Christmas Day 2007: Hilo to South Point

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

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Christmas Day 2007 - From Hilo to South Point

We awaited Christmas Day 207 with great anticipation.

It certainly wasn't for an exchange of gifts because the trip to Hawaii itself was the greatest gift we could have received.

We had been on the Hilo or windward side of the island of Hawaii now for five days. The parts of the Big Island we had seen were beautiful and enchanting and we were eager so see more.

As beautiful as scenery may be, the best part about traveling is the anticipation of moving on and seeing something new.

Today was no exception and besides, this would be the most unusual Christmas day we had ever spent - driving from Hilo to South Point and then to Kailua-Kona on the leeward side (a driving time of 3 hours with no stops).

We opened the curtains of our room at the Hilo Seaside Hotel just in time to catch a glimpse of the majestic MV Zaandam gliding into the harbour. The ship belongs to the fleet of Holland America Cruise Lines.

It was like meeting an old friend as we had seen the MV Zaandam several times, in Victoria's cruise ship harbour during our four-month stay in Victoria, BC from April to July 2006.

(see Victoria: Blog 5 - The Excitement that Cruise Ships can Bring)

Just outside of Hilo, on our way to South Point, Barbara just had to stop at Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. Barbara is as keen about flowers as I am not. I therefore cooled my heels in the parking lot for half an hour while Barbara did the orchid bit.

It seems I should have taken the tour.

It turns out that I am not even sure what an orchid looks like.

An amazing co-incidence occurred as a result of the last blog - Excursions Blog 94: The Hamakua Coast.

The first photo in the blog was of flower bouquets sold at the Hilo market. My original caption for this photo was "beautiful orchids". I put this caption because I thought that the red flowers were "orchids".

A half hour after I published the blog (April 11, 2008), Barbara did an unrelated search on the Internet and somehow came up with this very photo.

I can vouch for this moment because it was punctuated by a loud scream which I heard in the living room.

Oh, no I thought, not another roach!
(Excursions: Blog 80: Waikiki Beach - Scream and Stop)

I was caught ed. The red flowers in the photo were not "orchids" after all.

She got great pleasure out of my "mea culpa" and proceeded to tell me that my time would have better spent visiting Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. I would have learned that those red flowers were not orchids but Anthuriums.

What were the odds of Barbara getting this single photo from the blog as a result of an unrelated search?

She never would tell me what she was searching for.

Was she maybe looking under "flowering affairs" for some new excitement in her life? I don't know, only time will tell.

Maybe I better plan the next trip to keep her interested.

The moral of the story is - don't sit in the parking lot while your significant other looks at flowers.

After skirting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we passed through some beautiful macadamia nut groves.

Stopping to explore, we walked among the beauty of these well kept groves. Arranged in straight lines in the weed free reddish earth, the trees are surprisingly tall and relatively sparse with the foliage creating an upper canopy. Except for the size of the trees, the scene was reminiscent of olive groves I have seen in various parts of the world.

Olives are harvested by a machine which is attached to the trunk and which proceeds to shake the tree enough to dislodge the ripe olives. The olives are then gathered from the plastic sheets placed around the tree.

I can only imagine that a similar process must take place here as the hand picking of macadamia nuts from such a tall tree would be impractical. On the other hand, the machine that does the shaking must be quite large.

Our next stop on our way south along Highway 11 was at remarkable Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park.

One of nature's marvels, the black lava rock in this area had been reduced to fine black sable sand. Surprisingly this is a rare phenomenon in Hawaii and it was with awe that we walked on this unusual beach on Christmas Day 2007.

If we forgot that is was Christmas Day, there were a few visitors who were frolicking about in the appropriate Christmas beach wear to remind us.

The beach was also a sanctuary for Hawaiian sea turtles and monk seals. A multitude of warning signs did their best to protect the animals from human intrusion. In keeping up the long tradition of my Alaska trip, there was no wild life to be seen during our visit.

It was with envy that I looked upon the tents which were pitched here. We could have camped here for next to nothing. A yellow tent in particular was almost a carbon copy of our little tent which was tucked away in our storage locker back in Prince George, BC.

We also saw the first arrivals of Backroads cyclists who had made the bike ride along scenic Highway 11 from Hilo, or maybe Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park.

Backroads is an adventure travel company which, in this case, facilitates taking a cycling holiday. They provide everything from choice of route, the bikes, the sag wagons, snacks, to the meals supplied at a chow tent at the final destination.

It reminded me of my own cycling tours in Europe and North America. My tours were not with an adventure travel company, they were with "Lobo Solo" - lone wolf.

Just past the hamlet of Waiohinu we stopped at the sign we had been looking for - South Point - 12 Miles.

At this spot we also encountered for the first time a dilemma which would repea elf fairly often in the rest of our trip - a sign stating "road prohibited to rental vehicles".

Operating on the premise that we will be here only once in our lifetime, we disregarded the sign and headed south on the narrow, bumpy road to Ka Lea or South Point which eventually evolved into a dirt road.

The landscape to South Point bore witness to the main force of nature which exerted its power on this part of Hawaii - wind.

The force of the wind had reduced the landscape almost exclusively to grasses and the odd trees which had been grotesquely twisted by the wind. It must be a very inhospitable place when the full force of the wind sweeps across the area. Fortunately today there was no display of nature's power.

I would imagine that the Shetland Islands, located off the north-east coast of Scotland, would look like this right down to the grazing horses/ponies which just sort of go with this type of landscape.

In an earlier blog I mentioned my fascination for visiting places which are qualified with the word "most".

Well, this one is certainly in the right category. On Christmas Day 2007, we happened to find ourselves in the "most" southerly point of the United States of America.

At this point the United States is on a latitudinal line well below Mexico City. We are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and to the south is a direct uninterrupted line to Antarctica and to the north is an uninterrupted line to Alaska.

On earth this is a remarkable spot, but then on second thought, any place on earth is a remarkable spot.

It is even more remarkable if one is around to observe it. That is my "Thought of the Year".

We spent about an hour exploring Ka Lae, enraptured by: its stunning sea cliffs, azure blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the lava flows, the native Hawaiians fishing and picnicking, blue skies and warm weather.

There are special moments in life - for us, this was one of them.

The last of the photos, taken by Barbara at Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, are added just so I never forget what an orchid looks like.

Coming Soon:

Christmas Day 2007: From South Point to Kailua-Kona
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