Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hawaii Part 2

By day 4 of our trip we had already been to at least 5 beaches, snorkeled, whale watched, went boating, and Chase and Kyle even played tour guide for a group of senior citizens that they ran into from Idaho.  They took all six of them on the little tube boat on a private tour to whale watch and snorkel.  Between the bouncing up and down on the tiny boat, to driving 20 minutes past the snorkel site, getting lost, a seasickness incident, and almost running out of gas, the boys were glad to be home.  

One thing I was amazed at on The Big Island is how you could be driving around and see nothing but lava rock for miles, and then suddenly you were on a beachy paradise. There were a few beaches that we went to that we had to drive on an unpaved road with miles of lava rock in all directions.  
It looked like we were on the moon or something.

But then the road would end and you would come up over a hill and this is what you'd see:

It is amazing that a volcano can create such a beautiful island.  

We took one whole day to explore the Island and knock off some bucket list items.
We took a drive around the entire Island.  
We started at the Kona LDS temple on the Kona side and drove all the way to Hilo to the southern-most part of the Island, which is also the Southernmost point of the United States of America.  
We saw a black-sand beach, a beautiful double rainbow, and a water fall.  

The whole group!

Do you see the little plank and cliff behind us in this picture?  Below that blank is a 30(ish) foot ladder that leads down to the ocean.  A few dozen yards out is an extremely strong current that heads all the way to Antartica.  Knowing all of this, there were people still jumping off that cliff for the pride of being able to say they did it. 
One of those people was Kyle!

I like to think that had I had my swimsuit or a towel I would have done it with him.  
But who knows if I actually would have had the courage!
This is the Southernmost point of the United States of America 
 After having fully experienced South Point, the wind, and watching crazy people jump into crazy water, we were on our way to Hilo to see a beautiful waterfall and rainforest.  
Because it had rained recently, it was huge. Apparently normally it is a gentle trickle, haha!

We stopped just long enough to see the waterfall, grab a quick bite to eat, and start driving up the mountain for Mauna Kea.  This was a special request from me.

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I LOVE the sky.  I have always been fascinated by it.  I will never forget when I was 14 and had just moved to Idaho.  I went camping with my friend's family in Eastern Idaho and we got in around midnight.  I remember stepping out of the car and was just completely dumbstruck at how incredibly bright the stars were.  
It made me dizzy they were so bright and it felt like they completely enveloped me.  I just stared and stared.  Since that night, I have always searched for opportunities to experience the night sky like that again.  

Come to find out, Mauna Kea is one of the 5 volcanoes that created The Big Island.  It is the tallest sea mountain in the world, at 14,000  feet above sea level and 36,000 at the base.  At the top of the mountain, they have ice and snow year round.  In fact, you will freeze if you are not dressed in winter gear.  Because this mountain is so tall on the middle of an island, it creates a PERFECT opportunity for star gazing and they have some of the best telescopes in the world for public access at the top.  They even have regulations about what kind of streetlights can be used on the island so that they don't interfere with the stargazing at the top of Mauna Kea. You can imagine my excitement at the prospect of seeing the stars from the top of this volcano, and getting a star tour from an astronomer at the top.  

We realized about 3/4 of the way up the mountain, after hours of driving, that it was a full moon that night.  
The moon was so bright that you could hardly see any stars! 
There were less stars visible then when I step outside of my house.  
Of course I was really disappointed.  
I hoped to cross one of my longest bucket list wishes off the list and this definitely didn't count.
It was still an awesome experience though and looking through the telescopes was still really neat.  
I did feel bad that everyone had come on this adventure to humor me and then it was a little bit of a bust.  
I hope they all enjoyed the adventure of it because I sure did!  
We had a really good laugh about it too!   

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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