Days Go By…

The next few days passed quickly without any major adventures, but I was kept busy.

I spent Monday afternoon making ghost cupcakes with Leilani and La’a… We baked vanilla cupcakes, frosted them with vanilla icing, then used marshmallows, coconut, and chocolate chips to make them look like ghosts.

So cute! And easy to do…

On Tuesday I posted a craigslist ad for our baby bunnies – we had decided they were more than ready to go since at that point, Momma hadn’t given them any attention in a few weeks.  Despite the fact that bunnies are great pets, they don’t seem to be flying out of our possession… why doesn’t anyone want our bunnies?

Stacy’s dog, Chimmy, with one of the baby bunnies.

Wednesday I visited the Waikoloa Village golf course for the first time.  I ended up golfing all by myself, which was actually quite enjoyable.  Also, because I had Stacy’s Waikoloa village membership card, I got the discounted rate of $35 for 18 holes with a power cart – ridiculously cheap for golf, if you ask me!  Luckily, I brought my clubs along as well so I don’t have to worry about paying for any rentals while I’m here.

That night, when Stacy and I picked the kids up from the neighbour’s  house after I got her from work, I found out that this awesome neighbour agreed to lend me a guitar while I’m here.  As many of you may know (or maybe you don’t), I’ve been attempting to teach myself to play guitar for a few years now, and have just gotten nowhere due to lack of time.  I’ve now got a guitar, and the name of a guitar instructor here and plan to spend the time while I’m here getting the basics of guitar down pat.  I’m really looking forward to spending the time learning to play this instrument!

Thursday was a pretty mellow day, and on Friday I spent the afternoon at the beach at the Orchid hotel, and met up with Stacy for a few appetizers and drinks after she was done work.

This week was not too adventurous, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

My favourite thing about this week was getting my hands on a guitar!  Hopefully I’ll be able to commit as much time to it as I think I can.

Love KG

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Up, up… and away!

Sunday morning Stacy and I got up early to head in to Kona.  We had a booking for parasailing along with a few of Stacy’s friends.

Once we had arrived and gone through the somewhat ridiculous check-in process at UFO Parasail, we went down to the water to find our boat.  We were quickly waved down by a couple guys on a boat that had tunes pumping.  We all hopped on board, and found we would be joined by one single rider.  As soon as we were all settled in, we made our way out onto the ocean.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Kona.  There was little wind, and the water was calm.  As we rode out to where we would begin our parasailing adventure, I was having so much fun that I thought I would easily be happy just to cruise around on that boat all day.  I have to say, the guys on the boat have an awesome job!

Once we had gone far enough, the man that had joined us on the boat was called up.  They strapped him to the parachute, and we watched him just float away up into the air.  That was when I got a little bit nervous about what we were about to do.  Stacy and I were to go together, and we had, of course, decided to do the “Out of this World” ride with a rope length of 1200 ft.

I didn’t get nervous until the first parasailer had been drawn in and Stacy and I were asked to head up next.  We made our way up to the platform on the back of the boat, and were strapped to the parachute.  The guide told us to sit down as the boat began to move, and we started to slowly float away.

Take-off… a little nervous

Once we were actually up in the air, the ride was quite relaxing.  I’m not sure if I would have found it quite so mellow if it hadn’t been such a calm day, but as it was, except for the small worry that we both felt we could slip out of our harnesses backwards easily, it was a very relaxing ride.  We could see so much, and being over the water, it was almost a little deceiving as to how high up we actually were.  At the end of our ride, we were slowly pulled back in to the boat, and as we fell, we got dipped into the water!  Lucky us, we had wet shorts on for the rest of our time in Kona.

After our nice little dip in the ocean.
Coming in!

During the most of the rest of the ride, our boat was surrounded by dolphins.  It was amazing to see them just swimming and frolicking and playing around the boat.

After we had all had our turn up in the air and were  back on-shore, we all dipped our feet into the water for a bit, then went to a restaurant on Ali’i Drive called Fish Hoppers for a few drinks and snacks.  Once we were done there, we made our way back to Waikoloa to relax for the remainder of the day.

My favourite thing about today was probably just riding around on the boat.  As awesome as parasailing was, the boat was just a bit more fun, and the pumping music definitely added to the atmosphere.

Love KG

Goodbye, Bunny

The next few days passed by quickly – I read a few books, took the kids in to gymnastics in Kona, and attempted to get up-to-date on my blog (more difficult than it sounds!).

On Friday night, a few of the women in the neighbourhood came over for a Scrabble game.  Again… not just Scrabble, but Super Scrabble.  We had pizza, drank wine, played Scrabble, and made plans to hit up the beach the next day.

Saturday dawned beautifully, and the day began with a very exciting event – one of the ladies that was over the night before brought her two girls and her husband over to pick out one of our baby bunnies to adopt!  After analyzing the four we still had left, they picked out the one most likely to be a female (it’s still difficult to tell at this time), and took her home.  Leilani had a bit of a meltdown afterwards because the bunny they took was her favourite one.  Stacy and I pointed out that it was good that her friends took her, because we could all go and see her whenever we wanted.  That made Lei feel a little better.  Upon chatting with the girls later, we found out that they had named their little bunny Lily.

The kids, Stacy and I (Sean had to work) eventually made our way out of the house to (hopefully) head to Mauna Kea Beach.  When we got to the gates, the beach was full.  After some waiting, some convincing of the gatekeeper, and reshuffling out party’s two vehicles down to one, we did eventually get in.  This beach was just down the way from Hapuna Beach, which I was at the other week.  Both of these beaches are the types of beach that you can’t believe actually exist.  Absolutely beautiful.

We had a beautiful afternoon.  It was so hot I could barely stay out of the water, and the kids ran around for hours playing in the sand and the water.  We stayed and watched the gorgeous sunset.

Stacy and I were both exhausted by the time we got back to the house, so the evening was spent relaxing and getting ready for our adventure the next day…

My favourite thing about today was most definitely the sunset.

Love KG

A Voyage on the Open Sea

Two days after my ziplining adventure, I found myself at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel for the afternoon.  Sean had dropped me off there on his way to bring the kids in to gymnastics in Kona, and I was to go home with Stacy when she finished work.

I wandered through the main entrance and lobby of the hotel, trying to figure out how to get to the beach.  It ended up being fairly easy to find, and the beach itself was very quiet.  Looking up at the sky, I wasn’t sure whether it was likely to storm in the afternoon or not, but I decided to have faith in the usually guaranteed sunshiney days normally present on this part of the island, and set up at the beach anyways.  Besides, it was still plenty warm enough out for me.

The beach at the Orchid on a somewhat gloomy day – still warm enough for me, though!

I spent a leisurely few hours reading magazines, enjoying the atmosphere, and snorkelling.  At one point, I was out in the water with my snorkel gear and came upon a turtle.  I stayed a safe distance away (though they are not dangerous, I have to say I was a little nervous) and studied him for awhile, then it struck me.  What if there were more turtles in the area?  I slowly looked to my right, then my left… and jumped when I noticed a turtle less than five feet away from me, looking me right in the eyes.  I panicked unnecessarily and probably would have screamed if I hadn’t been in the water.  The turtle started to swim closer to me and I turned around to swim the other way as fast as I could.

After some reflection on my actions while sitting on the beach, I resolved to head back into the water to find the turtles.  This time when I came face to face with them, I kept my cool… and definitely found them very interesting.

Before long, Stacy had come to grab me from the beach and we made our way back to the house for the evening.

The next day, my uncle Sean took me out on his boat.  La’a came with us as well, but Leilani had to go to school instead.  We drove into Kona and took to the water from there.  It was a very humbling experience to be out on the ocean in a little boat, with all the waves tossing you from side to side.  We first made our way out to a buoy to do some fishing.  Sean stopped the boat and dropped a line into the water, then handed me the rod.  It wasn’t long before we got a bite and I fought to reel it in.  Though I felt that it had been a lot of work to get the fish to the boat, it wasn’t a very big one.  I guess it was bigger than those I am used to catching from a river in the Yukon (and it’s been years since I’ve done ever that), but it wasn’t very big for Hawaiian standards.

Goodbye Land!!!

After catching a few fish, we took a ride south and came to the place where Captain Cook’s monument stands.  This monument is a big deal because it stands at the location that Captain Cook first moored his ship upon the Big Island, and the location of his death is not too far off.  For those of you that are not up-to-date on your Hawaiian history, (which is in fact, very interesting) Captain Cook is the guy who is credited with discovering the Hawaiian islands.  He originally passed by these islands on his way to determine whether there was a Northwest Passage above North America, and he stopped to briefly visit Kauai as he went by.  On his way back, Cook stopped at the Hawaiian islands to rest.  At this time, he dubbed them “The Sandwich Islands” for a friend, the Earl of Sandwich.  The first place he moored his boat on the Big Island was in Kealakekua Bay, where his monument now stands.

Legend says  that when Cook first arrived, Hawaiians believed they were being visited by gods.  Imagine from their perspective (as pointed out in my handy travel book, Hawaii The Big Island Revealed by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman) “Kauaians were fascinated by what they saw:  pointy-headed beings (the British wore tricornered hats) breathing fire (smoking pipes) and possessing a death-dealing instrument identified as a water squirter (guns)”.  When Cook later moored his boat at Kealakekua Bay, he arrived during a very hectic time.  The King of the Big Island had attempted to invade Maui and had failed miserably, and was now looting and plundering throughout the islands to make up for it.  Cook’s physical appearance led the Hawaiians to believe he was the Hawaiian god Lono, who was responsible for the harvest and land fertility.  To add to this assumption, Cook arrived during the Makahiki, which was a time where Lono would seize the land and bring life to it again.  All public works would stop, and the land would be left alone for a  period of time.  At the end of the Makahiki, the Hawaiians would take the land back from Lono to make a living.  Cook arrived at the beginning of this time period and pulled in to Kealakekua Bay, where legend said Lono would arrive – it is not wonder the Hawaiians mistook him for their god!  He was treated amazingly during his stay with the Hawaiian people.

Cook took his leave at the right time, but a broken mast resulted in it being necessary for his ship to return to Kealakekua Bay for repairs.  The Hawaiians could not believe that a god would let that happen to his own ship, so they became suspicious.  A misunderstanding over a rowboat led to a battle between Cook’s men and a band of angry natives, and resulted in the death of Captain Cook.  Once everything had calmed down, the Hawaiians were horrified that they had killed someone they thought was a god.

We stopped at this historic site, and I hopped in the water to do some snorkelling!  It was a very good location for this, and it was crazy to be at the edge seeing fish and underwater life right there, and then look over and see the ocean floor just drop away into oblivion.  I spent a good bit of time in the water there – don’t worry, no scary interactions with sea turtles this time!  I’ve definitely discovered that I really enjoy snorkelling.

After I got back into the boat, a couple people on a kayak came by and told us there were dolphins just across the way.  We went over to see them, and I was almost convinced to jump in and swim with them – but there were so many people around and it seemed that the dolphins were just trying to escape.  We watched them for a bit and then had to head back to where we started our day.

We made it back to the house by dinner time, and I was exhausted, but it was definitely a very good day.

My favourite thing about today was  Kealakekua Bay, partially because I enjoy snorkelling and partially because I enjoy history.  Putting the two together make this place irresistible!

Love KG

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!

Sadly, the morning began with another casualty on the bunny front. Stacy found another little bunny, sprawled as dramatically on his back as the last one. We both began to wonder how the rest of them would make it to adulthood…

But on a happier note, we left pretty early to head over to Hilo, which is about an hour and a half away, and on the rainy side of the island (we are on the sunny side in Waikoloa!). The drive was extremely interesting, seeing the endless lava rock I have grown used to on our side of the island fade away and be replaced by something similar to a rainforest.

We arrived in good time to make our ziplining reservation at the Umauma Experience. We were placed in a fairly large group as our session had accidentally been overbooked, but we were given two extra guides to help out and speed things along as a result. The guides got us all set up with gear and asked us to load into a bus and an SUV to head to where we were starting. Stacy and I found ourselves loaded into the SUV with three of the guides, which actually turned out to be a cool way to chat with them a little more. One of the guys was nice enough to let us know that our harnesses were full-movement harnesses, meaning we could go upside down while zipping if we wanted to… I wasn’t too keen on that idea!

We made it up to the start and were given very little instruction, which is probably because we didn’t really have to do anything. I was a little scared while being hooked onto my first line, but I soon found that the scariest part was the end of each line. We would come barrelling in towards a pole, needing to have complete trust in the guide at the end doing the braking to get us stopped safely. It was unexpected for that to be what scared me most, but throughout all 9 lines it most definitely was. Luckily, the biggest, strongest guides were usually placed at the end of each line to help make us a feel a little more secure.

All ready to go, in our gear!
Stacy, getting all hooked in for line number 2!
The Falls.
This is how the guys save you if you bounce back instead of stopping at the end – don’t worry, that didn’t happen to either of us!

Umauma Falls is actually where the finale of season 5 of the Bachelorette was filmed, as one of the guides informed us. He denied ever watching the show after Stacy and I made fun of it (don’t get me wrong, I watch the show!), though we both think that he may have been hiding something…

After we were done ziplining and made it back to the registration building, we were pulled aside by the owner/managers and asked if we wanted to go on a private tour of the falls.  Because of Stacy’s job at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel, they wanted her to have as much information as possible to pass on to her guests.  Because of this, we got quite the special treatment (including free ziplining, to begin with!).  Though we were both starving, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see a little more.  We hopped into the SUV again and the owner took us right down to the spot where the Bachelorette finale was filmed… gorgeous!  We watched a zipliner pass right overhead as we had done earlier in the day.

A close-up look at the falls, lucky us!
Their little hut for private functions, right along the river.

After that, we were taken to the Tropical Garden and River Walk. The most interesting part of this section was the Umauma burial site, where people come to bury their problems. There is a bench, with a bunch of graves like the ones below. You can go and bury your feelings, problems, etc. in the appropriate grave so that you can let them go. I found this space very interesting, and the owner related that often people come to the Umauma Experience just to use this area.

You can bury your problems here to release yourself from them.

After this tour, we headed into Hilo to find some lunch. We had asked a few of our guides separately where the best place to go was, and the answer was unanimous: Cronies. How could we pass that up? So we found the restaurant, which turned out to be a sports bar with good burgers. It was delicious. Or maybe that was because we were both so hungry. Either way, definitely glad we went and tried it out.

We wandered along the main street of Hilo for awhile, but as it was Sunday, many things were closed. We eventually decided it was time to head back to Waikoloa. On the way, we stopped for malasadas at Tex, which is apparently famous for these. It was yummy.

A malasada… yummy!

And, something I learned from Stacy on the way home: did you know, if you cut the top off of a pineapple and plant it in the ground, you can grow a new pineapple? This blew my mind.

My favourite thing about today was definitely ziplining – line number 4, to be specific (the longest line on the Big Island). So much fun!

Love KG

A Few Good Days

After rectifying a few technical difficulties with my blog, I’m up and running again… And I believe I have a lot of catching up to do.

I believe I left off with last Wednesday, my first day spent at the beach, so I’ll pick up from there. Thursday was a pretty mellow day. I hung out at the house for the first half of the day, then Stacy and I took the kids into Kona for gymnastics. They do this twice a week, and the club they go to seems to have a very nice feel, though it is interesting to me (having a physical education degree, and always learning about the focus on participation and fun in relation to physical activity for kids) to see the differences the American influences have on sport at this young age. Either way, the kids both seem to enjoy doing gymnastics, and it is definitely a great activity to develop physical literacy (yes, that’s the Phys Ed kid coming out in me).

When we got back from gymnastics, it was time to attend a “Gold Party” at Stacy’s friend’s house. The kids were excited, as they knew there would be a gaggle of kids to run around with while Stacy and I socialized with the adults.

This concept of a “Gold Party” is apparently “all the rage” here in Hawaii. Basically, someone throws this party and brings in gold buyers to assess jewelery value, and they pay money for gold items. Guests bring in all their old unwanted gold jewelry that they are willing to part with, are paid for it, and the host/hostess takes a cut of the funds raised. Unfortunately, Stacy had already recently attended one of these so she had no items to part with. I definitely didn’t bring anything like that along, so we both went and just enjoyed the food and the company. I think it is interesting that these parties apparently happen here often, but I have never heard of one before. Do these exist in Canada as well?

Basically, we ended up staying late playing cards, and laughing the entire time. Speaking of cards, fun fact for my loyal readers: did you know that any form of gambling is illegal in Hawaii? I think that is so interesting.

Friday was a trip in to Waimea for the kids to go to the doctor. As we pulled up to the hospital in Waimea, Stacy was telling me about how great a hospital it is, and told La’a this was where he was born. La’a immediately wailed “and this is where I always cry!”. Apparently he is not a fan of hospitals…

Waimea is really pretty and has all the amenities, unlike the village of Waikoloa. After visiting the doctor, we got some lunch, then went to let the kids run around at the park. This park was definitely the coolest park I’ve ever seen. It was made of wood, and was huge! It had all sorts of towers and turrets and fun things – I know I would have loved to play there when I was young.

When we got home, we sadly noticed that one of our baby bunnies was injured (the one in the pictures from my last post, in fact). His left rear leg was torn apart, almost down to the bone. We haven’t been able to figure out exactly how it happened even to this day. We brought him inside and tried to wrap the leg to protect it, and set him up in a small indoor cage so we could watch him. I fed him water with my finger for like 20 mins straight as he couldn’t reach into the bowl. We called around to a few vet clinics, but had no luck finding one that could see him (one even said that they don’t see rabbits at all!). So we did what we could and made him comfortable, with plans of taking him in on Monday if we could.

Stacy and I spent the evening in a rousing game of Scrabble. Actually, not just Scrabble, but Super Scrabble. It has twice the letters and twice the board space and is pretty intense. We played two games and each lasted for hours – plus we were both a little giddy from our late night the day before. Long story short, it was a little ridiculous, but a lot of fun.

Saturday the kids had gymnastics again, so we were to head to Kona. Before we left, Stacy and I decided maybe we should take the bunny with us and try to find a vet that is open Saturdays. As we were discussing this, and trying to make some calls to find somewhere to bring him, Leilani looked into the cage and asked if he was dead. I took a look inside, and he was sprawled dramatically on his back, not moving or breathing. Stacy and I were devastated, far more so than the kids, though Leilani was a bit sad since this one was her favourite of the babies.

Regardless, we moved on and headed into Kona. After gymnastics we went shopping for Halloween costumes for the kids. We also went to my favourite – Target! – so that Stacy and I could browse. Leilani decided she wanted to be a puppy, which is adorable. La’a is being a spider, which is funny because of how much I hate spiders… but he is definitely going to make the cutest spider I’ve ever seen.

Our other big score of the day was finding The Lion King out on DVD! Stacy and I each bought a copy (it’s much cheaper here than in Canada, so I figured I’d invest) and we introduced the kids to this classic in the evening.

Anyways, I’ll continue the updating later today, so I can get all caught up soon 🙂 I’m having a great time, and really enjoying getting to know this place.

Love KG

Aloha from Hawaii!

I’ve finally made it… I can’t believe this has come so quickly.

I’ve been here for almost a week now, and I’ve (obviously) fallen behind in chronicling my adventures.  I’m going to do my best to still write about everything I’ve done in the past week – today is most definitely a catch-up day.

I arrived at the Kailua-Kona airport at 2 PM.  Stacy was there with my little cousins Leilani (6) and La’akea (4).  The kids had Hawaiian leis to toss around my neck as I walked out of the gates.  It was nice to have the stereotypical Hawaiian greeting.

The remainder of my real flower leis…

Once I had my bags, we made a stop to pick up a few things in Kona, and then made our way out to their house in Waikoloa, where I will be staying for the next couple months.

I have my own room, though that means that La’a is kicked out of his. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind too much, and Stacy says that he doesn’t sleep there often anyways.  The house is nice and cozy and has a beautiful view of the ocean.  Stacy and I spent the evening drinking wine in what has become my favourite morning coffee spot.

The view from my favourite spot to sip my morning coffee.

There are some baby bunnies in the yard to play with as well… Stacy and Sean had a bit of a surprise when one of their two grown rabbits ended up with baby bunnies.  It has been a bit of an ordeal, but long story short, the bunnies are being kept until they are old enough, and then we will try to find some good homes for them.  Right now, they are four weeks old and absolutely ADORABLE.

The white rabbit, Flower, is the Momma rabbit. Smoky is the Daddy.
Awww… one of the babies.  Look how little he is.  And how adorable.

The next day dawned, and I woke up in Hawaii.  I know this seems like it would be the obvious thing to happen, but it was just so surreal to actually be here.   And the view from my bedroom made it very obvious that I was in Hawaii.  I spent the morning lounging outside with a cup of coffee and the company of a few bunnies, my aunt, and my cousins.  Stacy is still on vacation for a couple days, so she has the freedom to hang out with me (and the kids, of course) for the next little bit.  Sean was also off work today, so we all decided to head to the beach for the afternoon.

Stacy wants me to be comfortable driving in the area, so I got to get behind the wheel for the trip to the beach.  We were heading to Hapuna Beach, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Hapuna Beach
Our nice little set-up on the beach.
Happy Girl

I boogie boarded, swam, sat on the beach, and walked to take a look at the hotel down the way.  The kids played in the water and the sand, while Sean spent some time fishing.  I only got creamed by a couple waves, and I rode a couple, so I think it was pretty good overall.  I had forgotten how powerful the ocean can be.  It was a beautiful afternoon in paradise.

For those of you that don’t know, the Big Island is very different from many of the other Hawaiian islands.  Beaches are few and far between, but the island is home to 10 of the 15 types of climate in the world.  Amazing, in such a small area.  I’ll write an article with more information about this and the Big Island in general one of these days.

I’ll sign off here for now, and continue the update later this afternoon…

My favourite thing about my first few days in Hawaii was spending time at such a fabulous beach.

Love KG