Saturday, July 19, 2014

A trip to the southernmost point of the US

Our day trip this time took us to the southernmost point of the US which is located at the very southern tip of the big island of Hawaii.  On our way we stopped off at The Painted Church - a very small Catholic church with an incredibly beautiful setting.

Afterwards we were off to the actual southern point to watch those brave enough to test that bravery with a jump from the cliffs while the islanders set up shop to do a little fishing.  We were lucky enough to spy some turtles in the waters below while waiting for our jumper to say his final prayers.  Gerry got some great photos of the result of his efforts!





 

 





Marne had heard about the famous Green Sand Beach Hawaii which was not too far away so we headed off to see what we could find.  What we found was a grass parking lot, a rutted out road (if you could really call it that) and a guy in a large, yet incredibly beat up pick up truck who was offering rides to/from the beach for $10/person.  Since it was very hot that day (with absolutely no protection from the sun for us albino types) and nearly three miles to the beach, we gladly took him up on his offer!  Apparently our predecessors did not always choose as wisely.  (The day we were snorkeling the weather here at the beach was pouring rain - they wound up pulling four rental jeeps from the mud and muck to the tune of $600 each.  Quite a family business they've got there!)


The conclusion of our rough-riding was a spectacular view of a small cove/beach with sand which was indeed slightly green in hue (I'll admit I was really hoping for something a bit more emerald in color).  The climb down was not an easy one but Marne excitedly scampered down and despite the warning signs did, in fact, come away with a tiny bit of green sand souvenir. 




















Farther down the road we found the Punalu'u Black Sand Park with lots of families, swimmers and more than a few turtles enjoying the day.


After enjoying some of their world famous malasadas at the Punalu'u Bake Shop, we checked out The Big Island's Volcano Winery.  Not terribly easy to find, if you find yourself short of time (or you're really into fine wines), this is one sightseeing option I would probably drop.  Fun to wander about but let's just say that I don't really groove on Guava and jaboticaba berry blended wines.

By this time (through not fault of our own), we found ourselves once again near Hilo and so we opted to take the quicker new highway that cuts the island across and allows people to get from one side to the other in a few hours rather than an entire day.

later, tw 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 







Friday, July 18, 2014

The beginning of the next chapter...

Today will be, after 27+ years, Gerry's last day of work at Microsoft.  The announcement that his position was being eliminated wasn't any real surprise, but the suddenness of it did come as a bit of a shock.  Though the timing wasn't exactly his own, we had ironically (and somewhat prophetically) already been looking towards and prepping for his eventual retirement (which we estimated at 3+ years down the road.  As I've often told my kids:  Life is what happens when you're making other plans.).

I would like to go on the record officially today and say that (at least until yesterday when he was abruptly informed that he was now a casualty of company redirection), he has been a very valued and valuable employee for each and every single one of those 27 years, 4 months and 17 days.

Cake (made by Jenny) in honor of
his 25th anniversary with the company
(March 2012)
Microsoft's loss is definitely my gain and I truly look forward to not having to share him with his daily work life.  (You can't imagine how much my "honey do" list has grown just since learning this yesterday!  I'm thinking that one of two things will happen: 1) he will get everything done in short order and we will spend even more time traveling and visiting our kids and grandsons; or 2) he will decide it was more "restful" to be employed outside the house and begin updating his resume and contact list).  I'm sure there will be some period of adjustment - no doubt we'll be joining some new gym together and he's promised to help with my quilting (which I'm sure means less "UFOs" and more completed projects).  We consider ourselves the beneficiaries of all the blessings this career has afforded us over the years (especially since it was this job that brought us to Washington state and some of our greatest friendships).  But whatever comes next, rest assured that we've been looking forward to our "post retirement life" for nearly 35 years now and it is definitely our aim to make the most of this new "opportunity"!



That first company picnic at Radar Lake (1987)
In any event, I just wanted to take this chance to say that I am so proud of him and everything he has accomplished in life (so far - there is much more to come, I'm sure!)  He's heard from all three of our kids who each shared their love and pride with him in their own incredible, amazing ways which is, after all, the best and truest testament of his character.

It has been one hell of a ride - and I truly believe that the best is yet to come!  [And a special thank you to Ross Garmoe for taking a leap of faith and hiring him way back in 1987!]




later (and with much love and pride), tw

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Sunset Cruise



One night we headed out on a historical dinner cruise of the Kona coast.  As always (or at least usually) the weather and waves were beautiful (though there was still some residual excess wave action remaining from the previous storm).  During the cruise, back to the Captain Cook monument, we learned the history of the places where we'd been several times snorkeling, before enjoying a wonderful dinner aboard the ship.




On the return trip we were treated to front row seats to a gorgeous sunset:







 
 
later, tw

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hello Hilo!

We were joined on our Hawaiian vacation this year by our sister-in-law, Marne.  She's the best traveling companion - always up for an adventure!  One Wednesday during our stay, we headed out for the other side of the island to visit Hilo.  On our way out of Kailua-Kona, we saw a visiting cruise ship (NCL's Pride of America - the only cruise ship that just sails around the islands year-round):










It was a gorgeous day and the brand new road to Hilo gave us a beautiful opportunity to see both Mauna Loa AND Mauna Kea:
























Upon our arrival in Kilo (after a brief roadside stop - travels with Marne are always interesting!), we headed for Mauna Loa candy factory - those chocolate-covered mac nuts that are synonymous with "Hawaii".  We learned a couple of years ago that the company had actually been acquired by Hershey's.  The factory sees rather limited use these days.



 

So on we went to visit Big Island Candies.  Now THIS is a happening place and Wednesdays are the BEST day to hit them!!  Every station in the place had worker bees hustling about making cookies, dipping things (cookies, nuts, squid - okay that last one must be an acquired taste) in chocolateS (white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate). 


One station was making candy bars that are sold for fundraising purposes...with the largest box of Rice Krispies I'd ever seen!













After sating ourselves with every sample imaginable (yes, Marne did try the squid, brave girl that she is!), we headed to a nearby restaurant we'd been directed to before:  Hawaiian Style Caf√© (the place where the locals go to eat).  This place is in a strip mall...an industrial strip mall at that...but if you ever get to Hilo you must, Must, MUST try this place! 


They have the largest fluffiest pancakes you'll ever come across (which are actually served as a mere "accompaniment" to your meal!)











After lunch we did some more sight-seeing in Hilo itself (looking for the famed Farmers' Market - worth the stop).

























Then it was off to do a short hike to Akala Waterfall...


















...and to see the Botanical World Adventures and its gorgeous flowers and painted trees before heading home.  The roads are much improved but none of them are anything you want to be on too long after dark - the fog is really incredible and can be VERY dangerous.









later, tw