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twangster

Ovation Goes South to Hawaii Sept. 20, 2019

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The tour continues with our first sitings of old lava flows.  Not the Kraken variety.

Driving along the highway everything looks normal then you come across a barren section of land where it looks like someone has tilled the land but really it's a lava flow from decades or hundreds of years ago.  In some cases plant life is starting to make roots.

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The brown area may look like dirt but it isn't.  It's more lava rock.

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There are three predominant types of lava found on Hawaii.  Most of this is an example of aa lava, a very fast moving form that causes the flow to crack and break into pieces.

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This is the big island.  The whole island was like this once but in areas that haven't received new flows a soil has formed over hundreds or thousands of years.  The isn't soil very deep though and lava rock like you see here is never far from the surface.  That makes it hard for trees to take root or to plant electric poles like this one.   This is an example of pahoehoe lava and it moves slower allowing a skin to form that protects the molten lava within so it doesn't crack in the same manner as aa lava.

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The side of the lava exposed to air oxidized and became the porous lava rock we use in our BBQ grills while the lava flow further from the surface cools at a different rate that often causes it to crack and splinter.  

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Note the brown lava rock versus the black lava rock.  More on that later.

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The Southernmost point in the US in the distance.

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To give you an idea how slowly plant growth comes back there are three lava flows in this area.  The oldest flow is brown in color now because of the high iron content.  It basically rusts over time turning the lava rock into a color that looks like soil.  It's not soil though, just more lava rock.  

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The brown lava rock is believed to be from a flow between 750 and 1,500 years ago.  The darker "newer" lava flow is from 1907.

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Note there are no trees on the darker flow, only the 1,000 year old lava has plant life.

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This one species of tree has adapted to life on lava and it produces an enzyme that can break down the lava rock and allow its root to penetrate the rock.  The tree and the red flower that blooms on them have a storied beginning in Hawaiian folklore.  More on that later.

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This lava flow rock is very sharp.  If you fell down it would hurt and probably cut you.  This is what the native population had to deal with prior to modern times.  No roads, no cars but to navigate Hawaii the native population had to deal with navigating across these types of flows all over the island for hundreds of years.  

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Next stop was at one of many National Parks on the island, this one is the Kahuku Unit.  

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Just to set expectations, there are no active eruptions or lava flows currently.  This isn't a site where you will look down into an active volcano or walk near hot, red molten lava flows.  Much of the Volcano National Park remains closed after the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea caldera.  The Kahuku unit is far enough South of the area that erupted that it can remain open.

Knowing how the island is entirely volcanic in origin and how long it takes plant life to grow it's amazing to see an abundance of plant life anywhere on the island.

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Our bus takes us to the site of am 1868 lava flow that produced tubes.  Lava tubes are produced when slow moving flows begin to cool on the surface while the molten lava continues to flow below the surface.    

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This results in a skin or tube like structure that hardens and becomes solid while the molten lava continues to flow eventually draining out of the tube leaving large cave like cavities.  

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In some cases these can be large enough to walk into or in this area to live in.  Historically the native Hawaiian tribes were somewhat a hostile people often at war with other tribes.  Small battles resulted in some winners and some losers.  Warriors defeated in battle would take refuge in these tubes in shame of losing a battle.  

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This is a marker setup by natives that sometime ago came in search of their ancestors.  Finding tubes that displayed signs of life these markers were a means to come back year after year to pay tribute to ancestors in a constantly changing island topography.  Hawaii is home to an average of 84 earthquakes annually since it resides on fault lines.  Between new lava flows and earthquakes areas like this can change overtime so the markers help them to return to places that have special meaning to them. 

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There is one tree that is critical in the lifecycle of plant growth on lava.  The Ohia tree has special enzymes that can break down lava and allow it's root to penetrate.  Over time (hundreds of years) and with enough trees an area can develop a soil that allows other plants to begin their life cycle.  

The legend of the Ohia tree is founded in Hawaiian folklore.  It is said the Pele, the goddess and fire and volcanoes met a warrior named Ohia that she wanted to marry.  Ohia had already pledged his love to Lehua.  Pele was so enraged by his refusal she turned the warrior into a tree and stuck him into the lava.  Lehue was so distraught that other gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower on the Ohia tree so that the lovers could eternally be joined together.     

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It is said that if anyone plucks the red flower from the Ohia tree it will rain that day as you are separating the lovers, Lehue and Ohia.

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The flower is loaded with seeds that winds will spread allowing more Ohia trees to seed and take root.

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It's not hard to imagine this back in 1868 as molten laving slow flowing down off this hilltop towards the sea.

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High in iron the lava is literally rusting turning a rust brown color in the process.

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This wall was built to separate and define the boundary between two native tribes in the late 1800's.   

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The next significant feature of the park we visited was the Pu’u o Lokuana Cinder Cone. 

Standing on the rim along the highest point looking back into the bowl of the cone.

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A trail leads down into the cinder cone itself.  

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My fellow guests help to define the scale of the cone.  

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It's pretty amazing to think think was at one time a volcanic vent spewing lava.

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During WWII there was a secret radar station located here, the remnants of which are hard to spot now in the growth.

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Looking over the landscape you appreciate how thousands of years have developed these lush and tropical rolling hills.

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Back into our bus we headed towards the coast. 

Lava flows generally flow down hill and our driver tells us of the occasional holes that open up in the roads around Hawaii.  Like sink holes sometimes a cavity is created or a lava tube hidden deeper below the surface opens up resulting in a collapse of the road.  We crossed over a couple such spots where they created a temporary bridge over such an opening while they work to rebuild the main road.

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Another bird unique to Hawaii is the Nēnē.  They are the state bird of Hawaii.

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It is believed these are a variation or evolution from the Canadian Goose arriving around 500,000 years ago being blown off course during a migration.  They have evolved by growing small talons on their feet and other adaptations over time to suit Hawaii.  It's believed in the 1800's there were as many as 25,000 but those numbers dwindled to around 30 in 1952.  Conservation, breeding, protection and re-introduction has brought that number up to around 2,500 today.  

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Our next stop was Punalu'u Beach or Black Sand Beach as it is sometimes called.

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Molten lava reaching the ocean would explode hitting the cool water breaking into small pieces.  Wave action over time further broke the lava down into black sand. 

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The beach is frequented by Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles which are protected.  Signs warn people to stay back at least 30' with stiff penalties for anyone who approaches or touches a turtle.  A recent visitor left a trail in the sand when they came up to bask in the sun on the black sand..

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The stark contrast of blue sky and water against the black lava and sand made for breathtaking scenery that looks so much better in real life compared to these feeble pictures.

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Lots of other wildlife is on hand as well resting in the branches.

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It doesn't take very much imagination to picture molten flowing lava flows slowly creeping towards and into the ocean.

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This would also be our lunch stop where they brought out sandwiches, chips and soft drinks for us.

We had one more stop on this tour.  A bakery used to be located here at the beach but it became so famous the small beach parking area and roads were overtaken with traffic to the bakery so they moved it closer to a nearby village.

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This was pretty much a full day excursion arriving back in port 30 minutes prior to the last tender back to the ship.

Looking back it was very informative and I feel like I know so much more about the volcanoes of Hawaii but also how life has evolved here over time.  We covered a lot on this excursion covering the early religion introduced by the missionaries, a stop for some famous Kona coffee,  a lot of lava and volcano knowledge, a beautiful beach with unique black sand and the world famous Southernmost bakery.

The people of the big island were very friendly and thankful for our visit.  Even away from Kona the news of the biggest cruise ship to ever visit the state coming to call on Hawai'i was well known across the island.  I could definitely see myself coming back to Hawai'i (the big island, not meaning the state in general). 

Back in Kona at the harbor it was time to board a tender and head back to the ship.

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After a shower and a few happy hour drinks it was time for yet another beautiful Hawaiian sunset as we began to sail away.

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Yikes, time for that ugly word.  Packing.  

Next stop Honolulu.  

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Day 11 - Honolulu

Up early the lights of Waikiki tell the story of how the island of Oahu or at least this Southern area is very different compared to the other islands.  It's basically a big city like feeling.

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Amazing sunrise to start my last day on the ship.  

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Up to the Windjammer for a last breakfast before debarking. 

A view over to the famous Diamond Head peak and the hotels of Waikiki in the distance to the left.

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Our progress back to Oahu somewhat in the middle of the Hawaiian island chain.

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Debarking was super easy.  Just walk off.  They scan your SeaPass card one last time and from there you follow the flow and exit the terminal.  We pre-cleared US customs and immigration in Vancouver so none of that was needed here since all of our stops after that were in the US.

The port is a quick ride share away from HNL airport.  Almost as convenient as Port Everglades.  

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Signs direct you to the ride share pickup area a short walk past the taxi stand area. 

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

This was pretty much a full day excursion arriving back in port 30 minutes prior to the last tender back to the ship.

Looking back it was very informative and I feel like I know so much more about the volcanoes of Hawaii but also how life has evolved here over time.  We covered a lot on this excursion covering the early religion introduced by the missionaries, a stop for some famous Kona coffee,  a lot of lava and volcano knowledge, a beautiful beach with unique black sand and the world famous Southernmost bakery.

The people of the big island were very friendly and thankful for our visit.  Even away from Kona the news of the biggest cruise ship to ever visit the state coming to call on Hawai'i was well known across the island.  I could definitely see myself coming back to Hawai'i (the big island, not meaning the state in general). 

Back in Kona at the harbor it was time to board a tender and head back to the ship.

Na2f0Ot.jpg

cIcVOre.jpg

nFu7pvK.jpg

After a shower and a few happy hour drinks it was time for yet another beautiful Hawaiian sunset as we began to sail away.

gvghdPO.jpg

8sbMCTU.jpg

Yikes, time for that ugly word.  Packing.  

Next stop Honolulu.  

I lived just south of Kona for about two years, I totally agree with you, the Big Island is the best. I was always told by locals that it was the most like "Old Hawaii".  I so glad you enjoyed your time!

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Cruise Summary

This was a bucket list cruise for me and I am so glad I did it.  Like my first time to Alaska I suspect this may be repeated in the future.  

The newer O3b internet platform worked great over the length of the cruise.  

Ovation of the Seas once again did not disappoint.  

The sea days flew past and the three port days in a row including an overnight stop made the rest of cruise very enjoyable.  Debarking in Honolulu was a breeze.  I'm glad we had a day in Seattle to visit as a port of call and not simply as an embarkation/debarkation city.

Cruising to Hawaii is very different compared to cruising in the Caribbean, in a very good way.  The ports are very interesting with a lot to choose from.

I picked my excursions carefully and watched some of them fill up and become unavailable so I'm glad I booked them when I did and saved quite a bit of money by watching for sales as the months went by.  

The tendering process was mostly a pretty good experience other than that one night coming back late when there was a wait.  Still it was quite impressive to see them perform such a large tendering operation as efficiently as they did.

I'm torn between picking a smaller ship next time to Hawaii to gain a few more ports that only smaller ships can visit or repeat on Ovation.     

I wish I could have stayed on for the next cruise to Sydney but that will have to wait for another year.  

I hope you enjoyed following along and I thank you for viewing.

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On 9/30/2019 at 7:48 PM, twangster said:

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Love that the excursion gave you jackets for Haleakala, I have been up there before in shorts and a tank top like an idiot and shivered till about halfway back down. 

Also! You captured a shot of my all-time favorite catamaran. I love Na Hoku II in Waikiki but the Trilogy is the best around. I have made it a point to sail with them every time I have been to Maui - I was even on board for my 21st birthday! They take you over to Lana'i so I count it as one of the Hawaiian chain visited. Now I need just need Molokai! A Kalaupapa hike is on my ultimate bucket list. (I don't think non-locals are able to see Ni'ihau) 

Thanks so much for all the sexy cloud pics! You are the best at those. 

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