Wednesday in Hilo

We wandered around the downtown Kona area this morning, watching the tourists come off the cruise ship, checking out the shops and exploring the coast. It was fun.



Mid-morning we packed up and headed across the island to Hilo, which took about two-and-half hours. It's remarkable how different the two sides of the island are. Kona is a volcanic desert: dry, brown and filled with jagged volcanic rock outcroppings.



The Hilo side is a veritable Garden of Eden by comparison: lush, green and beautiful.


Once we settled into our rented condo we went to see the beach-slash-tide pools that's basically in our condo's backyard.



While taking interest in a large black crab on the rocks, my older daughter was quite surprised to turn around and literally bump into a sea turtle - a four-foot, 500 pound, 100-year-old behemoth that snuck up from behind us and startled all of us. It was beautiful. Nicole, our budding marine biologist - notes that its shell was unblemished by boat motor scars or other markings that would have denoted a negative run-in with humans. And, in fact, it was quite fascinated with the four of us - repeatedly circling us and checking us out. At one point it tried to eat my swim trunks.

There were three or four other sea turtles in the area while we were there. And even though the kids swam with a couple dozen sea turtles off the north coast of Oahu 3 years ago, having this one sneak up on us in our backyard was incredibly special and already a highlight of the trip. (And that's not taking into consideration that we're measuring this highlight against the backdrop of a 22-hour travel day yesterday.)

Sadly, none of us had a camera with us at the time to capture the grandeur of this sea turtle.

Fun random fact: Yesterday's travel ordeal effectively served to reboot our internal clocks and we're already on Hawaii time.

Tomorrow: Off to see the volcano.
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