Flax Designs

Also, Flax Designs clothing is completely not worth the price.  I took a 100% linen dress and a 100% linen top on the trip, and both of them are severely frayed over the breastbone where my crossbody strap rubbed on the fabric.  These were new items, purchased for the trip, and now only suitable as house dresses.

Random Memories

We last left you with a verbal description of the helicopter tour.  Here are some photos.

The Man preps for the tour.
A “skylight” (view through to lava) in a caldera, in a crater.
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One of the many waterfalls on the north side of the Big Island. Did you know all fresh water in Hawaii comes from rainwater? There are rainwater collection reservoirs all over the place.
“Vog” (volcanic gas) exiting a crater.
Shoreline at the north end of the island.

And now for some non-helicopter shots, random things we wanted to remember.

Weird foliage I was slightly creeped out by, but wanted to remember.
Boys at the bar (Kona Brewing Company pub). Most of their souvenirs came from this place. Chris got 3 shirts and Alex got 2, and Chris got a growler, and we all got little wooden keychains.
The fields between the main highway and the ocean. This is all broken, old lava (except the parts that are more recent) interspersed with tufts of this yellow dry grass. Nearly the entire 24 miles from the airport to the hotel looked like this.
A rare photo of me and the hotel’s swimming cove. Unfortunately the sandy area was small, and it became rocky underfoot almost as soon as you go out into the water. We swam in the hotel pool more often than in the cove.
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Alex is thrilled because we’re standing in the refrigeration room at the brewery, after 30 minutes outside in the heat.



Some Observations on Hawaii

This is not a recap of our vacation, but more like “things people should know before traveling.”  If we had known about all this, it might have made a difference.  Also, this experience is making us rethink the “DC in Summer” trip for next year!

  1. It’s hot.  Yes, yes, everyone knows that, but we hadn’t realized just how hot it actually is.  Within a minute of exiting the hotel, both Alex and I were uncomfortable and sweating; if we didn’t go inside within 5 minutes (to an air-conditioned building), or into a pool or lagoon to cool off, we both got cranky (crankier?) and I felt several times that I would faint.  (For the record I am unable to do any hot yoga or similar warm-environment activities.)  Chris didn’t have a problem with any of this, though.
  2. Possibly because of the “air-conditioned hotel followed by hot outside air followed by air conditioning,” Chris got a cold on our second day.  He dealt with it manfully and by the time we left Honolulu he was mostly over it…but Alex had caught it.  We spent our first Big Island day loafing around and relaxing, and the next day Alex was well enough to go out and do sightseeing, etc.  But…a day or two later, I caught it, and I still have it.  This may also be just random chance, something we caught from another traveler, but it happened.
  3. All these islands are much bigger than we’d expected, and Waikiki in particular was insanely crowded.  It is built up, right to the edge of the beach, and although we were “at a beach resort,” so were a million other people.  Leaving the resort put us right into a city driving situation.  Now, we only went to Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor.  Therefore, if we were planning this vacation from the start, we would probably have made home base on the Big Island, and taken a day tour from there to Pearl Harbor one day.  The Big Island, at least where we stayed (at the Fairmont Orchid), was lovely and isolated.
  4. As a result, Oahu was nothing like what I had expected “Hawaii” to be like.  But the Big Island certainly was.  Most of it is undeveloped.  The area in the north where the Fairmont is, is like a little oasis of civilization in the midst of lava fields.  We really liked this, except that it was still too hot, etc.
  5. The south end of the Big Island is temperate enough and developed enough that it felt like driving through rural Virginia or Pennsylvania, except for the palm trees.  Down at road level all the buildings looked pretty standard, as did the infrastructure and landscaping.  We didn’t visit the east side of the island so I can’t report on that at all.
  6. Kona Airport (on the Big Island) is not an enclosed building, but a series of open-air huts and breezeways.  This is not so bad if you’re just sitting at the gate (especially if there is a breeze), but standing in line for security was another excruciating experience due to the unsoaped masses and the heat.
  7. Bags of any type are not permitted at Pearl Harbor.  Luckily Chris owns a pair of cargo shorts, so we stuffed them with his and my medications and our wallets and phones.
  8. Only an idiot would take a knitting project made with wool yarn to Hawaii.  Next time I’m taking a cone of 10/2 cotton and knitting it into an enormous i-cord, to be made into a top when I get back.

Anyway, we are home now, and I’m collecting photos and memories.  Stay tuned for another post today with more sightseeing observations in specific.

Oh yeah – did I mention it was hot?  😡

We lava this vacation!

Wow, that helicopter ride was great!  Luckily we all had the brains to take far more photos than we thought necessary, because a lot of them turned out poorly due to reflections on the inside of the helicopter window.

I had another preconception about Hawaii’s volcanoes which was shattered today.  We had heard of the “lava flows” running down to the ocean.  I’d always envisioned this like when you squeeze a plastic soda bottle and the soda comes blorping out and running down the side of the bottle (although much hotter and slower in the case of the volcanoes 🙂 Unfortunately this is not the case.  The lava flows under the surface and down to the sea.  So the surface is covered with cold, old lava, which is still interesting and neat, but it meant we did not see any actual “flowing lava.”  We saw little holes called “skylights” that were openings in the surface with hot orange lava visible below.

Note, I was not daft enough to expect eruptions.

Will load pictures tomorrow, because I can’t get an internet connection to last long enough to upload them.


Big Island, Big Vacation

Now this is what I think of, when I think of Hawaii.  Oahu (Honolulu) was unreal in an unpleasant way – we were in the city, it was quite developed, and there were throngs of people all over the place.  Here on the Big Island, it’s much less developed, more interesting to look at, and more peaceful – although due to the lack of development it occasionally gives me that “middle of Pennsylvania” feeling.

View from the hotel’s lounge. We’re staying at the Fairmont Orchid.

The hotel pool is open 24 hours a day, so we went swimming at sunset (and beyond) our first night.  Quite nice!  However, the sand flies at the beachside restaurant were a real nuisance.

So far we have toured a Kona coffee plantation, participated in the hotel’s gratis stargazing program (and what a monster telescope they have), toured the Kona Brewing Co., and swum in a cove off the ocean.  Tonight we’re attending a luau, and tomorrow at the crack of dawn we arise to take a helicopter tour around the island and over the volcanoes!

The only thing therefore remaining on the list is swimming with dolphins.  We may or may not accomplish this.  Stay tuned.


Cor, what a scorcher!

As I had suspected, Hawaii is turning out to be incredibly hot (unpleasantly so), at least for me.  On our first day, we did a little recce of the area and took a photo from our balcony.

The view from our Oahu room.

Afterwards, a quiet meal beachside, and we were about done for the day, thanks to jet lag.

The next day (yesterday), we went to the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor.  This was Chris’ #1 thing to accomplish on Oahu.  It was pretty darned hot and sticky, but we did manage to see some interesting aircraft and read about various military accomplishments.

A Zero.

I know they are striving for realism, but it really made me laugh when I saw the Japanese mannequins.

AH-1S Cobra gunship.

We headed to the mall so I could visit the Swatch store (and also because we thought the mall would be air-conditioned).  On the downside, it was an outdoor mall, so no air conditioning.  On the upside, Swatch was absolutely FULL of gorgeous watches.  I got the “Poppingpop” necklace watch and the “Popover” wristwatch (the link takes you to the Popover necklace but the wristwatch version is no longer available on line).  Bonus:  the watch faces of each of these snaps out and you can interchange them.  Chris got the limited edition “Silverscape,” which gained us entry into the 2016-17 Swatch club.  Alex declined to get a new watch.

After this, we tried to visit one of the hotel pools, but there was no shade cover and the pool was totally full of splashy little kids, so we went to the lagoon instead.  In this only saltwater lagoon on Oahu, we were able to swim with little fish fleeing at our approach.  Pedal boats and “aqua bikes” were available for rent, but because it was so hot (this at about 2PM) we decided to save that and do it in the morning.

A view of the lagoon.

Last night Chris and I took a romantic (but very short due to the heat) walk on the beach.

Beautiful sunset.

Friends had warned us of mosquitoes but none of us have been bothered by them yet.

Today, we rented the aqua bike for an hour, and then swam in the lagoon for a while.  Venturing out into the noon heat, we only had the strength to slurp some ice cream and shop for Hawaiian clothing before heading back to the room…and later still, Chris and I ventured to a beachside bar for cool drinks.  But I kept getting ice cream headaches from mine, so we came back again!

Tomorrow – off to the big island, where we will spend the duration of our vacation.  Whee!