Monday, December 22, 2014

Big Island: Heading South

I woke up Monday morning feeling antsy so I set out through the streets of Kona like any aspiring triathlete. I went looking for the official starting place of the Ironman triathlon. I found it right outside my hotel! I ran past it and up the hill and head south. I didn't make it far. It was hot! A couple miles into my run I turned around to retrace my steps. It was a great run and was ready to be with the family again.

While I cleaned up they finished applying the address labels and stamps to our Christmas cards that we still hadn't sent out. Three more days until Christmas! Once that was complete we checked out of our hotel and set out looking for a post office and the Costco.  We found Costco first and stocked up on some supplies before heading south towards Volcano National Park.

Again we followed the directions offered by Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook.  The guidebook was a lot of fun to read along the way. I felt like a tour bus guide as I read it aloud.  It suggested great sights, had funny stories and bits of history and was very interesting to read.  At one point I was worried that I was boring the kids and I put it away.  They very quickly asked for me to start it up again.  They really liked the read-along adventure.

Along the drive we were hoping to find some good snorkeling but the waves were big and conditions bad so we ended up just beach hopping. First stop was Pebble Beach.

The waves here were violent to say the least

So we couldn't get anywhere close to the water. Instead we went for a little explore.

But that didn't last long either. The black rock and sand was just too hot. We hit the road again and soon happened upon a few surprise roadside inhabitants:

Our next stop was South Point State Park, the most southern point of the United States! It was a great drive out into the end of nowhere. The final destination was a rough parking lot where every car bottomed out and risked damaging their undercarriage. Dave was able to avoid the trouble due to his "superior driving skills". Here Heath, Kirkham and Dave worked up their courage and jumped off the end of the world. See video below.
The sky was clear, the water was such a beautiful blue and the cliffs were steep and formidable. The boys had to time their jumps between sets of waves which threatened to lick them off the slippery steps of the ramshackle old metal ladder they had to climb back to the safety of cliff edge. We met a few characters while there including some very nice women who were selling olivine jewelry. Cora keenly noticed that Olivine looks very similar to her birthstone Peridot. She asked the peddlers and they confirmed her suspicions. It was one and the same. They said peridot or olivine comes from the lava fields and makes up the green sand beaches. Cora was sold and both she and Afton purchased jewelry and set out to find some loose stones along the beach paths.

Heath, Dave and Kirkham heading back to the car. The hills of Mauna Loa in the distance.
Back in the car and heading towards our awaiting Cabin (and grandparents) in Volcano, we are still on the lookout for a good snorkeling beach. We had just about given up hope--actually everyone but Cora had given up hope--when we came across Punalu'u Beach park. A beautiful and lightly used black sand beach. Cora and Afton dawned their suits and snorkel gear while the rest of us set out to do a little exploring around the fishpond and surrounding jungle.

Fishpond to the left and black sand beach to the right. Very cool! No, really I mean it--the water was cold!

Cora the happy swimmer.

The boys observe the wildlife. No really, they are watching the ducks.

And the wildlife is watching them back. Hoping for a handout perhaps.

I think this one's hoping for a handout too.

It is getting late. Our tummy's are hungry and our girls are cold. Time to show them what real cold is. Let's get going to Volcano!

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