Coffee and bottles

So, while I sit here wishing I was back in Hawaii, I’ll recap my how I spent Thursday on the Big Island: touring a coffee plantation and shopping.

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So, we planned to head to Parker Ranch in Waimea but somehow we took a wrong turn and went in the exact opposite direction.

Happily unaware of this, we first stopped to tour the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company in Holualoa. It allowed us to take a self-guided tour before meeting back with staff in the area where they package the coffee. It was pretty cool, although I hate coffee. The chocolate covered coffee beans were good though (side note: don’t try these until off the windy road.)

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After the tour, we had to try some of the plantation’s apple bananas which were fabulous.

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Finally, we made it eight miles south of Kona to Kainaliu, home of Donkey Balls. The store sells chocolates, candies, and coffee with coffee-related artifacts thrown about all over the store.

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The aunts had to load up on coffee and other cutesy supplies before we trekked down the road to look around at the town’s other stores where I purchased awesome bottles made locally and saw other items I would have purchased if I could have gotten them home in one location.

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We finally ended our trip with the discovery that, yes, we were traveling very slowly in the wrong direction. Less than 20 miles covered in about three hours. So we wrapped up our trip with a quick stop at Greenwell Farms To purchase coffee bags and headed on back.

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Overnight delay

Well, a first has happened. I am experiencing my first flight delay that will have an air carrier booking me a hotel room for the night.

I was originally scheduled to leave Hawaii at 8:50 p.m. Friday, however, it was delayed until 10:03 p.m. and then 10:30 p.m. because of problems with the plane. Upon it’s arrival and cleaning, we learned there was a shortage of crew to take us to Los Angeles.

So, now I am experiencing the below:

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Yep, a long line to find out our hotel details and new flight schedules. The rumor is our new flight will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Honestly, I am not too upset. I have my Aunts Cindy and Lynda flying with me so I have company. Plus, one more night/day in Hawaii which I don’t have to pay for (thank goodness). As long as I get to work by 8 a.m. Monday, I am a happy traveler.

A pearl of a day

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100 feet deep. I did my first – and probably last – trip in the submarine Atlantis Wednesday. We mostly stayed around 40-70 feet deep looking at various fish and coral before going to 100 feet.

Personally, it was my least favorite activity. It was $105 and I don’t think it was any where near being worthy of that cost. Maybe half. It was just too crowded and the fish we saw we’ve seen scuba diving.

The water was choppy, and at times, I thought we would capsize in the boat that took us to and from the submarine. I was glad to get back on dry land.

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Afterwards, Aunt Lynda and I picked an oyster for a jewelry store employee to open and check for pearls. I got a decent sized black pearl while she got twin black pearls.

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I ended up turning my pearl into a necklace while Aunt Lynda decided on earrings. The pearls were mounted and we were given instructions not to wear them for 24 hours – a hard thing to accomplish. I love my necklace.

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Finally, we had to end our shopping to head home. Aunt Jo’s conference for International Interpreters Association kicked off yesterday with a luau that night and we all got to attend. More on that later.

Swimming with dolphins

About 100 dolphins surrounded us this morning as we snorkeled along the coast.

Karl and Jessica with Coral Reef Adventures took us out to see what marine life we could find, swim with dolphins as well as snorkel.

It didn’t take us long to find the first pod of spinner dolphins. The pod was “camping,” or swimming around the same area, and two were even mating.

The pod was close to the entrance of the Honokohau Marina and Small Boat Harbor so we set off to find a pod further out to swim with.

Our next discovery was a pod of spotted dolphins, which included a baby. They swam alongside our boat for a while before drifting off. However, Karl said the spotted dolphins do not like swimming with humans so we set off once more.

Karl and Jessica had trouble finding pods to swim with today – a rare event – but we eventually found an area a little further than usual.

I was a little worried about swimming in the ocean since I’m not the best of swimmers. However, I was fine after that initial swim (well we snorkeled with the dolphins really) and as long as I had some one close by.

Karl apparently even complimented me (according to my aunts) saying that I was swimming like a fish and doing a good job. Not sure about the swim part but I will never turn down a compliment.

It was amazing being in the water with the dolphins and having them all around you. I took tons of pictures and was especially excited to see another baby dolphin.

Between the three swims, Jessica had drinks, snacks, fruits and sandwiches for us. The pineapple was especially good as well as the brownies the captain’s wife made us.

Our time out with Coral Reefs Adventures was great although the four hours went by quick. I wouldn’t mind going out with the group again in February to see whales in the future.

We decided to stay a little longer at the harbor and have lunch at Bite Me Fish Market Bar and Grill. The restaurant serves the fish they catch daily in the Hawaiian waters. Today’s catch was swordfish.

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An order of fish dip (above) started us off. I’m not a big fan of fish, but I still enjoyed the food. I had to try a sangria and the super delicious fish melt sandwich, which was too much to eat. I had to take home leftovers. The sandwich had the fish of the day – swordfish – grilled, crumbled and mixed with mayo and than flat grilled with onion, tomato, and melted cheddar cheese and served on rye.

It’s now only 3:13 p.m and we have decided to take the afternoon off to rest and shop.

Circling the island

Active volcanoes.

Sound exciting? It was. Sunday was our day to travel down the coast to view the volcano with stops along the way.

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Our first stop was Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, home of a monument to Capt. James Cook. It has sparkling aquamarine water and, when we were there, a novel wooden boat just floating in the water. There were also tons of crabs and dolphins as well. A man sat at the entrance carving wooden statues. We hope to go back later to kayak and snorkel.

St. benedict’s Catholic Church, also known as the Painted Church, was our next stop. A cat sat on the altar up front basking in all the attention he received while church members offered crafts to keep the churn in repair. I loved the various scenes painted on the wall, such as the symbolic picture of a good death with rays of hope shining, the appearance of the Cross to St. Francis, and the Temptation of Jesus. Above, a beach theme was painted with the beaches and palm trees on the side and the open sky at the top.

We finally saw a sea turtle at our next stop, Pu’ uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. The green sea turtle, Honu, swam just before the beach poking it’s head above the water every once in a while. Surrounding it, were the statues and explanations of early life on the Hawaiian island. Aunt Jo especially loved the wooden canoes on display. They were pretty cool.

We then followed the winding Hwy. 19 further down the coast past an early 1900 lava flow stopping to eat at the well-recommended Hana Hou Restaurant and Deli. I got the super delicious Overloaded grilled cheese sandwich.

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I still had to cross the road for a strawberry filled Malasada at the below well-known bakery, which had terrible service but great malasadas.

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After that huge and amazing lunch, we kept on driving with one last stop at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. There were two sea turtles sleeping on the beach.

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It was our last stop before finally making it to the widely anticipated Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We had to see the lava tubes and that was one of our first stops within the park. We stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube, which walked us through the rain forest.

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Our drive through the park to the observatory took us past several steam pockets. The park’s staff was not friendly at all, but the views were breath taking.

We stayed at the Thomas A. Jagger Museum until after dark to see more than just smoke rising from Kilauea.

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It was a great cap to the day. We continued the rest of our drive around the island after dark and got home around midnight.