Orange and Blue Day

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Waikoloa, Hawaii, United States
Kara was already up and in the bathroom when I woke up just prior to 7 am . Again, I was pressured into getting up since bright-eyed Kara was raring to go. We hadn't made definite plans yet but during breakfast we agreed to go to the Botanical Gardens today so that meant we woud be taking the Orange Route. We postponed calling about our reservations for various tours and things until we were at our first stop. We ate the granola with yogurt and bananas that we bought at the store yesterday out on our balcony. We saw a man on a golf cart feed about 9 cats with actual cat food

I was anxious to get underway because it seemed like a pretty heavy itinerary for the day. Plus we keep getting lost around here - there is something about these little photocopied maps that is disorienting. So we drove north and headed for the other side of the Waipio Valley. Here you could walk to a lookout over the valley or take a 4-wheel vehicle for hire down to the valley floor. Since we had hiked down on the other side yesterday, we decided to just look . It was nice but we felt that we had enjoyed the other side and didn't regret not going down again.

We then drove east on the Northern Coastal highway - a sort of byway with more houses and farms and a few little towns. We had been advised by the couple from California that there was a restaurant with macadamia nut pancakes. Sounded good but we didn't find the place. Then we started looking for the place that sold the Portuguese doughnuts but didn't find those either. We kept driving and driving it seemed. I had offered to drive despite Kara's assurances that she didn't mind but I thought it only fair that she had a chance to look around and take some photos. After a certain amount of confusion, our next stop appeared near and we took a few turns of the main road to get to a small state park with two waterfalls. We paid our $1 apiece to enter since we had parked our Jeep outside the gate. The fee collector was quite chatty and vented to us that some people - like that lady over there - go ballistic when asked to pay a dollar . She said - they spend a thousand to come here and then bitch about spending a dollar on the park. We walked through lush vegetation to get to the overlook of a pretty waterfall and a pool at its bottom. It seems there are quite a few of these valleys with beautiful cascading streams and pools settled in amidst the lush tropical foliage.

We then drove on a side road - called the Four Mile Scenic Route - to the Botanical Garden. I hadn't realized the garden was on this road so it was quite a surprise. The Botanical Garden was lovely. A man and his wife had bought this property and planned to build a public garden to be enjoyed by others. It is just chock full of vegetation - lots of tropical plants just like our houseplants - only huge. There were tall palms, ficus and monkey pod trees. The orchid collection was awe-inducing. There was a heliconia section - quite extensive - an anthurium section and a section with lovely varigated-leafed pants. Both Kara and I found we really enjoyed them. Kara's camera battery started going low. I brought two cameras - first the Nikon SLR battery died and I was using my new underwater Olympus and trying to get flower close-ups and then its battery died. We sped through the rest of the garden with Kara very judiciously taking photos - while we were both starving - because neither of us wanted to have to retrace our steps up the steep hill to get to the car. I bought some postcards there and a book and Kara bought a present for John .

When we left the Botanical Garden at 4:30 pm, we had to try to decide what to do next. The original plan was to go to Mauna Kea for the sunset but since we were both starving and we had left the cheese & crackers back at the room, we hoped to get some take-out or something to eat. It had sprinkled and then rained, so we considered whether it would be even worth it to go to see the sunset up there. We decided to try and eat some trail mix in the short run and get dinner back in Waikoloa. As it turned out, the clouds lifted by Mauna Kea, so we headed up to the visitor center and then climbed the hill to view the sunset. We were pretty much just in time - a few minutes watching the film and then up the hill - mini-mountain of volcanic ash & cinders - for the sunset. We had about 15 minutes to spare, but when the sun finaly decided to go down, it went quickly. Kind of not spectacular, but it was fun to go up there. We didn't really think long about staying and driving up to the actual observatory (open 6 -10 pm) since we were hungry and tired .

I think Kara has already konked out. I am pretty beat myself but want to finish up this entry.

So we started back to our hotel in eager anticipation of food. We were not sure how far it was and when Kara, who took over driving, looked at the gas gauge when the Jeep dinged that it was low on gas, we tried to figure out whether we would make it. One thing about the Big Island is that there is a lot of open space. This blue road that goes past Mauna Kea volcano is pretty deserted - ie, no gas stations every mile or fact, no gas stations for quite a few miles. We were expecting that it would be touch & go. The gauge went from 53 miles of gas available to 80 some and then started going back down again. Meanwhile we took a turn off the blue road onto another road - not being sure which road it was. After a little discussion - and some anxiety - we decided to look at the map - it then appeared that we were headed for Kona again. Kara suggested we turn back. I was a bit worried that this might put us over the edge but it turned out to be the right decision. Twelve miles out of the way but we made to Waikoloa Village and a gas station. We got back to the Hilton area and Kara amazingly found the brew pub that offers pizza that our bar tender mentioned last night. We had pizza and a coconut calamari appetizer and tried two different cocktails and felt immensely better.

I think I may be a bit cranky from tiredness but since Kara is asleep now, it won't bother her. It has been a long, tiring day with lots of uphill walking but a very satisfying one.