My girls got here Saturday night. I left the Hilo Hawaiin around 9am, visited the RESOLVE team at the Imiloa Science Center in Hilo, and then drove up the coast over to Waimea and down to Kona to pick them up. To say the least, I was pumped.
We’re using Kohala coast as our home base for the first four days. We spent Sunday on Anaehoomalu Beach – probably better known as A Bay Beach. Beautiful scenery, but Florida sand is better. I have seen our Florida Gulf coast and Atlantic coast waters just as clear. My feet are cut up from the rough sand and rocks. I still liked it, but I am very spoiled living in Florida.
And then believe it or not, I took the girls back to Hale Pohaku for pool, dinner and altitude acclimation (at 9,200′) before going to see the observatories at the peak (13,770′). We watched the sun set into the clouds which we were above and then drove down to Hale Pohaku for star-gazing. It’s hard to explains, but the milky way appears 3-dimensional here with Sagan’s ‘…billions of stars…” suddenly very believable. Had a great view of a new moon, Mars, Saturn and billions of stars…
It was really cool (literally and figuratively) around 7pm when all of the observatories started opening up. I think they were performing atmospheric calibrations. In particular, Gemini was really cool. It opens by raising the top part and lowering the bottom part. It has a giant reflector lens about 24′ in diameter. This picture is me in front of the open Gemini resting against my awesome Jeep. Which BTW, I like a lot.
On Monday, I kept the girls busy by heading off to Waipi’o Valley. Access to the valley is via an EXTREMELY steep one lane road with grades greater than 25%. The valley is an ancient area of rice and taro cultivation. The valley carries water from the volcanic mountains over waterfalls and through gorges down to black sand beaches. We stood in the fresh water river and walked into the Pacific ocean’s surf confined by the 900′ tall valley walls around us. According to Wikipedia, if this access road were classified as a road, it would be the steepest in the USA and probably the world. Our Jeep was amazing. I love it. It reminded me of my Tonka truck I had in my sandbox when I was 5. It can do anything. We went through 3 rivers and numerous mud pits without hesitation. Cheryl screamed the entire time. The girls and I laughed uncontrollably.
And after all of that, we stopped by Hapuna Beach on the way home for a couple of hours. Sand was very, very nice. This is a nicer beach than A Bay. Sorry, no pictures. We just slept on the beach.