A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: weary_feet

Day 19: Surfin' USA

sunny 29 °C

Woke up to a beautiful view over Waikiki Beach. This time around on Oahu we have booked at the Pacific Beach Hotel (right on Waikiki Beach only 110 a night). The hotel is a little dated but huge room and a view that you normally would pay big bucks for.. I'm sure once they remodel the prices will sky rocket!

Plan for today was to learn to surf in Waikiki. Conductor Slater and Weary Gilmore both managed to stand up.. in fact Gilmore got up first go!! (not that i'm bragging or anything... :) Slater managed to stand up twice during the hour long lesson and definitely took out the award for the most "dumps" off the surf board. Both of us have decided to not give up our day jobs, of doing not much, to join the pro-tour.. Give us a year or two though and just you watch us go!!

Slater returned to the water this afternoon with surfboard again in tow to "hang ten" without an instructor.. Lets just say that it wasn't overly successful.. without a push off it is damn hard to catch a wave! Even Gilmore who had a 99% track record during the lesson couldn't get going.

Didn't take long for us to both give up and head for the bar.. spent the rest of the lazy arvo sitting on Waikiki beach drinking cocktails... Its a hard life but someone just has to do it....

See you all tomorrow for our last day in paradise.. Outrigger canoeing and more surfing lessons are on the cards.

Posted by weary_feet 23:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 18: Flying Machines

semi-overcast 27 °C

First stop today was flying in a chopper to really see the island of Kauai. We spent just under an hour in the air cruising in and out of canyons and around the beautiful coast line of Kauai. Highlights of the flight were the Jurrasic Park falls, Waimea Canyon , the Na Pali coast line and Mt Wilaue crater.

I am now definitely never flying in a chopper again. Today was my second flight in a copter and both times I have suffered with motion sickness. I now know to not waste my money on any sort of helicopter flying! Conductor thoroughly enjoyed himself and I spent the last 30mins hoping that the helicopter would land before I had to use the blue bag. For anyone who doesn’t suffer motion sickness I would thoroughly recommend the flight because the scenery is just breathtaking.. but for those of us who need to keep our feet on terra firma there are definitely more pleasant ways to see the same things!

We then had to kill a couple of hours before our flight to Oahu so we decided to return to the North Shore and spend the arvo “riding the surge”. The waves, this time around, were a touch larger than the other day and we had another great arvo catching the waves in and out. Found another bar in Hanaleua Bay (by the way if you come to Kauai make sure you stay on the north shore.. ignore the resorts down south and stick to the top of the island!) and then headed for the airport.

Flight to Oahu was boring (only 20mins) and then it took us more than an hour to get to our hotel because the shuttle bus went everywhere but our way! Off for a sleep now see you all tomorrow hopefully "hanging ten".

Posted by weary_feet 22:55 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 17: "Dr Livingstone I Presume"

rain 28 °C
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Weary and Conductor spent the day paddling and then crawling through the "deepest, darkest places of Kauai" today.

We began the day the same as every other day by taking to our motor vehicle and heading out to discover the unknown. Well today, it was to discover the outer reaches of the Wailua River. We started by checking out another lookout that looks over the Wailua Waterfall.. I have to admit that waterfalls start to get a little bit "ho hum" when you've seen the qty that we have in the last few weeks. I mean Hawaii seems to be covered in waterfalls so it gets a little bit mundane once you've seen a few!

We then headed to the local Hindu temple to have a squizz. Somehow the Hindu monks have over 350 acres of prime rainforest land here in Kauai! We had a quick look around the 1 acre that is open to the public and then took off to chart the Wailua!

We started by hiring a kayak at the river for a couple of hours and were given a fairly rudimentary map of the river itself. We both managed to get in and out of the Kayak safely and even managed to paddle the kayak without to many "smashing of oars". Conductor somehow conned me into sitting in the front which meant break time for Conductor whenever he felt like it.. unfortunately for him my hearing is pretty good so he regularly earned a reprimand for not paddling.. Conductor claimed he was steering, however, he somehow managed to steer me into a branch of a tree so I'm not sure how much "steering" was going on.

We arrived at our first port of call, a two mile hike to a "secret waterfall". Which is not secret at all because everyone who paddles on the Wailua ends up there! The walk thru the jungle is probably one that won't be forgotten quickly. We received a tropical downpour about 10mins before we set out for our kayak, so by the time we made landfall the path was muddy to say the least. We left our kayak and started tramping thru head high grassy stuff (which was pretty iky if you ask me). I'm sure you can imagine.. I'm back in my red-riding hood outfit (Conductor is emulating a smurf) and we are almost hacking our way through head high grass with water pouring from the heavens.. Looking back on it, if I had've walked passed us I would have been out of breath from laughing so hard! (The look on my face would have been priceless!)

We arrived at the first of 3 creek crossings. Conductor had left his tevas here at Joan's and had decided to take his walking shoes along.. No sooner do we walk about 500m and we come to a major creek crossing. So down sits blue smurf and off come his hiking shoes and socks, across we go thru the creek and down sits blue smurf again and puts his shoes back on (wiping his feet as he goes on his blue coat). The trail continues and we leave the head high grass for tall trees and knee high mud.. To say that Conductor and I were dirty is the grossest of understatements. I don't think i've ever had so much mud on me when I haven't paid for it! In fact I had to keep reminding myself that I pay big money to have someone slather me in mud to cleanse the toxins from my skin and that this mud bath was free. Thank god that Kauai doesn't have leaches because we would have been covered in them if it did! Kauai may not have leaches but it sure has mozzies... I swear I have at least a dozen mozzie bights on my legs alone.

We finally reached the secret falls and Conductor got in for a swim.. I got to my hips before deciding it was just too cold. The amazing thing is the amount of wind the waterfall itself makes as the water hits the pool. It was blowing a gale! We found a drier and less dirty way back so we got back to our kayak in probably half the time it took us to get there (even allowing for the shoes off and on that Conductor had to keep doing).

We continued our paddling into the unknown and ended up at the Fern Grotto. This is a cave that is covered in ferns. The walk was far less strenuous, because its all concrete paths. It is actually a landing place for big tourist boats and isn't really designed for kayaks. We arrive to find that the only real way for us to get out of our kayaks and up to the grotto is to pull up at this dirt bank and try to climb our way out. Meanwhile another couple arrive back at the bank to take their kayak back out. The guy walks down the bank to his kayak, loses his grip and ends up face planting into the river and tries to save his backpack with his camera... pretty funny site!! After he and his wife finally get going (after being soaked) its our turn to get up the bank (to go to the grotto). I nimbly climbed my way out but poor old Conductor took a few attempts to get out of the river. Eventually he made it up the bank to roars of applause from the onlookers on the tourist boat.. Embarrassing!!! No sooner had we arrived than we left (the walk around the grotto would be lucky to be 100m) and we had to navigate back down the bank to our kayak. Again I went first and got down fine (thanks to my tevas), Conductor took a little longer but also made it back down safely. No face planting from us.

By this time we were both incredibly filthy and sick of getting v wet feet and legs so decided to call it a day and come back to Joans. Back at the ranch we cooked Joan and her friend Henry a lamb and steak skewer bbq with salad. Dinner was great with brownies for dessert. Spent the evening debating politics, religion and conspiracy theories (aren't they topics that you should never discuss at dinner?)

Helicoptering and more swimming tomorrow before we catch a flight back to Oahu for a few days. Last day on Kauai tomorrow.

Posted by weary_feet 01:14 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 16: Wiley Coyote

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Spent the morning at Waimea Canyon (the grand canyon of the pacific). Views from the observation decks were just unbelievable. Very spectacular. I'm thinking that the real Grand Canyon must be out of this world because the smaller buddy here on Kauai is pretty awesome. The canyon is layer upon layer of rock, reds, greens, ochres all the colours from deep red through to deep green-- just awesome! As we continued to drive around the canyon we discovered that the weather had begun to close in (to the point that at the last lookout we couldn't see anything just wispy clouds) so we moved on to the southern coast for a good squizz.

Went to the Sprouting Horn beach and saw the blow holes go crazy.. There were turtles in the ocean at the blow holes! (Probably about four of them just swimming around and riding the waves towards the rocks). After getting too much salt spray on my lens we decided to find a beer and happy hour.. (I swear that Conductor is more interested in getting the bargain at Happy Hour than actually drinking the beer.. on second thoughts, probably not.. :)

Made our way to the Marriot hotel and had a couple of Pina Coladas (me) and Mai Tai and Beer for Conductor. The only reason I mention this is that at the hotel we could see the ocean and out in the ocean were a pod of Hump Back Whales splashing and playing off shore. They were so close to the shore that we could clearly see the whales flippers and tails coming out of the water!

Finished the day in Old Koloa Township and did some basic souvenir shopping. Picked up a map of Hawaii that was based on maps made by Cpt Cook so was a happy camper with my souvenir. We also stopped off at a coffee plantation for Bookie who was keen to understand how the coffee plantations work, did some coffee tasting and chose to not purchase any (not worth the expense and hassle to bring into AU). Coffee bushes are small trees (about the size of an apple tree) and the fruit itself grows on the stems, which surprised me! Interesting fact is that coffee trees are pruned regularly to keep their size small. If they do not prune the trees regularly they can grow to being really large trees with the fruit growing to the size of a coconut!!!!!

Off to the Wailua River tomorrow for more hiking, swimming and maybe some kayaking...

Posted by weary_feet 00:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 15: Blue Hawaii

sunny 31 °C
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Our gracious host Joan got us going with brekky this morning and we had a plan to head down to the south of the island to do some snorkelling and a bit of a walk along the coast. We got down to that south of the island and discovered that the weather was pretty ordinary (really windy and surf was pretty rough) so we decided to drive up to the north coast to the Na Pali coast (Jurassic Park coastline) for snorkelling and walking.

I now know why Kauai is considered such a beautiful place. The Na Pali coast line is just beautiful.. The water up on the north coast is just amazing. Blue does not describe the colour of the water. It is the most amazing aquamariney-bluey-greeny colour. Just breathtaking. We both went swimming and snorkelling on a really gorgeous beach (Tunnels Beach). Water was so warm.. we could have stayed in the water all day. Snorkelling wasn't as good as what we had on the Big Island (we've been spoiled) so we only snorkelled for a little while before we went back to our first love of "riding the surge".

After lunch we headed to the end of the road and to the walk along the Na Pali coast line. It is supposed to be a really famous and amazing walk (you can walk up to 11 miles along the coast line and you need to camp out overnight if you want to do this). We chose to walk just the first 2 miles. We didn't make it. I should rephrase this and explain that I chose to not make it and Conductor decided to follow me back to the car. The walk along the coast line has some breathtaking views but it is HARD YAKKA. The trail itself is probably the toughest marked trail I have ever walked on (this isn't saying much because I haven't done many trails but I can imagine it is probably moderately hard for most hikers). The trail was strewn with boulders and loose rocks and is relatively steep. Going up was tough because on top of an ordinary trail the temp today has been early 30s and high humidity.. you can imagine.. but going down was probably worse. The legs, heart and lungs were happy that I was going down but the feet and head weren't.. The trail is steep and with loose rocks and boulders it is tough going to not lose your footing. Generally, I didn't enjoy the hike and was pretty glad when we turned around and headed back for the car. I'm not disappointed that we didn't do more of the trail because we plan to take a helicopter flight over the coastline so we'll get a better view from the helicopter than we would from the trail anyhow.

Off to Waimea Canyon tomorrow (more hiking.. I hope i've lost a few kilos and maybe gained a bit of muscle on my poor legs by the time I get back to AU) which is dubbed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific".

Posted by weary_feet 01:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 14: Chooks

sunny 28 °C
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We spent the better part of the day getting to Kauai today (pronounced the same as Hawaii but with a K). First impressions of the island is that it is similar to the others but in all honesty we haven't travelled out of Lihue (pronounced Lihoo-ay), the main town, so haven't really been able to see much of the place. Kauai is known as the "Garden Isle" and is supposed to be really beautiful on the northern and western sides of the island. Some famous movies have been made on this island-- Jurassic Park being the most famous, also Raiders of the Lost Arc, Tropic Thunder etc so I'm sure when we get over the other side it will live up to its name.

Conductor suggested that we stay at a member of the "Affordable Travel Club"'s home so we are staying with a lady named Joan who is kindly letting us stay for next to nothing for the next few days. The ATC is for over 40s only so I guess this is the only time I'll be staying in one of these styles for quite awhile. So far really worth while. Joan is lovely and obviously the saving on accom helps the wallet! Definitely worth it for all of those other keen beans who want to travel on a budget (and obviously are a bit older than yours truly)- get Conductor to fill you in on how to go about joining.

The thing we have most noticed in our short time here on Kauai is chickens. No kidding, Kauai has a feral chicken problem. Everywhere you go you find feral roosters and hens with baby chooks!! I've never seen its like! There are no predators for chooks here on the island and apparently no-one has the heart to eradicate them so Kauai has a feral chook problem! What I find even funnier is that one of the radio stations here is called Rooster Country! (country music channel) I mean.. seriously..

Not much else to report as we really haven't done much today except travel to the island. It isn't actually that far but you have to fly via Honolulu and by the time you lay over etc etc it took til after lunch, then we had to find Joan's house and have a hot tub, before we knew it was dinner time!

Off tomorrow to use our snorkelling gear again and start finding some of the apparent picture perfect beaches (apparently there is one on the island that has been rated the second best beach in the world.. not sure what is #1 but my guess would be Whitehaven?)

See you all tomorrow.
(No photos today as we haven't had the time to take any or seen anything noteworthy yet)

Posted by weary_feet 00:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 13: 8275309

rain 23 °C
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Deliberately got going later today as we wanted to stay after dark in the Volcano Nat Park to see lava. First stop today was to go and see some of the world famous water falls that are on the eastern side of the Big Island. Started with the rainbow falls and the boiling pots. Neither of which really lived up to their names but were still good to look at. It was impossible for us to see Rainbows today at the falls because it was raining (again). After our "Wetter than wet" day the other day both of us had invested in some cheap ponchos and man did we look ridiculous. Ridiculous but dry!! I swear it took Conductor at least 10 mins to work out how to actually wear a poncho.. I haven't laughed so hard in ages.. can you imagine a smurf with a big nose?? that was Conductor today! (Was there such a smurf as "Nosey Smurf"?) Anyway I looked equally ridiculous in my red poncho and my nickname changed today from Weary to Red Riding Hood. (But at least I know how to wear one!!)

The boiling pots reminded me of any creek in any rainforest I have ever seen but it was nice to get out of the car and go for a bit of a wander. Those of you who have been to many of our great rainforests will know what I mean (Dorrigo comes to mind)..

After the boiling pots we went to the highest water fall on the big island at Akata. The noise this fall made was quite something, you could hear if for quite awhile before you arrived. The rainforest trees were also breathtaking. Many of them appeared to be quite old and had massive trunks.. Worth the visit.

After lunch we drove back down to VNP to again try and get into the Kilauea Iki Crater without rain!! Again this proved impossible and we spent the first half hour just sleeping in the car because we weren't going to repeat the performance of the other day and get soaked. The weather here though normally passes over quite quickly so within 30 min or so we were able to get out of the car and go for a walk. It was our last chance today to tick off our three goals- walk the lava tube, walk back thru the crater, see lava glowing at night. I'm happy to report that we ticked off all three of our goals today.

We started by walking through the lava tube. To the untrained or untutored you would think its just a cave... and well it is. Lava tubes are created when the crust above the ground begins to cool but hot lava still continues to flow underneath. Over time the magma chamber in the volcano empties and the lava runs out. When it has finished erupting what you have left is a tube with no lava left in it (and hardened lava around the edges) leaving a cave. Walked the couple of hundred meters that is lit through the cave and then back to the surface. I was surprised at how round the tube actually is and understand why they call them tubes. Also the cave walls were very smooth.. no stalactites or mites to be seen.

We then went back into the crater that we walked through the other day when it was pouring rain. Unfortunately for us, as soon as we hit the crater floor it started to rain and get quite windy so we didn't get too close to some of the steam vents or rock formations in the crater. Just as we were leaving the floor it started to fine up so it boded well for our night viewing of lava!

After our couple of hour hike into and out of the crater we went around to Jagger Museum to see the lava. By this stage the temp had dropped to probably about 13 or so degrees and the wind was going great guns so we were starting to feel quite chilly. We waited as the sun went down and got my camera and tripod into position to snap the all important lava glow shot! The weather held off and we did see the lava glow (although I haven't yet looked at my photos to see how well they have turned out.. big fingers crossed that the photos are in focus.. i've got a sneaking suspicion I'm going to be disappointed)

It was a real fitting way to finish off our last day on the Big Island, we finally got to see some sort of lava! I came all this way to see some lava flowing and the best I could see was a glow but I'm not disappointed because the Big Island has definitely surpassed all of my expectations.. definitely a place on this globe that is a must on your visit list.. Off early tomorrow to see Kauii, the home of Jurassic Park!

Posted by weary_feet 00:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 12: Lava Rocks!

semi-overcast 29 °C
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Spent the day down at the Kilauea Caldera again today. Started off at Jaggers Museum which is a museum and observation deck overlooking the main crater of Kilauea. We were lucky in that it was quite a clear morning and so it was very easy to see the crater itself spewing out it's steam and sulfur. Unfortunately there was no visible lava... After visiting the museum we then went around to the bottom of the national park to see the point at which the latest Kilauea eruption too place. Its quite strange because all of a sudden you are driving along and then you come to a car park.. you park the car and walk a few meters and then the road just ends.. the lava swallowed up the road! We did a bit of a hike on the flow itself before deciding to drive around to the other side of the flow (you have to drive along way just to make 500m as the crow flies!) and find some hot springs for a swim.

Volcano Nat Park is a hikers dream.. you could literally spend weeks just hiking all of the trails that are throughout the park. Many of them require overnight hikes! Anyway the reason I've placed this side note is that if you ever do decide to come to Hawaii make sure you dedicate a couple of days just for the Volcanos.. you can't see it all in one day.. in fact we are going back tomorrow for the third time to see the park.

Today's blog is titled Lava Rocks and that is because Conductor has been reminding me each day to put a mention in my blog about the local radio station here in Hawaii.. it is called Lava FM.. it probably has the worst transmitters on the island because more often than not you get static rather than music but it does have a cool radio name.. I'm surprised that there isn't a "Hot Rocks" named station.. that would be my choice if I was a radio owner.

Back to the blog.. after VNP we drove what seemed like forever to get to the other side of the lava flow and went hunting for some hot pools that we had read about in one of the 20+ brochures we had picked up at some stage but had since thrown in the bin.. Therefore we were semi driving blind.. we knew the general direction but not exactly... After many window discussions with other drivers we finally found these illusive pools....... Wasn't quite what I was expecting.. After being to Hamner Springs in NZ I was expecting really nice warm sulfurous pools in a nice big complex that is just designed for tourists and instead got a nice big ocean fed pool that was tepid rather than hot.. It was nice in its own way but wasn't what either of us were expecting. (Conductor kept having his legs nibbled by some little fishies!)

The area of the island where the pools are located (bottom right corner of Hawaii) is the most luscious rain forest area. Driving through was just beautiful.. It is the first time both Conductor and I have felt that we are actually on a tropical island. Honestly the big island is not what you would call tropical.. dry and arid are more the flavour of the island.. We drove passed a stand of Lava Trees.. They remind us of those trees you see in movies that are found on the African plains.. the ones that are quite broad of branch but have a very flat looking foliage.. The type you see pictured when you think of the Serengiti. Anyway, these trees have obviously been there for a long time as they are massive trees with lots of moss and vines growing all over them.. Just magical.

Nothing else to report for today except we tried some baby back pork spare ribs tonight in an "all american" bar and gee they were delic.. Tomorrow day time off to find some waterfalls and tomorrow night we are going to return to Volcano hoping to see some lava glowing. See you all then.
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Posted by weary_feet 00:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 9: Snorkel Bob

overcast 27 °C
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Day started relatively late for Weary and the Conductor (11.30 am) with Conductor making an executive decision for us to travel north and go look for turtles. We kitted up at Snorkel Bob's with a snorkel, mask and flippers and started driving north looking for some turtle haven (we got really obscure instructions from some random at the bar the night before so I wasn't feeling too hopeful).

Anyway the directions we had was to look for "two hills" after the airport and turn left to the turtle beach. Believe it or not we managed to find the beach. We went for a wander and saw 4 turtles just sleeping on the beach. Turtles (or Hona) are protected in Hawaii and it is an offense to approach or harass turtles so we stood off about a meter or so and snapped some pickies. We then tested out Snorkel Bob's equip and did some snorkelling off the beach. Found a great spot (nice and calm) and saw heaps of fish and some pretty coral. Unfortantely the water is quite cold here for snorkelling so we only managed 20mins or so before we got too cold to continue.

We didn't see any Hona in the water but I'm happy we got to see them sleeping around! By now it was well passed lunch time so we took off to find something to eat. We ended up at rich people city (Hilton resort thingy) and almost got talked into attending a time share selling meeting so that Conductor could have a free game of golf.. Lucky for me it was getting late so we didn't really have the time.. what a shame!!!

Spent the rest of the arvo driving up the West coast of Hawaii and made it to the tip. The landscape at the north of the island is quite different to where we are staying. In Kailua (where we are staying) there is lots of lava and lava flow rocks. Up north there is a lot of cattle farms- it reminded me of driving around NZ (very green grass with the occassional rock sticking out of the ground).

Off to Captain Cook memorial tomorrow to see where Cpt Cook died during his third voyage. See you all tomorrow.

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Posted by weary_feet 01:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 11: Goat Tracks

overcast 20 °C
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Another beautiful day in paradise. Day started early for Weary and Conductor with both enjoying their last morning at the King Kamameha Kona Beach Resort ($138 per day). Brekky was cereal and yoghurt eaten on the pier at Kailua-- just gorgeous-- sun was shining, sea was calm food was good! Today was our last day at Kona with us spending the day driving over to Hilo.

First stop on our drive (organised by Conductor of course) was the Waipio Valley. Extremely steep sides and very deep valley. Conductor put the car into 4wd and off we plunged almost straight over the side of the gorge! The bottom of the valley was very lush and rainforest like with a huge waterfall at the western end of the valley (the tallest waterfall in Hawaii). Surprisingly there were heaps of people walking in and out of the valley (trust me there was no way I would even attempt the walk down-- VVV steep-- the car struggled at times!). I think that was probably because they didn't have 4wd-- if you didn't have a 4wd they wouldn't even let you start to descend into the valley-- or were too cheap to take the bus in.. (not sure how much). The drive in was really worth the effort even if it was only so that Conductor could use the car in 4wd!

After leaving Waipio we went back to a nearby town (Honokaa) to have morning tea and have a look around. Found a really cool souvenir (you will all have to wait to see) and bought some yummy fudge. We then began our drive to Mauna Kea (the highest peak in Hawaii).

The drive up to Mauna Kea is really interesting. First stop is to drive along the Saddle Road. The road got a really bad wrap on trip advisor as being really dangerous etc etc.. but geez it is a better road than half of the country roads in AU!! Definatley better than Inner Road at Austral Eden.. :) and more than fine to drive along with or without a 4wd.. The road up to Mauna Kea itself is a bit different. You must stop at the visitor center which is at 9000ft to acclimatise and get some goss on the rest of the road. At the summit it is normal to feel some effects of Altitude Sickness so you need to get your body semi used to the lack of air and difference in air pressure. The road seems to go straight up (although it doesn't it does keep doing switch backs) but it sure is amazing when you see these white specs way up in the clouds which are cars climbing the hill! We made it to the summit although we didn't get out of the car (the temp was only just above freezing and the whole summit was covered in cloud- a complete white out) but we saw some vague shapes that are the big observatory towers. Probably not that surprising but the summit was blanketed in snow.. yep snow in Hawaii!!!!

Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world for astronomers (although not today because of the clouds) and it would have been great to see on a clear day.. Oh well.. On the descent from Mauna Kea (again you need a 4wd to ascend passed the visitor center.. another chance for Conductor to put the car into 4wd) the fuel warning light came on causing Weary some stress.. I truely thought we would have to ring AA to come help us fill up the car because the drive from the summit to Hilo was almost an hour... but we made it just in the nick of time.

Hilo itself is more of a city than what Kona is.. Kona is definatley the tourist mecha.. Hilo is well, a city! We're staying at a fairly run down back packers (not the best choice from Conductor, but you can't pick them all) but we did have a really nice steak and vege dinner which has more than made up for it. Tomorrow back to the volcanos with a plan to stay back until after sunset to try and see lava!

Posted by weary_feet 00:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 10: Zodiac

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Got going much earlier today with an early morning brekky followed by a trip up down the coast to the "Place of Refuge". The PR is a park that has been setup to preserve Hawaiin culture and history. It is setup with replica temples and buildings to give you an idea of how native Hawaiins used to live. The park was the home of some of the royal family (or at least one that they sometimes visited) and was also a Place of Refuge for people who had been displaced by war or were in some sort of trouble and needed redeeming. Basically when you entered the refuge no hurt could come to you and you could be absolved of any crimes. Much of the PR was damaged during the tsnumai so much of the park was closed to visitors.

We had a date with a zodiac at 12.30 to visit the monument that has been erected to show where Captain Cook perished on his third voyage. When he first arrived in Hawaii he arrived on a day of Hawaiin celebration to one of their gods. Hence he was welcomed with open arms. When he returned the celebration was over and so he didn't get as good a reception and eventually was speared to death. The trip on the zodiac was awesome, only about 10 people on board and we went snorkelling at the monument. Definately the best snorkelling we have seen so far and probably some of the best you would see in the world (according to Conductor who has snorkelled or dived at many loc'ns thruout the world). HEAPS of fish and coral, very very colourful. The trip back on the zodiac was also great as we stopped off and saw many lava caves and tubes. Easily the best $55 we've spent on the trip. A day we will remember.

We are currently sitting in Kailua at a bar drinking beer and cocktails watching the sunset... Its a tough life! Off to Hilo tomorrow via the Saddle Road (which has a reputation for being a bit dodgy)-- we will be climbing to over 10,000 ft so should be interesting to see if we get altitude sickness. Til tomorrow..

Posted by weary_feet 20:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 8: Wetter than wet

rain 14 °C
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Great start to the day, semi overcast but looked promising for a drive to see the Kilauea Caldera (the longest continuous eruption in the world). 3 hrs later we arrived at the Volcano National Park (not a short drive).

The drive from Kona to Volcano is nothing like any other drive i've ever done! The landscape is constantly changing, from rainforest style jungle through to desolate black wastelands (where recent eruptions have taken place). Many of the towns on the way are also very quaint and quite old fashioned. This island is nothing like Oahu and is a definate must if you are coming to Hawaii.

On arrival at the Nat Park we discovered that Kilauea is currently not erupting and it would be not possible to see any lava flowing (huge bummer...) We also discovered that it actually flows with lava quite infrequently so it is more likely that you won't see lava than you would.. again bummer.. but we live in hope!

So we were recommended to go for a walk inside the Caldera itself. A once in a lifetime opportunity. So we decided to take the 4mile round trip in and out of the caldera. To be honest it is a hike and a half (if you like me aren't used to hiking).. It is 400 feet decent into the caldera which means 400ft climb out... ouchy calf muscles!! The walk was so worth the effort though. No sooner did we get about half way down the mountain into the Caldera that it started to rain. A 4 mile round trip takes over 2hrs so we spent most of our trip walking in very steady rain.. to say that we were wet by the end of our trek was an understatement. We both had our rain jacket and both let us down!

Although it rained for almost the whole walk it was still worth the trip. The floor of the Caldera is very hard to describe. Its black (surprising huh??? not) and quite easy to walk on. Large fissues and chasms from which quite a bit of steam (we think) comes out of. There was two hills in the Caldera where the next eruption may come from that were also spewing out steam.

The main eruption for Kilauea is further around and is off limits to the public because the sulfur dioxide levels are too high for humans. The only way to see this part of the park is via helicopter (which we still may do one of these days). We've decided to return to Volcano sometime this week once the weather clears as it really wasn't a great day to walk the Caldera.

The drive home was quite eventful because the rain that we had experienced at Volcano turned into a large tropical storm (thunder, lightening and sheeting heavy rain). One of the roads we decided to take was 1 lane and the drop was enough to worry us and just trying to see thru the windscreen was difficult.. Definately a trip to remember (the jesus bar got a work out by yours truely-- Conductor drove well but the rain was pretty full on).

More heavy rain predicted tomorrow so its likely we will do some more driving (as there isn't much else we can do).

Posted by weary_feet 00:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 7: Big Island Bound

overcast 27 °C
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Not much to report from Weary and Conductor today.

Spent half of the day transitting to the Big Island. Its not that far away but the only way to island hop is to catch a plane and you all know what its like sitting in airports.. So we started the day at a more civilised time (8.30) and caught the shuttle to the airport for a 11am departure to Kona on the Big Island.

The Big Island is a really amazing place. Flying in you come over old lava flows-- black flowing lava rocks-- looks like something out of a movie but that is what the island is like! On the lava flow there is very little vegetation and just these amazing black "rivers" of rock. Picked up our rent a car at the air port (you need one as it is really hard to get around without one) and the salesman managed to talk us into getting a four wheeled drive so that we can go off road and its already come in handy. Somehow Conductor managed to get away with being my "spouse" so that he can also drive here on the island.. I need to learn some tips from Conductor because I swear he can talk his way out of a wet paper bag!!

Arrived at our hotel (King Kamamameha) and found that it was hit during the tsunami (the bottom floor is a construction zone). Really great location in downtown Kona and on the beach. Kona is a pretty interesting little fishing village. It reminds me of what I think somewhere like Kingston Town (Jamaica) would look like. Lots of old, quaint buildings and a really relaxed feel. Very different from Waikiki. I really love it!

Finished off the day spending time uploading this blog and others at the bar at our hotel drinking a pina colada. There is supposed to be a doozy of a storm coming in so we may be "battening down the hatches" and spending the next day or so in our room. Assuming the storm is a fizzer we are off Volcano hunting tomorrow!
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Posted by weary_feet 21:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 6: Turn Back Time

sunny 30 °C
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Weary and Conductor’s day started way too early again. Bus picked us up from our hotel at 6.45am bound for Pearl Harbour. When we arrived at PH the first thing we had to do was line up and get tickets to the Arizona Memorial. PH has many different memorials that you can go to. The Arizona memorial is the main attraction and is a building that is built out in the harbour directly above the USS Arizona. The Arizona was a battleship that was sunk on Dec 7 1941 during the PH attack. 1100 people died on the Arizona because the Japanese airforce hit the ship on the side of the ammunition storage. So when the torpedos hit the ship the ammunition went up and the expolission was so great that the whole ship blew up!

On top of Arizona there is the USS Bowfinn exhibit (decommissioned submarine), USS Missouri exhibit (decommissioned battleship), USS Oaklahoma and USS Utah Memorials (cemetry style memorials) and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The PH park is really large and probably takes all day if you want to see every exhibit. We decided to take the main tour to the Arizona (its free if you arrive before 12am) and the Bowfinn and the Missouri tours ($28 to see both attractions including audio tours).

After getting our tickets to the Arizona Memorial we had over an hour to kill before our tour commenced. (This is one of the main problems with PH- heaps of people want to go and see the main exhibit but they can only take a 50 or so every half an hour). To kill our hour we decided to take a look at the Bowfinn. When navigating the sub we used an audio tour which was fantastic as it really helped us understand what we were looking at. The sub itself is really tiny inside. Weary definitely wouldn’t make a great submariner because getting through the hatches is really tight! The most interesting area was the torpedo chambers (there is one at each end of the sub). The chamber has four torpedos ready to load and in this very cramped space the torpedo workers also sleep in little bunks that they pull down on top of the torpedos! Incredible!!

After Bowfinn our tour was ready to go to Arizona so we went over to watch the PH movie and get the boat out into the harbour. The movie about the PH attack was really interesting (albeit a little biased towards the yanks.. probably not that surprising!) and the boat ride out to the Arizona was really relaxing. The Arizona memorial itself is different. The memorial is a building that has been built above the sunken wreck of the Arizona battleship. The memorial has an honour role of the men who lost their lives on the ship and you can see some parts of the top of the battleship that are still above the water. Believe it or not a Dunham was on board the Arizona and is listed on the honour role, he was a S1C (Seamen 1st Class).

After the Arizona we caught the shuttle out to the Missouri exhibit. We collected our iPods (yep you get an iPod to watch as you go around on your audio and visual tour) and started walking around the huge battleship. The Missouri was first commissioned in the 2nd WW and was decommissioned in the 50s after the Korean War. It was brought out of retirement in the 80s and retro fitted to support Tomahawk Cruise Missles and unmanned survelliance aircraft to support the Navy during the Cold War. It was used in active combat during WW2, Korea and Iraq 1 Desert Storm. It was finally decommissioned at the end of Desert Storm. The Missouri’s main claim to fame is the fact that the surrender agreement for the Japanese was signed on the deck of the Missouri at the end of WW2. Another interesting fact is that Cher filmed ‘Turn back time’ on the top deck of this battleship. My god those guns are huge!! Apparently each gun weighs more than a NASA shuttle! By the time the Missouri was decomissioned it was costing the Navy $1M per day to keep the boat ready for active combat- no wonder the ship was put out to pasture!

We had a really great morning at PH and would highly recommend spending the time and checking out the park properly! There are plenty of tours that go to PH but I would recommend just going out and seeing it yourself- the tours seemed to get really rushed through and I’m sure they missed a heap of things.

We spent the afternoon at Ala Moana Shopping Mall. It is the largest out door shopping mall in the world. Well Conducotr and I went nuts at Sears. Conductor picked up a pair of joggers for $30, a pair of shorts for $9 and a shirt for $9. Clothes are SO cheap in the US. Weary also went slightly crazy (even though I don’t need any clothes and will only be able to put them in storage for the next few years…) and bought a pair of Levi jeans for $30 and a Lee Denim Jacket for $25.. AWESOME

Really great last day in Waikiki, off to the Big Island tomorrow to volcano hunt!
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Posted by weary_feet 20:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 5: Only in America

sunny 30 °C
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Had to make an early start today as we needed to get to Hanauma Bay (we found out today it is presented Ha-na-ma not Han-a-may-a as we have been pronouncing it!) before they closed the car park because there are no available car parking spaces. Easily got a park (front door actually) and made our way down to the bay. The bay itself is really goregous to look at; aqua blue water, with obvious coral reefs fringed by the green of the crater. Hanauma Bay is actually an old volcano crater that is now home to a coral reef and lots of fish.

Highlight of the morning was seeing a couple of big parrot fish (very colourful fish with a parrot like beak for a mouth). Unfortunately we didn’t see any sea turtles (I was a bit bummed because I really love to see these animals in the wild). Sadly, Hanauma Bay has changed since we were last here. Last time we were here we were able to hand feed the fish. They’ve now turned the park into a marine conservation area and have stopped all feeding of marine wildlife. This meant the fish didn’t seem as prevelant and certainly weren’t as willing to come up to you. The other disappointment is the coral itself. We saw very little colourful alive corals. Unfortunately I think that the 100s of tourists daily are slowly killing the park. Still worth a visit if you have never seen a reef and tropical fish but for us it was a bit of a let down.

The afternoon was spent climbing Diamond Head. Holy smokes- two days in a row of climbing tall extinct volcanos has left my legs feeling quite sore and sorry!!! The climb itself is pretty exhausting. The last ¼ mile or so (I’m even getting into the local lingo now!) is straight up two sets of very hefty stairs, 100+ stairs in each. The walk was worth it though as the views over Waikiki were pretty specky.

Returned the car late this arvo (happy to announce no issues, no accidentally driving in the wrong lane etc!!!) and spent happy hour at the Sheraton Waikiki ($3 pints and $5 cocktails). Very funny thing happened at the hotel. Conductor went off to go to the loo and found this vending machine. No kidding, the Sheraton has a vending machine that sells iPods, Cameras, Ear Phones, Mobile Phones, Nintendo DSs and any sort of techy stuff you can imagine. Only in America can you buy electronic goods out of a vending machine! Definitely one for Gazz..

Off to Pearl Harbour in the morning (6.45 am—what’s the go with getting to attractions early here in Hawaii) and more swimming at Waikiki in the arvo.

Weary’s definitely living up to her name tonight and is planning to go to bed early. See you all tomorrow.

Posted by weary_feet 20:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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