Getting to Redmond... the long way...
So I'm off to Redmond for the MVP Summit and going about it the long way.
I flew out of NZ on Thursday morning (NZST) and arrived in Oahu, HI, Wednesday Evening (Hawaii Time). Flew out on Air New Zealand and for all the bitching I've done about them in the past, they were a good choice. Easy flight and while back in coach (hard for a small businessman like me to justify the front few rows) I got 3 seats to myself. I kicked back and watched a couple of good movies- Love Actually (seen already and it is FANTASTIC) and Calendar Girls (OKish). Then I watched some DivX'd episodes of TopGear on my tablet PC for the rest of the time.
Got to Hawaii pretty ate on the Wednesday night and met up with a mate of mine who works as a computer geek for one of our NZ govt departments. He's staying at some pimptastic resort in Hawaii so we cruised back to his place for a few hours sleep before flying out to Kona, HI at about 6am the next morning on Aloha.
We got to Kona, picked up the rental car (a red Mustang Convertable) and then cruised down to the hotel to drop off some gear before we went diving.
We dived with a crowd called Sea Paradise along the south Kona Coast. The highlight of the diving on Hawaii is the great volcanic structures you get to explore. Plenty of cavesw and tunnels- great fun. Having been spoilt rotten on the Great Barrier Reef last year it was hard to get too worked up about the marine life or the coral, but, it was good diving nonetheless. One guy on the trip flooded his Nikon Coolpix 5300 - moral of the story == don't take your nice US$700 camera to 20m in a shitty plastic bag housing!
That afternoon we cruized back to the hotel via Safeway (where they make amazing custom sub sammies) and pretty much crashed by the pool for the afternoon.
The next day we did 4 dives, two in the morning and two in the evening. Unfortunatly we didn't get to see the Manta Rays as despite being assured on the phone that our night dive would travel (a long way) north to go and see them we ended up doing out night dive south of the dive shop.
Saturday morning we cruised around the bottom of the island. We stopped at some Waikoloa gardens (or something like that) on the road down to the Place of Refuge for lunch- what a rip off! $10 + TAX AND TIPS for a scummy fish burger. The Place of Refuge was OK... wasn't really in a cultural sightseeing mood at the time though.
We kept cruising down the coast through small townships and got hungry pretty quickly so stopped at some crazy little Mexican place run by a genuine spanish speaking mexican matriach- great value! It was in the front of the theatre- look like it was popular with the locals. We got a yummy corn and chicken and bean thing wrapped in corn husk leaves.
We kept driving around towards the Volcano region. First stop was the Volcano Winery- this was a real highlight and is highly recommended - free tasting and it has to be the most exoctic winery that I have bought wine from. Got a couple of bottles to take home- novelty factor mainly. Then we cruised into the Volcanoes National Park. Stopped at the visitor center, which IMHO looks pretty average when you compare it to some of the National Park vistors centers in New Zealand. Then we drove down the Chain of Craters road looking at all of the lava flows and so forth. There wasn't much activity and no visible lava, but, it was an interesting and at times amazing drive.
Finally we drove from the Volcanoes into Hilo where we stayed the night and some big Hotel on the waterfront. Hawaii feels like a place that was in tourist boom mode about 20 years ago- all the big hotels now look a bit tired.
On our last day we drove up the coast from Hilo looking at the waterfalls along the way. THis was the most amazing piece of driving we did. All along the coast are rivers that come as steep rapids right down to the sea and the road runs over them by way of amazing bridges 50m high and more.
That afternoon we drove back out towards the Airport, grabbed some Jamba Juice which is REALLY good btw, and then got to the Airport fairly early. THe lovely ladies @ Aloha Airlines upgraded us to 'first' class. THis meant we got to sit in the big seats, have our drinks poured rather than from a sachet, and sit in the windowless (but airconditioned) room that is the Hilo First CLass Lounge. Just as well we did get to sit in the lounge though as when we came out the airport was chaos- note to self- do not fly out of Hilo on a Sunday night again.
...and that's about it...
Rambles|Monday, March 29, 2004 8:46:11 PM UTC||