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Puako Rental House welcome sign

When I was younger, there was no question that I would stay with family and friends when ever I went back to the Big Island (Hawaii) for a visit. But with a family of my own now, and my desire for more privacy, I usually book several different places to stay. The island is big enough to warrant moving locations to be closer to either the volcano or the beaches.

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Sunset view from 118 Puako Beach

 

On our July visit, I booked an AirBnB vacation home for the first time. I’m thrilled to say the seven night stay at a two-bedroom, two bath beach house in Puako was a big success with everyone.

Puako John and Logan waiting on sunset

Waiting on Sunset in the Puako Beach House Yard

The location couldn’t have been better for us. We could see the ocean from the living room, patio and master bedroom. I love waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on shore. We were able to go to several beaches in close proximity to the rental home.

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Bikes come with the Beach House rental

Upon arrival to the island, my brother loaded me up with all kinds of local foods for us to feast on while we stayed at the house. He thought of everything ~ fruits, main meals, coffee, desserts, vegetables, chips, etc. Yum! 118 Puako House came fully stocked with essentials so be sure to check in and then do your grocery shopping.

Puako House Bird

A Daily Visitor to the Beach House

Birds aren’t the only visitors to the beach house. Keep an eye out for unwelcome critters especially the dreaded centipede. They are red and nasty looking. Always check your shoes before you put them on and check your bed too. Anywhere they may hide ~ don’t come away with a painful bite.

Patti at sunset puako

If you book a home in Puako, be sure to rent one on the oceanside. The ocean breeze makes it much more comfortable during warmer days.

 

 

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As a family, we’ve hiked in locations around the world and have been lucky enough to hike in Germany, Slovenia, Guam, Hawaii, Virginia, and many more. But I wasn’t surprised when my daughter deemed the Kīlauea Iki Trail on the Big Island as her all-time favorite hike. It’s a fascinating place located within the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kilauea remains an active volcano to this day.

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At the Kīlauea Iki sign, you can go in either direction but I would advise taking the trail to the right and hike counter-clockwise which will lead you through a rain forest, the 1959 lava lake, steam vents, cinder cones, and large fissures in the lava. Keep an eye out for the native nēnē (Hawaiian Goose) ~ we saw two but they were too fast to get a photo. The nēnē are the sixth most endangered waterfowl species in the world.

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The rainforest section of the trail is well-worn but be careful with the rocks and occasional exposed roots. We started early in the morning and didn’t see anyone else until we got to the lava lake.

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On hikes, my daughter only uses her phone to take photos but while we were on the trail, her college released the dorm assignments and she was excited to learn where she would be living for a year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the dorm she preferred and it was the only sad part of the hike. But, fast-forward six months later, and she’s thrilled with her suitemates and her dorm.

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The ‘Ōhelo berries are a favorite treat for the nēnē and can be found throughout the trail. It is a hardy plant that even grows on the lava. The plant is a relative to the blueberries and the berry can range in color from dark red to pale yellow.

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The amazing view from the rainforest.

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It was a little surreal to see a runner come through as we walked along the deserted and isolated lava crater but he obviously runs this trail frequently.

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Be sure to follow the Ahu (stacked rocks) to find your way through to the other side of the trail. Please don’t disturb them!

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If you go, here are a few words of advice:

  • The trail is moderate to challenging. It’s steep and rocky. The descent/ascent is 400 feet (122m).
  • It’s a 4-mile (6.4km) loop. It took us approximately 2.5 hours and we stopped for a snack.
  • The trail head is 2 miles (3.2km) from the Visitor’s Center.
  • Once you’re at the Kīlauea Iki parking lot (off of Crater Rim Drive), you may go either way from the trailhead. We preferred to go right which took us through the rainforest first then down to the crater floor.
  • Be sure to bring water, food, hat, sunscreen, camera and rain gear. Be prepared for all types of weather conditions: hot, dry, wet, windy (!). Please remember to “leave only footprints” and bring all your trash and items back out of the area.

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I had the opportunity to leave the social media realm and see several of my favorite photographers’ works in the real world. It got me thinking about why I follow certain photographers out of the millions who are on social media.

As a wildlife fan, I find myself skimming instagram, twitter, wordpress and snapchat for all things wildlife and nature oriented. But there are only five photographers I follow daily ~ they bring an extra dash of joy to my life with their amazing skills and ability to capture the essence of majestic creatures. All five have one essential quality in common which is required for me to follow them; they are all conservationists.

My most recent follow is @Davidrphoto on Instagram. Of the photographers I follow, he is by far the youngest, currently a student at Stanford and his photos are from his trips to Africa. His “Youth Photographer of the Year” award-winning photo is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is titled: The 21st Annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Smithsonian Exhibition. Windland Smith Rice was a nature photographer and conservationist.

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The exhibition includes short videos with footage of the moments the photographer captures the award-winning photo. I was completely enthalled watching the videos and blown away by the amazing talent. I’m especially impressed with the profound patience they possess which is required to capture the perfect shot.

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Video of the “Youth Photographer of the Year” winner David Rosenzweig

If you have an interest in photography, I highly recommend attending the free exhibit when you’re in Washington DC. The current exhibit will be on display until Sept 2017. The museum is located along the National Mall at 1000 Madison Drive NW. The closest metro stop is Archives/Navy Museum (Yellow Line).

There’s more information at the Museum of Natural History and you can view the photos on Facebook. I promise you the images are stunning in person and well worth the trip to the museum.

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Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History ~ Exhibit Banners

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My visits to the Big Island follows a familiar pattern: land in Kona, rent a vehicle and head to the Volcano Nationals Park for a couple of nights. Many of my mother’s family live on the Hilo-side of the island and it’s always great to see them and catch up with all the happenings.

We landed later than usual (after 8pm), and since the drive to Volcano National Park is about 95 miles from the airport, we decided to stay the night in Kailua-Kona. Kona is probably the most “touristy” spots on the island ~ reminds me of Lahaina on Maui. Lots of shops, restaurants and activities. And traffic.

Kona Parks and Recreation

The Parks & Rec building in Kona


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Early Morning in Kailua-Kona

Kamehameha the Great, the first king to rule all the Hawaiian Islands, chose Kailua-Kona as his home. It’s not hard to imagine why ~ the waters are bountiful with fish, the area is beautiful and, if you can picture it without throngs of tourists, it would be an ideal place to call home.

Here are a few highlights of the town:

The historic sites include Hulihe’e Palace, built in 1838 by Governor Kuakini, is now a museum run by the Daughters of Hawaii. Directly across the street from the palace is the Mokuaikaua Church, built 1820. It’s the first Christian church built in the Hawaiian islands.

Kailua-Kona is the start of the swim and the finish of the world-famous Ironman Triathlon. Below is the swim start:

Kona start of the Ironman swim and end of the run

Every October, about 2,000 athletes compete in the Ironman by swimming 2.4 miles in the rough ocean waters, 112-mile bike ride and to finish it off, there’s a 26.2 run which must be completely within 17 hour deadline. It’s a brutal event and, many years ago, I was thrilled when I had a chance to cheer some of the participants during the running event.

Kailua-Kona is a great stop for a day or two but don’t let it be your only experience on the Big Island ~ there’s so much more to do and see elsewhere on the island.

Kona sailboat on the waters

Sailboat in Kailua Bay

 

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We decided to take advantage of the record-breaking warm temperatures this winter and go on a hike to celebrate the last day of 2015.   At the top of Buzzard Rock

Located in the George Washington National Forest , just west of Shenandoah National Park, is the Buzzard Rock trailhead. It’s just outside Front Royal and the address is 3087-3189 Mountain Road/Route 629. Parking is limited (if it’s full, see the link at the end of this post for larger parking areas). The drive from Washington DC takes about an hour and a half.  The 1.5 mile trail is marked with white spray paint on either a tree or rock along the path. At the beginning, the terrain is rolling and  gentle with a sprinkling of small creeks and a campground area. As you approach the top, the hike becomes steeper and rockier.   Beautiful stream My daughter jumping across the stream
For all the biology enthusiasts: lots of lichen along the trail. My favorite is the blaze orange…  Looking out toward the Front Royal Fish Hatchery and Passage Creek.

Note the white marking on the tree on the right. Good thing there are marks because some areas become a bit rocky.   At Buzzard RockThe views are lovely, even in the winter. I’ll be back to see the scenery in spring and autumn…

A quick comment on hiking etiquette: Most hikers we saw, greeted us with a “hi” or “hey”. But almost all of them didn’t realize hikers coming down should yield to hikers going up. Also, hike quietly ~ there was one woman speaking loudly into her cell phone as she walked down the hill (not stopping for us as we were ascending) and her partner gave us an embarrassed shrug.

If you decide to go, you can get detailed information, maps and how many calories you burn on the hike: here.

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Although I get strange looks when I mention I enjoy visiting historic cemeteries, it doesn’t deter me checking them out. They are interesting and peaceful. Recently I left busy M Street, with all its hustle and bustle of Georgetown’s shops and restaurants, and walked eight blocks up to Oak Hill Cemetery located at 30th and R Streets.

Oak Hill Cemetery was founded in 1849 through an Act of Congress and by Mr. W.W. Corcoran donating the land for the cemetery. Corcoran was a banker and philanthropist who also created the original Corcoran Gallery (now known as the Renwick Gallery).

The Gatehouse and Gothic Revival styled Chapel were designed by James Renwick in 1850. Renwick also designed the Smithsonian Castle building and St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Having visited Congressional Cemetery last August when they had visiting goats, I prefer the grounds at Oak Hill. The hilly, twenty four acres overlooking the Rock Creek are beautiful with mature trees, lots of plants and trails throughout the area.

My favorite thing to do when reading the headstone, besides finding an unusual name, is reading the dates and putting the life of the person into perspective as to what was going on at that time in history.

Here are a few photos from my outing:

Oak Hill Chapel designed by James Renwick.

Oak Hill Chapel designed by James Renwick.

Side view of the Oak Hill Chapel

Side view of the Oak Hill Chapel

Beautiful Fall foliage and blue skies

Beautiful Fall foliage and blue skies

There are trails throughout the cemetery so you won't be stepping on any graves.

There are trails throughout the cemetery so you won’t be stepping on any graves.

Oak Hill Cemetery Gatehouse ~ designed by James Renwick

Oak Hill Cemetery Gatehouse ~ designed by James Renwick

Original Bell at the Oak Hill Cemetery

Original Bell at the Oak Hill Cemetery

The fallen leaves throughout the Garden cemetery

The fallen leaves throughout the Garden cemetery

I found a "Giving Tree" stump

I found a “Giving Tree” stump

Oak Hill Cemetery's Welcome and Rules

Oak Hill Cemetery’s Welcome and Rules

Pumpkins in Georgetown

Pumpkins in Georgetown

Sweet Bulldog Statue

Sweet Bulldog Statue

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Georgetown

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Georgetown

Walking the leafy streets of Georgetown

Walking the leafy streets of Georgetown

The cemetery overlooks Rock Creek and the Rock Creek parkway.

The cemetery overlooks Rock Creek and the Rock Creek parkway.

For more information, click here.

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Flowers and well wishes from around the world at the French Embassy in Washington DC

Flowers and well wishes from around the world at the French Embassy in Washington DC

I’m well aware of the horrific terrorist attacks around the world including Kenya, Nigeria, Beirut, Bangladesh (bloggers being murdered for not being Muslim enough) and many more. If I wrote about every attack around the world, Displaced Beachbums would cease to be about travel. But Paris and all of France has a special place in my heart.

As an American, the French are our oldest ally ~ beginning with Lafayette and the help of the French during our revolution. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many times and also know someone who lives in central Paris. It’s personal to me. The French inspire me with their love of life, the physical beauty of their country, their history, their delicious wine, desserts and even their “confident” attitude.

My biggest fear is we will let Daesh (and other fanatics) change the way we live. When I say I’m “Praying for Paris”, I’m praying not only for those affected by the recent attack, but for the defeat of the darkness which has been allowed to permeate around the world.

Recently I’ve been attempting to reorganize the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the last ten years. In light of what’s happening in Paris, I made a quick visit to the French Embassy in DC yesterday and then decided I would concentrate on my France photos. Below are a few photos of my visits to Paris:

Looking up to the Eiffel Tower

Looking up to the Eiffel Tower

Obelisk of Luxor, Paris, France

Obelisk of Luxor, Paris, France

Enjoying a smoke break in Paris

Enjoying a smoke break in Paris

Beautiful relief on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris France

Beautiful relief on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris France

Looking out to the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

Looking out to the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

Another view from the Eiffel Tower

Another view from the Eiffel Tower

Paris has so many gorgeous statues ~ an outdoor museum

Paris has so many gorgeous statues ~ an outdoor museum

Music Academy in Paris, France

Music Academy in Paris, France

An Angel overlooking Paris

An Angel overlooking Paris

A favorite pastime in Paris ~ lingering over coffee, tea and pastries at an open air cafe.

A favorite pastime in Paris ~ lingering over coffee, tea and pastries at an open air cafe.

American Soldier Statue in Paris

American Soldier Statue in Paris

Place de la Concorde, Paris, France

Place de la Concorde, Paris, France

and then here’s a real throwback to 2004…

My husband and daughter at the end of the 2004 Paris Marathon

My husband and daughter at the end of the 2004 Paris Marathon

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