The thought of more snorkeling roused Bill right out of bed in the morning. When we all awoke hours later, sure enough we found him zooming around the lagoon chasing sea turtles. He admitted he could spend the entire vacation doing nothing more than snorkeling. But more exploring awaited us. After making a giant fruit salad of local pineapple, papaya (which no one was too fond of), mango, and big island bananas alongside some bakery bagels, we packed up and headed to chase waterfalls and coastal sights.
Our first stop however had to be to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center. We expected the wonderfully educational experience you get when you visit Oregon's Tillamook Cheese Factory, but it didn't quite match up. The factory store offered decent prices on their nuts, so we bought up a stash for ourselves and friends back home. Hailey began her spending spree with her saved birthday morning on several sea turtle items and was as happy as could be.
Next stop was the county zoo which was filled with birds, a 'rare' Nigerian dwarf goat which made us laugh heartily, quite a few tropical animals, and a white Bengal tiger. We had to laugh because we had started to notice there were wild chickens everywhere, inside the zoo and around town. Perhaps Hawaii doesn't have a natural predator. They looked like some variety of game cock.The day had started out cloudy and ended up raining on us while we were there. Even though it was warm, we weren't quite prepared, and it prompted us to end our visit. But not without Hailey stopping at the gift shop to purchase a rather large stuffed anteater. Prime example of birthday money burning a hole in her pocket.
Just a note on this lizard photo. There were lizards roaming the rental house. You just had to get used to them I guess. But if I had found this guy roaming the bathroom, my oh my. That would have been hard to deal with.
Off we headed up the eastern coastline in a northerly direction to stop at quite a few waterfalls. Most were just a little walk to view and the trails were cut through amazing jungle foliage. It seems that everywhere you look there are banana trees with their most unique blossoms, banyan trees with their fascinating root structure, vines hanging from everything, and flowering trees galore. It sometimes would be hard to get down the trail without feeling the need to stop and photograph everything. At one particular waterfall, the older kids took off on a side jaunt to climb the volcanic outcroppings for a view right over the top of the falls...not too appealing to me I'd have to say. It sure made for some great photos though. That new camera of ours sure got a workout on this trip.
We had lunch and smoothies at a little pit stop recommended by our Hawaii, the Big Island Revealed tour book and had a great time noticing the papaya trees, limes, pineapples and bananas as well as what we thought were lychees. All the plants were totally foreign to me. Bill would stop and ask what so-and-so was, and I hadn't the least clue. They were all just gorgeous.
The coastline was very rugged along this side of the island and didn't offer much in the way of sand beaches. We had hoped to find at least one black sand beach to explore, but apparently heavy surf will wash away the sand and then...no more sand beach. At one point we stopped where a tsunami had devastated the area during the 1960s Alaskan earthquake. The surf there alone that day was incredibly powerful. Hard to imagine it compounded by a tsunami as well.
The end of our drive for the day stopped at the Waipo'o Valley where had it been early enough and not so expensive, we would have taken the 4WD tour into the valley down the 25% grade road where black sand beaches, taro farming, and two 1200 plus foot drop waterfalls resided at the back of the valley. From the little bit of a view we had topside, it looked incredible. The farmers that live there today do so without any utilities. Pretty amazing. The entire day had been warm, near 80, but cloud covered until we had made it to the northern end. Sure enough heading south, the clouds were there again.
We made a stop at Safeway in Hilo where all three teens promptly parked in the Starbucks lobby to nab the wi-fi there to check in on Facebook and their email. At the Vacationland house there is not only no computer service but no cell phone service as well. They're having withdrawals I believe. We made it back to the house just in time to snorkel in Champagne Pond near our rental in the 90 degree water where the kids spent their time until it was nearly pitch black floating over the sea turtles and then hanging on for a ride.
Dinner of chicken and rice was fairly late because of that that night excursion. But how cool. We were so amazed that you can stand outside at night with a breeze and not even feel a hint of being the least bit chilly no matter how hard you tried to imagine. I guess that's what the tropics are like. Far cry from the Northwest for sure. There were loads of laundry and the beginnings of packing up. Tomorrow we were planning on crossing the island and heading for the Kona side.
There were regrets for leaving the area, but regrets for the rental house? Nope. Definitely were looking forward to being spoiled at the resort villas.
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