Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Must Read

What is summer break without a good book or two to occupy your sun filled days? On our trip to California, I knew I could count on Alyssa to bring along some excellent books and she didn't disappoint me. I quickly fell in love with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Historical fiction from post World War II and written in letter format, I was quickly sucked in with the quirky characters and funny dialogue. One minute I was laughing and chuckling, the next I was trying not to cry out loud at the sadness and human atrocities that occurred during the Nazi reign of terror. I felt a sense of urgency to get this book read so that it could be returned to Alyssa's roommate when we returned. It is an easy read with no F bombs being dropped every other sentence - what a welcome relief from the many books out there with yucky language.

Read this book!
You'll be soooo glad you did!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kona, Kona, Kona, Friday bye-bye

I knew that going to Hawaii meant coming home from Hawaii.
Sure I missed the kids, my familiar surroundings, and my house, but that was about it. Oh, well, such is the nature of a vacation, so we went to the beach and the pool one last time and called it good. One final dinner in downtown Kona, one futile attempt at a last shave ice (WHO RUNS OUT OF ICE AT A SHAVE ICE STORE???), three stuffed pretzels eaten on the trunk of the rental, a final inhale of fresh ocean air, a 5 hour flight over the dark Pacific Ocean during the middle of the night, a 1 1/2 hour flight from San Francisco, and 3 kids and a mother-in-law who were very glad to see the travelers return.

Bye-bye for now, Kona. Maybe we'll meet again someday...

This bad boy fell on Bill's empty chair while we were getting lunch. Ouch.

The view from my lounge chair. I know, right??

Part of the ocean/swimming pool.

Pretty windy, but beautiful still.

My view when I decided to look up from my book.

Yeah, I'm pretty happy around ocean, palm trees, beautiful scenery, and warm tropical breezes.

Yeah, I'm pretty sad when it's time to leave the ocean, palm trees, beautiful scenery, and tropical breezes.

Crazy pretzels that took the place of our shave ice. Shave ice would have been much better.

Life is good in Kona, Hawaii, but there are more people who love us in Boise, Idaho!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kona, Kona, Kona, Thursday

This picture is from the first day - NOT the day mentioned below... carry on.

Aw, yes, Thursday in Kona, Hawaii. Definitely not my favorite day. Definitely the day I dreaded. Definitely the day I thought for sure we would die in the open water; easy shark bait. Very easy shark bait.

When making plans for Kona, we decided to go on a snorkeling outing. That was fine. I had snorkeled before in Mexico. I loved it! I was good at it and didn't get seasick in the least. However, this snorkeling outing was nothing like Mexico. No boat with a motor to take us out to our destination. Nope. Just KAYAKS. Yep. We would kayak 1 1/2 miles to the snorkeling sight, anchor the kayaks together, get our snorkeling gear on, snorkel for 45 minutes, climb giant 25 foot cliffs, jump off, eat snacks on the rocks, get back into the kayaks, paddle 1 1/2 miles back.

There were definitely problems in this plan for me.
1. No boat with a motor.
2. Big ocean swells due to a storm system moving through.
3. A husband who gets green around the gills on any kind of boat - literally green. (He was my kayak companion. Ahem.)
4. Paddling out in to the DEEP water, unsure of what hungry sea animal(s) were around us.
**OK, OK, in my defense, I had seen the movie Soul Surfer a couple of months before, and, people, she got her arm bitten off by a SHARK!!!**
5. Fear of the unknown ocean- you see, as much as I L.O.V.E. the ocean, I really, really like it from the shore. Not paddling on it.

I was pretty scared. Not much talking on my part. Tried to stay focused on my paddling. Kept my life jacket on the entire time. Didn't really have the stomach to enjoy the snacks. Could not possibly have jumped off of the 25 foot cliff - even though Bill, John, and Stefanie did it...show offs. Was super grateful to return to where we started. The old arms got a great workout from those 3 miles of paddling. (yes!) Didn't get seasick at.all. Nuff said.

Needless to say, I was very glad to be finished with that "adventure", get my feet on dry ground, and feel less shaken up inside.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring downtown Kona complete with its flea market, quaint restaurants, excellent views of the ocean, shopping for souvenirs for the kids, DELICIOUS shave ice - dreamsicle with ice cream in the middle to be exact, and a lunch of various shrimp dishes at Bubba Gump's.

Yeah! Back on solid ground. Whew.

View from Bubba Gump's

Self explanatory, no?

Uh, John, you look a little too natural in this picture... haha

Bill, you don't look natural at all.

Shave ice shop. Yummmmm.

Delicious Dreamsicle shave ice. "Shave ice" NOT "Shaved ice"--I was reminded to say it right...

Our shave ice preparer - check out those gauges! Whoa.

I loved this scooter, all decked out with boogey boards, just in case...

A common sight along the lava covered roadside. Take some white rocks, spell words, walah!

Kona, Kona, Kona, Wednesday

Since Tuesday's beach activity was limited to public access - including various feral cats trying to be caught by the locals - we decided to venture out onto a four wheeling accessible road to hike through miles of lava fields to (finally) arrive at my slice of paradise! The day started out fine until I realized I hadn't brought my camera.

It would have been nice to document the barren landscape
(how can there possibly be a beach at the end of this road???),
the wild billy goats
(with the females of the group each being chased by 8 or 9 males - sheesh),
the top of a bikini left behind on the trail
(who leaves their top behind?),
the abandoned wooden resort buildings from the 50s
(can you say From Here To Eternity?),
and finally the 3 crescent shaped beaches laid out in all their beautiful salty pale blue glory
(the internet pictures didn't do them justice and I don't think my camera would have either!).

Yes, as I mentioned before, I was like a little child at Christmas! My running/hiking shoes were immediately flung onto the beach, my socks were pulled off inside out and tossed next to the shoes, and Bill and I took.off.running. We were giddy. We were mesmerized. We were like little kids at Christmas! I asked Bill as we were running if he thought I had thrown my shoes far enough away from the surf... He didn't seem to think there was a problem so I believed him and kept running to explore those glorious sandy beaches. Exhileration was the word of the day.

After we decided to return to our friends, who had stayed at the first beach, we were caught up in the beauty and the delicious smell that the ocean provided for us. No cares in the world at this point, only feelings of regret that:
a.) we had no camera,
b.) we had no water or food, and
c.) we had no swimsuits or towels.
Dang blast it.
As we approached where our shoes and socks were laying, I noticed that my shoes had gotten closer to the water's edge. Upon further examination, I realized that I only had one sock and that one of my shoes was filled with sand and sea water. Oh.My.Gosh. How lucky was I that my shoe had not been taken out to sea along with its sock?!? I was so thankful that I had both shoes to put back on to hike across those miles of lava and rough road. I'm not sure what we would have done had I lost my shoe and sock. It would have been a nightmare indeed to walk back those 2 miles with one shoe on...Yikes. Bill's back would have been awfully sore from carrying me piggy-back!

Later that day Bill and I ventured on a little field trip to the highest point on the island: Mauna Kea. We filled up a grocery sack with yummy junk food and drove the windy, foggy, narrow road up to the visitors' center. I never thought I would have to wear a sweatshirt in Hawaii, experience freezing toes on the side of a volcano, or feel the sweet relief of hot cocoa in July!

In order to ascend to the top of the mountain, you had to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle or pay big bucks to ride in one of the rigged up vans that were stationed at the visitors' center. We opted to stay at the 9,000 feet above sea level visitors' center, certain we would have become ice cubes with our lack of winter woolies. We truly enjoyed all the wind, all the driving on Mario Kart roads, all the clouds that surrounded us below, and the sunset as it went behind this 13,497 foot high sacred mountain. The history, the lore, the sacredness, and the beauty were highlights of our trip!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kona, Kona, Kona, Tuesday...

So when you go to Hawaii, (or at least when I go to Hawaii) I'm all about the beaches, the surf, the ocean, and the sunset. Tuesday was BEACH DAY, Baby. We were determined to find one of the beaches we had read about, the problem was, you had to walk about 2 miles through lava rock and an extremely rough road to get to the slice of paradise I had read and longed about.

Tuesday morning: get in rented Altima. John and Bill in front.

Kris and Stef in back.

Drive and drive and drive by lava fields, quaint little towns,

the Kona Temple,
and through extremely winding roads. Need water and snacks. Stop at a humid, muggy, nasty little Hawaiian store for over priced water, Big Hunk candy bars, coconut candy, and dried Ahi tuna jerky. Realize we need breakfast as well. Go across street to Rebel Kitchen Cafe and eat yummy breakfast burritoes. Resume driving. Realize we are miles away from the slice of paradise I so longed to be at.

Stop the car. Take pictures.
Get back in car and retrace route of quaint little towns, extremely windy roads, and lots of lava fields. Realize that the slice of heaven we are looking for is less than 5 miles from our condo... hmmm. Decide we will go to public beach since it is now noon and we will leave the hike for tomorrow's adventure.

For so long I have wanted a picture of my toes in the sand with the beach in the background!

Lots and lots and lots of sand to clean out of our swimsuits for a couple of days! Yessss!
"Just hoping that the tide doesn't hit my chair..."
(The Zack Brown Band totally ROCKS.)

Gorgeous beach with clear, light blue water that was so salty it literally made your nose run like a momma who had injected saline into her baby's stuffy nose to break up the congestion.
(Am I the only momma who ever did that???)
Pretty salty.

We were full and happy with our Costco spinach salads, yummy baguette, diet Cokes all around, and shrimp cocktails. Probably my most favorite meal of the trip!

Then it came.
That long awaited for-haven't seen it since Mexico 8 years ago-nostalgic feeling of a beach

John and Stefanie enjoyed it too so I took their picture like the creepy stalker that I am when I have a camera!

Some of the locals (or "natives" as I called them...) enjoying the sunset before acting all crazy again by running into the surf from the shore, with their boogey boards, to catch a wave and surf it in or skim the wave in. They were nuts!

Just another day in paradise!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

***Breaking News***

***We Interrupt This Blog Session About Hawaii To Bring You Breaking News***

After only a year and a half of driver's ed completion, Kourtni Ball now has her DRIVER'S LICENSE. This morning, it is reported, that she took her skills test with a tester who filled up the entire front seat, and a mother who KEPT HER MOUTH SHUT in the back seat the entire time for fear of causing her daughter to fail said skills test if any negative comments spewed forth. Although there were 7 points taken from Miss Ball's score, due to California stops at stop signs, she did indeed pass the test and proceeded to the DMV while narrowly missing a cement barrier. Both daughter and mother are fine, but mother's negative comments spewed forth at that moment - good for Miss Ball because the skill's tester was not in the car, I repeat, the skill's tester was not in the car.

After an hour and a half of sitting at the DMV listening to the female computerized voice designating which window to proceed to, the knowledge test was studied for, taken, and passed. We repeat, it was studied for, taken, and passed. Only 4 points were missed and her picture was snapped, fees were paid, and texts were sent to friends and family proclaiming the glorious news.

Upon arrival at home after a celebratory lunch at Cafe Rio, Miss Ball immediately asked for the keys to the family van and was off with a friend for an afternoon of sun worship. The van is scheduled to arrive at home by 6:00 with no new dents, scratches, or cracked oil pans.

***We Now Return You To Your Regularly (or not so regular) Scheduled Blog Post***

Kona, Kona, Kona, Monday, 4th of July Style...

The 4th of July was a bit untraditional for us this year.

No parades, no red, white, and blue clothes, no rubber pancake breakfasts, a bbq hosted by Hawaiians, (who definitely DID NOT cook my hamburger all the way through...), and no long, drawn out fireworks at 10:00. In fact, these fireworks were the shortest I've ever seen and at the earliest time as well. In Hawaii the sun goes down at about 7:00, so the fireworks were scheduled for 8:00. By the time we left the restaurant, walked across the parking lot, tried to get out of the way of all those palm trees, the show had ended. At 8:08, our 4th of July was definitely over. Weird. Don't get me wrong, the 4th of July in Hawaii was amazing but not your same old, same old festivities.

Life is good in Kona, Hawaii.

I just love this picture because I can see the palm trees in my sunglasses. Cool.

Yeah, we're cool like that sportin' our red, white, and blue.

We spent the day at the pool and tried and tried to get the sun to quit hiding from us behind silly clouds. We were giddy with happiness when we got more than 10 minutes of warm rays. We people watched, read our books, made John wait on us by driving around trying to find decent priced diet-Coke and some good food to eat pool side, and we ate double scoop ice cream cones of macadamia nut, and Kona coffee mud pie ice cream. Yep, we waited all day at the pool for 4:30 to come so we could devour those free fourth of July frozen Hawaii delights!

We ate our 4th of July dinner in true style at the most expensive restaurant we've ever been to. (Did you know that when you spend money in Hawaii it's only play money? Yeah, it's true!) Roy's got our business that night and they did not disappoint, but I would have liked more than 3 macadamia nuts in my $15.00 salad... (just sayin') The edamame was delicious and spicy, the 3 macadamia nut salad was worth its weight in gold ('cuz we had to use all our gold to buy it.), the butterfish was just that - "like butta!", and our hot chocolate souffle was sinful and moan inducing. De.Lish.

Butterfish - aka Alaskan Black Cod. Oh.My.Deliciousness.

Hot chocolate souffle cake. Heaven help us.

Happy Belated Fourth of July! Hawaiian style.