Tag Archives: drive
November 8, 2008

The Washington-Portland Excursion

Kiteboarders on the Columbia

Oksana wanted to know if I would accompany her to Portland for the weekend. She was bound for her first business conference – a thrilling adventure shared by all Toyota comptrollers of the Pacific Northwest – all I could look forward to was a couple days alone in the hotel room. You know what they say: A boring day sitting in a hotel room is better than a great day at work. I told her I’d be happy to make a long weekend out of it as long as she handled the details.

Our Wednesday departure date came along in late October; we put in half a day at the office and then hit the airport. Oksana scored some first class upgrades, so our Seattle to Juneau leg was a little more comfortable than usual.

We arrived late in the evening, grabbed our rental car (which was upgraded to a Dodge Avenger because all the compacts were taken) and started driving along the Columbia River towards Stevenson, Washington. Oksana, unused to big city night driving, was forced into the driver seat on account of my outstanding warrant in Oregon. [1] Fortunately, traffic was light (although the wind was strong) and we pulled into Stevenson about forty-five minutes after leaving the airport.

September 26, 2005

Hawaii Volcano National Park

One of my favorite photos from the trip.Despite going to bed relatively late after the night dive, our next day in Hawaii started very early. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was to be the longest, most tiring day of our vacation.

I wanted to spend some time in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but didn’t know what to expect. Would the park be crowded? Would it take more than one day to see it all? Would the active steam vents – as our guidebook said – lose their grandeur as the day warmed up?

We were staying in Kona and the points of interest were on the other side of the island, a three-hour drive away. We left at 5:30am, hoping to pull into the park early enough to see the steam while the air was still cool.

The drive from Kona to Kilauea was nice, if rather long. The traffic was sparse and the road alternated between long, straight stretches and Hana-like curves that slowed us to a crawl. We drove through arid, almost desert-like regions, soggy hillsides thick with vegetation, barren black lava fields along the jagged southern coastline, and finally into the rolling hills of the park.

We paid a $10 fee at the gate and drove straight to the visitor’s center. A park ranger had just opened the doors and was going about the business of posting the daily activity reports. We had a quick look around, asked a few questions, and drove off on a road called Crater Rim Drive, which encircles the mostly-dormant craters of Kilauea.

We skipped the first point-of-interest, Sulfur Rocks, for the steam vents that were just a quarter-mile down the road. There was only one other car in the parking lot – getting up early had paid off for us. I dug out our cameras as Oksana changed into warmer clothes; it was windy and the early morning mountain air was still cold.

August 9, 2005

The Hana Highway

OksanaOksana and I both enjoy sleeping in, but this time, we vowed to make the most of our vacation. Instead of taking each day slowly, we resolved to strike out early to see and do as much as we could in Hawaii. So, when seven o’clock rolled around, even though Oksana was still sick, she gamely rolled right out of bed. After we left our room, there stills wasn’t anyone from the B&B in sight. Before we went off for the day, we needed to check in the hostess so that we could change rooms. We killed a half an hour of waiting by exploring the black lava rocks that were liberally scattered around the small sandy beach in front of our room. Then, still alone, we drove into Paia for some critical supplies: Tissues for Oksana and Diet Cokes for myself. We spent a few more minutes walking the entire town, checking out insane real estate prices, and being drawn into bakeries by our olfactory senses. A pastry breakfast behind us, we returned to the B&B and moved our bags over to another room. I mentioned to a local guy who happened to by hanging around the property that we were thinking about driving the Road to Hana, and he assured us that today (sunny and, more importantly, DRY) would be perfect. We read up on the points of interest in our guidebook and he gave us a few tips on how to get home. (more…)