Thursday, October 17, 2013


Went to The Big Island of Hawaii for our October vacation this year. We were all set to head to Costa Rica to visit Neal and Angie, but they had an outbreak of Dengue Fever so we played it safe and postponed our visit for another time. It was a last minute trip, but Vic found a great Condo just south of Kona which we used as our home base for the week. Kona is great, no complaints. Nice beaches, good snorkeling and lots of lava and shave ice. It's unanimous, the Big Island is our favorite. Here are some pics. Enjoy!!
We did lots of swinging in the water. Beaches like this one are very typical on the Kona coast this time of year.
Kyra spent lots of time in flippers. However most of it was on dry land.
Vicki exiting the water after a snorkel. "Kyra, it was amazing, so many fish and turtles!"
The only way to snorkel, Vicki with the sea to herself.
Kyra can entertain herself by playing in the sand for hours. It's by far our favorite and cheapest babysitter.
We saw lots of turtles sunning themselves. Here are a few.
We were sure not to get too close.
One evening we went to a resort that had a Dolphin habitat. It was really cool to see them be so playful together.
Sunset after dinner at the Resort.
No Green Flash. :(
Took a day to visit the Volcano National Park. Happened to be there the day before the Govt Shutdown so we got lucky on that one. This is the main crater with lava smoldering and steaming.
Liquid hot magma used to flow through this Lava Tube and left this 1/4 mile cave. Which we all know are cool. These days a steady stream of Japanese geriatrics maintain the tradition as its a popular stop for most every tour bus on the island.
Taking time to drive through the entire park was definitely worth it. Lots of lava. It was very fun to just park alongside the road and explore.
Miles and miles of lava, all the way to the sea.
Watch your step, its sharp!
"Daddy, It looks like braids of hair"
Vicki found the lava fields peaceful. And, surprisingly, it really was.
More lava. It would have been cool to see some hot liquid magma flowing wherever it wanted, but to do that right now it requires a 13+ mile hike.
Road Closed, yeah no kidding.
In the 60's lava flowed over the road here. Apparently it was a big deal. They sell water and juice at the beginning of this hike. For being such a remote place the price was pretty reasonable. But would it kill them to have a take a penny leave a penny jar so one doesn't have to carry 98 cents all over the place?
Sea Arch
Kyra tried body boarding for the first time. We were really proud of her. She is a natural and had a blast.
But daddy got a little ambitious pushing her into this one. After a little fussing she got back out there and rode some more. It was really cool to see her overcome her fears and try something new and somewhat scary, especially after she want over the falls and wiped out.
Went to a Seahorse Farm/Hatchery. It was very cool. They grow their own seaweed, which they encourage you to eat. It was salty.
Sea Horses
Kyra holding a Sea Horse. They wrap their little tails around your fingers. Its a pretty unique experience.
Kyra discovered Guava Juice. We suspect there may be some Crack in there.
And I know there's an addictive chemical in Shave Ice that makes you crave it fortnightly.
Took a tour to the Captain Cook Memorial. It was a bit touristy, but the snorkeling was by far the best we saw on the island. Lots of fish some eel and very pretty coral. They restrict the cove to kayakers and only one boat but its still pretty crowded. Kyra went around on a "lookie" board. Its a boogie board with a hole cut out and a dive mask put in place so you can lay on top of the board and still see the fish. It was perfect. We dragged Kyra all over the place and really enjoyed sharing our love of the underwater world with Kyra for the first time. As touristy as it all was we felt that it was still worth it.
Vic and Kyra on the ride out.
Family pic at the Captain Hook Memorial.
Flame Tree - reminded us of Guam
Lava rocks outside our condo. It was fun to play around in the tide pools and look for crabs.
The toilet bowl. Incoming tide would rush in and out of this hole really fast and make a loud whooshing sound, Kyra came up with the very appropriate name.
Da Poke Shack. Nothin' like a bowl full Poke after a long day at the beach. All I can say is Mmmmmmmm!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Due to a total lack of organization by the company I work for, I was given 5 weeks off. I am in no way complaining, it is a very special treat to be given a single weekend off during the summer, much less 5. So, naturally we jumped at the opportunity to take a rare summer vacation. We spent a week at home so Kyra could go to 'Space Camp' then headed to Colorado to visit Debbie, John and Ramona. We had plans to go to Costa Rica, San Clemente, Montana or drive down the northern California coast. None of those things happened for various reasons. The weather was so nice and we realized that there was tons of Colorado that we hadn't seen, so after a few days with the Misuraca's and a very fun Father's Day at Coors field, we headed up to Vail to visit our friend Sarah and stay at the Cordiellera Resort where her husband works. It was awesome, we were there a year ago and if you have a chance, please go there. Its the epitome of serene. While in Vail, we hiked, ate well and took the first of two white water rafting trips. It was Kyra's first time so we did the upper Colorado River. Class I and II rapids. Pretty calm actually, but we had a really fun guide, this crusty, highly sarcastic and leathery old dude who was full of lame jokes that were somehow endearing and honest.
Kyra and Ramona dancing to Bluegrass music at the Paddler in Fort Collins
After the Colorado Rockies game - they won, but who cares, we were rooting for the Cardinals. I think they played in Tampa Bay that night.
First Rafting trip. Family shot 1/2 way down the upper Colorado River. Below-We took a hike with Sarah and her trusty dog. Kyra and Rosco found this nice rock to rest upon.
After Vail we were off to explore areas we had never seen. Our general aim was to get to the small town of Ouray, but we somehow made a wrong turn and ended up going through Aspen and spending the night about 200 miles off course in the very "Footloose-esque" town of Buena Vista. The wrong turn turned out to be a real delight. Just past Aspen we took some really cool hikes along the river and went over the Independence Pass where the views were spectacular. Buena Vista was kind of strange, we wondered if they were allowed to play music there or if the town rebel snuck out to the local mill to dance his anger away, but alas our fears were not realized when we found a great brewery with excellent beer and pizza that was by far the second best pizza I've ever had.
The rewarding view of Weller Lake at the top of a 1.5 mile hike. Kyra hiked the whole way by herself and was in good spirits.
A little yoga lesson before the trek down the mountain. This is Kyra's version of the Warrior Pose I think. Sometimes wrong turns can provide unexpected and surprising views, like this one below - atop Independence Pass.
Driving from Buena Vista to Ouray was a full day. A very pretty drive through Gunnison and its nearby lakes to be followed by a few fun hikes in the Black Canyon National Forrest. We finally arrived in Ouray just in time for dinner. We planed on staying a day or two, but ended up loving it so much that we stayed for four days. We hiked, swam in the hot springs, took a day trip to Telluride, hiked some more, and just enjoyed the quaint little mining town. It was very calm and quiet, but still full of energy. Our riverside hotel was owned by the nicest guy who seemed to run the show all by himself. The grounds were like a botanical garden and gazing up at the mountains from the hot tub was a great way to end each day.
Lunch break at Morrow Point Reservoir just outside Gunnison.
Black Canyon National Park
Matt overlooking Black Canyon
Vic and Kyra on top of a 2000' cliff in the Black Canyon
Vic and Kyra by the waterfall just outside Ouray. You could actually hike up and walk behind this waterfall, and we did.
This Picture is not good, we didnt take many that day because we were too busy playing in the hot springs in Ouray. They pipe the water from nearby Box Canyon and there are 4 or 5 pools, each at different temperatures to suit everyone's needs. Kyra likes to swim - but only if the water is above 90 degrees.
The Brewery in Ouray allowed sidewalk chalk. That was a good thing. It allowed me and Vic time to enjoy the scenery and kept Kyra quite busy. Apparently this is what Kyra thinks I look like. I think she's going through a Picasso phase.
We ate lots of Ice Cream. Kyra discovered Bubble Gum flavor. Awesome.
River's Edge Hotel in Ouray - Kyra and Vic really liked all the flowers. I did too. Below is Box Canyon - Ouray
Telluride is a quick 45 min drive from Ouray. We wanted to stay a night or two, but it was the weekend of the Bluegrass festival and the place was booked solid many months in advance. Seeing the festival was cool, lots of very happy people dancing around, but I was glad we were just there to visit for the day. We took a really long hike that Kyra seemed not to want to be on, but we had a good time at the waterfall at the end. Even though we only had a day in Telluride I was glad we went just to check it out. I think it would be an awesome place to be in the winter. But for the summer scene, Ouray was much more our pace and sans the wannabe hippies.
Matt and Kyra on the hike to Bear Creek Falls in Telluride. Below we rest on the big rock overlooking the waterfall at the end of Bear Creek Falls Trail
Ouray is about 7 hours from Denver so we broke up the drive back into two days. Spent one day passing through the Colorado National Monument and another day with a rafting trip, but this time on some class III rapids. Kyra said she wanted bigger waves, so we went back to Vail and scheduled a trip down the Shoshone section of the Colorado River. It was great. They fitted us with helmets, wet suits and dry shirts. At first I thought we were getting in over our heads, especially with Kyra, but it turned out to be just the right amount of excitement and adventure. We are not a family of Jedi so we crave these things. We got drenched a few times. It was exactly what you think of when you think of white water rafting. What a great experience!
Vicki gazing at Monument Valley - Colorado National Monument - she said it brought tears to her eyes, it was so quiet and peaceful.
Colorado National Monument
Monument Valley - Northwest side
White Water Rafting take 2. Matt and Kyra gear up.
Just survived 'Maneater' a Class III Rapid on the Shoshone section of the Colorado River.
Kyra the Space Monster in all her rafting gear
Our bus broke down so we had some forced down time along the river. Does wood float or sink daddy? this wood sunk and didn't make a good boat to race down river. We spent lots of time throwing non-floating wood in the Colorado.
Kyra playing with a full belly at Nottingham Lake. Below we enjoy a Pizza night in the park on our last evening in Colorado.
This trip was tons of fun, lots of family time, lots of hikes and lots of gazing at the mountains. The whole time we felt like we were in natures playground. A very enjoyable and rejuvenating trip. The majority of the people we met were truly genuine and nice fellow nature-lovers, as you would expect. In tourist towns like Vail and Telluride you're gonna get the occasional waiter that can't be bothered to take your order, but that is mostly from the people who aren't really FROM Colorado. After a few years it seems that they lose their edge and allow the natural beauty of the area to curb their tude. We definitely felt relaxed and in awe most of the two weeks we were there. A new Colorado has shown itself to us and we will be forever grateful for this wonderful family experience.