A Travellerspoint blog

17 January, Tuesday

All night flight, arriving in Los Angeles at 0530 at the Delta concourses. The terminal was packed at that time of the morning. Had to waste a couple hours before our flight to Phoenix was scheduled to leave. Finally boarded, it was not a Delta plane, but a airlink; COMPASS. Much smaller, only two on each side of the aisle. Flew into Phoenix, weather always good, deplaned and awaited baggage.
Friends were waiting to pick us up for an easy ride home, then to unpack and attempt to get back on PHX time and weather.
A very slow day.

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16 January, Monday

Last day in Kona, slept in some and then had to pack up the suitcases. Did some last minute shopping before locking them. We had to check out of room by 1100 BUT departure was not until 10:30 that night, bummer. Put the suitcases in a YMT room and then had time to kill. We took the bus route in it entirety, a full 2 hours for $2. Not a bad way to kill time. Had a last meal at Splasher's and then awaited the 7:30 bus with all the others in the lobby.
Kona airport is unique. It is all open air, no jet ways, no buildings, only fencing and roofs. Three airlines had departures within 5 minutes of each other so the terminal was a madhouse. Finally got boarded, situated, nested and ready for the all night flight.
Bought a pair of noise cancelling head phones and do they work. Cut out more than half of the airplane noise.

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15 January, Sunday

Early departure from the hotel to the pier and the BODYGLOVE catamaran. We will be heading North of Kona a few miles for our snorkeling expedition. On the way a continental breakfast was offered as well as instructions and safety rules. With our group and others there were nearly 100 on the boat. All equipment was furnished as well as inner tubes, floaties and paddle boards. The ocean had some large swells and few waves when we entered the water. It was said to be 78 degrees, but I think not. Once used to the water it was comfortable. Many fish were spotted and one large Manta Ray. A unique feature of the area was the huge drop off about 100 feet from shore. It went another 60 - 70 feet down. Most of the fish were in the shallower areas.

Back from the boat ride, changed and ventured into the street market downtown. There at least 100 booths selling arts and crafts, some food and some vacations. The street was filled with both tourists and locals.

Evening brought us to the briefing for departure day, tomorrow. After that a group photo for history. Then entertainment of the evening, a local Luau. This was right on the grounds of the hotel. It was very similar to the Luau we went to earlier. They all feature drinks, all the food you can eat and entertainment.

This will be the last night in the hotel, however we do not leave the hotel until tomorrow evening, about 7 pm for a 10 pm flight. Will make for a long day.

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14 January, Saturday

Total day of leisure, Breakfast at Splashers, across the street. Very good food. Walked the strip of shops and then changed into swim gear and went to the pool. Again today there were no Trade Winds so the VOG was thick and heavy and the sun hot. Used the umbrella a lot.
Dinner that night was out, dining on local food.

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13 January, FRIDAY ? ?

Bad omen day but nothing bad happened., YEH.
Pick up at the hotel was 0630 for the ride to the airport, then the flight from Maui to Hilo on the Big Island (Hawaii). Once there, with the bags loaded we departed Hilo and started our trek around the South end of the island to Kona.
First stop on the way was a Macadamia Nut Farm. Here they explained how they were raised and processed. Samples were available of all flavors, so good, some not so good. All tis property used to be sugar cane and pineapple. Now neither is grown in Hawaii commercially.
Next stop was an orchard farm. Here a Japanese family raises hybrid orchards for shipment to all parts of the world. Considered bring a plant home but Arizona is not conducive for their growth.
From there we headed to the Volcano National Park. You could stand at the edge of the Caldera (original cone) and see the crater (new cone) and the steam coming from it. At night it was said you could see a red glow in the crater. We also walk thru a LAVA tunnel formed many many years ago. It was about 100 yards long and 12 feet in diameter. INTERESTING.
Our nest stop was at the Southern most point of the United States and a local bakery for lunch. Our orders had been called in ahead of time so the timing went smoothly.
Next on the schedule was a coffee farm, not big enough to be a plantation. Here they grow the famous KONA coffee. They also have the
PEABERRY coffee. Usually the coffee bean consists of two parts. The PEABERRY only has one part, it is much rarer and consequently much more expensive. A pound of Peaberry runs $74.00. To be honest I could not tell the difference.
Finally our next stop was the hotel in Kona for our 3 day stay. It is located right on the main street and the harbor. All of our excursions now will just be walking to the boats or functions. We have an ABC store on the property so it is easy to stock up on items. needed.

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12 January, Thursday

Just a total leisure day. Breakfast at the outdoor restaurant and then a walk to Whaler's Village. It was mostly under reconstruction. They are trying to follow Honolulu by putting in high end stores. Only the ABC store will cater to the common folk.
Back to the beach in front of our hotel, watched the waves and people trying to surf. Waves are too tall and too short a run for any surfing.
The Yellow Warning signs were still posted.. Finally retreated to the room, cleaned up and went back to the Whaler's Village for dinner.
Good fish and chips and salmon salad. Early to retire as we have an early pick up in the morning.

The people that took the Hana tour left at 0730 in the morning, drove ALL day with numerous stops and were just getting back to the hotel at 7:30 pm as we were heading to the room. LONG DAY.

Posted by REDTAILRV 08:22 Comments (0)

11 January, Wednesday

Good Bye Kauai ; Hello Maui. Bags picked up at 0630 and passengers on the bus at 0730 for the 45 minute ride to the airport. Once at the airport we learn we are not going nonstop to Maui. Instead we are going to Honolulu, changing airplanes and then on to Maui. All this takes more time.
Then at Maui we learn we cannot visit the Iao valley because the access road had been washed out during a storm.

We stopped at the town of Lahaina, where most of the people went to Bubba Gump's for lunch. We bypassed this because of my allergy. Instead got a good salad at Foodland. We walked the main street of Lahaina which were crowded with tourists. Reminded us of the way Honolulu used to be.
Finally to the hotel and our rooms. YMT is great for handling our bags, we never have to touch them. Picked up and delivered to the room.

Walked the shoreline to watch the huge waves. The warning signs were up for NO SWIMMING because of the undertow. Some of the waves were
15 to 20 feet. Even though the warning signs were up, people were still in the water.

Evening snack at the Terrace while watching the Hula show and then retired for the night.

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10 January, Tuesday

Total day of leisure. Even the scheduled tour, Drive thru Hollywood, only had 6 riders. Got caught up on news, sun and sights. Whales in the water in front of the hotel.
We sorted out some not needed items and took the bus to the local post office in Kapaa. It was interesting. Had the schedule but the other riders said that was only a guess. It was $1.00 for seniors, so the price was right. Found the Post Office, mailed the two packages and then found a local café for breakfast/lunch. They had fresh papaya, first we have seen on our trip. IT WAS GOOD! ! !
Spent the rest of the day by the pool trying for a tan so it would look like we had been traveling to Hawaii.

Tomorrow is moving day, bags out at 0600 and we board the bus at 0700 for the island of Maui.

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9 January, Monday

Busy day as we prepare to visit the Waimea Canyon of Kauai. We started with a fantastic breakfast at the Lava Lava café of the Resort.
Boarded the bus at 0750 and off we went. On the way we drove thru Lihue, largest city on the island, county seat and home of the airport.
From there we went to the Spouting Horn, which is just a blow hole on the south of the island. It is near Poipou, an area that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1992. It is still in the process of rebuilding.

Finally we reached the road that heads into the canyon. It was steep and curvy, but our excellent driver wielded the 45 foot bus with ease. She drives the same road nearly every day. The Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and once we arrived at the viewpoint it was obvious why. It looks to be a portion that is just detached and moved to Kauai. However their is vegetation because of huge rainfalls in the area. It is some 3,000 feet deep, over a mile across and over 15 miles long. A river runs thru the floor to the ocean. The mountain area at the top of the range gets up to 600 inches of rain per year, so river water is no problem. It was truly a spectacular sight. I have seen three large canyons to date, The Grand Canyon, Copper Canyon in Mexico and now Waimea. Each is awesome in its own right.

On the way home we stopped at a coffee plantation, sampled some coffee, but did not buy.

The evening brought another event that was outstanding. The Smith Family Luau. Adam Smith came to Kauai, married a local Hawaiian and started a business of taking people up the Wailua river in canoes. This grew to larger and larger tour boats and then the side feature of a luau. The popular luau with all you can eat and drink became the main attraction of the island. Before dinner there is an IMU ceremony of removing the pig from the pit in which it was cooked. It was amazing how well they were set up to serve nearly 400 people. There was never a long line at any of the drink stations or in one of the 6 lines for food..

After dinner we all moved to a open air theater for the show of shows. It featured Polynesian dancer from all the Pacific area, to include New Zealand, The Phillipines, and Japan as well as all the small islands. Staging was excellent, sound not too loud, and the dancing was fantastic.
The show lasted just over an hour and then the bus ride back to our resort.

Posted by REDTAILRV 08:40 Comments (0)

8 January, Sunday

Time to change islands

Moving day for the tour group, bags are to be ready for pickup at 0630 and we are to get on the bus at 0700. Our ride to the Honolulu airport on an early Sunday morning was smooth and uncongested. We went to the inter-island terminal of HAWAIIAN AIRLINES. There bags were weighed and boarding passed issued. Our group of 64 was the majority of the passengers. After a short 35 minutes flight (took longer to taxi out and taxi in than to fly) we arrived at Lihue on the island of Kauai. Our bags were sent to the hotel and we boarded busses for tours of the Waimea river and Fern Grotto. Most of this area was devastated during the hurricane of 06, it is starting to grow back. We then drove to a waterfall and finally the local Foodland store to get provisions.

Upon arrival at the Kauai Shores Resort, our bags were already in our room. We quickly unpacked and toured the grounds. The Resort in on the beach with great ocean views and tempting waves. Happy hour by the pool and then a quick bite at the Lava Lava, their restaurant..

Back to the room in preparation of a busy day tomorrow.

Posted by REDTAILRV 07:51 Comments (0)

7 Janurary, Saturday

Last day of leisure on the isle of Oahu. Visited BILL's, an Austrailian restaurant for breakfast. The place was packed but waiting time short. Food was outstanding. Then off to the post office to get rid of extra in-needed weight. Then rode the PINK BUS, a free ride just to see the things on the route.
headed to the beach after lunch. Being Saturday, it was packed but always space for two more. Somewhat cloudy so that helped with the sun and heat.
Evening took us back to DUKE's for happy hour and eats. Again being the week end it was very crowded. Found a table on the edge of the patio with a view of the sun set. Sunsets on the beach are THE thing. Everyone is watching and waiting for the 'green flash' In all my years of watching, world wide, I have never seen it. Must be a old wives tale.
Early get up tomorrow as the bags are collected at 0630 for out flight to KUAUI.

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6 January, Friday

Day of leisure and a single mission. The strap on Barbara's purse came undone so need to find a shoe repair shop. Found one on the internet and will head there later. First we need a good island breakfast. Headed to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and ILLUPNO. Outside table faced the center park area of this famous hotel. It used to stand along, very visible, but now is surrounded by other multistory hotels. Breakfast was outstanding.
One was a crab cake benedict and the other was a smoked salmon benedict, along with KONA coffee.

We walked some of the stores and then called UBER for the ride to the shoe repair. Fast, safe and reasonable, they took us right to the door.
After the repair we again used UBER for a ride to the Ala Moana Center. This is right behind the crew hotel we used to stay at. It is now greatly up dated with high end, no HIGH END stores. Locals can't afford to shop there anymore. One of stores was the TESLA show room. They had the new SUV version with gull-wing doors for the back seat, very unique.

A ride on the free bus line (the PINK BUS) back to the hotel and a change of clothes for the beach. Headed to Kuhio area which was filled. Found space to nest and absorbed the suns rays for a couple hours. Watched the hundreds of surfers attempt to ride the waves.

Evening brought back to the Royal Hawaiin Hotel and the MAI TAI bar. Mai Tai is the drink of the islands with rum and juices. They have one with all the premium liquors that sells for $35, too much for my budget. A fancy basket of cheese fries and a cobb salad finished the night.

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5 January, Thursday

Tour Day

Good nights rest, except for the neighboring room having a party. Finally quieted down about 1 am.
Moring meeting with LEON our guide and the YMT organization. All the rest of the tour was explained, especially the optional tours. Elected for some and bypassed most. That is one of the features we liked about this YMT tour, lots of free time.

Today was the included tour of greater Honolulu. We had 64 people on 2 huge busses so we were not crowded. Left the hotel at 1100 and headed along Waikiki Beach. Our driver was a native of Honolulu an knew all the history. From the beach area we drove to a look out point for Diamond Head and then up to the National Cemetery located in the center of an extinct volcano. It is called the PUNCH BOWL by the Hawaiians. It is the Pacific version of Arlington in Virginia. Our bus was not allowed to stop, but drove very slow.

We next drove by the historic buildings of Honolulu. Buildings that many recognize from various TV shows like Magnum PI and Hawaii 50. Honolulu is the home to the only Royal Palace in the United States.

Next was the highlight of the tour and of the entire package, PEARL HARBOR. Of the many years I flew to Hawaii I had never visited this site.
It is now 75 years since that fateful day of Dec 7, 1941. I was just 2 at the time. The battleship ARIZONA, was one of many struck that morning. It had a direct hit into its magazine hold and tons of ammunitions exploded. The ship sank within the hour taking nearly 1,000 sailors and marines with it.
They are still entombed in the ship. Of the 200 survivors only 5 are left living. Those that have passed since the war have elected to have their ashes placed in the ship. There were 38 brothers, a father/son pair and several others with relatives on board. It is truly a place to remember the past and plan for the future.

Several hundred thousand visitors see the film and visit the memorial each year. Times are allotted and reverence is expected for those attending.

At the end of the day we walked to the beach and had a light meal at DUKE's, This was always a favorite place when I flew here.

Posted by REDTAILRV 08:56 Comments (0)

4 January 2017 Wednesday

HAWAII HERE WE COME

Cell phone beeped at 0330, a message from LYFT they would be at the door at 0430 for our ride to the Phoenix airport. Had made other arrangements but they fell into a bag of worms. SO, went back to LYFT after our experiences with them in NYC. Drive was there, pleasant ride to the airport and dropped us at curb baggage check in. Still had plenty of time to traverse TSA. This also was a pleasure for a change. We have our Global Entry cards which is noted on the boarding pass. Breezed right thru, no shoes or belts or jackets off.
First flight was to Los Angeles (LAX) and the plane was only half full. So we moved to an exit row. MUCH more room, probably worth the extra fare, especially on a long flight. Into LAX on time and found out outbound gate. Honolulu (HNL) is the next stop. I always flew the 747 to Hawaii, big plane lots of room and lots of passengers. This was a 737-900ER, carried 165 passengers. It had all the latest techno things. Chargers, plug ins, movies games and the like. It was over 6 hours but went by fast.
Weather in Honolulu was like I remembered it some 25 years ago, however the city has changes greatly. Many more hotels and condos. LOTS of people as this is the high season. Walked briefly after checking in. The International Market Place, which used to be tents and food booths is now a 3 story major shopping experience. Hawaii is still the favorite place of the Japanese, consequently all the stores and resturants are geared to them.
High End merchandise and lots of Sushi.
Found a restaurant with Mahi Mahi, dined and then retired for the night.

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15 December, Thursday

Wind blowing and bitter cold, 28 degrees with a wind chill of 7. Made a block trek to the Green Apple Deli for my Bagels to take home. Also picked up some oatmeal and scones for breakfast. I faced the wind going and I faced the wind coming back. Only in the canyons of NYC can the wind blow from all directions. Spent time in the room until check out and our ride to LaGuardia Airport.

Lyft came thru again on time and a quick ride. The driver knew the best routes with less traffic. The airport is OLD, in dire need of rebuilding. The terminal is narrow with little seating and many people trying to leave town. All the Southwest flight agents were making announcements to buy people off because of over booking. The flights were delayed because of the wind. There are only two runways, and they usually use both. Today, with a 25 knot wind they could only use one. Take offs and landings had to alternate, thus slowing the procedures.

Flight to Dallas went fast as we were south of the jet stream. At Dallas Southwest uses LOVE field instead of DFW. It is a much smaller airport and the original home of Southwest. The terminal is new, spacious and offers transit passengers a variety of shops and food stops. Out of there to Phoenix on time . RAIN, in Phoenix, what a surprise, but at least the temperature was tolerable.

Standard drive home and into bed as tomorrow will be a busy day.

Posted by REDTAILRV 04:05 Comments (0)

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