Monday came along and Brian went to his conferences in the morning, which left me with a gorgeous beach, a great book, two strong legs, headphones, podcasts, scriptures, Marco Polos, a comfy sleep-in-till-9am bed and far too little time to do it all. Traveling along with Brian for his conferences is one of my very favorite things because I get the perfect balance of alone time and Brian time. And Hawaii does it right because they schedule all the meetings in the morning and then break right before lunch, leaving the whole rest of the day to play.
For lunch, we discovered Coconut's Fish Cafe which was so incredibly delicious and light that we ate there two more times through the week as well.
After Coconuts, we drove up to the Northern side of the island to hike down the the Queens Bath. This, I am not even exaggerating, is probably my very favorite place on the planet of all the places I've been. Everything from the muddy, root-filled, treacherous hike:
To the incredible power of the ocean waves smashing and engulfing and pulling at the rocks.
Honestly, to appreciate the picture above I really needed to get a reference picture that showed the other extreme when, seconds after this moment, the ocean level in between those rocks would drop 20 feet as all that water would be sucked out to join in the next crashing wave. Watching the ocean level rise and fall to that extreme was awe inspiring and made my stomach flip like I was riding a roller coaster every single time.
This sign at the base of the hike as we approached the ocean did not surprise me one bit. It shows 29 tally marks for Queens Bath drownings and is nailed to the rock to serve as a warning that the ocean in this area is not to be underestimated.
I stayed far away from any dangerous edges.
The little pool behind us in the picture up there is the Queens Bath itself, and last time we visited here two years ago we all jumped in and felt the occasional spray from the waves behind us. This time it looked far too dangerous. The wave spraying up over the rock behind Brian's head was just the beginning of that spray, and when the wave was finished hitting it would cover the entire area beneath us in a thick layer of foam.
It was incredible.
It was also rainy. But we didn't care and we sat on those lava rocks and watched the water for almost two hours with all sorts of exclamations of surprise and awe as wave after wave after wave astonished us with it's power.
Like I said before, it's my favorite place on the planet so far. I find it more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any other place I've ever seen.
And it's all so very natural. Which I love. Don't get me wrong, I have come to appreciate the art of landscaping and of creating my own beautiful spaces, but when a wild and untamed place is so beautiful that a human hand would only make it less so, well, that, in my opinion, is truly as beautiful as it gets.
That night as we were driving back to the resort, we stopped at this look out point to watch the sunset on top of our Jeep.
But the clouds blocked any real sunset or color. Still, I got to sit on top of a Jeep and that was fun.
The next day, Tuesday (after another morning of beautiful relaxation on my part), we rented bikes and biked all up and down the coastline.
Bikes are another one of my favorites. I wouldn't consider myself a fast or gifted cycler, but I do love it. I love the way the wind feels on my face, and I love how the muscles feel in my legs - they never feel stronger than they do when I'm on a bike. I've worn a bicycle necklace almost every day for more than two years - not because I consider myself a cyclist, but because my fingers just keep choosing it every morning, and often throughout a day I'll find myself holding that bicycle charm and sliding it back and forth on its chain, thinking of riding.
So riding along the beach? Yes please, please, please.
At the end of the paved bike path, we couldn't help but notice a narrow dirt trail that continued on through tall grasses. The urge to continue along that path was strong, even though it was pretty clear that the bikes we were on were not equipped for that kind of a trail. The trail itself was not more than 18 inches across (sometimes 12) and flanked on both sides by thick, dense grasses that rose 7 or 8 feet off the ground.
It was too tempting. We decided to do it, and we coaxed our bikes along the beaten path. We came across several rocks and even a small stream:
But we kept going... and going... and going... breaking through overgrown brush that scratched our legs and swatting away branches that brushed our faces and occasionally coming into a clearing that made us pause and wish to freeze time for a minute.
It was particularly challenging for me because I didn't have breaks that worked very well. The path was too narrow for me to walk alongside my bike, or to even put my feet down on either side of it (plus my seat was a little too tall for that). The back break was completely worthless, leaving the front brake as my only means of stopping or slowing down. I barely noticed the problem while we were on the flat, paved trail, but now that we were adventuring downhill into the forest it was a bit more challenging whenever I needed to stop suddenly (rock in the path! giant root in the path! wet leaves ahead!), and each time I was thrown from my seat I was sure I was sailing all the way over my handlebars. Luckily, I was never thrown quite that far, and I always managed to land on my feet. But I always knew I was one hard rock away from rolling down the rest of the mountain.
We had taken our books and a towel or two along with us on our journey and ended up finding a beautiful secluded beach with just enough sand, and lots and lots of lava rocks, and gentle waves, and after exploring for a few minutes we decided we'd like to rest and read and soak in some of the sunshine. But as we looked closer for a place to put down our towels we noticed that the beach was not quite as secluded as we thought it was... there were thousands and thousands of red ants swarming over the sand everywhere we looked. So we hopped back on our bikes and continued along our trail. Eventually the trail ended, so we stashed our bikes next to a big boulder and continued along on foot.
Right out to the ocean.
It was a tiny secluded patch of rock, also overrun by red ants (but they didn't seem to bite, so... *shrug*). We sat and talked all about favorite colors and pointed animatedly when they showed up in the breaking and crashing waves. It's amazing how many times the colors change in a wave as it progresses. We saw everything from the softest turquoise to the deepest navy and so many different levels of opacity.
Then we explored the oddest erosion patterns.
It was another great day!