Hawaii was the final stop in my quest to have an adventure in every state before my birthday last month.
It is, of course, the 50th state so it seemed only logical to conclude there.
With mountains and palm trees and beaches and perfect weather, it is one of the most desirable destinations in the world. So I used it as a reward if I completed the other 49 states first.
And that’s the way it worked out.
As you may or may not know, I visited most of the first 30 adventure states driving a car with over 200,000 miles on it.
I shivered in a one man tent for a couple of the adventures. And I stayed in a few pretty marginal hotels for others.
I ate lots of Subway sandwiches and snacked from a cooler in the back of my car.
I ran for miles in foot races, hiked for hours up mountains, rode a sometimes-damaged bicycle in all kinds of conditions and was often worn out from the effort.
In other words, for most of my adventures I was pretty much a budget traveler who did things the hard way.
Not Hawaii. Not for adventure number 50.
No, for that one I invited a good looking woman to go along. I paid for the extra legroom seats on the airplane. And I booked us into a balcony cabin on a cruise ship that took us to all the islands. We ate in all the specialty restaurants, lounged around on deck, rented cars to drive around the islands and had a really great time.
I earned it, don’t you think?
The hard part was getting there. We were awake and traveling for almost 20 hours before we finally turned in at the Aston Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu the first day.
I took a run and swam in the ocean with the local surfers the next day.
And then it was on to Norwegian Cruise Line's dedicated Hawaii ship, Pride of America, for the next seven nights. Nice.
First stop was Maui where we took the scenic drive, featuring more than 600 curves in the road, to the village of Hana. Along the way we stopped many times at waterfalls and overlooks and once to picnic at an off-the-highway place where we bought a just-baked loaf of banana bread.
The next couple of days were on the so-called Big Island of Hawaii. What a place. From Hilo, on the windward side of the island, we went to Volcanoes National Park where we stood at the caldera of Kilauea, a still-active volcano. That night, our cruise ship took us past where the molten red lava spills into the ocean. An unforgettable sight.
The next morning we were on the leeward side of the island in Kona. The landscape immediately around the port is like the surface of the moon—hardened black lava with occasional scrub plants. But the ocean views are spectacular, and the beaches are incredible. We picnicked on one of them.
We concluded with a couple of days on my favorite Hawaiian island, Kauai — The Garden Isle.
We did a helicopter tour there a few years ago, so we had an overview of the best places. This time we went to Waimea Canyon which is deep and multi-colored and accented with wonderful lush foliage. Some people think it is more impressive than The Grand Canyon.
From there we drove up the valley for a mountaintop view of the Na Pali Coast — one of the prettiest places in America. Our ship cruised past it the next afternoon with narration by our on-board native Hawaiian commentator.
Our last day, Char and I rented a kayak and paddled up the Wailua River and hiked into the jungle to visit a beautiful and sacred waterfall called Secret Falls. It is no longer a secret, but it is still unforgettable.
I had my video camera rolling for all of it. And you can see the result by watching the video above.
And if you are one of those people thinking “I wonder what this guy is going to do next,” my response is: “You and me both.”
But I bet it will involve more travel and more videos. Stay tuned.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.