Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The week afterwards...

So, now that I was done with this great event, I strategically took off the next week from work to enjoy my first time in Hawai`i. After speaking with numerous people, it sounded like the best thing to do was to stay on the big island the entire time, rather than spend 3 days on one island, and 3 on another. I didn't care - it was Hawai`i, and I was bound to have a great time anyways!

Monday - I spent with Trevor, David and Christina and some other teammates, and we went on this seaquest tour. It basically was a boat tour of the south west coast, and Kealakekua Bay (K-Bay). The water here was unbelieveably clear. It could be up to 30 feet deep, and you could still see the bottom of the ocean. We spent the next 4 hours snorkeling at various spots, getting history lessons on ancient hawai`in kings, gods, and learning about what makes the big island so different than the other islands. (ex. Kaua`i is 6 million years old, whereas the big island is only 700,000 years old. It is also uncommericialized too, but unfortunately, it does have 2 wal marts and a costco on the island). We spent the rest of the afternoon in Kona, checking out some shops, and the ironman championship course. Later that night, I finally learned how to play Texas Hold 'em. I did win 2 out of 5 hands, which everyone attributed to beginner's luck, but I think otherwise.

Tuesday - Chill at the hotel under the sun, play volleyball, catch rays, and consume large amounts of food. Later that day, I was challenged to go for a 5 mile run, but not wanting to step down from a challenge, I upped it to a 4 mile run, 1/3 mile swim, and 2 mile run. Of course, the challenge was met.

Wednesday - Homa (the smartest person I have ever met) and I went up to Waipi`o valley to check out the natural beauty of the island. After 4 wheelin' through some rivers (to the point where we could hear the exhaust system fill up), we came across this beach that had a beautiful waterfall of a couple hundred feet. This was me at 2:30pm.

we decided we had enough of beaches, so we decided to check out something unexpected. This was me, 2 hours later.

Yes, that is me, in a bathing suit, in snow standing at apx 13,500ft (Mauna Kao), nearly the highest point in the US!

The big island enjoys 11 of the 13 climatic regions on earth (all except arctic and saharan). I even saw someone snowboarding on our way up! Unreal....

Thursday - Most of teammates were already off the island at this point, but I still had 3 full days. I grabbed a monster of a Dodge Neon rental car, picked up a big island guide book, and off I went. I basically gave myself a self guided tour of the west coast of the island, all the way until I reached south point, the most southern part of the island, and of the US. Even though the winds constantly blow at 20-30 mph, the place did have some serenity to it. Afterwards, it was onward to Hawai`i Volcano National Park to check out what it had to offer, and hopefully get a chance to see some lava. I got to HVNP just in time for a 45 minute drive down to the coast, and an hour hike across a lava field to get a good glimpse of lava flow going into the ocean. The best time to go is right before dusk. Even though we were a few miles away from it, it was a very cool experience watching land being formed right in front of you. There was about 20-30 people at the viewing area, and everyone kind of sat there in awe and enjoyed the experience. I wish I could have gotten closer, but that's ok, I had a plan for tomorrow. Afterwards, I drove up to Hilo, and crashed there for the night.

Friday - Based on multiple recommendations, I decided to eat at Ken's house of pancakes. If you are ever in Hilo, the nicest people, and best food is in this establishment! After a hearty meal, it was time to start the day.

as if DOING lavaman wasn't enough, I felt the need to BECOME a lavaman.

Taking a tip from my guidebook, I travelled down rt 130 (east side of island, south of hilo) to the other side of HVNP. Here, they said rt. 130 was cut off by recent lava flow, but you can drive some parts of it to an end, and go hike through the lava field, and get a really good glimpse of the new lava it going into the ocean. They also said it will give you a better view than on the HVNP side. I thought this was a cool idea, and having seen lava the day previous, I was pretty stoked.

So, when I parked the car, I figured it to be about a 30 minute hike to where I could get a closer look at mother nature in one its most powerful forms. I started on my journey, and 15 minutes into it, it started pouring. The winds on this side of the island are very strong (constantly 20-30mph), so my entire backside was soaked, but the front of me was completely dry. kinda weird, yeah? I looked back, and could see that it would eventually pass, and that I would be ok. after about 30 minutes or so, I evaluated where I was, and figured I was only half way. Slightly frustrated, I kept hoofin. After another 15 minutes, I really wondered what the point of this was. Being surrounded by all this black rock, it all looked the same after awhile (ya think?) It still seemed like it would take forever to get there, I was soaked, I was starting to get dehydrated (not bringing water wasn't smart, especially when I surrounded by black lava rock for miles under the equitorial sun). I realized that it wasn't worth it, and I didnt wanna be vulture food, so I turned around. "geez, another 45 minutes of this - ugh." So, I started on my way.

I got bored of walking, so I picked up the pace for a little while, and was doing a light jog. The physical activity was starting to make me a little bit more dehydrated. I came over a ridge, and slipped, but was able to catch my fall with my hands. I looked at them, brushed them off, and kept trucking. 5 minutes I looked at my shirt, and noticed red spots on it. I looked at my left hand, and my index finger was covered in blood. I looked at my right hand, and the lower portion of my hand was nearly covered. I didn't even feel getting cut by the lava - it was like a clean cut from glass. My hands felt normal - no pain. It felt strange. "holy crap" was my first thought, "stay calm" was my second. I am not a wimp when it comes to seeing blood, but it isn't my first choice either. Being a little bit more dehydrated, and bleeding now, I was becoming a little worried. IRONically, I read part of a book by Mark Allen (6x Ironman champ) a few days previous and remembered his bit about being "mentally tough" during the bike ride b/c you are surrounded by nothing but black rock for it seems like an eternity. I could totally see what he was saying. That's all I could see for seemed to be about forever. I literally had to tell myself to be strong at this point. So, I told my self another 20 minutes of this, and I should be all set. Well, that was a really long 20 minutes. I had visions of being a story on the discovery channel on what NOT to do in HVNP, or falling over from being spent, or just something that you wouldn't think of on vacation in Hawai`i.

I finally crossed another ridge, and saw my car, and was so excited that I actually took a picture of it from the distance. I rushed over, pounded a water bottle in under 20 seconds, and cleaned off my hands. Low and behold - there was quite a few lava chips embedded in me. I thought to myself "I am lavaman, and I need to get to a hospital". I looked in the guide book, and saw NO listing for hospital. Not good. So I booked it through some dirts roads in my nice dodge neon, and started flyin up rt 130. I started calling people I thought would be near a computer to help me locate the hilo hospital, but of course no one was around. So I used the internet on my phone (lifesaver), and found the number, and called. I spoke to a woman who TRIED to give me directions, but there was no way I could remember every hawaiin road to get there - they all sound the same (go up Kealikikai, take a right on Hale Manu, take a left on blah blah blah)! I ended up stopping by the pharmacy in a supermarket, showed the pharmicist my hands, and said I need a hospital - stat.

I got there, waited a few hours, got cleaned up, had some topical lidocaine, and when it was all cleaned up, I had a gnarly chasm of a cut in my hand, but still plenty of rocks in me. I could still feel some pain, so I was injected with lidocaine. This hurt. A lot. I almost screamed when she injected me. I couldn't even bear to watch her DIG rocks out of me with her pick. I reminded her of hawaiin folklore/myths that anyone who takes anything from island back home with them has really bad luck - to the point where people send it back to where they got it. I told her that even though I didnt take anything intentially, I dont want to dig rocks out my hand on my own, so please make sure you get it all! So completely understood what I was getting at! So, they bandaged me up, gave me some antibiotics, and said "take this for 7 days, no alcohol, no dairy products for 1 hour before/after taking it, AND NO SUN." I said "I am in HAWAII, and I live in SAN DIEGO." They all seemed to get a big kick out of this. The worst part is, I said "I'm a triathlete - I need to swim!" their reply was "You need to wait at least a week". UGH. Yes, my cuts were that deep.

so, that was my friday.

moral of the story, keep water with you at all times, and don't fall on lava.

Needless to say, I took it easy on friday night.

Saturday - Another day spent taking it easy, I drove north from Hilo to check out the botanical gardens (they really are that beautiful) rain forests, and one of the best falls in the US: akaka falls. I continued north, and actually stopped for a burrito. Living in San Diego, I am used to every corner having a place to grab a burrito, but I gotta say - this was one of the best ones I ever had! I continued on my way, stopped at Hapuna Bay, voted #1 beach in North America by conde nast traveller, stopped again at Anhaeo`omalu Bay where our event was to take it all in again, and headed back to Kona where my flight left later that night. If you ever need a place to eat in Kona, I highly recommend Island Lava Java. Of course, the only place to worth partying at Lu Lu's.

Sunday - I took the red eye back from HI, and I never thought I'd say this, but I didn't like being in San Diego :) This was my second experience being on island time (Puerto rico was the 1st), and it was great. I purposely didn't wear a watch a lot of the time, and tried to hide my cell phone too a few times too. Being back on the mainland, it has been a little bit of a transition getting back to the american pace of life, but hey, San Diego really isn't that bad of a place to be.

If you haven't experienced island time yet, I highly recommend it, as I barely knew what month, or day, or time it was when I got back to the west coast :)

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