Hawaii Trip Wrap up: Part 1

Posted By on August 29, 2006

Map of HawaiiI’ve been planning to write down some thoughts and include some personal photos from our recent family vacation to Hawaii. We enjoyed near perfect weather on our entire trip, both on a cruise ship, NCL(A)’s “Pride of Hawaii,” and the time spent with my nephew David and his wife Gillian who live on Kauai — they were wonderful hosts. (see following part(s) of this wrap up on Kauai — our favorite island)

We flew direct from Cincinnati just a day or so after new tightened security. (we wisely checked liquids, etc) We flew on a Delta 767 and the three in-flight movies and several podcasts downloaded to my Palm Treo 700p made the long 9 hour flight bearable; others slept. After the 6 hour time change we made our way through the beautiful Honolulu Airport, retrieved our luggage, and boarded our transfer bus for the drive to the port. The traffic was heavy in Honolulu, but the drive was only a short distance from the airport. After a fairly quick boarding procedure, thanks to having all our paperwork faxed in prior to the trip, leis and shell necklaces were put on each of us as we boarded the ship and the searched for our cabin began. The mandatory ‘muster drill’ was painless and a fun time as usual, but after a day of traveling wasn’t something we really were anxious to do.
Katelyn, Alex and Taylor heading for Muster Station
We are somewhat seasoned when it comes to cruise ships, but we always enjoy being back on-board another ship. I suspect our expectations were a bit high or perhaps the service aboard the American flagged and crewed “Pride of Hawaii” was sub-standard. I suspect the latter. (maybe a little more on this later?)
Hilo to Mauna Kea
Our first port of call, Hilo, was a night sail away on the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii (click for map). We arrived early the next morning to a beautiful sunrise and, per usual, tropical breezes and temperatures in the 80s. Our ambitious goal for the day was to head to the top of the tallest peak in all of the Pacific … Mauna Kea. (13,796 feet) The five of us partnered in a 4 wheel drive Ford 350 turbo diesel van with a soldier just back from Iraq and his brother and started the long drive toward the 14 observatories built atop this extraordinary volcano.
Rainbow Falls, Hilo Hawaii
On our way out of Hilo, we drove through moderate neighborhoods who have seen real estate prices rise to very high levels. A middle class home in much of the mid-west would be well over a half million in most neighborhoods outside of Hilo according to our driver. (most of Hawaii was that way) We stopped a beautiful Wailuku State Park and Rainbow Falls. (large photo) It was ‘picture perfect.’
Alter to Mauna Kea
As we continued on toward the Mauna Kea volcanic mountain (33,000 feet from the floor of the Pacific) and the celestial observatories, we passed alters that still are places of worship as they were in the days before the Christian missionaries arrived. We respected the flowers and palms left not all that long ago.
Taylor with a 60lb Lava bombAs we continued to climb toward our lunch spot we shifted into 4 wheel drive and noticed the vegetation disappear until the landscape started to look like another planet. The air started to thin and on went our sweatshirts — brrr from Hawaii! Along the way we noticed the different rock formations included something called “lava bombs” which are chucks of molten rock blasted years ago from the volcano when it was active. My son Taylor is holding a unique peanut shaped “lava bomb” that must have weighed 60 pounds or so … imagine the explosive power to send thousands of these into the air.
Japanese Subaru Observatory
Our eventual destination was the top where the many observatories are. The one above is the Subaru Observatory built by the Japanese. There were many others including huge radio telescope dishes that sit on what looks to be an alien planet.
Dish on Mauna Kea
Pin at 13,796 feetThe observatories are at the top of the volcano, well sort of, as there is a hiking trail that heads down and then back up again to finally reach the pinned summit. Despite the cold and thin air at nearly 14,000 feet, we all were able to climb to the peak. At this peak is was eerie and quiet. Again, an alter was built to worship the volcano gods by the native Hawaiians … it has relatively fresh flowers, etc so it must still be used today? (Photo: Taylor at 13,796 feet below)
Taylor at Summit of Mauna Kea
After our return to the van, some decided that a little oxygen was a good idea as getting acclimated while working in this kind of elevation would take some getting use to. All in all, the day was not exactly how I had perceived our first couple of days on Hawaii. I intend on writing up part two while out of town this week … stay tuned.
Hilo, Hawaii -- the big island Mauna Kea

Looking at Hilo, Hawaii and Mauna Kea from the sea (large photo)



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  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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