Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday Afternoon - Volcano National Park

Our morning malasadas and coffee helped fuel a very active afternoon at Volcano National Park. We made a quick stop off at the Kilauea Visitor Center, where we gathered information for the day and planned our first Volcano experience. My parents have been to Volcano National Park numerous times, and since their first visit, part of the park has closed due to eruptions of poisonous gas, some of which we could see in the park when we visited years later. I was continually amazed at the unpredictable nature of the volcanoes.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch on a trail enroute to the Jaggar Museum, which overlooks Kilauea, the smallest and youngest of the Big Island's three Volcanoes. Below in the pictures, you can see the arid terrain and rocky ground of much of the park.
Below is Mauna Kea, the tallest Volcano on the Island. It's summit is at 13,796ft. We did not go to the summit. It makes for a very long day with small children. Stargazing from the summit is currently on our bucket list.
Below is Mauna Loa, a very large and flat volcano. It is a little more than 300 feet shorter than Mauna Kea at its summit. Avid backpackers enjoy these mountains, but you have to be cold weather equipped and experienced (we're not!).
You can actually see the Jagger Museum on the left of this photo of Mauna  Kea.

Here is a picture of Kilauea spewing her gases into the air. My parents actually hiked through this crater on their first visit to Hawaii. Kilauea is only 3980 feet.

My daughter and Mimi are doing the "I went pee pee!" dance. Oh the things that are exciting for a three year old. Going to the bathroom was one of Abigail's favorite Hawaii past times. And she like going even more when there weren't restrooms available. She went behind rocks, bushes, and on many a hiking trail:) Sorry if that was TMI.

View of Kilauea from the Jagger Museum. The museum was wonderful. It was full of history and culture, telling of the Hawaiian Goddess Pele, who controls the fury of the volcanoes. Even though I was often wrapped up in tales of many Hawaiian gods, I could not help but think of the LORD of the Universe who is sovereign over something so powerful as the Earth changing and shifting I witnessed at the park.

There were LOTS of people at the museum and it was very windy. So much for a good family photo :)

Here is one of my favorite Hawaiian plants "Ohia Lehua". There is a Hawaiian legend that a beautiful woman was loved by a beautiful man. But the goddess Pele was jealous of their love and demanded that the man love her instead. He refused and she turned him into the plant. The other gods felt sorry for the woman but could not reverse Pele's curse, so they turned the woman into the beautiful red flower. Their love endured! It was amazing to see how these flowers grow out of the barren volcanic rock!

I recently heard a Matthew Henry quote about the parable of the sower. In essence, the parable was less about the soil than about the seed that bore fruit. "Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are."

I have many stones and thorns around me, cares of this world that threaten to keep me from bearing fruit. But these little plants continue to be an encouragement to me! Oh that we would listen to God's Word and let it transform our lives into a beautiful, fruitful life.
 After the Jagger Museum, we headed to the start of the Kiluea Iki Crater Trail. In the picture below, you can see the crater. We hiked around the crater to the other side, down into the crater, and then back across the crater to the other side. It was a daunting hike from this vantage point!

We soon found ourselves walking in lush rainforest. The terrain of Hawaii had changed again. Soon we'd feel like we were on a different planet.

Rodney exploring with Abigail on his back.

Here we are taking a short break to drink some water before heading across the bottom of the volcanic crater, which had once been a lake of lava.
Hi, Dad!

The wind was strong and the footing unsure at the bottom of the crater. I felt like I was on the moon, except for the sparse vegetation we occasionally saw. Can you believe we hiked all the way down here?!

Abigail wanted to hike up the hill, so Hannah got to ride in the backpack carrier. I got a break! We're back in the rainforest again!

At the end of the trail is the start of another very short trail that led to the Thurston Lava Tube, an underground tunnel where lava used to flow. It was huge (and wet!). Abigail enjoyed hopping in the puddles.


We had a great first day in Volcano National Park!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday morning

We spent a good portion of the morning enroute to Volcano National Park. But we did stop for malasadas and coffee at the Punalu'u Bake Shop. We actually stopped their three times. Abigail enjoyed the malasadas every time! Malasadas are a Portuguese treat, deep friend and covered with sugar. As Abigail said many times, "I like sugar!" My dad grew up eating them in Oahu, so they were an absolute "must eat" treat during our vacation. They're even better with 100% Kau Hawaiian coffee. Kau and Kona are both regions in Hawaii, hence where the coffee gets its name.

Sugar and freedom from her carseat made this little girl very happy!

We then stopped at the Punalu'u black sand beach. The black sand is made from the volcanic rock and a very unique experience. I am a big fan because the sand does not stick and cling to shoes and clothing. We didn't stay long for fear of being blown away; it was a very windy day! The girls did enjoy playing in the sand and finding smooth white rocks, coral that had washed up on the beach.

Abigail was more interested in the sea turtles than me, of course.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I have a great dad. He is one of the most long suffering, kind people that I know. He is also loving, loyal and encouraging. His Christian testimony is awesome; the Lord has done a mighty, gracious work in his life. I am so encourgaged to see His passion for God's word and how he loves to study the word through BSF. I know my mom is encouraged by their morning devotions, and I was encouraged by his leadership as a child (and as an adult). While going through different periods in my life, I know that my dad loves me unconditially and will be there for me when I need a listening ear or big hug. I am thankful that I have an earthly dad who is a great example! His love helps me understand the love that my Heavenly Father has for me.   
He is also a great Papa! My daughters love him very much. He loves reading books to them and sat with Abigail for hours on our flight over to Hawaii. They are very blessed to have such a wonderful, loving Papa. I am so thankful that my daughters have many Godly Christian men in their lives.
So here are some of my favorite photos of him while we were in Hawaii. Unfortunately, I didn't have one of just the two of us. I guess that's what happens when I'm the family photographer. I'll have to make a note to have some pictures of just the two of us soon!
I love you, Dad! Happy Birthday!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

baby's first salty dip

Hannah liked the ocean. So much so that whenever she was on the beach she had to be carefully watched. She would often just toddle towards the waves. She loved being in the water and sand! Oh how you continue to be different from your sister, Hannah! Abigail took a long time to warm up the ocean, even at 3.5 years old!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hawaii Day One (afternoon)

After the rest of the family returned from a grueling walk down to see the black pebble beach, we decided to head to the farthest point on the island that we could go to by car. You literally drive to the end of the road, park your car, and climb out at the Pulolu Valley Lookout. The Pulolu Valley is just past the small town of Kapa'au, where we first stopped for a quick lunch of barbecue! In Hawaii, they slow roast their meat over kiawe wood, which is very similar to mesquite. I had perhaps the best pulled pork I have EVER eaten, and that's saying a lot coming from a recent connoisseur of Texas barbecue!
The Pulolu Valley Lookout

The view was absolutely breathtaking. We loaded Hannah in the backpack carrier, grabbed our water and sunglasses and headed down to the beach.  Looking down at the beach (from all the way up here!!!), I was a little uncertain that we would ALL be able to make it with two little ones. Abigail suprised me time and time again:)

Below you can see why the road ends at the lookout; the valley is deep and wide. It is a several day hike to the next road (if my memory serves me right). Ranching is actually a large part of the local economy. We could see cows grazing in the distance.

Mom is sporting dad's sunglasses (I have a wonderful dad!). She also is sporting a thick layer of sunscreen. I'm happy to announce that no one went back home severely burned! And that's saying a lot for all of us fair skinned beauties :)

Hannah enjoyed hiking too!
As you can see, the hike wasn't super "easy", but Abigail was a trooper! As much as we have trouble with her whining about normal everyday activities, she kept her whining to a minimum while we were in Hawaii. She did GREAT!
"Papa" was a big help. I think everyone held her hand at some point on the hike.
We made it!

Taking a breather...

Mimi and Abigail watching Hannah's first reaction to the ocean. I will post a separate post on this later.

When we finally made it to the top, we were hot and sweaty and needed cool rest. So we stopped and got homemade ice cream before heading back to our Hawaii rental home. I thoroughly enjoyed Strawberry Coconut. Yum!

Laying in bed that night, I remember telling Rodney that we could leave the next day and I would be perfectly happy. I felt so privileged and blessed to experience such a perfect day.