Biking Through Hawaii


FYI: The contents of this journal can now be found on Joel's official website, Feel free to leave individual comments on these entries for Joel or head over to the website and leave a guestbook entry for him. Thanks!

The Carpeted Wall


March 28, 2002-Thursday

How can it be possible that it’s already two weeks since the end of the
Hawaii bike ride?
I am notorious for not wrapping up journals. I don’t know why - maybe I
don’t want the trip to end. Maybe I just get caught up with newer projects at
home, and then can’t be bothered. But the last day or two of most of my trip
journals go tattered and unfinished.
Furthermore, there is frequently a depression that sets in shortly after
getting back from most tours. I have learned to either accept this or combat
it by immediately beginning other big-time projects.
Faithful readers will recall that the day after getting home from the
long long plane flights - the cramped and uncomfortable and bleary-eyed
details of which I will spare you - I had TWO big photography jobs. The party
receptions stretched from noon on Saturday until past midnight. I survived
the shoots with the help of a friend, and by just taking each hour one at a
time. I got back that night pretty darn weary but happy to have had a camera
in my hands for so long again. Love capturing those kodak moments....
So, here below is the outline of the last two days. And then I have
listed for you some of the Bests and Worsts of 22 Years of Bicycle Touring. I
worked on that during the Hawaii trip and thought some of you might find it
pretty darn interesting.
Oh, and one more thing... on the big cross-country trip of ten years ago
I had no laptop computer. And all my notes were scribbled down on 8x10 sheets
of paper in my tiny almost legible printing. I have begun the project - of
one day at a time - transcribing those 80 days of notes into typed out pages.
I have referred to that epoch trip many times in this Hawaii journal.
So here’s an invitation for you: if you would like to continue your daily
fix of bicycle journal notes and follow the exploits and adventures from
ocean to ocean, let me know asap, and I’ll put you on the growing list. No
comfy-woosy bed-and-breakfasts or motels in THIS coming story - all grit and
everything rough and tumble and new. It makes a good read. You’d get a
catch-up page (about ten days worth - including the cobweb tattooed minister
story) and then just one journal page a day, as we did with Hawaii. Let me
know as soon as you’d like to start.
It was great having you along for Hawaii. The connection was a wonderful
part of my trip. And if I strung together the occasional sentence with good
words that made you smile, or wince, or wonder about the world.... well then
all the better for it.
Time to move on.... catch you next time around I hope.... my best to you


DAY 10

March 14, 2002 - Thursday - Day 10
Miles Today - 3 (around Kona)
In Kona, HI
It was a good last day in Hawaii. I took it pretty much easy. Took a
short ride, and got the bike and some other gear over to the bike store. Did
a little browsing through the shopping area and got a few little things. Had
another massage.
During the day I tried not to think about what the 14-hour or so trip
through the night would be like coming back home. I would be starting to fly
at 6:30ish today and not get home, because of time zones, delays in
connections, etc., until 24 hours later!!!!
Had to get to the airport by 4:30pm for the 6:30pm flight to Honolulu.
Long hour-long line waits again. Then had to wait for a couple hours for the
flight to San Francisco. THEN had to wait a couple hours for the flight back
to Philly. I was pretty bleary-eyed. And I didn’t have as much luck with
seats this time and it was pretty cramped.


March 15, 2002 - Friday - Day 00
- Travel Day Home -
Miles Today - 1 (when home)
During most of the traveling I was in a drowsy fog, body compacted into a
tight folded-up ball of a three-seat row. Ugh. Soon enough though, at the end
of that long dreary travel tunnel, the smiley face of my sister, Lil, was
there at the Philadelphia airport greeting me. It was good seeing her, and
good being back.
Celebrated my 55th birthday today. Circumstances dictated that I would be
‘celebrating’ alone, but at least I got to see Lil. And I had plenty of
time to reflect on things....
Through my traveling years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter
where you are, as long as you are happy with what you’re doing. I’ve been in
majestic paradise places and have seen the absolute looks of boredom and
unhappiness in people who were toiling at jobs that they hated. And I’ve been
in dog-down-dirty poverty-stricken places where people have been endlessly
laboring with their hands and enjoying what they were doing....

After a mile bike ride and a mile run and a good hot shower, I sank into
a deep sleep. And washing over me during that sleep were memories of palm
trees, recollections of new friends, feelings of heightened accomplishment,
and a blue big ocean with endless waves...


-by Joel Perlish
(with apologies to John Masefield's Sea Fever)

I must get out on the roads again, to the lonely road and sky,
And all I ask is my 21-speed, and a map to steer her by;
And the wheels' kick, and the chain's song, and the pedals turning,
And a white haze on the sun's face, and my legs all a-churning.

I must get out on the roads again, for the call of a touring ride
Is a noble call, and a strong call, and one I must abide;
And all I ask is a tailwind to make me feel like flying,
And a bright sun, white clouds, and the birds with their plaintive crying.

I must get out on the roads again, to those wonderful biking days,
To the fresh air, and the warm breeze, and the moon's twinkling rays;
And all I ask is a new-found friend and sleep that is wonderfully deep,
And the memory of miles under my wheel, and memories of smiles to keep.
by joel perlish


---> Things that can make or break a bike touring day - wind, mechanical
bike problems, the terrain, the cleanliness of the road, the terrain, too
late a start, having problems finding a place to stay.
---> Things that are good to remember as a touring cyclist - remembering
to downshift when stopping,


- I ride a Trek 520 Touring Bike with Blackburn rear racks, and Blackburn
low-rider front racks. The touring bags on the back are Serratus bags (which
I think are the best) and purchased from a mail order place in Canada.



WORST SMELL - the putrefying badly decomposed buck on the side of the road
outside of Altoona,PA. Tied with that Worst Smell was the aroma coming from
the cattle yards in Kansas. Both in ‘80 on the cross country trip.

BEST SMELL - the smell of fresh laundry on the line as I pulled out of
Shamokin,PA, also back in ‘80. And the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking
- anywhere...

RIDE CLOSEST TO BEING ABORTED - one of the Appalachian Mountain rides where
I had a spoke broken - and a hillbilly metal worker took the delicate
workings of the 21-speed bike wheel and fashioned parts of a clothes hanger
to attach the two halves of the broken spoke. (I rode with it that way for a
number of years!)....
and on one of my west coast rides when my knee busted out and I could
only pedal with one leg - try THAT sometime in the mountains! Well, an
Indian bike store guy gave me a special potion to put on the knee. Finished
up in style.

HARDEST DAY - no question about it - the 60 miles into Oakes, ND, in ‘91 on
the Winnipeg to Omaha ride. (Totally flat. NOTHING in between start and
finish. Total blasting wind in my face the whole way.)

LONGEST DAY - 116 miles out of the Rockies into Soccoro, NM, in ‘80.

FAVORITE PLACE BIKED - Oregon Coast in ‘86.

LEAST FAVORITE PLACE (although pretty damn exciting!) - all the way through
New York City as part of the East Coast section in ‘88.

MOST IMPRESSIVE PERSON MET - three-way tie: the 80-something fellow I met on
the road, and hooked up with for part of my Seattle to Denver trip in ‘87 (it
was his third trip in the last 5 years or so!);
the 70’s-something bike touring guy from France, Jacques Reynard, I met
on one of my Appalachian rides;
- and the water-planner in Texas who I met on my Philly to Dallas trip in
‘82. The fellow claimed to know every word in the dictionary - and after
‘testing’ him, it appeared he did!

WORST EXPERIENCES WITH A CAR - an impatient driver honking at me on a little
hill in Kansas in ‘80, and a kid in the south tossing a cardboard glass of
soda at me in ‘82. Not bad for over 20,000 miles of riding, eh? (Compare
that to the 1000’s of folks who have moved over a little for me, the 100’s
who have waved and shouted encouragement or lifted thumbs up, and the scores
of folks who tried to hand me money out their car window! Pretty astounding!)

BEST SUNSET - that has to be in 1997 at the Florida Keys!

MOST UNEXPECTED MEETING - I was the farthest I had been away from home at the
time - somewhere around a lake in Oregon. I was looking at license plates
hoping to see a PA plate. I saw one on a van that was parked near this lake.
I pulled over to the cab window, the guy looks out, and says, “Hey, you’re
Joel Perlish.” It was Glenn Danner who was a hall-mate of mine at Kutztown

STORIES I MOST ENJOY TELLING - (all from the cross country trip) - the drunk
in the desert story, the mobile home in the desert yarn (with all the women
and kids running around), and the time I got THIS CLOSE to taking a lap
around the Indianapolis 500 track on my bike. (The track president would have
allowed it, but the track manager said then, “any kook” would want to do it.)

CLOSEST BRUSH WITH JAIL - being stopped by the Mexican Border Patrol in ‘80
and being told that I had to go through multiple searches and detained
periods because as a bicyclist, I was “suspicious looking”. I could see 20
years in a Mexican prison staring me in the face.

WORST PLACE FOR A FLAT - smack in the middle of the the seven-mile bridge
between Washington and Oregon on Trip 14 in 1995 A busy, truck traffic laden,
two-lane bridge - in the middle of a galing rainstorm! (Hey, I had to fix it
and get on my way.)

‘93. (Riding across a narrow road, Grand Canyon-type views of house-sized
boulders and rugged terrain out to the horizon everywhere in sight.

WORST ROAD (not including under-construction ones) - the 15 miles or so into
Tuscaloosa, Alabama in ‘82 on the way to Dallas. Every ten feet there was a
cinderblock-sized groove stretching all the way across the old road. It was
given to me as a shortcut. It took a looooong time.

MOST EXCITING BRUSHES WITH POLICE - 1.Being yelled at by an officer after I
(illegally) crossed the Burlington-Bristol Bridge in ‘80 near the end of the
ocean-to-ocean journey. Hey, I had crossed the country that far on my bike, I
wasn’t about to put it in the trunk of a car then.
2. Being pulled over on the Interstate into St.Louis. I knew I shouldn’t
have been there, but it was a much flatter ride. The officer was writing up a
hefty fine for me until I mentioned that I was writing a book about my exp
erience, after which he just gave me a warning...
3. On one of the Appalachian rides the campsite was too close to the
Appalachian Trail, and a $55 fine ensued. I recall seeing the officers shoes
at the tent door in the morning.

BEST PICNIC AND NAPPING PLACE - High up a huge culvert somewhere outside of
Gaviota, California. I was up with the clouds, my bike far below. It was a
desolate area - and the air was grand, the sky sunny, the view majestic.

WORST ENCOUNTER WITH BUGS - A cabin in Zion Park in ‘93 - they were infested
into the wood and then thickly blanketed the inside of the place just at
bedtime making it uninhabitable. Ended up sleeping in the tent outside, far
away. The owner wouldn’t give me my money back saying in effect, ‘You’re a
camper, you have to put up with these things.’ On top of that, he wanted to
charge me for the camp site, too!!!
Also, the mosquitoes in Minnesota in ‘85 and in Alaska in 2000.
Also, the billows of gnats that Bob Edwards and I rode through on our
late night ride into Clarkesville in ‘81.

CLOSEST TO NOT HAVING A PLACE TO STAY - I was riding out of Yuma in ‘80, late
at night, refusing to stay in a motel, when a kid who had seen me earlier
that day 75 miles or so away, came by in his pickup truck, and said I could
stay in his garage.

HOTTEST DAYS ON THE BIKE - summer of ‘01 through the northeast. On some of
the mountainous parts, I couldn’t get more than five minutes without stopping
and mopping. On the ‘81 trip to Georgia, the tire treads in the asphalt
showed tracks.

COLDEST TIMES ON A TOUR - in the Rockies in ‘80. Some folks I was camping
next to had frost on their sleeping bag.

WORST CROSS WIND - riding for a number of miles at a 45-degree angle with
sharp ravines on my right side coming out of Soccoro, New Mexico in ‘80 on
what I believe was Route 66.

WORST ADVICE - given by a multitude of people, “It’s all down hill to
Soccoro!” It wasn’t all down hill and nobody mentioned the wind. Hard
pedaling down the hill. And I had been counting on a downhill that day, the
longest of my biking career in a single day.

MOST PATHETIC ANIMAL SIGHT - a big deer with a leg mired in the mud, grunting
to get out but stuck beyond help. Near Perry, FL on the Gulf Coast tour in

WORST FOG - on one of the Appalachian Mountain rides. The clouds were
crashing into the mountain. As I stood before one giant cloud, the immensity
of it was awing and it slowly, slowly moved toward the mountain peak i was
on. It was so well fully formed that I could reach out and touch it. Touching
a cloud: what an experience!! But then the bulk of it collided with the
steep terrain, and made a wall of fog. I spent another day at my campsite
catching up on postcards.

SLOWEST MOVING OBJECT SEEN ON A TOUR - In ‘85 from a campsite right on the
banks of the Mississippi I had a wondrous view of the river - and the
barges moved so slowly and smoothly. They were like hour hands... they
hardly seemed to move at all, and then you noticed, after looking away, and
then glancing back, how time tricked you, and movement was there after all.
But like southern drawls, and the ways of many southern folks, the barges
were purposeful & intent. And they were like time itself, forever moving

MOST TOUCHING DOG STORY - As I was coming out of Dodge City in ‘80, a whole
PACK of dogs were loping after me. I was worried a little, but they stayed a
good distance. One by one they got tired and left the pack. Until there was
just one dog left, and he followed me for miles and miles and many more
miles. I would stop and turn, and say, ‘Shoo’... But he would just look at
me from a little distance, wag his tail, and sit there. I grew attached to
the cute little thing, and had thoughts that he would follow me the whole way
home. But finally, he trailed off, and disappeared. I missed him.

MOST MEMORABLE BRIDGE CROSSINGS - he Golden State Bridge at dusk in ‘95, the
Louisiana Bridge over the Mississippi in ‘85 when the police ESCORTED me
across, and that crossing of that 7-mile Astoria bridge in ‘85 with the flat
in the middle of it during the storm.

ONLY ILLNESS ON A BIKE TRIP - A one day fever on the Across Wisconsin and
Michigan trip in ‘92. Spent it holed up in a motel. Better the next day.

important item to have is toilet paper.

campsite on the other side of Salt River Canyon. The trees were ancient, the
birds and bird sounds like pterodactyls winging over forest primeval.

BIGGEST UNEXPECTED LAUGH WHILE ON A BIKE - just coming out of that Salt River
Canyon in ‘80, after a torturously long climb (people were cheering and
trying to hand me money even!), I had just made it to a level area, and I
looked up at one of the very few cars there that went by and there from out
of the back window, three teenagers were mooning me.

THINGS LIKED LEAST ABOUT TOURING - not being able to recycle in a lot of
places. Even in some of the most majestic places, where they should be
conscious of such things, they have no one forward-thinking enough to start a
recycling program.

where only one person showed up - my dad. True, it was snowing, and not many
were expected anyway because of the holiday.....

THE BEST BIKE TRIP - Any trip that is the NEXT one.

Click for full-size image



Well, it was a brutal 14 hours or so flying home. I am exhausted.
Just wanted to get a quick note out to y'all to let you know I got back safely.
I will have another entry in a day or two.
Here's the honest to goodness final image I took in Hawaii - undoctored.
What a sight, eh?

ps. thanks for coming along....

Click for full-size image



March 13, 2002 - Wednesday - Day 9
Miles Today - 70 Total Miles - 290
Panaluu,HI to Kona,HI
- Completion of Biking Trip -

When I went out to run, there were two cute big snails at the bottom of
Josh’s back stairway. They were sloooowwwwlllly making their way across the
cement pad there. Reminded me of my biking speed. While jogging I noticed
some snails that didn’t quite make it across the road. Ugh.
I left right at 8am! I was glad that I could parallel the ocean for
awhile before making my way up to the big road, Route 11. Nice views, and
also in this way I could avoid that steep incline on which I came down to the
beach area. I passed one of the few condominiums in that area, Sea Mountain
at Panaluu. The golf course was lush. (Did you know, by-the-way, that though
they are green, golf courses are the very WORST ecological offenders? All the
chemicals that they put into the ground to make the course leeches into the
soil and does a real bad number on old mother earth.)
About 6 miles out, the views to the left for me are full Pacific Ocean.
Much of the day I am cheated of any pictures because of the haze. But I have
some good shots in the morning from high up on the bluffs and overlooks. A
road crew guy is there moving traffic to one side, and I say to him, “Man,
you look out there and you can see San Francisco!” He did a cute jump-around
mock doubletake that gave me a laugh.
And believe it or not, at 6.5 miles out there, hanging from a cliff on
the right side of the road was a big cactus! It was the first I’d seen since
the Kohala Mountain
Range so many days ago.
I wound along roadsides etched in the coastline for awhile. Many of the
roads followed up huge hills and left me gasping in the hot morning air. I
did the best job of the trip hydrating today. I bought water, and bought into
the myth of the sports drinks today purchasing a bottle of that, too, at
every stop. I drank a lot throughout the day. And though it was in the
mid-80’s I was never thirsty.
Some days on this tour I took the little successes in the mileage. But
today I elected to keep track of each hour. I knew it would be a long day,
and it helped me to keep things in perspective.
The 9 o’clock watch beep found me at 7 miles out for the first hour.
There were many hills in this hour, and the views were grand of the deep blue
ocean from left horizon to right horizon. At times, little inlets could be
seen, snuggling against the coastline. I felt pretty energetic and good, what
with the off day, and the lighter load.
And as I reached onto ten miles I had a pretty darn frisky tailwind
pushing me along. It was tough going with the hills, even with less to carry
and the rest day behind me. But I couldn’t imagine WHAT it would have been
like if a big headwind had been puffing me in the face. Of course, it WOULD
have been cooler. As it was, I had great gobs, and globs, and buckets of
sweat pouring off me.
The 10 o’clock watch chime (two hours) found me at only 10.8 miles as I
continued to snail up the mountainsides. Got a nice thumbs up from a couple
in their car going the other way. That kind of thing really does help get the
adrenalin pumping. Especially on these hills where I’m climbing and climbing
and climbing. During the day, I attacked the hills as much as I could until I
couldn’t attack them any longer - hey, it was the last day, what had I to
lose? But after awhile I just had to sink the gears into the granny gear and
slowly grind my way to the top. (For those who don’t know: a “granny gear”
is the huge back gear that some bikes have to help make hill climbing
easier. It’s a lot slower, but it’s easier to crank the pedals.)
The hills today weren’t as long as in Volcano by any means, and there
weren’t as many as back on the Kohala Mountain Range, but they were surely
steeper than any encountered so far. And they were twistier, so I had to pay
a LOT more attention to the traffic coming and going.
At the 11 o’clock beep (the third hour) I had covered a total of only 16
miles. I was hoping against hope that I had finally reached the top. I had
some down hills and some level stretches, but basically I continued to rise
from sea level. It didn’t bother me particularly because I knew that I would
be coming back down to sea level when I reached Kona, and so I kept expecting
good payback for these heavily perspiring ascents.
Almost abruptly at my 18th mile up along the coast, the landscape turned
to lava-rock moonscape again. This lasted for quite a number of miles until
the green returned.
At one of the little convenience stores along the way I was refilling my
supply of sports drink. A big boned blond woman was behind me in line. I
asked her if the hills would ever end. She smiled, and I told her this was
the last day of the trip around the island. She congratulated me, and gave me
a big hug. She then said, “There’s a lot of he-man in there.” I told her I
didn’t really think of it that way, but she insisted. I was embarrassed by
her insistence.
I met a guy outside the store from Vegas who was on vacation. He enjoyed
hearing about the trip. He wanted to know if I’d gotten any press about it
here in Hawaii. I said, no, it was a pretty common thing for a serious
bicyclist to do here. Upon hearing that my total mileage was over 22,500
miles for all the trips, he asked if I had any blisters. My reply was, “Not
At 22.5 miles at 11:50am I sat down for about five minutes and drank and
ate some of the nuts I had along. My thinking now was that it wouldn’t take a
rocket scientist with a calculator to figure that at this pace (about 5mph) i
would be getting in way after dark!!!!
Just north of Oceanview I got some digitals of street and area names
“Leilani.” I thought Lei would enjoy them.
At 1 o’clock I rolled over my 34th mile. I suspected that this would pan
out to be about halfway. It was the fifth hour of biking. Which made for a
pathetic 6mph average.
There was a familiar face at an out-of-the-way macadamia nut stand. It
was Tom and his wife Sheila (who was the the geologist from Montana) who I
had met at the Volcano Center. It was great seeing them again. He was the guy
wearing the “Make Coffee, Not War” t-shirt. An affable guy with a great
laugh, we chatted about the coincidence of seeing each other again. Tom had a
expression he would use that I wasn’t familiar with - if something was
“cool” or “nifty” he would say it was “really uptown”. We talked about a
few things including the need for sunblock on the head (he had forgotten to
put some on after getting out of the water the other day, and was hurting
there....)... We traded some more images!
When I told Tom about the tough biking day, he mentioned that I had come
up 1,500 feet since the Black Sand Beach, and would be headed back down to
sea level again when I reached Kona.
A lot of folks who came by on the highway, where cars passed about every
5-10 minutes or so, would sample the nuts, possibly make a purchase, and then
want to take the friendly salesguy’s photo. Seemed odd to me, but I guess
they wanted a picture of a genuine Hawaiian sales person. I asked if he was
on-line so I could send him a picture. He said, no, but his son was, and so I
got a nice portrait of the bushy bearded guy.
We talked about the fact he wasn’t on-line. I chided him good naturedly
about it. And he understood that it was the way of the world now. And as I
rolled away I got to thinking how many more sales he could be making on the
internet to places all around the whole big world, instead of just at that
little corner of highway.... Then again, maybe he just likes meeting people.
After about twenty minutes of lingering there, I headed back up the
coast. It’s not coastline like much of the California coast where the ocean
is only a few feet away, but it was mostly always in view now albeit
generally a mile or so from the road. Occasionally I’d get a grand panorama.
Toward the end was the best view - a little town and the ocean beyond. But
as I said, the haze cheated me out of practically any photos at all today...
The 2pm watch beep (after 6 hours of biking) found me at 31.2 miles.
I startled a really scrawny little white cat that was picking it’s way
along the side of the road. He high-tailed it into the thicket there.
At 3pm, after 7 hours of biking, I had gone 48miles. The average had
picked up a bit, and I was enjoying some nice downhill spurts occasionally
now in the afternoon heat. I was also stopping a bit more to rest, and I was
stopping more at little stores to re-up my water and sports drink supply.
Crossed over the 50th mile at 3:15pm with a nice swooping downhill. I was
thinking that there would be 15-20miles left, and I was hoping mightily that
it would be the long-awaited huge downhill that I had been expecting. In fact
for much of the afternoon I went through the “I-hope-this-is-the-last-hill”
There is always that wonder what is around the next curve, what is over
that next hill. But when tired, it becomes even more of a push to keep
The 4 o’clock hour watch chime took me by surprise. I was working a big
hill when it went off at 64.3 miles. At eight hours into the day, I had upped
the average to 8mph. It was near the sign that advertised a botanist with the
unlikely name of “A.Greenfield.”
And one of the few pictures that I was sorry I didn’t stop for was the
place of business named the “Dodo Mortuary.”
Shortly past there and in what I hoped were the last ten miles I was
pumping pretty hard coming up a hot hill. An older guy in a straw hat was
walking alongside the road approaching me on the busy highway. He could
surely see I was struggling. I slowed and stopped next to him, and said with
a tired twinkle in my eye, “Go ahead, just push me into the traffic! Put me
out of my misery.” He chuckled and said, “Oh don’t worry, you have a lot
left in you. You’ll make it!” He gave me a pat on the back. It helped.
I made a wrong turn off the main highway. My bike touring sense told me
that I was not on the right road anymore. And I asked a lady coming out of
her driveway where I should be going. She told me, and said with a cautioning
tone, “But it’s pretty far.” I smiled, said it wasn’t far for what I’ve
been through already. Then I took out my map, and showed her the diagram of
all I did on the island. She looked startled by it all, laughed, and said,
By 5 o’clock (nine hours after leaving this morning) I had reached the
outskirts of Kona. The odometer read 62.5 miles.
I remembered looking down the road on that first day toward where I knew
I’d be coming FROM on the last day. I had that image plastered in my mind for
most of the trip. And then when I reached that pivotal intersection, and
looked back now, it didn’t look anything like what I’d remembered.
I went right to the bike shop where I had shipped the bike. I said
proudly to the woman salesperson there, “Well, I’m back.” There was that
blank look on her face, of “Just who the hell are you?”
Well, the bike mechanic Jason recollected me, and he said the bike box
was still there waiting for the return shipment.
I went across the street to the Taco Bell and had a little meal, then
tooled around Kona a little. I went through the tourist section, and got off
the bike and walked it through the store areas. I had been looking for a
classy biking shirt that had a picture of a huge volcano on it, found it and
made the purchase. I got a big beach towel with the Hawaiian Islands on it.
Was pleased with the $9.99 price tag, until I saw it around the corner for
I made my way to the hotel by dusk, and checked in. But I was still kinda
excited about the completion of the ride, and tomorrow, and so I took a long
walk through the hotel complex of shops and for a few blocks around.
Tomorrow would be a big day. The bike had to get to the shop to be sent
home, and I had to get to the airport for the same purpose.
I was still incredibly filthy from road grit and sunblock. And the shower
felt good as the grime rolled off me and swirled down the drain.
It’s always a mixture of delight and depression when the planned
destination is reached, when goals have been met. But I was enjoying the
feeling of success.


Here are some miscellaneous items of interest regarding this Hawaii tour:
1. Not a single thing forgotten anywhere, nothing dropped on the road.
That may be a first.
2. NO FLAT TIRES or mechanical problems of any kind.
3. There were four times during this trip when disaster was narrowly
-- at the Bed and Breakfast at Volcano, the stairway down from the bathroom
had a very low ceiling, and twice I banged my head against it. A little
harder, and I might not have remembered who I was....
-- at Leilani and Dennis’, I had an almost misstep on the top of their front
steps, and if I hadn’t caught myself in time, it would have been curtains!
-- almost stepping on the arrowhead sharp rock at the beach yesterday.
-- putting my lenses in on this Day 9, walking all the way into another room,
then realizing that my left lens wasn’t in... and then seeing it on my thumb!

This internet thing is amazing, eh? It allows these travels to be shared
with people near and far - people known and complete strangers from around
the world.

And now the final part of the trip - and knowing that getting home is no
less important than the getting to the start.

Everyone wants to know, “What’s next?” Well, there’s an old Indian
Trail that slices through the south called the Natchez Trace, and I’ve had my
eye on that for awhile. Maybe Nova Scotia. I have no interest in biking in
Europe. There is a big group tour that’s leaving for a year of bicycling
around the world, but I don’t see that in the cards. However, if I’ve
learned anything about anything, it’s that one just never knows. You just
never know.

I will keep this journal going until Sunday. A few folks have wondered
how I’ll get through that looooong flight home and then the big photo
shooting schedule on Saturday. Also, for Sunday, I’ll have something special
I’ve been working on for awhile.... a rather extensive best and worst list of
these last 22 years of touring.
Until later...

Picture of The Snail (a.k.a.= Joel)


March 12, 2002 - Tuesday - Day 8
Miles Today - 1 Total Miles - 220
Rest Day in Naalehu,HI
- At Josh’s A-frame Beach Place -

Anyone who knows me just knows it’s hard for me to sit still. Yet, here I
was in the middle of a piece of paradise, and I just HAD to make myself stay
The day started early enough. Josh was up as he said he would be at 5am.
I rumbled awake in the back room at around 6ish. I got to chat with the guy a
little in front of the ever-on tv which was bringing him up to date on the
latest awful news from around the world. We talked about a few topical
things, and I got his read on some of them. He said he hadn’t seen an AIDS
case since he came here a few years ago. And he allowed as to how doctors who
get TOO emotionally involved with patients would end up in the loony bin.
(Not an exact quote, but close enough.)
There were some things to do... I got a mile run and a mile bike ride in
early, and enjoyed them both. Got some swell pictures along the way on both
treks. Felt good. On the run, I traveled down the beach road to a couple
trails that meandered down by rocks at the sea’s edge. Golden dappled blue lit
tle pools formed there and the waves lapping into them made a great scene. I
used my digital camera to take some mpeg movie scenes. One of which I
e-mailed back to those on the list. (Quite a number of folks let me know the
movie looked grand, but I had quite a few that were returned to me as
“undeliverable” to the given email address.) Then I worked my way back to
the black sand beach. Some tourists were there now. (About the only flaw in
this place is that big tour busses frequently come by to stink up the air and
the views.)
Then around 10am or so I plunked myself down clumsily on the big hammock
with the iBook, a pair of binoculars, and my camera. For the next hour or so
I crafted out yesterday’s journal notes. At one point I heard a huge
whooshing “KER-THUMP”, and sure enough, a coconut had crashed to the earth
not far away.... the breezes were constant and sweet all day long.
When I was happy with the entry, I made my way back to the house, climbed
the wooden stairway to the long balcony, came in, and e-mailed the notes.
After a little more on-line time, I called Lei and Dennis for about the third
time, and this time finally got them at home. Her arm was bothering her she
said. She was glad I called and had left the messages, because, as she said,
she’s “a little mother hen.” She promised me again that she would learn how
to download the images that I would be sending her.
I had a few goals today: wash the dishes from the meal Josh and I had
last night, sit in the hammock and write the journal notes, take a long walk
around the beach and out to the end of the inlet and get a massage if that
could be worked out. And finally, I wanted to carefully go through all my
bags and jettison all but that which was absolutely necessary for the flash
to the finish to Kona tomorrow.
The latter I accomplished in little spurts throughout the day - and by
nightfall I had about an 8-lb bag for Josh to mail home for me. I got the
dishes done in the early afternoon. And I made a call and found a massage
therapist who would come to the house at 2:30pm. I also got a little wash
done, and hanged it in a great breezy area underneath the house.
I left for my walk at about 12:30pm. I crossed the beach to the left and
went toward the far corner of the little inlet. Along the way, I saw the
signs that read about “Do Not Disturb the Resting Turtles”... And sure
enough a gigantic turtle, about the size of a big microwave oven was laying
there at water’s edge. I took a couple of pictures, but he didn’t seem too
interested in me. In fact, he hardly moved at all.... resting, as the sign
said, I supposed.
As I walked, the black sand quickly turned to thumb-sized pebbles, then
fist-sized rocks, then breadbox-sized boulders... and then I crossed a
football field-sized plain of these rocks to get to the higher elevation
where the piled-high stones were even bigger. It was tough walking and I was
careful about my balance. Josh had told me how he had seen one of those rocks
slice through someone’s full boot. I was wearing my running shoes, and they
were taking a beating, that’s for sure.
I finally reached pretty much the edge of that scrabbly field of block
rocks (although in fact, to my left it went on for many many acres!) and I
perched there to watch the big waves splume on the shoreline. I also had a
grand view back toward the black beach, the green plateau behind the beach,
and then the grey-cloud enshrouded mountains behind the plateau.... It was a
dandy vista!
I spied through my binoculars the whole of the surroundings. And as I was
scanning the beach, there was a little kid of about 5 ambling along - and
halfway across the sand, he put his little yellow bucket over his head, and
continued to walk....
I panned my binoculars way out there over the rim of the Pacific horizon,
and you know, I think that anyone who would paddle out there would just fall
off the edge.
I sat for awhile drinking it all in, and thinking, and savoring the
moment, and taking pictures. One had to be really careful not to drop
anything small. For it would surely fall between the rocks and drop well
beyond any possible reach.... And then I headed back to the beach. It wasn’t
easy going - and I missed the trail a few times, but luckily made my way back
okay. There was a woman laying on a towel with blood on her legs from a fall,
and she asked me about my biking shirt, which read “Tour of America” and
asked me if I was on such a tour. I told her about the trip and then the two
guys she was with, one of whom was her husband, came out of the water, and
were fascinated about the bike ride. He had ridden in the a MS150 charity
ride recently. One of the guys had me autograph his racing shirt for him.
(I think it was some kind of Nascar shirt. )
(Boy, did that take me back to Indianapolis in 1980!!!! I had come
into the city around the time of the Indianapolis 500 time trials in May...
and had gotten it into my head to take a lap around the track with my touring
bike. I made friends with a tow truck operator and got all the way to the
inner circle of the track, meeting drivers and hundreds of people along the
way. I was smack next to the Borg-Warner Trophy and had my picture taken with
it. It must have been a slow day there, but scores of people wanted to meet
the bicyclist who had was biking across the country and who had stopped
there. I was interviewed by a local radio station. People were throwing
articles of clothing, beachballs, and various other items at me to sign. The
question I was asked most by the people was, “How many flat tires do you
The celebrity mayhem was ridiculous and beyond belief, but I enjoyed the
hell out of it, because I knew nothing like this was ever going to happen to
me again.... I got through several levels of bureaucracy, but finally the
track manager turned me down for the lap, saying that if he let me do it,
then “any crackpot or loony” person would want to do it...
But there’s a follow-up to that. When I was finally alone from the horde
of people, way down in the bowels of the racetrack, I came upon a fat guy
smoking a cigar. He inquired about me, and I told him about my quest, and
about the amazing day I had... He listened intently, and asked me to wait a
moment while he made a phone call. Well, it turned out he was the PRESIDENT
of the track, and he was going to let me take the lap, but didn’t want to
over-rule his track manager who had already turned me down!!! If I had seen
him first he said, I would have been able to do it.)
The folks here at the ocean were from St.Louis, one of my favorite
all-time cities. And I shared with them a couple of my St.Louis stories... In
one story, I had stayed at a frat house back in ‘80 on my way across the
country, and one of the fellows there worked at Busch Stadium. He knew I’d be
at the Cardinal’s game the next night. And sure enough on the scoreboard at
the end of the third inning, it read, “Joel Perlish, who is bicycling across
the country, is attending tonight’s game.” It was a thrilling moment for me.
Well, I took off my running shoes and socks and I took the plunge to wade
into the water. The stones were sharp at some points and I had to be very
careful. The water was deliciously cool though, and inviting as all get out.
I could see how someone interested in the beach and water would find this
place very attractive to loll around in.
But now I had another worry besides the stones. Who should be prancing
and bounding along the beach but Whiskey, Josh’s enormous dog. I must not
have latched the gate well enough. He was dipping into the side pools, going
up and sniffing couples, chasing after birds and ducks, and I was worried
that if there was a dog pound here, he’d be taken away and imprisoned.
I called his name and he came - then ran away - then came and he
variously followed me and led me back to the A-frame where he went up the
steps with no problem, whereupon I made SURE the latch was tight.
Noa, the massage therapist person came at about 2:45pm. She had come up
the stairs, and she said, almost fell back down them when Whiskey startled
her. She set up the table outside beside the house, but insisted that she
wouldn’t put it under a palm tree because of the possible coconut-dropping
Noa, was from Israel and has had quite a life. What a fascinating person!
She lives in the mountains without electricity, and has been here for twenty
years. She’s had all kinds of jobs to help support herself and raise her two
kids, both now in their early twenties. In fact, she had been a landscaper
for quite a while and had tended this very yard many years ago.... She was
taking a gamble at now opening a massage place in this little town. When I
asked her how she came to be here in Hawaii, she said it was because of a
toss of a coin. Huh? I asked.... “Yes,” she said, “it was either here or
Nepal.” And Hawaii had won out. Seems she was at the end of ten years of
hitchhiking all around the world (knows four languages she said), and decided
to settle in either Hawaii or Nepal by the toss of a coin.
Noa hid her late 40ish years well in a slim in-shape body and grand
smile. She had a good manner around the massage table. As I’d peek open my
eyes I could see the palm tree fronds waving off to the side. I could hear
the ocean waves fondling the seacoast, and the breezes lapped over me with a
constant, continual, and unrelenting deliciousness. I said to Noa that when I
thought about how I’d like to die, I’ve always thought that I’d like to be
jogging by a little stream at 102, and then fall there and pass away. But now
I was reconsidering that, in fact, this might be the way to go - under the
palm trees getting a massage. Not NOW, mind you, but when the time comes....
Josh came back from his hospital stint, and then left just at the end of
the massage. Tuesday was his night in Hilo he said, and he’d be back at 10:30
or so... I came into the house, finished combing through my bags for what
stuff would be left behind, and wondering about those decisions, and then
listened to one of Josh’s Thelonius Monk cd’s on the iBook - and ripped some
of the tracks onto my hard drive.
I also leafed through the phone book and found a listing for
“McKittrick”. I had a student by that name who was Hawaiian, and thought
I’d give it a shot. But no go, the McKittrick in the phone book was no
relation to anyone from back home.
By ten, after reviewing and rewriting these notes, and sending them off
through cyberspace, I was ready for bed. A little nervous about the day to
come tomorrow, and wondering whether the huge tropical storm now pouring
buckets of rain outside would have any effect on my last day of travelling
here in Hawaii.


Tomorrow is planned to be the last biking day. It won’t be easy, and a
lot of planning has gone towards that day. A straight shot as my return to
Kona which will complete the circle. Probably about 70 miles or so. As part
of the airline package I would be back at the King Kamehameha Hotel there for
Wednesday night.
Then I will have Thursday in Kona (where I’ll arrange to have the bike
sent back to my bike shop here at home). I then have to get my butt to the
airport by 6pm. THEN comes the tough part - an all-night flight through San
Francisco, then to Chicago. Big layover there, and I won’t get home until 6pm
on Friday night. The next day, on Saturday, I have a double photography shoot
that will go from 11am until midnight!!!! (I’ll be remembering that massage
fondly THEN, you can bet!)
And on Sunday.... why, on Sunday, I will rest.
But not for too long....

Picture of Black Sand Beach



March 11, 2002 - Monday - Day 7
Miles Today - 31 Total Miles - 219
Volcano,HI to Naalehu,HI
- At Josh’s A-frame Beach Place -


This is the way most tour days are begun: after I’m sure I’ve got
everything, that I haven’t left a thing behind, the bike is wheeled to the
roadside, the odometer is reset, and a new day begins.
One of the favorite things I’ve done while biking along through all the
states is notice license plates. Here though, every single plate is an
Hawaiian plate! That’s not surprising once you think about it I guess. And
I’ve not seen one vanity plate - wonder if they allow that here? Oh, and
also, it seems that almost every plate begins with an “H”.....
Have gotten a lot of nice notes about the journals I’ve been sending out.
But then again, I don’t suppose those that I’ve put to sleep are still here
anyway... But it’s been a big part of this trip for me to share it with you
who are still along for the ride. One guy wrote me that it’s like being on a
back seat riding along. Hope the journey hasn’t been too bumpy for you....
As I wheeled out onto one of the main roads this morning I noticed that
the local eatery was named “JP’s Volcano Cafe”. Makes me wish I had stopped
there for dinner last night....
After a stop at the General Store for another one of those superb giant
macadamia nut cookies, I went to the post office, boxed up my tent and ground
mat, and sent them home. It put me in a grumpier mood doing so. I wrestled
with those grumpy thoughts for quite awhile after. It was a little lessening
of independence sending that tent back. It was the final admitting there was
going to be no camping this trip. It was the hoping against hope that I would
not be sorry for doing it. But a bike tour is all about making those kind of
decisions I guess - even more so than daily life. And one just has to live
with the consequences of those decisions.... It would be a good 12-15 pounds
off the back of my bike.

(click here for a picture of the loaded tour bike)

I thought about that, and figured even though I was
in pretty good shape, I still weighed 12-15 pounds more than at most times in
my biking career. I wished I could shed that weight as easily as I did the
I was looking forward to the 28-mile downhill today. One of my original
thoughts was to go to that mountain on Maui which has a loooong downhill.
They truck you up there at 3 in the morning to see the sunrise, and then you
ride down. Sounds pretty romantic and terrific, but I did some investigating,
and it seems you HAVE to ride with the group, that you HAVE to ride on one of
their bikes, and you also have to wait for everyone in the group before going
on which is in stages. Now that didn’t sound very appealing to me, and so I
was happy to have elected not to do it.
The crest was 4,024 feet and reached it at 12:09pm at my 4th mile of the
day. I was expecting that after that all would be gravy. It wasn’t quite, but
A bunch of bikers were passing me the other way. I engaged in
conversation with some of them. Seems they were with Wheeling Hawaii and were
circling the island the opposite way I was doing it. It was a good van
supported group. At least they weren’t the REAL wussy types that take people
to the top of a hill and pick them up at the bottom. I was on the way down
with the wind at my back, so I had the luxury of stopping and chatting with a
number of riders - a couple 60ish women, one from Evergreen,CO, - were riding
and pretty near the back of the pack. I said they could use their
conversation with me as an excuse for being late up the hill. For a $1000 the
company sets up the campsites and provides a couple meals for the day, and
makes sure there is van support on the roads. I’ve done one van supported
ride (550 miles across Pennsylvania in ‘99), and so I’ve been on both sides.
Both have advantages, but as I said to the women, it was tough for me
watching senior citizens and obese people passing me on the ride... There’s
also that loss of being able to make ones own decisions about things. Still,
there’s that security which is missing on a solo tour... Of course, that
excitement of not having the security is gone, too....
After about ten minutes the women, who referred to themselves as “genuine
ly old people” started off up the mountain. They said their nickname was the
“Slowly rollers.”
There were quite a number of bigger tour busses and also smaller coach
companies that trucked people up to the craters. I’d give a friendly wave to
the driver as they’d pass. I can only imagine the comments in the comfy
busses at seeing the sweaty biker. (Actually, I DON’T have to imagine. After
one of my western trips, my wife at the time wanted to take a bus tour out
that way. I enjoyed seeing some of the sights but it was torture for me in
the stinky cramped bus. And when we’d pass the bikers on the road, I was
drawn to them and wanted to be out there. It was very difficult for me.)
At 12:20, at the mile marker 31, it seemed to be the true beginning of
the hill, I paused for quite awhile, ready to savor the coming descent.
For a good bit of the downhill ride I was moving along at 25-30 miles per
hour. The wind was screaming me in the face, having had turned for a time
against me, but still I streaked down pretty swiftly. At times though it
appeared to me that I was coming to a halt, but a look at the odometer still
showed 15-20!
Almost magically, as I crossed over 22 miles, the seashore appeared ahead
and to the left. It was a grand shoreline.
A steep descent was in front of me then.... and I closed my eyes (not for
too long), and drew in deep breaths of cool sea/forest air into my nostrils
and my mouth, and I smiled with the delight of the free-fall.... And as I
streaked downward, downward on this particular run, gaggles of birds at
occasional random locations spring out of the roadside and scattered into the
sky.... cool!
I got to the bottom eventually, of course, and then there was pedaling
stuff again. What’s THAT all about???
Then I came to the appointed left off the main road, and for the first
time on the ride, I swooped down to the shoreline - and at a blistering speed.
And here I abruptly came to perhaps the most picturesque little cove in
the entire world. Picture postcard perfect. THIS is the stuff the travel
agents pander on about! It was a black sand beach with blue waves lapping the
shore. It curved around gently to the right from the moderately high
tree-capped cliffs on the left. Even I, not a water person by any means, was
left practically drop-jawed and drooling at the sight. It was the kind of
sight that evokes thoughts of paradise - with the squawking birds flying by,
and the palm trees in clusters smoothly towering toward the puffed clouds set
in the azure blue sky. And the warmth of the sun - and the bluest of blue
Pacific Ocean stretching out toward the misty horizon. A dog barking in the
background, the occasional couple strolling hand-in-hand on the black beach.
A little shack selling candy and postcards. Little kids trolloping on the
sand, smiles abundant and free.
To my right and back a bit was a huge A-frame home. It looked like the
home of some millionaire - who else could have a place set-back so perfectly,
and a beach home so gorgeously set into the shoreline? But it was the only
one around, and that’s where Josh had said his rented place would be. I asked
at the little stand, and sure enough that was his place. It was about 3, and
I walked my bike over to the place. (Reluctantly leaving the beach, afraid
perhaps, that if I blinked, the little piece of paradise would disappear.)
A sliding glass door was open at the top. I walked up calling out. No
answer. I didn’t expect Josh there, but because of the open door I thought
someone would be there. But only the big gentle giant of a dog Josh said to
expect was there. And then I found a note in the kitchen, affirming that I
was, indeed, in the right place.
I brought my bike up to long stairway to the house-long balcony that
faced the shoreline, and then took stuff into the appointed bedroom. And
marveled at the place, the kind breezes, the now eye-level palms and coconuts.
I went out and sat on a little chair on the lawn and typed some notes -
eying the hammock which I was sure to try out (and perhaps nap on) at another
Josh came back from his doctor duties at the little hospital nearby
around 5ish. He is a 32 year-old-guy with a little ponytail who is a runner.
A friend back home, who’s dad was a wonderful doctor, knew Josh’s family,
and had kept in touch. That’s how I came to be here.)
He’s a relatively laid back guy - and he has written a book, he said, and
hopes that it will hit big on the market so he can retire in a few years.
Until then he is busy being the only doctor at the little hospital and having
to deal with being constantly on call. But it’s helping to pay back his huge
medical education loans, and there are certain perks to being the doctor in
town. He has other aspirations perhaps, though, and so he’s not sure how long
he’ll stay here. But he admitted that it was sure a grand place to be.
I’ll say! He has a lot of parties at the house, he said. And a lot of
friends who stay over. Despite his other yearnings, and some complaints about
being on call so much, he seemed very happy here, and knew he was into a good
thing. Josh told me how Hawaii is one of only four places in the
United States considered Frontier - meaning by definition that there is less
than four people per square mile. He said that although there is no work
here, and that the food is expensive, it’s very cheap to buy really good
location land and build here. I was amazed when he said how his rent for this
place was only $500/month.
Whiskey is Josh’s pal - a 130 pound Rhodesian ridgeback dog. The breed is
know as lionhunters. It’s a mammothly big dog. Not being a dog person, I was
put off each time he came up and rubbed his nose against me, my little
protestations notwithstanding. But basically he left me alone. I got some
nice shots of Whiskey as he propped himself up in the big easy chair by the
main window to the sea - alternately enjoying the view and looking
disdainfully at me.
I WAS a bit annoyed about the tent being gone, by-the-way, because this
would have been a perfect spot for it.
Josh made a delicious pasta dinner for us, and we chatted about things
near and far. We had a lot in common. And he was really into scrabble. I took
my Palm Pilot out and challenged him to play the Scrabble version on it. He
lost the first game (a program glitch he said, not accepting one of his
words), but he beat it handily the second time. Perhaps that was a program
glitch, too, he allowed.
The idea hatched in my head to stay here an extra day, and then make it
all the way back to Kona on Thursday. It would be about 70 miles with only a
few hard spots. Josh was amenable to the idea. It’s touring good sense to
take a true rest day every seven days or so, and so it worked out perfectly.
And besides, I could just see myself on that hammock under the palms tomorrow
typing in the iBook, reflecting on the adventures past, and dreaming of the
ones still to come. The sweet ocean breezes wafting over me so gently. So

Picture of The Sea

Black Sands and a Turtle



March 10, 2002 - Sunday - Day 6
Miles Today - 16 Total Miles - 188
Around the Kilauea Caldera
- Volcano, HI -


Had a great night’s sleep, and awoke fairly refreshed at 6ish in the
comfy plush bed.
The bed and breakfast lady came by around 7:15am and brought out a big
plate of eye-appealing and delicious tasting fruits and breads.
It was cooler than at anytime on the trip, and I put on my long sleeved
The day began innocently enough, but big changes were in store for my
After some rewriting of yesterday’s notes, and preparing them for sending
I put in some computer time with new e-mails to read and answer. Then I was
on my way out the door for a morning run through Volcano.
Hmmm.... had I elected to go left, I’m guessing I’d be writing this in
Naalehu now - some 28 miles away - for that was the day’s plan. I was going
to circle the Kilauea Caldera and then head to Josh’s place. But it was not
to be, for I turned right out the driveway of the B&B and headed up the
narrow road. Before I clicked by a quarter-of-a-mile I saw two local folks
working on the roadside. A middle-aged man and a woman. They were cleaning
out the weeds or something from the roadside. I cheeried a “good-morning” in
my usual friendly way, but as I was going by the woman, I noticed she had a
white cast on her arm. Well, I was a little reluctant after my episode with
Joel the bike store fellow, but I went ahead anyway, and gave my usual,
“Yikes, what happened to you? Skateboarding?” She laughed, and began to tell
me the story of her carpel tunnel problem, that they had to cut the tendons,
and so on... I stopped and listened, and the twinkle in her eye told me she
was a friendly person who I’d like to get to know. I said that I was in the
B&B just down the lane, and she said, “Well, you could have stayed here for
nothing.” She asked where I was from and I told her Philadelphia. Realizing
I was so far from home, this warm-hearted lady instinctively gave me a good
hug. (Well, as good a hug as she could muster with an arm in a cast!) I told
her about my trip, and that this was my 50th state and all. She wanted me to
run FOR her, since she couldn’t because of her arm.
I told the two how I had ridden all this way and I hadn’t seen any
volcano yet. “Is this some kind of ad man’s trick?” I asked with a joking
manner. Lei laughed, and then looked me right in the eye, and said, “We’re
ON the volcano!!!”
Thinking about that later, I felt like the blind man feeling parts of the
elephant - at no one part can he tell what he’s really touching. I had much
more respect for the ground and the area around me after Lei said that.
We chatted some more, I got their picture and promised to e-mail them,
and then she invited me to come back after I was done running - and I agreed.
The run was a little longer than most - and I was feeling pretty darn
good. It was a circle, and that could have caused problems since I didn’t
know the area. Usually the runs are out-and-backs... I was just getting
worried about being lost when the right street appeared.
I cleaned up pretty good around the great B&B house, put the finishing
touches on yesterday’s notes, e-mailed them, gathered all my stuff together,
took some of the bags down the long outside stairway, did a double check of
all the rooms, then left the tip, and went out and locked the door. And then
took the bike down those many steps.
I wheeled the bike to Dennis and Lei’s place around 11am, and she had a
big spread of lunch ready for me. It was in her spacious garden. She showed
me all around the garden, and it was impressive. Even a ginkgo tree! (In the
register of the town she said.)
Seems they let people stay at the house for free. A pretty friendly
gesture I’d say. I thought to myself and then said aloud, ‘Well, this yard
looks like a perfect spot for my tent....’ Lei said, “Oh, no, you could
just stay in the house.” But then I explained how I’d been wanting to camp
out and this would be the perfect opportunity. I could circle the crater and
then just come back here. She seemed delighted at the prospect, and embraced
Dennis went to get some peanut butter, and then we settled in for a nice
lunch and chat about things in general, things specific, and our lives. Seems
Lei works as a line splicer for the phone company and they were picking up
the tab for her operation totally. She has one year and 7 months to
retirement. She has a couple of daughters, one who travels Hawaii and the
mainland selling Rubbermaid products. She loves to garden and work around
this house - they have another in Hilo - and she’s trying to bring the
grounds back to it’s natural state. One of her foes in the garden was the
purple-flowered peekochino plant from Australia. It was really overrunning
the other plants. There were orchids of various types, and all kinds of other
floral types that would make a gardener drool. A big rooster kept walking
around and Lei or Dennis would call it’s name. Had it for quite awhile they
said - too big to worry about the Hawaiian hawks now.
Lei confirmed for me what a reader e-mailed to me, that the rooster
houses and roosters I had seen earlier on the ride were fighting roosters,
raised and brought over by the Filipino folks who are into that awful stuff.
During lunch I mentioned about my poetry memorization, and asked if Lei
had any favorite poems. Sure enough Casey at the Bat was one, and I gave them
a great rendition. I like doing that entertaining for a meal bit! And by
their smiles I could tell they surely enjoyed it.
Shortly a friend of theirs came by. A tall guy with a great grin. He was
saying good-bye for the week as he was taking his 6-year old grand-daughter
to Vegas. “To teach her all about gambling?” I asked with a laugh. And that
brought laughter around the table, and then he asked how I happened by....
And I got some chuckles from everyone when I recounted, with a twinkle in my
eye, and somewhat apocryphally how I jogged by, saw a man and a woman
working, and the man was making the woman in the cast do all the heavy work,
and I was going to speak to him about that.....”
I got on my way to the rim at around 2pm. It was only a mile or so away.
I paid the $5 bicyclist’s entry fee into the National Park, and made my way
to the visitor’s center. Poked around there a bit, and had to put my bike
OUTSIDE the doorway. Man, were they fussy there! (The lady said, ‘What if
everyone wanted to bring a bike inside?’ I really hate that kind of argument
in general, but now specifically when when there are no other bikes around
for miles! I interjected, before she could say anything else, “Well, that
would be great!”) But, in the end, I put it by the front door. I asked if
she’d be there to watch it, she said, “Yes, but NO guarantees!” I chuckled,
and went into the little theater to watch the slick 20-minute presentation
about the Hawaiian volcanoes. Pretty darn amazing stuff!! I didn’t know a
new island was forming to the east of the Big Island! Or that lava can flow
at 35 miles per hour! There was a lot of other stuff I learned, too.
Outside on the Visitor Center porch I made conversation with a number of
folks. I got a photo of one guys cute t-shirt, “Make Coffee - Not War!” The
couple was from Montana, and the wife was a geologist. You must be in heaven
here, I said, and she concurred with a huge smile.
Ever since I was a kid and saw a movie where a big dinosaur came tromping
out of a volcano, I’ve always thought that those cone mountains and the lava
and all were pretty nifty. So it was with great excitement I came out of the
visitor center collected my bike and then rode to the right to begin an
11-mile ride around the circumference of the Kilauea Caldera. A number of
times Josh had described this 11-miles as a “mellow” ride, and I was hoping
he was meaning level and easy. I began around at 2:30pm. In fact, there were
a few up and downs, but it was “mellow”.
After about a mile or two I came to the first of the steam vents. Some
were larger and closer to the road and had metal fences around them. As I
rode up I deadpanned to some other tourists there, “What? is there a subway
down there?” Well, they must have been from somewhere where they don’t know
what the hell a subway is, because I got no reaction whatsoever!
I continued on around the loop. I noted the sky off to my right. Man, was
it dramatic! The white clouds in that half of the sky had given way to rain
clouds - heading my way. I could see the showers coming down as the billowy
grey giants ebbed across the plain to the mountain where I was standing. Just
to the right of the storm, it was clear blue with cotton-like puffy clouds. A
very dramatic division in the weather pattern.
Shortly I came to the Jagger Museum and a great view of the crater. There
were many tourists there taking pictures and gaping at the hole in the
ground. The muddy-like HUGE hole in the ground - steam rising in various
parts of the area. I mutteringly joked with quite a number of people, “All
I’m thinking is ‘DON’T BLOW NOW’.... It always got a (perhaps somewhat
nervous) laugh...
Truth to tell, I was a little nervous. What awesome forces beneath! TV
images from recent volcano blasts, and the stories here on the museum walls,
were enough to give one pause. I mean one giant POOF! And the area is an ash.
One belch of the Goddess Pele, and everyone within miles is a cinder. One
burp or hiccup under the crust of the planet and.... well, you get the
idea... Believe you me, I walked as lightly as I could....
Continuing around the loop were various sections of the caldera which
comprised a number of craters..... some areas looked like moonscapes of black
rock tortured and twisted into maniacal shapes. Some areas had markings of
the lava flows that noted their various years of eruption. For about 100
yards in one section the smell of sulfur wafted over to me and made me gag.
And some areas resembled pressure cookers unleashed... steam vapor rising to
meet the sky in a wild dance... the feathery plumes disappearing into the
I’ve biked by some fabulous places over the years. This place was most
remindful of one of my favorites, Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Although the
Grand Canyon is far and away the most spectacular spot on earth, Old Faithful
is one that I got to by bicycle. The spume from that hole in the earth, and
the morning mist swirling around it evoked power and beauty in one delightful
exclamation mark!
The volcano hole and associated scenes made for wonderful images in my
digital camera. I took over 100 pictures.... But my favorite scene of the
whole 11-mile ride around was by an edge of one of the giant craters. There
was a little teeny-weenie bush, not an inch or so tall, and on the bush were
four of the brightest of bright red and teensy-weeniest of berries! They
looked a grand contrast with the barren and bleak surroundings. They were
hope in the midst of torment. And they brightened, if even only for an inch
or two, the black and white and grey world that went on infinitely around
I concluded the loop around 4:30pm and had felt happy to have made the
trip. It seemed like more than a million years ago since I had come across
Dennis and Lei on my little jog this morning while they were gardening in the
lane in front of their house. And, in a sense, after circling the caldera,
and it’s eons of lava-bubbling history, I HAD passed through millions of
years since I had met them.
I cycled back toward Volcano Village. Well, actually coasted back as it
was mostly downhill. I saw three high schoolers chatting across the street
from the Volcano General Store. One was on a bike so I rolled over to the
trio. The two girls were in fatigues and said they lived on the island, and
the curly headed guy had just moved there three months ago from Tuscon. (Oh
yes, I remember Tuscon - I couldn’t find a place to stay back in ‘80, and
was headed out into the desert at 9pm planning to ride through the night if
need be. But a couple teenagers in a truck stopped me on the way out, saying
they had seen me back 75 miles or so ago. I told them about my problem, and
they said I could stay in their garage. Saved!)
I asked these Volcano residents if there was anything worthwhile in the
store, and one of the girls said that there were the most giant and delicious
chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies there. I said, “Uh-oh, I hope they are
almost out of them or I’m in trouble.” But I went over and got four, and a
strawberry all-fruit frozen popsicle thing that I had been looking for over
the whole island. I took three of the giant cookies over to the kids across
the way, and gave them each one, and then went back to the porch of the store
where I sat and munched happily on my superbly delicious cookie and the ice
pop. Oh, and on the second step when I went back to the store I found $15
laying there.....
Sitting there was reminiscent of my stop at a big hotel porch at the
beginning of my cross-country trip in 1980 - somewhere below San Francisco.
It was an old hotel, and I sat watching the people walk by while leaning back
in my red Coast-to-Coast jacket and in my dungarees eating my peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches. One couple stopped and talked to me, and said if I
could make it the 60 miles or so to their home further south in Santa Cruz I
could stay with them. The guy had a voice just like Jimmy Stewart’s, and the
woman talked about their friend Ronnie Reagan, and what a good president he’d
make. She was an artist of some renown she said.... and it wasn’t more than a
couple years later while in a McDonalds near home that I got chills when I
recognized the distinctive flower print scene hanging on the eatery’s walls.
I walked up to it, and sure enough, it was signed by my friend Dottie Saar
from California.
I made my way back to the Lei and Dennis’ place. They had gone back to
their home in Hilo, leaving me, a complete stranger, to their weekend place.
Have the run of it she said. Use the washing machine and dryer, the
television, anything you want. Amazing.
I got myself settled into the house with all my gear. I had set up the
tent earlier in the day to the amusement of my host and hostess. I got wash
done, and e-mails checked. I learned that my pal Coz had now even put images
up on the site. (
When it was time to go into the tent though, I had discovered that it had
rained bit earlier while I was in the house. So the tent was wet as I hadn’t
put the fly on - so I disappointedly went back in the house and curled up in
my sleeping bag on one of the little beds in the back room.

Counting all 22 trips since 1980, today marked my 500th touring day.
That’s from that first day when I had put my bike together in the San
Francisco airport, and rode south, to this day, when I circled an Hawaiian
crater. It’s now way more than a year of my life on the road. It’s an
emotional thing for me to think about that as I sit here typing my little
heart out about it. It’s been an amazingly gratifying and wonderfully
uplifting way to see this part of our world and to meet the people in it.
It’s been a fun way to not only see nature at work, but also to be a part of
nature, and at times BE nature as well.
And I’ve been happy to take you along for some of the ride.

Picture of Berries

Picture of The Crater at Kilauea