Hello Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii! An unexpected outing! New photo of us in Hilo...



Here we are at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.  Sam, our overly friendly taxi driver, took the photo.
It was tempting to get off the ship to go see the two houses we rented on the Big Island for the holidays with our family.  But, we've decided to wait in order to be surprised.
The scenery along the shores of the Hawaii is lovely.
The pier in Hilo is located in a highly industrial area and we'd have had to walk for miles to get to any points of interest. 


As we entered the Port of Hilo, Hawaii.
Also, we'll be back on the Big Island for six weeks in less than two months, saving sightseeing to do with our family members when they start arriving on December 6th.
The last time we went to a Walmart, a store we never visited in our old lives, was in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico on January 6, 2013 when we got off the ship, the Celebrity Century, to purchase our first camera.  Here's Tom in front of the Hilo, Hawaii Walmart.  See below as to how we ended up at this store, an entirely unplanned outing.
However, we decided to take the free shuttle into downtown Hilo.  Well, of all things, we accidentally got on the bus going to Walmart!  We couldn't have laughed harder. 
Leis for sale in a refrigerated case at the Walmart store.
After spending $126 in Walmart, we weren't laughing quite as hard.  We purchased nuts, a couple of shirts, self tanning cream, shampoo, toothpaste and a few odds and ends.
Our ship is behind the Pacific Princess in the foreground.
Tom got "overly grumpy" when we had to buy a cloth bag to carry our purchases since Walmart in Hawaii doesn't use plastic bags.  I couldn't have been more thrilled with their concern for the environment. 
Near the Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.
After we made our purchases, we found our way to the waiting area for the free shuttle to return us and others to the ship.  The expected wait time was 15 minutes at most. 
At the Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.
As we waited while sitting on a bench, a friendly looking taxi driver asked if we wanted a ride back to the pier.  Did we have food stuck in our teeth proving we were passengers of the latest cruise ship to arrive in Hilo?

I asked Sam, "How much?" 

Sam answered, "$12."

I answered, "Na, too much!"

Sam answered, looking at the camera hanging from my shoulder, "How about $10 with a stop at a gorgeous site to take photos?"
The park was lovely.
We couldn't have jumped up quicker, taking Sam up on his kindly offer.  As soon as we got into his air conditioned minivan, we all engaged in animated chatter as Sam drove us to the Liliuokalani Gardens, an exquisite park on the way back to the ship.

Oddly, Sam told us he lives on "Lyman Ave" in Hilo, pulling out his driver's license to show us.  Serendipity.  We're hardly wanted to say goodbye to Sam after an outrageously fun time with him during the drive and at the gorgeous park.  Its funny how the least expected situations turn into the most fun of all. 

An enchanting footbridge in the gardens.

Over the extended periods we'll spend on each of three of the four islands we'll have plenty of time to see everything that appeals to us. No paid excursion would have been more fun than our time with Sam.

As for Hilo, we searched for a bit of general information on the Hawaiian Islands and found the following.  As time goes on, we'll acquire knowledge that we'll share with our readers as opposed to quoting other web sites. 

For now, we're Hawaiian newbies and we prefer to be careful of that which we write until we become more knowledgeable over the next many months:

"The Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian: Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the "Sandwich Islands", a name chosen by James Cook in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the main island, Hawaii Island, as a pars pro toto.

The US state of Hawaii occupies the archipelago almost in its entirety (including the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), with the sole exception of Midway island, which is instead an unincorporated territory within the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle. The islands are about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent."

In these short few days in Hawaii, it's odd for us to grasp that Hawaii is a part of the US, other than for its abundance of US products, services and of course, its economy.  It appears comparable to other many other resorts/vacation/holiday island we've visited in other parts of the world.
 
Of course, we enjoy the easy availability of products and services from which we've been far removed for much of the past two years.  Seeing the familiar products, chain restaurants, markets and hotels is both refreshing and disappointing when we've found great pleasure is being detached from all the hype.
 
We'll have ample time in the future to once again feel removed from the hustle and bustle of life in the US when again we take off for more remote locations in not too distant future.  
 
In the interim, we'll enjoy every aspect of living in Hawaii, experiencing each of these  islands, each with its own unique persona.  From what we saw on Tuesday in Honolulu, the prices may not be any higher than we experienced in the past locations.

With only five days and four nights until we disembark the ship, we have that wonderful feeling of not being disappointed that the cruise is ending, knowing that which lays ahead will be equally enjoyable.
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Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2013:
 
None of our photos were posted on this date.  However, we did post a story about "worrying" we loved to share with our readers who may have missed it.  Please click here for details.

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