Time flies

It’s been six weeks since my last post. During that time, we had two kids graduate—one from high school and one from college. We also said good riddance to one of the nastiest winters on record. It was painful. Snow and cold and then more snow and cold, plus sleet and freezing rain to add to the misery index. Today, it’s a lovely 75 degrees and mostly sunny, which reminds me of my favorite place on earth.

We were able to escape the cold, gray and ice for a week in late March to this favorite place of ours. This time we visited the Big Island. Heavenly. Here’s the view of what we gladly left behind in the Midwest. It was snow and ice as far as the eye could see. Okay, it sort of looks pretty from this angle, but it really wasn’t pretty to live with day in and day out.

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The biggest obstacle for us spending more time in Hawaii is the flight. There is no doubt about it: It’s long. The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated place on earth in terms of distance from land. Los Angeles is more than 2,500 miles away and Tokyo is even further at more than 3,500 miles away. I try not to think about the fact that there is nothing in between, but for some reason we always seem to get the pilot who wants to remind us of this fact on takeoff.

Most return flights to the mainland leave at night. A blessing since this seems to be the only time I’m able to sleep during a flight. On the flight over, I do my best to focus on the destination, but I am not a big fan of long flights.

For most of the flight, you look out the window and see something like this.

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And then, magically the southernmost island of Hawaii is in sight. What a sight it is. Even from 10,000 feet its beauty and majesty always get me.

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The Kona International Airport feels familiar and welcoming to us with its charming outdoor baggage carousels and lack of jet bridges. Down the stairs to the tarmac you go. This time, we were greeted with an afternoon shower. It was warm, smelled like paradise and we could have cared less that we were soaked by the time we picked up our luggage.

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For the first time in months, the landscape is filled with color, flowers, a familiar tropical perfume that once experienced you do not forget.

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We made it just in time to watch the sunset near Kona.

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Aloha indeed.

 

 

 

Tropical blue jade

The exotic blue jade is a tropical perennial plant. It is a climbing vine with vivid sea green-colored flowers. The green-blue unique color makes this plant stand out in any setting.

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Its flowers, typically two to four inches in length, are sturdy enough to be used decoratively to make gorgeous leis and other floral decorations. Although they are native to the Philippines, they fit in perfectly on the Hawaiian Islands. When you see them, they are a showstopper—one of those flowers to stop you in your tracks.

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Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

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On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

Orchid House on Lana’i

While the Polar Vortex of 2014 brings record-breaking, dangerous and bitter cold to much of the United States, it’s nice to know that there’s a place on earth where orchids bloom year-long in paradise—a flower lover’s dream come true.

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On social media today, the comments about the cold snap are filled with humor: “Actual thought in my head just now: -14 degrees, that’s not too bad. What’s wrong with me?”

“Strangely, -14 isn’t really that bad if the wind isn’t blowing.”

And the one that Midwesterners often ask ourselves this time of year, especially when we are dealing with a predicted high of -13 for tomorrow: “Why do we live here again?” (Usual answer: Family, roots, the people, or the glorious fall and summer weather. And, even today, it’s brilliant and sunny despite the Polar Vortex gloom and media reports.)

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So it’s nice to know that somewhere out there, on the meticulous grounds and gardens of the Lodge at Koele on Lana’i, sits an Orchid House filled with hanging and potted orchids and tropical flowers–yet one more reason to love the Aloha State.

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Yellow flowers in Hawaii

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Yellow flowers represent friendship and happiness. In contrast to the deep blues and greens of Hawaii, the yellow flowers easily catch your attention and make you want to stop and admire them. The first four are yellow flowers in Maui. The fifth photo is one of my favorite yellow flowers we saw in Lanai: the popcorn orchid.IMG_6559