Finish the Big Island, off to Oahu 
On Sunday, we decided to try taking Mary boogie boarding. We checked out a few different beaches. One beach we had to drive down a crazy awful road to get to the parking area. The beach was absolutely gorgeous though. Joe and Mary played in the water some before we headed back out. We checked out another beach that was very pretty, and far easier to get to. We decided to come back there when the sun was lower.

We found lunch and even some desert before heading back to the other beach. Once there, we sat in the shade and watched the others in the water for a while. An older couple (just retired age) were watching whales out from the beach. They let us use their binoculars some. Joe and Mary went into the water and I sat with them chatting and watching the whales. They were super active!

For dinner, we found a little hole in the wall sushi joint. The food was excellent.

All three of us were flying out on Monday, so in the morning, we had heard of another good snorkeling spot. We decided to head there. The snorkeling was great. We got to see an eel and a couple turtles. The geography of the coral was amazing. Afterwards, we headed back to the house, cleaned up, and headed to the airport.

We got there early, like you're supposed to do. It looked like the waiting area for our gate was through a line that had a sign about agricultural inspection (you can't bring fresh fruits, vegetables or flowers from Hawaii to the mainland), so an hour before our flight, the previous flight was done boarding though the plane hadn't taken off yet, we got into line to go into the waiting area. The lady checked our tickets, wrote a new seat number and said, 'here ya go'. Apparently we were supposed to board the plane? So weird. Because we happened to be there, they put us on the flight before ours.

It worked out fine in the end because we just stayed in the Honolulu airport with Mary until our ride was coming to get us.

-Miranda


The gorgeous beach.

Joe and Mary hanging out in the waves.

Another gorgeous beach. The colors were amazing.

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Captain Cook and Volcano National Park 
The following morning we got up early and headed south to get a kayak. We rented a two person kayak so we could kayak the mile across Kaleakala Bay to Captain Cook Monument. The area is supposed to be the best snorkeling in the state. It's the same place Joe and I walked down to before Mary came.

We got across without a problem and went snorkeling, took a break, then hopped in again. The water was very clear! There were fish everywhere. We had loads of fun. We paddled back to shore by early afternoon. We were pretty tired just from that, so we stayed at the house for the rest of the evening.

The next day, we got up relatively early again and headed out to drive around the island. We started by heading north. We stopped a few places to check out some lava tubes that were marked in the guidebook and waterfalls, which were gorgeous. Akaka Falls had a small bamboo forest that was neat. The bamboo looked very different from the bamboo in the forest on Maui.

We got to Volcano National Park around 3pm. Over half of Crater Rim Drive was closed due to high sulfur concentrations in the air. The crater was spewing out quite a bit of smoke. There was possibly some lava flow, but the road we would have had to go down to get to it would have been an extra 50 or so miles of driving had we gone that way to start. Since we already passed the area, it would have been way too much driving without even knowing we were for sure going to see some. So, we enjoyed the sites, checked out the Thurston Lava Tube, and headed out. Part of the lava tube was developed (basically paved ground and lights all along it), but about 350 meters was undeveloped. We had a flashlight, so we headed down there. It was very neat. Huge! It was a lot longer for the size (standing 98% of the time with lots of head room) than the lava tubes in the California National Monument that we like so much.

Our hope once we left the park was to find dinner. We stopped a few places but were not successful. We ended up getting to the Captain Cook area (about half an hour from home) when Joe spotted a hitchhiking girl, so he stopped to pick her up. She ended up telling us that her wallet and cell phone and been lost or stolen when she was on the bus. We told her we were just going to get some food, so if she wanted, we could buy her dinner, then drop her off at the airport (she wanted to get home to San Diego). She agreed, but then started getting really scared. So, we ended up just going to a plaza type area that is brightly lit and serves pizza. She kept saying she wanted to go to the airport and go home. We kept telling her that we didn't want to leave her stranded at the airport because it might close (which we found out later that it does) and the airport is 8-10 miles away from anything. Also, she can't even get a ticket without money or get on a plane without her ID.

Joe finally called the police (sort of with her permission). They came to help, but she was really fidgety, kept getting offended by odd things and was not being very cooperative even though the police officer was being very friendly and helpful. They finally got a hold of a sibling or friend for her, which I think helped. When we finally left the officer said he would be sure she had some place safe to stay tonight and would continue to help her out. He said she had classic symptoms of PTSD. So, something must of happened while she was on the island recently. We're just hoping that she was able to get things straightened out and get a flight home today.

Today, Mary went shopping while Joe and I stayed at the house resting and getting work done. Tomorrow may be a mostly rest day. We'll see. :)

-Miranda


One of the neat lava tubes. Around the outside was so green! Definitely not what we were used to seeing with lava tubes.

Akaka Falls.

Smoking volcano.

A very neat crater that was once a lake of lava. A hike goes down into the crater. If we had more time and energy, that would have been an amazing hike.

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Time WIth Momma 
We left the hostel the next morning and planned on killing time in Kailua-Kona area before heading to the airport to get a rental car and pick up Mary. We had a good Indian buffet lunch and did start heading towards the airport. Once it was getting to be time, we headed up to the main highway and met another couple that was working their way to the airport. We let them go ahead of us and catch the first ride. It took them about 40 minutes... It was at least an 8 mile walk, so we weren't feeling too great about our chances. Fortunately, within 5 minutes, someone picked us up.

We got to the airport, then headed to the rental companies to get a car. Budget was sold out, so we headed to the Thrifty. They wanted $400 for a car for the week... Joe had looked online at Budget earlier and it quoted $250. So, we headed to National. While he checked there, I went online and checked the other rental places. Avis wanted about $300, so I reserved a car and we headed over there. Nice that we ended up saving $100 just by checking online quick. :p

We picked up Mary without a problem and got to the place we were staying. It's super cute. It's the middle floor in a house (the house is built on the hillside) and is completely separate from the top and bottom floors.

In the morning, we picked up some snorkel gear and headed north. Unfortunately, a lot of the possible places were pretty choppy. We did end up snorkeling for a bit in one place, but it was a bit murky.

From there, we headed to Hawi to have lunch at the Bamboo restaurant. It was very good. We kept going to Pulolu Bay, which is at the end of the road. The walk down to the water was a little painful, but it was worth it. The beach was gorgeous as well as the forest. There were huge ropes all over the place. It was like a boy scout playground sometimes... So odd.

The drive back was nice and we had dinner at home. The next morning we headed out for some early snorkeling. There is a protected bay pretty much right in town. It was shallow and relatively busy, but there were fish everywhere. We also saw 2-4 turtles. It was great. It was good we got there when we did. It was packed when we were leaving.

From there we headed south to check out the sights. We stopped at a few Kona Coffee places. They provide a number of free samples and one of the places you can watch the coffee getting roasted, etc. The farthest south we went was to Pu'uhonua o H┼Źnaunau National Historical Park. It was a gorgeous area. From there, we headed back home, dropped Mary off in the touristy shopping area of Kailua-Kona and headed home. Joe will be picking her up shortly. :) So, basically lazy day, but still fun.

-Miranda


Neat flowers around the isle. (Click on photo for larger.)

Joe and me in front of Pulolu Bay.

Some amusing signage. (Click for larger.)

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Long Hike 
There was a trail about four blocks away that went down to the water. We grabbed our stuff and headed out. Apparently the hike was 2 miles (one way) and about 1900 feet down.... It was pretty toasty on the way down. Starting about halfway down, you're basically just walking through old lava flow. Once we got down there, we found out that the snorkeling there is supposedly amazing. We did bring our goggles, but didn't have snorkel gear. We went in for a bit. It was really clear and lots of fish. So, we'll see how snorkeling on other parts of the isle goes and then decide if we'll have to try kayaking there (what a lot of the people there did).

Once we were done, we headed back up the hill. So hot. But we made it in one piece and sat and worked for the rest of the day.

-Miranda

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Work Day and Big Island 
Yesterday was a pretty lazy day. We returned the rental car, but otherwise hung around the hostel and got some work done. Joe shared his underwater cave adventure with a number of other people at the hostel. Some were pretty excited to go and check it out. One girl we originally met at the airport waiting for the guy from the hostel to pick us up. Nat is from Australia, so she ended up hanging out with us for a bit and told us a bunch of stuff about Australia and ideas on where to go, maybe where not to bother and even mentioned a couple other islands and things we could check out in the Pacific.

This morning, we got packed back up and headed to the airport. Our flight to the Big Island left at 1:39 without a problem. We arrived and decided to try without a rental car for the couple days we're here before Mary arrives. The bus only stops at the airport twice a day, so we didn't bother waiting and just started hoofing it towards the highway. Once on the highway, it took 10-15 minutes to hitch a ride into town to the Target/Kmart. We did a little shopping at Target then headed up to Kmart where there was a bus stop.

The bus arrived, we got on, and then found out a tire was flat, so we had to get off. We waited 45 for the next bus to come, then took that. Apparently there aren't really bus stops here.... You just know the route of the bus and flag it down when you see it coming. That's our best guess so far. When you request a stop, it stops at the next corner and drops you off. We weren't quite sure where the hostel we were going to stay at was, but we did have the address and it was right along the highway. As soon as we spotted it, we pulled the cord and he stopped soon after.

The hostel is super quiet. The room is big. It even has a couch in it, but the 'bathroom' is outside and the kitchen is in a different building. It's pretty interesting. So far, we've seen the two owners and that's it. I don't even know if anyone else is staying here. The woman running the place seems very nice. At least it will be quiet tonight. :)

-Miranda

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