We spent a little time and helped Mom and Dad finish off the garage as well, including a trip from 1-800-JUNK, who made off with a truck load of stuff. I rescued a small sewing box that was my father's mother's and a Go board from my father's father. He'd brought it with him from Taiwan in the 80's when he came to live with my parents, so it's now in our basement and Jet and I play on it and some of his friends have been fascinated by it. They also sent us home with a lovely little hybrid Camry that had been my mother's, but Vi charges exorbitantly for parking a second car, so they thought we'd be better off with it, and so it took us home from San Diego. That was fun.
My wrist started acting up soon after I got home. And less than a week later, even with the wrist, I was able to do the move from all our storage units into the house. We hired a local company, Pink Dot Moving company, which was organized in such a way that you got to hire as many trucks as you needed and each truck came with a two-man crew. The two pairs we got were relatively young men, one was a set of brothers from Utah, the other two friends, one talkative, one quiet. They were all tremendously polite and careful with our stuff and the new house.
Since the storage units were less than a mile from the house, there was very little driving involved, and yet we still had enough stuff that we kept four men and two trucks running stuff between the storage units and the house nearly for a full day. The library and books were a big chunk of it, and we had all the books go into the basement to deal with later.
The physical work was pretty grueling, but the hardest was just having to always be a step ahead of the movers with where things needed to go. Some of the furniture we had a good idea as to which room it had to be in, but exact placement we didn't always know, and given that my tendons were probably out of it for at least a month, it was important to try and get that right because I couldn't really help John move things after.
|Everything IN my office! It's better organized now...|
I kept having to catch myself from catching things. My tendinitis in my right arm was so bad I couldn't open or close my hand without my entire arm going up in agony. So I had to be really careful to use the side of my wrist for weight bearing things, and just refuse to lift anything. The doctor had said that it was something that he often saw in people who were moving, and that it should be better within a month.
He was right.
But it was still a good thing that Jet was able to come to the house for a day to just help adjust things for a weekend. He was great and took more than three hours to get to the house via the bus system and then spent the day with us, which was wonderful. We decided to take him back to Mines as that was just easier, but it helped that we were so grateful for him making the last moves we needed for the furniture.
It took us a month or so to get everything in, in part because three sets of roll-out drawers in the kitchen were stolen from the house before our walk through. Luckily, John caught that while we were doing the walk-thru, and they ordered the roll-outs, but ordered the wrong ones for one of the cabinets... so it was quite a while before we could put those things away. Still, most of the house was moved into pretty quickly, and most of the boxes either emptied or put away into the basement by the time my tendinitis calmed down.
I was impressed that it went away within the month or so that the doctor had said, because the tendinitis I'd had in my left arm took four months to go away, so it felt like a minor miracle when this one went away so quickly and responded so well to anti-inflammatories and ice. And it was a good thing because we then helped a friend of ours downsize, including moving everything into her garage for her estate sale; and then we went to Redmond for a week to do the final things needed to move Isabel, John's mother, to assisted living. She'd done the hard work of deciding that it was time for her to move, and all her sons had come by in the four weeks she had to get all her things out of her old apartment to take what they could. John and David and Mary and Rochelle and I worked for the week to get the last things out, take things to give away or throw away, and deal with all of it so that it was all cleared out.
So many moves that were all about clearing away the old and getting on with the new, and shedding a lot of things along the way. It was interesting to do it all during the Fall as well, while the trees were busy shedding their extra weight to survive the winter. Redmond was gorgeous with the fall foliage, something that was skipped in Colorado because the snow took the leaves down before they could even turn.
By the end of all of that, we were pretty tired. And then the snow came right before Thanksgiving was about 16 inches of very early snow; and all the schools in Colorado closed early, including both Jet's School of Mines and his friend Aiden's college in Colorado Springs, so Aiden was able to go with their original plan and he picked Jet up on the way home for Thanksgiving!
That was amazingly cool, as Jet showed up right before the huge snowstorm, and Aiden got safely home as well, and we woke up to over a foot of fluffy white Colorado snow over all the world. And Jet got to sleep in his bed in the basement for the second time, and make himself at home for the week. We had the traditional turkey and a few other side dishes, including the stir-fried French cut string beans with fried onions instead of a green bean casserole, with the fresh orange and cranberry sauce and the usual gravy and good mashed potatoes. Jet actually liked them this year, which was lovely and new, and we had the leftover turkey for days with the hot garlic sauce my dad always used to make.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, John did some research into what it would cost us, insurance wise, if we were to get a new all electric car, and it turned out that even with Jet on our insurance, it wasn't that big a deal. So we looked at the Chevy Bolts, thinking to get a used one, but it turned out that with the new models coming out, the tax incentives from both state and national government going down next year, and having a few too many on their lot, the local dealer was giving nearly 25% off the going rate on the 2019 Bolts. We'd also come home from San Diego with Mom's hybrid Camry and had sold it just before Thanksgiving to a nice young couple in Boulder who were looking more a more eco-friendly replacement for their old car. With that money we were more than able to afford the Bolt. So John and I got this blue one the day before Jet came back for Christmas break.
Jet went back to school pretty much just to do his finals before we went to pick him, his bike, his plants, and his stuff up again for Winter Break. He was pleased by the Bolt and the three of us decided to call it Joules. The next morning, we got up before the dawn, drove to DIA and flew to Kona, Hawaii, on the big island, and spent a week out there. Here's a link to nearly all the pictures I took with a few extra by John, if you're curious as to what we saw.
The last time John and I had been there was over thirty years ago, and we really wanted to do it with Jet, and it was a much much much needed break for all three of us. Not just from all the moving, but also from the cold, and everything else. John had found a package deal that put us in a timeshare facility that had extra spaces, and the "room" was a suite with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living-room, and an outdoor patio with table and chairs and umbrellas. There were three pools in the compound and a pair of hot tubs, as well as a "concierge" who kept trying to sell us on the timeshare itself. *laughs*
We really enjoyed the kitchen a lot. On the very first day, in an effort to stay up long enough to sleep at the local time, we hit the Safeway and got all we needed for breakfasts, other than fruit, since we knew that we were likely to be able to find good local fruit. So we went on a lot of adventures with a very nice haven to come back to, and it was all within walking distance of the tourist area on the shore of Kona. In fact, the first night we were there, we walked into town to find dinner, and found a nice little Japanese place that had a ramen type that Jet had never had before and he really loved it! So that was really nice.
After sleeping, we got up, had our breakfast, and decided to take the hike down to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. I got a little confused by the description of the hike, as at first I understood that it was just a mile down to the water, but it turned out to be nearly three miles with a quarter of a mile elevation drop to go down and that coming back up. It was steep, starting in the rain with slick mud over lots of tree roots in jungle, and then going through three or four different kinds of terrain, including head-high grass, bushy, more open trees with goats, bare open cooled lava, and then down to the rock beach area that bordered a coral reef. Captain Cook's monument is there, where, as the locals tell it, he was eaten. There's more of a memorial there that doesn't mention that particular aspect of that first contact between the local Hawaiian culture with the world outside.
The hike down was tiring, and we also drank all our water going down, which wasn't a great thing. But I was able to really enjoy the memorial area and sat on the rough lava rock dock and put my feet in the water while watching the snorkelers float about watching all the beautiful fish in the reef. Some folks got yelled at for putting their feet down on the coral, but they got themselves floating again pretty quickly. The boys sat and took pictures and talked, John pointed out the little white church with a steeple that was probably the same church we'd done work for 30 years ago when we were here with a youth group service trip. If you look in the picture of the water, you can see the yellow fish in the water, and there were brilliant tropical fish everywhere.
When we headed back up. I got pretty exhausted, getting lightheaded, probably from lack of water, and Jet stayed with me while I rested and John went to the car to drive to a local market and get more bottled water. Lying on a jungle floor is an odd experience, especially trying to find the room to actually lie down. When a hiker came up behind us, he expressed concern, gave us some of his last container of water, ice cold from his thermos, and when I said that what he gave us was enough he looked kind of dubious, but accepted my assessment and kept going. I went slowly, with Jet encouraging me and John met us part of the way down again with three bottles of cold water. That felt like a minor miracle. *laughs*
We also stopped at a local fruit stand, where the guy tried to sell us all kinds of things, but we got some local oranges, grapefruit, and one fresh coconut, which he opened with a machete. All three of us drank deeply, and then he easily scooped out the flesh for us to eat. It was utterly unlike any coconut I'd ever gotten in the US, as the flesh was sweet, buttery, and so tender. He had a pile of husks to one side and a smaller pile of coconuts with their husks still on on the other. It was lovely and something we just can't get at home. From there we stopped for a bit at the far side of Kealakekua Bay, just to see if it was what we remembered...
The little village was much as we remembered, but we couldn't actually remember where we'd been or where we'd stayed. Later we'd learned that since we'd been here there had actually been a huge tsunami that had wiped out much of the housing right by the Bay. So it's likely the places we'd known are now entirely gone.
There were lots of little sites, housing for the refugees there, who had to stay on that spot of the island to remain safe; and it is either the pads for the traditional buildings, or just the buildings in the traditional architecture. And we happened to catch the sunset while we were there, so we just settled back and enjoyed it. The very late lunch and late return to our hotel meant that we ended up going to Gypsea Gelato for some amazingly good gelato that the servers piled super high in the cups. With the exertions of the day, my body seemed to not worry so much about the sugar, or maybe it was just my brain.... *laughs*
The trail was pretty steep and I was glad of my boots while I watched one lady in high-heeled sandals slither over the wet stone. The switch backs were done pretty well, though, and many of them had this spectacular view of the black sand beach. It was significantly easier than the Kealakekua Bay trail, and so there were significantly more tourists on it, but it was easy to share the trail with folks. And it all opened up once we reached the bottom, with forest (and rope swings attached to the big trees), a river into the valley, and the beach to explore.
Climbing back up was a slow, but steady process, and after the day before I was a little afraid of it, but I took it easy and made it without any problems at all. It helped that we had all the water we needed.
We were very glad we did.
The poke was raw ahi chunks mixed with all the things that normally go into poke, which include onion, local nuts, seaweed, and other things, and on top of it was Japanese mayo, a little sweeter and runnier than regular mayo and it was all on a bed of deep fried won ton strips! So very very good, and we just ate it all, along with half a cold papaya with a slice of lime. It was cool and wonderful and a small enough lunch.
We were also looking for shave ice and found a stand on the way back to the hotel and they were generous with their portions. I couldn't eat all of mine with my sugar thing, but it was good to be able to have some with a good protein base from the poke. Shave ice is more common on the mainland than it used to be 30 years ago, so it wasn't a brand new experience for Jet, but it was still very good.
The flavors were more extensive than in the states and they were also more Island themed, with all the lilikoi, coconut, etc. and no dragon's blood or more Taiwanese or Korean flavors compared to the ones here. I liked mine with a big of sweetened condensed milk, and the boys had theirs plain.
It was cool to catch up with him as well. He had a lot of interesting recommendations for things to see all over the island.
They were also a famous bakery for Hawaiian bread and I bought a loaf to take home with us, and even thought it's known for its longevity, I popped my loaf in to the freezer so that I could bring it home as a carry on. I just got the original/regular "flavor" and it was absolutely amazing for Karepan sandwiches.
The trip south was on our way out to Volcanoes National Park and seeing what there was to see, everything from walking a bit in an old crater, to going out to the shore, where the latest flows had flowed and going out and walking on the flows. When you look at the island the south corner and the south east side of the island are draped in gradually newer and newer flows as you head further east.
We hit the old park for a while, seeing things we'd seen before and going through jungle to see the edge of the new crater (which has sunk nearly a cubic MILE according to Jeff) and see for ourselves how much bigger its gotten. The eruptions at the end of last year had emptied some inner reservoir and the crater bed had shrunk. The walk around the old crater was in the jungle with rain pouring down on our heads, but the water was warm and the sights fantastic.
After the series of eruptions in 2018, the flows all stopped! So there are no more visible hot lava flows on the whole of the island of Hawaii when we were there. But the latest flow had a new service road built across it so that fire trucks and other things could make it across when nothing else could. It was blocked off for public traffic and the contrast between the wild grasslands and the black rock of the cooled lava was pretty startling.
Everyone was walking out to it from the last spot you could park, but very few people went beyond the gate. One young couple was doing selfies at the gate and then just walked back. Of course, with John and Jet we had to explore onto the surface, and it was truly an alien landscape in so many ways.
Tuesday was shopping day, we walked into town and I bought myself a Leolani ukulele. It's a mango wood concert sized (slightly bigger than the usual little guys) lovely that came with a case and special strings. The lady was wonderful and encouraged me to play louder and to watch YouTube to learn. I loved that. We also went to Costco and the Pine Tree Cafe, which I'd found on Google Maps. It was obviously a place where locals ate breakfast and lunch, and they had an ordering counter and you picked up your food when they said it was done. The usual plate lunches, lots of poke, and interesting looking breakfasts.
We had a good walk in the afternoon, hit the local farmer's market for ripe papaya and local bananas (ice cream bananas they were called and were soooo delicious and creamy) and then went to Broke Da Mouth Grindz for dinner, they had a lot of local specialties as well as an hour long wait for a table. It was really good, and the name of the place is local dialect for really great food.
John had several places he wanted to go to see and one was the Rainbow Falls, which you can see above as to why it's named the way it is. There's a good long story about how it got its permanent rainbow, too, as part of the mythology of the islands.
There was also a "Wishing Rock", which was a large rock on a pillow and the instructions said to take the rock up in your hands, make your prayer and if the prayer was going to come true, the rock would get lighter in your hands. It was lovely and intriguing.
Another place John really wanted to hit was the Tsunami Museum in downtown Hilo, we spent a sobering hour there wandering through all the displays of all the tsunami that have hit the various islands of the Hawaiian chain and their death counts. One of the public goals of the museum was to inform people so that they would know what to do at the next tsunami warning and save lives that way. They have hundreds of video interviews of tsunami survivors telling their story of what they saw, what they felt, and what happened before and during the killer waves.
Next to the Museum was a Farmer's Market, where we bought a few things, and a little food court where we had a lovely light lunch of local poke, cold noodles, and simple sushi. Next we went out to the Manua Loa Macadamia Nut Packing plant, and saw all the equipment they use. There was also mac nut ice cream to be had, and it was treat in the heat.
On the way back to Hilo we stopped at Laupāhoehoe Beach Park. It's one of the sites of one of the tsunami in the museum. It was a place where a school had been built and a good number of children and teachers were out there, living in huts by the ocean and they had no warning of what was to come.
One of the interviews was of the one surviving teacher speaking of watching the people she'd known and worked with just disappearing in the water as it rushed in and out among and over their housing. There's a memorial at the bay listing all the names of those lost to the wave.
We went back to Kona via the northern way, through Waimea and stopped at a little shopping center we'd seen that had a Korean restaurant. It had traditional Korean food which was all new to us, except that I remembered getting Korean-style scallion pancakes from Trader Joes and wondered what the real ones tasted like. So I got them for my dinner, which surprised the order taker a little as they're usually just an appetizer, but I decided to have my sides with just the pancakes while the boys all had good grilled meats with their sides.
We went to the beach that was within walking distance of the time share and we spent some time in the time share's pool and hot tub as well as finally going to a few of the restaurants we'd been seeing nearly every day and wanted to try. Poi-Dog Deli was a very nice local sandwich shop with popcorn sides and lovely combinations of local ingredients for their sandwiches.
They floated a PVC pipe raft and in the middle of the raft was a strong blue light source, and that attracted the plankton. The plankton attracted the manta rays, which were all of various ages and, therefore, sizes. Some were ten feet across from tip of one wing to the other, and weighed tons, but in the water they were graceful, effortless in their element.
One of the things I was afraid of was not being able to see them because I can't snorkel with my glasses and I'm tremendously nearsighted. But we were on the end of the raft furthest from the guide, who had to put his legs down in order to guide the whole raft. The rest of us had our legs up on the surface of the water (by the simple expedient of putting our legs on pool noodles), so the rays found our end of the raft the safest to approach. They all came up by us, and many of them, in order to get the most plankton, rolled, white belly up to scoop immediately under the light. They came so close one of them brushed up against Jet!!
We were forbidden to touch them, but they could touch us, and it was amazing to be able to look down their gullet, stretched wide by the bones of their mouths, and see all the way down inside them. They were so close I could see their faces, the lampreys latched to their sides, and all the stark black and white markings along gills, antenna, and eyes. The experience was well worth it.
After nearly an hour and a half on the water, I was so cold that by the time we climbed back into the boat in the dark, I was shaking with cold. John found me my towel, and the crew members of the boat loaded us up with hot chocolate. My hands were shaking so badly, I had to wrap them tight around the warm cup and that helped nearly as much as swallowing the hot, sweet liquid. Luckily, with that much exercise, my body was fine with the sugar, and it all was good. I slept very well that night.
The Adventure of the Day was a tour into Waipio Valley. It was led by the man on the right as part of the Waipio Valley Tours that started at the top, a little ways from the trailhead into the valley. He used to live in the Valley, without power, without the usual communication channels, and without running water and only on septic tanks.
He knew the valley and the residents that were still within the Valley very well, and he regarded the elders of the tribe with respect and humor. He knew of many of the edible things there, and we picked drooping Hibiscus there on the right for the sweetness of the blossoms, and a crazy fruit that smelled of and tasted like Limburger cheese! He said it was good for his arthritis, so he ate a bite or two every morning and could move again after arthritis had crippled him for months.
There were coffee trees, banana palms, coconut palms, different varieties of mangoes, guava, passionfruit, and all other kinds of tropical trees and fruits within the jungle there. What was available which season varied, and given that this wasn't a monoculture situation in the least, each tree gave of a different kind of fruit.
There were also several families that used the marshy ground in the bottom of the valley to raise taro for poi, and the taro were brought up from the valley floor for sale every day. There were stands for the fresh, local taro up by the highway, and they did a pretty brisk sale of them throughout the year.
The waterfalls at the south end of the valley marked the amount of water that was falling on the island and he could say how much water was running by how many falls there were combined along the wall. Most of the bottom of the island was crisscrossed by wide, meandering streams that could grow to rivers, and the locals used their rocky beds as roads! We actually went up a few of them to reach other parts of the village. The locals were used to the roads down there and there was this wonderful sign that said, "Slow!! Stay below the speed limit or suffer the natural consequences! Flying rocks!" The resident by the sign was known for throwing rocks into the windshields of speeders and if someone complained, the police above would just shrug and talk about natural consequences...
It was a wonderful little tour and the gift shop at the top was fun as well.
On the way back to Kona, we took another of Jeff's detours and found a lava flow that had chunks of olivine minerals embedded in the basalt of the lava. The bright green mineral naturally breaks down faster than the basalt, and washes downstream so easily that there's actually a bright green olivine beach at the south end of the island: Papakolea Beach.
We just wanted to see it in its natural state in the rocks, and we managed it! We just parked on the side of the road near the mileage marker he'd mentioned, and there it was! Something utterly unique to the area. He had mentioned something about a culvert he and his students had gone up to see if in the walls, and we climbed the upslope side of the road for a while, and Jet even went into a goat-field, full of goats that couldn't care less that he was there; but we couldn't find more. It was worth doing.
Thinking back to all the places we'd eaten and what we wanted to do again, we ended up going back to Umeke's Fish Market and ordering their food take-out. And we took it to the beach by the pier where we'd gone off for the manta-ray viewings. It was just across the busy street from Umeke's, and we sat in one of the picnic shelters and ate specialty poke and ahi belly katsu (crisp and rich with fatty tuna). We watched the sunset, listened to the waves, enjoyed our food and our time together.
After that we filled up the rental, took it back to the airport, and took the red-eye back to Denver and snow. *laughs* It was a wonderful vacation, and I'm really glad we were able to take Jet with us to re-explore the Big Island as it is now rather than what it was thirty years ago.
We then got in two weeks to live our new normal lives in our new house before John and I headed off to Puerto Rico. Jet didn't go with us this time, as college demands significantly more than high school did. More about those adventures in the next episode.