Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 20 Rainbow Trees and An Abrupt Stop

Our second morning at the Kauai Inn started after sunrise, which gave us a chance to see how beautiful the grounds and background was.

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As we left to go out for the day we found a new city have moved in down the street.

To quote a line from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ – “I’m bettin’ he’s gonna swerve first”

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Our day had us headed to some waterfalls – first was Wailua Falls. I was expecting to drive into a park and go for a hike to the falls, but we ended up driving up and getting a glimpse of them from the overlook in the fog.

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Still the double falls was impressive.

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We then headed to the nearby Opaeka’a Falls. While more distance, you did get a better view – but still no hiking.

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The Wailua River Valley is historically a Native Hawaiian settlement area.

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We continued up the road as far as it could go until we got to the Keahua Arboretum.

Not a traditional arboretum, but more of a ‘woods’, it nonetheless has some amazing trees. These are known as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.

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As Wikipedia states: “The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.”

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Easily some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.

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With that we headed back down the mountain, passing some houses with great views.

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We stopped by Poliahu Park.

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Where the remains of a Heiau (temple) remains from ancient Hawaiian times. People have left lei’s as an offering.

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Our plans were to continue north to a wildlife preserve and lighthouse when we ran into a bit of a problem – literally. An elderly man missed seeing us coming down the road and pulled directly in front of us – BAM.

Airbags are an exciting event – scared the #$%^ out of me.

Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, and after getting a replacement car from Avis (who get’s a shout out about how well they handled this situation), we got checked out and were on our way.

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We decided to skip the lighthouse and instead went to the Spouting Horn Park, where we met some of the local sea birds.

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Spouting Horn was nice, but with the much smaller waves it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Maui.

With that our eventful day came to an end.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 17 The Road To Hana (and Beyond)

The Road to Hana is a famed Maui attraction. Winding for 52 miles from Kahului, it passes over 46 one lane bridges, and has over 600 curves.

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It basically runs up and down the gulches throughout east Maui, with many of the gulches featuring waterfalls.

It was raining fairly hard as we made our way down this early morning, so some of the falls were more impressive than normal. The good news was our early start meant we missed most of the very slow tourist traffic on the way down.

Unfortunately unless you had a 4WD high clearance vehicle you had to come back the same way, which we did later that afternoon.

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Eventually we reached Hana, and continued on to the portion of Haleakala National Park that is on the ocean. As we passed into the park grounds we were met with another great waterfall.

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Our main destination for the day was the Pipiwai Trail.

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This trail takes you up the mountain past the Seven Sacred Pools.

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Through an amazing bamboo forest.

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After clearing the bamboo forest you are presented with the highlight – the 400′ high Waimoku Waterfalls.

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After returning back down the trail we started backtracking up Hana Highway. Just beyond Hana is the Wai’anapanapa State Park.

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The seas were angry that day, and the waves were high and frequent.

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The blowhole at the park was more impressive than any of the others we saw elsewhere.

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Even the birds seemed excited.

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As we continued our journey back to Kahului we passed an area where numerous cars were parked along the road. Following the others we made our way down to an overlook where everyone was checking out the waves.

They were reported to be 20-30′ high here, which brought out locals as well as the tourists.

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The only surfboards we saw that day were lining the parking lot of the shops.

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As we made our way back to the hotel for the night we passed this architecturally interesting temple. We were fortunate that despite quite a bit of rain we remained dry for our couple hours of hiking, as well as the visit to the state park.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

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This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

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We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

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Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

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Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

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Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

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Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

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On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

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But it did lead to another great coastal view.

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Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

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The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

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About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

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At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

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There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

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The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

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Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

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Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

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Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

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Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

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Along with some sculptures.

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I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

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The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

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Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

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Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

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Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

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As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

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Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

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With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

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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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Watkins Glen, NY – May 2018 – The Glen

While I have known that Watkins Glen, New York had a true ‘glen’, I had always known if for the racetrack (see previous posting). On this day we spent a couple of hours exploring the park – and it was well worth it.

As we started down the 400′ deep ravine we had no idea what we were in for.

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We went through a spiral staircase in a tunnel and came out to this – a nice 60′ waterfalls.

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Which the path lead behind.

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On the other side was a view further down the ravine.

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We opted to head up the gorge for an hour or so – a beautiful hike indeed.

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Waterfalls Day, Alberta and British Columbia – September 2017

A drive through Alberta and BC turned out to be ‘Waterfalls Day’, but not before meeting some locals along the road.

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First stop was Maligne Canyon, Alberta. This very narrow canyon featured a nice waterfalls with numerous erosion ‘pots’ along the river.

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After crossing into British Columbia, we found Rearguard Falls. It is noted as the furthest into the mountains that salmon make it from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. Unfortunately we saw none, even though this is the time of year they migrate.

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In Wells Gray Provincial Park we found Spahats Falls, taller than Niagara. We thought that was amazing until we continued on to….

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Helmcken Falls – 420′ high, nearly 3 times the height of Niagara, with great volume as well.

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The water rushing over provided excellent visuals providing a great ending to Waterfalls Day.

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Icefields Parkway, Alberta – September 2017

The trip continued north from Banff toward the Icefields Parkway, a 180 mile drive to Jasper that takes you past numerous glaciers on the mountains. But first we made a stop for an invigorating hike up Johnton Canyon. This hike included numerous catwalks suspended above the canyon floor, as well as traditional paths. The effort lead to two great waterfalls.

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Just before the start of the Icefields Parkway is Lake Louise, a popular tourist stop – so popular there are numerous attendants directing traffic through the entire town to get to the parking lots. We stayed about 30 minutes before leaving the crowds and heading on…

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Because a short drive later you were on the Icefields Parkway and has better views with far far fewer people.

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At the Columbia Icefields they offer an option to take a tour onto the Athabasca Glacier that included a visit to the ‘Skywalk’, a cantilevered walkway with translucent floors to see straight down 1000′.

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The special Ice Coaches were constantly ferrying people onto the glacier. They made a point about how fast the glacier is receding, you would think all the traffic can’t be helping it.

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But still, we got to go on a glacier.

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Our day ended at Athabasca Falls, near the town of Jasper. I have had many spectacular drives, but the Icefields Parkway is easily one of the 10 best ever.

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