Day #277 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…What a difference a day makes!…16 days and counting…

The intensity of the glow changed as the magma at the crater burst into many explosions.

Today’s photos were from this date in 2014 when we visited erupting Mount Kilauea with our kids and grandkids during their visit to join us on the Big Island, Hawaii, for the holidays. They were all so busy running around taking their photos, we never got a photo of all of us together that night, although we wish we had. For the story, please click here.

Last night, after a good night’s sleep, I felt much better, more upbeat, and positive. I certainly was feeling frustrated yesterday, especially while preparing the post, thinking of all of the mishaps on Christmas Day as described in detail here. I don’t believe I’ve ever whinged quite much in a position as I did in that post, not even on some of our most challenging days.

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

Oddly, getting it “off my chest” here provided me with a modicum of relief that has followed me well into today, and I am fine once again, hopeful, optimistic, and my usual chipper self. It didn’t hurt to read that South Africa stated that the new supposed more lethal variance of Covid-19 is not an issue at this point.

It’s incredible how our emotions are impacted by poor sleep. We’ve particularly noticed this on long travel days when we may be flying in the middle of the night, resulting in a layover for several hours to board another long flight. Many of those travel days often resulted in 24 hours or more with little to no sleep.

The glow was in its full glory. What a sight to behold!

Neither of us can sleep sitting up on a flight, although we may be able to doze off in short spurts for an hour or two. In our youth, staying up all night wasn’t as tricky. A short nap the next day would put us back on track. But, as we’ve aged, we find those up-all-night scenarios have a significant impact on how we feel until, again, we can sleep through the night.

The most challenging lack of sleep experience we’ve had in our travels was on December 1, 2013 (see the post here), when we flew from Mombasa, Kenya to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger with one nightmarish situation after another. By the time we arrived in Marloth Park, we’d been traveling for over 30 hours.

The crowd roared with excitement as it exploded.

The level of exhaustion at the end of that trip was beyond anything either of us had ever experienced. But, arriving in Marloth Park after the hour-long ride from the airport to discover a plethora of wildlife wandering the bush and the dirt roads sent us into such a state of ecstasy, we forgot all about being tired.

I don’t expect our enthusiasm to be much different now. However, it may even be exacerbated by the fact that we were finally able to leave this confinement in Mumbai, India, after almost ten months, to be back in our “happy place.”

Preferring not to use any flash to avoid disturbing others, Tom was a little muted in this photo. 

Our scheduled flight with Emirates Airlines on January 12th from Mumbai to Johannesburg is still booked today. We’ll continue to watch each day for any potential changes. If there were to be any changes, we’re hoping to know before we head to the airport in the middle of the night. We’ll surely be keeping an eye out, several times a day, over the next 16 days.

We’re excited to share today’s repeated photos from our visit to the lava-flowing Mount Kilauea while our kids and grandkids visited us in Hawaii in 2014. What a fantastic experience for all of us! How many adults and kids have an opportunity in their entire lifetime to see lava flowing? It was an adventure.

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. 

As we reviewed past experiences in these months of repeated photos, we realized how extensive our travels have been and the myriad of past adventures we’ve had along the way. If by no fault of our own, we had to end this journey due to Covid-19 limitations, we comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we’ve been blessed to see more than we ever dreamed possible in a lifetime.

As Tom always says, “We are humbled and blessed.” So true. So very true.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2019:

This photo was posted on this date in 2014 and again, one year ago today, when our family visited Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow of the lava. For more, please click here.

Day #195 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More on Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii…Island hopping?…

When the trolley in Hilo stopped to pick up passengers in a strip mall, we spotted this orchid.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while on a cruise port of call in Hilo, The Big Island. For more on this date, please click here.

Gosh, it would be great to be in Hawaii right now. As one of the 50 states in the US, we could fly there and stay without any visa concerns while we wait out the virus. But as mentioned in a post a few days ago, the numerous flights with added exposure to COVID-19, the long-distance, and the cost of living is such that it doesn’t work for us right now.

Gazebo at the park in Hilo.

Instead, today, we revel in some of our past experiences in the Hawaiian Islands, which in my old life, before Tom, I’d visited the islands on many occasions. But, as often the case, 30 years later, everything looked very different, although each of the islands was still charming and appealing to tourists.

The designer shops, the upscale restaurants interspersed with popular chain retail shops, and cozy oceanfront restaurants made these towns in Hawaii a shopper’s paradise for all ranges of tourists, providing expansive views of the sea with a quaint and delightful environment.

Pretty scenery at Liliuokalani Gardens.

Although we don’t shop much, it was fun to wander the areas, do window shopping, and search for photo ops, some of which are shown in today’s post. While there that day, we walked the surrounding area, knowing that we’d be returning to stay for six weeks within a short period.

During that stay, we returned to Hilo on the Big Island, and we scoured the entertaining areas, dined in restaurants, and explored the varied shops. More on that in a later reminiscence post. Hawaii is unlike any other island we’ve visited in any other part of the world. There is very little apparent poverty. Structures are well maintained. The streets are impeccably clean and uncluttered. The infrastructure is sound.

Sky at dusk in Hilo.

Although the opposite of those particular facts is often what has made “island-hopping” exciting and exciting for us, the run-down cafes, bars, and shops; the “lean-to” shops and produce stands; the colorfully dressed locals selling their handmade crafts for a song; all contribute to the exquisite appeal of many places we’ve lived throughout the world.

An example of this is the three months we spent on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji in 2015 in the small village of Savusavu, a breathtaking experience. We may have been two of a dozen Caucasians in the village, and for that fact, we stood out. But, we were treated with the utmost kindness and welcome, often being hugged openly by people we’d just met. Helen, the meat market owner, hugged us each Friday as we left her store carrying bags of free-range chicken and grass-fed beef and pork.

We took the trolley in Hilo, enabling us to get some good shots along the shoreline.

Hawaii, although friendly, possesses an entirely different demeanor than other islands throughout the world, and we enjoyed them both, along with other islands more like Vanua Levu, Fiji as a more exotic island offering more appeal for our taste while traveling the world.

Speaking of islands, right now, there are a select few flights from Mumbai to the Maldives. The visa restrictions allow only a 30 day stay. With their outrageously high prices, this isn’t an ideal scenario for us, as much as we’d enjoy going there. According to the US State Department, the country is not requiring many precautions with COVID-19. If a tourist were to become ill there, this island nation’s medical facilities are marginal at best.

Shoreline in Hilo.

We don’t mean to sound so picky, but it’s our lives we’re playing with. As safe as we are here, although it’s not easy, we feel we must choose our following location with sensibility and caution when opportunities present themselves. South Africa, Namibia, and Madagascar are but a few African countries we’d prefer to visit, if and when it’s possible. Their borders remain closed to US citizens and anyone from India, a double whammy for us. We wait.

No word on our package yet, especially since it’s Sunday, and FedEx is closed today. Maybe by tomorrow, the front desk manager will have discovered a means of paying the customs fee and receiving the package. We shall see.

We hope your day is pleasant and relaxing. I’m still working on finishing all of our tasks, so we can sit back and relax a little too.

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2019:

Farmer John was showing us the old apple press, which they still use today. “An apple press makes the whole process fun and simple. The press essentially grinds up the apples into a pulp and then presses the juices out. Once you get going, the liquid gold keeps flowing. You go from press to glass in 30 seconds! The process may not be as quick using this old equipment. There are many presses from the simple hand press to the traditional cider press with a grinder.” Tor more photos, please click here.

Mount Kilauea….Remembering our Big Island experience in 2014-2015 when we saw lava for the first time…

This was my favorite shot of the evening we spent in Kilauea National Park with the backdrop of the glow from Mount Kilauea. For more details from our post, please click here

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A baby kudu found comfort standing at the base of this tree when there was lots of action in our yard.
Throughout the world, the news is continually tracking the progression of the eruption and subsequent earthquakes of Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. We are paying particular attention to the details as they continue to unfold.
These trees provided a backdrop perfect for taking photos.

It was Christmas, 2014 when we rented two houses next door to one another while our family came to visit for the holiday. They began arriving in early December and the last didn’t depart until early January 2015.

Many months prior to our arrival in Pahoa on the Big Island we’d begun worrying that our planned family holiday would be challenging if we had to select a different location with space for the 14 of us, of there was an evacuation of Pahoa.

Smoke rising from the lava flowing in Pahoa, where we lived for six weeks in 2014/2015. We were concerned we’d have to evacuate. Click here for this post.

It was Christmas in Hawaii, one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.  There are too many posts we uploaded at that time to fully describe the story of our time in Pahoa and the interesting and unusual aspect of living in an area with the prospect of flowing lava reaching the holiday homes.

Numerous power poles located in the path of the lava flow had been covered in fire-retardant materials to prevent the flow from destroying the power to the area.  For this post, please click here.

 The first post in the succession began on December 2, 2014, when we’d arrived on December 1st and ended on January 14, 2015, as indicated here. Here’s a photo below of the backyard facing the Pacific Ocean from the backyard of one of the two houses we rented, located next door to one another, each with an astounding view.

The next-door neighbor’s chair gives a good perspective of the massive size of these waves in front of the two houses we rented on the Big Island from this post.

As concerned as we were about the situation we were bound and determined to have as good a time as we could with the family and, if we had to evacuate, we’d figure out a solution.

The swirls in the moving lava were interesting to see firsthand.  For more, please click here.

Shortly before Christmas, the nearby shopping center where we purchased groceries, supplies, and gas, was closed due to fears that the lava was headed that way. It was an unusual experience to be shopping at the market with huge discounts the day before the store was closing supposedly for good, with the lava.

During this period, we discovered that many homeowners in the area had already packed and left their homes, fearful of the arriving lava flow.  They moved out all of their belongings and waited, living in other areas as to what would transpire.  What a hardship for all of them!

To see the red-hot lava between these lava rocks only required a bit of zoom. We couldn’t believe we were with our family and all of us were able to see lava flowing for the first time in our lives. For this post, please click here.

Now, as the residents of Leilani Estates struggle with this same reality they’re more certain their homes are at risk of being taken out by the massive lava flows and/or damaged severely by earthquakes. The fate of the area is uncertain over the long haul. 

Signs such as this were posted everywhere. Click here for the post.

In any case, we enjoyed our time in Pahoa and now we pray for the safety and recovery of those who’ve lost so much in the wake of this violent mountain’s continuing eruptions and earthquakes.

This is a photo I took of a photo of when the lava crossed Apa’a Street on October 25th.
See this link for the news report.

If you’d like to read more on this, please click this link. To watch any one of numerous live feeds of the volcano, please click here.

A barn or garage that survived the lava flow as it crawled down the road.  For this post, please click here.

 Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of our fabulous day at Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit wildlife area with Louise and Danie’s friends, meeting new people while sharing stories of wildlife and world travel. Although each of the braai’s participants has diverse and interesting backgrounds, we all shared a common interest in our love of the beauty and magic of Marloth Park.

See you soon!  Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2017:

Captain Rick Sullivan chatted with us in Dizzy’s Jazz Bar aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas as we made our way toward North America. He invited us to a special function enabling us to do a story. His warm demeanor and superb sense of humor have made sailing aboard this ship a sheer delight. For more photos, please click here.

An unanticipated opportunity thanks to Captain Rick!…

Yesterday, Captain Rick Sullivan chatted with us in Dizzy’s Jazz Bar. His warm demeanor and superb sense of humor have made sailing aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas a sheer delight.

With plans to take the tender to Kailua-Kona, we busily prepared the day’s post while seated in the Diamond Club Lounge on deck 14, our favorite morning spot on this 24-night cruise.

After Tom stepped out to head back to the cabin for a few minutes, I stayed behind with my fingers flying across the keyboard to get the post uploaded so we could take off for a walk at the cruise port of call that requires a ride on the tender.

The group of dignitaries from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, came aboard to present Captain Rick with a plaque welcoming the ship to the city.

At the time, I was the only passenger in the Diamond Club, keenly aware of the quiet and serenity usually lacking aboard this particular venue. A cloudy day, we weren’t in too huge of a hurry to go ashore, but, in typical Hawaiian style, a cloudy day could easily and quickly turn into bright sunshine.

Stopping to contemplate my next line of type, the door to the Diamond Club opened with a key card, and in walked our ship’s, Captain Rick Sullivan.

Having heard him over the loudspeakers, enjoying his lively and humorous demeanor and, seeing him wandering about the ship engaging so freely with passengers, I had no doubt it was him.

During the presentation…the official from the Mayór’s office and Captain Rick.

Let me clarify…we aren’t Captain or otherwise groupies. After all of our years of world travel, we’ve come to realize and embrace the fact that we humans are all alike in many ways regardless of ethnicity, celebrity, financial status, or notoriety. 

We’ve never attempted to dine with a ship captain, meet with a ship captain or engage in any particular conversation with a ship captain.  We always felt we could leave that up to those who found it most appealing and vital to their personal experience.

A representative from the Mayor’s office in Kailua-Kona and Captain Rick.

For us, we are always able to glean the best experiences from engaging with anyone of any culture, whether it be a local carrying a basket of fruit on her head or a local taxi driver scurrying us around.  They all matter to us.

As he entered the room with a wide and warms smile on his face, he suddenly fell into the category of another kindly human open to engaging in conversation with a fellow human in his path.

Hotel Director Michael Landry, Kailua city official, and Captain Rick accepting the plaque

Easily, the conversation flowed, and in no time at all, we were sharing personal anecdotes. Moments later, Tom entered the room and, without missing a beat, stepped right into sync into our discussion in Tom’s usual welcoming manner.

After a chat, Captain Rick, upon hearing about our website, invited us to attend the upcoming presentation by local officials, marine and city staff to present Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas with a welcoming plaque for its first destination port of call in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Plaques and gifts were exchanged between the city and the ship.

The presentation was scheduled within the hour in the bar/lounge Dizzy’s Jazz Bar located outside the door of the Diamond Club. Captain Rick suggested we sit and chat in the bar while we wait.

Captain Rick also presented a plaque to the city of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

The conversation flowed with ease as we shared our story of world travel, our site, and why we decided to travel the world.  In turn, Captain Rick shared his story, including his vast experiences at sea, all of which further exemplified the fine details of the life of this special man.

When the guests arrived, Captain Rick reminded us, as he stood to greet his guests, to stay put and embrace the experience taking as many photos as we desired and joining in conversation with the group.

The gathering took place in Dizzy’s Jazz Bar on deck 14, outside the Diamond Club Lounge.

Regarding the event, we stayed back a little, but in no time at all, we were approached by a few visitors, not hesitating to share in the conversations. What a pleasant surprise to our day in Kailua-Kona, unanticipated and surely serendipitous, as are many of the memorable events in our lives.

We enjoyed speaking to Mark, one of the representatives from the city.

It never seems to be about the tourist sites, the organized tours, and old buildings. The best moments are always about the creatures God placed upon this Earth, both human and animal.  We’re grateful, forever grateful, and eternally humbled by that which crosses our path on this worldwide journey.

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2016:

The two Katuts and Ribud (the pool and landscape guy) hold up the three kilo Blue Fin tuna for our next meal. After it was cleaned and filleted, there were two huge portions that we’re sharing each night. Such wonderful people! Such fabulous fish! For more details, please click here.

Moving day…Wow! What a lot of work!!…Time to unwind and relax…

A beautiful sky before sunset.

With the family moved out and Tom and I now alone, yesterday we began the process of moving from the bigger house to the smaller house which Tom affectionately refers to as the “bird house.”

Usually when we move we only have to pack our clothing and supplies, tidy up after ourselves and be on our way.  With 12 days remaining on the Big Island, moving next door was the most comprehensive move we’ve had in 27 months.

A distant dorsal fin.

What made it more difficult was twofold; one, we paid deposits on both houses and want them back in their entirety, and two, we had food and household supplies to move, all in a 24 hour period. Now, this doesn’t sound like much. But, believe me, it was.

There were two refrigerators to clean and one to make room for the transferred perishables. (We’ll toss leftovers when we leave on January 15th).  There were beds to make, laundry to do, floors to sweep and wash, bathrooms to organize, and of course, the unpacking of our luggage. 

Lots of action here.

When we repack for the 15th, I will be reorganizing and further lightening our load for the next flight from Kona, Hawaii to Lihue, Kauai with a layover in Honolulu for an hour. 

The thought of staying put in Kauai for four months is pleasing for both of us. We’ll have plenty of time to explore the gorgeous island, lounge at the beach, and try a few of the highly-rated restaurants in the area. 

Correctly timing the shot from considerable distances is a craft that neither my bad shoulder nor our camera can do. If we upgraded to a camera with a higher capacity for distances, it would weigh more. It’s a catch 22.

Although there’s no pool at the condo we rented we’ll certainly find a good spot to whale watch when the Hanalei Bay is across the street in the fabulous Princeville area. We couldn’t ask for more especially since we chose this particular condo for its excellent price for the otherwise pricey area. 

Sacrificing a little in amenities over price was our plan as we prepare for the next leg of our journey. The segue in Princeville for us is a place to regroup, plan, and get ready for our next big foray outside the US which will be for at least the upcoming two years.

The black and white fluke. It was almost dark outside.

Last night, our final night at the big house, we found ourselves on the lanai having exhausted all of our energy in packing and moving all day, we saw one pod of whales after another, more than we’ve ever seen before.

Getting good photos of whales is especially difficult for me. My bad shoulder prevents me from holding up the camera for long enough to capture the perfect shots. Plus, our camera, although capable of taking good photos, is not capable of the long-distance shots required when whale watching. 

Two whales, side by side.  It could be a mom and baby.

Sure, a tripod would help but the added weight is not practical for us when we’re already up to the max with our two large and one medium suitcase, one carry on duffel bag, one computer bag, and one handbag. I can’t imagine a free hand able to hold a tripod. 

So, this is the way it is, the best we have to offer thus far as we continue to watch for the massive gentle beasts that waft through the sea with grace and ease. We love every sighting, hollering “blow hole” each time we spot the spewing stream of vapor exuded by these amazing animals.

When Tom yelled, “Over here!” I was focused on another whale and missed all but this shot when two whales did a full breach, simultaneously. I saw it but just didn’t focus on it quickly enough.

Now, each time we holler “blow hole” we’re reminded of the fun times we spent with our family, eyes peeled at the ocean, squealing with delight each time we spotted a whale. In their absence, we’ll continue this enjoyable pastime well into the future months to come.

It takes looking at this photo for a moment to see the fluke and how its positioned.

May you have a fabulous weekend. Once fully settled in a few hours, we’ll surely do the same.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2014:

Often, when zebras came to call, they’d attempt a sip out of the pool. As soon as they detected the taste of chlorine, they wandered away in search of other more potable sources. For zebra facts and photos of multiple zebras at the pool and the story from one year ago today, 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.

Part 1…Another amazing day…Wonders awaiting determined investigation…Pahoa Marketplace closing for lava…

Part 2 is cancelled for tomorrow due to another story about the lava flow fast approaching Pahoa.

Sandy beach spots for enjoying the tide pools filled with fish and turtles at the Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo.
More sandy areas at the Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo.

Yesterday, we took off with a plan in mind; haircuts for the boys at the soon-to be-closed-due-to-lava, Supercuts at the Pahoa Marketplace, a visit to the Lyman Museum, and later to dine at the popular, highly rated Hilo Burger Joint about a mile from the museum. Leaving the house at 1:00 pm, we had plenty of time to leisurely make our way to each location. 

Sarah and Nik, walking along a high ledge at the Onekahakaha Beach Park.

With no GPS in our possession without the availability of SIM cards in the US without a contract, I always find directions online and take photos of them to store on my phone. 

White sand at Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo.

Unfortunately, with many roads poorly marked in Hawaii and the propensity for bad directions from online maps, it’s easy to end up in the wrong spot, not necessarily lost (with Tom’s good sense of direction) but unable to find an exact location.

Easy to maneuver steps into the crystal clear water of the tide pools.

So was the case yesterday in finding the Lyman Museum, which we’d chosen to visit more as a result of it being our namesake than anything else. Although, when looking up its particular, this place could definitely pique the interest of all of us. Finding it, on the other hand, was a challenge.

One of many tide pools at the Onekahakaha Beach Park, perfect for snorkeling.

After driving the general area of the museum, so we thought, we “accidentally” ended up on a dead-end road leading to the ocean. Oh my, were we in luck! 

Lovely views of the beach.

We found ourselves at the most amazing family park, Onekahakaha Beach Park, the most kid and family-friendly park we’ve seen in Hawaii since we arrived almost two and a half months ago. 

Covered picnic areas at Onekahakaha Beach Park.

We all oohed and aahed over the prospect of spending plenty of great family time at this park with had every possible amenity of a beach park, clear waters, great snorkeling, ideal swimming conditions, shallow waters for the young swimmers, sandy beaches at several points, playgrounds, grills, well-maintained restrooms, and many covered picnic table pavilions. 

Gorgeous views of a few tide pools at Onekahakaha Beach Park.

Seeing this perfect location put our minds in overdrive, putting a plan in place. Our plan is for the 14 of us to spend Christmas Day at the park, bringing meat to cook, salads, and beverages in the coolers. What an unusual Christmas Day outdoors for our cold weather Minnesota family members, used to snow, ice, and cold weather during the holiday season!

Sign at the entrance to the park.

After spending almost an hour perusing the park, spotting a giant sea turtle in the shallow pools, and numerous colorful fish, we were content that we had a perfect plan in place which only escalated as the day wore on.

Jayden in the “lava” chair at the Lyman Museum.

Back on the road, after taking numerous photos of the park, we were on our way to the Lyman Museum finding from a friendly local passerby that we were quite a distance away. 

Naturally occurring granite in Hawai’i.

Heeding his directions, we were on our way but only after we “accidentally” spotted a sign pointing in the direction of the museum, we were all thrilled to have found it. Of course, the online directions were wrong once again. That’s not to say that GPS is always right either, as we all know from experience.

Fossils on display at the Lyman Museum.

With only a $21 family rate fee for the six of us to enter, we had plenty of time to wander the two floors in the time remaining until they closed at 4:30 pm. Then, we’d head to the restaurant dinner less than a mile down the road.

More fossils on display.

Much to our delight, everyone loved the museum. Snap happy me, shot, photo after photo. But, I won’t bore our readers with too many photos of the museum pieces and spread the photos from our outing over the next few days.

Colorful coral from the coral reefs in Hawai’i.

Before we left the museum, I asked the receptionist if she’d confirm our directions to the restaurant. Good thing I asked. She explained they’d moved over a year ago. Funny, the old location showed on all of the maps. We’d have been driving around for days.

Amethyst on display.

Luckily, the kindly attendant gave us directions to the new location, and once again, we were back on the road, confident we’d find the restaurant which we’d done so easily.

Hawaiian built structure at the museum.

The Hilo Burger Joint is rated #28 of 206 on TripAdvisor. With this information, we were confident that we’d have a passable if not spectacular meal. Spectacular it was, some of us claiming it was the best burger, they’d ever had, myself included. I ordered a burger in a bowl with my preferred toppings of avocado, bacon, and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce. Fabulous!

This beautiful Hawaiian lava photo caught our eye.

Discovering that the beef was local and grass-fed, I was in heaven knowing we’d all enjoy at least a chemical-free burger.

Exquisite works of art lined the walls in the Lyman Museum.

When we received the bill, including tip for $152.00, averaging at $25 per person including beverages, we decided to have Tom’s birthday at the Hilo Burger Joint (our treat), making our reservation for 14 at 6:00 pm on December 23rd, next Tuesday.

Interesting works of art.

Considering we’d already spent over $2000 on food since arriving on the Big Island on December 1st, with a few more shopping trips ahead, we realized it would probably cost no more to go out to dinner at this establishment than it would purchase all of the food for a meal for 14. 

An Asian mural on a wall in the museum.

Tom’s primary reason for choosing this option for his birthday is the fact that it’s one less meal for me to cook. Dining out on Tom’s birthday on the 23rd and Christmas Day at the park, bringing food to cook and salads, I’d only make dinner for Christmas Eve. This is a breeze, leaving me more time to spend with the family as opposed to stuck in the kitchen over three busy days in a row.

Tom, after his haircut, covering part of this sign so it reads, “Grandfather’s House.” Now, Grandfather doesn’t have a house but certainly rented two for this family gathering.

After dinner, we drove to the Liliuokalani Park and Gardens, which Tom and I had visited when our ship docked in Hilo in October. A kindly cab driver drove us to see the park when we’d boarded the wrong bus at the pier, ending up at Walmart.

More items with the Lyman name.  They all loved it.

With no interest in Walmart, we hailed his cab for a ride back to the pier and the cab driver, who happened to live on Lyman St. (What?) agreed to take us on a little sightseeing tour for $10 plus a tip. We loved the Liliuokalani Park and Gardens and of course, the friendly cab driver.

After we left the museum, I walked across the street to take this photo.

Last night, we parked at the Liliuokalani Park when the family was anxious to see the ship, Norwegian’s Pride of America, leave the pier to head out to sea. With sunset fast approaching, we were able to see the ship’s bright lights as it pulled away from the dock.

The partial menu at the Hilo Burger Joint.

Returning home around 7:00 pm, we all hunkered down for some WiFi time on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. We’d had a great day.

Nik and TJ waiting for their food to be served.

Today, Tom and I will stay put except for my quick trip to the Pahoa Marketplace to take more photos as the entire mall prepares to evacuate by Thursday night as the lava quickly approaches the mall. This mall and gas station may be completely covered in lava by Christmas Day, sad for the employees and store owners in its path.

Tom sat across from me at the restaurant.

Yesterday, before we took off for the Lyman Museum, the three generations of Lyman boys; Tom, TJ, and Jayden each had haircuts together at the soon to be closed for lava. The staff and the owner of the Supercuts salon in the Pahoa marketplace worked fast and furiously to accommodate their customers in its last few days in business at this location. 

Sarah, Jayden, and Nik at the restaurant while we waited to be served. 

The shop is moving to two locations, Hilo and Keaau, and can be reached at 808-982-5707 or 808 965-5577 with questions. Tomorrow, we’ll share haircut photos of three generations, having cuts simultaneously. How fun was that!

Last night at dusk at Liliuokalani Park.

Have a wonderful “hump day” with the holiday season in full bloom.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2013:

Although the Hornbill house in Marloth Park had a few nuances, we found it the most wildlife-friendly location of the three houses we experienced in our three-month stay in the park. The friendly warthogs were daily visitors as shown in this visitor hanging out by the braaii, hoping for a leftover morsel. For photos of the house, please click here.

No word on lava viewing…We’re so near yet so far away…Slowly, coming this way…Scary photo, one year ago today!

The bright sun, the palm fronds and the sea create a gorgeous scene.
A perfect Hibiscus begs for a photo.

This article from the National Park Service explains where lava may be seen from the park, but also explains that the viewing areas aren’t open to the public (at the end of the first paragraph). In this same paragraph, it states there is no lava flow into the ocean at this time.

TJ is the king of videos, rather than taking still photos. He does a great job.

However, the flow continues to flow to Pahoa toward the little shopping mall, we visit almost every other day for one thing or another.  This article describes how it is indeed flowing toward the Pahoa Marketplace. At its current rate of flow, it could reach the shopping area and gas station within a week.

A grass fed cow lounging in his yard.

If that area is taken out, it will surely have an effect on our ability to run to the store, instead making it necessary to make the 35 to 40 minute drive or more (lots of bad traffic due to construction) to shop in Hilo.To make matters worse, it will have a bearing on the access road to Hilo which is already rather daunting.

It appears this road had been an ideal dumping spot for junk vehicles.

There’s a superette about three miles down the road called, “Da Store,” but their prices are at least 30% higher than the Mamala Market in Pahoa Marketplace. We’ve done the bulk of our food shopping in Hilo at the Safeway.

We’re often surprised to find yet another excellent viewing spot along the ocean.

We could worry ourselves into a tither. We decide not to, continuing to enjoy ourselves as a family of six for one more week until the other arrive, only adding to our enjoyment, doing exactly what we all feel like doing with no pressure to constantly be on the go. Nothing is more appealing to us than lounging together in idle conversation, looking out at the sea, searching for “blow holes.”

Tom whistled in an effort to get this horse to pick up his head from grazing in this yard.

Yesterday, TJ, Sarah and the two boys took a long drive on the island on a rainy day. Tom and I stayed behind preferring not to drive long distances in the rain when its impossible for us to properly explore and take photos.  They stopped at McDonald’s for lunch and later Baskin Robbins for a treat.

Its surprising how trees and other vegetation are able to grow in the lava rock.

It was good for them to have the day on their own without worrying about the oldsters. Returning around 5:00 pm, we fired up the grill an make six New York strips steaks (one grass fed for me befitting my no grain way of eating), baked potatoes for five, sweet corn, a huge salad and leftover garlic bread I’d made the previous night.

The waves are generally larger on this island from what we’d seen on the south side of Maui.

Oddly, the microwave died last night when I attempted to heat one more potato and now we have no microwave. I contacted the owner regarding this event, and heard this morning that she’ll replace it over the weekend. The sooner the better. Its hard not to have a microwave with kids around.

We’ve found many uprooted trees from recent storms.

We grilled the six steaks on the smallish Weber managing to get everyone’s cooked exactly as they preferred:  four medium, one medium rare (Tom) and one rare (for me). We all fit comfortably at the big square kitchen table and have enjoyed every meal together.

Striations in the lava from times past.

Tonight, we’ll dine in again, making pork chops on the grill, salad, some variation of potatoes, green beans, and again, bread of some sort which we’ll run to the store to purchase today. Of course, I’ll eat one pork chop, my coleslaw and green bean and be just fine

Everywhere we drive we discover these appealing tree lined roads.

Oddly, it doesn’t bother me to prepare these foods I can’t eat. Although, it does nag at me to see loved ones eating such carb laden foods, high in sugars and starches. I keep my mouth shut and don’t preach. Although, I have made a few comments about how bad soda is for kids (and adults). So, slap me. I’m just a concerned grandma.

The simple beauty of the sea.

The weather is sketchy at best today. Its windy and overcast with only a sliver of blue sky peeking through.  Hopefully, if the sun appears, we’ll head outside or to the tide pools in Kapoho.

Close to home, we ventured down a narrow one car road for some interesting scenery.
There are no sandy beaches on this side of the island of Hawai’i. The islands were created as a result of volcanic activity, its not surprising to see lava rock lining the shore.

May your Saturday be filled with fabulous holiday gatherings and if you don’t celebrate, may you recall, if you’re old enough, “It’s Saturday night!” 

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2013:

We found this giant insect in our pool in Marloth Park, one year ago today. Zeff, our house person, fished it out of the pool for this photo. For more photos from that date, please click here.