Flying to San Francisco 

Hey Dad,

So not really much to report today. 

I woke up and packed again. My new case is slightly heavier then my old one; putting me close to my weight limit, so I packed carefully.

As I checked out and waiting for the shuttle to take me to the airport I sat in the hotel lobby. In front of me was a rubiks cube. I solved it unaware anyone else was paying attention, I then hear a kid say ‘wow. Dad look’ the kids looked at me like I was magic.

Checking in was all smooth sailing, bag was exactly on the weight limit, phew.

I thought I would watch a film on the plane, but you had to pay for that privilege separately. At $8 a film I didn’t bother! Glad I had my kindle!

Well I got into San Francisco and attempted to get on the shuttle. This is where it all went a bit ‘pear shaped’ to use mums language. They would not let me on. They had no record of my reference number and were trying to tell me I needed a hand printed voucher. Where on earth they thought I would be able to print something off I have no idea. When I went back inside to find out, the link from the travel company for the voucher would not work anyway! So I couldn’t even get hold of the voucher to print.  It resulted in me having to pay for the shuttle again, in cash! I was a little frustrated to say the least! 

So I am now in the hotel in San Francisco. Somehow I have been travelling all day, again! It’s nearly midnight here and I left the hotel in Hawaii at 10am! 

Night dad x

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Surfing

Hey Dad,

So today I did something that would probably not be on your bucketlist, I went surfing! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to not surf in Waikiki!

I got up and walked down to the beach. A group class was half the price of a private lesson, so I opted for that. The guy told me I could be waiting a while but a private lesson would go now. I called his bluff figuring there was no one booked in for a group lesson and said I didn’t mind waiting. I grabbed a shave ice and laid out on the beach and waited. Well nearly an hour went by, and I was right, there was no one booked in. Private lesson for me! 

We went through the basics, which I kind of already knew and headed out into the water. Shock horror dad, I have no upper body strength! Paddling out against the current was tough! My arms were killing me. The instructor; an over weight guy in his 50s explained how to catch a wave. I caught it first time, and even stood up! Spending a few years on that land board of mine helped with that, especially turning the board so I didn’t crash straight into the rocks. It was awesome! But then I realised I had to paddle back out. Ouch! 

After an hour of paddling out, I was done. I didn’t have a rashie on and could feel my skin catching on the board, my arms were jelly and I realised eating a shave ice beforehand was both my best decision. One last wave and we headed back in. 

I received a chorus of ‘you’re a natural’ and wondered how many people they say that too. Feeling exhausted I decided the best idea would be to go back to the hotel, get the sand off me and head to the hotel pool. 

I sat and swam for a few hours, and even managed to finish my book! Hungry I ventured out for one last walk around Waikiki. 

So once again, packing to get on a flight. Tomorrow I leave for San Francisco!

Night dad x

Driving to Kona

Hey Dad,

So we have a long drive today to get to Kona airport. 

We packed up and set off to our first stop; Punalu’u. We went for a walk along a black sand beach and then went to a bakery, which we learnt was the most southern bakery in the USA. 

From the bakery we headed to the most southern point of the big Island.  We took a dirt track down to a car park where some guy gave us three choices; walk to the beach, take a buggy to the beach or drive ourselves to the beach. We opted to drive ourselves, which is when he told us that would be $20! This guy didn’t look official, I swear he just stands there and makes a truck load of cash off people. Huw started talking to a couple parked up along side, who didn’t want to drive their car down. We invited them to jump in the jeep with us and we would drive, and split the $20. Simple. 

Huw of course wanted to drive. We had been warned it was fully off road, and that idea excited him. Well the guy was not wrong. There was no road, minimal tracks and no directions on where to go. Talk about making it up on the fly! The couple in the back were laughing their heads off thinking we were crazy as we are discussing the ground clearance and if we can go over boulders and through dips. It was great fun! 

The green sand beach was down a rock face, so we climbed down and paddled in the ocean. We didn’t have time to stay long though. I decided I wanted to drive back, and Huw gave up the keys far easily then I thought he would. Dad I don’t hunk I have ever had so much fun driving! We all agreed ad long as three wheels were on the ground we would be OK.  The sandy gravelly terrain made it much more fun too! 

We dropped our passengers back at their car and drove to our final stop for the day. A cliff jump.

Don’t tell mum! 

We got to this cliff, surrounded by signs saying no jumping, and a dozen people standing that the edge of the cliff, jumping! 

Huw jumped first, and I filmed him. It was a big drop! I rigged the gopro to a railing, and we jumped off together. Arms crossed, feet first. It felt like we were falling for way longer then we should have been. It was a bigger drop then I thought. I landed just past vertical, and felt my ear go bang the instant I hit the water. Ouch. We climbed the really ropey metal ladder back up the cliff face, which was on hinges so it swung as you were climbing and dried off. I spent an age just trying to get the water out of my ear!

We drove straight to the airport, it was still a two hour drive to get there and after the accident and road closure the night before we were wary if that happened there qas no other route around. 

Kona airport is perhaps the most strange airport I have been to. It was all outdoors! All of it. We checked in and checked our luggage outdoors, went though the metal detectors and scanners outdoors, and then sat at the gate on benches over a little sun shelter. The noise as a plane came in and taxied to the gate was crazy. This plane with all engines blaring was only a few feet away from us, with nothing but a small wall between the gate and the runway. Weird. 

We got back into Honolulu, and as this is Huw’s last day, he had to catch his flight back to the UK. It was so strange saying goodbye, I suddenly developed the feeling I was alone again. I took a shuttle back into Waikiki and checked into my hotel.

I am shattered and my hair is full of salt water. Shower and bed for me! 

Night dad x

Lava

Hey Dad,

So today we checked out of the hotel and headed to a supermarket to pick up some food and drink for today’s antics. 

Today we are going on a lava hike! 

We stocked up on supplies and drove down to Kilauea and the National Park. We were a little early so grabbed some lunch at the national park centre. We walked in to find a huge panoramic window which over looked a massive crater! The middle of the crater was steaming. We were looking over an active volcano! The crater was huge, and it just looked spectacular!

Huw chose tonight’s  accommodation, a cabin in the national park. To be fair I was quite looking forward to it too, it’s definitely something different! We checked in and headed down to the cabin, it was like a big garden shed! It had electric, but not much else! Still we dumped our cases, changed into hiking gear and packed a bag.

The start of the hike was an hours drive, so back in the car. We ended up getting to the start a little later then we would have liked. The hike was over four miles away, so we would have to walk for 4 miles before starting to hike. We were loosing daylight, so decided to hire bikes! The bike company even offered a shuttle for the first two miles, which happened to be up hill. So we kind of cheated at the beginning and opted for the shuttle. We cycled until the track ran out and locked up the bikes. 

The Kilauea volcano is an active volcano where the lava flows directly into the ocean. The hike over the solidified lava leads to a look out where you can see the lava flowing down the side of the mountain and hitting the ocean spewing steam, vapour and rock into the air. 

Walking on the cooled lava was tricky. It looks solid and hard like rock, but it is as brittle as glass. One poor foot placement and the lava would crumple beneath you. The lava was as sharp as glass too, you did not want to be falling over on this stuff, it would cut you to ribbons! 

We got to the lookout while it was still light. We both agreed seeing it at night would be awesome so we left the lookout to hike further. The area close to the lava flows is completely cordoned off, but you can follow the rope around ad walk towards the centre of the flow. We walked for a mile or so, which took forever. The lava was anything but flat, and having to be so cautious about where we were standing made every step take ages. We kept finding cool things in the lava too, like caves and cracks. 

We walked as far as we could, until it was so dark you could see nothing without lights. Fortunately the bikes came with head torches and a hand held torch. We stood for a while watching the bright red lava roll down the now black hill. We realised the ground underneath us was hot. The safety guy explained to us the lava is only about 10 feet deep and the lava is flowing underneath us. Knowing how easily this stuff breaks and the amount of crevices and cracks in it, 10 feet did not seem like a lot. We started to walk back, which took twice as long as we were walking by torch light! 

Back at the lookout we just could not believe what we were seeing! The lava was glowing bright red and hitting the water creating plumes of steam. The lava was almost spitting from the rock face. It was just insane. We sat and just watched it for ages. Suddenly aware it was pitch black and we were getting chilly, we remembered we had to cycle the four miles back – along a dirt track, in the dark, up hill. 

It felt like the longest four miles ever! By the time we got back to the car I was exhausted! 

Huw offered to drive home, phew! 

On the way back though there had been an accident on the road. Anywhere else this would not be a problem, but there is only one road! We had nowhere to go, and there was no way round. Fortunately they cleared it pretty fast and we made it back to the cabin. 

Time to put my feet up!

Night dad x

The Big Island

Hey Dad,

This morning we once again hopped islands to the Big Island. This island is bigger than all the others combined. 

We had been advised in Honolulu by the Expedia rep to make sure we hired a 4×4 for this island. I asked about putting Huw on the insurance, to which we were told no problem – if we pay a $75! The idea of driving a jeep made Huw a very happy bunny, and I was relieved I would not have to do all the driving so we paid the additional extra. 

First impressions, this island didn’t feel like an island. There was infrastructure, four lane roads, Buildings and trucks. It felt nothing like all the other tropical paradises we had previously landed in. 

Huw offered to drive first (funny that) but said as soon as we got onto a main road that the steering felt odd. 

We drove north for a few miles, just following random road signs and scenic spots. We saw and sign for a waterfall and a trail so we aimed in that direction. When we got there the main trail was closed due to a fallen tree, so we took the little trail, which was not really a trail at all to view the waterfall. Once again it was beautiful, but a long way from us, we could only view it from a distance. Well the trail and the waterfall took us a while ten minutes! 

We drove further north, and saw very little. We stopped at a scenic spot, which overlooked water. By then we had driven about an hour, and Huw was still not happy with the steering. We decided it would be best to change the car as we had a long way to drive over the next few days. 

Driving back to the airport we followed a sign for a ‘scenic route’. It was really pretty, it felt like driving though the country lanes back home, if those lanes were covered in tropical plants and trees! 

We pulled up at what looked like a trail opening and went for a walk. We had no idea what we would see, and there were no real signs telling us so we just kept walking. We walked down this trail and it opened up into a small bay. We could hear the ocean so we walked to find it. It was really choppy and the waves were huge and crashing against the rocks. No way could you swim in it! This little bay must fill up with the tide as there was a small but wide trickle of water leading to the ocean, and a deep pool at the end. We climbed over the water using driftwood and got to the other side of the bay. Walking around the trees we came to a cliff face. We were not overly high, ten feet or so, but the tide underneath was fierce! Waves were crashing on the rock face m, sending spray everywhere. We followed the cliff edge to the end. On the way we found tunnels and caves going down to the water, so of course we went to play! 

Aware the tide was coming in we headed back, jumping back over the now even wider trickle of water. 

Back to the jeep I decided to drive. Huw was right, the steering was off. Especially when you turned right. I didn’t like it, and it made the ride quite uncomfortable. Back tot he airport we went! 

The car was changed without any fuss, but my then it was getting late in the day. We wandered around looking for a late lunch and came across a shopping complex. I discovered Huw had never been to IHOP. Three guesses what we had for lunch! 

By the time we wandered around the shopping centre and had lunch it was time to check into the hotel.  

It just so happened that when we were booking hotels the week before in Honolulu, the Double Tree was 70% off, which made it one of the cheapest places to stay after you factored in resort fees and other crazy taxes Hawaii put on things. 

We checked into our very nice hotel and decided to head to the hotel pool. It was freezing, so we lasted all of 10 minutes in there! 

Still full from pancakes earlier we decided to have a liquid dinner and just headed to the bar. We both knew there would be no bar tomorrow night so figured we should make the most of it. 

Night Dad x

Molokini and Fleetwoods

Hey Dad,

So yet another early start! We got your and drove 45 minutes to a harbour. From there we boarded a small boat and headed out for a morning of snorkelling. We got really lucky, a group that holds up to 40 people only had 19 on it including us! 

Our first snorkel stop was a few hundred meters off the coast of Maui. It was pretty; but the water was not completely crystal clear. Huw’s eyes looked like they may bulge from his mask though. We paddled around and unbelievably we were right next to a turtle. We almost missed it completely. The turtle was at the surface taking in air. We swam along side it and when the turtle went under we followed it. The practice on Fiji payed off as I was able to dive down a lot deeper and for a lot longer. I then also had to give a quick lesson on how to regulate your ears for Huw – forgot to tell him that. Oops. We played with this sea turtle for a good twenty minutes before he swam off so fast we wouldn’t have been able to keep up. We figured he had seen enough of us by then. 

Back on the boat we headed out to another snorkel spot. We were told that this was a more dangerous snorkel, it would be guided and it was advised only advanced snorkelers enter the water. We both jumped in! The water was crystal clear, but it was choppy. You needed a lot of strength to swim against the tide. The reef was beautiful. It was a little deeper, and had next to no damage on it. Now Huw’s eyes really were bulging. To be fair, this was one of the best places I have ever snorkeled. The coral was out of this world and the fish just beautiful. It was deep enough you needed to dive down to get a really good look. We were seasoned pros by then! We didn’t stay in the water long, and when the boat called us in we had to swim quickly to get back on it.

The third snorkel stop was the back edge of an island called Molokini. Most boats do not go to this side of the island, which is partially why we chose this tour. Again we were told advanced snorkelers only. We were also warned we had to be comfortable jumping into 300 feet of water. That was a new one for both of us! The back of molokini just literally drops away to nothing. You have the rock face above the island, a reef below which jets out for a few meters, and then just a clear drop. We jumped in, and I instantly put my head under to see what 300 feet looked like. It was surreal! Other then fish, there was just nothing underneath me, at all! The blue water just got darker and darker! We followed the guide over to the reef, and we were told to be careful as it is very easy to be swept into the rocks by the current. They were not kidding, the waves were breaking against the rocks and coming back over our heads. I have never swam in water like it. You would have your head under the water, and then everything would go white where a wave had broken over your head. It could be very disorientating at times. Again though, the snorkel was stunning. No damage, and a completely live reef. Most of it was a few meters under so you could see it without diving, but the drop off was unvelieveable. We were diving down and having to shoot back up before we ran out of air, no chance of seeing the bottom of the drop off. Crazy amounts of fish and other sea creatures too! The water was so choppy though it was exhausting. Just trying to keep you head above water and not letting your snorkel fill up was a challenge. The boat could not come near the rock face, obviously, so when it was time to come in we had to swim against the current back to the boat. Even swimming with all your effort it felt like you were getting no where fast, the swim seemed to take much longer then it should have, for everyone. 

Back on the boat I was shattered, and had ingested a lot of water. The boat sailed round to the inside of molokini and dropped anchor for one last snorkel for all the beginners that had not come out on the previous two sites. I was done with snorkeling so stayed on board enjoying the sun and complementary drinks. Hue went and had a look, but no one stayed out long. I could see the ocean floor from the boat, little coral and and few fish. Nothing like what we had just experienced. 

We were served lunch on board and headed leisurely back into port. Once on land I noticed Huw had gone a wonderful shade of pink. We had been wearing the dive boats reef safe sun block, but clearly Huw should have applied more of it! 

We drove back towards the hotel, stopping at a beach along the way. We went for along walk along the beach and admired all the luxury hotels we could not afford. No time to hang around though, we had a big night ahead of us. 

We got back to the hotel, showered, changed into something presentable and I even bothered to put some make up on! Can’t remember the last time I did that!

The drive to fleetwoods took forever, so Huw chucked me outside so I could go and make sure we didn’t miss our reservation. I sat at a table alone for over half an hour! It took Huw forever to find a parking space. I got so tired of waiting I ordered myself a cocktail! 

Dad you would have liked this place! We were sitting on the roof top, which overlooked the coast and the sunset. The waiters were in white shirts and black ties, and beautiful bar where you could see the bar tenders making cocktails. The wine list was up your alley too. Most expensive bottle was about $900! We skipped that bottle, but did share a bottle of their finest (and by that I mean cheapest) prosecco. The food menu was incredible too. I started with and dish called ‘Ahi Poke’ which is tuna to the rest of us, it was wonderful. I then in true ‘me’ style ordered the fillet steak. It was a tiny bit over, but it was pretty damn good! I was stuffed by then, but still managed to share a Hawaiian pineapple pie. 

We were both completely full. We could barely move, but we needed to make our way down stairs for the gig. 

We had standing room only tickets so we unashamedly walked right to the front of where we could stand. A few disgruntled faces came from people sitting on bar stools behind, but whatever, they should have thought ahead. 

Mick Fleetwood was performing with two others, a guy and a girl. All three were spectacular. They covered a few Fleetwood Mac songs and to be fair, the girl singing nailed it. No Stevie, but not a bad effort! I was really impressed. They performed various songs for two hours, it was the smallest most intimate gig I have ever been to. Two hours just flew by. People started to leave, so I grabbed the opportunity to slide into the searing area and perch on a ledge. No one seemed to notice. Two encore songs were played, then Mick Fleetwood came back onto the strange holding a drum under his arm. He played it for about five minutes, moving and stretching the elastic around the drum to change the sound. It was fabulous! 

We let the small crowd leave, and as we walked back down the stairs made a pit stop back into the shop we purchased the tickets in the night before. They had a Fleetwoods tshirt. Mine! 

Dad today has been one of the best days ever! Hawaii, snorkelling, sun, beach, Mick Fleetwood! It may have cost me a fortune but right now i just don’t care! 

Well time to pack again, three islands down, one to go

Night dad x

Maui, and the road to Hana

Hey Dad,

We jumped on a plane this morning and went to Maui. The flight was a whole 45 minutes! We picked up the hire car, which was a red Nissan saloon and headed out towards Hana. 

The road to Hana is a 65 mile long road with 59 bridges and 62o bends. The drive is mainly through tropical rainforest. Along the road there are viewpoints over the islands coast line. The drive was over two and a half hours to get to Hana! Most of the bridges were one lane only too, so we had to keep stopping. 

When we finally stopped driving, we hiked up through rainforest to a bamboo jungle. It was pretty awesome. We hiked for about an hour when a passerby told us to go for another 15 minutes or so to get to a waterfall. It was worth the extra 15 minutes, the waterfall was stunning. I think if we had hiked for a few more hours we could have made it to the bottom of the waterfall, but for today we just admired it from a distance and tipped our toes in the stream running across the path. 

As we started the hike I pointed out we had no insect repellant on. Don’t worry I was told, we will be fine. Of course i knew better but by this time the car was 3o minutes in the other direction. Well I lived to regret that decision. 3 hours walking and 10 bites later we made it back to the car. Huw did not have one single bite. Git! 

It was a good three and a half nearly four hour drive to our hotel, which was the other side of the island! We stopped in a town called Lahaina, which even though it was dark I immediately decided I liked! It felt like a fishing village out of an old Disney film. Beautiful. We ended up in the cheapest place we could find, which turned out to be a pizza joint. The pizza was amazing to be fair, we were really pleased considering it was the cheapest we had eaten in Hawaii! I even got a free Mai Tai! 

Another fifteen minutes saw us checking into our hotel. That was a laugh a minute. We had to pay an additional ‘electricity’ fee on arrival. Never before have I had to pay for electric separately for a hotel room! We were so tired by then we could only laugh! 

Long day today, but a great one! 

Night dad x