Monthly Archives: April 2007

Hawaii Update

Posted by on April 21, 2007

Akaka Falls, Big Island, Hawaii

Akaka Falls, Big Island, Hawaii

I intended to go to Hawaii first so i could get my travel bearings in a place I was familiar with. The last week has been very instructive in how to go about the day-to-day grind of traveling.

Things I’ve learned:

  • If you can find a place with free wireless internet access, stay there as long as you can.
  • Don’t move locations unless there is a good reason to do so. There is a cost associated with moving.
  • Pick what you want to see and do before you get to where you’re going.
  • You can only improvise and wing it up to a point. At a minimum you should know where your staying and when/how you’re leaving the next place you’ll be.
  • Its much easier to shoot video than it is to do still photos
  • I have a lot to learn about photography
  • Have a mental checklist of stuff and check it constantly. Check your pockets and never walk away from anywhere without looking to see if you left something
  • Even if you can walk comfortably in open toe sandals, it doesn’t mean you should
  • If the sun is up, drink Gatorade over Diet Coke every time
  • Drink water over Gatorade unless you pee is really dark. Buy whatever is the cheapest, big bottle of water they sell
  • When in doubt, take video. Save the still shots for near sunset/sunrise

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on.

Tomorrow I’m off to Mona Kea, then Maui on Sunday. I plan on spending all of Sunday working on video editing. I’ve taken about an hour of raw footage so far on the Big Island and I expect to take a bunch tomorrow.

I don’t have an early start tomorrow, so expect some photos and and update on Volcanoes National Park and my dismal day of taking photos in Pololu Valley. I’m upload a ton of images to Flickr I as type this.

Back Online

Posted by on April 20, 2007

I have some stable internet for the next two days. I will be off to Volcano National Park for the rest of the day and I should have a good sized update later tonight (or tomorrow morning for most of you).

Tomorrow (Saturday), I’ll be up on Mouna Kea for the day looking at telescopes and taking photos. Sunday I’m off to Maui to finally get some beach time and edit some video.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Posted by on April 18, 2007

Going down to South Point going to have myself a time...

Going down to South Point going to have myself a time...


*Complete collection of photos from the day is here.

Sunday I had to make a decision as to what I wanted to do first. I figured I that I’m still several time zones off of local time, i might as well make the drive out to South Point (Ka Lae) and see the Green Sand Beach. (Mahana Beach)

I was up at like 4:30am, checked my email and messed around on my computer because the sun wasn’t up yet, and was off in my Jeep by 6am. Having been to South Point before, I knew it was hot and windy, so I stopped at a grocery store and purchased some food and three liters of water.

The trip to South Point is about 70 miles from Hilo. It goes right past the gates of Volcanoes National Park (more on that later) and gives you a great view of Mona Loa. Its two lane road for most of the way (outside of bits of Hilo and Kona, everything on the Big Island is two lanes). You go from sea level, up 4200 feet around the National Park, and then eventually back down to sea level.

Some of the scenery along the way is stunning. This is the view from a the road on the way to South Point:

Eventually, you turn south off the highway and the road gets progressively worse. You leave the lush, green landscape of the windward side of Mona Loa to the arid, windy, brown which is South Point.

The first thing that strikes you is the wind. There are only a few scattered trees and all of those trees are permanently bent over from the wind.

Someone, at some point, figured there was money to be made from all that wind and put a wind farm at South Point. Unfortunately, they forgot to budget any money for upkeep and repairs. The wind farm is odd because it has the feel of an old abandoned factory or a grain elevatory, but its pretty new. Its spooky. Some of the blades turn. Some don’t. Some are missing. Some have no blades at all. Everything is in some degree or other of rusting away.

There is a row of wind mills near the shore which still appear to be working, but its probably only 10% of the total of the farm.

Eventually the road turns to hell. The pavement starts to break apart and eventually disappears altogether. You are at South Point. The southern most point in the United States of America. It is believed that this was the point where humans first set foot on Hawaii about 1600 years ago (its the closest point to Tahiti, where Hawaiians are believed to have come from).

The interesting thing is that there is really nothing there to indicate that the place has any significance whatsoever. There is an old plaque indicating the South Point Complex was here, but nothing to say why that’s important. There is also a beacon which is, or maybe was, run by the Coast Guard as sort of a mini lighthouse for the point. I have no clue if it still works. There is nothing to indicate the geographical significance of the place.

The only reason people come to South Point now, other than the occasional oddball tourist, is for fishing. Guys come down here to fish and seem to just set up camp. The cliffs they fish off of are anywhere from 30 to 100 feet high. I’m not certain what they catch, but this seems to be one of the more popular spots on the Big Island.

The actual southern most point of South Point isn’t well defined. I managed to get the latitude on my GPS as low as I could, but didn’t want to risk going out further where I could get hit by the surf (which was pretty high) and wreck my camera. You can sort of see how two little parts just out at the very southern most point. I think what is southern most might change on the basis of the tide.

South Point Satellite Image

The next stop was the Green Sand Beach.

Its one of my favorite places in the world for several reasons: 1) its hard to get to. Its not like many attractions where you can take a tour bus, walk around and get back on the bus. There are no roads going to the beach, nor are there directions or signs. If you manage to get there, you’ve earned it. 2) Its unique. Its a one of a kind place on the Earth. Its the only beach with green sand you’ll find anywhere. 3) The surf get channeled into a narrow inlet and its always very powerful, which makes for good body surfing.

Its about two miles or so from South Point to the beach. You either need to hike or take a four wheel drive out there. It’s serious off-roading. I rented a Jeep Wrangler on the Big Island and used every bit of its abilities. I was literally rock crawling for a good portion of the drive.

I spent most of my time there shooting video. During my stay, the number of people at the beach fluxuated between 1 (not including me) to about 12. A dozen people at that beach seemed like a lot because its a pretty small area. Its also totally enclose. You have to climb down the rim of the cinder cone its housed in to get to the beach.

The reason the sand has its green color is due to the presense of a mineral called Olivine. Olivine (Mg,Fe)2SiO4 is very common in the mantle of the Earth but is not common in the crust. The cinder cone that once erupted here was rich in Olivine. Over time as the cone eroded away, the lighter ash and other minerals eroded first leaving the harder Olivine. The reason why the sand isn’t perfectly green is that Olivine can take on a more golden color if its more iron rich, and more green if its magnesium rich. Gem quality Olivine also goes by the name Peridot.

After swimming and shooting video, I began the drive back to Hilo. I made a short stop at Punalu’u, the Black Sand Beach. There are actually many beaches with black sand on the Big Island. Punalu’u just is unusually large and fine grained. The sand here is just crushed up basalt, which is the rock that makes up all of the Hawaiian Islands.

At Punalu’u you can see many Green Sea Turtles. There was one on the beach sunning himself when I was there. (I also saw one swimming off the shore at South Point.)

I was only there about 15 minutes before I loaded back up and headed “home”. I got the start of a good sunburn (which hasn’t hurt or peeled so far) and drank about 3 liters of water.

The day was a pretty good start to Hawaii.

I am not dead

Posted by on April 16, 2007

I haven’t posted in a few days, but I’ve been pretty busy. I have lots of photos I uploaded to Flickr. Sunday I went to South Point and the Green Sand Beach. Today I visted Akaka Falls and tomorrow I’m off to Volcanoes National Park. I’ll try to put a post up about my adventures soon and some context to the photos.

I also have been taking a lot of video, but it’s much harder to edit all of that than it is to upload a photo.

Oh, Hawaii!!

Posted by on April 15, 2007

I’m writing this in my room at the Arnott’s Backpacker lodge in Hilo, Hawaii. I’m 3,903 miles as the crow flies from my starting point in Minneapolis and now 5 hours behind CDT (Hawaii doesn’t have or really need daylight savings because of their location closer to the equator).

The weather here is, as always, amazing.

Sunday I’m off to South Point to see the green sand beach and shoot some video. Monday should take me to Volcanoes National Park.

Hawaii Ho! (Not the Don Imus sort of ho)

Posted by on April 14, 2007

If you’re reading this on Saturday April, 14, I’m on my way to the Big Island of Hawaii.

I have a lot of photos from my day at the Getty Museum in LA up on Flickr. I’ll have a write up, hopefully, sometime tomorrow.

I should be putting up my first videos next week from Hawaii. We’ll see how it goes. It will be my first real attempt at video editing. I’m treating Hawaii as a test bed for my video, so don’t expect anything great right out of the chute. I’m assuming the first few will suck.

I got to see LA from up on Mullholland Dr. tonight with Bietz and I tried taking a photo of the skyline with my tripod. It was my first attempt at long exposure, night photography. I think i still need some work.

LA Skyline

Windmills of your mind

Posted by on April 13, 2007

Palm Springs Windmills
Windmills in Palm Spring, CA


At least one good thing came out of the train ride. I took this photo at a brief stop we made in Palm Springs, CA. I posted a photo earlier of windmills in Iowa. Believe it or not, there is no windmill theme working here, I just thought it was interesting.

I’m not THAT bald

Posted by on April 12, 2007


After I left Dallas, Scott did a comic about me. A lot of people found this site in the last few days, so welcome.

I spent the entire day sleeping off whatever it is I have. I feel much better now.

The Train Never Ends

Posted by on April 12, 2007

Last night I had dinner with my friend Mike Bietz out here in LA. We went to a restaurant that served insects and we had worms and scorpion on shrimp toast. Honestly, if I hadn’t known that they were insects, I never would have guessed.

Before I started to eat however, I really hit a wall. I got tried and started to feel sick. I think whatever I might have caught on the train was hitting me. On the way back to my motel, I threw up three times on Santa Monica Blvd. I had to pull over, open the door and puke.

On the way home I stop at a 7-11 and get some orange juice to see if I could keep that down. Nope.

So its now 5:50 local time and I think i’m going to go and buy some Gatorade and come back and sleep. I think I’m deyhdrated. I puked up most of the fluids I had yesterday.

I’d like to point out the irony that on a trip around the world, the first place I get sick is in the US. My immune system is usually pretty tough, but it wasn’t tough enough to stop the sickness that is Amtrak.