Postcard from Hawaii - VII

One more day in the paradise of Hawaii on "The Big Island." Time to drive along the coast, to hike around Rainbow and Akaka Falls and time to see what's above us via the Mauna Kea Observatory.

Back to Oahu tomorrow for a couple of days in Paradise on Waikiki Beach!

Rainbow Falls outside of Hilo in the Wailuku River State Park.
On bright, sunny days, there is usually a large rainbow, but
this day was overcast so no rainbow. Known in Hawaiian as
Waianuenue (rainbow water), the falls are 80 feet tall and
flows over a natural lava cave, the mythological home to
Hina, an ancient Hawaiian goddess.

442-foot high Akaka Falls
In Akaka Falls State Park along the Hamakua Coast is a
0.5 mile walking trail through a rain-forest filled with
wild orchids and groves of bamboo and ferns.


Waimanu Valley. Known as the Valley of Kings because it was
once home to many of the Hawaiian kings, it has both historical
and cultural importance to Hawaiians. Before the arrival of
Captain Cook in 1778, about 4,000 people lived in the valley.
In 1946, the most devastating tsunami in Hawaii's history
struck the valley covering it with water 4-feet deep. Many
people were killed and nearly all the survivors left afterwards.
Today only 50 people live in the secluded valley which has no

roads in or out and no modern conveniences such as electricity. 
One more stop on our itinerary was the astronomical
observatory on Mauna Kea. Very interesting and well worth
the trip up the mountain. What we didn't count on though was

while it was in the 80's along the coast, at the top of the mountain,
it was in the mid-30's with a strong, very cold wind blowing.
We bought jackets at the gift shop and still almost froze!

Looking at the moon through one of the telescopes at the
observatory on Mauna Kea.
Our last stop for the night was for a very late supper at Ken's
House of Pancakes, a legend in Hilo and one of the very few
24-hour dining establishments. It is owned by the family of
"The Rock," Dwayne Johnson, a professional wrestler and now
a budding movie star.

Postcard from Hawaii - VI

We chose Blue Hawaii for our helicopter tour. Good choice!
Up, up and away! It's a little expensive, but when you go to Hawaii, one of your splurge items should be a helicopter tour. You'll get a bird's eye view of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world! On the island of Hawaii, you'll see volcanoes, flowing lava, gorgeous coastline, rain forest, and waterfalls there is no other way to see. Plan to take lots of pictures and plenty of video because it will be a memory for a lifetime. A word of caution - even if you think you don't need it, take your motion sickness medicine!

Almost ready for takeoff
Youngest-daughter a little nervous as this was her first
helicopter flight, but ready to go!

Coastline of cooled lava. You can see under the water where
the lava flowed into the ocean and over time is adding
land making the island bigger.

Greenery is coming back in an old lava field.

Recent lava field which reached the ocean. You can see how
thick the lava was!
Active lava flow. The lava stream looks small from this height,
but it was actually rather large.

Double waterfall. This is on private property and the only way
to see it is from the air.

I want to live here!
Back safe on the ground. It was a rush!

Postcard from Hawaii - V

Honu'apo Bay along the southeastern coast. There are Fish Ponds
here that have been fished by Hawaiians for hundreds of years.
Day 7 in Paradise and Day 3 on "The Big Island" is the 4th of July, time for America to celebrate freedom and for us to take a leisurely road trip along the coast on Highway 11 to the most southern tip of the U.S.

Youngest-daughter overlooking Honu'apo Bay.
The Mamma-woman and Youngest-daughter at the Punalu'u
Bakery in the town of Na'alehu. This is the most southern
bake shop in the United States. Stopped here for lunch and
snacks for later. Yummy!

When we came out of the bakery, a 4th of July Parade had
started so we took our sandwiches and ate lunch sitting
on the street curb while enjoying the festivities. 
Small-town USA was on display and a thoroughly good
time was had by one and all!

Along the rugged southern coast
Waiahukini Park near the southern tip of Hawaii. Note the
cars on top to judge how high these cliffs are. That's
a long ways from the top to the water!

Waiahukini Park. Older teenagers were jumping from the cliffs
past the rocks and into the water far, far below. This girl wanted
to get even higher so she jumped off a wooden pulley casing.
We saw her back up and doing it again later. Hope she lives
to tell her grand-kids about this during her old age!
In 1866, Mark Twain spent 3 months living on this island. He
visited Waiohinu, a small town not much more than a sugar
cane plantation, and planted a Monkey Pod tree at this site.
The original tree died a number of years ago, but a seedling
from that tree was planted on the same spot.

On the way back "home," we stopped at the famous Punalu'u
Black Sand Beach Park, one of the most famous black
sand beaches in Hawaii.

The picturesque Punalu'u Beach

We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time and
were privileged to see 2 nesting Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea
turtles). Adult males live their lives in the ocean, but
females, like these, come back to the same beach where they
were born to lay their eggs every other year. Babies will eat
jelly fish and other small invertebrates, but the adults
are vegetarians. Weighing around 400 - 500 pounds, they
are 2nd in size only to Leatherback turtles.  
Time to wrap up another fantastic day in Paradise.
Aloha y'all!

Postcard from Hawaii - IV

The beautiful Ihilani Resort &
Spa Hotel
Day 4 in Paradise was spent mostly just relaxing around the hotel. Who could blame us? The hotel was beautiful, the private beach was beautiful, the hotel's grounds were beautiful, and our room was excellent. It was really hard to not just sit on our patio all day with a cold drink in hand looking at the beautiful view of the ocean and palm trees, listening to the waves gently breaking on the beach and just doze off with not a care in the world. Happy, happy, happy indeed!

Day 5 in Paradise began with us sadly checking out of the Ihilani, but excitedly looking forward to the short trip by Hawaiian Airlines to the island of Hawaii, the "Big Island." Time for relaxing was over and time for exploring and sightseeing had begun.

Thankfully, the return of the Hertz rental car was a much quicker proposition than picking it up and we didn't have to wait long at all for one of their shuttle buses to get us to our terminal. We were a few minutes early so we grabbed a bite to eat and walked around the really nice terminal. I even took a few pictures of Lil Dude Troll which, as usual, started some friendly and interesting conversations. Our plane pulled up right on time, we loaded up and off we went to another part of Paradise.

The metal bird that took us to Hilo
The Hilo airport is interesting as it is nearly completely open-air. The Hertz car rental office here was so much better than on Oahu. Fast and very friendly. We were soon headed to our next home-away-from-home, The Bamboo Orchid Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Volcano, a little town located in the rain forest right on the border of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Where the Ihilani Hotel had been paradise in a luxurious way, the Bamboo Orchid was paradise in a natural way. The dark green forest enclosed all sides making it very private. Without specific directions and a sharp eye, you could pass right by the almost hidden entrance and never know it was there. Our host Kathy was gracious and friendly and our little private cottage was totally charming with everything needed for a wonderful stay. There was even a fat tabby cat which had the run of the property. Of course this delighted animal-loving Youngest-daughter. Cat and daughter took a shine to each other as every day when we returned, the cat would run to greet us and follow us into our cottage where she could be petted and play with Youngest-daughter. I was a little concerned about the lack of air conditioning, but found the first night that none was needed. We left the door to our patio open on our 2nd floor bedroom and were lulled to sleep with a cool breeze of air and the gentle drops of rain on the tree leaves. I woke up in the middle of the night cold enough to pull the fluffy comforter up over us!  The next morning it was hard to get out of that warm, comfortable bed. We had to turn on the heat before taking showers. After that first night, we set the heat to come on in the morning and left the patio door open, but not as much. It rained every night we were there which was a wonderful assistance for quickly falling into a deep sleep after a full day of island activities.

The entrance to the Bamboo Orchid Cottage
After getting settled that first day, we went into town that night for pizza and just happened to be seated next to a very nice couple from Australia who were there on their honeymoon. We had a most enjoyable evening swapping information about the American mainland, which they had never been to but wanted, and Australia, which we have never been to and wanted. Good food, good company, and a most relaxing evening back at our cottage sitting on the patio just being happy.

The next morning after a great breakfast prepared for us by Kathy, we went to the Volcanoes National Park. All I can say about that place is if you've never been, if you've never seen an active volcano with your own eyes, you need to. Can't afford it you think? Start saving. It is one place that should be on everyone's Bucket List. Over the next 4 days, we kept returning to it - in the daytime and at night. You really should see it for yourself!

The rain forest from our bedroom patio

Pu'u O'o on Kilauea in the evening. Erupting since
January 3, 1986, this is the world's longest active
rift zone eruption. 

Kilauea Volcano in the rain during daylight hours

In the rain one day, we were fortunate to see a
beautiful rainbow with ends on either side of
a huge volcano caldera
Long cold field of lava with plants beginning
to grow through

An ocean of cooled lava

"Pele's Tears" - in the Hawaiian religion, Pele is
the goddess of volcanoes. These "tears" are
solidified drops of lava that form during an

"Pele's Hair" - these are thin, very fragile strands
of volcanic glass formed when molten lava is
ejected into the air during an eruption 
Walking through Nahuku, (the
Thurston Lava Tube) is an
interesting experience! 

Sacred to Hawaiians, the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs
is on the southern side of Kilauea Volcano. Over
23,000 pecked images were made in hardened lava
before the first written recording of it in 1823.
For hundreds of years, the local custom dictated
that when a baby was born, a piece of the hardened
lava be chiseled out, the umbilical cord placed in
the hole and the rock placed back over it. The next
day, the cord would be gone, ensuring the child a
long, productive life.

Lava is molten rock which erupts in Hawaii at
1,800 F - 2,200 F and before the eruption is over,
is often many feet deep. A few years later though,
life finds a way to spring forth once again.