Monday, November 12, 2007

Big Island Days 6-8

Day 6, Thursday, Nov. 8. We took a day off from the volcanoes to go into Hilo. This is where the cruise ships come in because of the deep harbor.

First we took a walk around the neighborhood. Some of the lots are about ¼ acre and some homes have warm ponds from thermal activity (warm rocks, not lava) below. We saw a family at 9 AM in their warm pond. Very cool! Some of the lots are acres with fences and gates.

The Lyman Museum was started by a child of the Lymans, missionaries who came from New England in 1830's. We had a tour of the original house next door where we saw where the wife raised 8 children, home schooled them, sewed uniforms for the high school kids in their boarding school and taught herself piano as well as cooked for everyone. (Definite Type A personality with a puritan background, i.e. she felt guilty when she did something she really enjoyed.) The house is the oldest clapboard house in Hilo.

The museum was excellent. It’s a perfect first stop if you have never been to Hawaii before because it has a lot of info on volcanoes, all the different climate zones, animals, plants, birds, shells, and minerals. There was also info on immigrants. Captain Cook (late 1700’s) and later whale hunters brought white people’s diseases which killed a lot of natives. By the mid 1800’s the sugar plantations needed more workers. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese from the Azores and Madeira were brought over, different cultures at a time. (The Portuguese first went to the gold rush in 1850.)

There was also a special exhibit on a turn-of-century Korean house in a rural area. It started with a great video about the kids who live in New Jersey planning a trip to their grandfather in Korea to celebrate his very special 60th birthday.

We watched a very moving video of the lava flow of 1990 which took the town of Kalapana on the south shore. They interviewed people as their houses were being approached by the lava and then as they burned. It virtually wiped out the entire town. Very sad.

I asked the museum guide about the weather in Hilo. She said that it pretty much rains a little a couple times a day and then sometimes more at night. We did have a lot of sun this morning which was great. I’m really getting sick of the clouds and rain, even if it does make things green! But it was 85 degrees when the sun was shining.

We walked down towards the waterfront where so many were killed in the 1960 tsunami. Now it’s a park. We ate at a Thai restaurant and walked through a farmer’s market where we tried a Hawaiian apple (pretty good), passion fruit (very seedy and tart like a lemon), and an apple banana (a banana taste with a hint of apple-very good!).

Here’s a typical house in the Big Island with a corrugated metal roof and big overhang.

So, has anyone ever had a fried Twinkie? This was a sign on a Hilo restaurant.

We spent some time posting the last blog at a McDonald’s. (It rained while we were there.)

Day 7, Friday, Nov. 9.
Sandy’s birthday. Sorry, no Boston Cream Pie but it was a fabulous last day on the east side of the Big Island.

You’ve seen Falling Rocks signs but here is a Falling Branches sign within an albizia tree tunnel.

It was very exciting for me to see 6 apapane (red bird) in the park. They like the ohia trees with the red blossoms so they’re not easy to spot unless they move.

We arrived at the Volcanoes Park for the last time and did a 3.5 mile rim hike on the Kilauea Iki trail, partly through rain forest and partly on the crater bottom. This is the crater that erupted in 1959 and filled the crater with 400 feet of lava. Here are some highlights. It was very cool to walk near the steam vents that are really just moisture falling on the hot rocks under the crater. It was only 60 degrees and misting for much of the hike but anything warmer wouldn’t have been comfortable.

After lunch we saw a living history presentation by Dr. Thomas Jaggar whose name is on the museum. We went into his actual first lab at the edge of Kilauea. It was April 13, 1912. He talked about his concern for keeping people safe from volcanoes through the use of seismographs. We learned a little more about how seismographs work.

The sun was coming out and we finally said goodbye to the park and headed home to change into our suits, grab our snorkel gear and head to the Kapoho Tidepools a few minutes from us. These pools were formed by the 1984 lava flow. There was lots of coral, mostly flat, and one cool blue coral we’ve never seen. There was also lots of fish. They’re great safe places for the fish. The sun was still shining brightly but the water was a little cool, probably about 76-77 since it’s been so cool and rainy.

Next stop was Ahalanui Park down Hwy 137 past the 10 mile marker. In contrast to the last one this is volcanically heated to about 92 degrees. It was heavenly! We stayed in until our fingers started to wrinkle and then sat in the sun and read. So relaxing!!

Day 8, Saturday, Nov. 10. We checked out of our apartment and drove through Hilo to the Hawaii National Botanic Garden. It’s a gorgeous place filled with plants from other tropical regions (Indonesia, Australia, India, etc.) as well as native plants. It goes right down to the ocean. Even though summer is the time of the year when everything is in bloom, there were lots of flowers to see. We saw some very interesting plants: Pink Quill and Indonesian Ginger are just two of the beautiful ones.

(We’re using the Ultimate Guidebooks for Hawaii, different ones for different islands. They’ve proved to be great sources of info.)

Next stop was a food stand called What’s Shakin’. Obviously, a lot of other people knew about it too as there were a few people when we arrived at 11:30 and they just kept coming. The guide book said they have great smoothies made with frozen fresh fruit. We had a Papaya Paradise with papaya, bananas, coconut, pineapple, and passion fruit. Yum!

As we drove north on Hwy 19 we saw eucalyptus forests on either side. Not sure what they do with the eucalyptus but they've replaced the sugarcane here.

One sad lookout was Laupahoehoe Point. There used to be a school here but in the 1946 tsunami many of the children and teachers were killed. Now there’s a memorial there. It’s a beautiful point! (There are lots of beautiful points/lookouts in Hawaii!!)

We continued up Hwy 19 to Kalopa State Park where we went on an exercise walk through the woods and then had lunch. It was very pretty and well maintained but there was only 1 other person there.

While we were on the east side of the Big Island we had to check out Waipio Valley. We could only go to the lookout because we didn’t have a 4WD car. But it was an amazing sight. In the valley behind the beach were fields of taro.

In Waimea we stopped at The Parker Ranch. It was started in the early 1800’s and raises beef cows. The last person who owned it (he inherited it from his parents) was stage and film star, Richard Smart. Such different scenery: pasturelands and rolling hills! The east side of Waimea is cooler and gets more rain so it was misting there and cool. By the time we left and were heading west and south it was dry.

Going south to Kailua-Kona we passed by lots more lava flows from both volcanoes on that side: Mauna Loa (still active) and Mauna Kea. You can see how dry it is and how little has grown back.

We drove down in complete sunshine, how nice! And it was over 80 degrees!! Warmth, sunshine and palm trees just make me feel happy. Our timeshare is beautiful, the nicest accommodation yet. Here’s our view on a calm evening. (Other days we had numerous surfers both in the morning and afternoon.)

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