Hawai’i – Big Island

As we are flying from Honolulu to Seattle, I finally take some time to write about our exotic and relaxing stay in Hawai’i. Out of the eight islands, we picked Big Island because it was less crowded than Maui or Oahu, because it was the youngest of all islands and it offered a rare opportunity to discover an active volcano.

This tiny portion of land, lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (11 hours from Sydney and nearly 6 hours from mainland USA) “hosts” no less than 5 volcanoes. Some are extinct, some dormant and expected to erupt anytime soon, and one of them, Kilauea, has been active and erupting non-stop since 1984.

Because of all this volcanic activity, the West Coast of the island looks like the surface of the moon.The ground is covered in ancient lava flows that are not yet eroded because of the lack of water, whereas on the North and East coast, dense tropical forest, waterfalls and lush fields are watered daily by heavy rains.

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Big Island has only a few natural beaches, some made of white sand, and most others of black sand. These places are little gems where we spent great moments with the children. It was the first time in our trip that we could swim in warm and welcoming waters. No jellyfish, no sharks, no crocodiles, no strong and freezing austral currents. Finally !

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We took a couple of videos at Kua Bay so you can share the moment. (video will come later… still editing)

We were staying in a very nice resort on the West coast, an artificial oasis surrounded by petrified lava fields.

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Even the beach was man-made, with sand imported from Australia. This did not seem to be a problem for the Hanu turtles, a local endangered species that we met regularly on the shore or in the water.

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AlvarconcheApart from enjoying the pool and beaches, we took our fourth helicopter tour to visit the island and fly over Kilauea. Tatata helicoAlvar helicodash

This spectacular flight took us right above a secondary crater (a Puu) where the eruption has been taking place for the last 30 years. The magma fills up the crater and lava flows towards the sea. The eruption has destroyed a entire village, that has been partially rebuilt since, and destroyed again in 2011. Segments of roads and some trees are still visible in some places. Everywhere else, nothing but a patchwork of rock fusion.

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These apocalyptic views were another eloquent illustration of nature’s power. We felt small and fragile when flying in our light helicopter over this 2,000 degrees furnace emanating directly from the center of the Earth. What a great geography lesson for Alvar ! More memorable than the already very exciting classroom volcano eruption made of baking soda and vinegar ūüėČ

After 9 weeks of adventure, we are now approaching the end of our trip. If we initially planned to go to New-York, we recently changed our minds and decided to stop by Seattle so we all can have a look to the place we will soon call home. Alvar will meet with his future classmates and teachers at the French American School of Puget Sound, we will all take a tour of the area, visit a few houses and hopefully find the one we need for the next couple of years.

Seattle will be our last stop before coming home to Paris. We are all excited to be just a few days away from seeing family and friends again, indulging in homemade cuisine and putting a halt to the routine of packing and unpacking. We are already nostalgic when thinking back on all the wonderful moments we shared in such beautiful places. Now that we are certain Alvar and Austine are great little adventurers, we will definitely do it again, whenever the opportunity arises. We just need a little time to think about the itinerary.

So long Australia !

Back in Sydney after a week in Western Australia and 36 hours in the red center.

We went to see the Pinnacles, driving from Perth to Cervantes, enjoying sand dunes, endless beaches and bush-lands on the way. We also shared the road with the famous road-trains (55 meter long trucks), porcupines, emus and kangaroos.

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For a change, after so many outdoors experiences, we visited the juvenile block of the Fremantle prison which was a rather creepy experience. Children from 8 to 17 were detained in those tiny cells (2.5m x 1.5m), until the 90’s.

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Last Thursday flew out of Perth to Alice Springs. After a night there, we hit the road for a 5 hour trip into the red center. As it was 6 in the morning when we left, the children were fast asleep at the back of the car until we got to “Rainbow Valley” and enjoyed a camp-style breakfast. Another 3 hours and we were right in the middle of Australia, facing this famous, mysterious rock : Uluru.

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Before heading out, we asked ourselves if it was worth two flights and a 6 hour drive to see, well, a big rock in the middle of nowhere. Seeing it from a distance and then, standing near the rock’s walls, we can say without a doubt that the trip is well worth it. There is definitely something special about this place, mysterious and powerful.pointing

The rock is like a magnet in this empty space.¬†Temperature rises above 35 degrees, even in late Autumn. The sun is hitting hard on you, so you just¬†instinctively¬†want to protect yourself in the rock’s shade.¬†You want to go closer and touch its surface as this block of material looks surreal in the middle of this¬†emptiness. And once close, you can almost fell it live.

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The only sign of life was millions of flies (they were so many, in order to walk, we protected ourselves with Muji travel cases).

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After a night at the Ayers Rock Resort, where we gazed at the most starry sky we ever saw, we were all a little relieved to fly away from this sandy, almost hostile, furnace.

Tomorrow, we are flying back in time. Leaving Sydney around 8pm on Sunday, we will reach Honolulu at 8am the same day. One more day of fun !

Sea, Sun and Surf

There is such a thing as the Australian dream. And how relaxing ! Sea, sun, and surf for those more capable than I am !

This week, we played in the sand, swam briefly in a rather cold and agitated sea, visited Sydney and discovered the ocean water pools. We very much liked Manly, Little Manly, Shelley beach and Bronte.  brontealvarwaveAustine5beachaustineAustineLala

We walked up the Coast to Coogee from Bronte, and briefly checked out Bondi Beach.coogee

The kids  got splashed by the immense waves at Curl Curl and Freshwater, as the waves pounded the reefs after a storm.

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And these were but a few of the beautiful places surrounding Sydney.

We took the children to the (great) Aquariums (both of them) as the weather was sometimes too stormy to play outside.

We climbed the stairs of the Opera house

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and took a stroll in the Royal Botanical gardens.

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I think I am going to send this picture to the people in charge of the Luxembourg gardens ūüėČ

We rested in our comfy house, while the children played on the trampoline or chased the lizards in the garden. A welcomed break for everyone after so many weeks on the road.

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In short, we loved Sydney.

It is now time to pack (again !) and get ready for the Australian Western Coast and 8 (likely shorts) nights of adventure in a motorhome. Alvar is really excited about the “house on wheels”. Let’s hope he likes it.

Home Sweet Rented Home

After all the nights spent in hotels and lodges, after all the hours spent in cars and planes, we are all very happy to spend some time in “our” house in Sydney, a family home near Manly Beach.

A nice garden, toys and bunk beds for the kids, home cooked meals, a laundry machine… everything we needed.

A child’s work is play, this is all they have been doing here. The Australian way of life.

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How to make a boat, by Alvar

First, you take some wood. You then find some palm tree leaves and weave them to do a sail then take more to attach the wood together then for the sail you find a twig that has a shape of a Y. Then you stick the V piece on the sail and the I piece on a hole in the woods you stuck before then you find a big wave and bye bye boat

 

The end, love, Alvar 

inspired by Vendredi ou la vie sauvage, Michel Tournier

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Any questions ūüėČ … ?

Alvar’s arts and crafts

A few samples of Alvar’s creations. New Zealand has been a great inspiration for us all with its beautiful driftwood and pebbles. Also, we’ve read Robinson Crusoe, which gave us many ideas on how to make things from scratch.

Soon, a post on “How to make a boat” by Alvar.

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