Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Big Island: Animal Edition

Rainbow over Kilauea Ike

Last month my husband and I were lucky enough to travel to Hawaii, the Big Island, for someone's big digit birthday. (Hint, it wasn't mine.)

When I saw all that was growing on the Big Island, I thought about a post comparing the beautiful, luscious plants to the same variety growing (or rather, not growing) in my yard. I quickly realized that such a post would be just overwhelmingly depressing. If you wanted to see dead plants, you could look out your door. After the summer we've had, I decided we needed a happier post. (And if I had actually gotten the post up two weeks ago as I'd planned, it would have been even more depressing. I think the rain is starting to make us all feel like our summer was just a bad nightmare.)

So here's a little summary of our trip.

We started our trip on the Hilo side of the island, otherwise known as the wet side. Hilo averages more than 130 inches of rain annually. Drought restrictions are enacted when the wet stuff falls below 70 inches per year. It's no wonder these signs are needed: (And, knock wood, it's beginning to look like we might need some of those signs here in Central Texas!)

We left Hilo driving along the northeast coast and of course had to stop at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. It was raining as we toured but you don't let a little rain stop you when you live on the wet side so we took our borrowed umbrellas and forged ahead.One of the first plants we came across was this white bat plant. It's highly doubtful that it will grow in Austin, but it would be cool if it did.These are called lobster claws. I was not tempted to eat these because I am one of those freaks who don't like lobster. Plus, after I ate some mystery berries at Kilauea volcano, my husband wouldn't let me out of his sight when potentially ingestible plants were in my range.

(In my defense, he had read me Mark Twain's description of the berries as juicy. I assumed that meant that Twain had sampled them. And it's my husband's issue, not mine, that he doesn't want to spend his vacation speeding his wife to an emergency room.)My husband wouldn't even let me sample these beautiful flowering bananas. (Of course, I wouldn't eat a plant in a public garden.)I'm not sure why but a lot of plants had animal-related names like this cat whiskers and
this mule's foot fern and
this peacock fern.

I don't know the name of this beauty but had to include it because it was so pretty. (It was a little hard trying to write down plant names while maneuvering the camera and the umbrella and making sure I didn't slip on the walkway and once again potentially force my husband to take me to the hospital.)One of my favorite animal-related plants was this old-man palm.
with its cute little braid. I wonder if that's a gardener's task? No. 12 on to-do list: Braid old man.We traveled from the wet side to, you guessed it, the dry side of the Big Island. As we drove down the coast surrounded by nothing but lava fields and brown plants, I was unpleasantly reminded of Austin.

But then we checked into our free hotel (yea for the husband's travel points!) and had this view from our own private balcony: I immediately felt much better.

Add a bathing suit and a hat to this turtle, and this is pretty much how I spent the rest of our vacation.From time to time I wandered into the Pacific to cool off: Sometimes I had to flip over on my back.And of course, all this relaxing made us hungry so here's the last animal shot I have for you:
Roasted pig at the luau. Yum.