Denise Goldberg's blog

Hawaii dreaming
Around the Big Island - a visit to see the wonders of Pele

Friday, January 23, 2009


Introduction written on March 24, 2003

I'm dreaming of biking. I'm dreaming of touring...

It's been a long winter - cold and wet. Boston tends to have relatively mild winters, but this one just wasn't normal. The National Weather Service just posted their statistics for the 2002-2003 winter - through the end of February. For Boston, the average temperatures were 4 degrees (Fahrenheit) colder than normal. The snowfall total for the season was 60.5 inches, which is 27.9 inches more than normal (I know, I know, 60 inches is nothing for those of you who live in real snow country, but it's a lot here. And since Boston proper gets less snow than the surrounding area... Enough!) Of course the big contrast was to last winter (2001-2002), when Boston had a total of 13.4 inches of snow for the entire season. No wonder I'm ready for spring! I usually bike year-round (even though my winter riding is normally pretty light), but this year I have a two+ month gap. I rode outside on New Year's Day, then didn't take a bike out on the road again until March 8th. My bicycles were screaming for some exercise. (What, you don't think bicycles talk? Mine do!) I spent quite a bit of time riding a bike on a trainer in my dining room - going no where fast! I'm ready for a change, and I hope that the weather cooperates.

I'm working at a start-up company, so long trips are our of the question right now. A couple of short trips will have to do this year - so I've been dreaming about where I should go. Having more places to go than available time to travel is a good problem to have...

I'm sure that friends and acquaintances think I make my decisions about where to go next very quickly, but the truth is that I tend to mull things over for quite a while, researching different options, and going back and forth between my dreams. Once I finally get to the decision point, it looks like I made a snap decision. That's usually not the case though.

There are two places that I kept coming back to as I dreamed of my next vacation - Ireland, and Hawaii. I've never been to Ireland before, and I've been to Hawaii a number of times, so for a long time I was leaning towards Ireland as my next destination. But last week I realized that I was longing for sunshine and warmth, and I'm afraid that Ireland just doesn't reliably supply either.

So the non-snap decision - Hawaii now (in May), and Ireland later (the first two weeks of September)!

I'm dreaming of biking...

Table of Contents

For now, please use Blogger's list of posts in the sidebar to follow my trip in reverse sequence. I plan to flip this blog on its head so that the posts flow from oldest to newest (like the table of contents in a book), adding a real Table of Contents and a Page by Page sidebar entry, and adding (better) next and previous links at the bottom of each post.

I probably won't be able to make these changes for the next several weeks.

...Denise, January 23, 2009

Saturday, May 31, 2003

What's next?

I think Hawaii is in my blood. I'll be going back again someday...

I came back from there with the feeling that I could very happily live in Hawaii. But for now, I'm working in Massachusetts, and I'll have to settle for visits.

I'll be taking another biking trip later this year - to another island, but in the opposite direction from Hawaii. I'll be headed to Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) for two weeks of cycling in September.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Some thoughts in riding in Hawaii

OK, I'll admit it - I'm addicted to visiting Hawaii. I'm fascinated by the volcanos. And the Big Island is a great place for a bike tour - and it's one that I'm likely to repeat.

If you're thinking of visiting Hawaii, you may be interested in some of my thoughts on riding there...

I heard the usual objections from people I spoke to there - it's not safe, the roads are too narrow, there's too much traffic, the drivers are crazy. Obviously the folks who voiced these issues weren't cyclists! For the most part, the roads that I used had decent shoulders. Some of the roads were narrow and winding, but the number of cars on those roads was significantly less than on the main highways. The two biggest problems I had with the roads were the reflectors embedded in the white line on the edge of the road and the glass and debris on the shoulders. The reflectors were potentially destabilizing factors - they were quite high, and could easily knock you off balance if you hit them unexpectedly. That wasn't too much of a problem since they were visible and usually avoidable. The debris on the shoulders was occasional, not constant. I just needed (again) to pay attention so I didn't go flying through chunks of broken glass. This was no different than riding on the shoulder at home. And there was a section between Hawi and Kawaihae that the PATH (Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii) web site warned about where there I needed to watch for Keawe branches along the shoulder. The plant has 3 inch thorns, and I did see some. Picking up one of those thorns in a tire would probably have caused a pretty quick flat! I was pretty lucky in sections that were marked as narrow and winding - one of these relatively long sections had been recently repaved and (I believe) widened. Traffic overall was very reasonable. There were many times when I had the road pretty much to myself. The couple of heavy traffic areas - and remember heavy is relative - were as I was leaving Kona, and in Hilo. Neither was exceptionally heavy. The traffic as I was heading south from Kona disappeared after Captain Cook, which is about 15 miles out. And Hilo is a reasonably sized city with normal traffic levels. There were marked bike lanes on the main roads in Hilo - and my first experience with marked, shared bike lane & right turn lane. That took a little getting used to - in a right turn lane situation on a non-marked road I'm usually on the right side of the lane that is going straight. With the shared bike/turn lane, I was on the left side of the right turn lane, just a bit of a different feeling. The traffic in Hilo was really nothing to worry about, and nothing I wasn't accustomed to. Next - the drivers were fine. They were unobtrusive for the most part, and the drivers on Kohala Mountain Road were unbelieveably considerate. This was one of those very narrow and somewhat winding roads. Drivers that came up behind me slowed down to make sure that I knew they were there, then waited for a reasonable place to pass me. I didn't stop because the grade was high enough that I knew I'd have trouble getting started again, but that didn't cause any problems either.

I remember the last time I was on the Big Island. It was for a supported bicycle tour. There was one day when some of the others in my group were complaining about drivers giving them a hard time. I couldn't understand it because I was in between two groups of complaining cyclists, and no one gave me any trouble. Our guide said that she thought it was because I looked comfortable on my bike and comfortable on the road - where the others were rather tentative. I guess if you behave like you have a right to be on the road that you're treated well.

The Hawaiian volcanos are classified as shield volcanos. They were described to me as having the shape of a warriors shield. This classification means that the slopes of the mountains are very gentle - as opposed to volcanos on the mainland like Mount Rainier, which has very steep sides. This translated into very reasonable grades for cycling - although the grades leading from the coast up to the highway were not always reasonable. I saw some side streets with grade signs saying 18% - not a grade I'd want to attempt with a loaded bike. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I'd be walking and pushing my bike on a grade that steep!

No problems with dogs here! I think Hawaiian dogs are either polite or just too laid back to bother cyclists. I had dogs bark at me, but I didn't meet any chasers. That was a pleasant surprise. I hate it when dogs chase me - I was happy to just talk to the dogs as I passed without needing to shout or try to speed up to get past them.

Hawaii can be very expensive - after all it is an island state where almost everything has to be imported from places far away. It doesn't have to be excessively expensive though - you just need to do some planning. I'd say that all of the places I stayed with the exception of the last night were pretty reasonable (but not cheap). My lodging costs (other than at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which was very expensive) ranged from $57 to $91 a night. I could have spent less at Arnott's Lodge if I'd opted for a semi-private instead of private room (or even less for a dorm or tent space). When I arranged my lodging I was focused more on where I wanted to be than on price. There were places where there wasn't much of a choice, but there were others where I could have found a hostel or possibly a less expensive B&B. On all but two nights, breakfast was included in the cost of my lodging. Lunch was usually fruit and snack food that I tried to pick up in grocery stores or small markets, and dinner was usually from restaurants (except for the two nights in Hilo when dinner came from grocery stores). I was very happy with the places I stayed, and I was also happy with the cost of my trip. For what I wanted and what I got, I thought the cost was reasonable. Just know that if you want to ride in Hawaii you can spend less than I did, and you can also spend more than I did - it's all up to you!

I took two adventure tours at Arnott's lodge. The prices of these tours were very reasonable. There's a discount if you stay at the lodge, but even if you don't their prices are much lower than other commercial tours. When I priced them, they were $48 if you stayed at Arnott's and $70 to $78 if you didn't. Compare the Mauna Kea tour cost with other commercial tours that start at $150, and you know that you got a good deal.

There are no guarantees on the state of the active lava flows on any given day. Although I hoped to see active flows, I knew when I planned my trip that there was a good chance that I wouldn't. It was quiet when visited, and although I would have been ecstatic to see rivers of molten lava, I was thrilled to see what I did. If I have a chance to visit again I'll be sure to take the time to go to the active flows again.

I'd also love a chance to get a tour of some of the observatories. Next time I visit I'll try to get to Mauna Kea on a day when one or more of the observatories are open for visitors. I understand that this only happens on the weekends - and probably only during the day. And you need to provide your own transportation to the summit, which means finding someone you can ride up with or renting a 4-wheel-drive vehicle from Harpers, which is the only rental car agency on the island that allows their vehicles to go on the Saddle Road and on the Mauna Kea road. It's also the most expensive rental car agency around.

There's also some riding that I didn't do on this trip - looks like there's some good riding and good scenery south of Hilo. Next time maybe I'll spend an extra day in that area.

What do I miss (besides the weather, that is)? Fresh Hawaiian fruit - papayas, pineapples, and apple bananas. Papayas are a favorite of mine, and they just don't seem to travel well. I've learned that I can enjoy Hawaiian papaya in Hawaii, but if I'm buying papaya at home, the Central American varieties seem to travel much better. Pineapples are readily available here, but I have to be satisfied with the Central American variety of bananas. Apple bananas are interesting. I don't know where the name comes from - but apple bananas are a local Hawaii variety, a smaller variety, and they have a slightly different taste. A nice change of pace. I also got into the habit (maybe a bad one) of munching on macadamia nuts. When I compare the nutritional values, peanuts are much healthier (more protein, less fat), but mac nuts really taste good!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

One more day in paradise

On the Kohala coast

Today was a thoroughly relaxing day. I slept well again last night - with the air conditioning turned off and the door to the balcony open to the breeze. This is the only hotel that I stayed in on this trip that even had air conditioning, and with the door open to the outside breezes and the ceiling fan running, I was very comfortable. And because I slept with the door open, I again woke to the sound of the ocean and of the birds. I could get used to this...

Even with my fantastic dinner last night, I still managed to enjoy the breakfast buffet this morning. It probably would have been cheaper to order off the menu, but the buffet allowed me to have a little of everything, including my favorite papaya. I sat and ate, and watched the birds coming by to check for crumbs. There were little sparrows and cardinals checking out the left-overs, and several somewhat larger birds (but still not big) sitting under the roof and occasionally screeching. And yes, dining was again outside!

After breakfast I wandered through the hotel for a bit to look at some of the artwork. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has quite a collection of Asian and Pacific art.

Then I went for a walk that started on the beach and continued on a trail along the coast that runs between the Mauna Kea and Hapuna Prince Hotels. Nice walk, except for the bee that I stepped on as I walked down the beach. Ouch! I felt something sharp, but I didn't see any stinging sea creatures (and I don't think there are any who live on this beach). I looked at my foot and saw the bee or whatever type of nasty insect it was. I actually had to pull it out of my foot - and had to pull a little piece of stinger out too. That definitely stung, but I walked into the water and let the salt water help sooth it. As I got to the end of the beach I looked up and saw a flock of turkeys on the edge of the golf course. Those birds are everywhere! There are a bunch of them that hang out by my office, and I know there are quite a few near where my parents live. And now I've seen them in Hawaii!

I needed to check out by noon, so I headed back to the room a little after eleven to finish getting organized for the flight home. I checked out and had my bags held for the afternoon, then I headed to the beach for the rest of the day. And no, I'm not crazy enough to sit in the sun all day. I have the type of skin that turns as red as a lobster without sunscreen, and even though I've been biking in this sun and I use tons of SPF30 sunscreen, sitting in a bathing suit for hours is probably not a great idea. I stopped to get a beach towel, and was asked if I needed help finding a chair and an umbrella. I knew there was a reason I splurged on a resort for my last day here! So I had a lounge chair, a short beach chair, an umbrella to hide from the sun, and the deliciously warm ocean to play in. What a nice afternoon! I relaxed, read a book, went swimming, sat and read and people-watched some more, went back in the water, and again...

The hotel has a hospitality room that departing guests can reserve for an hour to shower before heading for the airport. So I was able to get rid of all of that ocean salt, and get ready for my long flight home. I had a late lunch on the beach because I knew that I was leaving the hotel before I could get dinner. Then I picked up some ice cream at the airport. That should work - but I'm carrying energy bars and macadamia nuts in case I suddenly get hungry. And yes, I think I have a new nut addiction. Last summer I went through a lot of Gatorade and a lot of peanuts on my ride - and for this trip I substituted macadamia nuts for the peanuts. Peanuts are better from a protein standpoint, but the macadamia nuts are wonderful. And I did eat peanuts too - I tried to switch off between the two.

I got to the airport super early. There was a shuttle leaving the hotel about a half hour before I wanted to leave, and there wasn't one later that would allow me to catch my flight. I opted to take it instead of waiting a half an hour and taking a taxi at twice the price. Once I saw the security setup I was happy to be here early. In Boston they are X-ray screening 100% of checked bags. Here in Kona they are hand-checking 100% of checked bags. That meant that they opened (and partially emptied) both of my bags. They did it in front of me, but I wasn't allowed to help the screener repack the bike. He was good though - he only took out the top pieces, not the whole frame, and he did a great job of getting everything back in the case. He told me I was allowed to give him advice on repacking it, but I wasn't allowed to help. There was a half-length Ironman Triathlon in Kona today, and I saw a lot of people arriving with bikes as I was wandering around the airport after checking in. I imagine that might increase the amount of time it takes to check all of the bags. Of course, this isn't an airport where you'd be likely to miss your flight due to security lines. The terminal I'm leaving from serves American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Japan Air Lines. And there's only one American flight leaving - mine. It arrived about a half an hour ago and it's currently being cleaned and fueled for the flight back to LA. I suspect that if the checked baggage security lines were too long that they'd hold the flight...

Leaving Hawaii is a little more complicated than flying between cities on the mainland. Checking in for a flight involves putting your checked baggage through agricultural inspection, then security screening. Once the bags are screened you can then check in for your flight and actually check the baggage. As usual, the next step is to go through security to get into the gate area. I asked the TSA screener about the rumor I'd heard about setting off the security equipment if you'd been out to the active flows (from leftover pieces of volcanic materials). He said that that does happen some of the time, but not always. It didn't cause any problems for me. Then, the last clearance step - just before boarding time, you go through a second agriculture screening point for your carry-on bags, then wait a bit more before the flight is called. It's all a part of traveling - and I was amazed at the complaints from some of the people who were waiting for the flight with me. Most of us (me included) just went with the flow, no complaints needed! And of course there was quite a pile of fruit left at the 2nd agriculture checkpoint

Like most little tropical climate airports, the Kona airport is open-air. There's a roof over the waiting area, but no walls, and the plane is sitting right next to us. lt's a climb the stairs to the plane airport too, which shocked some of my fellow passengers when we arrived here. I'm enjoying the last of my tropical weather as I wait for my flight to be called.

5/26 at 5:30 AM, Los Angeles time

I stumbled off the plane at 5:30 in the morning and wandered right into the rest room to wash my face and brush my teeth. That's better! I was only slightly awake, but I was surprised - and happy - to see that the Starbucks in the terminal was already open. Nothing else was open yet, but a cup of coffee was very welcome for the wait until my next flight.

5/26 at 5 PM, Boston time

Back in Boston, to 45 degrees and a cold rain. In one sense it's good to be home, but this weather is hard to accept. What a contrast! I think I could live in Hawaii...

Saturday, May 24, 2003

One last climb, then a swoop to the coast

Waimea to the Kohala Coast via Kohala Mountain Road

Unbelieveable - I've finished my last day of cycling for this trip. I had a choice of routes this morning - a short (12-mile) all downhill ride from Waimea to the Kohala Coast, or a 42-mile option via Kohala Mountain Road that, no surprise, climbed another mountain. For someone who's a slow hill climber, I seem to always choose routes that include hills, and of course I chose the longer, hillier route.

I slept in a bit this morning, didn't climb out of bed until 7:30. I headed to the restaurant next door to my motel for a french toast breakfast. That's one of my favorites, and although I've had some fabulous breakfasts on this trip I somehow missed the french toast. Then I packed up and went to check out. That was a Citibank adventure. When the woman at the front desk tried to run my card through, it said "please call". She looked a little confused by the message, but she let me use her phone to call Citibank. When I identified myself and told the agent I was having trouble using their card to check out of a hotel in Hawaii, he said "oh, we didn't know you were traveling, and we just wanted to make sure it was you using the card". Interesting, because I used that card to charge stays at both B&Bs, at Arnott's Lodge, and for some grocery store purchases within the last couple of days. I'd love to know the logic they use to trigger their "let's be careful" mode. I was expecting that to happen to me on my cross-country trip last year, and it never did. It wasn't a problem at all since they immediately reactivated the card. I know that they are protecting themselves and ultimately the consumer - if it takes them checking on my credit card use periodically to allow me not to be liable for use of a stolen card - hey, check away!

I headed out of town on route 19 and immediately started cruising downhill. But wait - I have to climb a mountain - why do I have to go down just to pedal right back up again? The turnoff for the short route was just 2 miles down the road, and as soon as I left route 19 I started a six-mile climb up to 3500 feet. The first 4 miles of the climb were unrelenting, and at about a 4 to 5% grade. Since I have trouble starting from a dead stop on that kind of grade, I just kept pedaling away. No rest stops... I could see the short route down below me as I continued up the mountain. It flattened out for a bit after 4 miles, so I was able to take a break and take some pictures before continuing to climb. The wind was kind this morning - it was quiet. The last time I was on the Kohala Mountain Road I was battling a side wind that was so strong it pushed me from the right side of the road all the way to the left side, and almost off of the road. There wasn't any traffic that day - if there had been probably the only thing I could have done was to lay the bike down (maybe). I was definitely not in control that day! I was glad I didn't have to battle the wind again today. Once I hit the crest of the hill, it was a nice downhill ride into Hawi. At one point I saw a speed limit sign saying 35 miles per hour - and I was going 34. No pedaling, just cruising! Of course that didn't last, and I did have to pedal for quite a few miles today. I had a bit of a push from the tradewinds coming down from Hawi, but that disappeared as the road turned around the edge of the island. There were some more shallow rolling grades, then a little bit of a climb out of Kawaihai Harbor. Well, OK, it wasn't much of a climb but it sure felt like one with the sun beating down. I definitely deserved my food!

The line between the wet and dry areas of this island is surprisingly just that - a line. It's not a gradual thing. I left Waimea, which is very green, and immediately I was in a very dry area with cactus. When I described the cactus I'd seen earlier this week to someone, he told me it was beavertail cactus. I don't know if that's the right name, but it's definitely descriptive. The cactus I saw today was blooming; very pretty. I thought I was home free, wet side to dry side, I should be able to finish the day without getting wet (except from sweat). Well, I was wrong. I noticed as I started down the mountain that I was again in a very green area. I started noticing some cool blasts of air, and I was starting to wonder where the cool air was coming from. I was getting close to Hawi when I saw a dark gray cloud ahead of me, and that cloud came right down to the road. Oops - time for another ride in the rain! It lasted long enough to get me pretty wet, but I dried out by the end of my ride. I crossed back to the dry side one more time, and the sun came out, stayed out, and heated the air well into the 90s (in the sun, of course). It's pretty likely that it was hot all day on the Kohala Coast, and I was just traveling through the different climate zones.

Part of today's ride was on the Ironman route. The turnaround point is up near Hawi, with the start point down in Kona. All of that route is on the hot, dry side of the island.

All in all, it was a fabulous ride today - and one of my favorites on this island. The drivers were really good today too. Kohala Mountain Road is narrow and winding, with no shoulders. As drivers came up behind me, they hung back until they were sure that I saw them, and they passed carefully. I never felt like anyone was upset by my presence on the road - a nice feeling. Overall the drivers have been fine on this entire trip, it's just that today stood out as pretty incredible as bike/car interactions go.

I discovered today that the cattle in Hawaii aren't quite as friendly as those in Kansas. Actually, I think they're just not used to people. I totally spooked one field full of cattle today just by riding past their fence. Guess they didn't want to stand and chat like their counterparts in Kansas did!

I arrived at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel at about 1:45 and had to wait a few minutes at the gate for a shuttle to the hotel. The only thing I don't like about this place is that they don't allow biking on the grounds. I asked my shuttle driver why, and she said the state department of transportation won't allow bicycles here. That seems kind of odd to me, but if you look at the roads on the grounds here, they aren't really roads, more like driveways. They are pretty narrow with no shoulders. (But I really don't get it because the state usually doesn't set rules on private property - although there is a public beach access running through here. Maybe that's why, or maybe it was just a made-up story.) I knew about this strange rule before I made my reservations here, and all I needed was to get to the hotel - no more biking planned. Of course since I arrived so early, my room wasn't ready yet. I was going to just leave my stuff at the bell stand and wander around, but then I decided to use the time to pack my bike. The staff at the hotel is very used to cyclists, perhaps because of the Ironman Triathlon, and one of the bell boys showed me a quiet out-of-the-way spot where I could pack. So I pulled everything out of the trailer, threw it into my duffle bag, and packed the bike. I could have packed it in my room, but sometimes it seems better to deal with the bike outside... Once I was done packing, my room was ready.

This place is really a treat (and a major splurge) for me. It's a very laid back but classy resort. The hotel was built by Laurence Rockefeller and was originally opened in 1965. It was closed for 18 months in 1994/95 and completely renovated. I'm in the Beach Front wing, so I can again hear the surf crashing outside of my room. It's not as loud as it was at the Kona Tiki, but it's there. I came into my room to find a note directing me to the "chill box" for a welcome gift. When I opened the little refrigerator I found fresh papaya and strawberries. That hit the spot - a great mid-afternoon snack. I immediately took my first shower to rinse off the road crud, then slathered myself with sunscreen and headed out to walk on the beach. Then I just sat out there and read for a while. Nice and relaxing.

Back to the room for a second shower before dinner. Then I headed for a fabulous dinner. The Mauna Kea has a clambake every Saturday night. I didn't plan my trip around this meal, but it worked out just great. Of course buffets are great for hungry cyclists, and this one was really special. I didn't have everything there, but let's see if I can remember what I ate.... shrimp, caesar salad, artichoke salad, tomatos, clams, more shrimp, lobster, some steamed vegetables, potato salad, lobster... and then a make your own sundae for dessert - vanilla & chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce, macadamia nuts, little chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. Yum! There was a lot more food there that I didn't even taste. I was trying to eat a reasonable (or should I say comfortable) amount of food, and I knew I wanted lobster, so I skipped the soup (clam chowder) and bread. They also had crab, fresh fish with a mango sauce, roast beef, and other side dishes too. At some point I just had to choose so I wouldn't be uncomfortably stuffed all night. I'm happy! And the tables for the clambake were set up next to the beach, so I could watch the sun sink into the sea as I was eating dinner. Today was a great food day!

What touring cyclist doesn't love a make-your-own sundae buffet?

Tomorrow I plan to just relax here. My flight isn't until late, so I'll need to check out of my room and have my stuff held for the day. They have a hospitality suite that can be reserved for a shower so I'll be able to get rid of the salt and sweat before I head for the airport and that long ride back to my everyday reality.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Hills, hills, and the tradewinds at my back

Hilo to Waimea

And another great riding day is behind me... I started the day with a good breakfast, thanks to my grocery store stop when I got to Hilo two days ago. Oatmeal, banana, and papaya along with a good cup of coffee, and some shared plans with some of the other folks at the lodge. I spoke with the 2 women from Japan - a mother and daughter - who I met on the Mauna Kea tour, and with a family from somewhere south of Eugene, Oregon. It's always fun to hear how other people are spending their time here. Arnott's Lodge was another good choice of a place to stay. There were always people around to talk to, probably due at least partly to the fact that it caters to foreign travelers and backpackers. I think when people stay at a backpacker's lodge they seem more likely to talk with strangers. Plus, there were people who were alone, in couples, in families and groups. There were quite a few twenty-somethings, but there were also people who appeared to be older than me - a nice mix.

As soon as I got rolling, the heavy mist started again. It misted for a bit, then changed to a light rain. I stashed my camera in the trailer fairly quickly since I didn't really want to destroy it! One interesting thing about riding in the rain here is that I never considered putting my rain jacket on - it would be just to hot, and I'd end up getting wet from the inside out. Better to be wet from the rain and cool than to be sweating up a storm in my rain jacket. I needed the jacket for the trip up Mauna Kea, so it was carried for a good purpose - just one slightly different than it's intended purpose. I probably rode in the rain for a good solid hour. Things dried out for a bit, but it never totally cleared. Every time I thought my clothes were just about dry it would start spitting again. But by the end of the day, the mist finally cleared.

It was another climbing day - over 3000 feet of elevation gain. I came from Hilo at sea level to Waimea at 2700 feet, and of course there was the usual set of rolling hills thrown in for fun. The riding was definitely easier in the morning. It started with some very gradual elevation gain, then rollers, then 3 gulches that were big downs and big ups, with each one getting progressively bigger. Then a long hill to get to the final elevation. When I started this morning there didn't seem to be any wind, but that changed in the afternoon. The trade winds are blowing, and they were at my back at the end of the day. I didn't feel the push on the uphills, but I definitely felt it during the last five flat miles into Waimea. It seems like the wind speed has continued to increase since I arrived here - I just walked back from dinner, and the clouds are just flying across the sky. It will be interesting to see what I'll be dealing with in the morning.

I'm still on the rainy side of the island, but I'll cross back to the desert side fairly early tomorrow. This is Parker Ranch country. Someone told me today that Parker Ranch is the 10th largest ranch in the country, which is pretty amazing given where it is. I'd think that ranches in states like Texas would tend to be much larger! When I looked at the terrain today, it was easy to imagine that I was someplace other than Hawaii. I know that the Big Island is not most people's image of Hawaii - it's not known as a beach island - but upland ranches certainly don't fit the Hawaii image either! I saw cattle (of course), goats, and sheep in fields along the road. I wonder if the sheep are taking over the weather forecasting duties of the cows. You know, the one that says the percentage probability of rain is the same as the percentage of cows that are sitting down. Today, it was the sheep that were sitting. I had to stop and watch some baby goats prancing around their field, and (seemingly) being ordered around by the mama and papa goats.

When I stopped for a snack at a local hangout outside of Honokaa, a couple came up to talk with me. They had seen me in Hilo this morning, riding in the rain. They drove to Kona and were on their way back to Hilo. Hmm... it's taking me a whole week to cover the miles they did in one day! But I wouldn't give up any of my long days here. It's been a fabulous ride!

I rode into Waimea and decided I'd better stop and ask how to find my hotel. When I got to town I realized I didn't know which road held my home for the night. Not a problem, I was half a block away when I stopped to ask. I'm staying at the Waimea Country Lodge, which looks pretty much like a truck stop from the outside. The rooms are really nice though, with a wood-covered cathedral ceiling. And the shower has the strongest water pressure I've ever felt in a shower - almost a water massage!

When I walked into my room my initial thought was "oh no, it's really hot in here". No air conditioning here, but all I had to do to get the room cooled down was to open the window. The winds are so strong here that they quickly blew cooler air into the room. It was a perfect temperature within 5 minutes. I like this natural kind of air-conditioning!

I noticed when I checked in that the lost key charge here is $75! I asked if they have many lost keys, and the desk clerk said "not anymore"! Apparently with a lower lost key charge, many people managed to lose there keys...

First task when I got here was to clean the bike. It was dry, so I was able to just brush off most of the dirt, but I still did a good clean and re-lube job on the chain. Am I a clean bike maniac? Maybe, but I just can't stand all that grit!

There are two high-end and highly recommended restaurants here in Waimea - Merriman's, and Daniel Thiebaut. I thought about going to one of them, but I've been in a pretty low-key dining mood on this trip. I'm sure if my sister or my father were here with me we'd have gone to one of these restaurants. Sorry guys, but one of my housemates from Arnott's this morning told me he'd had a good tostada at Tako Taco, so I've been thinking about Mexican food all day. I had a huge veggie burrito, with rice, black beans, guacamole, salsa, and of course shredded lettuce and tomatos. It definitely hit the spot.

After dinner I went over to Starbucks to get a decaf Americano. I know, I know, I'm in the home of marvelous Kona coffee and I go to Starbucks! But I've never seen decaf Kona coffee, and I definitely don't need any caffeine right now. The Starbucks is in Parker Ranch Center (not the ranch, a shopping center containing a grocery store, restaurants, etc.). I noticed as I was walking out that all of the stop signs in the center said "Whoa", not "Stop". I always seem to see these odd signs when I'm not carrying my camera.

I'm having a hard time believing that I only have one day of riding left on this trip. The time has just been flying by. I suppose that's a good thing though - it's a sign of how much I've been enjoying myself. So here's to another good riding day tomorrow!