Monday, March 14, 2011

Coming to an End

Our stay on Hawaii is almost over and I will be sad to see the last of black beaches and coconut palms, at least for a while. This trip has been transformative, not unlike the last long, long trip we took.

I think this might be the end of this blog. I'll start a new one for the art and music projects I hope to be starting in the near future. Vancouver is calling me back and I can't say no. Things have changed and will continue to change while I learn how to find my flow.

More Hawaii highlights of the last few weeks:

-tsunami warning! and feeling an earthquake for the first time.

-attending the wedding of two complete strangers in Bob's backyard.

-seeing the whole town come out for roller derby!

Tonight we are going to go get some grass-fed Hawaiian beef burgers and tomorrow we go up Mauna Kea one last time. Getting ready to return to the cold!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Waipio Valley to Kalapana - Lush Green Jungle to Red Hot Lava!

I haven't updated for almost a month and to tell the truth, February was actually pretty uneventful. We read a lot of library books and ate a lot of wonderful food. It was a treat to just relax for so long and not feel like it was important to accomplish anything other than relaxing.

We are now in the last two weeks of our time on Hawaii and we have definitely picked up the pace. We moved out of our apartment on the first on March and are couch surfing with Uncle Bob again. The people who end up coming to stay at Bob's are typically of a high caliber and we have been so lucky to meet people from all over the world.

I had intense deja vu this week when a young couchsurfer named Joe showed up at Bob's. I felt like I knew him but couldn't place his face so just dismissed the feeling. Later in conversation it came out that in fact we had met in San Francisco while dumpster diving at Rainbow Grocery! I couldn't believe that this guy we had spent maybe 20 minutes with in San Francisco was now sleeping on the floor beside us in Hilo!

The highlights of this week and maybe our whole trip have been getting to go down into Waipio Valley and seeing the hot lava up close and personal!

Waipio is a very special place. A lush green valley surrounded by emerald cliffs and waterfalls and opening to the ocean on a mile long black sand beach. The road down into the valley is "the steepest road in the USA" and only accessible by 4 wheel drive. We walked down in ten minutes but would have taken an hour to get out by foot. Luckily, all 6 of us got a ride out in the back of a powerful pick-up truck. The people driving had seen us playing in the raging surf and felt obliged to give us a ride because they were hoping we would save them if they got caught in the rip tide!

Yesterday we tagged along with Katie and Jeneen again to Volcanos National Park. This was the third time we have been to the park but it is huge and full of amazing hiking and vistas. We played in the lava tube and then headed down Chain of Craters Road to have a picnic by the ocean.

After the park we went out to the county lava viewing site at Kalapana and checked to see where the lava is. It is free to see what you can from the road but the county restricts hikes over the lava to the actual flow to guided tours. We didn't want to pay $50 each so we killed time until after the security guards had left and came back with our gps, head lamps and hiking shoes. (This is extremely dangerous and I would never do it without someone who had previous experience. We had another couchsurfer with us, Alex who had experience.)

Oh my Bob, I have never seen anything so incredible. The soul of the earth, Pele's blood, the fire within! The only way you can explain the creation of new land seems to be with mystical metaphors. We roasted marshmallows over the lava and poked it with sticks. The ambient air temperature was at least 45 degrees Celsius and the lava itself is around 2000 degrees Celsius! The sound it made was like ice cracking and glass shattering.

We drove home completely satisfied and in awe of nature's creation.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hoo bee doo. Jay has come down with a head/chest cold and is currently taking a nap. I feel bad for him because being sick when it's nice out sucks. I hope I don't catch it!

We haven't been up to much lately. Since we got this apartment we've mostly been sticking around Hilo. We went to Puna briefly on the weekend and have been to Mauna Kea once this week and are going up again tomorrow.

Today could be interesting however! I'm waiting around for our friend Bryan's little brother, Steve, and his girlfriend to show up. They are on the Big Island for the week and we said we'd take them to see some neat stuff on this side of the island. They have a rented Jeep which is awesome because there are a lot of cool places you can't get to without 4 wheel drive or the time to hitchhike. I think we'll head down to Kalapana this evening to check out the lava if we can.

I've been feeling homesick, nothing new. I've been away from my friends and family for too long now and I've resolved to not travel extensively for the next few years. That doesn't mean I won't be traveling just no more 4 month trips. After a few months it becomes a job to keep yourself occupied, at least for me it does. I've been spending a lot of time following the revolution in Egypt and reading novels as always but I need to be involved in real work (not necessarily a job) and community to feel fulfilled. I am happy to not be WWOOFing because of the situations we've encountered here but that was the purpose of this journey and now I just feel lost in my own little world. Disconnected.

It is lovely here and I will always be able to look back on this time and think how fortunate we are to be able to live the way we do. The anticipation of returning home is just as fun as the anticipation of leaving was. We have so much to look forward to at home and I feel like we've been collecting the ideas we need to start working on the rest of our lives. That's what I want to be doing.

Well, I am going to go try to find a project to occupy myself!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hilo Town

We have rented a room for in Hilo for the month of February. This is a great development because it means we don't have to fool around with wwoofing. After our experiences here, good and bad, we're a little worn out on wwoofing and considering the fact that we will be returning home to do another apprenticeship, it will be nice to take a break from it.

We met our roommates, Shannon and David, early in January when they were couchsurfing at Bob's place at the same time as us. They are a lovely couple from Northern California who are both attending University of Hawaii at Hilo.

We are hoping to use our time here in Hilo to go up Mauna Kea more often and have a place to spring from when we go on camping trips around the island. Jay also got himself a fishing rod and is happy about that. Also, we now have a spot for people to crash if they come to visit. *wink wink*

Yesterday we went for a hike with another couchsurfer, Nick, in Volcano Park. We explored a lava tube and hiked across Kilauea Iki, the crater adjacent to Kilauea Caldera. It was pretty magical. I'm looking forward to going back to the park this week with our friend Nick from Oahu who is coming for a visit!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I Love About the Big Island

  • Hitchhiking! It's easy, fast and safer than at home. Free as well!
  • Coconuts and many wonderful fruits grow in abundance everywhere. Lilikoi! Avocado! Also free!
  • Rainbows and moonbows make my day or night!
  • Domestic animals gone wild! Hawaii features feral pigs, goats, horses, turkeys, and even donkeys! (Sadly, also cats and dogs who are less able to fend for themselves.)
  • The Hawaiian language is beautiful and fun to get the hang of as it is written phonetically. Humuhumunukunukuapua'a! Also, the locals speak Pidgin which is a lot of fun to listen to and incorporate into your speaking. Shoots Brah! Mo Bettah!
  • Big dudes playing ukulele. It is just the tiniest guitar being played by a giant man and I love it! I also enjoy when anyone plays uke on the bus or in public.
  • Honu (turtles), dolphins, manta rays, sharks and whales and all the beautiful creatures of the sea.
  • Mauna Kea Observatory and the clear nights for star viewing.
  • Black sand, white sand, and green sand!? Kick ass beaches!
  • Fresh seafood! Poke, mahi mahi, ahi, it's all tasty.
  • Pakalolo! The green grows here like back at home except outdoor, year-round. Comparable prices too.
  • The bus is free even if it is infrequent.
  • Shaka it to me! The shaka or "hang loose" hand signal is good fun to give and receive.
  • Aloha Spirit. The people here are giving, friendly and generally helpful. Aloha is in the air.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Star Mountain

Mauna Kea kuahiwi ku ha'o ika malie

(Mauna Kea is the astonishing mountain that stands in the calm)


We just had a three day party at Uncle Bob's house with some wonderful couchsurfers from France and England as well as our friend Graham (he is one of the Canadians who picked us up hitchhiking last week).

When Graham picked us up we told him about Mauna Kea and the awesome volunteer program (link here). We are encouraging everyone we meet here to do this because it is such a unique opportunity to learn about astronomy in this special place. I didn't know if he would but he showed up at Mauna Kea on Saturday night and got a ride with us back to Hilo Town that night and partying ensued.

Mauna Kea means "white mountain" because it is often topped with snow and ice. At the peak (approximately 14000 ft) you are above 40% of the Earth's atmosphere. There is a tropical lake fed by permafrost near the summit called lake Waiau. The ancient Hawaiians would bring the umbilical cords (piko) of their children here for good luck. The lake itself was considered the "umbilical connection" to the earth.

The ancient Hawaiians revered this place as the domain of the gods. It was known as Mauna O Wakea or Mountain of the deity Wakea (the sky father). It is the tallest mountain in the world (not the highest peak) and it seems absurd that you can just drive your 4x4 all the way up.

I could go on! This is a place rich in spiritual history and scientific discovery. The telescopes on Mauna Kea are of the highest quality and plans are moving forward to build the largest mirror yet. At 30m across it will be three times that of the largest mirror currently. The larger the mirror, the more light can be collected and therefore we will be able to see farther back in "time". We are seeing things billions of light years away now, so this means we will be even closer to seeing back to the "big bang".

I think this is the most exciting and rewarding thing we have done on Hawaii and we plan on volunteering as much as we can before we leave. The people we have met up there, rangers, employees and other volunteers have all been so wonderful.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Makalawena, Pololu Valley and Hawi

This has been a great week for us, filled with radventure and new sights!

We left Hilo on Monday to go to our new farm and found it to be more than adequate. Our hosts are a lovely couple, Norm and Lisa. Norm is a direct descendant on Kamehameha, the first Hawaiian Chief to unite the Hawaiian Islands. She is a feisty little powerhouse of a woman! Lisa is a sweet, intuitive lady and a great cook (chocolate coconut creme pie!) originally from Tennessee.

They have 20 acres of land outside of the town Na'alehu in the southern part of the island. It is considerably drier here than back up in Hilo/Puna area. The farm is in the early stages of growing pineapples, tomatoes and many other tasty things. We have to be careful to not wander off of the paths because there is a lava tube running through the land and if you are not careful you can fall into a puka (hole) 50 ft deep! There is also a beautiful Ohia forest and many native plants.

We worked two long days weeding and cleaning house and then we were set free to wander the island again. Our hosts gave us a ride up to Kekaha Kai State park north of the Kona airport where we hiked to the beach over a field of chunky a'a lava. We took a break by the abandoned Magoon house and kept on north over more lava to the hidden treasure of Makalawena Beach. We swam and watched the sunset and camped in the trees. In the morning we were woken up by the wild goats that wander around that area. It's private land and the caretaker nicely told us that we wouldn't get away with camping there another night.

So we hiked back out to the highway, scoring five young coconuts on the way! Jay got a wasp sting through his shirt but I think he would say it was worth it. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and it super thirst quenching.

I was watching the planes fly overhead while we tried to hitchhike northwards and feeling homesick for Canada knowing that we are flying out of that airport in two months. We were told it is more difficult to hitchhike on Kona side due to most of the traffic being tourists but we only waited about fifteen minutes and a white Mustang convertible pulled over! The most obvious of tourist rental cars!

I knew the driver, Kevin, was a Canadian within five minutes of chatting with him. Mostly because his sentences were punctuated with the f-word. We blasted some classic rock tunes including Loverboy and he drove us to Hapuna Beach, a beach often judged the best in the country. And it was so nice! After a swim and some sun we all went to get food farther up the coast.

After local grass-fed beef burgers (yum!) Kevin graciously drove us to our next camping destination, Pololu Valley. What a great guy! I got my taste of Canada after all. At the Pololu Lookout we ran into some cool kids including a girl from Salt Spring Island and then we ventured down into the valley.

This was a perfect spot for camping! I'll post photos soon! Black sand beach, sand dunes covered in tall trees and a lake in behind. There are no facilities, you have to bring all of your own water but it is not crowded at all and is entirely mystical!

When we hiked out the next day we got a ride back into Hawi with yet another Canadian from Vancouver Island. We had planned to hitchhike to Hilo but after two and a half hours we gave up and went back to Hawi to get a hotel room. Nothing beats a bed and a hot shower after a week of working hard, hiking hard and sleeping in hammocks. Hawi is a pretty little town in North Kohala. We plan on coming back up here to whale watch (they mate and calve between here and Maui) and do some more camping before we leave.

We have almost made it around the whole island! Three sleeps until star mountain!