What’s happening with the lava flow in Pahoa?…Life goes on among the locals and tourists…Last year…They visited a second time…Magical…

Lava or not, local roosters and chickens are busy peeking on vegetation, a common sight in the islands. This rooster had a keen eye on his “wife” and a chick on the side of the road.

As we drove around Pahoa yesterday afternoon, we couldn’t avoid noticing the number of buildings and businesses that have closed or are soon to close in Pahoa with the lava flow only 660 yards from the Pahoa Marketplace.

Yesterday afternoon, we drove on the newly graveled road, recently made as an alternative to Highway 130 which eventually will be closed due to the lava.

Please click here for the latest update and video of the lava flow in Pahoa.

When lava came through this area in years past, many cars remained, burned, and abandoned.

It was only a few weeks ago, that we attended the final sale days of the Malama Market, the Supercuts, and the Long Drugs (owned by CVS) in preparation for their final closing of these and other stores as the lava approaches, seeming to inch along at this point.

Longs Drugs, permanently closed and boarded up due to pending lava flow.

Yesterday, as we drove around the Pahoa area we discussed the tragic impact the lava flow has had on local residents; lost jobs, lost homeownership and rentals, lost business ownership, loss of revenue, and taxes for the city. 

Pahoa gas station, tanks removed, and closed in anticipation of the upcoming lava flow.
The Pahoa Marketplace strip type mall is guarded 24 hours a day by the National Guard.

In one positive way, it has put Pahoa on the map, a sleepy little “hippie” town known for its laid back retirees with long beards, braided hair, and a gentle demeanor; its quaint shops with locally made artifacts, clothing, and treasures and its cozy restaurants where the locals gather to share the news of the day.

Auto repair shop in the path of the lava.
Malama grocery store, since abandoned for the upcoming arrival of lava.

These days, its been discussions in the community about the continually moving lava, albeit slow at the moment, that invariably will make its way to the sea, somewhere near where we’ve been living these past five weeks. Fortunately, for our convenience, it never made it to us.

The pharmacy had left this sign referring prescriptions to the now-closed Longs Drugs.

At the lava flow’s current rate of travel, having recently almost stalled, it could be many months before it reaches this area. Now, living here, we realize that had we found the necessity to relocate, we’ve would have done it with more grace and ease than the frenzied panic we anticipated many months ago.

The local grade school, quite a distance from the Pahoa Marketplace, has been closed for some time due to the lava.

It’s the way of life for the people of this island. They accept that Madam Pele, the Goddess of Fire, as having the power to make the decisions that ultimately will bear down on the lives of its people. They graciously accept her choice of the course of the lava as it flows from Mount Kilauea and the other active volcanoes on the islands. 

The Pahoa Community Center has been closed since before our arrival in anticipation of the lava flow.

After all, Hawaii was created by volcanic eruptions forming the land of the islands, rising from the sea. Who’s to question this power?

We watched the behavior of this rooster and his family. He kept an eye on us and the mom safely tucked her chick on her opposite side.

As for tourism on the Big Island, it has increased since the news of the lava flows attracted worldwide attention.  This fact is good for the businesses remaining in Pahoa.  But, for those who have been permanently displaced, losing their financial security and homes, the saga continues on.

During high winds on Friday and Saturday, this tree was uprooted at the birdhouse where we currently reside.

For us, we’ll always find ourselves checking online news for the progression of the lava as we’ve acquired compassion for the fate of the island’s people and their lives as the course of this geological certainty continues over the years. We pray for their safety and for finding peace in whatever course their lives may take.

Happy Sunday to all.

                                                Photo from one year ago today, January 4, 2013:

This was the second time that the giraffes appeared in our yard on a sunny morning in Marloth Park. We were no less thrilled the second time than we were the first.  For details and videos of this visit, please click here.

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

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

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

First, we saw the blowholes of these two whales.

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

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

The dorsal fin appeared.

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

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

Another whale’s dorsal fin.

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

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

This morning from the lanai.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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

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

Up close and personal…We saw the lava!…Local stores clearing out and closing for the upcoming arrival of the lava…Link to Tom’s Irish Cream recipe…

There’s no part 2 from yesterday’s story. We had “bigger fish to fry” today regarding the lava

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.
Smoke rising from the lava.

It’s hard to believe that we are in Pahoa, Hawai’i as the lava approached on its mission to reach to the sea.  Here we sit at its final destination, expecting it to arrive in our area between February and March or sooner if another eruption sends a faster flow of lava.

Signs such as this are posted everywhere.
Apa’a Street was closed for months, other than for local traffic up until yesterday morning. It’s now open all the way to the Pahoa Transfer Station, where a viewing station had been set up for the public. The lava had crossed the road as shown in our other photos here today. Previously, this road had to be secured by National Guards, preventing anyone other than homeowners from approaching. It is down this road that a house was taken out weeks ago.

Yesterday, Sarah and I headed to the Longs Drug Store, quasi mini Target, that has everything imaginable, only to discover there was nowhere to park. What was going on with dozens of cars touring the huge parking lot for a spot?

To see the red hot lava between these lava rocks only required a bit of zoom.

We had no choice but to park in the Burger King parking lot where we noticed others doing the same, walking the distance to Longs. As it turned out, the entire store was on sale, much for 90% off. 

With the viewing area opened yesterday morning and without the announcement yet on the local news, the visitors were at a minimum to the lava viewing area.  We can only imagine the crowds over the next few weeks as visitors fly into Hawai’i for the sole purpose of lava viewing. We are grateful we had the opportunity to see it before the arrival of the huge crowds. The blue tent is a security area set up by police and National Guard.

We were too late. All the goodies were in carts of anxious shoppers in lines 20 people deep with regular-sized shopping carts overflowing with nary a one for our use, while we meandered about the store, filling our arms with food and supplies we could use while our family is here over the holidays.

Sarah and Jayden walking in front of us on the long walk down Apa’a Street toward the lava viewing area at the Pahoa Transfer Station.
A portion of the viewing area at the Pahoa Transfer Station where experts and guards were on hand to answer questions and show various photos.

Of course, the reason Longs Drugs was selling out their merchandise was clear. The lava is coming. Although, the drug store is a few blocks from the Pahoa Marketplace that was also evacuating (more on that shortly), apparently the drug store is closing as well to make way for the fast-approaching lava, only days away.

A secured main power pole built up to prevent the lava from taking out the electric power for the area which could impact all of us.
Information as to how to protect the power poles from the lava flow.

Sarah and I spent no less than 90 minutes waiting in line. Fortunately, the upside was that we had the amazing opportunity to speak to locals, one couple who didn’t have to evacuate and another whose house is across the road from us here, who moved out in the past month, in preparation for the lava’s eventual arrival in this neighborhood.

Some vegetation survived along the edges of the lava flow.

The kindly gentleman, my age, retired, explained he found a place to live in a safer area and had decided to pack up everything he owned and leave his house for safety. 

A barn or garage that survived the lava flow as it crawled down the road.

He explained that most insurance companies have canceled homeowner’s policies over the past few years, leaving him and thousands of others, uninsured. He’ll get nothing for his home when it burns to the ground as the lava envelopes it in days to come. 

The swirls in the lava are interesting to see firsthand.

It was heartbreaking to hear his story, as we’ve heard others over our past almost three weeks in this forsaken area; loss of homes, job, and security. Very sad. But, the amazing attitude of these people is a treasure to behold as this kindly gentleman wanted to hear more of our story than tell his. “You are doing what?” he asked when I continued to ask him to elaborate on how he made the decision to move out sooner rather than later.

Parts of this lava that had crossed Apa’a Street in October were still hot and flowing.

When he was gone, we spoke to a lovely woman and her husband who shared their cart with us, Mee Ling and John who have lived in the islands for decades, have 10 grown children, seven of which still live with them  To earn a living, Mee Ling is referred to as “The Jamming Lady,” making exquisite homemade jellies and jams using local produce, phone 808-965-9119 and John, owns a company, Hawaii’s House of Gold who sells and distribute health products.

Peeking into this spot I saw red hot lava as shown in the above photo.

As they showed us their bargains, they offered to give us several items in their cart they’d found before we’d arrived. Of course, we refused their kind offer. They needed every item for their big family as well. While Sarah held our place in line with Mee Ling, John showed me where to find many items including pretty Christmas paper plates and napkins at $.14 a package. I grabbed all that remained.

Jayden, in front of the lava.  In years to come, he’ll look back to this experience with wonder.

We hugged goodbye when they were checked out and ready to go. Who gets to hug people in a drugstore that we just met? How lucky can I get? The 90 minutes of waiting proved to be enjoyable especially when Mee Ling and John told us the Pahoa Transfer Station had opened that morning for lava viewing.

Tom, Nik, TJ, Sarah, and Jayden in front of a lava area.

No sooner did we load our stuff into the car, Sarah and I headed back to the house to unload, get the rest of the family, and head back to the Pahoa Transfer Station cameras in hand to take photos.

Tom, his new haircut, and me, in front of the fenced-off lava area.

Today, we share these photos with many more to come over the next several weeks. We’ll make every effort to get photos of the lava after it envelopes the shops of Pahoa, the gas station, and the grocery store.

More tomorrow on the last days of the Malama Grocery store in the Pahoa Marketplace, when we spent two hours shopping yesterday afternoon engaging in their 50% off sale of groceries. Unbelievable. Long lines.  Friendly people.

This beautiful orchid was growing only feet from the lava flow.

Wow!  What a great experience for our family! They will always remember their time in Hawai’i as the lava flow from Mount Kilauea came our way. 

We began the long trek back to our car, parked at quite a distance.

Back with more tomorrow. May your Thursday be a day of accomplishment and pleasure.  We’re striving for that!
                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2013:

It was one year ago today, that we posted Tom’s Irish Cream recipe which is at the end of the post.  Please click here for the recipe at the bottom of the page.

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, kind of days…Is time our friend? Amazing one year ago photo!!!

These are Noni fruit growing on our street.

Finally, the sun is shining today and with two, soon to be six grandkids in tow, cloudy days aren’t much fun in Hawai’i when water activities are foremost in their minds. The cloudy rainy days have momentarily passed as have the accompanying rainbows we often spot in the horizon.

Nik and Jayden in the yard checking out the waves.

Here’s the link to this song, “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” by Leslie Gore from 1965. 

Today, if the nice weather holds up, we’ll head to the Kaholo Tide Pools. With some sun and warmth, it will be an enjoyable outing. Although it hasn’t been “cold” its been cool and damp these past several days.

This is the Cook Pine.  Beautiful, soft to the touch.

This morning after our showers, we put on our swimsuits ready to tackle a perfect day. Tom’s already sprayed the salt off the windows facing the sea and our views are unimpeded by salt while I sit here inside preparing today’s post and Tom checks out his FB. The windows are wide open allowing the ocean breezes to waft inside making the air refreshing. We love it.

Tall evergreens frequently seen in Hawaii.

We now realize why AC is not necessary on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It never really gets hot enough to warrant it, except for perhaps a few days in the summer. Then again, most tourists don’t visit the islands in the summer in their attempt to get away from cold and inclement weather in the winter months.

Dewey flowers, a type of Lily, in our yard after the rain.

Our other family members, a total of eight, will arrive at varying times next Sunday. We’ll be prepared for their arrival with plenty of food on hand, including snacks, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and a hot dinner waiting. 

After looking through hundreds of photos, I can’t find the names of this unusual fruit. Come on, Hawaiian, help me out here!

Their rooms will be cleaned and prepared for their arrival (no cleaning people here, except us) and we’ll anxiously wait by the door as they drive themselves from the Kona airport to our house in Pahao. 

Shoreline from a walk in our neighborhood.

There are two major airports on this island, Kona (the largest international) and Hilo, a smaller regional airport.  When we booked their flights long ago to and from Kona there were less layovers and more options, as opposed to the Hilo airport. 

We spotted this “package” floating hundreds of yards out to sea.  What could it be? Please comment, if you know.

The stumbling block was the two hour drive. At that point, we assumed we’d be picking everyone up at the Kona airport.  We figured they’d prefer to spend less time waiting at an airport somewhere for the extra 90 minutes drive time through the beautiful countryside of Hawaii. We opted for the later. Hopefully, they’ll all agree once they arrive.

The two families arriving next Sunday have rented their own vehicles and will transport themselves both ways.  Plus, it enables all of us to go out together or in groups at our leisure. This works out well and we appreciate their doing so. 

When the sun peeked out, we took more photos of the sea.

Unfortunately, and to our disappointment our son Richard from Las Vegas is unable to come at this time due to a recent biking accident and major shoulder injury. 

Also, my younger sister Julie, is also staying behind due to an upcoming serious surgery. We’ll be there for her in our hearts and prayers and by Skype on a daily basis. Yes, it’s worrisome, especially being so far away, especially when there is nothing I can do for her except call, with the family here during that difficult period

Often, plants without flowers are colorful in Hawai’i.

We’re hoping they will both come to visit us in Kauai during the four months we’ll be living on the garden island beginning on January 15, 2015, a little over a month away.  How quickly the time flies.

The clouds and raging sea over the past few days.

Ah, time, it’s our friend and our enemy. When we have it, we try to remain grateful, using it well. When it is taken from us, we scramble to make the most of what we have. In neither case, admonishing its existence is pointless and frustrating, especially when we see as we age that it whisks past us like a runaway train. All we can do, is “get out of the way” and make the most of it!

That’s what Tom and I attempt to do each day. Are we always successful? No. Ms. Overly Cheerful and Mr. Overly Grumpy may differ from time to time, as do circumstances over which we have no control. 

Interest cement house and old automobile while on one of our drives.

But, we continue on, full of love and full of hope for living life to the maximum, in the moment and ultimately, for time to come.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2013:

This has got to be one of my most favorite things to have ever witnessed when stepping outdoors one morning from our house in Marloth Park, South Africa, looking through the carport, one year ago today. Long legs. Very long legs. Gingerly, I walked back to the kitchen door and whispered to Tom, ‘Stop pouring the coffee, honey. Quickly and quietly, step outside.” The look on his face when he saw these legs through the carport will be a look I’ll always remember of sheer joy and wonder. But, the fun had just begun when 12 giraffes came into our yard, staying over an hour while we took videos and photos.  To see more, 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.

Foggy day in the islands…More fabulous photos from more outings on the Big Island…

Tom and Jayden walking to a secluded scenic spot we stumbled upon.

This morning upon awakening, we were surprised to see a heavy fog over the sea this morning. For the first day since arriving, I wasn’t able to drink my mug of tea after one mug of Kona coffee. I’m sweating up a storm in the humid air, although the temperature is only 68 degrees at the moment.

As much as we love sandy beaches, we’re acquiring an affinity for the dark lava rock shoreline.

Each morning before opening the windows, Tom uses the hose to wash the salt off of all of the windows off of the ocean side of the house, allowing us to see outside. It’s odd to see how the sea salt sticks to everything, ultimately damaging most surfaces.

A narrow road close to the shore.

Also, before we go out for the day, he does the same to the car windows which also get covered in salt. We’ve found that water alone is best for removing salt. We know how easily salt dissolves in water.

With the high level of spirituality in the islands, many cemeteries are unique awe-inspiring.

With financial matters to attend to today along with the inclement weather, Tom and I plan to stay put. Most likely TJ and family will take off for a few hours for the opposite side of the island to check it out giving them time to shop for trinkets and check out what they’d like without us tagging along.

Caves pop up frequently in the rocks, often used by drifters to drink and sleep.

Yesterday afternoon, we all piled in the car, heading to the local community pool. Unfortunately, the pool doesn’t have any lawn chairs so we loaded the minivan with two plastic chairs for Sarah and I to lounge by the pool while Tom, TJ, and Jayden hung out in the cold water of the unheated pool. Nik was uninterested in the pool and stayed behind.

Frequently, TJ takes videos to post on FB.

There’s no fee to use the community pool which surprised us. With a great additional “keiki” (small children in Hawaii) pool, it will be fun to bring the four other grandchildren to the pool on nice days.

It appears that at the tail end of the obscure roads we take as we explore, we end at the ocean on the Big Island.
From time to time, we spot an area where flowers and plants have been newly planted as a memorial to a lost loved one.

Today, we share more photos from our many outings on the islands. There’s never a shortage of scenery on the islands, wherever we may travel. Taking photos is a fabulous way to keep those memories alive for many years to come.

Another pretty shoreline.
The combination of sea and trees outlining a scene creates an appealing photo op.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. Thank you so much for sharing our ongoing journey with us, however may mundane our days be at times. Of course, we’ll be back with more photos and details of our continuing outings and adventures on the Big Island.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2013:

It was on this date one year ago today, that we had eight sets of visitors in one day. We couldn’t have been more excited. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Another day in paradise…Family style…Sightseeing!…More family photos!…Daily whale sightings, photos to follow in a few days…

The 442 feet Akaka Falls.

The first few days here in Pahoa, situated up close and personal to the sea, we weren’t as familiar with spotting whales as we are now. From our last fruitless whale watching expedition in Maui a few weeks ago, we learned to watch for the “blow hole” spout of steam, not so much water, as explained to us by the on board marine biologist.

We took the “suggested circle route.”
With little time as we’re preparing to leave for the day, I wasn’t able to find the name of this flower we spotted at Akaka State Park.

Since that point, we’ve learned to keep our eyes peeled for the spray from the blowhole which has proved to a perfect way to spot a whale or pod of whales. As a result, the six of us, have spent most of our time at home, yelling, “blowhole!” At that point, we all scramble to get cameras and binoculars poised for action.

A type of Hawaiian tropical plant. Tom said it looked like a lobster cocktail, as opposed to a shrimp cocktail.
Type of orchid. We can’t seem to find the name on this one either.

Yesterday alone, we had no less than a dozen sightings, squealing every time in a frenzied state of excitement.  It’s hard to look away long enough to go inside to “check the tire pressure,” an expression used by our safari guide in the Masai Mara when one needed to take a bathroom break in the bush behind a rock or tree.

Another view of Akaka Falls as it hits the basin.
A smaller waterfall in the state park.

Exploring out and about half the time during daylight hours, we’re left with ample time to whale watch. But, today we’re off for the Kapoho Tide Pools especially after reading these reviews at TripAdvisor.

Family at Akaka Falls.

Sarah and TJ are making breakfast as I sit here preparing today’s post and Tom researches our plan and route for the day. Homebodies that we are, we’re really enjoying heading out with family exploring this lovely island.

This hanging flower is a Rattle Snake. Interesting.
The Hawaiian Cup of Gold.

Although somewhat less filled with “attractions” than some of the other islands, we’re content with the offerings of the lovely island of Hawai’i, which has the perfect amount for us.

Notice the Green Day Gecko atop this Hawaiian Tropical Flower.
Wow!  Busy item!

Simply driving through country-like areas in itself is interesting and entertaining, which we’ll continue to do during our time here. With the high cost of some attractions, it’s rewarding to be able to relish in the island’s simple beauty while on the road.

A smaller waterfall at the Akaka State Park.
Double waterfall at Akaka State Park.

Having family on hand to enjoy these treasures with us is beyond description. How often we’ve mentioned in our travels, how much our kids and grandkids would enjoy what we’ve seen. 

Pools from the falls.

Today, we share more of our photos from Monday’s road trip with more to share as we continue on.

Possible type of Plumeria?
Wild weed type plants growing along the road to Akaka State Park.

Have a happy hump day for those still working and another “who cares what day of the week it is,” for those of us retirees.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 11, 2013:

We were the owner’s dinner guests in the boma at the Royal Kruger Lodge in Marloth Park when we scheduled a visit to the lodge to familiarize ourselves with life in the park. The hosts were fabulous as well as the food. For more details, please click here.

Mesmerized by the sea from the patio…The sounds, the spray, the waves….Family is loving it! We’re loving them being here!

This greenery is prevalent in the yard rather than grass. Apparently, these plants withstand the saltwater, flourishing in their constant moisture.

Living this close to the ocean is an event in itself. Although the house is small and is as well-stocked as many of our past vacation homes, we’re managing to make it work for all of us.

Here’s our visiting family of four from left to right, Jayden 9, Nik 14, TJ, and Sarah.  We couldn’t stop laughing when we took this shot at a local stop in Pahoa. 

When the others arrive on the 21st, we’re confident it will work out well for all of us especially when a few of us will be at the house next door.

It’s easy to just sit outside watching the waves hit the lava rock shoreline. Yesterday, I took this photo from a sitting position in a chaise lounge.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the village of Pahoa to take the kids shopping only to discover the shops in the downtown area were closed on Sunday. Pahoa is not necessarily a huge tourist area although there may more lookiloos (sic) here now due to the lava flow.

A more distant view of the above.

As a result, this sleepy, often referred to as “hippie” town rolls up the sidewalks at night except for a few restaurants and pubs. We never mind that aspect of living away from the typical tourist spots after all.

Last night’s full moon as it ascended into the sky with only a few clouds in its wake.

That’s not to say prices are less here in Pahoa than in the heavy tourist areas. Unlike Maui, the prices on groceries on the Big Island are very high, higher than we’ve seen in any of our travels throughout the world.  Literally, outrageous! A family of four eating three meals a day and snacks will easily spend $600 per week.

A few dark clouds impeded the lower view of the moon last night.

Tom and I eat only one meal a day with no processed snacks, we can manage for about $250 a week, buying only fresh meat, produce, and a small amount of dairy and nuts. Since our only beverage of choice is iced tea we avoid the high cost of soda and other beverages, chips, and crackers

After a break in the clouds.

After our short trip to town, we returned for our second taco night in a row and some amazing photo-taking time when the moon made its appearance around 7:15 pm. 

Here’s our moon in its full glory.

We hope our readers don’t tire of our moon photos. Learning to take good shots at night has been a huge learning curve for me. Seldom reading directions, I have chosen to learn by trial and error. Finally, I’m beginning to utilize the proper camera settings to lessen the difficulty of this process.

TJ was wearing a hat with dreadlocks attached. We couldn’t stop laughing!

Last night was one of the first moonlit nights I felt more at ease taking photos. Of course, the moon over the Pacific Ocean on a relatively clear night certainly added to the experience.

Guess who?

Today, we’re off sightseeing today with hopefully some amazing new photos tomorrow. Tonight, out to dinner to a local Chinese Barbecue restaurant with reports on our first foray into dining out in Pahoa.

Whether the tide is high or low the waves spraying on the rocks is awe-inspiring.

Have a fabulous Monday. We love that the days of the week each offer the same blissful opportunities to enjoy life to the fullest.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2013:

This was the first time we saw “Clive” a local wild ostrich when we went for a walk in the neighborhood in Marloth Park. He was busy checking himself out in the glass of this vehicle but later turned to look at us. At a later date, he came to visit us at our house for which photos will follow soon. For more photos, please click here.

Lava flow on the Big Island takes its first house…

The lava flow broke out again on the Big Island and took it’s the first house yesterday.
It’s hard to believe this finally happened, the lava flow from Mount Kilauea has taken its first house on the island. Still miles from the houses we rented on the ocean and with the lava flow otherwise stalled, we’ll be moving to the first of the two houses in less than three weeks.
Oddly, we aren’t worried. We’re paid up in full, hoping and praying all will go well and our family holiday will not be interrupted other than the detours required in order to get to the road to the houses.

We take possession of the first house on December 1st and the second house, next door on December 20th.  Worrying does us no good.  Our family members seem accepting of the potential risk that we’d have to evacuate, although highly unlikely.  The lava flow is still a few miles away.

Life continues on, as we so well know. Still worried about the health of my sister as mentioned in yesterday’s post, the last thought on my mind right now is sightseeing.
Here are a few links to videos of the house burning from yesterday’s lava flow:
With less than three weeks until we leave Maui for the Big Island, also known as Hawaii, we’ll have time if we so choose to see more of Maui than we’ve seen thus far. 
Honestly, with so much to begin preparing for our family member’s first arrivals beginning in less than four weeks, our heads are wrapped around the excitement and preparations for their arrivals.
Adding the current worrisome state of the health of actually both of my sisters, one has just come out of the hospital a week ago and the other soon going in with big surgery on the horizon (which will most likely transpire while our kids and grandkids are with us), we realize that no matter the quality of the lives Tom and I live, life still happens to have an impact on how we feel.

View across the ocean to another area of Maui.

I do not take lightly our frequent comments about “as long as we have our health.” Its everything. Add the love of the people in our lives and a reasonable sense of financial security and we have it all.  As far as we’re concerned, these are the “big three.” The rest is a bonus for which we are so appreciative and humbled.
No romantic full moon in the night sky or break of a wave on the sea or the joy of watching wildlife at play can have much meaning without the “big three.” At any time, any of these can change and suddenly our lives are upside down.
 Last night’s view of Maui just before sunset, as it makes an “L” shape from our vantage point.
Is it by chance that the three aspects may change?  In part, no. We have control in our relationships, our financial security, and our health to a degree.  And, yes, circumstances may prevail over which we have no control. We always have control over how we choose to respond to life’s challenges, however hard they may be.
None of us are exempt from loss of health, love, and financial security in varying degrees. Some people, although few, sail through life with little strife.  But, most of us, are faced with challenges.
As we age, at times, we worry over the mortality of those we love. And, of course, our own mortality and potential lack of good health as time marched on.
For us, that is a motivating factor…live life to the fullest…while we can.
 View of pool house and ocean from our lanai.
As we continue to travel the world we continue to make every effort to keep a tight hold on these aspects of our lives over which we do have control. That’s why we focus so much “conversation” on our health and our budget. 
Soon, we’ll get out and further explore Maui and be back with more of our photos.  Until then, we grasp the realities of life with hope, prayers, love, and aplomb!
Be well, dear readers.
                                              Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2013:
 This was the only photo we posted one year ago, as we recalled our first cruise on January 3, 2013, on the Celebrity Century through the Panama Canal, a memory we’ll always cherish. For details from this date one year ago on the nuances of booking hotels worldwide, please click here.

What we love about this condo…What?…We done our own cleaning for the first time in two years! Third shark attack!

The sky at sunset.
We don’t have access to the sunset view from our condo in Maui. There’s a monstrous hill blocking the view which would require a lengthy drive. However, we are able to see glimpses of the sky at sunset which is a good alternative.

Without a doubt, this condo is one of the most well equipped vacation homes we’ve rented in two years, so much so that we haven’t minded being “house bound” during Hurricane Ana and now recovering from our recent virus.

Lots of gadgets along with our own stash.

We continue to cough all night (Tom more than me) making us feel exhausted during the days and we’re anxious to get out and do a little exploring in Maui. Soon, we’ll feel well enough to get out and share lots of new photos with our readers. Please bear with us and our current lethargy.

The condo feels like a home with artwork and decorative items on the walls and tables in each room.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the casual ease of everyday living which we find to be pleasant. This morning, after only about four hours of sleep, we decided it was time to clean having arrived one week ago today and it was time.

We flipped when we saw this tidy “junk drawer,” a must in every home.

We washed and dried the bedding and remade the bed, swept and washed all the floors, dusted, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, and “windexed” every glass surface in the entire condo including the table on the lanai.  Tom swept the floor of the lanai while I washed the sliding glass door inside and out.

Memories of our old lives with a drawer designated for plastic bags. Nice.

As we busied ourselves with the cleaning, it dawned on me that the last time we didn’t have a cleaning person(s) or service was two years ago when we spent from November 3, 2012 to January 1, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona finishing our paperwork and digital needs. 

There’s plenty of kitchen utensils.

In every other location in which we’ve lived (except Waikiki), someone else has cleaned and scrubbed our surroundings with us only tidying up after ourselves from day to day, periodically doing laundry, and washing dishes.

High quality dinnerware.

Comparable to driving a car, one doesn’t “forget” how to clean and we breezed through the process with ease and good humor. In no time at all, we were done.

Tiled showered with great faucet, plenty of fluffy towels, drawers and spotless countertops.

In a funny way, we kind of like doing our own cleaning after this long hiatus. I’m always cleaning before the cleaning help arrives to avoid embarrassing myself making it a welcome break to be unconcerned about preparing for their arrival and getting out of their way.

A table and chairs for dining wasn’t always available in every vacation home.  This is ideal for our meals. 

However, part of our rental agreement of this lovely condo includes one complimentary mid-rental cleaning by a professional company hired by the kindly owner. That’s two weeks from now. If we clean at least two times after the mid cleaning, we’ll have it covered.

With the cupboards filled with dinnerware and supplies, there’s literally not a single cupboard for food supplies. In this case, we’re messy, leaving everything in easy reach on the kitchen counter. Tom wanted us to buy Spam for Hurricane Ana which now he’s eating a little each day. It’s gluten-free and low carb so I don’t complain.

When the cost of a cleaner here in Maui is $100 to clean this small space, we opted to do it ourselves. The most we’ve paid for a full house cleaning in the few countries where it wasn’t included in the rent, was $25 for about three hours.

The owners went over the top including these high cotton count Charisma sheets and so comfortapillowcases which I used in our old lives. Comfy bed and covers.

Although some of our photos appear that we are messy, we aren’t. At times, we don’t have ample storage for all of our stuff, especially those items we often use. We don’t leave dishes in the sink and we clean the kitchen each day. We make the bed everyday. We frequently empty the trash and we clean the bathroom everyday.

The owners explained this is a new bed. It is the most comfortable bed we’ve had in a long time, perhaps over two years.

In other words, it may be a little cluttered with our stuff but it’s always clean. The exception to that may have been that little condo in Waikiki where we spent 11 nights which was nearly impossible to keep it clean with no broom, cleaning supplies and it was old and worn. It’s hard to clean “old and worn.” 

This large sturdy chest of drawers was a delight to fill with our clothes.  Tom took the bottom three drawers, leaving me the top three (as he always does).

On another note, yesterday afternoon, a third shark attack occurred in this area of Maui. Click here for the article. With this news as in the case of the last two incidents, we continue to have no interest in entering the ocean once the beaches are reopened after yesterday’s temporary closing. 

Neither of us particularly cares to swim in the ocean especially when each time we lived walking distance to the beach there’s either been sharks, stingrays, or jellyfish, none of which we care to bump into. 

There are actually four chairs for this table.  These are comfortable swivel chairs.  Plus, the view is amazing.

The lava flow on the Big Island continues to advance toward the main road in Pahoa after a few day break in its movement. For details, please click here. We continue to keep a watchful eye on the lava flow hoping it won’t be an issue for the two houses we rented in Pahoa in the Puna District on the Big Island for our family for Christmas.

Have a happy day, dear friends.

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

We were excited while living in Kenya to finally see the elusive Bush Baby while dining outdoors at a resort. For details and more photos, please click here.