"The Green Pineapple Express"
Last leg of the Green Destiny Capitol Project

Progress Map

Next Day Drive Plan

Photos from the Honolulu Green Pineapple Express.

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Green Destiny and I are now en route to Vermont to complete the last part of the Green Pineapple Express. I have to be back by election day!. If you'd like to join the other arm chair road trippers and get daily updates via email - let me know and I'll add you to the subscriber list.  Here is the route so far:

Next stop Swiftwater, PA.

10/29/08 Day 28 640 Miles: Emporia, KS Ė New Castle, IN
Lots of miles today Ė not much time for stopping.  I blew right through Missouri and Illinois.  I jumped between I70 and US 50 skirting St Louis. And then US40 (the National Road)  I kept on seeing signs marking The National Road.  I looked it up.  This road began construction in 1806 authorized by Thomas Jefferson. There are many historical buildings and mile markers along the way.

Iíve been trying to stay south. I heard about the northeast storm and I canít afford to hit any snow or ice (no snow tires).  Temperature tonight finally hit 40F while I was still on the road so it was time to put the top up. That makes nine straight top down days! Once it gets that cold the vinyl starts to stiffen up making it impossible to close the top even if you wanted to.

Once the sun goes down the traffic on I70 in Indiana is dominated by trucks. At least 2/3 of the vehicles are big rigs and I get trapped in big rig canyons from time to time. I passed Terre Haut which looks like Las Vegas at night. Itís quite amazing to come up to out of the darkness.  Iíve stopped there in the past for gas but not today.  Itís one of those places that has always been at the crossroads of America, first river traffic, then rail road and now roadways, both US and Interstate systems.  It has quite the reputation and the federal death row is located there. Day end at New Castle, IN.

10/28/08 Day 27 520 Miles: La Junta, CO Ė Emporia, KS
Eastern Colorado and western Kansas are big on beef.  Cattle trucks everywhere. I passed a few of the places traditionally know as the end of the trail, where cattle get turned into our steaks.  Dodge City is a big one.  Kansas must grow a lot of sunflowers since they mark their scenic byway signs with one.  There isnít much left in the fields at this point except some sort of grain. It looks like millet. Itís brown and about two feet tall. There is also a bumper crop of McCain/Palin political signs.

I stayed on US 50 pretty much all day Ė passing through towns large, small and nonexistent. It seems like every one has a museum of some sort. Garden City even has a zoo! Whenever I stop for gas or something to eat, I notice the people are well worn and look like they work really hard. Agriculture is physically demanding work. Dangerous too Ė at one stop three near retirees were sipping coffee and trading farming accident stories.

There is always that wide open feeling of being exposed to whatever the weather wants to through at you. For me it was another clear but cool day.  I think tornado season is over.

10/27/08 Day 26 460 Miles: Moab, UT Ė La Junta, CO
Last night I had some BBQ ribs at Buckís Grill which were great but it was the unique port wine flan I had for dessert that made it an experience. As I was packing up this morning a local recommended I stop at the Jail House Cafť for breakfast to get some ginger pancakes that could not be beat. So based on last night, when a local in Moab makes a recommendation, I follow.  The Jail House is an old building that served as Moabís Courthouse and Jail quite a few years ago. They were closing in a week so I was lucky to have breakfast there.  Keeping in mind that this us Utah, Moab really is a cool hip place. 

Leaving town I took UT 128 along the Colorado River. So nice for a change to have a nice curvy road that doesnít also change elevation by 5,000 feet over a few miles. This is where a lot of white water rides start or end. I entered Colorado on I70 but jumped off at Grand Junction, CO to follow US 50 (remember that from Nevada?) a goes a bit more south for comfort.  Green Destiny has not had the top up since we left Richmond, CA a week ago.  Itís getting cold at night and there is frost on the Toneau top in the mornings. That makes it hard to undo, but it warms up pretty quick to over 60 by noon.  Green Destiny is doing great! even got 33 MPG on the last tank and gas just keeps on getting cheaper.

I crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass. There was snow up there on the shady side of anything. US50 West of Canon City is just a wonderful ride. There is something about Colorado, maybe itís the combination of mountains, rivers and forests or maybe the working landscape with mines, logging and ranches.  Skiing is

10/26/08 Day 25 196 Miles: Mexican Hat, UT Ė Moab, UT
To start off I went back to Monument Valley Ė a 20 mile back track to catch it at sunrise.  So now Iíve got it at sunset and dawn. After that I headed toward Arches. My route took me up UT 261 through the Valley of the Gods. One of the truly sick roads up the side of a cliff. Then I went along along US 191.  This whole area Moab is simply spectacular. Amazing rock formations, arches, pinnacles, canyons,  and rivers.  There are two National Parks and myriad recreational opportunities.  Including jeep rentals for off roading.  Moab is a very hip town and if anyone plans a vacation to the area Ė this is the base of operations.

Now about Arches. Another high point.  Itís full of improbable rid rock formations not to mention the arches. The balancing rocks are simply stupefying.  They look like they will fall over any second.  Forget Disney land Ė take your kids here. I only had time to check out two arches: Windows and Delicate Arch.  I stayed at Delicate Arch for the sunset.  Very difficult to capture the sense of it.  Hiked back in darkness under the same sky I saw on Haleakala.  Milky way as clear as could be.

Iím running out of disk space and have to buy an external drive.  The good news is itís time to start packing on the miles. So maybe Iíll have a few less photos. I have to do 500  miles a day from here out to stay on schedule. So itíll be back to small town rural America for a while.  Where the ďReal AmericaĒ is.  Everywhere else is fake America (thank you John Stewart).

10/25/08 Day 24 136 Miles: Page, AZ Ė Mexican Hat, UT
Itís all about tying up loose ends  now. Antelope Canyon was one of those ďhave to go there one dayĒ places.  This slot canyon is located on Navaho land near Page, Arizona. You have to take a guided tour to visit it and believe me it would have been tough to get to without the 4wd vehicle they toted my group with.  Antelope Canyon is sacred to the Navaho, although youíd never know based on the number of people they march through it.  Even with the crowd it still has a feeling of reverence.  A Native American flute player filled the rooms with haunting echoes. The guides spoke to each other in Navaho which also added to the mood.  It really is a special place.

I bought the photographer tour so my group was limited to six.  Our guide was a lovely Navaho woman who not only told us about the canyon, but pointed out all the places to shoot from. I filled up a four gig card in no time.  The canyon is very narrow with an opening at the top. Light filters in and makes the pink to red sandstone glow. It also changes as the sun moves across. Occasionally some sand will fall in and create visible sun rays. It was amazing! It may be the highlight of the trip.

With only half a day left and total time running out, I had to make some choices.  All the other tourists (more than half are from out of the country) kept telling me I had to go to Canyon de Chelly. I also wanted to check off another ďhave to go thereĒ place, Arches National Park.  Arches won. The route took me though Monument Valley at sunset.  I quit right after in Mexican Hat.  Tomorrow Arches!

10/24/08 Day 23 520 Miles: Pahrump, NV Ė Page, AZ
Todayís goal was to make the Grand Canyon in day light.  Along the route I had two distractions: Red Rocks Canyon and Hoover Dam. Red Rocks is a great drive through some spectacular landscape.  Itís a bit like the Valley of Fire which I saw a few years ago when I drove to Las Vegas.  Itís also a bicyclers Mecca.

Hoover Dam is best seen from the air so I took the helicopter ride for a really good view. Theyíre building a new bridge so soon you wonít be able to drive over the dam.

With lots of miles to make I took advantage of the 75mph speed limits in Nevada and Arizona and put the peddle to the metal to get to the Grand Canyon before sunset. As you approach you really have no clue whatís coming.  You see signs saying how far to the park, but usually you see some mountains in the distance.  With the Grand Canyon you donít see anything till you get right up to the edge and then itís jaw dropping. Iíve seen lots of photos but nothing beats being there. Iíll have to read some early explorers journals to find out what they thought when they first encountered the canyon.  I canít imagine!  Probably something like ďWeíll have to go around!Ē

Tomorrow I plan to take a tour of Antelope canyon in Page Arizona where I spend the night. Possibly more photographed then the Grand Canyon.  ItĎs a slot canyon, and Iíve always wanted to visit when I saw the first poster. The tour is 2.5 hours so I wonít get far tomorrow.

10/23/08 Day 22 432 Miles: Lee Vinning, CA Ė Pahrump, NVThe Tioga Pass road through Yosemite is not to be missed. Back tracking was worth while particularly because this side of the valley faces east and the sun was shining into it.  Gas around the parks is over a dollar more expensive than surrounding areas, $4.15 a gallon compared to $3.15 in Tracy. 

 Another sunny day in California although it gets really cold at night Ė it was 30 degrees in the morning and by the time I got to Death Valley it was 85. Approaching Death Valley from the west you drive through Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Paniment mountain ranges. Itís very dramatic and you are constantly looking left and right. When you enter the park you climb over Towne Pass (5,000 ft). After that itís a long coast into Death Valley.  I must have gone nearly 5 miles in neutral hitting speeds over 80mph sustained. I guess that's infinite miles per gallon. 

 Death Valley is definitely a place you want to visit when itís cool.  I set my Coplilot GPS to display altitude but was disappointed when I got below sea level because it only showed <100 ft. I was hoping to see some negative numbers. The low spot is nearly 300 feet below sea level. 

 Death Valley Itís a huge stark place of total silence, pastel colors, shapes and textures. Itís geology in action every where you look.  I did see two coyotes. Just like yesterday I ran out of day light and had to make a choice at the end of the day as to where I wanted to be at sunset.  I picked wrong. As I learned later I drove past the best place to be at sunset, Artists Drive, in the dark.  Driving through the desert at night with an open top is always magical.  But when you are running on fumes - not so magical! 

 I finished up in Pahrump Nevada, a tiny Las Vegas.

10/22/08 Day 21 300 Miles Tracy CA Ė Lee Vining, CA
Great weather! I crossed the middle of California through almond orchards and vineyards which gave way to ranch country.  Nice rolling hills covered with golden grass. As I approached Yosemite I got the feeling I always get when Iím on the return part of a road trip. Yet another national park filled with the same old scenery and tourists to slow me down. How could it be any different than all the others?  It always is though and once I hit that first vista of Half Dome Ė it was all OK. 

I would definitely avoid this park during peek season.  Even now there were still quite a few ďPark DriversĒ and campers. I canít imagine what itís like during the summer.  I called this one close.  Another week or two and Iíd have to have chains to go through the mountain passes.  As it is there is already snow on the north side of the highest elevation.

I went through the valley twice, hit Glacial Point and crossed the Tioga pass. This is definitely a park that needs a few days to explore. Things look very different at different times of the day too.  I shot the Bridal Vail falls and then when I passed by later it look sooo much better.  Thereís visible wildlife here too I had one black bear cross the road right in front of me and while walking out to Glacial Point a bobcat stalked and caught a chipmunk not 100 feet in front of me.  While a crowd gawked no less. I guess if you live in Yosemite you have to get used to the tourists, even if you are a bobcat. It seemed totally oblivious. 

Unfortunately the sun went down halfway through the Tioga pass. So, I will double back tomorrow just a bit and see what I missed

10/21/08 Day 20 110 Miles: Richmond, CA Ė Tracy CA
I landed in Oakland at about 1:30 pacific time and got a quick taxi ride to Richmond. No limo this time, just a Sarah Palin supporter for a driver and not shy about it either. It was a long half hour ride!

Green Destiny was ready and waiting at the Matson terminal. You may recall from Day 9 that it was dark when I last crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. So, I decided to go get a good look since it was only 18 miles away although in the wrong direction. I explored the recreation area just north west of the bridge.  Its an old abandoned artillery battery on a cliffs over the bay that used to guard the bay.  There are still lots of old bunkers and munitions storage structures. There are amazing views of the entire bay and bridge.  To really get a good photo of the Golden Gate you have to wait for one of those mornings where the fog rolls in and just the top of the bridge is visible.  I worked with what I had.

I took a tour of down town San Francisco along Lombard Street and I was transported into that 1968 Steve McQueen movie Bullitt which had some crazy car chases right on these streets. I did catch a bit of air on one hill!  Steve did his own driving too!

I headed east in the dark and quit just before the interstate ends on the way toward Yosemite which Ill explore tomorrow.

10/2/08 Day 19 Hana, Maui to Honolulu, Oahu, HI
I got an early start so that I could take that powered glider ride, and have enough time to make my Ferry at 11:00. The glider ride was very exciting although not the best platform for photo taking. I did get to see one incredible waterfall Ė must have been 300 feet at least and of course we flew over George Harrisonís house. There was also the ever present rainbow. Oh BTW, the Hawaiian car license plate has a rainbow on it.

The ride back to Kahalui along the Hana Highway was quite different than the ride in. I had already stopped at most of the requisite scenic spots so this was all about the road and just pure driving. At the time I got started, 7:30, the only traffic to speak of was going in my direction. So Green Destiny got one last romp before taking a long rest crossing back over the Pacific to wait for me in Oakland California.

I made it to the ferry with time to spare and had a nice ride back over to Oahu. The super ferry is a really comfortable way to travel between islands with less hassle then flying plus you can bring your car.

Tomorrow morning Green Destiny gets back on a ship to Oakland California where Iíll meet it on 10/21 to take the long drive back Vermont. On the way I plan to try and hit a few of the national parks Iíve never had the chance to see even though Iíve driven right past them. Weíll have to see. Iíve already had enough travel to last quite a while. In the mean time Iím off to Albuquerque to meet a friend and shoot the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Thatís all until 10/22/08

10/1/08 Day 18 Hana and there about
Today was dedicated to exploring Hana. Hana is a place where some famous people live or at least have a house, including George Harison and Opra. Charles Lindbergh lived and died here. I visited his grave. The shore line is very dramatic with rocky lava cliffs and lovely secluded beaches.  If you work up any of the valleys you are in tropical rain forest. It seems to rain every night into the morning and then by 7:00 itís sunny.

Supposedly the Hana highway is open all the way around the eastern lobe of Maui.  I went as far as I dared. The road gets really scary.  Itís one lane wide along a huge cliff face with lots of fallen rock on the road. It would be one thing if you could go fast limiting the chances of getting hit by a falling rock but the road is so narrow and rough you have to go very slow and I kept looking up waiting for a chunk to fall off and conk me on the head or worse Ė hit Green Destiny. I chickened out and turned around.

There are lots of things to see, lava tubes, red and black sand beaches, botanical gardens, incredible shorelines and fun roads. I could see spending a week here and spending each day hanging out on a different beach. There is a surprising amount of agriculture and ranching and fresh fruit stands stud the road. So it was just a day of falling a travel guide finding waterfalls, pools and beaches.  At the end of the day I stopped by the airport to see what it would be like to bypass the Hana Highway. There is a powered glider service there I wanted to check out too.

9/30/08 Day 17 Kehie Ė Hanna Maui
That same fellow that suggested I visit Keoneoio also suggested I visit Kahakuloa on the north east shore of the western lobe of Maui, for some challenging driving and great views.  It did not disappoint. The first half was excellent. With wide twisty roads. The second half . . . not so good. Although, the views were outstanding, the road was a  rough.  I notice that no mater how god forsaken the road is, there is someone living along it whoís driveway is in much better shape than the road. Maui has a very different feeling from Oahu. There seems to be more agricultural activity including ranching. It reminds me of Vermont with palm trees.

I started out for Hana around noon from Kahakuloa a distance of about 60 miles. I got to Hana around 6PM.  Lots of stopping for waterfalls, shoreline views etc. I drove the Hana Highway many years ago with a rented car and a car sick prone co-pilot.  Not a problem this time. The Hana Highway is a crazy twisted road and many many blind curves with just enough room for two cars to pass and quite a few one lane bridges. One car has to wait for another to pass in the opposite direction.  I actually didnít have much traffic going my way so I rarely got held up.  If I did Ė I would just stop at the next waterfall and take some photos. I knew I was doing well when I kept up with a local in a Subaru and he finally pulled over at a fruit stand and waved me past.

Driving this road safely with any speed takes planning.  Itís a lot like a switchback except itís traversing a coast line rather then a mounting side and itís more or less level. At one end of the switch back you will typically have a one lane bridge. As you approach you have to look 90 degrees to your left across the gorge you are working around to see if there is anyone coming towards the bridge in the opposite direction. If so, someone has to stop and wait at the bridge or you can try and beat the other car to the bridge.  On the other end of the switchback will typically be a cliff side with as much as a 180 degree curve around it.  These you have to be very careful of because there is just enough room for two and the tourists tend to hug the inside even when itís an outside curve for them. Those are a bit nerve racking.  You can start to round one of these and come bumper to bumper with a rented Mustang (very common) or a jeep.

Hana only has one hotel and that is the ultra luxury resort called Hotel Hana. Most other accommodations are small rental units or condos/time shares. I arrived at my digs for two days and was pleasantly surprised.  Itís a nice single bedroom house with a porch within site of the beach and the sound of surf quite loud.  I think it is right next door to the place I stayed at when I was here more than 20 years ago. Things keep falling on the metal roof though, some kind of nut I guess.  

9/29/08 Day 16 Haleakala and Keoneoio - Maui
Initially Iím staying in Kihei on the southern shore of Maui. This is resort central. If you are into golf or tennis Ė this would be the place to go especially golf. Although I donít know how youíd concentrate with the ever present shoreline view. Itís dryer on this side of Maui. Once you get past the watered resorts on the way to Keoneoio you pass through the Ahihi-Kinau Natrual Area Reserve.which looked like fresh lava fields right along the shore. At the ďMust Hold Block BoundryĒ is a nice cove with many tidal pools teaming with small fish and crabs. I even saw a baby moray eel in one.

Everyone says going up Haleakala to see the sun rise is the thing to do. But that would mean getting up at 3:00AM and freezing your butt off. Haleakala is at 11,000 feet and it can snow up there. Plus itís crowded! So I opted for the sunset today. The road up has two sections. The first bit is nice smooth two lane well banked switch back with plenty of room. You can really tear up this part but you have to stop for the views occasionally once you get above the clouds. The next bit in the Haleakala National Park is narrower switchback with lots of little curves in between switches. The road is a bit narrower and not banked much so itís not quite as pleasant. I had little traffic though and folks pull over and let you pass readily. Click here for a map.

Starting out the temperatures was 85 and ended up below 50 degrees at the top. I guess I was lucky because it was clear and the sunset was unobstructed. A local I ran into on the Superferry (Mike) who gave me some great advice turned up too. He looked cold though and couldnít stay past sunset. For me it was like being back home in Vermont on a fall morning. The sunset was great and at the higher altitude the sky takes on a purple hue that you donít see near sea level.

Whenever I park, inevitably someone comes over and asks about the Vermont plates etc. The top of Haleakala was no exception. Oddly many seem to either know where Essex Vermont is or at least Burlington. So it takes a bit to get going and so I was nearly the last car off the volcano. I donít think Iíve ever seen the Milky Way so clearly or so many stars before. I even took a few star shots on the way down.

9/28/08 Day 15 Waikiki, Oahu, HI Ė Kehie, Maui, HI
I had to be at the Super Ferry at about 1:30 PM so I decided to go over and check out Pearl Harbor in the morning. A number of folks that I spoke to about it said it was a must see. One of the Miata Club members suggested I take the Battle Ship Missouri tour rather than do the Arizona . So I signed up for the deluxe tour. The Missouri last saw action in Desert Storm and was the ship aboard which the Japanese signed the surrender agreement. Harry Truman spent a week aboard this ship with his family. It has a great historical significance.

The tour was amazing. There is a max of six people in the group led by a tour guide through five decks. It is incredibly intimate, going through living quarters, inside the engine room, on the bridge, into the mess halls, damage control stations, officers cabins, gun turrets and on. You can touch things, I pulled one of the 16Ē diameter gun manual triggers. Pretty cool .

The Missouri is a huge ship, It doesnít quite have the gravitas as a grave site like the Arizona, but it was incredibly interesting and worth the $45. The Missouri is not run by the government, itís run by a not for profit organization. It really is quite impressive. Outside they have a recreated a WWII canteen with WWII vintage photos of sailors and posters over the walls. One thing I notice is that the faces of war are very young.

The Super Ferry ride was great. The Ferry is new and has great accommodations on board. The speed is limited while still in this trial period to 30 mpg making the trip from Oahu to Maui take four hours. They are capable of cutting that to three. They will be adding other islands to the route in the future as long as they donít hit any whales.

On Maui Iím spending two nights in Kihei (South shore) The ride over was in the dark. I havenít done much driving in the dark yet and once you get out of city, and arenít distracted by sites, other senses kick in. With the top down you can see the stars, notice that the air is somehow softer, and has a fragrance. Tomorrow Haleakala!

9/27/08 Day 14 Manoa Falls Oahu
Today I set myself three tasks Ė see the sunrise from Waikiki beach, shoot the last Capitol Project photo and visit Manoa Falls (Miata Club of Hawaii - Dan I think - recommendation). Sunrise was OK Ė orientation is better for sunset. The surfers are out there though before the sun comes up and the view (Iím not talking about the landscape) is really something.

The way the weather works here is like this. The air temperature is always lovely maybe, 80 degrees tops with a breeze along the shore. But the sun is very direct and quite hot. I can see/feel why many of the Miatas I see, and there are a lot on Oahu, have the tops up. So the time to be out and about is in the early morning or early evening. If you can stay in the shade itís perfect. I don't understand why this is the "Low" season. The weather is amazing - the same every day. Apparently December/January is the High season and it rains more.

Itís an odd feeling having time to wonder around. Normally with the Capitol Project Iím off and on my way to the next stop right away no time for touristing. Iím not one to sit on the beach, so part of the charm is lost on me. Luckily there is some great hiking and Iíve done more of that in the last few days than in the last year. The hike up to Manoa Falls is through a rain forest with bamboo, moss, giant ferns and more crazy huge house plants. The falls themselves are really nice Ė a cascading ribbon over 100 feet down a rock face into a small pool. Your classic Hawaiian scene. All I needed was a model to stand under the falls and just as I was packing up Ė one came along. Canít wait to look those shots over.

So the Capitol shot and the Capitol Project are now done. As Iím writing this Iím on the Super Ferry on my way to Maui and guess what movie is playing? ďThe Bucket ListĒ! How appropriate.

9/26/08 Day 13 60 Miles North Shore to Haleiwa, Oahu, HI
The goal for today was to meet up with a few members of the Miata Club of Hawaii. They suggested a rendezvous at a place called Matsomotoís Ė famous for its ďShave IceĒ. A concoction of vanilla ice cream, sweet red beans toped off with shaved ice with up to three flavors of syrup. They talk about it like itís addictive.

The cruise up to the north shore took me on the Likeliki Highway which felt a bit like driving into Jurassic Park. On the windward side of Oahu it seems like it can rain at any time, sunny or not. Not so good if you have the top down and have to stop for a light or traffic. Once you hit the Kamehameah Highway itís a leisurely tour past beautiful empty beaches, fishing cliffs, small towns etc. I took one long hike on the Hau'ula trails Ė did about 4 miles. Itís like every house plant you have ever seen run amok. Whole forests of things you could barely keep alive in Vermont. There is this pervasive cooing of doves everywhere.

I stopped to watch the surfers at the Banzai Pipeline, a famous surfing spot. I prefer this part of Oahu. If I ever return Ė this is where Iíd stay. Much more laid back and less crazy. You can rent a shack on the beach and just be a beach bum. Surfing is king here! Itís what folks do instead of skate boarding. But it extends to older folks.

Five folks from the Miata club showed up. All transplants that came to Hawaii for one reason or another and never left. We sucked down our ďShave IceĒ and had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant (go figure).

9/25/08 Day 12 50 Miles East Shore Oahu, HI
The local Miata Club suggested I drive up Tantalus Mountain for some nice curvy roads and a good view. That was the first stop. Very nice drive, but like most everything here it seems short. The views of Waikiki are really nice. Did I mention that there are chickens everywhere? I guess some escaped farming operations long ago and they have naturalized and have nothing but people to eat them. Kind of like small wild turkeys roaming around in a small flocks of a bunch of hens and a rooster.

After Tantalus I explored the beaches and cliffs along the Kalanianaíole Highway. The tourists were not quite so bad earlier in the morning Ė and there are lots of fishermen. I didnít see anyone catch anything but I guess when you do it can be an Ahi or MahiMahi and you can feed a family on just one of those.

Rounded out the day with a nice hike up Diamond Head (an old volcanic crater) for some panoramic shots. Quite a hike with my pack of camera equipment. Lots of people to talk to along the way. Not for the claustrophobic as you have to go through some cave like tunnels. There are stairs (lots) in the very steep areas.

Every time I stop for gas I like to check out the local food items always looking for local flavor. Most places in the states have hot dogs on a rotating grill. The Hawaiian answer to that is Musubi. A slice of cooked spam on a cake of rice wrapped by a strip of seaweed. Itís everywhere. The food in generally is amazing. Huge variety and I havenít eaten anything I didnít like yet.

Coming down from Diamond Head I found another Miata in the parking lot. I waited a bit and the owner turned up and showed me where to find a good sunset. Ala Moana Park. She was a Korean woman that bought the Miata just so she could learn to drive a stick shift. Duh!!

9/24/08 Day 11 80 Mile:s Sand island, HI Ė Along South East Shore Ė Waikiki, HI
 landed in Honolulu around 11:00 and went to the taxi line to get a ride to the auto pickup site. Surprise surprise the next taxi in line is a stretch limo. So I went off to pick up Green Destiny in style! The pick up went smoothly Ė no sign of salt as someone said I could expect. I loaded up my stuff and off we went to scope out the capitol and then a quick drive around the eastern shore and then back to Waikiki on the Pali Highway. The Pali highway is very cool with some amazing tunnels that are cut right through the mountain side. The Eastern shore is lovely too a nice twisty coastal road not unlike the California coastal highway except the water is blue and warm and it's a whole lot shorter.

One thing I noticed immediately Ė nothing is far. From what I'm used to out west everything is quite compact. Another thing is the traffic. This part of the island with proximity to Honolulu and Waikiki is loaded with commuters and tourists.

Even though I broke up the flight with an overnight in San Jose Ė I still have a bit of jet lag. Tomorrow Iíll go up Tantalus Mountain and take a closer look at the east shore.

9/9/09 Day 10 490 Miles: Pacifica, CA Ė Long Beach, CA
The Pacific Coast Highway IS all itís said to be!  I drove the section from Pacifica to Morro Bay on what is called the Cabrillo Highway.  I passed through all those places Iíve always heard about (Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and Carmel where Clint Eastwood was mayor).  The start of the ride was overcast but from talking to the locals, it could have been worse Ė it could have been fog. About those locals . . .  I stopped in a cafe along the way and oh yeah, itís definitely California. Each person was ďuniquely individualisticĒ looking.

About the road.  Basically, it traverses the California shoreline either near the water or up on the side of a cliff. So if you are driving south you are right next to the edge. This is quite exciting as you approach a rising left hand turn because all you see ahead is sky.  There were guard rails most of the way so you couldnít really fly over the edge.  If you are going north you are up against the cliff with falling rocks.   I was VERY impressed with the amount of shore access. There were many many turnouts and you can easily walk out onto the beach to watch the surfers. Up on the cliff side pull outs the view is simply awesome.   

The coast highway is a wonderfully long, wicked and very challenging curvy road. Not unlike others Iíve driven. Maybe the turns were banked a little better then some. The elevation changes were certainly exciting. The coast highway in Oregon has similar ocean views and a rocky craggy majestic shore line. But itís the combination of both twisted curves and amazing mountain/ocean scenery which makes this road stand out.

And there is more for other senses too.  There are Eucalyptus trees which add an almost constant fragrance to the air. The forests along the way are either huge in the valleys and glens or wind blown Monterey pines on the hills that bonsai strive to recreate.  As you round some of the points and look out across the cliff face ahead you see these houses perched on the cliff side and wonder how the heck you get down to them. A little farther on you see a parking area along the road with a little gate and a foot path. You can only walk down to these places Ė but the view must be something. Enough on the Coast Highway.  Suffice it to say Ė itís what Green Destiny was made for.

On the way to Long Beach I met up with an old friend, Gary, that has moved out to LA quite a few years ago. Driving in LA is not for the meek of heart.  Twelve lanes and since I missed the rush hour, instead of bumper to bumper traffic I got a race track.  These folks drive fast and furious!

I got to Long Beach and reconnoitered the port where I will drop off Green Destiny in the morning.  Itís a total industrial area with huge trucks and trains carrying cargo boxes all over. Green Destiny and I felt like a flea amongst lumbering giants.

Well thatís all for now until I pick up Green Destiny in Honolulu in about two weeks when the Green Pineapple Express will continue.  There is a road on Maui that just might just beat the coast highway.  Weíll see!

9/8/08 Day 9 260 Miles: Carson City, NV Ė Pacifica, CA
Iíve covered nearly 4000 miles now so itís time for an oil change. Iíd rather get it done here rather than on Hawaii. So I called a Mazda dealership in Sacramento and they were able to fit me in on short notice! So I didnít have much time to dawdle. I hit Lake Tahoe first. Iíve always heard about this place and it is impressive! Big beautiful lake sounded by dramatic mountains! Part is in Nevada and part is in California. I stayed on US50 to cover a small section of road that goes all the way around. I had to stop briefly in a cafť to do some business and was impressed by a parade of what I guess are ďCalifornia GirlsĒ.

US 50 is being repaved in a number of sections and the ride down toward Sacramento was nice smooth fresh asphalt, very smooth and sticky! The road is very curvy and the views in my rear view mirror are really something. I wish I were going in the other direction. Driving downhill on a curvy road is tricky if you are unfamiliar anít see though each curve since they go around cliffs. You need to get your speed right as you enter since you canít slow down with gravity like you can going uphill. Fortunately I got a tour guide. A nice white Datson Z came up and led the way. Seemed like a regular route for them. So the transit into Sacramento was fast and smooth and exciting. Oh did I mention it is HOT Ė 95 degrees.

Got the oil changed and then hit the capitol! Lovely building and got there late enough that it wasnít too hard to get a shot! Next stop the Golden Gate Bridge! Unfortunately it was already dark, but still impressive. Even tough I didnít get very far today I decided to quite and get a full dose of the coast highway tomorrow. It would be a shame to drive what is supposed to be one of the best drives in the country in the dark.

9/7/08 Day 8 430 Miles: West Wendover, NV Ė Carson City, NV
I did drive south on US 93 to Ely to pick up US 50, "Americaís Loneliest Highway". More here. It didnít seem all that lonely at first. Iíve been on roads in eastern Oregon that didnít even have reflectors, fences, anything. All of the Nevada section of US 50 was well maintained complete with reflectors and fences to keep the livestock on the range and off the road. What US 50 does have is length. There are very long straight stretches separated by twisty bits though mountain passes. Elevation varies between about 4000 and 6000 feet and it is dry. It isnít desert, but range land. Sort of a scrubby stubbly glass land where cattle could graze Ė but there werenít many. It youíll remember those cowboy movies again, the ones with the tumbleweeds blowing around, thatís it. Temp was 85 but the sun was very strong. With the top down Ė I am well toasted.

This road just seemed to go on and on. Maybe it was the extra hour I picked up crossing another time zone. Maybe it was the many long straight stretches with nothing but range land or dry lake beds as far as you could see. But time seemed to dilate. It didnít take longer to cover the miles than on any other day. In fact with the 70mph speed limits, it may have been faster Ė it just didnít seem that way. My guess is that youíd look down a straight stretch, imagine how long itíll take to cover and not realize that you are looking at ten or more mile of road Ė you can see that far.

Every great while youíll see some solitary house and wonder what the heck someone is doing living out where if you run out of anything itís 40 miles at least to the first town and thatís not much of a town! You do need to keep your tank topped off and keep a lot of water on hand. This is where you see those signs ďlast gas for 100 milesĒ. US 50 follows the old pony express route and there are a few old express stations ruins. One I stopped at is turned into a tourist trap. I canít imagine what it would be like traveling this area on horseback. I guess thatís why ďOrphans are PreferredĒ according to the help wanted poster.

Got to Carson City just after dark Ė took the shot and planned tomorrow (today) . Lake Tahoe next stop.

9/6/2008 Day 7 431 Miles: Vernal, UT Ė West Wendover, NV
The ďscenicĒ detours just get better and better. Unfortunately they do hurt the mileage tally Ė but what fun! After leaving Vernal I headed into the Ashley and Mantila Sal National Forests. Lots of amazing scenery, elevations over 9000 feet and a coal electricity generating station. You really need a convertible to appreciate the views because itís often above you.

I went out of my way to drive the Nebo Scenic Loop through the Uinta National Forest. This may be my new favorite Miata drive. You definitely want to take this ride off season though. It looks like it would be somewhat crowded based on the size of the parking lots. This drive has every type of curve possible. You have those quick shallow back to back S curves like a slalom staccato left right left right. There are those long sweepers, and 180 degree hairpins. And there are lots of them. The Nebo Mountain Loop is about 25 miles long so you wonít feel the need to run it more than once. Oh and there are no guard rails. One missed turn and itís a thousand feet down. The scenery on both drives is huge and very distracting while trying to hit those apexes.

Next stop was Salt Lake City. I was surprised to find that this is a BIG city. 10 and sometimes 12 lanes on I15 headed north into town. I took the shot and met a fellow that recommended I take US 50 into Carson City. This road is dubbed the loneliest road in America. I wonder what abandoned things Iíll find on this route. I headed out of Salt Lake City on I80 passing the Great Salt Lake which is kind of smelly, but there were people out there sailing on it. I80 to the Nevada border is desolate. From 20 miles away you can see a gambling town, West Wendover at the border. Itís the only lights in an otherwise totally black landscape. It reminds me of ďBarter TownĒ in that Mad Max Thunder Dome movie.

9/5/2008 Day 6 414 Miles: Cheyenne, WY Ė Vernal, UT
Today Green Destiny got itís fill of Miata favored roads! Two scenic drives Ė Snowy Ridge Road in Wyoming and Flaming Gorge in Utah. Wyoming is Cowboy Country! They still wear the hats and the names of the towns are familiar because so many cowboy movies (before there was Raiders of the Lost Arc and Star Wars) were set out here. Occasionally you see someone on horseback, but more common now are ATVs for getting out and mending the fences.

So the first drive was through the Medicine Bow National Forest. There is a ski area somewhere up here Ė but I couldnít see it on the mountains. The road gets up to nearly 11,000 feet and when you walk around you can tell right away there is less oxygen. It was too cold for top downing and there was snow anywhere there was shade. I stopped in one of the towns along this byway. It only takes a minute or two before someone comes up and asks about Green Destiny. A fellow that works for the Wyoming Department of Transportation said they had to close I80 32 times last winter. When they do Ė he has to go out and look for anyone stuck on the road, often in white out conditions. When it comes to winter we in the North East have no clue. These folks get 10 feet of accumulated snow. It gives the term ďSnowed inĒ a whole new meaning.

The Second drive was into Utah through the Flaming Gorge. Really nice curvy roads with lots of switchbacks, great views and interesting rock formations. I couldnít have timed things much better Ė very little traffic being after labor day Ė even though this is a recreational area. The day ended in Vernal, Utah at dusk. Tomorrow I make Salt Lake City for sure.

9/4/2008  Day 5 475 Miles: Lincoln, NE Ė Cheyenne, WY
I crossed Nebraska in fine weather!  Blue skis, temp around 75 perfect top down driving!  Green Destiny and I have driven through Nebraska before when we went to Las Vegas. Nebraska is where things start to feel very different. The sky is bigger and bluer. The weather is more in your face, you can see it coming and it often looks scary. The country/western music that floods the radio actually starts to sound good.  I love it!

I spent half the time on I80 cruising at 75+ and the other half on US 30 which runs parallel and is a great alternative. US30 isn't a curvy road but with the top down you feel somehow more immersed in the too big horizon to horizon view. The speed limit is 60 except in the occasional town and those are small, some not much more than a grain elevator. There is very little traffic and there are interesting things to see unlike on the interstate.  Itís easy to stop and when I do itís often 15 minutes before another vehicle passes in either direction. It is sooo quiet Ė you can here every little bird, bug, steer and horse.  The railroad runs along side US 30 too.  Out here there is a lot of freight rail.  Many trains are more than a mile long with lots of coal headed east. I got held up by more than one.

 I made it to Cheyenne before dark, hit a carwash to get bugs out of Green Destinyís teeth and went to shoot the capitol. The weather turned ugly just as I got into Wyoming. So I may reshoot it tomorrow before heading to Salt Lake City! Iím treating myself to a local BBQ Ribs dinner to celebrate capitol number 46!  Pics to follow.

9/3/2008 Day 4 408 Miles: Le Claire, IA Ė Lincoln, NE
Kind of a dreary day driving through the remains of Hurricane Gustav.  Much cooler Ė never got to 70.  I started out cruising along the Mississippi.  I was really surprised to see itís still closed from all that flooding a couple of months ago. Thatís a lot of barge traffic going no where.  The entire width of the river is controlled by a dam and locks let the ships through. The lock at Le Claire were under repair. Des Moines is right along the way to Cheyenne and is one of my favorite capitol photos so I redid it at a much higher resolution.  I also had to do a bit of work and hung out at a local coffee shop there.  Then it was off to Lincoln, NE on I80.  Gotta love Nebraska with 75 mph speed limits. Iowa is a state of corn, lots of corn over rolling hills. Itís very tall and ready to harvest. I stuck to the interstate to get thought the metro areas in a hurry. Green Destiny is getting great gas mileage even at the high speed and with the top down.  Itís been as high as 32 mpg. Gas prices are around $3.65 Ė better than I expected. I actually saw a rare Mazda Speed enhanced Miata on the interstate. We played tag for a bit. She exited and Green Destiny traveled on.  

9/2/2008 Day 3 515 Miles: Elyria, OH Ė Le Claire, IA
Hot Hot Hot. The temperature got well into the 90s! I had to run the A/C and put on more sun screen. Today started out in the rich farmland of Ohio. There were peach and vegetable stands everywhere! I crossed Indiana Ė lots of corn for sale: $3.00 a dozen was the going rate. Breezed though Illinois mostly on interstate to get by Chicago and ended up on the Iowa shore of the Mississippi. I stuck to the Ohio Byway and took a detour though an Amish area in Indiana. That was very slow with all the horse drawn carriages but very interesting. Unfortunately the Amish donít take kindly to having their photo taken. I was thinking the Amish have about the smallest carbon footprint you can. Maybe weíll see more horses down the road. As I passed Chicago I got a taste of one of those big midwest thunder storms and had to put the top up. Tomorrow Iíll start across the prairie. Iíll revisit Des Moines and close in on Cheyenne - Capitol number 46!

9/1/2008 Day 2 453 Miles: Watertown, NY Ė Elyria, OH
Another great weather day.  I had to put on sunscreen!! I toured the coast of Lake Erie along the Sea Way Trail, a scenic byway. I blew through Rochester, Buffalo and Seneca, towns I have never been to. Buffalo has a very cool sky way!  I was very glad it was a holiday, traffic would have been ugly.  I got to see NY wine country too. I didnít take many photos Ė wanting to put a few miles in the bank. You never know whatís going to come up.  I decided to skip Chicago Ė maybe next time.  There are a lot of wind turbines.  Cleveland and Buffalo have some large ones right on the waterfront.  Tomorrow I may try to make it to Des Moines and reshoot that capitol.  I only had a 2.8 mega pixel point and shoot when I first shot it. Oh Iíve been having trouble keeping the live link up and running for more than a few minutes at a time. Iíll keep working on it.

8/31/08 Day 1 224 Miles: Essex, VT Ė Watertown, NY.
As typically happens when you try to do things at the last minute Ė I got a late start.  Lots of new technology for this trip! The official start was around 15:00. Rochester was the intended dayís destination, but Watertown was enough.  I stopped to say hello and good by to two friends along the way in Vermont and then headed south to cross Lake Champlain at the Champlain Bridge.  The weather was spectacular!  Nice drive up through Westport, NY, Lake Placid, Saranac and Tupper Lake. The sun set pretty much mid Adirondacks. Then it was lots of nice curvy roads in the dark. It was nice to have my autodimming mirror working again (thank you Jeff) and I watched the temperature drop 15 degrees as I crossed the mountains.  The NPR show ďEchosĒ was on as I traveled trough way upstate NY on NY 3. With no moon, and no traffic, it was just a long ribbon of yellow lines intersected occasionally by wisps of road clinging fog. So much for Day 1.  

Prolog: Looks like day one will be 8/31/08.  I'll probably get started around noon and I'll be stopping off in Rochester to visit a client.