Kevin was gone much of Feb because he was flying in an airshow in India. During this time Caleb was sick with croup which he passed on to his brother. Noah is a really tough kid but this croup took him over like no other and Noah made his first visit to the emergency room. He was terrified since his last visit to the hospital he had surgery on his leg. He remembers this vividly so the panic in his eyes could not be relieved until he was back in his car seat on our way home. The kids then passed on their croup to their mother (big surprise) and I battled a cold for 2 weeks. :) During that time we prepared for our trip to Kona Hawaii and prayed the volcano, Mt Redoubt, would not blow until we had left Alaksa!
We were able to get off to Kona safely at the beginning of March. We saw Mt Kilauea but didn't attempt to see an active lava flow. The smells were strong and potentially toxic - enough said. We enjoyed the steam vents that were quite pleasing since it was FRIGID! I thought we were back in Alaska while visiting this volcano. When I pack for Hawaii, I pack shorts and tank tops. Well, that was not good enough. It was in the 50's (gasp!!) at the volcano park, and windy! The kids and I froze our bums off. The steam vents were great. The vents are the huge cracks in the earth where the geothermal heats rises up and a very constant spray of warm steam comes out. It took a lot to pull me away from those vents. The sun also took a vacation while on the big island. It finally returned on our last day. So we made the most of it. We found a great beach, Hapuna Beach, with great boogie boarding waves and great sand. The kids took turns burying Kevin and destroying the sand castles we made together. We also went on this very cool snorkeling trip. They had these boogie boards with a hole cut out of the top. In the cut out circle they inserted a piece of glass and a hood around the glass. So it was like a boogie board with a round face mask. The kids could lay on the boogie boards, put their faces up next to the glass and see all the things that Kevin and I saw, all without having to put their faces underwater. It was so great, Caleb fell asleep on his board! Kevin and I got to see an octopus which was really cool watching it change color to match the bottom of the ocean. We then left Kona to start another adventure.
We arrived home from Kona on the 11th and my mom flew in the night of the 12th. We gave her a crash course in how to drove on icy Alaska roads, directions to all the places she would need to drive to in the city, etc. She flew up to watch our boys so Kevin and I could go to New Zealand! We left for New Zealand on the 16th of March. We spent one night in Honolulu HI, and then flew onto Whenupai (pronounced Fe-nu-pie) Air Base in Auckland New Zealand. Kevin was flying in an air show there so I was able to Space-A along. One the way we stopped for fuel in a little Pacific Island called Pago Pago. It was gorgeous and HOT! It was very remote, but I bet could reveal a lot of adventure if given the chance. So, after a grand total of 10.5 hours in the back of a C-17 we stepped of the plane in NZ.
NZ is a really cool place. The general attitude is laid back and it helps that the language is English mixed with a little "kiwi". The exchange rate was definitely in our favor so shopping was really fun and ordering pricey things on restaurant menu's was FUN! Our first day was spent with Kevin at work (after all he was flying in an airshow) and me pounding the pavement to see the sites. Auckland is set upon a nice harbor so I checked out the harbor side. I also found one of the oldest churches in the world and it was very pretty. One of my favorite things is that NZ had a lot of "take away" places for food. So, I could indulge in a lot of local fare at many different places without using of my limited tourist time or being tied to a table and server. I wish America had more places like this. Well, we do but they are called drive thru's and well, no that doesn't cut it. I frequented the pita pit, pandoro (the mediterranean lamb was great!), and of course we had to find a donner for KJ. One thing I have to avoid in these overseas places is the gassy water. I can not tune my palette to fizzy bubbles in my water! Anyway, after beating the streets all day I met up with KJ that afternoon where we ate dinner at Mosoon Poon. At joint that anything from Thai to Vietnamese. It was really really good. Despite the overly large paintings of a baby picking up a watermelon and another of a baby straddling a large coy. Day 2, KJ managed to wrangle a day free so we walked around a bit, ended up at the harbor, jumped on a ferry and ended at Waiheke (pronounced Wa-hee-key) Island. Ok, by far my favorite place in the world. This island has its own micro climate. So, while it has the gorgeous coastal views it also has these awesome steep mountains which is the perfect place to grow wine grapes. Just about every inch of this island was olive orchard, grape orchard, or has sheep running on it. It was GORGEOUS! We visited a local vineyard, StonyRidge, and then ended up later meeting the owner. Oh, I forgot. Upon arriving on the island, we rented a car. Folks in NZ drive on the left, opposite the US. This was going to be an adventure just being on the left. Well upon driving these rolling hills and sharp curves, the BRAKES, a very necessary part of a car, decide to stop functioning. Yes, we are going down a hill and around a sharp curve with cars on the wrong side of the road, WITHOUT A WAY TO STOP! AHHH! Those 17km were very exciting and my blurry pictures show it! HEE HEE! We take the rental car back and get another, crossing our fingers that this one had brakes. We did manage to maneuver the island successfully. Half of the island has unpaved roads but those are the roads that had the BEST views and we are glad we navigated those roads. Breathtaking. After a long day of island discovery we jump on the ferry back to Auckland and get ready for the airshow the next day.
I will have to pause here. Caleb needs a diaper change and the boys need attention. I'll try to finish this later tonight after the kids are in bed. Wish me luck too, I have another photo shoot today! Yaaaa-Hoooo!