I don’t know if dreams really do come true in blue Hawaii, but it sure is a great place to celebrate your anniversary or any other special occasion. For a whole lot of years my only contact with this 50th American state was from watching Magnum, Hawaii 50, Elvis rollicking in Blue Hawaii, listening to records of legendary Hawaiian crooner Don Ho, or just simply nibbling on delicious chunks of pineapple…. but somehow we finally made it there this month for our 25th!
For our 10-day West Jet adventure in the sun we chose the Big Island of Hawaii (happy population of 171,000), which is the largest of the eight-island chain, and is a paradise of rugged and lush rolling terrain over a magnificent 300 or so square mile expanse. I have never professed to be any sort of an expert on climate change or topography, but we were quickly informed that this fabulous island on the Pacific Ocean is made up of 85 per cent lava, fashioned from millions of years of five active volcanoes, touched by earthquakes and the odd tsunami, and is magically blessed with eleven of the world’s 13 climatic zones, excluding only arctic and sub-arctic.
After surviving a spring snowstorm in Calgary our tired and lily-white bodies finally arrived in Kona, but we were quickly revitalized by a thrilling adventure that took us up close and awesome by air, road and sea to the largest mountain in the world (10, 203 metres, 5998 of that below sea level), and across and an ever changing landscape down to the fabulous white, black and green sandy beaches that touch on the rolling ocean around every amazing corner.
Before we could say ‘wow’, we were informed that just a few days before our arrival the Kilauea volcano had erupted once again, spewing huge plumes of steam, sulphur and ashes into the sky from the vast Mount Halemaumau crater. As well as putting the area on alert because of the dangerous gases, the red hot river of lava could be spotted making their way down the mountain side to the ocean, creating steam and an ominous glow by night as it warmed the water to over 1000 degrees at the base of the cliffs.
Even though this is one of the fastest growing tourist areas in the world this once violent race are extremely proud of their colourful historical ancestry, displaying ongoing hospitality and friendliness from the moment they place the pretty lai around your neck when you arrive until they sadly bid farewell when you go home. During our casual travels in and around the island we were likely treated to a glimpse of every tree and flower in existence, as well as exotic bird species. The island foliage reaches magnificent heights in the lush green rain forests, while just barely surviving amongst the blackened expanse of hardened lava and desert; all complimented by an annual rainfall of nine inches on the dry side to over 200 on the other in average tropical temps from 65 to 90 degrees. There are also thousands of acres of untouched ranch land hosting herds of cattle and horses, deep green valleys with 3,000-foot water-falls; plantations raising pineapples, vegetables, orchids, bananas, macadamia nuts and the famous Kona coffee; as well as massive eucalyptus and tamarack trees that have been planted especially for lumber harvest in later years. Along the rugged tidal coastline and in the magnificent clean blue water of the ocean there are thousands of species of fish, turtles, birds, seasonal whales and year round recreational opportunities from snorkelling to skiing for every member of the family. Here are just a few of the very exciting highlights that we able to pick up along the way, along with a slight tan and a whole lot of wonderful memories.
The two-lane roads in and around the island are new and modern, but their year round construction is not able to keep up with the overwhelming addition of resorts, condos, time shares, sub-divisions, businesses and 25 and counting golf courses being built on top of the lava. Rainwater is saved in huge reservoirs then purified, power is achieved through burning garbage and windmills and there is absolutely no insecticides allowed. It would be a shock for most of us Albertans, as the speed limit is between 25-55 miles per hour, there is very little passing allowed, and the cops drive very modern R.V.s and ghost cars, only extinguishable by a pop up blue light. Schools, businesses and organizations adopt a mile of highway all year round and keep them immaculately clean; while during the rush hour there is traffic jams of folks going to work, including lots of motorcyclists, who don’t have to wear helmets.
Even though we didn’t master the hula, we will never forget the traditional music, dancing and unique language. As one delightful tour guide expressed in welcoming our busload of island visitors, “We lava you if you lava us back!” That special experience of enjoying a colourful blend of old tradition and new ideas is truly awesome. Please try to “think spring”, and have a great week, all of you.