Sunday, August 7, 2011

July in Pennsylvania and Hawaii

Our vacation began in the eastern US, where Dale lives half the year in North East, Pennsylvania. His beautiful home is a historical landmark in this small community, and was built in 1850 --- along with several others in the community --- by a wealthy family whose business was gas and electricity. Behind this house is the carriage house, which Dale has transformed into a nice wood workshop. He has made several lovely pieces for the home, including a 10 foot solid dining room table with a shiny finish. We took some time to visit the wine country there, with several wine tastings, and treks into the picturesque amish country. We even had an amish home-cooked meal, which may or may not have been completely cooked at home. But for sure, the salad dressing did use sugar, and lots of it!

Soon enough, we were all in Waikiki, enjoying some surfing in the warm Pacific waters. Carla and I went out every morning around 7 to find ourselves with the locals, one of whom looked a little like Iz. He was looking out for Carla on her boogie board among all the surfers. He would call out to the others that the next wave was hers, so no one on it!

We spent five lovely days at Waikiki, filled with good food, surfing, finishing a research article (for Bob), and fun all around. Here we all are wearing our commemorative t-shirts celebrating Dale in Hawaii. (He got one too.) It is because of Dale that we all went to Hawaii. Those are nephews, and sisters in laws and brothers, and dads and girlfriends, all under the banyan tree at the Royal Hawaiian.

After Waikiki, we all headed to Kona on the big island of Hawaii for four days. I (Bob) was shocked by the difference in the landscape with Oahu. It was my first time, and often I felt as if I was at some paradise on the moon. The lava rock is so thick and rugged and sharp. There are no beaches here like in Honolulu. At the same time, it was a beautiful contrast with the water. We looked in several tide pools in the mornings, and once I saw a Moray eel poking its head out. There were lots of black crabs too, and when they saw me move they scampered, some jumping down from rocks while spinning in the air, like crazy gymnasts with eight legs.

Here is Black Sands beach between Kona and Kilauea. The black sand is created when hot lava explodes in the ocean. Some boogie boarders are out there, but in general it is not a good surfing spot. This is also a place where big sea turtles come to lay eggs, and lay out. We saw two of them.

We made it to Kilauea, which is one of the most active and visited volcanoes in the world. It is said that using all the stuff ejected from it, we could pave road around the world three times. I have no idea how thick the road would be, but I am guessing it would be extremely hard on the tires. In 2008 the forestry service moved the observation point back from the rim of the caldera because the other one was swamped with toxic fumes and incinerated. We couldn't get much closer than this because of poisonous gases. Since April 2011, Kilauea has been moody. It is clear that this island is quite new, and that property prices should be very cheap, especially near the caldera.

As a group, when we all jumped into the water for some snorkeling, the ocean rose about 1 mm. Not more than five minutes after the photo was taken, I was swimming out when the lifeguard ordered everyone out because a 12 foot tiger shark had been spotted. All beaches were closed until the shark was found. So we all packed up and went to the pool, where I practiced my wounded seal dive.

The next day, we went back to the snorkeling spot and got into the water, sharks be damned. Actually, the beach was re-opened as the shark had not been seen for 24 hours. Here Carla (right) and I (left) take our nephew Brooks (center, and who is eight!) on his first snorkeling adventure. We saw so many fish and yellow corals that by the time we saw our 20th parrot fish, and humuhumunukunuku─üpuaa, we were like, cool, keep breathing, keep breathing, no sharks.

On our last night in Hawaii we had a barbeque around the pool and watched the sun set. But this was not the end of our vacation.

Once back in Pennsylvania, Carla and I were brought to Niagara Falls by Dale and Gloria. This provided a spectacular show, from both the Canadian and American sides.

The best way to see the falls is from down below. We all took the "Maid of the Mist" boat ride to quite near the center of the horseshoe falls. Since it was so hot out, I did not put on my rain jacket until it was too late. Then with the wind and wetness, I could only pop my head out of a sleeve instead of the cap. Never the less, we were all soaked at the end of it; but were dry an hour later. We ate lunch on top of the falls, just to the right above Carla's head.

Back in Pennsylvania, we took a nice picnic and day trip to Presque Isle, which is an isthmus into Lake Erie. We rented this surry to ride about 5 miles round trip in very hot and humid weather. Though we are smiling above, at the beginning of the trip, by the end of it we were worn and happy to be rid of it! It is definitely not built like the two seat bikes of which Carla and I are used to riding!

Upon returning to Copenhagen, Carla and I feel completely recharged. A week later, our skin is turning back to milky white; but our great memories haven't faded one bit. Thank you so much Dale for making it all possible!

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