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It took me a while, but I finally managed to tag all of my pictures from Hawaii, Yosemite, and a night up in San Francisco. I would have had them up earlier this week, but my router froze while I was at work, and I couldn't get to my server. That problem has been resolved, and I finished up everything today. They have now been posted.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:38 AM

After no less than four flights in a row, I'm back home from just over a week in Hawaii. I took off for Maui on the 4th, just in time for Labor Day weekend. Because the Hilton on Maui is ridiculously expensive (in terms of dollars and Hilton points), I elected to stay at a Sheraton in Lahaina instead, for a slightly less ridiculous rate. Having already been to Oahu and Kauai, I knew what to expect. The hotel was lavish, with plenty of palm trees, hammocks, and beach. The room rate included a very generous breakfast buffet, so I made use of that nearly every morning. In the five days I spent on Maui, I made it to the top of Haleakala twice, once for sunset and again for sunrise. The first trip was made interesting by some faulty Google Maps directions, but after reaching a dead end that Google neglected to take into account, I finally made it up.

I also drove around to the windward side of the island on the beautiful (and winding) Hana Highway, stopping at the end to hike up to the gorgeous Waimoku Falls. I also hiked up the Waihee Ridge Trail, though instead of a lush valley at the top, I was greeted with a sea of clouds. Fortunately, the hike up provided some spectacular scenery. I also made it to Iao Valley, and down the leeward side of the island to visit some of the excellent beaches.

After five nights on Maui, I headed off to the big island. There I was able to use some of my Hilton points, and I stayed at the absolutely amazing Hilton Waikoloa Village. While the Sheraton on Maui was excellent, this hotel was beyond any comparison. The property is over 60 acres, and has three distict sub-hotels; it's so large that it has its own tram and boat systems just to get around. My only real complaint was that parking was an exorbitant $15 per day. The hotel is so photogenic that I ended up staying on the property for most of a day just going around taking pictures.

I did eventually make it out of the hotel, though. I managed to spend a whole day visiting the north Kohola Coast, which has some beautiful overlooks, stunning cliffs, and some of the greenest grasslands I have ever seen. I also spent a day going clear to the other side of the island to visit Volcanoes National Park. Though half of the drive around the crater was closed due to the steam coming from the crater, I was still able to see the volcano and most of the sites in the park, including a lava tube, and the now infamous Chain of Craters Road, which was closed when a lava flow went over the road. That lava flow is still going; I drove the long way around to partake in the nightly "lava viewing." Unfortunately, they keep you a good distance away, so all you really see is the glowing steam created when the lava hits the water. That was the only real disappointment of the day, though. I then had to drive back to the other side of the island, in the dark. Fortunately there were few cars, and the road on the south side of the island is quite straight, so I made good time.

Finally, after nine nights on the two islands, I began to make my way home. This meant I had to make it back to Maui to catch my return flight. Hawaiian Airlines didn't have a direct flight at the time I wanted, though, so I had to connect through Honolulu. After the two short flights, I reclaimed my bags, put them through agriculture, and gave them to the United folks. I probably could have checked them straight through, but the last time I tried checking bags through two airlines, my bags did not make it home with me. Luckily, my bags were waiting for me in Maui, and after making my way through the horrendously slow security line, I was on my way home. I made it to San Francisco early this morning, and then I continued on to Denver.

Needless to say, I took many, many pictures on my trip. I also have a backlog of photos from a day trip to San Francisco. I'm also going back to Yosemite this coming weekend, but I should get around to going through the pictures after that.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 7:31 PM