Today we head to Big Island: it’s the third island we visit and, as its name states, it’s the big one.
We have planned many adventures here, but not today.
So, after the flight from OGG to ITO, only 39 mins, we don’t have any specific plan. The only idea is to be part of the Star Party.
But first of all, we take our rental car and we drive to the hotel in Hilo: we have a nice room with a beautiful Ocean view.
After a quick check on the Net, we decide to go to a couple of hot springs and then to Mauna Kea (yes, Star Party).
We need to buy a few things and we stop at a Walmart: it’s the first time I enter in one of this big and popular mall….what to say? It’s big…. you can find almost everything…. you can make some very good deals… you can also find stuff that I didn’t know (probably even expect) that they existed…peanuts butter spray?!?!?!
Anyway, quick shopping and with some snacks we head to the first warm water pond. Thanks to the volcano’s activity, water coming from the mountain becomes hot and gets just warm when it reaches this pond close to the ocean. Palm trees and volcanic rocks build a unique landscape.
But we need some warmer water….so after a while we move to the next one.
It’s not easy to find and we need to ask for direction a couple of times.
A very nice small path through the jungle along the sea brings us to the pond
It’s much smaller than the first one, but the water is much warmer and the location is even better!
We spend some time here, just relaxing. A nice lady is snorkelling in the small pond taking out a few rocks; I try to think about any possible reasons for that, but I don’t get any reasonable conclusions. Emma is thinking the same, but she has not all the filters that we adults have, so she asks directly:
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t know…”
Emma just freezes (I would like to be in her head, like the movie Inside-Out, and see what she is thinking now…), but it is an ice breaker and we start a interesting conversation with the snorkelling lady.
It will take 1.5 hrs to get to Mauna Kea, so it’s time to go.
It’s a dormant volcano that reaches 4200m. Our target is the observatory and visitor center, which are located at 3000m ca. Different temperature, different outfit. The Tour-Operator had planned for that as well…. We dress up more or less like in Denmark and we head to the mountain.
The road becomes steeper and steeper. Now altitude is something that you can really feel and we start driving inside the clouds. It’s like the fog, but it’s magic.
At least it is what we think…. as we don’t know that the magic is actually waiting for us.
We pop up on top of the clouds and it’s sunset time: it is unbelievable; we have never seen anything similar…
We arrive at the observatory and it is really dark.
We find out that many people actually had our same idea: the star party is a stargazing event, where students explain the constellations, tell story about stars and answer to visitor’s questions. Of course, big and powerful telescopes are placed all around and we can see very far away stars…
The constellations are so bright that it looks like a different sky, almost fake.
Thank you, light pollution…
Outside it’s quite cold and a cup of hot chocolate makes it easier to learn about the secrets of the sky.
A sign on the wall advises on how to drive back on the road: it is very steep and you have to use low gears. Ehm…what about cars with automatic gear?!?!?!
A little bit worried we head to the car, in the complete darkness.
We switch on the engine, led lights up inside the car and we discover that this car might be equipped for steep roads: the automatic gear has also an L, which we interpret as Low gear.
It is! A 1.5 hrs drive downhill with a tight grip at the steering wheel and almost no eye blinking brings us back to the hotel.
Energised by the magic of the day.