Flying High!

If you ever find yourself in Hawaii and the opportunity presents itself, I would highly recommend taking a helicopter ride.  And I don’t say this lightly.  I’m not the type of person who takes helicopter rides whenever the fancy strikes (and theoretically I could, since I live in NYC and the helicopter tour people love to hound every man, woman, and child as they get off the subway and ferry at South Ferry).

But Hawaii is so stunning and picturesque with tons of geographic diversity, we found ourselves saying several times “we should have also taken a helicopter tour here.”  Where we did take a helicopter tour was on the Big Island, over the volcano.  Well, not directly over the caldera–but around it–and it was spectacular!

Now would be a great time to remind everyone that I’m technologically challenged (read: I couldn’t get the video I have to post).  So this post is only going to include still shots in order to get this to you in a timely fashion.  I will attempt to update it later when I can figure it out without the tick tock of a clock reminding me to post this NOW!

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous.  I’m not overly fond of flying to begin with and in something smaller and more shaky than a plane was a bit daunting.  But our pilot seemed competent, had lots of credentials, and was not consuming mai tais, so after a safety video we donned our gear and boarded the helicopter.  Or well, helicopters–as we were actually split into two groups.

 

A couple of tests to make sure everyone’s headgear was working and we soon found ourselves wobbling towards the clouds.  As promised, once we reached our cruising altitude, the wobbling ceased.  Or perhaps it was the view that made you forget about the wobbling?  If so, it worked because my stomach stopped doing flips and the view was breathtaking!

 

We flew over Hilo and then headed towards Kilauea.  As we passed over the lava fields, our pilot dipped down several times so that we could view the lava flow at points were it had broken the surface.

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We circled around the caldera several times watching the lava breaking through in a circle.

 

We then headed back to Hilo and flew inland over the Wailuku river valley (and its waterfalls!) and then looped back out to the Hilo Bay.

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All too soon we found ourselves heading towards the airport and wobbling back to the ground.  And despite a few last panics of crashing and burning on our descent, we touched down light as a feather.

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Once both helicopters were on the ground and it was safe to approach, April and I met Christi and Tracy at their helicopter to end our fantastic tour with a final group shot before turning in our headsets and heading to explore Hilo.

 

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Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday: Tropical Itch

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

When there is a drink on the menu called the Tropical Itch, how could you NOT order one?  I mean, I didn’t…but Christi did and really that’s more or less the same thing!

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I mean, c’mon–it comes with a back scratcher!  If you like fruity, tropical drinks how can you refuse something with a garnish that detailed?

In case you’re wanting to recreate a bit of Hawaii ambiance at home, here’s a recipe from Modern Tiki for a proper Tropical Itch.

Tropical Itch
1 oz bourbon (we used Four Roses)
1 oz 151 proof rum
1/2 oz orange curacao or triple sec
1/2 oz lemon juice
3 oz passion fruit puree*
2 oz water*
1 oz dark rum (we used Meyers)
1-2 dashes bitters
bamboo backscratcher, for garnish

HipaHipa!

More From South Ferry

Okay so before we go back to Hawaii, I just wanted to share with you a few more photos from the old-new South Ferry station that just opened:

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Breaking News!

I’m interrupting our Hawaiian trip to bring you some exciting news.  Or at least, exciting news if you live in or are visiting New York City.

The old-new South Ferry station is fiiiiiiiinally reopened!!  Tourists came and went with their only concerns being if they were getting on the correct train and which stop they needed to get to where they were going.  Meanwhile–in something resembling first time tourists in Times Square–residents looked a little shell-shocked and in awe of the spacious and updated station.

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Why all the fuss?  When I moved to New York City (in 2007) if you wanted to get to South Ferry on the 1 Train, you had to be in the first five cars of the subway train.  Then in 2009, the MTA opened a shiny new South Ferry station–one where you didn’t have to be in the first five cars and was well lit and had escalators (for those times when you just couldn’t walk up one more fucking step no matter how close you were to your FitBit goal).

Then in late-October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit.  Water filled the new South Ferry station to the point where it was coming out of every entrance.  According to the MTA “almost 15 million gallons of salt water flooded it during Superstorm Sandy.”

It took several months of walking from South Ferry around Battery Park and up to the next subway station before the MTA opened the old South Ferry station and once again, anyone wanting to get out at the South Ferry station needed to be in the first five subway  cars.

It took nearly five years, but today the old-new South Ferry station was reopened.  This morning we were all in awe and this evening it was so nice to just get on the train without the hustle and stress of making sure you are in the first five cars–because now we can luxuriously use all ten of them!

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🙂

 

The Tsunami Clock of Doom

The picturesque town of Hilo has been hit by three major tsunamis in the last century.  With no warning system and the largest wave, the first tsunami hit in 1946 and was the most deadly. The second hit in 1960 with a 35 foot wave, stopping the town clock at the time it was hit (1:04am).  The third was in 1975 and with the smallest wave of the three, caused the least amount of damage.

The clock is called the Hilo Clock–or more dramatically the “Tsunami Clock of Doom.”

Of course when I heard there was a such a thing called the “Tsunami Clock of Doom,” I felt compelled to see it (and may have been a tad bit insistent about it).

It sits along the Mamalahoa Highway in Hilo and I have to confess that we drove right past it several times before realizing it stands along the highway by the golf course, right before you cross the Waiākea Pond.

If you’re interested in reading more, I found an article in Hawaii Magazine with details about all three tsunamis:

April 1, 1946

  • Time struck: 6:54 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
  • Maximum wave height: 50 feet
  • Damages: $26 million ($300 million today)
  • Deaths: 159

May 23, 1960

  • Time struck: 1:05 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile.
  • Maximum wave height: 35 feet
  • Damages: $24 million ($171 million today)
  • Deaths: 61 people

November 29, 1975

  • Time struck: 3:35 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 7.2 magnitude earthquake off the southeastern coast of Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Maximum wave height: 26 feet
  • Damages: $1.4 million ($5.6 million today)
  • Deaths: 2 people

To read the full article, click here.  And if you wanted to read more about the clock, go to Roadside America’s website.

Instead of being restored, the clock was left with its hands frozen at 1:04 and now stands as a memorial for those who perished in the tsunamis.

Aloha.

 

Sunday Comics: Beach Body

I know I have been talking quite a bit about beaches and guess what?!?!?  I have found the perfect way to get EVERYONE–that’s right, EVERYONE–a beach body this summer!

And the best part is that it doesn’t require a crazy ass diet that turns you into a raging Cookie Monster by the end of day 1 or consuming an entire grove of grapefruit until it’s permanently on your “never eat again list” or a need to run 937 miles on the treadmill everyday.  

Because I think we can all agree that running 937 miles a day really cuts into cheese eating and wine/beer/margarita drinking time.

It’s amazingly genius because it’s so simple–you don’t need any fancy, over-priced equipment you’re going to stop using after 4 days.  You can start today–and substitutions like “pool” or “lake” instead of “beach” are perfectly a-okay!  You just need sunscreen and some tasty beverages to stay hydrated.  A swimsuit and a towel, if you want to get in the water, are also good.  And if you want to be really fancy you can bring snacks and a big umbrella.

Happy Summer-ing!

Aloha!

Green Sand

It sounds like something you could only see in the Emerald City or along the yellow brick road, but in fact, all you have to do is go to Hawaii, Guam, Norway, or the Galapagos Islands.  As fortune would have it (although at this point it shouldn’t be a shocker), we were on the island of Hawaii.  Along its southern shores near Nā‘ālehu is Papakolea Beach, better known as the green sand beach.

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And yes, the sand is actually green.  The green hue comes from olivine and, while it’s not the easiest beach to get to, it is totally worth the effort!

As you will recall in the last post, we were heading south down the western part of the Big Island and turned off the main highway to follow signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.

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A few winding turns and suddenly we found ourselves at the green sands parking lot.  But here’s the thing: the parking lot is about 3 miles away from the beach.  The general public is not allowed to drive directly there.  You can totally hike it, however if that’s what you want to do, you need come prepared and make sure you carve out a good chunk of time because it is a lot more rugged than the yellow brick road!

OR you could buy a ride to the beach in a van from a kid who looks about 14, but assures us he’s 16.  Trust me when I say that it’s the best $15 you’re going to spend in Hawaii.

THE BEST $15 YOU’RE GOING TO SPEND IN HAWAII.

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So we paid the kid $15 each and piled into a dodgy van packed with other tourists.  We were hoping beyond hope that we didn’t just spend $90 to be kidnapped and sold into slavery.

I liken the trip to driving in the back pasture of the ranch–despite being on some sort of semblance of ruts that look like a road–you will hit every bump along the way.  And our driver liked to drive fast.  Not 85 mph fast, but when you’re bouncing around on a makeshift road in the middle of rugged terrain even 15 mph feels like 85 mph and like we were making jumps even the General Lee would have problems navigating!

Despite only being 3 miles away, the drive was a jolting, bumpy, sometimes laughing, sometimes praying 30-40 minutes.  When the van stopped,  we were let out at the top to a stunning view.

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But of course, we weren’t happy just standing at the overlook point–we had to go down and check it out.  So we carefully made our way down, down, down the steep path to the green sands below.

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We made it to the bottom and hit pay dirt, uh, sand!

Sure enough, it wasn’t an optical illusion–it was green!

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We cooled off by wading around in the water, especially April who got splashed by a wave that was deceptively big.  There were a few people swimming the rough waters, but for the most part everyone was there to take a gander at the green.

We eventually trudged back to the top where our ride was thankfully still waiting and the driver was happily taking what he called “the money shot” for everyone.

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The ride back was just as bumpy and laughter-and-prayer filled as the ride out.  We passed several groups of hikers and as we bumped along discussed if they’d make the hike all the way there and back or if they would cave and ask for a ride.  There were several in each group, especially the latter as their dress code suggested that they were in for a painful walk.

Just a tip if you’re planning on hiking it to Papakolea beach: take water and wear appropriate footwear (hint: wedges are NOT appropriate footwear).

Regardless of how you get there, it’s definitely worth the trek!

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And with one more thing crossed off our To-Do in Hawaii list, we were ready to get back on the road and tackle the next one!

Aloha!