Postcard from Hawai’i – Road to the Sea

Headed for work, at least I had plenty of time… Ahead of me on the hillside I could see a military convoy with dozens of cars trapped behind them on the steep grades. Not wanting to join the mess I pulled over to take some photos. The convoy will turn towards the new Saddle Road at the top, all I have to do is give them another five minutes and I will have open road.

Road to the Sea
Looking down Waikoloa Road to the ocean

Halloween Sidewalk Astronomy

For many years it has been my tradition to setup a telescope on Halloween. A tradition I have inherited from other amateur astronomers, a tradition I intend to continue.

Princess at the Telescope
A Halloween princess looking through the telescope while we were set up at the King’s Shops
Unfortunately there are few trick-or-treaters in my own neighborhood. We are somewhat at the end of the street and at the top of the hill.

Looking for an alternative to setting up in the driveway, as I have in the past, I instead arranged to setup at the King’s Shops in the resort at the bottom of the hill. The shops make an evening of it, with various entertainment and activities arranged for children and adults. Contacting the Kings Shops management I was able to arrange permission to set up a few telescopes for the evening.

Cliff and Maureen volunteered to join me, bringing more gear. We had a few other club folks drop by. Also helping out were Dean and Melinda Ketelsen, fellow Tucsonans who share the Halloween telescope tradition and happen to be visiting for the week.

Unfortunately clouds hampered us in the early evening. As usual these cleared as the night progressed so that by 8:30pm we had a mostly clear sky. Moonrise provided a beautiful view, followed by Jupiter. There was a steady flow of folks checking out the telescopes. Princesses, Batman, ninjas and more had views of Alberio, Andromeda and other celestial objects. A fun evening for everyone, mixing in just a bit of science education, just what sidewalk astronomy is all about.

An Unusual Breed

I have often noted how much many of the boulders around Waikoloa look like animals. There is one rock along the upper road that looks precisely like a cow when seen from the side at any distance. Just a natural remnant of these old Mauna Kea lava flows.

It is no surprise that most folks have the same observation, some of these rocks just look like cattle, all they need is horns?

A serious laugh-out-loud, try not to drive off the road, moment when I first saw them. Someone had indeed added some horns to the rocks. Not little horns either, but big Texas longhorn style horns. Halfway from Waikoloa Village to the Mamalahoa Highway, you can see a herd of a truly unusual breed. Perhaps the rare Waikoloa Basalt Angus?

Closer examination of the horns reveals that they are well made. Heat worked PVC pipe for the horns, tightly wrapped with rope and painted at the center. The horns are held on with heavy cable neatly crimped around the boulders.

Another surprise, the artists have signed their work, the names Ed Vasquez and Bill Bezona melted into the plastic. We have seen Ed’s art before, birds and other odd creatures appearing along local roads. We had seen nothing for a while, this is the first installation I have seen in about a year.

Nice job guys! A little fun along my morning commute.

Waikoloa Basalt Angus
A unique breed, the Waikoloa Basalt Angus at pasture, an artwork by Ed Vasquez and Bill Bezona

Rained Out

Well, the Waikoloa Elementary School star party wasn’t much for stars. We did see one star briefly through the clouds. There were four telescopes setup in the schoolyard waiting in hopes that the clouds would clear, but it was not to be. We stood around talking story and examining Cliff’s 24″ telescope. A truss tube dob is a great scope to show how a telescope works, all the inner parts exposed.

We waited an hour, but around 8pm the first hints of rain began. As the drops thickened we scurried to get the telescopes put away.

My thanks to the WHAC members who came out in support of this event! We will be attempting to reschedule the event, possibly for May 22nd.