We've been boring many of you for months with talk of our pending trip to Hawaii. Now we can bore you with tales of how wonderful it was. It really was paradise. Alaska Airlines knew what it was doing when it started offering direct flights from Anchorage. Purportedly, 5% of the state of Alaska goes to Hawaii every year. Go a couple of years without your circadian rhythms and you'll understand. Waking up to the sunrise in your tent feels a lot better than watching the sunrise during your lunch break.
How did we do it, you ask ? We spent a couple of nights on Oahu, staying with friends A. and A. who research 1) whales and 2) reef microbes respectively. These two had some foresight when choosing their scientific passions. Their work has taken them all over the Pacific islands and still allows time for triathlons, surfing, and spear fishing. Not bad. A. and I lived together many years ago in Woods Hole, MA where she would jog to the beach every morning and swim a mile in the ocean. Pretty ambitious lady. She took Bob and I for a drive around the island which culminated in watching the pro surfers catch the 25' waves on the North Shore, some of the worlds best. I'm happy to stay a spectator on this one. Watching the little bobbing men get completely thrashed around by the ocean looked tiring and like it probably removes brain cells.
Next we flew to the Big Island and spent the duration of the trip there. We camped all over the island on beaches like this one (Laupahoehoe) and tried to generate another couple of months worth of vitamin D. We did some amazing snorkeling at the site of Captain Cook's demise and in the Keauhou tide pools. I'll have to post separately on those adventures when we get the underwater film developed.
Another highlight of going to the tropical Pacific in January is that plants are alive. And alive they were. We headed to the botanical garden north of Hilo and found these beauties. For more, check out my album on Flicker. Of course, these aren't like the pros. We saw a number of very serious plant photographers and their giant tripods hobbling up and down the trails. And what would Hawaii be without waterfalls. And volcanoes. I'm trying to provide a sampler here. A pupu platter, if you will, of Paradise's offerings.
The volcanoes were a major highlight, even though the National Park and it's cute little cabins were FREEZING (like 50 F!!). Meanwhile, Fairbanks was suffering -35 F. Ha Ha. So as some of you know, the Hawaiian chain of islands are mid-plate hot spots which are formed by magma shooting through the plate like a geyser. The plate kept moving as this happened, which is how the chain was formed. So the Big Island is the most active, being the current geyser. Maui still has some fire in the belly. The others are like old pimples...scars, but no gooey stuff.
So here's a giant caldera in Volcano National Park with sulfur vapors and steam coming out. Very cool. And stinky. Many old tourists seemed to cluster around the caldera, despite all of the signage telling anyone with respiratory problems to keep their distance. This glamorous lady was one of their handlers.
There was quite of bit of hiking to do all over the park and the island in general. We found these gorgeous pink flowers growing right out of the lava on a hike down to a remote beach. Actually, it was on a foray across someone's ranch. We were totally lost. But found some old ruins where probably someone or another was roasted over a spit. The old ways. Change isn't always bad.
Well, it was a great trip, but eventually we had to come home. The dogs had a GREAT time at doggie camp while we were gone and ended up with these souvenirs. Lucky them. To overcome the 12 new inches of snow in our driveway, we bought a shovel on our way home. Sigh. Time to start planning next year's winter break!