It's our last full day on the island. We got a late start, but drove up to Waipio Valley, a spot up on the northeast corner that overlooks a stunning and mostly undeveloped fertile valley. Without a 4WD vehicle or a lot of human desire, we couldn't go into the valley, but that was alright with us - from what we read, there wasn't much to do down in the valley except ogle at beauty (which we could do nicely from high up on the rim:
After seeing the beautiful valley, we stopped off for fresh stuffed doughnuts to tide us over as we headed towards Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain on the island and home to the famous observatory. Usually, the top of the peak is shrouded in clouds, but the visibility was so clear today that we stopped on the side of the highway to snap a photo of all of the telescopes atop the mountain:
We continued up the mountain, our little 4-cylinder rental working its little butt off, and we got to the visitor center in time to catch the sunset:
Unfortunately, the visitor center was our final destination - without a 4WD vehicle, we couldn't make the trip to the summit. Still, after sunset, the visitor center set out about 10 high-powered telescopes, and the visitors could look into the heavens. I saw 50+ stars in the Pleaides, and I saw Jupiter AND four moons. Wow! It was cold, so S and I took off after a while to head back to Hilo for some supper. We stopped in a little sushi joint called Ocean Sushi, which is completely unpretentious (no liquor license even!) and excellent. We had a weird roll that featured pickled plum and fermented soybean - yum!
On the way back to the cottage, S and I wondered if the big plume we had been seeing at Volcano National Park in the Kilauea Caldera glowed at night. We decided to duck into the park to check it out. Sure enough, it glows like a campfire! Remember, this fire is about 1/4 mile wide:
Now, home, to pack. We have one more day tomorrow on the island, and then we take a red-eye home.