Black and White Photo Challenge: Day 3

Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people, no pets, no explanations.

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Hawaiʻi 2017: Hilo

Day 3, Friday, May 12, 2017

After we left Mauna Kea, we headed over to the East side of the island to Hilo – the wet side of the island.  We made a brief stop at Rainbow Falls.  We walked out to see it, just a hundred feet or so from the parking lot and it was gorgeous!  And then, just like that it started raining hard – showing us exactly why it is called the wet side of the island.  Of course, I had left my rain jacket in the car because it came on that quickly!

Rainbow Falls in Hilo

 

Brent and me, caught in the rain

In Hilo, we stopped at a place called Cafe 100, that serves Loco Moco, a Hawaiian specialty.  Loco Moco features brown rice served with gravy,  a fried egg and a hamburger patty.  There are lots of people who claim to have “invented” Loco Moco, but it is generally agreed that either Cafe 100 or another place in Hilo, the Lincoln Grill, first made the concoction in 1949.  So we ate the ORIGINAL Loco Moco!  Cafe 100 offers a plethora of variations, including subbing out the hamburger patty with spam (do this!), or vegetarian Loco Moco.  It was tough to make a choice!  I have to say, while interesting, and while I always love trying the local fare, Loco Moco probably isn’t going on my list of favorite must have foods.  It was kind of a meh for me.  I guess not everything while traveling knocks it out of the park…

Loco Moco!

After lunch, we were on the hunt for turtles!  We went to Carlsmith Beach Park in Hilo, and there were several big turtles there!  They were quietly munching on the algae on the rocks, and several swimmers were out in the water with them.  Remember in Hawaii, it is illegal to harass sea turtles or approach them, but these turtles were so friendly they didn’t seem to mind people standing in the water watching them.  I was so happy with the photos I got there!  We also saw a Black Crowned Night Heron and several ducks hanging out in the park.  Next time I go I definitely want to swim here!

We also visited the Liliuokalani Gardens, another park in Hilo, which has a couple of really interesting draws.  One is the Banyan trees that are planted here.  Each of the trees were planted by a famous person back in the 1940s and 1950s, and each tree is marked with the name of the person who planted it.  Richard Nixon and Babe Ruth both planted trees here!  Oddly, I took exactly no photos of these banyan trees, so you will have to take my word for it, and check them out yourself.  The other interesting draw here is the Japanese Garden.  I do have to admit I was pretty confused when I saw people fishing in the pond, until Brent let me know that it does not have koi in it.

 

We got out and wandered around at the park, checking out the kids who were jumping off a stone building into the water, and also a young man fishing with a net.  He would throw the net into the water, then get in the water to gather the net back in, being very careful not to tear it on the lava rocks!  We didn’t see him catch anything but it was really cool to watch!

 

Kids jumping into the water

 

Net fishing in Hilo

This is also where I saw Common Myna birds, Turtle Doves and Yellow-billed Cardinals, a bird native to South America but introduced to Hawai’i.  They were all so neat to capture!

A Common Myna Bird

 

Yellow-billed Cardinal

We still had more adventuring for the day, so we couldn’t linger too long!

 

Hawaiʻi 2017: Mauna Kea

Day 3, Friday, May 12, 2017
Friday was a big day!  I woke up at 6, got up and had coffee on and sat on the lanai for a while as breakfast was cooking.  But we couldn’t dawdle too long because we had a big day!
 
Our first destination was the summit of Mauna Kea.  You can drive to the top!  The Visitor’s Center on the mountain is at about 9,200 feet.  By the time we got up there, it was getting pretty cold, so I took the opportunity to change into pants and we checked out the exhibits at the Visitor’s Center.  There was scientific data about the mountain and its observatories, as well as information on the traditional origin story of Mauna Kea.

Me at the Visitor’s Center

Poliʻahu is one of the four goddesses of snow in Hawaiian tradition; and an enemy of Pele, goddess of the volcano. She resides on Mauna Kea and is Hawaii’s most beautiful goddess.  Poliʻahu mingled with mortals on the east slope of Mauna Kea and was hōlua sledding with them one day when a beautiful stranger challenged her. The stranger had no sled, so she borrowed one to run against Poliʻahu.  In the first run, Poliʻahu won, and then she exchanged sleds with the stranger to be gracious, and won again. On the third run, the stranger opened lava streams in front of Poliʻahu to try to win the race, revealing herself as the goddess Pele.  Once she recovered from Pele’s attack, Poliʻahu threw snow at the lava and froze it, confining it to the island’s Southern end.  Pele is said to rule Kīlauea and Mauna Loa on the southern end of the island, but Poliʻahu controls the northern end of the island.

Mauna Kea, when measured from the surface of the Earth (on the floor of the ocean) is 33,000 feet tall and is actually the tallest mountain on Earth!  But when you measure from sea level, the summit of Mauna Kea is at 13,796 feet, because most of the mountain is below the surface of the ocean.  The road getting up there is a rocky gravel road and 4WD is required.  I think a lot of the rental car companies don’t allow tourists to go up there in the rentals, but we had the Rodeo – there are perks to driving in an old beater SUV!  The road really is rough though people – it is definitely a bumpy trip to the top, so if you plan to go, be careful!

The gravel road to the summit

 
The summit is interesting – a barren, rocky landscape with patches of snow!  It is interesting to think that there is snow on Hawaii, even in late spring.  The summit of Mauna Kea has an observatory with telescopes for stargazing and scientific research – it is a scientific facility and not a tourist attraction so we didn’t go inside.  There is a stargazing program with telescopes at the Visitor’s Center though for people who are interested!  We wandered around at the summit for a bit and took photos, but there really isn’t a whole lot to see or do there, besides say you have been, unless you plan on hiking. 
Given my experience with altitude sickness on Pike’s Peak, I wasn’t that interested in staying at the summit too long.  Plus we had other places to see!  But now I can say I have stood at the summit of the tallest mountain on Earth!  Take that, you Everest mountaineers!

Book Review: The Signature of All Things

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked out this novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.  I was looking for an audiobook that was available without waiting from the library website.  All I knew is that it was a historical novel, telling the story of the fictional Alma Whitaker.

The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert

Alma was “born with the century,” in 1800, the daughter of Henry Whitaker, a man who was born poor but made a fortune in the business of plants.  Alma is bright and hard working, but not at all pretty.  She takes after her father and begins to study botany, at a time where women are generally only taught the finer arts of music and sewing.

Alma makes her way in a man’s world, never catching the attention of a man in a romantic way, but achieving successes with her research in botany.  But she’s lonely, she wants companionship, and perhaps most of all, she wants intimacy.

The novel follows Alma throughout her entire life, weaving an intricate story of characters, showing the joy and tragedy of a life whose outcome you don’t always get to choose.  Is it enough to find a career when most women simply find themselves to be the mother of children and in charge of a household?  Do we ever really know if others around us are happy or truly satisfied with their lot in life?  Is it possible to accept the pain of losing our loved ones?  Do we ever stop yearning for that which we do not have?

Alma’s life takes her from her father’s home all the way to Tahiti, as she seeks new plants, but also the answers to the questions she has about the human condition.  Along the way, she encounters so many others, who are flawed, imperfect and richly complex, all just trying to do what Alma is doing – find happiness.

Gilbert’s writing is excellent.  Amazing.  Despite what might seem at first a dry topic, this is a must read.  Although it is long, I was entranced until the very last page.