Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hawaii 2015 Day 3 Part 2 - Hiking Diamond Head, Dinner from the famous Rainbow Drive-In, and a stroll by the Natatorium

Happily stuffed with shave ice and saimin, my next big decision was how to use my lovely bonus free afternoon. I'd been thinking maybe a spin through the Honolulu Zoo or Aquarium, both of which have major nostalgia factors as places I loved to go as a kid, and both of which are within a very short walk of Lulu's place,  but I had made it to both of those on my last trip and I wasn't particularly set on either one. Tane and her husband gave me a better idea  when they mentioned that they'd hiked Diamond Head the day before. Perfect! The place I was staying is practically on the flanks of the crater, it is a steep but short hike with this massive payoff of a view, and it's better done early in the morning or a little bit later on in the afternoon to avoid the heat, which meant that I had plenty of time to go back to Lulu's for a nice bit of a nap, which felt downright luxurious in her lovely corner room with the fan humming and the jalousies all open to catch every breeze. Ahh. I think I woke up around 3 and was driving into the Diamond Head parking lot by 3:30 or so, perfect timing for non-rushed walk to the summit with lots of stops to admire the view. 

You can see the layout in this photo from the plane. The parking lot is down by the building, and the trail starts out as a gentle upgrade and then steepens into switchbacks and stairs as you climb toward the summit.

Info about the formation of Diamond Head, also know by the original Hawaiian name of Le'ahi (meaning either Brow of the Tuna, from the shape, or Fire Headland for the navigational beacon fire that was kept burning here) from the information brochure put out by Hawaii State Parks Department:

Le'ahi is believed to have been formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, brief eruption. The broad crater covers 350 acres with its width being greater than its height. The southwestern rim is highest because winds were blowing ash in this direction during the eruption. Since the eruption, the slopes of the crater have been eroded and weathered by rain, wind, and the pounding of the sea. A coral reef now protects the seaward slopes of the crater. 

Here's the beginning of the trail. That's the only garbage can along the entire trail. I got to talking to a young lady who was picking up other people's trash up at the summit, and she told me that at one time there had been more, but the parks folks found that that actually made the littering problem worse so they cut it down to this one.  

On the floor of the crater

Now up to climbing the walls stage - looking inland (mauka), towards the Ko'olau mountain range

Looking up the trail towards the rim of the crater

Series of switchbacks. Pamphlet says, "The dirt trail with numerous switchbacks was designed for mule and foot traffic. The mules hauled materials on this trail for the construction of Fire Control Station Diamond Head located at the summit. Other materials were hoisted from the crater floor by a winch and cable to a midway point along the trail." I mention the winch 'cause I'll show that shortly. 

Trail was built in 1908 - whoever carved this did it a couple of years later. 

Here's the winch. 

Looking back towards the crater floor and Ko'olau range again from further up the trail. 

Up the stairs

Through the tunnel (cooler in here)
And now we start into those pay-off killer views I was talking about.  Looking east across the crater toward the eastern end of the island. Hanauma Bay is around  the far side of the point in the distance. 

More stairs. I chose to take the longer switchback option - didn't really read the pamphlet until later and apparently the thing to do is take the steep way up and the switchback down and that way everybody's going the same direction, but fortunately there were few enough hikers on a Monday at this hour that my rebelliousness/laziness didn't put anybody out. 

Approaching the fire station, which was literally carved out of the summit. Back to the pamphet: "Fire Control Station Diamond Head was built at the summit between 1908 - 1910 and housed instrments and plotting rooms to direct artillery fire from several batteries. This fortification was an engineering marvel of its time."

Up at the summit now - looking down at the Diamond Head light (good view of the reef here too).

Looking west over Honolulu --

Looking allthewayarooooound! 

Ready to go back down now - once again I am recalcitrantly going down the up staircase,

and down another up staircase (actually on these you can see why if there were crowds everybody would want to be going the same way)


Back on the crater floor with some twisty old kiawe trees. The wood is wonderful for grilling, imparting a  delicious flavor; kiawe wood gives the famous huli huli chicken that's sold for school and church fundraisers all over the islands much of its unique, can't-find-it-anywhere-else taste. Bees also love the kiawe flowers and the honey they make from them is luscious. I used to train Mistie, the sweet Sheltie I had as a kid, with the Leeward Training Club of Hawaii. One of the best instructors there was a beekeeper, and jars of kiawe honey from his hives were some of the most prized awards you could win at the obedience trials. I was absolutely delighted to find some at the Manoa Honey stand at the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market - I added a bottle to the care package I sent myself at the end of the trip. I just took a quick break to go out to the kitchen to have a little and it's just as good as I remember. 

Back down at the parking lot now, where the plumerias were positively glowing in the late afternoon sun -- and oh so fragrant, I wish I could share that too!

I was back to the neighborhood where I was staying a bit before six, and ready to eat again. I'd noticed earlier in the day that the Rainbow Drive-In, now very famous because that's where Obama likes to go for HIS plate lunches when he's back in da 'aina, was just a couple of blocks away. A good plate lunch is another one of my must-haves when I'm out there, so I decided to go check this out. Was fully expecting it to be another victim of its own popularity, with no parking and long lines for food, but I was pleasantly surprised on that front, there was a parking place right in the lot and the only delay was because everything on the menu looked onolicious, was hard to pick! 

In the end I got their house special marinated beef plate lunch (was good, although Lulu said she likes the marinated pork even better, have to try that next time I guess), parked the car near Lulu's and then walked on over to Kapiolani Park to find a picnic table.

Classic plate lunch for dinner! OK, the two scoop rice kinda got descoopified while I was walking over here but the last time I showed a plate lunch on this blog it had VEGETABLES on it, which is pretty much sacrilege. This is how it SHOULD be done.  

Dinner done and the light getting very pretty, I decided to stroll over to the old Natatorium. This was a salt-water pool that was built as a war memorial. It opened on August 24th, 1927 and the very first swimmer (sez Wikipedia) was Duke Kahanomoku - and if you were on Google at all a couple of days ago you might realize that August 24th was actually his birthday, and I wish I'd looked up that entry in time to put these pictures up in honor of that! Oh, well, hau'oli la hanau a little bit late! After Duke made the inaugural plunge, there was a grand swim meet with Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe taking home the top honors. Must have been quite the occasion. Now it's just sitting there waiting for people to figure out what to do with it. 

The pool itself has been closed for years and the rumor among my friends when I was a kid was that it was full of needlefish and if you went swimming there they would poke you. Probably not but that's what they said. Maybe somebody's mom said that to make their kid stop pestering them because they wanted to swim in there. There are still people on a "Waikiki and Honolulu in the 50's and 60's" Facebook group I'm part of who remember learning to swim there - I'm probably the quietest person on that group 'cause of course I don't remember anything from the 60's (no no no, not like the joke about how if you remember the 60's you weren't really there, I don't remember the 60's 'cause I was 3 when they ended!) but I love reading the stories the older folks tell about the days before my time.

End of another perfect day - moon over palm trees, a more traditional view of Le'ahi, and another amazing sunset.

More info on the sites on today's post: Diamond Head; Rainbow Drive-In; Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial 

1 comment:

Piggyback Rider said...

Great place for adventure with challenging trail. We would love to visit the place too.