Probably the most unique experience we had in Hawai’i was the chance to go to the top of Mauna Kea (which is *actually* the tallest mountain in the world) and look at some stars. I had not known this, but many others do, that Hawai’i, and Mauna Kea specifically, is one of the most ideal places for land-based astronomy on Earth. It’s high above the clouds, there is little light pollution or moisture, and it’s place near the equator gives it the advantage of being able to see roughly 90% of the entire sky. We started this tour by getting picked up in a mini bus hours and hours before sunset, taking a bumpy 2-hour drive straight up to the center of the island, all the while getting geology facts told to us by our ample guide. Haleakalā SilverswordEventually we reached the visitor center about 9,200 feet above sea level for a dinner break. I later found out that this is also to acclimate ourselves to the thinning oxygen. Then, we went even higher, up a bumpy, precarious dirt road. Still not quite at the summit of Mauna Kea, we stop off to look at a couple observatories. This is the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory.W.M. Keck Observatories, I & II. The tiny people make me think of Jawas. In fact, the whole area felt very Star Wars. Still a bunch more to see!Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (Cloud City)It was all so surreal, to be so high up, in the cold, in Hawaii of all places, feeling like you were on Mars (or Tatooine). Actually, the ground at the top of the mountain is a near exact match for the basalt found on Mars. The iron in it has rusted.Once we got to the top, we were just free to walk around and wait for the sun to set. The best word to describe it all at once would probably be “majestic.” I can still feel how cold and thin the air was (I got, like, pretty woozy).I don’t have anything after this part, as I didn’t have a tripod on this trip (that would’ve been dangerous anyway. Too much trying to focus in the dark, not enough just chilling out and enjoying the moment.) After the sunset though, we went back down to the visitor center, stood on a dark hill, and checked out some far, far away star clusters with sweet telescopes. And having access to most of the sky is pretty cool; we got to see constellations we’d never seen before. Like Scorpio, which is just massive and what gives it the right to be that big anyway?
If you ever go to The Big Island, above all else, this is a must. There’s only one or two other places in the world you can do this stuff.
Our THIRD day on the Big Island saw us taking a helicopter tour. Geographically, Hawai’i is an insanely diverse place. Alan really knows a lot more about this than I do, but the island rests above a hot spot in the ocean, and the land is still growing. On the west side, you see white sand beaches, and on the east, it’s all lava cliffs, as it’s the newer side of the island. It’ll probably keep growing too. Nature is crazy and amazing, right?
Round two of the Honeymoon roundup. Our second day in Hawai’i, we rented a car and went north to do some ziplining. I have no pictures of that, only GoPro. Since we had the car though, we were advised to go to the “End of the Road.” It’s literally the end of the highway on the west side. Suddenly you’re a mile above a gorgeous secluded black sand beach and cliffs and hills that look like they’re from Jurassic Park (side note: they are from Jurassic Park).
Then on our way back south we stopped at this “scenic overlook” (???) Most of the road north of us was a volcanic desert. Which is cool the first time driving through it. Not after like, 6 times though.
Still to come: Helicopter city, stargazing, general bumming around Kona, and sunsets!
Hey! I’d once entertained the idea of using my blog to talk about wedding planning and honeymoon packing… But I never did. The wedding has come and gone, and the photos will be here sometime in the future, but in the meantime I’ve got a whole slew of honeymoon photos. Alan and I had discussed the possibility of me not taking pictures of every single thing, but in the end he was pretty supportive of me taking pictures of every single goddamn thing.
(Note: You can click on these photos to make them big. Because they are quite big!)
Well, first off, within hours of traveling, I’d already taken my best photo on the trip. Our connecting flight was in Seattle, meaning we get to fly over MOUNTAINS. After lakes and trees, my favorite nature thing is MOUNTAINS. I’m also a really massive fan of photographer Owen Perry (Circa 1983) so I was really thrilled to get a chance to take some sweet aerial shots. And I would get the opportunity later too!
We were originally going to stay in a mountain view room at the Sheraton Kona Resort, but we got upgraded to ocean view at last minute! Here’s the view from our balcony. We made coffee and sat out there most mornings, just chilling. Our internal clocks were all screwed up and we’d get up around 7 or 7:30 most days. Yuck.
Side Note: I shot predominantly in RAW this whole trip (actually an accident) and as a result had to get a memory card reader, and decided to get a trial of Adobe Lightroom. LOVING these results, aren’t you??
Not gonna lie. I’m a little put off by the Luau format. It was a celebration of many Polynesian cultures, but done in a way that felt cheap, like, hey you guys are playing Samoans now, put on these skirts. Hey you guys are Maori now, paint your faces. Having spent a bit of time in New Zealand some years back, I was simultaneously happy at seeing a mostly legit Haka again in the flesh, but, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Hawaiian food is good at least!
Still to come: The End of the road, helicopter tours, and stargazing on top of the The Tallest Mountain in the World. Stay tuned!