seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

14000 Feet is a lot of feet!

It has been quite some time since my last post - more so in experience than in actual linear time. Let's see. Yesterday we came to the beach house in Kapoho. Swam in the lagoon with some endangered sea turtles - they are hard to miss here as they sleep in the little lagoon 10 feet outside the house.

Walchka and I broke away from the group and did some exploring of our own. Found a black sand beach which was super sweet - volcanic rock smashed into itty bitty grit. On the beach anyway - we went into the waves (4 footers some of 'em) which were above average and going on high tide. We quickly discovered there were lots of rocks underneath also. The first major wave we found mashed us into them - embedding 10-20 grains of sand in our palms. A little bit painful, but well worth it for the fun of swimming off a black sand beach. Didn't get any photos there, but hope to at some point.

At the falls, we met a local guy who told us about a must-see site 4 miles south - so we headed off that way.

4 miles south of the black sand beach, the road ends in an 8 foot tall old lava flow. In 1983, lava from a nearby volcano destroyed the area around there - it has since cooled and is amazing. Got lots of photos of that - and we'll be going back to get more hopefully since we didn't have time to fully explore it.

This morning, after Walchka and I ran 6 miles (and finished it up with some sea turtle swimming), we went to check out the volcano. Again, I hope the photos turn out well and I regret not having a digital camera. Hiked through a lava tube and saw some more amazing cooled lava fields.

From there, we came back to the lagoon house for some snacks and then drove up to the mountain. Mauna Kea is a 14,000 foot mountain with a huge astronomy observatory on top of it. Got up there as the sun was setting - base camp is at 9000 feet which is above the clouds. Amazing sights, hard to describe except to say viewing the clouds from above is a lot like looking at the ocean - only white water.

From base camp, we had to take 4WD vehicles the rest of the way due to the nature of the trail - high altitude and sharp slopes kill small cars. Didn't have enough space for everyone inside, so Walchka and I rode up in the bed of a pickup with Russ. Wow. Incredible. Setting sun above the clouds with so many colors. Got lots of photos - group shots with everyone we were with.

14,000 feet is tall. I wanted to emphasize this.

Fear of heights deserts you at a certain point I think. At a certain point, you just enjoy the sites.

Came back down to base camp after dark - and hung out with astronomers who come out every night with huge telescopes to give astronomy lectures to anyone who will listen. Learned some cool stuff.

Hawaii has some damn good traffic ideas. On the roads, they have reflecters that are yellow in the middle of the road and white on the right line marking the shoulder. On the far shoulder - they reflect red so you don't get confused. A pretty good idea.

Overall, today was pretty amazing. The photos won't really convey what it was like to see so much in one day - I mean, downtime was snorkelling with freaking endangered turtles! BIG ONES! So anyway, I gotta get some sleep before tomorrow which promises to continue being amazing.

Best of all, today we all spent hours in the sun but no one got burned. Well one person - but it wasn't too bad. I am running out of sunscreen in one container though - will probably kill the other one soon too. I don't mind all that much.

Blue Skies

Woke up this morning to Blue Skies. Blue blue blue blue. And white puffy clouds. Very cool. Then went running with Walchka - I hate that kid. Introduced me to the wonderful world of interval training. Run 800 meters, walk 400, repeat until unconscious.

Seriously though - the temperature is nice. A little sweaty - and it is most definitely NOT a dry heat - too much ocean for that.

We didn't make it to the Volcano last night due to adverse viewing conditions. Something about not wanted to have to breathe the sulfuric acid that occurs when rain strikes the lava flow. Sometime this week we will get there though.

Made some other observations along the way yesterday.

The Big Island has yellow street lamps. It is an odd sight - being used to white street lights. The reason is because there is a major astronomy station up the local mountain and white lights would upset their ability to find E.T. (and stop him from making all those collect calls).

Yesterday we went to a cool little area where a river comes down some falls and then washes out to the ocean. There was a rope swing on which we took turns flailing out into the middle of the river. Got some good photos I hope - won't know for awhile =). Gotta go digital for my instant gratification.

I am now reading Stephen King's Everything's Eventual. Found a cool quote that I really like:

It occurred to Fletcher that in the end, there might only be one way to tell the thugs from the patriots: when they saw their own death rising in your eyes like water, patriots made speeches. The thugs, on the other hand, gave you the number of their Swiss bank account and offered to put you on-line.

I'm not sure how much I will be able to write in the next couple of days - we are moving from the Lesnett's house in Hilo to a lagoon house in the small community of Kapoho, further south.

I also don't know if I will be renting a bike after all. I would like to - but there isn't really anyone to bike with and the weather looks pretty lame for biking. This might be our only clear day this week. Don't know that I want to drop a lot of bank to bike alone in the rain - especially on streets which have very few marked bike lanes.

Land of Awnings

I have yet to see the sun in Hawaii. Woke up to an overcast / rainy morning. It rains 300 days a year here in Hilo on the Big Island. Rainiest city in the country I hear. If it stays rainy, we will spend more time on the other side of the island which is the side people must think about when they think HAWAII.

Somewhat ironic that I spent 5 days in the Pacific Northwest and saw nothing but blue skies - and they were quite blue - and 2 days in Hawaii with nothing but low clouds.

Went for a run this morning with Walchka - 4 miler although I had to walk for 500 yards - 2 miles up hill is tough going. Noticed a few interesting things though.

There are many pretty houses - all have carports and garages. It is rare to see a window in a house that is not sheltered by the rain. Lots of cool landscaping. I hear that the area we are staying is economically depressed, so I will be interested to see more of the island - especially Kona on the far side.

The house we are staying in has solar water heating - quite efficient as the sun is quite powerful here in the southernmost state.

Tonight it looks like we'll be going to see the Volcano which was supposedly erupting last week. I hope Walchka doesn't push me in. Hoping to find a place to rent a bike today too - guess I should make sure it comes with rims.

Raining in Hawaii

I suppose you cannot complain about the rain in Hawaii. If I'm going to get rained on anywhere, better in Hawaii =)

Arrived after waking up at 3:10 AM PDT to wait at the airport for 4 hours - got a ride from Walchka who took an earlier flight...gotta love the genius of different people going to same place at the same time, paying different amounts and flying through different cities. I suppose it must be "efficient" on some level.

At any rate, we have arrived at the Big Island and are staying in Hilo with the Lesnett's. Got to get some rest and explore tomorrow. I hope to get some photos online soon - as soon as someone with a digital camera takes them.

In the meantime, Aloha.

Tiger Mountain

Okay - one more quick post while we are cleaning up. The hike was up to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain in Washington state. It was a great hike that culminated in some interesting sites. Beautiful view of Mt Ranier over a hazy valley - too mid-day to get a good photo, but still a nice sight. Also saw a ton of people paragliding. I never heard of it before, but it is basically chilling in a big parachute from what I could tell.

It was pretty cool. Some of the folks had cool nicknames like "Hillbanger." Got some photos, we'll see how they turn out.

At the top, we were approached by people asking us if we wanted a ride down ... we soon found it that people drive up to the top in trusty 4WD vehicles and jump off in hang or para gliders and need others to drive their vehicles to the base. Orf, being a good samaritan kinda guy, offered to drive a vehicle down. It took a lot longer than expected, and we got stuck behind a locked gate that our key was too stubborn to unlock. Fortunately, there was someone else 15 min behind us who let us out. At any rate, we are now very late for dinner and I am quite hungry. So, for real now (I think), the next post will be from Hawaii.

Hiking in Lynden

Getting ready to go out on a hike. Took a quick run this morning on an interesting, rocky trail near the lake across the street from where I am staying. Once again, I continue the trend of getting more exercise while on vacation than while at home. I hope this continues in Hawaii where I will rent a nice mountain bike.

Staying with Orf has been great - but the next time I post, it will likely be from Hawaii. Monday morning we are on our way.

Lynden to Redmond

Took the train from Lynden - on the Canada border, north of Seattle - to Seattle this morning. Andrea, Aunt Dawn, and I got picked up by Steff who I knew from the bookstore I work at. Saw Pike's Place Market. Crazy fish throwers - quite entertaining. They flung a giant squid at a girl who screamed and took off - quite funny for everyone. Even the girl came back laughing.

Lunch at the Spaghetti Factory - good food for good prices. Orf, old friend from high school, met up with us after and we left Aunt Dawn to head back to Lynden before we continued on to Redmond where we will be until Monday when we leave for Hawaii.

Walked around Redmond tonight - saw the Town Center, which was a nice outdoor mall. Dropped by the Half Price Books to look for a few treasures in the heat - no air conditioning? Better to walk back to Orf's and swim.

I'm nearly finished with Carl Hiaasen's Double Whammy which was his first fiction book. Excellent stuff - good to learn more about Skink and Jim Tile. If you like mystery - thriller type books, then I highly encourage you to read all of Hiaasen's fiction. Then check out Dave Barry's two fiction books also.

Mt Baker is HUGE

Wow. Aunt Dawn took Andrea and I up to Mt Baker today. It was mid 70's and Andrea got to go sledding! Still got lots of ice at 5000 feet at a peak near Mt Baker in Cascade mountain rage. Got some photos, but none with a digital camera. Apparently snow is common around these glaciers - who knew?

Had a good day - got up and ran which justified a trip to the local Dutch Bakery which Dawn insists is the best. Can't argue there. From there, went to Mt Baker and a good restaraunt in Glacier - the city at the base of the approach.

Other fun things: read a few books in the past couple of days. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn was excellent. Read that, then read the Story of B. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby sucked unless you want a history of Arsenal futbol over the past 30 years. I didn't. Life of Pi by Yann Martel was excellent until the ending which blew. So a little bit of everything in there.

On to Lynden

Vacation is upon me...departed Tuesday night from St Paul on the amtrak and arrived in Seattle Thursday morning. Second time on the Empire Builder route - I still like it. Saw a little black bear wandering the tracks by Glacier National Park - looking for a freight to hop perhaps.

In Seattle I realized that all Greyhound stations are built to hold 1/3 as many people as will be inside during non-rush hours. Seriously - I have yet to have a bad experience on a greyhound bus. All bad experiences occur waiting to board.

Met some cool folks aboard, one from my little corner of St Paul and who had a lake house just south of Andrea's (my girl-friend) hometown. He helped us figure out what bus was right for us.

Then on to Lynden - just south of Canada border near Bellingham Washington. Nice place, good ice cream. Time for some sleep soon after nearly 48 hours of travel.

First Post!

Shadoweyes Blog is off and running. For those who are used to seeing a different, I've been meaning to set up this blog for a long time and I finally got it off the ground.

My photo galleries will be back, in late August I hope after I take some time to vacation and celebrate Russ and Lisa's wedding.

In the meantime, I plan on updating this blog from the road with my thoughts from Seattle and Hawaii. We'll see how that goes.

As for now, I'm thrilled that the Tour de France is finally over because I'll now have an extra 3 hours in each day I don't spend glued to the TV. Well done Lance - you are amazing, but my heart goes out to Voeckler who demonstrated the power of the yellow. Voeckler captured the yellow early and defied everyone by holding it for 10 days -- 3 days longer than anyone thought possible. Lance was expected, Voeckler was a pleasant surprise.

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