Well, we're back from paradise. And man! was it ever paradise! We arrived in Hilo on Monday night at about 11:00. We were greeted by my dad with traditional Hawaiian leis. So Hawaiian airports are kinda weird. They are almost completely open and without walls. While it is wonderful to be able to feel the cool breeze as you're walking through the terminal it strikes me as extremely unsafe (a feeling that later seemed somewhat amplified with an increase in the security level to 'orange'). Anyway, we waited for our luggage but for some reason Dave's bag didn't make it. After filling out paperwork (also in traditional Hawaiian laid back style) we headed out for a midnight snack at my dad's new FAV diner, Kens!
Tuesday we dropped dad off at work (not without another stop at Ken's for breakfast) and headed up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was pretty cool up there. The park includes the earth's biggest volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet and Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Kilauea is actually erupting right now. I guess because of the way the volcanoes erupt there the outer most lava cools very quickly while the new lava keeps flowing underneath so usually you can't see much flowing lava. But the lava does flow to the ocean and you can see it hit the water. So later that night we hiked out almost 3 miles across dried lava to the place where it flows into the water. We got there right after dark so we could see the lava glow. It was so beautiful! It was amazing to see...it looked like the fire and water were in some kind of intense battle.
The next day we did a doors-off Helicopter tour over the volcano. It was crazy to see how the lava just takes over everything. It was also super cool to see the crater of the volcano and the fiery red lava in the middle. We also saw a few places where the lava had broken through the surface. It was also crazy how you could actually feel the difference in temperature just by flying over the volcano...I guess that makes sense since the lava is over 2000 degrees!
Dave and I also spent Wednesday morning at the Farmer's Market. That was pretty fun. Since Hilo doesn't really have any tourists, the market had a much more local feel (as compared to the Swap Meet in Honolulu!) Dave bought some cool chop sticks so that he can use them when we take our weekly trip to Panda Express! I almost bought a purse...but I just couldn't bring myself to do it...go figure!Thursday we drove from Hilo to Kona. It's about a two hour drive but we decided to take a few detours on the way since the drive is so beautiful. We tried to see some botanical gardens that we heard were supposed to be fabulous but we got there at 4:30 and it closed at 4! So we just headed to our second stop: Akaka Waterfalls. They were kinda cool! I was actually amazed at how high they were. And the fact that they're surrounded by lush green rain forest sure doesn't hurt!
Debbie finally arrived in Kona late Thursday night. So Friday morning we headed out to another National Park called the City of Refuge. So back hundreds of years ago the law was such that if you broke it you would just have to take off running and try to make it to this City of Refuge. If you made it your crime was completely forgiven and you could go home. The city was very interesting. It was full of these fun wooden 'tiki' men! The City of Refuge is right on a beautiful bay so after we had seen the city we went and hung out on the 'beach' (by beach I mean the lava rocks that lead to the ocean). We relaxed, got some sun, and even snorkeled a little.
Friday night was another one of the super fun activities: the Luau. We drove out to a resort in the middle of nowhere. When we first went in it felt like we were entering some secret jungle. They gave the women the purple lei crowns. Dave just kept telling me that I looked like a beautiful Hawaiian princess! So, they served the food buffet style but they had everything. TONS of yummy fruit...that's pretty much all I noticed! But apparently they had a big dead pig that people were eating, too! Then after dinner they did the awesome Polynesian dancing and, of course, my favorite the fire-knife! Basically it was a condensed version of the Polynesian Cultural Center's show.
The next day we spent most of the day just hanging by the pool and playing games. But that night we went scuba diving. We did a two tank dive, one of which was a night dive. We went to a spot where we were supposed to see huge (8-16 feet) Manta Rays but there had been some stormy weather which made the surge pretty bad, so we didn't get to see any Mantas. But I was glad to get to do my first night dive and it was especially good to get Dave out for a REAL dive before he starts his advanced scuba class next month!We decided to end our trip with the ultimate in relaxation...massages on the beach! They took us out to these gazebo-tent things that were right up next to the water so we could hear the waves crashing just 3 feet in front of us. We got an hour of aroma therapy, ocean massages! What way to end an AMAZING trip!