Friday, August 1, 2008

Day 168. Captain James Cook

A rest day seemed like a good idea, so instead of hiking around I took the car and headed to the west of the island, toward Kona. Big in my list was a visit to Kealakekua Bay, to touch historical base with another one of my heroes, Captain James Cook. Cook was the most distinguished sea explorer of the 18th century, and in his three voyages between 1760 and 1779 charted much of the South Atlantic, Australia, the Circum-Antarctic Ocean (but he never reached Antarctica), the South Pacific, and the west coast of North America. Unfortunately, on his third stop in Hawaii he offended the local inhabitants and was killed in Kealakekua Bay. This sad event is commemorated by a small monument in a practically inaccessible portion of the bay, and by the name of a non-descript community of vacation chalets, and I don’t think the locals give it a second thought. Pity.

Kona is supposed to be on the leeside or dry side of the island, but the rain came in torrents as I drove through it. It is not a particularly attractive area, and unless you happen to have a vacation rental there isn’t really much to do here.

On the way back I drove to South Point, dubbed “the southernmost point in the United States”. It is a pretty but wind-swept area of grasslands, dotted with rusting wind mills (leftovers of past attempts to harvest eolian energy).

I took a long walk along the coast, in search of the mythical green sand beach. I couldn’t find it, either because I didn’t walk far enough along the wave-battered cliffs or because wave erosion has carried it away, but I had a good time braving the elements.

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