Monday, March 29, 2010

Sleeping on longer!

Our lifestyle is changing. Furniture is coming in by the truckload. We now have a bed (with a real mattress!), 2 nightstands, couch, loveseat, coffee table, end table, sofa table (Susanna assembled each of these from 65 pieces!), buffet...and that's just INSIDE. Outside, we've constructed a 4'x8' wooden raised planter box, complete with gopher proof wiring, which will soon contain blueberry bushes and strawberry plants. We've assembled shelving units in the garage, and found a fun portable campfire ring on craigslist, so we can have a campfire whenever we want! All these changes are happening just in time for a string of visitors from Michigan and Colorado. Welcome to Flamingo Court!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Big Island

The second half of our Hawaii adventure took place on the Big Island, which is simply called "Hawaii." This island is much bigger than Maui and everything is more extreme. The mountains are higher (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa both stand more than 13,000 feet above sea level), the deserts are drier (some areas are so dry and bleak it looks as if they are in the middle of the Mojave Desert), and the rain forests wetter (some areas get well over 300 inches per year).

Once again, we camped for much of our time on the Big Island (six of the nine nights). We spent a good deal of time in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which included an overnight backpacking trip to the coast. We were awed by flowing lava and steam vents. The earth seems brand new here. We also visited three other National Park sites: Kaloko-Honokohau, Puuhonua o Honaunau and Puukohola Heiau (all National Historic Parks). I still don't have a clue how to pronounce any of them!

The 50th state has certainly lived up to my expectations as being an exotic location filled with incredible adventures!

The 50th State!

Hawaii is called the 50th state for two reasons in my book. Number one, it is the 50th state to be added to the United States and number two, it was my 50th state to enter! With a huge amount of excitment, we began our 2 and a half week trip to Hawaii in late January. For the first 9 days, we explored the island of Maui.
Maui is an exceptionally beautiful island that, despite it's relatively small size, contains a little of everything. It has rain forest, desert, high moutains and beaches. It also has brilliant blue water filled with countless tropical fish and massive humpback whales.

Of our 8 nights on the island, we camped for 5 of them. Interestingly enough, 4 of those 5 nights camping were free! Much of our time camping was spent in Haleakala National Park. We spent two nights along the coast near the Pools of Oheo and two nights high in the mountains. We went on an overnight backpacking trip deep into the Haleakala Crater, a beautiful and desolate old volcanic area. We encountered heavy rain in the evening and overnight temps which dipped to below freezing. The nightime stars were out of this world though and the mornings sunrise was equally as incredible.

Other highlights of Maui were focused around the water. We spent a good deal of time snorkling and diving. One of the most magical moments came underwater while diving. I was well underneath the water when I began hearing what sounded like kids playing. There were screams and whistles, grunts and groans. This went on for quite some time until I began to wonder if I was going crazy. Suddenly, I realized that I was listening to a humpback whale conversation! It was like listening in on an alien conversation. We were both utterly mesmerized by it.

We ended our time in Maui by going to a Luau along the beach. This involved a huge dinner at sunset along with hula dancers and fire twirlers as darkness became complete.

And now we are on to the Big Island for a whole new set of adventures!