Book ’em, Danno–American, Hertz, Marriott…
AA OMA-DFW MD-80 DFW-LAX MD-80 LAX-KOA 757
AA KOA-LAX 767 LAX-DFW 737 DFW-OMA MD-80
Hertz: Chevy Malibu
Marriott: Waikoloa Marriott
Within just a couple of years of our first trip we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going back to Hawai`i sooner or later. I was willing to wait until Kīlauea was doing something different–in 1988 it had settled down to a steady eruption which I had seen plenty of in both popular and scientific journals. That eruption is now in it’s twenty-fourth year…! I also wanted wifey to do more shopping, and to have someone for her to go shopping with, LOL…
But by fall 2006, we had run out of places to visit, no weddings or funerals on tap. At my part time job at Marriott, someone had tipped me off to a dead period between Christmas and Easter when plane fares got cheap, so here we go…After nine years, TD Ameritrade owed me a week when I wanted it, not just when it was slow in summer…
Delta didn’t want me to go to Kona, Continental wanted me to go through freaking Newark, US Airways was cheap and quick–initially, but then bait-and-switched me into a five hour layover in PHX. Only way I’d fly United was if I got a 777, but I also didn’t want to be in the air for nine hours straight. So, it was American again, second vacay in seven months. Everyone else rags on them, but I like AAs MadDog-80s, the two-seat side of the aisle works perfectly for us. OMA-DFW-LAX-KOA, nice breaks in between flights to ward off phlebitis! So MD-80s to LAX, then my first 757 to Kona.
LA was fine, the sun shined most the time…lotsa strange airlines that even Diff-Dubya doesn’t have (EVA Air, Malaysian, Aer Lingus, Korean–744s, Airbus A330s, 340s).
Did my Rob Zombie imitation for the six hours to Kona, checking into the Marriott at what seemed to be 2AM…and then awakened at ‘630AM’ by American at LAX informing us that they had daughter’s cell phone…so since we’re up, nothing to do but head over to Hilo for Ken’s Pancakes! If we’re on vacation, then we have to hit a Walmart, Hilo Hattie’s, then to Puna for lava trees and lava flows…
There’s a bed and breakfast nearby but unseen, this is the breakfast part of the transaction…
The ~1790 eruptive fissure, which caused the lava trees in the first place
This is entrail pāhoehoe, for obvious reasons:
Was taking pictures at one of the Kalapana lava flows when serendipitously I turned around and looked up, there was Pu`u `O`o–honestly didn’t know I would be in position to look at it, and within ten minutes the rain had moved in…
That evening, I took a few pics of the sunset and surf outside the hotel at Waikoloa:
Supposedly turtles come up to nest, but I could excuse them for finding another place given all the activity. We did see some at Punalu`u the next day, and here’s a whale between Waikoloa and Keahole:
Went around the south side of the island on Sunday, HI-11 to Hilo then HI-19 back to Waikoloa. That’s right–One Lap Of Hawai`i…at a wide spot in the road near South Point, the girls checked out non-native jewelry and a hippie selling roach clips, while I checked out the 1907 Mauna Loa ʻaʻā lava flow. Chock full of olivine crystals, which differentiates this rift eruption from those from the summit. The dense layer in the middle is the actual molten part of the flow, the top part is the broken-up surface, while the bottom layer was the top layer at one time, like a bulldozer tread.
The 1907 flow resting on a late-prehistoric flow, you can tell because of the few extra years of oxidization.
Between Naʻālehu and Punalu`u:
Punalu`u (that pāhoehoe looks reasonably fresh, but it’s over three-hundred years old):
You likin’ the lichen?
Freshwater spring just a few feet from the surf at Punalu`u. When the tide comes in, the extra weight pushes on the earth, raising the water table. Since freshwater is less dense than saltwater, it’s at the top of the table and gets pushed out first. I took a sip–just like out of the tap!
Then up the ‘hill’ to Kīlauea:
Smellin’ that sulfur, not unpleasant to a sinner ($1 Mark Twain).
Colossal waste of some Gilbey’s, although Madame Pele appreciated it!
Four-thousand feet, constant wind and the odd rain shower, if you’re wearing shorts, you need to keep warm:
The lava shield on the horizon is Mauna Ulu, built to 390 ft within five years. Upon the end if the eruption in 1974, everyone doubted that Kīlauea could top that, especially since the 1975 earthquake deflated the volcano. So Pu’u ‘O’o started in 1983 and hasn’t quit, so much for that…
Some of the Mauna Ulu ‘brownie mix’ lava flows, from down on the coast.
Compared to 1988, it’s a lot more of a trek to see the red rock now. Half-mile on a paved road, another quarter over new pāhoehoe, and then you’re on your own. While harder to get to, more people make the trip now, curiously. My daughters were relentless, wanting to go farther than what was reasonably safe! No tripod, still haven’t figured out time exposures on this new digicam, but one makes do…
Monday was spent slummin’ around the hotel. Employee rates do not suck.
Hualālai volcano, forgotten about with all the publicity Kīlauea and Mauna Loa get, but it erupted ~1800-1801 and the Kailua-Kona airport is built on the lava. The same eruption today would run into over $2b in damages, and it will erupt again:
And in more cheery news…this lava is from near-prehistoric and 1859 eruptions of Mauna Loa. The Waikoloa hotels and shopping centers were built on these flows. You can’t even see Mauna Loa from the coast, that’s how large these eruptions were!
South of Kailua-Kona, waiting for the flight to leave:
I’m much better looking now:
Mauna Loa slopes in South Kona. This is another place where you can’t actually see the rift zone from inhabited areas, another disaster waiting to happen. The last eruption in this area was in 1950, lava flowed fifteen miles in three hours! The tanks are the typical south Hawai`i method of obtaining water–catchment tanks from uphill runoff piped to houses.
The third carry-on inspection at KOA:
American gave us a 767 for the trip back, must have had something to do with the blizzard back east because the plane was only about 60% full. Nice plane, for what it was worth! (Glad to get the 2-across seating…) Marie Antoinette was the movie and I still can’t figure out what it was about. 82F leaving Kona, 2F upon arrival in Omaha.
From the “It’s A Nice Place To Visit” Department…
While less pressing this trip, getting from Kona to the volcano still means at least two hours on two-lane roads of varying quality. However at this point in my life, I wouldn’t stay in even the best hotel in Hilo. And $3.02 gas in Kailua isn’t that outta hand compared to $2.30 in Omaha.
There are parts of 19 on the way from Waikoloa to Waimea that look like US-136 in northern Missouri, and after leaving Waimea on the way to Hilo it resembles northern Georgia! Beautiful scenery, except hardly any places to pull off and take pictures…likewise, you can find countless pictures taken from every pulloff along the northern coast along 19, so I didn’t bother, just enjoyed the drive. Smelled so good–warm, humid, Mother Nature decomposing making that beautiful mildewy smell that reminded me of my years hitting libraries looking for old volcano books…
I knew from before that Puna was chock-full of hippies, but every state park along 137 was crammed full of druggies displaying something other than peace and love. God bless ’em… My favorite volcano watching spot, Hirano Store in Glenwood, has seen better days, losing it’s gas pumps probably due to EPA regs. And the view across to Pu`u `O`o is now blocked by trees. (Well, it has been eighteen years, Damon–how do your trees look?). Three pickups out front–three pitbulls in the beds–about three teeth on each of the drivers! (The state mammal is a pitbull. I saw one dog on my trip that wasn’t one.) Unless pitbull ownership is a compensating mechanism for shortcomings in the testosterone department (and I don’t know what weed does, so this may be more true than I thought) then there’s only one reason why your average squatter or renter needs such a dog. And this was the primary reason why one better think twice about doing some lava-flow geological research hiking–I don’t want to screw with some dealer’s stash in the middle of nowhere. If the pitbull don’t get you then the claymore mines will!
And what’s the deal with Reggae? I counted seven stations catering to dreadlocked white boys. I was looking for Country and damn glad to find it!
On balance, Hawai`i is a great place to visit–but too often and I would start to take its charms for granted while becoming bitter and cynical about what’s wrong about it! A place so beautiful should not be considered routine.
So after the Bataan Death March back home, I swore to myself that I was glad to be back home and off airplanes for a while. (After booking this itinerary, making sure we had plenty of connection time, wifey decided that next time she wanted to do a straight of a shot as possible! (Bangs head)).. So what’s waiting for me in my e-mail? Cousin getting married that fall at Saint Simons Island, GA! Well, there’s a Steak ‘n Shake in Brunswick…