Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category
Back on April 21 I wrote a blog post about my intention to spend a lot less time and worry on social media, and focus instead on writing. Pretty radical agenda, huh? The tactic I used was to avoid Twitter, Facebook, SFWA forum, Book View Cafe forum, etc., as well as answering most emails, until after noon my time (6pm on the east coast). Mornings were devoted to writing. I get up pretty early, so this gave me a lot of time. I also managed some work most afternoons, and several evenings. In short, this strategy proved amazingly successful and I’ve made a lot of progress.
But I’ve begun to slip. I’m overly involved in Twitter again, in part because of the io9.com book club gig…and involvement with Twitter has led to squandering too much time online. Being immersed in a writing project does not mix well with promotional activities, at least for me! Which is fairly awkward when you’re trying to make a living as a writer.
Anyway, the writing really slowed down this week, and then yesterday I took the entire day off to hike in Haleakala Crater. The hike had the positive effect of getting me away from social media, though that wasn’t the reason we went. Ron is leading a volunteer group into the crater in a couple of days, and we were dropping supplies off at the cabin where they’ll be staying. So we enjoyed a twelve-mile roundtrip hike, with a 2600′ elevation change. The day was misty when we started. The mist was soon joined by a light rain that fell for most of the day, creating spectacular scenes on the crater floor. Here’s a shot Ron took of the ground steaming even as a light rain is falling. Click the image to see a stitched panorama:
(The panorama’s not great, but it’s the best I could manage…)
When we climbed out of the crater, we were surprised to find the summit gloriously clear:
(click the image to see a larger version)
Anyway, I’m resolved to get back to my write-until-noon schedule and get this book done. Onward!
It’s launch day plus one for Going Dark.
Yesterday afternoon, instead of annoying my Twitter stream with “Hey, my book is out!” messages, I decided to go hiking on Haleakala’s Skyline Trail. This is an amazing route that starts at the summit and descends along the southwest rift zone into the forest at Polipoli State Park.
The complication with this hike is that you need someone to drop you off at the top and pick you up at the bottom. Luckily, my son had his day off, so we drafted him for that purpose. It turned into a fun afternoon, as well as a successful distraction from the stress of book launch.
Below: I call this “the road on the edge of the world.” This old road, which runs past the observatories and communications facilities at Haleakala’s summit, is the beginning of Skyline Trail:
Roughly a quarter century ago I planted a native ‘ohi’a lehua tree in my garden. That tree is now fifteen feet tall, and blooms abundantly every few months. Honeybees always come to feed on the nectar — but I never expected to see a native ‘apapane feeding there. ‘Apapane are native forest birds, bright red and black in their adult coloration.
Hawaii has suffered extreme environmental changes since humans first arrived here, with the pace of change only accelerating after westerners arrived. Today, nearly all the bird and plant life at lower elevations are introduced species. Native forests generally exist only at higher elevations, and often only in highly protected areas such as Haleakala National Park here on Maui. The native forest bird population has suffered even more, with many species already extinct. One reason for their decline is that they have no natural immunity to avian malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes.
Aside: humans are not susceptible to avian malaria, so no worries there. Also, mosquitoes are yet another non-native species. They were accidentally introduced around 150 years ago.
Hawaii is kind of an awesome place. This is a little five-and-a-half minute video on what happened when a computer science teacher at Ala Wai Elementary School (a computer science teacher in elementary school?? when did that become a thing? awesome!) felt his students had not received any recognition or encouragement for their work. A group of /r/Hawaii Redditors decided to do something about that. Here’s the story of what happened — and the interviews with the kids are amazing.
PS: the video still-shot below showing only boys is a little misleading. 😉
Late in the day on January 2nd, a predicted storm rolled in over Maui with high winds and rain. Over the last few years, the electricity has been going out at our house every time any sort of mild storm blows through — at least five outages in 2014 — so given the strength of this storm, we we were all surprised the power held out as long as it did. But around 7:30 pm two explosions announced the end of light and heat.
As expected, power was not restored overnight, so in the morning we finally had a chance to put into use the two generators Ron had picked up a few years ago. None of the earlier outages had lasted long enough to bother. The little Honda generator provided that essential of life, morning coffee:
The big Honda generator successfully ran the refrigerator all day, along with occasional use of the microwave (at the same time!), as well as charging up phones and laptop computers — all of this on one small tank of gas. I was very impressed with how well it worked. And I was able to keep working on book 3 of The Red Trilogy!
We were fortunate and didn’t have much damage — just a lot of leaves and twigs in the driveway and a few broken branches. We also collected a lot of avocados that had blown off the tree:
Oh, and there was a bit of frost on Haleakala’s summit. I think that’s ice, not snow:
Power finally came back on at 10:30pm last night, after a twenty-seven hour outage. My gratitude goes out to the amazing, hard-working crews at Maui Electric. But at the same time, this storm ought to be a wake-up call for Maui County. We do not have a resilient electrical grid and if/when a hurricane rolls through her, the damage will be vastly more.
This past weekend the United States Navy’s Blue Angels performed in Honolulu, flying out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which is adjacent to the Honolulu International Airport. It’s the first air show I’ve had the good fortune to attend since I was a child, and despite the blazing sun, the heat, the crowd, and the traffic jams getting into and out of the base, it was a terrific day.
I brought my camera along and I took some pictures, but seriously, why did I bother? I was there with my daughter, Dallas Nagata White, a renowned Honolulu photographer who has been an invited photographer at other military air shows. “Do you want to use my pictures for your blog post?” she asks me. “Well, YES!”
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor performed shortly after we arrived, displaying amazing capabilities.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
The C-17 plays a big role in my novel The Red: First Light. At the air show, I was finally able to look around inside a C-17 named after Hawaii’s long-time senator–The Spirit of Daniel Inouye. Unfortunately, the line to view the cockpit was so long I wasn’t able to see that section.
Another C-17 performed in the air, demonstrating flight speeds, maneuverability, and the ability to do a combat landing, with a very short run from touchdown to full stop.
Yesterday afternoon my big, beautiful, two-year-old iMac suddenly died. The screen went to white, and that was that.
Two hurricanes are bearing down on the islands.
And while I was looking for updates on the hurricanes this morning, we had an earthquake.
On the positive side, the earthquake was small (4.2) and generated no tsunami. The hurricanes should wind down to tropical storms by the time they reach Maui–still dangerous! But we’re grateful for every mile-per-hour drop in wind speed — and we wish all best to those on the eastern side of the Big Island who will see actual hurricane winds.
And as for the Mac? The diagnosis was a dead video card, which the local Apple store promises will arrive Friday despite the storms. We’ll see.
The day after our Hilina Pali hike, we dialed things back and went on two short hikes, instead of one long, challenging one…with a visit to a winery in between.
The hike that was new for us was the “footprints” trail. It starts on Mamalahoa Highway. There’s no parking lot, just a pullout alongside the uphill-bound lane. Keep a sharp eye out for it — the trailhead is very easy to drive past, especially given the speed of traffic on this section of the road. But once you find the right place to stop, the trail is easy to follow.
This is an easy hike. It’s short, there’s very little elevation change, and trail conditions are mostly good. In fact, part of the trail is paved with asphalt. I think this is leftover from the days of long ago when the National Park Service had better funding.
This is called the “Footprints Trail” because at different times in past centuries, people walked through this area during severe volcanic activity, leaving footprints behind in thin layers of clay. The park service built a shelter over an example of footprints, but over the years the prints have been vandalized and aren’t really recognizable. Nevertheless, this is a great hike to see the old lava flows and the sparse vegetation on this side of the area known as the Ka`u Desert. Highly recommended if you want a short outing!
Note that the Footprints Trail meets the Ka`u Desert Trail, which runs for miles in both directions. You might want to continue on for a bit — but don’t get carried away.
And that winery? It’s Volcano Winery, of course! We liked the guava-grape wine.
Last week my husband Ron and I did some hiking on the Big Island. Our first venture was the Hilina Pali Trail, inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
My quick summary?
Spectacular scenery, but not a pleasant hike. I’m glad we did it, but I doubt we’ll do it again.
(There are a lot more photos at the end of this write up!)
Here’s the longer version:
Volcanoes is a huge park, with extremely varied terrain that runs from the shoreline to Mauna Loa’s 14,000-foot summit. Hilina Pali — and “pali” is the Hawaiian word for “cliff” — is an escarpment on the southeast coast. The trail begins at the end of a nine-mile-long spur road that branches off from Chain-of-Craters Road. Starting elevation is about 2,260 feet. The trail descends a steep 1,200 feet through sometimes difficult terrain. It then crosses a wide bench, slowly descending another 800 feet. From here, it’s another 200-foot drop to near sea level. Roundtrip mileage is only around eight or nine miles according to the map, but I believe it’s significantly longer than this, by another mile or even two.
This is a tough hike! Not so much for the mileage, but because of the heat, the terrain, and the monotonous landscape. The initial descent is the hardest part of the hike. It can be quite steep, and the footing is treacherous in parts. It crosses an `a`a lava flow and some of the trail is paved in `a`a “clinker”–loose stones that can easily roll out from under your boot. I skidded several times on the way down and fell down once. The trail doesn’t seem to get a lot of use. Grass and weeds are overgrowing it, so it’s often hard to see where you’re placing your feet. And it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot?
We were actually lucky, because a very strong wind was blowing all day. Now and then while on the cliff we would find ourselves in the lee, and it was sweltering!