My goodness. This has been a fantastic couple of weeks.
Dance parties. One night Emily, Pat, and I had the most fun dance party. It was late, and I was planning on going to bed. Pat, however, was moved to put up the disco ball he found and was determined to set up his and my headlamp and once he had the lights in the right spot (it took him a while), he had to enjoy it by putting on a dance song and it looked fun so I joined in and then Emily did too and 2 hours later we were exhausted and sweaty from the funkiest dancing i have ever seen. My fave: the props we used to dance, for instance, the machete (i know, dangerous), and one of the disassembled lettuce boxes (there is a priceless photo of Pat modeling this). Fave quote of the night: "Ew, machetes taste bad." -Pat.
Emily and I may have gotten a part-time job. We both tried out being helpers with the after-school program at the local charter school where the farm owners' kids go. It's a Waldorf school (in other words, a hippy school), and is so so cute and looks like an awesome place to go to school. The learn all of these cool things like sewing and knitting and gardening and the classrooms are all cute little buildings around the gardens and play yard. The after-school program is in a tent and get this, they call their teachers/helpers auntie and uncle and their first names instead of mr. and mrs. So I'm Auntie Coriena or just plain auntie. Even the Principal is Auntie Usha. It is a fun job, and kinda exhausting. But hey, it's a little extra cash.
St. Pattie's day was fun. We went to a mexican restaraunt (hah) that was having a st. p's day party. I had a coconut porter, yum. We danced to the live band. Then when we got back to the farm, we had Irish car bombs and had a dance party with costumes. So funny.
Okay, so here is the main topic of this post: the tour de Hawaii. Pat, Jon, Em, and I rented a car this weekend and drove around the Big Island. It was absolutely incredible. We went to Waipio Valley, Mauna Kea volcano, Hilo, Akaka and Rainbow falls, a hot pool, geothermal steam caves, and the Kilauea lava flow viewing area. I now personally know how amazing and diverse this island is.
Waipio Valley is this beautiful, remote valley on the north shore of the big island. We parked at the top and hitched a ride in the back of someone's 4-wheel drive pickup down this insanely steep road. At the bottom is an awesome black sand beach with the Jurassic Park looking valley behind. We had to trek across a swift stream to get to the camp sites. We chose a nice spot right by the beach and made a fire pit and started a fire. Then we sat on the beach and looked at the stars for a while until clouds moved in all of a sudden and rain almost instantly fell. Aaaand Emily and I had chosen not to bring the tent. So we had to go find a place under some trees to sleep so we would stay remotely dry. It was already dark, so we didn't have a lot of options, so we found this cozy (really really small) spot under some not so dense trees and frankly, had the most uncomfortable and damp night of our lives. It could have been worse. The next morning, we were in good enough spirits, and we enjoyed the sunny beach view, and a quick hike up the other side of the valley. Then we trekked back across the stream, got another ride up the steep road, and were on our way to Mauna Kea.
The drive to Mauna Kea is so cool. You would not know you were in Hawaii if you were just dropped there. There are just open, grassy fields with yellow wild flowers. Most of it ranch land. It looked kinda like Colorado Springs. The Mauna Kea visitor center is at 9000 feet (we were at sea level just that morning), and we spent at least a half an hour there to adjust to the altitude. It was probably 30 degrees cooler there. Then we took our little Chevy Cobalt up another 4700 feet to the summit of Mauna Kea, which is just over 13,700 feet. Snow. Everywhere. It looked like Siberia. There were all of these dome-like observatories and there was black lava rock poking through some of the snow. It was insane looking. I still find it hard to fathom that that is part of Hawaii. There were a ton of people snow boarding down the hills. Also, I was totally feeling the effects of the altitude change. I was super out of breath and fatigued. After Pat and Jon bummed a snowboard for a quick run, we were off again to sea level to the rain forests of Hilo.
It started raining on our way to Hilo, which is called the city of rainbows, and well, we saw a rainbow! Hilo is quaint and mellow. We stayed in a hostel (dry and soft sleeping arangements!) and ate at a Thai food place (Em and I were sick of what Em calls "bird food" i.e. dried fruit, bread, peanut butter, and granola). Then Pat, Jon, and I went to a $1.50 movie theater and we didn't have a lot of choices so we chose to see Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler. We knew going in that it wasn't going to be that great, but it was so bad. Plus, i was so sleepy from the lack of sleep the night before that i instantly started falling asleep. Pat was cussing like the whole time about how dumb the movie was. He and i eventually left because Pat couldn't bear the movie any longer and I couldn't bear sleeping in those awfully uncomfortable theater seats anymore. The next morning, we walked around Hilo, and I found the nearby Catholic Church and Em and I went to mass and Jon tagged along. We saw another rainbow on the way to church and it looked like it was coming out of the church. How lovely. After mass, we popped in and out of little gift shops and i was craving sugar and went in a candy shop and bought some jelly beans and then ate too many of them and was feeling it the rest of the day, but man, they were good.
We left Hilo and went to see some large waterfalls that were very beautiful and Hawaiian looking. Then we headed toward the active volcano part of the island which is the south coast. We went to Lava Tree national park which is this beautiful park with remains of "lava trees" which are the bottom parts of trees that were too big for the lava to completely incinerate, so the lava had surrounded the trunks and then solidified around them. Then the tree decomposed and left a hollow lava tube standing. There were also these huge earth cracks. I mean huge! Like looked like they led to the center of the earth. Then we headed to the geothermal pool--this heated pool right by the beach--and swam around for a bit. Then we headed to a non-advertised spot off the side of the highway where there are geothermal steam caves! These were totally sweet! We climbed through this little hole into a small cave that was so steamy and it felt so good. It was so neat to feel the hot walls of the cave, and kinda creepy b/c what if it just decided to heat up all of a sudden and bake us? On the way back to the car, Pat showed us sensitivity grass--it's actually like a fern that scrunches up when you touch it. Wild.
Ok, now to the part I had been waiting for since elementary school--going to see the active Kilauea volcano lava flow. We got there just before sunset and trekked over scrunchy cooled lava to the viewing area where there was a huge billow of steam where the lava was flowing into the ocean. A lot of times, you just see a fiery red glow reflecting off of the steam, because you are a half-mile away from the flow for safety reasons (understandably). But I was going there with faith that we'd see something more, and more we did see. As we were gazing at the glow, a huge spray of lava spurted up like a fire work and I shrieked as did may others in the crowd (emily has a video of it and the best part is the reaction of the crowd). We stayed for over an hour just watching lava spurting up. That doesn't usually happen, so we were really lucky. That perfectly completed my trip, as that was my #1 thing to see.
So then we drove about 2 1/2 hours back to the Kona coast, me singing really loud to the radio trying not to doze off while the others slept. I woke everyone up when i swerved to miss a car that was IN MY LANE! Crazy idiot. But anyway, it was an amazing trip, yet it's nice to be back home and have permanent, dry shelter and a mattress and a fridge and stove and washing machine.
I'll try to post pics as soon as I can and I'll make Emily do it too.
Love you all,