As our 30th anniversary approached, and as Southwest Airlines rumors spread of flights to Hawaii in the future, Mo began planning a reprise trip of our earlier visit the Hawaiian islands. In this case, we beat Southwest there.
While our trip five years ago was to the Big Island and Oahu, this time around we are returning to the Big Island and then visiting Kauai for the first time. After a rough flight out, we arrived in Kona, picked up our rental car, and checked in to our condo. We already knew the area a bit as it was only a couple blocks from the Royal Kona Resort where we had stayed previously.
the view from our Kona condo
We had a bit of déjà vu when again my tour of the summit of Mauna Kea and evening stargazing was thwarted by overcast/bad weather.
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While at Kailua-Kona, one of my big plans was to take a tour to the summit of Mauna Kea to be among the observatories at sunset, and to spend some time viewing the stars while up there. Unfortunately, the night I had reserved months in advance was one of the few nights during the year that is cancelled due to bad weather. I had even been taking altitude medication in preparation for it. As Mo consoled me at the time, “Well, we’ll just have to come back again!”
We left Kona and drove along the northern half of the Hawai’i Belt Road, skirting around with Mauna Kea on our right the whole way. While we did stop at the Gemini Observatory operations building (in Hilo), that was as close as I got to that dream.
snow covered Mauna Kea peak
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Early on Saturday morning we caught a flight with Hawaiian Airlines (that left ½ hour early!) to the big island. We arrived at Hilo, and spent the rest of the morning visiting Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and the planetarium program there, where I was researching for my upcoming evening on the top of Mauna Kea.
We made the short drive to Volcano, HI to our home for the next couple days, Aloha Junction B&B. It was great to find that we were only a couple minutes from the entrance to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. In turn, it was about ten minutes from the observatory at the edge of the active crater of the volcano. We spent some time watching the plume before heading back to the B&B, but it was so awesome, we went back again near midnight to see the orange glow of the lava on the rising cloud.
Kilauea Volcano crater in daytime and (insert) at night