Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tsunami drill


We had our first tsunami evacuation on Saturday night.  Luckily for us, since the earthquake occurred in Canada, we had over two hours to get ready and go.  (I've heard that if there's an earthquake on the big island, we'll have 15 minutes or less to evacuate.)

Thankfully, the tsunami turned out to be rather minimal--the highest surge was 2.5 feet on Maui, much less than expected.  So after camping out for a few hours on higher ground, we were able to go home.  It was a good drill for us--next time we hear the sirens we should be able to pack up and prepare quickly, since we've done it once before and know what to do!

Here's an animated model from NOAA of the tsunami propagation:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shark's Cove

Shark's Cove is a great rocky shore/tide pool area.  The water is shallow, and it's fun to just walk on the rocks or through the water and spot the fish, crabs, sea urchins and such.

If you like to snorkel, this is a fabulous place for that too!

The water is calmer from March-October, best in the summer, but apparently dangerous and inaccessible during winter. We came on an early October morning and although there were a few strong waves coming in to part of the cove occasionally, the kids were still able to snorkel and had a great time.

Make sure you wear water shoes or sandals to protect your feet from sharp coral and rocks.

It's a great place for older kids to explore, and although there's no sandy beach to play on for younger kids, our four-year-old enjoyed playing at the edge of the water, looking at rocks and shells, and spying crabs. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I knew there were geckos in Hawaii, but I had no idea how much my daily life would involve geckos.  We see them outside, we see them inside.  They're pretty much everywhere.

The good thing about geckos is that they eat insects.  The bad thing is that they leave a mess, and I hate having to clean up after them.

When I was little I loved to catch lizards and horned toads on camping trips in southern Utah.  But I don't know if I would have liked having them in my house.  Luckily for us, our nine-year-old is thrilled to catch as many geckos as we find in the house.  (She'll catch them outside, too, just for fun.)  Then she'll release them outside.

It doesn't matter, though--we always find more.

Monday, October 8, 2012


We have seen quite a few Portuguese Man-of-War on the windward side of Oahu.  (None on the North Shore so far.)  Usually they are tiny; often they are washed up and dead; but occasionally we'll spot a live one in the water.  My husband took these photos of some he decided to catch in a pail.  (These are small, so not as dangerous as the bigger ones can be, but they still sting!)

They are seriously weird creatures--not jellyfish, but siphonophores.  A whole colony of organisms!

The tentacles contain venom-filled nematocysts, so stay away from the tentacles!

If you accidentally come in contact with one (like my son whose leg was stung by one that had washed ashore), rinse the area thoroughly with salt water.

Fascinating animals!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gunstock Ranch - Keiki Adventure Day

This week the kids have been home from school for fall break, so we've been taking advantage of these vacation days with some fun activities.  Gunstock Ranch was offering special "Keiki Adventure Days" for children ages 5-12 this week, and our 9-year-old was thrilled to be able to go. 

She was able to spend half a day there, which included an hour of swimming, an hour of hiking, an hour of horse riding and learning how to lasso, a visit to the petting zoo, and an hour to eat lunch and play on the playground.  She had been wanting horse riding lessons for ages, it just never worked out in Idaho, so this was perfect.  She had a great time, and we look forward to going back as a family for more horse riding and swimming!

keiki -- child

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Apple bananas

I've always wanted to have fruit trees.  I imagined an orchard of apple, pear, and peach trees that would have beautiful blossoms in the spring, and delicious fruit in the summer and fall.  Well, the house we moved into here on Oahu has fruit trees!  But of course it's all tropical fruit.  :)  We arrived at the end of July, and there were ripe mangoes on a tree in the backyard.  And our neighbors showed us that we have strawberry guavas as well.  (Sadly, this is an invasive species.)  There are also a few coconut palms, and a bunch of banana trees.

When we lived in the Middle East, my husband tried valiantly to grow a couple of banana trees in our small yard.  They would always grow nicely for a while, but the summers were just too hot in Al Ain.  And if we happened to go on vacation during the summer, there was no hope for them.

So we've been keeping an eye on our banana trees ever since we got here.  And last week the bananas finally looked ready to take down from the tree.

They are called apple bananas, and right now we have more than we can eat.  My oldest daughter likes to make fruit smoothies, so that's been wonderful, and we've frozen some.  We have more bananas ripening, though, so I need to figure out what to do with them all.  Any suggestions?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Aloha kākou

Here we are, fresh from the mainland, getting settled in our new home near Oahu's North Shore, and it's definitely time for me to start a new blog.  I've never lived in Hawaii before, so almost everything is new to me--which means lots of things I want to write about and photograph.  Of course, living in Hawaii isn't all going to the beach and climbing volcanoes--normal, everyday life keeps us busy just like anywhere else.  But there is a lot for me to learn here, and I am happy about that.  I hope you'll enjoy my dispatches from Hawaii.

Aloha -- love, affection, greetings
Aloha kākou -- aloha to all, including speaker