A few months back, one of the airlines ran an awesome inter-island special and offered up tickets between islands for $9 per person each way. I couldn't resist so I jumped on tickets to the Big Island. The Big Island (henceforth referred to as "TBI", not to be confused with traumatic brain injury...) is home to an incredible military camp - Kilauea Military Camp whose rates on lodging cannot be beat, nor can the location. It's up at 4,000 feet which, for this altitude-deprived individual, made this trip soothing for the soul.
TBI is, well...BIG. Hence the name, I suppose. KMC is about 30 miles from the Hilo airport and still 100 miles from Kona. And the roads on TBI are not like the freeways of the mainland where 100 miles would be scoffed at as merely a jaunt down the road. Instead, traveling at 45 mph it will take you a good 2.5 - 3 hours to go from KMC to Kona. Our party was not up for a road trip like that so we stayed relatively close to "home".
Our cabin was wonderful. Not much to speak of on the outside but charming and perfect on the inside.
The fact that it had a fireplace was just icing on the cake! We lit a fire each and every night we were there and, had I known that the couch in the living room was a hide-a-bed, I would have slept in there with the fire. Can you tell I miss mountain living? *sigh*
Our first adventure was to take Crater Rim Road around the Kilauea caldera (a caldera is essentially a big, giant bowl formed when the magma suddenly drops out from underneath the top of a volcano) where we paused to take a partial family photo. Let me tell you, lava rocks are SHARP and hurt, especially when you have a 30-pound Little Man sitting in your lap.
Speaking of Little Man, he thought he was "all that and a bag of chips" because he could pick up these big lava rocks and hurl them with some distance. Never mind that they are full of air bubbles and therefore more like a sponge than a rock. I wasn't going to burst his bubble. He was so proud of his muscles!
We came across a pair of Nene (Hawaiian goose, state bird, endangered species) hanging out at one of the stopping points along the way. They seemed to be completely unperturbed by the scores of tourists snapping their picture and even seemed to be posing. Go figure.
The caldera. The yellow/whitish streaks you see on the wall of the caldera are sulfur. Stinky chemical. The caldera is a very desolate looking place...almost post-apocalyptic.
Princess Trouble loved to investigate the lava rocks. She found all sorts of rocks with iridescent shades on them.
Next it was off to Rainbow Falls. Pretty. Not that exciting but it was beautiful. Would have been nice to have been able to go swimming though I'm not a fan of leptospirosis. Met a nice lady there selling handmade jewelry (among other things) and she was kind enough to let us pet her dog and gave Princess Trouble an anklet. I swear, that child makes friends and gets free stuff no matter where she goes.
After stopping for lunch at Cafe Pesto in Hilo (yummy hot ham and cheese sandwich with mushrooms and grainy mustard!) we went in search of a beach and landed at Onekahakaha Beach Park. Great little beach. Very little sand. Plenty of grass and shade. Shallow water which was perfect for the kids to play around in. We had a great time there.
I did manage to leave a bit of myself on the Big Island though. Needless to say, lava rocks are jagged little buggers and I literally shredded the heel of my foot. Bled like a stuck pig as well. Thankfully, I did not attract any sharks. It will be a while before I am able to get a real shoe on that foot again. Thankfully we live in Hawaii so flip-flops it is.
Monday morning the in-laws had to head back to the mainland and our flight wasn't until the late afternoon so we set off in search of a black sand beach. We came upon one but the cliff was too steep for small children. It sure was beautiful though!
We went back up the "bumpy road" a bit and found the most wonderful, secluded (i.e. we were the only ones there) tide pool/beach area. So I threw the rental car in park and we piled out onto our own "private black sand beach". The kids said that the people who made the road must have made it bumpy because they wanted their kids to be happy. They had fun on the "whoopty-dos" and "thank you ma'ams". The lava rocks cut off the tide pools from the ocean but every once in a while, a wave would come crashing over the lava rocks, sending my kids laughing and squealing back up toward dry land.
Because there isn't really and "sand" per se down at the shoreline (just rock), the water is crystal clear and stunningly blue. The contrast that it provides with the black rock is breathtaking. It was hot but with the trade winds blowing, it was just about perfect.
Don't let this picture fool you. After 4 days of "togetherness", they were dancing on one anothers' last nerve.
And some more random pictures:
Hopefully I've not bored you to tears with all of the pictures. We had a great time and we are now looking forward to bringing MacGyver back. I think he will like it - the mountainous environment appeals to him like it appeals to me. And there is a Seahorse farm up in Kona that I think the kids will truly enjoy. But you have to be 4 in order to hold the seahorses so we will wait until Little Man hits 4 in February. There is so much to do that we didn't get to on this trip so I am really looking forward to going again!
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