Saturday, 17 October 2015

Pumpkins Galore

Pumpkins and related products for 'Fall' decoration and Halloween have been on sale for well over a month now, and in a variety of shapes and sizes..

It is even possible to buy a pre-decorated one..

However for many families, especially those with younger children, the fun of this time of year lies in a visit to a Pumpkin Patch in a farm or at a garden center to choose their own pumpkin.

This rather large roadside scarecrow was advertising a pumpkin patch near Leesburg..

Other activities on offer typically include meeting farm animals, rides on a horse- or tractor- drawn hay wagon, bouncy castle and autumn treats such as toffee apples.

It is a nice way of celebrating the season and enabling children to get out and enjoy the countryside.

Friday, 16 October 2015


We are back in Reston tonight having travelled - with stopovers in Honolulu and Los Angeles airports - for around 21 hours.

Our air journey started at Kona airport in Big Island which has a very relaxed style for an international airport in that the waiting areas and gates are open air.

This is our departure gate - with the Hawaiian Airlines plane just beyond.

It was very warm - as the snapshot that I took of the screen on my phone shows..

It was more than 30 degrees at 6.30 in the evening and feeling much warmer in the humid air.

Honolulu airport is much bigger but has large open air walkways and a very cute sign for the ladies toilets..

The one for the men's toilet was similar - featuring a Hawaiian flowered shirt - but as it was rather a wide open entrance I wasn't brave enough to stand there and take a photo!

As we got close to Dulles airport, it was sunset again.  Below us rather a different view..

And in the distance, Reston town centre..

As this screenshot shows, the weather is a little cooler here..

As we flew in I could see that many of the trees here are starting to change colour and I suspect that there will be a carpet of Autumn leaves waiting for our attention in the morning!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Natural Wonders

Yesterday when we walked alongside the lagoon after breakfast, there was a large green turtle swimming sedately along.  They are very elegant in the water, rather less so on land.

This one was looking for somewhere quiet to rest and he tucked himself in amongst the lava rock so that only his nose was showing.

Sunset can be quite spectacular at Waikaloa.  Here viewed behind bronze models of a ram and a sheep - and below highlighting this remarkable pink flowered rock plant which seems to grow with very little in the way of soil.

There is no better place to watch a sunset of course than from a conveniently placed hammock..

We have been very privileged to be able to return to enjoy the wonders of Hawaii, time to go back to work now..

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Under the Lagoon

Today was our last full day at Waikaloa and David was keen to do some more snorkeling and to try to get some more photos.

This Bluefin Trevally - a large, predatory fish (to other sea life, not humans!!), was several feet in length and a spectacular almost fluorescent blue-green..

Some of the other 'catches of the day'..

Oh and this rare, oversized specimen...

We tried a selfie, out of the water this time..

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

East Coast Waterfalls

On our trip to the other side of Big Island yesterday we visited several waterfalls. The first was Akaka Falls, reached by a walk through a very lush rainforest area.  

At over 400 feet, the 'fall' is twice the height of Niagara - although obviously somewhat narrower!

The vegetation on the walk to the overlook for the Falls was extraordinary, banana palms and a very unusual variety of ginger plant.. (note also the not very well camouflaged gecko in both images).

 My book of Hawaiian flowers tells me that this is Torch Ginger and that because of its long, straight and stout stem, it is prized for its use as walking sticks!

This tree, below, was acting as host to a large 'castor oil' type plant which is familiar at home as the ubiquitous office plant that somebody buys and then it carries on forever, nourished by half drunk cups of coffee and tea.  This one looked healthier than most!

There was a large flowered white convulvulus hanging from many of the trees in dark green curtains.

A little further down the road and we came to a small outdoor restaurant/fruit stall.  The avocados on sale which had been grown on the farm were mind boggling - the largest were the size of small melons!!

The restaurant/fruit farm and house are for sale - via Sotheby's International Realty! (Any takers?  Nice sea view, good climate...)

The second waterfall that we visited, just outside the town of Hilo, was Rainbow Falls - no rainbows for us unfortunately - they are most often seen in the morning when the sun is overhead - but the falls are impressive, thundering over the edge into a boiling pool below.

The yellow hibiscus, growing by the falls,  is the state flower of Hawaii.

On our way back we crossed the middle of the island on a road which skirts the bottom of Mauna Kea, Big Island's largest (extinct) volcano. 

The summit - which at 14,000 feet has snow for much of the year - was hidden by low cloud.  On the roadside, however, we started to notice a frequently occurring wild flower..

David stopped and took these pics..

It looked like a wild orchid but we are awaiting confirmation from the experts!

And finally... this was our hire car for yesterday.. an upgrade, apparently, as the car we had requested was not available..  I must say that I had always rather fancied a sporty number (mid life crisis?) but there are issues... No photos, thankfully, but how does one get in and out gracefully and without jarring at least one hip??  Apart from crawling in and out of course which was tough on hot, gravelly ground!  (Any tips, Jen and Colin?  How do you do this??)

Monday, 12 October 2015

East Coast of Big Island

The east coast of Hawaii 'Big Island' is as different from the west coast as you can imagine.

Around Waikoloa, where we are staying on the west coast, all of the ground looks as if it has just been dug up by a giant plough.  In fact it is not earth but lava rock - black, solid, sharp and largely hostile to growth of any kind.

The east coast on the other hand - the windward side of the island and on the damp side of the mountains, is a land of fertile green valleys and formerly (until 1994) full of sugar cane plantations.

Our first stop today was to look down into the Waipi'o Valley - a rather inaccessible but very fertile valley which has been farmed for over 500 years and which, it is said, could provide enough taro - a local root which is pounded to make 'poi' a kind of porridge - for everyone on the island.

It is a very beautiful, wide valley with its black sand beach.

From Waipi'o we followed the coast road towards Hilo, the capital of Big Island but a place which is rather out of favour with holiday makers, given its reputation as the wettest place in America - it has just 90 rain-free days a year.

Because of the amount of rain and the water draining from the extinct volcano, Mauna Kea (almost 14,000 feet) the east side of the island is like a dense and very lush tropical rainforest.