Friday, July 30, 2010

The Birthplace of Kamehameha I

The most historically significant spots on the island was also on our itinerary while we were on the Big Island. We didn't dare take our rental van out to this area. You really need a good off-road vehicle to make it. The road is dirt and studded with holes and large rocks.

Luckily our host was able to take us in his truck or we wouldn't have been able to visit this area. Of course, the kids were thrilled that they got to ride in the back of a truck. It's illegal in most places now, so this was a highlight of the trip for them.

The area we went to was right on the coast. Many of the coasts on the Big Island are black and rocky with dry grass and shrubs growing here and there. It makes the ocean look even more blue to see it against the stark landscape.

We passed a "wind farm" on the way out.

Cool windmills dotted the landscape.

First, we stopped by the Mo'okini Heiau. A heiau is a sacred area. This particular one was built to honor the war god Kuka'ilimoku. Legend has it that thousands of men stood in a line and passed each of these stones hand to hand from an area 14 miles away. There is still a line of scattered stones which were dropped along the route.

Kuka'ilimoku was apparently a very bloodthirsty god who demanded human sacrifices be made to him and for some reason people accepted this idea instead of immediately sacrificing the person who was speaking for "Ku" (otherwise known as satan). Seems like the issue would have been resolved very quickly if the natives had sacrificed the person who said, "This is what Ku wants" and then said, "Well, that seems to be enough. No one else seems to be stepping up to speak for Lucifer, er, I mean Ku."

Tens of thousands of people were sacrificed and then shredded on these stones. The idea was very unsettling. I don't know if you are allowed to touch the stones, but I wouldn't dream of doing so.

Just down the road is what is thought to be the birthplace of Kamehameha I. It is now known as Kamehmeha Akahi Aina Hanau.

Written records were not kept during the early years of the life of Kemehameha the Great. Therefore many legends have been handed down about the birth of the ruler. Legends which involve a prophecy that a male child would be born who would be a king over all kings; the reigning king tried to have the baby killed by issuing a decree that all male infants would be killed; the baby was spirited away and raised in secrecy but was able to return after five years.

Sound like any other story you've ever heard?

Very interesting.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hawaii Paso Fino

Another one of the fabulous activities we got to try on the Big Island was that we each got to take a riding lesson at Rancho Vitorino on Paso Fino horses.

Kerry particuarly enjoyed this. He's definitely our horse man.

Paso Fino horses are known for their evenly spaced four beat lateral ambling gait. This means they have a very smooth gait which doesn't bounce you up and down while you are riding.

While riding the Paso Fino you have to hold the reigns in both hands with your thumbs up. You have to keep your hands even with each other as if you were shifting gears with both hands in order to direct your horse.

First we would ride in a small ring to get the hang of how to hold the reigns and practice for a bit. We were right on the ocean and had this gorgeous backdrop behind us.

Kerry began to covet.

Katie was not happy that she didn't get to ride all by herself without someone leading her. But these horses are big, and she is small, and we just had to assure her that she would one day get to ride a horse on her own.

I have no idea why my sentences are being underlined now and I can't make it stop.

Please deal.

After we had trained in the small ring, we got to move into the larger ring and ride the horses around and through orange cones and in different directions. I was worried the whole time about holding the reigns correctly.

I handed the camera to Emily while I was riding and came back with a hundred photos of this Jack Russell puppy. The kids were enthralled with him.

This was a really fun thing to do and it made me wish I had started riding horses when I was young!

Hiking on the Big Island

One of the first things we did on the Big Island was a hiking trip. There's this great hiking area called "Iole". They have three different trails, all well marked and easy to follow. They also have hand held recorders you can use as you walk which tell you about the flora and fauna all around you.

Unfortunately, because we arrived late from the airport, we didn't get to use the recorders and we were only able to hike the shortest trail. We had hoped to get back over there but never had time during the rest of our trip.

It's really a beautiful area. Since I didn't get one of the recorders, I can't tell you about all the things we saw, but here are pictures of everything. Just sit back, take a look, and know it was peaceful, quiet, and lovely.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zipline Slideshow

In case you aren't sick of hearing about the zipline (I know, I could listen to me talk about it forever), here's more pictures!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Here is the view as we were going across the 7th zipline!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm going to move on to our zipline adventure. We went to Big Island Eco Adventures for this phenomenal activity. And I really do mean phenomenal. I don't think I've ever experienced anything this exciting, and this much fun. AND it's easy enough that even Katie was able to do it. It requires almost no strength or training of any kind, but it makes you feel as if you are doing something crazy and death defying.

These were our guides. I can't remember their names, but trust me, if you get a chance to go there tell them you want these fellows. Print out a copy of this photo, take it in with you, and tell them you want these guys to be your guides. They were hilarious and made the day even more fun.

They had warned us a couple of times that there could be some wild pigs up there, and not to go near them if we saw any. They really emphasized that these are wild animals, not pets, and that they could be mean. At one point as we were hiking between zips, we heard some bushes rattling to our left. The guides said to us, "There's something up there." Then they reminded us that if there was a pig around, to stay away from it. Then there was more rattling in the bushes and I heard the guides mutter to each other, "There's definitely something right there." And they urged us to move along quickly.

We hurried to the next zip and just as we got there, one of the guides (who had snuck on up ahead) jumped out of a bush at us, grunting like a pig. Emily and I both shrieked, and Ben said he was scrambling for his knife (and then realizing he hadn't been allowed to bring it on the plane). We laughed so hard - we really liked our guides, they were hilarious!

It didn't occur to me until later that the guides had probably been flicking rocks into the bushes to make them rattle.

The first zipline is the keiki (kids) zip. It's a nice introduction to the whole process. You are only about five feet above the ground, so you aren't terrified of falling.

That happens later.

It's also very slow, although it doesn't feel like it at the time. I know I felt like I was going faster and faster as I crossed and I was very concerned about jolting to a stop on the other side. In retrospect though, when I watch this video, we were going very s-l-o-w-l-y.

It's a great system in that you start off on the easy ziplines and they progressively get higher, longer, and faster as you go. If you had to start off with the big ones, it would be easy to take one look and decide, "Nope".

There is some mild hiking in between zips. I think they said we went about two miles all together but it didn't seem that long at all. The distance between zips is fairly short and you can rest while you wait for all the other folks to zip across. But even Katie (who complains if we get a parking spot too far from the mall) was not bothered by the amount of walking we did. If she did it, you can.

At one point we had to cross a swinging bridge. We were attached to the bridge by our lines so there was no danger of falling. There was also a board running down the center of the bridge, which was a good thing because there were some seriously big gaps between the boards on that thing. One of the guides gave Katie a bunch of leaves and told her to throw it like confetti while she was out there. I don't think I even looked down as I went out. They were jumping up and down on the bridge as I came across, and I was laughing and concentrating on keeping my balance more than I was thinking about the view.

Katie just barely made the weight limit to go on the zipline. We had her wear a backpack with some water bottles in it just to make absolutely certain she wouldn't get stuck out there in the middle.

After Zipline 6 we took a break at the Mac Nut Hut. They have fruit kabobs, banana bread, trail mix, drinks and macadamia nuts you can crack yourself. This is also the spot to use the bathroom if you need to. I always take that option when offered. The guides have to help you get all your gear off before you go to the bathroom, and then they help you get it back on again when you are done.

There was a glorious view from the deck of the Mac Nut Hut..........

Which is a perfect time for a family photo.

It was just after this that things got scary (for me). I, of course, had taken the option of using the bathroom which meant removing all my gear and then getting it back on. The last two ziplines are the highest ones, and it occurred to me that if my gear wasn't on correctly, I wasn't going to find out on the kekei zip. I was going to find out when I fell several hundred feet into a two inch deep puddle.

So I got a little nervous.

Actually, I was shaking like a leaf, but I didn't tell anyone.

This was the point where we had to run and leap off of cliffs and bridges in order to do the zip.

I asked the guide to double check my gear and he said, "Don't worry I can do this with my eyes shut!" And he promptly demonstrated by hooking me up to the zip line with his eyes closed.

This did not give me confidence.

I survived it though!

On the last zip, they told us to scream so that any groups coming along behind us would hear it. Emily gave a nice bloodcurdling shriek, but Kerry said Katie sounded like a drowning gerbil.

This was HANDS DOWN our favorite activity on the Big Island, and possibly anywhere.

This is truly something you do not want to miss!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Big Island Eco Adventures

I know you've all (both of you) been on pins and needles wondering why I haven't finished writing about our Big Island trip. Well, my computer picked a most inopportune time to wig out on me and I couldn't upload any photos or videos. Now, all is well, and I'm going to talk about ziplining until you are sick of hearing about it.

It was hands down the most exciting thing I've ever done.

You have to start with getting all your gear on. Fortunately, you are not required to hold on to the zipline in order to keep from falling. You are strapped in quite securely and hooked on to the line so you don't fall. No major muscle groups required.

They give you cool helmets with names on them. Katie was "Princess", Emily was "Turbo", Ben was "Spaz", I was "Honey", and Kerry was "Tunderfoot". No, I did not spell that wrong.

I did feel like he should have bought me dinner after this.

We rode in an enormous Humvee for 30 minutes to get to the start of the zipline. Our guides made it as exciting as possible. We went very fast, over hills, through puddles, zig-zagging across the road.

The kids thought it was better than a roller coaster ride. I would have enjoyed it more, but the mama in me kept thinking, "We are not on a rail! We could actually slide off the road or flip over!" It's hard to turn off the mama part of your brain sometimes.

Here is a clip of some of our ride up the mountain.

It did rain on us a little on the way up but everyone enjoyed it. How often do you get to ride in a vehicle with the top down while it's raining? Never. That's how often.

We're rebels and we'll never ever be any good.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ben Saves The Day

We were walking along the other day and all the sudden Katie pipes up with, "What's a hickey?"

Before I could even wrap my mind around the question, much less formulate an age-appropriate response Ben responded, "Mickey Mouse's little brother."

When Katie said she'd never heard anyone say Mickey had a little brother Ben amended, "Actually it's one of Mickey's friends. Hickey Horse."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

One of our first stops on the Big Island was to see the statue of Kamehameha I. We have the twin of this statue in Honolulu.

In 1878, a statue of King Kamehameha I was commissioned to commemorate the discovery of Hawaii by Captain James Cook. A sculptor in Italy created this statue which was supposed to be displayed on Oahu. On it's way here, the ship wrecked somewhere around the Falkland Islands and a new statue had to be commissioned.

Before the second statue was completed, the first statue was salvaged, sold to a member of the Hawaiian government and was sent to the Big Island to mark the birthplace of King Kamehameha I.

The statue on the Big Island was painted with the brighter red and yellow colors while the statue on Oahu has a golden color for the clothing. Our guide told us there was a lot of uproar over whether or not to paint it. There are also issues because the sculptor who created the statues ignored the photos of Polynesians which were sent to him and gave the statue Roman facial features as well as a Romanesque stance of the spear, cape, and gesturing hand.

A third statue was commissioned when Hawaii became a state. It stood in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol until Obama became president and then it was moved to a more prominent position in the Capitol's new visitor's center.

A fourth statue was commissioned for a resort in Kauai, but the people of Kauai did not want a statue of King Kamehameha as they were the only island not physically conquered by Kamehameha I. The ruler of Kauai decided to prevent further bloodshed by simply joining Kamehameha and becoming a vassal to the king.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mmm Mmm Good!

One big surprise..............

While we were eating our lunch the first day, someone spotted us and came over to ask if we were the military family who were there for Operation Vacation. His name was Steve and he lived next door to the guest house we were using. He introduced us to his friend Bennett who was having lunch with him. We chatted about how much we were enjoying our stay and what a great program Operation Vacation is. Then we all returned to our lunches and took silly pictures.

Later, when we met up with the director of Operation Vacation, we mentioned that we had met Steve and Bennett. He looked completely astounded and said, "You got to meet Bennett!? I haven't even gotten to meet Bennett!"

Turns out, "Bennett" is Bennett Dorrance, heir to the Campbell Soup Company. It was his guest house we were staying in and there we were blathering on about it without knowing we should be thanking him.

I should have at least curtsied.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pico's Bistro

First stop: Pico's Bistro

Pico's Bistro is a wonderful restaurant in Kapa'au, Hawaii. That's up on the northern end of the Big Island.

It's a small restaurant, so look closely for it, you don't want to miss it!

I had a lamb burger, and my mouth still waters when I look at this picture! There was some sort of seasoning in it that was just fabulous!

Even Emily's dairy allergies were easy to get around. She had a lamb kabob with rice - no dairy involved!

If you are on the Big Island, this is a "must"!

Operation Vacation

My friend Mary likes to complain that I always win things. She says that if we go to any gathering where there's a gift to be given away, she has no chance because I'm going to win it. My name does tend to get picked out of a hat on a regular basis - I don't know why. I have quite a collection of scented candles and plaques with inspirational sayings because of this.

Lucky me.

But this time..........this time, oh, you won't believe it.

We won an all expenses paid vacation - air fare, accommodations, rental car, food, activities, spending money - everything................... Hawaii.

I know, right? Because it's not enough that I get to live in Hawaii, I have to get a free vacation there too. *wink*

Okay, it's not what you think. This was actually a trip to the Big Island. And it was through the generosity of a program called Operation Vacation. They provide vacations to soldiers who have recently returned from a deployment so that they can have time to reconnect with their family members.

They've been doing the vacations in Texas and Colorado, and are now branching out to the Big Island of Hawaii. For their very first Hawaiian vacation, they contacted one of Kerry's colonels and asked him to help them get it set up and he recommended us to be the first family to try it out.

I'm not sure what the normal selection process is. I don't know if people apply for a chance to go, or if they have to be recommended by a superior. I don't know if they choose a specific family based on certain criteria or if they draw names out of a hat. I really don't know how we were so blessed to be chosen for this opportunity

I think it's because we're all so pretty, but I'm not sure.

Because this was the inaugural trip for the Big Island, we weren't sure what to expect. We were told we would be staying at a guest house on the island. We didn't have any idea how big it would be. I thought it could possibly be in a motel. I warned the kids, "It might just be like a hotel room with two double beds. We'll see if we can get a cot, but if someone has to sleep on the floor, please just make the best of it. This is a gift and we are not going to complain."

Then we drove up to this house.

I told the kids, "Maybe it's like a bed and breakfast. We'll have a room to ourselves, and we'll share the common area with some other families."

But it turned out, it was all for us.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor we were nearly squealing with delight. The kids kept calling it a mansion and to us, it was.

I probably shouldn't post any more pictures of the house. This is just going to make Mary sick.

All my posts are going to be about the Big Island for a bit - there's a LOT to tell!