Saturday, 27 September 2014


What an outstanding last day. We had to get up very early to be collected at 5:00am but it was worth it. We flew to Hawaii, the Big Island where we spent the day getting on and off a bus to see spectacular volcanic sights. I had absolutely no understanding of the destructive power of a lava flow.

We spent most of the day on Mount Kilauea, the highlight of which is Halemaumau Crater which contains a crater within a crater in which molten lava is continuously present. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to directly see into the crater but the photo shows what it apparently looks like.

 We could also see in the distance Mount Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano.

There were numerous currently dormant craters to be seen as well as a lava tube hidden away in the forest.

It is quite common to see steam escaping from miscellaneous holes in the ground.

What was particularly spectacular are the lava flows which are completely unstoppable when happening. There is currently a problem with a town near where we toured. The town of Pahoa is in danger of being destroyed. If it is not destroyed, it will at least be isolated. They are apparently looking at constructing some sort of track through an existing lava field to maintain road access.

This photo shows the respect lava flows have for roads.

Well that’s it. Our fantastic holiday is over. We are presently at Honolulu airport waiting to board our flight for the 10 hour flight to Sydney and then on to Brisbane. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have enjoyed having the experiences related in it. 


Friday, 26 September 2014


We started today with the exploration of Diamond Head, a dormant volcano crater immediately to the north of Waikiki. It is deceptively large but, once you have made the 500 feet increase in altitude from the crater floor to the highest part of the rim, the view is spectacular. You get an excellent understanding of Waikiki geography – remarkably similar to the Gold Coast, but with a much better road and transport system.

From there we went to Makapuu Point and lighthouse, a little way north of Diamond Head on the east coast. The ascent is not as demanding as Diamond Head in that you follow what was originally built as the sealed access road to the lighthouse when it was manned – somewhat easier than the zig zag path and hundreds of steps necessary to get to the top of the crater rim.

From there we took advantage of the freeway system to get to the west coast where we found snorkelling paradise. The map simply talks about the beach villas at Ko Olina but that is an extraordinary understatement. There are a whole series of five star establishments built adjacent to the most picturesque little bays which are absolutely perfect for snorkelling. Each bay has public access between the five star establishments with a well manicured path linking the bays. We snorkelled in two of them.

If we were five star hotel people, we would definitely be staying there in preference to the very busy Waikiki glitter strip. It does need to be said however that, while the snorkelling conditions are perfect, there is relatively little marine life to be seen.

We returned our little car without incident this evening, having successfully driven on the right side of the road for the last two days.

Tomorrow we are off to the Big Island, Hawaii itself, for a volcano tour. One of the volcanoes has been a little mischievous of late and causing some concern with a lava flow so I wonder what we will see. We get home quite late tomorrow night and then fly out Saturday morning so there may be a delay in the posting of the final blog. We land in Sydney 10 hours later on Sunday evening. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Beach day today although we haven’t actually got into the water yet. After an incredibly tortuous process, we collected our hire car, a Ford Focus, this morning and headed north.

As expected, we saw plenty of impressive coastal scenery but it was a quiet day surf wise. The main reason we didn’t bother getting into the water was because, in most places, there was an irritating little shore dump. The other reason was that the car air conditioning coped admirably with the 31 degree heat.

One of the beaches we tried to visit was Wiamea Beach of Beach Boys fame. We failed because the quite small car park was completely full. I managed to stop by the side of the road to get the photo but there was no available parking in reasonable proximity. We found that to be the case with many of the beaches.

Honolulu generates at least some of its power with wind turbines. I understand that they are trying very hard to rely on renewable energy. There are some solar panels around but nowhere near as many as in urban Australia.

I was planning on going down to the pool this evening but, when we got home, only one of the lifts was working and only with a manual operator. We successfully got to our 21st floor unit but I won’t be going down again until satisfied that they have been restored to working order. The people in the pool won’t be coming up either. More touring and beaches tomorrow on the west coast but we will be starting the day with some walks we want to do.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Today was very moving and very impressive. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is a very fitting memorial to the great number of people killed in the Pearl Harbour attack. The attack brought America into the war. Moored nearby is the battleship Missouri on which the surrender documents were signed to end the war.

Apart from inspecting the Missouri, we also checked out the submarine Bowfin. Who would want to be a submariner?

We finished the day at the Pacific Aviation Museum. It had a number of aircraft on display, many related to World War Two, but one of the better presented was a recently retired Australian F111.

We continue to be impressed with the nature and extent of Waikiki’s tourism industry and architecture. This is a building which particularly caught my attention this afternoon.

Tomorrow we pick up a hire car to go exploring. I wonder what trouble we can get ourselves into.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Well we have successfully made the transition from 10 degree Alaska yesterday morning to 30 degree Hawaii today. We are really pleased that we have done it in the order that we did. We wouldn’t want to be doing the reverse transition. We took our summer wardrobes out of the ports and it didn’t seem to make any difference to them. They were still full!

The photo above is the view of our very nice and conveniently located suite with part of Diamond Head in the background. The photo below is our view of the water.

We also have a view of a park.

From the beachfront, you have the choice of this view.

Or this view.

We have had a very pleasant day today. This morning we did the shopping to stock up for the week, including the wine cellar, of course. We also spent some time at the tour desk planning the week’s activities.

Having done that, we were taken by Tommy's Tours to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for a couple of hours snorkelling. You are not allowed on to the beach for a snorkel unless you first watch a 10 minute video telling you how to look after yourself and the reef while snorkelling. While the reef didn't really compare with what we would call a coral reef at home, it was certainly well populated with a large number and variety of fish and the water temperature was perfect.

We finished the day with a walk along the tourist strip. It’s very impressive.

Tomorrow will be spent at Pearl Harbour. On Wednesday, we have a hire car booked to go and explore the island. We also need to hire some snorkelling gear to take with us. There is sure to be some attractive water we will want to jump into.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


We are now in Anchorage ready to fly out tomorrow. There is nothing of consequence to report today. Much of the day was spent on a coach and we spent this afternoon wandering the streets of Anchorage.

There won’t be a blog tomorrow in that we spend the day on aircraft and get into Waikiki late tomorrow night. Hopefully I will have something interesting to report by Monday evening.

Friday, 19 September 2014


Today started off with some promise weather wise at Denali Lodge, so much so that we yet again booked a flightseeing glacier tour at Denali to take place at Mt McKinley Lodge which we travelled to by coach later in the morning.

But, guess what, by the time we got to Mt. McKinley Lodge, the weather had deteriorated to steady rain and all flights were cancelled. The claim to fame of this lodge is that it is the closest point you can get to Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, by road. The whole lodge is oriented towards the mountain but all you can see today (and for most days of the year I gather) is misty cloud.

So we resigned ourselves to a gloomy indoor day and were waiting in the lodge for a photographic theatre presentation when I saw a staff member walk out on to back deck in the rain with a camera. Several others quickly joined him. When I checked out what was happening, I saw black bear come out of the forest and  happily start munching on the grass below the deck. Of course, I didn’t have my camera but the photo below shows where he was munching the grass and the deck on which we were standing.

After the theatre presentation, we put our wet weather gear on and went bear hunting. It’s pretty easy. Watch what the staff are doing. We were rewarded by a sighting of the bear in the undergrowth about 50 metres from our vantage point in a car park. The staff chased him away but hopefully he will be back and we will see him again this evening. One things for sure, I am not going anywhere without my camera.

Sorry about the quality of the photo but the autofocus on the camera has trouble distinguishing between bear and foliage. One of the staff we spoke to said they estimated the bear to be a half grown three year old male.

Tomorrow we head for Anchorage for our last day in Alaska. We’re happy to go now that we have finally been been able to get up close and personal with a bear.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Exploration day today. This morning we headed out into the Denali National Park, a cold, remote, desolate but beautiful place. It is true wilderness stretching off into the mountains.

Our transport was this luxury coach.

Our Lodge is excellent and very much alive but the village of Denali itself, on the other side of the highway looks very forlorn. Many of the businesses have closed for the season and have their windows boarded up. When we leave town, everybody else will shortly follow. The lodge closes for winter on Saturday. The temperature is about 10 degrees and winter is rapidly approaching.

We have maintained our perfect record of no bears and no glacier flights. We had a flight booked for this afternoon on a plane equipped with skis for a glacier landing but guess what, the weather in the mountains was such that they couldn’t fly. The mountain in the photo is just one of the foothills. Mt. McKinley itself is 20,000 feet in height and is shrouded in cloud for most of the year. The glacier landing happens at 7000 feet which today, is above the cloud layer.

Tomorrow, we spend three hours in a coach transferring to Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. I'm not sure what its attraction will be but you'll know when I know. On Saturday, we're back into the aviation system for a flight from Anchorage to Honolulu via Seattle where it will be 20 degrees warmer!!


Today was train day. We spent it on the Denali Express travelling from Whittier to the Denali Princess Lodge near Denali National park which we will be checking out tomorrow. We have a bus tour and a flightseeing tour booked. The flight includes a ski landing somewhere in the mountains so let’s hope the weather is kind to us.

It was very bleak and cold in Whittier yesterday morning but the weather improved as the day went on and we travelled north.

The train had a glass roof for maximum viewing opportunities and an external platform for photographic opportunities. We had a full commentary which was both informative and irritating. You know the story.

Princess Trish.

Can you work out what this is a photograph of?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


We spent a spectacular hour or two tonight in College Fjord. The photo above shows Harvard Glacier on the left and Yale Glacier on the right at the end of the fjord. We couldn’t get as close to a glacier as we did in Glacier Bay but the number and extent of glaciers are extremely impressive.

We had to pass six glaciers to get to the end of the fjord. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.