We arrived at Hilo airport at the south end of the island, picked up our hire car and drove approx. 30 miles to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was an easy ride through residential suburbs and pleasant forest; the road climbed gently but there was nothing to suggest that we were driving up a live, and very active volcano. We arrived at the National Park entrance, stopped at the visitor information centre to pick up some maps and talked to a park ranger to find out how they suggested we use our time in the park. Opposite the visitor centre we saw the entrance to the Volcano House Hotel, it looked similar to other park lodges we have stayed in, nothing fancy and all about the park location. We left our bags in the car while we checked in, and then went to find the bar to get some lunch. Wow, that was when we saw the view!! Looking out of the panoramic window in the bar we looked straight out onto the crater of Kilauea, and right in the middle, in a smaller crater we could see smoke rising in a cloud into the air. Continue reading The Big Island (Hawaii 5.2)
For our stay in Maui we were booked in to the Inn at Mama’s Fish House; a group of holiday cottages clustered around a famous fish restaurant. When we checked in we were upgraded to a two-bedroom garden cottage, it was beautiful, really spacious, tastefully furnished and recently fully refurbished at great expense. We discovered a welcome tray in the kitchen with the usual tea and coffee but also a loaf of homemade banana cake, a huge fresh papaya and a fresh lime – that was breakfast sorted for one morning. Having had an early start we didn’t stray far that afternoon, but we did walk through the restaurant to see the beach. The setting was idyllic, a beautiful tropical garden opened on to a grove of palm trees and a virtually private beach, technically all the beaches in Hawaii are open to the public but this was as private as could be. The beach was steep and there was a reef off shore which protected it from the surf, in between was an area of rock pools. Not really a swimming beach but great to sit and gaze at.
Well, we can’t tell you very much about Kauai, the bug we picked up in Alaska and the journey to Hawaii left us pretty exhausted, add in the sudden change of temperature and we were good for nothing for a couple of days. That said the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation Hotel was a pretty good place to convalesce! We stayed in our room quite a bit but when we did feel up to going outside the gardens were beautiful and as for the beach, well the photo’s speak for themselves.
After the excitement of seeing the Northern Lights we had a good nights sleep and then headed to the airport for our flight to Anchorage. The flight was great and followed the route we had travelled by rail and coach – we could see the road and the railway snaking through the mountains below us and had another great view of Denali.
We rose early on Wednesday and reported to our departure lounge ready for our 06.25 disembarkation. The port of Whittier was grey and foggy and the rain was pouring down, fortunately the Alaskans know how to deal with these conditions and we followed a covered walkway across the quayside to our waiting train. The trip to Mt McKinley Lodge took about 6 hours, the first five were in a glass domed railway carriage which gave us a great view of the Alaskan landscape as we headed inland and north. We were sharing a table with a couple from the Midwest who, like everybody else wanted to talk about Brexit, and after that to find out what we think about Donald Trump!!
We boarded The Island Princess at Canada Place and looked down from the deck to people watching from the spot where we had stood three days earlier. The weather was glorious and the seaplanes were buzzing around the harbour as we prepared to set sail. We left Vancouver sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge which provided a nice symmetry to our arrival in New York under the Verrazano Narrows bridge three weeks ago (can it only be three weeks?). Continue reading North to Alaska…
Once we had checked in to the Warwick Hotel and had a shower we set out to find some cash and a meal. We left the hotel and headed towards the Space Needle which took us through a residential area, no banks, no restaurants! Eventually we found a bank and changed direction to head downhill towards the waterside. We decided to eat at the Belltown Inn which was great. Continue reading Seattle