Lewis and Clark

In another life we must have been explorers. Just as Christopher Columbus found the Americas while trying to find India, we stumbled upon the Hawaiian Paradise Beaches while trying to find the lighthouse. The Beaches are not the paradise they sound like. Instead they are nothing but lava fields that jut out into the ocean where the waves crash against them with an unmatched ferociousness.

Hawaiian Paradise Beaches

While following the coastline, after crossing 4 wheel drive only lava fields and driving through a flooded road, we also happened across Isaac Hale Park. There we were able to catch a few glimpses of surfers taking advantage of the incoming tide.

Akaka Falls

In the morning before our jaunt in the Jeep we headed to Akaka Falls. Akaka Falls drops more than 400 ft in a lush jungle atmosphere. It is on a half mile trail together with Kahuna Falls which provides several overlooks and viewing areas.

Today was a great way to conclude our stay on the Big Island. We caught our flight to Maui and arrived shortly after 7pm. We grabbed the rental (Yellow Ford Mustang Convertible yeah 🙂 ) and began our adventures on the ‘Valley Isle.’

Rachel & Randy

Destruction Creates Beauty

Today was the least rainy day since we’ve been in Hilo. I guess when you’re in a place that averages over 126 inches of rain per year and has gotten over 200 inches in the past a little rain is expected. At least it can be accredited with all the beautiful foliage and flowers.

Rainbow Falls

First on the agenda was Rainbow Falls. It’s right in Hilo and since we had to be to the airport for the helicopter ride by noon we wanted to stay close to home. In between bouts of rain we ran from the car to the overlook but couldn’t spend much time due to torrential downpours.

Lava meets Ocean

Just in time for the Helicopter ride the rain subsided and we saw to the east that the sky was open and it would stay that way for the rest of the day. Our pilot Ray was very friendly. He greeted everyone individually and used our names to refer to directions (on Rachel’s side you can see ___). It was different but worked very well. We flew over an area to the southwest of Hilo containing lots of waterfalls, streams and valleys.

Next the helicopter did a fly by over the active vent of the volcano. Ray informed us that Kilauea is not erupting from its main caldera; instead it has formed a rift much closer to the coast and is venting lava from there. Unfortunately during the day it’s very difficult to see much red, although there were a few cracks and gaps that allowed us to see some glimpses of the hot stuff. He then took us to the coastline where we saw the newest land in the United States (and quite possibly the world). Ray told us that since it started erupting in 1983 Kilauea has added over 60 acres to the Big Island of Hawaii.

One of the employees at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters told us about a valley to the north which had some beautiful scenery. Since we didn’t have anything else planned for the day, we decided to take a drive. Our rental was a 4 wheel drive Jeep which allowed us to take several side trips towards the coastline. We first took the top down so we could enjoy the Beautiful weather.

High Tide

The first side road took us to a sign that read ‘public shoreline access’ which led us to a dirt/mud road. At the end of the road (a few hundred feet from the coast) we left the jeep and hiked down to the water to check it out. The scenery at the shoreline was amazing, the waves were crashing while high tide was coming in and some lucky people had a house right off the shore.

The rest of the day consisted of a few more side trips down to the coastline and ended at Waipo Valley where we met a group of natives chanting from the overlook. Sunset over the valley was very beautiful and peaceful. However; the clouds soon started rolling in and we knew it was time to put up the top and head home.

Aloha from the Aldrichs

Made from Fire, Made from Water

Steam Vents

Today was rather rainy, but does that stop us? never. Today we hit up Volcanoes National Park. After a somewhat late start, the first stop was the steam vents where you could see steam plumes rising from the crater wall. Unfortunately due to the rain we couldn’t see into the crater.

Next we stopped at the Jagger Museum which had some nice views of the crater, some seismographs and a lot of information about the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele. As we drove around the crater rim the weather changed many times. A few times it cleared up enough for us to get a good look into the crater. At these times we could catch glimpses of steam vents and sulfur scars in the crater floor.

The most notable vantage point was the southwest riff. This scar in the landscape was spectacular in itself but it also provided us with the ability to get close to the rim for some spectacular views. We then had the opportunity to walk across the steam vent fields to get to another viewing platform. Once we got there we couldn’t help but notice the sacrifices laid out, some even set out as whole meals, for the fire goddess Pele who is said to live in that particular crater.

End of the Road

Unfortunately the current lava flow is much too far away (approximately 5 miles) from the viewing locations. You can, however; see the gas plume forming as the lava meets the ocean. With any luck tomorrow the weather will be nicer and we’ll be able to see things clearer from the Helicopter. We couldn’t see the active lava flow but we could see the remains of the last lava flow to cross road. It made us wonder how often they need redo the road.

The next and final stop was an old lava tube. The entrance into the tube was pretty sweet, as it was mostly hidden by the lush jungle fauna. It was neat but there wasn’t really a whole lot to see. The roots coming through from the plants above were pretty cool. Beyond that If you are pressed for time this is skip-able.

After a big day in the park we decided to take a drive to Kona on the other side of the island to hopefully catch sunset and dinner. Along the way we stopped at several beautiful areas. One of which was a black sand beach. This was a must see as there are several different colored sand beaches on the Big Island, and it is our goal to see each of the different colors.

We arrived in Kona too late to see the sunset, and pretty late for dinner. We grabbed something quick to eat at LuLu’s and hit the road again to get back to Hilo and our hotel. Unfortunately the day took its toll and we had to stop several times to take a quick nap on the way home. And now as our heads hit the pillows of our hotel… we bid you adieu.

With Love,
Randy and Rachel.

A Boat and a Plane

Sailors Lost

Today we had a real early start. We left the hotel at 6:45 and dropped our bags at the airport. From there we headed to The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. We learned a lot of interesting things and saw even more. There was a museum at the memorial which had several interesting displays. The most moving of which was a display containing the items corresponding to one of the sailors lost on the USS Arizona. It contained his diploma, his purple heart, the telegram sent to his mother notifying her of his death and several other times of importance pertaining to his life.

Flying High

The memorial itself is very somber but an empowering part of American history. You felt a sort of pride stepping onto the deck of the memorial with the American Flag flying high above. It was inspiring to learn that even the survivors of the USS Arizona still to this day request to be buried at sea with their shipmates. When requested, they are cremated and Navy divers are commissioned to place them amongst the wreckage.

After visiting the memorial we caught a quick taxi ride back to the airport and it was on to the Big Island. Once arriving on this rainy paradise, we grabbed our rental and went out for a joyride. We took the ‘scenic route’ (which was labeled as such) and happened across an amazing overlook and trail head to the shoreline below. Since we didn’t have anything else planned we took the trek and we’re glad we did. The tide was coming and the waves were furious. Check out the photo album for some amazing shots from our mini-hike.

By the time we made it to the end of the ‘scenic route’ it was time for dinner. We found out how different Hilo is from Waikiki as it took us almost an hour to find a restaurant (we weren’t being picky, we couldn’t find ANY). However; once we found one, Hilo Bay Cafe, we determined the food was worth the search.

Another great ending to another great day.

Rachel and Randy