Monday, April 24, 2017

Pololu Valley Adventure

Pololu Valley, Hawaii Island
Saturday was Earth Day.  With all the marches and cleanups going on here in Hawaii and elsewhere, I was reminded what a special place it is that I live.  Hawaii Island is such a beautiful spot. 

Recently, a girlfriend invited me to get up before the crack of dawn and go on a photo shoot with her. Our mission was to head out to the northernmost corner of the island to witness the sun rising out of the sea.  It is always a bit of a mystery just where it will pop up because as you know, the sun shifts positions with the seasons.  The last time I had gone up to Pololu Valley for the sunrise was a couple of years ago on my birthday.  On that day in May, the sun rose to the far left of the sea cliffs.  But on this particular day, we watched, waited, wondered....and just when we thought that perhaps we had missed it altogether, we spotted the bright glow shining down on the ocean, much to the right of where I was expecting it. 

It wasn't what I would call a "spectacular sunrise", as sunrises go.  But as with so many things in life, it is often more about the journey than the destination.  The journey for me was just getting up, getting my butt out of the house, and joining a friend for a day of unknown adventure.  We knew there would be photo taking involved since we bonded while taking a photography class a couple of years ago.  We knew there would be snacks involved because my friend is pretty much the queen of snacks! But what would fill the gaps was totally on the fly!  What a treat! All too often my days are very structured.  I sit down in the evenings and plot out just how many bags MUST be produced the following day and where they would be shipped to.  To have a day that has absolutely no expectations other than spending some time with a friend, well, it was a good day. 

A palm tree as seen through a rain covered windshield
I'o (Hawaiian Hawk)
The weather wasn't perfect.  At times we even had to escape the raindrops by hopping into the car until the dark heavy clouds passed by. But that didn't stop us!  A little rain!  Ha!  Bring it on!  Some people may have been bummed out because it was raining, but when you do something with out expectations, you just roll with it.  I must remember this and do it more often.  It was a reminder that it isn't about what you do but who you do it with that makes it memorable. 

As if to make up for the wet weather, we were gifted with the incredibly rare sight of an I'o.  (Hawaiian Hawk).  I have lived here for 24 years and had never seen one in the wild.  My friend spied it and ever so quietly waved me over.  We stood there watching it for the longest time.  I took an embarrassing number of photos, trying different settings in an effort to get a good shot.  When tourists walked past us, we would turn away and look the other direction so as not to draw attention to "our" beautiful bird.  We were leery of people not appreciating the rarity of the occasion and perhaps scaring "our" I'o away.  I was later told by locals who are more familiar with this type of  bird than I am, that this appears to be a juvenile hawk.  He was plenty big though, and just look at those talons! 

Pololu Valley is about an hours drive from where I live.  It is at the dead end of a paved road that winds its way north from Hawi.  I have hiked the valley a couple of times but for me, it is the upper lookout that I adore.  There are a couple of horses and at times donkeys that lean out over the fencing to beg a pet on the nose and a scratch behind the ear.  I always see cardinals there as well. 

On your next visit to Hawaii Island, don't bother driving for 2 hours to the heights of Mauna Kea for the sunrise.  Just drive to the end of the road to Pololu Valley and park your car. Enjoy the quiet of the morning.  Listen as the birds wake up.  Hear the waves crashing below and if you are very blessed, you may even see "our" I'o perched up in the trees watching for an unsuspecting prey to cross its path. 

a hui hou
Pololu Valley Lookout

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