TUESDAY, Feb. 4 Leaving Baker City
|Clear roads amid the snow fields heading west to Portland.|
|Tucker performed for us!|
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5
Plane Trip to Kona....Arrival!
Plane Trip to Kona....Arrival!
A restless night. I think I am excited! Smooth drive up to the airport, Rick grabs a couple of breakfast burritos at MacDonald’s while I eat one of the yogurts I brought along. We board around 7am – seats 19A and B, right over the wing on the left side of the plane. It is full!
As we left, we could see all the Cascade peaks in the morning sunlight. First Syt. Helen’s and then Rainer came into view from behind the southern mountain. Then Adams, Hood, Jefferson, and the Three Sisters. With the strong East wind we departed heading East first, so our views of the mountains were amazing.
|St. Helens and Rainer as we leave PDX.|
It has been a smooth flight so far. A few bumpy patches. Rick closed the window on the plane as the bright sunlight was getting hot and directly in our eyes. I drew a little, watched the animated movie, How to Train a Dragon, wrote my morning devotional and got started writing here. A little soduko and reading rounded out the flight!! Rick watched the movie Skyfall on his Kindle. Luke got us all set up with plenty of viewing pleasure for the flights! We snacked on food we brought along, although the Hawaiian Pancakes they were serving for $6 smelled pretty good.My seat mate is a postman from Illinois, transplanted to the Islands over 20 years ago. He is flying HOME to his story (He came over to Portland to watch the SuperBowl with his son and family ….proudly wearing his Seahawks shirt back!) I later check on the internet as he and his wife have a vacation rental ( Hale Maluhia - Peaceful Place. His name is Ken Smith and their place looks amazing! As we neared the Kona airport, we pumped Ken for information about places to see, good fish sources, etc. As an ex-postman, he KNOWS the town!!
|Mauna Kea with its white cap.|
|Walking off the plane at|
is set about 12 miles north of town on a flat strip of lava land along the edge of the ocean. The 'airport' is casual - no expanding walkways to the plane here.....walk down the ramp!! Everything is so open air. We get our luggage and discover we have to take a shuttle bus over to the car rental place. Half hour later, we leave with our little silver Madza sedan! Down into Kona to the Walmart to pick up a few groceries and then to find the Wydham on the south side of town.
|Cruise ship in harbor.|
|Beautiful hedge leaving airport|
|Ging and Rick on Kona beach|
We were up at 4:30am Pacific time, so it will be an early turn-in tonight!!
|Our bedroom at the Wydham resort|
|Rest of condo|
|View out from deck toward pool area.|
THURSDAY, February 6
Cruising South Kona Coast!
VIEW PICTURES SO FAR HERE
So...it isn't until 10:45 when we finally head south to explore the Kona coast south of town. I can't believe the amount of traffic is on Ahi'i Drive!! If this is the 'uncrowded' side of the 'uncrowded' island, I will NEVER go to Honolulu!!
|Guide shows fresh picked|
|A gecko at the coffee farm|
|Cherry skin and slimy bean|
|Staggered coffee trees, fresh stumps on left.|
In to the gift and sample shop to taste some chocolate macademia nut coffee as well as just macademia nut. Liked the latter better which was surprising. Bought a few gifts and then headed up the hill to the Historical Society which bakes Portuguese Sweet Bread in an old fashion stone oven on the grounds. Might have bought some, but the last batch out didn't get quite done enough so they were pulling it! It is not as exact a science when coals are used!
|Small bird near bay!|
|Bread coming out of the|
On down the highway (speed limits are around 45 or 50 max - it is a winding road! We have pulled up to about 1500' above the beach, the lava flows creating amazing hills and cliffs. We cut down shortly after leaving Greenwell Farms to visit Kealakekua Bay and a bite to eat!! The road is windy and steep as it drops DOWN to the reef and rocky beach park. We sit on the sea wall and eat lunch. Captain Cook's burial site is across the bay. At the park is a Sacred Ground from Kamehameha one time home.
From the bay we head south on a narrow road through a flat lava plain toward the City of Refuge: Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Site. This is where people who broke Kabu in any manner -whether trivial or critical - could seek refuge and be absolved of their crime. It is a point of lava reef, filled with white sand and lava outcroppings, palm trees, and ponds. Little remains of the original thatched structures, but replicas have been built. Many of the original wood statues remain.
|Sea turtle under water!|
This is a turtle site - and I did see one in the tidal pool, but it never surfaced, so really hard to see. We discovered tilapia breeding pools, where the eggs are laid in round depressions, and then the males kick the female out and guard the eggs themselves (the females will eat them). The Honaunau Bay is filled with swimmers, snorklers, etc. This was a fascinating place to see!
|Tidal pools and palms at |
City of Refuge
|The ki'i guarding the refuge|
UP from the beach we travel to find the Painted Church Rd. I wanted to see the St. Benedict's Painted Church - a miniature Gothic chapel covered with paintings of the Bible and Christ. The ceiling was sky blue and palm fronds! Back of the chapel is open with lattice work to the west - the ocean breezes flow through!
|Ceiling front of the Painted Church|
|Buddhist shrine and bay|
One of the most unique aspects of the garden is the Galaxy Garden - a floral interpretation of the Milky Way Galaxy, exactly replicated in scale. Hibiscus flowers mark various solar systems within the Milky Way, red rock individual stars, etc. It is all very complicated. I expected plantings about waist high - I was lost in the midst of hedges and flowers over my head!
As I began walking through the spiral galaxy garden, I received a phone call from Mauna Kea Summit Adventures! They had a cancellation for Monday night! So....in light of the pending poor weather for Friday night, I made the decision (since Rick was in the car!) to ok the change. It paid off to get ourselves on a waiting list!
Time to head home! Rick is getting hungry. We stay on the main highway 11 back up to Kona, amazed at the traffic as we near town. Quick stop at Safeway to pick up dinner makings (Frozen Shrimp Scampi dinner for two plus salad for me and sweet tater fries for Rick), then back to condo.
|Medicine Wheel at Peace Gardens|
|Palm reflections in pond at City of Refuge|
|Flowers in front of St. Benedict's Painted Chapel|
FRIDAY, February 7 Exploring the North Island - Cowboy Country and More!
|133 mile Loop Trip to North tip of Hawaii|
View pictures from today
Another day in paradise! Today's weather was still going to be marginal...am I secretly hoping to find that Mauna Kea cancelled tonight because of the weather??? It is overcast in Kona as we head out around 9:30am to explore the northern tip of the island. Views out toward the ocean are limited, and the peaks themselves are not visible of course! But....we find the drive fascinating as we wind gradually up to the 3,600' level on the flanks of the northernmost volcano - now extinct. We pass over lava flows as recent as 1859, some from Mauna Loa and other from the smaller Hualalai (the 8200' mountain just east of Kailua-Kona).
|Dry bunch grass on the lava slopes.|
|Near Waimea, this hill was the training|
ground for the Iwo Jima soldiers.
At Waimea we head slightly northwest to Route 250 which travels the spine of the volcano down to the town of Hawi on the north coast. What a beautiful road!! We hit our high point and clouds, and then dropped down into sunshine, and GREEN fields and rolling hills of grass. Sheep, cattle, and yellow flowers everywhere. So rich in spring green colors.
|Along Route 250|
|Above Pololu Beach|
Back into Hawi to find Luke's Place, a little cafe Rick found in one of the guidebooks. No luck. After searching for it and another place, we give up and find the Sweet Potato Kitchen. Outdoor eating, totally vegan, and cash only. Rather quaint, so we try it out! I had a salad sampler (with only 2 of the 3 choices, because the Quinoa one wasn't ready yet!) Rick had a beeT steak (not beeF) with gravy, sweet taters, and wilted greens. We ordered a lemon sweetgrass tea and a lilikoi drink, which is Hawaiian for passion fruit. Pretty good stuff!
|Beautiful artwork at the NHS...this|
story of Kamehameha reminded us of Moses!
Today I got some answers to some of the plants we have been seeing. I identified breadfruit (ulu), the noni plant, and I now can identify plumeria trees!
|This is breadfruit.|
Realized I forgot to pick up a waterproof disposable camera today, so we are bound for Walmart early in the morning before heading down to the Seaquest dock for our trip!
Dip in the swimming pool and a relaxing evening!! Aloha!
|Along Route 250, a clump of flowers amid the barbed wire.|
|Overlook to the Pololu Valley and beach.|
SNORKELING the Tropical Coral Reef
View pictures from today
Up early this morning to arrive at Wal-Mart at 7. I pick up two cameras at $10 each, figuring I can take one back if I decide not to use it. Traffic is sure better this early in the morning! We head south on 11 and take
|The Seaquest 'Office'|
|Yes, Rick, this is retirement!|
|Steve explains something with Hualalai|
clear in the distance.
What a great experience! I had a little trouble breathing through my mouth ALL the time, but figured it out with a few breaks to clear my tube. I had the underwater camera strapped to my wrist. Probably shot half the film in the first 10 minutes!! Overwhelming at first are the yellow tang fish - about 4 inches in size and everywhere! And then gradually you start noticing all the other varieties. Black with white stripes, orange stripes, black stripes, etc. dark with white polka dots. We saw a turtle right off, and later Rick saw another up at Kealakekua Bay. A long skinny fish, called a Coronet or Trumpet fish and a needle fish. I loved the silence of the water, with the background sound of the crashing waves on the lava reef rocks.
|Our first cave south of Honaunau|
|Captain Cook Memorial|
|The 'blow hole'|
|Red Hill Monster|
Traffic back north on Ali'i Drive was horrible, passing the very popular Kahalu'u Beach. It took us nearly 25 minutes to get back to the condo, putt putting along at about 5 -10 mph.
An afternoon relaxing and talking with Moms on phone, doing a load of laundry!
|Our spot at Bubba Gumps for dinner|
|Sunset in the palms|
So ends another day in paradise.
(I will take my underwater film in to Walmart tomorrow and see what we get! In the meantime......)
|Most common fish we saw: a yellow tang fish|
(NOT my picture!)
|200 miles around the Big Island today!|
SUNDAY, February 9
Volcanoes National Park and More!!
View today's pictures
What a gorgeous and glorious day!!! We took off around 7:45 to take the extra waterproof film back to Walmart and get the other roll developed. Had to take the film to Long, but by 8:20 we were on our way south toward Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park! Time to get another stamp for my passport book!!
|West side of island: Wait! |
I thought we went
to Texas LAST spring!
These are long-horns!
|Lava flows along road|
|South end of Big Island. You can barely make out the wind turbines.|
|Mauna Loa in the distance.|
We arrive at the Visitor Center around 10:40 (it is about 94 miles from Kona on a somewhat windy road!), check out the displays and gift shop, and watch a very good movie on the 1959-60 eruption of Kilauea Iki. We learned a few new things about how these eruptions have happened. After a quick bite to eat at the car, we then drove out the Crater Rim Road to its temporary terminus at the Jaggar Museum overlook. (Much of the SW side of the crater is closed currently due to sulphuric dioxide fumes that drift in that direction from the vent.) The vent from Halema'uma'u was pouring out plenty of steam/smoke.
|Steam pours out of the Halema'uma'u vent. View from Jaggar Museum.|
|I was not expecting a lush|
forest around the volcano!
|Tree palms lined the|
|Tropical orchid RIGHT|
before we drop into crater.
|Just before we hike across the lava lake.|
It is warm crossing the lava beds. What looked flat from up on top is rift with fissures, cracks, mini cinder cones, and sink holes. On one side we find what appears like it might have been the main vent that much of the lava sank back into. A variety of plant
|This plant is a common|
'first responder' after a flow.
|Last view of Kilauea Iki crater with the ahu cairns marking our way!|
|Entrance to lava tube from|
|Inside the tube|
The time is 3 pm and we decide to call it quits at Volcanoes and head north toward Hilo and a bite to eat!! I drive this short 30
|Hilo parks were lush!|
|Check out my little|
purple squid on top!
It is getting darker, so to have any daylight to see parts of the Saddle Road, we opt not to visit anything else on this road and head up Road 200
|Mauna Kea summit!|
|Hualalai and the setting sun.|
The last 30 miles into Kona isn't the most fun - narrow road, headlights from traffic in our eyes. But we make it back around 7:30pm.
|Sunset and the 'Shaggy" Cinder cone amid the saddle road.|
|Hualalai on the left and the islands in ocean clouds.|
MONDAY, February 10
Mauna Kea Summit Adventure!!
|Fan palm tree!|
View today's pictures
Ah! A morning to relax! I arise early and find a text from Luke, so decide a phone call is in order as soon as my coffee perks!! I go out on the patio to talk as the world awakens. It didn't cool down much last night. Muggy out!
|An amazing hibiscus flower|
|Plumeria blossoms in morning sun|
|Waiting by Buns in the Sun|
We grab a light meal, drinking plenty of water as advised by the tour company prior to ascending to 14,000' and meet our group at 'Buns in the Sun' bakery around 2pm. You can readily identify everyone going as the only people wearing long pants! It is in the 80's and no need for that otherwise! I pick up my underwater pictures from
|Our route for today - up the coast and back downmountain.|
Probably due to the recent cancellations and sudden great weather, Summit Adventures has schedule two vans for tonight and we are full! We luck out again and get what we consider the better of the two drivers, Jim. He keeps up an interesting monologue of Hawaiian history, geology,
|Lava fields and lower half of|
|Mauna Kea from the Saddle Road - lava flow|
We stop at the Mauna Loa lava flow up on the saddle. We are now above the clouds and it is beautiful. Oceans of puffy white below us. Mauna Loa still has a few clouds lingering higher on its slopes, but Mauna Kea is crystal clear!
|Good pahoehoe flow!|
|Visitor Center at Mauna Kea|
|Cinder cones and flank of Mauna Loa - clouds|
|The Visitor Center amidst the cinder cones. Looking down from summit road.|
To discourage 'average Joe tourists' from making the drive to the summit, the road is unpaved from the VC for the first 4 miles or so. It is graded three times a week, but still very wash-boardish and rough. The top 3 plus miles are paved, partially to maintain the clear skies around the observatories. I can't say I was disappointed when we got back on the paving!!
|Red cinder cone and clouds of east side.|
Jim was a fountain of information all the way to the top, where he then gave us a detailed account of all the telescopes. There are 13 up here, the maximum according to the manager, University of Hawaii. For more to be built, some have to come down. That is currently happening in a couple of places to make room for another bigger and better! There is an interferometer, as well as non-
|Summit 'scopes in the setting sun|
|View west - snow and sun on clouds.|
It was cold up on top and I was glad of the jacket. I didn't put my gloves on because they are way too big to operate a camera and my hands were cold by the end!! We also called Jed from the top....good reception!
|Interferometer on top|
Our sunset the night before was actually more impressive in terms of light on clouds. Tonight the sun just sun below the band of clouds. I loved the reflected light on everything else! Gradually the sea of clouds lit up from below, and as we descended the mountain, it looked like a giant crater with a lava glow. Pretty cool. I think my best pictures from the evening will come from the Smartphone's panorama mode, which I can't seem to get to load to the laptop. Will have to wait until we get home to post those as well. :(
|Couple of the summit 'scopes|
|Hualalai Volcano, sun in the west, and edge of telescope structure.|
Back down to the VC for a quick (ha!) bathroom break before our group goes off to a secluded star gazing spot apart from the crowd. Only three stalls for women so the line was LONG, as all the groups are down here right now. I finally took the initiative to close off the men's bathroom for awhile to speed things up! The guys could wait for a few minutes!!
|Sunset glow that LOOKS like the lava glow!|
|Hello you big ol' moon!|
Around 9:20 we head down the mountain. This has been a wonderful experience and the fact that we don't have to drive back down in the dark makes it even better! I have to confess I nod off a couple times on the trip back. Jim is available to answer questions, but he basically leaves the van in quiet on the descent. We arrive back in Kona shortly after 10:30. The fog wasn't nearly as thick tonight as it was Sunday evening.
ADDENDUM next morning. This is why you post....so your children can help you out! Luke walked me through getting my panoramas from the SmartPhone to the computer this morning. So....even though they are 'out of order' I'm just going to put them here!
|Mauna Loa from the south|
|Kilauea Caldera and Halemaumau Crater|
|Kilauea-Iki Lava Lake just as we enter. Rick is on far left.|
|View south from mid-way point up Summit Rd on Mauna Kea. Flank of Mauna Loa in distance,.|
|Telescopes on summit of Mauna Kea from the Cal-Tech building just below.|
|Sunset from Mauna Kea summit|
And now....the one vertical picture I took at the City of Refuge last Thursday!
|Palm tree reflections are TALL pictures!|
TUESDAY, February 11
View today's pictures
|One more NHS to visit!|
|The NHS beach near harbor.|
|Fish walls at the NHS|
|We ate out on the patio grotto deck|
in back of Quinn's.
|I loved the yacht masts at the sailing club!|
|Plumeria blossoms - smell soooooo good!|
|Rick picked plumerias (off the ground!) to|
take this picture in front of hibiscus flowers.
It is really warm and muggy today - air quality poor because of the vog coming around from the south. We head indoors for the bulk of the afternoon to pack, catch up and relax. I spend time downloading and organizing some pictures! Will venture out later for sunset and a last stroll down Ahi'i Drive!
Late afternoon, Rick took off for an exercise walk south and about 45 minutes later, I headed north to check on the street vendor and to take sunset pictures. We were in luck! The vendor was back! Picked up a gift for Luke and then wandered back taking pictures as the sun dropped down. It wasn't a smashing sunset tonight, as the orb basically fell down into a cloud. But the cloud had some unique formations which gave a little interest!! It was beautiful anyway!! And I wanted to get down on the beach for one last look see!
THURSDAY, February 13
I missed a day in there, but it has taken us two days to get home! So now I write safely curled up in my living room in Baker City, having helped Rick clear the snow off the trailer as we removed the cover (prior to additional storms in the next few days!) Yes, we are back in winter!!
However, Wednesday morning was warm and humid as we packed up at the condo, cleaned things up, took out the garbage and recycling. Around 10 we turned in our keys and headed north to tank up the rental car with gas, purchase Subway sandwiches to eat for lunch and dinner.
I took a few pictures of the rental, just to verify the gas tank was full, etc. but they checked us off fine and provided a shuttle over to the airport where we got the big suitcase checked. We had about an hour to kill before going through security, so we went in to the Ellison Onizuka Space Center which is located at the airport. Basically a children's museum for space flight, in memory of Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian astronaut and one who grew up in Kona. A retired high school science teacher is in charge of the displays and she has done a great job in a very compact space! It cost $6 for both of us to enter, but it was air conditioned, so worth it!
|Beautiful Alaska plane!|
|Plane wing tips|
Dave was there to pick us up and we spent the night at their house. Airport service is working out well since Liz has to fly out in the morning. We will take her to the airport on our way out of town!!!
.....up around 6:30 Thursday morning to hear that I-84 is closed due to a rock slide near Hood River. Ugh, but no complaints since the weather otherwise looks like a good travel day to head east.
|Columbia Gorge from the Washington side!|
|Mt. Hood from bridge|
Home around 2pm!!! Thus ended another great trip!!!
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