PubToPub Home

 

Travel Gallery

 

 

USA

Feb 2004 - Autumn 2004

 

 

Feb 2004

Sydney to Hawaii

 

March 2004

Hawaii

 

April 2004

Hawaii

     

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top of page

 

 

February 2004

We had a bit of an adventure before we returned the car. We decided to ship our camping gear back to Wisconsin as we won’t need it in Hawaii or Washington and won’t want to pay for the extra baggage on the many flights we’ll be taking. We asked at 2 different Post offices and both said the only limitation for sending a package with them is a 20 kilo weight limit. No size restrictions? Nope. Use any old box you can find .. no limits there either .. as you don’t find big packing boxes for sale as we used to in Madison. So we found 4 boxes including 2 long enough for our Thermarest mattresses. Originally we planned to pack them up Sunday and ferry them to the Post office Monday morning using bikes and trailers and the little river ferry. The Post is about 2 blocks or less up the hill from the river. But since we were so cozily ensconced in Devonport earlier than planned, we just packed up the boxes and Larry dropped me and the boxes off at the Post Friday 4pm while he circled the blocks a few times. Well .. when I asked the guy behind the desk if I could fill out the customs forms before getting in line, he eyed the boxes and said all exceeded the girth limitations. Girth limitations??? The other folks never mentioned that. He copied me the page from the official book and what could I do .. besides panic?? He gave me the address of a company who might handle the boxes, so as Larry circled the blocks once again, he found me and the boxes waiting for a lift. Back to the east side of the river where blessedly the company was open and could take the packages and ship them to Wisconsin. The bad news is that they come in on a container ship to a Milwaukee port and we have to ask Heidi to go down and retrieve them when she is notified. Sure miss good old UPS. We really needed a beer after that .. just thinking how we’d have handled all that Monday on our bikes and still catch the ferry.

Returned the car to Launceston, hiked the rain swollen Cataract Gorge. The bridge was closed but the chairlift was open, so we took that one way. Scary going over the raging South Esk River. I feared my sandals would fall off and into the river. Caught the 1pm Spirit of Tasmania III to Sydney. On this one, you had to book a cabin or sleep in a dorm. We went for the dorms to save $200AU each and it was a hoot. You could take an elevator to the 8th floor, but then had to walk outside up to the dorms and walk again outdoors to a toilet. It did rain, but we survived. Tickets included a very good buffet dinner and breakfast. Caught a new video about the extinct Tasmanian Tiger .. or is it??? There are people who think there still are a few.

It was a pleasant smooth ride and a beautiful one as we entered Sydney Harbor the next morning and saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and all the big buildings. Hot and sunny and beautiful. A news helicopter buzzed around us a bit, probably reporting on the evening news how the Spirit was an hour late again. The Spirit III trip to Sydney is new, beginning January and hasn’t had a good on-time track record. But no one but the news people seem to mind too much.

We docked at Darling Harbor and figured out how to get to the YHA we were booked into. As Larry waited with the bikes and I waited in queue to register, Marion Taschler from Burke, VA stopped to chat about our Bike Fridays. She and husband Rich ride a tandem Bike Tuesday and had it packed in their room upstairs. So they came to our room in a short while and we had beers and wine .. well mostly Larry and I did .. and got to know each other. We went to dinner that night at Blackbirds in Darling Harbor, went to the Bridge the next day but separated and lost each other, then another day ferried to Parramatta and enjoyed dinner at an Irish Pub in the Rocks. They left for 6 weeks in New Zealand Friday while we ferried to Manly for a day at one of Sydney’s beaches. We enjoyed the monorail, lots of bus rides, the Rocks and Circular Quay areas. Often a street musician or didgeridoo player or something. The night we ate at the Irish pub with them, Larry and I had to return to pick up a key for another dingy little hotel we moved into for a few days as the YHA had no room in the inn for us. The guy wanted us there by 7pm and Larry was nervous about making him wait, so before dinner we decided to bus back while Rich and Marion went and finalized a didgeridoo purchase. All was fine when we got on a bus near Circular Quay, heading towards Sydney Central station. Soon the bus was filled to overflowing, people everywhere on the sidewalks, everyone on cell phones in a panic. We found out that all the trains were shut down because of a suspected gas leak in the train tunnel near Town Hall. Well, we finally got off the bus and got our key, but still many many upset people and it took awhile to get back to the Pub.

Rumors then of possible train slowages the next week as the train system is in a mess, engineers are being checked for drugs and health issues and yanked. We were OK on our train to Canberra on Sunday and back Tuesday. I picked a hotel out of Lonely Planet and it turned out to be right in downtown Canberra, near a bus transfer point, around the corner from a good Irish pub .. and there was a Greek festival going on when we arrived. What’s not to like??? We visited Parliament House on Monday and reserved a place in the visitors gallery for the House of Representatives question hour on Tuesday at 2pm. What luck!! Parliament was just reconvening after a winter holiday break and we were there for the opening session. We got to see John Howard and his cronies Abbott and Costello and the new opposition bloke Mark Latham who just won the Labor party leadership in December and the former leaders Simon Crean and Kim Beazely. They had just agreed on a Free Trade Agreement with the US and John and the boys were in heaven. But whenever one side answers the question at hand, the opposition side guffaws and mutters and yells and hoots. It was great. But why, we wonder, do we only recognize men politicians (except for Pauline Hanson of course, but she’s another matter altogether) and why only House of Representative people? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …. We also toured the new National Museum of Australia and took a walking tour of some of the embassies. We didn’t remember enough of Bill Bryson’s book to know where to go to see all the discarded yellow bags of brochures nor the loser models for the Sydney Opera House competition. But all in all we enjoyed our time in Canberra and wished we had more time. We enjoyed a nice Irish session at the pub around the corner from the hotel.

Another day we trained to the Blue Mountains and took a tram tour to the Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba and enjoyed the Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway and Scenisender. The Railway is a 45° incline, one of the steepest in the world.

And on Feb. 13 we were sad to leave Australia. We enjoyed our 9 months here. But we got all of our kit onboard an Air Canada flight to Honolulu and spent all of our remaining $AU. Nice flight, good food, wine with meals, lots of movies. We arrived close to midnight on Feb 12 and spent the night sitting at the airport. A couple from PA was there too and we got lots of good information from them, as they come to Hawaii every year. A surprise to us was that there are mongooses all over the island. They look a bit like squirrels with a dragging tail. They dart across the roads frequently and are really fast. They were brought in to eat the rats in sugar cane fields, but as the rat is nocturnal and the mongoose isn’t, the mongoose eats bird eggs and such and is a nuisance.

We rented the top floor of the Hibiscus House 30 miles south of Hilo for 2 months. We talked about biking to the House, but decided to rent a car and were glad we did. We met the downstairs renters, a family from Michigan here for 1 month and onto the Kona side for 2 months. They home school the 8 and 9 year old children and do a lot of traveling. Then we settled in and took a long nap. It took us a few days to get over jet lag and just be lazy because we could and it is hot. We have a wonderful lanai around the house and it’s just magical to sit there and watch the birds and enjoy the hibiscus and other flowers and the coconut palms. There’s a small tidal pool in the yard that’s about 85° and offers a refreshing dip. Two guys and a truck drove in one day. One shinnied up a coconut palm, dropped a coconut for his buddy to test for ripeness, then cut and lowered a whole bunch of coconuts, shinnied down and repeated this on another tree. Incredible thighs he must have. A short walk to the ocean which is all black lava rock with tidal pools and great snorkeling. 2 miles down the road is a big public thermal pool that we didn’t even try yet. The whole area is formed by lava flows and is just moon-like.

We visited the Volcano National Park one day, traveled north along the coast one day and just veg lots of the time. Took a couple of 22 mile bikerides, one along the coast and one to Pahoa to check it out. It’s so easy to sit in Tasmania in the cold and wind with the bikes all packed up and talk about biking often to Pahoa for breakfast. It’s quite another thing to sit in 90° humid temps and actually set out to do it. But we did do it. Visited Lava Tree State Park on the way which is the remains of a lava flow that surrounded oiha trees, burned them out and left lava casts of the tree trunks. A small joint in Pahoa sells Johnsonville brats. Closed Mondays, but we’ll be back. Lots of Steinlager beer from New Zealand. Fun Markets in Hilo and Pahoa selling all kinds of veggies and fruits and Kona coffee and Hawaiian clothes. We’re enjoying the papaya and small apple bananas.

DD and Heidi and family and a few friends will join us here. We can’t wait to see little Jaime precious and are gathering a few toys for her amusement. Every tourist brochure lists Mardi Gras in Hilo as a calendar activity, but we couldn’t find anything happening on Feb 24. We are so happy that Ruth and Sid from Melbourne area are coming for a week. They are such wonderful Aussie friends. Rita Benish from Madison is our first guest and anxious to see it all, so we’ll be on the road.

The islands have been inundated with storms, lots of rain and wind, so our activities are curtailed some. We’ll save most of the Hawaii pictures for next month.

 

March 2004

We had a grand time with Rita. She had the car rental and took us all around. She drove through some horrendous rain. We enjoyed Malasadas .. Portuguese doughnuts filled with Bavarian or chocolate cream, strawberry, strawberry guava or pineapple mango. They are hot raised sugared doughnuts and delicious. They are a specialty at the Tex drive-in in the north east corner of Hawaii in Honaka’a. Along the coast is the view of the Waipio Valley with glorious waterfalls, steep cliffs and taro farms. Another favorite stop was a park at Laupahoehoe down the coast towards Hilo. There are big lava rocks in the water and the surf just crashes in with big splashy crashy sprays. We bought folding camp chairs and sat and enjoyed the views with Rita and later with Betty and Joel Schliefer from Minneapolis and Sid and Ruth Chapman from Melbourne. The whole coast was hit hard by a tsunami on April 1, 1946. 24 children and teachers were killed at the Laupahoehoe site and there is a wonderful remembrance and news details posted there.

We traveled around the island with Rita and later with Deirdre and spent a night at Uncle Billy’s hotel in Kona. Both times we snorkeled and saw wonderful fish and coral. It is so amazing to snorkel right from shore and see so many beautiful fish varieties immediately. With Rita we visited the famous painted church, a coffee co-op and a couple of historic parks with war temples and King Kamehameha links. Many times we saw signs about sea turtles resting on shore and in the water and to give them space as they are endangered. Finally we saw one resting .. and it was huge. The very next day we saw one swimming in our own little snorkeling cove down the street from Hibiscus House. We saw them frequently after that. A young girl pointed out that there are 3 turtles down there .. one missing a front left flipper, one with a big barnacle on its head, and a healthy one. We soon saw all 3 and once Deirdre saw 2 turtles together.

We visited the Volcano National Park 6 times and it was different every time. It is always cooler in the park but it was pretty nice with Rita and by ourselves. Greg Sheehy from Madison gave us grief when we took him and Barb there and it was bitterly cold and windy. Paradise my foot he was saying. It was cold when we went with Mary and Carl Tighe from Janesville and Sarah and Joe Pillar from Ohio but not windy. The air was full of sulphur and the steam vents and steaming sulphur were a sight. Only Larry and Joe ventured to the rim of the Kilauea Caldera and braved the choking sulphur fumes. And it rained when we took Sid and Ruth Chapman and daughter Deirdre. Betty and Joel took a bus tour to the park from their island cruise ship and although it was pouring rain at Hibiscus House that day, they managed to stay dry whenever the bus stopped for them to see the sights.

We took everyone to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory. You could do a self tour and peer in and watch the workers packaging the nuts. TV monitors at each station give an upbeat view of Mac the Nut being picked and processed. It had a nice little gift shop and a blowup Mac to be photographed with. Rita and I tasted at the Mehana Brewery in Hilo and we enjoyed Kona beers in Kona. Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls and the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens were also beautiful stops. Rita, Ruth and Sid and Deirdre saw the most as they stayed a week or more. We just couldn’t fit it all in with those short termers who only visited 3 days. And we had to allow plenty of lanai time to soak up the paradise moments. Little green geckos entertained us when the sun was shining. They could do amazing leaps from lanai to Hibiscus tree and from branch to branch. It was fun to see them catch a fly for lunch.

One of everybody’s favorite places was about 15 miles south of the house, along a wonderful narrow and winding coast road. There the village of Kalapana was destroyed by lava flows in 1990. The flows extended the coast line by many hundred feet. You can park and walk out on the pahoehoe (flat) lava until you reach the black sand beach at the coast. People are planting coconuts and a field of coconut palms is growing. It is so relaxing to sit and enjoy the roar of the ocean and the stiff sea breeze. The road from there is closed through to the Volcano National Park where you can walk on the lava flows on the other end of the closure. This end is a rare treat outside the usual tourist path. There is a Verna’s Drive-in there too, where you can enjoy a Loco Moco with Spam or Portuguese sausage or teriyaki beef. There is another painted church nearby that was moved from Kalapana just as the lava flowed behind and closed the road, the Star of the Sea Church. Larry and I found it open the first time we visited and a local guy talked to us about it for over an hour. It was most interesting and beautiful and historical. Unfortunately we never found it open again so our guests only got the outside view.

We cooked salmon with pesto, lots of asparagus and bean sprouts and pea pods, pesto pasta, corned beef and cabbage, Swedish pancakes with coconut and guava syrups and drank lots and lots of wine. We enjoyed meals out at Luquins Mexican restaurant in Pahoa, at Godmother’s in Pahoa, Pescatore and Harringtons in Hilo and the Kilauea Lodge. Harringtons was our favorite. They have awesome Caesar salad and Slavic steak that leave you reeking with garlic. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ….

It was so special to have so many friends and family visit. It felt like we weren’t even gone for 15 months. It was wonderful to have Sid and Ruth join us from Melbourne. They have so many International friends just because they are so friendly to everyone they meet. We were out checking the stars one night and Ruth asked “where is the big saucepan?” We chuckled .. she was asking about the Big Dipper.

The boxes we shipped from Tasmania arrived but Heidi had a fiasco with them first. They wanted to charge an extra $500 but she got them down to $250 or so. Then we left the original shipping address labels on the box (per the shippers advice) so customs said friends Ken and Sooz had to pick them up instead of Heidi. Ken printed, signed and faxd a letter to Heidi naming her as the receiver and all went well after that. Never again!!

April 2004

Heidi, Brian and Jaime arrived early April. Jaime was a great traveler until Honolulu, then wore them all out and lost it. She and Brian had to go right to bed to recover. But then she was great. She is just a sweetheart and soooooooooooo cute and smart. She loved all the toys we’d accumulated and just ran around like a little tornado. She loves Shrek, so we saw it quite a few times .. whenever she needed a rest. She loves “Gonkey”. We got to have her one day to ourselves and we went to the zoo. She was so good and didn’t cry or ask for Mama or DaDa even once. Hilo has a great free zoo with just rainforest animals. Deirdre came toward the end of their visit and brought her an Elmo doll which became a favorite. Deirdre is looking for favorite aunt status. She’d already given her a favorite frog toy they call Tad. (And has since sent Gonkey and Shrek dolls.)

After our island tour with Deirdre, we had to clean up the Hibiscus House. We moved to the Seaside Hotel in Hilo and cleaned the day before we left, or we would never have made the plane. We flew to Seattle with Deirdre and are staying a month with her. We registered to vote, got our library cards and are studying to pass the test to get our Washington drivers licenses .. to make us official Washington residents, as we’ve been claiming on our tax forms. We are enjoying spring buds and flowers and the clear views of Mount Rainier.

We spent 3 days in a cottage on the Oregon coast. It was beautiful but rainy and cold and windy and we missed Hawaii. Luckily we had a nice outdoor hot tub to warm up in. We ferried to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and spent a night. We are lucky to find dog friendly places so Murrey can travel with us. What did we do without the Internet??? Next week we are doing a whale watching tour in the San Juan Islands from 7:30 am til 7pm for only $20 each. We’ll have a few hours in Friday Harbor to have lunch and cause mischief. We get to see Murrey perform at agility and team classes. He’s so smart and cute. He used to be Circus Dog at class, but now is a star. An added bonus is that there is a Krispy Kreme shop nearby the classes so we got to enjoy this treat for the first time. Can’t say they’re as dynamo as we’ve heard, but getting a hot fresh free doughnut sure can’t be beat. We found a DVD player for Deirdre that can play all zone DVDs, so we’ve been watching our Kath and Kim shows from Australia. Deirdre likes them too ..phewww !! They are a hoot.

We’re looking through our 1.5 years of mail, getting another Olympus camera (nice package with filters and lenses) and MP3 player so we can each have one, getting hooked on e-bay. We sublet an apartment in Madison and will spend the summer there getting medical and dental checkups and catching up with friends and family. We look forward to my 40th class reunion in Manitowoc late July and staying at the Inn on Maritime Bay with lots of friends. And of course Irish Fest in Milwaukee mid-August. And we’ll be at Jaime’s second birthday party.

We booked tickets to Milan for September 14 and will continue the adventure from there. I think no more log entries until Europe. Check back in Fall.