Chaos Attraction

"Nothing to Do" on the Hilo Side

2007-07-05, 9:11 a.m.

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Thursday was a loooooooooooooong day.

The relatives have decided that the westward side of the island "doesn't have much to see" (as you will see, I was kind of baffled by this concept), and thus they wanted to only take one day to go around to that side of the island. Ergo, we started out driving (all in one van, mind you) at 6 a.m.

Amusingly enough, for spending the entire day on the "rainy side" of the island (my uncle was all, "It's never NOT raining in Hilo"), it was dry as a bone and beautiful all day long wherever we went. I heard the rain was on the Kona side instead that day. So, good day for this trip!

First stop: Akaka Falls. Wow, I think I love the rainforest. It's really, really pretty jungle.

(For more pictures of the falls, start here.)

Second stop: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. This was probably my favorite spot on Hawaii, I think. Tons and tons and tons and tons of beautiful flowers to take nice closeup shots of. I am not the world's best photographer, but I'd like to think that these came out really well.

(Flower photos start here. Incidentally, the day I am typing this, 7/28, I went to Berkeley and there was a flower stand with orchids just like the ones in Hawaii. I started whining, "I know I keep saying this, but this really reminds me of Hawaii!" If I wasn't a plant-killah most of the time I would probably have bought some.)

Third stop: Mauna Loa Macadamia Visitor's Center. They didn't have any production going on that day that we could watch, but there's always souvenir shopping (I got a shirt saying I'd gone totally nuts or something like that).

Fourth stop: Hawaii Volcano National Park. We didn't get to see all that much here beyond the museum, some vents and Kilauea Caldera, and were allowed a whopping ten minutes per stop. Oh, and the "gotta RUN THROUGH THEM" stop at the gift shop. This was especially unfair considering that even if there isn't a line, it takes five minutes to say, pee or be rung up in a shop.

This was kind of frustrating because I wanted to go see other sights in the park, like where the lava flow ends (it mowed over some towns, there are some freaky postcards available in Hawaii showing moved-over cars and street signs. I kind of wanted to photograph something like this.) and the art gallery I had kept hearing about. But nooooo, we had a deadline to meet (more on that later). Ten minutes, ten minutes!

Well, at least we did get to walk through a lava tube. That was pretty cool.

Nothing much was going on when we were there- looks like we just missed some drama. I'm not sure if that's good or not!

(For more volcano-ish stuff, start here.)

Fifth stop: Black Sand Beach. Main excitement here: we saw a giant turtle!

I took way too many pictures of a barely-moving turtle. Though I was quite amused when a wave was so heavy that it bumped the turtle (who was already by then kind of pondering going back into the ocean) farther up onto the land.

Sixth stop: Now, I mentioned that we had a deadline? Well, they simply had to make it down to the southernmost bakery in the USA to buy sweetbread by 5 p.m. closing time. We got there at 4:40.

I was not terribly pleased to find out that I had to rush through seeing freaking volcanoes sweetbread. I was even less pleased when Mom said, "Uh, we bought some sweetbread FROM THAT BAKERY up north a few days ago."

Seventh stop: Sheraton Keauhou manta ray viewing. By this point in time, I just wanted to eat and go the hell home already and couldn't have cared less about waiting until after dark to see some damn manta rays. But Uncle Brad was all, "Except for Travis dancing on the beach (Travis does not dance), we just haven't seen much wildlife." (Me: "Uh, what about all that snorkeling you do?") We ended up seeing one, very dimly. Watching the wedding reception next to the viewing site was more fun, and I don't even like weddings too much (plus I was feeling kind of bummed out watching the father-daughter dance). Though I have now decided that if the world ends and I ever do get married, I would like to do it in Hawaii (or Vegas if I'm lazy), but I shall NOT play "Hey Ya" as the second song of the night. That just seems silly.

Note to self: next time on Big Island, could be worth it to spend a night at a hotel in Hilo just so you don't HAVE to rush back. Sheesh, that was a pain. Because honestly, it sure LOOKED like there was stuff to do there...7 things, in fact.

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