30 December 2012

Whales and more!

Up at 5 this morning to get a little bit of exercise in. S and I were out the door by 6.15 to get to the whale-watching boat by 7. We were at the top of the waiting list, and thankfully, we were able to board. The boat was captained by Dan McSweeny, a very knowledgable whale-ologist. As he piloted us north of the harbor along the coast past the airport, he talked about whale history, psychology, family practice, study, and behavior. But it wasn't until we were on our way back to the harbor that we finally spotted  a pair of humpbacks.  Here's a tail:

We were back at the harbor by 10am, and we headed north along Rt. 19 (Queen K. Highway). We had no specific stops in mind - just a direction to wander. Our first stop ended up being a pull-out on the side of the road, which led to a hike through an arid desert/lava wasteland before we got to the beach. Here's some wasteland:

The beach was called Kiholo Bay and featured some preserved fishponds and some lovely vistas. From there, we walked south to the Queen's Bath, a spring-fed natural pool buried in rocks. I dipped my legs in, but it was too cold to fully submerge myself. Along the beach between the two sites, we passed Bali House, a genuine Balinese house that was broken down and moved here a long time ago. It's privately owned, so we just shot it from the outside:

After checking out the Queen's Bath, we returned along a 4WD road. Note how dramatically different the environment is! The Bali House photo and the ones below and above it are less than a mile apart:

Back in the car, we drove north along the west coast highway, stopping for a yummy fish and salad (and mai tai) lunch.  We continued north to the sleepy artsy town of Hawi, where I bought a ukelele and S hoped to pick up some fudge. The fudge, however, was being snacked on by centipedes (or some other gazillion-legged creature). Gross. When we pointed it out to the clerk, she just shrugged and said 'that's Hawaii for you!' Grosser.

Up and over the northern tip of Hawaii to the end of Route 270. It ends at a sudden dead end at a vista overlooking Pololu Beach. There's a hike down to the beach. We only did the first half, as the light was waning and I had worn the wrong shoes (blisters). The beach is full of black sand and rocks, and the surf is heavy (swimming is not recommended). Dig:

Back in the car, retracing our steps to Hawi, where we turned south on Route 250 and into the mountains. A little way up the hills we stopped the car and looked north, where we could see Maui way in the distance. You can see it here (behind the clouds):

Check out the green grass also - we were about 2500 feet above sea level, and for this part of the drive, we passed verdant fields rotten with cattle. And rain!

Back to the coast, we made it to A Bay to catch the sunset. It wasn't as spectacular as we had hoped, but it was still pretty damn great.

Dinner was at a great restaurant called Holuakoa Cafe. The food was exceptional - S had gnocchi with pumpkin, and I had seared ahi with lemon/bacon risotto. To drink, a margarita with rainwater limeade!  Yum

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