On a bright sunny day, the waters off Hawaii are truly blue - all shades of blue, from light blue to dark blue to various shades of greenish blue, all depending on the depth of the water and the sand and corral on the sea bottom. It reminds me some of the waters off of the Bahamas and Nassau. Years ago I was on a training flight from Miami to Bermuda and flew over some corral reefs and islands north of the Bahamas and saw some of the most colorful waters I have ever seen, ranging from dark blue to sea foam green. The waters here may not be quite as colorful, but they still have a beauty all their own.
We are on the island of Hawaii, also known as the “Big Island” because it is by far the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, and is also the newest and is still growing. Mt. Kilauea erupted in 1790 killing approximately 80 Hawaiian warriors, and has erupted 47 times since. The current activity started in 1983 and is still ongoing. The reality of living on an active volcano was demonstrated to us our first evening on this trip when a 4.4 earthquake rattled our nerves and anything not nailed down.
We are less than 60 miles from Kilauea and 35 miles from Mt. Mauna Loa, who last erupted in 1984. Rising gradually to more than 13,000 ft, above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on our planet. Its long submarine flanks descend to the sea floor an additional 3 miles, and the sea floor in turn is depressed by Mauna Loa's great mass another 4.8 miles. This makes the volcano's summit about 17 km (56,000 ft) above its base! The enormous volcano covers half of the Island of Hawaii and by itself amounts to about 85 percent of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Mauna Loa is among Earth's most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843.
Saturday I played Makalei Golf Course built on the side of this mountain. The club house and first tee are at 1900 ft elevation and the first 9 holes meander up the north-west side of the mountain to 2900 ft where the 10th hole starts and the course works its way back down. The temperature along the coast highway was 83 degrees but it was 71 at the club house. Don’t know what it was on the 10th tee, but it was cooler and lightly raining. Fantastic views of the Kona area and coast line were obscured by clouds. The vegetation at that elevation is forests of eucalyptus and iron wood along with lots of underbrush. There are numerous peacocks and wild turkeys wandering on the course, and it does not do ones putting any good when a peacock hollers in the middle of your back swing.
There is also a local rule for the course. You are allowed a free drop of your ball if it lands in an area damaged by the feral pigs running around. I wasn’t privileged to seeing any but did observe the damage.
The west side of the island is mostly desert looking with lots of ancient lava flows. The middle of the island is higher ground between 2500 to 4000 ft elevation and has lots of Bermuda grass pastures that they run cattle on year round. The Parker Ranch, one of the largest in the U.S., is located here. The east side, where all the rain falls, is lush with jungle vegetation and flowers and lots of water falls. You can drive an hour in any direction and be into an entirely different climate. Under water if you choose the wrong direction!
The water in most areas is crystal clear, which makes it a great area to snorkel. The variety of colorful fish is truly a testament to God’s creative handiwork and humor. Left to random selection, I’m sure, would have resulted in a much duller and uglier result.
We have also been able to observe Humpback Whales within a quarter mile of the beach. The strangest sign so far is the one warning of wild donkey crossings. Later coming down toward Waikoloa we saw a group of 10 or 12 but we were in the middle of traffic and couldn’t pull over to get a picture.
Prices, as expected, are higher here than on the mainland. Gas is running from 3.76 to 3.86 except at Costco where it is only 3.29. The day after we arrived we made our Costco run because we intended to eat mostly in the condo. What astonished us was the prices were basically the same as mainland Costco prices. I bought two Hawaiian shirts for 19.99 which Jeri had seen in the Portland Costco for the same price. Hot dogs and a drink were 1.50 and pizza by the slice was 1.99, same as everywhere else. We picked up New York strip steaks on sale for 4.99 a pound. Most everything we saw in the store was priced similar to Portland. The nice thing about being here for three and a half weeks is we can buy some things in quantity and be reasonably sure we will use it before we leave. We then went to the local Safeway to pick up some items in smaller quantities and were immediately slammed back into reality.
Health wise we are doing fine. Jeri has a mild sunburn and I have only fallen twice, stumbling over rocks that snuck into my path when I wasn’t looking; once while taking pictures of the whales and the other while searching for golf balls. Some things never change. Oh, the ball count is over 40, all off of the par 3 second hole. Aloha.