Saturday, February 4, 2012

Relaxing and Thawing Out on Our Hawaiian Vacation

On the first day of our one month vacation on Oahu we went for a drive along the south and eastern shores on Highway 72. We were thrilled with the beautiful colors of the ocean as well as the 80 degree air temperature, especially after having just left mid-January snowy Oregon. Above is a view of Makapu'u Beach and Sea Life Park.
We enjoyed watching the progression the artist made on this painting over the course of several days.
If you look straight down from the cliffs you can see the coral reef beneath the clear water.
The first beach we visited was Waimanalo Beach Park. On that day, the beautiful turquoise water was so calm, it seemed more like a lake than an ocean. I was surprised how warm the water felt- nothing like the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. Brrrr! 
Waimanalo has wide stretches of soft, silky sand that feels wonderful between your toes. The best part is that the crowds have been left far behind in Waikiki. We have returned to this beach many times. We either sit in the shade and enjoy the scenery (while I knit socks) or we walk for an hour or so in each direction. There are about three or four miles of beach here, or more for those with military ID who are allowed to walk along the restricted areas of Bellows Beach. But why worry about that? Three miles are plenty!
We rented a gold Toyota Corolla for a month. It's much easier to spot in a parking lot than our own white Honda. It seems to get good gas mileage. That's good because gas is $4 a gallon lately.  
I've always wanted to watch a surfing competition, so we monitored the surf reports until there was a day with 30 foot waves. Then we headed over to the Banzai Pipeline to watch the Volcom Pipe Pro event.
The waves were HUGE!!!! The wind was blowing the tops right off the whitecaps.
It was exciting to watch the surfers ride through the center of the pipes, hoping for as long a ride as possible before a wipe-out.
Can you see how much taller the waves are than the surfers? Yikes!!!
The rough waves spanned the horizon, the whole area was wild!
There are no surfers in this picture for size comparison, but the waves were as huge as the ones in the pictures above.
We loved our visit to the Byodo-In Temple just north of Kaneohe at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It's a replica of the 950 year old Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan. 
We crossed an arched bridge from the parking lot, leaving the modern world behind.
It felt as though we had entered into another place and time. That's probably why the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu was used  in an episode of the ABC series Lost, "House of the Rising Sun" in season one as the home of Sun's father. 
Since it's a non-practicing Buddhist temple, people from all faiths are welcome to come here to worship or just enjoy the peace that envelopes the site. 
The view from the meditation pavilion was beautiful. Many weddings have taken place here.
I love bells, especially enormous ones. The plaque on the frame said that happiness, blessings and a long life come to those who ring the bell. Well, that certainly made me happy! So, I gave it a nice satisfying bang with one swing of the wooden log. It was wonderful, resounding throughout the valley. It was even better than a gong. 
After we removed our shoes, we entered the temple which contained this nine foot tall golden Amida Buddha which was carved by Masuzo Inui from Japan.
The beautiful wooden ceiling was elaborately carved.
An ancient style Buddha was resting tranquilly in front of the pond.
This is the first time I've seen a jolly golden Buddha. He made me laugh.
I hadn't realized there were so many different styles of Buddha statues.
Another golden statue. This one is in the gift shop.
I'm not sure who this statue is supposed to be, but I liked her. 
 I also liked the golden lion dog.
Whimsical frog spraying water into the pond. Funny!
The Koi in the pond can live to be 100 years old.
There are supposed to be hundreds of Koi in the ponds. I think they all decided to gather together for a group photo.
Everyone smile for the camera! 
I'm sorry! Did the flash scare you?
Of course, I had to get a picture of the graceful black swan.
 The birds were not too shy. This one decided to pose for me. He does look a little leery.
We spent one day at the Bishop Museum. The exhibits have changed a lot since we last went there twenty-five years ago. 
 They had a planetarium show and a building devoted to science. The volcano exhibit was fun and educational.
I don't think it actually erupts. But we saw a demonstration where a man melted rocks and poured them out of the kiln. It looked just like flowing lava while it was hot and glowing red. When it dried, it looked like obsidian.
Bill and Larry posed for me in front of the volcano.
 I told Larry that I thought he closed his eyes in the last picture, so he opened them bigger for the retake.
The Nene Goose is the state bird of Hawaii.
While I was taking the picture of  Larry and Bill, a nice lady took this picture of all three of us.
When we saw a real Nene Goose yesterday, Larry said, "I love those birds." This picture looks like he meant that.
 I'm not picky about what kind of pets I like.
 This is one of the first Hawaiian tourist brochures. It is dated 1899.
We walked through a long, winding tunnel that was lit with black lights.
The glowing display told the story of the volcanic birth of the Hawaiian Islands.
This is Pele. She is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes.
Here is what Pele looks like without the glow from the black lights.
There were quite a few fish and this fun squid in the display.
I suppose this is a rooster.

And his chicken girlfriend.
This was a large bird hanging overhead.
 We visited a sacred Hawaiian site called the Kukaniloko birthing stones in the center of Oahu near Wahiawa. It used to be a secret hidden spot in the middle of a sugar cane field. Now the area surrounding it has been cleared out. 
Ancient Hawaiian Royalty came here to give birth on the sacred stones. Any child born here was assured a high ranking status. The woman would be surrounded by thirty-six male chiefs during the birthing process. Afterwards, the child was taken away from his mother to be raised in a secret place to prevent it's being murdered by rival chiefs.
We have gone twice to visit the beautiful Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden. It was designed by the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a drainage basin to provide flood protection for Kane'ohe. There are 400 acres of tropical gardens divided up by geographical area.
The Breadfruit trees in the Hawaiian Garden had huge leaves. The fruit was a staple in the diet of early Hawaiians.
Even though the temperature was 85 degrees, it felt cooler underneath the shady trees.
Pandanus (hala) trees have prop roots to give support to the tree as it becomes top-heavy when the huge, pineapple-shaped fruits are ripe. Hawaiians used the leaves to weave things like mats and fans.
These red trees are right near the visitor center.
We saw quite a few unusual trees on the path that runs from the visitor center to the lake.
In this close-up of the above tree, you can see how the bark is totally covered with spikes.
I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it looks like a hot pepper tree.
We saw a lot of these giant bean pods hanging from trees. I wonder if they are edible. Probably not.
The bark on this tree reminds me of the shaggy mane mushrooms we used to find in Colorado.
 Several of the trees had pretty red flowers on them.

 We saw lots of these plants growing wild on many of the hiking trails all around Oahu.
 Hawaiian Coots have been on the endangered species list since 1970.
 I especially liked the way their feet look.
 The coots make their nests out of vegetation so that the nests will float on the water like a raft.
 Love those toes!
We saw two of these charcoal kilns. The sign read: "Charcoal Kiln - Stone and cement oven used to produce charcoal from guava trees. Cir. Early 1900's". 
It had a large interior, about fifteen feet wide.

An eerie cloud cover quickly descended on us, covering the nearby mountains.
That's when we decided it was time to leave, just in case a storm was coming.
Another nice botanical garden in Honolulu is Foster Gardens. The first thing I saw was an interesting collection of seed pods. This was my favorite one.
In the gift shop we saw these cool necklaces made of mushrooms.
These animals were crafted from a brush-like plant.
 The moose brush ornament was my favorite.
 Lauhala alligator woven from the lau (leaves) of the hala (pandanus) tree.
Makes me dizzy!

I don't think this sign is a joke. Those cannonballs are heavy!
When the ripe fruit falls to the ground it makes the sound of a small explosion.
The crown of thorns plant was in bloom. Larry had some of these plants growing in his yard when he was young.
 I spent a long time taking pictures of the plants in the greenhouse.

 Meanwhile, on benches outside the greenhouse...
You took a looong time taking pictures......
Bill didn't mind waiting for me. He lives in Hawaii and has the Aloha Spirit.
Do you see anything unusual about this "tree" on the edge of the Hawaii Kai Golf Course? We saw it on our way to Koko Crater Botanical Garden.