Happy New Year...Celebrate or not...A year ago, a scary photo...

View from shore.
Years ago, Tom and I held parties on New Year's Eve at our home with lots of fanfare.  We always had a great turnout with dozens of friends enjoying the labor of love we put into the party planning, the food preparations and on some years, costumes.
Cloudy morning today.

View of the house next door which we'll move back to on January 3rd.
The last New Year's Eve party we'd planned was for the roll over from 1999 to 2000.  We had a costume theme of the much anticipated issues that were expected to result when the clocked chimed 12:00 am on January 1, 2000.

Neighborhood shoreline view.
Tom and I wore custom made bug costumes to represent the expected "computer bugs" (so they called them) and decorated our house accordingly.  Much to our shock, only six guests appeared for the party, the others staying behind, fearful of the long drive on what was a scary night.

Red Road shoreline view.
From that point on, we no longer planned New Year's Eve parties, preferring to acquire the typical older adult's attitude that the occasion was for youngsters, not the mature types such as we.

Shoreline view on a drive in the area.
Now, we give New Year's Eve little thought.  Instead, it reminds me that taxes have to be done and other painstaking year end related "paperwork" must be accomplished sometime soon. 

Numerous beaches line the shores of the Big Island attracting sun bathers and picnickers.
For Tom, he never gave New Year's Eve a good thought.  His grandfather on his mother's side was killed in a wagon accident on New Year's Eve day, hauling a load of wood, falling beneath to his death.  His mother was only three months old at the time. Her mother was left a widow with three children, never to remarry.  This tragic loss remained in the hearts and minds of the family tarnishing the prospect of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Pods that will open to lilies in our yard.
When we decided to forgo future celebrations, Tom didn't waiver in respect for the memory of his grandfather and was content to let the "holiday" remain relatively unimportant.

Still searching for the name of this flower.

Pink Ginger Flower.
I suppose we all have our reasons to celebrate or not.  Some fear driving on the roads with possible drunk drivers out in full force.  Others fear themselves driving after imbibing on a glass of wine or two.  Others simply fear the disappointment of not having the good time they'd hoped to experience.  And others, are simply bored by the whole thing.

Raging sea with heavy mist.
Tonight, whether you may celebrate or not, we wish each and every one of our readers, family and friends a New Year filled with the opportunity and execution of reaching for the stars to fulfill whatever dream you may hold dear to your heart with health, happiness and love.

Happy New Year...

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2013:

On New Year's Eve we returned home from a casual gathering and dinner at Jabula Lodge in Marloth Park.  After a wonderful evening, we found this foot long "thing" on the wall in the bedroom near the bathroom.  I must admit, I had the creepy crawlies all night long wondering if more of these were waiting to walk over me while I was sleeping.  At this point, I had overcome many of my insect fears but this one was pushing it.  Tom swept it into the dustpan and took it outside where it belonged.  For details from that date, please click here.

Fitful night...Worrying...Up at 5 am...A new beginning in a New Year...A year ago closeup of a visitor...

Late in the day yesterday, we spotted these whales.  The much anticipated fluke, the tail was the prize.  Wonderful! 

Even an overly bubbly type has a bad night now and then.  Last night was mine...worrying about my sister, unable to speak to her until this morning when she was able to take the call, somewhat awake and alert.

First we saw the blow holes from these two whales.
We've always been very close, my sisters and I.  The distance hasn't changed a thing.  We haven't lived near one another for many years but, we've never missed a beat in each other's lives.  On any given day, we could easily imagine what the other was doing, our plans for the day, our hopes, our dreams, our sorrows, our shortcomings;  always accepted, always loved.

This morning at 7:00 am Hawaii time, 9:00 am in LA, we spoke and I was relieved to hear her voice, so relieved and comforted to know she'll now begin the healing process. 

The dorsal fin appeared.
I am sorry that I couldn't be with her.  I had been in the past.  This time, with family here with us, her partner, and friends of which there are many, were at her side, keeping me informed.

So the days continue on, in the Big Island.  The three remaining family members were gone overnight to Kona for a swim-with-the-manta rays late night outing and an overnight in the "big city" of Kona. 

Another whale's dorsal fin.
In three days, they'll leave the Big Island to return to Minnesota and once again, we'll be together alone.  Are we sad?  Not at all.  We loved seeing them all and now as we all roll into the New Year, back into our "real lives."

For us, our "real life" at the end of the family holiday, begins a new year in our travels which we anticipate with excitement and joyfulness...the vacation that sees no end.  How couldn't one be happy to begin again?

This morning from the lanai.
Over the next few months in Kauai (we leave for the island in 17 days), we plan to explore, learn the nuances of the garden island, lick our wounds from the pricey family get together, take care of insurance, taxes, investments and other such necessary "paperwork" and, most of all, take as many photos as we can to share with our readers each and every day.

Today, a trip to the village is in order for a few things at Island Naturals, the only open grocery store in Pahoa after the evacuation for the still moving lava toward the Pahoa Marketplace. 

The sun desperately tried to peek through this opening in the clouds.
I'm now writing on my new Acer, 15.6, touchscreen, 1 Terabyte, lighted keyboard, Intel Core, i5, 8 gigabyte, la la la...laptop I purchased at Costco on Sunday night for a reasonable $589 including tax at less than half the regular retail price.

Yesterday, I transferred all my data, installed all my apps and email folders, MS Office and Outlook and I'm loving every moment.  Its been almost a year since my last Acer died due to my dropping it in South Africa and I've suffered with an international version of a not so good notebook with keyboard issues from the get-go that finally went kaput in the past two weeks.

Had I been there seconds earlier, I could have taken the rays from the sun reflecting on the ocean.  This was the view by the time the camera loaded.
Finally, I feel at ease as I write here each day no longer struggling with the keys and look forward to sharing the future with all of you as we continue on...

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2013:

This kudu looked me in the eye, "You got any pellets this morning?" he asked.  I dropped a handful onto the ground and backed up so his huge antlers didn't stab me.  For details of this date, please click here.

And then there were three...Winding down as the days pass...An unreal video a year ago...

The fog began to roll in as the day wanes.

Yesterday afternoon, the six of us, TJ's family of four and Tom and I, piled into the minivan for the two hour drive to Kona.  I had yet to experience this long drive across the Big Island from ocean to ocean.  Tom had been too preoccupied to take photos when driving to Kona to pick up the family on December 6th.  But, he also enjoyed it yesterday.

From left to right; Sarah, TJ, me, Tom, (front) Vincent, Jayden, Nik, Tracy and Tammy, a photo we took yesterday of our remaining family members.  Tammy, Tracy and Vincent remain  in Pahoa for four more days.
The terrain rapidly changed from ocean induced lush greenery to almost desert-like sparseness and dry vegetation.  Signs were posted warning of extreme" risk of fire.

Low lying clouds surround the mountains.
By the time we arrived in Kona, the sun was setting.  I couldn't get a good vantage point for a sunset photo when our imminent goal was to get to Costco before they closed at 6 pm.  TJ and family's flights were at 8:10 pm.

Many mountain ranges on the Big Island are higher than an elevation of 10,000 feet.
They were thrilled to stop at Costco for a quick bite to eat before flying back to Minnesota while I found my awaiting laptop and purchased some nuts.  We wouldn't be driving back to this Costco anytime soon.

With many power lines obstructing this scene we still were in awe of this border of trees in the distance.
And then they were gone. And we began the long trek back to Pahoa in the dark.  The winding mountainous roads weren't so pretty in the dark and fog. 

As barren as the scenery is, it offers its own reflective beauty.
At some point, high in the mountains, Tom noticed the outside temperature was only 43 degrees, the coldest temperature we'd experienced since winter of 2011/2012.  Even when we were in Iceland in September, it never got below 48 degrees.

The road ahead of us was long and desolate.
Finally, we returned home to an empty house for the first time since December 6th with Tammy's family of three next door until January 2nd,  a mere four days away.  Adventurers that they are, we'll see them here and there, as they complete their remaining Big Island "must do's" seeing us in between their exciting water related challenges.  We'll cherish every last moment together.

As we drove by this dry vegetation at 60 mph, it was evident as to why there were fire warnings.

We find beauty in the simplicity of a barren land.
Today, my dear sister is having big surgery in LA.  I'll stay close at hand to take calls from her partner with updates on her progress.  I can only pray for a good outcome and recovery as she works her way through a difficult time.  Although far away, I am at her side, as we always have been for one another.  The same case applies to my older sister in Nevada who also suffers with ill health.  (Its in the genes).

The terrain was mostly lava rock interspersed with vegetation that eventually makes its way through the dense lava.

It was sunny but late in the afternoon as we shot the wilderness in the center of the Big Island.
While hanging out a home today, I'll begin the process of setting up the new laptop.  It's been quite the task, typing on a $10 external keyboard these past few weeks.  What a relief, a year later to have a laptop that works well for me as opposed to the keyboard problematic version I'd purchased in South Africa last February with some unfamiliar international aspects. 

Have a meaningful Monday.  Back at you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2013:

It was one year ago on this date that we posted this video of tree frog mating in
the tree over our pool in Marloth Pak.  For the details of that story, please click here.

Winding down...Family heading back...Trip to Kona today...Two plus hour drive...New whale sightings photos!

Tom captured this morning's sunrise.

At this house, we are able to see the sunrise whereas as the first house, it is blocked by this house.
We knew this time would come and we'd carefully planned for it.  We're all good about saying goodbye having had a great family visit.  We all have our busy and fulfilling lives awaiting us.

Its hard to say goodbye to the grandchildren knowing they'll be so changed when we see them again, when that will be...at this point, we don't know.

A whale's back, spotted yesterday.  I took all of these whale shots from the lanai.
The life we've chosen has a price to pay.  But then, every kind of life we choose has its limitations, restrictions, obligations and challenges.  Its the way it is.  Choosing to be happy in those choices, whatever they may be, is the key.

We choose happiness, not sorrow and sadness for being away from our kids and grandchildren, our siblings, and other family members and friends.  For many, if not most, being in close proximity to family is their way to achieve happiness

The dorsal fin.
For me, after years of illness to finally feel well, inspires me to see the world for as long as I can.  For Tom, after 42 years of working on the railroad, the regimented schedule, the often long hours and the hard work inspires him. 

For us as a couple, the adventure, the excitement drives us on with a wild sense of discovering as much of the world as we can, sharing the experience together as lovers, companions and friends. 

More dorsal fin.
Documenting these experiences only add to the depth of our choices as now we say goodbye to this chapter, rapidly approaching the next months in Kauai, with time spent exploring and, time spent in quiet contemplation of where we've been, where we are at the moment and where we hope to be in the future as the planning continues.

After today, they'll all be gone except for Tammy, Tracy and Vincent who are staying until January 2nd, a mere five days away.  After today when TJ, Sarah and the two boys leave, we'll spend our remaining time in the two houses winding down our rental agreement.

not the best angle, the tail known as the "fluke.'
On January 3rd, Tom and I will move back into the first house to spend our remaining days in the Big Island until January 15th when we fly the short distance to Kauai.

Today, we're driving to Kona to take TJ and family back to the airport after their three week visit.  A stop at Costco in on the agenda in order to pick up the new computer awaiting me that I ordered over the phone yesterday morning.

Another whale spotted a short time later.
We'll be back with more while spending Tammy and family's remaining days on the island.  They are quite the adventurers so I'm sure we'll have much more to share in photos on the Big Island of Hawai'i (as spelled by locals).

Have a satisfying Sunday as we wind down to the New Year.

Photo from one year ago on December 28, 2013:

It was one year ago today that we spent time at the Crocodile River wrapped up in the magic of a small herd of elephants engaged in their usual routine.  For more photos and details, please click here.

A nighttime visit to Mount Kilauea...Astounding!

This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow from Mount Kilauea.
Yesterday, at 5:15 pm we all piled in our vehicles and heading up the mountain to see the volcano at Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.  As the crows flies, it may have been a 20 minute drive.  However, based on the roads that have been closed due to the crossing of lava, it took us nearly an hour.

Preferring not to use any flash to avoid disturbing others, Tom is a little muted here. 
Here is a link to live webcams from Mount Kilauea.

Shortly before the sun went down, we were separated from the family and unable to get a group photo as we'd hoped.  Instead Tom took this of me and the telescope.  Oh, well.
It is this very volcano from which the lava has been flowing toward Pahoa that attributed to our concern these past months and the evacuation of the Pahoa Marketplace.

When we first arrived at the volcano viewing area, it was still light and hard to see the glow.

As darkness fell, we had a better view of the glow.
Seeing firsthand the source of that flow was indescribable to say the least.  The pleasant drive to an elevation of only a little over 4000 feet caused some ear popping but wasn't felt by the nature of the smooth and easy to navigate roads.

The crowd roared with excitement as it became more visible.
We'd expected to find only a handful of visitors to Volcanoes National Park and were surprised to find the parking lot jammed with vehicles and anxious tourists. 

Then, the glow was in its full glory.  What a sight to behold!
Darkness fell within minutes of our arrival.  However, while there was still a little bit of light we were able to get a good perspective of the vastness of the park and the volcano. 

At one point, these trees provided a backdrop and I attempted to take advantage of that fact.

The intensity of the glow changed as the magma at the crater burst into many explosions.
Moments later, it was pitch black with the only light from the hundreds of cameras held over the heads of the excited visitors attempting to get a peek and a photo.
The trees impeding a portion of our views, ultimately gave us a better perspective of the glow. 
Of course, determined amateur photographer that I am, I diplomatically maneuvered my way to prefect spots aided by my equally determined husband Tom.  We weren't getting out of there without some great shots.

Inside the visitor's center we took time to appreciate local artwork.  Here is a rendition of Madame Pele, the fire goddess.
Experiencing this once in a lifetime adventure as a family was rewarding and fulfilling.  Our grandchildren loved it and were fearless and in awe as were all of the adults.

Perhaps, how it may have been for seafarers seeing the Hawaiian Islands for the first time, as the molten lava flowed to the sea, creating new land.
So, dear readers, we share these photos with all of you, with considerable enthusiasm and joy knowing we have this arena on the web to bring all of us together in however a small way, as our travels continue on.

Its Saturday!  May sunshine and smiles brighten our day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2013

Nothing like stopping for the crosswalk in Marloth Park, one year ago today.  For details of that day's post, please click here.