Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hawai'i, Part 6: Wild O'ahu

There's still more to the honeymoon I haven't posted! I must finish this up soon (just like those thank you notes, heh) before it's too long after the fact. Goal: done with honeymoon posting by two months after we got back, a.k.a. December 7. omg, that's soon!

Okay, I'd like to share pictures of nature around O'ahu. We did drive most of the way around the island, but not all at once like we did on the Big Island.

Our first stop is the North Shore, where we didn't actually stop, but we did see a lot of the beaches on our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center in the first week of our trip. We drove straight through the middle of the island to get there and as we came over the last rise in land, here's what we saw:

Water again! It's like, every time you turn around, there's the Pacific Ocean. Pretty.

Getting closer...

So pretty. I'll visit the colors of Hawai'i many times in my dreams, I am sure.

I'd like to pause to talk about the rain in Hawai'i. I knew before I got there that each of the islands have a "windward" and "leeward" side. The windward, or northeast sides of the islands get around 200 inches of rain per year and are classified as rainforest areas. The leeward sides get far less rain and qualify as deserts. Even though I knew this, this midwestern gal had a hard time really comprehending how this works. When it rains in Naperville, it rains in Rockford, Joliet, other words, a large area. But then, when I saw views like the one to the left nearly every day, I finally realized. The clouds just build up and start leaking over the mountains. And it does still rain on the leeward side, but it mainly just mists for a few minutes per day and evaporates. On the windward side, we'd be walking around outside when it would start raining. To me, 200 inches of rain translates as pouring rain all the time. But in Hawai'i, it actually just rains for a few minutes every hour. Certainly no reason to pull in the beach blanket. It's like getting sprayed by ocean waves on a rock--nothing to it. Makes for a lot of pretty rainbows too (see Pearl Harbor post).

In the second week of our trip, Erich and I drove around O'ahu a lot more to see all the natural attractions around the north and east edge of the island. Remember on the Big Island, how everything was so new and untouched? Well, as a much older island, O'ahu is much more eroded and is no longer growing. It was fascinating to see the contrasts. Our first stop was the Pali lookout:


There's that pesky mountain cloud cover. And, btw, it was freezing up here. The coldest I was the whole trip. I brought a jacket for the ten minutes I spent taking pictures at the Pali lookout. :)

Pahoe'hoe lava, not as exciting at first as the fresh stuff, but this is really old, and that is cool.

Shiver, shiver.

We ate lunch on this beach. It rained off and on. It was no big deal.

Driving. This reminds me of the Lost pilot, when they heard the horrible noise off in the mountains. Heck, for all I know they could have filmed these very mountains.

Another beach, another occasion for me to gawk at the beautiful colors of the Pacific Ocean.

Lighthouse, for my mother-in-law. :)

I love Hawai'i!

Hiking adventure: welcome back to the desert! This trail (less than a mile from the picture above!) was sun-drenched and HOT. I almost melted. It's kind of funny that within one day on Hawai'i we experienced both the coldest and hottest temperatures of our trip.

But the view at the top was worth it. Whales come here during the winter, a.k.a. mating season.

Desert in foreground, clouds in distance.


As we continued our drive along the eastern coast of the island, we came to the Halona blowhole. The blowhole was a tube where lave once flowed to the ocean. Now, waves that come crashing in blow out the top of the rocks. Really, the picture describes it better than I can:

The "blowhole" itself is dead center.

This is the view in the distance from the Halona Blowhole.

After our drive this particular day, we went back to Makaha Valley via H3, one of the "interstate" highways in Hawai'i. A lot of people think it's hilarious and quirky that there's an interstate in a state surrounded entirely by water, but the reason for it is really quite simple. When Hawai'i became a state in 1959, they argued that not being connected by land to any other state was no reason to be excluded from federal funding for roads. Congress agreed, so Hawai'i has the H1, the H2, and the H3. Our guidebook asserted that the H3 is arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of freeway in the 50 states, and I am inclined to agree:

This shall conclude today's Hawai'i post. By my estimation, I have about two more to make. I may miss my deadline :/. But at this juncture, it's probably more important to get those thank you notes done.

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