Category Archives: August 2019

Abstracts: Rain

This photo is for those who believe the sun always shines in Hawaii. Not the case, and when it does rain, this being the tropics, it can be torrential. Here, rain sheets down in front of a panax hedge. Panax is widely used here for hedges, growing into a thick, dense barrier. It’s easy to grow, too. One just has to cut off a stick, push it into the ground, and a new plant will soon start growing.

Posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge on the theme of ‘Leaves.’ See more responses here.

Rusty Millipedes mating

I saw this pair of rusty millipedes mating on a dirt road. The male is on top and can be identified by a gap in his legs at his seventh body segment. The legs have been replaces by gonopods, the male’s sexual organ which he uses to transfer sperm to the female. The sperm comes from gonopores which are located in the third segment of the body, and it must be moved to the gonopods before mating.


Lizardfish are fairly small and hide by remaining motionless on rocks and coral, relying on their patterned colors to blend in. This works very well and I rarely see them, but I noticed this one in motion moments before it plopped down where you see it. I think this one is a reef lizardfish.

Moss on a tree

Moss grows on a tree in the Kalōpā State Recreation Area, on the northern end of the island. Hawaii might be in the tropics, but the elevation of Kalōpā, combined with it being on the wet side of the island, means it is home to vegetation more associated with my former home in the Pacific Northwest.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Our National Parks.’ See more responses here. There are two national parks on the island. One is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which encompasses Kilauea Volcano and Mauna Loa Volcano. The other is the somewhat lesser known Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, which is also known as Place of Refuge.

There are two parts to the park, which are separated by an imposing rock wall. On the inland side of the wall are the grounds where Hawaiian royalty made their home. The water side of the wall was the place of refuge. Anyone who had broken the law or kapu faced the death penalty, but if they could reach a place of refuge they would be forgiven by a priest and allowed to return to their normal lives.

At one end of the wall is the Hale o Keawe temple, surrounded by ki’i (wooden statues). This structure houses the bones of many Hawaiian royalty or ali’i, which are believed to give the place great power or mana.

For more photos and information on this site about these parks, click on the tags for Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at the bottom of this page.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to

The cruise ship is in

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Tourism.’ (See more responses here.)

Tourism is Hawaii’s largest industry drawing between 850,000 to 1,180,000 visitors a month. The Big Island is the state’s largest geographically, bigger than all the other islands combined, but it ranks third, behind Oahu and Maui in the number of visitors. It logs 100,000-175,000 arrivals each month. Consider though that the island’s population is currently somewhere between 180,000 and 190,000. So at any given time tourists probably comprise a third to nearly a half of the people on the island.

So how do people here feel about tourism? Well, as you might expect, opinions vary. Those impacted negatively by tourism – crowded streets, no parking, noise, inconsiderate partiers – might favor curbs on the industry. Those who do well from it – restaurants, tour companies, hotels, car rentals – would like to see more done to boost the number of visitors.

I chose this photo for two reasons. The first is the subject of the photo, a cruise ship docked at Hilo. This ship visits Hilo every Tuesday, then continues on to Kailua Kona on Wednesday. It brings an influx of tourists on those two days, who fan out across the island, taking tours to various sights island-wide. It also considerably boosts the population of those two towns on those two days, such that I generally choose not to go there if I remember the cruise ship is in.

The second reason is that I work for a helicopter tour company on the island. (There are several here.) We take passengers over about half the island, primarily visiting Kilauea Volcano and the valleys and waterfalls of Kohala Mountains. It’s not cheap, it’s not a carbon-friendly activity and helicopters are loud. There are rules in place regarding the elevation of the flights and places that can be visited or should be avoided. Despite this there are people, particularly those close to or under the flight path, who would prefer there were no tour flights at all.

But I will say that a healthy proportion of those who take the tours return saying it’s the best thing they’ve done on the island, and often that it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken. It is a great way to see the island, and to see some amazing places that otherwise cannot be seen.

So do I think the sky above the Big Island should be thick with helicopters, or that cruise ships should be lining up to dock, or that the relatively small airports here should challenge O’Hare for landings and takeoffs? No. As with most things, finding a balance is the key. If you overload with tourists, the quality of their experience suffers along with the experience of people who live on the island. But put excessive barriers in the way and people stop coming, businesses close, people get laid off, the economy shrinks. It’s a fine balancing act, one that rarely pleases everyone. But at least here, if a person is feeling a bit out of sorts about these kinds of thing, it’s possible to take a cooler to the beach, chill out, and watch the sun slide into the ocean, putting on a show for tourists and locals alike.