Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post Vacation Report

It was a blast. I will try to keep this short.

Taking a vacation that was just a vacation
No racing, no family obligations, no objectives other than fun. I used miles for airfare and because of the economy I got a great deal on the condo and the car. We had been to the big island before and were able to do all that we wanted at our pace and only did one thing as part of a group.

This is so much fun. We enjoyed warm water with cool fish, and colorful coral. Our gear worked perfectly. Captain Cook was by far the best place to snorkel. We opened the gate because we were the first ones there. That made a big difference. 69 Beach was also great as was Mauna Kea resort beach (also the first ones in the water there). Swimming with turtles makes you feel like you are flying.

We hiked the Thurston lava tube and brought flashlights (or torches for my European followers) and went all the way to the end. Hottie took some photos with her weapon camera that revealed amazing colors in the tube that we couldn’t see with our lights. We got to see “the glow” after sunset. We took the expensive, but worth it, pre-dawn boat ride to see where the molten lava enters the ocean. That was an experience that involved all five senses.
We have never really used the video function on our cameras before and we went whole hog on this trip.

Gear Notes:
Patagonia “23” board shorts
These were amazing. I used to measure the quality of a vacation by how many days I could go without socks. Based on a comment from Big John M and my excellent experience with these board shorts I will be amending my criteria away from socks. They dried quickly and could go from ocean to restaurant to condo all in the same day. I now view my other shorts with contempt. I am considering using them on a backpack trip that I haven’t thought of yet.
Mini bieners
It would have been smart to clip my mini dry box to the key loop in my board shorts. I could have used a bunch on the trip. Mental note to self…

Lands’ End Lighthouse Duffle (size medium) Look at that baby..
When I realized my fins were too big to fit in my REI duffle, I put my REI duffle in my big orange Lands’ End duffle and put the fins inside that as well. The big orange duffle proved the perfect bag to dump fins, masks, towels, snorkels, sunscreen, etc. into. When we arrived to go snorkeling, just grab the bag and go. This was totally unplanned, but proved to be really handy. My REI bag has pockets and compartments galore. It is an organizers dream. In contrast, the Lands’ End bag is essentially a single compartment that swallows gear. Both have their ideal uses. This Lands’ End is a bargain and was perfect for our needs.
Dive booties
I worried they might be a bit of overkill; same with the shorty wetsuits. Both proved to be invaluable. Walking out on the rocks without recoiling like we were walking on a bed of nails was nice. Also, no blisters from the fins, and I attribute that to the dive booties. We were in the water for a long time, and the shorties allowed us to stay out longer.

Bose noise cancelling headphones
On the flight home these kept me from screaming. Hottie and I had two seats of the triple and were dreading an obese row companion. Not to worry, a woman with a one year old girl that acted like a monkey on cocaine sat next to me. I smiled and turned up the volume and pretended I didn’t feel the tiny arm that flailed and grabbed me for the next five hours. I made faces and played with her as much as I could, but she just kept squirming. When the mom purchased a fruit plate and a small bottle of wine from the flight attendant (by the way, they hate it when you call them waitresses) I prayed she would put the wine into a bottle and give it to the little girl. She selfishly drank it all herself.

Experience, Research and Recommendations
Having been there before we had an idea what we wanted to do. Friends and a great book, “Hawaii - The Big Island Revealed,” really gave us an inside track. The internet was a source for directions and personal accounts. We talked to everyone and got some good recommendations. This included friends here on the mainland, as well as locals on the island. Just slowing down and listening, people were happy to share their knowledge with two pale visitors.

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