Hawaii: Kona to Honolulu

December 9th, 2007

Some guy downstairs is strumming Beattles songs on the guitar. His singing is punctuated by shouts of “oh my gawd! did you see that?” which I think emanate from the upstairs roommate playing video games. Late night flights roar out of the airport, visible just north of downtown Honolulu from Norman’s balcony. Norman is my dad’s cousin which makes him my i-don’t-know-what, but he grew up here in Hawaii. He’s a 50 year old dentist living in a multi-tiered rental house with his girlfriend Lynne and three other, two of whom are students and one, Dana, who is heading to Uganda to develop economic programs for her church when she graduates. My parents are crashed out on one of the living room futons; I have the other and am waiting for my eyelids to droop. (at left: the view of downtown Honolulu from Norman’s)

Today was hard as we transitioned from the big island to Oahu for the family reunion. Not hard as in difficult or challenging; after all, this is the tropical paradise of Hawaii and I should not look a gift horse in the mouth. However, as I packed my gear and boarded a plane, I felt again all that I have to do for both the FEAR Project and the travel I wish to incorporate into my personal work. There is not enough time, and yet I am here for another five days forcing myself to do what I rarely allow: relaxing. (at right: Waipio Valley from the air. the beach is about a mile long)

The sun is finally here. Not knowing Hawaii for anything else, I made the best of the torrential downpours and storminess. After my Volcano Park trip I ran through the Waipio valley, a 1000 foot deep gouge in the big island’s northeast coast. The kicker is since you run down into the valley, you have to run back out. I got lost weaving on mud tracks between secluded shacks and the diked tarot farms, and wound up running across the rivers and streams, sometimes wandering down their rocky course searching for the next trail heading cross-valley. I met a local who told me there was a connector on the far side leading me back out to the beach. I eventually found it near a waterfall cascading down the entire valley wall; turning seaward I ran through bona fide jungle on passable single track, surprised each time I found another wooden gate leading to an off-the-grid house. (at left: at 2500 feet near Waimea on the flanks of one of the volcanoes)

I broke out onto the secluded black sand beach to impressive waves and wandered down its mile-long length to see surfers getting pummeled. Utterly soaked from rain and sweat, as I crossed the shallow river I dunked myself (less the iPod) and had a very non-Seattle vision. There I stood, not a dry stitch on me, rain pelting, wind buffeting, and watched a bikini clad young woman drift through the gloom of the downpour. Odd. I am still not used to seeing Seattle-style skies with this tropical warmth. I met my parents topside; they had been shopping and having lunch in the neighboring small towns. (at right: from the air, homes and lava flows cascade down towards the coast)

We crossed back over the big island, rising to 2500′ through eucalyptus forests that gave way to range land. The clouds hung low, obscuring the nearby 13,000 foot summits, but one peeked out to reveal snow dusted slopes. The newspaper said there was a hiker lost up there with only a windbreaker and a water bottle. (at left: forays into alternative energy on the oil-dependent island)

The next day the weather was clear enough for the fixed-wing flight around the island my parents had booked. Our pilot was from Arizona and had aspirations to fly cargo around the world; he was an excellent tour guide and accommodating in the detours he took and his willingness to poke around the clouds looking for holes that could get us over the active volcano and up the coast. Our final leg was over high-end resort land, finishing with the Four Seasons, a place where Mindy had a full-ride last May while providing child care for a family. That time of year was much sunnier and on her day off she too went to the Waipio valley, but had what sounds like a more relaxing, classically Hawaiian time. (at right: flying over golf course riddled resort land)

None the less, the snorkeling, trail running, and the food have been quite pleasant. And there is something quite kind in spite of the weather; being by the sea, hearing the surf, and the gauzy warmth of the tropics. It’s also the longest time I’ve spent with my parents in years, and it’s proving to be a good thing. I wish my sisters had been able to make it out here too. (at left: my parents and the breaking waves)

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in travel Comments Off on Hawaii: Kona to Honolulu

No Responses to “Hawaii: Kona to Honolulu”

  1. Jen says:

    As always, I love your pictures. Amazing. Good writing, too. =)


US mobile: 1.206.409.3069
skype: timmatsui
e: tim(at)

PO Box 17941
Seattle, WA 98127 USA