I woke up early on Christmas Eve morning. The moon was still a hand's breadth above the rim of the ocean, and a silky cream-colored path on the smooth ocean connected the moon to the shore as awakening zebra doves cooed softly. I sat on the lanai and watched the moon set while I drank my coffee and played around with a haiku:
The ocean smooths
a shining bedspread for the moon.
Doves tootle sweetly.
Then it was time to leave, and I tossed my pack and fanny pack into the rental car and headed up the road into a gathering storm. It was a wet trip, with windshield wipers going full-speed at times, but even with many stops for construction, I made it all around the island and reached Hilo less than three hours later (the car here is parked next to some sugarcane, 6'-8' tall) .
After snagging a room at the Hilo Bay Hostel, I sloshed dubiously back up the road to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. But I was leading a charmed life this entire trip ~ it seems as though every time I wanted to take a hike or be out in the elements (except for a light soaking the first day while buying a taco at an outdoor food stand), any rain that was happening stopped when I got out of the car, waited until I had finished my touristy activities, then resumed pouring when I got back into the car (or quit entirely for a spell).
The road was awash on the way to the Botanical Garden. There were palm fronds and leaves floating across the road in places. As soon as I got there, though, the rain stopped and I had a marvelous time traversing the walkways and admiring the incredible trees, ferns, shrubs, vines, leaves (some with intricate green-on-green designs), flowers ~ including a colorful orchid garden ~ and admiring Onomea Falls and some smaller waterfalls which grace the gardens ~ for a couple of hours.
I have never visited a more attractive and bountiful botanical garden. It was quite strange to see what we have domesticated as houseplants in our houses and offices growing wildly, profusely, in this wild garden setting. Some of the leaf patterns were so outlandish I had trouble believing they hadn't been painted on ~ and it occured to me that here's an example of truth being stranger than fiction. The streams flowing through the garden were in flood, with mocha-brown water flowing riotously over the boulders.
I would have loved to sit and sketch, but the air was moist and while I never actually got wet, the air was frequently full of mist and I didn't want to get my journal damp. So I took a lot of photos. (I'll show you the results of an orchid photo in a later entry.
Finally, I couldn't absorb any more wonder, so I meandered back to the entrance of the garden. If you haven't yet read the opening journal page (at the top of this entry) you'll have to read it to find out what happened. Or you can look at the left-hand picture here.
After exiting the long-way-around, I drove a few miles up the highway to Akaka Falls, and was properly amazed at its monstrous drop. It rumbled mightily and made a huge cloud of mist as its flooding brown waters hit the bottom some 420' below.
That night at the Hostel Christmas Eve Party, I listened with great pleasure to Aunt Minnie and her nephew Phillip strumming their ukeleles and singing Hawai'ian (and some popular) songs, and eating some marvelous lau-laus brought by Aunt Minnie. Better than rambutans, even! They were wrapped and steamed in ti leaves, from a plant like this one I photographed in Volcanoes National Park.
That party was really splendid. If one is spending Christmas away from home, it is especially cheery to be invited to a party, to drink a beer and toast new-found friends, to share stories and adventures and talk about past lives a little, maybe, and compare notes on what we've seen and done in this life. I'm not a party-animal, but that was a perfect Christmas-Eve-away-from-home-evening. Exactly what I needed.
To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.
My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!