Archive for February, 2014

Random thoughts, New Zealand| travel journal

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I am still recapping all my traveling to get to New Zealand (via Hawaii) but since I am currently settled into Christchurch, New Zealand I will share a few random thoughts I have had while walking about.

1. they only sell cream and light cream here. No whipping cream, or double cream, or half and half, or coffemate vanilla, or any other flavored anything. I am sort of missing half and half.

2. roll on deodorant is really popular here–like you can’t find stick deodorant, or you can, but there is like one choice. Why so different here I wonder?

3. Lemonade here is really just sprite or a 7-up type soda.

4. We have three trash cans -recycle is the largest then rubbish and organics–these two are both smaller.  You have to put all food (including meat) into your organics trash and all recycling in the recycling bin or else you are fined. Once you start getting fined for not recycling you get good at it fast. Getting used to putting all food scraps into a separate trash can is weird, but it is the only trash that gets picked up weekly.

5. Sunscreen costs a fortune here–like $20 a bottle.

And this is the street I walk up and down everyday on my way to the store.  I know I am going in the right direction if I am walking towards the hills.


And here is a little peek at my laundry line–gotta hang dry since 1. the dryer doesn’t work that well and 2. electricity is really $$. Funny how easily you can conserve energy when you are getting charged a ton for it. I have been enjoying hanging out our clothes, but this probably has something to do with me also not working.


Finally–both kids have to wear a uniform to school and they are adjusting pretty well to it. At Sadie’s school everyone has to wear their hair back. No makeup at either school, no nail polish, no hair color. The uniform cost a ton–and can you believe it is wool, and itchy wool at that. The sweaters are actually hand wash too–really??

And, I got a bill from both schools this week charging for the printers, internet, field trips, school packets, etc. It also included a “donation”. AND–Sadie come home with $60 worth of chocolate that she needs to sell.

But, they do look cute, right.


Okay–off to walk to the store–on my path.





Kona, Hawaii-part 2| travel journal

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Here we go for part two of Kona, Hawaii.

After checking out the volcano we went back down Crater Rim Drive to the Kilauea trail. We did short hike along the rim through the rainforest.

Hello Jurassic Park.







After the hike we were off to the Chain of Craters Road. The drive down was amazing with lots of old black lava flows to gawk at. At the end of the road there is a large coastal arch and then a 15 minute walk to where the lava flow took over the old road.




Of course there was a rainbow. At some point I will gather all my Hawaii rainbow photos into one blog post. I swear that we saw at least 2 rainbows per day.



It was so eerie to see where the lava flow took over the old road. R73C2185

After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back to the Jaggar museum to catch the glow of the eruption at night.


It was 11pm by the time we got home and we all crashed.

Our next Kona day was a classic relax and beach day.

In the morning I wandered about from our rental.





Our beach of choice today was Hapuna Beach. This was a popular beach with a huge parking lot. It was a great baby beach as my nephew demonstrated and the kids got to body surf and soak up some much needed sunshine. R73C2231





The following day we finally got around to trying the famous Hawaii shave ice. Our spot of choice was the cute and friendly, Scandinavian Shave Ice shop.





The best part of the Hawaii shave ice is the ice cream in the middle! They will also do a drizzle on top which we think is something like condensed sweetened milk. Sadie wants to open her own shop in Syracuse…




The rest of our time in Hawaii was spent eating more shave ice, checking out the Kona Brewery, trying poke at a cute spot called Bite Me (spiced raw ahi tuna) and visiting one more beach which was my favorite of the bunch.

The best part of our Hawaii vacation was spending time with this happy guy.





Too bad we didn’t find this spot until our last night.




Of course I can’t remember the name of my favorite Kona beach. It was near the airport and not that easy to get to. You had to drive down a long and bumpy road, barely find parking, and then hike over rocks until the amazing beach appears. There you have perfect sand, trees for shade and no crowds.

Our hangout.


Our hangout view.





Uncle Eric being fun.



This gives you an idea of the “facilities” available at this beach–again no frilly drinks.


The rocky walk back to the car.



Next up–more Hawaii, but a different island.

Thanks again for following along. Feel free to comment.

And if you are curious we are still without luggage at this point in our trip.



Kona, Hawaii-part 1| travel journal

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Hi–I have missed you.

It is time to finally start blogging about my travels, but of course I feel paralyzed trying to figure out the best way to start. This is what happens when you get behind on a task and I am an expert at that–especially while there are so many wonderful distractions. *if you were not aware we are traveling around Hawaii and New Zealand while my husband is on sabbatical with our two kids ages 10 and 13.

Right now I am blogging from our rented house in Christchurch, New Zealand. Before we arrived here we spent a few weeks in Hawaii and then explored the North Island of New Zealand. I am going to try to start at the beginning, but I might interrupt every once in awhile with some current updates. Hopefully I will get caught up soon enough.

It took us quite awhile to get to Hawaii. The flights were long enough, but we were leaving from NY during the polar vortex (one of them) and had our flights cancelled more than once. I was probably too stressed out to take any photos of our airport time, but it would have been comical watching us run from gate to gate, plead for flights, and many hours spent on the phone trying to get help or in line.

Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii was our first stop. It was a mini family reunion for us to celebrate my in-laws birthday. My family of 4, the in-laws, and my brother-in-law and his wife and baby rented a house together. It was a great bunch with grandparents, school aged kids and an adorable almost walking baby.

Our first stop (after heading to walmart to buy swimsuits since our luggage still hadn’t arrived) was to rent snorkel gear and go to a beach called “two step”. It wasn’t really a beach–more just big black rocks, but the snorkeling was beautiful. The beach is called “two step” because the rocks create a little step for you to get into the water. Echo got some underwater shots which I will share next.




Next up was a true sand beach, but still lots of rocks. The kids body surfed a bit, but the temps were not super warm so we only stayed a few hours. This photo was taken with my point and shoot camera on a miniature mode. I have learned that visiting Hawaii (or at least our style) is about traveling from beach to beach trying to find the perfect spot that fits your mood that day. All of the beaches had a different personality with good things and not so good things. We had the good snorkeling, but not a great spot for a baby to hang out at the first beach. The second beach had more sand and shady spots for playing, but the parking wasn’t great and no frilly drinks. 🙂


We managed Walmart and two beaches on our first day–not bad.


On our second full day we went out for breakfast at Captain Cook overlooking the coastline at a gem called The Coffee Shack. Geckos amused us while we waited for our food.

The view out the window of The Coffee Shack.


Our gecko friend having a bit of guava jelly.


my breakfast.


Chickens are everywhere on the island–as a mascot of sorts I guess (although as I was soon to learn they were nothing compared to the chickens on Kauai).



After breakfast we were on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was a little over 2 hours to the park from our breakfast spot.


This was just a spot on the drive. It could take you forever to get anywhere if you stopped at all the great photo opportunities. R73C1929

Forcing Echo out of the car for a quick photo. I must have bribed her to get that smile.


After touring the visitors center we went out on Crater Rim Drive. Our first stop was the steam vents–a parking lot surrounded by holes in the ground with steam popping up everywhere.

This is the view towards the crater (Halema’u ma u’?–the currently erupting volcano)  and the light was just perfect with a rain storm approaching.



The girls in front of the crater–with their iPads to take their own photos.


Having a baby along makes for lots of good distractions. Notice our jackets? It was pretty cool that day.


The steam vents.


Demonstrating how hot the steam is.


Loving the light and the colors.


This is the closest view of the current eruption from the Jaggar Museum. Everyone had to stop at this point because the road was closed due to high sulfur dioxide emissions.



Here Sadie is working on her Junior Ranger badge.



Thanks for following along. I will continue with Kona, Hawaii on my next post. I would love to hear your comments or questions as I pretend to be a travel blogger. And a big thanks to my husband for keeping an actual journal of our vacation so I can go back and remember the names of all the things I took photos of.