30 October 2016

Pumpkin Picking

Last weekend the temperatures dipped down to feel like fall so we decided to venture out to a nearby pumpkin patch.  It seems like the outskirts of Milton are full of farms and we had our pick of places to go.  We decided to try out Holland Farms simply because they had a sunflower field and the pumpkins were included in the price of admission.  We like pretty and cheap things.

We got there and it was absolutely adorable. Hollands is actually a peanut farm so you are given a cup of fresh boiled peanuts with your admission. My dad loves them and has eaten them for as long as I can remember but I don't think I've actually tried one in a long time.  I was surprised that I found them to be quite delightful.  I don't know if it was because they were fresh or maybe it was because we were eating them in the crisp weather while walking to a sunflower field. . either way my tummy was quite happy.

We decided to purchase five sunflowers that you were able to cut yourself in the sunflower field and three pumpkins.  I absolutely adore sunflowers.  It's just so neat how they move with the sun, and they get so tall!  They didn't give you anything to cut them with, and Nic didn't think of bringing a pocket knife (who would have?) so he snapped a few for me.  We spent some time just meandering in the field looking at the bees.  I have to say my husband is a great sport for how much he humored me.

Next was the pumpkin patch.  There were still quite a few pumpkin blooms and little green guys growing.  After walking around a bit we were able to find three that we liked.  Unfortunately one has since become moldy (ew) so we ventured to Publix today to buy another and somehow came home with two.  Four pumpkins for two people.   We're making up for not being able to find any to carve last year.

It was a great first adventure in our new home.  Pensacola is so different than Hawaii but being able to pick pumpkins in "fall" weather wasn't too shabby of a start to our new adventure.

11 August 2016

Manta Ray Dive

Diving with the Manta Rays was something I wanted to do since we got our dive certification.  A few friends have done it and their videos are absolutely stunning.  We had planned on going when we visited the Big Island on our post deployment vacation but early winter swells and weird weather caused most of the tours to be cancelled.

Part of the drive to come back instead of going to Kauai was this dive.  We were able to book a spot with Big Island Divers and headed out on our last night there.  To try and help calm my butterflies of doing a night dive we decided to book the two dive charter -- one at dusk and then the big event.  I cannot say how happy I am that we did that.  On our first dive we went to 78 ft (deepest I've been), saw fours mantas, a monk seal and a bunch of coral/eels/fish.  After a surface interval where we watched the sunset, we were finally ready to go in.

The idea of diving at night is just unnatural.  Every part of me tells me not to go into the water at night.  If a shark is going to come attack me I would rather have the opportunity to see it coming versus it sneaking up on me and that's it.  Thankfully, this was a great introduction to night diving.  There is a big "campfire" of dive lights on the bottom of the ocean that faces up.  All divers have a light that you can use to look around with on the descent (I spotted a huge eel out and about) and then you face it up once you're settled.  Snorkelers float above on surfboards with lights on the bottom of them.  The phytoplankton (the mantas food) come into the lights and try to photosynthesize, which bring the mantas out to eat.

To say it was a once in a lifetime experience, and probably the best dive we're going to go on, is an understatement.  We saw 13 different rays including Big Bertha, a pregnant 16 ft wide beast.  A few came so close to our heads that I ducked and ones tail brushed against us.  Being able to sit and watch these beautiful animals underwater is an experience that I can't even begin to put into words.  You can find a video below the pictures! For those interested, there's a longer one on our YouTube page!

24 July 2016

Tidepools & Dragons nostrils

This is one of my favorite places on island, and actually my second time blogging about it.  I first went to the tide pools with our wardroom for our halfway party during deployment.  I was finally able to take Nic and was excited to swim around and relax in the pools.  Once we got down we were greeted with some absurdly large waves.  Needless to say we didn't get to relax in the pools, but I was able to get some awesome pictures.  There's a less visited pool that I've wanted to go down into, but there isn't an easy path to get to it.  In true Nic fashion he figured out a way to get there and I'm excited to go adventure once the waves die down.

10 July 2016

Diving Sharks Cove

Island Divers, who we were open water certified with, has a monthly dive club. They went to Sharks Cove for their event in May and we were so excited to go until we realized Nic had duty and couldn't find a switch.  Thankfully they decided to go back to Sharks Cove in June and we were able to get our dive on.

It's a fantastic deal. If we were going to be here longer we would just purchase the club membership, but instead it's $25 per certified diver, per dive and that includes all equipment rentals and you can dive twice if you want.  I haven't been out since we were certified so it was a good refresher.  Our friend came with us and tried out discover scuba which is actually a cool concept.  If you're interested in getting open water certified, but not sure if you like the idea of breathing under water, you're able to try it out!

It was a little bit of a dreary day. The drive to North Shore was overcast and rainy, which was terrible but once we got there we were greeted with a bit on sunshine!  Either way, once you're in the water it doesn't really matter if it's raining.  The walk down to the water was awful.  If you're going and have fins with booties you will be so much happier than your counterparts without them.  It sucked because of mud and the weight of the tank, BCD and weights but I felt relatively secure with my footing thanks to my booties.

Sharks Cove is gorgeous but we weren't terribly impressed with corals or the fish we saw.  We did see a turtle which was gorgeous.  If you can go while doing a certification, or during a cheap dive event we recommend it.  If you have to pay a ton just snorkel it and take a boat charter out diving.  If we were to go back again we would try and go in the overhangs/caves but I still would rather do a charter and just snorkel there vs pay a ton to dive it.  BUT I am SO happy we did it especially because we figured out that I need a new mask.  Leaking and fogging caused problems the entire time, and I can't imagine doing an advanced certification with that thing.

Yay for checking things off of our Hawaii Bucket List!


04 June 2016

The Mokes

We finally made it out to the Mokulua Islands which are the two islands that sit off of Lanikai beach. We've wanted to kayak out here since we arrived but never made the journey. Thanks to a friends birthday, the long weekend, and a BOGO coupon we decided to venture out.

We rented our kayaks from Kailua Beach Adventures.  With a coupon we were able to get a good price for two tandem kayaks for half a day.  Pair that with some decent weather, a long weekend and a friends birthday and it was a recipe for an adventure!

The Mokes are actually a bird sanctuary. You're only able to land on Moku Nui which is the one to the left.  The day we went there was some decent wind which made the water choppier than usual, especially for this side.  None of us tipped, but we did get soaked from the waves on the way out.  Once we landed we enjoyed a little picnic and then got to the adventures!

I had heard there was a cliff jumping spot but didn't really read where it was.  I thought it was to the left,  but we overheard a women saying there was a tide pool you could jump into to the right and we decided to venture. After passing it (it really didn't look like something to jump into.. ) we kept going and walked around the island until we came to the bay where everyone was jumping. We happened to be on the wrong side and had to shimmy down and get in to get to the right side.  The ocean isn't something to take lightly.  Mother nature is a beast and you always need to be humble and remember that when you're out in the wild.  That thought, the surges and my nerves made the venture take a little longer but I trust my husband and he knows my limits.  Once we started going it wasn't even remotely as scary as it looked.

The boys cliff jumped a few times while Kristin and I relaxed.  Eventually, I may work up the nerve to jump off of something into the water.  Probably not, but I like to pretend I will.  Once we were done we finished walking around the island and kayaked back to Kailua Beach.  It was an amazing day and now it's crossed off of our bucket list!


16 May 2016

Hawaii Bucket List

Our remaining time on our little island in the middle of the Pacific is unknown, so I decided we should make a Hawaii bucket list to try and make sure we do the things we've been eying.  I was able to do quite a few of these while Nic was deployed (great friends make life easier!) but they won't be crossed off until we can do them together.

This list will be a work in progress, but please post anything you love about our island that I may have missed!
  1. Visit the USS Arizona 
  2. Dive Sharks Cove, blog post here
  3. Snorkel Hanauma Bay
  4. Snorkel Electric Beach
  5. Go to a luau
  6. Eat at a North Shore Shrimp truck
  7. Matsumoto's shave ice
  8. Visit the Dole Plantation
  9. Watch the sunset on Sunset Beach
  10. Watch a surf competition 
  11. Visit Kauai 
  12. Visit Molokai
  13. Visit The Big Island, blog post(s) here
  14. Visit Maui, blog post(s) here
  15. Road to Hana, blog post here
  16. Visit Lanai 
  17. Mermaid Caves
  18. Keana Point 
  19. Pele's Chair & Alan Davis Beach jump  
  20. See the Volcano, blog post here
  21. Koko Crater Arch, blog post here
  22. Koko Crater Stairs 
  23. Diamond Head
  24. Lanikai Pillboxes 
  25. Kayak to the Mokes, blog post here
  26. Kayak to Chinaman's Hat
  27. Swim with turtles 
  28. Visit Kualoa Ranch  (where parts Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed!)
  29. Lanikai Beach 
  30. Makapu'u tide pools (to swim in the one to the left)
  31. Climb Mt Olympus 
  32. Climb Mt Ka'ala 
  33. Ride the Harley around the island 
  34. Fireworks booze cruise of Waikiki
  35. Corsair wreck dive 
  36. Find a sunrise shell (fingers crossed)
  37. Rock jump Waimea Bay
  38. Eat at the original Roy's
  39. Attend the lantern festival 
  40. Manta ray night dive, blog post here 
  41. Find a tako while diving or snorkeling (and hold it)
  42. Mac nut farm tour
  43. Manoa Falls
  44. Rock bridge, blog post here
  45. Find a Jackson Chameleon on a hike
  46. Do the Dole Planation Maze 
  47. Swim with dolphins 
  48. Get open water dive qualified, blog post here
  49. Get advanced dive qualified 
  50. Go to the Swap Meet
  51. Go to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar

19 January 2016

Koko Crater Arch

This hike has been on my bucket list for a while.  For a lack of any better description -- it's just darn cool!  If you look up #kokocraterarch on Instagram you'll see a bunch of really pretty pictures of the arch; some at sunrise, some with people doing cool stuff in it, and some plain pictures.

We want to go back again for sunrise, but I'm glad we've did it first in the light.  Nic and I went on our own first, and then went with some friends.  We were lucky enough to see whales breaching off shore while we were one our way down -- it was amazing!  The hike is super easy and short which makes it great if you're looking for something quick and fun to do. When you get to the arch I recommend going left.  The ground is pretty crumbly so make sure to take your time.  Also, only go on top if you're comfortable.  There were high gusts of wind the first time we went, so Nic didn't venture up there until we went with friends on a pretty calm day.  Park at the Halona Blowhole parking lot and walk across the street. You have to climb a few rocks and then you'll get up on the trail.  You can see the arch from the street which will direct you on where to go.