Trip To The Big Island

Dorita and I took a trip to Hawai'i to see my sister, Lee. Playing the traditional part of tourists we walked around with cameras and took pictures of anything that would stand still for it. Storm, our brother-in-law was also kind enough to take us on a few trips and those have been partially documented.

View to the left from our lanai (porch).
View to the right from our lanai.
The lanai itself.
A typical "beach" that we found.
More "beach" showing the sunny weather.
You know that grass you can't get out of your yard? Well here is why -- it grows on the edge of salt water! Tough stuff!
And now for a flowery interlude...
These are some waterfalls near Boiling Pots that we hiked to. This is my brother-in-law Storm.
We went swimming in this little pool. The water from the falls is actually warmer.
This is the road up to Mauna Kea. Up a long winding road, through the clouds (which are like heavy fog when you drive through) and then up into this blasted landscape.
It's like being on the moon!
This is the radio telescope. The curved thing you see there is the gortex cover that they use to protect the main dish from the wind. A few minutes later they closed the doors and this was all hidden.
This is the bottom of the dish. The little round things on the surface are little motors that can change the shape.
This is the top of the dish. There is a device on the top of those struts that reflects the radio waves into the hole in the middle.
This sits on top of the dish like a spider. It can be shaped very precisely. The radio waves bounce off this and shoot down into the hole. You can see the gortex cover above it.
When the radio waves come through the hole, they hit this mirror which directs them at the actual radio receivers. It's not really all that shiny but I guess it's nearly a perfect reflector for radio waves.
This is one of the radio receivers.They cool it to 7K (-263C) with liquid nitrogen. Then they point the radio "beam" at it and collect the signal, send it to a bank of analog to digital converters and shoot it over to the computers via fiber where FFT is applied and the data is stored.
This is the storage rack for one of the telescopes. Whenever I look at racked computer equipment I'm struck by how similar they all look.
The whole top of the building turns and this is one of the rollers that it turns on.
The telescopes are at 13,000 ft on the volcano. During the winter, it snows up there and someone has to go up on the roof and clear it off. The air is very thin and it was all I could do to go up and down the stairs without passing out!
We also went to see a visible light telescope (a misnomer: it's actually infrared) but you couldn't actually see the mirror. This is a picture of the equipment attached to the back end of the mirror. These are probably various detectors and equipment for adjusting the shape.
This is a picture of the upper mirror. The main mirror (which, as I said, was covered) focuses the light onto this little mirror which then reflects it down through a hole in the main mirror. At the moment the hole is filled with a 30 ft detector, the top of which you can see in this picture. I'm not sure what this detector does.
These are five other, smaller radio telescopes that are arranged in a array to give them better resolution. Sometimes they include "my" telescope which increases the resolution and doubles the sensitivity because it's about as large as all the smaller telescopes combined.
Enough geekiness, now for some more flowers!
I saw these when I walked over to my sister's house.
And more.
And even more.
I notice that trees here have two strategies: to go straight up really high (like a palm tree) and to spread out. These trees are following the latter strategy.
I'm not sure but I think this is one giant tree. Again, it's following the "spread out" strategy.
Dorita went to the botanical gardens near here and took a few pictures.
There are falls at these gardens.
And a little bird.
Flowers that grow right out of trees.
Water lilies.
Flowers growing right out of a tree trunk.
This is a place called "Hot Pond" which has very warm water due to a hot springs. One is warned not to swim here with open cuts.
This is a shot down the road at the canopy. Essentially the road runs through a tunnel of trees.
My brother-in-law Storm took us kayaking so here we are.
Does this boat make me look fat?
Here's Storm, our benefactor.
We kayaked to these waterfalls. Storm went under the two on the left which is a bit tricky as there is quite a current and the kayaks can be tricky to manuever close to rock walls.
Storm and Scott (a friend of Storm's who was visiting) went up to see the lava on Mauna Loa. This is some that is no longer fluid. Keep in mind that the whole island (all the Hawaiian Islands, actually) were once made up of this!
Here you get a sense of scale and also how close you can come to live, hot lava.
And here is flowing lava.
The Hilo Airport waiting area, featuring really nice, comfortable furniture. I would expect that this stuff would be trashed in a week in San Jose but this is 2 years old and still looks very nice.

Last changed 5/19/07.

This page (including all images) Copyright © 2007 Dave Menconi who is solely responsible for its content.