In March 2006 I went to Hawaii with InterNATIONAL PARKtours, of Queensland. I had been on several tours with them before.
As I haven't asked anyone, I won't talk about the others on the trip, and I'll only use pictures where they are not recognisable. Our guides, who I presume won't care, were Teresa Cause, of Queensland, and Rob Siemers of Koloa, Kauai. Rob is a geologist, and we all got a copy of his book on the geology of Kauai.
Both to and from Hawaii I had empty seats next to me, which is unusual. The flights are now at a civilised time, too. I left Sydney at 8.50pm after a flight from Melbourne, and arrived in Honolulu at 9am. Most of the twelve passengers were on the plane with Teresa, and she had organised a bus to the Princess Kaiulani Sheraton. I walked around all day, and it rained. Not heavily, but I later learned that it had been raining in Honolulu for four weeks when I arrived, and for seven weeks when I went home. The tourist industry was suffering. It was very unusual weather.
I took about 700-800 pictures, and they give the idea that it didn't rain much, but of course I mostly took pictures when it wasn't raining. And I can't show that many pictures here!
On Monday we began with a visit to the Bishop Museum, which was enjoyable, and that was all we saw of Oahu on the tour. We flew to the Big Island in the afternoon, and drove up to the volcano area, where we roomed in two locations. The Big Island, or Hawaii, is basically two huge volcanos, Mauna Loa, which is still active, and Mauna Kea, which is not. Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the world, taken from its base at the bottom of the ocean to its summit, at about 13000 feet. The island is about half a million years old I believe.
Next day we saw our first sunshine. After a visit to the Volcano Center we walked around the rim of Kilauea Iki, then down and across it.
We walked through the Thurston Lava Tube, and the rain returned, but stopped for our walk across the Devastation Trail. This is an area wiped out by ash from Kilauea years ago, but parts of it have revegetated.
Next day it poured all day. We drove out to the area with seismometers, and Halemaumau was vibrating noticeably, and a tilt meter was rising. Halemaumau is the pit where the lava flowed from in the large volcano.
We drove down to the coast on the leeward side, and the rain stopped. We walked to see some petroglyphs, which are old carvings in the lava, done by the Hawaiians. I don't find these interesting myself, but they are a part of every tour.
I should say I have done pretty much the same basic tour four times since 1980. I love the place. On the first trip I had a swim in the Queen's Pool somewhere around this area. Next time I came it was far underground, buried by lava. This trip was different, in that we stayed at different places, and saw different aspects. And a lot of rain.
We went down the road a bit, towards where the lava runs into the sea. It has been running since 1983. You can't go close, because the lava is treacherous. As it runs the outside hardens, and the inside keeps running. If you step on what appears to be solid rock it may cave in and you plunge into lava and turn into steam. Later these become lava tubes, which may be tiny or big enough to walk through.
Lava reaching the sea. That evening some of the group went off with torches and rain gear through the pouring rain to see it at night. They came back like drowned rats, but thought it was worth it.
It poured all night, and as we left. It stopped briefly as we paused at a black sand beach, where I saw my first mongoose, stalking a bird. The mongooses were introduced to eradicate the rats in the sugar. Rats are nocturnal, mongooses are not, so never the twain meet. The sugar is gone, but mongooses are everywhere. We were held up at a flooded road, until a policeman waded through and declared that four-wheeled drives could go through, and that was us. We stopped at a roadside cafeteria for sandwiches, which we ate at the beach where Captain Cook met his end. It was not raining. We also looked at a Mauna Loa lava flow from 1907, which looked new. We looked at an area where refugees could seek refuge; and rain returned as we left. It stopped before we reached Kona where we stayed at the King Kamehameha Hotel.
We had a free day in Kona on the Friday, and while it was over clouded, it did not rain. I just walked about. Next day we moved on. Apart from some lookouts, we paused at the Orchid Hotel at Mauna Lani to look at some petroglyphs. It had a very nice golf course, set amid flows of aa lava (the small, broken variety). We also did a hard walk downhill to a beach at Kapa'au, and had lunch at another wild beach, Pololu.
Let's have some pictures on a separate page. And a few more on another page!
The morning had been in the dry part of the island, but we were now in the lush part. We slept at Waimea, in the shadow of Mauna Kea. In the morning there was light rain, but nothing much. We saw snow on Mauna Kea.
We walked up a pu'u. This is a small cinder cone which was isolated by a lava flow around it from Mauna Loa. Because we were high I was a bit afraid to carry a lot, but it was all right. It rained, but stopped, and we continued up Mauna Kea. At the visitors' center we learned we should not be there because we were a commercial group, but we were allowed to walk up a hill for the view. It was freezing! I gave the walk a miss, and went sideways, where I got a good view too.
We stopped the night at a lovely hotel in Hilo, but it was too late to look around, and it poured all night, and when we got up. We set off for Maui.