Waikoloa Walk-about -- Monday Afternoon, 2/15/16

By afternoon, a wind advisory had been posted for the Kona Coast, with sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts to 50 mph.  I decided these winds were more than just trade winds, but I could be wrong.  When I asked about snorkeling or driving to Waipio Valley at the information desk, the reply was, "better not, not in this wind."  Tom and Diane returned from their sales pitch and ate lunch, and we decided to simply walk around the village today and explore areas that we'd yet to see.

Jimmy at lunch with his friends.  Everyone was glad we were on the leeward side of Bldg 21.

This little guy was hiding from the wind in a protective nook of our balcony.

Check out the centipede the Pacific Golden-Plover yanked out of the grass!
It spent a long time working this thing loose!

Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Not eight tiny reindeer, but a boatload of wild goats cruising the golf course!

More serene pools with an ocean view.

Imagine swimming in this lagoon!  That would be so cool.
They actually swim on the other side of this beautiful structure.

Lots of fun being had here!


They both look happy.

Eventually we found "Dolphin Quest" at Waikoloa.  For a fairly hefty fee, you could swim with the dolphins (below), or chose a difference experience.  Longer times in the water with the dolphins involved spending buckets of money.  I was surprised to learn that they're using Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins here in Hawaii; not sure why.  I would love to snorkel and interact with dolphins close by, but only in the wild.  We watched for quite a while, and the kids seemed to be having a grand time.  Man, dolphins are FAST!

Surf's up!

So much beauty to be seen, everywhere I look.  I stumble often because I'm always looking -- and I'm fortunate enough to be able to see -- from the small and humble to magnificent and grandiose, from stark black to vibrant colors ... and in Hawaii, it's easy to be awed.

We've seen a lot of grand sights this trip, and we still have a few more days to enjoy The Big Island.  To play!  Tomorrow's forecast calls for more wind, so we'll have to wait till then to decide what to do.  Like Scarlet O'Hara:  Tomorrow is another day.


Monday morning Walk-about -- 2/15/16

Today at 9 am Tom and Diane met with the vacation rental people, but we didn't have to go, yee-haw and thank goodness.  What Jimmy and I wanted to do was go for a walk.  But we knew as soon as we stuck our noses outside the balcony sliding glass door that something was different.  The wind was blowing.  Really blowing.  

One of us, who shall remain anonymous, took to feeding the House Sparrows cereal crumbs.  Once that activity began, the sparrows didn't go away.  Every morning they waited; they knew when we got up and sat like little vultures lined up for breakfast.  It was kinda fun, till we looked down on the flooring a few days later and saw all the little sparrow poopers.  Oops.  Mynah birds joined the party some mornings, and then it was not only messy, it got noisy, too!  "Uh, guys, you know?  I think we shouldn't be feeding the birds out here anymore."  

So, when our friends walked across the street to their appointment, Jimmy and I set off on our walk.  It was warm and windy. When we stopped at another clubhouse for an in-and-out break (water in-water out, if you get my drift), I spoke with one of the managers.  I mentioned the wind and she responded, "Oh yes, it's wonderful to have the trade winds back.  It's been calm here the last couple of few weeks."  On the question of VOG, she agreed that the winds would keep that at bay.

We had a tailwind going, and a headwind on our return, which was good, 'cause by the time we turned around, it was going on 11 am -- too warm to be out hiking in the sun.  The wind in our faces kept us cooler.

We love learning new things.  Didn't know this trail existed till this morning.  Even after reading the sign, we stepped off the sidewalk onto this semi-crushed lava rock path.  Tough going -- walking on lava is no fun. We went as far as the property line and then hopscotched across lava boulders to get off the durned path onto soft grass.  I would definitely NOT walk on this path at night!  Uh-uh, no way!

 Lots of small Saffron Finches hopped about on the grass.
It was easy to walk right up to them; they seemed unafraid.

You want color?  I'll show you color!  Look at this beautiful Bougainvillea!

We aren't sure what these trees with the HUGE leaves are, some kind of coastal tree.  Very pretty.

We walked up to the entrance of the huge Hilton Waikoloa Village.  It's closer to the ocean, with lots of hotel rooms and fancy shops, fine eateries, more swimming pools, reefs, et cetera, but we didn't go any further.  This handsome horse of sorts was our turn-around point.

Lovely bunch of coconuts as long as the wind doesn't cause one to fall on our heads!

When we were camping at MacKerricher St Pk in NorCal last year, we looked all over for the Snowy Plover that was supposedly nesting nearby.  Saw nary a one.  Here at Waikoloa, Pacific Golden-Plovers were everywhere!  My Hawaiian bird guidebook gave this detail: "Unlike many migratory shorebirds, the Pacific Golden-Plover is not limited to lowland coastal areas.  It can even be seen along roads and other open areas."  We almost had to kick them out of the way.   

Once we saw this sign, we knew we were close to the condo.  We were ready to kick off the shoes and sit for a few minutes.  Maybe have a bite of lunch.  Tom and Diane were still at their meeting, so we settled down on the balcony to wait.  We discussed what was in the cards for the afternoon.  Our four-plus-mile walk suited us to a T. to be continued in the next post ....


Valentine pool-time! Feb 14th, 2016

Since we spent much of yesterday gallivanting Out and About and it turned into a fairly long day, the four of us wanted to chill out and hang out ... poolside.  This is not a mere swimming pool.  Set amidst waterfalls and lava rocks, this salt-water pool complex boasts sparkling plunge pools, whirlpools and loungers.  There's a sand-bottomed pool and a kiddie pool. A water slide and a "tunnel" slide.  Volleyball in the sports pool.  A fitness center.  Even a cold plunge pool (shudder, no thanks!).  Take your pick.  Towels are provided.  Just wear a bathing suit and bring your SPF.  Surrounding all is lush and colorful landscaping.  Enjoy!!

Nope, this isn't the pool, although this is the entrance to the pool complex, and activity center, bistro/lounge, deli/bar (woohoo, 60" TV's), vacation check-in, information, and -- last, but not least -- the shuttle stop.

Tom and Jimmy, ready to hit the pool.

Notice who is not in the photo because she is TAKING the photo.  Sorry, no bathing suit shots of me!  I spent most of my time in the water, and even got up the courage to send my *1-year-old body down the slide and the tunnel chute, not just once, but several times.  Loved it!  We tried different pools with varying temperatures, but everyone's favorite was the hot tub, of course.  All day at the pool?  Wonderful panacea for anything that ails ya!

Always monkeyin' around!

Saw these little fellas poolside, too.  Left is the Orange-spotted day Gecko and on the right is a Brown Anole.  It appears the Gecko is growing a new tail.  Jimmy sez it's either an Insurance Gecko or Art Decco!

This is my favorite picture.  Boy toes and girl toes!

Tom is having a blast in the waterfall.

Two grown men in line with the kids for a free shaved-ice cup.

What a relaxing day, and, after all, isn't that what life is about?  Going and doing AND relaxing?  I wish to heavens I'd remember that each part of my exposed body needs sunscreen protection!  I always seem to miss a spot (sigh...).  When we got hungry, we ordered lunch at the deli (behind where the shaved ice was served), and then the guys walked across to the condo and brought back our Mexican Train Domino set, and we played a few rounds sitting in the shade.  The picture above is looking out from the pool complex area toward Bldg 21 where we're staying.  Everything looks very green and tropical, tho without water, about all you'd see would be piles of lava, like the photo below.

This kitty seemed comfy on it's lava rock perch behind the condo, and wouldn't turn around, period.

At dusk the tiki torches are lit.  After dinner we strolled around, inhaling the evening fragrances (no VOG today), and admiring the grounds.  One last picture and then we climbed into the elevator for the third floor and resumed our domino games.  

Oh my!


South to Kona and Beyond! Saturday, 2/13/16

Waikoloa Village (where we're staying) is approx at the "S" in South Kohala (or maybe the "K").

None of us had ever explored Kailua-Kona Village.  Located about 15 minutes south of the airport (if traffic is moving) on Hawaii's lava-lined sunny west coast, Historic Kailua-Kona Village is a lively seaside town, a gathering place in the heart of the Kona district.  Once a sleepy fishing village and a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, it's now a destination for shopping, dining, places to stay, and seeing some of Hawaii's past culture. Lots of people were Out and About! It's also home to Kona Farmers Market, a bustling must-see, open Wednesdays-Sundays.  Today being Saturday, we set our sights on going.  We were in for a treat, in many ways!

But first, our raucous alarm clock -- the Mynah bird.  Every morning, these birds would park in the palm trees and commence waking us at first light.  You can see it's screeching in this photo!  Sometimes they'd sit on the balcony railing!  They're funny birds.

A small sampling at the farmers market. We bought a sweet pineapple, a small bag of Rambutans (red, below), bananas, and Tom bought some Lychee nuts. Ginger candy, an 8 oz jar of raw Noni honey for me, which tastes like heaven and which I brought home, and other goodies. Jimmy bought me a pair of fire opal-sterling silver honu earrings, because he wanted to and because tomorrow is Valentines Day!  Honu means turtle in the islands. Very enjoyable traipsing thru the stalls. So much wonderful fruit for sale!

I'm here to tell you that these are the most delicious bananas ever.  We bought two bunches like this during our week and ate every one.  Island-grown, they're tiny and taste as good as candy.

It isn't easy walking on this stuff.

I don't know what it is, but the shell was hard, about the size of my palm, and securely fastened to the rock.

Yellow-fronted Canary (Serinus mozambicus) spotted near the market.
Looks like it has a wart on it's beak!

After walking around the Kilauea-Kona area, visiting shops and galleries, we hopped back in the minivan and continued south toward South Point and the Punalu'u black sand beach area.  It was quite a long drive and we should've allowed more time, but it seemed sensible since we were already so far south.  The A/Q turned very voggy as we got nearer Kilauea Volcano, but cleared at the southern tip.  A mysterious cloud band sat atop the land at Punalu'u (above), but stopped at the ocean, like a line drawn in the sky.

Punalu'u was our last stop.  You see the black sand beach behind me and Jimmy.  If you've ever walked barefoot on lava, you'll understand when I say, sturdy shoes and socks would've been better than sandals!  It hurt.  The people in the background are taking pictures of the sea turtles.

I saw six or seven Green Sea Turtles on the beach, in various stages of egg-laying or resting.  This area is "cordoned off" by piled up lava rocks, with signs asking you to keep out.  Nevertheless, apparently the mentality nowadays is that the sign is meant "for you, not me," and still people walk up to the turtles, I guess to take their picture.  Geez.  No brainers.

Coconut palms fringe the upper edge of black "sand," with beach cabbage (Scaevola taccada) below.  The latter sported tiny white flowers.  Numerous underground freshwater springs are located offshore.  The mix of green and black on land, with the deep ocean blue is a real eye-catcher.  A lot of history right here, too.

You can bet we didn't go in the water.  Look at those waves beating against the rocks!

Another recommended MUST-STOP was the famous Punalu'u Bake Shop.  We almost didn't make it in time, arriving a scant half hour before they closed.  Their shelves were nearly empty ... the good stuff, the yummy bakery stuff, sold out hours before.  However, always look for a silver lining ... a cooler full of ice cream!  We each had a dish of our favorite, and retired to their patio outside.  Jimmy and Tom sat at a table.  I ate my ice cream on the go, looking at all the flora on the grounds.  Diane joined me.

This was mighty fine bread, toasted in the morning!

On the bakery grounds -- oh, those yummy bananas, so easy to reach, too!

The shrub was humongous, with lots of flowers, but I'm not sure what it is.

I'm including this picture in the post for those inquiring minds.  For you who have often wondered where tapioca comes from, now you know.  Even if you didn't wonder "often," here's your answer anyway!

Tonight's sunset, captured from the backseat of a minivan moving about 60 mph, and seen thru the VOG.