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Aloha, Hawaii

Time to go home. We sailed away from Hilo, Hawaii and back out to sea for 4 days. I finally got nailed by the cold that had been going around the ship so I was stuck in the cabin most of those days. The gift shop sold out of cold medicine for which they were charging an exhorbitant price. I dragged myself down to the medical center on deck 3 where I was able to get all the supplies I needed at the normal reasonable price. Keep that in mind. Medications are much cheaper at the onboard medical center.

Bernie finally got some time alone. She was sick on the way over so I got my alone time then. Traveling together is great and we love spending time together but sometimes we all need some alone time. She had fun walking about and participating in the games. She even won a 24 kt gold plated ship on a stick. Woohoo!

I ordered room service a lot and Bernie brought me food. The bacon lettuce tomato sandwich plate is terrific and a life saver. Try it! Mostly I slept or watched what little was on TV or played my games on my phone and tablet.

We had to dock at Ensenada, Mexico on the way back per American law for foreign flagged ships and it was a good thing. The pharmacy on the dock was deluged with us sickies buying up cold medications and antibiotics or Z packs as they call them. No prescription needed. I picked up some of my regular medication there to get me through until I picked up a new doctor. It takes time to get into a new VA clinic and get an appointment.

By the time we got back to Long Beach, I was well enough to fly home. I spent a night in my favorite hotel near the San Antonio airport due to the late hour getting in. The next morning, I got some breakfast, hit up the nearest HEB for groceries, and drove home.

Hilo, HI

As our ship sailed on to Hilo, the captain decided he had time to take the longer route which would take us past an active volcano. Around midnight, many of us awoke and went up on deck to see the volcano as we sailed by it. It was far away and all we got to see was the orange red glow really but it was fun seeing everyone up at that hour out on deck. I think I took more pictures of the passengers than the volcano.

For Hilo, we decided to forgo the ship’s excursions and create our own so we could see everything we wanted to see. We found a private tour guide who knew the island very well, would drive us wherever we wanted to go, provided lunch, and was very reasonable. In fact, the cost was the same as the ship excursion but we saw much more. He provided us with a wonderful tour and was very open to some last minute changes. We highly recommend his tour to others. Contact Warren Costa at .

We met Warren outside the pier area at a store just across the street. He started by taking us to a black and green sand beach. Very cool stuff. People were surfing there.

Hawaii black sand beachSurf's up in Hilo, HI

Next we went to see a lava tube. We didn’t get to hike inside it but it was pretty interesting to see so close to residential housing. When we were about to leave, I realized this would be a perfect place for a geocache and checked my phone app. Sure enough, there was a small one hidden in the cave. Warren had no problem with us taking the time to find it and sign the log. We got to walk on hardened lava there as well.

Hawaii lava tubeBernie finds geocache in Hawaii lava tube

Off next to see Rainbow Falls. It’s quite lovely and there really is a rainbow in it. As before, there were chickens roaming around freely. LOL After getting our fill of the view and power of the falls, Warren and I sneaked around the parking lot to find another geocache. Score! Nope, not telling you where it is.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii

On to the Mauna Loa nuts plantation and store. We had heard that Spam was a big thing in Hawaii and that there were Spam flavored nuts and chips. Warren thought we might find them there. No luck on that but it was fun checking the place out.

Mauna Loa plantation

After a nice picnic lunch at a park, we were off to Volcano National Park. We were able to use Bernie’s senior pass to get in free. This is an active area so you need to be careful. The visitor’s center offers a great view of the crater. No lava to see but lots of steam coming out. We got plenty of time to look at all the exhibits and didn’t feel at all pressured on our private tour. On the way out of the park, we stopped by the side of the road to see steam vents that had randomly opened up. Oh my! Don’t get too close or breathe that gas coming out because it is deadly.

Volcano National Park - Hilo, HawaiiVolcano GeorgeVolcano steam vent

For more pics click here.

Kona, HI

We arrived in Kona but the area is so shallow that we had to anchor outside. this would be the last time Carnival ships come here because our ship, the Miracle, is being moved to another mainland port and the ship replacing it is even larger. The crew dropped several life boats into the water to act as tenders to get us all to the pier. They also dropped a speed boat to get the boat crews to and from them. Several crew members were also in line to go into town for a much needed day off. The lifeboats are much bigger than I imagined and far superior to the ones on the Titanic. It looks like they also have rafts on board in pods but I imagine those too are enclosed to keep out the weather. At least I hope so! Tendering in to the dock didn’t take long at all and was rather a pleasant adventure addition.

Lifeboat tenders off Kona, HICarnival Miracle lifeboatInside lifeboat

The last time I was in a moving submarine, it ran on rails in a pond at Disneyland. Bernie wanted to do the real thing so we went for it on the Atlantis sub in the bay off Kona, HI. A small boat took us out to it. The crew showed us how to go down the stairs backward to get in. Inside there were two long rows of butt-fitted seats back to back. The seats are small so of course I got seated next to a football player size man who took up one and a half seats and behind a woman who kept hitting my back every time she turned around. We each got our own window but the football player kept leaning forward in front of me to look out my window. Aargh! Despite the aggravation, I managed to see quite a bit as we descended to the bottom and sailed around shipwrecks. Fishies came swimming by to say hi. We saw a stingray and a shark. I snapped a gazillion pictures through the window. The temperature in the sub was fine and the crew informative.

Getting in the submarineAtlantis submarine off Kona, HIOur sub guide

Subbing with the fishesShipwreck

Back in town, we stopped in at a local restaurant we had heard had good fish dinners. They are on the second floor of the building and have a funky little outside elevator they have to run manually after you ring their bell. They have outside stairs too if you are up for it. The fish dinner is just as good as we were told. YUM! Would love to get some more right now.

After lunch we went looking for a geocache so we could get the Hawaii souvenir online. We walked up a steep hill and looked all around in the little shopping mall parking lot. Phone navigation isn’t nearly as exact as a good GPS for geocaches. We kept following it around until we finally found it next door. Woohoo!

Shopping next. Lots more goodies to be found. I found the coconut monkey banks I wanted for my grandkids. I know it sounds silly but when my grandparents went to Hawaii many years ago when I was a kid, that is what they brought us and we loved them. I wanted to share that with my grandkids and from what I hear, they love them too. I found a “Hang Loose” tie for my son to match the t-shirts I bought his sons. LOL

Getting back on a tender to go back to the ship didn’t take long. We went up on deck and watched them bringing the boats back on board. That was interesting. When it was the speed boat’s turn, its engine died. Poor guy kept trying and trying to get it started as it drifted. It finally roared to life and they were able to retrieve it. We cheered.

For more pics click here.

Kauai, HI

Our first port disappointment! When we got back to our room last night, we had a notice that our excursion to go tubing the ditch had been canceled and refunded. We were both really looking forward to tubing the irrigation canal through caves. That would have been so cool! I scrambled down to the excursions desk early the next morning for more info and to see what else might still be available. Tubing they said was canceled for weather. What? It was beautiful out! Aargh! Oh well, time to make lemonade… They still had openings on the Wailua River Fern Grotto boat tour so I booked us on that. It was only a few hours and would leave us all afternoon to do some gift shopping. Hmm. Not quite as good but definitely a good alternative.

Back on a bus again to the marina. George sneaked into my backpack to avoid being left behind again. That George! We arrived and were directed to the boats. There was live entertainment on board as we made our way up the river past canoes and paddleboards. The grotto is a short walk from the dock up a nice path past a stream and waterfall. It is a beautiful area. There is a deck area to stand and look at the grotto. Ferns were everywhere.

Wailua River tour boatPaddleboarder and dogWailua River Fern Grotto

Fern Grotto waterfallFern Grotto streamGeorge loves rainforests

Afterward, the bus took us to see Opaekaa waterfalls. There were chickens all around. Hawaii has a lot of loose chickens running around. Their coops get damaged by storms and the chickens escape and setup house elsewhere. This guy below was posing for tourists. LOL

Opaekaa waterfalls, Kauai, HIHawaii free-ranging chicken

Back at the ship, we hopped a free local shuttle to Hilo Hattie’s for shopping. They gave us shell necklaces and we found a few goodies for the grandkids and ourselves there. Bernie got a lovely Hawaiian shirt for herself. I got a bamboo cutting board with the Hawaiian Islands burned into it.

We spotted a KFC across the street. It is very hard to find one of those in Texas and we both needed a break from the rich ship food so we had lunch there before hopping the shuttle again. With so many free-ranging chickens around, the KFC should be well stocked!

We stopped off at the edge of town just before the pier for a little more shopping and to see the beach. It was fun going through the little stores. I wish we could have spent some time on the beach there. It looked very nice.

For more pics click here.