And around we go.
I wasn’t planning on doing it today. The weather on the Big Island can be hit or miss believe it or not. It really is like a microcosm of the US. Depending on where I am on the island, and what elevation, I can go from 60-80 degrees. On the dry side of the island, in the Kona or Airport area, and in Waikoloa or Hawi, the weather is pretty constant and rain is rare. The temperature will only fluctuate by a few degrees year round.
But think, well, an island formed by volcanoes, with two of them being the largest shield volcanoes in the world. What we see as islands are actually the mountain tops of a mountain range that extend thousands of miles. The Big Island is the southernmost. The northernmost is actually barely above sea level and sits at about the same latitude as northern Japan. Five volcanoes form the Big Island and create the island’s “spine.” Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa split the island from the northeast to the southwest.
Left of there is the dry side. To the right, is the wet side. Hilo is on the wet side, east. Hilo is the rainiest city in the United States. It is like the Pacific Northwest but you have trade winds instead of the jet stream and volcanoes instead of the Cascade Mountains. Moist air is pushed inward and then the mountains block the air upwards. When it gets high enough and cold enough, it forms clouds and rains. That’s why you’ll see a constant cloud front on the island.
I wanted to go see one of my favorite places on the island: Southpoint. Yes, I’m a geek. Places like this excite me. It is the southernmost point in the United States. But that’s not all. There is over a half a world of nothing but ocean south of it. Hawai’i sits 1,375 miles north of the equator–figure about Mexico City. If you go due south, and not be like me and get lost, the next thing you’ll hit is Antarctica. Me? I’d hit French Polynesia or a whale or something.
It is a lightly populated part of the island and getting there are some amazing drives. Southpoint is actually in my will. That’s where I want my ashes spread. The winds are always whipping there, so somebody has to dive in or else my ashes will end up in everybody’s teeth. 12 miles from the main road, you pass windmills and cattle farms.
The plan was to go back the way I came due to rain, but the weather report changed and I drove up to along the eastern side, through Hilo, and around. I stopped at what is considered the most spectacular waterfall on the island: Akaka Falls. At 442 feet, it is straight plunge. The vista point is along a well made trail that loops through the gorge and you see other waterfalls, bamboo forests and other lush, tropical features.
It’s a nice drive, about 5 1/2 hours long. I do enjoy driving. I think I missed a few things so I’ll have to go back.