Round-trip airfare from Nashville to Honolulu was $559.60. I got an e-ticket from Expedia.com and flew Delta. Karen took me to the airport and picked me up. I left September 11, 2003, and returned September 19: 8 days.
I visited Oahu and the Big Island, called Hawaii. I bought a round-trip ticket from Honolulu to Kona. I flew Aloha Airlines and went straight up Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is a state park and a good place to see the stars.
I had a reservation with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. I checked into the Kona Seaside Hotel. The palm trees and blue sky enhanced the beauty. I looked west into the Pacific Ocean.
MAUNA KEA on the Big Island
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 feet above sea level. "This is beautiful!" I thought. The volcano was stark and brownish, barren of vegetation. There was a Mars-like surrealism. I watched the sun set above the clouds! Stars blazed! The Milky Way, the plane of our Galaxy, arched overhead. I was on the Big Island of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! It gets no better than this! Hawaii is 20 degrees north latitude. Scorpius appears higher than from Kentucky and Tennessee, although not as high as from Australia, where it gets straight up. I sensed the curvature of the earth! Mars was at its closest, and I wondered why it was less red than when it is farther out. Our guide said increased sunlight hitting the surface neutralizes its redness. I enjoy astronomy and saw a bit of everything. 13 telescopes were spread across the summit of Mauna Kea. There were the Keck domes and the Japanese Subaru. Subaru is Japanese for "Pleiades." Mauna Kea is run by the University of Hawaii and the largest observatory I have seen. I was above 40% of our atmosphere's oxygen, but felt no different. It misted on the drive up, and rainbows were plentiful.
I stayed 2 nights at the Waikiki Grand and walked to the top of Diamond Head at the end of Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is an extinct volcano. It is a state monument named by British sailors who mistook shiny minerals for diamonds. It looks like a short walk from the beach. Not so! It is a long, arduous trek. My arthritis screamed! The crater circled me! I thought, "My God! I am in a volcano!" I kept climbing, going through tunnels and cave-like features. It was worth it when I reached the top. Ocean and sky were everywhere! I looked down on Honolulu! The crater is not unlike Meteor Crater in Arizona except that it is of volcanic origin. It was exhilarating! Some nice people gave me a ride down.
I went to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. The battleship is under water. The Memorial is a white structure built over it. Over half the men who died at Pearl Harbor were on the Arizona. The ship is their tomb! I thought it ironic that they were killed by their own ammunition when the Japanese bomb hit.
10 days to Hawaii. Karen will take me to the airport on September 11. It is 12 hours from Nashville to Honolulu. From Oahu, I will fly to the Big Island. Mauna Kea is there! It is an extinct volcano on which the University of Hawaii operates big telescopes. It is one of the best places to see the stars since it is in the Pacific Ocean 2400 miles off the west coast. The night of September 13, I will ascend Mauna Kea. My Hawaii experience is astronomy based! There is a hotel called the Kona Seaside, and I will have a reservation. From the Big Island, I will fly back to Honolulu and hang out on Waikiki Beach. I will climb Diamond Head Crater, another extinct volcano.
I am waiting for Karen to take me to the airport. I will spend the night in the airport in Honolulu and fly to the Big Island tomorrow. I have a reservation at the Kona Seaside Hotel. The pickup point for the Mauna Kea tour is within walking distance of the hotel. There will be only 2 hours of stargazing between sunset and the rising moon, but that is enough! This is a once in a lifetime thing! Grab what you can and move on. I will hang around Waikiki Beach and go to Pearl Harbor.
I made it! I am in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is warm, but not hot. There is no wind. The ocean is beautiful, and the sky is blue. Paradise. I have 2 nights at the hotel. Tomorrow, I go up Mauna Kea, the 13,750 foot volcano. I will watch the sun set and stargaze! Sunday, I will fly back to Honolulu. I will hang out on Waikiki Beach.
I go up Mauna Kea in a few hours, the highest point in Hawaii. It is like standing on the edge of the planet looking into the Galaxy.
I am in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach. I turned a corner, and there it was: Diamond Head Crater! It was like a movie. I am challenged every minute but making it. I wrote a piece about Mauna Kea, which I will email later. Everything is expensive! Gas is $2.58 a gallon. I will doze on the beach tonight and get a room in the morning.
Honolulu and Waikiki Beach are on the island of Oahu. Honolulu is the state capital. I rode by the Capitol Building on the Pearl Harbor tour. The British, led by Captain James Cook, discovered Hawaii in 1778. Cook was murdered by Hawaiians. The first people to inhabit these islands were Polynesians who came east. American missionaries came, and the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898. It became our 50th state in 1959.