East, north, east, south, south, east, ocean

Today was turnaround day.  We were up at 6:30am (like every other day, thanks to the sun…and Amelia), cleaning and packing.  Big Blue, as we like to call the Chrysler Town & Country Van we rented, we packed to the rim with out suitcases, hiking backpacks, baby carriers, camera, ukulele, cooler, shoes, snorkels, tripods and food.  We then set out at 8:30 for the other side of Hawaii – the jungle side.  As you cross from Waikiloa (dessert) you come through Waimea (grasslands/ranches).  Here we stopped for a little comfort of home…Starbucks.  Then we continued east until reaching the shores of the JUNGLE side of Hawaii.  To give you an idea, the Kona (west) side gets approx 8″ of rain per YEAR, while the Hilo (east) side gets closer to 280″….big difference.  So many climates for one island!  We then took a short detour north to the Waipi’o Valley Overlook.  You could see down into the sacred Valley as well as enjoy the ocean view.  While this was a beautiful overlook, I found myself preferring the Pololu Overlook that Chris and I photographed on Thursday.

We then head south, all the way down the Hamakua coast into the town of Hilo – a town with a reputation for being authentically Hawaiian, and not so driven for the tourists.  I LOVED it.  There was such a night and day difference from resorty Kona and authentic Hilo.  I can’t wait to spend the week here exploring and experiencing everything the east has to offer!!  We stopped at the famous Hilo Farmer’s Market – approximately 200+ stalls of food and crafts.  Ray went with me and was completely overwhelmed!  So much amazing fresh and organic produce in one small place.  I wanted to take pictures of everything going on, but it was a complete hustle and bustle type experience.  I stopped and purchased corn, pineapple, mango, spinach, cilantro, peppers, green beans, celery and bananas from half a dozen vendors.  I also so my first cocobean.  They are HUGE!  Not sure what I would do with one, but I was tempted to buy it!  We are planning on returning to the market on Wednesday, so maybe I will get more time to photograph the experience (and hopefully the Wednesday market is less busy than the Saturday one…) We also went to the docks to a fresh fish market to get the daily catch.  We bought some ono (which we had for dinner tonight) and more mahi mahi (mmmm….have a great macademian nut crusted recipe for tomorrow night!)  We also hit the KTA (grocery store) and the rental place for Amelia’s stroller.  By the time we were done we were crammed like sardines in Big Blue.

Our rental place is 10 minutes outside of a town called Pahoa, in a residential community on the beach.  We are one block down from the Wai’opae Tide Pools.  These tide pools are amazing!  I’m so excited to get in and get snorkelling.  Though it has to be said, cloud + wind + black lava has the ability to increase the burn time substantially.  Just our short walk today and everyone we sporting a hint of red.  Locals go down there and set up chairs on the lava rock the way we normally would in the sand.  They also have people in the area telling you how to access and protect the ponds.

At 3:00pm we were allowed to check into our house.  This place is amazing!  Now the last house was nice – standard townhouse in a community of identical townhouses a 20 minute walk from the ocean in the middle of golf courses.  But this place is unique HAWAII.  The upstairs floors and ceiling are made of bamboo.  There is a pool in the backyard, and a hot tub out front facing the ocean.  We are about 50 feet (or so) away from the crashing waves (though it isn’t safe to swim).  We have a beautiful lanai to sit on overlooking the ocean, and grass to sit in or play in with Amelia (though so far, she hates the feeling of grass).  The kitchen is HUGE and Ray loves it, though is getting familiar with it.  But most of all it looks, smells and sounds like the best of Hawaii.  I’ve included pictures of the house and the view from the house so you can imagine what it is like to be in paradise with us.

Tomorrow we are headed to Volcanoes National Park!!!!  We hope that Pele behaves herself and that Kilauea is everything we’ve hoped!

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