Travel Journal for Hawai'i, 2003

This is my extremly lightly-edited travel journal from our trip to the Islands of Hawai'i during July of 2003. We left on July 5th, and arrived back home on the 22nd. I tend to ramble sometimes, so it may get a little longwinded.

Monday, July 7, 2003

Okay, here's what's going on. July 5th, I got up at 3:30 in the morning and got ready to go. At about four, we (the family and I) went over and picked up Brendan and went to the airport. Usual airport stuff, fly to L.A. and then the flight to Honolulu. I finished one of my books on the flight. Also, this girl sat next to me, and I think she was attracted to me but I basically ignored her and she seemed annoyed about that, but eh. Anyway, so then after the flight, we had the fun of the baggage claim and the rental car...lunch at McDonald's, and then we went to the hotel, the Aston Waikiki Banyan. It only got two stars, but it turned out to be pretty nice. But before we checked in we changed and went down to the beach and Amy, Brendan and I played in the water a bit. Then we went back and checked in and went to the International Marketplace, where we wandered around for a while before mom, dad and I went to dinner. We found an Italian restaurant that was having an early bird special, so we ate for ~$30, which was probably half of anywhere else (that wasn't fast food). Then, we met Amy and Brendan and got them dinner at Subway. Then we went back to the hotel and slept.

Sunday, we got up and went out to Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. Amy and Brendan went and saw the U.S.S. Missouri, which is an Iowa-class Battleship that they have displayed at Pearl Harbor as well. The memorial wasn't as serene and spiritual as last time. Perhaps it was because of all the people talking or maybe the spirits have moved on or something. Hard to say. Anyway, then we went to a groery story and picked up picnic food, which we pulled over to the side of the highway to eat. Then we went to the Dole Pineapple Plantation and went through the hedgemaze. There was a "race" that one could participate in; there were six checkpoints that you had to find and then return to the entrance. Well, we took almost fifty minutes, which was ten times longer than the daily recordholder. Once we got outside, we could look inside the tickets and see the map. Turns out the checkpoints were mostly sraight in, if only we'd known! Anyway, I got pineapple juice from the shop there and we played some cards and then drove by North Shore and went back to Waikiki. We headed to the hotel, then went to watch some hula. Then we had dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise (after a wait twice as long as we were quoted). Lastly, Amy, Brendan and I watched Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace on the beach on a 30'x30' screen they had set up. Then we came back to the hotel and went to bed.

Monday (today), we got up about 7:30 and went up to Diamond Head. It was about fifty minutes up to the top via a long, dusty, hot trail [but nothing compared to later... see Volcano]. But there was a spectacular view from up there, though it was a little windy (more than a little...very windy!). Then, we came back down and I now have a T-Shirt that says I climbed Diamond Head. The hike wasn't really very difficult. Even mom didn't have any trouble with it. Then, back to the hotel and then to the airport. Mom and Dad are on a different flight, and actually ours has now been delayed slightly. But it looks like we're going now, so I'm going to stop. Bye.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Well, you're probably wondering what's gone on in the week since the last entry. Well, of course we landed--safely--though it turns out that mom and dad's luggage went on a different--though later--flight. So, we went to Quinn's for lunch, and then came and checked in at the Surf and Racket Club and went swimming. Then, mom and I deided to head back to the condo right as they were trying to deliver their luggage. So things worked out quite nicely. Tuesday, we had orientation, and shopped for food supplies and such. Wednesday we went to the library, swam and played tennis. Thursday we went down to look at the petroglyphs but didn't see and. Friday we went to see the blowhole, which actually wasn't all that impressive, and Amy, Brendan and I went to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which SUCKED!! Let's see, Saturday, we met up with dad's cousin Denise, and we went to Hapuna State Beach Park, where we saw a sea cave (actually, a partially-collapsed lava tube) and did some boogie boarding and general playing in the ocean. We also had a picnic lunch up there. It was fun, though Amy did get a little sunburned. Dad didn't lose anything this time, though, which is good. That evening we had dinner with Denise and her husband (?), Sun, at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Sunday, we lazed about until dinner time, and then went to the Kona Brewing Company for dinner (pizza). We also stopped in at a used book store next to the KBC. Then Amy, Brendan and I went downtown for a while, while mom and listened to the band playing at the KBC. We did a little bit of window shopping but didn't find anything, so we sat awhile on the sea wall. We saw some fish and two turtles while we were waiting. Then we went home.

Monday was a whole week in itself. Monday was Volcano Day. So. We left about ten in the morning and headed south. We first came to Kealakekua Bay, which is where the Captain Cook Monument is, but of course we were across the bay from it, so we didn't see it very close. Then we went down the one-line road to Honaunau, the Place of Refuge. We took the self-guided tour (and I saw a lava dragon skull, of which I took a picture) and then we had lunch at the picnic area there. We continued down the road after that, to a blacksand bach. We didn't stay long there. Then next stop was a scenic point looking towards South Point, and then Naalehu, the southern-most town in the U.S., where we stopped at a bakery for cookies. Then it was on to Volcanoes!

At Volcanoes, we stopped first at the Visitor's Center (a very good place to start). After finding out how the lava was flowing and such, we went to a scenic point overlooking the Kilauea Caldera. Then we went to Thurston Lava Tube and went in the Dark Area, beyond where most people go (but still within the reasonable limits of the park). It was fun, but basically the same. It's not interesting like caves in older landmasses, where there are all sorts of twists and turns and branches. Just one tunnel, straight ahead, in the dark. So we turned back after a while. Then we went to the Sulfar Banks where we didn't get out (by unanimous decision of the folks in the car), and the Steam Vents, where we did get out. We also went over to the Kilauea Crater there. It's big. Then, we went to the military camp in the park and had dinner (buffet or, as I like to call it, dining-hall, style). Then we headed down Chain of Craters Road to go see the lava flow.

We parked pretty close to the ranger station, then walked a half-mile on paved road to where the real trail started. Then it was "one mile" (we think it was much longer, when factoring in the twists and turns of the actual trail) to the end of the trail. When we started the sun was still up, but by the time we got to the end of the trail it was full night. Good think we had brought flashlights (some folks didn't, though the parks service strongly recommends it), because it was rocky, broken, harsh going. If one were to trip and fall on that rock, one could shatter a leg or slice an arm clear open, if not worse. Lava rock, sharp, jagged, and it was HOT (can't imagine what it would've been like during the day). There was heat coming up from the crevices; we're sure there was magma underneath us. You could see the lava coming down the mountain, like fires on the hillside, glowing (and some of it probably was fires on the hillside). Once in a while the wind would be blowing the wrong direction and I could smell the ash and sulfur in the air. But, when we were somewhere in the middle of the trail, it was neat to see all the flashlights going in both directions, like pilgrims, making a pilgrimage to the mountain, to the goddess of fire.

Anyway, we got to the end of the trail and everyone was, of course, going beyond it. And so of course we had to, too. Not fifty feet from the end of the trail you could see the lava, flowing (slowly) down a ditch. I must've been within ten or twenty feet of it, which really is quite dangerous. There could've been a methane explosion, due to all the plant mattter that the lava rolled over and set ablaze. But there wasn't, so everything was good. Dad tried to get some pictures, but they didn't turn out (well, it was nighttime). We weren't supposed to get that close, of course, and in fact the end-of-trail marker was within the supposed 150 foot boundary. Afterwards, we walked back to the road and saw a piture that I couldn't take since my camera's not good enough but that I can describe to you. It was the moon on the oean fronted by palm trees at night. Very somber, very cool. It would've been neat to get a panorama, the glowing mountain on one hand, the moonlit ocean on the other, but eh.

Then, we went home, and to bed. And here we are, Amy practicing, Brendan getting ready to shower, mom working on laundry, dad on the lanai and me writing. So, 'til next time, 'bye!