ʻĀina Hau Days 4 & 5

Aloha Kākou!!

Yesterday we took a break from driving and joined the group of American friends we made the night before for the day. We actually woke up pretty late, the entire group was slow moving, and we took several hours downloading photos and I caught up on blogs. Then we all took off together on foot around 2pm for the Reykjavik National Museum. This place was awesome! We really enjoyed learning about the history of Iceland.IMG_8976.JPGIMG_8981.JPGIMG_8982.JPGIMG_8983.JPG

I especially enjoyed the remnants of a Icelandic migrant that dated back to 900AD and all the information regarding the studies done to find our her age, ethnicity, cause of death, etc. After my oestology class last year, I felt like a little scientist trying to notice any clues with the naked eye just looking at her remains. Very cool!

IMG_8979.JPGThe museum was set up to teach the visitors all about Iceland’s settlement and it’s history up til today. I really enjoyed the display on women’s movements in Iceland and how far they have come. Did you know they had the first woman president of their democracy? So great!

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After a couple hours wondering the museum, we all walked to Cafe Haiti for sandwiches and beer and the walked leisurely back to the campsite. Hoapili and I went together to the heated pool next door. It was really cool, it had a big kid pool, a pool with lanes to do laps, both around 32 degrees Celsius and then a bunch of separate hot tubs that ranged from 38 to 44 degrees. We probably spent and hour and a half to two hours in there relaxing after our walking earlier! It was about $7 each to get in.. Which we find so odd paying for public pools, coming from Hawaiʻi! Another sign of how spoiled and blessed we are I guess! After returning from the pool, we made some instant soup for dinner and sat playing on our phones and kinda being zombies for awhile. Then we made our way to bed (at about 11pm, the campsites common room closes then and kicks us out!). I was warm enough last night, but I am really getting tired of my make-shift pillow which has been causing my collar bones to be sore every morning I wake up!!

This morning we woke up and met in the common room with our new friends at 930am like we had planned the morning before, to all ride together in our van to the “beach”. It wasn’t  a very far drive and we got there right as it opened. As soon as we thought we would have the beach to ourselves, a bus of middle school aged kids showed up, on what must have been a field trip! We got changed in the dressing rooms filling with squealing kids and dipped in the pleasantly warm hot tub. The beach itself is basically a bay inclosed with rocks that is slightly heated and only slightly warmer than the actually water. Then were is a small pool near the ocean that is only slightly warmer than that… Least to say we mainly stayed in the hot tub the entire time! I’d say 2-3 other school groups came while we were there for those couple hours. It wasn’t so bad, but it was crowded! We definitely found the local spot. We were pretty bummed to find out that we won’t be able to go to the Blue Lagoon… Since we took so long to get our days organized and know what day would work, and we had only found out the other day that you need reservations, they were all booked out for today and tomorrow :(. IMG_9015.JPGIMG_9016.JPGIMG_9019.JPGIMG_9022.JPG

So instead of the really touristy anyway Blue Lagoon, we went to the beach! And then we spent our afternoon up at the Thingvellir National Park again because we realized that we had missed the tectonic plates that are moving away from each other! It was pretty remarkable to be walking in the middle of that! And the waterfall at the end was gorgeous, but the lighting wasn’t the greatest.IMG_0949.jpeg

On our journey back to Reykjavik, we were half way back and got re-routed due to a motorcycle accident that happened on a bridge… A cop came to each window and told us that it would be a 2 hour wait and if we turned around a cop would  guide us to get back to the city. We had seen a cop riding really fast with its lights flashing (but not chasing anyone so we were confused) but it was actually headed to the intersection to tell us which way to go. They were all so nice! We took this route which was probably a 30 minute detour. Not terrible but our bellies were screaming! When we got back we made our last dinner meal we have (besides some packets of instant soup) of spaghetti with mushrooms, olives, and garlic (the last two were found in the free bins at the campsite! People leave so much behind). I plan on finishing this up, uploading some photos, and then we gotta go and pack up our things and separate what we are sending back to the states (sleeping bags and winter clothes).

Tomorrow we will finish packing up, go to the post office (yay!! $$), get gas (woo!! $$) and drop off the kuku camper and then if the airline will let us check in our bags early, we’ll do that and then walk over to the viking museum while we wait for our flight!! I’m pretty pumped to go to Scotland, and I am gonna download Outlander to start reading and get into the mood!!!!

Mahalo everyone for reading, hope you enjoy following our adventures!

Na Leilani

Oh! Here’s some photos of some horses we saw on the side of the road and some other pretty scenery and geothermal power plants on the drive today. IMG_9025.JPGIMG_9026.JPGIMG_9024.JPGIMG_9868.jpegIMG_4152.jpegIMG_6807.jpeg

Iceland Days 2 & 3 (lots of photos!)

It’s is already the third adventure day for us in Iceland, but we kept ourselves so busy yesterday that I didn’t get a chance to blog as we went. After leaving that little camping spot where we froze, we stopped at a small shop for Hoapili to grab some coffee and started onto Seljalandfoss, a remarkable waterfall that you can walk around an get a full 360 degree view of.

13323189_10206447957179603_9143920242517141241_o.jpg13323277_10206447937859120_243063081218373490_o.jpg But more than that waterfall, along the entire ridge of the side of the mountain were about 4 other beautiful falls.

IMG_8744.JPGIMG_8734.JPGThe last one though, was a pretty far walk, which most of the tourists weren’t bothered to walk to and in my opinion, it was almost the best one. You had to walk back into it, almost like a cave feeling and then once inside you were surrounded by huge tall rock cliffs with a beautiful waterfall cascading down almost on you. It was incredible.

IMG_8742.JPGOn the walk back, Hoapili picked up a bunch of trash, mālama the ʻāina!! We made some pb&j’s in the car before taking off to the next waterfall, Skogafoss.

This one was rather large and very tall, but you couldn’t walk behind it like the first one. There was a really steep staircase all the way to the top and view it from above. I made it half way up and saw the view from one of the viewing points, and Hoapili went up further and got some remarkable shots and views.IMG_1503.jpegIMG_1145.jpegIMG_1149.jpeg

From that waterfall we drove onto Vik, a really cute little town with 384 residents. We stopped at the Black Sand Beach and tried to look for Puffins, but had no luck. It was a really pretty beach! Sand was similar to our black sand beaches, but much colder. Hoapili also touched the water and said it was realllly cold and that it smelled more fishy than home.13320874_10206447950699441_4930303481609078590_o.jpg

Since it was nearing 6 and we were going to try and have an earlier night, plus it wasn’t very wind at that beach, we cooked our hot dogs (we liked the special sauce!) and ate there. I also heated some water so we could have some hot tea.

13308632_10206447937979123_6640927926679289372_o.jpgWe tried to find a cafe in Vik with wifi, but weren’t finding anything, so we tried to use our time wisely and drove a bit further south east towards Jokulsarlon, in the Vatnajokull National Park where we are exploring today. We ended up about halfway there last night at an even smaller town called Kirkjubaejarklaustur at a camping site with lots of other camper vans, motor homes, and tent campers. There was a common kitchen area where we cooked this morning and bathrooms so we could brush our teethies again. It was a bit warner and less windy so we did sleep better this time!!

We left that camping site a bit after 930 I’d say and we are now still on the road to the next spot, where there will hopefully by glaciers and icebergs!! We just pulled off on the road to take photos of the beautiful mountains with snow, a tiny bit of blue sky peaking through at the top, I think that’s the second blue patch we’ve seen since getting here!! I’d love if we had a day or two of clear weather, but I don’t wanna complain, we are in Iceland!! I’ll check in again after weʻve been to Jokulsarlon!

Jokulsarlon was easily my favorite place so far! It was really cold being right next to the lake with all those icebergs, but it was breathtaking. We spent a good two hours here and walked a good ways around the perimeter of the lake.

IMG_8952.JPGIMG_8953.JPGIMG_8954.JPGIMG_8956.JPGIMG_8958.JPGIMG_8959.JPGIMG_8960.JPGIMG_8961.JPGLuckily we did because we got to see two clusters of seals lounging on icebergs!! They were so cute!

IMG_8950.JPGIMG_8951.JPG There were also a few ducks who I felt pretty bad for in that freezing water.

IMG_8955.JPGWe warmed up water in the back of our van for some saimin for lunch before starting the 5 hour journey back to Reykjavik. Most of our day was spent driving and pulling off if we saw anything really cool.IMG_8944.JPGIMG_8945.JPGIMG_8947.JPGIMG_8948.JPG

When we got into the city, we stopped at Harpa, the famous Iceland Opera House, which has really cool architecture with lots of glass reflecting beautifully.IMG_8941.JPGIMG_8940.JPG

I had done some research on the drive over and we decided to camp at the main camping site here in Reykjavik which has an area for camper vans and SUV’s, tents and a hostel with free showers, a kitchen and wifi. We made some hot dogs and scored some garbonzo beans from the free bin and ate our dinner relatively late again. While eating we sat with some fellow Americans from Boston who had some really cool stories!! They’ve been walking/hitch hiking around Iceland and even showered in a waterfall at one point! Buurrr!!! I admire their bravery. And we thought we were roughing it! I think that this past evening was the best sleep I got, temperature wise.

I’ll check in soon to tell you how our last few days go, we will be exploring the city, going to the geothermal warmed beach, Blue Lagoon, and cleaning and packing to get ready to leave on Tuesday.

Na Leilani

ʻO ka lā mua ma ʻĀina Hau

Since we stepped foot off the plane, we went through customs, bought some sort of local liquor at the Duty Free, went to grab our bags and learned that Hoapiliʻs backpack hip belt was totally missing and a metal piece that helps frame it together was also gone. So huge bummer number 1… But we will figure out how to get a replacement. For the next 5 days, itʻll stay in the camper van and we wonʻt worry about it. We took a 10 minute taxi ride to the Airport Inn where we settled in for the night, showered (we REALLY needed it!) and finally fell asleep by 2am. Our check-out was at 11 and we had to pick up the camper van at noon so we woke up at 10, got our bags packed and headed downstairs and called another taxi. This drive was about 30 minutes and I don’t really wanna think about how much that cab fare was.. :/ But it got us to our new mode of transportation while here in Iceland! We signed all the forms, got maps and propane for the stove and checked the milage number and that the tank was full. And then we were off!!!

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We stopped by their grocery store called Bonus and grabbed what we think will last about 5 days… Then we drove to Olis gas station to get the free coffee (we got a coupon from Kuku Campers) and wifi to decide where we would head next. As I type we are on our way to Thingvellir National Park, about 30 minutes outside the city. We are driving through beautiful rolling hills, streams and lakes, bigger mountains with snow still in patches, its about 48 degrees, and we are in awe! Our kuku camper van sure is wacky, with a silly drawing and a sign that says “Don’t worry be sexy!” on the side!! Least to say, everyone on the road is aware that we are visitors!! It is interesting to be on the visiting side of the spectrum.. We cant pronounce anything let alone read it so we are sympathizing with visitors of Hawaiʻi!

 

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Iʻm gonna be writing blogs separate on my computer and them uploading them when we get wifi so bare with me when I jump back on this same blog in a bit to let you know how the national park was. Iʻll also include photos!! For now, we are nearing the park and we are gonna go explore!
The drive through the park was beautiful! We are constantly blown away by the natural surroundings and how beautiful they are.

IMG_5620.jpegAs we left the national park area, we wandered up to the Geysirs which had one big one that shot up every few minutes.. 70-80 meters high!! It was incredible! We caught a really cool video of it going off, will have to post it to Facebook since I cant on my WordPress account yet.

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IMG_0685.jpegUp the road a ways was Gullfoss waterfall (holy moly!!!!). It was cold and rainy and the mist from the waterfall was making us soaking wet but we were so impressed by the raw intensity of this gigantic waterfall. We were blown away! Then when we returned to the visitors center, we realized that we were completely soaked.

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We are sitting in the van now, driving to Flo∂ir (secret lagoon apparently!) and are trying to dry out… Jeans aren’t easy to dry!! It is already 6:30pm but we would have no clue if it weren’t for clocks… It is gloomy and cloudy out, but there is no sign of the sun going away (even in the middle of the night last night, it was still just dark gray outside). We’ll probably find this secret lagoon, see if theres hot springs there and if we can swim and then figure out where we will park and cook some dinner. Maybe some of the hot dogs we bought! I got the special “cocktail” sauce.. Hopefully we like it!

The secret lagoon was awesome!! It was really warm, about 104 degrees ferinhieht while it was 46 outside! There was mens and women’s bathrooms where you were required to shower in the nude before getting into the hot spring and there were also lockers and blow dryers which I definitely utilized to dry my suit and my hair, which I never do, but I didn’t wanna freeze!

 

IMG_6110.jpeg IMG_8726.JPG.jpegWe probably spent about an hour or more in the water, and by the time we got out and drove to a little almost deserted camping spot, it was really late. I think I was heating up the water for our soup (we were frozen!) at around 1030! It is so hard to keep track of time here since itʻs like always light, even in the night after the map app says the sun has set, it is just a dark gray. We ate quickly and tried to snuggle up and get warm to sleep… We weren’t all that successful and both of us were pretty cold the whole night. They really should insulate these vans!! When we woke the walls were all wet and started dripping on us when we turned the van on to warm up! Overall, our first day was pretty awesome, even if we didn’t get great, warm sleep. There was only one other camper in his RV and we parked right next to the bathroom/sink area where we washed our dinner and breakfast dishes and also used the restroom and brushed our teeth, very convenient!

That’s all of Day 1! Day 2 & 3 are coming up next.

Na Leilani

ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Blog mua

ʻO ka hapahā minuke kēia i hala ka hola ʻehā (ma ka manawa Hawaiʻi), a, aia māua ʻO Hoapili ma ka mokulele e lele aku nei i Seattle. He pule lōihi kēlā pule aku nei, no laila, lōihi loa māua eia naʻe, pīhoihoi loa! ʻAʻole hiki iaʻu ke maopopo kēia mea kupaianaha! Ke lele nei i ʻĀina Hau i kēia manawa!!

Lele akula wau wale nō i Maui i kēlā Poʻalua aku nei i huakaʻi pōkole loa, a, ua hoʻopīhoihoi ia huakaʻi iaʻu no kēia kauwela. Ua launa wau me koʻu mau hoa, koʻu ʻohana a me kekahi mau kumu oʻu mai koʻu wā kamaliʻi, ʻo lākou nā kanaka lima hana me koʻu makuahine ma Lokelani ma kona wā e hana ai ma laila. Ua nānea wau i kahakai ma Maui, a, ua nānā i ka welo o ka lā, ʻo kēlā kaʻu mea punahele nō ma kēia honua. ʻO ka nani o ka hoʻi ʻana o ka lā kaʻu punahele loa.

Ma hope o ka huakaʻi wikiwiki i Maui, hoʻi akula wau ma ka moku o keawe, a, ua hoʻomākaukau no kēia huakaʻi nui loa me Hoapili. Na māua i kūʻai i nā mea i poina, ua hoʻopaʻa i nā paiki nui (hana māua i kēia no kekahi mau hola, ua māluhiluhi loa māua ma hope), a, ua hoʻopaʻa i nā mea pono a pau ma mua o ka haʻalele ʻana. Ua noho māua i ke kaʻawane ma ka ʻāpana o ko māua mau hoaaloa. ʻO kēia mau hoa nā hoa e mālama ana iā Kawelo i kēia kauwela, a, hoʻokū nā kaʻa ma ko lākou pā hale. Mahalo nui loa māua iā lākou no ko lākou mau aloha a me ke kōkua nui iā māua.

Ma ka hōʻea ʻana māua i Seattle, he mau hola (9) e kali ma laila ma mua o ke piʻi i ka mokulele ē aʻe… ʻIke wau, e pōloli loa ana māua ma ka pae ʻana akā, pono māua e kiʻi i nā ʻeke ma baggage claim, a, ʻaʻole wau ʻike inā hiki iā māua ke hoʻi i ke kahua hoʻolulu mokulele inā pani ʻole ka booth ʻO Iceland Air… Inā ʻaʻole hiki iā māua ke komo hou i loko, e hele i waho e ʻai, a, e hoʻi i kekahi wahi hiki ke hīamoe i ke kahua hoʻolulu mokulele… Mākaukau nō māua e hōʻea i ʻĀina Hau i kēia manawa, akā, e hōʻea ma laila i ka manawa pono… E kali pono māua, haha!

E hoʻohana hou ana wau i kekahi mau blog ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi i ka wā kokoke!! E nānā hou mai!

Naʻu me ke aloha nui,

Na Leilani

 

 

(E kala mai iaʻu inā he mau hewa ma koʻu kākau, luhi loa wau!)

71 hours!!

Aloha mai kākou!

Sorry for the delay in a blog post, things have been crazy around here! The countdown to our trip is getting real really fast and we are kinda starting to believe that this is actually happening!!! I feel like a catch up blog is long over due… As I think I’ve mentioned before, we have been planning this trip for what seems like an eternity, since about last October/November probably. I have traveled abroad a few times before and Hoapili also has while deployed, but this time is the first we will both are going together on an international trip and also our first time having such a long time before we go waiting in excited anticipation. My two most recent trips were planned pretty suddenly and it all seemed to happen very fast. This time, we had the end of last semester and this whole spring semester of planning off and on while busy with school which seemed to last forever. Not to mention, we have been living van life, which for some reason seems to add to our crazy life.

As far as planning and logistics, pretty much everything was planned before finals finished in early May. I booked our last Airbnb the morning before one of my finals for a weekend in Montreal. For the last couple months at least, we have been investing in all sorts of things we think we’ll need ranging from binoculars, trekking poles, a brand new REI backpacking pack for Hoapili (I’m using mine that I’ve had for awhile but am pretty jealous of how fancy his is), a Yi Action Camera (GoPro off brand) and a Nikon 1 J5, new hiking boots, a camping french press, Hoapili needed a new passport and a nice rain jacket, and I’m borrowing winter gear from friends and my mom (thanks mom for sending that!) for Iceland since we found out it is going to be pretty chilly while we’re there!!! We have a plan for all that gear though; since we will only really need the heavy stuff for our first week in Iceland, we are going to ship it all back to the states (trying not to think about the cost for that…)  so then we have more room in our packs for any souvenirs we get and they’ll be a bit more comfortable to carry around!

Last weekend, we felt that we had most of the gear that we were planning on bringing, so we did a practice back to make sure it all fit in our packs. As you all know however, we live in a van so figuring out where we were gonna do this practice round was fun. In the end, we figured since we had half the stuff in the van still and the other half already in storage (we kept it in there so the van didn’t get crowded) and since the van is too small to spread everything out comfortably to pack the amount of gear we are, we took it all to the storage unit. It ended up being functional for what we needed, but neither of us had all that much fun in the stuffy storage unit dripping sweat for about 2 hours… Who knew it would take that long to pack! OH! The weekend before that, we knew we were going to need a bunch of gear that was packed away in storage, a lot of which was under piles and piles of boxes… We basically tore our whole unit up just trying to get to a couple suitcases and a metal chest. What fun! Anyway, the practice pack was pretty successful. We are mostly confident that it will all fit although we may be wearing and carrying on some of my bigger winter coats/jackets and we’ll be wearing our hiking boots for sure.

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This weekend is all about being excited and continuing our count down… Also, Hoapili is going to we working on perfecting his manual driving skills, since the first three countries of our trip we have a rental car booked and manual is the only option there!!! Eeeekkk! I’m confident in him though, he’s awesome. I hope this kinda catches yʻall up. Hoapili has also taken up ʻUkulele and has been practicing a lot, and we’ve decided to take it on our trip. There’s good and bad to that, risking getting it taken but also we will have guaranteed entertainment and it will make sitting and taking in the beautiful sceneries we will encounter that much more joyful. I’ll post again soon about my recent trip to Maui and I’ll also include some of the photos we (mostly Hoapili-he’s really taken to it) have taken with our new camera! We are stoked to have it and I want to give a big mahalo to the people who made that happen for us, you guys rock and we love you!

Until next time,

Na Leilani

Confession

Aloha Kākou!

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, I have a confession to make. It’s about journaling. I can’t seem to get into the habit of doing it regularly… And I’ve had this problem for as long as I can remember. Everyone said journaling is so much fun and how much I will love looking back on it (I know that’s very true). But, for some reason, I just have always started doing it and then after maybe a couple weeks, I’d stop. It been a consistent reoccurring cycle. Over winter break I kicked myself enough and actually bought us journals in hopes to try really hard to write in them frequently. This seemed so important to me all of a sudden because we had been living in our van for almost 2 months and hadn’t been journaling anything! We had experienced so much! Anyway just the other night I opened my journal up to show Hopaili how little I had written in it since winter break and tried to convince us both how important it was that we write daily while on our trip. After I showed him I opened it up and started reading (Hoapili was shocked I didn’t mind reading it to him!) one of my entries. Christmas break was a time when van life was still really fresh and we were out of school so it felt like constant adventure. Here is an entry from January 3rd.

“Jan 3rd 2016!

Since Christmas we’ve been adventuring, relaxing, and rejuvenating, as well as having good times with new and old friends. We spent Christmas morning on Mauna Kea (on a pull out on Saddle Road) in the low 40’s, opened presents and then headed down the mountain to the west side. We ate at a coffee/cafe place (surprised it was open) and then drove to Miniowale (Kua Bay) to a very over-crowded beach! We ended up having to park 20 minutes away but had a good time riding the waves for maybe an hour. Then we returned to the van and set out to find a grocery store open still to buy goodies for dinner. Safeway ended up being our savior and we barely made it down a few aisles before hearing announcements of their closing soon. We got watermelon, grapes (although they ended up being gross), hummus, pesto pasta and angle food cake. While eating we watched the sunset at the old Kona airport park. That evening we saw a movie called Joy with Jennifer Lawerence. Hoapili said he thought it was weird to make a movie about making mops… But I liked it! That night we we parked behind Target, next to a few other vans/buses which looked like they doubled as home too! Didn’t meet anyone though.

We went to magic sands beach the next day and ate picnic leftovers. Nothing else too exciting besides filling up with gas at Costco. Oh! The gas attendent also lived in his van and he had it parked right there in the Costco parking lot while he worked! Too cool. We drove back up saddle to make it in time to Mariah and Douglas’s house for dinner and to take them to the airport-they went to New Zealand! Lucky butts.

For the next few days we house sat, took care of the chickens, the dog Nala, and the cat Mochi, as well as our little Kawelo! I did a lot of laundry, planned some of our trip (even bought some more of our plane tickets!), organized the van, Hoapili made a papa with Ka’ikena as well as a hau cord necklace with a pendent he made from some bush in the yard. We had the Coad ‘ohana over for dinner, had stir-fry and played heads up! Lots of fun 🙂 We also gave the van a good wash and our last day was spent cleaning up a lot and showering. From there we went to Uncle Roberts and chilled for a few hours until Ka’ikena, Isaac and Peyton and their band played. We slept at a beautiful spot by cove and a sea arch down Kalapana side that evening and I got to take Kawelo on a nice walk and even did a little stretching on my mat by the ocean in the morning! After that we went to Kehena beach. It was a beautiful and sunny day, the water was sparkling so bright and it was so nice to have gotten there so early in the morning (we usually go much later in the afternoon!). We even saw some whales! I think it was a momma and a baby playing. We got super hot and cooled down in the water before leaving, headed to the bank to deposit Christmas money and then went to ‘Onekahakaha park and hung out until dark (used their showers inside the bathrooms!) and drove to Hale Hookah.”

I remember writing these journal entries and really loving to do it. I know that my free time got diminished once school started up, but I know I need to make a consious effort to write more. I really loved reading them outloud to Hoapili the other night too! And I think he did as well 🙂 It is easy to forget details and the little things. We were cracking up at some points while I was reading all the entries! I am going to really try my best to write as much as I can while we are on our trip and my blog will sort of transform from a van life blog to a travel blog for a while. Also, I’ll just let you all know now (to also hold myself to it!) that I will be posting at least one blog a week in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi for all my Hawaiian speaking friends. Summers are really hard on language students so I’ve also assigned both Hoapili and I ha’awina (assignments) which include journaling in hawaiian daily (as much as possible), giving ha’i ʻōlelo (speaches) weekly, studying the old chapter quizzes, writing down any new words that come up during the day to study on Quizlet later, plus we will be trying to communicate in Hawaiian as much and as often as possible. He is entering second year and I am entering third and both are scary to go into after a 3-month break! So I am thankful we have each other to practice with. And as far as journaling and blogging goes, I will still write a bunch in English too, don’t worry 😉

 

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Until next time!

Na Leilani

A Grand Summer

Aloha kākou!

As many of you may already know, Hoapili and I are preparing to embark on an amazing journey around the world. We are so excited I can hardly contain it! To catch anyone up who doesn’t know details, we will be leaving Hilo on May 24th, we stop in Honolulu then Seattle for the night and on the 25th we have a straight-shot flight to Iceland. We are renting a camper van from Kuku Campers in Reykjavik and will tour around the island staying in camping spots until the 31st. I am really looking forward to living the #vanlife in another country, let alone Iceland! From there we will take an EasyJet flight to Edinburgh and will have a car rental to tour Scotland for a week. We’ll be exploring up in the highlands, Inverness, and Grantown, a town that my ancestor started back in the 1700’s! We will of course be in Glasgow for a couple days as well. Next, we will be hoping over with RyanAir to Dublin. I can’t wait to return to Ireland- it is one of my favorite countries! We will also have a rental car here and will be going to Dublin, Waterford, Killarney, Dingle Peninsula, and Galway for another week before hoping over with RyanAir again to Amsterdam. We have an airbnb in a town outside the city and will be going into Amsterdam as well as checking out other towns like Zaanse Schans, Bruges and Leiden over a weeks time.

The next month of our journey is a much anticipated destination for me. I have wanted to go to Italy since I was little, it was even a dream of mine to move there and live in Tuscany! I feel so blessed that we will have a whole month there to explore. We will start by flying into Sicily from Amsterdam, with Transavia Airlines. While in Italy we will be visiting these towns/places: Sicily, Naples, Capri, Pompei, Rome, Vatican City, Tivoli, Siena, the medieval city of San Gimignano, Florence, Rimini, Zelarino (town outside of Venice where we will be camping on a mini organic farm and going into the city), Padua, Verona, Lake Como (Mandello del Lario), and Milan. Our last day in Europe will be July 21st and from there we will be traveling with Royal Air Moroc in route to Montreal, but!, we have almost a full day layover in Casablanca, Morocco! The airline puts you up in a nearby hotel and we plan on going out that evening and exploring the city the next day. We are totally excited for this addition to the trip that we hadn’t been expecting!

When we arrive in Montreal, we will be visiting with both of Hoapilis grandmas and his brother who all live in Vermont and will be driving up to meet us. We’ll have an airbnb there for all of us to stay in as well. After a nice weekend exploring another exciting place, we will board a greyhound bus to South Carolina! Yes, you read that right. We will be traveling by bus from Canada to South Carolina… 31 hour trip! As long as it is though, I am really looking forward to the scenery we will get to see. Once we arrive we will be staying with my grandparents on the lake and hopefully my mom will join us too! Especially cause she’s our ride back up north! We’ll ride with her to Kentucky and then take another bus (Megabus has the best deals I’ve found so far) to Indianapolis! Hoapilis father and sister live there as well as my best friend Cami so we will enjoy seeing them. Our last leg of the trip is another greyhound bus from Indiana to Colorado Springs to see my sister, brother-in-law and my niece! Plus, my dad is planning on joining us from Arizona for the weekend! 🙂

As you can tell, we are pretty dang excited and are literally counting the days. Traveling is huge part of my life. I crave it. I yearn to learn new and exciting things, see new things with my actual eyes, meet new and interesting people from all over the world and form bonds with them that will last a lifetime. It has been close to two years since I went abroad and the desire to adventure again is strong. This trip though, I get to be with Hoapili and hopefully watch that same travel bug get him too. I can’t praise backpacking enough…it broadens horizons, you really do “find yourself” at times, and you really embrace that sense of adventure. Not to mention how care free you feel and how its pretty much fun 100% of the time.

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It may be obvious to many of you, but this trip would not have been as easy to accomplish if we hadn’t been doing the van life. We have been able to save so much money, we spend the least amount with all extra money going to fund this trip. Saving money in this day in age is no easy task, and when we saw the benefit in this lifestyle and how it could actually help us get ahead in life, we jumped on it. So my message to all of you guys is to think outside the box. We don’t always have to live our lives how we are told to, the “normal” way. There are ways to live alternatively and still be a functioning member of society. By the time we leave for our trip we will only have been in our van for 7 months and we are already reaping the benefits from it! Live life the way you want to, not the cookie cutter way that we are fed to believe is the only way.

On a side note, I want to also explain that I did all of my own planning for this entire trip. It is almost all planned out, with all accommodation, transportation, etc. Basically the only thing left to do is book the trains for our Italy portion, but it is too far out and the train schedules aren’t even available for June/July yet! I did do all the planning, and I don’t want it to come across as easy or quick to do. I have literally been working on this since the end of the year or even earlier than that. Over Christmas break I had plenty of time to lots of research and mapped out our trip and once school started, I have spent pretty much any free time I had planning more and booking hostels, hotels, camp sites, airbnb’s, car rentals, ferry rides, calculating how much money we’ll need for food, etc. I know I am no expert, but I feel like I know the ropes pretty well and feel like the research I do is very methodical to insure I get the best quality for the cheapest or most reasonable price. Since this is such a long trip and its during summer, the peak season, I felt that the only way to do this trip on a budget was if I booked everything in advanced so that prices weren’t through the roof and/or there were no places left for us to stay. When we return, I am considering creating my own business where I do what I did for our trip, for others. A travel agent, per say. I am still in the beginning stages of how I will exactly go about it but I have had one customer so far! I want to be able to offer everything from the basics like tips and ideas, giving a cost approximation on a trip you want to take, to even planning the entire thing. I want people to realize that traveling is possible and anyone can do it!

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Anyway, until next time! I have a confession to make in my next blog entry.

Na’u me ke aloha nui,

Na Leilani

A day in the life of Leilani

Aloha kākou!

Okay so… I asked my sister what she thought I should write next, and she said a “day in the life of me!” I’m going to try my best although I’m sure like everyone else, each day is different and living in a van definitely exemplifies that for me. We recently house sat for the first 10 days of April and as I was pondering this blog post, it occurred to me how drastically different my daily life was while being in a house.

unnamed-1.jpg((The view of our van from the lānai were we house sat!))

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Firstly, I found myself picking up and tidying a lot around the house. Not to say that I don’t do that in our van, I definitely do, the house is just a much larger space and I got easily overwhelmed with how messy it felt. To be fair, when we house sit, we don’t actually have set “places” for each of our things so all our stuff we bring into the house tends to get spread out all over the place. Whereas, typically there is always a spot in the van for everything. Secondly, there were soooo many dishes that accumulated in the house! I know I’ve talked about this plenty before, but it blows my mind every time how many more dishes we use while in a house! We must know how easy it is to just set them in the sink and get to them later. But living in a van we don’t have that luxury. We use the least amount of dishes possible, re-use them if they aren’t that dirty, eat straight out of the pot or pan, eat our dinner in the tupperwear dish the leftovers will end up in, rinse cups out with just water, the list goes on! We are just way more conscious and conservative while in the van. Oh, another note about house sitting is how nice it is to have alternative seating options like a couch or a chair! In our van we have our bed, the mini island counter opens up to a table with two stools, and the two front seats, which always seem a bit odd to just chill in if you’re not driving anywhere- but we do anyway.

Getting back to the “day in the life of me” thing… I guess we can start with examples from yesterday and this morning. Yesterday morning we woke up directly across from school, which is where we park and sleep sometimes (we kind of rotate between several spots so we don’t get too sick of the same one). I woke up to the sound of the alarm clock and it took a good amount of my pestering Hoapili and Kawelo for them to wake up. I got changed, put on deodorant, tidied up a bit, swept the floor with our little mini broom, and took Kawelo out across the street to a big field of grass on campus. When I came back I think Hoapili was getting ready and I finished up by giving Kawelo a scoop of food and repacking my school bag for that days classes. We both wanted coffee and a bit to eat so we walked to the mini coffee shop by the library on campus. I then sat outside at a table studying for a math exam and a ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi kuisa (quiz) while Hoapili got an override form signed for a class next semester. I also had to turn in a form to Financial Aid and then we returned to the van to drive up to HaleʻŌlelo (our Hawaiian language building) for our 10am class. I like to arrive 10-15min early so I can go into the co-ed bathroom and brush my teeth and feel a bit more presentable. We went to class as usual, Hoapili drove me back down campus to my math class for that exam, meet me in the cafeteria after class to get lunch, and then I went to Geography class. After that class (we had a guest speaker-really great!), I went to Kīpuka (the Native Hawaiian Student Center) to work on a project and also write a speech for my ʻŌlelo class and get the tutor to look it over.

unnamed-3.jpgunnamed-2.jpg((Hoapili and Kawelo sleeping in yesterday! Also, the trees on campus are blossoming so beautifully!))

After that, my “school day” was over and Hoapili picked me up to go run some errands! We went to the Post Office to check our PO Box (had a pay check, woo!), went to our local health food store, Island Naturals to get dinner and stuff for lunches the next several days, and then went to Sports Authority. We bought some trekking poles and binoculars for our upcoming Europe trip! Then I got suckered by Hoapili to go see Dead Pool… which I don’t have many comments about that… Haha! From the mall after the movie we drove to Bay Front, another spot we park and sleep in sometimes 🙂  I think that our preparation for bedtime is pretty similar to everyone else’s… Feed Kawelo and Hoapili took her out, filled a water bottle to have by the bed, turned off the christmas lights and went to sleep!

This morning, I woke up and let the two sleepy heads rest for awhile as I got the camper stove out, filled up our glass jug which was empty, with the water from our big 5 gallon water tank, and heated up some water in the kettle f0r Hoapilis coffee. We had some cut up fruit I ate for breakfast and I made my chai tea/vanilla hemp milk drink. I took Kawelo out like normal-although it was raining :/ By the time I returned Hoapili was getting dressed and ready for the day and we soon departed for school! Oh! We also emptied our trash can in the trash can at Bay Front before we left. Hoapili has a 9am class on MWF so I dropped him off at lower campus and drove up to HaleʻŌlelo where I am now, writing this blog! Today won’t be much different than yesterday, I have fewer classes and I also work the afternoon away at the Anthropology department (student assistant). Tonight however, we are going to go to Kaimū to Uncle Roberts night market and we will sleep down there next to the ocean! I have a doctors appointment out towards that direction in Pāhoa so it will be convenient Thursday morning to get there!

Anyway, I hope this gave you a bit of insight to our daily routine! We aren’t really all that different than everyone else, but I guess there are enough differences for me to notice while house sitting! Mahalo nui loa for reading and again, if you ever have any random questions or are curious about anything regarding our van life, let me know and I’d be happy to post a blog about it!

Na Leilani

 

Our van’s transformation

Aloha mai kākou!!

I thought I could take some time today to tell you all about the history of our van, and give a timeline of all of her transformations to become the amazing home she is today!

We bought her at the Ford Dealership here in Hilo who was selling it third party on behalf of a tour company business here on Island who took visitors up to Mauna Kea (our tallest volcano). So what does this mean? It was already well equipped with all these bad a** things like 4X4, a huge lift, and a sportsmobile added topper that had two sliding top windows,  two lights (two white and two red-for night time vision), and two fans on the roof. Needless to say, we fell completely in love at the dealership. Luckily, we qualified for the loan and were able to trade my Toyota Yaris (my car since I was 16!) in for a fair amount of money towards the loan. We bought her in late September and we gave our landlord 31 days notice on October 1st.

That left us with 1 month to make it livable! As you can see, there were a lot of seats to be removed…

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Our families kept asking us, how will you live in there with all those seats?! Haha! No offense guys, but that was kind of a silly question! We’d take them out of course! 😉

But before we laugh too much, this was no easy task. We weren’t able to take them off from the bottom bases (which attached them with bolts to the floor) as easily as we hoped. I guess they were impact drilled in there, so we’d need an impact drill or a metal cutter to get them out. So we did what we could and took the actual seats off of the bases themselves. IMG_1748.jpeg

That left these annoying guys for us to work around, and we left the front seat there for the time being. Next, we had to figure out how to get a bed in there, cause by golly, we were going to live in it!

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Fortunately for us, our queen sized bed frame and box frame fit (we sleep on a futon with a 3 inch mattress topper on top) perfectly inside the van and sat on top of those brackets easily. We actually used large zip ties to secure it!!! We knew this was temporary, but it worked for what we needed. I just really couldn’t wait to build a lifted bed so I could actually store more of a variety things under the bed.

On Halloween of 2015, we moved out of our 3 bedroom house in Puna and were officially van dwellers! We had slowly moved everything out of our house into a 10X10 storage unit, or to charity and separated what would be kept in the van. So yes, secrets out, we do own more than what can fit in the van, or at least that can fit comfortably… A lot of what had to be kept in the storage unit were childhood things our parents have so lovingly given us the responsibly of possessing from now on, and also the furniture my mom gave us before moving back to the mainland. We decided to get a storage unit to keep it all in which hasn’t been that bad, I mean a $130 bill is a whole lot less than what we were paying for rent, electricity, water, etc. etc. etc.

So anyway, in November, we were graciously invited to stay at a friends property which we did for awhile. We made our home base under some tents and a little kitchen in a large camping tent to keep away from bugs (especially mosquitos out in the jungle) and rain. IMG_5064.jpeg

As blessed as we feel to have spent time there, when thanksgiving break came, we house-sat closer to town, and then finals week came, we were becoming more found of being closer to town and not having the hassle of driving 30-45 min “home”. We fell into this house sitting job who let us use their power tools and their driveway/garage to make our lofted bed we had been dreaming of! So over thanksgiving break, we not only held a feast with some friends, but we built our entire bed frame! IMG_5391.jpegIMG_8220.jpegIMG_2820.jpegIMG_3480.jpeg

We were so excited when we finally completed this!!! After that, because we took out the seat towards the front, we realized we could make a small and functioning kitchen and we wouldn’t be tied to driving to our home base any more. We just used our pop up table and slid the cooler under it. This worked well for awhile until I think it was after Christmas break that we came across a small kitchen “island” at Ace Hardware. I believe it was either $150-200 which we used our Christmas money for. Here’s a picture of the top when we were cooking our kalo burgers (vegetarian). As you can see, we had our original cooler next to it but it stuck out quite a lot and it got old fast. The island has two stools, two drawers, and a fold open table all of which we really love having. IMG_8769.jpeg

At some point, we had moved one of our drawers to the back so we could make a cubby for Kawelo, who was just taking up too much space on our floor! I can’t tell you enough how much she LOVES having this spot all to herself. She is just the cutest.  IMG_7729.JPG

After some saving, we bought our most desired cooler, the Yeti. It took place of the other drawer set, which we moved next to the kitchen island-creating more space and better ‘feng shui’.

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So! I think that about sums up our vans’ story of creation and transformation! I hope you all enjoyed reading it and maybe it cleared up somethings about how we live in this small of a space! Again, if there are any questions I could answer in a blog post, or in a comment, feel free to ask!!

Naʻi me ke aloha nui,

Na Leilani

How we do “Everyday Things” Part 1

Aloha Kākou!!

I titled this with a ‘Part 1’ because I have a feeling more examples of how we do everyday things will come to me as time goes on.

I think I’ll start with things that fall into the ‘usually require electricity’ and ‘electronics’ categories. I say ‘usually’ because obviously, we have either found ways around it or do with out them.

*We keep our food in our Yeti Cooler. It’s a Yeti Tundra 50 Series, and if you haven’t heard of Yeti coolers, and you are an active outdoors person, I would highly suggest doing some research on these beasts. They are costly, but worth it and it was a huge upgrade from our way too big of a Coleman cooler which melted ice much quicker, and took up too much space. One feature I really love is the basket that sits in the top part of the cooler to hold more fragile things like bread, things that are packaged with paper (like our creamer container), or softer veggies. Currently, we buy one block of ice and one bag of ice about once a week and we also add another bag of ice about mid week. I have definitely noticed that we have stopped buying as much groceries that require refrigeration, and if I buy things like lettuce or fresh veggies, we try to use those as soon as possible so they don’t go bad or get soggy if the ice melts. Right now in our cooler we have bread, garlic cloves, soy creamer, ketchup, a salad dressing, jam, apple butter spread (thanks mom!), a small block of almond cheese, one beer, a large yogurt container, a Tupperware container with bell peppers and carrots, a container of tofu, and a Siracha sauce. We could still fit a few more things in here too, by the way. IMG_3925.jpeg

*On the after model addition roof of our van, we have two fans, and four lights; 2 red (for night vision) and 2 white. We keep one fan on during the day for our doggie while we’re in classes and it keeps the van pretty cool. At night if we are hot, we’ll turn one on low and it actually makes me really cold most of the time-better than AC! We make sure to turn it off before going to bed though; the fans and lights do run off of our vans’ battery power after all .

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*In addition to the overhead lights, we strung up battery powered Christmas lights which have both choices; the colored or the white lights. The switch is conveniently located right by the head end of the bed, so before getting into bed were turn off the overhead lights and switch on the Christmas lights for a dimmer, less noticeable light. We also rely on this light if we are in a parking lot or certain places and we don’t really want to draw attention to the fact that we have lights in our van, or risk anyone seeing in because of the light. (We are currently working on figuring out a way to light-proof all the windows so no one will even know that we’re in there and there are lights on!) Read on to see a photo of the Christmas lights!

*Because we don’t have any kitchen appliances, a TV, a telephone, or really much of anything that requires electricity, we only need to charge our phones, the iPad, and the macbook. Our van luckily charges using the cigarette lighter even while it’s not running, so we charge our phones overnight. Hoapili usually charges his iPad during the day either in the van or at the library. I also try to charge my laptop while I’m on campus-either in my work office or also at the library. If I happen to forget, or we are watching a movie with my computer and it dies, we do have the ability to charge my laptop with a power strip that plugs into the cigarette lighter which extends about 2 feet. When we use the plug that is behind the drivers seat, and plug in my laptop cord, it ends up reaching right where we lay down to watch movies!  You may also be wondering how we watch movies with no electricity, because yes, no electricity equals no wifi! Answer=Hoapili has this crazy external hard drive with is FILLED with movies. We’ve been watching different movies on there for at least 6 months and still have plenty to go. I just plug it into my lap top and we get to choose what we want to watch that night! I do miss my Netflix sometimes, so I catch up on some shows in the library if I ever have free time. I have noticed that not having it (or anything online like Facebook) available at home has prevented binge watching or scrolling, and therefore we stay more focused and on top of school work.

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*As I mentioned before, we have no kitchen appliances. So how do we cook, one may ask! We have a good ol’ camping stove that uses a small bottle of propane, which replacement time differs, between 2 and 4 weeks. Obviously, the longer meals take, the quicker it goes out. Sometimes its a pain to get out, set up, and then put away… But in all reality, there are harder things in life and it doesn’t bother us all that much.

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Now that we have covered electricity and electronic issues, I’ll dive into some ‘Water issues’.

*Luckily, we live in a County that provides free, fresh, clean, and drinkable water for the residents. We fill up a 6 gallon tall rectangular shaped (good for fitting in the van) container with water at the Transfer Stations who have this feature. We also fill up a glass 1 gallon jug which is what we actually use and just refill from the bigger container every few days or so. It may come to a surprise to many but we only refill that 6 gallons about every week and a half to two weeks. I find this surprising myself because we use this for almost all our daily drinking water (I say almost because we have tons of water refill stations and water fountains around campus that we often fill our Hydroflasks with), our dogs drinking water, the water we heat up on the kettle to make our coffee in our french press,  and often to rinse or wash our dishes. I feel like we save and conserve a lot more water, sometimes out of laziness of refilling our glass jug and of refilling the 6 gallon container!

Lastly….

*I mentioned dishes above…. If you’re wondering, we wash them like I said with the water from the jug (we use soap too) usually just outside our van, or we bring them inside to friends’ houses and do them in their sinks (thanks guys!) and these visits are maybe a couple times a week. I keep our dirty dishes in a BIG bag that zips up to keep the stink out until we get around to washing them!

That’s all for now folks!

Mahalo for reading,

Na Leilani