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Mona Kea

We had a wonderful day in Hilo.

The hostel is located next to a busy road, so all night long we heard vehicles pass by us. They sounded all the louder as there are buildings across the street, so the sound had nowhere to go except straight into our window. This was the biggest marks against delightful that this place had.

The hostel appears to sell anything lost or left behind by its guests, then donates the money to an orphanage.

We visited the farmer's market for food. It's quite the farmer's market. All farmer's markets in DC are just wanna-be pretenders compared to the Hilo farmer's market. We picked up red bean buns and chocolate croissants for breakfast. By the time that we were done with the market, the day already felt hot. We saw a few geckos along the way. They are common sights here.

We went off to Richardson's park for some water play. It's mostly rocks, but there were some small beaches made out of black volcanic sand. Joy loved splashing about in the shallows and pointing out small creatures. Jenny and I did some snorkeling. We missed the famous sea turtles. As it was Saturday, parking was heck. It's like Saturday at any park around home. Jenny counted four birthday parties. There was also a tidal area with a small island that Joy loved getting to.

As a tropical storm was forecast for Monday-Tuesday, we had to move some plans forward. On Saturday night, we drove up to Mona Kea to see the stars. The drive from Hilo was easy, but all uphill. By the time that we hit the visitor's center, the car was barely getting us up the hill. There was no way that we could have reached the summit. Turns out that we didn't need to. We were above the clouds. We watched sunset from a cinder cone. It was amazing looking down the valley and across seven dormant craters.

The big show was the biggest show in the universe. We went stargazing there. A few telescopes, set up by volunteers, showed off Saturn and Venus. The Saturn telescope clearly showed Saturn. This was no wibbly-wobbly image. This was a very clear Saturn with rings. Venus was a little off full, so there was really nothing to note. A guide showed us constellations using a license-only laser pointer. Wow, that thing lit up the dust in the air. Being summer, we saw the bulge of the Milky Way high in the sky.

Make no mistake, this is some of the best stargazing in the world. That's why they build telescopes here.

We would have stayed longer, but little girls began expiring. It was one long, downhill drive.