A Travellerspoint blog

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Skinny Dipping, Sunsets, and Cheesecake

A storm passed through Kona earlier this evening as the sun was setting in the distance. I now watch lightning flashes cut through the dark skies over the water as the storm passes over Maui. It’s surprisingly peaceful.

Today was our last full day of vacation. We leave tomorrow afternoon and will be heading back to a soggy city in the midst of spring, residents eagerly awaiting summer--a summer warm and beautiful like the weather we’ve been fortunate to have for most of our eleven days here. It’s hard to want to leave, but our bills won’t magically pay themselves (darn), so it’s back to the grind. The wet, cool, soggy, damp grind.

Kona has been gently shoving us toward adjustment for the transition home and there was rain through various times of the day. It was intermittent and interrupted by plenty of sunshine to keep us happy. As the evening wore on and the storm began to head our way we were fortunate to experience a beautiful sunset to one side and a cloudy and angry sky to the other. Each were stunning.

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The morning started off with a jaunt to coffee. We’re getting good at getting D up quickly, changed, fed, and loaded up for exploration before his first nap of the day. We enjoyed some delicious caffeine and a short walk before D went down. Once he was peacefully settled we took turns going out. I enjoyed a morning jog through the south end of Alii Drive. It was so humid that I felt as if I had jumped in the ocean. I can hardly believe that people regularly do this, let alone that thousands flock here once a year to participate in an Ironman competition. Running marathon mileage in this weather sounds awful.

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Along my run

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Once back, Madame Cockroach and I showered, got D up and ready again, and grabbed Zac to go out to breakfast. I couldn’t decide if I wanted lunch or breakfast, so I got a little of both.

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Fresh catch ahi with a pancake on the side

We also had a companion at lunch this morning.

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Perhaps Mrs. Gecko knows Madame Cockroach

D went down for another nap shortly after brunch and Zac and I again used the time to split up and take turns going out. When it comes to vacation it’s pretty clear that we get maybe ⅓ of what we did before D, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that of ⅓ of actual time to have a vacation while on vacation is cut down even more by activities that are no longer realistic. Take what’s left and consider the fact that ½ of those unrealistic activities are now done solo because your partner is supervising your child and it’s pretty pathetic the amount of time that is actually vacation time while on vacation. Shocker: Parenting happens ALL THE TIME.

With all that said, it’s been a great trip, and having D along for the ride changes things for sure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way right now. He’s been adaptable, flexible, curious, interested, and has tried so many new things that I’ve stopped keeping track.

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Very interested in what was going on at the restaurant

This afternoon he had his first swim in the ocean, for instance. We stripped him naked and both Zac and I got into the water with him. It was a little chilly, but D adjusted without complaint and soon he was kicking and paddling like a pro. The biggest challenge was keeping him from drinking the salt water.

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After his skinny dip he gulped down his food in no time. All that work made him extra hungry, I guess!

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He then spit it up all over me

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Spit up all down the entirety of my leg

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We hung around the beach until it started to sprinkle a little, went and got Zac a slice of taro dough pizza, and then returned back to the condo for D’s last nap of the afternoon. When he was up again we went and grabbed some coffee, enjoyed a walk, and went to pick up dinner. We decided to get our food to go and sit on the lanai as we watched the storm pass us by and the sunset radiate through the late afternoon sky.

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It was a nice way to end the day, made even better by the sweet potato haupia cheesecake we picked up for dessert. If ever there were a treat worth the caloric guilt, this was it. I’ll be dreaming about this delightful dish all the way home tomorrow. With a six hour flight, that’s a lot of dreaming.

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The travel home is a bit dreaded, but we’re all going to bed early tonight and hoping for some good sleep to get us through. Wish us luck!

Posted by JorieW 27.05.2014 00:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Rambutan, Swamp Crotch, and Rainy Days

The day before the last day of vacation is almost more of a let down than the actual last day of vacation. There’s the gloom of knowing that time for pushing responsibilities away is almost done. They’re on the horizon, those responsibilities, just waiting for the day after tomorrow. At least on your last day of vacation you can go balls to the wall and embrace it for what it is.

Our second to last day began with a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt.

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I once again demolished an entire bowl of rambutan, a delicious slightly grape-like fruit. It’s native to Southeast Asia, but plentiful in Hawaii (one of the top three tropical fruits produced here). I believe Thailand produces the most rambutan in the world, though I foolishly didn’t try it while there. I didn’t actually have it until I came to Hawaii for the first time three years ago. Don’t let its appearance fool you--it’s delightful and refreshing. A lot like a slightly sweeter lychee, and similar to longan as well. I prefer rambutan, though.

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Hello, lover

The weather quickly turned Seattle on us, and the sunny morning I’d woken up to had suddenly become overcast. Rain began shortly after. It was the perfect kind of morning to pack up your stuff and head to a cafe to enjoy a warm cup of coffee, which is exactly what we did.

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Despite the rain and clouds it is still quite warm and grossly humid out. We’re all sweaty, sticky, and that’s not changing anytime soon. My hair is one big frizz-fest, Zac’s allergies are kicking up, and D has swamp crotch that no amount of diaper wipes can fix. We’re just disgusting, all three of us, in our own unique ways. We like to keep things interesting in this family.

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I tried to take some relief from the humidity (and my disgusting sweat drenched post workout self) and shower. This morning I had a companion in the shower. Nope, it wasn’t D. Or Zac. It was Madame Cockroach. I assume she’s a she. I didn’t catch her name, so we’re on a formal title basis.

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Don't mind me

I’ve had worse pests cramping my style, that’s for sure. The teeny tiny poisonous scorpions that were all over the place in Hluhluwe, South Africa come to mind. They were so common that there would be tens of them smashed on the floor of our cabin. No, I prefer Madame Cockroach. She may be kind of gross and she may like to scurry away from the light in a really off putting and surprising manner that startles me each time it happens, but she won’t sting me and kill me. I don’t think, anyway.

Since it was still so warm we decided to head to the beach again today. The sun was making sporadic appearances as the day went on and we had the pleasure of playing in the sand with both sun and rain at various times. Zac took a quick dip, but didn’t stay in the water too long. We wanted to stop at Da Poke Shack for lunch and had to be mindful of D’s nap schedule.

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Magic Sands Beach

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Demolishing his toy, "Barry Zuckercorn"

Zac enjoyed his poke and I gorged myself on huli huli chicken, which is essentially rotisserie chicken. I couldn’t even come close to finishing my massive meal and saved it for dinner. With an aching tummy I went for a long walk during D’s nap. I decided to check out some of the shops and restaurants further down Alli Dr.

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Alli Drive

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Once D was up from his nap he and Zac joined me on a walk. We stopped for coffee and smoothies, chit chatted, and enjoyed the charming shopping center in the heart of Kona.

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It was a leisurely day, and once done with our walk we returned back to the condo to have some play time with D. He’s really determined to get this crawling thing down, so we are trying to give him plenty of time to get the hang of it. He’s improving so quickly! It’s pretty amazing how much better he gets with each day. He’s currently finding himself frustrated because he gets into the crawling position, moves one arm forward, and then doesn’t know what to do. He rocks forward and back as if he’s trying to launch himself. When he realizes he’s not going anywhere he begins to get frustrated and cries. I imagine he’ll get the hang of it soon enough and we’ll be wondering why we ever wanted him to become mobile in the first place.

Side note: I guess that means we should consider baby proofing our house. So far our only known task is baby gating the stairs. The rest just seems like rich learning opportunities through doing and hoping that there are no cracked skulls or stitches required.

Anyway, as I was saying, lots of floor and play time today. D took a late afternoon nap and once he was up we went out for yet another walk. The rain had picked back up at this point and we strolled in relative peace along the streets as others took shelter in covered shops and restaurants. I personally thought the rain felt quite nice and since D had a cover on his Ergo to protect him from the elements it didn’t seem like a bad idea to keep on.

This evening we prepared dinner at the condo, taking a break from eating out. It felt nice to cook and eat on the lanai as we watched the clouds roll through. D went to bed before dinner, giving us no difficulty after likely having worn himself out today.

There have been mumblings of ideas for things to do tomorrow on our last full day in Kona. We plan to take D to a nearby beach with protected swimming and no waves so we can take him into the ocean with us. The weather is supposed to be a repeat of today, but assuming it’s still warm out it shouldn’t be a problem. There have also been murmurings of going on a hike tomorrow as well.

I can hardly believe that our vacation is almost over. Eleven days pass far too quickly when you’re enjoying yourself.

Posted by JorieW 26.05.2014 00:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Classing It Up In Kona

I must stop eating Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nut candies and drinking diet pepsi out of a wine glass.

I’m clearly on vacation. All rules are out the window, and I’m going crazy!

We started our morning in a far more sane and organized manner than my terrible food choices this evening (did I mention I also ate a bakery cookie before dinner?). D slept in a bit, which we allowed since he’s been napping poorly while out in the car the past few days. When he woke he was chipper and happy, kneeling in a crawling position in his pack and play just waiting for us to come and get him. We fed him on the lanai as we watched canoe races among the waves in the distance.

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After eating, we put D in his Ergo and headed out to the farmer’s market, which is just half a block from where we’re staying.

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Our condo really couldn’t be more centrally located, and it was really nice to be able to go and get fresh fruit for breakfast before D needed to go down for his morning nap. We took a walk around the shops as well, taking a gander at all of the offerings nearby. There are some cute shops, most of which are over priced. Nonetheless I enjoyed window shopping.

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While D was down for his nap I did my usual morning workout (I don’t know why I even bother. If I just avoided chocolate covered treats and diet pepsi I could sit idle on my ass all day). Our condo doesn’t have AC, which is my only complaint about staying here. Really, who doesn’t have AC in Hawaii?! I was drenched and disgusting, but moreover I was hungry. I had wanted to go to a cafe next door for some pancakes that I had three years ago when we were visiting and really enjoyed. Breakfast was only served until 11:30, so I had to kick my sweaty ass into high gear, get going, and get D up early from his nap so we could make it. It was a mad dash, and in the end we sat down at our table at exactly 11:30 and I didn’t even skip a beat before asking for the breakfast menu.

“None of this lunch shit,” I said.

Okay, I didn’t say that.

Anyway, I got my pancakes. They were disappointing. Sometimes things are better left in the past, and I’d say Island Lava Java pancakes are one of those things. Or two of those things, because you get two per order. Double the disappointment :( What wasn’t disappointing, however, was the fact that D was able to eat his breakfast in a high chair! Up until recently we’ve had to hold him while out at restaurants. This is fine, but it means that Zac and I have to take turns eating. Not anymore, oh no. Today we BOTH ate breakfast, at the same time, and while it was still warm. Say whaaaaaaaaaaat?! Also, how adorable is D in his high chair?

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After brekky it was more walking, then time for another nap. This time Zac and I split nap time for exploring. Zac had an hour to go out and do whatever he wanted, then I would take an hour. Zac used his time to walk to the beach while I used my time for shopping. Productive, in very different ways. Obviously my time was productive because I ended up with some sun dresses. Zac’s time ended up being productive because he found a beach for us to bring D to once he was up from his nap, which we did.

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The beach was just a short jaunt from our condo, and while it was nice to sit at, this was definitely not a good swimming spot. The tide was high, but there were still far too many rocks right up to the shoreline with strong and crashing waves that made it less than ideal for anything other than boogie boarding or surfing, which many locals were doing. Zac jumped in, but quickly got out.

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Waiting for dad to finish his swim

Afterward we stopped at Da Poke Shack for Zac so he could compare his meal to Umeke’s. The verdict? Da Poke Shack.

I had some fish tacos from the restaurant next door while the last of the sun disappeared into the distance. D went to bed shortly before we ate, going down fast and without any problems. He had a two nap day, but this time we were expecting it and structured our day accordingly. I’m loving the two nap schedule. He was up for over three hours before bed today without going BSC, and I think it’s because he got his 4 hours of naps in for the day between two naps. Let’s hope it continues!

I can hardly believe that we’ll be leaving on Tuesday. It’s been a great couple of days in Kona, and I’m really enjoying myself. The location is great, the weather is beautiful, and we’ve been eating so much good food that I’m not sure I want to go home and cook for myself ever again. Though it’s quite easy to prepare candy and soda...

Posted by JorieW 24.05.2014 23:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Sunsets, Pork, and Sleeping Babies; Finally

I sit in an open and airy living room in Kona, belly stuffed full of kalua pork as I listen to the ocean waves just across the volcanic sea wall in front of our condo. It’s a great way to spend an evening.

We’re back on the grid, mixing with society again after a couple of nights in a treehouse five minutes from one of the world’s most active and continuously erupting volcanoes. As I write that I realize it doesn’t exactly boast of my finest parenting decisions to date. Still, we managed to not only survive, but enjoy ourselves as well. It is nice to have potable water again, though. Oh, and not have to open all the windows and doors because your propane stovetop will suffocate your child otherwise.

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Propane and babies don't mix

Leaving Honoka’a was welcomed, in my opinion. Two days was plenty of time there, and while I enjoyed the downtime and exploring more of the Big Island than I would have had we stayed put in either Kona or Hilo as main bases for exploration, it was kind of boring. It was therefore with relief that we packed up and headed toward Volcano, a small town less than a mile outside of the Volcanoes National Park.

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Treehouse in Volcano

I found a tree house on Vrbo.com that looked pretty fascinating and decided to book it. We weren’t able to check in until 3 p.m., so we stopped in Hilo along the way and enjoyed a cup of coffee at a coffee shop with sharks hanging everywhere, sharks in the name, and even a menu with shark titled sandwiches. It’s like it was built just for me.

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Sharks, sharks, sharks!

We also stopped by the The Two Ladies Kitchen, which was recommended as a place to pick up divine mochi, which we happily did. Full disclosure: I don’t like mochi. Not really, anyway. I still don’t, but the baseball size strawberry mochi with red bean paste and fresh strawberry in the center was delicious.

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The bakery, another run down hole in the wall in Hilo

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Mochi for days

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Size of a baseball

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We didn’t stay long in Hilo, knowing that D would need a nap and opting instead to finish the drive to Volcano while he napped. It’s multitasking parenting and vacation! Yay.

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When we’d made it to Volcano D was still asleep so we opted to head into the park for a looksy before heading to the treehouse. Entry into the park is $10 and is good for 7 days after purchase. The park itself is open 24 hours a day, so overall I’d say it’s a pretty good deal. D woke up mid exploration and we walked him out to the Kilauea crater.

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Zac and I have been to the volcano park before and enjoyed the Kilauea Iki trail down into the caldron on our last visit. We knew this wasn’t an optional hike with D. Aside from the steep descent into the crater over slick, sharp, and jagged rock, there are steam vents that we wanted to keep him away from and we wanted to limit his exposure to any sulfuric gases. We eyed a park map for some ideas for hiking the next day instead. All but one trail were open to us (as per the rangers) and baby-friendly (meaning there weren’t toxic gases that were going to poison him).

Soon it was time to head to the treehouse. Pulling up was delightful. Volcano is lush, green, and absolutely beautiful. There are neighborhoods and streets tucked away in unsuspecting cul-de-sacs immediately off the highway, and while small, the village has a few shops, restaurants, and small stores to visit. Our house was a half mile off the highway or so, and even though it was extremely accessible and within walking distance to the village it felt to be completey secluded.

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No, really. This is the treehouse.

Built atop a lava tube, the treehouse runs completely on solar power, collected rainwater (and thus no potable water), and generators. There was a compostable toilet, cedar soaking tub on the deck, and an outdoor shower that was absolutely fantastic to enjoy on a rainy morning.

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Morning view

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Outdoor shower. Even D enjoyed it.

To get to the treehouse involved hiking along a small and well kept rainforest path, over the lava tube, up some volcanic rock steps, and finally to the wooden steps of the house. The steps were steep, and closer to a ladder than anything else, which required us to wear D in the Ergo to get him in and out.

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Lava tube

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Volcanic rock steps to real steps

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The ladder/steps up

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Hike to the treehouse

Once inside the house there was a ladder up to the bedroom with a trap door that was a careful two person operation to get him up to his pack and play, which I skillfully managed to get into the room. At night the trap door was secured tightly so none of us fell through.

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Trap door from the bedroom down to the main living area

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Snug fit

Everything about the treehouse was wonderful--except there were no curtains or blinds to be found. Without a baby this wouldn’t be an issue, but try napping a baby in a house above the trees with plentiful windows and tons of sunlight and you’ll go batshit crazy. It. Just. Doesn’t. Happen.

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Beautiful but also kind of hated French doors in the bedroom

We had to get skillful and nap him in his Ergo, which never happens. After an exhausting (for him) THREE hours he finally napped while we walked to the village to pick up dinner. He went down for the night very easily and slept while Zac and I ate our delicious Thai food, soaked in the cedar tub as the rain came down, and ate chocolate covered macadamia nuts until we (mostly me) finished them.

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The next morning I awoke to rain on the tin rooftop. It was such a lovely sound. I showered outside in the rain and even though we’d had a rough nap session with D the day before, I felt happy I’d chosen this place to stay. Zac and I have stayed in a treehouse before and it was so much fun. It’s unique, and provides an experience that you normally wouldn’t have while on vacation. It’s not the Four Seasons. Bugs are everywhere. Sometimes it gets cold. There’s always the fear that something (yes, someTHING) is watching you from the bushes. Still, it’s an adventure, and traveling (even with a six month old--maybe especially with a six month old, actually) is an adventure.

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Something lurking?

We napped D as long as we could in the bright room before getting him up and heading back to the park for our first hike. We managed two trails and the Thurston Lava Tubes while D slept in the Ergo and were able to get over two hours of hiking in before we needed to feed him and care to his diaper needs. We decided to break for lunch, stopping at nearby Cafe Ono. Ono in Hawaiian means delicious, and delicious this place was. It’s a vegetarian restaurant in a beautiful home setting with an on site art studio, garden seating, Koi pond, and even a resident goat, Ernest. The food was amazing, plentiful, fresh, and made with local ingredients. It was exactly what we needed.

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Cafe Ono

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Meeting Ernest

After a hearty lunch we headed back to the park for another hike. We drove down the Crater Rim Drive so D could get another nap in while we took in the view of some of Kilauea’s most recent lava flows. This is some of the youngest earth on the planet, which is pretty cool to think about. There were lava flows straight into the ocean, and the drive was really enjoyable.

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Lava flows into the ocean

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After D was up again we headed back toward the visitor center This time we hiked the upper rim of the Kilauea Iki trail, choosing to avoid the caldera and enjoying the view from above.

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When all was said and done we left the park around 4:30 p.m. We were impressed with our ability to hike for as long as we did with D, and we patted him on the back for a job well done. Unfortunately he decided to forgo his last afternoon nap, causing him to be awake for FOUR hours this time. Yes, four hours. At six months old he shouldn’t go more than two hours between naps. He was going batshit crazy. When D goes batshit crazy it is literally crazy. He doesn’t cry, he goes CRAZY, which is almost worse. It seems like a hug would comfort him if he were crying, but when he goes BSC on us there’s an unleashing of raspberries being blown left and right, screeches and whines, high pitched yelps, zombie eyes...oh man, it’s tiring. We’re in this awkward time of dropping his afternoon nap, which he is clearly trying to do on his own. Instead of trying to get the nap we just let him be awake for three hours in the evening and then start our bedtime routine at 6 pm instead of 7 pm. Little turkey wants two naps a day, I guess. This wouldn’t be an issue if those two naps were good quality naps, but since we’ve had him out and about recently and he’s had to nap on the go they aren’t particularly restful.

That will change, though. Yep, because we left Volcano this morning after D’s nap. He actually napped well, despite the morning sun coming in. It was a beautiful sunrise for us to see, but I tell ya, without curtains I prayed for a stormy day with dark clouds. In Kona we can fortunately do more in the immediate area and be able to bring him back to the condo to nap during the day.

While D napped for the last time in Volcano I took a walk around the area and stopped at the Aloha Candy Co to get some coffee.

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Aloha Candy Co, another hidden gem

I chatted a bit with the owner, a very lovely German woman who’s been living in Hawaii for 30 years, baking and providing the Big Island with delicious goodies. She prepares breakfast and lunch items as well, all from scratch, and all with local and fresh ingredients. She gave me a sampling of treats before I headed back to help Zac pack up and get D ready to roadtrip it up to Kona.

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We enjoyed our drive, and the south end of the island is just beautiful. It was overcast, which is pretty typical, but the flowering plants and bright greens of the foliage more than added a little cheerfulness. The two lane road ranges in speed from 35 mph to 45 mph on average and even though it was a couple hours, the drive was a bonus for the day. It’s actually faster to drive from Volcano back through Hilo and into the center of the island, but we wanted to stop by the Black Sand Beach and Punalu’u Bakery.

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The beach was fairly quiet today and we showed up in time to see a turtle make his or her way onto the beach and sprawl out for all to fawn over. D had little interest in the turtle, and was far more interested in how he could get the black sand into his mouth while his parents weren’t looking. The little bugger was successful, and Zac spent a good amount of time cleaning the inside of D’s mouth while I took to work cleaning his hands and feet.

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We stopped at the Punalu’u Bakery for some malasadas. The bakery is well known for their sweet breads (no, not cow thalamus), and even though everyone and their mom insists that it’s a good place to stop, I find it to be over rated. Zac got a passion fruit glaze and guava malasada, neither of which impressed me enough to have more than a bite. We ordered sandwiches and against my better judgement I selected a chicken sandwich. I assumed it would be grilled, but it was fried. Uh-oh. I have never once, NOT EVER eaten a fried chicken sandwich and not gotten diarrhea. I can eat a fried fish sandwich. I can eat fried chicken. There’s something about a fried chicken sandwich that leaves me with unpleasant gastrointestinal distress. So while I felt bad about wasting $5 on something I threw out, I decided that $5 isn’t worth an evening of the squirts. In fact, I’d pay twice that to avoid fire butt.

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Malasadas

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Hanging out, being cute as per usual

Disappointed that I stopped at a bakery and didn’t enjoy myself or gorge myself, I sadly ate an english muffin in the car and some apple slices :(

We continued northbound toward Kona, stopping in Puuhonua o Honaunau Park, which is where Jenna and Jesse got married three years ago. We walked D around, looked at the tidepools, and then continued on our way.

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About 40 minutes later we were in Kona, and boy did it feel good to arrive.

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Ocean front condo

Our condo is on Alli drive, right in the heart of Kona-Kailua. We’re directly on the ocean and our balcony, long and filled with comfortable outdoor furniture, is ripe for sitting and watching sunsets while eating amazing food, which is what we did. D is sleeping in a dark room. There are curtains. Life is good.

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Happy chunk

We’re within walking distance to many of Kona’s most popular restaurants, the farmer’s market, and a beautiful beach. We have a condo that provides full beach gear. We are loaded with a list of restaurants to eat at. We are ready to enjoy the hell out of our last four nights here.

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A short sunset stroll to dinner

A stop at Umeke’s for dinner was a good start. My very full belly and very happy heart agree. I can’t imagine a better place to be right now than with my favorite people on this beautiful island.

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Posted by JorieW 24.05.2014 11:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Slow Ride

sunny

Traveling with a baby really is a game changer.

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Not only does one travel with far too many items for said baby, but one also leaves behind the ability to do whatever the hell one wants, whenever the hell one wants.

Clearly Zac and I are said one.

Today was a pretty low-key day, which is to be expected in this low-key area. Hamakua coast has beautiful hiking and outdoor activities, none of which are realistic for us to do with D at this time. Long hikes are out since we only have his Ergo (we will be getting a baby hiking pack for the summer), not to mention the fact that we don’t use his Ergo enough to really gauge how he’ll do in it for more than 45 minutes. Many of the outdoor activities aren’t baby friendly, like horseback riding. Though let’s be honest, horseback riding isn’t really Jorie-friendly either.

What to do with ourselves?

We first tried to do a tea plantation tour at Mauna Kea Tea, which is right down the road and walking distance from where we’re staying. Unfortunately it’s harvesting season, so they aren’t currently doing tours. Their bathroom is busted in the tasting room, so they’re not doing tea tastings at this time either. I think they just didn’t want us to show up because they heard we have a six month old with us ;)

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You don't want to visit with me? Impossible!

By the time D was up and ready to go we’d spent so much time hmmming and hawing that we really couldn’t go far before he’d need another nap. We decided to venture over to the Hawaiian Vanilla Company and take a gander at the small farm. The HVC is the only location in the United States that produces vanilla, and one of the handful in the world for that matter. It’s a family run operation, started by a man who had no idea what he was doing. The farm is in the hills above Hwy 19, just south of Honoka’a. It was a beautiful drive through rolling hillsides and sprawling green pastures overlooking the ocean as we made our climb. We arrived at a bright yellow house a few miles up the quiet road from the highway. It was inconspicuous and I could have passed by without really noticing that it was a place of business. I LOVE that.

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The drive up to the farm

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We were greeted with the delightful aroma of vanilla as we walked through the doors of the shop, which is run out of the family’s home. Meals and tours are available with reservations, but we just stopped by to look around. There is a small cafe inside that served sweets and treats, and Zac ordered himself up some vanilla bread pudding and an unsweetened vanilla ice tea. Everything prepared in the kitchen uses vanilla in some method of cooking and preparation.

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Checking out the kitchen

We sat out on a relaxing patio in comfortable wicker chairs as we sipped delicious tea and munched on some very sweet bread pudding. The bread pudding itself was too much for me, but the vanilla ice cream (homemade at the farm, of course) was phenomenal.

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"Bring me my pudding!"

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I wouldn’t have thought to stop at the farm if we weren’t looking for something, anything, to do close by. Having gone however, I’d highly recommend it if you’re in the area. The tour seems overpriced ($25 per person, with a free drink of choice), but stopping in, grabbing a snack, and looking around seemed perfect.

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The patio

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Hanging with mom

The rest of the day got a little hairy after our mid-morning outing. D returned to the house for his nap, but woke up early. Rather than try to get him back down we decided we’d drive to Waimea and check out some local hiking spots. Waimea is only about 30 minutes from where we’re staying, so it didn’t seem like an issue--and it wasn’t, except that we couldn’t find any of the hiking spots, what we thought we were looking for was actually much, much further away, and Waimea literally has nothing to do. We found an observatory museum that sounded like it could be interesting since we won’t be taking D up to the top of Mauna Kea this trip, but it closed at 2 p.m. and we had missed it. Two p.m.?! That’s so early! Such is life.

It felt like wasted time, and it really was. We ended up driving through Honoka’a and the surrounding area to check out the neighborhoods and get a better sense of the small town. While the main drag of the city is short and has few offerings, it is absolutely adorable. Many of the homes in the area sit on properties with beautifully manicured lawns that overlook the ocean. It was a lovely drive, which D slept through.

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One of Honoka'a 's adorable shops

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Clearly enjoying himself

Once back at the house D was back up. We played for a while to give him a break before trying to put him down for a small cat nap for the late afternoon. He was having none of it. We’d messed with his nap schedule and he’d had just enough sleep earlier to take the edge off, but not enough to be well rested. This meant he went into crazy baby mode. Crazy baby mode isn’t screaming and crying, it’s...well, mostly screaming. Crazy screams. Like “what the hell was that?” screams. He shrieks and laughs in this maniacal way that sounds like he’s going insane. It’s both adorable and sad.

We stopped trying to get him down for his nap and instead ran out real quick to pick up dinner. If he wasn’t going to sleep we may as well be productive. We stopped by Tex Drive In, which is at the bottom of our road. The restaurant is well known for it’s malasadas, or Portuguese fried dough. Basically a donut. Nope, no basically about it. It is a donut. We chose to split one filled with apricot. Tex serves fresh malasadas all day long with a variety of options for fillings. It was delicious. Like, really delicious. We showed up at 6 p.m. and *still* managed to get a fresh malasada. It was soft, airy, not greasy, and not too sweet. Perfect. We also picked up dinner--and the grilled mahi burger I had was really good. Once I was able to eat it, that is...which wasn’t until D was bathed and put to bed.

Oh, what a day. A lot of driving, a lot of just looking for something to do, but trying to do it in the most compatible manner for D’s schedule and needs. It wasn’t a disaster by any means, but it certainly wasn’t a day of smooth sailing. Poor D was so tired when we got back that he just passed out. I’d say my biggest successes of the day were choosing to visit the vanilla farm, getting in a four mile walk while D took his second nap, and that goddamn delicious malasada.

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Goddman delicious malasada

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Along my walk

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We are literally staying in the middle of nowhere

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Tomorrow we leave Honoka’a and head for the Volcano National Park. We’ll be staying in a treehouse, which will hopefully be awesome. It’s totally off the grid, has a cedar hot tub that we have to light hours before using, is solar powered, and even has a compostable toilet. Good times ahead. The last time I stayed in a treehouse was when we were in Knysna, South Africa. It was such an amazing place to stay, but I ate a bad pork sandwich earlier in the day, got the shits, and spent a good part of my night on the open air toilet in the trees above the forest floor, fearful that a baboon would attack me while I was relieving myself. I’m hoping for a better treehouse experience this time.

Wish me (and us all) luck.

Posted by JorieW 20.05.2014 23:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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