Flying High!

0

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.

IMG_4152IMG_4178

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.

IMG_4230IMG_4248IMG_4241

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.

IMG_4221

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.

 

IMG_4287

Aloha!

Advertisements

Thirsty Thursday: Tropical Itch

0

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!

IMG_3909

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

6

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Breaking News!

2

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.

img_5490

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!

img_5492-1

🙂

 

The Tsunami Clock of Doom

0

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

4

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

6

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.

img_4042.jpg

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.

sign

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.

IMG_4035

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.

IMG_4036

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.

IMG_4040green beach 2

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

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

green sand 4

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.

green beach

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!

green beach 3

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!

A Little Geography Lesson

2

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the location of the Hawaiian Islands I tend to think of it as smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due west of California.

However, it is actually a little bit further south than “due west of California.”  Okay, quite a bit south of “due west of California.”

The Hawaiian Islands lie just below of the Tropic of Cancer–so if you want a “due west of” think Southern Mexico. To put it in USA geography terms, Key West (the Southernmost point in the continental United States) lies north of the Tropic of Cancer.  In fact, Hawaii is so remote that it is not even considered part of the North American continent (see the map from World Atlas below)!

USA map

The reason I’m mentioning this is because we decided to split our trip to the Big Island by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then a night in Hilo.  April & I were in charge of selecting the route and finding fun things to do along the way to Hilo.  We opted for the Southern Route, which afforded us options to drive through the mountainous terrain of Kona, the overlook of Kealakekua Bay (where the fate of Captain Cook was decided), the volcano lava fields, the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company, a green sand beach, and the actual southernmost point in the United States.

After we left Greenwell Farms, we headed south down the main “highway.”  Actually, highway was a bit of a stretch–much like our “yacht” in Greece.  Winding, narrow two lane road is a bit more accurate, but it was scenic, so we didn’t care!  Or perhaps Tracy did, since he was the one driving….but we girls didn’t mind one bit!  😉

Our first stop came only a few minutes down the road when we drove by the South Kona Fruit Stand.  We decided that smoothies were the perfect thing for our trip south, along with some very interesting fruit we had never heard of…or heard of but never tried, like lilikoi, star fruit, and dragon fruit!

IMG_4034

With smoothies in hand and fruit in the trunk, we continued south along the Mamalahoa Highway taking in the picturesque coastline views on one side and the lush mountain on the other side.  Our next destination was Nā‘ālehu, home to both a green sand beach (more about that later) and Ka Lae, the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island, thus is the southernmost point in the United States.

Why, yes, I do like saying southernmost–thankyouverymuch!

So we turned off the “highway” onto an even smaller road and wound our way here and there whilst following signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.  We actually went to the beach first but it is deserving of its own post.  After our trek to the beach, we stopped at Ka Lae for a glimpse of what seemed to be the edge of the world.

IMG_4057

For those of you who would love the chance to jump off the edge of the world, there was even a platform–and a group of people willing.

IMG_4058

And just in case you didn’t feel like scaling the steep wall back up or drifting out to sea (although I don’t see why not, after all the Kiribati Atolls are only 1200 miles away!), there was even a ladder to help you.

IMG_4064

I peeked over and decided I was perfectly happy not jumping and drifting off to sea and/or climbing the ladder of death back up.

IMG_4055

A few more quick shots and then we were on our way–having crossed off another item on our Hawaiian to-do list!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Thirsty Thursday Beer Flights!

0

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!

Well of course we couldn’t go alllllll the way to Hawaii AND make the trek to the Big Island and NOT go to the Kona Brewing Company.  I mean, that would be nearly as sacrilegious as skipping out on the coffee plantation tour.

img_3957-1

Besides, we all love beer–especially Tracy and I (okay, not April–she only likes, on exceedingly rare occasions, scotch).  It’s our (Tracy & my) thing.  For example this year I got him a home brewing kit for his birthday.   At this point, I’m sure Christi wants to kill us both.  Don’t bother writing in to defend her–she’s already told me as much (which is EXACTLY why I forgot to mention to her what I sending for his present!).

Point being that we couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to imbibe in some delicious Hawaiian beer–and tasty food to boot (get the fish tacos!)!

Of course as soon as we sat down and opened the menu, we realized that our biggest problem was going to be narrowing down our beer choices.

With so many beers on the menu, we knew that we had only one option: the sampler.  And by “the sampler” I mean we got two samplers because we wanted to try as many as possible–besides we were all sharing (aside from April).

Our selections were the following (in no particular order):

  • Fire Rock Ale
  • Koko Brown
  • Wailua Wheat
  • Pipeline Porter
  • Lavaman Red
  • Duke’s Blonde
  • Lemongrass Lu’au
  • Longboard Lager (alas they were out of the Hula Hefe–I’m mentioning here because we selected this to replace it when our waitress delivered the sad news)

Also a great time to make a public service announcement: if you think you might want to write about something in the future TAKE NOTES.  Because I distinctly remember thinking “these are so fabulous, I won’t forget….” and then here I am frantically trying to remember (although some might point out that if I had written about this a little closer to the trip, it might not have been an issue).

We all tasted and compared and tasted and discussed and tasted and swapped glasses around and tasted and bartered to finish off our favorites.  In the end–because we couldn’t just sample the beer, we had to also drink it!–I chose the Wailua Wheat, hoping that the fruity wheat beer would pair nicely with my fish tacos (it did!).

My final rankings were as follows (hey, I’m doing good to remember mine, there is no way I can remember Christi or Tracy’s–although I’m fairly certain that the Porter was Tracy’s favorite and the Brown was also Christi’s least favorite):

  • Pipeline Porter
  • Wailua Wheat
  • Lavaman Red
  • Duke’s Blonde
  • Longboard Lager
  • Fire Rock Ale
  • Lemongrass Lu’au
  • Koko Brown

What I enjoyed about the first three is how smooth they were.  The porter tasted like silk and coffee and it was magical.  The only reason I didn’t get a pint of it was because after two samplers, I was starting to get full and I need to save room for a pint + tacos!  Plus it would have totally overpowered the tacos.

The Lemongrass Lu’au was interesting.  It was crisp and clean and the ginger and lemongrass added a very different flavor profile.  I’m very glad we tried it, however, I don’t know that I could have finished a pint of it.

Yes, I deliberately left a lot of space before the Koko Brown.  I disliked it immensely.  Now before you start yelling and screaming at me, I fully and proudly admit that I am biased. I HATE BROWN ALES.  Based on the other beers we tasted, I’m sure it’s a good brown ale–I just hate them.  So if you’re one of those weird people (I’m not judging…much) who enjoy brown ales, pleeeeeeeease don’t let my dislike stop you from trying it.

All in all, we had (at least I had) such a great time and if you enjoy beer, the Kona Brewing Company should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Hawaii!

Hipahipa!

 

 

 

Kilauea

0

For the record, this isn’t what I wanted to share with you today.  But in the interest of actually getting something posted, I had to improvise (let’s just say wifi and technology haven’t been my friends this week!)

I could have easily made this picture a Wordless Wednesday post, but it was suggested to me last week that not writing in posts was “cheating”–so here’s my little blurb about this slightly fuzzy pic.

It is the glow of the Kilauea caldera from the Observation point at the Hawaii Volcanos National Park.  I’m 99.9875% sure April has a sharper picture taken with her camera rather than with my iPhone, but I’m 100% sure if I went looking for it, I would miss the deadline for posting this today!

Here are some tidbits from LiveScience website about Kilauea (click here to read more about the eruptions of Kilauea):

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema`uma`u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

To the casual observer, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa, but geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system. Kilauea has had 61 recorded eruptions in the current cycle, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.

Native Hawaiian oral traditions record the extraordinary eruptive history of Kilauea long before European and American missionaries wrote about it in their journals. Scientific study of the volcano began when geologist Thomas Jagger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited Hawaii on a lecture tour and was approached by local businessmen. The Hawaiian Volcano Research Association (HVRA) was formed in 1909. In 1919, Jagger convinced the National Weather Service to take over the pioneering research, and in 1924 the observatory was taken over by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Also if you’re interested in seeing What’s Going On With The Volcano, click on the link to be taken to the National Park Service webpage for volcano updates.

Aloha!