Wednesday, November 2nd
This was our last day in the hotel Hale Koa. We had no reservations for that evening or the next. The sense of freedom provided by this kind of last-minute planning is fun and exhilarating; however, I am accustomed to going to places you need to book months in advance. The plan was to catch a flight to the big island (Hawaii) and stay for two nights in the military camp on the volcano. I had to quell my fears of not getting a flight and being unable to find a hotel and what to do with all the luggage… I hushed my mind into silence and told Kyle, “my faith is in you.” I just relaxed and let him deal with it. Definitely more his style to play things loose and free.
We woke up early to check out this cute cafe Kyle found by the University, The Tea Farm Cafe. Great place with a huge selection of teas, desserts and quick lunches. The conversation revolved around small business integrity, expansions and perversions of any type of heart and soul by expanding and selling out to corporate enterprises. Kyle is a business man. He sees a small privately owned cafe such as this as an opportunity to buy, incorporate, maintain that small, local feel without anything actually being small or local, then sell for a profit. While I am all for capitalism and free markets, if I were to purchase or open a cafe such as this I would incorporate a strong local farmer, locally grown and locally sourced presence. I fully believe in the integrity of small business and would treat it as my baby, protecting it from the negative energy of big, out of control companies, and only expanding to the point where I can still control everything.
I would love to open a small cafe or juice bar. Something manageable in an area with enough local flare to do a fair business. The restaurant world is tough to manage a profit without selling out to someone, plus it has become incredibly difficult to attain the amount of money required for such a venture. Maybe one day.
After a brunch of caesar salad, chicken pesto sandwich, green tea tart, and an almond tart, we said farewell to the mustang and headed back to the hotel to pack. We were extraordinarily late for check-out, but managed to sneak by without any fees or nonsense from the staff and headed straight to the pool to down the remaining alcohol from the mini fridge. There was almost an entire bottle of tequila and a bunch of spiced rum left over.
This quickly disappeared.
We grabbed some appetizers at the bar to hold us over for the evening (drunk munchies) before heading upstairs to catch the shuttle for the airport. For about $360, a price I thought a little steep, we were able to get round-trip tickets to the big island for that evening. Kyle was still working on some tequila and orange concoction up until the security checkpoint at the airport. He was very chatty with the guards.
The flight to the big island passed quickly. We were drunk, giggling and just having a good time. Kyle kept trying to sneak me to a more secluded seat so we could fool around, but it was such a small plane there was no way to manage… basically I chickened out.
Touchdown on the big island around 8pm. At this point Kyle had sobered up and we rented a car and took the 40 minute drive to the military camp in the pitch black.
For a military camp in the middle of a national park, this place was nice. We had a hot tub. With jets. Apparently this was once an internment camp. They’ve certainly spruced it up since then. It didn’t take us long to settle in, cuddle up and watch a few minutes of television before passing out in each others arms.
Thursday, November 3rd
With nothing reserved for the day and no idea what to do, we rose early to try to figure things out and potentially catch an 8:20am tour bus around the Hawaiian Volcanos National Park. Our first stop was the activities booth at the military camp. After making friends with the woman in charge, we headed out with a handful of brochures of the best places to go and a map marked up with all the good stops to see craters and black sand beaches. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the camp and started making phone calls to helicopter tours trying to snag a seat for that morning or afternoon. We ended up getting a 2pm take off with Blue Hawaii Helicopter Tours.
The morning was spent cruising around the national part in our red Ford Focus rental, stopping at all the little Xs on the map. Our first stop along Crater Drive was a short hike through the jungle and into underground caverns carved out of the earth by the volcanic action of the island. Across the street was another path edging along the top of a cliff looking down into a massive crater with a path running directly through it dodging steam vents.
Crater Drive twisted and turned through lush jungle and barren charcoal landscapes. We stopped at most of the craters along the way. None compared to the magnitude of the first crater (pictured above).
Crater Drive continues through the national park until it reaches the beach where it comes to an abrupt halt. The drive was incredible, twisting roads and gorgeous scenery with the smell of the sea and the volcanic gases in the air. Parts of the land looked ravaged by recent lava flows whereas others were lush and green.
As we made it closer to the ocean, the terrain leveled off and the most amusing sign of a man running into a wave welcomed us and warned us of potential for getting swallowed up by a tsunami.
The presence of the sea was overwhelming. White water licked the coast line in a display of power only mother nature could conjure. Many moments passed, enjoying the spray of the sea, the fresh salty air, and being careful not to get too close to the edge.
The drive back was just as pleasant. We were both quiet, admiring the surroundings and silently contemplating the incoming mass of gray clouds.
We drove back to the entrance of the park and began the 45 minute journey to the airport. The clouds grey darker and soon a light drizzle began to speckle the windshield. About 10 seconds later the heavens opened up and pelted the car with big, heavy raindrops, soaking the surroundings and blurring our vision. We slowly made our way to the airport, stopping briefly for a quick-lunch. I let Kyle drive from there. The rain was blinding.
Upon arrival, the rain abated to a sprinkle and then not at all. We began to get prepped for the flight, safety instructions, gear, where we were going to go… Then they received a call from the pilot canceling the ride due to the incremental weather.
This was something Kyle was really looking forward to, and I as well, being I’ve never been in a helicopter before. He was frustrated and dismayed. We tried to re-book for the following morning. Their only available was a 10am flight, but we can a 10:30 flight booked with Hawaiian Air back to Oahu. We booked it and hustled over to Hawaiian Air to try to make our flight later. It would cost an extra $200 between a higher fare and fees this on top of the $400 for the helicopter was simply too much. As we were walking back to cancel the flight, disheartened as we accepted it was not meant to be, we passed Paradise Helicopter Tours, another place we had called that morning. Kyle asked about the afternoon, all booked or canceled. We began to walk away when I asked about the following morning. There was a 7:10am flight with two spots open. And it was open air. Snagged it. Weather was still a nuisance, but this was a second chance.
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting some essentials at Wal-Mart (my least favorite store) and grabbing dinner. The sun was still up when we made it back to the camp. There was a gorgeous full rainbow painted across the sky. Both ends were visible. It was gorgeous. We took a break for a while, wrestled a bit, and then headed out to see the Caldera glow of Kilauea.
The night came to a close with a steaming bath in the hot tub.