It finally happened…we woke up this morning and saw LAND!!!! I was sorely disappointed that someone didn’t yell LAND HO over the ship’s speaker system after so many sea days, though. Shouldn’t that be some kind of maritime law?
We were up early to get off of the ship as soon as possible on the island of Hawaii. We grabbed a quick bite in the buffet (have I mentioned that I am really enjoying the availability of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon every day) and headed to the exit ramp. After a short wait, we were off of the ship and stepped onto the soil in our 50th state. Yes, Hawaii became the 50th state (in 1959), but I mean OUR 50TH STATE. After today we will have road-tripped in all 50 states! I feel like it is an accomplishment, but I also feel blessed to have been able to sample a large part of our beautiful country. We hopped the shuttle over to Hilo airport and picked up our rental car to hit the road.
Since everyone on the ship would be heading south to the volcano, we decided our first day would be north. Hawaii is a pretty large island, and we’ve got two days to explore it all. Our first stop was Akaka Falls. Just beautiful! You can see the falls from the parking lot, but it’s worth the walk down for a closer look. The foliage is incredible with orchids, bananas, and a huge variety of flowers everywhere. There are a couple of secondary falls, the best of which I could not get a picture of because of the lack of light in the lush undergrowth. It was beautiful, though. A flat wall of rock with water sheeting down it into a beautiful pool in the shade, surrounded by ferns and orchids. It was off of the path, so we couldn’t get
back there, but you could feel the air flow and it must have been 10 degrees cooler in that little oasis. It was HOT, and the humidity made it VERY steamy, but we still enjoyed the sites. Walking around in it a bit gave us a true appreciation for the AC in the car, too!
On the way back to the main road, we stopped to get water. The market was not air-conditioned and was HOT. I have no idea how that guy sat in there all day! Maybe your blood really does adjust. (Throw a little menopause into this picture, and I might very well implode!)
We continued north, enjoying the scenery. Gorgeous views are everywhere. We went through Weimea, which appears to be a really cute town, then took the Kohala Mountain Road up to Kapa’au to find the statue of King Kamehameha. The road went through the mountains and had some great ranch views. The north end of the island is loaded with cattle and some sheep. There are several very large ranches there with thousands of acres in cattle. After visiting the King, we followed the Akoni Pule Highway south. There just doesn’t seem to be a direction without amazing views, but they have changed drastically from the east side of the island’s jungle look. This area is mostly low grasses with sporadic trees and lots of rocks. We stopped at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company where we checked out the operation and bought some samples and gifts.
Back in the car, we started looking for lunch and ended up at A-Bay Grill, which was in a resort shopping area with Tiffany’s, etc., near Kimolo Bay. I had their specialty Mai Tai, and it was GOOD! MW checked out a local brew, and we both sampled the fish tacos. Honestly, best tacos we’ve ever had! They were made with fresh mahi-mahi and handmade corn tortillas with a spicy sauce. Seriously the BEST!
By the time we were through, it was time to head back to Hilo. We drove through the middle of the island on HI190 and HI200. Today has been
very cloudy in the mountain areas, and we couldn’t get a look at Mauna Kea and some of the other peaks. We did get to see a LOT of lava, though. It is really amazing. Some of the lava fields called Aa (ah ah) look like someone came through with giant bulldozers and broke it all up into rocks. It is supposedly very sharp, and will cut you up like knives if you
fall into it. Then there are other ones called Pahoehoe (pah hoe e hoe e) that look like thick pudding that just dried as it was spilling across a counter. There are lava areas on Hawaii that are hundreds of years old, and others from just a few months ago.
Back on the east side of the island, we stopped at Rainbow Falls (another beautiful spot) before heading to Target to pick up sunglasses as I seem to have lost mine. We turned in the car and took the shuttle back to the ship.
After resting for a little bit, we went to the buffet cafe to watch the ship depart. While sitting there we saw a manta ray swimming below us. It must have been pretty big, because the cafe is on the 14th deck, and we could see it very well. We also saw many flocks of white birds and three people out in sea canoes. The ship pushed off and headed out of the inlet, and we had dinner, then went back to the cabin to watch a little TV and relax.
More pics from today:
Today we were up early again, ate a quick breakfast, and caught the first tender headed into the dock at Kailua Kona. When the ship is unable to pull into a dock, it anchors in the bay and transports the passengers to shore on the lifeboats, called tenders. In a HOT environment it is a miserable operation! You have to sit around and wait for them to cram 120 people in while you feel like your skin is melting off. Ugh! It does give you a feel for what it would be like to abandon ship (without the panic factor, of course), although then they would be shoving 150 people in. I’m not sure where those other 30 sit, because we are practically in each other’s laps on the tender.
Enterprise picked us up pretty quickly and got us into our rental, then we were off to explore the south side of Hawaii. We started out heading across the middle of the island on the same road we drove yesterday. What a difference today…no clouds and great visibility. We could see the top of Mauna Kea, which is the tallest point in the state at 13,802 feet. They apparently get snow and can ski there in winter sometimes.
Mauna Loa could be seen off in the distance, too. It is interesting looking because, while it is one of the three active volcanoes on the island, it erupts through various blow holes that look like pimples all over the mountain. It was hot as hell when we left the port, but what a difference when we pulled into the park at Mauna Kea…73 degrees, breezy, and NO humidity! The road takes you up above 6,000 feet, which accounts for the drastic temperature change. That was the first time we were really comfortable since arriving on the island. If I had to live in Hawaii, that parking lot would be the spot! I don’t think I noted yesterday that there is a military training area near Mauna Kea. Some smart person checked the weather when they chose that location! You can actually drive to the top of Mauna Kea, but we didn’t have time, thoughI would make that a must-do if you plan to go and it’s a clear day.
On the east side, we found a post office to mail cards to Booger Butt and Mom & Larry, then continued south on HI11 past Hilo and went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Sadly, we left our national park pass in the truck back in Washington, so we had to pay for entry.) Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center to get the lay of the land. After a little guidance from a park volunteer, we checked out the steam vents and the view of the crater from there. Seriously, there is no real way to describe this! It was amazing. There is steam coming up out of the ground in several areas, and the smell of sulphur is pretty strong in places. Despite the media coverage on the mainland, there are no active lava areas on the island now, and you cannot see anything glowing. In fact, the lava lake that was in the mouth of Kilauea for years and has shown up in all kinds of movies is now just a large black lava area, although they do say that it is still warm if you walk across it. From the pictures and info at the park, the most recent “eruption” didn’t really erupt. Seams opened up in various places and lava leaked out. The first seam to break open was in a neighborhood, but the lava was not flowing out fast as we mainlanders were led to believe by the news media. Next we headed to the other side of the large crater and drove down Chain of Craters Road looking at the various eruption sites for a ways. Since we were concerned about our time limit, we only went part of the way, then turned around. This is amazing scenery and sometimes very contradictory in the same area…lush plants and stark lava flows.
After exiting the park, we headed over to Punalu’u Beach to check out the black sand. It is really interesting, Unlike typical white sand which is little cubes, this sand’s texture is more like tiny balls. It is very smooth to walk on. The water also feels great! Back in the car we continued north to Captain Cook where we stopped in at Patz Pies for a Hawaiian pizza…yum! We enjoyed the weather and the view from the patio while we ate, then pointed the car back to Enterprise to turn it in and get back to the ship.
Once aboard, we cleaned up for dinner followed by a little blog work. At 9 PM we went down to the theater to watch an acrobatic show similar to Cirque du Soleil. They were terrific. There were three guys and a girl, and one of the guys had arms like Thor! He could toss that girl around like a rag doll. She had an abundance of strength and guts, too! When the show was over, we turned in, exhausted from a long day.
More pictures from today:
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