Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Aloha from Hawaii!

Yeah, I know, I can't find time to blog when I'm at home, but while I'm 5000 miles away in paradise I have time to sit at the computer. What the hell's wrong with me??? Well, you know... we paid for the high-speed access, and I'm not going anywhere tonight but I'm not quite ready for bed (It's 9:30 Hawaii time), so I figured what the hell.

So we are into our second week of our vacation. We spent the first week in Kona on the big island (the island of Hawaii, in case you didn't know), then hopped over to Kauai for our second week. We decided to do mostly sightseeing on Hawaii because there aren't that many great swimming beaches, plus there are lots of unique things to see. We did get to go snorkeling and saw a bunch of sea turtles and lots of cool fish. We also did the "swim with the dolphins" at Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa, where we also got to snorkel in their amazing lagoon and once again saw some huge sea turtles and dozens of fantastic fish. As an aside, I was dismayed to learn that the dolphins at Dolphin Quest are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins -- which means they aren't native to Hawaii. They said it's because they do better in the shallow waters of their dolphin lagoon. It bothers me a bit to think that they were transported all the way over here just for our entertainment (or at least previous generations were -- I believe all of the current dolphins were born here) rather than this being a rehabilitation site for rescued Pacific bottlenose dolphins. But in any case, the encounter was cool and the snorkeling was excellent. We also spent a day touring the south side of the island, including Volcanoes National Park, and another day driving around the north side, exploring waterfalls and beach parks outside Hilo.

We also did a van tour to the summit of Mauna Kea at 13,700 feet to watch the sunset, followed by some amazing stargazing back down at around 9000 feet. The locals like to say that Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world because if it were measured from the ocean floor, it would be over 20,000 feet tall. And regardless of where you measure from, I'd venture to guess that there aren't very many mountains where you can go from sea level to 13,000+ feet in a matter of hours. I mean I've been to the top of Mt. Baldy at 12,441 feet, but you start the climb from about 8800 feet. By the way, it was probably around 35 degrees F at the summit of Mauna Kea!

So this week we are in Princeville, on the north shore of Kauai. Kauai is so different from Hawaii -- it's called the garden island because almost everything here is lush tropical forest. Kauai also has a number of beautiful, sandy beaches. And yesterday we did the best snorkeling we've ever done at a place called Tunnels Reef, where we saw hundreds of beautiful fish (including a tang that must've been close to two feet long!) and another sea turtle. The weather has been a bit on the rainy side, but mostly in the evening and early morning so it hasn't really spoiled our plans. This morning we were up at 4am for a 7-hour catamaran cruise and scuba dive (which I'm saving that for a separate post), so now it's time to get to bed (it's now 10pm) before I fall face-first onto the laptop.... which wouldn't be that much of a stretch considering the whole room is still bobbing up and down!

More pictures coming soon!