Hilo Farmers Market

After Volcanoes National Park, we headed straight for the Hilo Farmers Market. We planned it for a Saturday, because we knew it was the best day for the market. It took us going around the block twice to find parking, but it wasn’t too difficult.

I have to admit the market wasn’t as large as I was expecting. Nowhere near the size of the Swap Meet on Oahu, but we were still able to get a bunch of souvenirs at good prices.

After souvenir shopping, we got some shaved ice. The kids were excited. Had I known that our resort would offer free shaved ice, I probably would have saved the $11 that the 2 shaved ice’s cost (but these did taste better). I thought my husband would get himself a Poke bowl, but he decided not to.

Next, we hit up the food side of the market. We got lots of different fruits we weren’t used to – to try for fun! Plus they had the tiny bananas we used to eat in El Salvador all the time – the BEST type of bananas ever! I was so happy to get them (They have them at the grocery store here, they are just super expensive!). We also picked up some DELICIOUS Tamales for lunch – YUM! My husband also snagged himself some Spam Sushi – he could resist trying it.

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Lava Tube & More Lava Fields – Volcanoes National Park

We got up at a decent hour (not like we could sleep with the roosters and Coqui frogs anyway! Plus we had a PACKED day planned!), packed up, left our rental, and headed back to Volcanoes National Park.

We knew we wanted to see the Lava Tube first. It was the other main item on our list. We were the only ones there when we arrived. The sign said that there would be no lights on at that time, but there were. It was pretty cool. Kid #4 was a bit anxious about going across the bridge into the tube, but he held my hand and made it across. Around 3/4 of the way through, it was a bit flooded. We walked across a makeshift walkway – where you still got wet – but made it all the way through. We had to leave the stroller behind though. Once we walked up the stairs at the end, we decided to walk back through the tube, instead of taking the loop trail back – mainly because we left the stroller on the other side of the flood. Plus we got to go through the tube again!

On the way back, we stopped at the Kilauea Iki Trailhead. It was a great view of the Kilauea Iki Crater – which apparently has been dormant for decades, but you can still see steam rising from the dried lava! Pretty cool! I tried to get a close up of one of the steam vents, but the steam didn’t come through in the picture. If you look close at the picture of the crater, you can see a pillar of steam in the background. That is the Lava at the Jaggar museum that we had seen the night before. (only this is much farther away). Looks much different in the day!

We then did a quick stop at the Kilauea Visitor Center for the Junior Ranger packets. We didn’t get to them, so we will be doing them here at home (hopefully soon!). There wasn’t a lot to see at the Visitor Center – a few little exhibits and that was about it!

Thus ended our time at Volcanoes National Park. I can’t stress enough the need to spend at least one evening at the park to see the lava – AMAZING. I could spend lots of time at the park if I were hiking, but with our small kids, we did what we could. We had a busy day planned at other sites, so we saw the highlights and headed out. It was an AMAZING park to visit!

We do have a video of the Lava Tube – taken by kid #3 (7 years old). I’ll post it once I edit it down (its long!)

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Centered Anxiety

I booked our trip to Hawaii almost a year before we took it. I had no idea at the time how much it would be needed.

Due to circumstances in the last few months, I have been dealing with some severe anxiety. (don’t worry, I am under a doctor’s care 😉 ) Most days, I do ok with it. My kids get to where they need to go, they’re fed, clean clothes, and happy. Pretty much what matters. Some days are harder than others. In December, my kids had a piano recital. I made it through alright, but it took all I had not to bolt from being in public (we left fairly quickly though!)

I did pretty well with Christmas – being with my family seems to center me.

January provided its ups and downs.

Then we went to Hawaii. It seemed to totally center me and bring my focus back to what is important. It was the first full week in months that I had NO problems with anxiety. It was pure bliss.

When we got home…. Well, has just been quite the week. We lost 6 people that we knew (all different reasons). Then yesterday, we got some unexpected/less than ideal news (having to do with the circumstance we’ve been dealing with the last few months). Then that school shooting.

Yesterday was just a bit much for me. However, I didn’t experience the severe anxiety that I had been – don’t get me wrong, it was there, but it was manageable. I simply did not watch the news (it was just too much. Too much emotion. I would have been a crying mess) and went to bed extra early – who says mom can’t go to sleep at 8:30? I was exhausted from the news of the day, plus I was up with a coughing child and a restless child the night before.

Today, I am doing ok. I still want to burst into tears if I hear/watch the news, but otherwise coping well.

Apparently, Hawaii was the medicine I needed. I guess the Lord knew when I booked the trip almost a year previously how much I would need it.

Which makes me wonder if I am going to “need” to go back in a month or two. This circumstance will not be resolved for quite awhile, and I may need to re-center again… I mean it’s better than medication, isn’t it?!?! Wonder if I can get my doctor to write a prescription for “Vacation in Hawaii” and my insurance will pay for it?? HAHAHA! I think it was the dedicated week with just my family. No work. No school. No schedule. No news. Just us and having fun together.

In the meantime, I am coping by planning our next big trip this summer and looking at land online to build our new house! (I’ve found several possibilities!!) Nothing like dreaming big to take my mind off things!

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Lava at the Jaggar Museum – Volcanoes National Park

After we had some dinner at our Airbnb, we headed to Volcanoes National Park (no restaurants anywhere close by). We knew that if we wanted a chance to see Lava, it would be best at night – this was our ONE night to see it! The entire reason we chose the Big Island was to see Volcanoes National Park. Kid #3 LOVES Volcanoes and we wanted to show him an active volcano and hopefully, Lava!

As we drove toward Volcanoes National Park, I noticed the sky was glowing RED! OH.MY! I was so freaking excited. I pointed it out to the rest of my family and we all got excited. We might actually see the lava.

We drove to the Jaggar Museum to park. I was worried we wouldn’t find parking because it seemed VERY busy, but we got a spot right up front. We got out of the car and walked down the path. Tons of people are lined up along the walkway. You could see the Lava bubbling up!!! I was so excited, I could hardly contain it! KIDS LOOK! BUBBLING LAVA!!! I have to say, it was a thrill of a lifetime. It was just right there! So easy to see and get to. It was nearly impossible to take pictures and video – we did our best, but it doesn’t come close to capturing what it was like in person. It was incredible. To see the smoke. To see the lava shoot up into the air. To see the lava bubbling. To hear the lava. Truly a wonderful experience. I felt so blessed to get to share this with our kids.

We explored the little Jaggar Museum, but it was pretty busy! They did have some fun exhibits. After the museum and gazing at the lava some more (I could have stayed a long time!) we thought we would continue on Crater Rim Drive to see some other spots. Well, the rest of the drive was closed. No other lava viewing spots (apparently too dangerous at the time), so I guess we get what we get. At least we were able to see the Lava at the Jaggar Museum – since that apparently was our only option. (well, we could take a LONG, HARD hike to see more, but yeah – that wasn’t happening with our little kids. If they were older, we’d try it, but not with a toddler! Plus we saw lava with a 2-minute walk from the car)

So we headed back to the rental house to sleep because we had been up EARLY for our flight and we were all exhausted. BUT WE SAW LAVA!!! So the trip was made in the first few hours.

Video and a few of the pictures we took below:

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First Airbnb

We stayed in an Airbnb for the first time on our trip to Hawaii. We needed one extra night and we wanted that night near Volcanoes National Park. Well, there aren’t many hotels on that side of the island, much less hotels that fit 7. I looked into using some of my points at the one Hilton in Hilo, but It wouldn’t have worked.  I decided to try Airbnb. I got a friend to refer me, so I got like $40 off our stay. I then bought an Airbnb gift card to get another 5% off (Thanks Amazon!)

The first Airbnb we reserved CANCELLED us not long before our trip. Ugh. I had booked it months beforehand. I didn’t know that was possible. I scrambled and we found another Airbnb. Still a pretty close location to Volcanoes National Park (About 10-minute drive)

When we arrived at the Airbnb, it was not exactly what we expected. It is probably the area of Hawaii, as most of the neighbors looked similar, but they really should have stated it in the listing. The kitchen wasn’t much of a kitchen, other than there was a fridge and a sink. No stove. No Oven. We had to cook our dinner on a hot plate. (good thing I just had boxed mac & cheese – the only time our kids get that!)

Apparently, you couldn’t drink the water. I think that should have been in the listing. There was nothing saying that in the house, but they had drinking water signs on the big jugs of water and if you looked outside there were big cisterns of water that looked like they collected rainwater. I am guessing that is where the water in the house came from. So even though they didn’t say NOT to drink the water, we just assumed.

The rooms and furnishings were nice enough. There was Wifi, soft beds, and HOT water – so that was good. They could have used more plates, cups, utensils, etc. There were hardly any and very mismatched randomness.

Then at night, there were Coqui frogs that were annoyingly loud – they croaked ALL FREAKING NIGHT! The come 3am, there were 2 roosters roaming around crowing at each other – well before the sun even came up. When I got up to shower, I noticed a container of earplugs in the bathroom. Well, I know why that had them in there now! We found the roosters under the house when we were packing up to leave. They did not live at that house (obviously a neighbors). (see above picture of the roosters roaming around with some hens as we were leaving) If they have earplugs, they know this is an issue and should warn you. I know it was in the country, but the noise level was just too much!

I was REALLY glad we were only there one night!

Will this keep me from using Airbnb again? Probably not. If we need to, I’ll probably book with them again. I’ll try to stick to our hotels and nice condos though! In places like National Parks though, there is often not anything like that close by. HOWEVER, I will look much closer at the listing! (although the noise and the lack of kitchen was NOT in their listing. *sigh*)

So not the best first Airbnb Experience, but for one night, it was liveable (I would have cried if we had booked more than one night!!!)


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Airline Computer System Down

We’re (unfortunately?) back from our wonderful trip to Hawaii. Once I get life and the house back on track, I’ll have a series of posts about all the places we visited. Why is it a week vacation takes 2+ weeks to get life back on track? *sigh* someday we’ll get all the luggage unpacked…

On my last flight, we got to experience getting kicked off a flight. Well, this time we got to experience a computer outage! Fun, fun! Another first!

We got to the airport in Kona an hour and 45 minutes before our flight. We noticed a decent line waiting to check-in. We got in line only to realize that the computer system was down. They said it was down on all the Hawaiian Islands. GREAT! If you’ve been to the Kona airport, you know that it is an outdoor/open air airport. So we were standing in the sun, waiting in a non-moving line for the computer system to get up and running again. They assured us everyone would make their flights once the systems were up and running again.

Yeah… This was fun with 5 kids. They were pretty good at least! We got out the snacks. Sat in the shade (while daddy waited in line). This was lunchtime – no places to eat – so we survived off snacks. Ran everyone through the bathroom.

Over an hour later, they got the system up and running. Of course, the line was still huge (even longer behind us!). Not long after the systems were up and running, they started announcing boarding for our flight – WHAT THE HECK?!?! Everyone in line started complaining/yelling. They assured us we would all make the flight. Waited forever to get the bags checked and boarding passes. The counter people were super nice – I am sure they were having a hard afternoon!

Finally through all that. Up to TSA and it was moving pretty well. UNTIL they switched shifts RIGHT in front of us. Like seriously changed out x-ray people as our first bag was going through. I don’t know if it is because she was new on her shift, new to the job, or just a pain in the butt, but OH.MY! I thought the TSA person we had in BWI last time was bad – she was a cake walk compared to this woman. She was sooooo slow. Now I am all for security, but she was insane. She looked at each bag for sooo long. She made us take out ALL of our PACKAGED snacks (think little bags of cookies, granola bars, etc.) No liquids, etc. We had to take them out and they tested them. Our bag of toys for the kids (think coloring books, puzzles, and playdoh), they totally tore it up looking for some mystery metal she was CERTAIN was in there. Um… there is NO metal in there. Even after going through it, they put everything in separate bins to go through the x-ray. Yeah – NO FREAKING METAL! We take that same bag, with the same stuff through TSA several times per year – NEVER had an issue. The lady was crazy. They sent my husband’s backpack through twice. The other TSA agents were getting annoyed with her. It wasn’t just us – they did it to the people behind us too! Kid #5 started to take his pants and shoes off from boredom… My husband said he was protesting. It was INSANE (TSA on the way there was super FAST and easy – with the same bags… sigh)

FINALLY through TSA and right onto our plane. It was fairly full already. We were not the last on, but close to it.

We got home pretty late, but we got home. However, if we were to get stuck somewhere due to a computer outage, Hawaii would be my choice!! 🙂

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Junior Ranger update

Look what came in the mail yesterday! I couldn’t believe it! We emailed these junior ranger badges in and when we didn’t hear back, we mailed them in. This was MONTHS ago! I had pretty much given up on getting them… Then yesterday, which ironically was during the Government Shutdown, they showed up in the mail. YAY!

This is a badge that you can earn at home too! Just know that it will apparently take MONTHS to show up! HA!

We’re off to the Big Hawaiian Island this weekend, and thankfully, the government re-opened, so we can go to Volcanoes National Park and get our badges there too! (we also still need to finish our John Day Fossil Bed ones too…)

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