Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Big Island Of Hawaii: Photographic Evidence

The black sand beach was beautiful in person, but in this picture it looks like an asphalt parking lot. Punaluu is on the southern end of the island. We drove there prior to visiting Volcanoes National Park. Giant turtles swimming near the shore are the main attraction.

Black sand beaches are rare in Hawaii so visitors are discouraged from taking any of the sand home. The same is true for the green sand beach but, after being knocked over by a wave, I took about a pound back to the hotel in my ass.

Here's Brian parked at Laupahoehoe the site of a deadly tsunami back in the '40's. There's a memorial nearby paying tribute to the two dozen children who perished in their classroom. Very sad.

We put 950 miles on our rented Alamo Jeep during our ten-day trip. On day eight, we met a fellow Alamo Jeep renter who expressed disappointment in the company's policy of not allowing their vehicles at certain parts of the island. Nobody told us. The guy at the counter only told my husband how to get out of the parking lot. So, of course, we took the car all the places we weren't supposed to go. Ignorance is bliss.

The top of Mauna Kea was one of the places we weren't supposed to drive. At 13,000 feet, it's understandable why Alamo wouldn't want anybody to drive up the windy dirt road. We stopped at the visitor's center for the mandatory 30 minute acclimation period but, apparently, it wasn't enough. At the summit, we both got dizzy, got back in the car, got out of the car, snapped a couple of pictures, got dizzy again and decided to drive back down before we died. But, seeing the giant observatory up close was exciting even though we were terrified and sick the entire time.

This road was open until 1990 when Pele created a major detour. The sign is actually kind of funny considering the giant mound of approaching lava was probably a good indication that the road was closed. This was also once the site of Hawaii's most famous black sand beach until it disappeared. Pele giveth and Pele taketh away.

Everywhere you go in Vocanoes National Park there are signs that say "Lava Flow June 1976", "Lave Flow March 1964", "Lava Flow October 2004." Pretty scary. I half expected to see a sign that said, "Lava Flow In Fifteen Minutes."

This is as close as you can get to Pu'u 'O'o, the current, active spatter cone, while in the Park. Afterward, we drove back towards Hilo and headed down Route 130 to get a better view at night. It was a regular party! Parking attendants directed us to our spot, vendors set up tents and about 100 people grabbed their water bottles and flashlights for the hike towards the coast. Seeing the lava explode as it hits the water was truly spectacular. It's such a pretty shade of red. Sadly, our camera was not up to the job of capturing its beauty.

Waipio is one of the prettiest spots on the island. Only 4-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed to drive to the bottom but, since we now knew that this was off-limits to Alamo, we chickened out and chose to walk.

Hiking down was fine. Hiking back up was torture. A mile doesn't sound far but it might as well be a marathon when you're walking at a 30 per cent grade. We would walk for a minute then rest for 90 seconds all the way up. Towards the end I think we walked for 45 seconds and rested for a week and a half. My calves may never forgive me.

This is the view from our balcony at the Hilo Hawaiian. At the end of the bridge is Coconut Island which was packed with locals during the Memorial Day weekend. It was a very serene setting compared to the crashing waves outside our window in Kona. Both have their merits. At night we would drink coconut rum and guava juice while watching the water. Okay, sometimes we did it in the afternoon as well.

Scroll down a few posts to see some pics from Kona.


Paul Ogata said...

"I'll never understand why Hawaiians insist on eating rice and potato salad together. It's just wrong on so many levels."

If you're ever at Zippy's on Oahu, you can order a spaghetti plate lunch with rice, macaroni salad AND garlic bread. And you can wash it down with a sugary fruit punch. (No actual fruit is involved in the making of the fruit punch.)

808'ers love us some carbs.

Glad to hear you guys had an awesome time.

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