Getting up at four in the morning in a different time zone is challenging but somehow we managed to get to the airport with our stuffed bags. We were a bit worried about clearing the agricultural inspection with our hand-made leis—made by one of Carol’s friends of fresh flowers. But the inspectors and security guards said ‘no worries’ and checked our bags in and presented us with boarding passes through Houston.
The planes were all packed full and despite the instruction to sit back and relax during the trip—hard to do with your knees on the seat back and your elbows tucked in at all times. A group of Chinese was traveling through to Los Angeles and were so excited, they chattered away during most of the flight and had difficulty understanding their seat assignments. Several of the stewardesses spoke Chinese and sorted things out fairly quickly.
This was the first time I have ever been on a plane in which an announcement was made concerning a medical emergency and were there any doctors on board. There was an OB/GYn and myself who admitted to being physicians. The emergency turned out to be a scalding burn from Starbucks on a frightened Asian descent girl with a baby who was flying home to meet her parents in Loma Linda. I was greatly relieved as this was something that was easy to work with—I had dreaded having to do CPR or something equally drastic. The airplane first aid kit is fairly complete, I was pleasantly surprised. Interestingly the stewardesses asked to see my license—I told her that none of us ever carried our licenses with us. Ground Control reassured her that it was okay for me to proceed. I bandaged her up—not my finest skill—but adequate for the trip.
We arrived in Houston after midnight, picked up my truck and drove home.
It is good to be home although we have stacks of mail and answering machine messages.
More photos including the leis are at:http://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/TripsandEvents/Hawaii/time-to-return-to-Texas/22563029_wvWXjq#!i=1805777823&k=wzxT6Vb
Wednesday was rainy and dreary and we drove around several parks on the southeastern side of the island hoping to find better weather. Alas it was not to be found. We watched the waves crashing into the rocky seashore but even the die-hard surfers were not out. Lunch was at a small beach hut with a nice garden to the side. Outdoor tables are graced with square bottles—some sort of liquor bottle that I quite covet—the bottle, not the liquor—and filled with huge sprays of orchids.
We drove along the coastline and stopped at the Hilo IceCream store—a small store featuring exotic ice creams and sorbets. I had a banana macadamia fudge sundae although the dragonfruit sorbet was also tempting. There is a lovely garden behind the store and we wandered through it as we ate our ice cream. The store also rents out tent space—but I suspect it is only for the truly convicted adventurers as it was cold and rainy and everything was soaked with water. I guess I am too old as I enjoy the creature comforts of hot showers and dry bedding.
Back to the house where I read for awhile, snoozed off and on, while Glen checked his stock doings. Don went out for his afternoon paddling with the businessmen, Tuesdays and Thursdays are for the business women—all done in hopes of capturing new members in the local canoe clubs. I was quite happy to spend my afternoon in the world of make-believe.
We ate at the Café 100 which was the site of the original loco moco. It resembles a Dairy Queen with tables and benches outside. I had a miso ahi with brown rice that was quite tasty. Tomorrow we leave for home.
Don used to work on one of the telescopes and so he was able to set up tours of both the Suburu and the Keck telescopes. This was absolutely incredible as we got to see the parts that normal tourists do not. I took a small movie of the Keck moving but did not capture the entire range of movement. It was quite cold and I took advantage of the proffered yellow windbreaker with flannel lining for the Suburu. I had been worried about breathing in this rarefied atmosphere—14000 feet above sea level. We check my oxygen content several times during the trip—it dropped to 85% and although I was functional, I could not have done any work at that level. The Keck operators wore oxygen concentraters and oxygen was available at every level. Don had read that a dose of Advil would ward off mountain sickness and so I took two and Glen took one—we seemed to have few problems although if asked to do any meaningful work, we would have been challenged.
The ranger station has a feel of a small college union—with a friendly cook, flags from every nation hanging in the lobby, and huge boxes of cereal and condiments, plus posters of healthy eating proportions. The rangers go up the mountain and stay for several days, sleeping in what looks like dorm rooms. Night visitors to the mountain are common as that is the best time to see stars. We were able to get a glimpse of Saturn but the wind was blowing so hard the small telescopes jiggled.
It was good to get back in the car and warm up.
Since all of this activity took place in the afternoon and evening we had the day to spend—first Don and Glen returned a truck Don had worked on—placing humorous stickers on its bed—it resembled a worn dumpster—the salt air and humidity are not kind to metals. Next was a trip to a friend’s house to pick up some wood to be sawed into planks while I was dropped off at the Fabric Warehouse. It was a good thing I had just a small space in my luggage but I managed to control myself somewhat. Rows of aloha wear fabrics were on display with everything from huge hibiscus flowers to surfer trucks and Elvis.
More photos and a small video clip of the telescope moving are at: http://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/TripsandEvents/Hawaii/Keck-and-Suburu-telescope/22553955_kR7ptD#!i=1804999288&k=ZS5JPgn
The missing word at the end is ‘bang’
Travel in Hawaii between the islands for the less adventuresome is always via plane. And so today we left Kauai for the big island of Hawaii to visit Glen’s brother Don and his wife Carol in Hilo. Honolulu’s airport is one of the nicest with friendly security folks who inspected my luggage with great care—and found a box cutter knife I had gone through security in several other airports. Normally this item is in my ditty bag but I had forgotten and put it in my carry-on backpack. The security guard let me dismantle it—removing the blade=–actually Glen did this as my fingers do not work for such fine activities and then we were through security in less than five minutes.
Hilo is on the eastern coast of Hawaii and therefore is subject to a lot of rain. The last time we were here, it rained everyday—creating a rather dreary atmosphere. Today it was sunny and perfect temperature and we were able to drive through various small parks along the coast. Named banyan trees line the drive and are always impressive—much like our live oaks here in Texas, the trunks are enormous.
We joined Carol who is a CPA and on the last hard leg of the income tax season for a meal at Ken’s House of Pancakes. This is a local ‘must do’ and features pancakes and loco mocos—a combination of rice, pork, and fried egg topped with gravy. A bell is rung whenever anyone consumes the gigantic version of this which is a huge platter that my mother might have served an entire meal for all six of her hungry children including five boys. That bell was rung three times while we were there.
I opted for something less ambitious—a Kwiki—pronounced just like it looks but it was a version of an egg McMuffin with the egg scrambled with bits of pork—and then I had upside down pineapple cake with ice cream—and all of us were able to claim the senior citizen discount.
Don had just bought a hybrid car and he and Glen discussed its mechanical aptitudes and advantages as we drove to their house. Their house is situated up the hill at about 2000 feet. Don enjoys working with wood and has spent a lot of time re-doing their house. The guest room is spacious and is a loft with mango wood flooring, a small bathroom with cubbyholes here and there for storage. The door has a triangular top so it would fit under the slope of the roof. The view here is quite spectacular and we were lulled to sleep with the sound of the coquis chirping.
No photo gallery for today but you may wish to look at some of the other Hawaii galleries. Tomorrow is the Keck and Suburu Telescopes.
Arrow back through the other Hawaii galleries if you’ve missed any.
McBride-Allerton Botanical Gardens is on the Southern side of Kauai and is on an old sugar cane field bought in 1937. Allerton planted the area in ‘rooms’ with nearly all plants imported from other locales.
Our guide, Bob, did not initially appear promising but as we rode around the grounds and then walked amongst the plants, he proved to have a dry wit and provided a running commentary on both the plants, their historical uses, and the history of the facility and the islands. It was a tremendous variety of plants with many in flowers including birds of paradise cousins, gingers, orchids, palms, and so forth. I lost track of the names of the flowers and plants.
We finished our day with a burger and fries at the poolside grill–watching doves chasing away sparrows and gobbling up tiny ants foraging for bits of food. Tomorrow on to Hilo.
Lots more photos of this beautiful place at :http://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/TripsandEvents/Hawaii/Hawaii-Allerton-Garden-2012/22545606_jVXDDx#!i=1804486277&k=XHTGVFt
original lighthouse with new light beacon in front
After class today we ate a quick lunch and headed to the north side of the island. Road construction seems to be everywhere but there were no workers out—I suppose they do not work on the weekends here. The drive north was as spectacular as the drive westward. Large expanses of sandy beaches with large waves rolling in are interspersed with rocky cliffs with the surf splashing upwards of 40 feet in the air.
Coconut trees lined the beach in one area and I spied a huge pile of coconuts in someone’s backyard. Glen wanted to find a cold coconut so he could drink the juice/milk from it–but alas we did not find any. Lots of aloha wear stores, soap and candle makers, huli-huli chicken and Hawaiaan barbeque vendors, coffee shops, shell hangings, and dirt t-shirts.(who knew that dirt-stained clothing would be a fad?)
The lighthouse near Princeville is now part of the National Parks System. We breezed through with Glen’s retired person’s lifetime National park pass that we bought one year in Big Bend. We both feel almost guilty about it as the cost was minimal and we have enjoyed that pass many times over. But now for the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was commissioned in 1916 with a luau for the city celebrating its opening. It was turned ‘off’ during World War Two and was the site of a secret microwave transmission; in 1976 it was de-commissioned with the replacement of an electric beacon. The old lighthouse features a clamshell lens which is huge and required cleaning of the glass around it.
A small hunk of rock in the ocean near the base is a rookery for assorted seabirds including frigates, red-footed boobies, and several other birds.
Home to a dinner of the remains of mussel poke, a kumquat and half a boiled egg and then to lectures.
More photos at http://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/TripsandEvents/Hawaii/lighthouse/22553570_xqsg3B#!i=1804953069&k=R6Tnsbd
Napali Coast is on the western side of Kauai and is absolutely spectacular.
We boarded the Alaikola–a catamaran named after a bird thought to be extinct in the rain forests of the island. Captain Pat and his crew ably guided us over flat waters–we were ‘snailing’ for the entire voyage–the sail was hoisted for a short time for photo opps only. Wave action was nearly non-existent rendering sea-sickness remedies unnecessary. I had on those pressure point bands–so I’m not sure they work as it wasn’t a good test of their effectiveness.
History of this island includes the landing of Captain Cook in Waimea, sugar cane and sugar mills and the growing of corn by MonteSanto. Barking Sands includes a missile base and an atomic clock–one of the seven in the world. Further up the coast is the Napali Coast State Park with waterfalls, sea caves, and towering cliffs covered with vegetation and shrouded in mists. One of the waterfalls was included in the Jurassic Park movie–and the helicopter used is now owned by the Smith family who uses it for tours to the Forbidden Island–Lihauei–on the northwest side of Kauai. Here live about 200 native Hawaiian’s who speak Hawaiian as their first language and live without electricity or running water.
Spinner dolphins accompanied us for a short time on our way north and a flying fish sailed for dozens of yards in front of us. On the way back we were priviledged to see whales spouting and then the baby whale breaching.
Photos of rainbows and then of the sunset were taken and too soon we were back in the harbor, collecting our shoes and heading home.
As always, more photos are seen at my smugmug site at
If you feel overwhelmed by the landscapes, I included only about a third of those that I took.
After class this morning we decided to see if we could figure out where we would need to be for our whale-watching tour scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Turns out we went to the wrong place but we managed to get to the right place.
We followed a road called Popipu and then through a traffic circle to Lawai Road where Kukuiula Harbor lies along with Spouting Horn. The drive is quite scenic with stretches of ti plants, bananas, and of course lots of very expensive looking houses and resorts. Beaches are crowded with people swimming, surfboarding and fishing. All the beaches here are public but access can be challenging with some people crawling through traffic markers with all their gear.
Spouting Horn is at the end of this road. Again there are lots of people lining the cyclone fence taking photos and I am a bit surprised to find spray as I am a good twenty yards away. The waves make a hollow blowing sound as they are forced through a small lava tube producing a geyser of water.
Feral Chickens roam the park and I was delighted to find a large number of chicks. We have seen them at all the other parks and crossing the roads—the roosters very colorful and frequently feel the need to announce themselves–but I had not seen any chicks.
We drove back to the traffic circle and then up to Highway 50 to get to Hanapepe, today’s farmer’s market. It consists of a half dozen or so pickup trucks or station wagons parked under large spreading trees with assorted local produce. I talk to an older woman who says she recognizes me—but then says we all look alike to her. She has me try several fruits–a red strawberry looking thing where just the center is eaten, and a smaller greenish fruit with a black seed in the center. Then she has me try a kumquat–quite sour after all the sweet fruits. There is a strange looking fruit looking like a mishaped flat green football with huge warts—but she doesn’t think it will be ripe before we will need to leave. We buy a bag of the red hairy fruits and the small green fruits and head home.
Supper is a sampling of the fruits along with some mussel kimchee poke on locally baked wheat crackers.
I’ve included a small movie clip of the Spouting Horn so you can get a sense of the noise it made. We were about fifty yards or so away from it. A few other photos are also in this gallery. The clip is at the very end.
Waimea Canyon ins absolutely spectacular. It is billed as the Pacific’s Grand Canyon and it is every bit as scenic. The canyon is lined with colorful cliffs of alternating orangey-red and green. Multiple scenic lookouts provide good vantage points for photos and are lined with tourists all taking photos.
I always like to look at the license plates at parks and was surprised to see only Hawaii plates–until I realized that there aren’t any bridges or roads to the other states. I hear a few people speaking French but surprisingly no Japanese or Korean although there are several groups that look like likely prospects.
A large group of school children are gathered around a guide at one scenic overlook and we eavesdrop as he explains the legend of the origin of the canyon and lectures on the importance of staying in school. Dropout rates here are high and many feel tourism will be their job and why study hard to be a gardner or hotel maid or waitress. I can see why as the atmosphere here is almost soporific—every day pretty much the same as the last with little variation in temperature. Perhaps since I hail from Northern climes, I am much more like a squirrel needing to scurry about to put away things for the winter ahead.
Speaking of food stores, wee stop at a Big Save market and buy fixings for breakfasts and lunch and go rather crazy—looking for local produce and products. Glen bought some pickled radishes—they STINK! and I bought some locally baked animal crackers and shortbread. And of course, we got some Spam–for our breakfast along with pineapple rum raisin bread.
More photos of this spectacular place are on smugmug at
Our trip yesterday was long; flying through several time zones is not easy. Checking our luggage was simple and easy; clearing security not too bad although my hair clips created some interest; our first flight was overbooked and we were packed in like sardines in a frigid airplane. In Los Angeles we had to transfer to another terminal which required us to go through security again, signage seemed non-existant and the plane even colder despite blankets. I had worn a jacket but I should have worn a winter coat and wooly socks.
Our room is quite nice; it was booked as a garden room but it is more like a two bedroom condo with two full sized bathrooms; a kitchen, living room, dining room, and a table and chairs on a small patio. It feels quite decadent.
The grounds are quite lush with a large koi pond, huge lagoon type swimming pool, and walkways to the beach. Parts of the beach here are quite rocky with small tidal pools. Warnings are posted about NOT swimming in the ocean and I can see why. The surf is quite high and smashes against the rocks.
Photos are on smugmug at
Perhaps later on today I can figure out how to load photos from smugmug into blog–I’ve done it once but clearly have forgotten how to do it. I have first half of trip on netbook and last half on laptop; a different method for loading photos and blog entries on both.