Biking Through Hawaii



March 8, 2002 - Friday- Day 4
Miles Today - 62 Total Miles - 143
Weimea (Kamuela),HI to Hilo,HI
- Seaside Motel -

It was a nice morning run - flat highway outside the motel. Great night’s
sleep although I woke up to some odd dreams. One thing about bike touring,
especially when camping - sleep is always deep and usually dreamless. So it
was unusual awakening that way.
I partook of the little continental breakfast and loaded up on guava
juice and a couple delicious muffins.
I got a call from Josh. Josh is a friend of a friend back home. I had
called him last night and left a message. He lives right on my way, lives in
an A-frame apparently right on or near the beach, and invited me to ‘hang’
for a couple of days. He’s a 32-year old doctor who works in a clinic. I told
him I was in Weimea and was thinking I’d make Hilo today. He said it would
probably take two days. Well, anyone who knows me, knows what thought
process THAT comment put into motion. I decided that if it was at all within
the realm of possibility, that i would try to make it to Hilo today as
originally planned.
Josh gave me some valuable information about the volcano area that I was
heading into between Hilo and his place.
Now, one of my goals of the trip was to finish that 8oz. tube of Banana
Boat suntan lotion! And I applied it liberally before setting out. Before the
end of the day, I would have two thick layers of dried sunblock and road grit
sandwiched together on my legs!
One indication of how much I sweat yesterday - my helmet pads were still
soaken wet this morning. I was on my way down the highway by 9:15am.
I received a number of e-mails from folks who they liked that descriptive
of the broad plain out to the Pacific from yesterday’s notes. I thought you
should be aware that a good portion of the day is not spent looking around
but dead down in front of the bike tire - always scanning for gravel, glass,
ruts in the road, nails, shards of plastic, bricks, bricbraks, vertical
grates, dead animals, and fallen tree branches. Not to mention grease-slicks,
tacks, potholes and rocks. And also watching out for cars, trucks,
trailers, and rearview mirrors from those and other moving vehicles. And in
the city, watching out for those pesky car doors that might open right in
front of you from a row of parked cars. Most of this is pretty second nature
to me now, but I still consciously think about all that stuff most of the
time. Yep, one misses a bunch of scenery, but nothing brings a brike trip to
a dead halt faster than a punctured tire! It’s a careful compromise!
Four miles out of Weimea I stopped a pretty darn good roll to take a
picture of what appeared to be a rooster farm! Scores of little A-frame
‘doghouse’ things all with their own little rooster inside, or outside of it
squawking around.
Along the way, I’ve seen farms with sheep, cattle, goats, horses, and now
roosters. There were a number of corn fields today.
At 9.7 miles outside of Weimea at 10:20am, I began the first of quite a
few wonderful rolls today. On this one, I felt like the proverbial bobsled on
wheels - rushing forward with no pedaling, as if attached to a little handle
pulling me along. It was a glorious part of the day, and especially after
yesterday’s travails, it was appreciated no end.
Got to the coast in a little more than an hour. As I came toward Honoka'a
there was a grand view of the Pacific with the little town cutely nestled
right beside it.
The last great number of miles were effortless, and I figured I COULD
have gotten here yesterday. But I sure enjoyed the place yesterday and last
night, and I think I enjoyed this ride a lot better today being fresh. Also,
it’s not all peaches and cream hurtling along at 30mph, so for safety sake I
think it’s a good thing I hadn’t pushed on. And, there were no apparent
places to stay near the highway once I got here anyway...
I stood and looked around there on the main highway at Honoka'a.... Not
much to see. There were a few signs, and I dunno, I JUST don’t know - but I
think that the Hamakua Visitor Center might have elected to pick a different
signpost. I mean, they are right above Tex’s Drive-in which is okay, but the
sign right above the Visitors Center advertises in big bold letters..... the
More descent. And then even MORE delicious descent!! It went on and on.
The cool Pacific wind blasting my body. I had to be careful of loose rocks on
the shoulder fallen from cliffs near the roadside caused by the recent
rainstorms. There were a number of recently used road maintence signs off to
the side saying ‘Road Flooded’.
The ocean was full on my left now, much closer then when I was on the
other side of the island. I felt very emotional about it at this point - it
was two days shy of those 22 years ago that I was dipping my front wheel into
the Pacific before setting out east over the continent, and now I was west of
that point on a pinpoint in the Pacific looking over to myself...
At eighteen miles the shoulder abruptly disappeared. It would reappear
again a little later and stick with me the whole rest of the day. The riding
has been on wonderful roadway - and whenever I see a road crew I always thank
them for their good work. We sure take the roads mostly for granted. Always
room for improvement, but I know my trip would not have been possible if it
weren’t for the well-kept and terrific highway system.
Just about twenty miles out of Waimea there was a great gushing of
waterfall out of a cliff and down into the ocean. Got a cool photo of it.
Not too many times that I stop to pick up coins. But this day, I scored
two pennies, a nickel and a dime.
At Paauillo I stopped for 30 minutes of lunch. I especially wanted to
hydrate better than yesterday, and so fill up my water bottle. I stared at
the bill of fare scribbled on the outside wall of the dusty porch. And
disappointedly walked into the little store since there was nothing I could
really eat as read from the sign. I saw the cook inside, and suggested they
should have veggie or garden burgers. She said no, but then remembered they
DID have some after all. I sat and enjoyed a scrumptious sandwich with some
chips and some guava drink. Superb!
Shortly, I chatted with a few local guys. They were on lunchbreak and
found my travels of interest. I went into the restroom, and as I opened the
door a little lizard thing went scuttling into the hole in the corner - only
his long spindly tail sticking out for a bit, until it slowly slid through
the hole and disappeared as well.
At only 12:15pm I hit 24 miles - the full measure of yesterday’s entire
A little after lunch I saw a couple touring cyclists coming at me. My
usual greeting is, “Well, it’s sure great seeing someone who’s looking as
funny as me.” That always gets a smile.
Benj and Laura were in their last week of an EIGHT month tour. They had
visited 6 countries and had covered over 8,000 kilometers Benj said. They
come from Massachusetts but had sold their apartment there, and were going to
fly back to New York to be with Laura’s mom before they moved out west. They
were a likable couple and I got some cute pictures of the two of them. I also
got their e-mail address to send them the images. The couple said that they
camped a lot on the beaches even without the required registration and had
had no problems. I sort of envied that - but then, their trip was certainly
different from mine in many ways.
That little scenario was repeated a few miles down the road when I got to
meet John and Sandra. They were circling the island in the opposite direction
from me. From southern California, they were near the end of their cycling
After this the sky turned cloudy, and I noted the ominous sign of cars
approaching with headlights on. But this day was a dry one for me. I had seen
a newspaper story this morning that was captioned, “Hilo Has 50-inches of
Rain - Keeps it’s Reputation in tact.
Quite a number of those crosses that mark people from car deaths along
the side of the road today. One wall of trees had three trim little crosses.
Yesterday I passed a sad marking place that had a little trimmed Christmas
tree on it. I recalled the first time I had ever noticed those crosses back
in ‘80 in poor Quemada, New Mexico. I thought the people were actually buried
Crossed quite a few gulches. These great crevices in the earth seem
usually formed by torrents of water rushing down from the mountains. The
smaller gulches are crossed on metal and cement bridges. The bigger ones have
long switchbacks that dip down, cross the valley at a smaller section, and
then wind their way back up the other side. The views afforded are sometime
spectacular of inland stream or on the other side, the ocean waves smaking on
the ground. Kaawalii Gulch was at about 30 miles today, and it had a huge
hairpin turn around. I glided down and snailed up the other side. At the next
gulch traffic was closed in one lane for road repair, but the officer said I
could bike on the coned-off side. I had the whole lane for myself for the two
miles or so.
I frequently curse to myself, or aloud sometimes, at the people who have
thrown their cans or cigarette packages or bottles onto the side of the road.
It’s pretty clean here compared to most places, but nothing much ruins a
mellow nature scene like a dented coca-cola can or a squashed Lucky Strike
By 2pm I had 32 good miles. Was taking a lot of pictures along the way. W
ound up with over 72 digital images by day’s end.
The road rolled along. There were fewer hills but they were much longer
climbs. Everything was spread out more now. It was a warm day - guessing into
the lower 80’s.
Outside of Hilo by about 7 miles was a special scenic road that was four
miles long. John and Sandra recommended it, so I thought to give it a try.
Just as I rolled onto it, some folks from New York at a fruitstand hailed me
over. They had seen me a few times down the road on the way, and they wanted
to chat. Very nice folks who wanted to help me by introducing me to some of
the fruits they had just bought. In fact, they bought me some apple-bananas -
tiny little banana-looking things packed with super-sized banana taste, and a
leechie nut - a delicious coating underneath a red-spindly casing. The
coating was to be sucked on around a little nut inside. Also, they gave me a
little packet of sugar cane. It will give me energy, Madelaine said.
Broad-smiling Ammon was heading back to New York in a day or so. Masoud, who
was perhaps the grand-dad, Madelaine, and Mina, a 25-something fellow, had
another week here. The little family were bright-eyed and oh, so wanting to
be helpful. They passed me on the scenic little road and I handed them one of
my Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not articles, with a note telling them how much I
appreciated their friendship. I got a picture of the group, and said I’d
email it to them....
I was a little worried as I continued on my way on the little road. It
wasn’t very well kept, water ran over it in parts, and it was increasingly
sharply up and down. But the scenery became more and more interesting and
finally it became the most magnificent of the trip - more like the Hawaiian
travel agent images that had been in my head. Wondrous fanned trees and palms
and others I couldn’t pretend to know grew on both sides of me as I sailed
along. Loud water sounds gurgled as rivers and fountains and falls dotted the
view or were invisible because of the foilage. It was.... lush everywhere. At
some of the narrow one-lane bridges people would huddle and look at the
streams and falls below.
At one bridge Paul, a photographer and lifeguard, was taking model shots
of lithe and blond Abigail and Hanna. I lingered there, and we chatted a bit.
Paul, upon finding that I, too, was a photographer and far-flung cyclist to
boot, said that he would have someone contact me about purchasing some of my
images from around the country. I’m not sure I have what he’s looking for,
but it was an interesting prospect. I got a couple pictures of him and his
models, and then got his e-mail address. It was a “” address, and I
expressed happiness about that. I told him how I was a Mac addict of sorts,
and that I was carrying an iBook with me. He quickly laughed his handsome big
broad lifeguard laugh, and said, “Don’t tell nobody that!” Then we both
laughed about the fact that I should have whispered it.
I shortly made it up to the main highway again, and within minutes was in
Hilo. The time was 5pm, and with the exception of lunch, I had mostly been
on the bike all day since leaving at 9:15am. I searched around for places to
stay, and finally ended up on the other side of town. It was a Friday night,
and so I was a little concerned for finding a place. I went up to the lady,
and said in a friendly voice, “Well, how lucky am I to have found a room
that’s on the first floor (for the bike), and that’s a non-smoking room?” Sh
e said, “Not very lucky.”
I continued to chat with her a little, and said, with a big
friendly-feeling grin as I usually do in similar situations where things seem
not to be going my way, “Oh, c’mon, I think you’ll find that someone has
just cancelled or SOMEthing....” She kept tapping on her computer and
looking at notes, and conferring with the guy who was apparently the
manager... and sure enough, he had just made a change and moved a family to
a different room opening up one of my liking on the first floor.
A seasoned touring cyclist knows it’s good to get off the roads early on
Friday and Saturday nights. I was pushing it a little being away from today’s
final destination until 6pm.
After getting the key to the room, I headed over to Ken’s Pancake House
and had a superb garden burger and a salad and a big glass of pineapple
juice. I brought the slice of apple pie back to the room.
My legs were coated with sunblock goo and the road grit from the bigger
miles today. I typed journal notes as long as I could stand the grime, and
then showered long, and carefully peeled the layers of dirt off my legs. I
stayed up waaaay too late typing and reading. It wasn’t until midnight (5am,
my REAL time at home!) that I finally tucked in and fell quickly into a
restful, rejuvenating slumber.
I felt that I had racked a good slice out of the map today. And it seemed
that I was surely on or ahead of schedule.

Picture of Waterfall


Notes: I sure enjoy hearing from those of you who write me. But would you
kindly not include the journal page when you write - it takes a long time to
filter through on my modem........ before you look at today’s picture, try
to think of the plant that you’d be LEAST likely to see in hawaii. i was
amazed. in my experience anyway, i just would never have guess this plant to
be here.... and finally, i really tried to tone down today’s entry. hope i
wasn’t too too melodramatic. it was quite a day!

March 7, 2002 - Thursday - Day 3
Miles Today - 24 Total Miles - 81
Kapaau,HI to Weimea (Kamuela),HI
- Kamuela Inn -
It wasn’t the best of night’s sleep. Don’t know why.
But I was up at 7:15am, and hurriedly went to knock on Bobi’s door. She
had asked me to do so to make sure she was up for her substitute teaching
job. She was dreading the 5th graders who she was to teach Spanish. Anyway,
she had a big bowl of oatmeal ready for me, and it was much better than
yesterday’s. We chatted a bit, I got a picture of her, and then she left.
Outside my room one of the big fan trees had a palace of spider webs - at
least 75 of the arachnid galaxies spiraled out in amazing array, glistening
in the morning sunlight.
On my mile run down the lane I noticed that the big toad was still there.
Still dead, too. Being a feast for the flies.
Got on the way at 9:30am..... Down at the end of the lane I glanced to
the right - toward that spur that I didn’t take to the end of the island. I
thought, hmmm, The Road Not Taken....
Then I proceeded in the other direction toward Hawi again and after about
2 miles made the left onto Route 250! I immediately ran into the foothills of
the Kohala Mountain range. It was 500 feet elevation before starting to
climb. If I knew then, what I know now as I write this at the end of the day,
I’m not sure I would have been so cheery at the start....
Right from the beginning I was turtle-ing along at about 3mph. It was
very slow going. Again, if I knew then what I knew later in the day, I would
have been DELIGHTED with 3mph!! I had the pack back on again, and I could
sure tell the difference with the 40 extra pounds or so....
A string of little homes extended on either side up the mountain road.
Saw a lady carrying a baby on a porch, and shouted out to her, “Ya got a hill
here!” The sky was a gorgeous blue with puffy clouds. It was very warm all
day - probably in the 80’s. When I turned to look behind me, the descent was
amazing, but even more amazing was my new view of the Pacific! It spread out
forever there just beyond the coast. It looked totally different from the
angle of the mountains as opposed to my angle from the coastline.
I took each little plateau slowly. Occasionally I’d have to stop to wipe
sweat off my brow. A few little gardens lay on the margin of the lane, and
I’m sure they were there just for me. Daisies, some pink things I don’t know
the name of, and various other flowers wild and tame. In one garden there was
a little cement circle, and embedded in the circle-pie, probably by some
little kid, were marbles in a star design. (You get to notice a LOT of things
when you’re going 3mph!!!) Beyond the houses was farmland, green and brown.
But mostly green - and some of the fields were dotted with horses and cows
and a couple roosters here and there.
At my five-mile mark I read the bright yellow and huge highway sign:
Caution, Winding Road, Narrow Shoulders Next 17 miles!
At 10:55 I was at 1,500 feet! And still climbing. Now I have gone all
through the Rockies many times, and I have biked the full length of the
Appalachians twice. But there were always ups and downs - here was all up, an
occasional somewhat-up plateau, then more up, never-ending.
Following are some of my mileages and times. You’ll notice the snail’s
pace. I wasn’t a happy camper with the progress I was making. By the end I
was happy to be surviving....
It was 11am when I hit the 5.6 mile mark.
It was 11:14 when I hit 6.6 mile mark.
It was 11:29 when I hit 7.6 mile mark. Here I could look off to a huge
broad expanse from left to right horizons. Green grass and a few trees. Again
cow dotted. And ahead in the haze below, the blue Pacific spreading away into
the future.
For much of today’s ride, aside from the Pacific and the cactus - yes,
you read that right! - I could have been biking near home in fertile Chester
County. Well, except that the downhills are more frequent there....
I was very fortunate with the wind. There was some tailwind, and when the
wind came wafting onto my face it was cool, dissipating the gallons of
perspiration that hadn’t already dripped off me.
It was 11:47 when I hit 8.6 miles. (Almost a 20-minute mile! Out of the
foothills now, buckos!
At 12:08pm I passed 2,500 feet elevation.
It was 12:09 when I hit.... well, as you know I listen to my little tape
recorder for these and many other notes from the day. But I was breathing,
and grunting and sighing and yawning so hard at this entry, that I just
couldn’t make it out.....
It was just past here that I thought I was at the top... I saw a weather
tower or something and I knew that usually meant the summit. And I kept
thinking, hoping, hoping against hope that the next ridge would be the last
climb. I had been told that after 11 miles it would be all down hill. But
clearly those people never rode bikes along here. I continued to climb and
continued to go slower and slower, stopping much more frequently then I ever
recall. Not only that water was becoming a concern now. I only had drops in
the bottle left. No stores, no houses to speak of, except for a few
farmhouses miles down long dirt driveways....
I don’t want to be overly dramatic here, but I went right to the edge of
myself. I was beyond any kind of humor now, and barely had enough strength to
give my customary friendly wave to the infrequent on-coming cars or trucks.
My legs were pumping away more from memory reflex than from any kind of
muscle energy.
At 12:30 the informative sign read that the elevation was 3,000 feet. I
felt just about ready to roll over the to the side of the road, fall into a
thicket of those nice soft-looking ferns, cover myself up with them, and
forget the whole thing....
It was 1:03 when I rolled over 9.6 miles. (Yep, more than an hour for
that mile! Ugh.)
Toward the top of one crest there was a real ruckus of cow mooing. Loud
and annoying. I noted through my sweat and sunscreen blurriness that there
were some cowboy types over to the left lassoing and perhaps branding. There
were hundreds of cows. I normally would shout over to such a herd, “Hey,
it’s not MY fault you’re there. I’m a vegetarian!” But I just didn’t have
the strength.
It was 1:30 when I reached 11 miles. And it’s at this point that the sky
was getting a little darker. Huge grey clouds behind me....
I stopped once and got off the bike - the first time all day. I leaned it
against a thick tree and walked around a bit. I considered sitting there by
that comfy looking tree, leaning back, and falling asleep... but I just knew
that would not be a particularly good idea. I was just not sure that I’d be
able to get up again. Seriously.
It was 1:48 when I reached 14.7 miles. At this point a couple in a green
car, pulled up beside me as I stood resting on my bike by the roadside - “Are
you ok?” the nice lady asked. I looked at her, barely managed a smile, and
responded, “Tired!” She understood, smiled, and they drove off. I’m glad
they stopped. It was a nice lift for me. Helped me get about another 500
It was 2pm when I reached 15 miles. And for the first time in the whole
day, I had a little roll. I was reaching, reaching, and hoping that the
downhill was upon me, but it wasn’t to be.
It was 2:04 when I reached 15.7 miles.
It was 2:06 when I reached 15.8 miles. And at that point the elevation
sign read 3,564 feet.
It was near here that I came upon a guard house for a gigantic ranch. I
was totally out of water now, and I rolled up, got off the bike and asked the
pleasant and plump lady if there was any water I could have. In the back of
the guardhouse was a sink, toilet, and shower even. She was quite bemused by
me I’m sure. I asked if I could sit on the easy chair. Then if I could put my
feet up on the table. I was really bottomed out, moving soooooo slowly. Soon,
I regained some energy to look around, and saw some horse folk training. A
young blond woman was on a horse. The sparkling day beyond, and the 10-miles
- or more - of ranch was as a backdrop extraordinare.
There was a nice cool breeze at 2:08 when at 16 miles into the day, I
convinced myself that I had finally reached the top. (Well, it would be
actually another 15 minutes or so away.) But what a view! On my right was a
long, broad and green plain. The occasional tree. A huge pond by which a
couple horses are standing in bold relief in front of the water. And beyond
all that magnificent scene, the Pacific sprawled out omni-directional
bedecked in gorgeous haze. On the left huge mountains reach toward the clouds
punctuated with the ever-present telephone poles, green wild grass, and some
out-croppings of rock.
And cactus! You could have knocked me over - who in their right mind
would have expected to see cactus in Hawaii???? The first time I saw it I
thought it was a statue of cactus. But then it was all over the place -
thousands of cactus bushes. Who would have thought???
The saving grace for the day was the delicious sweet air. Believe me, I
pumped it into my lungs, enjoying the fresh clean fragrance. It gave me
The road didn’t seem much different, but now I shot along at 26mph for a
little stretch, then came another hill. But the main thing now was the
mountainside on the left - from the top to midway - rain was spreading
ominously toward me. It was like a moving curtain, a wall of grey falling
earthward. But it wouldn’t catch me - now, finally, I was able to whiz along
at speeds of 30-35mph - and could outrace Mr. Slow Poke storm.
It was 2:23 when I hit 17.7 miles.
It was 2:26 when I hit 18.7 miles. (If you’re still with me here, you can
tell I had finally found a decent downgrade - a 3 minute mile. I was sailing
here, and I kept saying to myself, “I deserve THIS, and I’m going to enjoy
A late model convertible is ahead of me at one point. A little girl - say
about 6 years old - she pops up from the backseat with pink-framed sunglasses
on - and looks back at me quizzically.
I deserved MORE downhill. It was only a few miles worth compared to what
I had endured on the climb. I came out to the main highway to Weimea and then
there were more hills and a bunch of traffic now, too. I was really bushed.
As I entered Weimea, I saw a hospice sign and a hospital sign. I felt
ready for either. (Well, at least my sense of humor returned....)
I couldn’t believe it would be only a 24 mile day. I tried to compare
this with other days on tours past. I tried to compare myself with those
other rides. And I just suppose I came up short. Maybe. Maybe not - there
were rides 15 years ago that I stopped short, too. So I just wasn’t sure....
I came upon the Kamuela Inn around 3:30 or so. It sure looked inviting
with wonderful palm trees and a well kept lawn with two big white chairs
there that were beckoning me. Judy, behind the counter, was friendly. I’m
sure I looked a sight!
I had really wanted to go to the coast today, another 13 miles. But I
decided that everything considered, I would settle for the crappy mileage
day, and settle in here. The room was breezy, and I did something I don’t
often do - I lay on the bed shirtless, and didn’t do ANYTHING! Just
reflected on the ride and all the feelings of success and failure and travel
that blew around inside me.
Shortly, I showered and washed my clothes. I checked in for email - what
a fun thing to do! Then I took the wet clothes over, and Judy said that she
would dry them for me - and I especially appreciated that since there was
clearly a sign there that read, “Not for Customer Use!”
I walked around the town just a little, and found a Mexican Restaurant
and had a couple bean tacos, a big chocolate chip cookie, and a delicious
lime drink of some kind. I poked around a couple other places, and then
headed back to type up today’s notes.

Picture of Cactus



March 6, 2002 - Wednesday - Day 2
Miles Today - 21 Total Miles - 57
Kawaihae,HI to Kapaau,HI
(-Kohola Adventure B&B -)

Anyone who knows me, knows full well what torment I went through in
thought process of taking the ride to get to the B&B yesterday. (Well, maybe
“torment” is a little strong there!) And anyone who knows me, ALSO knows
that I wouldn’t leave that stretch unridden in my quest to circle the Big
Island... So it was with that in mind that I got a ride back to Kawaihae with
my bike. But I get ahead of myself...
It was a great night’s slumber in the little cozy room. I could hear the
rain on and off throughout the night. And the wind, too. I later learned that
there was quite a bit of rare thunder here, and lightening, too.
The best part of the night was when I went over to the bathroom across
the little outside hall around 4:30am or so. The little area opens onto a
little patio. Even without my glasses the stars were the brightest I’d seen
for many years. Perhaps since Alaska two years ago. Perhaps since the
southwestern desert in 1980!! But when I went back in the room, retrieved my
glasses, and looked, it was an even more amazing thing. The half moon was so
brilliant it was hard to stare at it, the stars were twinkling in shiny array
away from the pollution back home. I thought, “This is the way the night sky
is SUPPOSED to look!!!!” I stood and watched for quite a few minutes. Jaw
dropped. And inhaling the fragrant night air - which had brushed over the
Pacific through the trees and to me. It was a glorious moment.
Back in bed, I fell asleep shortly, but then there was a problem with the
phone in the nearby kitchen. I got up and put the receiver back on, came back
and snuggled into my sleeping bag on the bed, and dozed all the way until
about 7:30am. As I opened the door to my little room, the sun poured in.
There was a huge spider web nearby. Got a great picture of it as the sun
glinted across the strands. There were hundreds of webs all around the place.
Some had almost rope-thick strands. Bobi said some of her clients didn’t like
them. She said one couple left two days early because they had seen a gecko.
(A little lizard type thing.) I saw one in the kitchen later in the day, and
it was a cute little bugger.
It wasn’t long before I was out on my mile run down the lane toward the
bigger highway. These morning runs help to iron out the night-time kinks,
assess my strength for the day, and of course, keep the run streak going.
They are also great for seeing things even closer than I do from the bike
seat. A huge dead toad, the size of two fists, lay on the road - poor guy,
still intact except for an arm. Saw a brilliantly red cardinal on a telephone
Spent part of the morning chatting with Bobi, an interesting lady into
the latest health food stuff. She’s looking for a husband on the internet.
She has adopted 7 kids who all older now, and has three of her own. The one
furthest away she told me is in an Alaskan prison, and she’s worried about
him. She made me some thick oatmeal and I finished off the peanut butter on
thick whole grain bread.
After sending journal pages last night I got an ominous message from
America On Line that my account was terminated because I was guilty of
spamming. When I tried to get online this morning, my account was blocked. So
I spent about an hour on the phone with AOL. Since I send these notes to over
100 people around the world it constitutes spam. I had a special dispensation
about that, but it seemed to have expired. The lady was very helpful in
correcting the problem, but it was kinda dicey there for awhile because the
credit card number had been changed and they didn’t have the new one to
verify who I was. I sweated bullets until I came up with an old file on the
iBook that had the correct number.
I left around 11:30ish with Charles, one of the other folks at the B&B. C
harles is from Texas and works as some kind of petroleum planner. He ‘has
properties’ in Hawaii, and he was up checking on them. Today though he was
heading for the beach, and he didn’t mind pulling me and my bike along with
him toward the Blue Dolphin restaurant where I stopped riding yesterday. We
are only a year apart in age, and so we had some discussions about that.
(“There are three things to go,” he said. “One is vision, two is hearing,
and I can’t remember the third!”) He said his business was lagging a bit,
and used an unusual, but very descriptive and effective verb to describe what
has happened - he said he’d been “binLadened”!
Charles talked about the whales a little. He said I had probably seen
blue whales yesterday. He said that each foot of a whale is about a ton, and
that they get up to 45 feet in length. He said that the nearby mountain was
31,420 feet from sea floor to top, and actually was the largest and tallest
in the world.
After some photos, I set off about 12:20pm. Charles would be coming back
that way and so I felt I had a nice safety net. Touring bicyclists are pretty
much at the mercy of the elements and people, and except for the wits about
us, it’s nice to have that safety net wherever possible.
Charles got a kick out of it, when after he described another off-shoot
ride I might be interested in traveling, I said to him, “Everyone keeps
wanting to send me further.”
I rode under full blaze sun for the first hour or so. And it was splendid
riding - light side wind and nice gently rolling road. Nice views of the
Pacific to my left. Even the big rolls I managed with little effort - often
clocking 17-20 miles per hour. That all changed for the second half of the
ride, as the clouds rolled in, and the wind ripped into me - the going at
that point was 4-6 miles per hour - at a struggle. It was grinding and
grueling, but I kept moving ahead.
The lava fields were gone now. Green and some mountains to my inland
right, and green fields or trees to the ocean beyond. Still, except for
occasional homes there was nothing until I reached little Hawi where maybe 10
or 12 stores lined the sides of the road. There were a few up-scale
communities but I could only see the gates, and I’m sure there were beaches
down below but they were hidden to me because of the lay of the land. I could
have ridden down a number of roads to check them out, but had no inclination
to pedal the long slope back up.
The highway here is where the yearly Ironman contest is run.
A cement factory was on the right at one point, and frozen dribbles of
cement rolled over one of the walls for it’s entire 50 yard length perhaps. I
caught a picture of a ladder frozen forever in that cement on the side wall -
it looked eerie and surreal.
The rain came right at 15 miles, at 2pm. It never got heavy, but it
was pretty steady for awhile. Then it was intermittent for the rest of the
Just across from the statue of King Kamehameha (the king who was the
first to unite all the islands), in front of a little tiny row of stores, an
older guy from Cleveland named Clarence said he liked my biking outfit. He
got a photo of me in front of a wall sculpture of the Islands. Then I got one
of him and his wife of 50 years. It was cute the way he told me the years,
months, and exact days he was married. Very friendly fellow under some kind
of navy cap.
I paused before turning toward the B&B. I could have gone to the end of
the island on a spur road. Everyone said I should. But the wind wasn’t good
and it would have been 14 miles. I may be sorry, but I just didn’t feel like
Yesterday was 36 and today I had 21 under my belt. It was a little
upsetting when I realized that a 57 mile day would have been well within my
reach a number of years ago - but then I realized it was never within reach -
or smart - for a first or second day of a tour. I could still truck that
distance later on if this were a longer tour.
I came back to the house and began on the project of outlining all my
bike rides in dark blue ink on a big USA AAA map. It took about an hour, but
I sure enjoyed it. Brought back all kinds of great memories. It would make it
a lot easier to show people where I’d been.
Had a great shower, and shaved, and then began arranging my bike bag
contents again. That’s a never-ending process as priorities shift.
Wanted to help Bobi with her iMac, and teach her some things, but got too
involved with it, and ended up spending a ton of time in her part of the
house. She’s not too computer savvy, and though I was happy to help, I spent
a little longer than I wanted to there.
She washed my clothes and shared some fresh pineapple with me. But it
wasn’t until about 11pm that I finally put the finishing touches on these
notes, and exhaustedly went to sleep, listening to some of the Hawaiian music
that I ripped from one of Bobi’s cd’s onto the iBook. The winds were ripping
around outside, but at least it wasn’t raining - for now.
Tomorrow I climb into the mountains to ride the spine of the Koholo
Mountain range, and turn the corner to the other (rainier!) side of the Big

Picture of King Kamehameha


Miles Today - 36 Total Miles - 36
Kona,HI to Kawaihae,HI
(-stayed in b&b in Hawi,HI -)

I awoke after a good-enough night’s sleep and felt surprisingly strong.
The sending out of the journal notes when without a hitch through the
hotel room phone. I retrieved e-mail, too, of course. There were several
business-related notes among the 25 or so messages, but one mentioned about a
fellow Optimist who had died. His son e-mailed me about it. Jack Moriority
had a wonderful smile in front of deep blue eyes, and firm handclasp. I wrote
back that I would miss the wonderful guy, and that I’d pause by the Pacific
and send out some thoughts about him.
My mile run took me to the bike shop where I found the bike on the stand
and finished ready to go... I enjoyed meeting the fellows from the bike shop
who I had chatted with on the phone. I especially wanted to meet Joel, of c
ourse. Jason who I first met there, took me around through the store which
was being renovated to the little office where Joel was chatting amiably on
the phone. 20ish and unshaven, he had a great friendly smile. He was at the
desk and I noticed a brace on his leg. Like I usually do for folks in braces
or casts, I asked him in a friendly way what had happened to him. And then I
wanted to fall through the floor when he swiveled his chair around and I
noticed he had no leg. As I apologized for the gaffe, he was good humored
about it and said that he was born without the leg. He had one of those great
metal prosthesis things that allowed him full movement. It was something that
clearly didn’t slow the guy down, and I was very impressed about that.
After checking in at the bike store to put some unneeded gear in the bike
box to go home in 9 days, I crossed the street and had a couple bean tacos at
the Taco Bell. (By-the-way, one of the first things at the airport in
Honolulu to smack me in the face, and now as I biked through town was Wendy’s
and Starbucks. And Walmart. And Radio Shack. These and other known brand
stores dotted all over the city.)
After consuming the food, I stood outside as a little blond girl of about
5 watched bemused as I doused and smothered myself with sunblock. Then I set
off north on Route 19 under partly cloudy skies that alternately splashed
sunlight on the road mixed with grey.
The Big Island of Hawaii is a microcosm of a multitude of little
weather systems. I’m told I’ll be heading north on the sunny side, and then
round the corner to the rainy side. As you’ll read on, it didn’t quite work
out that way for today...
This is nothing like the ride I expected today - most especially the
scenery’s barren landscape. But at 14 miles out, when I saw the sign “Donkey
Crossing - Beware between 6 and 7am”, I knew I wasn’t in Havertown anymore!
Started out into a small spurty headwind mixed with occasional tailwind.
It was good riding over slightly rolling terrain.
At about 12:15pm a tiny sprinkle started to fall. I went for while longer
before doing some modest covering of my bags.
At about 1:30pm, at 17 miles out, I stopped to suck from my water bottle
and to cover the gear as the slow drizzle was picking up to a steady staccato
tattoo against the bags. I had seen a sign on the lava field to the left, and
as I looked through it with my binoculars I also saw part of the ocean
behind. There was some splashing I noticed, and then when I trained my
binoculars in that direction, much to my amazement I saw huge pillars popping
out of the water, and then came the realization that those were humpback
whales doing their thing, and lunging toward the sky. Majestic. Awing.
Certainly one of the more amazing animals I’ve seen on any bike trip.
I stood in the drizzle and wanted to shout to the cars passing by, “Hey,
look what you’re missing!!!!!” After I came back the 25 yards or so, I was
standing by the bike when a speedy racing cyclist buzzed by and startled me.
He said, “You all set?” I guessed that was his way to ask if everything was
okay, but he was gone before I could say anything... I stared for awhile
longer toward the whales before taking off along the highway....
For more than 22 miles out of Kona there wasn’t a sign of a building
anywhere. There were some probably 20 miles away to the right up on the
mountain right outside of Kona, but that was it. Just that scrabbly lava rock
with the sandstone rock letters put there presumedly by kids spelling out
sweetheart’s names and various other things. At first outside Kona I thought
the that scrabbly rock and dirt was just the earth having been turned over
by big earth-moving machines - perhaps preparing the land for some kind of
building or something. But shortly and for most of the rest of the day the
moonscape terrain was ever-present on the side of the road so I was sure
there was something else at work here. To the left beyond the lava field in
the distance was the Pacific. To the right beyond the lava field was a small
range of mountains - for most of the day ringed with clouds that ranged from
grey to ominous black. For part of the time before it hit me, I could see the
rain showers coming towards the highway.
Behind the main bulk of today’s rain came an amazingly fierce headwind -
and rolling hills. Well, it was hard just ROLLING down them... The wind began
at 1:30pm and caused my quick progress to come to a grinding slow-down. I
went from my effortless 18 miles-per-hour to a tortoise-like 4-7
miles-per-hour as the constant breezes began hitting the loaded touring bike
like a it was hitting a wall!
Around 2:30pm I spied two touring cyclists coming toward me. Dave and
Sandy were from Santa Rosa,CA, and I pumped them for info about the road
ahead, and also got a nice shot of them overlooking a bay. Sandy recommended
a little B&B in Hawi (pronounced “Havi”). The two middle-aged+ folks were
headed toward accommodations at a big hotel not far, and then the next day
they would be heading into Kona for their flight home.
At 3pm I rolled over 30 miles - still trying to slice my way into a
blizzard of headwind.
I stopped at a state park but was told that I couldn’t camp there because
I had no registration. The friendly fellow recommended an illegal place a
little ways away. I was considering it, but then went to town for a little
dinner. It was about 4:30, and there being nothing along the way I had
subsisted on sunflower seeds and a power bar all day since the tacos.
A red-eyed guy in a scuba diving-tour store put me in touch with Bobi who
owned the B&B that my friendly bikers had told me about. After much
consternation, and thinking of many options, I elected to get a ride with a
friend of Bobi’s, to her place, and then get a ride back to this spot
tomorrow to continue the ride.
While waiting for the ride to the B&B I pedaled the hundred yards or so
to the Shipwreck outdoor diner. Cute little place. I wasn’t very hungry
though. And I didn’t have much choice in the selection. Finally settled on a
veggie sandwich without the cheese or onions, and some french fries to go
with it. It came to only $7. I ate half the sandwich, then stared at the
other half for awhile wondering if I had enough energy to each it. Had a
couple of the fries, a couple bites of the sandwich and two cans of some
Hawaiian canned stuff which had papaya and some other tropical fruits in it,
and proudly proclaimed to be made here...
Rick finally arrived in his pickup truck. He and his girlfriend Si,
worked together on construction jobs. On the way up the hillside it began to
really rain hard. But before that I got view of my first Hawaiian rainbow.
I met Bobi at the door of her place. She was in robe and bedroom slippers
and was very friendly and talkative in a kindly kind of way. As the rain grew
harder, I put the bike in a nearby rec-room, and brought my bags to the room
where I was to stay... We chatted a little, but soon I was tucked in the
roomy kitchen with the i-book on the kitchen table. I plugged in, and with
i-tunes rolling out the tunes, I listened to my little tape recorder and
pieced together today’s journal entry.
Bobi would pop by once in awhile with the weather report - and to say the
winter has been ‘crazy’.... seems there has been an awesome amount of rain
down near Hilo, and the first lightening strike she has ever heard of in
these parts. Part of the road is washed out and closed into Hilo! We
discussed a huge number of options for my ride tomorrow.
I sat about 2 hours enjoying the music, the typing, the reviewing of the
day and the strong Pacific breeze blowing in on me. The rain was coming down
in gales - and pounded against the windows and the roof for most of the two
hours. (I was glad I was not camping.) I typed in my sweaty filth until I
could type no longer and my shoulders were stooped with weariness. And then,
after transferring the day’s images from the camera to the computer, and
sending out e-mails, I went and took my shower and went to bed.

Picture of Kona North Views