Hawaii 2006

  Here is a picture of the park-and-ride bus that took us home from the airport on Tuesday.  The only reason I included this is to point out that we actually had tickets to leave on Wednesday.  So, we started our vacation by going to the airport and then back home to wait another day.
  OK, it's Wednesday and they let us board the plane this time.  Good chance we will actually make it.
  Welcome to the Four Seasons on the Big Island.  Conde Nast ranks it #1 in the U.S. for service and #1 activities.
  Open lobby.
  This is the view from our room.  We looked out on to the main pool, and you can see the ocean beyond.
  The room had an indoor shower and an outdoor shower. The outdoor shower was in a little, private, walled garden.
  Conde Nast could have also ranked the resort high for in-room friends.  It could have been worse; another party at the resort reported having a large rat and having to switch rooms.  Such is life in the tropics...
  Our first day, we rented a Jeep Wrangler and toured the island a bit. 
  Nothing like the lush, tropical flora of Hawai'i.  Actually, the coast where most of the resorts are is covered in a old lava flow.  The resorts are carved out of fields of black, lava rock.
  Ah, here is the Hawaiian greenery we were looking for.  We found a waterfall hike, but where there is greenery there is also rain.  At least it was warm.
  Bill and Julie at Akaka Falls.
  We drove all the way to the Volcano National Park where you can hike amongst active and inactive volcanoes.  Here is Bill in the crater of an inactive one.
  Julie, also in a volcanic crater, standing in front of a huge, steaming pile of, uh, lava.
  The Thurston lava tube.  Lava tubes are formed as rivers of lava crust over and they essentially flow as underground rivers.
  A couple of days later, we went of a snorkel/sail on a catamaran.  Nice boat that was only a couple of months old.  It was designed to hold 50 people but we only had 22 so there was plenty of room.
  While were were sailing, a group of dolphins came over to check out our boat.
  Bill and Julie at sea.
  What would Hawaii be without golf?  We played the South course at Mauna Lani, and we both played really well.  Julie was a monster off the tee all day long.  After a long hot day, it was nice (for Bill) to get back and hit the spa where they had a cold plunge (45 degrees!).
  Our last day, we rented a car and drove to do a hike in the Waipio valley.  The valley used to be more populated until a tsunami wiped it out in 1946.  The lack of electricity, plumbing, etc. keeps it sparsely populated.
  The hike down to the valley is a 25% grade road down the valley wall.  It was easier to walk up than down, strangely enough.  Either way, I'm sure it sucks in the snow.
  We made it to the bottom (finally).
  Along the shore, we were able to hike to a waterfall.
  If you walked in the opposite direction from the waterfall, you came to a black sand beach.
When the tsunami hit, the residents left the area but their horses stayed behind.  Herds of wild horses now inhabit the area (until, of course, the next tsunami hits...)
  The area as long been considered sacred by the Hawaiians.  Their kings used to meet there to make important decisions.  On the left, you can see this is a burial ground and camping and ATVs are prohibited.  On the right, you can see port-o-potties, so apparently pooping is not.
  The end of our last day and we say good bye to Hawaii for another time.
  In case you have never seen the waiting area of a tropical airport.  All outside.