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 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.

A day at the beach...Cloudy, yet fun and fulfilling...A year ago, an ironic visitor on Christmas Day!

Yesterday, Tracy took this underwater photo using their GoPro camera. She said he was much larger than appearing in this photo.
Christmas is over.   Santa came and went.  Laughter wafted through the air as the grandkids played with the items Santa had placed in their stockings, in our case Santa hats, when the evacuating store in Pahoa were out of stockings.

I put their names on the hats by making block letter cutouts using the cards from a box of $.60 Christmas cards and glue.  We attached the hats with the contents stuffed inside with a variety of interesting rocks, shells and stones in various packages we'd purchased at the Lyman Library.

Tide pools Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo where we spent the day on Christmas.
We included the usual grandparent requisite gift, a Visa gift card so when bored they can begin looking on their tablets what they'd like to purchase when they return to Minnesota.

Making and packing enough food for 14 for a full day was definitely challenging , to ensure we had everything everyone would like.  We did our best and it ultimately turned out well which included.

Burgers, brats, hotdogs and buns with sliced cheeses
Foil packs with diced potatoes (Tom peeled)
Bacon, Almond and Raisin Broccoli Salad
Roasted Vegetables
Cut up cantaloupe and pineapple
Sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce

Tom on Christmas Day at the park.

Then, of course, we hauled paper products, beach towels, lawn chairs (Tammy and Tracy purchased two  folding chairs for Tom and I), two small grills, water toys and it goes on and on.  Three vehicles were loaded to the gills with people and "stuff."

It rained off and on all day.  Luckily, Sarah kept her eye on an available covered pavilion and shortly after we arrived we were in luck.  Being under cover all day made it possible to enjoy ourselves chatting and watching the kids.

We were in good spirits and ended up sharing food with a man sitting near us as, apparently alone on Christmas.  He had a boom box playing Hawaii rap music but later changed it to a more mellow variety, adding to the festivities of the day.

With theflurry of activities at the beach, it was tough to get a photo of everyone together.
All of us cooked in shifts for each family.  Tom and I usually don't eat until early evening but the smell of the meat on the grill put us right on track with the others, wolfing down the good food.  TJ said he'd never had a burger on Christmas Day.  How true for all of us.

Many spent hours in the water snorkeling, reveling in the fish, eels and sea turtles.  Vincent didn't get out of the shallow tide pools until long after we had lunch.  Maisie, Miles and Madighan, new to snorkeling, couldn't get enough.  Nik and Jayden now with us for three weeks, couldn't get enough.

Birds at the beach peeking on beach-goers leftovers.
And, of course Tammy, Tracy, Greg and Camille, spent time with the kids in the tide pools while TJ and Sarah hung out with us under the pavilion.  All of us were in awe as to what they could see, excited to share it with the grandkids.

Home by 5:00 pm to whale watch, nibble on leftovers and snacks, it was a laid back evening befitting all of us.

A rainbow, a perfect finish to the day..

I spoke to my sister on Skype and later chatted with son Richard on Facebook. 
There were many others I'd have like to speak with to wish Merry Christmas.  Time somehow slipped away as it often does.

Last night's crescent moon.
Today, the kids are leaving for beach activities and a few staying behind with us. We have no doubt it will be another good day.

May all of you have a stupendous day after Christmas.  We plan to do the same.


Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2013:

Mr. Kudu was standing near our carport in Marloth Park on Christmas morning last year.  Tom teased me stating, "Here's your Christmas gift, Sweetie."  That was all I needed!  For details from that date, please click here.

Merry Christmas! It snowed an hour from here. Welcome to Hawaii, Santa...

The next door neighbor's chair gives a good perspective of the massive size of these waves.
Here's a link to the news report on the snowfall and subsequent road closing on the Mauna Kea volcano.

Tom says that our kids from Minnesota, brought the white Christmas with them.  On top of that Tom and I, alone at home preparing Christmas Eve dinner while the kids all went to the beach, saw some of the biggest waves we've seen so far!

The pool in our yard is located in front of these white chaise lounges.
In our travels, Mother Nature seems to gift us with something wonderful on Christmas, a treasure she seems to pull out of a hat, a treasure she knows we'll love.

It almost appears to be a waterfall.
Isn't that what the holidays are all about?  Appreciating God's wonders, the birth and life of a son. the birth and life of those we love and the myriad gifts we receive when we put aside the presents, the shopping, the laborious tasks in preparation of the next celebration with those with love.

The wave as it builds momentum.
This year, the gifts we receive are that of our grown children, their spouses and our precious grandchildren right here beside us.  In the past two years, they've been with us in our grateful hearts and today and over these next many days we see their smiling faces, taking a hug, a glance and a moment, always to be remembered, always to be treasured.

What a beautiful break in this wave.
Oh sure, its not all sweetness filled with perfection. But then, who's family is?  For us, we all get along even with our varying views on life, politics and even child rearing.  But, we choose to keep those staunch opinions to ourselves for other places and other times in order to bask in harmony and lightness.  Time and life are too short.

Our yard in the second house, so close to the surf.
Yes, the questions are asked, "Will we settle down in the US anytime soon?  When, where and if we will we ever settle down."  At this point we have no clear answers other than the one we cling to when ever we're asked,  "Health providing, we'll carry on."

The aquamarine color of the wave as it breaks near the shore is breathtaking.
Who's to argue with happiness?  I remember as a child, longing to see happiness reflected in the faces of those I loved and that wish continues today for all of our loved ones.

We were curious as to this shape in the left side of the upper portion of this wave.  Do any of our readers have an idea as to what this could be?
Today, we reflect on our joy in these photos we took last night on Christmas Eve shortly before sunset.  It bespeaks the magnificence of this magical world we live in with all its ills, political unrest and waning bounty that Mother Nature tries so desperately to gallantly protect.

The variation in the colors by the sea are amazing.
We sign off today wishing each and everyone of our readers, our family and friends the utmost of hope, passion and contentment in the holiday season and year to come.  God bless.

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2013:
This lovely female impala came to visit us on Christmas Eve while we were in Marloth Park last year.  For details, please click here.