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.

Day #193 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hawaii, almost seven years ago…

Here we are at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii, in 2014. Sam, our friendly taxi driver, took the photo.

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

One may wonder why, in 2014, we chose to embark on a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands, when in fact, we’d be staying on four islands for a total of seven months. We’d always been curious about the 9-night Hawaiian Islands cruise which sailed from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Honolulu, Oahu.

The scenery along the shores of this river in Hilo is lovely.

The decision proved worthwhile when we had an opportunity to see a few ports of call we wouldn’t necessarily visit while staying in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. We spent the first 13-nights staying in Waikiki Beach in a condo, one of few holiday homes we didn’t enjoy. The photos on Homeaway looked good, but the tiny, expensive suite was dated, worn, and overall uncomfortable.

An enchanting footbridge in the gardens.

Another lesson was learned at that time…avoid taking property at face value, based only on its photos with only a few good reviews. We’d faltered in that area when we booked our first holiday home in Placencia, Belize, in early 2013, moving out a week later due to many inequities and issues with the property, undisclosed by the owners. We’d lost the rent money and didn’t feel like taking legal action right at the beginning of our journey.

We entered the Port of Hilo, Hawaii.

As time passed, we became more and more particular. Fortunately, the holiday homes on the other three islands were excellent and, as stated in the online listings. With our kids and grandchildren coming for the holidays to the Big Island for Christmas, we were satisfied we’d made decent choices for the two houses we rented, next door to one another, with room for all of us.

The park was lovely.

But, today’s photos are only from that one-day port-of-call on The Big Island to the oceanfront city of Hilo, a modern metropolis of typical US demeanor; lots of malls, restaurants, tourist traps, hotels, and shops lining the boulevards. In our travels, our goal has always been to stay away from busy, crowded cities, but at times, this was impossible to avoid.

The last time we went to a Walmart, a store we never visited in our old lives, was in Mexico on January 6, 2013, when we got off the ship, the Celebrity Century, to purchase our first camera. Here’s Tom in front of the Hilo, Hawaii Walmart.

That day in Hilo, we accidentally got on the wrong bus (very much unlike us to make such an error), ending up at a Walmart store. We took advantage of the fact we needed some items, making a few purchases. Not usually Walmart customers, we found the prices to be good for Hawaii where most things are overpriced.

After our short shopping spree, we decided to take a taxi back to the ship but instead landed a great taxi driver in the Walmart parking lot, who took us on a tour of some of the highlights in Hilo. It proved to be a good decision when we enjoyed our unplanned time, as shown in today’s photos.

Leis for sale in a refrigerated case at the Walmart store.

Later on, staying on the Big Island with our family, we visited Hilo a few more times, mainly for food shopping for our big group at the two houses and a trip to the big mall with one of our daughters-in-law. How the time has flown! Gosh, that seems as if it was a long time ago when it was almost six years ago.

Today, I had a late start working on the post and found myself a little distracted. I spent the entire morning, after oversleeping to 9:00 am, going back and forth with our accountant in Nevada, working on our taxes for 2019, for which we’d filed an extension. When we were first in lockdown in this hotel, I didn’t have to gather the tax information to send to our accountant, so we asked him to file an extension. The filing is due on October 15, and now, thank goodness, we’re done.

Our ship is behind the Pacific Princess in the foreground.

On top of that, I am still working with our web developers on problems with some, not all, of our readers signing up to receive our daily posts but not receiving them. We’re working on a solution to figure out why. If this has happened to you, please check your spam folder and accept our incoming posts. Also, you will be sent a confirmation email which you must accept to receive the posts.

Please let me know if you aren’t receiving the emails within a week while we figure out the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Have a great day. Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2019:

After considerable guidance, they guided the sheep to the barn on the farm in Devon, England. He was a competent shepherd. For more photos, please click here.

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.

Pahoa Marketplace, where we shop…Lava coming soon…News reports here…Kapoho Tide Pools…

TJ checking out the rocky terrain at the Kapolo Tide Pools.

At least every third day we go to the Pahoa Marketplace, a handy strip-type mall a short 10-minute drive from our home. There’s a video at this link below explaining how close it actually is to take out the grocery store and gas station we currently use when shopping for groceries to fill in our supply from Safeway in Hilo.

As we drove to the Kapolo Tide Pools, we passed this National Guard vehicle. The guards were close to the shore enjoying a view of the ocean, most likely during a lunch break.
The road we traveled to the tide pools, one we had traveled earlier. We continued to be in awe of the beauty.

Hopefully, by Wednesday, (tomorrow) a viewing area will be opened for the public to see the lava at the Pahoa Transfer Station. Of course, we’ll quickly be on our way to see the lava as soon as the area is open. 

Another beautiful section of the narrow road.

We often drive by the National Guard tents where they are securing the lava area, wondering when we’ll have an opportunity to see this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. We can hardly wait.

Our family members found a level spot easier for getting in and out of the tide pools. 

As for the six of us, yesterday we visited the Kapoho Tide Pools at long last. Speaking of spectacles, this spot is ideal for the avid snorkeler. Walking across the large lava rocks is quite a challenge. To avoid turning an ankle I only went so far when I found a flat surface on which I could take photos which we’ve included today.

The tide pools were filled with interesting fish, an ideal spot for the snorkeler.

For the swimmer or very young children, the treacherous walk wouldn’t make it the right spot for them. 

A huge tree trunk had landed on the lava rock, most likely during a storm or hurricane.
There are a countless number of tide pools.

I’m sure as the remainder of the family arrives, we’ll visit these tide pools and the other tide pool at Ahalanui Park that we visited last week where there’s an easier to access single large tide pool with warm water in a more park-like setting.

Amazingly, vegetation grows out of the lava rock.
The tide pools weren’t packed with visitors.  For one reason, it isn’t easy to find; for another, the lava covered long walk from the road isn’t for everyone.  Also, it’s a long walk from the parking area to the tide pools.

Unfortunately, the road to the Hawai’i Volcano National Park is closed at this time due to the lava. Ironic, isn’t it? That which attracts many visitors to this island is inaccessible at this time. 

Every direction we turned, there was a grouping of tide pools.

Then again, it’s all a part of Madam Pele’s, the goddess of volcanoes, the bigger plan, none of which we or any scientists are certain at this point. I suppose it’s the mystery of it all that adds to the excitement.

More vegetation growing from the lava.
More huge lava formations.

Our plan today is a trip to Hilo, a last trip to the Pahoa Marketplace to take photos while it’s still standing, and perhaps a visit to a museum. It’s all dependent upon the weather. If the sun comes out, which currently it’s not, we’ll do outdoor activities. If it’s cloudy, we’re off to Hilo for the museum and dinner out.

All of the dozen or so houses near the tide pools, were on stilts such as this, necessary to protect them from hurricanes and unusually high tides.
At the far upper left in this photo is the lanai of a house, jutting high above the pools. It’s difficult for homeowners in the area. They are constantly dealing with cars and tourists traipsing across their property. We parked in the designated parking lot, making the long walk.  We hope others do the same.

May your Tuesday be pleasing and full of wonderful surprises.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2013:

We laughed when we zoomed in on the back legs of a warthog. These look like women’s high heeled boots at first glance.For more on warthogs, please click here.

Hello Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii!…An unexpected outing!…New photo of us in Hilo…

Here we are at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo. Sam, our overly friendly taxi driver, took the photo.

It was tempting to get off the ship to go see the two houses we rented on the Big Island for the holidays with our family. But, we’ve decided to wait in order to be surprised.

The scenery along the shores of Hawaii is lovely.

The pier in Hilo is located in a highly industrial area and we’d have had to walk for miles to get to any points of interest. 

As we entered the Port of Hilo, Hawaii.

Also, we’ll be back on the Big Island for six weeks in less than two months, saving sightseeing to do with our family members when they start arriving on December 6th.

The last time we went to a Walmart, a store we never visited in our old lives, was in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico on January 6, 2013, when we got off the ship, the Celebrity Century, to purchase our first camera. Here’s Tom in front of the Hilo, Hawaii Walmart. See below as to how we ended up at this store, an entirely unplanned outing.

However, we decided to take the free shuttle into downtown Hilo. Well, of all things, we accidentally got on the bus going to Walmart! We couldn’t have laughed harder. 

Leis for sale in a refrigerated case at the Walmart store.

After spending $126 in Walmart, we weren’t laughing quite as hard. We purchased nuts, a couple of shirts, self tanning cream, shampoo, toothpaste and a few odds and ends.

Our ship is behind the Pacific Princess in the foreground.

Tom got “overly grumpy” when we had to buy a cloth bag to carry our purchases since Walmart in Hawaii doesn’t use plastic bags. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with their concern for the environment. 

Near the Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

After we made our purchases, we found our way to the waiting area for the free shuttle to return us and others to the ship. The expected wait time was 15 minutes at most. 

At the Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

As we waited while sitting on a bench, a friendly-looking taxi driver asked if we wanted a ride back to the pier.  Did we have food stuck in our teeth proving we were passengers of the latest cruise ship to arrive in Hilo?

I asked Sam, “How much?” 

Sam answered, “$12.”

I answered, “Na, too much!”

Sam answered, looking at the camera hanging from my shoulder, “How about $10 with a stop at a gorgeous site to take photos?”

The park was lovely.

We couldn’t have jumped up quicker, taking Sam up on his kindly offer. As soon as we got into his air-conditioned minivan, we all engaged in animated chatter as Sam drove us to the Liliuokalani Gardens, an exquisite park on the way back to the ship.

Oddly, Sam told us he lives on “Lyman Ave” in Hilo, pulling out his driver’s license to show us. Serendipity.  We’re hardly wanted to say goodbye to Sam after an outrageously fun time with him during the drive and at the gorgeous park. Its funny how the least expected situations turn into the most fun of all. 

An enchanting footbridge in the gardens.

Over the extended periods we’ll spend on each of three of the four islands we’ll have plenty of time to see everything that appeals to us. No paid excursion would have been more fun than our time with Sam.

As for Hilo, we searched for a bit of general information on the Hawaiian Islands and found the following. As time goes on, we’ll acquire knowledge that we’ll share with our readers as opposed to quoting other web sites. 

For now, we’re Hawaiian newbies and we prefer to be careful of that which we write until we become more knowledgeable over the next many months:

“The Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian: Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the “Sandwich Islands“, a name chosen by James Cook in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the main island, Hawaii Island, as a pars pro toto.
The US state of Hawaii occupies the archipelago almost in its entirety (including the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), with the sole exception of Midway island, which is instead an unincorporated territory within the United States Minor Outlying Islands.
The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. The islands are about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent.

In these short few days in Hawaii, it’s odd for us to grasp that Hawaii is a part of the US, other than for its abundance of US products, services and of course, its economy. It appears comparable to other many other resorts/vacation/holiday island we’ve visited in other parts of the world.

Of course, we enjoy the easy availability of products and services from which we’ve been far removed for much of the past two years. Seeing the familiar products, chain restaurants, markets, and hotels is both refreshing and disappointing when we’ve found great pleasure is being detached from all the hype.
We’ll have ample time in the future to once again feel removed from the hustle and bustle of life in the US when again we take off for more remote locations in not too distant future.  
In the interim, we’ll enjoy every aspect of living in Hawaii, experiencing each of these  islands, each with its own unique persona. From what we saw on Tuesday in Honolulu, the prices may not be any higher than we experienced in the past locations.

With only five days and four nights until we disembark the ship, we have that wonderful feeling of not being disappointed that the cruise is ending, knowing that which lays ahead will be equally enjoyable.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2013:
None of our photos were posted on this date. However, we did post a story about “worrying” we loved to share with our readers who may have missed it. Please click here for details.