Tag Archives: hawaii

At 13,000 feet…

21 Jun

Have you ever been to 13,000+ feet above sea level? I have. The Cap’n and I heard about Mauna Kea while we were in the intoxicating islands of Hawaii and thought- we must see it. The tourist guides told stories of the locals driving up the mountain/volcano and filling up pickup trucks with snow so they could have a snowball fight down below in bathing suits, tube tops, tiny shorts, and sunglasses. Did you know that Hawaii gets snow? I had no idea. It seems pretty logical when I realize just how big that mountain is….

Wikipedia says:

The peak of Mauna Kea is 13,803 feet (4,207 m) above mean sea level, about 100 feet (30 m) taller than neighboring Mauna Loa and about 30,000 feet (9,100 m) above its base on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. By this measurement, Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest mountain, taller than Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain above sea level.

whoa nelly.

That’s big. It’s pretty cool that one can just hop in a four wheel drive car and drive on up to the tallest point. Basically, I was unimpressed by this experience, though. Wha-Wha-What? Say what!?

Well, the tour was fine. The guide was corny-funny, super nice, and very knowledgeable, but…

the landscapes were not that glorious. So much of the the area is very dry. Lava fields fill the space between Kona and the mountain and when we weren’t driving through endless coal black areas- we were looking at any other ole mountain. It didn’t even compare to the Alaskan Range, Denali, or the Smokies. There’s just so much beauty there.

But anyway…It wasn’t without a spectacular view. The very top was an interesting experience and made the long tour worthwhile. It’s neat to be above the clouds with feet still firmly on the ground. It was slightly ruined for me because of the humongous observatories at the top that were interrupting my view. Perhaps I just can’t appreciate technology fully.

Pic by Alan L. feat. on Wikipedia

Plus we needed parkas for this adventure. We weren’t ready for parkas so soon after a long Alaska Interior winter.

After watching the sun go down, we drove back towards the visitor center where we could set up a telescope and view the stars. This was also pretty cool. It would have been a lot cooler to someone who can actually locate the little dipper. Oh well…I tried. I tried hard. In all honesty, I didn’t see hardly anything the astronomer pointed out. This is just not my cup of tea. But, the stars were beautiful. Magnificent. Unpolluted by city lights. Perfect. One can really see God’s majesty up there.

Pic by MP Wright feat. at Mauna Kea Summit Adventures

The guide packed up his telescope while I jogged up to the gift shop for a quick look around. On the way back to the bus, I noticed these huge telescopes outside. Oh man…now, this is cool:

I got to see the rings around Saturn. Not many people can say that, right? It was pretty nifty.

What else did I learn? I learned that at 13,000 feet I’m slightly more crazy in love with my silly, wonderful husband. Some may say that the lack of oxygen made me giddy and dizzy, but me….I know the truth!

Adios!

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Zip a dee doo dah…

16 Jun

Did you know that I’m a big, fat scaredy cat? I am. I haven’t always been, though. I remember a time, when I was just a young tike, when scary movies made me laugh and rollercoasters shot adrenaline through my veins. I didn’t fear much. Or at least I didn’t fear as much as I do now.

I took some steps in overcoming my ridiculousness this past week. I went ziplining for the first time. If you’ve never done this, you should make it a point to do so. Go ahead, add it to your bucket list!

We couldn’t have chosen a better place to zip across. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

pssst..hey…

15 Jun

Look at those two! They are bad to the bone, right? Rockstars. Supafly. Awesomeness seeps out of their whole being. Wanna know why?

Well, Captain J and I completed our open water dive certification. Pretty cool, huh? We started this adventure way back in October with hopes of accomplishing this task in NZ, but it never happened. Desparate to not dive in dry suits and excrutiatingly painful AK water, we made it a top priority to finish up our dives some place a bit warmer. I was so glad we did.

I cannot describe to you how nervous I was before Dive #1. I mean….how weird is it to be able to breathe underwater? It just doesn’t seem right. I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to throw myself into the depths of the ocean (40 feet) and trust  man-made equipment to sustain my endless need to inhale/exhale?’ Eventually I learned to trust the guides, the regulator, and myself which in turn built my self-confidence. It truly is a blessing to be able to explore the depths of an unknown place, another part of God’s creation. There’s so much more out there than what we can see.

Scuba diving is fantastic. We’re hooked. We saw all sorts of interesting fish, eels, dolphins, and coral. On our last dive, there was talk of a 12 foot Tiger Shark when we surfaced but thank goodness I didn’t see that. That might have stopped my heart for a few seconds! That might have ruined diving for me. It’s just too soon to be swimmin’ with sharks, ya know?

Captain J was wonderful in encouraging and comforting me underwater. I had a little talk with him beforehand. I told him that I wasn’t one of his Army buddies–I wasn’t fearless–I was nervous and I was allowed to be scared. Essentially, I told him I wanted him to baby me (hehe). He claims he didn’t have to, though. We had fun in this experience and actually did the whole pukey romantic thing of holding hands while we explored. We may or may not have broken out a few car moves in the ocean, too. Yeah, we’re that couple. The weirdos. Ahh, well…

We ended up finishing up the vacation with four dives under our belts, a sweet new certification card for each of us and the hope of being able to dive again soon. It feels good to have accomplished something new and fun-together.

Have any of you ever tried scuba diving? If so, did you enjoy it? If you haven’t done it, would you?

More on Hawaii later.

Place of Refuge

13 Jun

Here’s a fact that I wasn’t aware of prior to our trip to the Hawaiian Islands: There are many (many) places throughout the Islands where tourists aren’t welcome. The natives have certain beaches and portions of land that are held sacred to them so walking on these reserved spaces is frowned upon. I cannot believe that they’re getting away with this, but I think it’s excellent. I mean, c’mon…. Look what the white man did to the rest of the continental United States. There just aren’t many places set aside for preserving other cultures anymore.

*Notice the raised stone altars just outside our hotel. These are reserved for the Natives' prayer time.

There was one particular beach that looked beautiful from the ocean, but it was only open strictly to Native children. I was sorta jealous but mostly just in awe. It was gorgeous. We scuba dived near that particular beach.

Other restricted areas are open for viewing and respecting, but swimming is prohibited. One of these such places is found on the Big Island and it’s deemed the Place of Refuge. It was so serene there-

We visited this National Park the first full day we had on the island. It was really neat to be welcomed and informed by the natives of Hawaii on the Polynesian culture of the area. The vegetation and rituals were reminiscent of New Zealand. We caught glimpses of the Maori culture represented at the luau we went to later on in the trip. It was nice to reflect back on that trip and be reminded of what we were blessed enough to have experienced together.

While the Hawaiians have reserved sacred places of refuge around their land, the island and the experience was our refuge all week long.

Aloha!

More to come! By the way, I’m almost caught up on all of your blogs. Forgive me if I haven’t commented in awhile. You wouldn’t believe how many “unreads” I had in my Google Reader. I’ve had fun reading what you all have been up to the past week, though. 🙂

Snorkling Kona

13 Jun

What to write? I have so much to say about our adventures in paradise yet my computer battery icon is telling me that time is of the essence. I’m sitting in Anchorage on another dreadful layover. One more flight to go. I can’t tell you how good it will feel to be in my own bed… not that I’ll get to sleep because we are picking Drifter up as soon as we roll into ole F-banks. From what I’ve heard, he’s been pretty terrible.

But you didn’t come to my blog to hear me complain, did you? I just got back from a wonderful vacation with my loving husband so allow me to gush share with you some of our experiences and adventures.

When we got into Kona, we checked into our hotel and hit the sack as it was late at night when we arrived. Bright and bushy tailed the next morning, we hurried through breakfast so we could get a headstart on enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian sunshine. We decided to go snorkling because our hotel, the Outrigger, had a great snorkling beach on its premises.

We actually did a lot of snorkling during our vacay. In between our scuba diving excursions (more on that later), we dove into the water for an impromptu swimming session with dolphins. It was amazing and one of the coolest experiences of the whole trip. These playful spinner dolphins were swimming within an arms reach of Captain J and me. The pod consisted of about 40 dolphins…well, 42 if you count us pretending to be one of them. I hate that we didn’t have our camera with us that day. We saw so much under the water and it definitely has us intrigued for more. We look forward to exploring more of the ocean depths in other areas of the world!

I’ll leave you with a few more photos and the promise to write again soon about some of the other activities we did during week one of leave. More to come!