Tag Archives: vacation

30th Anniversary Vacation – Kauai (pt 3)

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The next day after breakfast we drove to the Kauai Plantation, where we had scheduled a four hour tour which included riding on the plantation’s railroad, feeding some of the animals living there, lunch, and a hike where we tasted a multitude of different fruits (and picked some to take back to the condo). I struck up a conversation with Lou the engineer, and hearing that I worked in the industry, he invited me to ride with him in the 1948 GE locomotive for the return leg of the trip.


Kauai Plantation Railroad

The following day we instead directed ourselves to the north side of the island. Our first stop was to see the beautiful and photogenic Kilauea Lighthouse.


Kilauea Lighthouse

We continued on until we could drive no further — the highway was closed to all but locals due to landslides from last year’s heavy rainstorms. It happened to be right at Hanalei Beach Park on Hanalei Bay. It was very pleasant walking along the bay thanks to the nearby mountain cloud cover shading us from the direct sun.
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30th Anniversary Vacation – Kauai (pt 2)

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Upon our arrival to Kauai, we drove the short distance north to our Kapa’a condo, and soon learned the “Kapa’a Crawl” — named after the unfortunate traffic pattern in the area. The weather was a bit overcast and breezy, and we were happy to find groceries and eating establishments just across the street, so we did a little shopping and set up our home away from home.

The next morning we made our first outing on Kauai, driving the hour or so to the 18-mile scenic route along Waimea Canyon. Two words: Oh wow!


Waimea Canyon, with Waipo’o Falls

There were several places where one could pull off the road and view the huge vista stretching from the north to the south, with most featuring the Waipo’o Falls somewhere in view. We went to the very end to Kalalau Lookout, but the cloud cover just gave us ghostly glimpses of the tops of the landscape on either side.

At this point I should probably mention the ubiquitous fowl of Kauai: chickens! There are banty chickens anywhere you look on the island: at high elevations, at the beaches, along roads, in parking lots — you name it. You can read about the chickens and Hurricane Iniki here.
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30th Anniversary Vacation – Hawai’i redux (pt 1)

As our 30th anniversary approached, and as Southwest Airlines rumors spread of flights to Hawaii in the future, Mo began planning a reprise trip of our earlier visit the Hawaiian islands. In this case, we beat Southwest there.

While our trip five years ago was to the Big Island and Oahu, this time around we are returning to the Big Island and then visiting Kauai for the first time. After a rough flight out, we arrived in Kona, picked up our rental car, and checked in to our condo. We already knew the area a bit as it was only a couple blocks from the Royal Kona Resort where we had stayed previously.


the view from our Kona condo

We had a bit of déjà vu when again my tour of the summit of Mauna Kea and evening stargazing was thwarted by overcast/bad weather.
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25th Anniversary Vacation – Hawai’i: pt 4

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While at Kailua-Kona, one of my big plans was to take a tour to the summit of Mauna Kea to be among the observatories at sunset, and to spend some time viewing the stars while up there. Unfortunately, the night I had reserved months in advance was one of the few nights during the year that is cancelled due to bad weather. I had even been taking altitude medication in preparation for it. As Mo consoled me at the time, “Well, we’ll just have to come back again!”

We left Kona and drove along the northern half of the Hawai’i Belt Road, skirting around with Mauna Kea on our right the whole way. While we did stop at the Gemini Observatory operations building (in Hilo), that was as close as I got to that dream.

mauna kea
snow covered Mauna Kea peak

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25th Anniversary Vacation – Hawai’i: pt 3

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Early on Saturday morning we caught a flight with Hawaiian Airlines (that left ½ hour early!) to the big island. We arrived at Hilo, and spent the rest of the morning visiting Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and the planetarium program there, where I was researching for my upcoming evening on the top of Mauna Kea.

We made the short drive to Volcano, HI to our home for the next couple days, Aloha Junction B&B. It was great to find that we were only a couple minutes from the entrance to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. In turn, it was about ten minutes from the observatory at the edge of the active crater of the volcano. We spent some time watching the plume before heading back to the B&B, but it was so awesome, we went back again near midnight to see the orange glow of the lava on the rising cloud.

kilauea
Kilauea Volcano crater in daytime and (insert) at night

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25th Anniversary Vacation – O’ahu: pt 2

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When we were making our Hawaii plans, one of the things we’d kicked around was touring the movie sites on O’ahu as a way of seeing some more of the island. We had our eye on KOS Tours, and found ourselves down in the hotel lobby early in the morning for our pickup time; we had no problem identifying our ride: a large gray Hummer.

Besides Mo and I, we had the pleasure of riding with a young couple from Melbourne, Australia. On our way to the north side of the island, Jeff, our driver, pointed out several film locations, including one from The Descendants that Mo recognized right away. The majority of the film sites though were located in the picturesque valley of Kualoa Ranch.

kualoa ranch
a view of the ocean and Kaʻaʻawa Valley

There were many vistas that we recognized from LOST, as well as Jurassic Park and others.
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25th Anniversary Vacation – O’ahu: pt 1

For our 25th anniversary, Mo and I began laying the groundwork for a vacation in Hawaii — finding flights to use up our American miles (they were TWA miles when I got them, and I fly Southwest now) and hotels for our Hilton points, plus identifying different sites our tours we wanted to take in while there. When all was said and done, we ended up with ten nights on two different islands.

We arrived at the Waikiki Embassy Suites after our long day’s worth of flying there (via Dallas), with warm, sometimes misty weather greeting us. Mo hadn’t been to Hawaii for ~30 years, and while she knew the area around Ft. DeRussy pretty well, she was quick to point out how much things had changed.

There’s a rainbow on the Hawaii license plate, and on the drive to our hotel it was easy to see why — we saw plenty. The winner was the double rainbow outside our hotel room that went all the way to the ground.

rainbow
the end of the rainbow? Ft. DeRussy Armed Forces Recreation Center

We had reserved a time on our first day for seeing the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and we packed up a small picnic and took the bus over, eating our meal and walking the grounds there. We wandered through a few of the exhibits there before watching the tour movie and catching the boat ride to the Arizona. I was sure to snap a few photos of our state’s namesake, the U.S.S. Missouri as well.
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Florida Keys — Wildlife Edition

Here is the promised post with a select few of some of the wildlife of the Florida Keys from our recent vacation

While at Theater of the Sea, this parrot (wish I remembered its name) was giving kisses, even making a kissing noise 😉

kiss
Mo gets a kiss

We even had some wildlife at our hotel (no, not that kind!) — at the bayside waterfront out back we discovered five manatees, two of which came up to the beach. K was able to touch one, which then rolled over to try and get a belly rub. We didn’t know at the time that interacting with the manatees is frowned upon, and we’re glad the contact never got more than that.

manatee
K and friend

Also, besides gar and other types of fish, we saw this stingray along the beach one day.

ray
stingray combing the sand for lunch

It wasn’t the best time of year for looking for interesting Key insects, but I did catch a few: here’s a Great Pondhawk seen while hiking at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park…

Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)
Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)

…and an Io moth caterpillar seen at Anne’s Beach.

caterpillar
Io moth caterpillar – Hodges #7746 (Automeris Io)

And a couple cool spiders as well; saw three Spiny-Backed Orb Weaver near the water at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.

spiny spider
Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis)

Also saw three larger Golden Orb Weaver along the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park hiking trail.

golden orb weaver
Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)

I’m not much of a bird watcher, but there were a plethora of sea fowl seen during our vacation — yet, the first bird I saw on our first day at the Keys … a cardinal! Go figure.