March 8, 2002 – Friday- Day 4
Miles Today – 62 Total Miles – 143
Weimea (Kamuela),HI to Hilo,HI
– Seaside Motel –
It was a nice morning run – flat highway outside the motel. Great night’s
sleep although I woke up to some odd dreams. One thing about bike touring,
especially when camping – sleep is always deep and usually dreamless. So it
was unusual awakening that way.
I partook of the little continental breakfast and loaded up on guava
juice and a couple delicious muffins.
I got a call from Josh. Josh is a friend of a friend back home. I had
called him last night and left a message. He lives right on my way, lives in
an A-frame apparently right on or near the beach, and invited me to ‘hang’
for a couple of days. He’s a 32-year old doctor who works in a clinic. I told
him I was in Weimea and was thinking I’d make Hilo today. He said it would
probably take two days. Well, anyone who knows me, knows what thought
process THAT comment put into motion. I decided that if it was at all within
the realm of possibility, that i would try to make it to Hilo today as
Josh gave me some valuable information about the volcano area that I was
heading into between Hilo and his place.
Now, one of my goals of the trip was to finish that 8oz. tube of Banana
Boat suntan lotion! And I applied it liberally before setting out. Before the
end of the day, I would have two thick layers of dried sunblock and road grit
sandwiched together on my legs!
One indication of how much I sweat yesterday – my helmet pads were still
soaken wet this morning. I was on my way down the highway by 9:15am.
I received a number of e-mails from folks who they liked that descriptive
of the broad plain out to the Pacific from yesterday’s notes. I thought you
should be aware that a good portion of the day is not spent looking around
but dead down in front of the bike tire – always scanning for gravel, glass,
ruts in the road, nails, shards of plastic, bricks, bricbraks, vertical
grates, dead animals, and fallen tree branches. Not to mention grease-slicks,
tacks, potholes and rocks. And also watching out for cars, trucks,
trailers, and rearview mirrors from those and other moving vehicles. And in
the city, watching out for those pesky car doors that might open right in
front of you from a row of parked cars. Most of this is pretty second nature
to me now, but I still consciously think about all that stuff most of the
time. Yep, one misses a bunch of scenery, but nothing brings a brike trip to
a dead halt faster than a punctured tire! It’s a careful compromise!
Four miles out of Weimea I stopped a pretty darn good roll to take a
picture of what appeared to be a rooster farm! Scores of little A-frame
‘doghouse’ things all with their own little rooster inside, or outside of it
Along the way, I’ve seen farms with sheep, cattle, goats, horses, and now
roosters. There were a number of corn fields today.
At 9.7 miles outside of Weimea at 10:20am, I began the first of quite a
few wonderful rolls today. On this one, I felt like the proverbial bobsled on
wheels – rushing forward with no pedaling, as if attached to a little handle
pulling me along. It was a glorious part of the day, and especially after
yesterday’s travails, it was appreciated no end.
Got to the coast in a little more than an hour. As I came toward Honoka’a
there was a grand view of the Pacific with the little town cutely nestled
right beside it.
The last great number of miles were effortless, and I figured I COULD
have gotten here yesterday. But I sure enjoyed the place yesterday and last
night, and I think I enjoyed this ride a lot better today being fresh. Also,
it’s not all peaches and cream hurtling along at 30mph, so for safety sake I
think it’s a good thing I hadn’t pushed on. And, there were no apparent
places to stay near the highway once I got here anyway…
I stood and looked around there on the main highway at Honoka’a…. Not
much to see. There were a few signs, and I dunno, I JUST don’t know – but I
think that the Hamakua Visitor Center might have elected to pick a different
signpost. I mean, they are right above Tex’s Drive-in which is okay, but the
sign right above the Visitors Center advertises in big bold letters….. the
BAD ASS COFFEE COMPANY!!!!
More descent. And then even MORE delicious descent!! It went on and on.
The cool Pacific wind blasting my body. I had to be careful of loose rocks on
the shoulder fallen from cliffs near the roadside caused by the recent
rainstorms. There were a number of recently used road maintence signs off to
the side saying ‘Road Flooded’.
The ocean was full on my left now, much closer then when I was on the
other side of the island. I felt very emotional about it at this point – it
was two days shy of those 22 years ago that I was dipping my front wheel into
the Pacific before setting out east over the continent, and now I was west of
that point on a pinpoint in the Pacific looking over to myself…
At eighteen miles the shoulder abruptly disappeared. It would reappear
again a little later and stick with me the whole rest of the day. The riding
has been on wonderful roadway – and whenever I see a road crew I always thank
them for their good work. We sure take the roads mostly for granted. Always
room for improvement, but I know my trip would not have been possible if it
weren’t for the well-kept and terrific highway system.
Just about twenty miles out of Waimea there was a great gushing of
waterfall out of a cliff and down into the ocean. Got a cool photo of it.
Not too many times that I stop to pick up coins. But this day, I scored
two pennies, a nickel and a dime.
At Paauillo I stopped for 30 minutes of lunch. I especially wanted to
hydrate better than yesterday, and so fill up my water bottle. I stared at
the bill of fare scribbled on the outside wall of the dusty porch. And
disappointedly walked into the little store since there was nothing I could
really eat as read from the sign. I saw the cook inside, and suggested they
should have veggie or garden burgers. She said no, but then remembered they
DID have some after all. I sat and enjoyed a scrumptious sandwich with some
chips and some guava drink. Superb!
Shortly, I chatted with a few local guys. They were on lunchbreak and
found my travels of interest. I went into the restroom, and as I opened the
door a little lizard thing went scuttling into the hole in the corner – only
his long spindly tail sticking out for a bit, until it slowly slid through
the hole and disappeared as well.
At only 12:15pm I hit 24 miles – the full measure of yesterday’s entire
A little after lunch I saw a couple touring cyclists coming at me. My
usual greeting is, “Well, it’s sure great seeing someone who’s looking as
funny as me.” That always gets a smile.
Benj and Laura were in their last week of an EIGHT month tour. They had
visited 6 countries and had covered over 8,000 kilometers Benj said. They
come from Massachusetts but had sold their apartment there, and were going to
fly back to New York to be with Laura’s mom before they moved out west. They
were a likable couple and I got some cute pictures of the two of them. I also
got their e-mail address to send them the images. The couple said that they
camped a lot on the beaches even without the required registration and had
had no problems. I sort of envied that – but then, their trip was certainly
different from mine in many ways.
That little scenario was repeated a few miles down the road when I got to
meet John and Sandra. They were circling the island in the opposite direction
from me. From southern California, they were near the end of their cycling
After this the sky turned cloudy, and I noted the ominous sign of cars
approaching with headlights on. But this day was a dry one for me. I had seen
a newspaper story this morning that was captioned, “Hilo Has 50-inches of
Rain – Keeps it’s Reputation in tact.
Quite a number of those crosses that mark people from car deaths along
the side of the road today. One wall of trees had three trim little crosses.
Yesterday I passed a sad marking place that had a little trimmed Christmas
tree on it. I recalled the first time I had ever noticed those crosses back
in ‘80 in poor Quemada, New Mexico. I thought the people were actually buried
Crossed quite a few gulches. These great crevices in the earth seem
usually formed by torrents of water rushing down from the mountains. The
smaller gulches are crossed on metal and cement bridges. The bigger ones have
long switchbacks that dip down, cross the valley at a smaller section, and
then wind their way back up the other side. The views afforded are sometime
spectacular of inland stream or on the other side, the ocean waves smaking on
the ground. Kaawalii Gulch was at about 30 miles today, and it had a huge
hairpin turn around. I glided down and snailed up the other side. At the next
gulch traffic was closed in one lane for road repair, but the officer said I
could bike on the coned-off side. I had the whole lane for myself for the two
miles or so.
I frequently curse to myself, or aloud sometimes, at the people who have
thrown their cans or cigarette packages or bottles onto the side of the road.
It’s pretty clean here compared to most places, but nothing much ruins a
mellow nature scene like a dented coca-cola can or a squashed Lucky Strike
By 2pm I had 32 good miles. Was taking a lot of pictures along the way. W
ound up with over 72 digital images by day’s end.
The road rolled along. There were fewer hills but they were much longer
climbs. Everything was spread out more now. It was a warm day – guessing into
the lower 80’s.
Outside of Hilo by about 7 miles was a special scenic road that was four
miles long. John and Sandra recommended it, so I thought to give it a try.
Just as I rolled onto it, some folks from New York at a fruitstand hailed me
over. They had seen me a few times down the road on the way, and they wanted
to chat. Very nice folks who wanted to help me by introducing me to some of
the fruits they had just bought. In fact, they bought me some apple-bananas –
tiny little banana-looking things packed with super-sized banana taste, and a
leechie nut – a delicious coating underneath a red-spindly casing. The
coating was to be sucked on around a little nut inside. Also, they gave me a
little packet of sugar cane. It will give me energy, Madelaine said.
Broad-smiling Ammon was heading back to New York in a day or so. Masoud, who
was perhaps the grand-dad, Madelaine, and Mina, a 25-something fellow, had
another week here. The little family were bright-eyed and oh, so wanting to
be helpful. They passed me on the scenic little road and I handed them one of
my Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not articles, with a note telling them how much I
appreciated their friendship. I got a picture of the group, and said I’d
email it to them….
I was a little worried as I continued on my way on the little road. It
wasn’t very well kept, water ran over it in parts, and it was increasingly
sharply up and down. But the scenery became more and more interesting and
finally it became the most magnificent of the trip – more like the Hawaiian
travel agent images that had been in my head. Wondrous fanned trees and palms
and others I couldn’t pretend to know grew on both sides of me as I sailed
along. Loud water sounds gurgled as rivers and fountains and falls dotted the
view or were invisible because of the foilage. It was…. lush everywhere. At
some of the narrow one-lane bridges people would huddle and look at the
streams and falls below.
At one bridge Paul, a photographer and lifeguard, was taking model shots
of lithe and blond Abigail and Hanna. I lingered there, and we chatted a bit.
Paul, upon finding that I, too, was a photographer and far-flung cyclist to
boot, said that he would have someone contact me about purchasing some of my
images from around the country. I’m not sure I have what he’s looking for,
but it was an interesting prospect. I got a couple pictures of him and his
models, and then got his e-mail address. It was a “mac.com” address, and I
expressed happiness about that. I told him how I was a Mac addict of sorts,
and that I was carrying an iBook with me. He quickly laughed his handsome big
broad lifeguard laugh, and said, “Don’t tell nobody that!” Then we both
laughed about the fact that I should have whispered it.
I shortly made it up to the main highway again, and within minutes was in
Hilo. The time was 5pm, and with the exception of lunch, I had mostly been
on the bike all day since leaving at 9:15am. I searched around for places to
stay, and finally ended up on the other side of town. It was a Friday night,
and so I was a little concerned for finding a place. I went up to the lady,
and said in a friendly voice, “Well, how lucky am I to have found a room
that’s on the first floor (for the bike), and that’s a non-smoking room?” Sh
e said, “Not very lucky.”
I continued to chat with her a little, and said, with a big
friendly-feeling grin as I usually do in similar situations where things seem
not to be going my way, “Oh, c’mon, I think you’ll find that someone has
just cancelled or SOMEthing….” She kept tapping on her computer and
looking at notes, and conferring with the guy who was apparently the
manager… and sure enough, he had just made a change and moved a family to
a different room opening up one of my liking on the first floor.
A seasoned touring cyclist knows it’s good to get off the roads early on
Friday and Saturday nights. I was pushing it a little being away from today’s
final destination until 6pm.
After getting the key to the room, I headed over to Ken’s Pancake House
and had a superb garden burger and a salad and a big glass of pineapple
juice. I brought the slice of apple pie back to the room.
My legs were coated with sunblock goo and the road grit from the bigger
miles today. I typed journal notes as long as I could stand the grime, and
then showered long, and carefully peeled the layers of dirt off my legs. I
stayed up waaaay too late typing and reading. It wasn’t until midnight (5am,
my REAL time at home!) that I finally tucked in and fell quickly into a
restful, rejuvenating slumber.
I felt that I had racked a good slice out of the map today. And it seemed
that I was surely on or ahead of schedule.