Suffice it to say that we had a marvelous time, and managed to see most of what we wanted to see, and do most of what we wanted to do. We didn't have any great adventures, but some small adventures, and, luckily, no misadventures!
We flew out from Minneapolis after picking my mother up in south Minneapolis. My brother in law was nice enough to see us to the airport, so we didn't have to worry about parking. Luckily, we were able to get a direct flight to Honolulu, rather than have to waste lots of time exchanging planes.
We arrived in Oahu relatively late in the day, Minnesota time, but relatively early Honolulu time! We found our luggage, took a shuttle to get the rental car, and drove the length of Honolulu to get to the hotel on the Waikiki Beach.
There was a four hour difference (five hours the last two days, since they do not have daylight savings.) And it was 11:00 P.M. in Minnesota, but only 7:00 in Honolulu! My mother was fatigued, so went right to bed, but Joan and I looked around the hotel a bit (The Otani) right on Waikiki Beach, and ate a little vegetarian pizza. It was a beautiful location. But it was a long flight, and we were pretty fatigued.
In the morning, we arose relatively early, all things considered, ate a little breakfast at a McDonald's (I had a bagel and a coffee from Starbuck's), and we headed north to look around. And, oh, what scenery to see! The flowers in themselves, in their multitudes of color and size, were enough, but with the foliage, and the beautiful and changing scenery, not to mention the wonderful weather, it was magnificent! To see entire trees in full color bloom was something I had not seen before. My mother is very good at identifying flowers, so there were many that she could name....all of which I cannot spell! Bugenvia, Jackamaran, Poincienna, well anyway, that's the way they sounded.
Speaking of sounds, did you know the Hawaiian
alphabet has only twelve letters? No wonder so many of the names
of cities and streets and everything seems so similar. It is a
beautiful language, though, and I just love some of the music.
After sight seeing, seeing some surfers, and visiting an ancient area where sacrifices used to be offered, we went to a place called the Polynesian Village. It is an immense place, where you can see many of the ancient cultures of Hawaii and the surrounding islands, and get a taste for what it may have been like before they were discovered.
There were some really good exhibitions and demonstrations, and lots to see. A demonstration from Samoa included starting a fire with coconut fiber and two sticks, he cracked a coconut in two equal halves, made lots of coconut milk by shredding the meat with a sharp object, and another fellow climbed a palm tree with no trouble whatsoever.
There was a canoe pageant on the water, with music, and hulas on the water depicting stories about the various Polynesian Islands.
We ate at a genuine "le'uau",
including a pig that had been cooked in the earth, filled with
hot rocks, and covered with banana leaves. Some pretty strange
looking things, like the purple rolls, poi, and I can't remember
what else! There was also entertainment during the meal, including
some great hula dancers, male and female. Then it was on to a
spectacular show with dancing, hula and otherwise. We headed back
to the hotel which was about an hour away, and my brother and
his wife were there by the time we got back. It made for a long
day, and we tired my mother out so much she just stayed home and
read her book the next day!
Left to right: Roger, Joan, Joanne, Mom, Rodney.
Joan and I continued our sightseeing. We headed to Diamond Head early the next morning, water and flashlights in hand. Diamond Head Crater is an imposing sight, and hovers over the entire Waikiki beach area. It's also very steep, with some weird obstacles to go through to get to the top. We took our time, and made it just fine. You have two completely dark passages to go through, one of them containing a spiral staircase. At one place Some of these places are left over from World War II when this area was heavy with anti aircraft installations.
The top of Diamond Head gives a tremendous view of both the crater inside and of Honolulu. I took a number of pictures, and then we headed back down, which was considerably easier, although still treacherous in a couple places. With the right kind of footwear, I think pretty much anyone could make this trek if they really wanted to.
We went sightseeing with Rodney and Joanne,(my brother and his wife) and my mother. They had been there before, so were a bit more familiar with what to see and do there. We toured some of the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, and went to the Punchbowl Cemetery which is a large burial area for military personnel, right in the center of a small crater. Then on to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which was very moving experience, standing over the actual vessel visible in the waters below.
We had supper at the hotel, and retired relatively early. On Sunday, March 26th, Joan and I again headed out in the morning to see a rainforest located outside Honolulu. It was a drastic change from a residential area one block to a rainforest just a little bit down the road!
The trail was a rugged one, mostly up, with rocks and roots on the trail. What made this even more of a challenge was the fact that first, it was raining slightly, so everything was a bit slippery, but even more, there was a cross country race that was using the trail as a part of their route! So, as Joan and I were climbing, we kept meeting these runners coming down toward us! I suppose there were 20 or so of them in total, staggered out over 15-20 minutes. Rather strange. As we neared the top of the summit, it began to rain harder, but we did see a magnificent waterfall, very high indeed. It did not contain large amounts of water, but what did fall fell a long long way! It was quite dark in the rainforest, and the size of some of the ferns and other things we have as houseplants was amazing! I have new respect for the philodendron! There were vines I think I could have climbed!
As we headed back down, the rain increased, and pretty soon I was quite soaked, as were my glasses. Also, with the exertion and high humidity, my glasses were fogging up, which is not a good thing to happen on a trail where you have to watch your step. I used my handkerchief until it was as wet as I was and then I just tried to see through the water and fog. The rain continued, and pretty soon, the water was pretty well covering many of the flatter places on the trail. By the time we got to the car, we were a sorry looking pair, I think! When we got back on the road, which had a slight incline, water was just cascading down the entire road from all the run off!
All in all, though, it was quite fun!
Later, we went to the Aloha Bowl with my brother, Rodney, and his wife, Joanne. They have a very large flea market there every weekend, so we thought we would go and see what types of things there were. I bought a rather wild shirt that was very Hawaiian, and Joan bought a tee shirt and a dress. They had many things in the various small booths, and it was fun to look at it all.
We took my mother to a park in the afternoon that had quite a variety of flowers and flowering trees, and she really enjoyed that.
In the afternoon, Joan and I walked downtown and saw Waikiki Beach from many vantages. There were throngs of people there, and some would have lots of trouble sleeping that night. They were lobster red already, and still lying in the sun. We were both very careful to keep the sunscreen on, knowing we were very susceptible to sunburn because we are from Minnesota, and any semblance of a tan we may have had is many months gone!
That evening, we ate at a totally Japanese restaurant in the hotel called, "The Miyako". That was a new experience for Joan, my mother , and me. We sat on the floor, and ordered a completely Japanese meal, and both Joan and I managed to complete the meal by using our chopsticks! Although it was a bit uncomfortable for my mother on the floor, I think she really enjoyed the experience, as did Joan and I.
On March 27th, we headed to Hawaii, known as "The Big Island". We landed in Kona, and both my brother and his wife and we rented cars, so that we could do different activities during the week. We went to the bed and breakfast we would be staying at for the next week, and it was just beautiful! Joan and I were in a lower room called the Polynesian Suite, and it was very nice, with a small sitting area in another room with a couch.
The Holualoa Inn is a story in itself. It is in the middle of a coffee plantation. It's a beautiful setting with a view of the city of Kona-Kilhua below, and the ocean just beyond that. There is a beautiful swimming pool, a hot tub, and lots of plants and flowers outside, and the house itself is immense. The dining room where we had breakfast is open, with a beautiful view, and the main floor has beautiful dark wood floors. They asked that you take your shoes off, an Hawaiian custom, to keep the floor beautiful. The downstairs had a full kitchen and television room, and the spaciousness of the place was wonderful. It was interesting that most of the rooms had geckos in them. They are a small lizard that eats bugs, so no one minds having them around. I found it a bit unsettling, thinking there were lizards everywhere, but you do get used to the idea. We did see a large praying mantis in the sitting room, and a katydid outside on the screens. They have some large insects there! The house was very open to the elements, with sliding glass doors, and areas that were always open. They just don't have the extremes of weather that we have here, even in the summer.
That evening, we ate by the ocean in a wonderful restaurant called, "The Kona Inn", and it was one of the best meals I've ever eaten. I had a fish called "ono", and everything about the meal was just delicious. Beautiful sunset into the ocean too.
The next day, the five of us headed north toward the other big city on the island called Hilo. We saw lots of beautiful scenery on the way...giant waves, high cliffs, roaring falls, beautiful wild orchids, another rainforest, and much more. We stopped at a botanical garden that had many beautiful displays, and my mother really liked that.
We also stopped at a macadamia nut factory, and of course, purchased some. They are a big industry in Hawaii.
On the way back we stopped at a lava flow that literally wiped out a highway a number of years ago.....1990, I think. We ate supper on the way back, and then went to the bed and breakfast....it had been a full day, circumferencing 2/3 of the island and returning. The weather continued to be wonderful...a little rain mixed in periodically, but warm, and I never felt the need for a coat.
On the next day, we rose early, and headed out to hunt the whale! We went on a boat captained by "Captain Dan McSweeney, who was a whale expert who's been researching them for over 20 years. It was a bit overcast and rainy in the morning, but cleared off later, and was a very nice day. The trip lasted about 3 ½ hours, and we did see a large male humpback whale. The reason he knew it was a male was because they dropped a microphone, and the whale was doing some eery singing, and only the males sing. We saw it come up for air a number of times, and then dive, throwing its large tail in the air as it did. Very impressive. I tried for some pictures, so we'll see how I did, but I didn't want to concentrate so hard on taking pictures that I missed the experience itself....it's a fine line to walk. I want to remember the actual event though, rather that remembering what I saw through the lens of a camera.
We also found a large group of Spinner Dolphins. They fit their name well, because they leap far out of the water, and rotate as they do, finally diving back in. They are a small dolphin, and looked like they were having great fun.
In the afternoon, we went and visited a "place of refuge" for ancient Hawaiians that has been restored. It was a beautiful site, and we saw three sea turtles lounging in the water and on the shore. The rock walls were 14 feet thick, so lots of stones had to be hauled to the site. The black rocks and the white sand made a very interesting contrast.
We headed back to the bed and breakfast after the meal, and just kind of relaxed for the evening. They had a very nice pool table upstairs, so we did play a number of times over the week's stay. Neither of us decided we should turn professional, but it was fun.
The next morning, bright and early, we headed toward the volcano area, and the national park located there. We had asked for a "breakfast to go", and had gotten all sorts of goodies to eat later. We headed out, and our first stop was a black sand beach. It was beautiful, and there were picnic tables, so we figured it would be a great place for breakfast. And it was! We had a leisurely breakfast of fresh papaya filled with various fresh fruit pieces, fruit bread, granola cereal, and a banana. Good, really good!
Then it was on toward the volcano, named Kilauea. The drive there was nothing spectacular. Lots of rugged country, and intermixed, flows of lava periodically. As we approached the park area, though, you could see the desolation caused by the eruptions. We went first to the visitor's center, and got some information, then across the street to the hotel, where they had a viewing platform of the crater. You could see steam rising from various vents in the crater, and it was quite disconcerting to think of all of the power that was under our feet, ready to erupt at any time! It gives you some perspective of the world, and how small and insignificant some of the things you worry about really are! We headed toward the drive around the crater.
Our first stop was at the Thurston Lava Tube, where we could walk through a natural flow tunnel left over when the lava cooled. It was a pretty walk to the tube, and the tube had been electrified, so that you could get a good view of the actual lava flow and the size of the tube. It was well above my head, perhaps ten to twelve feet high, and perhaps fifteen feet wide. At the end of the tube was a gated area, and an exit, but you could go beyond the gate if you had a flashlight to see an unimproved lava tube. I had brought a good flashlight, so we did go in, and it was much harder to walk, and much harder to see where you were going, because the tube is so large. We headed back and exited the tube, and resumed our drive.
The next stop was about a mile's hike over a rough lava field to a hill that was about 400 feet high, and steep. From the top of this hill, we could see the lava vents and the smoke rising from them in the distance. It was an impressive panorama, with lush rainforest on one side, and lava all around. We headed back in the mist and rain, and drove on to another hike called "The Devestation Trail", and indeed it was. It showed the impact of the lava fountain, which was all the stuff that had been thrown into the air when the volcano blew. Lava chunks were everywhere, to a certain distance, and it had killed everything. Beyond a certain point, where the projectiles had not landed, everything was normal and green.
From there we drove on to another view of the crater from the other side, so we could get a perspective as to its size, and it was large! And steaming. And smelling of sulphur.
Soon we headed home, after a pretty long day and some strenuous hiking. We stopped at a tiny restaurant, in the town of Captain Cook, on the way back that had a good review in the book Joan had, and it was delicious. We both had the special of the day, which was broiled mahimahi, with mashed potatoes, and fresh vegetables, with an exotic salad of local greens.
On Friday, we just kind of spent the day looking at the ocean from various beaches near Kona, some of which have white sands with black lava outcroppings, some that were just white sand, and some that had no sand at all, just rock. We went to a beach that rented snorkeling equipment, but I had not snorkeled since I was a kid. With my bad eyes, it's hard to see anything underwater, so there really isn't a whole lot of fun in it. This place had prescription goggles! He looked through my glasses and estimated me as a "minus 3". He was just right...I could see great through the goggles!
That breathing underwater through a snorkel tube sure is an unnatural action though..it took me a while to get used to it again, but I must admit that the underwater view was spectacular! The color and variety of fish that we saw was just amazing! In all shapes and sizes too, some so brightly colored that they were vivid to the eye, some rainbow in color, and various shapes and sizes that we could never identify them all! And you really needed the snorkel and goggles to see them well. We spent quite a bit of time at that beach, and it really was quite enjoyable and entertaining. I did make one minor error in doing this. I forgot to put sunscreen on my back, so I got a bit on the red side. Not real bad, but enough that I knew I was sunburned. Well, another little memory, I guess. Sunscreen does make a big difference! We used a lot of it over the time we were there.
We went out for supper with Mom, and Rod and Joanne, and ate Italian, for a change....it was very good, too!
Saturday was another beautiful day. We rose early and headed north. We stopped at a place that was the site of three temples, and hiked the trail there. It was a beautiful site, and I took lots of pictures. It was really windy, and the sea was rough. We headed back toward town, and went snorkeling again, but with the rough water, it was much more difficult, and the water was murkier than the day before. Also, the tide was higher, so it was more difficult to find a place to touch bottom when you wanted. Joan thought better of staying in the deep water, and I wasn't wild about it either, so we called it a day.
We had a nice leisurely supper in a kind of retro 40's restaurant which was a nice change from the more elegant places we had been eating at. This place sold SPAM tee shirts. Spam is really popular in Hawaii. Honest!
We sat around for a while in the evening, and were sharing a bottle of wine, and it had been raining earlier in the evening, so we had stayed inside. At 8:18 Hawaiian time, the room started moving slightly, and we soon realized that we were experiencing an earthquake! The first couple seconds, no one realized what it was, but as the room swayed slightly, and the floor shook, we realized what it was. The thought that raced through my mind was related to what happened if it got worse, and it was "the big one"! After a few seconds, it did quiet down, and we had some more wine! It turns out that it was a 5.5 earthquake on the Richter Scale, and was centered near the active volcano, about 75 miles away. Apparently they are rare but not unknown in that area, with one occuring every year or so. We just got lucky!
Sunday was another day of hiking and sightseeing, to the north this time to a partially restored ancient city, located right next to the ocean. There was very long trail through the village, and lots of beautiful coconut palms. Lot of wind too, which added to the majesty of the waves in the emerald ocean. There was a beautiful small white sand beach among all of rough black lava rocks, and some large pineapple trees growing wild. Then we headed on to a beautiful valley overlook that reminded me of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. I don't think pictures can do the site justice, because it was so steep to walk down to the bottom of the canyon, and we only went about half way. The walk up was a bit taxing, because it was quite steep and quite long. We went over a mountain pass on the way back that was quite desert like, and there were large herds of cattle. It reminded us of the far west, such as Montana, with the open land, and cactus.
We ate lunch at a quaint little restaurant in Waimea that was a very old house that had been converted to a tiny restaurant, and then we headed back to the Holualoa Inn, our bed and breakfast. We stopped at a grocery store in the country, just to see what types of things they had, and there were some things you will not find in a Minnesota store. Seaweed salads for one thing, and of course the vast variety of tropical fruit. We did buy some smoked marlin to taste, and it was very good. We shared it with the group that evening, so everyone could have a taste.
We went out to eat at a very nice restaurant that evening. I think it was called "Edwards by the Ocean". It was in a gated community, and we needed permission from the security guard to enter. Luckily we had reservations, so we were allowed to enter! It was a very nice place, completely out of doors, and next to the ocean. We had a wonderful meal, with appetizers and drinks beforehand, and Joan and I both agreed we ate way too much!
We had some more wine and treats upon our return to the bed and breakfast, and visited for a while before Rod and Joanne had to go pack and get ready for their flight to San Diego at 6:00 the next morning. We said our sad goodbyes, and retired to our room. We needed to pack and get ready for our long flight home in the morning.
About 11:00 we were all packed and ready to leave the place that had been our home for the last week. We loaded all the suitcases in the rental car, which wasn't easy, since it was a small car, and we headed toward the airport. Because our flight was not for a couple hours, we stopped at a beach near the airport, and just sat and watched the ocean for a while. Soon, we headed for the airport, and returned the rental car, and went and got checked in for our flight to Honolulu.
There was an earlier flight available, so we decided to take that, even though we knew we'd have to wait in Honolulu. We took off about 1:45, and in about a half hour, we landed in Honolulu. At least we didn't have to worry about the luggage, since that was checked over thoroughly, and hopefully was headed to Minnesota with us!
The flight for Minneapolis took off about 5:45 P.M. Honolulu time, and we arrived in Minneapolis about 6:15 A.M. Minnesota time. We had lost five hours in the flight with the time zone changes and the fact that there is no daylight savings in Hawaii. They don't need it. It ended up being about an eight hour flight, in reality.
Dale, my brother in law, was right there to meet us after we found our luggage, and so it was to drop him off, drop my mother off, and head to Cambridge. We timed it right so we were able to hit the morning traffic jam, but really, we moved pretty well once we got on the freeway, and were home by 9:00.
It was a great trip, with lots of wonderful memories of paradise.