Monday, February 7, 2011

Hiking in a Lava Tube!

Well, while you were probably snowed in and busy watching the Superbowl, we were hiking in a lava tube!   I didn't even realize until today that yesterday was Superbowl Sunday.  Not that I would have watched the game since we don't have a TV. 

I sold the TV right after David passed away. I haven't missed it a bit though I confess I am going to watch Survivor on, it is my one TV vice and I've been a fan since the very first show.  Enough of that, back to the lava tube.
Rachel, U'i and I drove to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park yesterday after a short visit to our local farmer's market.  The drive was lovely, maybe a 1/2 hour from our house. 

 We started out at an elevation of 53 feet from sea level, and went up to well over 4,000 feet.  The volcano we visited is Kilauea. This volcano has been continuously erupting since 1982, adding many square miles of new land each year where the lava flows into the ocean.  The park also encompasses another volcano, Mauna Loa, which is actually the tallest mountain on earth when measuring from its base in the ocean to the top. It is well over 35,000 feet tall.  It also has snow at the summit and many people ski there, then in 15 minutes they can also surf in the ocean.  There is snow on the summit right now. 

 We didn't go that far yesterday,  just limiting our stay to the summit of Kilauea, the visitor center there and hiking the Thurston Lava tube.  We will be spending many, many more days in this wonderful National Park in the future. 

Here is a picture of the fern filled trail on the way to the Lava Tube. 

 After a short hike,  the trail enters the actual lava tube.

The tube itself took maybe 5 minutes to hike through, and then it was another short hike back to the parking area.

Just a few miles away is the caldera.   Quite a contrast to this first  part of the park! 

 We spent about 4 hours in the park and just barely scratched the surface.  Stay tuned for further adventures. We can't wait to see the lava flowing into the ocean and this same caldera at night, where the steam looks like fire shooting into the sky!

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the hunt again!

This has been one of those whirlwind kinda weeks.  Since I last posted, our world has turned upside down!

We moved into the rental house.  It is a wonderful house and we have a great landlord.  Steve is just the nicest guy and has been above and beyond helpful and friendly.  He has a cat named Snow Tiger or ST for short,  ST and Ui bonded immediately.

He designed and built this house.  He had a bunch of furniture that was not being used so when we moved in on Saturday, he set up 2 twin beds in Ui's room, beds he built himself.  A double bed in Rachel's room and a double bed in my room, which was also built by Steve. My bed is very high, and has shelves for storage underneath.  A real move up from sleeping on a futon on the floor which is what I have done since April 15, 2008 when I moved back to Hawaii!!!

There was a table and 3 chairs for the dining room, a huge desk for Rachel,  a futon couch and several bookshelves and a couple of storage cabinets for each room.  The house is very open and spacious with a HUGE kitchen.  Wood floors throughout with the exception of Ui's room which is carpeted. Two bathrooms and a separate kitchenette off Rachel's room. 

The house is on an acre set quite a ways back from the road. 

The neighbors have a couple of sheep and everyone has free range chickens.  Just down the road are some woods and wild boar!  We have spotted at least 4 adults and 8 babies.  So cute!  

 A friend shipped 3 boxes of our stuff  from storage on Sunday and pots and pans, cooking utensils,  curtains,  and some of Ui's toys and miscellaneous other items arrived on Monday afternoon. So we can cook again! Yaye! The remaining things from storage will be shipped out on Feb. 16th when Rachel goes back to Oahu to take care of that, now that we have a place to live.

Ui started school on Monday.  I went with Ui for that first day as Rachel was buy with conference calls from work and couldn't get away.  I met the teacher and toured the campus with Ui to get her bearings.  We really like this new teacher,  Mrs. Nakamura, she is an older grandmotherly type woman, very friendly.  After school she walked Ui to the car and hugged her and welcomed us.  She told me that they had done some preliminary reading testing and that Ui is reading well above the 2nd grade level at 5th or 6th grade level.  I knew she was reading well, but was happy to hear that she is that advanced.   Ui made a few new friends on the first day, her new best friend is named Harley.  By today, which is Friday, I think Ui knows half the school already.  

Tuesday Ui rode the school bus for the first time.  We have a little hike down the unpaved country road we live on to get to the bus stop.  The bus picks her up at 6:30am and drops her off at 3pm.   Rachel and I have been walking to and from the bus stop twice a day, it is about a 15 minute walk each way, so instantly we are getting a good hour of exercise.  We are really enjoying this. 

Today Rachel and Ui had to RUN for the bus as we left the house late and they made it to the bus stop with one minute to spare.  I plodded along and got there right after she left on the bus.   I'm sorry, but I am not going to run!

I have been applying for jobs all week.  So far no calls for interviews but I'm hoping I will hear from someone soon.  Job hunting is really stressful when you have not worked a regular job for 12 years but I know something good is waiting for me.

Ok, back to the house.    Last thing I wrote was that we had a 5-6 month wait on the house due to a title wording mistake.  A friend here has a brother-in-law who is the head of the realtors in all of Hawaii.  He called and asked us what was going on.  Turns out that the attorney who did the foreclosure on the house Rachel was trying to buy had screwed up over 200 foreclosures including this one!  D... told us that this is why there is such a backlog at the land court.  We talked to him on Monday afternoon.  He dictated a letter to Rachel over the phone to put some fear in the bank, realtor, attorneys, etc. involved in the house deal.  He told Rachel to give them 96 hours to respond and either reimburse her expenses,  or take care of the problem,  or seek legal recourse. The letter included this information and Rachel immediately typed up a draft and sent it to D.... for approval before sending copies via certified mail to all parties involved.  This was Monday. 

By Tuesday morning Rachel's orginal realtor called to let us know that the bank that owns the house had backed out of the deal and pulled the house off the market.  This was before even receiving the threat letter, apparently someone realized that this mistake on the title would be causing some real legal problems.  So.... our dream house is not even  available now. 

This is ok, it relieved us of having to make a decision of whether to wait out the land court backlog or to look for another house.   Our new realtor, D...  has already sent us a bunch of listings, we have driven by those houses and found a handful that we are interested in.  We meet with D... tomorrow to get a closer look at these and one in particular Rachel is thinking  of a making an offer on if the inside is as nice as it appears on the website.  

Anyway, we are no longer homeless.  We are settling in and have made several new friends already.  So life is looking up and we are ready to move onward and upward!   Thanks to all who wished us the best and gave us encouraging words that things would work out.  We feel at peace.