Fred and I have realized that we both enjoy travel vacations, and so we selected a destination that would be away from Cleveland and warm for 3 weeks in February. That was easy: Hawaii. We had both been there before, but not explored as thoroughly as we wished. Out came maps, brochures, places to go, and things to see. It was great fun to imagine in December what to see and do in February. A good friend, Eileen Findak, is a travel agent and was most helpful at arranging schedules and comparing costs.

We both had clothes and, of course, camera equipment set out the day before our scheduled departure. Shortly after lunch, I answered a phone call: “this is a recorded message. Your flight tomorrow to Atlanta from Cleveland has been cancelled.” It repeated the message, and hung up. There was no chance to get Delta for any help or assistance. We called Eileen and asked for help. Soon she called back and must have contacted the airline because she said that although the Cleveland flight was cancelled, there was an evening flight out of Akron/Canton in just a few hours. It would connect with our original flight to Los Angeles, and then on to Lihue, Kauai. You never saw people pack suitcases so fast! We contacted our transportation who arranged to come 1 day early. Akron/Canton airport is a 1 hour drive from Eastlake but our driver was good, and we made it on time. What a way to begin a vacation! We hoped it was not an omen of things to come.

Eileen had also booked a room in Atlanta for us, for which we were very grateful. Atlanta was a nice place to spend the extra night.

We never learned what caused the mix-up. I believe it was easier to cancel the flight because not enough people had signed up to make it profitable. Or it was possible that Cleveland Hopkins Airport had been warned of a great snow storm which would shut down everything.

Our schedule provided a 2 hour lay-over in Los Angeles, which seemed even longer than 2 hours. We waited in the assigned waiting area, and watched as 2 other flights departed. Information was posted on a large board as to their destinations. A third flight boarded, and since we had been waiting for longer than 2 hours, Fred went to the desk and asked where the present flight was going. He came back almost at a run – because it was our flight to Hawaii! There never was any word announced; spoken nor written. I will remember Delta’s poor service, for my next trip.

Our flight over the Pacific Ocean was calm, but long, (very long) and without incident.

We settled in at our room, and did not leave room because it was already dark.


Kauai

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The next morning, our GPS took us to something I have never seen. Trees were planted 50 years ago on both sides of the road, and like everything else in Hawaii, they grew. Eventually, their branches grew so much that their tops touched each other, forming a tunnel. It has now become a popular attraction.

Wailua Falls is actually a double falls most of the time, except in the rainy season, when it merges into one huge falls. It is 80 feet high at normal times. I thought it was especially beautiful, and a wonderful way to begin our visit.

At the brink of the overlook for the falls was a native weaver, making various containers out of palm fronds (leaves.) First, he made a hat for Fred, then a bowl. We bought the bowl because it was so unique. The weaver then gave us a bonus of a rose made out of palm fronds.

Kauai advertises itself as “The Garden Isle” and it certainly is green! What they don’t advertise, is that it seems to rain almost all the time. Clouds hang over the mountain tops. Now I know why their pineapples are so juicy.

We wanted to explore the island, and drove around and came upon a sign advertising that a cruise ship was to be boarded down a certain road. I had never seen a cruise ship up close, so we turned down the road, where there was a fence to keep out people other than passengers. We found an opening in the fence and saw the ship up close. There are many tour ships, but this one really was a floating city! Even that sounded interesting. A small sign directed us to the boarding area, where the ship was at dock. What an enormous structure! It’s amazing that this “floating city” could really float!

Kauai also boasts that it has “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Continuing on, we began to see miles of greenery with many rocks and unusual formations. Unfortunately, we could see only glances, because of the many clouds obscuring the view. There were indeed canyons, and the rocks were beautiful. However, the road was single lane, and steep with sharp turns. There were few openings to park and admire the beauty. At last we reached the top, and searched eagerly for a beautiful scene. Alas, there was only more clouds, which began to do what clouds do – rain. Then it began to pour! I have a distinct memory of lunch at a restaurant at the very top, with rain coming down by the bucketful.

We noticed a pretty bird, but could not identify it. Also there were roosters all over the place. I wondered why the poor people didn’t catch them for chicken soup.

Another day, we decided to visit Fern Grotto, said to be a beautiful place where couples chose to say their wedding vows. It was indeed beautiful with many flowers, a pretty little waterfall and a cave.

Weddings are no longer held here, but the Grotto had become so well known that they operated a tour boat ride just to see it. A small group of Hawaiians played music and sang to imitate the way it used to be; and a young girl provided dances to their music.

As we explored the lovely island of Kauai, we saw many wonderful and colorful plants

Along the ocean shore, it is still possible to view old lava flows. In one place it formed a hollow tube where some of the lava cooled before the rest, leaving a blow hole, which opens into the ocean just at sea level. Therefore, the waves break over the entrance to the tunnel, pushing the air ahead out the opposite end, making a smooth or hissing sound. It has become another attraction to visit, called The Spouting Horn.


Oahu

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The first thing Oahu welcomed us with was beautiful flowers.

Hibiscus flowers were everywhere!

We had heard how important it was to see The Polynesian Culture Center. It is true! There were male dancers who demonstrated many aspects of their culture.

The women danced so gracefully

Children learn to dance at an early age

One man took the part of a tribal leader with many displays of honor. In addition to a unique crown, he also wore a cloak of colorful feathers.

We attended a luau which featured the serving of fresh (very fresh) roast pork and many other Hawaiian dishes.


Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a most important place to visit. Tickets for the boat to the Arizona Memorial are very difficult to find. Make reservations very early to ensure you get them for a time you want to go.

Once you arrive from the small boat, you will be cautioned to maintain a respectful silence. The memorial is built over the keel of the Arizona battleship, which took a direct hit to its ammunition storage and exploded beyond repair.

The memorial has a huge board with the names of each of the 1177 men who were killed. The bodies of those 1177 men rested beneath our feet.

Oil still leaks from the hull of the ship, and forms an oil slick around the Arizona Memorial. Several exhibits showed how vicious the sneak attack really was. I was gratified that the crowd behaved respectfully.


Waikiki Beach

From the time I studied in elementary School, and studied Hawaii which was not yet a state, I resolved to go there some day. It took quite some time to happen; but once Louise graduated from college, we decided to go. At the time she was working in Denver, but we did find a flight that originated in Cleveland, made a stop in Denver, and had adjoining seats. We had a lot of fun, and did a lot of laughing.

I knew Fred and I would see it in another way and it was, but it was wonderful. It was fun to see Diamond Head again.

King Kamehameha is noted for conquering the Hawaiin Islands, and formally founding the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810.

We took a bus tour one day, which included Punchbowl Cemetery, where the bodies of our men and women who were killed in the War of the Pacific are buried. It is a beautiful place and well kept up. We were able to get off the bus and walk around. It was a somber experience. So many people gave their lives, so that we might live in peace!

We were getting familiar with inter-island small planes. Each passenger was individually weighed, while holding their bags. There was no point in hurrying to get the best seat because everyone was assigned a seat according to their weight. With a small plane, balance was critical. The plane carried 8 passengers with a window for each one.


Maui

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One early evening as we were driving along the highway we saw a nice looking hotel. We decided to go in and see what they might have. There were a few adults sitting watching the ocean. Eventually, some little girls came out and began dancing the hula. They appeared to be about elementary school age, except for the smallest one who didn’t look enough to go to school. She did very well with the movements although she sometimes moved left instead of right like the others, but she was so cute, and tried so hard, it was a pleasure to watch her. At the end of the program the girls reappeared, and gave their lei to people in the audience. The smallest girl gave her lei to Fred! He must have smiled at her.

Something every visitor wants to do is see a whale. The Pacific Ocean makes a channel when passing between the islands of Molokai and Oahu and is a famous place to look for whales.

From among many choices, we selected a fairly large double decker boat. It seemed easier to see things from the top deck, and sheltered from rough seas. A number of rubber inflatable rafts would result in a soaking, and it looked like rain.

It seemed a long time before anyone saw a whale. It began to rain, and we were thankful to have brought our rain gear. We spotted a few, huge splashes of tail flukes, on the other side of the boat. We moved to the other side, but the whale passed under the boat and so we rushed back to our original side of the boat. Grabbing my camera, I watched where it had dived. Fortunately I had my 50x zoom, and was prepared when he “breeched” (meaning to leap out of the water). I was thrilled to catch him in the top of his leap. It was a WHALE BREECHING!

Lahaina, is a great place for shopping, but its biggest attraction is its Banyan Tree. It was planted in April 1873, to mark the 50th year of Christian missionary work. The tree was imported from India and was 8 feet tall at that time. It now stands 60 feet tall and has 12 major trunks and is one of the largest in the world. It sends forth roots from its branches which grow downward until they reach the soil of the ground. It is a great place for children to climb on. Its greatest attraction is its size.

A very different plan came upon us when we came upon a sign advertising Al’I Lavender Acres. It consists of more than 8 acres of lavender plants, all in bloom. They grow 40 varieties. It was a beautiful place with everything, even stop signs, in lavender. I never imagined lavender being grown as a crop.


Botanical Garden


How Hawaii Was Formed

All dry land on earth is situated on plates of rock which move slowly. The Hawaiian Islands ride on the Pacific Plate which is moving north east 3 to 5 inches a year. There is a crack in the plate and from it flows lava (molten rock).

All of the Hawaii Islands are lava flows from the crack. Its lava piled upon itself until it broke the surface of the water from19,000 feet below, cooled, and hardened into rock. Then it continued upon itself as the lava became air cooled until it was 10,023 feet above the surface. This process is still continuing and it is possible to see the lava as it comes out of its mountain. We witnessed this happening and were awed by its power. The history of Hawaii is about a million years old, when woolly mammoths and saber toothed tigers roamed the earth.

The same process of the Hawaiian Chain is responsible for a long chain of islands all the way to Midway Island.


Haleakala

Haleakala rises 10,023 feet above the surface of the ocean. Below the surface of the ocean, it descends 19,000 to the ocean floor, making it one of the largest mountains on earth. Its great height puts it well above weather, and atmospheric disturbances. For these reasons many observatories are built there; some from other countries.

The Silversword, one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, is found only on the mountain called Haleakala. It is unique in that it flowers only once, and then dies. There were several Silversword plants around the peak of the mountain.

Haleakala’s Crater is enormous! It is totally dry, and the light on the rocks is beautiful!

When we flew from Maui to the Big Island, we took another "puddle jumper" flight. I was able to get some photos from the window.


Hawaii, the Big Island

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Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach was formed by the incessant power of the ocean waves pounding the lava into sand. When Louise and I were here last time, we admired the palm trees, and the unique color of the sand, and I wondered if it had changed.

I was happy to see it had NOT changed! As we walked around, a park ranger came by and told us to stand back, because the green sea turtles were coming out of the water for the night. They are a protected species. They were certainly huge! At one point we saw 4 turtles and considered ourselves fortunate.

According to the World Wildlife Fund: "For more than 100 million years sea turtles have covered vast distances across the world’s oceans filling a vital role in the balance of marine habitats, Sea turtles travel thousands of miles facing countless dangers along the way. Nearly all species are classified as endangered."

On our way back to the car, I saw something I had never seen before in my whole life! There was a car in the parking lot with a license plate “ZAZ 55”. My name growing up was Zoe Agnes Zachlin.

Lava is frozen in the position it was when its temperature cooled. Slowly, plants take hold, followed by other, stronger plants.

I was amazed at the amount of life following lava flows. Lava flows can be very wide and bury everything in their path. It was interesting to see its effects.

The Pacific Ocean has a lot of water. When it hits the shoreline or anything solid, its progress is halted, and the energy is released as a huge wave.

Some lava which flows into the ocean forms an arch or bridge as the outside cools faster than the inside.…(insert Holei Sea Arch)water

Kilauea is open for visitors in the evening, so we decided to go to watch it. It seemed that everyone else in the park decided to do the same thing. It seemed even more powerful in the dark than in the daytime.

Hawaii is noted for its beautiful orchids.


Akaka Falls


Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea, is the largest mountain in the world. It is 19,900 feet under water, plus nearly 14,000 feet above water; for a total of 32,000 feet. It is considered to have beautiful sunsets, so of course we wanted to take it. It is so high it has little oxygen, and so the Park Service has provided a stopping point for people who want to get to the top. It sells snacks, and souvenirs at the rest area. No one may attempt to go any further than this, alone.

Our bus had all its passengers at the time to leave. As we continued upward, suddenly there came a loud BANG, CRUNCH, CRACKLE!!! from the back of the bus! What had hit our bus? Our driver calmly kept on driving though. Upon investigation, it came out that a package of potato chips had exploded! WHY? Because the bag of potato chips had been packaged at ground level. No one admitted to being the owner, and I suspect the potato chip bag was placed there by the driver as a demonstration come so high, that the air pressure inside the bag was too much for its seal and so it exploded.


Exploring the Lava Tube

The sister of our Bed and Breakfast owner met us and described an underground Lava Tube, through which she would be willing to escort us .She was very cautious about safety. She told us about guiding a 73year old man and before deciding to take us on this adventure, she asked me to touch my toes. I did, then she said “You’re in!” She made it clear that it was not like other tubes at National Parks with lights and smooth floors. The ceiling was very tall in some places but in other places we would have to bend over. We would be given a flashlight to carry, and a headband with a light in it. At the end of our tour, I told her that am 81 years old. Now she can up her oldest customer story.

She led Fred and me to the entrance of the lava tube. We climbed down a ladder, turned on our lights and proceeded to walk down the lava tube and explore the chambers, sometimes having to climb over piles of rocks that had fallen from the ceiling. This lava tube is 35 miles long, extending to the Pacific Ocean. Of course, we walked only a small portion to see different things.

There was no light except our headbands and flashlights.

Plentiful rain water seeps down through the ceiling, dissolving minerals from the soil. As the water evaporates, the crystals are left behind. Come back in 1000 years and you will be able to admire a column that will have grown up here.

Different mineral dissolved in the water, cause different colors in the rocks

In their search for soil some plants continue to put out very long roots. These roots grow down through the ceiling.

Stalagtites drip from the ceiling. Come back in 1000 years, and they will have become pillars.

Fred and I near some fallen crystals that have fallen from the ceiling and become embedded in the rock floor.

Fred and I at the end of a marvelous underground adventure.


Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

I love the flowers of Hawaii, and found the flowers of a Botanical Garden to be attractive. Hopefully, they would be named as well. Only a few plants had signs, but I did not photograph the signs, because we were there in the morning, and our flight home was in the afternoon. We would NOT miss that!

The Garden has 2,000 different species in their collection so it would be impossible to photograph them all, in that time period.


Hawaii By Helicopter

Our vacation time was running out, but there was still enough time for one last adventure. At Christmas 2013, some of my children got together and purchased a ride on a helicopter for Fred and me. What an opportunity! They chose our last full day of our trip to fly, knowing that we would be near the airport the night before our trip home. We could choose our time.

We were careful to arrive to arrive well before the scheduled departure in order to get the best seats. It turned out that we were assigned by weight, so I sat between the pilot and Fred. The 4 other passengers sat behind us.

The helicopter was a new design (for me), in that the tail rotor was built into the body, rather than on top. Our helicopter was especially designed for sight-seeing. The entire front (the nose) was made of a material that seemed like glass. It worked very well for that purpose, although it was a bit strange, because it seemed that I was walking on air.

The helicopter lifted off for our Circle Island tour with Blue Helicopter. Our flight swung out over the ocean before heading inland. We could see houses and old lava flows below us. The pilot took us in closer where we could see the roof of a house of people who refused to evacuate. The house had been buried up to the roof line with lava.As we approached the active vent, we could see trees burning from active lava. At the vent itself we saw lava churning and splashing!

Fred has always wanted to see a volcano erupt, and we were disappointed when we learned that the main volcano had stopped flowing at the end of December, less than two months before our arrival. From the helicopter we could see lava flowing from the Pu’u o’o vent and rushing across the surface of the earth. Our pilot stated the temperature of the lava, was 2200 degrees.

Fred photographed the active crater in motion, and snapped a picture showing a mass of lava is flying through the air, having just been ejected from the volcano. WOW! So Fred (and I) went home happy.

The End

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