Saturday, June 24, 2017

The slow route to New Zealand

I left Boulder way back on June 4, but I'm still not quiiiiiiite to New Zealand. (Almost there! We leave Sydney for Christchurch tomorrow.) Instead of charging straight for our new digs, we've been taking the slow but beautiful route, stopping over in Hawaii and then visiting my in-laws in Australia.

The Hawaii stopover was for two reasons. The first was jetlag mitigation: Hawaii is exactly halfway in effective time difference between Colorado and Australia, and I have learned from years of Australia visits that spending even one night at a halfway time zone is tremendously helpful in dealing with brutal jetlag. Especially if you're traveling with a kid. (Last time we returned straight from Sydney to Boulder, it took my son weeks to stop waking up from 2-4am every night, despite my best efforts to wear him out & reset his sleep schedule. WEEKS.)

The second reason: it's Hawaii! My son is very into volcanoes at the moment, so he was particularly excited for the chance to see Kilauea in action. Therefore we chose to stop for a week on the Big Island and visit Volcanoes National Park, plus enjoy some excellent snorkeling. (One day I plan to visit Kauai--I would love to hike the Na Pali coast--but that can wait until the kiddo is a bit older.)

We've had a lovely time, both in Hawaii and in Sydney. It's a strange sensation, having wonderful experiences even as I check the news and struggle with an avalanche of helplessness and outrage and sadness. ("Don't check the news," some might say, but I feel informed action is so vital these days that I cannot simply turn my back.) The beauty I see in reefs and bushland strikes all the more keenly to my heart, knowing that such ecosystems may not survive much longer. Yet I take heart in seeing my son ask how we can save and protect them.

So on that note, here's some of what we've seen and enjoyed on our journey toward New Zealand:

Sunset from Keauhou, Hawaii
Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay
Pod of spinner dolphins at Kealakekua Bay
Giant manta ray behind our snorkeling boat--we did the famous night snorkeling with rays trip, and wow, it was worth every penny. When we were in the water, the rays would come within inches of us as they fed on the plankton drawn to the boat's lights. It was amazing to watch these gentle giants swooping in lazy flips and balletic turns at such close range. 
Southeast coast of the Big Island, windswept and wild
Punalu'u black sand beach, home to numerous sea turtles
Sea turtle entering the waves at Punalu'u
Lava in Kilauea's main crater. The pic doesn't do it justice--it was fountaining in constant motion, very cool to watch.

Lava at the Pu'u O'o vent, as seen from the air. We splurged for a helicopter ride. It was cool to get the aerial view, but I'm not entirely convinced the cost was worth it, given that the flight time is so short (about 45 min). Next time I might be more inclined to try the hike/bike ride out to view the lava entering the ocean at night. (Didn't do that this time because it was quite a long distance and I wasn't sure the kiddo would enjoy such a long hike given there's little to see until you reach the viewpoint.)

Aerial view of lava entering the ocean
Waves at Laupahoehoe park, which was one of my favorite spots on the Big Island's eastern side

Another view of Laupahoehoe

Waimea Bay on Oahu--we spent a lovely afternoon here with fellow author Kate Elliott, before flying onward to Sydney

Hanging out with Kate beside a tasty taco truck. (The finger is my son's; he needs a little more practice taking pictures)

Darling Harbor in Sydney

Morning in the Blue Mountains. I love hearing the kookaburras chortle their maniacal laughter. (I'm serious. It's really cool.)
First waterfall of the day while hiking the National Pass/Valley of the Waters loop

Cliff view 

One of the many waterfalls we passed

Another enticing waterfall

Last light on the Ruined Castle rock formation (right at center of photo)

Winter light on the Three Sisters

We got to meet up with photographer & SFF reviewer Paul Weimer, who was on his very first trip to Australia and New Zealand courtesy of the Down Under Fan Fund
And now, onward to new adventures...