Thursday: Dolphins.

_HPP6095What a day. Packed with stuff, all dictated by this island and its hold on us.

First, a word about our base camp and home, Hale Ohia Kai. Hale - meaning home. Check. Ohia, a local sustainable hard wood, used only to build sturdy and beautiful things. Finally Kai, which means the Ocean.

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The place is a pinnacle of polynesian pod design, traditional in its form - open air living space encompassing a fully functional kitchen and living areas - A jump back into old Hawaiian style but maintaining our need for modern amenities. Historic beauty meets modern convenience. All with an infinity pool and an amazing view of the Pacific. Nice.

The open air is amazing. There's really no way to deserve it, this amazing-ness. But we've got it. It's ours this week, we come home to it and eat within it and our guests sleep there and dream of the things to come. Thank you, Ali, for such and amazing space for us to setup camp to recover from swimming.

Speaking of which - the big news of the day? Oh, nothing much really. Only that we completed the 2.4 mile Ironman swim course in the early light, and were escorted by HUNDREDS of dolphins. They stayed. They played. It was amazing.

Photo May 23, 2 20 28 PM Photo May 23, 2 23 05 PM Photo May 23, 2 28 29 PM

Photo May 23, 2 38 58 PM

We all got out and and compared notes and high-fived each other. Gosh we needed that this morning, after a week of pounding surf, it was nice to swim in our home waters of Kona. Then home to some R&R before our afternoon swim at Kahalu'u - rough, windy, choppy, but fish-fabulous. Break time included a ridiculous taco bar lunch and individual stroke analysis meeting with Hopper and the lap top for each guest. A snack time at about 430. More massages on the lawn (my god why would anyone want to leave this place??).

615 pm climb in the car we're going to check in for an activity I've been waiting for with much excitement - the night snorkel with manta rays.

Now you may remember from my blog post last year i did the night time manta snorkel and got some incredible pics of these gentle giants. I was so excited to show our guests these huge and graceful creatures, and my god on top of a day with dolphins, why, who could ask for more?

We suited up, filed over to Keauhou Bay to board the boat. Sunset, wetsuits on, splash we're in. I said, we're in. Weeeeeeee'reee iiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn.....! Yup, you guessed it, NO mantas. I was shocked and amazed. The success rate of these tours is about 90%. It never occurred to me that we wouldn't see mantas on this trip. Dolphins were always a bit of a long shot. But mantas?? At night? A no brainer.

We returned home to our stay at home pals (who missed nothing, incidentally) and a warmed up meal of excellent soup, hot bread, and salad. They were sports - our guests, praising my efforts to get them out for this experience, telling me it's ok they didn't see mantas. Sweeties. Of course it's pretty hard to complain when you you have a morning including 4,812 dolphins. SO thanks guys, for that, and gee i'm sorry i got you all wet for another swim this evening. In the dark. With a noodle (private joke).

It was a day of taking whatever this island had to throw. The record breaking swell calmed a bit for us. The dolphins came. The wind blew and the mantas were a no show. In between was stuffed with all kinds of good stuff, traditional of Hawaii and the spirit these locals share - it's one of acceptance of what is - the foundation of Aloha. I suppose when you live on a magical island surrounded by an ocean that knows who's boss, it's hard to be any other way. I hope I can take a little of that home with me.

But not so fast about early departure tomorrow. 645 am in the van kids! We're heading south!

- Heather