Day 4


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

originally planned.

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

squawking around.

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


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 “” 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.

Picture of Waterfall

Author: Joel Perlish

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