Hawaiian Sky

September 23, 2002

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We certainly needed more sleep than the five hours which we got, but if you have to catch an airplane you better be on time, even if the airplane doesn't have any real wings. Speaking of wings: the density of rice burners, or cars with huge wings, spoilers, stickers and similar is really, really amazing around here. The AMC freak show in Santa Clara can hardly keep up with the local competition. But I digress.

We had to be at the Blue Hawaiian heliport at 6:30 in the morning, and so we were, sunburn or not. Still very dazed we got into the helicopter and took off. It was our first time in a chopper; I am not saying that as a little boy I didn't want to drive a fire truck, which of course I did, but my big thing was flying a helicopter. Today I would at least get to ride in one! Our pilot was Tom who had quite a remarkable sense of humor, and who was an accomplished pilot as well, flying part time for Blue Hawaiian and part time for the local fire department. Wow, fireman AND pilot!

The ride was smooth and the sight was spectacular. First we headed over the volcano's peak and then further to the shore where we walked just hours earlier over barely cooled lava. After a quick pit stop in Hilo we continued to the northern part of the island where we got to see the awesome shoreline as well as some waterfalls. Tom pointed out that this is where he was part of the film crew for movies such as "Waterworld" and "7 days, 7 nights". While neither was a true masterpiece, it must have been fun flying around filming them.

Time flies in a helicopter and very soon the two hours were over. It was our last day in Hawaii and we had already checked out of the hotel. We stopped for lunch in Waimea in a Korean restaurant in a strip mall, where we got remarkably authentic Korean food. The spicy beef stew at least was as good as I remember it from Seoul. We continued to Hilo for the fourth time, for once during daylight, this time enjoying waterfalls and the lush scenery.

In the late afternoon we took a scenic route back to Kona where I stocked up on the mandatory Hawaiian shirts (which they just call shirts here), and finally we enjoyed dinner at sunset by the beach. A team of kayakers was practicing for a long time directly in our sight, leaving and entering the small harbor. I wondered whether turning the boat all the time didn't take up more effort than the actual rowing...

When you leave from the Kona airport, you will be asked to put your check-in luggage through a screening machine. This is not so remarkable these days but once again, this screening machine is "outdoors", right before you get to the ticket counter. The expression "curbside check-in" gets an all new meaning here, since that's what everyone does, like it or not... Waiting in line was quite an ordeal, not only because of the temperature and humidity but also since only two counters were open and one of them was blocked by a couple traveling with five dogs. Pocket sized pooches, but still, it looked like lots of paperwork had to be filed for their export.

We didn't score a window seat; rather, we got the complimentary screaming child right across the aisle. To make things worse I forgot my knockout pills, earplugs and eye shades. Regardless how tired we may have been, we didn't sleep much, which was all too obvious when we arrived at work, straight from the airport.

Our faces started peeling very soon, but my feet still weren't done peeling two weeks after the sunburn occurred. More permanent damage was to the images from the trip, since I stupidly used JPEG compression on the night lava pictures, instead of shooting them in raw mode. Even significant doctoring couldn't bring back the quality which was lost in the original compression. This way, the threat to Essan was made: we'll be back, to do it right. She's already giggling nervously...

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