Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 4 - Volcano National Park, Kīlauea Iki, And The Goddess Pele

Day 7: I woke up feeling under the weather, so we drove the 30 minutes to Hilo to get some medicine and some supplies. When we got back, we had lunch where the resident cat, Figaro, tried various ways of persuasion to get part of our sandwich.
Feed me, human

When staring didn't work, she started rubbing up on us to charm us into giving up our sandwiches. I told her that I had a pushy dog, so I was used to resisting the charms of cute animals.
I know you have a tasty food. Let me put my fur all over you so that you are enticed into giving it to me.

After lunch, I had a nap before we went to Volcano National Park. After going to the visitor center and getting a patch, we headed over to the Kīluea Iki trailhead.

The hike is 4 miles (6.5km) and descends into what had been a lava lake in 1959.
Here we are on the guided tour to Mordor.

It is solid now, but it is still hot enough underneath that when rainwater gets into the cracks, it steams right back out.

After ascending again, we found ourselves next to the Thurston Lava Tube. We went ahead and added the extra mile (1.5k) to the hike before getting back to our car.

I had heard that the best time to see the volcano was at sunset. It was getting close to it, so we drove down the road to enjoy the show. Halemaʻumaʻu Crater inside Kīlauea is where the volcano goddess Pele is believed to live. We watched for a good hour, every once in awhile seeing bits of lava fly into view. We heard it said that there is something magical about watching earth being made that is younger than you. I'd say it is true.

Day 8: I woke up feeling terrible. My head was so stuffed up I had trouble swallowing. Our wonderful hostess, Joan, let us know that some people get really stuffed up near the volcano. She gave us a ginger water tonic and golden milk. Within a few hours I was able to breath out of my nose again (a miracle), but was unhappy to find out that I had a 101˚F (38˚C) temperature. We had originally planned to do a 10 mile (16k) hike to see the lava flowing into the sea. I wasn't too broken up to miss it though. We had heard that the view wasn't that great because of how the rock had been breaking and falling into the sea. Instead I had probably the most pleasant sick day I've ever had, sleeping with a warm breeze and happy bird songs wafting over me. Connor sat outside and read some of the mythology books we had bought during the trip. It was a really restful day after packing it all in. I felt much better the next day, when we flew back home.
Waiting at the airport in Maui with a view of Haleakala before our final leg of the journey home

I'll admit, we went a little nuts with the souvenirs. We bought a bunch of books, including one on the Hawaiian language to satiate Connor's thirst for knowledge. The bracelets we made and the manta ray necklace we got at the lū'au, but baptized the night we saw all the rays. (I'd like to think that is why we saw so many.) We had forgotten our reusable bag at home, so we rectified that while at the grocery store. I also wanted a silly mug. The most unplanned purchase was the little man in the barrel. We saw this young girl holding it in a store telling her brother, "Look at this." She lifted the barrel, then said, "Boom." You'll have to come over to our house to see what made her say boom.

We also got quite the collection of magnets and patches. I've already added the locations of the patches to the souvenir patch map.

While this vacation was a challenge to what my expectations were, overall, I'd say it was a great success. Now I just need to recover from it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 3 - Fish Poop, A Place Of Refuge, And Green Sand

Day 6: Connor and I left Kona and started our drive towards Volcano. On the way the way we stopped by a well known snorkeling place called Two Step. We heard that there are sometimes turtles there. We saw one on the shore later, but not in the water. We did however see a bunch of fish, including the Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, or the Reef Triggerfish, which is Hawai'i's state fish. I noted to Connor that the Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa is probably personally responsible for Hawai'i's beaches. It seemed the with every swish of its tail, it let out a sandy poop. Who knows how many other beaches are created with not just erosion, but with fish poop.
You can't snorkel in Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau (pictured), but just to the right of it is a different road that leads to Two Step

Two Step was right by our next destination: Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau. This national historic park is the last place of refuge that is possible to see in Hawai'i. By the old laws, if you broke kapu (or the law), you could be killed unless you managed to make it to a place of refuge to have your sins absolved.

We strolled around the royal grounds and place of refuge while following the self guided tour. It was a pleasant way to start the day.

From Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau, we headed even more south. Using our guidebook, we reached the true southernmost point of the USA. Just two years ago we had reached the southernmost point in the continental USA. Unlike that point in Florida, there was no marker. We got a compass out and consulted the book to find the right spot. (Probably)

The fishing is good off of the southern point, but the currents are quite strong. Nearby there was a hole cut into the cliff where ancient Hawaiians once tied their boats to prevent from being swept all the way to Antarctica.
We found the hole just to the right of the boat launch by the cliff

From there we headed to Papakōlea, or the green sand beach. You can get to a parking lot, but the actual road (if you want to call it that) is so terrible, it is better to either hike it or hire a local to drive you out to it with their 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. I had read an overwhelming number of reviews encouraging hiring a local as even the trail is pretty rough. We weren't sure how easy it would be to get a ride, but we had hardly parked when a man asked us if we wanted a ride. Yes we did! It was $15/ a person, but it was money well spent. He said he'd been doing this for 7 years. We wondered how many trucks he had gone through.
There are a maze of roads to the green sand beach. This was the only flat section. The rest of it was full of deep grooves and terrifying angles.

After a dusty ride, we made it to the beach. It is indeed green! There are olivine crystals that have been eroding from a nearby cliff into the beach.

After getting a few pictures, Connor rushed into the water. I told him I didn't want to get in. While trying to convince me to join him, he told me he hoped he made it look fun. I told him he made it look funny. He frolicked for a bit before shouting out, "Look! A Turtle." Nothing can get me into the water faster than seeing a turtle. He wasn't lying, there was indeed a turtle. It didn't stick around too long. I was wet by then, so we body surfed a bit before going back.
We only stayed about 50 minutes because our driver waited for us before taking us back. The group of us who were shuttled collectively agreed on the time.

On the way back, Iwaya (I'm sure I have butchered his name), took us to a smaller, greener, beach.
Many of the rock in the area have larger olivine crystals embedded in them

We got some pictures before heading back to the parking lot. It was getting late, so Connor and I stopped by Hana Hou Restaurant in Naalehu before finishing the drive to Aloha Happy Place in Volcano.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 2 - Those Dirty Turtles, Heiau, Lauhala, And Manta Rays

Day 3: On our last full day in Maui, we had a big day planned. In the morning we went on a snorkeling tour to Molokini Crater... or we would have, but it was so windy that it wasn't possible to snorkel at the actual crater. We had some amazing tour operators (Hi Seth and Alex!) at Redline Rafting and they took us to some other spots that were out of the wind. There were also quite a few humpback whales showing off and I joked that it was a whale watching tour with some snorkeling thrown in. My favorite bit was swimming with turtles. After lots of snorkeling, we went to a different spot to have lunch. When we looked over someone said, "Look, a turtle!" To which someone else said, "Umm... I think there are two turtles." Seth said, "No one has ever seen whales mate. They are way more discreet than those dirty turtles over there."
It's really small in the picture, but there is a white speck that is the Humpback Whale, near the horizon

In the evening we went to the Old Lāhainā Lū'au  We walked around Lāhainā and saw the famous Banyan Tree before the lū'au started.
When I heard it was as big as a city block, I thought the trunk of the Banyan Tree was going to be huge. Actually, the tree has many trunks that span the block.

I was able to check getting leied off of my bucket list. We had chosen the Old Lāhainā Lū'au because we read that it was culturally sensitive. Well, for the first part of our evening, we ate a bunch of food, including pork that had been cooked in the traditional underground oven. Tasty. I was able to eat nearly everything on the menu. For second half of the evening was filled with the hula show. The dancers took us through a journey of the different eras of hula. It was a magical evening.
We got leied before being handed Mai Tais at the lū'au

As our vacation continued, Connor and I took fewer and few pictures in favor of just enjoying the experience of being in Hawai'i. But we had lots of fun experiences despite there being no evidence.

Day 4: We said good bye to Maui and headed to the Big Island. After hunting down some food in Hilo and getting to know KTA, the local grocery store, we headed over the Saddle Road to the Mauna Kea visitor center. We stopped and got a patch, but didn't go to the top because we didn't have the right vehicle for the rough road. We continued on and checked into our AirBNB in Kona where we got some instructions on where some great snorkeling could be found. It ended up being a really neat spot. A Trumpetfish looked me in the eye then guided me to see a turtle. The turtle was pretty laid back and we swam with him a bit before exploring the coral. At some point I lost track of Connor, but wanted to point out a sea cucumber. There was only one bit of coral in the whole area, but when I looked up for Connor, a wave caught me and threw me into it. My ankle was pretty cut up and bruised, but I kept going. We were having too much fun. We had a tough time getting back out because it got shallow and there were lots of sea urchins. I'm thankful I didn't add sea urchin sting to my list of injuries.
This is the only picture we took on Day 4. KTA had avocados the size of my head! I wish I could have taken one home with me.

Day 5: We drove north of Kona to Pu'ukoholā Heiau. What we didn't know was that there was going to be a Lauhala bracelet demonstration going on. Connor and I sat down for around 40 minutes and each made one. It was wonderful chatting with Marty (I hope that is right), our teacher, and other people who sat down to make one. In case anyone is wondering, everyone who sat down was also a knitter. I asked.
We were there on a Wednesday, but there are different demonstrations depending on the day of the week. You need to call them to find out.

After making our bracelets, Connor and I walked to the heiau. Pu'ukoholā Heiau means "The Temple on the Hill of the Whale." It is where King Kamehameha fulfilled a prophecy that would lead him to conquering all of the Hawaiian Islands. King Kamehameha also sacrificed his cousin there as part of the prophecy... the visitor center described it as "a scuffle where Keōua (Kamehameha's cousin) and all of his men were slain. It might or might not have been an accident." Draw your own conclusions there.

As we walked the trail loop, we came to a sign that recommended that you didn't wade in the water. Just looking at the water, it became clear as to why it was good to stay on land. We saw several black tip reef shark fins circling the area. It turns out there is an underwater shark heiau right there too. i think they chose the appropriate spot for that.
The rather dark, triangle in the foreground is one of the sharks

After our walk, we headed back south to see the Puakō Petroglyph Park. It was a short 3/4 mile (1k) hike through the woods to get tot he petroglyphs. I noticed that most of the glyphs were of men.

It was getting late in the afternoon, but we had one more stop before heading back: Kaloko-Honokōhau. This is a site where native Hawaiians had built a fish trap and fish ponds. The fish trap allowed fish to get in during high tide, but get stuck within the walls at low tide. The fish ponds were where the caught fish were kept alive until they were ready to be eaten. We hit bad traffic, but got our patch 11 minutes before the visitor center closed. They close the gates when the visitor center closes, but we were directed to park by the nearby marina. A short walk took us to a beach where we saw more turtles! I love turtles.
PSA: We were careful to stay far from the turtles. The lens zoom helped make it look like we were pretty close. We were unhappy to see other tourists standing next to the turtles, making them uncomfortable. It's important to stay at least 20 ft (6m) away from the turtles.

As evening approached, we rushed back, got some food, then got to a nearby marina to start our Manta Ray Night Tour. After I read in a guide book that the only place to snorkel with manta rays anywhere was by Kona and it was best far from a full moon (it wasn't even a half moon at the time), I knew we had to try to get a spot. We booked just before setting off in the morning and were happy to find that Sea Quest: Hawaii had two spots available. Friends.... it was amazing! First off, the reason you can snorkel with the mantas is because they have been conditioned to coming to the light in this area. A now defunct hotel nearby had a sea pool boarding the ocean. They lit it up at night and the mantas started to follow the plankton that was attracted by the light. When the hotel went out of business, some enterprising tour boat operators brought out light boards to keep attracting the mantas. They give you wet suits and a pool noodle. When you get to the right spot, you get in, hold onto a handle along the light board, hook the pool noodle under your ankles so you float flat, then you wait. We had such a show! There were five mantas that swooped by, sometimes hardly a breath from your face. You aren't allowed to touch them because they have a mucus membrane that protects them and touching them can disturb that and introduce bacteria to their skin. However, if one touches you, it's on them. During the tour, a manta did end up touching me! It actually surprised me because I was looking the other direction, but it got me on the elbow... and it is slimy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 1 - Haleakalā And The Road To Hāna

Neither Connor nor I had ever been to Hawai'i. I'd always wanted to, especially after I did my fifth grade state report on it. (Connor did his on Connecticut... where they make tires, he told me.) It always seemed out of reach. Well, a couple things came into alignment, so for our second anniversary (since I was sick for our first) we decided to go. Ever the aggressive tourist, I made an itinerary that allowed us to see as much as we could in our time there.

Day 1: We landed in Maui. Upon arriving, we realized that we couldn't check into our hotel for a few hours, so we made a few changes to our plan, went to a grocery story to get sandwich supplies (kinda funny that we were doing that on the sandwich islands), then headed up to Haleakalā. We had seen from the plane that even thought it was really cloudy over the entire island, Haleakalā was above the clouds.
This picture also signaled that I was able to complete another goal for this year: visit a new-to-me national park

We went to the Hosmer Grove and saw some native birds like the 'Apapane and 'I'iwi. Then we continued driving up the mountain, stopping to do a short hike here and there.
Connor could be his own Hike The National Parks advertising campaign

We stayed around long enough to watch the sunset at the top. It was beautiful. On our way down, we decided to park for a bit and watch the stars come out. It didn't take long for a good view of the Milky Way to show up.

Day 2: Originally we were planning to give Haleakalā a full day, but after having had such a good taste of it, we decided to drive the Road to Hāna instead. It was a tough day. The road is quite twisty and an hour into the two hour drive a woman flagged us down to tell us a tree had fallen and that we should turn back. I told Connor that I had a hard time believing that there wouldn't be a local with a chainsaw in their truck. We soldiered on and were pleased to find that my hunch was correct. Someone had cut limbs off of the tree so that smaller cars could pass under it on one of the two lanes.

Our goal for the day was to reach Wai'anapanapa State Park to see the black sand beach and dip into the fresh water pools. Well, when we arrived, we found that the famous fresh water cave pool was closed. Someone had drowned a half hour earlier after they had decided to explore the underwater cave with their cellphone flashlight in a bag. They had dropped the light (and probably got disoriented). I felt sorry for them, but also a little mad that they would have done such a dumb thing and prevent a bunch of other people from getting to experience the park. We still got to see the black sand beach, though.

We also walked into a nearby lava tube.

Then we went for a hike to search for a Pictograph that was in the area.

We never did find it, but felt confident that we found the area it should have been in.
We did spot a coconut tree getting its start in life

Friday, January 27, 2017

On The Hoop

After my last post, I still tried to put off starting my lavender sachet project. Of course because I had said I would stitch at least one stitch, I was too embarrassed not to go through with it. So I stitched a stitch and it was ugly. Then I stitched another stitch: still ugly. I stitched a bunch more stitches before pulling them all out and trying again. My second try went much better. I stitched a smaller stitch and it was less ugly. Then I stitched another stitch and it looked nice too. Eventually I hit a rhythm and was sad to put the fabric down at bedtime. I finished up the next day, broke out the sewing machine, and voila! I now have a completed lavender sachet. The pattern has been stitched on both sides, so there is no wrong side.
This sachet has a quarter cup of lavender in it.

I've already started my second project. This project also suffered from some ugly stitches that I pulled out before getting a size I liked better.
With knitting a WIP is "on the needles." Is an embroidery project WIP called "on the hoop?"

While I was getting my pictures together for today's post, Scooter came out and joined me. I snapped a few pictures of him too, but he wouldn't make any eye contact with the camera today. I'm happy to report that since his surgery to remove fatty tumors back in November, he has fully recovered and has so much more energy that he previously had. It's always a pleasure to see him bound around joyfully.
He looks grumpy, but he was quite happy while he was following me around.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Breaking Down A Quilt One Lavender Sachet At A Time

One of the goals I have this year is to work on my quilt of the US to display my patches on. (It's goal #2 on this year's list.) But if I'm honest, I've had the supplies for this project for a year now and it has been sitting. I thought it was sitting because I didn't have time for it, but now I realize it's because I am intimidated by it. It is too big a project and I have too little knowledge. I need to break this project down into smaller pieces, and I've decided to do that by first working on a small embroidery project for practice. I was given loose lavender for Christmas from my in-laws, so I'm going to make little lavender sachets. To accomplish this goal, I've done some prep. So far I've bought some books on embroidery.

I've gotten fabric, needles, scissors, a disappearing ink pen, and a hoop (that isn't pictured).

I've bought my thread, wound it, and labeled the colors on the bobbins.

I've sketched some ideas out.

And because I'm so thorough, I've even drafted out patterns for the sachets: one with seam allowances and one without.
I plan to sew french seams on the sachets since I don't have a serger.

I've done all of these steps to help break down the process.... but I'm still intimidated. It's silly, really, but my perfectionistic tendencies have gotten the better of me this time. It's clear that I just need to jump in and just start. Today is the day. I will stitch at least 1 stitch. Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Very Kiwi Christmas

I might have missed my Christmas deadline with these socks... luckily Christmas comes around every year. I really enjoyed knitting this pair. The pattern, Geek Socks, by Wei Siew is completely potato chip knitting. I just had to have another round, another stripe, another another another. 

I did make an edit to the pattern: I knit heel flaps rather than an afterthought heel as recommended in the pattern. I have gotten reasonably good at getting my stripes to look nice in heel flaps, so I went for it. I only had to rip once because I decided I didn't want the red stripe surrounding the heel.

This pair is so cozy, too! I bought Stray Cat Sock's Essential Deluxe base, which is a 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon base. And I'm just in love with the Kiwi Christmas color way. It reminds me of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

I'm pleased to report that I was able to enable friends at knit night. When I had ordered all my yarn, I'd offered to tack on anyone else's order to help save on shipping from New Zealand. No one took me up on it. But after I started knitting these socks... well. I'm pretty sure Stray Cat won't be going out of business any time soon.

I'm not the only one to have finished up some knitting. Connor knit me a pair of Lambing Mitts out of Stansborough's Mithril (also a New Zealand yarn) in the Kokako color way. 

When he knit himself a pair, he left out the extra bit that can fold up over the hands. I insisted on having that part added.

Connor even joined me in watching Netflix while knitting. We watched Versailles while he knit the second mitt and it ended up too small! The plot was pretty stressful at times; he must have been knitting much tighter. Connor ripped it out and knit a third one and that one fit just fine.

So now I have warm hands and feet. It's been pretty cold, so I'm sure they are both going to get lots of use.
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