Category Archives: travel
Another hike we had to drive to from Packer. Lots of snow on the ground but it was passable for some of the lakes. Others like Round Lake were still snowed in. Both boys hiked a lot better than I expected and got to see Long Lake, Cub Lake, Little Bear Lake, and Big Bear Lake.
The problem with using words like breathtaking and amazing and awesome so often is that when something like this comes around which is all those and more, none of those words feels adequate.
I’ve been working for a while on finding words to describe the total eclipse. My immediate reactions were pretty basic: “Goddamn that was a short two minutes” and “I completely understand why people chase these.” But they hint at the shift in understanding that I underwent.
I knew about this eclipse* over 6 years ago. I knew what to expect when totality occurred. But that moment when the sun disappears in your glasses, you take them off, and the Corona is just there. Glittering. And that black disc where the Sun used to be. It’s beyond comprehension. There’s no way to possibly be prepared for it.
*and had loosely coordinated with family friends in Boise about visiting.
I felt something similar last year when I saw Halema‘uma‘u in person and realized how the earth was literally alive and breathing. I don’t think I’d even absorbed how much it effected me when I wrote about it. But when I saw the smoke billow out of of the crater I gained a fundamental respect for this power which I’d never realized I was missing.
The Hawaiian term “mana” captures the sense how things can have a powerful essence that you just feel in your gut. The ocean has mana. Volcanos and lava have mana. A total eclipse of the sun has mana. Seeing it. Experiencing it. Sensing how powerful the Sun is even—if not especially—when it’s blocked by the Moon altered my understanding of everything. I “knew” what I was seeing, I just didn’t properly understand it at that deep fundamental sense of knowing.
The way the air felt. The way the light looked. The sheer absolute beauty of the Corona which is always there, shimmering but overwhelmed by the Sun’s power.
I know why people chase these.
I want to experience it again too.
And I’m glad I was in a small group on a mountain top where we didn’t get innundated by screaming and instead spent the time pointing out things in the surrounding landscape. I’ll have more about the camping trip in Cascade, Idaho later on in another post but the Eclipse itself deserves to stand alone.
I didn’t plan to photograph this. Yes, I brought a camera like I always do and packed a my most-compact telephoto* “just in case” but my goal wasn’t to take a photo but rather just experience those two minutes. The photo I do have is very much a grab shot—believe it or not the exposure settings I used were the same settings I was using for candid people shots in the near-total light.
*an old, fully-manual 200m f/4 Nikkor AIS
That it’s pretty much indistinguishable from any other eclipse photo doesn’t bother me at all. Nor does the fact that there’s no way this image can come close to the totality experience. It’s a record of what I saw. And sometimes that’s all a photo needs to be.
I did however plan on taking photos during the partial eclipse. Lots of fun things to play with there. People looking silly in their eclipse glasses. The cool crescent shapes and weird shadows. That odd dusky light which confuses our eyes into trying to decide whether we’re wearing sunglasses or if it’s getting close to time to go to bed.
One of the few hikes we did complete from Packer Lake. Way, way more water compared to my previous visit, we couldn’t even walk around the lake this time and had to stop and eat right where the trail reached the shore.
It’s good to be back. Last time I was here was three years ago. Not as much hiking this year—too much snow and too much water—so we spent a lot more time around and in the lake itself.
I drove more on this vacation than any other vacation I’ve taken. When I returned our rental car* it turned out that I’d driven about 850 miles over eight days. I’m not used to driving that much in general** let alone spending a couple hours each day in the car while on vacation. But there’s really no other way to see the island. And the roads themselves are often spectacular in terms of the views they offer.
*A Nissan Versa which did pretty well.
**When I was working and commuting it was ~70 miles per day and maybe 90 minutes on the road total.
Flying-wise, the Kailua-Kona/KOA airport is a wonderful throwback. I miss being able to walk outside and board the planes via stair from the tarmac at San José/SJC. KOA takes that a step farther and is entirely outside. Yes it’s hot. And yes you sweat a lot while waiting to go through security. But I love the old-school nature of it and it reminds me both of a time when flying was not the chore it is now and how much I loved the Honolulu airport* when I was a kid.
*Which is also open-air and used to smelled of plumeria because of all the leis in the concourse. Not being able to meet, or send off, passengers at the gate now means that the last couple of time I was in Honolulu the airport smelled like every other airport.
Anyway, while I’ve organized the photos and posts based on subject matter, it’s also nice to be able to see my trip based on a per-day itinerary. Given the amount of driving I did, I felt like putting each day on a map would be useful for me memory.
Day 1: Kailua-Kona Airport to Waikoloa
Day 2: Based in Waikoloa
Day 3: Based in Waikoloa
Day 4: Based in Waikoloa
Day 6: Volcanos National Park
Day 7: Based in Hilo
- Punalu‘u Beach
- Ka‘u Coffee Plantation