Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Big Island Hawaii adventure continues

And so continues my Big Island Hawaii adventure. I think the best way to showcase day two is by pictures, so take a look.

First stop is downtown Hilo for kava at the Bayfront Coffee, Kava & Tea. Kava is an age-old herbal drink, beverage of choice for the royal families of the South Pacific. It's said to relieve stress and anxiety, relax muscles and relieve pain. I drank the suggested mix with coconut milk, and it was still bitter.  But I have to admit it did give me a bit of a buzz.

Serving kava downtown Hilo's Bayfront Kava
 Next up, stop at 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii. A really cool stop that combines the study of astronomy with the local and ancient customs and legends. Needed a bit more time here to explore.

sweet Big Island Candies
We detoured to Big Island Candies-- for a teasing show of local chocolates. 

Then we loaded back up for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, After a short hike the horizon revealed distant steam from the volcano.  Our park visit ended by walking through the lava tubes, (which felt like big round caves and challenged my claustrophobia)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Another favorite moment:
*The local "dancers" choreographing stories and dance to the burning embers of the distant lava flows.
Walking the lava tubes
Hawaiian musicians
The sunset walk is another place that deserves time to really enjoy the ambience, closing your eyes and listening to the Hawaiian dancers perform a huli and oli (chants) with the drums beating in the background. The dances at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park performed a hula and oli (chants) devoted to Pele the volcano goddess who resides in Halemaumau Crater – that was where the glow emanates that we were observing

More tomorrow -- or follow my adventures when they happen on http://www.twitter.com/dianarowe

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adventure on the Big Island

view from room Hilo Hawaiian Village

Three flights from Denver, two layovers, and 12 plus hours later and I arrived at the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s my first stop here, the one Hawaiian island I haven’t visited before.

The flights were smooth, and a short drive (less than 15 minutes) from the Hilo airport to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  (see picture on right) It's part of the Castle Resort properties. This Hilo locations allows for quick exploration of this side of the island. Today I’m checking out its refurbished meeting space and renovation of its popular Queen’s Court Restaurant. More on that later.

The Big Island is known for its adventures , from hiking to snorkeling to golf, from sand to snow to a steaming volcanic crater. Today I begin my adventure at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and end at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a lava adventure and sunset walk to the lava flows at Kalapana.

Follow me on http://www.twitter.com/dianarowe to get instant updates and photos of my adventures.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Orlando, Florida Adventure: Disney’s Magical Kingdom and Hard Rock Hotel

Journey at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp
Please welcome my 10 year-old niece Journey (yes—that’s her real name!) as a guest blogger this week. She recently traveled with me to Orlando for a series of firsts. Since she wants to be a writer, I thought I’d give her the assignment of detailing her impressions of her first trip to Orlando, Florida with her Aunt Nana (that’s me!).  Read on for my amazing niece Journey’s travel impressions of the first days in Orlando, Disney's Magic Kingdom and Hard Rock Hotel. I did take the liberty of adding my comments in [brackets]:

Guest blog by Journey
Have you ever been scared and excited at the same time? Well I have! Before I got on the airplane I was so scared to leave my mom, but I was so excited to be able to go to Orlando, Florida. The airport was so crowded. I could barely get through to our seats. When the plane started to go, I got that funny feeling where you feel like you’re going to throw-up. A few minutes later, it started to get boring [I know what you mean, Journey!]. I couldn’t find anything to do so I just went to sleep. When I woke up we were at the airport.

Journey's first gator sighting
Once I got out of the Orlando airport, I went to a little restaurant with airboats [Lone Cabbage Fish Camp with two of my aunt’s friends]. After Aunt Nana had a beer [Hey, I wasn’t driving!], we went on the airboat. A few minutes later, we saw alligators right in front of us. Later we saw an alligator right in front of us on land. When we got closer, the alligator hissed at us and I jumped back. We also saw another alligator on land and we got really close to it. That alligator didn’t hiss, but he did come after us so I ran back to my seat. I was so scared that we had gotten lost on our way back to the restaurant. When I saw the bridge, I was so excited we had made it back! When we got out of the boat, we headed to the ocean.

Journey & Aunt Nana at Cocoa Beach
When we got to Cocoa Beach, I saw a HUGE restaurant. As I got closer, I took off my shoes and ran towards the water. It was so fun because I went half way out until two huge waves came. When the waves got to me, my shorts and part of my shirt got soaked! I had so much fun at the beach that I started to get hungry.

We went to the [beachfront] restaurant and started to go in until the people who worked there stopped us and asked us for our ticket. Apparently, a ticket was needed to eat at that restaurant. I was so mad I couldn’t eat there. Then we found another restaurant, but you had to be twenty-one to go in there. Aunt Nana said to show them my fake ID [I know, Aunt Nana is funny!], but it was too late for that because we already left. When we got back to the car, I had to change my shorts because they were wet and rubbing against my legs. Then we started to head back to the hotel.

Journey's 1st hotel: Hard Rock Orlando
When we got to the Hard Rock Hotel, I was so shocked by how it looked. It was HUGE! The hotel had a fountain with guitars. Then came the hotel room. I stepped in the door and it was beautiful. It had a huge TV, a big bathroom, and food on a tray. I loved the hotel from first sight. Outside there was this HUGE pool with a big slide. The dinner was delicious [Kitchen Restaurant, on-site a the Hard Rock Hotel]. I had homemade macaroni and cheese. I also had hot tea and water. After dinner I went to bed. The bed was so comfortable, and I slept like a baby.

Journey's visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom
The next morning I woke up and I got dressed. Then I made my bed and went downstairs to the lobby. When the car arrived to go to Disney World [courtesy of Aunt Nana’s friend Rick!] I was so excited. When we got to Magic Kingdom, I was so amazed with what I saw. Cinderella’s castle was so big. I finally got to see the castle in person.

Aunt Nana and I had gone on a few rides like Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and a little roller coaster called Thunder Mountain twice. I also went on a few other rides that I don’t remember. Then we took the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Resort [Aunt Nana wanted to see a Disney resort] because we got so tired of walking.

From there we took a taxi back to Hard Rock Hotel [about 30 minutes], where I took a short nap.After I woke up I had to get in the shower. Then I got ready for dinner again at the restaurant at The Kitchen with thirteen or fourteen other people. [We met up with the Universal Studio folks and other arriving media.] It was so tiring to walk. Dinner was delicious, but I was very, very tired. After dinner I went straight to bed.

From Aunt Nana, aka Diana, TravelingInHeels.com:  Journey learned really quickly that it's exhausting being a writer, but she's ready to do it again.  She'll also agree that wearing comfortable shoes is important!
Journey's journey continues tomorrow with her visit to Universal Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Read more about our Orlando, FL adventure:

Until next time! Diana (aka Aunt Nana)
All Photos Copyright Diana Rowe 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Magical Kingdom of Disney

As far back as I can remember, my niece always wanted to go to "Disney." She didn't want the exotic, passport-requiring destinations like when her sister visited Panama's Gamboa Resort.

When we drove into the Disney kingdoms, it was all worth it to see my niece Journey's big smile, a smile that never ended that day. We stepped into the Magic Kingdom, with the fairy tale castle in the distance, and our adventure began. This was Journey's first theme park, and it couldn't have been more magical.

We arrived in time for the Main Street parade -- what a way to kick off the day. When we walked toward the castle, we noted a crowd gathering and voila!

Our timing was on for a stage show with all the princesses in front of the castle. She stood spellbound watching the show, Snow White & her prince, Cinderella & her prince, Mickey & Minnie...twirling and dancing.

Journey was even pulled out of the crowd in the Frontierland to be a part of the show. She rode her first roller coaster, Thunder Mountain, TWICE!  Our visit was a Sunday, so there were some lines, but our wait times weren't more than 10 minutes.

By the time we left the park, we were exhausted but the stop at Disney was a must! And just seeing Journey's smile, which kept getting bigger and bigger, was worth it all.
Until next time, Diana