30 September 2007

HS7: Orchidland

When we reserved a few nights in a bed&breakfast in the Puna district the owners insisted that we arrive no later than 6 pm. This was quite puzzling to us in the beginning. When we reach the town Kea'au and started following the directions given we got some sense of why it might be smart going there in daylight at the first time you're trying to find the place. Suddenly we were in some kind of forest. More specifically a forest with lots of perfectly straight mutually perpendicular small roads (ehh, sorry.. avenues of course) that seemed only to be paved exactly along the series of right and left turns we were following.

27 September 2007

Blues For The Red Sun

In August we had lots of occasions to observe a curious weather related phenomenon that occurs particularly this time of year here in California.

You notice that the sunlight has a slightly unusual orange glow - it's reminiscent of the light you see right around sunrise and sunset, but admittedly a little strange in the middle of the day. You also notice how fine white (or pale grey) particles are falling from the sky and covering everything - peoples' cars, your bicycle, perhaps the windowsill - in a thin layer. That's when you realize it's ashes and the weather related phenomenon is called "wildfire weather".

As already mentioned we experienced it a lot in August, not least because of a wildfire in Los Padres National Forest just on the other side of the nearest mountain range - the socalled Zaca Fire. It started on July 4th (no, not from fireworks, but from spark from a metal grinder) and wasn't contained untill September 2nd.

24 September 2007

HS6: Flamingo Mail

One day, a little bit south of Captain Cook on the Kona coast, we noticed this mailbox. We would particularly like to commend the makers for their attention to detail (notice the nest at the feet of the flamingo).

Furthermore, we guess it's difficult for mailmen and other delivery agents to credibly claim they overlooked this particular mailbox.

Actually we didn't see any flamingoes of flesh and blood on Hawaii. There was a rich variety of smaller birds, though.

22 September 2007

HS5: Thirsty?

At first one can feel as if civilization is far away when standing inside Volcano National Park and looking down into the Kilauea Caldera: A Crater of some 6 square miles, a place that about 100 years ago had a lake of flowing lava. Inside, one can see an inner, even deeper crater, the Halema'uma'u crater, home of the volcano goddess Pele, and creaks everywhere around give off steam, rainwater that has been heated up by the mountain itself. Several places are pungent for the nose - volatile sulfur compounds that does away with any doubts one might have had as to whether the yellow deposits on the side of the crater really are sulfur.

Then it's nice to turn around and see one of the easily recognizable trucks from Coca Cola chugging along on Crater Rim Drive...

21 September 2007

HS4: The Fish Box

Today is a special day on the blog: This is the first non-
Californian mailbox we present here on the blog.

This Hawaiian mailbox was located across the street from Kahalu'u Beach where we first broke out the snorkeling gear. The fish is about as colourful as those we saw in the water but quite a bit larger.

It does modify Nemo's cute image a bit being seen here gulping down a mailbox.

HS3: Papakolea - the beach with green sand

One of the many reasons why we chose to go to Big Island for our vacation was that Lisbeth (well Tue too, but particularly Lisbeth) wanted to visit the beach with green sand - a nice geological consequence of the volcanic activity on the island.

The beach is located a little bit to the left of the southernmost point of the USA - quite aptly named 'South Point' - and it requires a solid hour of hiking across a desolate flat lava field with the trade wind head on.

We actually did try to start our day early in order to avoid hiking during the worst heat of the day, but due to various interesting experiences along the way it ended up being right around noon before we got started... tsk, tsk.

That Lisbeth stepped unfortunately and got a bleeding foot shortly after the beginning didn't exactly help towards enjoying the hike there, but it was definitely worth it. And fortunately we had tail wind on the way back.

Before we got all the way to the famous beach itself we passed by this spot (see photo) where green sand blends nicely with a stripe of red sand.

The sand on the beach was not quite as green as that in the picture since the olivine (the green mineral) is mixed with black sand, but it was distinctly different from the black sand beaches that we saw later on and when we looked more closely we could see the olivine sparkle like specs of gold in the black sand.

19 September 2007

3 nice things about our apartment

Prior to moving out of the other house there was 3 things in particular that we were looking forwad to enjoying when we got our own place:
  1. going to the rest room without worrying whether or not it would be busy
  2. being able to listen to music when we're cooking and the like
  3. getting rid of the constant background noise from the television

Now, three months after moving we're still very pleased with all 3 of these things :-)

This is where we live!

This week we finally put a sign on our front door with our names on it so that visitors can see that they have arrived at the right door.

18 September 2007

HS2: The first encounter with Hawaii's fauna

The morning after arriving in darkness we were quite excited about getting out and actually seeing what kind of place we had come to. Therefore, we drove from our pleasant Bed&Breakfast down towards the ocean where we wanted to begin with our first snorkling trip in the calm Kahalu'u bay.

On the way we stopped at a fantastic Scenic Point where one could see out over the slope with banana palms and lava stones and the ocean beyond.

Pretty quickly we spotted two geckos climbing around in a nearby tree and at first we felt rather lucky to have seen them. Taking a closer look we realized that the tree was swarming with these little fellas. Apparently they really like the fruits of this tree: the noni fruits. According to GeckoWeb (!) these are Gold Dust Day Geckos and all them descend from eight geckos released on campus by a student at the University of Hawaii in 1974.

16 September 2007

HS1: Beach at Pu'uhonau o Honaunau

Now we've gotten so far with sorting the pictures that we can introduce the latest category on this blog: Hawaii Stories!
Since we find ourselves bored by long, chronological vacation reports we've decided to pick a few events from the trip - mainly guided by which pictures we want to show you.

This first post shows the beach at the last remaining pu'uhonua - i.e. place of refuge - on the Big Island.

It was an important part of the old Hawaiian culture that those who violated a taboo - normally faced with capital punishment in order to avoid the wrath of the gods - would get a second chance if they succeeded in reaching the pu'uhonua before their tribe killed them. If they reached the pu'uhonua they would go through a ceremony after which they could safely return to their village. The pu'uhonua also served as a place of refuge for children, women and the elderly during times of war since it was universally respected.

The area is located very beautifully on the west coast and is surrounded by a large reef called 'Two Steps' which a few days after this visit gave us a wonderful snorkeling experience. On the day we took the picture a downpour began shortly afterwards. When we had been standing for 20 minutes und a palm tree (btw. not a very efficient guard against tropical rain) and after that also had been sitting for another 20 minutes in the car without it looking like clearing up anytime soon we decided to postpone any further investigation and go home.

12 September 2007

Garden News

You have probably all eagerly awaited our return so you could hear the latest news from the garden:

Mr. Squirrel has obviously gained weight while the 'new' squirrel is as skinny as ever and is also still being chased around a bit.
The inspection yesterday showed that cilantro cannot go 10 days without being watered. We hope that some TLC will make it grow back though. In contrast the basil, oregano and thyme looked well and healthy.

The front yard hummingbird has also been visiting a few times since our return but is as impossible to photograph as ever. Today we also had a brand new visitor: a little woodpecker that according to the birding book is a Downy Woodpecker.

11 September 2007

The hula girl's favorite coffee

This morning we landed back in Santa Barbara again; Bringing with us this lovely - and, now that we think about it, only - souvenir from Hawaii.

We're a little too tired to write something inspired here right now, but more will follow later. Tue has already started sorting the 595 pictures he shot over there.

We can however manage to give a few hints from the trip:
turtles, lava stones, water of all kinds, multiple climate zones, (spotted eagle) rays, olivine beach, orchids, colorful fish, malasadas and convertible (car).

Furthermore, we were fortunate to find a few delightful models for posts in the mailbox theme!