Road Trip

Panaluu, Kalae, & Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau

I am disheartened after writing quite a bit of this post just to have it deleted so hear goes round two most likely more brief.  When we woke up this morning we really didn’t have any kind of plan for the day but we know from experience that three months isn’t long enough to really waste any time and still see the things we hope to see while we are here.  We thumbed through the guide book and decided to see another one of the national parks that just happened to be near Kona on the other side of the island.  We were driving along just minding the GPS when we saw a sign for a black sand beach.  Although we have seen black sand we had not yet been to a black sand beach and it was on the top of Hannah’s most want to do in Hawaii list, so we turned and checked it out.  Panaluu County Black sand beach was a hit.  The smell of BBQ was in the air.  Hammocks hanging on the coconut palms. 

From there we kept on towards the west side. Then Chad made a turn off the main road…where was he going?  I don’t usually ask right away because often it becomes obvious, but the GPS kept chirping directions at us so I asked if Chad wanted me to turn it off.  It was a small one lane road. And the scenery was perfect.  

We had talked about seeing the green sand beach at breakfast, but it requires a hike and it was lunch time and we hadn’t packed a lunch.  That is not where Chad was going he was taking us to the most southern point in the United States!  Yay so fun! A whole bunch of people were there.  Not to say they had been to this point, but to cliff jump.  It was kind of fun to watch them.  

 That was a fun detour!  

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park was surprisingly awesome.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect and we were a little grouchy and hungry it was 2:00pm and we still had not had lunch, there aren’t that many places to stop for food on the drive around the southern tip of the island.  We got in on the 2:30 ranger talk which was hilarious and gave us the jest of the history of this historic park.  It was a safe haven called by many “city of refuge” a reference from the Bible. Where people could go to find sanctuary if they were guilty of breaking the sacred laws (kapu).  

I could live in a bungalow here. 

A day of fun surprises! 

Categories: Fulltime, Hawaii local attractions, National Park, Road Trip | 2 Comments

Checked in at the hospital then a drive around the island 

Thank goodness for the two hour time difference.  We were all wiped.  With an appointment with The hospital HR department at 9:30 in town some 40 minutes away.  I took my professional binder to the appointment and it was a good thing.  I needed to give proof of the varicella immunity and a recent tetanus shot.  It had only been a year since my last one, but with no proof of my childhood series I had to get a second one, ouch!  Actually the nurse did a really good job, so I hardly felt it, but it didn’t take too long until some soreness set in.  The drive around the island was good.  It was long they say that the big island is about the size of the state of Connecticut.  Hilo is very much a jungle.  It is almost chlostraphobic with the thick jungle pushing in around you.  It is that way most of the east facing side of the island.  

The north end is grasslands.. We stopped for gas and lunch. 

The Westside is windy and covered in lava fields. 

Kaloko-Honokõhau National Historic Park looked like a small national park from the road and we all needed to get out and stretch our legs.  The purpose of this park is to show how the first Hawaiians lived in large long homes next to the water’s edge.  There were not many edible plants when they arrived and so their subsistence was dependent on fish.  It was .5 mile walk down to the long houses and beach.  

The lava that had flown into the ocean had created tide pools that had attracted fish and sea turtles.  We stayed there for a good hour to let the kids play and explore. 

We didn’t touch the turtles but they swam up to the kids and around them slowly minding their own business with out any fear. 

On the walk back up we checked out the petroglyphs. 

The greenery along side the trail was great too.  I though this stump looked like a goat. 

We then went in search of dinner food. 

The south end of the island is drivable but it is a steep drop to the water some 1000 feet.  We didn’t take many pictures there is a lot of black with the sea far below.  We were all feeling quite tired as it was a full day after a full day.  We got home just after seven pm and everyone crashed.  

Categories: National Park, Road Trip | Leave a comment

Up early out late

Thank goodness Chuck and Donna set their alarms last night because I thought Chad had and so didn’t set one which is out of character for me.  We usually both have our alarms set. We got a text wake up call from Donna at 5:30AM.  I jumped up and grabbed the load of our previous day’s clothes out of the dryer so we could put them back on.  Grandma also had a stash of clothes that she had found on clearance at Kohls and saved away for the kids.  So between the two piles the kids picked clothes to wear and the rest got tucked away in their backpacks.  Cold cereal  or cold pizza were the options for breakfast.  Eve was the last one to get up.  I went around grandma and grandpa’s room folding the blankets from their sleepover making some noise in an attempt to wake her up slowly.  She stirred but did not wake.  I then lifted her up asking her if she was ready to go to Hawaii.  She said “no, I want to stay here with grandma.”  Poor thing she never does too well with getting woke up before she is ready.  

We had to take two cars to the airport so Chuck rode with Chad and I rode with Donna and the kids.  

We were pleasantly surprised when for three people for three months we were able to get away with five backpacks, two carry on sized bags that we checked more for convenience than necessity and two car seats. 

We had to get the group feet PDX photo and I love it!  Just another way to document the many blessing that we have been given by God.  Family, adventure, and another job provided just as he has promised to be our provider. 

The kids were tired but good.  Five hours in a plane was almost too much for Eve.  She would slip out of her seatbelt and run down the walkway to the bathroom not waiting for accompaniment, too much longer and it would have started getting less cute to our fellow passengers. 

Caleb made collages for his inflight entertainment.

We split paths in Oahu.  Chad and the kids continued on to Hilo and me taking a jaunt to the Board of Nursing to get my temporary nursing license which is in the beautiful King Kalakaua  building which, can you believe it, I did not take a picture of.  The whole jaunt took maybe an hour and two taxi rides but was definitely a stretch for me to go somewhere without Chad to tell me what to do and keep me organized.  I am so dependent on that guy which says a lot about his dependability, but it is good for me to stretch myself and this time I got there, got my license, and got back in a timely manner and all in one piece.  

Had one expensive dinner from Starbucks…decaf soy latte, veggies, bag of chips and what I thought was chocolate covered coffee beans came to $17.  That wasn’t my smartest money spent. Finding gf food at airports is always interesting and time at home was just too quickly spent on the most important things and meal planning ahead did not make the list.  We were lucky to get our bags packed in time.  Wednesday evening when we finally opened our vacuum seal bags to pack I had just about decided that none of it really mattered as long as the kids made it on the plane and I was able to get my nursing lisence without a hitch.  I had almost four hours until my flight so it wasn’t too much longer until I went in search for a bathroom and just a little bit more food.  I noticed a few books at the store that would be great.  I knew I could probably get them cheaper on Amizon, but I still got one.  The ultimate Big Island guidebook that I am pretty excited about. 

Now I am not putting credence into mythology, but I like to learn about the culture and beliefs of the people and places we visit .  

Finally it was my turn to fly to our new home tuching down at  9:06 PM Hawaii time.  So ready to check out our new place. 



Categories: Road Trip, Travel Nursing | Leave a comment


Chad picked me up from my last assignment.  The car was packed to the gills and despite the early time the kids were bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Coffee and some breakfast was our next stop.  I would like to say I stayed awake long enough to see Victorville disappear in the rear view mirror, but I can’t be sure.  Sleep was calling my name quite loudly.  My neck, sore from quirky sleep positions had me waking up periodically to change positions, so the change of scenery was noted every time my eyes popped open.  Just about noon we pulled into Yosemite National Park.  We started at the southern end at Mariposa’s sequoia grove. 

We took a short hike to get some fresh air, stretch our legs, and see a large fallen tree.

The fallen tree was pretty impressive and oh what a beautiful walk to it. 

We hit up the bathrooms and then went in search of an open visitor’s center.  Yosemite village was 35 miles up the road….what a beautiful drive. 

When I am over tired I find myself quite sensitive to the cold so Chad has most of the scenic photos as he would pull over and jump out at every scenic overlook to take pictures.  What a camper and hiker paradise.  We didn’t have time to get out and do any long hikes, but now on our life to do list is spend a good week (at least) hiking different trails in Yosemite including halfdome.  The visitors center was another cold (50 degrees which is normally perfect) half mile walk and was worth the time.  They had several museums, a theater, and a gift store.  

We were sad to leave , and are already making plans to get back.  No wonder it was the first land in the United States set aside to be protected  for the public to enjoy for generations to come.  A grant signed by Lincoln during the civil war in 1864 was a start, and in 1890 it became what it is today through the promotion and renown provided by the popular drawings/writings of John Muir, a national park. 

Categories: National Park, Road Trip | Leave a comment

How we road trip/ entertain the kids/ keep it affordable

Road trips are just as expensive as you make them.  That being said, with gas prices the way they are, depending on the distance, that is one expense that will be consistent no matter how you do the math.  The other three big things are food, lodging, and activities.  These are the three big ones we will discuss here.
Food: wow food can get expensive quick.  We brought our cooler even though space was limited thinking we would use it for day trips, and the first few months we pretty much didn’t use it for anything besides an extra chair in the dining room.  (We still use it for that).  Before long Chad was telling me we either can’t do that activity or we have to pack a lunch. With eating out running us about $50 a meal it was adding up quick.  We might go an hours drive (or four) to do a free day long outing, but if we ended up paying for two meals at restaurants it was an expensive day.  So we started packing a lunch, and in typical camping style, it was cheaper but not much.  We had to decide if we really want to go out and do these outings, or eat well, and it wasn’t going to be both all the time.  So we eat mostly out of the cooler now.  If we have a four day trip, we will stay somewhere with a continental breakfast so we don’t have to worry about that meal, and we pack our lunches and dinners.  We don’t really eat snacks, but really, do we need to be snacking all the time? Lunches are usually peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches and fruit.  Dinner is usually baked sweet potatoes and more recently cold chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and occasionally hot dogs.  I won’t be able to tell you that this is healthy, plant strong, non GMO, or organic.  We will eat out of the cooler for the whole time besides one meal, and we will pick one meal and eat out as a special treat.  In this way the cost of travel food is already part of our weekly food budget, and not an added expense.
Lodging: We are headed into winter now, which limits the amount of camping we will be doing, but camping, if food is kept to a necessity not buying all of the traditional camping food for a single trip (I’m not saying don’t buy marshmallows, just don’t buy six kinds of chips, boxes of bottled root beer and ribs to grill on the fire all for one trip) can significantly cut our lodging costs from $100 a night to $30 a night.  KOA campgrounds are not usually the most forested or out door adventure type campgrounds, but they are everywhere and even close to big cities if you are trying to stay fairly close to where you will be doing your scheduled activities.
Hotels also come in a wide range of costs.  People are funny about their preferred hotel chains and you are right, there are often big and noticeable differences from one chain to another,  but if you want to travel and make those family memories just figure out what is important for you. This is just one area where there is some flexibility and the choices you make can give you more wiggle room and the opportunity to get out more. We usually opt for La Quinta, mostly because they allow pets to stay for no additional charge, they have a nice continental breakfast, frequently have a pool, are reasonably priced and have a membership type thing that has a stay 10 nights get one free deal, (it’s actually a points system) but if we are staying in a hotel as much as we do, we might as well be earning a free night’s stay.  As soon as the summer weather comes again, we will be out taking advantage of the opportunity to tent it, and be in nature. Oatmeal in the woods is just as good or better than any continental breakfast.
Activities: So far everywhere we have been has touted an large variety of activities.  We could take Moab Utah for example, but really, you will find this anywhere.  You can fill your time with the most expensive forms of entertainment paying out big bucks for jeep rides, hot air balloons, and an endless list of $12 a person museums.  It is sometimes so hard to choose since unless you just fell into some kind of lottery winnings, inheritance, or you are Bill Gates, you aren’t going to be able to do everything that piques your interest.  We have picked three favorite activities which are most often free.  They are: touring the Capitol buildings of the states we visit, hiking, and visiting national parks and monuments. (this one is not truly free but with the America the Beautiful pass that we were given by the Silverton FBC as a going away gift, they are free to us.  The pass is about $80-$85 a year.) We save the activities that cost money for a special occasion.  We plan ahead for them, and look for coupons online that help with the cost.  It also puts it in a different perspective if you think, it will cost our family $50 to do this activity.  We would think nothing about paying that much for a dinner out, so let’s not go out and do this activity instead.  Knowing that we can’t do everything allows us to do our research and narrow the list down to the activities that are truly worth the time and money.  Things like zoos and amusement parks are mostly all the same, we want do the things that are unique and only experienced at this location.
Entertaining the kids in the car: we want the kids to be looking out the windows a lot and we also want them to learn how to entertain themselves.  Chad would say that Audible has been a life saver.  We do listen to a lot of audio books. The kids also have their kindles and they read.  Another big entertainer is their notebooks where they draw and write stories.  We watch for cool new license plates, and which house we would want to live in when we grow up.  That is pretty much the extent of it.  The kids would tell you that they like their long car drives because it is uninterrupted reading time that they wouldn’t get at home.  There are times though, when it is particularly scenic that we make them put their books down and look out the windows.

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Lake Superior!!!

So beautiful, so much more beautiful than Lake Michigan!
After church we turned north. We had not seen Lake Superior yet, and what better thing to do on a Sunday afternoon than a Sunday drive. Three hours and thirty minutes according to the GPS to Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


It is sooooo green here.

We walked to the first few overlooks.



We decided to walk to the lower over look.









The short hike down to the second overlook made us hungry for a longer hike so we ventured further down the trail another mile or so. There were way less mosquitos (nearly none) the kids nearly ran the whole way it was so fun. The beautiful beach at the end of the trail was the best bonus ever.





IMG_0626.JPG The roots and mud made for a really fun obstacle course.

The slow little river was dubbed, “the honey bucket river” due to it’s color.
















It was going to get dark on us and the hike was longer than the mile it stated on the sign so sadly we said good bye to the amazing beautiful and superior to all lakes, Lake Superior.





I was bare footing it to strengthen my feet and as a child I enjoyed the mud and sand between my toes.






With the lake behind us and sunset in front of us we headed home.



Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel | 1 Comment

Hiking and a day at the beach Wisconsin style

Point Beach state park was an hour drive northeast from Neenah. The drive was gorgeous, but instead of taking pictures I just soaked it in as we drove past. Cute little towns, small farms and dairies, crops and old barns, lots of them reminded me of places I’ve been in Oregon and Idaho. We weren’t sure if the hike we had selected would have views of Lake Michigan or not, so we were pleasantly surprised when we could see the lake from where we parked the car. We had to check out the beach before we headed on out on our hike.









We were so excited for our first good hike since leaving Oregon (New Mexico was just too hot). We headed out.



We weren’t more than a half mile in when the mosquitos discovered the new meal walking through. We stopped and coated ourselves with a kid friendly mosquito repellent. Heading back out on the trail we found this big guy. So cute, I love beetles!





The scenery was great, it was so beautiful. The kid friendly repellent didn’t hold up to the barrage so we had to cut the hike short which we were all bummed about. That did leave a lot of extra time for playing on the beach.






After our late lunch Chad walked up the beach to find the light house while the kids and I continued to play and soak in the sounds of the wind and waves. I was pulled from my happy place by a strange sound coming from the parking lot. I turned, it was a ranger and he was addressing me. “Ma’am no dogs allowed on the beach!” I looked around, and down the beach. Chad was out of sight with the car keys. All three kids were in the water. I couldn’t leave them unattended. I finally got their attention and got them up on the beach. I had the big kids sit by our stuff, and Eve walked with me up to the car (it was a ways and meant the big kids were unattended while I did this which I guess was less worry some to the officer than the dog being on the beach). Then having no keys to put Myra in the car, I tied her to the bumper and quickly returned to the 7 and 9 year old. I looked around and saw no signs that prohibited dogs on the beach in case I had missed something the first time. As soon as Chad returned I had him check on Myra and put her in the car half expecting that he would return and say that she wasn’t there only a note saying the ranger had taken her because we had been negligent in leaving her tied to the bumper of our car in the parking lot. He didn’t, she was still there and fine. We knew that you couldn’t have a dog at the public parks in Wisconsin but it didn’t cross our minds that she couldn’t be at the beach either. I sometimes have trouble with letting one little thing ruin my whole day and it had been such an amazing day. I have let it go now, and some day I will be better at not letting these things get to me. I do feel like Wisconsin is such a beautiful state it is too bad that it’s so dog unfriendly it has been a total turn off. We will still thoroughly enjoy our time here but hopefully living here long term is not in our future. We didn’t stay too much longer after Chad got back. But we couldn’t leave without seeing the light house.


It was another beautiful and fun walk down to the beach on the other side of the park.



These days hiking, driving, playing in the sand are more fun than the big days and major attractions but I suppose that each have their place and it is good we do a little of both.

Rawley lighthouse must be a privately owned beach house as there were vacationers lounging around it with camp chairs and towels on the back porch.



It would be a fun one to climb. The board walk to view it was also fun.









We drove a different route on the way back home through more cute towns.





IMG_0563.JPG We came home to a package in the mail from Donna’s cousin Patty.


IMG_0566.JPGwe love it! So fun. Thank you Greg and Patty! Chad had declared it family movie night and had checked out a movie from the library for just this occasion. So we ate our dinner and I quickly walked Myra as the kids changed into their PJ’s and we piled in our room and watched “the Ugly Dachshund”

Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

A Sunday Drive to the Beautiful State of Michigan

Church was good. The president of a local Christian college spoke. After church the kids returned their church library books and checked out new ones and then we piled in the car. The plan was to go home where it was my turn to make sandwiches for lunch. Chad surprised me by turning to me and asking if I would like to go home and make lunch or grab something quickly on the way up north, taking a Sunday afternoon drive to the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Why sure, I love Sunday afternoon drives. And the hour and a half it would take to get to the border was nothing our road calloused behinds wouldn’t enjoy. We found a Culver’s, which is similar to Dairy Queen but specific to the area for lunch.


We think this Bus that was parked at Culver’s would make a great vehicle for our crew.

The girls quickly fell asleep after lunch, and Caleb and I focused on our books. Pretty soon Chad was announcing the cross over into the state of Michigan.


The view between houses of Lake Michigan was beautiful, and then we found a cute little beach where we could pull over, get out, and enjoy the view/warm sun/hot sand/cool breeze. The kids waded in the water and chased around the little frogs that scattered in every direction, but never could be caught.












The kids dug around in the sand for a while before we climbed back in the car.



We got home in time for dinner, and to all our surprise Superman joined us for the leftovers feast.

Then Myra and went out for our first attempt at a run. I was wishing for a bag to wear over my head. But it really did go better than I thought it would. Now time for bed. Work will come all too early in the morning.

Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

John Hancock Observatory or not…

Chicago has been on our radar for a while, with the weather here about to change we needed to balance. It was too rainy and overcast with predicted thunderstorms to do Noah’s ark and we weren’t ready for a longer trip yet like driving up the UP (upper peninsula) see Lake Superior then drive down to Lansing and then continue around Lake Michigan to make a big circle. We had not researched much in the way of Chicago must do’s but had heard that the John Hancock Observatory was fun. Due to traffic we got into Chicago about noon. We drove around the down town area looking for public parking having very little success. We found one place and just as we were getting ready to leave they said, “there’s a dog in your car! You can’t leave a dog in your car here it’s illegal.” Frustrated we got back in our car and drove around some more wondering what we could do in Chicago with a dog. If it is anything like Wisconsin no animals are allowed in public parks. As we drove I looked up the Illinois law which stated that it was illegal to “Confine any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold.” With it being an overcast day, with the windows down and a bowl if cool water we feel like it is way more humane to have Myra with us than shut up in the house at home every time we go out. We found a public parking structure near down town and backed into our parking space. Knowing that we were not violating any laws because there was ventilation, fresh water, and no sun light intensifying the heat in the car, (I know some of my friends may get mad at me for this) we walked to the Observatory, now called Chicago 360. The cost would be 12 per child 18 per adult 26 for parking totally $98 to see Chicago from the observatory. I’m sure it is worth it but it was quite a line, and the kids weren’t that excited about going up either, so we bagged it for today and will hopefully get to do it when they are a little older. We drove by the Navy Pier several times and that looked fun. We had no plan but we were formulating a plan for next time. We decided on an early dinner of Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s Pizzaria. To our surprise they had GF pizza as well, which we weren’t counting on. Noticing we were only 15 miles from Indiana and 34 miles from Gary Indiana we decided to go there, in honor of the music man and adding another state to our list. The drive around that part of Lake Michigan was very pretty. Being in Indiana made me think of Michael Sherman. We were only three-ish hours from you. It would be fun to meet your family while we are in this part of the world.
















Gary Indiana



Back through Chicago just before sunset.


I know you are all sad about there being no Chicago Owens family selfie…maybe next time.

Categories: Family Time, food, Fun, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

St. Paul Minnesota

Capitol under construction.
The Capitol building in St. Paul was very under construction. We went halfway around the building before we finally saw where you could go in.




IMG_0297.JPG In the front you had a great view of the Cathedral on the hill opposite the Capitol.


IMG_0293.JPG There was pretty awesome views of the city as well.


IMG_0303.JPG Inside two wings as well as the dome/rotunda area were closed do to construction. Windows were boarded up furniture and clutter lined the walls and the once beautiful stenciling was faded, lacked luster and the building as a whole was dark. At 109 years of age the building was in much need of the newly commenced facelift. We still enjoyed the tour but decided it would be good to go back in 2018 when the renovations are complete.















IMG_0321.JPG Spanish ceiling tiles on the ceilings of the ground floor.


IMG_0324.JPG German themed cafeteria in the lower level, open when the House and Senate are in session.


IMG_0325.JPG the carriage entrance to keep out of the rain and snow.


We found a really cute little town to have lunch in. The food was soooooo good.






IMG_0339.JPG the scenery around here is awesome!







IMG_0353.JPG we are home not too late to get a quick load of laundry done that will include uniforms for work and try to catch some zzzzzs. After these next two days we will be three weeks into this contract (one shift shy of 1/4 of the way through it).

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