Day three found me pondering whether or not to do the hike we had planned. Let’s just put it like this, at times, I can be terrified of heights. And the description of the hike was an acrophobe’s worst nightmare. It went something like this: the hike is pleasant for the first several miles, going through some rain forests, then you will come upon one of the best sights in all of the Big Island – you emerge on the edge of Waipio Valley with a view of a thousand foot waterfall in front of you. That is if it is not locked in fog. Then the trail continues along the edge of a cliff, but the recent earthquake took out sections of the trail. So proceed with extreme caution. If it is foggy, do not proceed at all. By the way, this hike, the Waimeia to Waipi’o Valley, is a bit controversial, starting on private property. Look it up ahead of time.
Seriously!?! No thank you! I was very pleased when she called to tell me she wanted to change plans. I chose to go visit her in Hilo instead. The highways on the Big Island are interesting. Typically they are just two lanes. And there are no divided highways at all. Therefore the speed limit is lower and you can get stuck behind slow moving trucks for several excruciating miles.
Needless to say, I had never done this drive on my own. In the past, I had flown directly into Hilo or Kona and then stayed on that respective side of the island. My fear of heights gets worse the farther I am from my comfort zone, so this drive was not easy for me. As you get closer to Hilo, the road hugs the coast, but thankfully there are only a few places where you realize how close you are to such a vertical drop… So I made it and finding her hostel was easy.
We met up and I had secondeses (that would be a second breakfast) at a local 24 hr almost fast food joint called Cafe 100. It was very delicious. In fact it was so much food, she had to help me eat it all. Thankfully when she asked me what kind of food I ate, I answered with red meat and fish and veggies, she was on the same page. So we both enjoyed the Teriyaki Beef. If in Hilo with a good hunger, order the Hilo Boy or Island Girl platters, they are delicious and a great value.
Then we opted to head down to Volcano National Park. By the way, when visiting Volcano, no matter what the weather is in Hilo or Kona, bring warm layers and rain gear! I made the mistake of forgetting both. Hilo’s weather was sunny and pleasant, so I only realized my mistake once I got in the Park. Volcano is situated on one of the Big Island’s five mountains, Kiluea, the most active volcano in the world. Therefore we were at least 3 to 4 thousand feet above sea level.
We still had a great time in Volcano. Due to Kiluea’s being active, no one was allowed within half a mile of its main caldera (which glowed red at night). Therefore we chose to hike in a nearby crater which has been dormant for a long time – Kiluea Iki. This is a beautiful hike – going through a forest of huge ferns and passing native ginger plants with massive ginger roots. Then you hike down into the open, steamy crater and you become another small speck on this majestic lunar landscape.
I especially enjoyed kissing and being kissed in the crater. How many people can say they have done anything like that? But we were well behaved for the most part – we did not want to alarm the foreign tourists who were constantly passing us.
While in the crater, the sky started spitting, and for a few minutes I feared hypothermia. Although in all honesty, the ground was very hot (from steam), so I could have just lay down and been fine until the sun came back out! But I would have preferred to have had rain gear.
We climbed the far wall of the crater, looped around and came back to her car. Due to stopping for many pictures, we did the loop in three hours. It was very pleasant, but it was also a little strenuous on the legs.
Next we opted against visiting the Lodge as their prices are higher, and we went to the Lava Rock Cafe instead. We had cocoa to warm up and enjoyed a delicious pi’ikoi cheesecake. Pi’ikoi is a tart Hawaiian fruit and the dessert was incredible!
The weather in Volcano was cool, breezy and overcast, so we opted to head back to Hilo. We purchased a small sandwich, which acted as dinner considering the enormous platters from earlier. Then we sat on a lava rocky section of Hilo Bay and prepared to enjoy the sunset.
Instead of enjoying the sun setting over the large mountains (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa), I noticed a huge rainbow forming behind us (opposite the sun of course). Therefore we watched the sun set as reflected off the magnificent double rainbow over Hilo. It was a very pleasant evening. Of course I was sad to see her go, but all meetings eventually end in separation. She had to catch a flight early the next morning, so we said good bye and I made the now familiar, and less harrowing, drive back to Hawi.
The drive back was easier, as I was alone on the road (it was getting late) and I was listening to music to stay awake and distract me.
Day three ended with my wishing her and all beings well.