Our trip to Hawaii

November 3-13, 2005

In the first place, I should point out that, due to technical difficulties with the camera, none of the pictures from the first roll of film I shot came out. So the pictures don't start until 2-1/2 days into the trip. So you've got a bit of reading to do before you start seeing any pictures. Sorry about that. (If you want to go straight to the pictures, click here.)

This was the first vacation Terry and I took since we went to New Orleans in 2001. After that, I was out of work for a year and a half, and then it took me a while to accrue enough vacation time for a real vacation - not to mention that it took us a while to be able to afford one. Anyway, we were ready for this vacation!

One thing that helped greatly in making this trip affordable was that we had a place to stay. Terry's friend Mindy, who she's known since they were both in the graduate program at UCSB, studying to be interpreters, recently got married, and she and her husband Ron moved to Kauai. When they found out we were planning a trip to Hawaii, they graciously invited us to stay with them. As it happened, they were planning to visit the mainland in November. So we scheduled our trip so that we could visit with them for a few days, and then stay in their house for a few more days after they left. That worked out well for them, too, because they had someone to bring in the mail and keep an eye on the place.

Hawaii 101

So, before we launch into the trip log, a little background information on Hawaii itself.

But first, a word from our sponsor. My friend Bill Hunt runs a wholesale map business in Santa Barbara called MapLink. Whenever I need a good travel guide, I always ask him. This time, he sent me a wonderful book (and wouldn't let me pay for it - thanks, Bill!) called The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman. They also publish guidebooks for the other islands. If you're planning to go to Hawaii, you've got to get one of their books. Here's a link to their website. Highly recommended.

The Hawaiian islands are actually all that's visible above sea level of a chain of underwater volcanic mountains. The chain stretches from northwest to southeast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Remember the Cat Stevens song, "Miles From Nowhere?" Well, that's an apt description of Hawaii - it's the most isolated island chain in the world. If you look at a map of the Pacific, you'll see that the South Pacific is littered with thousands of small islands. But the northern part of the ocean is practically deserted - except for Hawaii.

In general, the islands at the southeast end of the chain are the newest. This means that the big island of Hawaii, the southeasternmost of the major islands, is the youngest island in the chain. In fact, it's the only one whose volcano is still active. The other islands are older, and Kauai, the northernmost and next-to-westernmost of the islands, is one of the oldest. That's why it's smaller - wind and water erosion have had more time to work.

In fact, there's a new island forming, to the southeast of the big island. It's still 3,200 feet below sea level, but come back in a million years or so, and Kauai may be gone, the "big island" won't be so big any more, and the new island of Lo'ihi will be there.

Another fascinating fact about Hawaii (well, it fascinates me, anyway). The moutain peak of Mauna Kea, on the big island of Hawaii, is in fact the tallest mountain in the world. "But wait!" I hear you cry, "I thought Mt. Everest was the tallest mountain in the world!" Well, not exactly. The peak of Mt. Everest is the highest point above sea level. But the mountain itself sits on the Himalayan plateau, which is itself very far above sea level. If you measure Mt. Everest from its base to its peak, it turns out to be only an average size mountain. But the base of Mauna Kea is all the way down at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean! So, measuring from base to peak, it's the tallest mountain in the world.

So, speaking of islands, how many islands are in Hawaii? Most people would probably guess anywhere from four to eight, and in fact there are eight major islands: Hawai'i (aka "The Big Island"), Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe (often overlooked because it's uninhabited), O'ahu, Kaua'i and Ni'ihau (often overlooked because it's privately owned).

But in fact, the State of Hawaii consists of 132 islands! Of course, the "other" 124 islands are nothing but specks of rock. None of them are inhabited, and taken together, they add up to about three square miles. Here's a link to a website I found that gives some interesting information about some of the other Hawaiian islands.

And now, a brief word about the Hawaiian language. Hawaiian words can look scary, because they're frequently these polysyllabic monsters that appear unpronounceable. For instance, what can you make of "Kaehulua," or "Haleilio," or "Kainahola?" (All actual street names on Kauai.)

But the Hawaiian language is actually very easy to pronounce, if you remember a few simple rules. In the first place, the language only has 12 letters: the five vowels, and the consonants H, K, L, M, N, P and W. In the second place, if you just remember these two rules, you'll have no trouble:

  1. Every letter is always pronounced (no silent letters)
  2. Every letter is always pronounced the same way (with one exception)

The consonants are pronounced the same way they are in English, except the W is sometimes pronounced as a V (that's the exception). And the vowels are pronounced ah, eh, ee, oh, and oo. And remember, there are no silent letters, which means that "ee" is pronounced "eh-eh," "oo" is pronounced "oh-oh," etc. Finally, an apostrophe indicates a glottal stop.

If you remember these rules, you can pronounce even the most complex Hawaiian words. Just take a deep breath, start at the beginning, and pronounce every letter until you get to the end. So, to revisit the words I quoted above:


Okay, that's enough rambling. Click here to start reading the actual trip log.