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BIg Island, Hawaii

Urgh, the last few days have been epic! Both in good and bad ways. When we arrived after a bad flight with US Airways (we kept getting stuck at the tarmac) which took 10 hours, we got greeted at the airport with leis from Andy's parents. This is a family vacation, in fact it's my first vacation with a large family group in a long time. There are 6 of us, Andy's parents, Andy's sister and fiance, and us.

Sat night was chilling with mai-tais, then we took a walk to downtown Kona, and tried kava drinks. It's a dirty  muddy drink that supposedly made one felt mellow. It's gross! But Andy got some as cultural experience, and we were wondering if it's a scam.

Sunday, we went snorkeling at some beach that starts with "ka" and it was insanely awesome. There were fishes with rainbow irridescient colors and I saw a large sea turtle swimming peacefully next to me.

So, the trip for Maui, I had researched exhaustively for. But this Big Island trip I had not, mainly because I've been busy with other stuff, it was a family vacation, and I think after Maui I just wasn't as excited. Andy did a lot of the research though. But because of my lack of planning, I didn't bring my contact lens, and water shoes. Which meant that the snorkeling goggles couldn't close properly and it kept leaking ever few seconds. This was the first of several lack-of-planning suckage.

Lunch was Hawaiian fare at Big Island Grill, followed by hot-tubbing at our lodging. And then I was attacked by the most excruciating back pain that I've ever had.

It was so bad that when I had to stand up I was crying to Andy and my lower back was spasming. And the pain left a serotonin high afterwards. I spent most of the evening incapicitated. It sucked. I took a bunch of ibuprofen, was offered stronger pain-killers (Andy's father is a doctor) and I felt sad for myself that I was sick in Hawaii. But I did some research for alternative stuff online, and decided I was dehydrated and drank a bunch of water and coconut water (coconut being one of the supposed cures on earthclinic). All the online research seem to indicate that pulled back musles take 3 days to heal, and that's 3 days I didn't have. So I kept drinking water.

I went to the bathroom 7 times during my sleep. The first time, Andy had to get me up, and my back was screaming in pain. Seriously, the most pain I've ever felt in my life have been from neck and back. And that's saying something. The second time, Andy was asleep, so I got on my side, pushed myself up, on my hands and knees, slowly crawled towards an armchair, pulled myself up on the arms and the back of the armchair, and like an 80 year-old, gingerly walked towards the bathroom. It was that way for a few more times, and when dawn came up, I could get up easier. 

So everyone decided we were going to do the trip to Hilo, instead of hiking the volcano to make it easy for me. I had thought I might missed today but since I was feeling better, we all roadtripped to Hlio. On the way there were portugese donuts, a waterfall where I managed a 2 mile easy hike, and sightseeing at the Waipi'o overlook. Hilo was an underwhelming lunch at Ken's House of Pancakes, because the seafood restaurants we wanted to go to was closed. 

Then we went to a heated pool called Anahului at sunset and it was amazing. I loved it. But Andy's sister kept rushing us, because she wanted to see lava in the dark. So we only spent 30 mins at the pool, and it really annoyed me. Basically, when we were in Maui, Andy and I rushed to see everything in the island, and only the last 2 days did I just got to lie back and relax. Now that we have both Andy and his sister, the vacation feels even more like that. Like there's a Vacation Scorecard, and we need to earn as many points as possible. 

You're in a freaking springs, heated by lava underneath. The ocean is just next to us. Why. Are. We. Leaving? 

So, we rushed to see lava. And this was where things got crazy. First, Andy and his sister and her fiance didn't want to pay to see lava. And they found tourguides that were asking for 40 bucks. So a huge discussion ensured on whether or not we wanted to pay 40 bucks each, or in the dark, walk over dried lava, to find flowing lava and steam on our own. I was pretty mad at Andy because no one has lava-hiking experience and it was pitch dark. Also, Andy had been doing crazy stuff again on this trip, like going down stair wells underneath bridges that overlook fatal drops. He did this a lot in Maui, while I waited in the trailhead worrying, but this time, on the way to Hilo, he had accomplices: his sister and his dad. While his mom, me and Mike (his sister's fiance) worry about them. Gah.

So finally we decided to pay $40. We started the hike. The hike itself was amazing. We walked over 30 year old lava. It was gray and coagulated and looked like we were walking over solidified bubbles. WEIRD. There were rivulets of lava that had solidified. SO COOL.. But really hard to walk over. So we kept walking and walking, and we climbed over a ridge to fertile soil which overlooked the ocean. We were walking along the edge of the seaside cliff, in the dark, with our headlamps and flashlights, and the moon over us. SO COOL! But again, there were no time to take it all in, since we were rushing rushing rushing towards the lava. And if you don't look at where you're going you'll trip, which several people did. So finally I asked: "How much further to the lava?" And then the guide said we were halfway. That's when we figured out the the whole trip was 5 miles long instead of the 2 miles we thought, and it was a 4 hour trip. I was like: WTF? What happened to taking it easy for my back? And also, it was dark and we were exhausted, and the guide was keeping up a punishing pace for me. I got left behind once, and the guide was like: "If you can't keep up, you can stay on this bench here and we'll pick you up on the way back." I gritted my teeth and kept going, and the whole time was thinking: 5 miles? How did we end up in a 5 mile strenous hike?? So we kept going, and finally reached the lava spew.

Lava spewing. So cool! Like a huge cliffside with lava flowing out into the raging ocean! It was like sceince-fiction movie!

Amazing.

We walked on one month old lava with brittle crunchy surface, some of them had cracks where you could see lava below. And then when you touched the surface it was warm!! So amazing.

After taking forever to get there, I just wanted to take it in. I joked: "Well, we saw this for 10 mins, we can go now." And people actually were ready to go! WTF people? So people rushed to the next lava thing, which was supposedly live lava flowing inches from you. As opposed to large swathes of lava spewing in the ocean. Even coming this far was already amazing, and we passed other people who didn't get this far and wished us good luck and got our guide's number. We got to see lava-spewing from both sides of the cliff. Anyways, so we kept marching on, at this point I felt like I was in a prison march and I finally just said, "No." Not going anywhere else. So Andy and I stayed back, and the others went on to see the live lava which were setting bushes on fire. And I had an enjoyable time just watching fire spewing into the ocean and a cruise ship trying to get closer to the lava.

Then we hiked back home, it was midnight by the time we got to the car. Andy's mom drove us back, swerving sharply at times, through a road not recommmended for tourists in the dark. The whole family is crazy. And now I'm part of it!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
antoniseb
Nov. 24th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! Big Island is on my short list of must go places. Probably Feb 2013.
__bin
Nov. 24th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, this sounds so much like the trips that we take with Richard's family. We never do what we want to do, I always spend the whole time feeling like I'm trailing after everyone else and no one ever really seems to take what *I* want into consideration. Except that his family now includes 3 children, which always complicates things in really annoying ways.

But when all is said and done, as much as our family vacations with them are never what I wish they would be, I'm still so grateful that I get to be a part of them. My family never did trips like this. We never will. We're just not like that. So I'll take what I can get when it comes to my extended family.
ripresa
Nov. 25th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
I also am not very close to my family, so they are rare. I am definitely grateful for Andy's family, and for the most part they are awesome people to vacation with. It's just the mentality of Must See Everything, that drives me a bit crazy. I'm more of the type that want to take in stuff. For example, we'd go on hikes, and Andy would reach the waterfall, be satisfied that he saw it, and go back down. I want to just sit and enjoy the sight for 20-30 mins, and then go back down.
__bin
Nov. 25th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that would be annoying for sure! Richard and I are both really on-the-go vacationers. We like to see as much as we can. But we definitely take the time to appreciate things too!
delia_deville
Nov. 25th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Good call on the hydration.
Hopefully the hike loosened up muscles.

There are some release points deep under your butt that are helpful for lower back pain. Imagine a perfect triangle set deep in your buttock. Each point feels like a bruise but "good" pain. If the spasms start again, you might try having Andy look for them while you are on your stomach.
ripresa
Nov. 25th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah he massaged my butt with his elbows for a little while. Those are painful points.
gerdemb
Nov. 25th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
You story made me laugh. It sounds exactly like my Mother's idea of a vacation which I call the "checklist mentality." Incidentally, we're going to the Big Island in February and your stories are making me more excited about the trip...
desfontaines
Nov. 25th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
Hope your back is feeling much better by now, and thank you for sharing the story of the lava flows at night! (and the later dolphin encounter you described!!!)

Your second trip in the middle of the night reminds me excruciatingly of how it was for me when I hurt my back at Pennsic five years ago. The only way I could get out of bed was by sliding off it to my knees, then slowly standing straight. I had to use the poker in the fire pit as a walking stick before I got the good drugs, too.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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