Friday, January 16, 2015


The Kilauea caldera with steam (more than usual) rising from the molten lava filled Halema'uma'u crater. The large shield volcano Muana Loa in the distance is largest volcano in the world with most of its mass underwater. 

We pulled in to the Hilo harbor as the sun rose on Wednesday January 14th. Us five and most of the students were up early to watch it all happen. We were even able to see quite a few whales scratch the surface and wave a few tails. Marie’s comment after the spectacular sun rise and whale watching was that it had been a delightful cruise and she was ready to go home.


For me, half of the fun of travel is the planning and anticipation. In December I realized that we would have two stops with good snorkeling so snorkels and masks for the kids were added to their Christmas lists. I got a new prescription mask for me because I was tired of putting my glasses (with the temple pieces removed) inside of a regular mask. I then started hunting for good first time snorkel spots on the big island. I came up with a few on the Kona side, only to realize on the “pre-port” meeting the night before arrival in Hilo that immigration (the officers come on the boat) and disembarking would take several hours and the line to get back on the boat lasted 30-60 minutes so our time ashore was a few hours less than I had originally thought. That night I changed plans from driving over to the Kona side for snorkeling to just sticking around Hilo. It was a good decision.

We picked up a rental car at the nearby airport and drove up to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. What an amazing place. We did not see any of the current lava flows, but we did see lots of steam coming out of the Kilauea caldera. Also cool to see the snowcapped summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the distance. As a teen one of my favorite t-shirts said “Ski Hawaii”. Some day I’d like to try that. We did a short hike through a lava tube and surrounding rain forests.


 Mauna Loa

 Mauna Kea

 lava tubes

We then drove back to Hilo where Marie and Joel picked up some more supplies at Walmart—second pillow cases (so we can rotate them in the laundry) to go on our from-home pillows, hand towels, more notebooks, a few more snacks, and play dough for an afternoon school project Marie is planning. Sarah, Will and I went to the nearby mall to try and download a few last things on the Kindles and my i-phone. I thought I had downloaded quite a few of the Life of Jesus vignettes from the LDS site, but none of them can be opened. I tried again in Hilo with no luck, but Sarah was able to put a few on her Kindle. We hope to show them occasional for our Sunday services.

Next stop was Richardson Beach on the outskirts of Hilo. There were grey skies and the initial entry to the water was chilly, but once in, Joel, Will and I had a delightful, but all too short time seeing an amazing array of tropical fish. We all tried out our gear at the Springville Municipal Pool a few days after Christmas. The protected bay was perfect for a first try in the open ocean waters and the boys did very well.

I then dropped Marie and the kids off at the port at about 16:20. Marie’s Tueller-on-time inclinations had her worried about missing the 19:00 deadline to board. I had fewer worries so as she got out of the car I told her I was going to swing by the Hilo waterfront for a quick-see and then return the car. Marie replied: "I figured that was your plan." Even with a 30-minute wait in line (I had a good visit with five students from various places all over China) to embark, I was back on the ship by 18:20. Time to spare.

My short quest was to see where the old center of Hilo once existed before destructive tsunamis (April 1, 1946 and May 23, 1961) wiped out the shore lined old town. Instead of rebuilding in the 1960s, the city opted to create a large park with beautiful banyan and other trees. I also drove down Banyan Drive and by a lovely Japanese garden. Two friendly native Hawaiians fishing on the shore happily directed me to the clock tower which stopped permanently at 1:04 am on May 23, 1961 when the tsunami (caused by an earthquake off the coast of Chile) struck. The city decide to leave it frozen in time as a reminder of the devastation.

We sailed over night to Honolulu Harbor where from 12:00-16:00 a barge sidled up to our docked ship to pump enough fuel into it to carry us to Japan.  No one was allowed to disembark so it was school as usual. Marie and the kids came to my 13:00 Global cities class to hear me lecture and lead a discussion about why cities are located where they are and what factors help them to grow. I used yesterday’s slides from Hilo (plus many of my other slides) to illustrate my points.

During lunch time, Marie’s bother Jim and his daughters Grace and Olivia drove down from Laie to see us. They had hoped we would be docked where they docked last year when he was teaching on SAS and it was possible to yell from boat to shore. This time they were over 200 yards away in a park. We could barely see each other. We used our two cells phones. Marie talked to Jim and Sarah with Grace. It was nice the last two days for us to phone home to parents. One of the perks of the US forced annexation of Hawaii is that our phone coverage works in the middle of the Pacific. Tonight it's off to Japan—10 days at sea and one lost day when we cross the international date line.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like fun. I like to visit Hilo when we're on the Big Island, but we spend most of our time on the Kona Coast. The snorkeling is great at Captain Cook Bay. Don't miss it the next time you're in Hawaii! Sail on!