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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Road Tripping, Part 1 Waimea, HI, Saturday, 12 August 2006 5:00am

A long, but pleasant day in the car.

For breakfast, I stopped in at Island Lava Java for a cinnamon roll that was easily a foot wide. Yum. I bought some Aloha wear at the local farmer's/craft market. Then I hit the road.

I started out swinging by the Safeway and grabbing a few things. A six pack of Aloha Maid guava nectar and a can of mixed nuts (with macadamias) should keep me snacked.

Then it was up along the forested Kaloko drive, to get a panoramic view of the Kona area... weather permitting. Unfortunately, it wasn't permitting. But it was still a nice drive along a calm, curvy road lined with tropical vegetation. Coming back down was more challenging. I don't remember ever coming down the side of a mountain in an automatic before. I made liberal use of the 2nd gear setting on the gearshift, but still had to ride the brakes more than I would have liked (the 1st gear setting made a worrisome noise).

A sustained bit of driving followed. I came down out of the cloud forest and passed a lot of amazing lava flow terrain that looked like it had been blasted. Black rock and little tufts of dry grass. I didn't get any pictures. An annoying thing about driving a car is that it's a lot harder to pull off and take out the camera. You need a lot more shoulder than on a bike.

I drove north on Hwy 190 to the Waikoloa turnoff, took that west to the coast, and then headed south on 19, trying to find a hike described in the Wizard guidebook. I overshot the first time, and learned the joy of making a left turn directly onto a two-lane highway from a vista point. I found the place, and had to make another left across the highway onto volcanic gravel. This was probably not the best idea, since my Grand Prix doesn't have 4WD or much ground clearance. Those plastic parts under the radiator grille make excellent gravel scoops, as it turns out.

I spent about an hour hiking. First: out to the black sand beach to annoy a few crabs and fish by following them around and trying to take their pictures. Then back inland a bit to some golden freshwater pools. Ok, more orangish. I tried to find the connecting road back, but failed and had to make my way back to the trail I'd used to come in. Trailblazing across crumbly old lava rock is surprisingly tiring, especially considering how easy it is to walk on when it's well packed in a trail.

I meant to have lunch in the Kohala resort area, but got annoyed at all of the golf carts and just continued nort a bit to the petroglyph park. After a false start (the trail starts at the other end of the parking lot, and is really obvious once you find the trailhead), it was a quick walk in and out. The petroglyphs are really more interesting for the fact that they exist (Why were they made? What do they depict? Is that Chthulhu?) than for what they are.

After deciding that I still wasn't actually hungry, I drove Hwy 19 to Waimea, where I found my hotel. I dropped off my stuff and headed to the north tip of the island to the towns of Kapa'au and Hawi. Again, a beautiful drive, frustrated only by the inability to stop and take pictures as much as I would have liked. It was pretty windy and often marked at 25 or 35mph. The little northern towns had a Marin-ish feel to them. I had dinner in Hawi at Bamboo (pot stickers with peanut-butter filling and tasty Thai-style tuna) and then headed back along the coast road (Hwy 19, which I almost suspect I will drive the entirety of during this trip) because I didn't really want to deal with the twisty roads in the dark.

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