount Kilauea.  Amazing!
Another shot of Mount Kilauea as visitors overlooked the massive crater, at the mouth of the volcano.

Arriving in Hilo, we’ll stop at a computer recycle store to drop off my old laptop with the bad keyboard (and other issues), to be recycled. Then we’re off to the hotel where we’ll stay overnight getting up early in order to take our 10:33 am flight tomorrow morning to Kauai.

Where else but in Hawaii would one find such exquisite beauty of vegetation.

Hopefully, this short trip will be as seamless as had been our flights from Oahu to Maui, from Maui to the Big Island. Tom finally accepts the fact once we drop off the rental car, we don’t need to be at the airport more than an hour before our flight when flying inter-island in the Hawaiian Islands.

A Golden Day Gecko enjoying a rest on a flower.
Lava created bridge over the sea at a shoreline in the neighborhood.

With a 35 minute layover in Honolulu, we’ll later arrive at the Lihui airport in Kauai at 12:10. Upon arrival, we’ll pick up the new rental car at Dollar Rent-A-Car and off we go for the approximate 50-minute drive to the condo in Princeville.

A cave as we stood of the shore of an overlook area on the road to Hilo.

This relatively easy move didn’t prevent either of us from sleeping last night, knowing we’re moving out today, leaving tomorrow. It’s only those terribly long upcoming flights with a move from country to country, hard roads to the airport, and expected delays that cause us restless sleep the night before a travel day. We take it in our stride as a fact of traveling long distances at times.

Lava as it began to cross Apa a’ Road in Pahoa. (Not our photo).
Electric posts wrapped in lava proof material in Pahoa to minimize outages when the lava progresses.

This morning, I completed our expense report for the six weeks we’ve spent in Hawai’i, the Big Island.  Of course, included in this total is the time we spent here on our own which totals approximately 18 days, usually at an average expense of $200 per day, for an estimated total of $3600.

Tom’s exquisite sunrise shot.

The grand total for all of the expenses is as follows from December 1, 2014, to January 15, 2015:

Rent for both houses:                                                 $11,226.25   
Car rental:                                                                    2,147.62   
Airfare for us and 12 family members:                           15,924.49
Entertainment and misc.                                                   660.99
Dining out:                                                                      576.91
Groceries & household supplies                                       3,767.09           
Grand total                                                                $34,302.36              

We’d budgeted $40,000 for this period of time. The fact that the totals came in under $34,301.36 was in part based on the fact a few family members weren’t able to come due to illness and, overestimating on the balance.  Plus, we’d anticipated renting two cars for the family’s use, only renting one minivan when two of the families preferred to rent their own cars.

Tom captured this unusual moon shot.
Pac-man moon over the Big Island.

In all, it has worked out as planned. Now, with the four upcoming months in Kauai with the entire rental fee paid in full many moons ago, we have only our groceries and household supplies, car rental, fuel, and entertainment expenses (which we’ll keep to a minimum) as we start paying off two more cruises and future rentals with balances due in full by the end of the four-month period. 

Whale watching from the shore at the two houses we renter in Pahoa.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with updates for our day in Hilo including the hotel, restaurant, and process of recycling the old computer.

We’d hope to get a full breach shot while whale watching. This is a close as we could get.
There is little wildlife in the Hawaiian Islands. Most animals we spotted were on farms.

Have a wonderful Wednesday. Back at you soon!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2014:

This young warthog found a shady place to rest in our yard in Marloth Park. The two families of two moms along with their seven babies visited so often that they’d become comfortable around us. For details of that date as we prepared for a mini holiday, please click here.

Strange action in the sea in front of us…Human and animal…A year ago…an astounding sunset!

It’s interesting to see the notched rough edges along the fluke of the whale that obviously have been injured in their long-distance travels often from Alaska to Hawaii.

Yesterday, as we’ve often done while living in this house on the ocean in Pahoa, we sat outside most of the day with our usual hour in the sun and the remainder of the day in the shade, whale watching, and seeing some unusual action in the sea in from of the house as shown in these photos.

The dorsal fin of one of yesterday’s spotted whales.

Oh sure, interspersed throughout the day was a load of laundry, prepping for dinner, a wonderful conversation on Skype with my cousin in Boston, and a delightful chat with the new couple that moved in next door (into the house we lived in over the holidays).

In addition, I completed packing the box of non-perishable foods we’ll soon take to the post office which we’ll mail to ourselves in Kauai. 

We spotted these peculiar items in the sea in front of the house in Pahoa wondering what it could be. Upon closer inspection we realized it was a person snorkeling.

This morning, I completely packed my clothing suitcase, leaving out everything I’ll need for tomorrow and Thursday when we’ll drive to Hilo to stay in a hotel near the airport overnight to fly to Kauai in the morning. 

For ease, we’ve learned that wearing the same clothing two days in a row (with fresh underwear, of course) when staying overnight in a hotel and flying away the next day, makes the most sense. In the event that our clothes get dirty or sweaty, we can easily open our clothing bags to grab a new shirt or pants, if necessary.  Easy.

The helmet appeared to be military when we noted the camouflage design.

All of our toiletry items, under three ounces per airline regulations, will go into the side pocket of our duffel bag which we’ll carry on as usual, containing the heaviest of our clothing, jeans for both of us.

Thus, by tomorrow morning after using the few toiletry items, we’ll be fully packed and ready to go. Today, I threw away a few worn-out items, a swimsuit and two of my tee shirts, in an effort to continually lighten my load. 

Back to the whale watching. Yes, we saw a number of “blow holes” capturing the few photos. Although none were extraordinary in a photo, some were astounding to the naked eye.

This photo of the snorkeler was somewhat confusing. Could they have been conducting some type of research?

Sharing a conversation with the new couple next day made us realize how much we enjoy interacting with others in our travels. Often, the people we meet are experienced travelers making it especially fun to share travel stories, many times discovering we’ve been to some of the same locations. Of course, we also enjoy meeting those “less traveled” who share stories of daily life we also relish in hearing.

For many, the far away locations are beyond the reach of travelers who are still working and have time constraints. For us, our upcoming opportunity to spent over two years in the South Pacific was beyond our wildest dreams. Its hard for us to believe that in a mere four months, we’ll be on our way.

Let’s face it, time moves quickly. Its hard to imagine that on the upcoming cruise from Singapore on October 31, 2016, that we described in the posts of the past few days, that the day we embark will be the four year anniversary of our leaving to travel the world on October 31, 2012.

Upon closer inspection, we noticed there were two such snorkelers.

Tomorrow, we’ll be posting the final expenses for our entire time on the Big Island for all of the expenses for our alone time here and the family visit including the cost of airfare for our 12 travelers. 

Hold onto your seats, dear readers. Its a BIG number, a number that precipitated the upcoming four months in Kauai, to “lick our wounds” as Tom would say, living modestly without fanfare.

We’re excited to be on the move tomorrow, anxious to begin this next period in our travels, as life continues on…

                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2014:

A year ago, while visiting a lovely resort overlooking the Crocodile River in South Africa, we had the opportunity to get this shot of the sunset, one we’ll always treasure as the sun made a path not unlike the flow of lava. How ironic at this point!  For other great photos on the Crocodile River, please click here.

Upcoming cruises with visits to many locations…A year ago…interesting new visitors…

Another of Tom’s exquisite sunrise photos.

Yesterday, as we sat in the lawn chairs whale watching with fervor, we realized that in only a few days, we’ll no longer be this close to the ocean, able to watch for the gentle giants when we see signs of life whether we’re peering out the window or sitting outside.

In our new home, a condo in Princeville, Kauai, it will require we walk across the street, carrying lawn chairs in order to get close enough to take photos of the whales.  We’ll have views of the sea from the condo but it will just be too far to see from what we can determine from the photos.

We’ve been spoiled these past months since we arrived in Maui on October 16th when our close proximity to the ocean made every view exquisite.  Now, three months later, we move along to live on the last of four Hawaiian Islands arriving in Honolulu on October 5th, off the Celebrity Solstice after a 12 day cruise from Vancouver.

Its winter in Hawaii and yet the hearty Hibiscus flowers continue to bloom.

And again, as we mentioned in the past two posts, we’ve now booked two more cruises on this same ship, one we’ve found ideal for our liking.

Today, as promised we’re listing the five upcoming cruises we’ve booked, each of which offers its own unique ports with only a few repeats here and there.

Let’s face it, the major cruise lines only take so many routes worldwide.  Although it may appear they travel all over the world, they do not.  They have specific routes, repeated over and over again.  Frequent cruisers are aware of this fact, often experiencing similar cruises several times, including visiting the same ports of call.

At this point, we’re satisfied if a new cruise takes us to two or three new ports of call.  When we visit ports we’ve previously experienced, we usually stay behind, enjoying the quiet on the ship, choice of chairs by the pool and the good WiFi signal for posting using the rented MiFi.  In any case, we enjoy it all.

As promised, here is the information on our five upcoming cruises including the cost:

to Sydney
18 days 5/24/2015 6/11/2015   $  6,010.64
Sydney to
14 days 1/5/2016 1/19/2016   $  4,771.32
Sydney to Perth 16 days 4/12/2016 4/28/2016   $  4,714.20
Singapore to Sydney 14 days 10/31/2016  11/14/2016 $  4,143.81
Sydney to
12 days 3/1/2017 3/13/2017 $  4,820.36

Total for five above cruises:          $24,460.33
Average cost per day for 74 days: $     330.55 (for both of us)

Our usual average cost per day while living in vacation rentals is approximately $200 per day including meals, dining out and rental cars.  In this case, cruising is $130.55 more per day plus additional charges for WiFi and beverages at an average of $78 per day for an additional total of $209.55 per day x 74 days, equals an additional $15,506.70. 

As a result of the added expenses of cruising, we’ve managed to find vacation homes, buying groceries and rental cars at reasonable enough prices to bring down the average daily costs around the $200 each.  The magic of diligent planning enables us to cruise and to live comfortably all over the world.

A palm tree, a Hibiscus plant and a blue sky.  Many days are cloudy on this island, as much as 60% from what we’ve seen over these past six weeks.  A sunny day is glorious!

As I write this, Tom suggested we list the ports of call for all of these cruises to illustrate how much of the world we have an opportunity to see while cruising, adding considerable value to the process.

Here’s the complete list some of which may include more than one stop at a specific location as mentioned above, that ports of call may be repeat visit on various cruises:

  1. Moorea, Society Islands
  2. Papeete, Tahiti, Society Island
  3. Bora Bora, Society Islands
  4. Savu, Fiji
  5. Ill des Pins, New Caledonia
  6. Sydney, Australia
  7. Melbourne, Australia
  8. Hobart, Tazmania, Australia
  9. Milford Sound, New Zealand (cruising only)
  10. Doubtful Sound, New Zealand (cruising only)
  11. Dusky Sound, New Zealand (cruising only)
  12. Dunedin (port Chalmers), New Zealand
  13. Akaroa, New Zealand
  14. Wellington, New Zealand
  15. Tauranga, New Zealand
  16. Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  17. Auckland, New Zealand
  18. Picton, New Zealand
  19. Adelaide, Australia
  20. Perth, Australia (Fremantle, Australia)
  21. Singapore, Indonesia
  22. Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
  23. Darwin, Australia
  24. Cairns, Australia
  25. Airlie Beach, Australia
  26. Brisbane, Australia
  27. Nounea, New Caledonia
  28. Lifou, New Caledonia
  29. Mystery Island, Vanuatu
  30. Lautoka, Fiji

Only approximately six of these are repeats for us.  How in the world would we have every been able to visit these 30 locations without cruising?  The time, the cost and the effort would far exceed the glorious 74 days of cruising which we so thoroughly enjoy?

Add the facts that cruising enables us to meet so many fabulous people, many of whom we’ve stayed in touch with over these past two plus years, enhances the experience beyond our wildest dreams.  These are the reasons we choose to cruise.

The tiny cabin, often around 194 square feet, the risks of rough waters, the difficulty of managing my way of eating, the constant WiFi issues and the lack of dressy clothing for the formal nights, the crowds at certain venues, all are manageable for us.  We don’t complain.  When weighing the pros and cons of cruises, the pros win for us.  We love every moment, rough seas included.

We’ve noticed this peculiar drooping plant on the past three islands we’ve visited.

Today, perhaps a little organizing, a little tossing of worn clothing and a little time in the lawn chair whale watching.  Tonight and tomorrow night, we’ll fire up the charcoal grill to make the last of the frozen hamburger patties we’d made and we’d stored in Ziplock bags in the freezer.

We’re happily using most of the perishable food, leaving some non-perishable foods for the next occupants of this house and sending the remainder to ourselves in Kauai.

It’s all good.  Good as it can be.

Happy Monday to all!

Photo from one year ago today, January 12, 2014:

It was exciting one year ago, for the visit of hundreds of these grasshopper visitors in our driveway in Marloth Park.  Everyday provided an exciting new experience.  We spent the day watching and videotaping the activity of this “family” of grasshoppers including their babies.  To see the videos from that date, please click here.

Quiet contemplation while winding down…Check out the senior version of photo taking using a tripod! One year ago at the river, a White Fronted Plover…

This bright ray of sunlight when captured by Tom’s steady hand this morning. Tom took all these sunrise photos this morning around 7:00 am. He’s getting better!

With a renewed sense of wonder after a day without spotting a single “blow hole” this morning we dashed out the door when Tom spotted two Humpback Whales breaching the surface of the sea. 

It impressed me that Tom took these sunrise photos. 

Grabbing the newly purchased $15.99 tripod, we set up the camera prepared to take a few more whale shots, dreaming of the full-body breach one may never capture in a lifetime. 

Based on current reports there’s been a tremendous number of whale sightings in Kauai at Hanalei Bay, where we’ll be in a mere six days. Although we’ll be living across the street from the bay, we’re prepared to buy two portable lawn chairs from Costco when we arrive to haul them along with the camera and tripod to the beach each day for whale watching.

The beaming rays of sunshine always warrant a photo. Good job, Mister!

It won’t be as convenient as it’s been living only 30 feet from the roaring sea here in Pahoa but, as always, we’ll revise our strategy to make it work. I’ve kind of grown attached to this cozy beach house as Tom and I have returned to our simple way of living alone together, having more fun than two seniors would ever imagine at our ages.

Although he took the sunrise photos using my camera, he adjusted the tripod and older camera hoping to get a few whale photos. Alas, they didn’t breach again for now. This pose made us laugh. Here’s the “senior” way to use a tripod, comfortably ensconced with one’s butt in a chair, (although the tripod raises up to a full height).

Again today, we prefer to languish at home beginning to think about organizing and packing. Plus, we have the empty cardboard box to fill with unused food and household products to take to the post office in Pahoa to mail to ourselves in Kauai. This time we’ll mail it only one day before arrival since it takes only one day for inter-island packages.

Salt resistant vegetation commonly seen along the shore.

In reality, we could pack it all in a matter of a few hours, but we’ve found planning ahead is a great stress reducer, making our departure seamless and uncomplicated which we thrive on.

Yesterday, staying in once again, we were at a loss for photos to post today. We’d literally used all the good shots we’d had in the “Next Day Photos” folder on my desktop and wondered, as we often do, what we’ll post for today. 

Last evening’s waves were breathtaking.

Alas, the beauty of our surroundings, as always, provides the opportunities we seek, and the worthy scenes are presented to us, begging to become a permanent part of our website.

A beautiful scene is our neighbor Yoko’s yard.

Today, in its simplicity, we cut our words short to share these photos and to allow us time to get back outside and see what else Mother Nature may have in store for us in the next 24 hours. She seldom lets us down.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2014:

It was a year ago today that we stood on the shores of the Crocodile River enjoying the various wildlife including the White Fronted Plover, quietly at rest.  For other photos of the wildlife we spotted that day, please click here.

Tsunami…A serious fact of life in the Hawaiian Islands…A visit to the Pacific Tsunami Museum…

There are many of these signs in our neighborhood.

Yesterday morning, we decided to make the trip to Hilo to visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, located in the downtown area across the street from the ocean.
Please click here for the live Hilo Bay webcam from the Pacific Tsunami Museum’s website.

Please click here for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Please click here for a news story on the history of tsunamis in Hawaii.

A map illustrating how the city of Hilo near the bay was wiped out from tsunamis over the years. A notice at the Lyman Museum name at the top of this page, which we also visited in December.

With construction on Highway 130, the only route to Hilo, we’ve had numerous annoying occasions of sitting in single-lane traffic waiting for the line to move along. Yesterday, was the worst yet.

It’s interesting how the Hawaiian Islands often fall prey to a natural phenomenon, including volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tropical storms, and hurricanes.  And yet, the Hawaiian people survive with grace and dignity.

Tom who has a propensity to become “over grumpy” in traffic sat at the wheel frustrated for an entire 70 minutes while we barely moved. At several points, I encouraged him to turn around and go back to Pahoa, forgetting the museum and the quick trips to Target and Safeway.

David Lyman and family, apparently no relation to Tom’s family.

Although he was only moderately grumpy, none of which was directed at me, he decided to stick it out. Our time for sightseeing on the Big Island was coming to a quick end and we wanted to see a few more sights before departing on the 15th.

The text here is readable by zooming in regarding the impact tsunamis had before and after World War II.

Finally, we were on our way once again, determined that the bulk of the cause for the long delay was more a result of gawking than the road actually being blocked.  How annoying. I suppose this plays into our dislike of busy “city-like” environments. 

Prior to visiting Hawaii, we had little knowledge of the number of tsunamis that have impacted life in the islands.

There was little traffic when I was in Hawaii almost 30 years ago, not on any of the islands. It’s a reality of life we’ve encountered in cities; traffic, long lines, unable to find parking spots. I suppose that’s why we so love the more remote locations, even when we can’t find coconut flour at the grocery store.

Of course, we always spot information about railroads based on Tom’s 42 years of working for a railroad.

After relatively quick and painless stops at Target and Safeway, located next door to one another, we were back on the road to easily find the Pacific Tsunami Museum located across the street from Hilo Bay. After searching for a parking spot for 10 minutes we finally found a spot requiring we walk only four blocks to reach the museum.

When we think of tsunamis, we seldom think of Russia as playing a part in their history in Hawaii.

Tom and I both have a certain affinity for quaint topic related museums. They aren’t at all like the larger museums we’ve visited in various parts of the world.  We find ourselves happy to pay the fees to enter, in this case, $7 each for seniors, to supports the efforts of those who often donate their time or work for the minimum wage to support these often one or two-floor history laden environments, dedicated to educating the public.

Tsunami history in Hawaii as a result of an earthquake in Alaska in 1957.

The Pacific Tsunami Museum definitely fits the bill. Located on only one floor with mostly print displays (what paraphernalia could possibly represent a tsunami?) we wandered about, each of us reading at our own pace, as the delightful receptionist followed along for a while, chatting with us after she’d asked, “Where are you from?”

There was an interactive tsunami warning center in the museum explaining how the control center works in the event of a tsunami.

That answer is no longer simply, “Minnesota.” When someone expresses genuine interest, as did this lovely staff member, we chose to say the often expressed, “We’re traveling the world.”  Some express awe and wonder and others shrug and say, “Cool.” In either case, if the inquirer asks more questions, we happily answer. If not, we’re on our way.

The locks to the vault of the door to the “Vault Theatre” in the museum, a former bank.

She was fascinated and I couldn’t help but dig out one of our business cards from my wallet handing it to her in the event she wanted to kill some time reading our posts while quietly waiting for the next patron to arrive at the cozy museum.

The street-side view of the museum, as mentioned, a former bank across from Hilo Bay.

In any case, the museum was fascinating especially when she escorted us to the “vault,” a former bank vault (we were in a former bank, after all) which had been made into a rather adequate movie theatre where she started a tsunami history movie made in 1999 that we actually found interesting and worthwhile.

A side street view of the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

We’d intended to write all about tsunamis here today but instead are providing a few links that can tell it more efficiently than I who’s anxious to get outside to whale watch shortly. We purchased a lightweight tripod at Target yesterday for $15.99 and I can’t wait to use it. We purchased this lower-priced unit in the event we have to give it the heave-ho down the road. For now, it will do the trick.

As we stood near the shore of Hilo Bay, we captured this view of snow-covered Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world at a reported 33,476 feet above the ocean floor.

Today, we’ll write a positive review on TripAdvisor on our visit to the Pacific Tsunami Museum in an effort to add to the support of these local museums dedicated to informing the public.

Jack London’s visit to the islands was highlighted at the museum.

On our return drive, the traffic was considerably quicker than the outbound trip. During the lengthy outbound trip, we made a decision to stay in a hotel in Hilo on the night of the 14th before our flight to Kauai the next day.  With a morning flight planned, we chose not to risk missing our flight or feeling stressed waiting for another hour or more in traffic on the only route out of Pahoa to Hilo.

This sweet photo at the museum caught my eye.

We booked one of the few hotels nearest the airport. We always attempt to remember our motto, “Wafting Through Our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.” An overnight in Hilo ensures a stress-free experience once again. We’ll manage the traffic the prior day, arriving at the hotel with all of that behind us, enjoying a dinner out in Hilo, and a relaxing night’s sleep.

History of tsunamis in both 1922 and 1923.

As a result, we’ll be leaving the birdhouse in six days, leaving the Big Island on the 15th. In the interim, we’ll certainly take advantage of each of our remaining days, returning to our daily philosophy of doing exactly that which appeals to us the most, whether its more sightseeing, whale watching, future planning (which Tom is thoroughly engrossed in at the moment) or lounging in a chair on a sunny day.

Life is good. 

                                              Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2014:

Piet and Hettie, friends we made in South Africa, invited us to lunch to celebrate their birthdays, a short time apart. We so enjoyed meeting them and appreciated how quickly they included us in their lives.  That’s the nature of South Africans, warms, and friendly. For details from that date, please click here.

Its never easy…Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is…One year ago, a precious photo from a friend…

Last night’s waning moon with clouds.

Every morning as I prepare for my day, I begin the process of thinking of the post I’ll soon sit down to write. I have no angst around these thoughts. They’re just thoughts.

Clouds obscuring a pie slice of last night’s moon.

I check the camera for the previous day’s photos looking for inspiration often finding an answer on the viewfinder. After downloading the photos, inspiration comes, however small, however simple and I’m at peace that the words will come.

Now, the opposite side is blocked by clouds.

Honestly, it’s particularly challenging as we near the end of a stay in each location after writing many posts, day after day. I never tire of sitting down with my cup of coffee or tea (either will do), placing a pillow under my right elbow to support the bad shoulder, as the words flow from the tips of my fingers as they type, more in a physical than mental manner. 

Every morning this view takes our breath away.

Sure, we have stats to indicate how many readers, we have which we’ll share here in the next several days as we reach a milestone. But even so, I often wonder if some of our readers simply check out the photos as opposed to the words.

If they do, it still makes me happy. Knowing that even one person finds a moment of pleasure in our posts, makes it all worthwhile. Besides, with our six grandchildren here over the holidays, it reminded us of the legacy we leave for our grandchildren, their grandchildren, and generations to come when they can look back at years of posts of their kooky ancestors who traveled the world in their old age. 

After looking through hundreds of photos, I’ve yet to find the name of this tree in our neighborhood. Its leaves appear to be velvet.  Any ideas?

Oh, would that we’d have loved to be able to reference the travels, the thoughts, the photos, and the experiences of our ancestors on such a medium as the worldwide web. My grandmother Ethel, lived an amazing life. What I’d give to read her story, page by page, photo by photo, over a period of years of her life.

As the numbers of our readership grow day by day, year by year, we find great comfort in the driving force writing here provides.

The name of this street in our neighborhood makes us chuckle. Many Hawaiian names and words are difficult to pronounce, but this one seems relatedly easy.

More than anything, it makes us take notice of our surroundings more than either of us had ever done in the past; a sunrise, a sunset, a rising moon, a breaching whale, a blooming flower, or the simplicity of water running gently along a creek. We notice it all. For this, we are grateful. 

And…for our readers, we are grateful. Without your readership, comments, questions, and support, it would be hard to continue writing each day.

The Tsunami and hurricane warning horns, and various signs at the local park.

Some time ago we heard from Jody, a reader in Minnesota, explaining how she rides the metro to work in downtown Minneapolis each day. On the way, she reads our story of the day on her tablet, lessening the boring long ride.

The local park without signs hindering the view.

If on a rare occasion, I feel like “taking a day off” for lack of adequate fodder, I think of her and her disappointment to find the same post from the prior day with nary an inkling of any new material. With that thought, my laptop lid flies open and I begin again, determined to nudge my fingers into action once more.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2013:

I wasn’t the only person in Marloth Park that was in love with warthogs. Ken (wife, Linda) shared this photo with us to post one year ago today. Thanks, Ken! For details from that day’s post, please click here.

On our own, once again…Content and at peace…

Full moon, clear and crisp over the Pacific Ocean.

After an entire month of family living with us, today we are alone. Late yesterday, Camille and Madighan moved to Kona to be closer to the airport and to languish poolside at an upscale hotel until their departure in a few days.

After an emotional goodbye to the last of our family members to leave, Tom and I grabbed chairs facing the ocean to do our own languishing of whale watching before the sunset. 

Another view of the moon rising.

The whales were hiding and for the first time and we didn’t see a single blowhole. Disappointed? We were not.  We wandered back indoors for dinner, content to return to our usual evening routine. It was over.

Was the family visit perfect?  No, it wasn’t.  But then, family visits over extended periods are rarely perfect. We all have our own routines and day to day needs and behavior, often contrary to those of others. We’re all unique.

Let’s face it…who among us can live easily with our grown children over many days, if not weeks in our case?  Although harmonious, we all had to adjust in one way or another. And we all did. 

Moon rising at sunset.
When it came time to say goodbye, we all did so with love and respect, unsure at this point when we’d see everyone again. Our grown children, from almost 40 to 47, have their own busy lives, their own family lives. 

The only difference between us and the grandparents that move to warmer climates is perhaps fewer visits every few years. We make every effort to stay in close touch via Skype face time, email, Facebook, and now a phone number we’ve added that makes it possible to pick up their cell phones and ring us without access to Skype.

So now, here we are, Tom and I, content and at peace, as we live in the moment in beautiful Pahoa, the fourth sunny day in a row, looking forward to some final exploration on our own to wrap up our remaining nine days on the Big Island.

Yesterday, Madighan and I finally made the gingerbread house.

Once again, we’ll begin discussing our future plans, researching our options including dates, destinations, flights, cruises, and expenses, all a part of our everyday lives.

Although the upcoming four months in Kauai is a little intimidating in its length of time, we’ll lick our wounds from this pricey holiday season and spend as much time as possible getting to know the island. 

She was so excited that we’d made the gingerbread house.

While in Maui, we’d come off of being on the go for months; two cruises, Paris, London with Normandy; Stonehenge; Cork, Iceland; Faroe Islands; Boston’s family visit; and then six days in Vancouver before the cruise to Honolulu. 

Having been so busy for a few months, Maui proved to be a resting point and we had little interest in exploring.  Luckily, the fabulous condo and ocean view made staying relatively quiet extremely rejuvenating.

A pink Trumpet flower.

Living on the Big Island has kept us on our toes with the family visit and now, alone again, we easily slide back into our pleasing routine of traveling the world, albeit stationary for a period of time knowing the exciting experiences that await us.

In a little over four months, we’ll be on our way to the South Pacific; Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Bali with more countries and planning yet to come. 

Huge pods growing on a local tree.

The excitement and enthusiasm are no less today than it was over two years ago when we left the US to begin our new lives. In many ways, it’s greater than in the past. We are no longer apprehensive and fearful having acquired the knowledge and experience that have begun to make us seasoned travelers.

Thanks to our readers for sharing this journey with us, for your comments, feedback, and suggestions, and for taking the time to read about not only the exciting days of our travels but also the mundane days of simply living life on the move.

Have a terrific Tuesday!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 6, 2014:

Clive, whom we may now believe is a “she,” aptly renamed Clove, when we’ve later seen her with chicks on Facebook, came to visit our house in Marloth Park for the first time on this date, one year ago. It was a delightful visit.  She/he wasn’t shy about letting us get close for photos. For details from that date, please click here.