Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Hawaii Diaries -- the very sad eighth and last day

Me at Java on the Rocks, doing the tourist thing Posted by Hello

ok, I hate pictures of myself but here's us getting on to the little plane to tour the island Posted by Hello

Hawaiian coast Posted by Hello

valley from the air Posted by Hello

view from the airplane Posted by Hello

Friday, November 26, 2004

The last day. How incredibly sad.

We had to check out at 10 am, so we got that done and then we went back over Huggo’s way for breakfast – this time at Java on the Rocks (which becomes Huggo’s on the Rocks for lunch and abuts Huggo’s so it shares that amazing coastal view). I went back to Jack’s Diving Locker for a t-shirt, because overnight I had become totally obsessed with diving and diving culture, and we did some more various and sundry shopping.

That afternoon, we took a tour of the island by plane. Dad was sleeping part of the time, but I thought it was a pretty cool way to see everything. It’s amazing because you literally fly over the entire island in less than two hours. You fly over Kilauea, the big island’s only active volcano at the moment. The lava flows are slow but steady and cover eight miles. Flying over it is sort of unspectacular, in that you don’t go over a mawing crater or see red lava shooting into the air, which is sort of what I was expecting. Mostly, you just see miles and miles of bubbling black stone that covers everything in its path. When it hits the ocean, it cools immediately and breaks into millions of pieces, creating inaccessible black sand beaches that look like black velvet from the air. If you walk too close to the cracks in the lava, you risk plunging into the sea with the rest of the lava cliff. I was happy to be in a plane and not walking.

The interesting part is leaving that barren wasteland and flying past Mauna Loa to the Hilo side. Mauna Loa is a high volcano (is more than 30,000 feet high from the bottom of the sea) but it hasn’t been active in hundreds of thousands of years. That means that the Hilo side of Hawai’i has had time for green jungles to grow over water-carved canyons. That results in the 2,000 feet-high waterfalls you see in all pictures of Hawaii. There’s also the TKTK valley, where thousands of pounds of taro root used to be grown. That was one place I wished we could land and explore. It’s a green valley surrounded by two high walls, and it looks like a place where hobbits would live. (There are pictures of the valley above.)

Today, most of Hawai’i’s agricultural products are macadamia nuts. The sugar industry has moved elsewhere, and the people of Hawai’i no longer live on taro root. There still is quite a bit of coffee grown around Kona, however. We tried to take lots of advantage of that!

The flight ends passing over the Kohala Gold Coast, which is where all those spectacular hotels are, like the Waikoloa Hilton and the Hapuna Prince. Soon we were back at Kona airport and now we had nothing much left to do but eat dinner and fly away home.

I thought this part was going to be really long and hideous, but it wasn’t all that bad. The flight home was much more tolerable than the flight there – I think that’s because you aren’t nearly as excited to come home as you are to get there. In fact, I didn’t want to come home at all. Even as I write this (on Dec. 22, back in Boulder) I feel like I did then, returning to the mainland, wondering when I would ever get to go back to paradise.

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