Why are we starting a post about Hawaii with photos from cities getting farther and farther away from the islands? I mean, Canada?? Wrong direction! Valid point. But for our amazing trip to the state that broke us into the double digits in our quest to #SeeAll50, we flew from Orlando to Cleveland, from Cleveland to Denver, and from Denver to Vancouver where we spent the night before boarding our cruise ship.
That's right. To get to the islands we spent a full week at sea cruising down from Vancouver, British Columbia on the Celebrity Eclipse. And yes, it was just as wonderful as it sounds. We ate great food, spent lots of time reading, went to amazing shows, and enjoyed the most gorgeous sunsets. Oh, and aside from the excellent staff on board the ship, we were probably the youngest people there by a solid 40 years.
After seven glorious days at sea, we made it to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii where we hopped on a shuttle to go pick up our rental car and explore Volcanoes National Park.
This day was an interesting mix of sunny and rainy, clear blue skies and thick fog. The weather on the Big Island would change in a matter of seconds throughout the day. Being the Florida girl I am, I thought I knew how unpredictable tropical weather can be but this was something altogether different than what I'm used to in my Sunshine State. We did a good bit of hiking and a fair amount of driving as well. This park is huge, and everything was sort of devastatingly beautiful. Pictures can't do it justice, but here are some anyway.
|~Cody in front of some of the natural steam vents~|
After hiking around where all the natural steam vents are, we drove out to find the Holei Sea Arch (pictured above).
I was really intrigued by the way the basalt looked as if it was still flowing down the island through the greenery. It was amazing to drive through these desolate lava fields but then straight back into the lush, green, tropical areas.
|~the middle of a lava field~|
We then hiked down into a crater which was surreal. When the trail opened out into the crater, there was a small sign directing you to follow the ahu (stacked rocks) through the crater. Without these piles of rocks, it would be very easy to get lost and wander around for hours in the fog looking for the trail back out of the crater. What a wonder to see these beautiful living plants growing out of this seemingly impenetrable black death (I'm sure there's a spiritual analogy in there somewhere).
We decided to spend the second day at Hilo in a couple of cozy hammocks overlooking the water rather than trying to explore because we got some hard personal news from family at home and needed time to process it.
A day together, laughing and crying, reading and journaling was the best thing and I will never forget that time.
That evening we sailed around the island to the port at Kailua-Kona where we spent the next day exploring all the fun shops and the street market and eating the best food.
Our first stop on Kona was at Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii's first Christian church established in 1820.
|~shrimp and kalua pig tacos and sandwich for lunch~|
|~the best donuts~|
|~that's our cruise ship in the background~|
On our tender boat ride back to the ship that evening, a whole pod of dolphins were swimming and jumping right alongside our boat. So fun!
That night, we sailed from the Big Island to Maui. Maui was the island I was looking forward to visiting the most because I've wanted to go there ever since I was a teenager and started reading Robin Jones Gunn's books. In one of her Christy Miller books, Island Dreamer, Christy goes to Maui for her 16th birthday and through a series of events ends up driving the Hana Road which gave her the confidence she needed to take her driver's test. So it's been a Bucket List goal of mine to go to Maui and drive the Hana Road.
As we started to plan this trip, I just didn't think we'd be able to make this happen. Driving the Hana Road is an all-day endeavor and even though we'd have two days on Maui, the logistics of getting a rental car early enough in the day and being able to return it on time before the rental places closed seemed like an impossibility. So I kindof gave up on making that dream a reality on this trip.
But my husband.
Y'all. He booked us a hotel for that night on Maui, reserved us a rental car that we could pick up the day we arrived on Maui and return the following afternoon, and he let me drive the whole Hana Road all by myself. He made every single detail of my 15+ year old dream come true right down to the 2-door, cloth-top, open air, red Jeep Wrangler we drove. It was perfect.
I really can't brag on him enough. It was the best day. We had great weather and, contrary to all odds, we didn't see very many other cars at all the whole day (thank goodness! the road was as crazy as I imagined it would be). We checked out of our hotel and got on the road by about 4:30 AM. We stopped several different places along the road including the Haleakala National Park where we did lots of hiking. And we made it back to return the Jeep before the rental place closed.
|~Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach~|
Cody captured this gorgeous waterfall and rainbow in the moving Jeep while I was going over one of the many precarious bridges on the Hana Road. It's our favorite photo from the whole trip. I still can't believe he got this picture.
|~Haleakala National Park~|
The sign in the lower left corner of that collage was near the Waimoku Falls where we hiked and the waters there are described "he wai makamaka 'ole", water that recognizes no friend. We took this trip in April and the waters were dangerous and flooding. When we entered the park, the ranger told us that we were absolutely not to swim anywhere. We couldn't get to the very end of the hike to the falls because the water was too dangerous to cross. But we still got a great view. Click on this next photo to really appreciate the panoramic view!
|~hiking through bamboo : Haleakala National Park~|
|~Cody proposed to me under a banyan tree : this one was gorgeous~|
|~our little red jeep on the Hana Highway~|
Other fun things we managed to fit in on Maui included browsing the Friends of the Library bookstore in Lahaina Harbor (of course) and Ululani's shave ice (twice because once was not enough).
Still with me? We're not done! We have one more island and about 20 more pictures to go! After our two days on Maui, we sailed for Oahu where we left our cruise ship for good...
...and were picked up by one of my best friends from college days! She graciously met us at the Honolulu seaport with fresh flower leis and her two small sons in tow and whisked us off to Pearl Harbor.
|USS Battleship Missouri|
|~we basically decided we could never be in the Navy~|
You can still see the slight damage to the battleship where a Japanese dive-bomber crashed into the side of the ship during the Battle of Okinawa. This story was particularly moving as the commanding officer of the USS Missouri, Captain William M. Callaghan, ordered that the body of the 19 year old Japanese pilot found among the wreckage on board be prepared for a proper burial at sea.
Our last stop in Pearl Harbor was the USS Oklahoma Memorial which may be one of the most beautiful and sobering war memorials I've ever seen.
Jen came and picked us back up and took us to her home where we spent the evening talking and eating and enjoying catching up since we haven't seen each other (other than FaceTime—God bless technology) in years. The next day, we did all kinds of fun stuff starting with snorkeling in Shark's Cove where we fed bright green frozen peas to lots of colorful fish (another fun Christy moment for me) and saw a gigantic monk seal which swam just a few feet in front of Cody, eating at food trucks, mailing all our post cards to nieces back home, and ending with the Dole Plantation for fresh Dole whips (yum!).
Later that evening, Jen dropped us at the airport and we took an overnight flight from Honolulu to Houston to Orlando where my Dad picked us up the next afternoon. We spent one night in our own bed and then woke up early the next morning to hit the road to check off our next state. You'll never guess where.
Hawaii : done.
But hopefully we'll be back! Have you ever visited any of the Hawaiian islands? Any guesses as to which state we went to next? Hopefully I'll have that post ready tomorrow or Friday!