Category Archives: General

Hawaii – Big Island

After our visit to Maui, we flew to the Big Island’s Hilo airport.  We chose to fly into Hilo because we wanted to see the Volcano National Park first.  Our plan was to spend 2 nights in the Volcano National Park and then drive to the west side of the Big Island to Kona.  We would then fly from Kona back to Boston.

Once we checked into the Lotus Garden Inn, we headed to the Jaggar Museum inside the Volcano National Park to meet with our tour guide from Volcano Discovery. While we waited for Marty, we admired the view of the Kilauea vent.

Our tour guide Marty started us off by showing us slides of the history of the park.  We then got into his car and started to drive into the park to do some hiking and exploring.  Here is one of the lava fields we saw on our hike.  Notice the black lava rocks in contrast with the tree line around it.

Lava rocks also come in different colors like these:

Before ending our tour, Marty took us to the Thurston Lava Tube.  Lava use to flow through here and formed this huge tunnel.

Our tour with Marty ended around 7PM which around sunset at the Jaggar Museum.  At night, the Kilauea Vent reflects a red lava glow from deep within the crater as oppose to the white steam we see during the day.

Too bad there weren’t any flowing lava when we were visiting the park but it’s certainly a great reason to go back in the future.

The next day, we went back to the Volcano National Park to hike the Kilauea Iki trail Marty showed us the day before.  Here is the view of this crater from the top:

Notice there is a slightly white line on the middle left hand side of the crater.  That’s the trail we are hiking to.  We will enter from the far side of the crater and come back to where this picture was taken since this trail is in a loop. The picture below is after we have decided about 400 feet to the opposite end of the crater.  The trees on either side will be the last tall trees we see for a while.

Hiking deeper into the crater:

Some of the areas that looked flat and smooth when we were at the top are actually very uneven, some parts were completely hollow underneath.

This part of the crater was actually quite flat:

The little piles of rock next to us is not a natural formation.  This is how trails are marked inside the Volcano National Park.

Yes, that is a steam vent and yes, you can get as close to it as you want.  Thousands of feet below the steam vent is lava.

This is the view from the opposite end of where we started.  Behind us are tree lines again and it’s time to climb out of the crater.

After climbing the crater, I was ready to meet one of the biggest attraction for coming to Hawaii: Honu – the Hawaii Green Sea Turtles.

We drove south to the Black Sand Beach to try our luck.  While Tripadvisor did not rate this attraction very high, almost all the reviews said they saw Honus.  When we arrived, Luke immediately spotted the black mounds on the sand.

There were about 6 Honus sunbathing on the black sand.  There eyes were closed and just taking a nap while we took pictures.  We took a walk around the entire beach area to do a Honu count and saw these 2 sea turtles having a little fight:

They weren’t snapping at each other like snapping turtles but you could tell they weren’t happy with each other.

After spending a little over an hour here watching the Honus, we headed back to the Volcano National Park to explore the Crate of the Rim Road.  People use to be able to drive on this road and see lava at the end but the lava was not flowing today.  We are able to see the path of the lava flow and how the lava entered the sea.  When lava use to flow, people also took cruises to see the lava drop into the ocean.

We spent another night in Volcano to see the lava glow at night one more time before packing up and head to Kona on the other side of the island.

The drive from Volcano to Kona is about 3 hours.  We took a little detour and visited some waterfalls on the way:

After we checked into the Fairmont Hotel in Kona, we wanted to take advantage of the hotel beach and snorkel.  When we walked up to the beach, we saw more Honus, right on the hotel beach!!!  This was a huge surprise as it wasn’t part of the hotel’s description at all.  We put on our snorkels and swam out to spy on the Honus having lunch.  They take little nibbles off of the rock on the ocean floor.  It was an amazing experience.  If it weren’t for the fear of sunburn, we would have stayed out there forever!  A dinner at the outside bar of the hotel finished off this great trip on the Big Island.

Hawaii – Maui Island

After this year’s winter in Boston, we couldn’t wait to get some place warm.  This year, our vacation is in Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.  We originally wanted to do 3 islands in one week but quickly realized that this was not possible.  There is just too much to see and too much to do on each island.

We started with the island of Maui.  The first activity we did was an all day snorkeling tour to the island of Lanai.  Based on all the reviews on Tripadvisor, we chose to do the tour with Hawaii Ocean Rafting. In the 8 hour tour, Captain Ryan and Noni showed us 3 different snorkeling spots.  We saw eels, tropical fishes, corals, and…spinner dolphins!

We saw 2 different pods of dolphins.  They were performing jumps and flips out of the water.  Captain Ryan even created some waves so we can see the dolphins surf.

The 8 hours went by in a flash and we were back on the island of Maui by 3PM.  We highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to do some snorkeling in Maui.

The next day, we checked out of our hotel and left for the Road to Hana.  The Road to Hana is famous for the waterfalls along the way.

The entire drive is about 40 miles but due to the windy roads, it takes about 2 1/2 hours to drive the entire highway without stopping.  We completed the whole trip in just under 5 hours.  We had planned to spend a night in Hana because we didn’t want to risk driving on the Hana Highway after dark.  Hana is a very small town with only one hotel, a four diamond star resort, Hotel Hana Maui.  The place was so quiet.  We sat outside and can hear the ocean from about a mile down the road and the birds in the trees.  The rooms had no TV and no air conditioning.

This is the view our hotel:

The hotel offers towel and bathroom service on one of the most beautiful beach in Hawaii, Hamoa Beach.

Some people even brought their dogs to the beach to play~

There is also a black sand beach near Hana.  We went there to try to find Hawaii Green Sea Turtles but no one was home that day.

After spending a night in Hana, we checked out the next morning to go hike the 7 Sacred Pools.

The hike took us through the rain forest into a bamboo forest and ending the hike at a very tall water fall.

This was definitely one of the highlights on the Road to Hana and a must do in our books.

After the hike, we started to make our journey back to Lahaina to spend the last night on the island of Maui.  The view of the coast line along the way was spectacular.

We have definitely learned how to identify the tourists from the locals.  Tourists all drive newer cars, SUVs in general.  Locals drive more beat up SUVs, large trucks…etc.  The easiest way to tell a local from a tourist is where the driver’s hands are.  Locals drive with the windows down, one elbow hanging outside the window.  Tourists drive with the air conditioner on full blast, both hands gripping the wheel stressed out from all the twists and turns of the highway.  If you pass by the town of Paia around meal time, don’t forget to stop at the Paia Fish Market to grab a fish plate.  The price is very reasonable and the food is AMAZING!

The island of Maui has lots to do and 4 days were not enough.  This is definitely a place we want to come back.

Our Garden

Our garden has been quite fruitful this year.  We have: tomato, squash, basil, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cucumber, yellow peppers, and mint.  The squash turned out huge.  I mean HUGE!  Each squash was about 5 pounds I think.  The pickling cucumbers were quite fat and juicy as well.  Here they are:

My Birthday Cake

H Mart in Burlington sells these amazing cakes that are so cute and so delicious.  I have been wanting a cake from there ever since the bakery opened last year.  Luke called and ordered me a cake from there for my birthday!  It was delicious!

Thanksgiving 2009 – Massachusetts

Every Thanksgiving since Luke and I have been together, he wants me to make this brine turkey.  I learned this from the food network by Alton Brown.  This brine turkey is very easy to make:

  • Chicken stock: 1 gallon
  • Ice Water: 1 gallon
  • Salt: 1/2 cup
  • Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Onion: 1 medium
  • Apple: 1 medium

Boil some of the stock to melt the salt and sugar then cool it down.  Find a big container that can fit the turkey with all the liquids, about 5 gallons and put the turkey, chicken stock, water, and ice all into the container breast side down.  On the morning you want to make the turkey, turn the turkey breast side up so the other side will get the brine.  Brine the turkey for at least 12 hours, 24 is better.  Remember to keep the turkey in a cold place and fill it up with ice at the top.  Having made this turkey while living in Wisconsin, keeping the turkey cold was NOT a problem!

When you are ready to cook the turkey, boil the onion and apple with water in the microwave to cook it.  Stuff the onion and apple into the stomach of the turkey.  Heat the oven to 500 degrees and bake for 30 mins to brown the top of the turkey.  After 30 mins, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, cover the top of the turkey with foil.  Bake the turkey until the breast is at 161 degrees, about 2 1/2 hours for a 14 pound turkey. 

Take the turkey out of the oven and rest for 15 minutes.  During the resting period, DO NOT remove the meat themometer.  Remember, the turkey is resting, don’t disturb it! 

After the turkey is all rested, carve and serve!  Happy Thanksgiving!P1010883

Our First Eggplant!

All summer long since weplanted the eggplant, we didn’t have high hopes for it.  It constantly looked like it was about to keel over and die any time.  Then the leaves really started to grow but no eggplants.  Just this weekend, I spotted a little purple something underneath all the leaves and there it was: a fully grown eggplant!  Check it out!  It’s about the same size as the ones we buy in the stores.