Friday, October 30, 2009

More of what we're looking for

Thomas wants to get back into diving. He used to dive when living in CA quite a bit. I think that for anyone who lives near the water and likes to dive it's a no brainer. Me... well... I guess I like to snorkel. I'm a little scared of the ocean with it's strong currents. I don't swim enough to be really confident. When I snorkel it always takes me a while to get used to breathing through a small tube and yikes!! god forbid I bump into something big out there - freaks me out. Oh, not to mention I always get foot cramps from the darn big flippers. I'd like to find some type of small flipper that is made of a really pliable moldable gell-like something... I can't do the large, long, stiff flippers. Anyway, I'm sure there's something out there like that I just don't know where to look yet. Plus maybe I need more calcium or vitamins regarding foot cramps :-)

The picture of the green sea turtle came from a cool blog website called I am told there are many sea turtles around the island. When we were visiting we were watching surfers and I caught a glimpse of a large turtle, more like it was his silhouette on the shoulder of a wave. I saw it twice as it swam across the mouth of the bay. We are told to snorkel near City of Refuge and Honaunau Bay for seeing many kinds of sea life especially turtles. That will have to be on another trip. We did drive through there to look around, yet sooooo crowded when we were there we chose to not even try to park. That will probably be a very early morning jaunt some day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What I'm looking for in Hawaii

Well... this has been a long time coming. I couldn't really act upon it prior as there has always been the kids to think about. So, kids to think about now, hmmm let me think, I'm not gonna think about it anymore. By the time we are spending significant amount of time in Hawaii the last of these kiddos will be out the door.
So, the current plan as it stands (today) is to purchase a place that we can be at during these long, long, long, cold, cold, cold, winters. We know we need to purchase this year as the prices over there are nearing, if not already, rock bottom. At first we thought we'd build, but are now some what reconsidering as there are so many homes for sale, many foreclosed upon, and vacant. I know we have to be careful of older homes, heck even new ones, with mold problems and lack of maintenance problems as this can be significant in HI. But I also can't help but think why build yet another home on this fragile island when there are so many available? Further, with some of the prices over there, one can hardly build for the same price.

When I think about what's important to me in purchasing a home, it's not even the home that's really important, it's the surroundings. I want a small home, around 1000 sq ft or less, with two bedrooms, but one is still ok too. I want a covered lanai or open carport. I want a nice size yard, but can still make do with a small one as long as we can maintain some sense of privacy. I want to landscape with tropical fruits, flowers and plants. I want to feel like I'm in paradise and have a pleasant view, this can be of flowers or trees, doesn't have to be of the ocean. I want to be in a safe neighborhood, with a sense of community and aloha. I do not want to have sketchy neighbors, loud or obnoxious, or a trashy neighborhood. I do not want to be overwhelmed by the frogs, or vog, or damn barking dogs, or other island smells that I find offensive (garbage dump). I do not want to be on a heavily trafficked street. I'm sure there's more to the list, but I'm getting bored with it. I am also very confident that we will find such a place.

Oh wait a minute - I want sun, that's important, so I have to be careful where I look as much of the area has cloudy rainy weather much of the time.

I'm posting some pics of some homes we're considering. The top three are in cool rainy Volcano area, the bottom two are in sunny seaview, both areas are very nice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random favorite things about the island

Can't remember when exactly we did some of these things, but found the pics.
Island fruit! Couldn't get enough... well, actually got too much and had to feed some of it to Liz and Mike's chickens - but they were happy! The island fruit is so plentiful and inexpensive that we just kept picking it up. We tried to eat it all, white pineapple, yellow pineapple, guava, papaya, lilikoi (passion fruit), coconut, rambutan (spelling?) bananas, and other stuff that I can't remember at the moment because I've had a glass of wine. :-)

We toured Lava Tree State Park and that was cool. I guess that when lava goes through an area sometimes it goes up, over and around trees and forms a cylinder cone that the tree often either burns up inside or rots away. This state park was beautiful and had a short nature hike, it was cool.

Then Thomas found some large flower heads and he was well... rather... hmmm... funny.

Took some pics of Liz and Mike's first bananas and papayas - so exciting, can't wait until we are taking pics of our own.

The flowers absolutely everywhere - smells so good.

And... the beach and the ocean... intoxicating.

We love it there, we are going to live there. By the way, our 5 year plan, just became a 3 year plan.

Thursday - last day on the island :-(

Where does all the time go eh? We had planned to save this day to drive over to the Kona side to visit with one of Tom's old school buddies, instead we jumped in the squirrel and headed out to explore Volcanoes National Park.

VNP was pretty interesting, lots to look at, read about, experience and explore, from mountain top down to the sea. Some of the highlights were the Visitor center, the trails, the calderas, the lava tube and the beautiful black lava making the ocean appear such a stunning color of blue.

While we were down at the sea arch area we actually saw two whales breach up out of the water - very cool! These apparently are some of the first returning whales to the islands. They return each year to calf and mate, one usually sees them over near Maui as they tend to hang around within the more protected waters there. We felt very fortunate to see them.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Oh, so much more to do, yet running out of time...

We stopped by the home of our new friend Frankie and shared gardening and bee keeping stories. It was a pleasant visit.

Then we headed back down to Kalapana area as we were to look closer at real estate listings. We decided to explore the lava and black sand beach located across from the cafe, can't remember the name something like Kaimu Beach, but it used to be very popular beach for swimming and surfing, but then the lava took it. Now there is a trail out there, steep lava cliffs, a small black sand beach and a bunch of newly sprouted/planted coconut palm trees that will someday be the future palm tree grove at this beach.

We met Wes (our realtor) to look at a house and some lots in Seaview at noon that day. We had it narrowed down to 5 lots and after looking with Wes, we have it narrowed down to 3 now. One of the lots we wanted to look closer at was in the upper section of Seaview. We rounded the corner and pulled up to park and stared out at two women apparently cleaning something roadside clothed only in what appeared to be loin cloths. They were completely tanned over every portion of their body, so we figured this must be the normal attire. They were friendly and talkative and pointed out a HUGE Abezia tree on this particular lot, which we had not even noticed as we didn't look up that far, we had only looked into the lot and couldn't see much because it was so heavily jungled. At any rate, the lots was a mess and too much to deal with for my liking, especially when the other lots would cost a lot less to clear. We said our goodbyes and are sure we will meet again.

The three lots we liked were located in the lower area of Seaview, and darn it if I didn't just get an email from Wes saying that one of them just had a price reduction. Shoot! We can't act upon anything just yet, but we can hope!

That evening as it got dark we headed back down to Seaview for one last tour, we wanted to hear the coqui frogs and to get a look at the neighborhoods at night. Seaview is a relatively quiet place, with frogs. Some of the neighborhoods had large frog infestations than others and were thus louder, especially on one of the streets that we liked a lot on.... After that we decided to stop stalking the residents of Seaview and left the area.

As we drove back down the road we decided to pick up some beer to take home, as we rounded the corner we discovered a small lit up tikki hut with torches and string lights... and an open sign... we of course pulled in. We were greeted with welcomes and told this was a little local gathering spot, with potluck and often music. There was a fellow playing guitar and singing, some small plate offerings, kava and wine or beer for a "donation". It was cool. We stayed for a little over an hour and visited and learned a lot about the area and met some of the residents... again, it can be a funky area, but we liked it. Thomas finally went home and drank his kava he had purchased at the hilo farmer's market earlier in the week. He pretty much just went to sleep. The end :-)

Tuesday - still on vacation!

Tuesday seems like a blur, one of those days where there wasn't anything too exciting going on, yet still full of exploration and new experiences.
We started our day with another swim in the hot pond, then home for a shower and breakfast of white pineapple, papaya and small sweet bananas

We visited the Mauna Loa mac nut factory. This was kinda fun yet crowded with tourist. There is a little tour and you can see them processing the nuts. You also drive to the factory through one of their large orchards and that was interesting as well. Then, you get to taste and purchase their yummy products. I always get my fill of mac nuts while on the islands, it was nice to get these right from the factory as they were fresh!

We went back down to drive the "Red Road" some and explore that area more. This road is one of the most scenic on the island and was our favorite area of the island, just also happens to be in the area that we are looking at land. We pulled off at a small overlook right across from the Seaview subdivision and had a beer, just sat back and relaxed and wondered to each other if we could really put this whole plan into reality... well, we think so.

We went and had a burger at the yummy, funky, local Kalapana Cafe - good food, coffee, ice cream, etc. Not much by the way of amenities in Kalapana anymore since the lava came, but new things popping up all over. Hey! This place could use a peddle-powered smoothie stand!
Tuesday night we created an island feast back at our home away from home. We had purchased some island poke' and some kind of beef. We cooked these briefly in the wok as I wasn't into the raw poke'. We also had a lovely salad of greens that were grown up in Volcano area. I washed the salad extensively as I'm paranoid about the slugs around the island. We topped that with a delicious island made papaya dressing and drank our "Volcano Red" from the local winery. Soooo good it all was.


Monday morning we headed down to the hot ponds after getting the local tip to go early, we were told they opened the gates at 7am, yet when we arrived, there were already folks leaving from it. Mostly it was early birds down there doing a morning exercise swim. The pond is lovely!!! We swam for about an hour. This pond was originally a cold pond with seawater washing in, then after the Kapoho lava flow it started to be heated by thermal vents, it also has some salt water waves breaking in, at any rate, it’s cool.
We then went to look in the subdivision we’ve been interested in called Sea View, known for it’s eclectic neighborhood and overall funk. We like Sea view as it’s very close to the ocean and seems to be brimming with new building projects. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still funk, but not as much as in the past.

That evening we asked our hosts Mike and Liz to go along with us to view the ocean entry of the volcano. This was pretty neat. We drove down and parked at the "end of the road" you can't drive any further as lava has taken it over. Then you walk about 1/4 mile, not sure, out over lava while it's still light. You can view the lava pouring out into the ocean, it sputters and explodes, pretty cool. We stayed a little after dark and navigated our way back.
Then home for a night cap rummy drink, or another beer, can't remember which it was.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday - the long drive but oh so fun

The long drive, we left our south Pahoa location and drove the southern part of the island and headed to south Kona.

We went up through the Volcano area very early to begin by hitting the Volcano farmer's market - very cool - a must do. The folks there are super friendly, the offerings are some things you can't find at lower elevations, like raspberries. We bought a huge bag of raw macadamia nuts and have been munching all week. They also served a very yummo breakfast and pastries. One pastry we bought was so good it was this light flaky roll or puff pastry rolled around one of those small sweet finger bananas with a carmel sauce - did I already say soooo yummy?

We left to search for Kona coffee, drove down through the HOVE district, wow what a difference, so dry and arid, tons of lava, desolate looking. We planned to stop and visit South Point which is the most southern part of the United States, but it was such a long drive that the extra 12 miles to it made it seem just not interesting enough to do it.

Our impression of the Kona side, beautiful! Yet, CROWDED, and tons of traffic. Lots of color, many, many flowers and that's about it. We tried to search for coffee, but we were there on Sunday so many places were closed - darn it. We didn't get any and figured it would happen later in the trip. We did however stop at another little farmer's market and bought a really cool hand turned wooden spatula made out of Kiawe wood which is like an island mesquite used in numerous applications, it's a hard beautiful wood. We spoke extensively with the artist and felt quite attached to the spatula by the time we left, it was cool.

After that we bought a coffee to go at an unremarkable small Kona coffee shop from some rather rude plastic smile chic and decided to head back toward home as there was so much we didn't do.

We stopped at a couple of beaches that were VERY crowded, but beautiful. I've included a couple of pics from there, but will explore there more on future trips.

On the way home we stopped to check out a cool hiking trail that was out in the open and connected with several miles of trial. We weren't prepared to do any hiking but checked it out for future trips.

We stopped and tasted some wine at the Volcano Winery, pretty darn good - much better than the wine we tasted at the winery on Maui. We purchased a red, and at it later with Poke and Korean tri tip both from KTA - very good. Thomas thinks the wine we bought tastes like the one he made from the farm grapes, those of you who've tried that... well, I think this wine is better.

ok, all for now, the rest of that night was spent with pupus and drinks and an early bed time.

Sat night - the party

Fun, fun, fun, we attended our first international food club dinner at a couple's home in HPP Saturday evening. We were lucky enough to attend with our hosts (the vacation rental we're staying in owners) Mike and Liz as they gave us a ride and were nice enough to introduce us to several folks. We met a few folks I've got to know through Puna Web so that was really cool to put faces and names to screen names. The theme of the dinner was Mexican and I must say, OMG there was sooo much good mexi food, pupus, main dishes, drinks and desserts - yummo! We ended up bringing an avocado dip with chips as that's all I had time to put together. I had looked up a recipe and brought it with me, then shopped for the ingredients at the Hilo Farmer's market and put it together about an hour before we went to the dinner. I couldn't find any peppers other than these small "Hawaiian" peppers for the dip, yikes, they burned my fingers for about 4 hours, but the dip was goooood! Anyway, the party was fun, the folks were great fun, ended up being about 50+ people there - a good time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

And then...

Saturday morning bright and early, we're still on Mountain time and we are up ready and out the door by 6:15am - woooo-hoooo! We drove down to Kalapana Sea View to check out the property we're here to look at, then drove part of the red road, and made our way back up to Hilo for the farmer's market.

The waterfront, downtown area in Hilo is cool, old, somewhat alive and interesting. The farmer's market was busy! We bought locally grown avocados, garlic, tons of different kinds of fruit, tomatoes, flowers for the house, lunch (the best summer rolls with shrimp I've ever had!), Mumsabi (spam and a chicken one - ono!), and... Thomas bought Kava.... but's that's a whole other post.

I've also included a pic of some monkey pod trees (at least I think that's what they are) soooo pretty and covers so much area, huge. We also went to Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots State Park (mildly interesting), then we drove the Scenic Road and stopped for an overpriced smoothie but ohhhh so good and the drive was beautiful.

We then went to a large state park in Hilo (can't remember the name might post it later) for our lunch and to wander and watch people fishing. It was beautiful as it was created around the inlet from the bay to the river with several cool bridges over the river. Our lunch was sooo good, did I mention they were the summer rolls with shrimp and a sweet and sour spicy dipping sauce (I think I did, but gotta say it again)- oh so good! We also had some sushi we got from KTA, it was ok, but we will search out better.

After that we had to go back to our lovely little vacation rental (which I will post about later) to prepare a quick dish to take to our first international food club gathering in HPP (yet another post).

Ok, tired and ready to relax and drink more rummy drinks. Until soon. Ann

Sooo busy on the island!

Finally have a minute to write about our trip. So, here's the condensed version so far.
We flew over on Friday on Alaska Air, bleh is all I have to say, I'll fly it again if the price is right otherwise it's Hawaiian Air for me. We jumped inter-island on Go-Airline - sketchy, won't do that again, even if the price is right, dirty, late, rude, the list goes on. But we were just happy to be in Hawaii. Also, it's well known that the islands have a huge population of wild chickens, the pic of the chicken bone is the only kind of chicken we saw on Oahu. that day. :-)

Anyway, we landed into pretty, funky Hilo and got the smallest rental car I'm sure they make. You see, usually I order economy, they never have it and give you an upgrade for the same price. This time my gamble went awry and we actually got a compact. I thought when they said slip #8 it was a van and they made a mistake, but our tiny car was actually hiding behind the van, so small we couldn't see it. It's like a tin can on 4 wheels, but good on gas mileage and roomy enough for 4 adults on the inside (just ask Mike and Liz as we all squeezed in to go see the lava flow (another post).

We shopped at the KTA in Hilo to provision for the first night, and it was a great store, we love it, soooooo much to offer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Can you tell we're outta here!

Seriously, this is what we are dealing with October 9th, 2009!!! YUK!

Friday, October 9, 2009

In one week

WE ARE OUTTA HERE!! We touch down in Hilo around 4:00pm Friday, October 16th for a week of rummy drinks, touring and meeting new friends. I'm very excited, even more excited than all the other trips I've taken to Hawaii. This will be a new experience, we are looking for our own piece of the rock this time. We are staying with folks we've met through PunaWeb, they have a lovely little vacation rental in Pahoa, HI. We will also be attending our first International Food Club dinner which I'm very excited about. We will be visiting other folks we've met through PW to "talk story" and check out their gardens and hobbies. We will do our own touring of Volcanoes National Park, Kona area and coffee plantations, prolific farmer's markets, FRESH sushi, maybe squeeze in a mini day hike, lay on a beach (even in the rain damn it!), visit shops and galleries, the list goes on, when will we find the time? Oh almost forgot, we have neighbors moving there the same week we are visiting we have have to take them a housewarming gift. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to our trip. Ummm.... further it's only 10 degrees outside with snow. Did I already mention I'm looking forward to the trip?

Staying in touch with my lavender peeps

I've created a blog focusing mainly on lavender as a way to stay in touch with my lavender friends and customers (which I consider friends as well). I'll try to keep up on posting so the blog stays fresh, but you know me, too many things to do :-) Anyway, here's the link