12 July 2006

Hawai'i Trip - First Leg

I'm going to try to give you a taste of our first three days here. I can't possibly fit it all in, and some of the pics I've taken on disposal underwater cameras, which means I won't be able to share them until I can scan the film in. We really have managed to pack an amazing amount of activity into a very short period, though.

With our arrival at Kailua-Kona on Saturday afternoon, David's first priority was to go snorkel somewhere. And snorkel we did, at the small but popular Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua Town. We were actually in the water to see the sun plummet below the horizon. The tropical sun doesn't mess around when it comes to sunrise or sunset, and for someone who's used to sunset around 8:30 or 9:00 this time of year, it's a little disconcerting to see it get dark so early, but we both seem to have adapted to the time shift without much trouble.

In Kailua, we stayed at a condo belonging to David's friend Katharine. The condo is on Ali'i Drive, which is the shorefront drive and a fairly busy road. We were back from the road enough that noise wasn't a big problem, but we did have plenty of small visitors. Thankfully, they had the courtesy to stay outside, as I think David might have freaked out if they'd made themselves cozy indoors, as well.


We went back to Kahalu'u on Sunday morning and had a great time snorkeling and taking pics (which will come later) of all the reef fishes and green turtles, which seemed quite unperturbed by the crowds of locals and tourists who were there. Despite the liberal application of sunscreen and strict adherence to our plan of spending only one hour in the water, we still managed to get a little sunburnt. I do at least have some capacity for melanin production and wasn't burned too badly. David, however, is from Norwegian-German stock and ended up with a bright red back which still lingers.

As mentioned in my previous post, we met up with Alicia & Norma on Sunday afternoon. We had a nice lunch and some fantastic beer at the Kona Brewing Company. Curiously enough, Alicia & Norma told us that all of the brewery's bottled products either on the mainland or here on the islands are actually brewed in Oregon. The brews on tap at the pub, though, are made right there on site. If you ever have the chance to visit them, I highly recommend the Hula Hefeweizen - light, fruity, perfect for a tropical afternoon.

While we were there, a local zydeco band started playing. One of their number was wandering around with a washboard, and as Alicia's a drummer, we convinced her (and the monkeys) to give it a whirl. After all, rhythm is rhythm.


After lunch, they led us to the beach at Honokohau, where the ancient Hawaiians had a heiau, or temple, and had constructed a system of lava rock walls that would trap fish at low tide so that they could be caught more easily. We returned on Monday to snorkel there, but there are no underwater pics, as it proved too murky. As we parted ways, it was raining quite nicely - a rarity right along that section of coast due to the rain shadow effect from the volcanoes. Upon returning to the condo complex, I snapped this photo looking back up the hill.


On Monday, after snorkeling, we headed North towards Hawi, where Alicia & Norma live, hoping to be able to meet up with them for their hula class. We drove through quite a lot of dry, brown lava fields, but as we got closer and closer to Hawi, we finally started to get out of the rain shadow of Kohala mountain and get some of the trade winds that sweep across the ocean to the islands and bring the rain that caused this.


The photo doesn't do it justice, but if you look closely, you can see the faint outer arc of this double rainbow. I think I now understand why Hawai'i license plates look like this.

We poked around a little bit in Hawi town, which looks very much like a frontier town there on the edge of the world, then continued on a few more miles to where the road ends at Pololu Valley. The further we went, the wilder and more lush the scenery became. This is the sight that greeted us at the road's end.


And this is how the valley looks as it works its way inland.


The valley is a vertical drop of about 400 ft., and much of the northwest coast of the island looks like this, with sheer cliffs that were created when that side of the island just fell off into the ocean during a landslide of unimaginable proportions thousands of years ago. At the bottom, the surf rages and crashes against a beach of fine black volcanic sand.

Although it was getting a bit late in the evening, we decided to hike down the sometimes challenging trail into the valley, which took us through vegetation that looked a lot like something from the set of Land of the Lost (or maybe Jurassic Park, for those who didn't grow up in the 70's in the US).



On the beach, we found a couple of small Portuguese Man O' Wars that had been thrown up by the surf. This one, the larger of the two, was only about 3 inches long, but still plenty big to deliver a very painful sting.


Of course the currents along the beach there were such that anyone who might have been swimming there and gotten stung would have very soon drowned from the surf. Under those circumstances, the Man O' War would have been a relatively minor inconvenience.

And now it is well past time for bed. Much, much more to follow.


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous pictures! So glad you posted them. Looks like you're making the most of your vacation.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is - wow!

knittingboykit said...

Wow! So nice to be able to go along for a virtual ride =)

Susan said...

Oh! My heart! It feels good (and a wee bit wistful) to look at your pictures and read your stories. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Man, do I miss the islands...I used to sort of...collect rainbows (and sunrises). That's always how I thought of it when I saw them. We saw them so often, and I knew we were lucky to have that experience, and so I did my best to appreciate every single one. I think I've seen ONE rainbow in all my years of living in Maine. Ah, keep 'em comin'. Thanks again!