Day 15: Final Attractions

Our last day was meant to be a “catch me up” day, in case we missed anything while planning our excursions. And, of course, we did find a few things we wanted to add. One attraction was the lava tube I saw from highway 11 on the way to Hilo the other day; and the other was the Old Kona Airport State Park. Both were worthy destinations.

We woke early and I took off for a walk down to a little coastal park. I wanted surf and sea pictures in the morning sun. Unfortunately, to get there I had to walk along the road, sharing the little trail with other walkers, bike riders, and of course, the cars and trucks that were whizzing by just inches away from us walkers. It was a little bit of a fearful walk, but one I wanted to make. There’s nowhere else to walk to get into town – and everyone does it.

I did make it to my photo spot and was glad that I did. The surf in the morning sun is quite different from what it looks like toward afternoon and even different thanĀ  at sunset. The color of the water seems bluer; clearer; the waves whiter and somehow frothier in the early morning.

In the distance a gigantic cruise ship was coming into Kona. It made me happy to think about the flying option. The ship probably housed more people than live in all of Kona – including the visitors in hotels and condos. It makes the number of people on a plane much more acceptable.

When I got back to our rooms, my driver had breakfast almost ready. We ate the last of our eggs and croissants, while making a schedule for the remainder of the day.

The next stop – the lava tube by the highway. When we found it, people were already there climbing and snapping selfies. The sight of it was almost as shocking as looking into the venting volcano caldera. A lava tube. What an amazing artifact of nature. Hard to describe, but amazing in every way. If we had had better shoes, we might have hiked down into the tube . . . others were doing it wearing flip flops. But we had recently walked over a mile on volcanic rock and did not wish to repeat the experience. Lava rock is sharp! Lava rock is very uneven! Lava rock does not make the best walking path to observe or see anything. So, we stayed close to the road near the opening, and then climbed a little ways to the top of the tunnel, where we could look down into it.

On the way back into town, my driver reminded me if we found a place to buy a belt, he could use a new belt. We stopped at Target, where they had no belts long enough. We went across the street to Ross and could not find a parking place as all of Kona was doing their Christmas shopping at this particular Ross. So, my driver sent me in for a belt while he circled the parking lot. I did find one, along with a lovely, large island bag to replace ourĀ  much smaller carry on. I thought it necessary for all of the purchases we made while in the islands. We had to have some way to get them home.

With a new belt and a new bag, we drove across the street to visit the Old Kona Airport State Park. The parking lot was once the airport runway and the beach ran the entire length of it. But, it wasn’t your usual beach – it was a rocky, volcanic rock beach – but quite beautiful. Some cloud cover was moving in and being reflected in the tidal pools, making the photos seem surreal. My driver decided to take off his sandals and test the water. Despite the high surf warnings all week, these tidal pools seemed safe. We had been enjoying the park for about an hour and the surf never came up as high as the tidal pools. We could see zebra colored fish swimming in schools in the crystal clear water. They looked like they should be in someone’s tropical fish tank in a living room, but instead, they were in their own tropical fish tank – the Hawaiian shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Before I could leave Airport Park, I had to walk through their gardens. They had the most plumeria trees I have seen since coming to the islands. I love plumeria and I wanted to capture a picture of some. Most of the ones I had seen were too high on their branches to make photography possible. But, here in the park, the trees were smaller and the blossoms at eye level. They are a beautiful blossom, and they smell even better than they look. The aroma of a full blossoming plumeria tree is intoxicating. December must not be the month for full blossoming trees. That’s just one little disappointment of this trip – not enough plumeria blooming to make that lovely tropical scent they are known for – and I love.

Driving past the Discount Fabric Store on the way back to our rooms, required one last stop. I just had to walk through one more time to savor all the island prints before going back to the mainland where all of this is difficult to come by. I had already purchased enough to start my own store . . . but one more look couldn’t hurt.

Stopping at the front desk, we asked to be able to print our boarding passes for our fight home tomorrow. We have less than twenty hours left here now. But, I think we covered the islands, the parks, and the adventures that we had in mind when we planned this trip last March. All that and a few cherries on top as well.

We fixed some late lunch and marveled at how our groceries we purchased the first day have been just about perfect for our entire week. We talked about our adventures and began to think about packing in anticipation of leaving tomorrow morning.

Just one last sunset to put a cap on this lovely escape to paradise. I walked down the causeway in our condo complex and took my pictures off the 7th floor landing. Then, I had to go down to the third floor and try some more, closer to the surf. It really is a shame sunset only lasts about five minutes . . . I could have stood there forever. The birds were chirping loudly, the surf was pounding rhythmically, gentle breezes were blowing, and all the visitors had their eyes glued to the horizon as the sun’s golden disc melted into the blue of the water, turning the sky pinkish gold. It was magnificent. I can hardly believe this is the first sunset I got to fully observe since coming two weeks ago. We have been exploring and enjoying and stopping for the sunset just didn’t seem to coordinate with our movements. I did see several sunsets from the car window, one from a restaurant window and one from the Steak Shack’s outdoor seating on Waikiki. Not too bad, really. We did enjoy every moment.

As I was about to leave my place at the sixth floor railing, I saw the huge cruise ship turn and leave it’s mooring at Kona. Those folks had less than a day here – hardly the way to see the islands. I do not envy them. My time – our time here, has been graced in every way. But, I will be ready to take my memories and my pictures and return home tomorrow.