Almost Touching the Moon on Mauna Kea

If I had to choose one thing about Hawaii that I love love loved the most, it would have to be Mauna Kea.  Maybe it was the lack of oxygen at 9,000 ft+ above sea level.  Maybe it was the utter quiet.  Maybe it was the twilight and watching the mist descend and form clouds around us.

Maybe it was all of those things.

But it was magical.

Hang loose - the theme of the trip
Hang loose – the theme of the trip

I wrote about the high-powered observatories in my last post.  This is where they live.  People come from all over the world to observe the sky from atop Mauna Kea.

This mountain is technically the tallest one in the states, bottom to top (Mount Everest has a higher top elevation, but its base is above 10,000 ft).  Mauna Kea’s base is actually far under the ocean.   So what I’m saying is it’s steep.  I have altitude sensitivity, so I started feeling funny around 6,000 or 7,000 ft.  My husband never seems to notice any external stressors like that — he’s the person who can drive home from the optometrist with his eyes dilated, when I’m still fumbling for my water bottle 8 hours later.  So when it comes to driving up the side of a mountain, climbing 9-10K feet in an hour or so, let the one who can breathe do it.

The drive up is gorgeous, taking about an hour
The drive up is gorgeous, taking about an hour

 

On the way up, there are no filling stations, no McDonald’s, and only scattered houses.  Mostly there are cows.  And sheep.  Donkeys.  And signs to let you know that the donkeys will be crossing the road at daybreak and twilight.  We found those particularly amusing.  Probably the lack of oxygen.

But Mauna Kea is such an attraction because of the high elevation, the great views, and then, as the sun sets, the stargazing.  It is so dark out there with the lack of ambient light and the sharp jutting of the mountain into and above the clouds that you can see stars unlike anywhere on earth.

Everyone spoke in hushed tones
Way up here, everyone spoke in hushed tones
Not sure if they were pledging their lives to one another or breaking up
Not sure if they were pledging their lives to one another or breaking up here
You can draw your own conclusions
You can draw your own conclusions

These snaps were taken atop an embankment above the visitors’ center.  Hiking up it made me a little nervous.  Imma really scared of heights and there are no safety rails on this thing.  But getting up there was worth it.

So worth it.

New favorite selfie
New favorite couple selfie.  High above the clouds.
Representing the Herd
Representing the Herd — this is a picture from earlier in the evening, see how the clouds are just starting to swirl?

It is undoubtedly the number one thing I would recommend doing if you visit the Big Island.  I’m not the type of person who likes to go to the same vacation spots over and over again, but I can’t wait to go back and visit the mountain.  I loved it so very much.

Hope your brakes have been serviced
Hope your brakes have been serviced.  Ah — it’s a rental, whatevs.
Goodnight, Mauna Kea.
Goodnight, Mauna Kea.

 

What Are They Thinking?

I spend a lot of time with my fuzzy beasts.  So much time that, as a 29-year-old woman, of course I frequently wonder what they are thinking.  In order of neediness, they are as follows:

Ripley, age 3.  A brindle greyhound-sheltie-Pekingese-Mastiff mix.  (Really.)
Ripley, age 3. A brindle greyhound-sheltie-Pekingese-Mastiff mix. (Really.)
Ollie, age 4.  Her loudmouthed brother.
Ollie, age 4. The loudmouthed middle child.
Maggie, age 9 and 1/2.  She is the silent killer.
Maggie, age 9 and 1/2. She is the silent killer.  She knows she’s smarter AND prettier than you.

I’ve been an animal lover my entire life.  I cried when I watched Blackfish.  I brake for turtles on the road and help them across (recent development, but hey, I’m claiming it.)

ASPCA commercials make me so anxious I have to change the channel, and I basically cringe at the sound of Sarah McLachlan now.  (Funny-slash-sad story I went to see Sarah once when we lived in Louisville and the two women in front of us wailed — WAILED actually, sort of brayed — during most of her set.  Finally they got up and left.  It was a bit distracting.)

On a long weekend like this one where we don’t have any particular plans, I end up taking Ripley for lots of walks, and we spend quite a bit of time in the backyard near the pool.

Now that it's over her head, she's not such a fan of the water.
Now that it’s over her head, she’s not such a fan of the water.

This is turn causes the middle child, Ollie, to stand at the backdoor and cry.  He cries as if he’s been abandoned, like all he’s ever wanted to do is come outside into the sunlight, into freedom.

When I let him outside, what does he promptly do?  He runs over to the grass (or maybe even the lilies, which are toxic to cats, btw) and starts scarfing it down.  Grass, grass, grass, munch, munch, munch.  Give him 30 minutes, and it’s regurgitated all over the dining room floor (precisely on the edge of the new rug, we couldn’t be bothered to do it on the hardwood or one of the old rugs — nope).

Exactly, Maggie.  Get 'em.
Exactly, Maggie. Get ’em.

So after a day outside, maybe mulching or weeding or  cleaning the garage, a lot of times you just want to chill.  But generally, this one’s energy never seems to be depleted:

What are you doing?
What are you doing?  Do you want to throw the frisbee?

When I first got her in 2012, I was training for the Marshall half-marathon.  I would take her on my practice runs, going anywhere from 3-5 miles, several times of week.  It didn’t phase her.  Like, at all.  I came to realize that I would never be able to tire this dog out.

So we live with it.  We try to get her as much activity as possible, and of course I have the Mommy Guilt from working a full-time job.  I guess with human children they eventually go to school and the guilt is somewhat abated.  With The Dog, she is always a baby child.

This was one day in the spring when I had to work from home due to a major water line burst (yay, homeownership!).  It was like they knew it was a weekday.
This was one day in the spring when I had to work from home due to a major water line burst (yay, homeownership!). It was like they knew it was a weekday.

They are so excited when you come through the door, it makes you wonder what it is they do all day.  Do they have rounds of Street Fighter-style matches?  Do they snuggle and read recent literary classics?

"It was hard to tell who the protagonist was in this yarn, Ollie, don't you agree?"  "I heartily disagree, Ripley, as I felt the story truly centered around Dee, the would-be movie star."
“There were so many great characters, it was hard to tell who the protagonist was in this yarn, Ollie, don’t you agree?” “I heartily disagree, Ripley, as I felt the story truly centered around Dee, the would-be movie star, more so than anyone else in this inspired tale.”

Regardless, they all hate Mondays.  I think they allow themselves to forget, just for a day or so, that we have jobs that need attending, and the getting-ready routine of Monday always inspires literal huffs and hiding of faces in the pillows.

"Why, Mom, why?"
“Why, Mom, why?”

I guess they think if they hide their faces, they don’t have to acknowledge the weekend is over.

I’m right there with ya, Rip.