Awesome Adventure or Epic Fail?
Day Three: Laupahoehoe to Spencer Park to Waikoloa
Next stop: Tex Drive-In and Restaurant. This place is a really good fast-food walk-up. They have a really great selection. It is worth the calories to have a malasada with tropical fruit-filling (a portuguese doughnut). Also, they have nice clean bathrooms (as opposed to the campsite). Side note: much of this area of Hawaii was heavily influenced by portuguese laborers sent over for sugar cane production.
|Waipi'o Valley - Top Side|
Charged up by eggs, portuguese sausage and rice we cajole our children to our next excursion: Waipi’o Valley. We are actually not allowed to take our camper into this valley due to the steep 25% grade, one-lane road. So, we decided to walk the 1 mile, 900’ drop... well, half of it. On our own, KJ and I would have pushed through, despite the constant grating on the knees. But the real straw was the thought of coming back up with our kids. In fact, the whine coming from behind us as we retraced our steps was probably worse than a scream from nitrous-free cavity filling. This is a gorgeous valley with 1500’ foot waterfalls and cliffs crescenting a fertile stretch of paradise. Supposedly the view from the beach is even better, but we shall never know.
|Lave Tube/Cave - Unusual to be so intact.|
Our next adventure took us down a scenic detour, but not without a second stop at the Tex for the clean bathrooms (Did I mention the yummy coffee?) and another malasada. The 1946 Tsunami permanently detoured the form of development on the Big Island. The train rails and bridges were completely wiped out and the introduction of motorized convenience made Highway 19 a public works necessity.
We choose the Old Mamalahoa Highway bypass specifically because it sports a lava tube/cave free of charge. It’s big and ferny and in the middle of ranch land. Another epic fail is that we have lanterns that could not adequately light the way forward like our headlamps could, which happen to be packed in our basement at home. So we failed to go very deep into the dormant mountain side.
Okay, time for the real epic fail and awesome experience. Onward we travelled to our next camp site: Spencer Beach. Every guide books says how “kid-friendly” this camping and beach site is and it is.
Tip: Do not plan to camp in Hawaii on the weekend. Since Hawaii is the largest welfare state in the nation - the locals camp on the weekends and know where to go. Also, the one thing KJ and I noticed is, while permits are required, spots are not clearly marked and it’s very haphazard tenting.
We attempted to search other areas, which only got creepier (read: boomer burn-outs) and less improved (read: port-o-potties). Returning to Spencer to give it one more chance, the Counting Crows song played in my head: “Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot.” No where could we park directly next to our pitched tent - which was our MO for enough sleeping room. Our camper would easily have been 40’ from our tent and dinner, etc. But - awesomeness alert - on our exploration for better camping... KJ spots a pod of whales, just off shore. This is our children's first time ever seeing whales in the wild. Priceless!
Speaking of price. Yeah, we caved: Hilton - Waikoloa Club. With 1297 rooms, we figured we had a chance of getting a room. Since the Lavaman Triathlon was the next day, it was busy. In actuality, they were turning people away - we happened to call the 800-reservation line and got in for two nights. At least it has a kitchenette. Breakfast, lunch and dinner shall be held in situ. Awesome Experience or Epic Fail? You decide.