Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A few wedding photos...

Our photographer sent us a few teasers to tide us over until all of them are ready to go. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Something we just discovered...

...everyone else has probably figured this out, but we just discovered that if you click on any of the pictures in our blog, it will give you a full screen view. Not sure anyone wants to see us that big (except maybe you, Mom), but it really lets you see details of some of the photos, particularly the lava shots.

We're back!

The last few days of our trip were a little hectic, so we didn't have another chance to update the blog until now...

On Wednesday, we took a trip to Greenwell Farms, a coffee farm in Kona, and learned about the process of making pure Kona coffee. We were able to try several samples while we were there - so good! Later that afternoon, we went to another beach where we read, worked on our tans, and had another chance to watch some turtles. We ended the day with dinner at Roy's Waikoloa - we couldn't resist another meal at Roy's after our excellent experience in Kauai. It was just as good the second time!

Thursday was our travel day to Honolulu. We were fortunate to have smooth travels most of the time, but getting the rental car in Honolulu was a bit of a hassle. Standing in line for over an hour when you're wanting to get out and see the sights is not the ideal situation, but we were able to get a car and get on our way eventually. After we settled in to our hotel, we found a shave ice place, went for a walk along Waikiki beach, and had an early night.

Diamond Head Volcanic Crater from our hotel

Friday was a whirlwind. We got up early (5:30 am!) to hike up Diamond Head. It was a good hike - we saw the sunrise about midway up, and were treated to beautiful views of Honolulu from the top.

Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head

There was only one drawback - the rust! The handrails were covered in it - something we didn't realize until midway through. It was all over our hands, arms, clothes...and my face. The National Park Service needs to buy some paint!

Afterwards we went to Pearl Harbor, a very moving experience. We also toured a submarine that was used during WWII. We finished up the day with a drive up to the North Shore and back down the Windward side. Long drives in Hawaii are always an experience - one lane bridges, constant speed limit changes, random changes in highway names, no access roads... It was worth it to see the rest of Oahu, though, after the big city vibe of Honolulu.

Saturday was our day to return home. We were once again able to have first class seats on our flight thanks to Robert's grandparents, the Bradshaws. The seats on our flight to LAX almost fully reclined and had footrests, so we had a comfortable ride home!

Our honeymoon was amazing. We saw so many beautiful places, made lots of memories, and most importantly, enjoyed time together as we begin the rest of our lives together as husband and wife.

Thanks for keeping up with our adventures! We're planning to add updates periodically - including some wedding pictures!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday - Dolphins and Tikis

Today began with a snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay. The ocean floor was covered in coral, and we saw so many beautiful and interesting fish, including a large moray eel (2-3 feet long). The highlight of the excursion was seeing a pod of dolphins. There were probably 30-40 dolphins in the group, and they swam beside the boat for several minutes, treating us to a few jumps and spins along the way. I got some great photos, but they're all on the disposable waterproof camera - no digital. It was thrilling to stand on the edge of the boat and see the dolphins right below you. The captain told us that these Hawaiian dolphins are the only ones that jump and spin out in the wild - most that you see at aquariums and in shows have been trained to jump. They were so beautiful, and we were all sad when we had to leave to make it to our snorkel site.

Later in the day we drove south of Kona to see the Painted Church and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (the Place of Refuge). The church is a Catholic church that dates back to the 1800s. Over 5 years, a priest dedicated himself to creating frescos on the inside walls and ceiling. The detail and craftsmanship was inspiring.

The Place of Refuge is a site of great importance to the Hawaiians. In ancient times, Hawaiians had innumerable laws they were to follow, and breaking any law - even something as small as getting close to a chief, was punishable by death. However, lawbreakers had one way out - get to the Place of Refuge before being overtaken by their pursuers. The site was beautiful - it's Robert's favourite place we've visited. Open beach, swaying palm trees, basking turtles, and large tiki statues…it was truly enchanting. We arrived about an hour before sunset, and there were only a few people still there, so it was very quiet and peaceful. Unfortunately the camera battery died before we were able to take many pictures, but it was not a place that is easy to forget.

Tomorrow - more beach time, and maybe a trip to a coffee farm!

Monday - The Diversity of the Big Island

On Monday, we woke up early and drove back into Hilo for our second helicopter tour, this one of the volcano and the lava flows. While the overall scenery wasn't as captivating as that of Kauai, we were thrilled to look into the crater of a volcano and see red lava flows, as well as the sight of lava flowing into the ocean, creating new earth. The power of the volcano was so evident from the helicopter. We flew over a village that was enveloped by lava flows. Part of the small town still stands - with an operating B&B, but it is an island in a major lava field. There are no accessible roads - the only way in or out is by air. We saw streets that stood alone in the field that had dead ends on both sides, covered by lava. The air was also thick with gases from the volcano. It was an experience neither of us will soon forget.

Streets blocked by lava

Looking into the crater

New land being formed

After the helicopter tour, we enjoyed a good lunch at a cafe in Hilo (one of the places we'd tried to visit the day before). It was in a scary shopping center, but turned out to be one of our favorite meals so far. Then we began our drive to Kona that tooks us from the desolate lava fields through a rain forest, through ranch lands, and then back to the lava fields on the west side of the island. Along the way we made a few stops at points of interest. The most notable was a point on the north side where a small village was devastated by a tsunami 60 years ago. The power of the waves was mesmerizing. We also took a short hike through a state park to see Akaka Falls. The surrounding rainforest held so many beautiful varieties of flowers and plants, and we enjoyed seeing the waterfall up close. The final highlight of the drive was passing through the Parker Ranch. Our guidebook informed us that the Parker Ranch is the largest ranch in the US - over 225,000 acres. Not what you'd expect to find in Hawaii!

Akaka Falls

Watching the waves

The diversity of the terrains of the island is truly strange and beautiful. Each island is so different and has it's own character. We're having a great time getting to see it!

Photos from Volcano National Park

A Rift in the Lava Field

Steam vents

Can you find us in the rift?

Hiking in the lava tube

Looking over the crater

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Didn't they film a moon landing here....

Well, I am going to hijack the blog while Amy is in the shower. I don't know if anyone has seen it, but I feel like the guy in the Sonic commercial who tells his wife he is going to talk about the strawberry-banana shake he is enjoying in his blog.

We have had another great day. Once we finally got to Hilo, we had a little bit of trouble finding a good place to eat. We tracked down two places one of our books had recommended and they were both closed on Sundays. We were both famished and the area we were in wasn't all that great, so we finally buckled to the pressure of Taco Bell (how embarrassing)! After that, we were off towards the Volcano.

We stopped in to check into our room for the night. Amy booked us at a Lodge which is very cozy and rustic - I am guessing it has been around since at least the 40's. It gets into the 50's at night here (near the volcano) so we are planning to make good use of the fireplace in our room tonight. Amy had made us reservations at the Lodge restaurant which is supposed to be really good. We stopped by to check out the menu and we were trying to decide whether to stick with our reservation or venture out for something else when we noticed the menu included a congratulatory note on our new union. We decided it would be just plain rude not to show up after that. Once we got to our room, there was another congratulatory note that offered us a free champagne toast at dinner tonight. They don't have an iron here (that whole rustic thing) so I am quite a bit embarrassed to have to go to dinner in my wrinkled shirt knowing that we are the special guests of honor!

We made it out to the Volcano and needless to say it was a far cry from the scenery on the Garden Island of Kauai. It was sparse, desolate, alien, eerie and surprisingly beautiful. On the way there it got really hazy and we later realized that this was due to sulphur gases that are released from the volcano. Unlike most volcanoes that have a steep peak, this volcano is relatively flat and has many craters that remain from past eruptions. The whole area is surrounded by steam vents where ground water that has seeped into the earth is released in constant flows of steam. We also got a chance to hike through a dormant lava tube and see where lava had scorched the earth on the "devastation trail". On the trail you could see a clear demarcation where the forest was annihilated by flowing lava over 30 years ago, and how the forest is working to recover the area.

Apparently, the ability to actually see flowing lava changes on a week-to-week, day-to-day basis. I was a little disappointed when we found out we wouldn't get to see lava flowing, but I was so overwhelmed by the awesomeness of everything else that I ended up not minding about the lava. It was truly amazing to see the awesome power of nature through the steam vents and the cycles of destruction/creation caused by the volcano. The most surprising part of the volcano was how lush and fertile the land on/around the volcano was… It is truly amazing to see such an obvious reminder of God's unyielding power.

Our best to everyone on the mainland - we will post volcano pictures soon!

A special shout out (thanks) to Karen and Kristi for checking our mail while we are away - you're the best.

More Kauai Photos

View from the Kauai condo

Spouting horn

Dinner at Roy's

Saturday - A Hui Hou [See you later], Kauai!

Our last day in Kauai was pretty relaxed and low-key. We began the day with breakfast at Tip Top Café in Lihue. It was a simple place frequented by locals, and it's been there for over 90 years. After breakfast we made another stop by the Spouting Horn and visited the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. We opted out of the $70 tour, but enjoyed the free walk and scenery. We saw some interesting plants, including a tree with multi-colored bark. We concluded the afternoon with a short nap and some quality time at the beach working on our semi-golden tans.

The highlight of the day was dinner at Roy's. We were hesitant to try it since there are multiple locations, including one in Plano, but we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the best meal of the trip so far. I had monchong, a flaky white fish that was grilled with prosciutto, while Robert had the duet of ahi with warm blue crab potato salad and macadamia-crusted ono. We rounded off the meal with the famous chocolate soufflé. Since the soufflé takes 20 minutes to cook, we had to order it with our entrees. We waited for several minutes after finishing the entrees for our soufflé to appear, and the waiter came by a few times with updates on the progress. After about 10 minutes, he came by to say that ours "collapsed" and that another was on the way - which we think really means that ours was given to another table as we saw soufflé after soufflé come out the kitchen door. We were happy to have some time to rest in between courses, and they ended up comping the dessert, which made the soufflé even more enjoyable.

One of the interesting characteristics of Kauai is that there are chickens everywhere. You hear roosters crowing every morning, and always see a flock at every major parking lot. Apparently a group was released during a hurricane and they have proliferated in the wild. It seems to be an island joke, as you can buy t-shirts, signs, caps, etc. with chickens on them. While at spouting horn, we saw a mother hen and her baby chicks. Not exactly the wildlife we were expecting to see, but they were pretty cute and having fun searching for scraps left behind by tourists.

Today we're traveling from Kauai to Hilo on the Big Island to begin the second phase of our honeymoon. We're trading the "Garden Isle" for earthquakes and volcanoes. Truly an amazing place!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sunrise and the North Shore

Yesterday was another beautiful day in Kauai! We started off the day by getting up at 5 am and driving to a beach on the east coast to watch the sunrise. It was so beautiful and peaceful - the perfect way to start the day!

Afterwards we continued up the coast and visited Tunnels beach to lay out and do some snorkeling. Once we'd seen enough fish for the day, we visited the Queen's Bath, a large pool the size of several swimming pools carved by nature into a lava shelf. It has an inlet from the ocean that allows fresh seawater to flow in and out. From the parking lot, it was about a 15 minute hike down a muddy trail and over a field of lava rocks, but it was well worth it. We didn't get any digital pictures, but several with our waterproof camera. While there, we were treated by the sight of several sea turtles swimming just outside the pool. They entertained us for several minutes.

We ended the evening with a sunset dinner at the Beach House, a well known Kauai restaurant that is next door to our condo. It was a perfect day!

A Bird's Eye View of Kauai

A few photos from our helicopter tour on Thursday:

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Hawaii Time

Well, we are already a little behind on our blog.

We are off today to watch the sunrise on the East side of the island and then head North to visit some of Kauai's most beautiful beaches. We had a great day yesterday of fun in the sun (yes, it finally stopped raining) and went on an amazing helicopter tour of the island. The view from the sky gave us a taste of how gorgeous the island is and ideas on more areas to visit while we're here. We will post all of the details (and some more pics) sometime this weekend to get everyone caught up.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rain, rain, rain!

Robert and I decided to create a blog for our honeymoon and keep all of you back at home on the mainland up to date on our Hawaiian adventure. For those of you who were able to make it to the wedding, you know that we were blessed with perfect weather and a glorious day. We already have a few preview pics from our photographer, and I'll post some of those soon. Unfortunately the perfect weather did not come with us on the plane, but we're still having a wonderful time just being together.

Things post-wedding got off to a pretty rocky start. We drove back to Dallas from Austin on Monday, and as soon as we got to the house, I became violently ill. I don't know if it was food poisoning or a stomach bug, but I was incapacitated for the remainder of the evening and night. Fortunately my new husband was there, and he took great care of me. As he said, we thought we'd have a little more "in health" before we had to invoke the "in sickness" part of our vows!

Our flight to Kauai didn't leave until around 1:30 on Tuesday, so fortunately we had enough time to pack that morning when I was feeling a little better. The Bradshaws, Robert's grandparents, generously gave us enough miles to fly first class on our honeymoon, so we were able to relax on the flight and get some sleep. We arrived in Lihue, Kauai at 9:40 pm (1:40 am Central time).

We're staying in a beautiful condo on the south shore of Kauai in Poipu. It's been recently remodeled - the kitchen is nicer than the one in our house. :) We woke up to the sound of waves crashing outside the window, cloudy skies, and rain. Unfortunately the rain never seemed to pass, and from watching the news tonight, it appears we may have similar weather for the next few days. Although unexpected, we're still having a relaxing time.

We ventured out this morning and found a great breakfast place that served breakfast burritos and coffee - two of life's necessities. Afterwards we did some exploring and got our bearings on the south and west sides of the island. We went shopping, viewed Waimea Canyon ("the Grand Canyon of the Pacific"), got snowcones, saw a blowhole on the shore, and had our first scare when we visited the grocery store. Can you believe that milk is $7 a gallon? Liquid gold!

Once we were done exploring for the day, we returned to the condo, got in a nap, and went to dinner at Keiko's Paradise where we had fresh fish and lava flows (pina coladas with stawberry puree). Now we're wrapping up the evening by watching "Lost," a real treat since we haven't had a chance in awhile to watch one of our favorite shows together.

Hope everyone is doing well back at home! We'll try to post pictures soon!