Hawaii 2005

Hawaii 2005

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Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19
Day 20

Day 1 - Saturday, 15October2005

Travel day. And quite a long one at that. We left home around 1030 and flew out of Atlanta around 1445 after a bit of a delay due to a cargo weight computer malfunctioning. We did not find out until we got to the airport that we actually had a 2 hour layover in San Fran (we were told it was a nonstop flight when we booked it and our tickets said nothing at all about a stop). It's not that I mind layovers, I just don't like surprise layovers. In any case, the first leg of the flight was unexciting. We watched Fantastic Four and got a couple of small snacks. We got to San Fran and sat around for a couple of hours before re-boarding and departing at 1810(lt). We were probably about an hour into Batman Begins on the second leg of the flight when one of the flight attendants came on the speaker to ask rather urgently whether there were any doctors aboard and, if so, to please hurry to the front cabin. A few minutes later, she came back on to ask for any IV nurses on board. And a while after that, another announcement for anyone who might happen to have some prescription drug in their carry-on luggage. Once we landed in Honolulu, the paramedics were waiting to come on board and take two passengers off. It was pretty interesting. You see movies where they ask if there are any doctors in the house and you think, when does anyone ever say that? Well, it turns out that it actually does happen. There were a couple men that rushed forward from our seating area when the first announcement was made. I'm not sure what kind of doctors they were. I thought it was a shame that the couple seated in front of us on the first leg had gotten off in San Fran because I had heard him talking about getting paged by the ER and they were supposed to be calling his backup doctor. Anyhow, by the time we got off the plane, it was close to 2100(lt). The airport was unusual because it was all open air corridors, not a closed building. And it wasn't like you see on TV at all - I didn't see a single young Hawaiian girl giving out leis and alohas. We got our baggage and got the shuttle to our hotel and immediately went to bed at about 2130.

Day 2 - Sunday, 16October2005

The wake up call came at 0300 this morning, which was just painful. We got up, got showered, and were out in the lobby waiting for the shuttle by 0400. We were good and early for our flight so we had plenty of time to both be randomly selected for further security screening before getting to our gate. When we got to the gate, there were some very nice locals waiting to fly with us who gave us some advice on "must see" places around the islands. When we boarded the plane, it was still dark. We got to see the sunrise from the plane while flying over the islands. It was something to see. It took us about 30 minutes to get from Oahu to Maui. We landed, got our rental car, and started our journey. We decided to take it easy today and just drive the Road to Hana after a good breakfast at IHOP. The whole loop around the east side of the island was about 130 miles and took us 12 hours to drive. We got started around 0830. The scenery was very pretty and we took the time to stop and hike a couple of waterfalls. The first one we hiked was part of the Twin Falls area. We got all the way to the end of the trail and found that you had to walk through thigh-high water for the last 50 feet or so in order to see the falls. We gladly took off our tennis shoes and socks and began wading to the falls. It was at that point that we learned that we should do all of the rest of our hiking in water sandals. The water was nice but the little rocks were pretty rough on my poor sensitive feet. It took me a little while to get over all of the rocks but it was well worth it. There we stood, thigh deep in a clear blue pool of water 20 feet from the foot of a beautiful waterfall and I knew this was Hawaii. It was terrific. As we continued our drive, we passed by a grove of trees that looked like they had been painted with bright greens, reds, and oranges. Not sure what kind of tree they were, Randal said they looked like the Eucalyptus trees in Australia but those weren't colorful. We'll have to look it up later. We accidentally passed the pull-off to get out and take pics of them but we figured we'd see more down the road. We figured wrong. There were a few trees in one spot and then another mile up the road there was that grove of them and that was it. We'll probably come back tomorrow so that we can get pics of them. Luckily, they weren't far into the drive. The drive itself was nice and leisurely, with speed limits ranging from 10mph to 20 mph there was no need to rush. The curves were sharp, the lanes were narrow - signs said one lane bridge ahead but since the road was pretty much one lane anyhow, who could tell the difference. Luckily, it seems that most people travel the road in the same direction, heading east out of Kahalui instead of south - so there weren't many cars passing the opposite direction but when we did meet up with one, one of us usually had to pull to the side and let the other pass. It was remarkable to see that so much of the island is just uninhabited. Miles and miles of great coastal property and not a house to overlook it. You would never see that in the mainland states. And the few houses there are out there were really nothing more than shacks. It was interesting. Also interesting was how quickly and drastically the land changed. On the north and east side of the island it was all rainforesty. On the Southeast side, all pastureland (Hawaiian language lesson: horse=lio, cow=pipi, goat=kao, duck=kaka {ain't that the truth}). On the central south side, nothing but desert (well, desert with a coastline). We stopped for a short hike at the Oheo Gulch and at Charles Lindberg's grave (just for you, Bob). We also stopped to take some pics of a very pretty window rock in the water on the south side. We made it back around just in time to see the sun setting as we drove around the volcano. It was a great idea to spend our first day doing a nice relaxing drive. Randal also got the chance to start using his birthday gift and has decided he's never going anywhere without it again. I've got to admit, it's pretty darned useful. We had no idea where the bike place is for tomorrow morning so we called and got an address, entered the address into the GPS, and it told us how far we were, approximately how long till we got there and then beeped before each turn. We found the place with no problems even though we had to go through some little neighborhoods to get there. And since it beeped and told us when to turn, it didn't matter that we couldn't even see street signs on some of the streets. After we found the bike place, we entered Wal-Mart into it just to see if it would find one. It came up with a list to pick from and then guided us there. Too cool. Anyhow, after all of that driving, we ended up in bed by about 1930.

Day 3 - Monday, 17October2005

This morning we got up at 0245 and headed to Haleakala Bike Co. We were there by 0315 to get all geared up. After about an hour, everyone was there and we all loaded into three vans and began our ascent to the top of Haleakala volcano. We got to the top just as the colors of the sunrise started to streak across the sky. At 10,000 feet, up above the clouds, we watched the most glorious sunrise I've ever seen. It was brilliant. And it was made even greater by the fact that it was a full moon so the moon was setting on one side of the volcano while the sun was rising on the other side of the volcano. When the sun popped up through the clouds, it lit the fading moon back up and cast a shadow from the volcano right below the moon - it was spectacular! I have to say that it was by far the most worthwhile thing I have ever gotten up before 0300 for. Once the sun was fully risen and we had all taken plenty of pics and video, we loaded back into the van to go a few miles back down the road. We stopped along the way to see some nene (Hawaiian geese, close to a Canada goose). These geese were pretty neat because they live up on the volcano and are actually evolving to lose the webbing of their feet since they are no longer waterfowl. When we got to the staging area just shortly after the nene stop, they unloaded all of us, gave us each a bike and a map back to the shop and said "later". It was nice that we were able to bike back down at our own pace. It was so exhilarating to go careening down a volcano on a bicycle. After just a few miles, while we were still up above the clouds, we pulled over on the side of the road to take a few pics and have a little granola bar breakfast picnic. It was just so pretty. We continued on down, speeding around hairpin curves and enjoying the quiet morning scenery. We passed by some pipi pastures and a few lio stables and had to dodge several moa crossing the road (to get to the other side). There was no peddling until we got back into town (who turned the downhill upside down?!) and even there it was only sporadic. Eventually, our nice little bike ride ended back at the shop. We turned in our equipment and stopped at a diner in the same shopping center for some breakfast. Then we got back on the Road to Hana so that we could go back to get some pics of those painted trees (we looked them up and found out that they are Painted Bark Eucalyptus trees, Randal was right). After getting plenty of pics of the very pretty painted trees, we turned back around and began our trek to the west side of the island where our hotel for the week is. The trusty GPS guided us here with no problems but it was too early to check in. It's one of the more touristy places we stayed, right on the bay with shops and stuff all over so we walked around for a couple of hours. By the time we did check in, we were ready for a shower and bed. Ended up going to sleep around 1745.

Day 4 - Tuesday, 18October2005

This was our first morning of waking up at 0200 to start working. It was easier than I though it would be (probably because we haven't slept later than 0300 yet). And it was nice because we were working the same time as the guys back at the office. And it was good and quiet around here. I didn't even get terribly sleepy, no more than the sleepy spells that hit me every day at the office anyhow. When they hit, I got up and walked around the room till I woke back up. We have some mini wheats and apple sauce and such to snack on so we waited until after work to get something to eat. We probably won't do that again tomorrow. I was starving by 1030. We walked to get something to eat (factoid: "deluxe local breakfast" = eggs, rice, and Spam® at McDonald's - mmmmmspam {ick}) and then came back and took an hour nap. Then we got all of our snorkel stuff together and headed to Black Rock beach. Snorkeling is awesome! There were some pretty good waves breaking right at the shoreline that knocked me over a few times (yes, I did bring half the beach back in my bathing suit) but once we got about 15-20 feet out in the water, it was relatively calm. The undulation of the water took some getting used to and made picture taking much more difficult than it was in the nice calm Lake Wedowee (must learn manual focus!). We weren't in the water 2 minutes when a great big sea turtle swam under us! It was beautiful. I followed it around a bit and it swam right up in front of me, maybe five feet, it surfaced and swam back down right in front of me. It was so exciting. I tried to get a little movie clip on my camera, but really I need to master still shots before I can hope to get a good movie clip underwater. When the turtle swam away, I started looking at all of the fish. They were very pretty. But they're fast little buggers. Probably saw about 15 different kinds of fish. And the coral was very pretty too. Saw some urchins and anemones on the coral. It was all very surreal to me. After about an hour, while out there looking at coral, it occurred to me that I was beginning to feel very sick. I had been warned against drinking the salt water because it would make you sick so I had been very careful to not swallow any. I'm guessing it was all the undulating and maybe even trying to look through the camera while undulating. In any case, I felt awful and I got Randal's attention to start heading back in. On the way back to shore, ANOTHER TURTLE! I was so excited, I forgot about being sick and watched it swim around beneath us for a bit. When it swam off, I remembered how I felt and finished swimming in. It was such a great experience. We sat on the beach for a while enjoying the scenery before heading back to the hotel to shower the salt off of us. We went walking to find some dinner as the sun was setting. When we got back at almost 1900, we went to bed.

Day 5 - Wednesday, 19October2005

Another workday, another 0200 wakeup call. The good thing was that while we were out walking yesterday, Randal happened to see a menu on a restaurant advertising an Early Bird Breakfast from 0730-0830. Turns out that in Hawaii, I'm an early bird! Who'd have ever even dreamt of making such an accusation at me? Anyhow, at 0730 this morning, we put up our lunch away messages for work and headed to breakfast at Moose McGillyCuddy's. It was fabulous. And the only deal we've found on the islands yet - eggs, bacon, and toast for just $1.99. Can't beat real breakfast for two for less than $5. We finished working around 1100 and took a quick nap and then grabbed the snorkeling stuff. We first went to Airport beach (I never did figure the name out, no airports around that I could see). This beach was awesome! Ten times better than yesterday. We probably stayed in the water about two hours. There was an expansive reef, just offshore. Lots of fishies and two more sea turtles. The first one kind of snuck up on us while we were further out. He kept swimming at Randal while he was taking pictures and almost ended up headbutting him. After the near-collision, the turtle found a nice opening in the reef and went in to take a nap. Soon after that, I started to get sick-feeling again so I motioned to Randal that I was going to get out and would keep and eye on him. I was sitting on the beach maybe 5 minutes when I saw a turtle head come out of the water just offshore, less than 10 feet in. I watched him resurface about a dozen times in the same area when I finally got Randal's attention. He came closer to shore and i grabbed my snorkel and mask and met him and showed him how to turn the camera to movie mode and then we went to watch the turtle. I hadn't put my flippers on but since the turtle was only in belly-high water, I was able to stand and bend down to put my face in the water. The turtle was snacking on the reef, the algae on the reef, I assume. He was calm as could be while we all gathered around him. Then he decided to move down the beach a few feet so he tried to knock me over. That turtle probably stuck around that general vicinity for about 45 minutes. It was just too cool. We got some awesome pics and two unbelievable movie clips. From there, we went up the coast a little to Honolua Bay State Park and Marine Life Refuge. We were told we'd see better and healthier reefs there because it is state-protected. When we got there, the water right at the shore was as murky as Lake Wedowee. We had to swim out about 150 yards to get to some visible reef. I will admit, the reef was much healthier and more abundant. However, there did not seem to be as many fish and even out there the water was kind of foggy. The good thing is that Randal has nearly perfected his free-diving so he was able to get down 15-20 feet and get much closer pics of the coral and fishies. We stayed out on the reef for about an hour and then started fighting our way back in to the shore. That was the other kind of bad thing about this bay, it had a good current so the entire time we were in the water, we were fighting the current. By the time we got back to the shore, I was exhausted. We went back to the hotel, got a shower, and walked to find some dinner. We got back a little late and ended up not getting into bed until nearly 2000. Getting up at 0200 is going to be awfully rough!

Day 6 - Thursday, 20October2005

After work today, we drove up and around the northwest coast of Maui. It was a beautiful drive. More treacherous than the Road to Hana. But every bit as pretty; perhaps a bit more since it is less traveled and, therefore, less spoiled. It was very windy and most of it was one lane (not the 1.5 lane that the Road to Hana was but literally one lane). There were some spectacular cliff views of the coast. Once we made it back around to Kahalui, we set up camp for the night and are ready for bed.

Day 7 - Friday, 21October2005

We slept in a bit this morning and ended up getting up and about around 0400. We headed up to Haleakala for a second volcano-top sunrise, this time from the summit (10,023'). We got up there just in time. It was a pretty sunrise, but I don't think it was as inspiring as the first one. I actually liked the lower vantage point of the first one too because it looked like the sun rose straight out of the crater, whereas this morning the sun came straight up through clouds. It was still beautiful and peaceful and worthwhile. We stuck around after the sun came up and went up to the observatory so that we could actually get some pics looking down into the crater. And then we decided that while we were up there, we might as well hike into the crater. We started out on the Sliding Sands Trail from the summit and made our way approximately 2.5 miles in to the crater to the first cinder cone, Ka Luu o ka Oo. We walked all the way around the rim of it which was not only further around than it appeared, but also much more intimidating. The rim was relatively narrow and covered in small shifty lava rocks that made my footing feel quite precarious. Couple that with the fact that falling into the cone and falling down the side of the cone were both equal in their lack of survivability. It was intimidating, but I did make it around. And then we started our 2.5 mile hike back up out of the crater. Up was certainly more tiring than down. Down seemed like it was actually a fairly gradual descent (I generally have more trouble with down because of my knees). However, going up proved it to be much steeper. It took us a bit longer going up but we were in no hurry since we didn't really have anything else planned for the day. It was definitely good exercise. And it was beautiful in there. When we did finally make it back out to the car, it was about 1530. We started back down the volcano and then headed to the south central coast of Maui. We had a well-deserved dinner at Outback, walked around a bit, and then set up camp for the night. Though we were trying to stay up later so that we could sleep until daylight, we've ended up in bed by 2000 again.

Day 8 - Saturday, 22October2005

It was a struggle to sleep until daylight this morning but after several false awakenings, the sun was up. We headed down toward Makena which is where everyone said the good snorkeling was. Along the way, we passed through Waimea which seems to be the trendy, upscale part of the island. When we got down to Makena, we asked around to find out where the good snorkeling was and were referred to Ahi Hi Bay. When we got there, there were already several snorkelers there so the people must have been right. It was a state protected bay so the coral and fish were supposed to be healthy and plentiful. They were right. The fish were all around our ankles as soon as we stepped into the water. And the water was so nice and clear (unlike the other protected bay at Honolua state park). This was also the first water that was cold enough to make it difficult to force myself into it. Makes sense since all of our snorkeling has been in the afternoons when the water was already warmed. This was our first time snorkeling just after sunup and the water was just not warmed yet. The bay was terrific because the whole thing was fairly shallow, clear, and packed with fish. After a short while and a short distance from the shore, we spotted an octopus! He was very cool, even if more than a little timid. Every time Randal dove down to get his closeup, he ducked back into his little reef-hole. Big meanie. We floated quietly above him for quite some time watching him poke his head and/or tentacles out and then pulling back in when we tried to photograph him. It was very exciting. I haven't seen a live octopus since a fishing trip on the Banana River with my dad and brother when I was very young. I think it was my brother who caught the octopus. Anyhow, this one brought back good memories and was just plain old neato. Eventually, after Randal had swam off a little (darn him!) the little guy reached out and grabbed eight different rocks on the reef to pull himself up out of the hole. I watched him climb all the way to the top of the coral, making full use of each of his appendages, and when I finally caught Randal's attention, he ducked down into another hole. Randal was bummed that he missed the whole thing. I was too; those would have been some great pics (assuming the little guy got over his shyness). We finally left him alone and continued exploring other fishies. There were just so many of them. We even met another couple who lives in the same community we live in. A small world indeed. After a couple of hours, we decided we'd had enough snorkeling and started heading back to Kahului. By the time we got to our hotel, it had become quite apparent that we had forgotten to put on sun screen this morning before snorkeling. Now I grew up in Florida and went to the beach fairly often growing up. I have never had a real sunburn. I've gotten a little pink before but it always turns tan within a day or two. Today, I passed sunburn and went straight to scorched skin. But only on the back of me. My legs hurt, my lower back hurts, my shoulders and neck are in excrutiating pain! I cannot believe how red I am. I cannot believe how painful it is. I cannot believe I was so stupid to forget sunblock. My hubby and I are going to coat each other in aloe and then I'm going to bed and hoping that this goes away when I wake up.

Day 9 - Sunday, 23October2005

Well, since this is a happy vacation, I'm going to refrain on commenting on our night. Let's just say I know a hotel that will be receiving a letter soon. We got up around 0430 this morning to get to the airport for our flight to the Big Island. We had a short layover on Oahu but they let us stay on the plane so it wasn't such a pain. Speaking of pain, it wasn't just a nightmare. The flesh is still well-seared and quite painful. I could not stand to put on a shirt this morning so I wrapped the sarong that Jonna brought back for me when they were here around me. Sidenote: sarongs are a wonderful and magical clothing option - terrific as quick, casual skirts and wonderful for a non-shoulder/neck abrasive top. Clearly, I need a wardrobe full of sarongs. Such a shame that they aren't as accepted as clothing on the mainland. The flights were short and uneventful. We got to the Big Island, got our van, and started along the southern road. We stopped at the southern-most point in the United States and took some pics of the huge waves. We thought we were going to see a green sand beach there but the maps did not mention that it was a two mile walk to get to it and, unfortunately, we just didn't have time. Further up the road, we did stop at the black sand beach (where I finally saw some mongooses). It was pretty but really was not much different from the dark granite beaches of Alaska. We didn't stick around there long. We had a date with Kilauea before sunset. We ended up getting to Volcanos National Park around 1600 and made a stop at the visitor center for a 20 minute film and some hiking maps and information. We then headed straight down toward the coast. When we got to the parking area, we could already see the steam coming from the shoreline a couple of miles away. We donned our rain gear in order to spite the heavy rain that was battering down on us and walked about .5 mile up the road to where a lava flow had blocked the pavement. We then hiked a short distance across the piles of lava to get a decent vantage point. We made it just around dusk - still light enough to get pics of the steam rising from the sea as the hot lava flowed into the water, but just dark enough that we could already see the red glow of the lava. As it got darker, the hillside turned out to be the better show. The lava was glowing nicely up there. And even though we were still a good distance away, we could see the movement of it. Every so often we could catch a good glimpse of the glow at the sea, but for the most part the steam was obscuring it in the dark. What a great experience to see flowing lava. Granted, we could have hiked further and gotten a little bit closer, but I don't think it would have gotten us National Geographic close and we could see it well enough. Not to mention, this was our first night of really staying awake past dark so it was way past our bedtime. We sat through a few rain squalls, mesmerized by the liquid rock and after a while we turned on our little flashlight and found our way back across the other-earthly landscape to the paved road. We drove back up out of the park to a little campground down the road from the park entrance that had running water (no, I haven't been able to get that primitive yet, I like a flushing toilet).

Day 10 - Monday, 24October2005

We slept until daylight this morning (after a 0400 work-related phone call). It was nice to feel like I had slept in a little. It wasn't the most comfortable sleep. Everytime I moved or rolled, my back/shoulders/neck screamed at me. But I woke up feeling refreshed. We went back into the park to do some hiking. We stopped at a lookout for the caldera, which was neat. There were steam vents all over it. And we were able to get a good, close view of the Halemaumau crater, which also had steam vents and sulfer banks. It was a little smelly but I didn't say anything. You don't want to offend something with such an explosive temper. With some photo stops along the way to better view the lava fields, we made our way down to the Puu Loa Petroglyph trail. It was a 2 mile round trip trail over lava fields to an area where early Hawaiians drew petroglyphs into the lava. They were actually very good. Very well-defined. While taking pics of the drawings, it decided to pour on us (I'm so pleased that we carry our raingear with us on hikes). We finished looking at the rest of the petroglyphs and made our way back to the car over the now slippery lava field. We then did the short walk through the Thurston Lava tube. I was pleased with how nicely the pics show the inside of the lava tube. The last walk we did before leaving the park was the smelliest. We walked about 1 mile round trip to get a nice, close look (read: whiff) of some sulfur banks. They had some really pretty sulfur crystals which was neat but the smell was really foul. We left the park after that and made our way around to Hilo where we had reservations at a little B&B. It's a pretty comfy setup with a kitchenette so we stopped at the grocery store to get a few commestibles. I'm displeased that we have to work again starting tomorrow. It's been such a nice few days. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. A workday in Hawaii is still better than a workday in Georgia.

Day 11 - Tuesday, 25October2005

After work this morning, we made a quick snack out of some microwave frozen dinners and headed to some waterfalls. We first went to Rainbow Falls located right in Hilo. It was a very pretty waterfall. We didn't see the rainbow looking at the falls but when we walked up above them, we could see a rainbow spanning from the foot of them over the pool at the bottom. It was a beautiful area. And I was apparently there just in time for lunch judging by all of the itchy welts all over my legs and arms. Our next trek was to Akaka Falls. This was the first time the GPS has led us astray. And really, I hesitate to blame the GPS since I believe that, at one time in the not-so-distant past, that road did go all the way through. Anyhow, the GPS led us out into some little podunk pigtrail in the middle of some abandonned sugarcane fields. I'm still impressed that it knew that was a road because I never would have guessed it. After getting about 2 miles into this nowhere, we were blocked by a gate that someone had thrown up across the road. Clearly, they did not bother to update the satelites when they did this and it caused our poor GPS to suffer some humiliation. We snaked our way back out of the fields and found an alternate route. Akaka Falls turned out to be a twofer. It led us on a little loop through some gorgeous rainforest that started out with Kahuna Falls which was pretty but far away and ended with Akaka Falls which was pretty but disappointing. It is supposed to be a 420' fall but I wouldn't know it since the vantage point did not allow us to see the bottom of it. They claim that they are the most photogenic falls on the island but I just didn't see how. The trail through the rainforest was very nice but the falls were only so-so. Rainbow Falls was so much nicer, even if it was quite a bit shorter. While driving back through some more rainforest along the coast, we drove over a bridge and noticed that there was a small waterfall pouring out of what we believe to be a lava tube. We pulled over to take pictures of it and when we walked back up to the bridge, we looked down in time to see an old nekkid man walking down to the water and jumping into the pool to swim around. I was a little surprised to see a nekkid person on the side of the road like that. I did my best to pretend like I didn't know he was down there while I took my pics of the lava tube/waterfall. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure the pics are all G-rated. Randal and I had a good laugh walking back to the car. We stopped for some dinner before coming back to our room. I've been working on getting pics ready to post. Hopefully I'll get some of them up tomorrow.

Day 12 - Wednesday, 26October2005

Today was mostly a rest day. Since we are apparently on this side of the island during monsoon season and it's just been endless rain, and we stayed up until after 2100 last night trying to get pics together, it was a good day for being lazy and napping after work. Later in the afternoon, after the sun decided to come out for a few minutes, we went to a couple of local beaches to walk around a bit (waves are just too choppy to snorkel on this side right now) and then grabbed some dinner and came back. Time for bed.

Day 13 - Thursday, 27October2005

Today we confirmed that there's really not much to see on the Big Island other than the live volcano and the trails in the park around it. We drove the north loop back around to Kona and then drove almost all the way back to Hilo on the Saddle Road, between the volcanos. We went up as far as the visitor's center, where the pavement ends, on Mauna Kea but it was so cloudy it was not worth trying to get our minivan up the steep-grade, gravel road to the summit since they said there was next to no visibility up there either. We drove back down to Kona and decided to try something new to make our camping more interesting. Turns out our minivan had a DVD player so we ran into WalMart and bought a DVD. We need one of those in our XTerra. It was very neat to lay there watching a movie. And it was great surround sound, the whole van shook with bass when anything big happened. Made for a much more entertaining evening of camping (which usually consists of going straight to sleep).

Day 14 - Friday, 28October2005

We got up bright and early this morning to get to the airport for our flight to Kauai. When we got there and got our van, we immediately started driving up to Waimea Canyon. They call this the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and we were really excited about seeing it. It was every bit as pretty as they say. It was so green and the rocks were so red. Beautiful. And we saw more wildlife than we've seen on all the islands combine. By wildlife, I mean wild chickens. They were all over the place up there on top of the canyon! We drove along the canyon, pulling out at picturesque stops, and turned around once we had hit and walked around the Napali Coast a bit. I think I expected this Island to be fairly primitive since they say it is the least developed and visited of the islands. I was surprised to see that it seemed to have more and nicer towns and neighborhoods all around the coast than the other islands we've been to. For the most part, what little development there was on Maui was rundown and shackish. We had planned on hiking around in the canyon some but we were both a little zapped for energy so after spending the whole morning and part of the afternoon driving around and appreciating it, we went back down to the coast. We stopped at Spouting Horn Beach and watched a very nice blowhole for quite some time. It was really one of the better ones I've seen. or heard for that matter. And yes, there were chickens all over the beach. It makes sense, we had already been informed at the first of our trip that Kauai was the only island that the mongoose had not been introduced to so the bird population was much healthier there. I guess I just hadn't expected the bird population to be so largely comprised of cluckers/crowers. They were everywhere and we had to watch for them when driving so as to not hit one crossing the street (why? to get to the beach, of course!). As evening approached we went back to town to get some dinner and to find a place to camp. We stopped at WalMart and there were chickens all over the parking lot. As Randal accidentally dropped some peanuts that had fallen down into one of our bags, they came flocking from all over. It was a little scary. We have found our camping spot and we are getting ready to watch another movie on our very nifty vehicle DVD player before we go to sleep.

Day 15 - Saturday, 29October2005

THAT STUPID ROOSTER!!! (just for you, cousin). It was a less-than-restful night. The roosters around here were apparently never fully informed about their job description. They seem to be unaware that their job begins just before daylight and ends just after daylight. They crow all day and all night. And about an hour or so before daylight, one of them was kind enough to make his way over to the car, sit right next to the tire, and crow his flippin'head off. Ah, such fond memories. After getting up, we stopped by the KFC to take some pictures of the chickens walking around the KFC (freshest food on the island!). We then made our way to Poipu beach, which we had heard was the best snorkeling on Kauai. We got in the water and snorkeled around for maybe an hour before we agreed that it just was not good snorkeling. There were way too many waves and much too strong a current for it to be enjoyable. It was a continuous struggle just to keep from getting washed up on the corral that watching of fishes just wasn't an option, let alone photographing them with which Randal grew very frustrated. When we got out of the water, we sat on the beach with the chickens watching surfers and drying out. Then we headed down the beach to the next bay over where there were lots of boogie boarders. Randal wanted to try the sport so he got out there and let the waves rough him up a bit. I think he about decided that he should start out on some smaller waves but it looked like he was having fun anyhow. He lost one of his fins but, luckily enough, the waves were so strong and constant that they would let it get sucked out and it kept beating at the shore until Randal was finally able to grab it. From there, we drove to our hotel and checked in before driving up the north coast for a while. We stopped at Opaekaa Falls along the way and then our GPS told us the way to another waterfall just slightly outside of Lihue. Wailua Falls was incredible. We got there just before dusk so we were very lucky to see it. The pics came out pretty decent but still just do not do it justice. When we got back to the hotel and got everything in the room to be organized and packed, we headed down to the jacuzzi for a little relaxation. We had a great time talking with the other people in there, especially another young couple from Holland. We enjoyed talking about our trip there and they talked about their trips here (the guy had already been to 42 states) and it was just really fun to compare cultural differences as seen from the travelers' eye. We just got back to the room and Randal has us just about packed up. Time to catch a few hours of sleep.

Day 16 - Sunday, 30October2005

Another bright and early flight morning. This was our fourth flight to Oahu and we're finally sticking around to see some of the island. Once we got our car, we headed straight up to the North Shore. It was very pretty and the waves were large at some of the beaches. We stopped for a while at Turtle Bay and watched the surfers there. We continued around the coast, stopping occasionally to watch the water and finally made our way down to Waikiki to check into our hotel. After troubleshooting some problems encountered while testing our internet connection, we walked down to Waikiki Beach. Let me begin by saying that I don't really enjoy cities. At least not big cities with nothing but one-way streets and traffic and huge buildings. That's all waikiki is. In no way is it Hawaii. I feel sorry for all the people who come to Hawaii and all they see is Waikiki. It's basically a scaled-down Atlanta with a beach. And the beach itself is not a great one. It was small beach with huge crowds. Finding room to put a towel down would be a chore. I'm not saying that it's not worth staying, but I certainly would not recommend centering a vacation around it. There are much prettier towns and much prettier beaches to visit on the four islands we've seen. Alright, enough preaching for now. Anyhow, we walked down to the beach and walked around a bit. We caught a little bit of a hula demonstration kind of show which was neat. Then we walked down to where they were having Sunset on the Beach. This is where they set up a huge movie screen right on the beach and play a movie on weekends. There were food booths and all that jazz too. We found a table at the pier and sat and watched about half of Ghostbusters before deciding that it was past our bedtime. Work comes early. Not as early as the last two weeks, but still early.

Day 17 - Monday, 31October2005

This morning we got to sleep in until 0300 since time changed back home but not here. It was nice to be able to get that extra hour of sleep but having to work until 1200 cut into my after-work, pre-play nap time. After working, we got our stuff together and headed for Hanauma Bay to snorkel. I was a little bit worried that it was going to be a disappointing tourist trap after paying and having to wait to watch a safety video before being allowed down to the bay. I was pleased to be wrong. The bay was beautiful. The snorkeling was terrific. It was a little shallow over the coral in places but still manageable and since it was so shallow, fish viewing was excellent. The waves were pretty mild. The only problem was that there was no sun out (a little rainy) so after about an hour and a half we had to get out and try to warm up a little because I had lost all feeling in my right thumb and pinky and left thumb. It was very painful and then there was just no feeling at all. Scary. When we got out, I was told my lips were quite blue. We got out and walked around (in the cold wind with no sun) for a half hour or so until I was able to get the feeling back. We then went in for another hour and a half or so (yes, the problem did repeat). When we got out again, they were closing the bay and calling for everyone to make their way out. On the way out, we finally saw some mongoose that were not trying to run and hide. We stopped to grab something to eat and thawed out while watching trick-or-treaters make their way around the shopping center.

Day 18 - Tuesday, 01November2005

Today was more or less a rest day. After work we napped a bit and then we walked around town and went down to Waikiki Beach for a bit. I managed to find two inches of beach where I could lay my towel down and lay in the sun for a few minutes. I hoped to try to get a little color on the front of me to even out with the lots of color on the back of me. I didn't succeed very much. And I've still got the wonderful farmer's tan sleeves from our rafting trip over Memorial Day weekend. I've determined I'm going to have those sleeves forever. Randal played in the waves a bit with his boogie board and gave his board to some kid when he was done. He layed with me for a few minutes but he's not very good at being still for long so we soon got up and started walking around again. We got great seats for the little beach-front hula show. It was a terrific show. I think they did a great job and greatly appreciated that they do these free shows every night. It's a wonderful thing for tourists to do. As we were leaving the beach, we managed to run into a very large Quizno's cup who was kindly handing out coupons for free sandwhiches so that answered the "what's for dinner" question. Gotta love it when that happens.

Day 19 - Wednesday, 02November2005

This afternoon, we pretty much lounged until it was time to go down to catch the bus for Germaine's Luau. I was a little afraid because all of the reviews that I had found for it online were either love or hate with no middle ground. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable evening. The bus ride was mildly entertaining, nothing special but nothing boring or upsetting either. The location was right on the beach (though they kept you roped off from the water; understandable for liability purposes with the bar being right there on the beach). It was a pretty night with Mars shining very brightly over the palm trees and water. We picked a table right up front, sitting on the ground. We then walked around a bit and then made our way to the pit to see the pork raised from the ground. I would say that this was the only real disappointment of the evening. I was expecting to see them unearth and unwrap a great big pig with an apple in its mouth. Instead, they brought up a huge pile of pulled pork with a bleached pig skull sitting atop the pile. It was a bit of a letdown. We then made our way back to the table and took our seats on the sandy bamboo mats while the stage show commenced. I enjoyed the costumes and the dances and the music, although it was clearly more of a "production" than the one we watched on Waikiki last night which seemed more genuine. They had three men get up on stage for a hula contest. I was very proud that my hubby was one of the men selected. He got all decked out in a grass skirt and coconuts and hula'd his heart out. And I'll have you know that my very sexy and talented husband kicked those other two men's butts! He won first place! I was so proud. He received a t-shirt, a poster, and an orchid lei which he presented to me with a little honihoni (kisses) when he got off stage. It is a beautiful lei, such a shame that it can't be taken home. I think I'll try to take one of the orchids off and press it into a book to smuggle back with me. Soon after his triumph, our section got called up to the buffet. I was amused at all of the cats skulking around the pig pit as we walked by. The meats were very good. They had the Kaluah Pig and some sort of beef as well. Both quite yummy. I did try the poi - you have to try the poi - and immediately removed it from my plate. Sometimes it's just amazing how culturally different taste is. To them, poi is a staple; to everyone we spoke with who tried it - ick. But then, they also eat more Spam per capita than the rest of the states. All in all, I enjoyed the Luau. It's something you have to do. When we got back on the bus, Randal was a celebrity. I'm so proud of my terrifically talented and brave husband!

Day 20 - Thursday, 03November2005

This morning we scrambled around to get packed so that we could check out of the hotel on time. We then made our way to Diamond Head, mistakenly thinking that it was something to see. By the time we had driven up into it and got to the parking booth, we had determined that it was nothing more than a big parking lot in the middle of the crater and just not worthwhile so we asked to turn around and they allowed us to do so. We then headed to Pearl Island where we spent the majority of the day touring the solemn area. When we got out to the Arizona, it felt a lot like our visit to Dachau. It was very sobering to be able to see the rusted hulk of the ship below us and know that there were so many men entombed there. I just wanted to cry thinking of them. And seeing the oil still bubbling up, big black bubbles continually coming up and spreading into colorful slicks at the surface. It was like the ship struggling to tell its mournful story. I had worn the lei that Randal won last night at the luau and i tossed it into the water with a prayer. After we saw all that we wanted to see at Pearl Harbor, we drove north again and stopped at the Audobon park for a few minutes and then drove back south. Since our flight leaves at 23:20 tonight, there was a lot of time to kill. We stopped at a movie theater and watched Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit. I greatly appreciate Wallace and Gromit - best claymation around. It also showed with the Madagascar Penguins Christmas Caper before it, which was quite a cute little short. Randal couldn't stop laughing over it. After the movie, we found a WalMart and did our souvenir shopping for family. Having no where else to go and nothing else to do, we went to the airport and are waiting for our flight which leaves in another hour and a half.

Day 21 - Friday, 04November2005

Three weeks, ten flights, and four islands later... I don't really even know whether to count today as Friday. It doesn't seem like Thursday ever really ended since we've pretty much been up since 0600 Thursday morning (Hawaiian time, of course). It was a long flight but much less exciting than the flight out. I suppose since I did sleep for about two hours after the movie on the first leg, that must have been when it became Friday. We arrived at the ATL airport right around 14:30 and then waited at the baggage claim for an hour and a half while they tried to find all of the luggage from Hawaii. Don't ask me how that gets lost when we never changed planes but the people who just joined the flight in San Fran got their luggage just fine. We took the MARTA back to our car and then stopped to get some necessities on the way home. It was close to 20:00 when we finally made it to our house. LONG DAY. As for the trip, I think I can speak for both of us when I say it was a great time. We enjoyed everything we did, especially the snorkeling. All of the islands were beautiful and fairly unique. It was a wonderful trip. Even having to work wasn't so bad since it allowed us to stay longer and see more. I do not think it is a place that I would want to stay much longer than we did. We are used to driving and seeing and I felt a little confined on islands that could be driven in their entirety in a day. We never really got bored but I could see it happening if we had stayed longer. I still stick by Alaska as my favorite place so far. Amusingly enough, the two biggest reasons I loved Alaska were the two most noticable things Hawaii lacked: vastness and wildlife. Most importantly though, we have now been to ALL FIFTY STATES!!!
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