It was tough figuring out which picture to use as the “featured image.” Papakolea Beach is my favorite place. Ever. I think it is the uniqueness of it. There are only four green sand beaches in the world and one is right next to South Point on the Big Island. (The others are in Norway, Guam and the Galapagos Islands.) The sand is formed by a certain kind of volcano, crushing up up a vein of the semi precious stone, olivine. This beach was formed when the side of the volcano fell outward, allowing the sea to pour in. Which picture would you choose?

But let’s back up and start the day. I knew where I was going. But, I had forgotten I had already been there. There is a side road on your way to South Point. When I was there, I knew the side road went somewhere. When I brought it up on the map, showing a couple hour drive, it showed I had been right there. It looked like I was about to do another circuit around the island.

I took the saddle road this time. It’s a fairly new road. I’ve been coming here for about 10 years? It was not long before then that the saddle road was out of bounds to rental cars. It was just a rocky, twisting dangerous old army road that crossed the “saddle” between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the two largest volcanoes on the island. Each time I came back, it was improves a little more. Now, it is a four lane highway with the highest speed limit on the island at 60mph.

I said good morning to a herd of goats, made my way up to Waima, then crossed the saddle into Hilo. With it being a rare, beautiful sunny day, I made a stop at Rainbow Falls. I also got to say good morning to some chicks following mama across the road.

Then, it was back down south to South Point, through Hilo, across Volcanoes National Park, and then down to South Point. Again.

I hadn’t planned on hiking, but hiking is what I had to do. The perils of traveling solo. The perils of traveling during Covid? Normally, there are a bunch of locals there making the 5 1/2 mile round trip trek out to Papakolea with their pick ups filled with tourists. It’s a rough drive, which is still off limits for rentals. There are some “ruts” as deep as I am tall. There was one guy there. He said he wasn’t doing it for one person. He said to wait but that it was slow and he hadn’t seen too many people. So, I started hiking.

I felt pretty good when I got there. It is fairly level hike, but twisty and rocky at times. And, you don’t really know where you are going. As paths became too difficult, the trucks would make new ones, so now is can be like a maze. I was glad I hiked though. It elt good, with a nice breeze coming in and I saw a lot more of the coast.

When I got there, the guy that no to me arrived with a truck load of people. Of course.

The way to the beach is a lot of rock shelves that you climb down. I decided to take a cue from a friend of mine’s son and slid/surfed down on my feet/butt. I was felling pretty proud of myself. Until I realized my phone was half way up and the only way to get it was to climb up and make it down without hurting myself again. That strip you see going down? Yep, that’s me.

I went swimming. What an awesome beach with great views and beautiful water. I took a couple shots from the sea view and got a nice couple to take a couple shots of me. A feeling welled up inside of me as I sporting in the ocean. It was over. The adventure completed. 50 states. What a fantastic exclamation point.

And then I finally did what I had been meaning to do for the last five months. I stopped to take pictures of the cows. Someone had asked me once, what always make me the smile? I don’t know why, but seeing the cows out in their pasture always brought a smile to my face. The smile got even bigger when the babies were out as they were today. When I stopped, once took an interest in me. Mom was just chowing away but they stopped at stared at me for as long as I was there. Or maybe they just liked the music I was playing?

And then that was an end. I splurged that night and jumped into the hot tub.

Yep, almost done. Just a few final details.