We slept well until 4:30 a.m.  That sounds early, but it’s not unusual for us to start the day ony an hour later.  Not bad at all, considering Hawaiian clocks—in the summertime—are six hours skewed from Florida’s.

(My current approach to combatting jet lag is to sleep as much as possible on the plane, but not to make an effort to sleep.  Once upon a time I acted as if I could get a full night’s sleep on an overnight flight:  brushing my teeth, wearing eye covers, and settling down as much as is possible in a coach-class set, with a pillow and a blanket.  After several flights with marginal success at best, I decided to ignore my watch altogether.  After boarding, I settle down to enjoy myself, usually with a book or my World of Puzzles magazine.  I’m at the stage of life where it’s easy to doze—actually, I’ve been at that stage for at least 40 years—so when I feel sleepy, I set the book down and allow myself to snooze.  I rarely even bother to take off my glasses; I just lean back and sleep.  When I wake, I pick up where I left off and begin the cycle again.  I find this much more satisfactory, because I’m no longer annoyed by announcements, food  carts, or neighbors who must get out of their seats.  If they wake me up, they’ve only disturbed a short nap, not my “night’s rest.”  I no longer worry that I’m “supposed” to be sleeping.   I enjoy the flight more, and adjustment to the new time schedule comes more easily.)

We would have liked to make a faster start to the day, but had a morning appointment with our “personal concierge,” who would help us plan our week, including the mandatory timeshare presentation.  She was actually very helpful, with useful suggestions for places to stop on our around-the-island tour.  She was also able to reschedule our presentation, which had originally been placed in the middle of the day, a most annoying and wasteful time.

The first meeting accomplished, we headed out of the Hilton property to the shopping/restaurant area at the entrance to the resort.  (The resort is more than the Hilton sites, although they constitute a large part of it.)  There we made a breakfast of “Japanese Tempura Style Fish and Chips” (and shrimp).  Delicious!


Unless you consider fish & chips for breakfast a bit odd, there was nothing about its onset to indicate how incredible this day would be.

Other people may not have this problem, but I quail at the thought of spending more than $1000 on an activity that lasts only two hours.  Even grocery shopping isn’t that expensive.  The two of us can fly to Pittsburgh and back for half that.  Or one of us to Switzerland (though not back).  However….

If you’re going to go all the way to Hawaii, I recommend in the strongest terms that you invest in a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour.  We decided to go all out, choosing the two-hour tour and the fancy Eco-Star helicopter, and are so glad we did.  What an amazing experience!

On the practical side, it was a fantastic introduction to the island, giving us a much better idea of what we wanted to do with the rest of our days there.  (I know, I know.  We should have had all that figured out ahead of time.  But we didn’t, and I don’t know how we could have done better than what transpired, no matter how much we had planned.  Hmm....  We might have saved a bit on the Volcano hotel; more on that later.  But that’s about it.)  We learned a lot about which treks were worth taking, and which were a lot of effort for a view much less interesting than the one we had from the air.

The view.  The views!  It would have been rewarding enough merely flying all over the island.  On the first leg of the trip we flew across to Hilo:  from the desert,


over ranch land,


to rain forest.


But that’s not what you’re waiting to see.

We flew right over the top of Kilauea!


At the arrow, the red-hot lava is pouring forth, turning grey as it cools but still flowing.  This is not the spectacular effect our grandkids were hoping to see, preferably with Grandma and Dad-o standing perilously close, but this is God’s creation, not Walt Disney’s, and not to be activated on demand.  We were lucky to see lava flow at all, as until recently it had been flowing through underground lava tubes rather than into the caldera.  And it was truly amazing to see Creation ongoing.

After the volcano tour, we stopped briefly in Hilo for refueling, and then it was on to the waterfalls!  The Waipi‘o Valley is best seen by helicopter, unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and a death wish.


Hawaii’s falls are not broad, but very tall and beautiful.


An expensive ride?  Yes.  Worth the cost?  Absolutely.

Did I mention that flying in a helicopter feels like flying?  Or what I imagine flying would be like, were I actually able to do so.

After a lunch/dinner of pulled pork—which is big in Hawaii as well as South Carolina—we went back to the room, intending to put on our swim suits and check out the resort’s saltwater lagoon and freshwater pools.  But I made the mistake of lying down, “just for a few minutes,” and quickly lost consciousness.  Porter spent the time reading our guidebooks, occasionally making a half-hearted, and thoroughly unsuccessful, attempt at awakening me.  Our early arising, bright sunshine—which always makes me sleepy—and exciting adventures had wiped me out … until 4:30 a.m. of the new day.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 9:24 am | Edit
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