Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Last Few Days

Hapuna Beach State Park.
The final three days of our visit to the Big Island were filled with shopping, eating and a bit of exploring.

Our exploring took us from Kailua-Kona up Hwy 19 to Hapuna Beach State Park area. We looked around there a bit and checked out a couple beaches and then we drove on to Waimea where we stopped for coffee and a leg stretch.

This drive took us through lava flows to the cattle ranching part of the island. The big ranch in this area is the Parker Ranch and it covers over 250,000 acres on the Big Island. We tried to figure out if we were related to the Parkers just so we could maybe secure a few acres of the ranch for a little vacation spot, but it didn't work out.

After coffee, we followed Hwy 190 back around to where it completed the loop and we returned home.

Waimea is a neat town. It looked to be really clean and had a good vibe. About mid-week, Linda and I had met one of the former students from ASNIC, Katie Hruska, for coffee. She now lives in Waimea and met us in Kailua-Kona at Ola Brewing. It was good to see her again and we got some really good info on living in Hawaii. We have decided that we probably can't afford to live the Hawaiian lifestyle, especially on our fixed incomes.

Thursday was snorkeling and shopping day. We spent the morning in the water swimming with fish at Kahalu'u Beach Park. We all enjoyed this area and agreed that the snorkeling area had the best fish viewing any of us had experienced.

Our afternoon was filled with shopping and goofing off. Later in the evening Dale and Judy took us out for my birthday dinner at Jackie Ray's Ohana Grill. We had a great dinner and the food was fantastic!

A historical site near our condo. Ancient house foundation.
Our final day was spent shopping and eating. We walked the main street and enjoyed the sunset from our favorite little restaurant, Island Lava Java. Then when we got back to the place we played our nightly games of Skip-Bo (which Linda won again), packed our suitcases and went to bed.

We were up early and finished packing as we ate breakfast. Linda and I were leaving first so Dale and Judy dropped us off at the airport right around 9:00 AM. They were not leaving until about 2:00 PM so they went back into town, had coffee and hung out.

Linda snorkeling at Kahalu'u Beach Park. 
We checked in with Alaska and went through security. At our gate, we settled in with plenty of time before our flight was to leave at 11:20 AM. As we neared our boarding time the Alaska folks started getting antsy and then we heard that our flight had been delayed. Information was limited, but the scuttlebutt was that there was a malfunction and parts were being sent from Honolulu. The flight was officially delayed.

We waited, and waited. As time passed passengers were called up to the desk and flights were rebooked due to missed connecting flight. Linda diligently kept track of all this and when it was clear that we would not make our connecting flight she went into action. Not only did she talked to the super nice Alaska agent, but Linda also connected with our travel agent from home, Sue, who looked us up and found that Alaska had gotten us switched to another flight though no one had let us know that. The Alaska agent checked flight status and booked us on an outgoing flight to Seattle and then got us connected to Spokane. We would arrive in Spokane later than planned but we would get there in a long day of travel. Linda and the Alaska agent confirmed the flight changes and rearranged our seating so that we were sitting next to each other throughout the flights.
A lizard eating at Jackie Ray's Ohana Grill. 

I then contacted our neighbors, Steve and Jodi, asking if they were available to pick us up. We had previously made plans for a friend, Rayelle, to pick us up but we had asked her to change her pick-up plans several times and didn't want her to be out so late with work, family and all. Once again we turned to our neighbors who came through and got us home.

Our luggage didn't fare as well, but on Saturday at noon a van pulled up to our house and dropped off the two bags that had made their way through Portland to Spokane.

We are all caught up on the "get home" stuff and even though we are tired all is well. Hawaii was a wonderful adventure and great fun with Dale and Judy! We thank them again for the wonderful invite to explore another Hawaiian island. Now back to the snow. Aloha!
My free birthday cake.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Āina ake akua i noho ai

The first thing I must make perfectly clear is that there is no flowing lave in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park or anywhere on the Island of Hawaii. This was made known to us by the million signs distributed throughout the Visitor Center and by listening to conversations between the Park Rangers and the tourists who failed to read the million signs taped everywhere and the notice they got as they entered the park. The poor park employees!

Kailua disappeared in our rearview mirror as we made our way up and over the island to the Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park. The drive was about 80 miles of volcanic rock mixed with lush green grasses and small trees. It is so different than any place we have been before. The stark lava flows are like the area we went through down in southern Idaho by Craters of the Moon National Monument, except for the lush greenery. The colors contrast greatly. The long drive doesn’t seem as long because you always have something to see.

Akaka Falls.
From the top of the pass we dropped down into Hilo, Judy and Dale had warned us that this was the wet part of the island and that they had never visited without it pouring down rain their entire visit. The highway was wet, but the sun was out and we had bluebird skies! We drove north through Hilo and out along the ocean about 15 miles where we turned left and wound our way to Akaka Falls State Park.

As the park title implies, Akaka Falls is the centerpiece of the short hike. Boy, was it beautiful! This area exemplifies exactly what I think of when I daydream of Hawaii. We walked the cement path and took a hundred pictures of the flowers, plants and waterfalls. This stop was well worth the drive!

From the lush rainforest of Akaka Falls, we retraced our route back through Hilo and then on south into the stark lava flows of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Our first stop was at the Volcano House where we ate lunch overlooking the huge crater. Dale and Judy had been here several times, and they were amazed at the new size of the crater. In the recent months of activity, the crater had more than doubled in size and many of the viewpoints and drives no longer existed. The volcanic activity has drastically changed the face of the volcano and the park.  It was amazing!

After lunch we went to the visitor’s center where we witnessed tourists, standing next to signs and flyers, asking the poor park rangers the same question, over and over. “Where is the lava flows?” It was obvious that they had not read the flyer given to them at the entrance, nor taken time to read the signs and printed posters explaining that due to the huge eruptions and changes in the volcano, there now is no flowing lava in the park or on the entire island of Hawaii. We shook our heads and began our exploration of the Park.

Beautiful bamboo.
We drove as far on Crater Rim Drive as we were allowed (not very far – this road disappeared after the eruption and following activity) where the earth slid away and took photos of the crater. There are steam holes everywhere around the area and the park crews have place cones and warning signs around most of the close ones.

Next, we drove the Chain of Craters Road down to the ocean and out to the end of the pavement. There we walked to the Hōlei Sea Arch.  We had a laugh when Linda couldn’t find the arch by looking north. It turns out that the arch was just below her and she was basically looking in the wrong spot.

We drove back up the Chain of Craters Road, stopping at the craters that Dale suggested were best. This park is a very hard place to get good photos. Everything is very large and the base colors of gray and black make it very interesting but the camera does not do it justice.

When we finished the park tour we drove southwest following the highway in the direction to the southernmost point where we had been the day before. Along the way we stopped at a black sand beach and explored. There were four Green Sea Turtles basking in the sun so we were able to take some photos before we got back on the road.

We hooked up with the highway that we had driven down and back to the southernmost point in the US. This took us back home, our day at the volcano behind us.

Āina ake akua i noho ai - Land where the goddess dwells. 

Kilauea Iki Crater.
Steam venting from Kilauea Iki Crater.

Linda taking a steam bath near the crater.

View from top of Chain of Craters Road. 

Looking north from Hōlei Sea Arch.
Lava flows have wonderful designs.

Hōlei Sea Arch.
Nene, Hawaiian state bird.

Pauahi Crater.
Black sand beach.
Four Green Sea Turtles basking in the sun.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Southernmost Point

Fishing from the clifts at Ka Lae.
The southernmost point of any state in the United States is at Ka Lae Point.  We drove there this morning following State Route 11 (Hawaii Belt Road) 50 miles leading to a paved narrow road which wound 12-miles to the point.

A brave young girl jumps from the rock face
as Linda watches a safe distance from the edge.
Ka Lae in the Hawaiian language means "the point".   Locals fish from the cliffs using live bait which they hook and toss into the water. Then they hook a plastic garbage bag filled with air and taped tight and attached to the main line. The bag is pushed offshore by the wind dragging the bait with it. This process took the bait out well over 100 yards. I have never witnessed anyone using this technique before.

I read that a confluence of ocean currents just offshore makes this spot one of Hawaii's most popular fishing spots.
Spearfishing at the base of the cliffs.
Fishing poles set with bells to alert owners of a catch.
A memorial to a lost loved one.
On the southernmost point looking northeast.
Rocks and ocean break at the southernmost
point of the US.
Looking northwest from the point.
Panorama of the southernmost point in the US.