Personal Journeys


April 11, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

The power and peace of the Big Island

By Cynthia Chideya


Hawaii at last. For years, my daughters and I talked of taking a vacation in the Hawaiian Islands. This January, while Baltimore was ice-covered, we got to take that trip.

As I stepped off the plane, I felt the 83-degree breeze and was soon greeted by women in colorful dresses with arms full of leis. I knew I had come to a special place.

With only one week in Hawaii, we decided to devote ourselves to exploring the Big Island.

We arrived at Kona airport on the island's west coast and stayed in Waikoloa. Our drive to Waikoloa presented us with semi-barren lava fields, sparse vegetation and the occasional small band of wild goats.

Along the coast, there were beaches of varied quality and many oases of greenery planted by resorts. If we drove several miles north or south along the main highway, we ran into areas where the lava had been weathered into soil, and there was more abundant and varied plant growth.

The Kohala mountain range -- Mauna Kea and Hualalai -- surrounded us, and beautiful red-gold sunsets on the ocean horizon were awesome to see in the evening.

After several days exploring beaches, snorkeling, whale watching, eating good food and adjusting to the laid-back approach to dress and stress, we set off to circle the island. Our goal was to visit scenic spots; pass through Hilo, the major city on the east coast; and see the active volcano area at Volcanoes National Park.

Some of the most impressive sights were areas where the ocean crashed on cliffs or flowed quietly into some coves and where waterfalls spilled out of high ridges. Within a few miles, the land turned from dry and fairly barren to a tropical rain forest.

We spent a lot of time hopping out of our rented car to take pictures of the fantastic vistas. At Boiling Pots, near Hilo, water spilled from many river channels and bubbled and boiled toward the sea. Beautiful African tulip trees were evidence of how tropical plants from all over the world have found their way to Hawaii.

Such natural beauty has the power to soothe as well as to energize. I will never forget this Hawaiian island.

Cynthia Chideya lives in Baltimore.

My Best Shot

Franc Miller,

Ellicott City

Roadside contrasts

My wife, Rachel, and I have traveled to the Southwest many times and have enjoyed photographing the unusual geologic formations and brilliant colors typical of the landscape. On a recent trip through Colorado and New Mexico, we spotted this scene outside Farmington, N.M., on the highway to Shiprock. It is one of the more interesting photos we took.

Readers Recommend


Lillian Null, Frederick

Kenya is a rare, exotic and fascinating destination, both primitive and progressive. The country's physical beauty covers diverse terrain. Seeing animals in their natural state -- watching two lions frolic, making eye contact with a cheetah and her offspring -- makes me feel richer for the experience.

Taormina, Sicily

Gary F. Suggars, Baltimore

Soon after the Greeks colonized Taormina, about 400 B.C., they created a theater (pictured) by carving away natural rock formations. About 200 years later, the Romans added animal pits and other devices to stage circuses and gladiator combats. Today, the theater is used for plays and as the setting of a major Italian film festival. Visible through the arches is snow-capped Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

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