I have about a half hour before I must succumb to my ridiculously early bedtime, in order to prepare for another early morning. But in the meantime -- a few more Hawaii pics! I need to raid my mom's picture stash sometime soon, because I know she took a bunch of great pictures, too -- and she always manages to get more "people" shots, so you'd have an opportunity to see all of our smiling faces... a big plus, I'm sure... :)
Anyway, these next two pictures aren't all that impressive, but there's kind of a funny story behind them. We stayed on the western side of the island, but decided to visit Hilo (on the eastern side of the island) one day. The main road to the opposite side of the island pretty much follows the coastline -- the more direct route would be to cut across the MIDDLE of the island. And there IS a road that cuts through the middle of the island --it's called Saddle Road. Unfortunately, there was a message stamped at the bottom of our rental car agreement that said something along the lines of, "driving on Saddle Road may void your contract..." So after a long day of driving and spending time in Hilo, what did we decide to do? Why, we decided to cut down on our driving time back to the resort and take a chance on Saddle Road, of course!
The first few miles were fine -- there was absolutely nothing unusual about the road that we thought would be cause for rental-car-company panic. A bit narrow, perhaps... and maybe a few more twists and turns than most roads, but other than that, it was typical. And then, about ten miles in, we saw a sign that said "Pavement Ends, 1 Mile" or something like that. Hmmm... generally, pavement is appreciated when driving down a road. So we were a bit apprehensive. Sure enough, we reached a stretch of road that was under construction, and had to maneuver our rental car over a dirt road. But it only lasted about a quarter of a mile, and then it was back to smooth pavement. "Just a little hiccup," Rick remarked. And then we saw another "Pavement Ends" sign. And then another. And another. Hiccup... hiccup... hiccup... By the time we drove through the construction area, we'd probably driven on those dirt roads seven or eight times.
Fortunately, once we were through the Hiccup Zone, Saddle Road turned out to be quite pleasant. In fact, sections of it were smoother and wider than the main highway (although the last few miles were nauseatingly twisty and turny and up and downy...). All in all, though, it was no worse than dozens of other roads in Hawaii we've traveled down in rental cars.
And one of the best parts of Saddle Road is that it passes right by Mauna Kea, which is "technically" the highest mountain in the world... IF it's measured from where it starts on the bottom of the ocean (about 17,000 feet of it is underwater...). It's also frequently covered with snow at the peak (although we couldn't see any when we were there), which means you can ski on it -- yep, skiing in Hawaii. And it's the site of an observatory (which I would love to actually visit someday... except that they don't LET tourists visit the observatory... so unfair. Although that reminds me -- one of the days we were at the resort, an astronomer was out on the beach with a huge telescope -- she had it pointed at Saturn. Everyone was taking turns looking through the lens -- it was pretty awesome. You could actually see the rings...)
Anyway, all of that just to explain that the tiny bit of mountain peeking through the clouds in this picture is Mauna Kea. It was much more impressive in person:
Off to bed!! (Well, you guys can stay up if you want... :))