Nov 17 2008

Mauna Kea

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 23:30

Hawaiian for “big friggin’ mountain” I suppose. Today’s destination de jour. We paid extra to rent a Jeep for this, and it cost us less than half (for the week) of what a tour group wanted to take you up there. I must admit when I saw the conditions of “Saddle Road”, a main highway between the Kona coast and Hilo, I was a bit worried.

Some of the nice part.


But it turns out the “rugged unpaved section” on the way up was a pussy cat of a slightly washboarded gravel road.



That settled, we were again traveling with the weather godz protection. As we had a brilliant warm (high 40s at over 13000 feet) day.

Here are some shots from above the clouds in and amongst the many observatories up there. Rita with the twin domes of the Keck Observatory behind her.


And with the Jeep in front of the cutest of the lot. I call it the 50’s Sci-Fi dome.


Me hardly breathing (because there was very little oxygen).


Looking back at the road we came up (and the clouds we came through).


Some of the rare clouds rising above the level of the observatories. Again the Keck O. there. Look it up on line. It is fascinating. We got to go inside and the engineer who runs it talked a bit about it, then we watched a tape that showed even more. Did you know the Universe is over 6000 years old?


Here is a shot of the bottom of the telescope from inside the observation area. Rita noted that it seemed colder than outside, and the gentleman explained they keep it as cold inside as they expect it to be when they open it up in the evening to prevent any heat transfer interfering with the observations.


We quickly noticed the highest point was not at an observatory. They left that peak alone (sacred to those silly natives, or some such thing.)


So here we go…


Rita makes the summit.


Me with my head above the clouds for once.


The marker. My GPS showed about 50 feet higher, but I don’t know if that’s error or growth since placement of the marker (note the date).


On the way down Rita got a shot of one of the signs. That is she took this picture. Note the holes are not the usual midwest bullet holes, but man made. I guess winds hit 100 MPH up there on a fairly regular basis.


Nearly back to Kona, and things looked more like what one expects of Hawaii.


Tomorrow we move to Hilo for one night. Hoping to see some lava flows in the process. We’ll keep you posted. R&R

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