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bgl

A NEW Big Island Thread

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bgl

On popular demand (thank you Kim!! :D ), I'm beginning a new Big Island thread since we lost the old one in connection with the Palapa execution...

A sudden decision this morning had me heading over to the Kona side with my wife, a 2.5 hour drive from Leilani Estates.

From Hilo to Kailua-Kona there are 3 choices:

Highway 11 around the southern part of the island (the longest way)

Highway 19 around the northern part of the island and thru Waimea (well, close to the northern part anyway)

Highway 200 - but always referred to as the Saddle Road - the shortest way, but also the most dangerous.

Since I like a challenge, taking the Saddle Road was a "no brainer"...! :P

The Saddle Road, which goes from Hilo up to an elevation of about 6,000 ft between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea is about 45 miles long, with absolutely no facilities. On long stretches the roadway is atrocious at best. For this reason, most car rental companies specifically prohibit their cars from being driven on the Saddle Road. That's the bad news. The good news is that the road is being realigned and rebuilt. About 6-7 miles were completed in 2007 and another 6 miles or so is presently under construction. It's going to be another 5 years or so before the entire Saddle Road has been rebuilt. When that's done, it will also be a more direct shortcut to Kailua-Kona. As it is now, the western part of the Saddle Road is heading off into a northerly direction (towards Waimea), actually away from Kailua-Kona.

The weather was beautiful this morning, and the summit of Mauna Kea - with snow and observatories - was visible for quite a while. This is about 10 miles out of Hilo on the Saddle Road.

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bgl

A typical view of what the Saddle Road looks like for the first 15 miles or so out of Hilo. You're doing a steady climb, surrounded by stunted Ohi'a trees and plenty of Uluhe ferns.

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bgl

After another few miles, heading in a westerly direction, you have great views of Mauna Kea on your right and Mauna Loa on your left. This is Mauna Loa and it doesn't look very impressive but it's the most massive mountain on the planet.

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bgl

I should mention that for many of my pictures I have to reduce them to the minimum size in order to get below the 100KB limit, but if there's not too much detail I can actually reduce them to a size just above the minimum size. That's why you'll see two different size photos in this thread.

Anyway, this is the view on our right: Mauna Kea, with the Saddle Road in front of us. In 30 minutes we climb from sea level in Hilo to an elevation of 6,000 ft!

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bgl

And road work in progress

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bgl

After another 10 minutes or so we reach the new section. First time I'm driving this part. WOW - what a difference! And traffic isn't bad either.... :D

And that's Mauna Kea straight ahead - climbing another 8,000 ft almost.

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bgl

After another half hour or so, we reach Highway 190, which goes from Waimea to Kailua-Kona about 10 miles inland and at around the 2,000 ft elevation. This road is fairly busy, but not very wide and paying attention is important. The Pacific Ocean is in the distance but taking a quick glance can be a deadly mistake...

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bgl

After about 30 minutes on Hwy 190 we reach the upper portions of Kailua-Kona, and make a traditional stop at the Matsuyama Food Mart for some refreshments. This is more or less right around the corner from where Dean lives (sorry Dean, we had a full schedule... :( )

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bgl

From Matsuyama, we're heading down the very steep mountainside thru Kona Palisades, which is a beautiful residential area with lots of expensive homes, beautiful landscaping and lots of palms (mostly common stuff...). Because of the steepness of the road I had to concentrate on the driving, and this was the only photo I was able to snap.

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bgl

At the bottom of the road we make a right hand turn, end up at the end of Laui Street, and surprise, surprise, Bismarckias in abundance!! :D

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amazondk

Bo,

I wish we had a road in the good of shape around here.  We had two trucks carrying wood crash on the highway north in December.  One flipped over when it went into a massive hole on the road.  And, the other one hit a hole, blew a tire and then ran head on into another truck which was passing a car coming the other way and killed the driver and his wife.  That looks like a nice drive.  I look forward to seeing the rest.

dk

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DoomsDave

Bo!

Love those pics.

Hmm.  Feel a 'Glades post coming on.

That trip up the Saddle Road is almost like climbing the rockies.  So, where was the road so bad?

dave

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DoomsDave

(bgl @ Jan. 18 2008,02:21)

QUOTE
At the bottom of the road we make a right hand turn, end up at the end of Laui Street, and surprise, surprise, Bismarckias in abundance!! :D

S  W  O  O  N  !  !  !

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bgl

Not really a surprise - this is Kalaoa Gardens, the nursery owned by Palm Society (and Forum member) Garrett Webb. Here he's posing (on my polite request) next to his largest Borassus flabellifer. I have a sibling, well not of Garrett but of this particular Borassus! :D  Thanks to the extreme heat in his Kona location, Garrett's Borassus is probably at least 3 times the size of mine!

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bgl

Don and Dave,

The bad part is the westerly portion, and I do have one photo taken there. Coming up in just a few photos. But I would have to pull over in order to get a photo of some of the real bad parts of the road. Just wouldn't be safe to attempt it while I'm driving. And taking photos if you're doing 70 mph is just not a good idea. Not saying that I did 70 mph, because that would clearly not be legal...

Bo-Göran

Anyway - even though this was not exactly a palm excursion, buying a few little palms seemed to be a good idea, so I ended up with 3 Butia yatay, one Brahea aculeata (my VERY first Brahea here in Hawaii) and a VERY silvery Chamaerops humilis v. argentea. Will be interesting to see if it keeps it silvery color in our high rainfall environment. Here's Garrett, while Lora is loading the palms, to be taken to our pickup truck.

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bgl

After several more stops we were heading back home (after the mandatory last stop at Costco...), and here we are heading up Hina Lani Road. That's the volcano of Hualalai and Dean lives somewhere up there on the right hand side of the photo. If you look real close....naa...just kidding! :D

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bgl

Back on Highway 190 and heading north, this is our view on the left, towards the Pacific Ocean. The dark areas are lava flows from Hualalai's last eruption - in 1801.

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bgl

Initially my plan was to take Highway 19 thru Waimea and down the Hamakua coast back to Hilo, but at the last minute and changed my mind and decided to take the Saddle Road back as well. Probably saved as close to half an hour, despite some bad weather at the end (see photo later on). This is one of the better sections of the westerly portion of the Saddle Road. You typically drive right in the middle of the road, straddling the center line since the shoulders are VERY uneven and full of potholes. And the faster you drive, the quicker you have to react when there's traffic from the opposite direction... Mauna Kea is on our left.

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bgl

After 20 minutes or so we reach the newly built section. Again, traffic seems to be non-existent... :)

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bgl

The landscape is full of cinder cones, formed by brief eruptions over centuries. They're called Pu'u in Hawaiian.

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bgl

And check post #4 above. That photo was taken around 10 in the morning. Here's more or less the same view just after 4 p.m. The summit is now surrounded by clouds.

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DoomsDave

Bo:

Wonderful pictures!

Keep 'em coming -- pretty please with lutefisk on top?  :)

Hmm.

I guess I'll have to curb my drive-by papparazzo instincts when I get to HI.

Or get a chauffeur . . . .

dave

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bgl

One reason why the Saddle Road is dangerous is its poor condition (in most parts) in combination with the very uneven lava flows on both sides of the road. I have seen accidents there when the driver was probably going too fast, lost control and ended up upside down 30-40 ft from the road, in the lava. NOT a pretty sight... Another reason the road is dangerous is the fact that at 6,000 ft, the clouds can move in very quickly, causing visibility to drop to close to zero. And that's what happened when we were about 20 miles from Hilo. For about 10 miles this was our view. This was actually one of the better views, since I dared take a moment and snap a photo.... And this is the last photo for now. But more will follow - on other excursions!

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oppalm

WOW. great pics Bo.  You really are in heaven - I mean with the Costco being there and all.      More pictures please.

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bgl

Kent,

Thank you! And I guess the Costco reference deserves an explanation. There's only one Costco on the The Big Island, and that's on the Kona side, so whenever people from Hilo drive over there, it's more or less a given that you'll be making a stop there to load up on stuff. When we moved here 12 years ago, there was no Wal-Mart and no Home Depot in Hilo. Wal-Mart built a store here in 1997, and for the last several years it's been the highest revenue Wal-Mart store in the entire Western District of the USA! And Home Depot just built a store here about 2 years ago. Costco is apparently looking into it as well.

Bo-Göran

PS. And yes - I will be posting more pictures, off and on! :) Needless to say, anyone else with Big Island pics (or info) - whether you live here or not - is welcome to add to this thread.

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Kim

Thanks Bo!  :)  :)  :)  I am eating this up, I really enjoy your photos and commentary.  Keep that camera handy, I'm waiting for more.

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putu enjula

Just thought I'd add some pics...

Taken at the Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Park

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Looking up mauka..

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...from the fish pond.

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putu enjula

Our lovely fountain grass :angry:

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makai...

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putu enjula

At Kona Village Resort...

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Luau for the tourists...

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with some-ting for da sistas!

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putu enjula

No luau would be complete without fire!

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FIRE! YUM!!

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putu enjula

More Kona Village shots...

Nothing like a relaxing day at the beach....

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That's me in my tourist costume...

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Awww!  Does anyone feel sorry for this poor washy??  Didn't think so.

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putu enjula

More of what the tourists see (at Kona Village Resort)...

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"The rough" here is REAL rough!!!

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www.dadluvsu.com

OK, that settles it...  Pohon your not allowed to use the camera anymore :P  You have to drag Putu with you wherever you want good pics taken...  

Sigh... I wanna go to HI

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bgl

Bill,

As the Nike commercial says "Just do it!" :D

And Angela,

Thanks for the additional photos. Kona Village Resort is a pretty unique place, and the luau there is our favorite one to take visitors there. After our first luau there (in 1997), on my wife's request and inspired by the rockwall at KVR behind the dancers, I designed our own rockwall (10 ft tall and 24 ft long). And on "special occasions" we've had hula performance in front of it. And a few years ago, friends of ours got married right there. Here it is.

Bo-Göran

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Kim

Superb photos, Angela, really superb.  In the interest of improving my photo skills, please explain the settings you use to get these incredible night shots, they are quite amazing.  Are these hand held or tripod shots?  Are you using a tripod to get the landscape shots?  (PM me so as not to hijack. Thanks for indulging me.)

The Big Island puts on quite a show, you couldn't ask for a better photo subject!

Luaus may be touristy, but I have to see one every time I go to Hawaii, I love the dancing, colorful costumes, and legends.  In fact, Bo's line of red Areca vestiara remind me of nothing so much as hula dancers.  Oh, and the Kalua pork is to die for.

Bo, your wall is da kine!

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ania

Bo:

Thank you for bringing the Big Island to my home through those great pictures. We actually drove on the Saddle Road when it was foggy like on one of the photos. It broght back nice memories.

Best,

Ania

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FRITO

great photos of a land far away. somtimes it is the rough roads and less than ideal infrastructures that make you feel you are in a truly unqiue place. :)

by the way... poor washy! it coconuts friends probably make fun of him! :P

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putu enjula

(FRITO @ Jan. 19 2008,12:08)

QUOTE
great photos of a land far away. somtimes it is the rough roads and less than ideal infrastructures that make you feel you are in a truly unqiue place. :)

by the way... poor washy! it coconuts friends probably make fun of him! :P

Yeah the Cocos always say to the Washy "HA HA! You're rotting!!" and call him "hollow body."

It's funnier when imagined in Nelson's voice (from the Simpsons)

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putu enjula

Looking towards Mauna Kea from some lava fields.

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Hey how'd this get in here??

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Just kidding, actually I threw this in because when I was driving though Arizona/New Mexico I was amazed how two very far and different parts of the world could have some elements that make it look kind of similar.

Hawaii again...

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putu enjula

I love the clouds here....   it's so easy to get a nice panoramic shot.

This is so MOOving..

Looking towards Hualalai..

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Kona in the distance..

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We had a "White Christmas" here on Hawaii!

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