Jim Colyer is loose.
Mauna Kea (White Mountain)
In "Swim With Dolphins," I wrote, "I wanna see the stars, Mauna Kea's calling me." On September 13, 2003, I stood atop the extinct volcano 13,750 above sea level. "This is a beautiful sight," I thought. The mountain was brownish and stark, barren of vegetation. There was a Mars-like surrealism. I watched as the sun set above the clouds. The stars blazed. The Milky Way, the plane of our Galaxy, arched brilliantly overhead. I was on the Big Island of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It gets no better than this. Hawaii is at 20 degrees northern latitude, so the north star appears lower in the sky and the constellation, Scorpius, higher than from Kentucky/Tennessee although nowhere near as high as from Australia where it gets straight up. I sensed the curvature of the earth. Mars was at its closest. It looked like Jupiter. I wondered why it was less red than when it was farther out. Our guide said, "The increased sunlight hitting its surface neutralizes its redness." The moon rose. I like astronomy and got to see a bit of everything. 13 telescopes spread across the summit of Mauna Kea. There are two Keck domes and the Japanese telescope called Subaru. Subaru is Japanese for "The Pleiades." The University of Hawaii and Caltech run Mauna Kea. It is the only large observatory I have seen. I was above 40% of our atmosphere's oxygen, 90% of its water vapor. It misted at the visitor's center on the drive up. Rainbows were everywhere. I felt invigorated. Beauty heals.
I stayed two nights at the Waikiki Grand. I explored the beach area. I walked to the top of Diamond Head Crater at the end of Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is an extinct volcano. It is a state monument. It was named by British sailors who mistook shiny minerals for diamonds. It looked like a short walk from the beach. Wrong! It was a long, arduous trek. My arthritis screamed. I kept going. The perimeter of the volcanic crater circled me. I kept climbing. I went through tunnels and cave-like features. It was worth it when I reached the top. I looked down on Honolulu. Ocean and sky were everywhere. The crater is not unlike Meteor Crater in Arizona except that it is of vocanic rather than meteoric origin. It was an exhilerating experience. Some nice people gave me a ride down.
I went to Pearl Harbor, to the USS Arizona Memorial. The battleship, Arizona, is below water. The memorial is a white structure built over it. It is a National Park. About half the men who died at Pearl Harbor were on the Arizona. The ship is their tomb. I thought it ironic they were killed by their own ammunition when the Japanese bomb hit. I noted the parallel between Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
I have seen 42 states and 7 foreign countries on 3 continents.
Plans for Hawaii are proving problematical. No surprise. The Sweden and Australia trips came after long periods of preparation. I went to sites about Mauna Kea. The volcano is over 13,000 feet and the weather can be severe. It is not easy to get to. Mauna Kea is on the Big Island. I started thinking I should hook up with an astronomy group like I did in Australia. I found the Hawaiian Astronomical Society (HAS) on the web. I tried to email HAS but can not because the computers here at Vanderbilt are not set up for it. I am still not on line.
10 days to Hawaii. It is a formidable undertaking. I will have to drive myself. I have a good plan. I can do it. Karen will take me to the airport on September 11. I fly at 2:05 P.M. It is 12 or 13 hours from Nashville to Honolulu. Honolulu is on the island of Oahu. From there, I will purchase roundtrip airfare to the Big Island. Mauna Kea is on the Big Island. Mauna Kea is the 14,000 foot extinct volcano on which the University of Hawaii operates big telescopes, one of the best places in the world to see the stars since Hawaii is 2400 miles off the west coast in the Pacific Ocean. I have a reservation for the night of September 13 to be part of a tour group which will ascend Mauna Kea. We will be on the volcano for sunset and into the night. My Hawaii experience will be astronomy based as the Australia trip was last year. There is a hotel on the Big Island called the Seaside. I will make some kind of reservation with them. I am unsure about accomodations and and may sleep when and where I can. I recall the Greyhound trip west in 1978. I went 6 days and nights before finally getting a room in Salt Lake City. I was dead man walking when I hit the bed. From the Big Island, I will come back to Honolulu and hang out on Waikiki Beach. I will climb Diamond Head, another extinct volcano at the end of the beach. I may visit the State Capitol Building. Hawaii may be a one time thing. I never expect to see Sweden or Australia again. Karen and I had a joke in our travelling days. We said, "Let's look at the son-of-a-bitch and get back on the bus." That is how it is.
I am waiting for Karen to come and take me to the airport. I fly at 2:05. I may spend the night in the airport in Honolulu and fly to the Big Island tomorrow. I have reservations for Friday and Saturday nights at the Kona Seaside Hotel. The pickup point for the Mauna Kea Summit tour is within walking distance of the hotel. There may be only 2 hours of stargazing between sunset and when the moon rises, but that is enough. This is another once in a lifetime thing. Take what you can and move on. My contact at the tour group said the buses are still on strike in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. That could cause problems. I will deal with it. I may go to Pearl Harbor. I want to stay in Honolulu around Waikiki Beach as cheaply as possible. I will email you through the week if I have access to computers.
Larry & Pam
I made it! I am in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is definitely close to paradise. The sky is blue. It is warm but not hot. There is no wind. The ocean is beautiful. I have 2 nights at the Kona Seaside Hotel. Tomorrow, we go up Mauna Kea, the 14,000 foot volcano. We will watch the sunset and star gaze. Sunday, I fly back to the island of Oahu and Honolulu. I will be on and around Waikiki Beach for 4 days. I feel relaxed.
I feel I should mention the passing of Johnny Cash. I lay in my hotel watching segments about him last night. He had presence. I will sing his songs karaoke when I get back to Honolulu. Pam, I hope you fly again and eventually are able to make a living outside of those smoky, crazy bars. I go up Mauna Kea in a few hours, the highest point in Hawaii. It is like standing on the edge of our planet looking out into the Galaxy and beyond. You will hear from me tomorrow before I leave the Big Island.
I am in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach. I turned the corner, and there it was---Diamond Head, the extinct volcano. I feel like I am in a movie. I am challenged every minute but making it. I wrote a piece about Mauna Kea which I will email later. My time on the computer is limited. The lady let me use it for free. Everything is expensive here. Gas is up to $2.58 a gallon on the Big Island. Hawaii is beautiful, no doubt. I may stay on the beach tonight and get a room in the morning for tomorrow night. I economize. That is why I can afford to travel. I will find another computer later.
I walked up Diamond Head Crater at the end of Waikiki Beach. It looked like a short walk from the beach. Wrong! It was a long, arduous trek. My arthritis screamed. I kept going. The perimeter of the volcanic crater encircled me. I kept climbing. I went through tunnels and cave-like features. At the top, it was like Mutiny on the Bounty. I looked down on Honolulu. Ocean and sky were everywhere. The crater is not unlike Meteor Crater in Arizona except that it is of volcanic rather than meteoric origin. It was an exhilerating experience even if I am still in pain. Some nice people gave me a ride down the volcano.
I went to Pearl Harbor, to the USS Arizona Memorial. The battleship is under water. The memorial is a white structure built above it. Over half the men who died at Pearl Harbor were on the Arizona. This ship is their tomb. I thought it ironic that they were killed by their own ammunition when the Japanese bomb hit. Lunacy of war! Vietnam era aside, I noted parallels between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We were plainly attacked in both cases. I voted for Gore but approve of what George Bush is doing in the War on Terrorism and in Iraq. He rose to the occasion. The endgame is to hunt down and kill Bin Laden. Hard line for a Gore liberal! I am not going to Iraq and I do not want my son there. There is no draft. No one is in uniform today against his will. It is Bush's coalition of the willing. I advise those in Iraq to defend themselves.
I got my e-ticket from Expedia.com. The number is 17379616446. I am flying Delta. Roundtrip airfare is $559.60 from Nashville to Honolulu.
They will bill my AmSouth account from my Check Card. I will carry my passport for the picture. Karen will take me to the airport and pick me up. I roll September 11 at 2:05PM and return September 18 at 10:15AM.
BNA - Nashville
HNL - Honolulu
13 or 14 hour flight.
Hawaii is 2400 miles off the west coast.
I will beeline to Mauna Kea. I will be at the airpot. Get roundtrip fare from Honolulu to Kona and back. Roundtrip from Honolulu to Kona International Airport, Big Island, $139.
Hook up with tour group run by Mauna Kea Summit Adventures.
It is part of Paradise Safaris. I am in touch with Kay Prettyman by email. Mauna Kea Summit Adventures toll free number - 1-888-322-2366.
Make reservation 2 or 3 days in advance for Mauna Kea summit using
form online at website.
Where will I meet the tour group? Will they take pick me up at the airpot and take me back?
Mauna Kea is an extinct volcano on the Big Island. It is over 13,000 feet. It is an Hawaii State park and one of the best places in the world to see the stars. The University of Hawaii operates telescopes at its summit. The Keck telescopes are famous. Mauna Kea means "white mountain." The weather can be severe. Mauna Kea Summit Adventures provides parkas and gloves.
Hawaii is composed of 132 islands. 6 are important: Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, Lanai and Molokai. Oahu is called the heart of Hawaii. Honolulu and Waikiki Beach are on Oahu. I will stay close to the beach area.
1 Honolulu - Honolulu is the state capital. Honolulu Harbor.
2 Waikiki Beach - Diamond Head Crater
Diamond Head is an extinct volcano at the end of Waikiki Beach. It was named by British sailors who mistook shiny minerals for diamonds.
The first people to inhabit Hawaii were Polynesians who sailed east.
The British under Captain James Cook found Hawaii in 1798. Cook was killed by Hawaiians during his second trip. Missionaries came.
The United States annexed Hawaii in 1898 as a possession. It became a territory in 1900 and a state in 1959.