Jim & Amy Guilford’s Honeymoon Saga
HAWAII, October-November 1997
This was to be our first real day visiting Kilauea. We first made the obligatory stop at the visitor’s center, made a short stop at the sulphur banks, and then proceeded around the rim drive.
Halfway around, where the rim of the caldera is around the same height as the floor, we went for a short hike inward to see the crater where a recent eruption (“recent” meaning a decade or two ago) had occurred. Hiking through this rather dessert-like landscape, we spotted a few nene (Hawaiian goose) in some low shrubs off the trail.
We also found a bush with some ohia berries, so we thought we would try them. We did not offer any to Pele (the volcano goddess). Jim found the taste not so great, so he spat his out. So not only did we not offer any to the goddess, but Jim didn’t even eat his! Pele was probably really pissed at him!
But then we decided that they probably were not ohia berries, but rather pakiawe berries. Later, however, we found that they were ohia berries, so we made a late and belated offering to Pele.
After this the clouds and some light rain moved in, with the wind coming from the east. We did a quick hike along Desolation Trail and around Kiluea Iki.
We had a somewhat latish lunch at the Steam Vent Café, located in Volcano (just outside of the national park). The town of Volcano is very small, but it can provide a few things without the long drive down to Hilo.
We then proceeded to drive down the Chain of Craters Road. This is a road going south from the caldera down to the coast, and as the name suggests, there are a series of craters along it. By this time, the sun was getting low in the western sky, and it came out from the clouds. But it was still raining around us or just to the east of us, so we got lots of spectacular rainbows. It was really strange to be on the overlook of one of the craters, looking down into it, and seeing a rainbow! Back home, rainbows are always above you against the sky. We also saw a number of double rainbows.
We found the spot where an earlier eruption had dropped a pile of lava over the road (effectively closing it). They later rebuilt that part of the road in a different location, but it was weird to see this road basically running into/under a three-to-five foot high wall of rock.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?” We don’t know either, but we did witness it. Actually, it was a type of pheasant, but it was neat to see.
Now we digress into a short history lesson. A few decades ago (1974) Kilauea erupted within the caldera. There were great views from Volcano House, but unfortunately, we weren’t there to see them. Over time, the eruptions have shifted to the east, and now the active vent is about 5-10 miles east of the park. There are no established trails to the vent, and if you do want to bushwhack there, it is a somewhat lengthy trail. The results of the almost continuous eruptions are flows of lava (mainly within tubes) down to the coast. This is where most people see the lava.
So having made it down to the coast, and it being close to sunset, we headed east to the end of the road to see the actual lava. From quite far away, we could see the huge plume of steam rising from where the lava entered the sea. Unfortunately, the actual viewing of the lava was rather anticlimactic. The road ends several miles from the lava flow. It was by then dark, and we found that our only flashlight was extremely wimpy and not that effective. We hiked a couple of hundred yards further (over the uneven a-a lava) to as far as the National Park service would allow. Still, all we could see were some red dots in the distance. One really had no sense that it was molten rock as much as some red lights on the horizon. Similarly, we could see some red dots on the hillside, where part of the lava tube had collapsed forming a vent in the ceiling. Slightly more impressive was the red light reflected in the steam and smoke from both the eruption and the pouring into the sea.
As we drove back up the road, we found a point halfway up that offered a better view; but it was a mixed bag: from the higher angle we got a better view of the lava entering the sea, but it was also significantly further away and hence smaller.
We saw a fair number of feral cats running around. That is something that we don’t see much of back east. We had dinner at Volcano House.
Overall, we found the weather to be very changeable. It was cold and damp up at Volcano House. It was much warmer down on the beach, but it was much windier up by the caldera.
We went to the visitor’s center to try to join some naturalist-lead hikes. At the last minute we managed to get onto one going into a lava tube. It had been “full”, but then something happened, and we could get on it.
Before that hike, we went down the Chain of Craters Road a bit and did our own short hike to Mauna Ula in a light rain. We parked where the old road got trashed by the lava, and we proceeded to hike across the a-a lava, which was very jagged and difficult to hike over. We had a great deal of difficulty following the trail, but eventually we got straightened out. It turns out that the trail starts going to the side, not straight ahead as we thought, and it actually bypasses the worst of the lava. When we got to the mount, we found essentially no view with the rain and clouds. Jim wrote about the hike “…my shoes fill with tiny sharp rocks”.
We then went on the guided hike of the lava tube. They provided helmets with lights and gloves, but the first part was a wet hike through the forest (due to the morning’s rain) to get to the tube. We had to cross several pig fences that they’ve erected to contain the feral pig population.
The hike was pretty interesting (as the naturalist hikes often are), and while on the hike, Amy picked up two new birds (saw for the first time). We then drove down to the coast again (this time in daylight) and visited the Sea Arch. This is a small arch of lava extending from the coastal cliffs out into the sea. Down at the coast, the weather was warm, dry, and refreshing.
Where the lava from the earlier eruptions had hit the coast, it had formed a fairly flat rock plateau that ended in cliffs about 50 feet high. When the large ocean waves hit the cliffs, they would splash up the sides. On the big waves, the splash would extend above “ground level”.
We spent some time walking around a boardwalk that went past a batch of prehistoric petroglyphs. Rather than being carved into walls like in the American southwest, these were carved on flat surface rocks.
We had breakfast and dinner at Volcano House, with about a 12-hour gap between them. At breakfast, we had a strange grapefruit. It was firmer than the kind we are used to, with more seeds and not as much juice. Jim wrote in his trip log: “still tired for no reason, so don’t know when it will end.” In other words: since we didn’t know why we were tired, we didn’t know for how long we would remain tired.
Now for some comments about staying in the Ohia wing of Volcano House. We found that the housekeeping staff had left candies on our pillows and postcards for the first two nights. After that, we felt that we really should be leaving a tip for them, so we did so. The next day, there were no candies. It was probably just a staff rotation or something, but the timing of that was weird.
In the room, there were some white candles in slightly conical glass bodies. We thought that it was an interesting reflection of volcanoes, but we never used them. The problem was that we spent so little time in the room.
Overall, the volcano house got poor marks. The breakfast was unimpressive and over-priced. We didn’t try lunches there, but we’ve heard the same about them. Dinner was fine, but again a bit pricey. We didn’t sleep well in the room there. It was not a smoke-free room and there might have been some mold there (it was very moist up there). Next time, it would be better to try a B&B in the town of Volcano.
One thing which we didn’t do, and which would have been nice would be to take a trip to the southern part of the island where there is a green sand beach.
Some notes about starting the honeymoon: our original arrival into Kona had been very magical. It felt very tropical, there was no jetway (like at most airports on the continent), so we had to walk across the tarmac from the plane. It was particularly nice going straight away to a very nice resort, the Hilton. The effect was somewhat diminished, however, by our being zombies due to the long flight and time zone differences.
We skipped breakfast at Volcano House and checked out. We looked at some tree molds. This is where lava poured around a tree and then hardened. Later, the tree decomposed leaving a tree-shaped hole in the rock. We then started up the drive to the Mauna Loa overlook. After a while, the road becomes one-lane and slow going. Around 5000 feet in elevation, we saw that the view was going to be blocked by clouds, so we turned around and descended into rain.
We had breakfast at Ken’s.
It was raining heavily at the airport, but fortunately this one had jetways. We had some problems with carry-on’s, as we had several large, fragile things. We ended up carrying-on the woven “bird” and the orchids (although we had to dump the water out of the vase). Strangely enough, the inter-island airline doesn’t have reserved seating. It is pretty much sit where you want. There were a lot of marines flying on our flight (I guess it is cheaper than having them use their own aircraft?) and we were bumped to first-class. It figures that the one time we get bumped to first-class is about the shortest flight we ever took!
The flight lasted about two hours with a stopover in Honolulu (we didn’t get off the plane). It turns out that the only non-direct flight in the islands was between Hawaii and Kauai, which of course was the route we were taking. As we flew, we got a good view of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea above the clouds. These are high mountains (roughly as high as Rainier) but very different. They are “shield volcanoes” which means that they are very broad (like a warrior’s shield lying on the ground). The result is that they don’t look nearly as tall as something like Rainier, which has fairly steep sides.
We landed at Lihue through overcast into a light rain. Our next night’s accommodation was at the Waimea Plantation Cottages on the south side of the island. Overall, the roads on the island look like a backwards “C”, with Lihue on the east side. We found that Kauai was more “commercialized” than Hawaii.
We drove (using a somewhat “scenic” path) down to the “Plantation” and then looked for a place to eat. We settled on this “Green Garden” restaurant, which wasn’t bad. It was very green and had a rather tropical atmosphere. It was complete with native fauna—Jim got bit by a mosquito while we were eating.
We bought some groceries for breakfast. Back in our room we found that the ceiling fan in the bedroom didn’t work, which wasn’t good.
In the area, we found there to be lots of cats, roosters, and other birds. Amy picked up 4-6 new birds just on the drive over.
Jim wrote in the trip log: “It only rains half of the time; it’s nice and clear at night. What an annoying weather pattern…”
We spent the day visiting the Waimea Canyon. This is a large canyon running from the south to the north on the western part of the island. I think it is called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. At the northern end, the cliffs drop very sharply down to the sea (the Na Pali coast). This is what keeps the roads from closing into an “O”.
It was cloudy with light rain as we started driving up into the canyon. The road pretty much stays on the left rim of the canyon and continues to the end of the canyon at Kokee State Park.
At Kokee, we saw lots of roosters (including a pair having a cock fight), lots of chickens with them, and two nenes. It was still raining lightly, so we stopped at the visitor’s center/café there and had lunch. We then drove to the last overlook, which looks down the Kalalau valley to the Na Pali coast. It is a classic image from books and postcards. Just as we got to the overlook, the rain stopped and the clouds (below us) opened up, and we got a decent view into the descending valley. We were contemplating a hike further up the mountains, but then the clouds and the rain closed back in and we gave up those ideas.
We drove down to the Waipo’o overlook, but we couldn’t find the falls. It was a neat overlook, though, with major cliffs in front of us. The weather here, only a few miles from Kokee was sunny and pleasant—such variability is very different from back east. We then hiked down to a lower overlook and then started down to a trail we could see. This involved some degree of bushwhacking and some degree of following a herd path. Jim was somewhat afraid that the trail might end at the top of the cliff. Eventually, the trail sort of petered out and we had to retrace some of our steps and go around, but eventually we found the trail that we had seen from the overlook.
The real trail went out a very broad “knife’s edge”. It wasn’t at all sharp or dangerous, but over the right side it dropped off very steeply several hundred feet. It was pretty nifty. We eventually found the falls, which were rather pretty and nicely shaded (for long exposure pictures). Unfortunately, Jim hadn’t brought his tripod! He tried one picture from a funny angle, balancing the camera on a log, but it didn’t come out too well. It looked like there was a big falls there, but at present there was only a trickle of water going over it.
We returned to the road by a different route (Black Pipe Trail) which lead through smaller canyons and back up to the road. The land forms there are very different from the east coast.
We then drove to the eastern end of the island to the Outrigger Kauai, which was to be our base of operations for the next four days. It was nice, but not nearly as nice as the Hilton Waikoloa. There was a big hot tub there, but the jets in it were poor. There were some man-made waterfalls around the pool area, but when we got there, they were turned off.
We slept in the first morning there, then did some laundry and arranged for a luau that night (one of the large, commercial luaus, of which there are many) and arranged to rent some kayaks for the next day. Then we drove up to the northeast corner of the island to the Kilauea Lighthouse/nature preserve. There, we wandered around there for a bit, marveling at the big surf (and the waves as the surf hits the northern coastal cliffs). There were many birds, including some that nested in burrows in the ground! There we saw a really strange sight—a bird tripping!
Then we went back to the Outrigger, changed, and went to the luau. We ended up being seated at a table with three other couples. One couple had been married on the 18th and another on the 25th. I guess this is definitely the place to go on honeymoon. The food was fine, and the ambiance was a bit neat, but it definitely felt rather commercial. It would have been really neat to have been able to go to an authentic native luau, on the beach, with no other tourists (other than ourselves).
When we returned to the Outrigger, Amy did some browsing through some hotel shops. Jim noticed that the room lights were on (they had been off when we had left), and he went back to get Amy. We found that the hotel had left us some chocolate and some champagne! It was rather unexpected, and we were not sure if they did that for every couple staying there or whether the travel agent had told them that we were on our honeymoon and so we got the extras.
The waterfalls were still turned off.
We got up extra early and had some cereal (with no spoons). Jim didn’t think that it would hold him, so he got a second breakfast at McD’s. We arrived at the kayak place at 8am.
These kayaks are very different from the Eskimo style sea kayaks. One sits on top of them, rather than in them, and they are “self-bailing”. This effectively means that the internal space is inaccessible, so it can’t be flooded, and the cockpit (which is above the water line) is full of holes so that water drains. We rented two singles, and then paddled hard upstream (pretty smooth water).
In thirty minutes we were at Fern Grotto, which was only accessible from the water, and tended to be a tourist area via commercial boats. We managed to get there before the crowds. The grotto itself was a cliffside that was under-hung and covered with ferns (and dripping water). In the area around the grotto, there were lots of chickens and cats (a recurring theme). Overall, for being a large tourist attraction, we didn’t find it that impressive. The crowds arrived shortly (on big pontoon boats), and we left and headed up to some falls. This involved kayaking to a particular place, and then doing a short hike.
The map was not easily folded, so we left it behind since the trail was so obvious. (Danger Will Robinson! Danger!)
At one point, we saw a small cascade a few feet high coming in from the side. Jim almost stopped to take some pictures (this time, expecting falls, he had brought his tripod), but then he said, “I’ll get that one on the way back from the main falls.” This was to be one of many mistakes. (Insert ominous music…)
The trail we were following degraded in quality and started varying from bad to terrible. The trail moved up the slope slightly so that we were 20-30 feet above the river. The “trail” was muddy and slick, and we often had to hold on to vines to keep from sliding off. Occasionally we would have to climb up or down to find the trail again. It was particularly tough as Jim was carrying his camera bag and tripod (although he passed these to Amy occasionally on the tricky parts). At one point, Amy slipped and trashed one of her toenails. (Remember that we were dressed for kayaking, not hiking, and we did not have any hiking boots.) We kept going, expecting the waterfall to be around the next curve, but it wasn’t.
If the trail conditions hadn’t been so wretched, it might have been fun. One could easily imagine that we were the first European explorers visiting some south pacific tropical island—real “Indiana Jones” type of stuff.
Eventually, after much too long of time, we came to the conclusion that either there was no waterfall or that we had taken the wrong turn, that this couldn’t be the “normal” way to the waterfall. Normal people wouldn’t be stupid enough to be hiking along it. So we turned back. Of course, going back was as much “fun” as going out.
Around the time that we got back to the cascades (that Jim didn’t photograph), we ran into some people who knew where the falls were. It turns out that the falls were on the tributary creating the cascade, and they were a short (and easy) hike. All one had to do was to turn at the cascades, a turn that was clearly marked on the map (the map, if you recall, that we had left at the kayak).
Amy thought that the pool below the falls was a good place to swim, but Jim, ever afraid of cold water, just photographed the falls.
The hike back to the kayaks was uneventful, and then we kayaked up to where a rope swing had been made over a good swimming hole. Actually, there were two rope swings, a low one about 3 feet above the water, and a high one, about 10 feet above the water. The low rope was difficult to reach as it hung out rather far from the shore. We tried reaching for it with a stick, but that wasn’t very easy. Eventually we figured out a way that wasn’t too bad, but which required two people.
This time Jim did join in the swimming, and he found the water not bad, although there were some bugs in it. The pool was very deep. There were several other kayaks of people around, all using the low swing. No one had the guts to try the high one.
As we were getting ready to leave, Jim decided to try the high one. He found out, however, that it looked a lot easier from below than from up above. However, there was Amy and another kayak of people watching, so he felt he couldn’t chicken out. It actually was rather neat. He swung out from the shade into the warm sun, paused a moment, and then let go. There was a moment of falling, and then the cool water.
We kayaked back, returned to the Outrigger and showered. This time the waterfalls were turned on, so Jim ran around to get pictures of them.
We went out to eat and then decided to drive into the eastern hills to see what they were like. The map was not the greatest and we missed a left turn that we were aiming for. The result is that we drove all over the place taking an eternity. Eventually we headed back and wandered around until we found civilization again.
The Outrigger featured valet parking, which was convenient—we just drove up to the front door, left the car there, and they would deal with it.
Our first stop was to take pictures at the Opaekaa falls. We then stopped by “Snorkel Bob’s” to rent some snorkeling equipment. Jim got a mask with lenses in them. This would be a first for him—being under water and being able to a large degree see what was around him.
We were going to the Wailua falls, but Jim was short of film. So we stopped by a Walmart, but they had no K-64 film. So we stopped by a photo store. They also did not have such film. We got an ice cream (which dripped all over the car), and eventually, we found our way to a Long’s Drugs. They had some film.
So then we drove to the Wailua falls. The road ends at the top of the falls, and we found the angle there to be terrible and the pictures there to be only marginal. But a guy there (there were many people there) told us about a trail leading to the bottom. So we put on our hiking boots, Jim strapped on the tripod and put on bug stuff, and we hiked to the bottom. The trail was very steep and festooned with strategically placed ropes, but overall it wasn’t bad. The weather was very warm, however, and we got very sweaty. Amy went swimming in the pool at the bottom, while Jim took pictures. He would have liked to have joined Amy (since it was so hot and sweaty), but not expecting to be swimming, he didn’t have a suit with him. Upon our return to the top, we bought a coconut, which we drank the milk from, and then had the coconut meat. Jim was not impressed.
Then it was time for the main event—going snorkeling. We drove down to the south side of the island (the waves come from the north, so the south side is calmer). We parked next to a beach, put our gear on, and then just waded in. Jim was only wearing his swim trunks, but he found the water fine.
It was an amazing experience, something that one can’t experience back east. We waded into about two to three feet of water (about 20 feet out from the shore), and then started swimming around. Even in that shallow of water, there were plenty of colorful fish swimming around. It was fairly easy to swim out to about 6-10 feet of water, where there were many fish. (The area in which we were swimming was protected from the main ocean for a large part by an exposed reef.)
We were nervous at first, but then got the hang of snorkeling. Soon the only problem was when one exhaled and then the snorkel filled with water before one inhaled. We had bought some disposable underwater cameras, and we spent a bit of time taking pictures of the fish (and each other). Eventually, Jim got a bit chilled and we came out. Jim put on the thin wet-suit that he had rented, and we went back in for some more. There was a bit of surf coming over the top of the reef, and we were told that it was murkier than usual.
After snorkeling, we made a quick pass by the “spouting horn”. This is a small lava tube that runs out into the sea that has a small ceiling vent on dry land. So when waves come into it, the spout up as if from a giant rocky whale.
We were as close to the western part of the island as we were ever going to get, and there were supposed to be some “barking sands” there; i.e. sands that apparently make funny barking noises as the sand shifts. In fact, most of the western coast is occupied by the “Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility”. So we headed off to the west side and wandered around a bit. Not surprisingly, this part of the island is virtually deserted, particularly as compared to the eastern half. We found a public beach, but the sand was pretty normal and boring. Maybe the “barking sands” beach was part of the missile site? We barely caught the sunset, but it was rather uninspiring.
On the way back, we had dinner at a very nice fish place (in the Lihue area). We had bought an “Entertainment Book”, the kind with coupons and a card that gets punched. This typically gives you one meal free when you buy another. This ended up being the first time we managed to use the coupon book and we got one punch on our card. On the way to dinner, we caught an extremely heavy rain, that only lasted about four minutes (fortunately for us, or we would have been drowned going from the car to the restaurant). We were seated in this garden room full of plants. It was somewhat open, and apparently a little bit of the rain had come in, as the table was slightly damp.
On Halloween, we checked out of the Outrigger and headed up the coast to check out the northern part of the island. We made a quick stop to tour a guava plantation. Then when we reached the northernmost part of the island, we stopped to make some boat reservations (to see the Na Pali coast via small boat) and to have lunch at “Bubba’s Burgers”. We then continued on to Haena State Park, which is the end of the road. Beyond lies the rugged Na Pali coast, which is only accessible via hiking or boating.
We visited this huge dry cave, which was essentially a large hole in the cliff side maybe 50-70 feet wide and three hundred feet deep (but only about 6-20 feet high). We also marveled at the surf coming in. The waves were huge! Definitely much larger than what we see on the east coast. We could see why people surf at Hawaii and not in Massachusetts.
On the way out of the park, Jim spotted a small waterfall, so we stopped for pictures. Unfortunately, there were lots of mosquitoes there. To put things into perspective (and as is typical), Jim got seven plus bites. Amy, who was next to him and not swatting at all, got none.
We then went back and checked into Princeville, which is the most elegant (and expensive) resort we were staying at (with the possible exception of our first night at the Hilton Waikoloa). Princeville was the lap of luxury. When we drove up, they gave us leis and the key to our room. The valet parked our car and then they brought our bags up to our room. Our suite was huge with a great view out onto the bay. The bathroom, covered in marble, was equally huge, with a two-person walk-in whirlpool with shower. The nifty feature of the room was that the window at the shower would turn from clear to a translucent milky white at the flick of a switch.
One wall of the living room was completely covered by windows (which didn’t turn colors, but which could be opened. There was a pop-up TV at the foot of the bed (in case we wanted to watch late night television?), and the closet had some robes and slippers for us.
This wasn’t your typical Motel 6!
We wandered around a bit. The place was built on a hillside, and the building itself was sort of terraced. To get down to the pool level, we had to go down to the main lobby, go out a bit, go down a few more levels, go out a bit more, and then go down to the pool level. The pool was pretty neat in that the water level was even with the surrounding floor. The net effect was that from in the water, you really couldn’t see any boundary to the pool. There were a couple of Jacuzzis next to the pool and a bar *at* the pool. I.e. the bar “stools” were in the water. It was closed at that time, but when it was open swimmers could swim up and get a drink (presumably charged to their room) without leaving the water. (I think we saw something similar at the Hilton.)
We putzed around for a bit and then had dinner. We had the seafood buffet, which set us back $100 (without wine). There were more kinds of fish (and more kinds of dessert) than we could have imagined. It was amazing. They even had cloth towels in the rest rooms.
The funny part is that we almost left without paying! Jim had gone to the rest rooms and Amy assumed that he was taking care of the bill. Jim assumed that Amy had taken care of the bill, so we were both about to leave when we realized that neither of us had. Oops…
Afterwards we wandered around the shops there and found this one place with some really neat artwork. It featured these Plexiglas (I think) shapes with 3‑D figures inside. It appeared (at least roughly) that someone formed a Plexiglas bust or statue, covered it with a fine coating of sparkly stuff, and then cast around it more Plexiglas. The net effect was that you could see the figure inside the “crystal”, but it was somewhat ethereal. It was a really nifty effect, and we were sorely tempted to get one. Jim liked this bust of woman (very nicely done) for about $10 grand, while Amy liked a sleeping woman (with figure in dream?) that was about $13 grand. We wobulated quite a bit on it, but eventually decided not to get one. Jim later checked in to the artist and found that he had patented the process for making these. Several years later, we got a call from the gallery saying that the artist had passed away and so there would be no more made. As such, the existing ones would appreciate in value. It was again tempting but we declined. It was really fabulous work, but we aren’t really the kind of people who have fine art in their house; it sort of wouldn’t match the rest of the house.
After dinner, Jim just had to check out the Jacuzzis. Amy’s asthma was made worse by the chlorine in the Jacuzzi, so she just snoozed in a lounge chair nearby. The area around the pool was only lit by the lights in the pool, and by flickering, flaming torches. The lighting, along with the steam mist rising from the spa made things very magical, particularly as the night was quite dark with no moon.
We awoke to heavy surf, solid overcast, and rain. Yech!
We found that the boat trip was canceled due to the heavy surf. This did *not* look like it was turning out to be an adventure in paradise.
We putzed around and had breakfast in our room. We checked with the activities desk to figure out what we might do on such a gloomy day, but that person was useless. By this point, it had stopped raining (although it was still overcast and gloomy), so we went for a short walk along the beach. There, we saw an inflatable water walking thingy. From my notes, it looks like it was two inflatable toruses, joined by a short cylinder. The idea was that one could go into it (like a small rodent exercise wheel), walk forward, and make this thing move. Since it was full of air, one could “walk” across water with it.
Since there seemed to be nothing to do, we drove to town (where we had made the boat arrangements and had lunch the previous day) and had lunch. We returned to Princeville and made some helicopter reservations for the next day. We figured that if we couldn’t see the Na Pali coast via boat, we would see it from the air. We then drove around a bit, did a little birding, and got some ice-cream. Then we returned once again to Princeville (do you get the idea that we were killing time?), played around in the Jacuzzis and pool, then showered and had dinner. Later Jim went down to take pictures of the torches at night.
While we were in town, the following thing happened: Jim had gotten out of the car to see if we were in the right place, and when he found out we were, Amy went to park the car. Afterwards, she said to Jim: “Did you hear that crunch when I was backing up? That was the curb…”
The following is from Jim’s trip log: “Amy is using H2O2 on her cuts, blister, and toenail. It fizzes big time. I don’t fizz. She must be a space alien!”
Today we left Princeville. It was an interesting experience, although our summary was that it was not worth it. We thought that there were better places to stay in the Kapaa region, particularly as it was only 50 minutes from Princeville to Lihue.
We had a number of cans that we wanted to drop off for recycling, so we stopped at this “Coconut Marketplace”. We wandered around there for a while, but we couldn’t find anyplace to drop them off, so we ended up just trashing them. Then we realized that we didn’t have time to get gas and went straight over to Kauai Air for the helicopter ride.
We were not impressed with the pilot, Chuck. It was a personality thing. He seemed too smarmy and verged on being irritating.
We were scheduled for a 11:15 flight, and we ended up leaving at 11:30 (running to 12:30). The flight was fairly smooth. Unfortunately, Amy got stuck in the middle back, which is not the greatest view, although Jim got the right-back position, which was a bit better. We wore some noise-suppressing headphones, which also allowed the pilot to play tour guide. We first passed by a waterfall just southeast of the center of the island. This was apparently the waterfall used for the movie Jurassic Park. Then we flew over to the Waimea canyon and followed that north. (It didn’t seem like it at the time, but apparently when we were just going from one place to another, the helicopter was flying between 100 and 200 mph.) After getting to the northern end of the canyon, we few over the top and spent some time along the spectacular spires and cliffs of the Na Pali coast. There were some incredibly large, steep, narrow knife edges, but they were very green and lush, rather indescribable.
We then flew eastward along the northern coast and then come into the main volcanic crater (from the east). This was somewhat impressive, but unfortunately Jim was in no state to enjoy it. He was getting rather air-sick, and felt that he was quite close to losing his lunch. He had been chewing some gum and he thought that he might have been swallowing some air.
We then zoomed off to the airport. We dropped off the bags (with Jim guarding them), and then Amy returned the car (with the gas tank not full). While we were waiting for our flight, someone apparently left their bags at the agricultural check and was paged. I guess they impound the bags if no owner can be found.
The flight itself was uneventful. In Maui, we found that the car they had for us was a Metro, not a Neon, and we had to pay $32 extra for the “upgrade” (compact vs. economy). We stopped at a Subway for lunch and found that our coupon was no good (I forget why). We drove up to the flank of Haleakala, checked in at the Kula Lodge, and then continued up towards the summit.
We stopped at the first (lowest) overlook and went for a short hike to see what we could see. We came around the corner to where we could see the caldera, and the view just knocked our socks off! It was *much* bigger and grander than expected (see tomorrow for details).
We stopped at the visitor’s center, but they were already closed, so we continued up to the summit. We watched the sun set, but it was a fairly boring one. We then went down to the Kula Lodge for dinner. Surprisingly, it was rather cold that night. It was also a bad night for Amy, as she had rather some problems with coughing.
One of the interesting aspects of the Kula Lodge was the flowers. They grew a type of flower called “protea”, which is an exotic flower prized by flower growers, even though it looks sort of strange. In the attached photo, the protea is the big white thing in the center. It is apparently hard to grow, and the Kula Lodge is one of the places where it is being successfully grown.
We got up at 5:10, so that we could watch the sunrise from the summit. The sun rose around 6:22 through 6:33, but was hard to say as it was rising through clouds. As a result, it was not very impressive. The temperature was below freezing and it was windy—brrr! But there were lots of people up there, including a large number of bicyclists. You can get these trips where they drive you up in a van, give you a bike, and you ride *down* the mountain. That makes pedaling a lot easier…
On the drive back down, we had to dodge these same bicyclists on this narrow twisty steep road. We had breakfast at 8, finished at 9, and then went to the Hosmer Grove (at 9:45). There was supposed to be a ranger-led hike there, but we found no sign of the ranger. (I’m not sure, but we may have gotten there 15 minutes late.) But we hiked around there anyway and did a fair amount of birding.
Then we went up to the visitor’s center (which was now open) and then up to the summit. We got there around 11:30. We spent a half hour listening to a ranger give a talk. It was rather interesting. The ranger started with some sort of chanting, which we thought sounded like she was praying to Allah or something. Then we found out that it had been a native Hawaiian prayer.
After that (around noon), we started down the Sliding Sands trail. At the first trail junction, in the shade of a rock, we stopped for lunch, which consisted of bread from last night’s dinner (the bread at the Kula Lodge is really good).
The caldera is really great, and rather indescribable. It is a huge basin (with the north side missing) miles across. The interior is dotted with several cones, and the surface consists of different hued sand and gravel. There are virtually no plants inside, just the silver sword here and there. The different colors and textures are amazing, each blending slowly into the other. It is unlike anything that we’ve seen anywhere else.
Particularly when we were starting, we could feel the lack of air. This is a different sort of hike where one starts at the highest point, hikes down, and then goes back up to return. We were starting at just over 10,000 feet, and with no time to acclimatize, we felt the thinner air. We reached the end of the dead-end at the Ka Lu’u o ka ‘Oo crater around 1:45. We walked around the crater (which made Amy nervous in places as the footing was somewhat shifting) and started back up. The trail was only between one and two miles, but there was 1700 feet of elevation to regain.
The first part was steep, but then it settled down to a steady grind. This would have been nothing at sea level, but it was a bit more strenuous at this elevation. Surprisingly, we felt better on the way up than on the way down.
The weather was great—cool and sunny, with some clouds towards the end. We passed a couple going down as we were going up. Jim said that he’d be annoyed if they beat us back. They didn’t, but they came awfully close. We got back up after hiking (again) for an hour and forty-five minutes. We couldn’t really see the crater we visited from the visitor’s center, but there was a good view of it from the higher overlook. We couldn’t see it from the lower overlook.
Just after Jim shot his last film (at the lower overlook), we were hiking back when Amy noticed some great pink clouds and got excited. Then we turned the corner and saw a wondrous sunset! (Jim had no more film: arghhh!) The secret to a good sunset is to have clouds above to catch the red rays from the sun. So Jim had to make due with shooting off a bunch of pictures from Amy’s camera.
Then we returned to the Kula Lodge and had dinner.
Here are some of Amy’s thoughts on Haleakala:
“Beyond words, awe, an incredible force that raised it, so many colors and textures, very peaceful, very quiet but not empty.”
“In the clear air, distances can be deceiving. From the crater (on the hike) we could look up and see the summit visitor’s center. It looked very far up (1400 feet). We’re gonna die.”
The previous day the clouds had come up through the northern gap and filled the caldera, but fortunately for us, the day we hiked it, the clouds stayed out. It would be neat (if we had two cars) to leave one down at one of the overlooks and then hike down into the caldera and out through the gap. Another neat hike would be to start earlier in the day and to go to some of the further cones.
To summarize the Kula Lodge, the food was excellent, but the room was so-so. It was located in a coniferous forest, which looked a lot more like New Hampshire than Hawaii. The dining room offered a great view down to the populated coastal area. It was strange looking *down* at planes as they were coming in for landing.
This was to be our last full day in Hawaii (how time flies…). We slept in and spent some time together. Then we had breakfast and wandered around the Kula Lodge grounds. It was really neat—there were terraces of brick and stone, with no straight lines. There were water cascades, although unfortunately for Jim, they were not turned on. There was some really neat gardening—lots of details around every corner.
Before we left that area, we drove south (on the main road basically halfway down the mountain) past a winery. Along the road we saw some interesting landscapes. At one overlook, we stopped to admire someone’s horse.
Then we drove down to the coast and visited the grounds of the Grand Wailea resort. It was “really super neat”. There were *lots* of cascades and waterfalls. There was a large pool network, including slides, rope swings, and even a water-filled elevator. Jim wrote: “good slides, very grand.” It was better than the Hilton Waikoloa, but it was also much more expensive.
We changed in a public beach house (for snorkeling) and then went to this beach (we didn’t write down which one). There was a reef running out perpendicular to the beach. We found the snorkeling “pretty nifty”. We went out to where the water was about 12-15 feet deep, but then waves coming over the edge of the reef were about 3 feet, so we didn’t feel comfortable going out further.
While snorkeling, we saw a morey eel. There were also some concrete blocks someone had dumped on the bottom, so that you could dive down, hold on, and look around without wasting energy (air). We spent about 45 minutes there, and on the way in we passed some scuba divers going out.
We returned the snorkeling gear (which we had rented at a chain store back in Kauai). Jim’s summary of the mask with the vision correction was “good vision is good”. We killed some time shopping for presents for people, and while we were at it, Jim got some more film.
We then returned to the Grand Wailea for some pictures. Jim busied himself with waterfall pictures, while Amy got some of the sunset (the resort’s coast faces west). Unfortunately for Jim, we got there about 30 minutes too late, and it was a bit too dark for good pictures.
We had dinner at a small Japanese restaurant. It was a strange place. To get to the men’s room, one had to go out past the kitchen, down a corridor, and then out into the back alley. We drove around a little to kill some time, and we saw a medium-sized cruise ship in the harbor. We returned the car, where we found that we had to pay $23 more for having the car too long (or something), then we killed some time at the airport, then left Hawaii.