PARADISE FOUND

20 04 2010

We have just spent the past five days in Hawaii. We originally added our stop to the islands as a way of breaking up the trans pacific journey and to help reduce jet lag but we wound up having an amazing time. We arrived in Honolulu late Thursday evening and picked up our rental car. We drove around for several hours visiting the city and the area around Waikiki. We continued on to Pearl Harbor where we got a few hours of sleep in the car. We got an early start on Friday and visited the sights around Pearl Harbor including touring the USS Bowfin (a WWII era submarine), the USS Missouri (a navy battle ship) and of course the final resting place and monument to the USS Arizona, one of the many ships lost during the attack that led to the US entering WWII. The Arizona was the location of the single greatest loss of life during the attack with over 1100 lost. The wreck was left as a monument and tomb to those who perished during the attack.

After a sobering morning we headed back to the airport to catch a flight to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. We arrived in Hilo around 5pm and picked up yet another rental car. This time we spoiled ourselves a little and opted for a nice new red Mustang convertible. We picked up some provisions in town including something I wound up really enjoying called Poke. From what I gathered Poke is raw Ahi tuna or other fish mixed with various things like sesame oil, garlic and avocado then served over warm rice. The store had a whole variety available and we took a couple of types to go. We then drove towards the southern end of the island where we met up with a friend of mine, Jeremy, and his wife Brandy and her Daughter Ashley for dinner at a place called Shaka which apparently turned out to be the southernmost bar in the United States. From there we went to a little cabin in the town of Ocean View where we would be staying for the next couple of days. The cabin was really interesting afectionatly named “The Shack”. It was built around a water storage tank and had a small wood stove, a kitchen, a lot of windows and was surrounded by lush vegetation. The owner had been building and adding on to this place as well as three other structures on the property and had done a lot of stone work as well as planted a garden and made a fish pond.

On Saturday we drove to south point and walked out to the southernmost point of land in the US. We then hiked about two and a half miles to a secluded little green sand beach. This beach is one of the few places you can access the water and swim along the southern coast as most of it is very rugged and usually has pounding surf. After swimming for a while and getting thoroughly sun burnt, we both forgot the sun tan lotion, we headed back to our cabin. After getting cleaned up we took a ride up the west coast towards Kona Coffee country where we stopped a few places and had quite a few delicious coffee samples. That evening we had dinner at Jeremy’s house which we followed by a Jam session playing Rock Band. We had a great time with four of us playing drums, guitar and bass as well as singing vocals. Justyna even took a turn singing.

Sunday took us to Volcanoes National Park. We spent the morning hiking through rain forests and lava fields as well as exploring a lava tube. The main caldera was emmiting a high amount of gases while we were there and had forced the closure of part of the loop road and all of the hiking trails to the floor of the crater. We also drove the Chain of Craters road all the way down to the coast where we had a picnic and took a short walk to where a recent lava flow had crossed over the road before heading into the sea. It was pretty wild to walk on land that was not there five years ago, on a planet where geological changes take millions of years this was something  quite unique. We finished off the day back at the cabin with dinner and a bottle of wine by the fire place.

We woke up early on Monday as we had a big day planned. We intended on driving a loop around the whole island and we also had a couple of chores to complete before we departed for Asia.  We packed up and said goodbye to our cabin and headed north towards Kona again. First stopping at the painted church, a wonderful old structure with murals and paintings on every wall inside. We then stopped at a national historic monument which contained restored structures from the kings rule in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. It was beautiful , located in a sheltered cove surrounded by palm trees and surreal blue water.

From the monument we planned on visiting Haipuna which was named the best beach in the US by Conde de Naste. We turned down a side road and found a absolutely stunning cove with white sand contrasted by little out croppings of black lava rock and of course the amazingly clear blue water. It also had a lot of trees sheltering the beach from the wind which happened to be quite fierce just up the hill in the parking lot. We spent some time just relaxing in the water and swimming around. We even saw some Green Sea Turtles swimming among us. After we left we drove up the road only to discover that we were not at the right beach and happened to stumble on what was really a fairly unknown local beach. We decided to check out Haipuna and found that it had no shade from the intense sun and was being blasted by the wind, it was almost vacant. Our little mistake turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip to the Island.

From the beach we continued up the coast and stopped for lunch at a nice little sea side restaurant before heading to the very northern end of the island. We drove through some little towns, ranch land, and rain forests before coming to the end of the road at a beautiful overlook into a rugged valley that led to the ocean. From there we headed back south and decided to take the Saddle Road towards Hilo which passes between the two largest volcanoes on the Island, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. We took a short detour up to the visitor center on Mauna Kea at 9000’ where we where way above the clouds.

From the visitor center the road continues to the summit but is reportedly very rough and steep and they recommend a four wheel drive so for once I decided to give my rental car a break and skip the drive this time around. From Mauna Kea we drove back down to the coast near Hilo and then headed south to where the most recent lava activity was located. It was after dark so we walked the half mile or so to a  viewing area. We were still a quarter mile or so from the flow but there was quite a bit of activity. The rangers said it was the mast activity since last November and within two days it would reach the viewing area and it would have to be relocated. One of the neat things we discovered was that where there was a crack in the crust of the lava bed in the viewing area you could feel a lot of heat emanating from the tumultuous forces at work not too far below the surface.

After our visit to the lava fields we headed back to Hilo to the Airport where we spent another night in the car in preparation for a very early flight. This flight from Hilo to Honolulu would be the first of a long string of flights to get to Hanoi in Vietnam which will amount to about 36 hours of continuous movement. I am writing this update on the plane from Honolulu to Tokyo, the second leg of our journey. It has been very confusing trying to figure out what time it is as sometime during me writing this I believe we went from 11AM today to 11Am tomorrow. Try to figure this out it is 3:32 PM on Tuesday in Honolulu right now and 10:32AM on Wednesday in Tokyo. I ask you should I be tired and did I just skip a day of my life if I did will I get it back? Well I hope you are as confused as I am.  One thing I do know is that I showed up in Hawaii with few expectations and fell in love and plan on returning one day in the future to explore this island paradise more.

I will try to add pictures when I get somewhere with more reliable internet connection.

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One response

22 05 2010
Jeremy

Hey Travelers! Great seeing you both. Hope the trip is going well and by the posts, I say it is. Stay safe and we hope to see you two again when you return to the island. Rockband awaits!!!

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