Saddle Road and Upper Road
Trip Start Sep 29, 2011
6Trip End Oct 04, 2011
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We started with a relaxing morning (a bit of work, email, and a conference call), then we decided to head across the Saddle Road to Hilo, returning via the Upper Road. We did a lot ... brief stops to view or walk a bit.
The day began with a drive over the Saddle Road. Our guide book claims it has a fearsome reputation, but much of it has recently been or is currently being widened, so it was very easy. It began as a fun roller coaster road, but that did not last long. By the time we were descending towards the military training grounds, we had a wide, newly paved road with wide shoulders ... the Chicago of roads. It was very windy, however, and we could only see one volcano at a time (although we saw the summits of both)
Our one stop before arriving Hilo was Kaumana Cave. Because we didn't have flashlights (or time), we did not tour the caves but merely paused at their entrances to admire the lushness of the roots dangling from the ceiling.
Hilo is not terribly attractive ... a bit run-down. We took a brief drive through the center of town, then out through the park that used to be the waterfront until wiped out by the tsunami of 1946. We ate a Cafe Pesto, on the main street ... delicious food and reasonably charming. Very crowded ... lots of locals, to judge from nearby conversations, but we could not help but wonder how many tourists from the cruise ship were also dining there today.
After lunch, we backtracked a bit to see some falls along the river that runs through downtown Hilo (Wailuku River). We began at Waiale Falls, which were visible from the road. The water level seems low, so the falls were not thrilling. We next stopped at the Boiling Pots, where a few people were swimming. The river pools in dark pot holes cut into the basalt cliffs ... the water seems very inviting, especially on a day as hot and sunny as today (rare for Hilo, we are told)
We detoured off of Highway 19 to take the Old Road for four miles. This windy road through lush foliage certainly makes one grateful for the updated highway ... and it brought us slightly clsoer to understanding what this journey must have been like before all of the bridges were built across the ravines. No wonder it took days to travel from Hilo to bays in the north. We paused once for the view of Onomea Bay.
Akaka Falls -- very impressive drop
Kolekole Park and view of trestle
Laupahoehoe Point (jetty and park)
Old Road through cattle country
Then retrace steps home
In the evening, we went back to town for a small dinner. It seems that the most southern part of the waterfront is the most happening. The older part, near the boardwalk shops, was much quieter. We had no difficulty finding a table along the water at the restaurant where Senor Billy's used to be. The food was fine; we dined, then returned back to the condo to pack.