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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 6

    My alarm blasted me awake at 3:10am HST. Now why in the world would I do such a thing?

    Whelp, this is a necessary evil if you have any plans to watch the sunrise at the summit inside Haleakala National Park. Because of previous issues with parking and disorder, as of February 2017 the park now requires reservations which can be acquired on the recreation.gov website, and there's only 200 or so spots available. Ascending the summit, there's plenty of warning that you better turn around if you don't have that golden ticket reservation in hand. I donned my winter gear and started off for the park, leaving around 3:50am. With my reservation and Tri-Parks Pass, I had no problems sailing through the check-in point.

    Once past the gate, there's plenty more switchbacks to reach the top, although the incline isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Each stretch of road was a mile long, constantly entering and exiting the cloud cover still clinging to the sides of the mountain. Reaching the top, the rangers blocked off access to the peak, forcing everyone into the lower parking lot by the Visitor's Center. With 30 minutes to spare before sunrise, hundreds of people were here already (as crazy as me apparently). Unfortunately the clouds/fog were thick, but I was hopeful it would clear out.

    Nope, not so. Although patches of colors in the direction of the sun filled the sky, the fog refused to dissipate and mostly hindered what was supposed to be dramatic views of the landscape. As the sun made its appearance, a few of the locals began a Hawaiian chant as a hush fell over the crowd, giving a special and memorable touch to this moment in time, as obscured as it was. I tried to take pics as I could, but nothing really spectacular.

    After grabbing the postcard/magnet business at the now-open Visitor's Center, I did the short hike on the neighboring Pa Ka'oao trail to the nearby summit, offering what would be awesome views of the Haleakala crater below if the blasted fog wasn't in the way. (Somebody give me a 50-foot fan to take care of this noise!) The 1/2-mile drive to the summit was also unblocked by this point so being the completist I am, ascended to the very top, where you'll find an observatory at the 10,023 ft peak. It was clear enough here to make out the peak of Mauna Kea on the big island 80 miles away, where I stood just days before.

    That's all for that. I descended and made it back to Paia by 8:20am. But that's not the only thing for today. After an hour or two of rest I took off again, this time focusing on western Maui with the primary destination of Lahaina, HI. But of course I don't make things easy for myself and start on the remote northern route using Routes 3400 to 340 to 30. There's a few stretches of road even more treacherous than yesterday's Road to Hana, with tight hairpin turns blocked by cliffs only 1.5 car lengths wide, so you better crawl along in case someone on the other side decides to come hither. I'm not sure why they can't expand the road in those places, but hey I don't run things around here. There's a few places where visitors can walk down trails to the beach, but I've had enough of that for now.

    There were also a few art galleries along this route that were curious enough to stop for, and of course more places for local cuisine if you needed some grub. Lahaina was finally reached at 12:50pm, just in time for lunch, which made the first stop at Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant on Front Street and Lahainaluna Road, right on the beach. Good eats here, make sure you stop in! After that was traversing up and down Front Street checking out all the shops, a number of galleries, and of course the foodies. There was a park further south called the Banyan Tree Court which featured a number of Banyan trees with their branches curiously all connected to each other. It was a trip to see. There was a small farmer's market going on here (being the weekend of course) and music entertainment. Great place to stop in and support your local community or charity.

    The feet/calves were once again giving me pause to continue, so after a tasty Shaved Ice, it was time to head out, taking the much easier southern Route 30, transitioning to Route 380 to cut across the island back to Paia. I topped off the evening with a dinner at Mama's Fish House, because it seemed like I would be shamed if I didn't stop here.

    Maui has been a great weekend destination, but it's time for the final island. Oh where has the time gone?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 7

    No more of this waking up early business, it was a nice leisurely pace with breakfast at the Paia Inn Cafe, then heading off to Kahului Airport and another quick jaunt to the final Island #4 of Oahu, landing at 12:05pm HST.

    Since my AirBnB check-in wouldn't be ready until late afternoon, I drove the Jeep Wrangler rental straight for Pearl Harbor Memorial, just a few miles away. It's probably better to start here in the morning, as I had to park in the farthest lot from the entrance. You can spend a good half day here learning about all the events that took place in this very harbor. The first thing on the list was checking out the USS Bowfin submarine they have docked here. For $12.00 you can view the adjacent museum and head outside on top of the submarine, then go down into its belly and across the entire interior for a first-hand look on what its was like to live and commandeer this huge vessel: engine rooms, living quarters, mess hall, the bridge, etc. Never seen so much stuff crammed into a small space. It may not be for the claustrophobic!

    Afterwards I headed over to the Theater to begin the USS Arizona Memorial tour. I had reserved a spot for this 2 months in advance (and a good thing I did because it sold out quickly). At 2:45pm the crowd was whisked into the theater for a 20-minute presentation on the events leading up to and including the Japanese attack on the harbor, with real footage used. Following that was an exit to the left, onto a ferry where we flew across the harbor, docking at the famous memorial 5 minutes later.

    Some of the USS Arizona is visible, with a few parts sticking up out the water, but most of it is submerged. Buoys mark the edges of the ship. At the far end of the memorial is a giant wall of all the names listed of the fallen, some forever buried directly below us. On either side were the names of survivors that have since passed and wanted their remains to be interred with their fellow crew. Wreaths from a recent interment were present. Definitely a place to pay your respects.

    Ferrys come every 15-20 minutes, so I took the next one back, made some souvenir purchases and left at 4:30pm. The place I'm staying is nestled in the Moanalua valley, not far from any destination on the southern shores.

    Oh but I have to fit in as much as possible. I headed back out once more, and over to Pu'u Ualaka'a State Wayside Park. Here they have Tantalus Lookout, a viewpoint high in elevation giving magnificent views of the southern island, including Diamond Head, the skylines of Waikiki and Honolulu, past the airport and Pearl Harbor, all backdropped with the mountains on the west horizon. Luckily the park wasn't closing until 7:45pm today, so me and many others were here camped out for sunset. The camera shutter was once again taking a beating. Even got to witness a sunset proposal. I guess if you're going to propose, this would be a perfect time/place for it. I made it out as the gates were closing and came back to my quarters.

    One full day left. Better make the most of it and explore this island to the fullest...

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 8

    This little bug I've been trying to fight off the last few days seems to have gotten the best of me, despite all the countermeasures in my arsenal. Looks like I'm going to have to dope up on DayQuil/NyQuil in order to power through the rest of this road trip.

    Leaving around 9:00am, first thing on today's agenda was in the heart of Honolulu: the State Capitol, which is unique compared to the other 49. Keeping to native architecture, it's the only "open-air" capitol, with the different assemblies on each floor. While it's open to the public, there isn't much to do for the self-touring folk besides gawk around. Had I signed up for a group tour (which wasn't running today) I could have seen inside the Senate and House chambers on the 1st level. Oh well. Doesn't matter, another capitol goal checked off. With a few minutes left on the meter, I went to check out the Hawaii State Art Museum next door, located on the 2nd floor.

    With that out of the way, it was time to explore the island. I used I-H1 and I-H2 to lead the way to the North Shore communities. (Amusing that Hawaii gets their own Interstate designations since they obviously won't ever cross into another state.) From the town of Wahiawa, HI, Routes 80 to 99 to 83 directed me to Haleiwa, the first of several North Shore towns. There was plenty to do here if shopping, eating, and beaching are on your to-do list, but I wanted to go farther north still. Soon I came upon Waimea Bay, supposedly where the largest waves take up residence, except this isn't Winter, and the crowds were so massive there wasn't any place close to park. As a consolation prize, across the way was the Waimea Valley attraction, which looked promising but the fee to enter was $16.00. Hmm, I'm thinking this will take up more time than I'm willing to put in, so I made do with a quick lunch here and pressed on.

    Route 83 (Kamehameha Highway) continues northwest through many more communities and State Park beaches. I stopped at a few of those beaches containing decent scenery, either with islands a few miles out or with backdropped mountain cliffs toward the interior of Oahu. I soaked my feet in the warm ocean while looking for photo opportunities, but the clouds were washing out my pics so nothing ideal around here. This highway continued to follow the coastline down the northeast side to the southeast side, with more State Park beaches, some of which had adequate parking, inviting me to stop if it seemed sufficient. It took about 5-6 hours total to traverse the entire highway before returning to home base. I would have stayed out longer but I'm not feeling 100% at this point so that's all I can do.

    I may or may not do something in the morning, depending on how bad my congestion is. I have to be back at the airport by 12:30pm, so if time allows I may try one of the southern beaches.

    Getting sick is lame.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 9 (Final)

    Still not feeling 100%, but I gotta close out this roadtrip somewhat proper.

    With hours to spare before the mainland flight, I bid farewell to my last AirBnB around 9:00am HST and headed east on I-H1, to the large city of Waikiki. Luckily I found a metered spot close to Kalakaua Avenue, which runs alongside the coast. I had enough change for 90 minutes so it was time to walk some of the famous Waikiki Beach and take final pics. Plenty of hotels, stores and eateries were lined up and down the street as well, so this could have been a full day by itself. I bought an authentic Hawaiian shirt, but that was the extent of shopping around here.

    I think that's about it. I-H1 took me back west, finding a station to fill up the rental before returning to the airport. I got there a few hours early so just found a place to have lunch and hang around until boarding the plane and wheels up at 3:15pm HST, officially ending elapsed time. I arrived in LAX at 11:15pm PDT, with the usual delays and not getting home until 1:05am. Ah, my own bed feels delightful.

    Stay tuned for the conclusion...

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Conclusion / Stats / Pics

    It took 12 years since the 48-state road trip (or just under 40 years if starting from the womb) but the primary goal of all 50 states has been achieved, and what a way to go out swinging. I figured if I’m going to finish up the USA, let’s do it properly and hit everything that makes the Aloha State tick. There’s a little something for everyone whether its volcanoes, gardens, resorts, shopping, eating, water activities, or just plain being out in nature. Even going to one island could keep you occupied for weeks, although I gather most come here to relax their worries away instead of rushing everywhere like this guy.

    This was the first road trip that had to be broken up into chunks due to the inevitable island hopping, but it felt unique, like a 4-chapter short story. As you may have heard from countless others, each island is unique in its own right, and obviously likes/dislikes will be different for everybody. If you’re not a fan of humidity, then you might not enjoy the islands quite as much. I don’t know if it’s any different in the winter, but a summer visit will keep your pores working overtime for sure. Only if you plan on heading up to the high elevations when the sun is down should you don your winter gear.

    Like Alaska, things out here are more expensive than the mainland, although not quite as bad as I was expecting. Grocery stores weren’t excessive, it was mostly retail, restaurants and art galleries that shot for the moon. Being isolated as the islands are, it’s a must to include airfare and car rentals into your budget everywhere you visit. If you’re looking to save some cash with accommodations, give AirBnB a try. You meet some nice locals who can provide advice on what’s best for that area. I didn’t have a single bad experience in this arena.


    Favorite Places: You knew this coming, and so did I. “What island is your favorite?” you ask. The geologist in me says Big Island while the botanist says Kauai. The adventurer says Maui while the historian says Oahu. Does that answer your question? :) I got my kicks scaling the tops of Mauna Kea summit on the Big Island if you’re asking for the one thing that stood out the most. Everything else just kind of blended together into one nice package.

    Least Desirables: There weren’t any specific places that detracted from the Hawaiian experience. I’ve already said my piece about the weather, and oh yes the mosquitoes also come out to play (miraculously I escaped with only 3-4 bites). I suppose if I had to complain about something, it would be the super narrow roads on Maui (I'm lookin' at YOU Hana and Kahekili Highways). I understand the 1-lane bridges that can’t be helped, but would it kill them to put a full 2-lane road where there’s steep cliffs and other hazards? That’s a recipe for a disaster. Granted you’re not supposed to be going very fast on these backroads, but if you happen upon another vehicle and it’s unfortunate enough to be at one of those “special” places, what are you supposed to do?

    What’s next? Reservations have already been made for a 16-day trip to the central eastern US. The parents and I are flying to St. Louis, MO and doing a loop around 9-10 states for paternal family visits, and all centered around the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. It’s not the original plan I had for RT09, but with my folk’s abilities, adjustments had to be made in order to keep the pace light for the good of all. It may very well be their final major road trip.


    Statistics:

    Total Miles: 1,149 (Big Island: 376, Kauai: 229, Maui: 342, Oahu: 202)
    Total Stops: 29
    Total Elapsed Time: 9 days, 15 minutes (wheels down at Kona Airport [Day 0] to wheels up at Honolulu Airport [Day 9])

    Total U.S. States: 1
    Total U.S. Capitols: 1
    Total National Parks: 2 (Hawaii Volcanoes, Haleakala)
    Total State Parks: 4 (Lava Tree State Monument [Big Island], Waimea Canyon State Park [Kauai], Ha’ena State Park [Kauai], Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park [Oahu])

    Types of Rental Vehicles: 2017 Chevy Impala (Big Island), 2016 Jeep Wrangler (Kauai, Maui, Oahu)
    Gallons of Fuel: 60.581 (18.97 MPG)

    Total Cost of Trip: $2,522 (includes airfare, shuttle, car rental, fuel, AirBnB, food, souvenirs, and park/tour fees)


    Pictures:

    You’d think Hawaii would have been my personal photographer’s paradise, but with my busy schedule I only managed 824 clicks. That made out to be 618 keepers, with the final 90 giving the most telling summary of where and what. You can find them at the following:

    1) The RTA PhotoShare Galleries
    2) Facebook (no account necessary)
    3) Flickr (slideshow-friendly with the occasional ad in between)

    If you're signed in to your account on any of these sites, previous road trips are also lurking next to these albums, so you can look back into our road trip history. (Or just tap the links at the top post of this thread.)


    Until we ride again

    Hope you enjoyed the tale. See you back in a few months for RT09…

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Thank you, on behalf of all of us! And congratulations on bagging state #50--it was fun to read about your adventures.

    Now you need to do the Canadian Provinces and all the Estados in Mexico!

    Rick

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Quinn View Post
    Now you need to do the Canadian Provinces and all the Estados in Mexico!
    All of Canada is definitely on the list. I've been to BC and Ontario, but what would really knock them out is a cross-country trip across all provinces over a few weeks. Alberta and its scenery are definitely highest priority.

    Mexico, I've never had much of an urge to travel there. I'd be content with just stepping in the country at some point. I may go down to Ensenada next year as part of a group and that'll take care of it, or perhaps a flight to Puerto Vallarta or Cancun some day will suffice.

    Given the chance I'd probably take care of US territories first, like Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. THEN I'll start thinking international (UK, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, etc.)

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    162

    Default

    A friend and I drove my Jeep down to the Yucatan and back, year before last, and it was some of the best fun I've ever had. It's more than just travel, it's full-immersion in another culture that's very different, and at the same time, very familiar, and it's so close! Driving in Mexico isn't for everybody, but if you're the adventurous type, the rewards are world-class.

    I've got a post in my blog about my Mexican Road Trip; describes my adventures in some detail, and includes lots of "how to" information about documents, routes, and the border crossing, along with links to resources.

    Rick

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