Happy in Hilo

Waiting for Nana at the airport

Nana arrived and Hunter turned 9.... there was plenty to celebrate.

We were still stuck to the dock in the far-less-than-fantastic harbor of Radio bay waiting out a large Northern storm system that moved in, bringing 20-30 foot swells.

Lucky for us, there were all kinds of wonderful things to do and see close by.

Nana  took a room at a nearby motel for two days and gave the kids and Us a chance to have hot showers (indescribable joy!) and she granted Hunter's birthday wish of a proper, Downtown Abbey-type frock ( complete with gloves and jewels) and we all celebrated our girl's fantastic lovliness with a strawberry-pancake breakfast at the motel diner.

Once the storm had passed and the sea settled down, we found the   nearby beach and paddled around in a shallow lagoon, where a river flowed through a delicate, grassy park and out into the sea. 

We discovered that along with a pile of friendly local kids, the lagoon was also home to a resident population of sea turtles who scooted around beside us and underneath us, happily munching seaweed off the black lava rocks, while bright and colored Sergeant Major fish nibbled our toes.

We rented a car and ventured off to Volcano National Park and visited the active ( but currently mellow-as in, no lava flow)  and viewed the crater rim and the cool sulphur flats and stuck our heads into steamy vents and wandered through an ancient lava tube and strolled through it's songbird filled forests.

Of course, it is a National Park and the place is set up to accommodate tourists but I gotta say, it was a kinda thrilling change for me.

After countless months of being a million miles from any sort of assistance, where hikes and scuba dives and all the rest of it,  also required us to be prepared to deal with any disasters or injuries that we might run into- all by ourselves.

This volcano adventure came with nice, clean restrooms and bottled water for sale (at a restaurant!)  and there were guardrails on the most dangerous bits of trail and yet it still was stunning and impressive and for the first time in ages, I could witness the extreme and magnificent powers of mother nature, without worrying that maybe I should also have brought along the suture kit.

Civilization does has its perks.

There is stuff that we may not have noticed so much before, that now drives us crazy, though...

I think everyone, everywhere should be given mandatory NOISE decompression-for free.
Nice, long, paid vacations, in an environment with no unnatural sound stimulus and it should be covered on all health care plans.

Oh, I know....
and Unicorns should come bursting out of rainbows, too.

(it is so completely disheartening to know for a fact, that nothing preventative will EVER be "covered" on any health care plan in any of the countries I belong to and its even MORE upsetting that  now-a-days, even the TERM "health care plan" is being used as the starting gun for inane, political-crazy-making debate, instead of, like, just meaning  something that actually HELPS people stay or get healthy.

SO Stupid.

Radio Bay.

A busy port, with an uber-massive, propane plant and a standing army of colossal semi-trucks piling in and out everyday, farting their air brakes in unison directly off our transom, finally drove us to seek refuge in the big harbor outside. 

Once we found our spot out in the middle of the four mile wide bay  and got the hook down and took a look around, we realized we totally should have moved out here days ago as its really no more of a pain in the patootie than being on a dock with no services whatsoever and the view is WAY better.

We now hear the birds calling over the balmy rush of a soft wind, while looking up at the gentle slope of this beautiful island, its sides flush with the verdant green of tropical plantations, a flashy parade of sun-flecked clouds rimming its highest mountain- 

It sure beats the heck out of waking up to  the coast guard cutter next to us calling out drills every five minutes, to its handsome and obedient crew-who unfortunately, despite all those square jaws and rippling muscles, still look like PLAYMOBILE guys dressed up in their uniforms, complete with silly orange hard hats that they all don to do anything on deck- it never stopped to amaze me, that it took at least five of them to do any job that Kai could handle (alone) in half that time.

:) it's okay though,
they were pretty cute.

Back at anchor, once again, ( after a month at sea) Pura Vida now drifts in slow circles, swaying on the soft surge rolling through the bay, the lights of Hilo, reflect off the black water, a full moon rises over the breakwater, the kids  are blissfully snuggled with Nana on the berth and everyone is dreamy and drowsy, listening to music...
and Jon just figured out how to get us wi-fi out here.

Hawaii rocks.

The longest awaited hug..

Birthday girl

                                                           Our lovely girl…turns nine.

Swimming hole

Little buddy
The caldera

Sulfur flats

close up of cooled magma flow

Mother letting off steam

  These next two are professional shots by park staff, taken when the volcano is erupting.

SO wish we could have seen it like this!

pretty cool, huh?

Nana entering the lava tube

Inside the tube

Wild Hawaiian partridge-
Jon,  accustomed to finding our food for the past few months,  was tempted to grab this guy and stuff it into our backpacks for Thanksgiving dinner.

Fields of Mordor

Jon gets a budget friendly facial
Sulfur crystals
Wild Orchids

We also stopped on the way home at an awesome Orchid plantation…oooooohhhh, I want to be an orchid farmer in my next life.

This one is called PURPLE HAZE-my favorite


Hunter and I set off to the Farmer's market while the boys stayed behind on Pura Vida and continued our week-long, deep clean of all things above and below decks...

Kai dropped us off in the park and before we had walked ten feet, we were offered a ride by a local;

"Darlins' come on! Where you need to go?" 

Don, white, mid-fifties, came to Hawaii with the Navy when he was 18 and has been here ever since.

He retired 15 years ago, now manages an apartment building in Hilo and in his spare time, volunteers to take care of the paddling club that's based out of the park where we leave our dinghy. 

The club provides a place for local youth to get involved and off of the streets and away from the rampant influence of methamphetamine ( or "Ice' which i ignorantly referred to as "crack" in my last blog). 

The kids get mentored in traditional outrigger paddling and Hawaiian culture and it seems like a a really cool effort on the part of all the volunteers, and one of many things the local community is trying to do to help deal with this crushing epidemic.

Don dropped us off in Banyan park. 

It was Sunday and a lazy, hazy, phat and humid vibe hung in the air.

The day wasn't going anywhere in a hurry-so we didn't  either.

Hunter and I wandered down the road, under the canopy of these truly epic trees that dangle their witchy tendrils from a hundred feet high and hang thick with Tarzan vines and yet have the luxury of sprouting (what to me would be a forty dollar) orchid plant from just any old branch . 

How do they get away with such glories? 

This Island is thick with magic.

The locals have named these trees...there are plaques at their bases...Princess-Hawaii- something- or-other-I couldn't  read the name. It was a secret, mossed over  by some sticky Bromeliad fungus. There was another name on the next tree though, must be for a great King...No? This tree is named after...Richard Nixon? 


Tomorrow I definitely need to go to the Information Center and get some answers on this!

Hunter and I kept on walking, full of questions and enjoying the heck out of our new digs.

We saw lots of local children splashing in the lagoon and families spreading out picnics under tents and fathers playing football with their kids...everyone was so cool and friendly and laid back.

 It was hard imagine that someplace this idyllic has the highest population of "Ice" users in the country.

'Look at those cute puppies!" Hunter pointed.

Two pretty rough looking dudes were playing with a couple of adorable, rangy puppies.

The older of the two saw Hunter watching them and gave us a big smile and waved us over.

"These be pig dogs, boar killas from Mauka ( toward the mountain), come on ku'uipo...come say hi."

Hunter looked at me to see if it was okay. I glanced at the dudes, they were a tiny bit intimidating but they seemed interesting and we ain't no ordinary Turistas .

We have wandered the Baja and eaten the chocolate clam, we have climbed the mountains Marquasan and can name fifty stars in the night sky...

We wear a badge now. 

It says BADASS bitches.

We get a free pass.

Hang with the freaks in the park or drinks at the Four Seasons...

I thought of our great friend Valentine from Anse amyot...

'Why not?" I said, leading Hunter over to shake hands and introduce ourselves.

And this is how we came to meet Pohaku and his young Hawaiin friend (who's name was five consonants and ten vowels long-so, unfortunately, I never  quite learned it)

We asked them if the dogs were going to be raised to hunt boars and they said yes, and Hunter told them she knew a little about boar hunting having just come form the Marquesas.

And within five seconds-we were  all best buds. 

Pohaku was totally wild, super kind, a little wacko, very bright and also ex military, having served in Iraq under Bush...

 "I don' like to talk stink, but that a junk war, ya?" he said.

I told him I was inclined to agree.

Then he went on to tell us in a rapid fire and amazing mix of English, Hawaiin, Pidgin and Hebrew ( raised Jewish, originally from Boston) all about his life history and what all the local trees are called and why they are named after people ( for their spirits, which still makes me wonder about Nixon but it did look like a very complicated tree, after all ) and what was up with the local scene and crime and drugs and the various conspiracy theories involved there ( Asian gangs introduced it but it was ignored by the authorities as it affected only the poor communities and that just  meant it was even easier for rich people to grab up al the land, so they let it  keep going),  we  also got a lesson on local slang to use so we wouldn't seem like such Malihini's

While we petted the puppies and listened to Puhaku ramble on, I glanced over at his young Hawaiin friend, who had been standing quietly by himself  the whole time, looking up at the trees with a smile on his face.

Pohaku ( which means stone 'cause he's a carver. He was given this name in a ceremony by his  Hawaiin ohana ( family). I guess this is what happens when you are adopted here) looked over at his buddy;

"Ya, you think he Pupule ( crazy)?"

I smiled, not sure what to say.

Pohaku sighed

"That boy, only 22 years old, Ya.  Air force, Afghanistan...shrapnel to the head-now he's like a six year old up here.."

Pohaku tapped his own close- cropped head and shrugged.

"I look out for him, 'cause there no one else who would".

My throat closed up. I wanted to cry. 
Hunter looked at me with wide eyes.

"Its like this with all the young vets" Pohaku told us. 
"Us old guys from the other wars are the only ones who have any time for these kids."

We told him it was really nice talking to them but we had to get to the market but Pohaku insisted on giving us a ride the rest of the way. 

He opened the back of his pick up.

"Climb in the back with Auntie" He told the kid.

"Auntie" was me. 
It's a Hawaiian term of endearment for an older woman.

I love this place.

The young vet got in back with Hunter and me.

(Incidentally, on the big Island of Hawaii,  it is not illegal to ride in the back of a pick up truck- which all by itself, is reason enough for me to want to move here)

Pohaku took off, yelling interesting factoids about the town which, we couldn't possibly decipher, what with all the wind and noise in the back of the truck.

Then the kid in the back with us suddenly started bawling his eyes out.

Hunter nudged me and looked at him with alarm. 

The kid wiped his eyes, which were positively streaming with big fat tears and in this sweet halting voice full of pain and apology and longing for something I can only imagine. he said;

" so beautiful, mama and little kiki going da Market. So good. So sweet."...and then  he just kept sobbing.

I have never felt what I should have on a V day.

I have intellectually understood what sacrifices have been made for Country but as a psudeo-conscientious objector to wars in general, my empathy has always  taken a back seat to my intellectual idea of the bigger picture.

This day changed all that, for me.

Our little daughter was also front and center for this experience and I will never have to explain to her what our young men and women go through out there on the front lines.

Hunter's eyes filled with tears and she gripped my knee as she looked at the boy in the back of this truck who had left his peaceful island life here and gone though something beyond horrible out there in some desolate mountain pass somewhere an entire world away....

It sure didn't make me understand the WHY any better but I  now have a face for the WHO -and that has changed me.

A moment later, we came around the bend to where the Hilo farmers Market sprawls along this honkey tonk  of a waterfront town, 
its full of crunchy, funky, soul surfers and old hippies and Japanese farmers selling giant pumpkins and potheads selling wheatgrass shakes.

A legion of vets paraded down the street with flags and a drummer beating out a march,  and the boy in the back of the truck with us stood and saluted as  Pohaku pulled over to the side and opened his door and shouted out  military -in- calls to his brothers in colors.

When the parade had passed Pohuku came around and helped Hunter and I out of the truck.

"Here ya go ladies. Hope you enjoyed the ride and learned a little bit about us, Hawaiians ,Ya."

Yeah. Yeah we sure did boys.

Hunter and I gave Pohuku and our friend in the truck, kisses on the cheek...

"Thank you, for your service" I said, and for the first time in my life, I didn't  feel self conscious saying it.

best veggies ever!

So many Orchids!

Off to market

Super cool lantern Kai made out of a coconut

Hard to choose

Greeting Nakia when they arrive...

A few of my favorite things

Pohuku and friends

Med-moored in the 'hood

A few from the vault...

This is us during a squall in the Taou atoll....

...and this is us in the EXACT same spot-the next day.

(photo curtesy of Nakia-taken during a rigging inspection)

SSB Radio check-in with Nakia
HALLOWEEN: Hunter Jade as Terry Kennedy 
..and Kai dresses up as me ( suki).

Babies in the Sea Berth

Wicked Awesome female Mahi-Mahi

EQUATOR CROSSING-blessing the Ocean with honorary shellback prayers

King Neptune and his bossy little sister

Captain Fantastic...