Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Big Island Day 3: Mauna Kea

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Above:  At the 13,796 feet summit of Mauna Kea for sunset above the clouds.  Yes, that’s snow in Hawaii!

On Tuesday 3/17 we got up and went over to Akule Supply by the Keauhou marina for breakfast.  We got there around 8:20 and it just opened at 8:00am.  We sat with a view of the marina and people going onto boats for snorkel trips.  

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I had their special which was turkey egg and cheese sandwich, and a big Kona coffee.  It was good!  

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Todd got a chocolate muffin and yogurt, because they didn't have anything else for him to eat.  (He hates eggs & cheese type of breakfast.)

After breakfast we hung out at the condo.  For lunch we went to Umeke's downtown Kona for ahi poke.  

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It was rather good!  I had avocado poke with brown rice and seaweed salad.  

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Todd had the grilled mahi.  It was good.  

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After lunch, we went to Island Lava Java so Todd could get some brownies.  He was so excited because they were delicious.  Then we walked over to Scandinavian Shave Ice.  We shared a large shave ice with toasted coconut ice cream and three flavors of shave ice (mango, dragon's blood, and cherry).  It was rather good but really big!  

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After that we walked back to the car and drove over to Hawaii Forest & Trail at 2pm for our Mauna Kea summit tour.

We signed in and waited around for half an hour for everyone to gather up.  Our tour guide was Greg.  He was a grey-haired guy who kind of reminded me of Jack Hanna.  He was good.  We got into the tour bus and he went over the itinerary with us.  We went over to Hilton Waikoloa to pick up a couple going on the tour with us.  Then we drove into Waikoloa Village to Island Lava Java to pick up our hot dinners and brownies!  Brownies from Island Lava Java again!!!

After the food pickup, we drove over to the new Saddle Road and made a stop on the side of the road to check out some lava flow from a long time ago.  We got to stand on the stuff.  

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We took photos, then drove on.  We made it to the sheep ranch at 7000 feet and Greg set up dinner there for us inside a tent with picnic tables.

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The weather had turned cooler already at 7000 feet.  And the trees and fauna changed.  This used to be a working sheep farm like 100 years ago.

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I actually used the porta-potty there!!  

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Then we had our BBQ chicken dinner.   It was not that yummy but was a utilitarian dinner.  

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We chatted with the couple from Oceanside, as well as the couple from South Carolina.  The guy was a veterinarian and a long-distance runner.  We had fun chatting.  Then it was off on the road again.  We made a stop at about 12,000 feet and it was above the clouds already.



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So glad the tour provided these parkas.  Because otherwise, who brings parkas to Hawaii??!





We made it up to the summit 13,796 feet about 15 minutes before sunset.  

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There was a ton of snow up there!

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There are 13 observatories up at the summit of Mauna Kea. 

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Todd had to use the porta-potty up there too.  Then we watched the sunset over the clouds and all the snow, and observatories.  It was majestic and wonderful.  

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It was really COLD up there!  We had our parkas and it was still cold.  The wind was biting.  


After the sunset, we drove back down to the visitor center at 9000 feet and parked in a parking lot.  Greg got the brownies and hot chocolate out and we enjoyed those.  He set up a telescope so he could show us stars.  We saw Venus and Jupiter, along with several stars up close.  There was so many stars in the sky it looked like we could see thousands.  We saw the outer edge of the Milky Way.  It was a new moon so we did not have light from the moon.  It was so clear, cold, and dark up there!  It was fun to learn so much about the constellations.  We also saw satellites and comets.  After a while I felt so cold.  I was glad when we finally got back into the bus to get warm.  Todd got a t-shirt at the visitor center.  Then we headed down Mauna Kea and I fell asleep.  I woke up in Waikoloa and it was hot because I was still wearing the parka, ha ha.  We got back into the Hawaii Forest & Trail parking lot around 10:40and drove back to the condo.  It was exhausting, especially with the low oxygen at the high altitudes.  But what a fun day!


  1. Not at all photos you expect to see from Hawaii - the shots at the old sheep farm looked like you were in New Zealand. Beautiful photos from the summit.

  2. Snow in HI not something I would ever dream. Looks amazing!

  3. What an incredible day!!! Wow! I would LOVE to see the Mauna Kea Observatory. I was able to go to Kitt Peak Observatory once when I was in grad school, and it was pretty incredible, but I imagine it was nothing compared to Hawaii!!


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