Friday, March 20, 2009

The spirit of Aloha

In the spirit of relaxing and doing nothing while in Hawaii, we made plans to visit some friends that also live on the Big Island. On the opposite side of the island. Let me state at the beginning that they offered to come to us but we wanted to go to them. See, the opposite side of the island is a lush tropical paradise that hosts rain nearly every day. We prefer the lunar scorched landscape with sun. From our hotel to their house could have been a brisk hour and half drive over the northern end of the island. But no, I had a GRAND PLAN that we should drive around the Southern end!

The first time we came to the Big Island you could not drive all the way around the southern end due to lava flow. We had gone to the Southern Most Tip (and taken a photo or two, you know how I can be), but then we had to drive back through Kona to our hotel. This time, we'd circle the Island. I mean, how long could that take?

We began at the yellow circle on the left. We followed the orange line down the left hand side and then all the way around the southern tip to Pahoa. We did a tour of the area, and after dinner we drove home via the purple line up the right hand side and across the top of the map. 5 and half hours to get there, an hour and half to get back. It rained all the way home in the dark.

After we passed Kona, we realized that this was not going to be a speed racer trip. We called our friends and told them to go ahead and have lunch without us because we weren't going to make that. This was at 11, we had left our hotel at 9 (after having macadamia nut waffles), we had only made it to about Ho'okena, still on the west side of the island.

But we had decided to treat it like a vacation and we stopped and looked at the view, stopped and grabbed a sandwich to split, stopped and bought fabric (some coated for outdoor table clothes, some Hawaiian print quilting fabric for my sister), we stopped and had coffee.

The view from Ho'okena area.

The coffee plants up close that are in the foreground of the picture above this.

Sometime around 2:30 we made it to our friends. In nothing short of a miracle, the weather was sunny and not raining. They gave us a grand tour, wait, make that A GRAND TOUR of their home, their neighborhood, the beach, the coast, the ice cream shop, the state park...

The coast is all made of lava and the surf was fairly fierce. But check out that color.

This is the tree canopy over the road into the state park area. At many points it goes down to one lane.

We arrived with the top down on the car. We kept the top down as we began our tour. When the rain came, we kept the top down. Our friends kept saying, "It won't last long." and it didn't.

Without telling us, they guided us into a parking lot surrounded by large plants. They told us there was something special around the corner. We were made to back into our parking spot for "fast escape". What, or where, were we?
The exit point of the lava from active volcano Mauna Loa.

This park only opens at night. People bring their flashlights and chairs, hike in, settle down and wait for the dramatic sights of red hot lava hitting the ocean, which if we had the patience to wait for, the shoes to walk in and our of the lava park with, or the flashlights to find out way out after dark, our photos could have looked like this:

But we didn't. And, even though they sold shoes, chairs and flashlights in the makeshift village on your way in, we opted to leave before dark.

For perspective, click on the above image and look over there on the right. That tiny little speck of dark is a helicopter giving a tour.

After a great meal with great friends it was time to head home. Lyle had done all the driving over during the day and I had planned on driving home that night. But it started to rain, the windshield had some bad smear all over it and I could see very well and slowed down for all those twisting windy curves. Lyle wanted to get home faster, made me pull over and drove us home in the rain.
He wasn't too "steamed".

(don't you just pity Lyle? Aren't you glad you don't vacation with me?)


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. What a wonderful outing. I bet you will remember this for awhile. Love the pix of Lyle.

Anonymous said...

PS...I would vacation with you in a heartbeat. ;-)