Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 9 Off the Kona Coast

Day 9 was somewhat uneventful, with a cruise up and down the Kona coast.

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The trip took us past a number of interesting looking hotels and other buildings

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A local parasail company had a steady business.

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There has been significant growth along the Kona coast over the last 20 years.

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All of the coast is built up with hotels, condos, and multi million dollar houses.

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On our return we came across a group of small whales.

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We were close enough to hear their exhales.

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They tracked south along the coast for a few miles before we lost sight of them.

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As we returned a group of dolphins came along side the boat, but all I had was the zoom lens, so close ups it is.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 7 North Big Island back to Kona

Day 7 started out with breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes – enough breakfast we didn’t have lunch. When in Hilo, stop at Kens 🙂

About an hour north of Hilo we arrived at Waipii’o Valley Overlook. The valley is 2000′ deep, with great sea cliffs just beyond.

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A waterfall comes out of nowhere along the cliffs.

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Hawaii has a number of micro climates, with the landscape looking very different. Once we passed Waimea (Cowboy Capital of Hawaii), it all of a sudden switched from rain forest to ‘Central California hills’.

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Our next stop was one of the highlights of the island  – Polulu Valley Overlook. With a bit of a hike down and toward the ocean, the view south was stunning. I realize after 7 days there are a lot of ‘cliffs and ocean’ photos, but this is one of the best spots.

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The town of Kapaau is famous as the birthplace of Kamekameha. It is celebrated with a statue of him. Legend has it that this statue was made for placement in Honolulu but it was lost in a shipwreck, so they made a replacement.

Locals in Kapaau believed it was karma as they felt Honolulu should not have the statue since he is from their town. The original was recovered from the sea and sent to Kapauu.

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Kapaau is a nice little Hawaiian town.

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On the way back to Kona we stopped at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory.

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Some of their processing is located here where you can check out people preparing the nuts.

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We left with plenty to last us the rest of the trip.

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As we neared Kona, we headed 3000′ up a mountain (and from 86 degrees to 67 degrees) to the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation.

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Kona is famous for their coffee, and this nice small family business gave us a tasting and a tour.

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The beans after the first step of processing.

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The coffee trees are grown on top of lava shoots, which provides the unique chemical balance that makes Kona coffee what it is.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 5 Volcano National Park

Having arrived after dark the night before, once the sun came up in the morning we found ourselves facing Kilauea. Showing my ignorance at some things in nature I always thought that a volcano was the huge cylindrical cone where everything came shooting out the top.

On this day I learned that they can be very different. For Mauna Loa, there have been numerous cauldrons/craters that have erupted over time. Even the most recent this spring, didn’t erupt in the cauldron, rather the lava lake that was in Kilauea disappeared as the lava exited lava tubes miles away, leaving this cauldron empty, except for the steam vents.

To me it looked like an abandoned strip mine with steam.

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Our visit continued with a drive down Chain of Craters Road, so named as it passes numerous craters from previous eruptions over the last 100 years.

Each crater has a different look depending on age.

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We stopped along the way and took a great 3 mile round trip hike across lava fields to Pu’u Huluhulu.

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The amount of vegetation that grows in what seems like impossible conditions is amazing, and beautiful. We found these berries growing everywhere.

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Through every available crack.

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Also interesting were the different surfaces, some were smooth, some with swirls, and this one with thousands of little indentations.

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Having completed our hike, we continued our drive towards the sea.

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Once we reached the ocean you could again see how volcanic activity forms all of Hawaii.

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The Holei Sea Arch is a 90′ high natural arch formed from the erosion of the lava cliffs from the pounding of the surf.

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Returning to the main part of the park (and people), we went for a walk along the steam vents. Unlike Yellowstone where there is a strong sulfur smell, these just felt and smelled like you are standing outside of a house in the winter where the drying vent is running – only much more so.

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The steam vents were all over the place.

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Many had offerings to the volcano gods to ask them to behave themselves.

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As with most of our days in Hawaii, it ended with a great sunset.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 3 One Final Day on Oahu

Our final day in Honolulu started out with the obligatory tourist trek up Diamond Head.

For those who don’t know Diamond Head is the most famous landmark in Honolulu. The mountain is the remains of a volcano approximately 500,000 years old.

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Once you make it to the top of the 750′ mountain, the cauldron is apparent.

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Situated in the east side of Honolulu, it is surrounded by nice neighborhoods.

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Because it is at the east end of the island, the Diamond Head lighthouse is located at the base to warn ships.

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Our hike complete, we headed downtown to check out the historic buildings, including the post office.

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Easily the most famous is Iolani Palace, and the statue of King Kamehameha.

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Across the street was the royal residence

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Inside the Palace

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A secondary building on the property.

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Nearby is the Hawaii State Capital

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There are numerous other historic buildings downtown.

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Our architecture tour complete, we headed for the last part of the island we had yet to see, the South Shore.

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After returning to our hotel, I spent some time doing close ups of the Waikiki Hotels.

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And the nearby mountains.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 2 Around Oahu

Our first full day in Hawaii started off at the crack of dawn, as we headed up into the mountains to hike up to Manoa Falls. As we parked we realized we were surrounded by chickens.

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Our path up the rocky and muddy trail took us into the jungle.

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Eventually we reached Manoa Falls. At 150′ high it is one of the taller waterfalls in all of Hawaii.

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Coming back down the mountain into the neighborhoods we had yet another rainbow. At times it seems we could get rain without clouds, but they were always brief and the sun was out in a few minutes.

 

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Our next stop was Tantalus Overlook. The views from here are amazing.

 

Downtown Honolulu

 

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The airport is built in the harbor.

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Honolulu has height restrictions on buildings so they don’t block the view of Diamond Head. Almost all buildings have to be under 400 feet, so most are 399.

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Leaving the overlook we headed out Pali Highway, stopping at the overlook facing the east side of the island.

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The town of Kailua and Lanikai Beach.

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From here you can clearly make out the cauldron of a former volcano.

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We continued down this side of the mountains to go to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.

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After stopping at the visitor center we set off.

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It was great to see plants and flowers we normally only see at conservatories out in the wild. The only down side was the mud, What looked like grass, was in fact mud hiding just below. We came out a mess.

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In addition to the plants and flowers, their views of the mountains were spectacular.

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Eventually it was time to head on and we set out for the North Shore.

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Lunch was at one of the famed shrimp trucks.

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The North Shore is famed for their large waves for surfing.

 

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At the far end of the island we stopped at Waimea Valley, another botanical garden, with less mud than the earlier one. This one had paved paths and a great collection.

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The falls were somewhat of a disappointment, at only 85′ high.

 

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As we returned towards Honolulu we went through a valley with large pineapple fields.

 

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In the middle was the Dole Plantation. Now a tacky tourist spot it did give us a chance to see pineapples in various stages of growth.

 

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They also have nice gardens. But still a very tacky touristy place.

 

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Finally we reached Honolulu as the sun set.

 

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And our day was over – but not before one more treat. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I they had an all day celebration,  complete with fireworks. And we were lucky enough to have a front row seat from our 8th floor balcony.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 1 Honolulu and Beyond

Time for another ‘Road’ Trip – this time to Hawaii. After a very long flight we arrived in Honolulu mid afternoon on a Saturday. Rather than going straight to the hotel, we opted to head west pats  Waianae to go to Kaena Point. On the way we were greeted with this great Rainbow, keeping with one of the nicknames of the state – the Rainbow State.

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Eventually we made it to Keawaula Beach.  Our first views of Hawaii looked like the postcards.

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Cars and trucks lined every available space as the locals and tourists alike were enjoying the beautiful day.

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We passed numerous people fishing.

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As we made our way back toward Honolulu we passed the Makua Valley.

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A brief stop at Makahal Beach Park.

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And it was on to the city. With a metro population of almost a million people in a very small area, Honolulu was crowded and busy. We were surprised to find a 10 lane freeway through parts of the city.

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Our hotel was at the south end of Kapi’olani Park, with views back toward Waikiki, and the famed beach.

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The surrounding hillsides were covered in houses, except where the land is restricted.

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One final view for the day – a close up of the Waikiki Hotels.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the most visited Natural History Museum in the world. With over 1.5 million square feet of space and 126 million specimens it is the authoritative view on natural history.

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The Hall of Mammals has an extensive collection.

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A map of the world has the population ‘clock’ that constantly updates.

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The Hall of Human Origins has a collection of sculptures of humans over time.

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The Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals has a number of impressive pieces.

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Finally we toured the Ocean Hall.

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