Thursday, January 31, 2013

Polynesian Cultural Center.

"The Hula is the heartbeat of the Hawaiian People."
~David Kalakaua

We arrived in Honolulu, Oahu at 7am. Let me tell you, after relaxing days at sea with no alarm clock needed (or wanted), waking up and napping whenever I pleased, left me panicking (not really, but kind of) about my ability to get up early and set out on our day on the island of Oahu.

The harbor at Honolulu
Our whole day was planned for us, since we decided to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Kamehameha Highway in Laie. Stephen and Jeffery arranged it all for us and we had a bus ready to pick us up when we got off the ship.

Sadly, Mom was really looking forward to this, but she still didn't feel well enough to leave her room for the entire day, so we went without her. I am still getting over my guilt and sadness (what is wrong with me?), but I know she'll be able to go back again someday.

Our bus driver, affectionately dubbed "Tiny" from his heavy days prior to getting gastric bypass surgery, was one of the most entertaining aspects of the day. He was hilarious. Literally he talked, told jokes, and shared history the entire ride to Laie, which in a bus took a little over an hour and a half, I think.

The drive was beautiful. We stopped at a place called Tropical Farms - Macadamia Nut Farm Oulet. They had about ten different types of flavored macadamia nuts to taste. Of course it was a tourist stop/trap, but I was happy for the little snack, the opportunity to stretch my legs, and of course use the bathroom.

Upon entering the Polynesian Cultural Center park, we immediately lost Jeff and Linda and Karl and Virginia and never saw them again until we boarded the bus at about 9pm at the end of the day. Stephen, Shepherd, and I stopped and ate a bit of lunch at one of the food stands (which turned out to be delicious and MUCH tastier than our meal that night which was included in the price of the ticket).

Satiated, we ventured out into all the areas representing different islands in the Pacific.

Each village displayed different aspects of their culture and way of life, from boat making to fire starting to dancing to music. They had prepared presentations all throughout the day. We attempted to get all of them in, but we poorly planned at first and were just walking around to see what we could see. Although we didn't get to see every presentation, but we saw quite few and had a lot of fun. Even in the rain.

The villages included the following countries and islands:

It started raining off and on, so I bought a plastic poncho which came in handy when we took a boat ride and the seats were soaking wet. :)

In the middle of the day, they had a dancing presentation, a procession of rafts, where dancers from each island area dressed in traditional attire and danced.

I'll have to go back with Mom and make sure I plan out the day so we can see every presentation in every village. :) All in all it was a fun day. We ended the day with a buffet dinner and the late night show called "HA: The Breath of Life." Fire and dancing. Lots of it!

Up next is Kauai and Waimea Canyon. You definitely don't want to miss these pictures.

(Written August 3rd, 2013)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and A Little Orchid Love.

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
~John Muir

After our visit to Pana'ewa, we head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I'll admit that I was half expecting to see active lava, since we were literally standing inside of the most active volcanoes in the world.

The sign at one of the main lookout points said that the summit of Kilauea (the volcano) collapsed about 500 years ago, forming the huge volcanic depression that we were standing in. They call it Kilauea Caldera. There is an Inner Caldera (where the steam is coming from) and an Outer Caldera where we were standing.

The dried up lava was really interesting too see. I could see the patterns of its flow and then tiny wisps of greenery poking up at out of it.

Very little can actually grow in the area, only small trees and grasses due to the scalding temperatures from the magma below. It is believed that a shallow body of magma, or more likely solidified hot rock is directly underneath the lookout areas. There are large wisps of steam and sulfurous gas that rises up all around along the Crater Rim Drive.

from volcano: steam
expected to see lava
silly tourist dream

My attempt at a haiku and I even ended up rhyming. I'm not sure that's allowed in haiku. Oh well.

The steam vents blow with a pretty strong force and seem to pop up all over. I kept pointing out when I'd see more along the drive toward the museum and visitors center. The first time I called it out I sort of sung it, "Steeeam Vents," which made Stephen think I was saying his name in a disapproving way. It was actually kind of funny and sort of stuck the whole trip.

Interestingly, after I got home from Hawaii, I met some people who had just moved from Hawaii to Utah in the middle of winter. I apologized on behalf of the smoggy Salt Lake Valley at the time and they, in turn, told me about the "vog" that residents of Hawaii have to endure. Vog, meaning volcano smog. I'd say that I MUCH prefer San Francisco fog over Salt Lake smog or Hawaii vog. :)

On our way back to the ship, we made a stop at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. It was a bit more of a store with a huge greenhouse, but I didn't mind. The variety of orchids was stunning.

Just beautiful! They were giving away single orchid blooms with bobby pins attached to put in your hair. I wore one and got one for Mom, who, of course, was "home" sick. After putting the blooms in cups of water, they stayed fresh until the end of the cruise.

I think I'm going to have to baby my orchid plant, which hasn't bloomed for two years. It's still alive, but I think it needs some help. We learned that it the Cattelaya variety of orchids, it takes six and a half years for them to mature from a seed to a blooming plant. Makes me feel that I really need to take care of the ones I buy because they represent someone's hard work and patience.

The one on the left looks like it has a little face in the middle.

Next port: Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu where we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and a got a full guided tour of the island from a man named Tiny. :) Stay tuned.

(Written July 26, 2013)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hilo, Hawaii: Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.

"Life is either a great adventure or nothing."
~Helen Keller

Our first stop on the cruise, after four days at sea was "the big island" of Hawaii. Our port was in Hilo. Mom, of course, was still deathly ill, so we left her at home (on the ship) and Stephen, Shep, and I ventured out. While waiting for our car rental, we selected a few spots that we thought we could pack in and still be back to the ship in time to get on.

First we headed south to the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.

Interestingly, this was one of my favorite stops in Hawaii. Get ready for a major photo dump because it was beautiful there.

One of the best parts were the peacocks who were just wandering around. They were not shy at all.

They were really stunning. And then there was the bird who fell in love with Stephen.

This white cockatoo (I think that's what it was) was very interested in Stephen and his camera and got very angry, hence the raised head feathers, when Stephen tried to walk away. It screeched and screeched as we started to walk away. Stephen got it interested in another family that was wondering in that direction and we made a run for it!

And we ran right into this guy.

Haha. It wasn't long before we found more colorful views.

It really was a beautiful day at Pana'ewa.

After leaving the gardens, we decided to stop for a little treat. Shepherd saw a sign for a bakery up ahead, so we stopped to find the Mt. View Bakery, home of the famous stone cookies. They aren't kidding. The cookies are like stones. Hard as rock. But interesting and pretty tasty.

(Written July 25, 2013)