Certainly one of the highlights of visiting The Big Island was the drive up to the top of Mauna Kea. It summits at 13, 796 feet above sea level (4205 m) and it’s possible to drive all but the last 50 feet or so. It has to be one of the more, if not mo,st accessible peaks in existence. (I stand ready to be corrected.)
The Mauna Kea Road
There are 13 observatories up here supported by a collaboration of 18 nations. If you’re a stargazer, there is probably no better place on earth, certainly none as open as this one, to practice your obsession.
When we left the visitor center – at 7000 feet (2134 m) – the temperature was about 55 degrees F (13 C) and we expected it to be much more brisk on top. It wasn’t. The temperature rose about 10 degrees F. Bright – very bright – and balmy. It did not take long for the change in altitude to work its effects though so we spent less than an hour on top.
There are lots of things to see and do on Hawaii but this was the highlight for me. This is on the go-back list.
Long haul road-tripping of the type I do is not all campfires and tents and bug spray and romantic things of the sort. It’s true, I get my share of skies that extend from here to there and sunsets that chase them to wherever they feel like going. It’s a good life, no question. Although some people I run into have a hard time believing I don’t get lonely or homesick. I don’t. Trust me on that.
I send cards or letters or emails and such that from time to time contain phrasing to the effect that ‘I wish you were here.’
And it’s not you; its me. I can’t imagine there are too many people who would ever get comfortable with the way I travel. It’s just erratic. Sometimes it drives me a little batty. But as I said in some post – that never got posted – I’m never disappointed. Whatever happens is what’s supposed to happen. Do you have any idea how long it took me to figure that out? And embrace it?
Like today. I’m in Estes Park, CO which sits literally at the gate to Rocky Mountain National Park. I think this is probably one of the top five – by popularity- parks in the country. (Do you know enough about Your parks to guess the other four?) I toured it to a degree this morning. Drove up the Old Fall River Road – a one-way 9 mile stretch of unpaved switchbacks – to the Trail Ridge Rd that peaks out at 12,200 ft and parallels, in a way only engineering marvels of this type can, the Continental Divide.
Just so Chaz couldn’t accuse me of touristing the place I parked at the road peak and walked up 300 ft to the top of the hill. I found just standing up at this altitude to be difficult; I suspect most people could have duck-walked up faster than I got there – but I got there.
The widest angle lens on my Canon struggled to capture the vistas. So if this iPhone pic looks anemic Don’t blame Steve Jobs – or me. The park is all about up and boundless. Putting that in pixels ain’t easy although I promise you’ll see a few better images shortly.
But right now I’m on one of those non-romantic runs getting new shoes on the chariot. Drove through a gawdawful rainstorm to get in here last night and experienced hydroplaning at 10,000 ft. Not a good thing. Had the original tires on the car and they had reached the limit at 78000 miles.
I wish I could refresh me as quickly and inexpensively as I did the tires. They just called my name. Job done. Back to Estes.