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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

Hawaii Five 0

CANADA | Thursday, 12 January 2012 | Views [426]

Hawaii Five 0

Ok I’m sitting here 10,000 metres above the Pacific Ocean writing this probably my last blog. Yes the adventure’s over and we are now returning to reality and trying to work out how we can save up enough money to do it all again in 4 years time.

I’ll start this one with our departure from Toronto on the 29th December 2011 and a very big apology to all our Canadian friends. Chelle and I have been doing a snow dance for about the last month and a half before we left and it finally worked, it just seems we may have got the timing a bit wrong soToronto copped over 90 cm of snow the day after we left. They even had a snow day. So sorry guys, hope you enjoyed the -30 degree temperaturesJ Anyway the flight from Toronto to Honolulu via San Francisco was long and torturous, the plane got away late and the two hour stopover we were expecting turned into a twenty minute mad rush from one terminal to another, just made the plane as it was waiting for another delayed flight from Chicago. Finally arriving in Honolulu late evening we got bedded down after a long day.

December 30, first things first breakfast and then meeting up with my parents Rob and Mary and youngest sister Christina who had flown out to Hawaii to meet us. This was exciting as the kids hadn’t seen their grandparents for over twelve months. Once that was done we had a stroll around Waikiki and down to the beach. I found Waikiki beach to be disappointing, it wasn’t as large as I had expected and of course was very crowded. It’s much like Bondi, even the sand comes from Australia. After the beach we went off and booked our week. As it was to turn out there was to be none of the sitting around on beaches and relaxing this was to be all go (which suits me just fine). Our first event kicked off that evening when we went out to Germaine’s Luau; Lots of great Hawaiian food, free Mai Tai’s and plenty of traditional entertainment. Natasha was entranced by the hula dancing and both her and her mother got up on stage and gave it all they got, even Ryan was persuaded to go up with the guys and give it a go and performed admirably. The Luau ended late and so by the time everyone made it back to our hotels we were all trashed.      

New Years Eve. We went out to the one place I really wanted to see in Honolulu which was Pearl Harbour and the Battleship Missouri. On arriving at Pearl we first split up and Chelle, my mum, sister and Natasha stayed with the bus and did a tour of Honolulu while Dad, myself and Ryan went off to the Missouri for a tour. The Mighty Mo is an impressive ship with a long record; it was interesting to see her in her last guise as a Desert Storm veteran and carrying some of the weapons systems that are dear to my heart. From the Missouri we headed back to the main base to meet up with the girls and tour the Arizona memorial; before they take you out to the memorial, you are shown a film of the attack which was taken  on the day. What is interesting about this is it is an edited movie of both Japanese and American footage, so you see the attack through both sides. From the theatre you then take the short boat ride to the memorial which sits above the wreck of the Arizona, very moving. The one mistake we made with the trip to Pearl was not giving ourselves enough time because there are plenty of other exhibits and museums to see. The girls should have had the day to themselves while the boys toured the museums, you live and learn. The afternoon was Ryan’s time; he really wanted to learn to surf. So when we got back we raced him down to the beach and enrolled him in an hour long surf lesson. Sitting on the beach we watched him paddle a board out to the breakers 100m off shore while his mother chewed her nails. The waves weren’t really big, so apart from the crowds it was ideal conditions to learn and he seemed to pick it up very quickly, no surprise really as surfing is in his blood thanks to his Nan and Pop. Now we have to start looking for a surfboard for him when we get back. New Years Eve, what can I say it was spent like most of our other recent New Years Eve’s in bed. All the noise that started happening around midnight was a bit annoying though.

New Years Day, up early and jump on board a shuttle for the Grand Island tour. We had thought of hiring a car and doing the island ourselves, but I’m glad we didn’t as this way I could leave the driving to someone who knew the place and could give a running commentary on all the sites. Also the parking at the beaches on the North Side of the Island was hideous. Pipeline and Sunset beaches on the North side were what I was expecting when I thought of Hawaii’s beaches; big long, wide beaches with big waves. The thing about the island that most surprised me was the difference in climates. For such a small island we went through nearly all four seasons in the one day. The other thing that impresses are the mountains and the rainforests, I don’t think I’ve seen thicker jungle anywhere. Once again another long day but one that everyone agreed was well worth it as we got a good feel for the real island outside of Honolulu and Oh yeah Natasha finally got to drink coconut milk out of a real coconut which she didn’t enjoy.

2nd January. The Polynesian Cultural Centre; for those thinking of going to Hawaii this place is a must. As the name implies the centre highlights the people and cultures of the Polynesian Islands, such as Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. Each culture has its own village and puts on a show displaying native dancing and their way of life also there are interactive activities that people can try. So Ryan and I both tried climbing a palm tree, Tasha did some more Hula dancing and both kids tried spear throwing amongst over things. The really cool thing about this place is that it is affiliated with a University that takes in students from all over Polynesia and the money that the centre makes is used to provide all the board, tuition and other fees need to put students through university and give them degrees. In turn many of the students work at the centre and get to display their own culture and develop a pride in who they are. I think it’s a great concept that could be used in many countries. After a day spent looking around the centre we then sat down for another Luau; again with entertainment and afterwards it was the highlight of the day. “Ha the Breath of Light” a music and dancing extravaganza that highlights each culture in turn. This show alone was worth the price of admission. Both the kids were mesmerised especially when it came to the finale with the fire twirlers. I have to say having seen the different shows during the day and HA, the most impressive of the cultures is still the Maori, nothing beats a Haka, though the Tongans come a close second.

3rd January. Mum, Dad and Christina had the day off and Chelle, Ryan Tash and I went our own way; a flight to the Big Island (Hawaii) and a trip to Kilauea volcano and the volcano National Park. This was one of those trips that Chelle and I agreed “Hang the expense, we want to do this” and were glad we did. Once again flying to the Big Island it strikes you just how different the climates are around the islands. Nothing of the island could be seen owing to the Vog (volcanic fog, yes there is such a thing) except the 4000 metre peak of Mona Kea and the largest observatory in the world sitting at its peak and surrounding this was snow!! In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Landing at Hilo it was overcast with drizzle, but this didn’t take away from the beauty of the place and the difference in pace of life to Oahu. Our first stop for the day was Rainbow Falls and it was here we found out that Hilo is the second wettest city in the United States, the first being Ketchikan Alaska. So in the past twelve months we have visited the two wettest cities in the USA.

From Hilo we headed out the North side of the Island and Volcano National Park. Once again driving through impenetrable jungle, however as you come closer to the park you come across tracts of land that are barren, these are the lava flows that have cut through the greenery, a stark difference. As you get closer to Kilauea crater you drive pass vents where steam is just rising out of the ground. Kilauea is the most active volcano on the planet and though it was quiet while we were there only two weeks ago lava was flowing down to the ocean. Our first stop in the Park was at a Lava Tube a tunnel that was formed by the flowing lava and that has cooled and is big enough for people to walk through. The island is riddle with these tunnels and because of the amount of rain they carry most of the water on the West side. Next we went to Kilauea crater and the Jagger museum to view the caldera and the steam rising from the crater, because the lava level was 40 metres below the rim we couldn’t see it, but we would see how spectacular it was later that night. After a brief but forgettable dinner we then headed down Crater road and out across the lava fields, again spectacular, we came across a number of spots where the road had been cut and rebuilt in the past and then saw were the flows had reached the ocean. It would have been nice to see an active lava flow but it wasn’t to be. For the piece de resistance we went back to the observatory after dark and got to see the glow from the crater and I was able to get some breathtaking photos. Again a late night as our flight didn’t get back to Honolulu till 10:00pm, but well worth it. 

January 4th our last day in Honolulu and Natasha’s day. Ryan got to learn how to surf and now Tash got to get in the water with Dolphins (mind you so did her brother). Both were booked in for a half hour dolphin encounter at the Sea Life Park and to say Tash was excited is putting it mildly. The park is only small and not on the scale of Seaworld but that didn’t matter. The kids got to shake hands with a dolphin and to kiss one, which is all Natasha wanted to do. After their encounter we spent a short while watching the usual shows and looking at the exhibits and then it was back to the hotel for a last play in the pool while mum packed cases and did some last minute shopping. Both kids were very sorry to say goodbye to Hawaii and their Grandparents but I think that they are also so tired after their travels they will be glad to get back home, though Natasha has said she wants to move to paradise and I can’t blame her. Hawaii is now on our list of must visit again locations.

So there you have it, we are now over half way into our trip back to Sydney and it’s time to bring it all to a close. A number of you have said what are they going to read when this finishes, well I may have one final blog left in me when we get back and have settled in, we’ll see, otherwise it’s going to take me a week or so to sort through photos so I will post them as I can.

I hope I haven’t bored too many of you and thank you for the kind comments along the way.

Aloha,

Ken  

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