Retro-blogging part 3: weather and volcanoes!!

bendy palms

Hawaii doesn’t usually look like this. It usually looks like this. See the difference? Maybe check out the whole gallery. Sure, a lot of it is Toby’s mad photography skills but also there is one key difference: in my photos it’s overcast!

silver sunsets

Kona is beautiful either way but what’s funny about taking pictures of a tropical island when it is overcast is that the color doesn’t really convey the warmth and how exotic everything really is. If it weren’t for the bendy palm trees and outlines of lush leaves everywhere this photo could be taken in Long Beach. Hawaii is all about color so where is the color?

Kalopa Rd.

It was over here on the rainy side of the island! The side of the island that is usually overcast and rainy and gray. How funny and strange, no? Why, you ask? Because of this:

lava steam

This is steam from hot lava hitting the ocean. It was pretty cool. We wanted to get closer to see the actual molten lava dripping in big fiery globs into the sea but the Feds taped us off because they were worried that the whole “shelf” of lava would break off and we’d all go crashing into the ocean.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The reason I’m showing you that photo is because something something something (that I will link and document properly when Toby the Volcano Expert wakes up) is happening with the volcano that hasn’t happened since 1924!!! And because the something something something is happening, the gas and fumes from the volcano are swirling around the island and hovering like smog over Kona! Right where we were staying!

I didn’t know any different but it really drove Toby nuts. He was there to shoot a luxury home and as you know luxury homes are all about the view. He couldn’t shoot the view because there was no view! Day after day he went to the job site and scouted around for the perfect shot and day after day he came back dejected that the blasted “vog” had beat him again.

reading the map

On the very last day Toby decided to take one day off work and take us to the other side of the island where the weather was GREAT!!!! Who knew? Usually the rainy side of the island is rainy!

sad story here

rebelling because she didn't want to leave this place

Everywhere we looked the sky was blue and the ocean was so turquoise it almost hurt your eyes. I don’t think my photos do the views justice really. Miles and miles and miles of fresh, fresh air to breath. They say that the freshest air on earth is on this side of the island because it blows in from the ocean from miles and miles away with no land and pollution in sight. We actually know of someone who intends to move to Hilo just because he wants to breath clean air and live forever.

farm country

He shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to live since everything is for sale on Hawaii. I’m sure it’s just a sign of the times and they are experiencing the same recession/depression we are here in California but everywhere we looked we saw for sale signs. It was almost creepy like everyone is trying to get off the island at once or something.

I day dreamed of buying this plot and building a bed and breakfast

When we stopped for a pizza lunch before we headed to the Akaka waterfall we stood around and day-dreamed about buying this pad and building a bed and breakfast on it. Can you imagine the stories I could blog about from there?

I can see why so many mainlanders come over to visit and end up staying. It really is intoxicating. Life is slower. Springtime is year-round. Everything is beautiful. You feel like you are in another country, far far away from the hustle and bustle of home yet you are still in the United States and protected by its laws.

Then we thought about the school systems and how Baby Bug would probably get picked on and the fact that if you need decent medical treatment, you have to get on a plane and fly to another island… and that sort of dashed that daydream. It was fun while it lasted though!

Akaka Falls

We did get rained on after all. While hiking to see Akaka Falls, it rained big huge drops of warm water all over us. It was great. Baby Bug was having the time of her life running around and investigating puddles and leaves and bugs. Everything was green so she was in heaven. I think she could have stayed there forever.


much more impressive in real life

But like Toby said, she was way more interested in the railing and the little puddles on the sidewalk than she was in the hundreds of feet of water crashing over the side of a steep cliff and pounding away on the rocks below. It was a little like our trip to the San Diego Zoo. Railings are sooo interesting when you are a toddler.

a coconut mocha

Then we dried off and warmed up with a coconut mocha from Starbucks! Ha ha! Who am I kidding? We didn’t need warming up, the rain was warm! It was actually freezing cold IN Starbucks and I needed the mocha to keep from shivering in their air conditioning.

I don’t usually order anything besides a grande latte when I’m at Starbucks but I decided to try the coconut mocha because you can only get it in Hawaii. How bad would I feel if I got home and found out that I’d never ever get the chance again?!!!

I wonder if that line of thinking would work for sampling everything in their pastry display? Probably not. But it was pretty yummy. A little too sweet but I can handle a little too much sugar when I’m on vacation.

not wearing the recommended footwear

You’d think we’d call it a day after all that but we didn’t. Not when Toby is in charge. He will run Baby Bug and I into the ground, fitting every single adventure in that he can. I was quite mad at him that he forced us to go visit the volcano and didn’t tell me about the required footwear rule. Everywhere we looked there were signs saying to bring water and wear long pants and proper footwear. Flip flops and a skirt aren’t exactly recommended.

I was actually quite scared that we were going to be hiking over knee high shards of razor-sharp lava the way the signs read. Poor Toby, I gave him quite the guilt trip. I had closed-toe shoes and long pants for both Bug and I back at the hotel but we were hours and hours away from there. There was no going back at this point.

lava like elephant skin

Of course it was no big deal at all. The ground was rough but quite even and I skipped over the wrinkles of tar-colored elephant-skin-like lava like a nimble mountain goat in ballet slippers. Well, maybe not quite that gracefully but I didn’t trip or fall once. It was totally fun. I’d go again and wear heels even.

It was a little bit of work to carry Baby Bug the mile or so from the parking area to the actual site where the lava hit the ocean but it was totally worth it. I love adventure. I guess that’s why I’m still married.

And that concludes my vacation blogging!


  • Lin

    Sounds like an absolutely terrific trip and I’m impressed that you packed so much into a relatively short stay. I think vacations are as important to families as the air we breathe. Creating a memory bank for Baby B, as well as you and Toby is so important. Years from now you will look back on your photographs and your words and the memories will be crystal clear. Plan a trip for every year. Funny thing is that in another six months you’ll be saying things like, “Wait, was that before Hawaii/after Hawaii/while we were there”…vacations become markers in our lives…important markers. Glad you had such a fantastic time!

  • NAT

    I have read all your vacation blog what great pictures you took makes me want to go there too, I need a vacation but I can’t not with another one on the way. How did you take baby bug without a stroller you must have been very tired carrying her all around. Anyway loved the pictures.

    SAJ says: We actually did take the stroller (the super-light folding umbrella stroller) and I’m so glad we did. I strollered everywhere… but on the lava. That was out of the question.

  • Gingermog

    Oh wow such beautiful blue skies. I’m loving reading up on your travels.

    I’m also really happy as I’ve just heard I’m going to be an auntie again. Woo hoo! Do you have any advice for morning sickness to pass on?

    SAJ says: Heh heh… um, no advice really. There are all sorts of tricks but none of them really worked for me. Congratulations on your Auntie-hood!

  • Sarah

    Just to let you know, I got a question about ‘vog’ correct on Jeopardy the other day, thanks to your posts!

    SAJ says: Rock on!

  • Gramma

    I got just a little bit homesick for the islands when I read your blogs. But then I remember being “rock happy” too. It takes such a short time to drive around the island (Oahu) to get back to where you started. When the plane takes off…you want to go back even before the craft reaches cruising level. Glad you experienced the volcano in spite of the vog.

  • Michelle

    Beautiful, beautiful pictures. I’ve enjoyed the narration, and I had to laugh because my husband is an adventure-seeker, too. Once I thought, oh, enough already! And then he went to the desert for 7 months and I was in adventure withdrawals! LOL

  • foodcoma

    Question for you. What was the bug situation like? I spent a week in Maui and literally was bit like nine times as soon as I stepped off the plane. Small price to pay to visit paradise right?

    SAJ says: You know what’s funny? I didn’t get one bug-bite the entire time we were there but then mysteriously between the airport and the plane ride home I got five or six bites on my knees! I think the plane had fleas! Who knows. I do have a funny story about a cockroach climbing out of the car seat we rented from the car rental place but other than that I didn’t see any bugs that weren’t where they were supposed to be (ie: on bushes and trees and stuff…).

  • red lotus mama

    That is hilarious about not having the proper footware and water for the volcano trek! We had the same issue. We had come from lunch in Hilo and we were so unprepared for the hike. Oh well … it is an amazing adventure!

    Thank you for the great photography and stories! You brought back memories for me.

  • BeachMama

    I love that Toby is adventurous. My Hubby is like that too, but I probably would have freaked out at not being dressed properly at the volcano and not went. You rock for going in your super cute flirty skirt.

    I love the colours in the photos, what an adventure for sure.

  • jac

    i am so glad that you had such a spectacular time. now, i really want to go to hawaii. i’ve never been off the mainland so it would be a first. i’m just not so sure i would have as good a time as you did.
    i absolutely love the picture of baby bug laying in the grass. the colors are so saturated and intoxicating!
    thanks for sharing your experiences with us internets. i, for one, love it!

  • KJ

    I am sharing your dream AND your vacation. Amazing photos, even if it was overcast some of the time…we still have three feet of snow in front of our sliding glass door.

    Someday, I too will go to Starbucks in Hawaii and try a coconut latte. We have maple here–I wonder if that’s the New Hampshire nod to the locals?

    I like mocha. I want to live where THAT’s local.

  • Stacy

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos. I was on Maui the same time you were on the Big Island (I’m from Maui) and your photos just reaffirm that I need to move back.

    When I visited Kilauea in 1989, I had the same appropriate footwear you did. I’m glad you didn’t make the mistake that I did and put your face in a steaming vent!

  • Annabanana

    Beautiful! The photos made me daydream of moving….till I read about plane hopping islands and bugs and all. I Guess paradise isn’t all I dreamed of.
    Visiting sounds grand though!

  • leslie

    glad i stumbled on to your blog, we leave for the big island next month with two kids… i never thought about the shoes (we wear flip flops everywhere!!) i loved your pictures, thanks for sharing!!!