Sunday, February 12, 2012


The first week of February Casey and I had the great privilege of taking a four day trip to Kona, Hawaii (which is on the Big Island of Hawaii.) We owe a big THANKS to Synergy Companies for inviting us to join them on their company retreat this year. And also a big THANKS to mom for coming out to watch our two kids for us the whole time we were gone! We wouldn't have been able to do this without you mom. Thanks again so much! It was both of our first times visiting Hawaii and hope we will get to go back sometime in the future! It was amazing and so worth it! It was a trip of a lifetime. So join me as I take you on our adventure through Hawaii. And for all of you who are freezing in winter snow and coldness we hope you can imagine you are here by looking at all the pictures and have a little getaway of your own. :) Just to help you imagine it a little better it was in the 80's pretty much the whole time we were there! 

Sunset by our hotel the first night we were there

Another view from our hotel

Flying in to Hawaii

Wish I could have kept the camera on to get the really good pictures as we were close to landing. It was gorgeous.
 After landing and getting through the airport we stopped at this little beach spot on our way to the hotel.

Beautiful lei that smelled WONDERFUL that Diana bought for me when we landed. I loved it! Never worn a fresh lei before and it really was heavenly. It was made of Plumeria and Orchids!

Big fat ugly sea cucumber. They were kinda gross to watch move around.

Black Starfish. They were really fast and would crawl under the rocks and hide from us. A lot of the creatures (star fish, crabs and sea urchins that we saw were all black to blend in with the lava rocks.)

Another sea cucumber. We only saw them at this location, not at the beach where we stayed, so it was kinda neat.
 Next to this little beach spot was a cool little walking/nature path with lots of plants and flowers that we explored. So gorgeous!!
Hibiscus They were everywhere! 

So many pretty different colors!

One of the craziest looking spiders I have ever seen. It looked like it was gold and silver. It was sparkling in the sun. 

One of the pretty tropical floral arrangements at our hotel.

We stayed at the Keauhou Beach Resort! It was so awesome! Not only was it gorgeous the breakfasts there were amazing and it was such a great location!

View out front of the Resort

View from our hotel room balcony.

Another view from the balcony! Isn't it gorgeous!

Sunset that first night we arrived!

I think this is one of the best photos we got of us.  This was Thursday night  right before heading to dinner!  Loved the orchid lei I got too! :)
Friday morning the meeting I was supposed to attend got canceled because the projector and all the other equipment they needed for the presentations kept getting sent back and forth between the other islands. So I was happy to go snorkeling with some of the other wives while Casey had his meeting!  I have never been snorkeling before and was a little worried, but it was a blast once you get used to the coldness of the water on your face. Plus you have to get used to breathing through your mouth under water! Once my face got used to the temp of the water it was no problem though! This snorkel spot was right outside of the resort/hotel and it was amazing! There were lots of beautiful tropical fish everywhere. They wouldn't even swim away from you when you swam up to them! I WISH I had an underwater camera to capture all the beautiful fish I saw. My favorite one was bright  purple and pink with turquoise around the edges. They were so pretty and so many different colors! Then as I was swimming along there would be these little needle fish floating at the surface of the water. They were about a foot long or so and they were clearish and would camouflage really well in the water. It kinda freaked me out because you would be swimming around and all of a sudden they would all be right in your face! It was really neat though and was glad that I got this experience! It felt like I was swimming in a really big fish tank! It was so cool!
This was a great snorkel spot. Some of the people saw the turtles swimming in the water with them while they snorkeled. They would come up in the shallow water and swim around and sun on the rocks. They were so cool
 Hawaiian Green Turtles

 After snorkeling that morning and after the big company meeting was over we all got ready and headed towards the Volcanic National Park! It was a long windy crazy road and luckily Casey got to ride in the front of the van or he would have been sick! :)
The tropical part of the Island on our way there

View of the ocean as we drove
 On our way we stopped at the black sands beach. I was told that this is the only place in the world that has black sand beaches. ???? I still haven't confirmed this, but sound right? Anyway it was really neat. The sand was more course and didn't stick to you as much as "normal" sand does. It was so neat. It was a really pretty place to stop. We could see the turtles in the ocean swimming around in the waves and it was so relaxing after that long windy drive I didn't want to leave. :)

I was trying to get a good picture by this mossy rock that I loved but I about got soaked in the waves so this is the best that I got. :)

Deana and I's toes. You can see how pretty and black the sand is. It kinda looks like poppy seeds on our toes. 

My favorite little mossy rocks. :)

Casey and Rachel at the black sand beach

I love how pretty the white water and the green moss and the black sand all look together!

Cutest little puppy that was playing in the sand. I just had to get some pictures!
 After stopping at the black sand beach we continued on to see the volcanoes. Our next cool thing to see was what is called a lava tube. Somehow when the lava cools it forms these tubes, or little tunnels. Well this one was a really big one!
More lush tropical plants

Casey and I standing in the entrance to the huge lava tube!

Its hard to see how long it really was but if I remember right it was about the length of a football field!

Walking through the lava tube!

Just after exiting the lava tube! My hair was starting to get pretty crazy by this point due to the humidity and driving  for so long with the van windows all rolled down! :)
 Next stop was a really cool lava field. The lava went for as far as you could see. It was so neat!

We saw two "NeNe" or Hawaiian Geese. They used to be endangered so it was cool to see them this close up.

Casey and Tommy climbing on the lava hills

King of the mountain! :)

So fun! 

These huge ferns were just growing right up out of the lava! 

A little eruption spot

And more eruption spots

And this weird looking bubble that I guess cooled before it popped or something?

And this even weirder one that looked like a statue. LOL

A huge wall of lava that just stops!

Another eruption spot. Look at all the colors of rock!
 These next ones are really cool! they were these deep pits and the rock looked like lava, but it wasn't glowing! Five years ago when our group came to this spot they actually saw lava flowing from these!

This one was a huge crack in the earth that went on the earth just opened up! So crazy!

These are some small lava tubes that kinda collapsed.

I loved how shiny and multi-colored these rocks were! Who knew a rock could be so cool right?  They were kinda like glass. It was neat!

Here you can see how the lava flowed right out onto the road and just cooled. Then in the back of the picture the lava completely wiped out the whole road. The road just completely disappears! 

Vast lava flows as far as you can see. It was crazy how there would be random plants and big  trees that  would grow up through the lava. As we drove along the road there would be signs all along the way saying what year each of the eruptions happened. It was really neat!

I think this picture turned out gorgeous! Click it to make it bigger!

Then we stopped to check out all of the steam rising up out of the earth! It was really neat! 

It reminded me a little of Yellowstone. It was kind of surreal thinking that we are standing on an active volcano that  could possibly go off at any moment and here we are feeling this hot air just coming out of holes and cracks in the earth. 

We never actually got to see the lava flowing, but this was a s close as we came. We saw the glow from the lava down the hillside after dark! It was crazy!!!!!!!!!!

Hard to get a good picture of it at night.
It was a long fun day. Even though my van accidentally left me at the visitors center while I went in to use the bathroom. I came out to find them driving down the road without me. I tried to stop them but they didn't see me. And since Casey had been riding in the front so he wouldn't be car sick and I had been riding in the back of the van, I was wondering how long I would be left at the visitor center before my van realized I wasn' t there. Luckily it was only a few minutes. Good thing because the visitors center was getting ready to close and there weren't very many people there and we were out in the very middle of nowhere! :) So after seeing all these cool volcanic rocks and steam and the glow and the huge lava tunnel/tube and taking the long drive home we didn't get back to the resort until 10:30 pm if I remember correctly.

On Saturday morning we had time to relax. Then we headed over to Neptune Charlies and Timberwolf and we got to get on their boats. They took us out in the ocean and we got to snorkel and dive (for those who were certified) out in the ocean! This was the highlight of my trip! The water is way warmer there than it is here in San Diego and so pretty and blue! Our first stop we got to get out and snorkel with a manta ray. It was really neat. This time was Casey's first time snorkeling since he didn't get to go with me the morning before. Let's just say Casey was having a tough time snorkeling :) Then our next stop we got to get out and snorkel with dolphins! It was the coolest thing ever! I think I can say it was one of the neatest things I have ever done! There were pods of dolphins everywhere and they would swim all around us. Instead of swimming away they just kept circling the boats. The closest I got to them in the water was probably about 5 feet away! Three of them swam right up to me! How cool is that? It was such a neat experience swimming with these big friendly animals in the wild! Again I wish I had an underwater camera so I could have captured some better pictures! So after we were really tired from swimming all around Casey and I headed back towards the boat to take a break. We then got on the Kayak and paddled all around! We would look for a pod of dolphins and paddle over to them and they would just be swimming and jumping all around us! We could have reached out and touched them that was how close we were to them! It was SOOOOO NEAT! There were so many of them and it was so cool to see them jump up out of the water and spin and do flips! Oh and it was really neat to hear them singing while we were in the water too! I really think this was a once in a life time kind of expereince that I don't know if I will ever get again! So it just makes it that much neater. Plus now I can say that I have swam with dolphins!

At this same snorkel spot I also must have swam into some jellyfish larva. They stung my leg up a little bit. I didn't see them or a jellyfish or anything. It happened soon after we first jumped into the water. I didn't want to miss the dolphins and I really wasn't sure what the stinging on my leg was. I thought about jelly fish but I didn't see one. Then I thought that maybe I got a scrape on my leg and the salt water was irritating it. but I was so excited to see the dolphins I didn't think about it too much. Once I got back on the boat I checked it out and it was like a red rash on my leg that was a little swollen. So I asked the captain and he said it was probably a sting from jelly fish larvae. He sprayed some stuff on it (I think it was baby shampoo in a a spray bottle) and then it was fine. It really was probably only stinging for about 5 minutes in the water. Either that or I was having so much fun with the dolphins I just didn't notice it much. But it is kinda fun saying that I got stung by it. :) haha

We didn't have our camera out much because we didn't want it to get ruined in the water so i tried to get some pictures from the boat. Some turned out okay. Wish I could have gotten some better ones especially when they were all around our kayak and jumping, but we didn't have our camera with us out there!

We also saw two hump back whales! They came pretty close to our boat! So cool! This was the best shot we got of them. It was neat seeing all the water that would spray up out of their blow holes! 

The water was so beautiful!!!!

I thought this was a cool picture.

Love the colors of the water! It's way prettier than any swimming pool!
 This was the next dive spot. We didn't get out here because we were really tired by this time and there weren't any cool things like dolphins, manta rays, or whales. Just regular fish. :)

We had such a fun time out on the boats! It was an experience I will never forget! Then Saturday night we got to go to this really cool place at the four seasons resort and eat dinner on the beach at a place called Sand, surf and stars. It was the fanciest buffet I have ever seen in my life! It was a really expensive place at $100 a person! They brought us really yummy drinks with orchids in them. I learned from our waitress that if you have a flower in your hair on your left ear that means you are taken. If it is on your right ear then you are available and if it is in the back of your hair by the end of the night then that was a flirtatious signal meaning follow me home. :) There was endless delicious food. There was a cold salad bar that had all sorts of delicious things. I tried some of the sushi and it was pretty good even though I am not a sushi person. Then they had things like lobster tail, ribs, all kinds of fish, steak, chicken, shell fish and more! Plus all the sides of rice, mashed potatoes, and island vegetables. It was so delicious. Saving room for all the desserts was the hard part! They had delicious chocolate mouse, chocolate or coconut souffle and all sorts of other yummy delicious stuff! Once the sun went down there was star gazing available and they also had a spot light on the ocean and we saw some of the turtles swimming around in the ocean. :) 

This was a picture of the place. It had one of those really cool never ending pools with a view out to  the ocean. This place had luxury written all over it! It was breathtaking.

We were seated at these tables in the sand right next to the ocean!
You can see that the other people are seated to the right and the buffet is in the back of the picture. They also had a live band and a dancer for the whole dinner!

What a great end to the day! Then the next morning was Sunday and we went to church. The church was located right next to the Kona temple. A cute little baby was blessed and it was once of the neatest blessing I have ever heard. The little girls name took about five minutes to say it was so long. She was blessed through every step of her life. I think she was born to a teenage girl and I think this baby needed those blessings to help her and her mom. It was really special. The little girl sitting next to me was the cutest little Hawaiian girl with these cute big brown eyes. She kept smiling at me and pointing to the flowers on my dress. I was really missing my kids by this point and I just wanted to pick her up and squeeze her. She was so cute! After church we walked around the temple. We saw this cute little gecko. He was really fast and kept trying to hide from us. He was a bright green with a bright turquoise blue around his eyes! Another time when we were in walmart Casey had this little one crawl on his arm! they are so cute!

Kona Hawaii Temple

The rest of the day we spent relaxing at the hotel and waiting for our flight out that night. As we were getting ready to leave for the airport Casey spotted some hump back whales jumping out in the ocean by our hotel! They kept surfacing and jumping clear up out of the water! It was really neat. We didn't want to leave we just wanted to keep watching them. But we didn't want to miss our flight either, so we finally left. It was a great end to an awesome vacation!

The trip home was long and we didn't get home until 8:00am Monday morning! But although we were very tired it was so worth it and we would go back in a heart beat if we could! It was such a magical place and we recommend it to anyone who wants a nice warm getaway!