A Travellerspoint blog

Hilo

...the "Big Island"

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We arrived in Hilo this morning around 8, on the Big Island. This is the wet side of the island, and it was predictably overcast and damp. However, we haven't seen much of the famed Hawaiian sun anywhere yet. What's up with that?

Donna and Wayne are busy this morning on an excursion (Rainbow Falls I think). This afternoon both couples will be taking a tour of Volcanoes National Park. This is the island of volcanoes, many still active. In fact, Kilauea volcano has been erupting daily since 1983. The Mauna Kea volcano is actually the world's highest mountain when measured base to top, surpassing Mount Everest by 2700 feet (except much of Kea is under water).
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Tonight, around 9:45, after we set sail, the captain will take us over to see lava flowing into the sea, which is apparently an awesome night sight. Hopefully we can get pictures? Who knows? Will report later when we can. Gotta go!

Thanks to all who are posting comments. We love 'em!

Posted by swendl 13:46 Comments (3)

Pride of America

One awesome ship....

77 °F

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The Pride of America is an amazing ship. 921 feet long, 81,000 tons in weight, 2138 passengers, 920 crew members. Its sheer size alone staggers the imagination. Wayne and Donna were suitably impressed when they first caught sight of this floating city.

In the short amount of time we've been aboard, both us couples have met folks with ties to the Midwest and Iowa, including Fred Hermson and his wife from Dubuque (sound familiar Suzy Gilkerson?). It's truly a small world. So many Midwesterners and Canadians eager to escape the long winter.
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After the mandatory lifeboat drill the four of us toured the decks of this huge ship. Eleven restaurants, nine bars and lounges, a performing theater, four hot tubs, two pools, etc. etc. We even took time to pose in the Cadillac Lounge!
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Found a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset. Also interesting was a rescue effort nearby, as apparently a Navy destroyer was hung up on a reef, listing noticeably. I heard it made the headlines on the mainland.
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The sail-away party was at 8, as we gathered along the rail and watched the city lights of Honolulu slowly fade as we sailed east-southeast. Next stop - the Big Island - Hilo.
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Posted by swendl 00:31 Archived in USA Comments (5)

Circling Oahu

Discovering the Island's true beauty

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Sorry for not posting yesterday, but, doggone it, we were all so busy! On Thursday Wayne and Donna toured the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, as well as the Battleship Missouri, where Japan officially surrendered and entered World War II. After returning to their hotel, they browsed the Waikiki strip, and Wayne had Donna pose for this photo (Wayne, how could you?). (Note name of store)
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Friday was the day we rented a car a toured the island together. We were lucky enough to get a snazzy black Ford Mustang convertible, which suited us just fine! We picked up Wayne & Donna in front of their hotel and off we went.

Our plan was to circle the island counter-clockwise, driving up the eastern coast, over the top (to the famous North Shore surfing area), then back to Honolulu by cutting south through the middle of the island. I'm happy to report that it all went flawlessly, and we had a fantastic time. Started at 8:30 am and didn't get back to home base until about 6:30. By the time we had our nightcap together and got back to our rooms, it was almost 10! Pretty full day for folks of our tender years.

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Donna and Cindy are standing above at Hanauma Bay, one of the premiere snorkeling spots in the world. We didn't snorkel, but took advantage of the overlook to enjoy the fantastic views. Actually, gorgeous views are just a dime a dozen in Oahu - everywhere you turn, your jaw drops and you find yourself whispering "oh, wow...."

An interesting stop was at the Halona Blow Hole. Here, at a rock formation by the sea, pressure from the waves causes a geyser of water to squirt through an old lava tube in the rock. Old Faithful in Hawaii! It was great fun watching. Incidentally, the famous beach scene in the movie "From Here to Eternity", where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr are rolling around on the beach together, was filmed near this site.
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The winding drive up the Ko'olau Mountains was worth the effort, resulting in awesome views of much of eastern Oahu. Note how the Robinson's have adopted the "hang loose" philosophy of the islands...
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Next stop - Kailua, a famous beach and snorkeling area. In fact, President Obama, before his inauguration, stayed in this area with relatives. Even by Hawaii standards this area is beautiful, with fine sand beaches stretching 2 miles in a graceful arc. The water was a deep aquamarine color, and an offshore reef protects kayakers from the potentially dangerous winter surf. An idyllic setting. Cindy and I decided to kayak, so we schlepped the kayak to the beach (about a block) and, while Donna and Wayne did the grueling job of sitting on beach chairs on the beach (drinking beer), we spent about an hour plying those lovely waters. Even saw a huge sea turtle near out boat!
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(notice how Mr. Cool kept the beer steady while landing the kayak - no small feat!)

The North Shore in winter is a surfing mecca, where the giant waves call expert surfers from all over the world to challenge the Big Ones. We sat on Sunset Beach and watched the amazing power of these waves, and the surfers who tried to ride them, some with great success. None of us have ever seen the sea exhibit such power. The paradox is that, in summer, this is a placid, serene area, great for a relaxing swim!
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A surreal aspect of this area - the waves appear to pound the rocks with such force that the whole area develops a sort of foggy vapor that hangs in the air. That's the best guess we could come up with for the phenomenon.

Into nearby Hailewa for eats. Stopped at the Breakers Bar and Grill, which caters to the surf crowd. As you can see, chickens and roosters are everywhere on the island, even in the restaurant. We can all now proudly saw that we have seen a chicken eating a french fry!
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Drove past the huge Dole Pineapple Plantation on the way home, but it was closed. It would have made an interesting stop.

Battled surprisingly heavy Honolulu traffic on the way back into the city, but, thanks to "Homer" (my trusty old GPS device) we found the hotel easily. Gassed up the car first, paying $2.37 a gallon. Not bad for Hawaii.

We finished off the evening at Jimmy Buffett's new restaurant in Waikiki, open only 4 days. I'll close with a few photos of the general craziness that capped our perfect day. This afternoon - goodbye Honolulu, hello "Pride of America"! Aloha!
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Posted by swendl 11:04 Comments (6)

Diamond Head

The view to die for.....

semi-overcast 76 °F

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I had never heard about Diamond Head until Steve McGarrett talked about it on the old "Hawaii Five-O" TV series. We had heard that climbing to the top and taking in the sweeping, intoxicating views was on the "must-do" list while on Oahu. So, true tourists that we are, we did it!

Had a great breakfast this morning at a quaint little off-the-beaten-path eatery that specialized in crepes. Delicious! Had to fortify ourselves before the big climb.

Diamond Head hasn't erupted for 300,000 years, so we didn't worry too much about that. We worried more about how two aging adventurers would handle the steep, winding, 560-foot climb to the summit. The hike was only 0.8 miles one way, but, let me tell you, it seemed like more (uphill, anyway). Twisting paths, steep staircases, and even a long tunnel had to be negotiated in order to reach the top. We heard later they have to perform something like 50 rescues a year from people that misjudged their abilities. We did fine, however, stopping frequently for air and water.
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The view was worth it.

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360-degree views of southern Oahu, from Honolulu to Kokohead. Magnificent isn't the right word, but it comes close.

Temperature-wise, it's cool right now by Honolulu standards - the locals are complaining about it. But, believe me, we were sweating plenty by the time the hike was over.

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By the way, we learned that the small boat harbor directly below our hotel (see pic) was where the "Gilligan's Island" introduction was shot. They told us not to sign up for the "3-hour tour".
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Well, off to the beach. Tough work, but someone's got to do it......

Posted by swendl 16:23 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Touchdown!

Safe and sound in paradise...

semi-overcast 77 °F

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Pardon the football term, but, after all, the Pro Bowl is being held here in Honolulu this weekend. In fact I hear that we had some Steeler players on the plane with us. However, since I don't know jack about football, I didn't recognize anyone.

We're here! Warm and humid, a welcome change from the Cedar Rapids weather when we left this morning (0 degrees). We are on the 22nd floor of the hotel, with a lovely view of the Pacific. Cindy and I got settled in and now plan to explore a bit.

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And, as you can see, we found fellow Iowans Donna and Wayne. They are holed up at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel. We had drinks with them in the hotel bar, Duke's Canoe Club, named after a famous surfer many years ago.

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At any rate, we're here, we're happy, and all is well.

Aloha!

Posted by swendl 18:28 Comments (8)

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