Friday, March 16, 2007

Hawaii Day Five

It's finally time for Day Five of the trip to the Big Isle. If you would like to review the earlier entries, they're here:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three and Four

Day Five was different in that N wasn't with us most of the time. The reason we'd gone to the Big Isle in the first place is because she had a business trip to Waimea in the north of the Big Isle, and this was finally the day to do it. Waimea's a cow town. It's the home of the Parker Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in the U.S. Parker Ranch got started when Captain Vancouver gave a gift of cattle to King Kamehameha. The Hawaiians had no experience with cattle and they soon ran out of control over the island. Spanish cowboys were brought in to help corral the cattle. Hawaiian cowboys today are called paniolos, which comes from Espagnol(os?) for the Spanish cowboys in the early 19th century. The cowboys also introduced the guitar and the Slack-key guitar tradition has been in Hawaii now for almost 200 years.

But I digress. Parker was favored by the king, had a musket, and somehow ended up with a ranch. Today the ranch is over 150,000 acres.

The north and west sides of Hawaii don't look like most people think of Hawaii. They look kind of like Texas to me.

So we started off the morning by dropping N at work. Then B and I took off to drive a loop around the Kohala northwest corner of Hawai'i. The morning was essentially a search for a beach, and we kept running into other things on the way. The first stop was the ruins / remains / park of an old Hawaiian village.

After our trip back in time, we did drive further north and come across a beach a little before lunch time. This made B happy.

Beaches up here are quite rocky. The little patch of sand you see here is almost all the sand at this beach. It was fine for us. B and I aren't laying out and tanning after all.

We ate a picnic lunch up at this beach park overlooking the railing. This is humpback season in Hawai'i and the strait between east Maui and NW Hawaii is one of the main places to see the whales. In theory then you might be looking at a whale right now in this picture. I saw somewhere between 0 and 500 whales, with the odds being 0. Every white tip of water could be a splume when you want it to be; every wave's shadow is a whale breaching.

After our close encounter with the whales, we headed up to the northern tip and ran into this little town whose name I'm blanking on. The arid grasslands and rocks are about 5 miles to the west. We are rounding the tip of the island towards the Windward side and notice the trees appearing.

The guy closer to the camera in the picture above is an impressive individual. He was cycling the same territory that B and I were and we ran into him both at a beach park and the old Hawaiian village. He was making time as well as us in the car.

Anyway, after picking up batteries and koala chocolate cookies in this town, we headed about 5 more miles east to where the road ends. And here's why the road ends:

Supposedly, you can hike / ATV into the valley and there's a 150 foot waterfall or some such. But B fell asleep on the way down the road, and so all the pics you see here and in the next couple places are just me standing next to the car. I'm not sure I would have been up for a 3 mile hike into a mountain valley with B on my head anyway, but we can all pretend I was on the verge of going.

The area around here is still farmland actually, and if you were a farmer, wouldn't you love to have a place like this as your homestead?

Unfortunately, the most magical part of the entire journey occurs in between this picture and the next, but it's undocumented. Driving back towards Waimea, you go up into the Kohala range and are at about 3,000 feet, but up on this side, it's the greenest pasture land you've ever seen in your life. It's the type of green that you imagine on the Emerald Isle. It breathes life and beauty. It's still farmland and it's still cattle ranches, but where before the sloping grasslands were brown and dry, everythng here is green and vibrant. If I ever were to start an alpaca farm in a dream world, you'd have to at least think about this area.

As you get closer to Waimea again, things are turning arid once more, but you are still at 2,000 and 3,000 feet, and so you can see for 30 miles, I'm guessing.

And here's the view of the top of Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii and a 13-14 thousand odd foot volcano. The little domes you see are all of the observatories you hear about on TV. If you start at the ocean floor, either Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa is actually taller than Everest.

Finally, we made it back to Waimea. We were supposed to go find cows, but time ran out before going to get N from work. But we did see some horses at the Parker Ranch home.

And then it was back to Oahu.

N's supposed to go back to the Big Isle this summer and this time she's going to Hilo, which is on the wet windward side. I don't know if B and I will make this one, as this little jaunt was expensive. If we do go, I will barrage you with pictures once again.

1 comment:

J said...

those are fabulous. thank you for sharing them.