yes- i know that's hard to believe, but believe me, i had other things to do. besides, if i wanted to do nothing but lay around and turn bronze, why pay a considerable amount of money to do it somewhere exotic when i could simply hold down a chair by the pool in my apartment complex? (when we get back above seventy degrees, of course....)
while i could easily post a seven-installment series about my recent trip to hawai'i (okay- so only five of the installments would actually see the light of day), i figure it's best to summarize:
~some people rely on pamplets and brochures to plan their vacation. i used a combination of the official tourism brochure and hawaii trails by kathy morey.
~this trip allowed me to cross 3 goals off my list of "30 things to do before 30" ....and a fourth is up for debate. the three certainties are: travel alone to someplace new, hawaii, and visit three world heritage sites. (the other two sites were giant's causeway in northern ireland back in july, and the grand canyon in october.)
~culinary delights: papaya salad, spam musubi
i'm pleased to report that no poi was ingested during this adventure.
~hazards of the fauna variety (on land, unless land sharks make a comeback): none. there aren't any snakes on the big island, no any large carnivores that might want to eat me. as i understand it, there are feral pigs, and i saw a horse with a wild look in his eye, but i was perfectly comfortable hiking solo, knowing that i was unlikely to be chased by bears or mountain lions. most of my animal sightings involved either birds or mongooses. (or would that be "mongeese"?) interesting fact: the mongeese were introduced to the island in an attempt to solve the rat problem. unfortunately, rats are noctournal, mongeese aren't. as a result, there are tons of hungry looking mongeese all over the island.
rather than bore you with more details, let me share a few of my (roughly 1000) photos:
the typical hawaiian scene....though this was taken at a spot where people used to be sacrificed to the shark "gods", which isn't really something that gives me warm, relaxing, hawaiian feelings.
the downside of traveling solo? all of my photos of myself were either taken by random strangers (i got really good at walking up to random strangers), or else have the telltale arm in the corner. this one was taken at lapakahi state historical park.
the view of the valleys on hawai'i's northeastern coast, as seen from along the pololu valley hiking trail. the pololu trail was probably one of the more crowded ones i went on during my trip, but i really can't blame anyone for wanting to take in this view.
the pololu valley beach. it isn't safe to swim in the ocean here, due to fierce currents. random strolling and photographing are perfectly acceptable, however.
my first sea turtle sighting was at kahalu'u beach park, where i returned a week later to get the hang of snorkeling before flying home.
view from the waipi'o lookout. most visitors do not get any closer than this, and for good reason- the road is so steep that only four wheel drive vehicles are allowed to descend it.
once again, i managed to con other tourists into taking my photo. not realizing that the tallest waterfall in hawaii (1400 feet) was in the valley, i spent time wandering around the beach, and not the back of the valley, before beginning the climb back up. the trail was steep, to say the least. as i started to ascend, i was offered a ride by a bunch of college coeds in a jeep, which i declined. about halfway up, i wished i'd taken them up on it, as it seemed the trail would have been easier to handle if i'd just leaned forward a little more and crawled up it on all fours. however, by the time i got to the trailhead, i felt a sense of accomplishment....or maybe that was just the sharp, stinging pains in my calves making me delirious or something.
halema'uma'u crater, in the kilauea caldera, volcanoes national park, as seen during my $225 helicopter ride. during my visit, the crater was pumping out levels of sulphur dioxide that are ten times higher than normal. i found out right after my return home that, on the last morning of my visit, there was an explosion of ash and rock at the crater.
the lava flow, also seen during my $225 helicopter ride.
...and during my infinitely cheaper drive to the end of highway 130.
halema'uma'u crater. the rain jacket was the last thing i grabbed when i left my car at the charlotte airport, and easily one of the smartest packing decisions i'd made, since the hilo side of the island gets an average 140" of rain annually.
stopping along the kilauea iki trail in volcanoes national park. as you can see, i was unable to con any other tourists into taking this picture for me. there were cracks in the crater floor, still steaming after the 1959 eruption here.
my last major hike was to the captain cook monument in kealakekua bay. in addition to the monument, there's supposedly a plaque at the spot where cook actually died. unfortunately, neither i nor my sudden hiking buddy stumbled upon it. (however, since i've mastered snorkeling- one day too late for the hike- i'm totally willing to go back and look again....)
47 states down, 3 to go...and four months left to get them. admittedly, though, hawaii's been my favorite so far. (sorry, arizona.)