Hawaii-Our 50th State

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April 22nd 2018
Published: April 22nd 2018
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Meet in San Fransisco Meet in San Fransisco Meet in San Fransisco

We meet in SF so we could arrive in our 50th state together! Boy were we happy that all the travel worked out so smoothly!
It turns out, that America’s 50th state is also our 50thstate! What a joy to be able to round off the states together.

Growing up in Colorado but with a summer home in Maine, meant that many road trips were taken crisscrossing the continental United States. Some of these trips were taken as a whole family, four of us in our VW van, while many were taken just my dad and me.

I have fond memories of singing along to musicals, playing with my dolls in the backseat, naming the states from the border around to the inner states from memory, visiting family, and picking out a fun activity or sight to visit each day.

After our family trip to Alaska a few years ago, we only had Hawaii left, and there is no time like the present! We boldly left the others behind to take on this final state just the two of us.

My travel from Copenhagen and my dad’s form Denver to San Francisco went smoothly, so we were able to meet up and arrive in Hawaii together!
Poi DonutPoi DonutPoi Donut

This was our first time trying poi in any form. It is from the taro plant and a lovely shade of purple. This was the way we liked it best...when it was in paste form, it was too much like glue for our liking!
We were greeted by the warmth of family who live in Honolulu, and so spent the start of our time on Oahu with them.

After breakfast all together, we headed off for a tour including a visit to Pearl Harbor and some sights in and around Honolulu. We soaked up the good weather and admired the space that is now the Pearl Harbor Museum. We spent the start of our visit reading about the events which led up to the attack and the day itself.

Before heading out to the Arizona Monument, one watches a short film about why the Japanese acted and what happened in that short but devastating attack. A short boat ride takes one out to the monument, built over the sunken Arizona, which is the tomb of many who died that day, and many more who have chosen to have their remains returned to the ship after their death to join their comrades.

The space is well designed and allows for calm reflection.

From there, we headed up to Punch Bowl, a military cemetery, named for the ruffled shape of the mountain it sits upon. In Honolulu, we drove by the lovely capital building and former palace, and the jam packed Waikiki Beach. It was good to get the lay of the land and a sense for how large the city of Honolulu is.

We had a relaxed time catching up with family with a barbeque dinner. We were so grateful to have the time together, and to have the sense of coming someplace homey even though we were traveling.

Our second day became with a morning hike up Diamond Head which was lovely. Diamond Head is a volcanic cone with some spectacular views over the island. It took about an hour and a half round trip, and we were certainly not the only ones with this idea! But even though there were many people, it did not feel overly crowded. We were very grateful for the shade of the clouds as we climbed to the summit to enjoy the views.

After a yummy breakfast-a fish omelette, why not?-we donned our bathing suits and headed over to Hanauma Bay. In spite of the long line and entrance fee, another wait to watch a
King Kamehameha King Kamehameha King Kamehameha

This King united the Hawaiian islands.
video, and a quick trolley down to the bottom, it was beautiful and well worth the effort. The bay has formed in what once was a volcano crater.

The water was a bit on the chilly side, but we were able to snorkel around and marvel at all the different fish and coral, and the sun warmed us right back up again when we made our way back to the beach. So much so that we were ready for an ice cream and shave ice on our way back to our car!

We took a short drive around the end of the island where the dramatic coast line was impressive for the passenger, but was lost on the focused driver!

Dinner was a true treat! Our family brought home some tasty Hawaiian treats for us to try! It was at this meal that I learned that poi paste is okay, but not something I would go out of my way for, but was passable with salmon and onions and cilantro mixed in. We tried yummy tuna poke, glass noodles with chicken, chicken and pork in a luau leaf, some beef tips, and some yummy coconut pudding for dessert.

Our last day on Oahu began at Bishops Museum, which lived up to its hype. The exhibits were extensive and beautifully curated. We learned more about the history of the Islands than we will be able to remember. From there, we drove the Likelike Highway to Kailua. The views made quite an impression with the dramatic mountains and dense forest. After touring Kailua and enjoying an ice cream cookie sandwich, we drove back to Honolulu via the Pali Hwy 61, stopping at Pali lookout at the top of the pass to soak up the beautiful view of the windward side of the island.

After saying farewell to our family, we flew from Honolulu to Kona on the Big Island, Hawaii. The open airport and big bright blue sky fit in with the idyllic image of what Hawaii would be. We drove along with many others down the single lane highway to our hotel, soaking in the impressive views as we crawled along. There was oddly something reminiscent of Iceland with the volcanic rock and crashing sea…but the palm trees brought us back to our real location soon enough.

We sat ourselves with a beer and some lunch, and sketched out what our remaining days would hold while taking in the sun and sea. We stocked up on groceries, what’s better than $1 local pineapple?! Perhaps delicious macadamia nuts, before heading to dinner complete with a sunset view, live music, and a hula dancer.

After enjoying our fresh fruit breakfast on the balcony, we set off to see Captain Cook’s Monument, only to find out you really can’t get there easily! We opted not to take the difficult hike down, but instead gazed across at it and marveled at the volcanic rock beach. Another time, we hear there is great snorkeling near the monument, so it is likely worth booking a tour.

Our wandering led us to a little farm collective, a charming painted church and garden, and some stunning views. It was impressive to see how much altitude we gained and lost as we wound our way from sight to sight.

After lunch, we took off our summer clothes, and started to layer up for our Mauna Kea Observatory tour, which we knew could end up being quite chilly! From the pickup spot, we drove to the visitor’s center at 9,000 ft. to each our dinner and acclimatize before heading higher up. We paused again at 12,000 ft. to see a telescope and take a quick break before heading to the summit, which was 13,800 ft. We made it to the top which was above the clouds, and watched the sun set while learning a bit about the different telescopes. As the telescopes are in use, we could not visit any of them, but it was clear to see why this would be a desirable location for them to conduct their research.

When the sun had set, we returned to 12,000 ft. to do some star gazing with the tour group’s telescopes, which proved to be really really cool. The moon was near full, which impacted the stars we could see, but looking at its craters and beauty through the telescope made up for it. My dad pointed out a star to the guide, and it turns out it is one that he had never seen before as it is not visible in the Northern Hemisphere! Rather impressive that he noted it, if you ask me. We both agreed, as we repacked our down parkas, that it was definitely a worthwhile experience.

We were not close to done with our trip or each other on our sixth day, which was a great feeling to have. We began again with fresh fruit and that view before setting off for the southern tip of the island, aiming for Punalu’u Beach. We just happened to notice that there was a bakery on the way, which turns out is the southernmost bakery in the US, so we naturally stopped to enjoy…and to buy a bit more to supplement our future breakfasts and picnics.

Punalu’u Beach did not disappoint. It was our first time seeing a black sand beach, and it was somehow odd and beautiful at the same time. We spent a long while watching turtles in the water, but did not brave the strong waves to join them.

Instead, on our drive back to Kona, we stopped at Ho’okena where we again saw turtles right up close! I swam around briefly to cool off, but was not up for swimming too far out, as there was news of sleeping sharks around the bend! I’m sure this would have been a dream for some, but I was satisfied with the different fish and coral.

Our only disappointment of the trip was the luau dinner we went to at the Sheraton. What a tourist trap. The show was fine as was the food, but it is not something either of us would recommend.

It was time to leave our cozy nest in Kona and head over to the other side of the island to Hilo. We took the long way round with many leisurely stops. We enjoyed a quick free tour of Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee, which was quick, but learned some about the roasting and quality of Kona Coffee. The tasting there was the highlight, and one we tried sells for $68 per lb! Needless to say, tasting was all we did there.

We carried on with our drive on the Hawaii Belt Road 190 north, which was a lovely drive. At times it was like we were in the American Midwest, with rolling hills and cattle grazing. The diversity of ecosystems on this one island is mind boggling. We made our way to the northern coast of the island to take in Waipio Valley Lookout. It was far too steep to drive down, but the view was plenty dramatic from the overlook. After a picnic lunch, complete with leftover bakery goods, gosh we’re good at planning, we continued around the north coast to Akaka Falls. It was nice to take the walk around to see three different falls and all the different flora. Akaka Falls indeed impressed. It was hard to understand the scale, but it is 2.5 times as high as Niagara Falls.

Easter Sunday started early with a 7 am Mass at a lovley church. We were far from the only ones with this idea, so it was jam packed! The stained glass window tilted to allow for some cross ventilation, something I’ve never seen before.

We splurged on a helicopter tour from Hilo Airport and were not disappointed. The pilot was excellent and communicated confidently. He narrated about what had existed only a few years before where there was now only lava. It was difficult to get a sense of perspective, as there were no trees or buildings, but
Hiking up Diamond HeadHiking up Diamond HeadHiking up Diamond Head

We were grateful for that cloud cover!
judging by our time spent driving over the island, it was clear how large what we were seeing is. We flew over lava fields and out over the sea, hunted active lava, and then circled bubbling lava for a rather long time! We flew over some lovely waterfalls on our way back to the airport, flying in over the lovely clear blue sea. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be sure!

We tried to hunt down a kayak to enjoy the sunny warmth, but it seems like the tourist infrastructure is all in Kona. So we drove to Volcano National Park. There is something comforting about being in a National Park with the familiar brown signs. We caught the end of a ranger’s talk and watched bubbling lava and steam rising from the crater. Again, the scale of it all was hard to grasp, but it was magnificent as only nature can be.

Our flight was not until late in the evening, so we took our last day slowly. We walked among banyan trees, took a scenic drive along the coast, somehow found ourselves eating ice cream, and even pulled out our books to read and relax, while soaking up the calm and view.

Parting was hard, as it always is. Spending time together doing just exactly what we two wanted to do, connecting with relaxed conversations, playing cribbage or Words with Friends from one bed to the next instead of one country to the next, was a gift to treasure.

Hawaii’s nature was as splendid as we had hoped. I was surprised by how friendly the people were; perhaps the sun has something to do with that. I cannot say that we saved the best for last. There are too many wonderful memories of visits with family, god parents, friends, museums, National Parks, and card games with peanut butter sandwiches at truck stops. But Hawaii was undeniably a cherry on top of all of those happy memories.


Eggs n’ things-Did not live up to our hopes, but maybe that was because we didn’t order the pancakes

Koko Head Café-delicious! Worth the trip for their yummy skillets

Big Island

Kona Coast Resort- was great to have our own kitchen and space, we did not use the pool and other facilities, but they were there, smarmy concierge, but otherwise nice place

Huggo’s on the Rocks-fun dinner spot with a lovely view, a hulu dancer and live music

Hilo Seaside Hotel-perfectly fine. Nice to look out and see the families enjoying the weekend days by the water

Turtle Moon-good Asian fusian food. The small plates were way better than the big, so just order many of those

Hawaiian Style Cafe-fun to try, huge portions. Shared the moco loco to get in one more local dish

Big Island Candies-great for gift giving

Pineapple Island Fresh Cuisine-yummy food and nice setting with open garage door style windows

Mo’s Fish and Chips-funky little place, tasty fish and great sauces and lemonade

Additional photos below
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Hanauma BayHanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay

Though there was a que and a fee to get to this beautiful beach, we found it so worthwhile. We didn't swim with any turtles, but plenty of different fish and coral.
Drive from Honolulu to Kailua Drive from Honolulu to Kailua
Drive from Honolulu to Kailua

Impressive mountains!

23rd April 2018

We've missed you over the last almost two years, so welcome back!
Are your still teaching in Denmark?
23rd April 2018

Good to see you, too!
Yes, I am still teaching and living in Denmark. Now happily married to a Dane :) I've been lax in my updates, but I'll try to get back on the horse!
29th April 2018

Wow, so good to see you blogging again!!
It is always a good feeling to get to that 50th state. We will keep your recommendations close for our next visit to the islands. Lots of great beaches, foods and history. Keep those blogs coming.
6th May 2018

Too kind
You're too kind! It is good to be blogging again, too!

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