Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Completing the circle

One last good B&B breakfast, and it was time to complete the counterclockwise circle of the Big Island. I made a quick trip into the park, to check the plume rising from the crater, to say farewell to Pele. Until next time...

plume rising, hawaii volcanoes national park

It was a driving day, a day with a few good stops along the way. I headed from Volcano to Hilo, then north along the east coast, to the northernmost point of the island, then down the west side to Kailua-Kona. How many miles? According to Google Maps, my route was 161 miles, estimated to take 4 hours and 22 minutes. Of course that distance is before I added a couple of side trips. Yes, it would have been much shorter to go in a clockwise direction - but that wouldn't have taken me to the black sand beach at Polulu Valley, and that was on my list of must visit places.

Driving... up the wet side. It rained from Hilo pretty much all of the way to Waimea. I could easily have stopped to grab some photos of the beautiful green countryside that I was passing through, but somehow standing on the side of a road in the rain didn't sound too appealing at the time. Green rolling hills, cattle and horses in pastures, beauty, all images in my mind.

From Waimea, I hopped (the short way) across the peninsula for a quick visit to the Pua Mau Botanical Garden. I hoped to play with my macro lens but I didn't even put it on my camera once I realized how strong the wind was. Somehow trying to get close-up photos of flowers when they were moving wildly didn't sound like it was going to make me happy. I had a nice walk, a visit with the huge bug sculptures, and then...


Pua Mau botanical garden sculpture

the wind in the palm trees

I retraced my route back to Waimea because I wanted to absorb the vistas from the road over Kohala Mountain. It's a narrow road with few places to stop - but at least the road was two lanes! When I did find spots to pull over I found it quite difficult to stand in one place. The wind was doing a good job of attempting to push me over!

Ah, Hawi at last. A quick turn back to the east, a road that started curving and traveling over one-lane bridges. Ah, the end of the road, the jumping off point for a visit to another black sand beach. From the top, the beach was visible, as were sculpted and heavily treed cliffs beyond the beach. Given more time, I probably would have climbed up the other side to see what I could see. Today I was quite happy with a walk down, across the beach, along the shores of the river heading inland.

polulu black sand beach

The walk down was quite steep. It started steep and smooth, then became rocky and muddy. Mud? Slippery! Down, down, down. Finally, the beach. Black sand, bright green plants along the edges, rocks stacked in straight piles, a path along the river, crashing waves. So beautiful.

Walking up was easier than walking down. Funny, I wasn't the only person who felt that way after walking the trail.

I turned the car in the direction of Kailua-Kona. I still had plenty of time since it was only 4:30, and my flight was scheduled for 10:35 PM. Overnight to LA.

I spotted some windmills, and headed down one of those one-lane two-way roads to get a closer look. This time the sides of paved road were smooth grass, which means there was no problem passing oncoming cars. It seemed that the cars I danced with along that road had the same idea that I did - to get closer to the windmills.

windmills along the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii

Next stop was a beach park behind the airport. I walked on the black rocks, fascinated by the wild waves. I was back far enough not to get wet, but I did see one person who was quietly standing, watching, get totally soaked as a wave crashed against the rocks.

I stayed, playing a bit with my camera, until the sun sank into the ocean.

sunset and water, west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii

Beach parks have places to change clothes. No need to pull a quick change in the car, I have a ready-made place to shed the day's sweaty clothes. Long pants are definitely a much better choice than shorts for the long flight home.

End of the day, end of my quick trip... I'm sitting at the airport, waiting. The waiting areas at the Kona airport are under cover but open air. The wind continues to howl, enough that I donned a couple of layers to keep me warm.

Apparently all of the inbound flights (from the east) have been delayed, fighting a headwind on the way over. My flight is a turnaround - it was due in at 9 PM from Los Angeles, and is scheduled to head back to Los Angeles at 10:35 PM. It's 9:45 and the plane has just arrived.

No matter, if that big bird was fighting a headwind on the way to Hawaii we should be riding a nice tailwind on the way back.