Hawaii’s Abundance

Good fortune (and spending a fortune) gave me the incredible chance to spend nearly a month in Hawaii. I did something on all but two days–why nothing on those days? I was getting a cough and had a coastline snorkeling cruise coming up and didn’t want to miss it. So I lounged at the beachside hotel, and poor baby was chilled by the wind off the ocean while literally swaying in the hammock and had to move because I was too cold. First world problems.

The abundance of beauty and activities, crops and flowers, water depths and volcanic heights is gluttonous. There are plants that grow only here. NASA tests space equipment and trains astronauts on volcanoes because of the terrain and altitude. Water is beautiful and damaging. So is lava.

Who Do I Love the Most?

To say that Hawaii is my favorite state is really unfair. I mean, they kinda stack the deck. Montana was the winner pre-Hawaii, and it remains. While Hawaii is technically on the American flag, I don’t consider it a state–sorry. It’s another world. Not just because of its allure, but because people live and interact differently than on the Mainland; there’s a softness and mellowness in contrast to the dormant but volatile volcanoes. Plus, there ARE volcanoes. Active ones. The Earth is alive. I suppose it is everywhere; but you know it in Hawaii. It’s visceral and real and immediate.

Let’s Stay Focused, People

If I wrote about all of the experiences and observations on the trip, this blog would transition from “Americana the Beautiful” to “Hawaii the One and Only.” So it’s time to say mahalo (thank you) and return to the mainland.

One More Picture Couldn’t Hurt (or perhaps a few hundred)

But before we say goodbye to Hawaii, I’ll share links to my remaining photos, hosted online because there are so many. They’re not as culled as they usually are for you in the blog, but I have faith that you can handle it. I took over 3,000 photos but certainly (hopefully) less than 5,000. So it was an effort to get to this point.

For weeks I sought an analogy to convey the volcanic mountains in Hawaii. At last, I have it–they look like bundt cakes!

Hawaiian Mountains look like bundt cakes

Volcanoes and Related Experiences

Haleakela is a dormant volcano on Maui and it was one of the best days of the trip. Above the clouds, hiking a bit too close to the cliff–I felt like I was on the edge of the world. Add dynamic colors that change with the sun and clouds and it’s something that is breath-giving instead of breath-taking.

On Haleakela is the silversword plant. It’s endemic, meaning it only grows here. Excuse me, but is that not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard? I became rather obsessed with this plant, which smells like a combination of celery and dry erase markers–see I smelled it; that’s how obsessed I was. It can live for 50 years and flowers only once in a lifetime.

Mauna Kea is home to observatories from around the world. To clarify, they observe the sky, not people–that would be creepy. And one of the ones here is responsible for demoting Pluto from a planet. Why here? Because there’s 2,000 miles of ocean in every direction; they’re 40% above the earth’s atmosphere, and above the clouds. They can see what they need to see without interference. They also get lightheaded at 13,000 some-odd feet, so several of the observatories are controlled remotely. And BTW: Mauna Kea is taller than Mt Everest. Say what? Everest has more mass above sea level, but Mauna Kea has more height top to bottom. Think of a gradeschool class picture. The tall kid stands on the floor, on the second row. The short kid stands on a riser on the third row, making him taller than her for the picture, but not in reality. Mt Everest is the short kid on the riser.


In the crevices between the volcanoes and the lava paths are valleys rich with growth, spiritual meaning, and glory.

  • Iao Valley – a sacred burial ground.
  • Hanalei Valley – it’s just pretty.
  • Waimea Canyon – Hawaii’s Grand Canyon. I think it stands alone just fine without the comparison. Wait two minutes and the weather will change, impacting your view for better or worse; but the worse isn’t really that bad.

Coastal Adventures

  • The Southernmost Point in the US – it’s not in the Florida Keys.
  • Driving along the Oahu Coastwas the most fun I’ve had driving. How could it not be?
  • Blow Hole is such a terrible term; but it’s a sight to see. A hole in the rock, weathered by water, sprays water up to 30 feet in the air as the tide crashes against the lava rock.
  • The Na Pali Coast in Kauai is only accessible by boat. This is the water view of Waimea Canyon; plus there are spinning dolphins!

Things that Grow

  • I don’t drink coffee, but I’ll go to a coffee plantation to learn. At this place, they hand pick the berries: red = go; green = stop (not ripe). Even on the same cluster, they mature at different rates. By hand-picking them all, they ensure consistent flavor.
  • Flowers. Glory Be. Wild orchids; Birds of Paradise roadside; hanging lobster claw. Striking–everywhere you turn. Plus, these flowers aren’t bashful about, um, showing off their goods. They want to pollinate and they let it be known. Holy camoly.

Hawaii was an excess of experiences, learning, and fun. Plus, I was rockin’ the sandal tan. It’s already fading. Sad.


If you’ve been to Hawaii, do you think of it as a state?

4 Responses

For the sake of our president–I think of it as a state. But, Paula, you are absolutely right it is magical. I went to Maui and I would live there in a second. I too was fascinated by the plants and animals that are only in Hawaii! Words cannot describe, although you have done an amazing job, the allure and beauty of all that is Hawaii!!! Just laying on the beach was amazing. Thank you again for sharing everything Hawaii!

Danielle – i can’t tell you how many times I wanted to say “there aren’t words to describe xx”. But it’s kinda my job to find the words…


It’s difficult to think of Hawaii as a state unless you’re doing your civics or history homework. I think of it as fantasy VACATION. Fantasy because everything seems out of proportion: bigger, lusher, harsher, wilder with more exotic flowers, animals and seascapes than anywhere I’ve been. Vacation because who could concentrate on work in that paradise?

Mimi – even in a blog comment you’re one of the best writers I’ve known!

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