Friday, November 12, 2010

Day in East Hawaii

Blue Hawaiian tour helicopter

We - or maybe it was just me - decided to splurge and take a tour of the volcano and waterfalls around Hilo from the air.  Hilo weather can be pretty much predictable at it's worst, overcast and rainy will cover most days.  They receive over 140 inches of rainfall a year; that's over 11 inches per month.  Our pilot says he has seen 11 inches a day there -- three times.  The day we visited the east side in March it drizzled on us most of the day when it wasn't outright raining.  But today was gorgeous, light winds, some clouds but mostly sunshine.  Perfect day for flying.  We left the condo at 8 a.m. and arrived at the Hilo airport at 9:45, 30 minutes early for our 10:15 check in time.    

Our pilot, Ray

You do not have a choice in seating.  At check in, they weigh each passenger and then a computer calculates the load and assigns seating for the correct weight distribution and balance.  So as it turns out, they throw the three heaviest people in the back, and I end up in the middle.  Don't go there, I was not the heaviest, the guy next to me was.  I don't know how I can get so lucky;  if it wasn't for bad luck, not sure I would have any.  Middle back seat is not where you want to be to take pictures.  I have auto focus on my camera and it kept wanting to focus on the instrument panel or the pilot's left ear.  When I tried to take it out the side, it kept fixing on the seat back, or door post, everything but what I wanted.  It is amazing I got as many pictures as I did. 

 These falls were on the Wialuku River west of Hilo.  There were numerous falls up and down the river, most of them small.  

Ring of craters
After we left the Hilo area, we flew WSW to the volcano area.  As you can see, there is still plenty of activity, but the lava flow has diminished.  There were occasional glimpses of lava in some of the vents.  
 The picture above is a great example of a cone vent.  The picture on the left is looking down the vent.  There was only a brief sighting of some lava in the left corner of this vent.    Picture below is of more venting.

A vent where some lava is visible.

Below is a view of lava flowing into the ocean.
 The current volcanic action began in January of 1983 and has continuously flowed since, although it has changed vents several times.  The flow has ebbed and flowed at different rates over the years, with some periods being spectacular.  The picture on the left and following are in a area where the lava flow in the early 90's took out most of a subdivision.  About seven years ago the residents began moving back into the area reclaiming their land and rebuilding their homes.  There is no guarantee that they won't be wiped out again.  But that pretty much goes for the whole island.  No one is immune to this beast.
This house on the right was spared out of all the homes in the area.  There is another house (below) about a mile north of this one where they have to fly in by helicopter to get to it.   The lava has cut off all access to the roads you see for miles.
                                                                                         Poor attempt for a self photo.  All in all, it was a good flight, very informative, and we landed safe.  As we use to say in the air force, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another couple of days in paradise

One of the advantages to staying at a resort is there are a lot of activities going on.  Unfortunately, most cost a fair piece of change.  But - it you are alert to what is happening around you, some free things come about.  Turns out that they were having a Hula contest that last about four days.  Yesterday we kept hearing Hawaiian music off and on some where near by so we finally decided to check it out.  Found out that they were holding rehearsals for different groups for the evening performances so we planted ourselves on the grass lawn and enjoyed a free performance of several individuals and groups. 
Still photos do not do justice for the music and the dancers as a video would, but it will have to do.  It was very relaxing and peaceful just enjoying the music and dancing.

Sound crew

There were others watching, and as you can see, the grounds of this open arena are beautiful.  

Saturday, Jeri and I ventured to the beach.  We were expecting to possibly see lots of people since it was the weekend.  Much to our surprise there were hardly any and we had our pick of the spots on the beach 

While we were there we saw several turtles surface for air just 15 feet from shore.  Tough to get a picture of that as they only surface for a few seconds to get air.
Then, there is always the obnoxious tourist who takes up more than his share of the beach.  Guy claimed he was using the natural sunlight to fight cancer cells.  Good luck with that.  Actually it looked like he was trying to get rid of his farmer's tan.  We'll check back in two weeks and see how he's doing.

And just to show you that we have not just laid around this first week, we completely cleaned the grill.  Looks almost like new.  Having a great time, wish you were here.     Q

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blue Hawaii - Part II

Our morning view

 Yes, we are back in Hawaii, soaking up some sun and salt water.  We arrived the last day of October, picked up the rental car which they unfortunately (for them) had to upgrade because there were no compact cars available,  and drove straight to Dick and Sharon's condo and crashed for the rest of the day. 

 Went to Costco the next day to pick up stuff for three weeks, then went to Safe-way for all the small items we needed.   

Par 3 second hole over water

Went back to Costco and ate lunch since it was on the way back to the condo, and crashed until about 4:30 when we went out to the 2nd hole and picked up balls and putted for about an hour. 

There are about three of us that come out between four and five in the evening and practice on the 2nd and 3rd holes.  One of the guys that is staying up by the 3rd green goes out into the fairway and hits shots into the green.  I usually go to the 2nd hole, which is just across the 3rd fairway from us, and chip and put or go back to the tee box and hit balls into the green, and also contribute balls back to the water. 
Flowers at Kona Farmer's Market

Wednesday we went into Kona to the Farmer's Market.  Some fresh produce but mostly hand crafted jewelery and stuff.  There was one vendor there who had a boat load of fresh flowers that were just beautiful.   Didn't stay long as I started suffering withdrawals from the pain medication that I unfortunately became sorta addicted to.  We have spent the last few weeks weaning me off of them but this week we went to a half tablet and it will take a few days for my body to adjust to this. Baby steps, lots of baby steps!

On our way back to the condo, we saw a USAF C-17 Globemaster III making "touch and goes" at the Kona airport.  This a practice time for the pilots where there make an approach to the airport, touch down with the landing gear and then apply full power and lift back into the air and circle around and do it again.  We saw this back in March and my guess is they are from Hickum AFB at Pearl Harbor and come down here for practice where there is seldom thunder showers and less air traffic than in the Honolulu area.  We watched them do 6 or so of these and I don't know how long they had been in the area.  I never tire of watching airplanes. 

 This is a view of the complex that we are staying in.  The unit we are in is on the 3rd floor on left side of the picture.  It is a two bedroom two bath apartment that is lavishly furnished and the kitchen has everything needed to cook for as long as one would stay.  Plus there is a Viking Grill on the Lanai that is to die for.  If you want to see what the inside of the condo looks like, you can go to the link below and there are many pictures to view.   This is a fabulous place to stay if you are looking for somewhere to stay on the big island.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family Camp - 2010

Each year our church has a Family Camp the weekend following the 4th of July.  It started about 20 years ago when we would make reservations the 2nd weekend in August at Wallowa Lake State Park located south of Joseph, Oregon.  Reservations could be made 10 months in advance for spaces located in four loops of camp sites.  But try as we might we were never able to have everybody located in the same loop.  Most years we were scattered in three of the loops, one year all four.  It became too expensive for young families with children to afford the camping fees, plus all the activities for the kids were expensive.  There were lots of trails to hike and the lake for swimming and fishing, but the expense was causing most families to not participate.

After the 2002 camp, I contacted our Camp Elkanah director about what weekends might be available for Family Camp.  Camp Elkanah is an old railroad logging camp that was donated to the Blue Mountain Baptist Association back in the mid-fifties.  While many of the cabins are old railroad cars, there is also a state-of-the-art kitchen and dinning hall now, modern bathrooms and showers, and a small wooded area that has RV electric and water hook-ups with a dump site on the property.

We were given the 2nd weekend in July and so 2003 was our first year at Camp Elkanah.  A group of us got  together believing that with the cabins, RV and tent sites, we could  offer the church an affordable three-day, two-night weekend where the kids could run free and the parents would not have to worry about strangers bothering the kids.  There is a stream with a swimming hole, a slippy slide and a zip line, plenty of places to hike, or just sit around and  visit or take a nap.      
Usually two or three of us show up on Thursday to line out what cabins each family or individual will occupy and where the trailers will be parked.  The RV camp ground is small, but cozy.  This year we had eleven rigs in there and could have put three more in if needed.  It may be tight, but it promotes lots of fellowship.
To call this tight is an understatement.  Orville and his wife, Bernice, came up on Thursday afternoon with us.  We always get our two trailers parked first in the two hardest spots to get into.  Orville has three slides on his rig, and when we ran the slides out we could see he was parked about an inch or two closer to a tree then we wanted.  I suggested that he pull forward and move over about 6 inches, but, no, he said we can work with this.  So we proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes with an ax and chisel hacking away two inches of bark.

Then there are the leveling challenges. There are no flat spots here. The whole area slopes east to west and somewhat south to north. Everyone brings extra leveling lumber and all share liberally. Some of the creativity gives us lots to talk and laugh about.


Friday evening we have an ice cream social where everybody brings what ever they have for toppings and they can throw anything and everything on, depending on what they think their stomach can stand.  Usually there are various cookies also to feast on. 


Jeri always has some kind of game or trivia quiz for everyone to work on during the ice cream feed that involves the adults and kids. It usually centers around all of us getting to know each other better and promotes closer fellowship.

After the ice cream feed we usually have three or so tables of cards going, the most currently popular game being Wizard.  It is a great game because you can have 3 to 6 players and so it never matters if you end up with odd numbers of people wanting to play.  Problem is that after the game, there are always five or six die hards that want to play another round and so some of us stay up way too late.  Yes, I am one of those that if you throw a deck of cards on the table, I don't care much what the game is - I am playing.  

Saturday morning we have a continental breakfast of either donuts or cinnamon rolls with juice and coffee. It is a casual affair with people coming and going depending on when they roll out of bed.

Saturday afternoon is time for whatever.  Here is a group actively engaged in sleeping, reading, chit-chatting and even one ignoring all the others.  Morning is organized soft ball with any and all ages participating.  Afternoon is slippy slide and volley ball.
Then there are others that really want a close up inspection of  Elani's prize catch of crawdads. 
Mean while, the kids and younger parents are enjoying the slippy slide. The kids spend all afternoon enjoying the cool water pumped from the creek.