Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Road Tripping, Part 2 Hilo, HI, Saturday, 12 August 2006 9:54pm

I'm at the house of my college friend Chad (N'djamena) in Hilo, after another pleasant, but tiring day of driving.

I actually started out with a hike. I'm still on mainland time, so instead of waking up annoyingly early at 8am, I woke up annoyingly early at 5am. I managed to doze until 6:30, and then decided that I might as well get my day started.

First on the list was a hike to the top of the Waipi'o Valley (I couldn't drive to the valley proper because it requires a 4WD). The guidebook mentioned that there was an ongoing disagreement between the state and the county about whether a particular stretch of the path is a public easement or not. Right now, the state has put up a lot of No Trespassing signs. I'm glad I ignored them. It was a great hike, starting with a brief stretch of pastureland (the state's part) and then heading up through a rain forest to an overlook above the valley.

When I got there, I was kind of disappointed. The guidebook had warned that the hike was only so-so on an overcast day, and when I arrived, the valley was pretty well fogged in. Happily, after milling about for a few minutes, a break in the clouds started opening up, and after a few more, there was a clear view across the top of the gorge. It was a spectacular 2000ft sheer drop with waterfalls and plentiful greenery. Well worth the trip. Maybe it was just the early hour, or maybe other people took the signs to heart, but the trail was almost completely deserted. I ran into one other group headed in as I headed out, but that was it.

After the hike I headed back to my hotel to shower and wash off some of the mud from my clothes, then headed out to find a cafe that the guidebook promised had poi pancakes with coconut sauce. Sadly, that place has closed, so instead of breakfast I had an early lunch of mahi mahi done Korean style and a Pina Colada Julius.

From Waimea, I headed south along Hwy 19, taking turnoffs for the Old Mamalahoa Highway when they were available. The old highway is mostly narrow, winding 25mph roads through pastureland and forest, rather than the efficient 55mph straight shot down 19. I took a break and some pictures at Laupahoehoe Point, the site of some tragic drownings in the 1946 tsunami.

I stopped in at the World Botanical Gardens, where I paid the admission fee to see the Umauma Falls. They're a fairly pretty set of stacked waterfalls, but you can't get very close, and with the lackluster gardens, the stop seemed skippable.

Part of that is because Akaka falls, a little further on, is more impressive. It's only a single fall, but it's very tall and you get a good view of it.

Part of it is because there's a much better botanical garden (Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Gardens) just 5 miles down the road. HTBG has interesting terrain and a varied collection of mature plants (and a few macaws). I bought a couple blue ginger cuttings, which I hope I can get back into California. They have the appropriate pest inspection stamp, so I'm hopeful. I wonder how long they take to grow into flowering plants.

After making it to Hilo proper, I took a quick detour to Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, which were totally anticlimactic after the much bigger waterfalls earlier in the day.

I tried to get to Chad's place by following my GPS unit's directions, but it kept trying to take me down roads that simply didn't exist. After calling Chad and hearing only half of the conversation (reception has been terrible around here), we agreed to meet up at the airport (which I knew I could find without the GPS. Hooray for maps on actual paper). The rental car dropoff went really quickly, since their computer was down.

After meeting up with Chad and visiting his house and meeting his wife Tara and newborn son Evan, we headed out to a local sushi restaurant for some dinner. I made it a point to order things I don't normally see back home, so I got some lightly grilled ahi nigiri and some chicken katsu curry rolls and some ahi poke rolls (cubed tuna marinated in a soy-based sauce). The poke was so good that I ordered some poke nigiri. I'm going to have to find some place in SF that serves that stuff.

Tomorrow, I'll meet up with the rest of the group at the telescopes.


what? a car? chuck (Anonymously) Thursday, 17 August 2006 1:46pm

Shouldn't you have biked from Kona to Hilo? Slacker!

My biking is at a minimum right now, due to the 100 degree heat. But I'll be biking 600 miles in two weeks in September.

Given that your most recent post is 5 days ago, I hope you haven't fallen off a cliff. How are those telescopes? Don't leave your readers hanging.