Kaloko-Honokōhau

I went “up north” to visit this Historical National Park, just north of Kona and slightly west of Costco. My visit to this stunning place served two reasons: for one, well, to actually go after living on this island for 29 years, and two, for a dry run with a small backpack for my upcoming treks in Japan, England and Ireland.

What a knock-out place! I walked miles and miles of trails along the coast, past petroglyphs and ancient fish ponds, under thickets of native woods, through pastures of greenery, and finally across harshly beautiful, shade-less, shoe-eating, foot-tripping a`a flows.

I timed my visit all wrong by starting my hike at exactly noon; I must return when it first opens to catch a softer, gentler light, but I hope these photos give you an idea of its beauty and peacefulness. There were areas filled with tourists (including ones who ignored the numerous signs to leave the sun-basking turtles alone), but away from the sandy beaches I had the trails to myself. What a gorgeous day. I covered almost all of the paths, by my not-quite-Kona-ised skin signaled to me to get out of the sun after 2 1/2 hours, so I still have more trails to explore – hurray!

I hope you enjoy the photos.  FYI, it was about 82 degrees, with soft, lovely breezes coming off the ocean, and sweet fragrances wafting through the air . . . true.

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Live all you can.  It’s a mistake not to.

Ten Reasons Why I Love My South Kona Neighborhood

(Lots of words today, and not even a travel post! Feel free to skip to the few photos.)

I’m feeling pretty lucky these days after scoring a small apartment in a small subdivision near small Captain Cook. Here are ten reasons why:

1. It’s wide-open gorgeous around here, the land mostly left in its relatively natural state. I’m assuming that’s because the geography is quite steep and covered mostly with a’a (sharp, pointy, hardened lava), and therefore expensive to develop.

2. It’s quiet and peaceful . . . most of the time. There is one unusual neighbor who once in a while plays music loudly, but s/he also performs weird jazz/ballet/tai chi/acid trip dances in his/her front yard, so, yeah, some free high-quality entertainment. There is also a baby growing up in a nearby home; yes, there is sometimes wailing, but mostly this little one chuckles, coos, and babbles. It is delightful.

3. The ocean is right there. From my lanai, I can see up and and down the coast as well as a wide expanse of deep blue ocean spread out right in front of me, and I can be in the water in a very few minutes. Which leads to:

4. Whales! I’m finding it rather cool to just glance up, and thar be whales.

5. The walking and hiking are terrific. I hope to take some walking trips this year, so I am working to build up my strength and stamina. The subdivision road from the “highway” down to the ocean is on rather vertical terrain, and terrific for building leg muscles – everyone I see walking this road has lean, shapely legs. And the hikes along the coasts are [seeking appropriate adjective that means gorgeous/awesome/breathtaking/spectacular all in one]. Lately the weather has been perfect for walking: around 80, with breezes off the ocean. Plus, it doesn’t rain All The Time, as it does in a place I recently lived . . .

That said, there’s some serious weather around the islands these days; the Civil Defense folks, whom I saw mustering in their fluorescent vests, are texting about “extreme danger”, and urging “Protect your property now” in alerts. Here on the west side, so far we are avoiding the brunt of the storm, but impressive – threatening? – waves are crashing along the shore, sending spray high into the sky. My walk along the coast this morning was so amazing it brought tears to my eyes. That said, I’m glad this house I am typing in is no closer to the coastline than it is.

6. The sunsets. I’d always thought of myself as more of a hey-it’s-a-new-day sunrise-loving type (See Miami Beach photos from the Fall 2017 trip), but the sunsets and green flashes are lovely, I must admit, and go well with a glass of wine (which is not compatible with a sunrise) (again, I assume).

7. The safety. Perhaps because of the steep, scary, only-one-way-out road, my place does not require a locking front door, similar to how things were 45 years ago when I first moved to Hawaii, and unlike a place I recently lived.

8. After spending decades working in a job as an unwelcome minority, I feel like I fit in around here. Is that okay to say?

9. There are no loose, menacing dogs or packs of wild pigs to be on the lookout for when walking (as in a place I previously lived). There are wild turkeys, however. When I first saw one walking down the street, I though perhaps the sometimes-fun shingles drugs I’m taking also brought hallucinations, but no, it was real. Oh, and no mold!!!!!!!  Unlike a place . . .

10. Internet access is crap. Hello, books. (And infrequent blog posts.)

Okay, some of these reasons are more anti-my-old-surrounds than pleasing things about my new digs, but still. To my rain-forest loving friends, it takes all kinds, am I right?

I feel compelled, for reality’s sake, to list some downsides of living here: if Mauna Loa goes off, I’ll have maybe 45 minutes to live and breathe; if there’s another tsunami warning, I should have time to evacuate, and will probably lose only possessions, not my life.

Obviously, where I live these days is bringing much happiness (this happiness is NOT due to the shingles drugs!). But there is one more contributor to my peace of mind: last night, when the “extreme” winds were howling and things were going bump bump bump in the night, for the first time in a long while I was not worried sick about the financial implications of damage to the roof over my head!

Here are a few photos for you:

Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Full Circle?

The next post after Norway was meant to be sent from the driver’s seat of a new RV, parked in some gorgeous park – say, Zion – hiking map and binoculars at my side. But life is what happens after making plans, right? Circumstances changed, and the dream of cruising the continent to explore national parks has been punched back, hopefully not permanently.

I have landed back on Hawaii Island; for how long is a great unknown. But this time, after spending 28 years in the east, I’m on the west side. Only 80 miles apart, the two are vastly different in geography, weather, population, and much more. I have tasked myself with investigating this side extensively: first job is to identify the bird calls outside my window; I’ve never heard these songs before.

My first indelible memory of Hawaii was circa 1972, when my then-boyfriend in California pulled out a map of Hawaii Island to show me where he’d spent many winters. I remember noticing two place names; Captain Cook (which I thought was a silly name, having no idea of its enormous historical significance) on the west side of the island, and Hilo (which I thought was pronounced ‘high/low’, but it’s not: it’s ‘hee/low’) on the east. Little did I know then that I would spend a large chunk of my life centered on the eastern side. And now, all these years later, here I am, in Captain Cook, two blocks from the ocean, watching whales splash in the breathtakingly blue water. I am no longer a creature of the rainy, conservative, Shōgun-like east side. Hello, tanned, beachwear-wearing West Hawaii! You are my new best friend, with your warm air, soft breezes, and nightly green flashes when the sun appears to slip below the horizon. These are the reasons I moved to Hawaii in the first place. How I wound up in rainy Hilo and chilly Volcano is the story of misplaced priorities. Or something along those lines.

Golly, this is a personal post.

Anyway, these photos are from my lanai and the King’s Trail, which I have traveled on only briefly and with only a phone for picture taking. I’m so looking forward to more explorations with my trusty Canon in hand.

One last thing: if you are of a certain age, I implore you to get the shingles vaccination. I did not, and am now in great, constant pain, except for when the dulling pain meds kick in. It’s a serious reminder to myself to live all I can, because things can change significantly in a mere moment.

Aloha!

Norway not such a bad place to be stuck?

Alas the trip through lovely Norway has ended. What a magnificent part of earth this is. It would be wonderful to return in the days of the Midnight Sun.

I’m supposed to go back to the US tomorrow, but supposed to are key words here: I’m scheduled out of Gatwick, which you may have heard is a mess.

We shall see what we shall see.

One last photo above: I noticed the padding on the ship’s deck resembles snowflakes. How cool is that?

As Days Go, This Was a Pretty Good One

Possibly because the weather was pleasant, the water smooth; probably because of the pristine beauty of the Lofoten Islands; and most certainly because it was the best night so far for Northern Lights, it was a rather pleasant day.

(I actually did take these Lights shots. As well as about ten thousand more.)

I hope you enjoy these photos. They say so much more than words can, but I did want to offer one not-very-helpful guide to Norwegian pronunciation: Skjervøy is pronounced Shareway.

Live all you can, and try to see the Northern or Southern Lights in person.

Hammerfest

Welcome to Hammerfest, land of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society and a ginormous gas refinery Norway does not need (all those electric lights to keep winter blues at bay are generated by hydroelectric – the gas is shipped to Europe and the US, and is an economic boon to the area). How’s this for cunning marketing: the refinery is called Snøhvit (Snowhite)?

Knowledge I Have Gained On This Trip I’ll Probably Never Use Again: with my current gear, I can last outside on land in the Arctic for 45 minutes before the toes and fingers start to go solid. On deck: quite a bit less; say, 10 minutes?

Hammerfest is the hometown of A.H. Lindstrøm, an in-demand expedition cook who, it turns out, went on more polar expeditions than all the famous explorers.

The docks are lit up underwater, and mostly it’s cool to see into the frigid water, although it was sad to see that vandalism knows no geographical bounds.

Lastly, look who I ran into, and, yes, the boat has a jacuzzi. Which I will not use.

Here are photos from today; I hope you enjoy them.

Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.

Live all you can. It's a mistake not to.

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