Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Big Island (with cards! plus a visit to Babe's banyan tree)

Just got back from a nice vacation in Hawaii.

In previous trips, we'd been to Waikiki, Maui, and Kauai, respectively, so the last big Hawaiian destination was The Big Island. It might've been our best trip yet. Lots of fun.

We originally booked it months ago, and it ended up being awkward timing by the time it finally rolled around. We're still heartbroken about the unexpected passing of our beloved pup Annie not too long ago. And we've both got more crap than usual going on at work right now. And it looks like we'll soon have to move from the house we've been renting for the past several years, prompting us to look into buying our first home (and all the stress that comes with that situation). Plus the whole Coronavirus scare going on makes it a weird time to travel. But despite those factors dampening our excitement to trek out across the Pacific, once there it didn't take long for the good vibes to take over.

I'll hit some highlights in this post, largely for me, because this blog sort of works as a journal/diary for me, and I sometimes consult it to remind myself of the when/where/what's of life events. But I hope you like it too! If you're not interested, you can scroll down a bit for some cards.

The Big Island has two main areas, the Kona side (which is the more touristy part) and the Hilo side (which is the part with more locals). We spent the first half of our week in Hilo. The hotel wasn't perfect (for one thing, no wifi, but thankfully we were able to get online if we hung out by the balcony. Another lame thing was one morning at 5:30, the fire alarm was pulled by some dipshit kids staying at the hotel so I didn't get much sleep that night), but we had a great top-floor view of Hilo Bay.

We stopped in a Walmart to buy some important supplies for the week (snacks, booze, sunblock). I never go to Walmart. Last time I was in a Walmart was last time we went to Hawaii, lol. And while I've made the choice to avoid buying 2020 baseball cards, you know what they say-- "On vacation-- it doesn't count!" and so I splurged on one of these hanger boxes of 2020 Topps Series 1. (Had our trip been a few days later, I likely would have went with Heritage, but alas it wasn't on shelves yet at the time.) I'll post the highlights of this box break later in the post after I get all the non-cards stuff out of the way.

Our main adventure in Hilo was hiking around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Gorgeous scenery, which seemed to vary from rainforest to desert, as well as spectacular mountain views of the volcanic crater area.

After hiking around at a few different spots, we grabbed lunch at a restaurant in a hotel in the park. This "guava flow" was super tasty and my prawns were very good too. Then we went home pooped after a big day. Had some local Hawaiian food for dinner and watched Mr. Right starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell-- not the rom-com we were expecting, but an ok movie.

The next day we took it easy, with a little picnic at the beach and played in the bay a little. We lucked into catching a glimpse of a sea turtle swimming around the area (sorry, no photo). We had dinner at this nearby restaurant pictured above, which was just ok but it sure looked pretty cool reflecting off the bay.

On our last day in Hilo, we made sure to check out the banyan trees in the area, especially "The Babe Ruth Banyan Tree" which my wife saw something about online and was just a short walk up the road from our hotel. Here's a wallet card photo (Tony at the bottom of the pole) of the sign. These signs get swapped out every few years, I believe, as some other pics I've seen online have a slightly different looking sign.

The story behind Banyan Drive is in 1933, they thought it'd be cool to have notable people plant banyan tree saplings along the peninsula, dedicating each tree to who planted it. Babe Ruth happened to be passing through on a barnstorming tour not long after the idea got traction, and they got The Babe to plant one. While some of the trees have been taken down by bad storms, Babe's banyan has stood strong over the passing decades. Big baseball fan I am, had to get a pic with it.. coincidentally wearing my Topps shirt that day.

As one guy explained these fascinating trees...
Banyan trees appear as if they’ve been imported directly the planet Dagobah. They begin as a tree with a single trunk, but as they mature, the branches drop long tendrils which twist downward until they find the ground and take root, eventually thickening to the point where it becomes difficult to identify the original trunk. Mature trees have hundreds of separate trunks encompassing hundreds of square feet.
After that, it was time to pack up and head to the other side of the big island to Kona, but first we made a detour to go chasing waterfalls.

We checked out 3 different waterfall spots, each more impressive than the last. Lots of amazing views highlighted by water splashing downward. Got a nice wallet card photo here at Akaka Falls State Park.

We made an unexpected stop on the way out at a roadside goat dairy touting Free Baby Goat Therapy. Glad we did, as it turned out to be a top highlight of the entire trip. It was basically a pen with a dozen baby goats (plus a big Turkey), and you just hang out and pet them (free) and feed them ($1 for a cup of goat chow).

The goats could sometimes be a little aggressive in pursuit of the food, but overall they were silly and cute. My wife and I have been suffering from cuddle deficiencies since Annie passed away, so we really appreciated petting the fuzzy little buddies.

Our place in Kona was a little nicer. We didn't even have to drive around the area since there was so much stuff going on within walking distance. That was perfect since the drive across the island, while beautiful for the most part (and we stopped for a terrific lunch and local donut-type treats called Malasadas on the way), was tiring and we didn't want to drive anymore if we could help it.

I always like to take a wallet card photo in the water when I find myself at a body of water, and here's Tony having a splish-splash.

We saw some parasailers out over the ocean and made a note that that'd be something fun to try. Later, we grabbed lunch at a bar with a view of the ocean and then played some cornhole on the way back to the hotel. That evening we went swimming in the pool and hot tub, luckily getting both to ourselves for that half-hour or so.

Our last full day in Hawaii happened to be my wife's birthday, and we did it up big with our first ever adventure parasailing. It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again. I didn't want to risk dropping my camera (phone) while up there, but this pic is of another pair in our group taking their turn.

We had planned to grab lunch after parasailing, but neither of us was all that hungry yet, so we walked along the bustling beach and decided to rent a kayak. Again, it was a first for both of us* and was a ton of fun. (*My wife is an experienced paddler [dragonboating and outriggering], but never kayaking.) We had heard rumors of dolphins being spotted in the area, though we didn't run into any, but still had a lovely little outing on the sea.

After we returned to shore, we grabbed lunch at a closeby brewhouse that featured a guy strumming some Hawaiian songs. The server was scattered but we were in no rush and the food and beer were good. Then I grabbed a box of macadamia toffee chocolates to bring home for my co-workers and we headed back to the room to recharge the batteries for a bit.

That evening, we headed out for drinks (my wife was on a quest for a Lava Flow, having neglected to score the sweet cocktail up to that point).

We found a hopping spot overlooking the ocean that had a live band playing 60s favorites (highlight for me was "Knocking On Heaven's Door").. I looked it up later and the band was Lucky Tongue. We got some chips and guac to go along with our tropical drinks (each having a Lava Flow among our consumed beverages). I had a couple glasses of wine in the room earlier, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I hurled in the bathroom (gotta be careful with those sugary alcoholic drinks!), but it wasn't too bad and I quickly rallied but was done drinking for the trip.

Our travel day back home was made more stressful thanks to our security cameras back home letting us know that the mail had just been delivered. Apparently the last day of the mail hold is also the first day of the mail hold no longer applying.. both happening on the same day! Doesn't make much sense to me! Thankfully, the mail was safely waiting for us when we finally arrived back on our doorstep.

That was a rundown of our vacation on The Big Island (which by the way is actually named Hawaii... so like Hawaii, Hawaii. Or Hawai'i if you want to get technical.)

Now onto the cards!

While of course you always hope to pull nice cards.. on the other hand, while on vacation I had no penny sleeves or top loaders with me. If I lucked into a "sick mojo hit" I would be stressed out over getting it back home in mint condition. (And of course I'm not going to wait until I home to open the box.. I want that sweet vacation pack rip action!)

Some solid base cards. I don't have strong feelings about the 2020 Topps design. Could be better, could be worse. Looks like a rejected Bowman design.

Plenty of Padres in my hanger box (plus Ian Kinsler, not pictured). Tommy Pham is a guy I recently added to my list of guys I collect in the wake of him joining San Diego over the offseason. He seems like a cool dude. (Feel free to help me kick off that PC by sending over any available Tommy Pham cards you got.)

Pulled a pair of parallels, with a rainbow foil Randy Arozarena RC and a vintage stock Jason Kipnis #'d 67/99. Where's that one Indians collector on the cardsphere run off to? I've been building up a lot of Cleveland cards to send out.

These Turkey Red cards are a little anticlimactic without the neat texture of their predecessors, but I was stoked to pull the Soto, plus Yelich is a guy I collect.

More inserts, with all 4 here being keepers for me.

So, nothing jaw-dropping, but on the plus side, I didn't have to worry too much about the cards bumping around on the loooog flight back home (5.5 hours on the plane-- brutal)
Still, a fun break that bared several cards I can use in my collection.

A great thing about being gone for a week is the big mailday waiting for you when you finally arrive back home. This is a glorious stack of cards from eBay and collector buddies. Looking forward to the "xmas morning"-like experience opening all this stuff very soon, but that'll have to wait for a future post.



  1. Nice photos. That Banyan tree is cool. Good luck on the homebuying. I found that the years I had spent haggling over baseball cards was useful when it was time to buy a house (or car). Don't be afraid to walk away if you don't get your price.

  2. Glad you had a good trip! That goat place looks like fun. Who doesn't love little baby goats? I'm way too chicken to ever get on an airplane so I enjoy the virtual tour of Hawaii.

  3. Man, I need to get to Hawaii. Looks like an awesome trip, glad you had fun. Cool story about Babe Ruth too. Looking forward to seeing what’s in that giant stack of bubble mailers.

  4. Looks like you had a good trip. That mail day looks like a nice treat after a long flight!

  5. This is the closest to Hawaii I will ever get. First I don't fly at all, second couldn't ever afford it. Enjoying the pics to take me there! Glad you had a great trip and to come home to a nice stack of mail days

  6. Looks like a great trip! Been a lot of places, but not there yet. On my list though. Looking forward to seeing what other gems awaited you in that stack of mail!

  7. Great photos, glad you and the Mrs were able to have a nice getaway. Way to represent the card community, too :) The '85 inserts are awesome, I love the Griffey. The Indians fan I think you're thinking of is probably David/TribecardsM.

  8. Looks and sounds like an awesome trip. Haven't been back to the Big Island since the early 90's... but I enjoyed my trips there as a kid. I'm sure one of these days I'll make it back out there... but my anxiety for flying has to be addressed first.

  9. when traveling and you end up with a card you want to protect, a handy option is to put it inside the pages of a book

  10. The sights/views are great, and the weather was obviously awesome, so it sounds like a fun trip. Who knew that kids pulling fire alarms was still a thing? Oh, and I don't envy the prospect of buying a home in Portland at this point and time, as that is not going to be cheap!

  11. the pic of you and your wife kayaking is wonderful! what a beautiful place! I haven't been but hope to go one day. thanks for sharing these pics!