Denise Goldberg's blog

An experience on two feet instead of two (bicycle) wheels
Denise's 2004 adventures in Hawaii

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Home again...

I knew that coming back to late fall would be a shock, and it was...

The flight home was long but uneventful, and I'm having my usual west to east time adjustment issues. I was absolutely exhausted when I got home yesterday just before 5 PM, no surprise given the combination of the time change and the fact that I was only able to get short naps on the plane. Unfortunately that exhaustion disappeared once I tried to fall asleep; I was very glad that I took today as an extra vacation day so that I could sleep in a little bit.

Pictures...
I've scattered a few photos through my blog entries, but you'll need to go to my Hawaii 2004 photo gallery to see most of them. There are actually six sub-galleries so you can pick and choose which area of the island you're interested in. At the end of each day's entry I included the photo gallery link for that day. Of course there is some overlap since I have 9 days of pictures and only 6 different galleries.

Maps...
Curious about where I was wandering? There are two maps that I highly recommend if you're planning your own trip to the Big Island. The first is "Map of Hawai'i The Big Island" by University of Hawai'i Press, and the second is the Trails Illustrated (now National Geographic) "Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park" map. Both are excellent maps and are plastic coated - and both have survived my use through multiple trips to Hawaii.

What's next?
I have a feeling that I'm not done with Hawaii yet, but I think I need to dream of a different place to visit next year. I wonder... if I plan more than one trip for 2005, will I convince myself I need to return to Hawaii that soon?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

One final day in paradise - for this trip, that is!

It's the end of daylight savings time in most of the country - but with pretty close to 12 hours of daylight year-round, Hawaii never switches to daylight savings time. No time change here... I'll just have to remember to change the clocks when I get home tomorrow. I meant to change them before I left, but somehow that didn't get done in my eagerness to start my vacation.

One of my early morning tasks was to check on the availability of an end-of-the-day shower. My intent is to stay here all day and enjoy a last day on the beach, but I didn't like the thought of getting on an airplane covered in salt and sunscreen. As it turns out, there is a locker room near the pool, so I'm all set. It's funny, but I never knew that it even existed.

I started the day - again - with the breakfast buffet. I've been feasting on fresh papaya here, and I think it will be a bit of an adjustment to go back to less access to these wonderful tropical fruits. As usual, I had my camera with me at breakfast and I was trying to catch the crazy birds that flocked to tables as soon as the diners got up. They didn't really cooperate. I took a couple of pictures, but I have my doubts that any of them will turn out. That's part of the fun of the digital camera - no processing fees, so I just keep snapping away. Of course I'll have to pick which pictures to upload for sharing since there is no way I'm going to subject everyone to looking at 500 pictures!




Don't you think he is posing for me?


After breakfast I headed out for a long walk, starting on the grounds of the hotel, and then wandering off onto a trail that leads south from here. I thought I’d check out Hapuna Beach, but before I reached there the trail became so overgrown that I decided to turn around. There’s always that little issue of finding the way back. It was time to head back, check out of the hotel, and move to the beach for the rest of the day.

It was overcast day, but I still sat under an umbrella (when I wasn’t in the water that is) at the beach. After all, there’s no sense in coming home with a sunburn from the last day of the trip. The water was much calmer today; the strong current from yesterday must have been hiding somewhere else today. The sun came out at the very end of the day, then after a half hour show it disappeared behind the clouds again. Still, it was a nice end to my day at the beach.


magic sky


A relaxing dinner at the hotel followed by one more walk was a nice end to the day. I left for the airport a little after eight, and found something interesting on the road. There were reflectors embedded in the pavement - yellow down the center line, white on the right side of the road, and red on the left side. It was a very dark night, so the reflectors were a nice touch on a very dark road. Of course they wouldn’t work too well at home – they’d probably get ripped out by the first snow plow the barreled down the road.

It was Halloween at the airport. All of the American Airlines agents were wearing witches hats and had sparkles on their faces. Oh wait, it was just the women. I wonder why the men weren’t playing too…

Funny, I actually saw some people at the airport who I had met during my stay here. One was a woman I met last night while we were both watching the manta rays. She was in Hawaii with her husband who currently needs some assistance in walking. He was in a wheelchair at the airport, which could be a bit difficult for boarding a plane since in Kona you actually walk up a set of steps (mounted on a truck) to get into the plane. Not a problem though – the airline staff took him to the back of the plane to one of the "food" entrances and lifted him aboard with one of their magic trucks. That worked! I spoke with them again when I got on the plane myself through the normal “people” entrance, and they were both delighted with their special treatment.

The plane we took back to Los Angeles is a turnaround flight. In fact, it was the same flight that I took to get to Kona just over a week ago. Maybe I’ll manage to be on this flight again in the not too distant future. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I would have been happy to stay in Hawaii!)

Photos for today can be found in my Kohala Coast and Bugs, birds, and just for fun! photo galleries.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A historical park, a botanical garden, petroglyphs, and the beach!

Today started with a fabulous breakfast buffet that was included with my room. A hint - if you plan to stay here, join the Prince Hotels guest program. They knocked extra money off the (still very expensive) room, plus they threw in the breakfast buffet with the room. My table was outside, so I could enjoy breakfast and bird-watching all at one time.

After breakfast I headed to the concierge desk to get some infornation. The woman working there was filling in at the front desk when I checked in yesterday. She impressed me by remembering my name this morning - that kind of memory for names must come in very handy when working in a customer service position at a hotel. It turns out that her father owns the last house on the road to Polulu Valley, so I walked right by his house yesterday. He also owns a cabin a couple of valleys over from there with access only by foot. That sounds beautiful.

My first stop for the day was the Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Park, which is just a couple of miles up the road. The rocks that were used to build the Heiau were ferried from the Polulu Valley - which was where King Kamehameha grew up - by hand. A line of people passed the rocks from one to another until they reached the site of Pu'ukohola Heiau. The distance? By road, following the shore line, it is about 24 and a half miles. A straight line would be shorter, but a straight route from there also crosses over the Kohala Mountain range. I wonder where that line of people stood. And it turns out that the statue of Kamehameha in Kapa'au is a duplicate - actually the original - of the statue in Hilo. This one was lost at sea and damaged, but was placed in the area of his home after it was recovered and repaired.

A bit further up the road was the Pua Mau Place Botanic and Sculpture Garden. I didn't even notice the sign for the place yesterday, but then again I was ready to stop for the day by the time that passed it. The garden included some beautiful plants, but I was a bit surprised that they had an extensive watering system there. It would have been more interesting to me if all of the plants were those that survived in desert conditions. The sculptures were fun - big sculptures mainly of bugs - dragonflies, spiders, bugs!




A big bug...



And flowers too!


My next (and last) wandering stop was at the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve. This was actually on the grounds surrounding the Mauna Lani Hotel, and as it turns out there was also a historical park on the other side of the hotel. One was enough for me today though. It was a seven tenths of a mile walk to see the petroglyphs, and it was marked as such. But just after I left the parking lot I passed an area with some reproductions of petroglyphs. I wonder how many people don't realize that these aren't the real thing and turn around to go back to their cars. It was definitely worth the walk. There was a large section of rock containing a large number of petroglyphs - probably a larger area than those I saw in Volcanoes National Park. It's likely that it was also easier to miss the petroglyphs in Volcanoes NP because the lava was darker in color. The petroglyphs here looked older and more weather-worn.

Before I headed back to the hotel, I stopped to fuel the car, and to pick up some food for lunch - it wasn't an energy bar day today! After lunch, it was time to hit the beach. Hmm, my second to last day in Hawaii is the first day I spent any time at all on the beach. That might surprise some people, but it’s totally in character for me.

I really got a kick out of the little sparrows hopping around at the beach - I assume that they were looking for food. Sorry birds, I don't have any food for you, but I'd love to take your picture. Unfortunately most of them moved to fast for me and my camera…

Saturday night is clambake night at this hotel. I was lucky enough to catch this wonderful meal here during last year's visit, and tonight is a repeat performance. Yes, it's outrageously expensive - then again so are the rooms here - but for a change I don't care! My two-day stay here is a perfect (and relaxing) end to my vacation. I was pretty careful not to overeat because I knew I wouldn't be happy later. I was still able to have freshly made Caesar salad, lobster, shrimp, clams, and assorted vegetables. After a quick view of the desert table which contained many interesting cakes and pastries in addition to ice cream, I opted for a make-your-own ice cream sundae. I have to say that it was really funny watching the kids at the dessert bar. One boy had two large plates full of sundae toppings - and I'm not sure that he even had any ice cream hiding under there.




Another attempt to capture a beautiful sunset


After dinner I headed out for a short walk, ending at the edge of the ocean to watch the manta rays. The hotel has a spotlight pointed into the water at a spot where they gather at night – I suspect the light attracts the fish that the manta rays like to eat, but I could be totally wrong about that. It was fascinating to watch, and to me they are ugly, beautiful, and graceful at the same time. I know that sounds like a strange description, ugly because of its gaping mouth, beautiful and graceful because of how it glides through the water. Amazing…

Photos for today can be found in my Kohala Coast and Bugs, birds, and just for fun! photo galleries.

Friday, October 29, 2004

From the east to the west - the Hamakua Coast to the Kohala Coast

Ah, another day in paradise... ending the day at my last home away from home for this trip makes me realize that I'll be heading back to the northeast and to fall weather in the not too distant future - but I'll be sure to enjoy as much time as I have here.

I left Hilo this morning at a little after 8 - after I got a little hung up trying to get to Rainbow Falls. It turns out that one of the main roads out of town - the road leading to Saddle Road (which I was not trying to take) - is switched from its normal 2-way road to a 1-one road going in the direction that I did not want to go for what I guess is the getting to school rush hour. It was close enough to 8 AM that I just waited out the direction change. I wanted to see Rainbow Falls before I headed north, and although there was no rainbow across the falls, they were beautiful.


Rainbow Falls


Speaking of Saddle Road... Jean and John are staying at a B&B in Hilo for 2 nights - I really wonder what they'll do to keep themselves busy today. Then they'll be camping for 1 night north of Hilo before heading back to the west side of the island. All John had to hear was that the rental car companies don't allow you to take their cars across Saddle Road for him to decide to take that road! The rental car contract specifically says that the contract excludes driving on Saddle Road. From my understanding the road is in good shape from Hilo to the Mauna Kea turnoff, but is in bad shape from the turnoff to the west. What I've heard is that the road was really torn up, and when it was repaved only a single lane down the middle was paved. It's possible that the road is no worse than some of the one lane two-way roads that I've driven on this trip, but I suspect it is either rougher or that it's harder to reach via tow truck. The rental car maps also try to exclude a few other roads - including the road to South Point. I conveniently ignored that warning since it wasn't mentioned in the contract.

Time to head north. What's that? A 4-mile scenic route off the main road? I have to say that I should know better. I took the scenic route, and although there were a few views of the ocean, most of the road was in the trees so the views were no better than those from the main road. I learned that roads marked as scenic routes often aren't more scenic than the main road many years ago, and that little fact is still true. Oh well, at least this one was relatively short! After that little detour I headed off the main route again, this time to visit Akaka Falls. If there was any question in my mind about why I didn't stop there on my bike tour last year, there isn't a question any more. After the turn inland, the road seemed to go up and up and up. The falls were beautiful, a long and narrow drop - well worth the side trip in a car...

After my waterfall diversion, I continued on highway 19 (remember, it's only called a highway - it's really a 2-lane road) to Waimea. From there I could see the top of Mauna Kea, still snow-capped and bristling with telescopes. Then I switched to the Kohala Mountain Road. I don't know the exact elevation of Waimea, but I believe it is between 1200 and 1500 feet. I remember Kohala Mountain Road from biking it last year. I wasn't able to take as many photos as I wanted last year because I hate getting started again on that kind of uphill grade. Unfortunately, there weren't too many places to pull a car over on that road either, so many of the photos are still in my head. The high spot on that road - I think - is just above 3000 feet. As I started the downhill portion I could see Maui rise above the ocean in front of me. Beautiful.


Cactus, and I believe that's Mauna Kea off in the distance


At the end of the road I took a new turn for me and headed back to the east. My destination was Pololu Valley, which is a hike from the end of the road. It's a significant drop down into the valley on a steep trail. I wish I had checked my watch before heading down because I suspect that it took me as long to walk down the trail - or maybe even longer - as it did for the return uphill journey. I've always preferred hiking uphill because it seems like my feet stay where I expect them to. On the way down it's a little easier to step on a rock that decides not to stay still. I did check the time on my way back up, and I was surprised to see that it took about 15 minutes of solid uphill walking. It felt longer than that, probably due to the heat and the sun. At the bottom was a black sand beach. The edge of the beach was a layer of rocks, and the area just inland was forested. It might have been interesting to walk up the valley a bit, but it was clearly marked as private property. There were sheer cliffs dropping to the ocean on both sides of the beach. I think there was supposed to be another trail leading up the cliff on the east side of the beach, but I didn't try to find it. I figured just hiking down and back up once was enough for the day.


Pololu Beach


When I passed through Kapa'au on the way out to Pololu Valley I noticed a couple of galleries, so I stopped there on my way back through. The woman in one of galleries asked if I'd just come from hiking up from Pololu Valley when she noticed the sweat still rolling off of me. Then she offered me a bottle of water, which I definitely accepted. It turns out that she goes out there often with her teenage son who is training for something by running up and down that trail. I did end up buying something there, but not because of the water!

On to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel... I'm back again to the sound of crashing waves to help me sleep at night. I just love that sound. It's not as loud here as at the Kona Tiki the first 2 nights, but it is certainly a noticeable and soothing sound. At this place there is a choice since you can get a mountain view room as well as my choice of an oceanfront room. And it could be very easy to be spoiled by the service in this hotel. (I think that even my sister Suze would find this place acceptable, and that's saying a lot!) I was greeted with a treat of fresh papaya and apple bananas when I got to my room, and it was definitely time for a snack! (Apple bananas? They look like a smaller version of regular bananas - I'll have to look up where the name came from, but that will have to wait until I get home.) My snack urge satisfied, it was time to wash off all of that sunscreen with a shower - this place has great water pressure and immediate hot water - a first on this trip. I rinsed out clothes before I headed out - remember, I only brought 2 sets of everyday clothes with me. I hung my clean clothes out on the balcony to dry (yes, they were definitely out of sight!) and left the wet towels in the bathroom. I headed out, and when I returned to the room later not only was the bed turned down but the wet towels were gone and replaced by clean ones. Spoiled? I think so!


One of those beautiful tropical sunsets... it's amazing how fast the sun just drops into the sea


Tomorrow? I plan to do some wandering and walking - but I'm also planning to spend some time at the beach, really a first for this trip.

Photos for today can be found in my Southwest coast, Hilo, & north to Waimea and Kohala Coast photo galleries.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's raining... no, there's the sun... no, it's raining...

It's funny - I was sitting in the living room last night checking out my plans for today when Jean and John got back from dinner. They didn't find the recommended "meat and potatoes" restaurant and ended up at the Thai place too. We had a good laugh, then sat around for another hour talking. Time for sleep...

I woke this morning to a sunny sky - the first early morning sun since I left Kona. It may not last, but it's a nice way to start the day. I checked the weather forecast last night, and scattered showers are forecast for the remainder of my stay here. The graphics that the National Weather Service shows during the day looks like scattered showers but the graphics for overnight look like solid showers. The descriptions are the same though.

Breakfast was a real winner today - pancakes with macademia nuts, eggs on the side, and of course a starting course of papaya and bananas.Yum, again! I found out a little more about this marvelous B&B over breakfast. It turns out all of the water in the house is rain water. Robert has 2 large holding tanks at this house, and 3 more at his house, all connected together. The water flows from the roof into the holding tanks. And the hot water (and the front gate) are powered by solar energy. Interesting.

Today started with a circuit of Crater Rim Drive by car, with a bit of hiking thrown in. It was a beautiful morning in the park with sunshine interrupted by fluffy white clouds, a good day for crater viewing.


The rock in my hand is big, but it's very light volcanic rock with lots of air holes in it! (And yes, I did leave it in the park - I don't need Pele casting a bad spell on me.)


One more circuit of the park, then it was time to head downhill. That was my first rain encounter of the day. Downhill towards Hilo, a little rain, ah, it's dry again.

The morning had just about disappeared by the time I hit the outskirts of Hilo. I turned south to explore the Puna area. On my first trip to Hawaii many many years ago I actually drove south from Hilo, around the southern coast, then headed north into Volcanoes National Park. It's not possible to duplicate that drive any more since lava flows covered the road and destroyed all of the houses in that area in a 1989-90 timeframe, but I thought it would be interesting to drive along the piece of that coastline that is still accessible. There's a triangle drive - heading south of Hilo on route 130, branching to the left onto route 132 and following that road almost to the coast. Next pick up route 137 and follow that for quite a few miles until the road dead-ends into lava. Then follow route 130 back to Hilo. It was an interesting drive. I thought I was done with those one-lane two-way roads for this trip, but I was wrong since a good portion of route 137 was a single lane. This time there was no lack of space to pull to the side though - much improved over the last couple of one-lane roads that I drove. Well, much improved except for the sign "Road Floods During High Tide". When is high tide? Oh, it must be over, but look - there's a puddle on the road. Most of the road looked like it was safely away from the ocean, but a small section near that sign was very close to the water.

I stopped at one very interesting park that had a pool that looked like it was fed by the ocean - but it was a hot pool. I felt it, and the water was definitely warm. The ocean spilled into it, but it definitely was warmer than the ocean water. There were a few people lounging in the warm water in spite of the warning sign about eels. What a beautiful spot!


Yes, it's definitely a hot pool.


I drove to the end of the paved road, then walked ten minutes south across lava to a beautiful black sand beach. The ocean in this area doesn't make bathing beaches though - the water was very, very rough. That was a spot for me to get soaked by rain. When I headed out on my walk there were clouds in the sky, but there was also blue above. When I reached the beach it just started pouring. I thought about turning back at that point, but I didn't want to leave yet so I waited out the rain. I was pretty wet by the end of it, but between my carrying (and using) an Aquis travel towel and the very strong wind I was almost dry again by the time I got back to the car. People have been carrying coconuts down to the beach and planting the sprouted nuts - so there is the start at new coconut palms at the boundary between the black lava and the black sand. It should be be even more beautiful as the new trees start to get taller.


Here's one of the very young coconut trees (or should I just call it a plant?)


Time to head north towards Hilo. I turned onto route 130, and it started pouring again. It stopped and the sun reappeared before long. I found the Wild Ginger Inn after asking 2 different people. It's just north of downtown, and within walking distance of restaurants. It's what I expected - a basic place to stay in a great location. I headed out to explore a bit - and got stuck downtown by the rain. I waited it out staying dry this time since most of the downtown area right on the waterfront has sidewalks covered with an extension from the buildings. That's handy. And I managed to get a few pictures of an absolutely amazing rainbow. I only managed to get part of the rainbow in my photos, but I could actually see both ends in the bay. Beautiful.


I wish you could see how beautiful this rainbow really was...


Dinner tonight was at Cafe Pesto - pizza, not another repeat of Thai food tonight. I had a Greek pizza - a pizza crust topped with feta cheese, yellow and red peppers, and fresh spinach. Excellent!

Now I'm sitting in my room listening to the rain - which nicely waited until I got back here to start yet again - and the chirping of frogs, crickets, and who knows what else that lives in the wooded area behind the hotel. Well, in Kona I had crashing waves all night, and here I guess I'll have chirping bugs and animals! And I'm hoping that tomorrow is a repeat of today from a weather standpoint - some rain is fine, but hopefully I'll get some dry time too.

Photos for today can be found in my Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Southwest coast, Hilo, & north to Waimea photo galleries.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A visit with Pele's earlier creations...

The day started with a wonderful breakfast - papayas and bananas to start, followed by quiche. Good food, and good company too. There were 3 couples here along with me - all 4 rooms were rented last night. One couple was from France, one from the Seattle area, and one from Cincinnati. Between the seven of us and Robert - our host - we had some enjoyable breakfast conversations. Of course we woke to rain again, which gave me an excuse for a slow start. By just before 10 the rain had pretty much stopped and it was time to go exploring.

I have to say that this wasn't my best energy day of this trip, but I still managed to hike for about 3 and a half hours so I guess I shouldn't complain. I started with a hike to Pu'u Huluhulu in the Mauna Ulu area. It started by crossing some lava flows from 1973 and '74, and it was a really good thing that the park service had marked the trail with those small yellow highway markers. When you're hiking across lava it doesn't really wear down to allow you to easily see the trail, and without the yellow markers I imagine it would be very easy to end up wandering much further than you intended to. In addition to the little yellow rectangles there were periodic piles of rock. No problem navigating, and the end of the trail was actually up and through a wooded area. It's amazing how different it was from the area I walked through yesterday - lave that's 30 years old vs. lava that's only one year old.


Better watch where you walk out here!


After finishing up, I headed back uphill to Crater Rim Drive. This morning I had seriously considered hiking into Kilauea Caldera after my visit to Mauna Ulu. That hike is 3.5 miles one way, and I was thinking of doing not the one-way and return, but a loop using another set of trails. Still a long way any way that you look at it. From an energy standpoint I decided that wouldn't be a smart move - and I don't really think it would have worked for me first thing this morning either. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next time I visit this park! I wanted to take a quick jaunt through the Thurston Lava Tube, but when I passed the parking area there were several tour buses there so I went a bit further to the Kilauea Iki Overlook. I walked from there back to the lava tube, and by the time my feet got there the folks from the tour bus had disappeared. Good timing! I actually had a solo walk through the lava tube. I only walked through the section that was lit since I hadn't grabbed a flashlight when I left the house this morning. So the lava tube was my tourist move for the day. I walked back to the car, and headed for the starting point for the Byron Ledge Trail, which is part of the trail that is in Kilauea Caldera. I figured that even though I wasn't going to do the whole trail that I'd wander down part of it. I don't know why it still surprises me, but as soon as you head down one of the longer trails, people just disappear. So I had a solo walk down that trail too. I probably headed down about a mile before I decided it was time for my return trek. Again, I crossed over a section that was what I guess you could call sandy. You could tell where others had walked before, which was a good thing since the trail was missing those handy yellow markers. And again, I ended up in a section that was covered with trees and ferns. Beautiful.

Before I headed back I walked to the Sulphur Banks where there are bright yellow deposits and steam rising. And warning signs about sulfur fumes not being good for people with certain health problems. And I loved the warning sign about cracks in the earth!


Funny that this sign was along a paved trail!


I stopped early this afternoon - early enough for a relaxing time in the hot tub. And soon it will be time to head out for dinner.

Tomorrow is a traveling day, but I don't have to go too far. I'm staying in Hilo, which is only 28 miles from here. As long as the weather cooperates I'll probably start my day with a little more hiking in the park before I head downhill to the rainy side of the island.

A bit later...
I almost had dinner somewhere other than the Thai restaurant. I was going to go out with Jean and John - the couple from Cincinnati - until they decided to head to a place that was described as an "all American cafe" with meat and potatos type of fare. That sounds like not my kind of place, so guess where I ended up! Of course - Thai Thai one more time. The restaurant staff recognized me from last night and I had a nice chat with one of them. And I had another excellent dinner, Panang curry with shrimp. If I were still going to be in Volcano tomorrow night I have a feeling that I could happily eat there again.

I was very lucky that I grabbed an umbrella as I walked out of the B&B on my way to dinner. And I was equally lucky that the B&B supplies umbrellas for the guests like me to use. It has been raining every so often all day long, and true to form it was raining again when I left the restaurant. It wasn't a heavy rain - more like a very heavy mist - but I would have been soaked by the time I walked the half mile back to my home for the night. (Walked? Yes, walked. Somehow I can't convince myself that I need to take a car to go to a restaurant that is as close as that one is!)

Photos for today can be found in my Hawaii Volcanoes National Park photo gallery.