Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Big Island post-mortem

Some random thoughts from the Big Island...

1. If your ears are sensitive to changes in pressure, man is the Big Island not for you. There are signs on the side of the road telling you what elevation you're currently hitting. It's nothing to go from sea level, to 2,000 feet, to sea level again in a half hour. The trip to Hilo - Volcano is 0 to 4,000 feet. And, at it's most extreme, you can go from sea level to 10,000 feet in an hour if you decide to make the trip to the observatory at Mauna Kea. Cathy's asked for a break, now that we're on Maui, and to stay near sea level for a few days.

2. The Big Island has some of the nicest roads I've ever seen. It all looks like it's been paved recently and it's kept clean. There's hardly any litter or debris along the side of the roads. In fact, there are signs routinely warning you of heavy fines - $500 to $1,000 - if you're caught littering. I like that. Then again, littering drives me nuts. It's one the laziest human behaviours around.

3. There are a lot of churches, but few catholic ones. I'm sure they're there, we just didn't see any until we hit Maui. There was a small town we drove through along the south coat. Couldn't be anymore than 1,000 people, but we drove past at least a half dozen churches.

(Found out later that the Catholic Church was banned for decades on the islands by Protestant missionaries. Interesting...)

4. I understand  the whole, laid back, friendly Hawaiian thing is almost a cliche at this point, but really, they are some of the nicest, friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Great smiles, always helpful, always will to chat or carry on a conversation about something.

5. Despite the non-littering thing, there is one thing cluttering up the place - Hawaii is in the middle of election mode, so there are signs for governor, lt. Governor, senators, state senators, city council, school boards....everywhere. Unless I've missed something the election isn't until November. It's only July and there's a sizable amount of clutter going on.

Although, interestingly, none of the signs indicate party affiliation. For example, until I checked, I didn't know that Neil Albercrombie was a Democrat. Makes me feel a little better about using a fan with his name on it to keep cool during a Sunday flea market.

6. It perhaps means nothing to people who live down south, but I will weep when I have to leave Hawaii and deal with Nunavut internet again. We spent one night chilling in Kailua Kona watching a movie on Netflix (Lilo and Stich, of course) and watching YouTube videos. And at no point did it lock up and we have to go and do something else for 10 minutes. It just....streamed. It worked like internet is supposed to work.

This is a bunch of tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and they have working internet. So can we please have something like that in Nunavut already? It's ridiculous we have to beg for these things sometimes.

7. Give credit to the Americans for one thing, they do a mean national park. Seriously, if you come to Hawaii and don't do Volcano National Park, you're missing out on something spectacular. And it's not just the simmering volcano that you can go and watch, which obviously draws all the attention, but some great walking trails as well. The staff are also tremendously helpful.

8. People still seemed pretty confused about Obamacare. We've had a few conversation with people, mostly non-Hawaiians, about it. We always sum up our argument this way "We love your country, we think it's great. We would never live here because of your healthcare system." And the thing of it is, I think many American know they're being screwed over, they just have no idea how to make it right.

9. I was very impressed with the size of the biking lanes I saw on the Big Island, especially around Kailua Kona. Then I noticed a bunch of people training for the Iron Man race, which is in September, so that makes sense.

10. Perhaps I just missed it, but I really thought the Big Island would be more into alternative energy sources. I knew the place would be expensive, but I was still surprised at how expensive. It's not Nunavut-level, but some of it isn't far off. I saw gas range from $4.09 a gallon to $4.50 a gallon. Even local staples like fruit were pricier than I thought.

It's why I thought things like solar or wind would be a bigger deal. Anything to help offset some of the costs. But even most of the cars were standard. I saw few hybrids or electric cars. No windmills and little solar. I think there is some geo-thermal going on, but I guess I just expected more...


Anonymous said...

Weird thing to pick out amidst all of your vacation posts (Which I quite enjoyed), but I was just wondering more about how the Internet connection in Nunavut is. I've read it's pretty rough with extremely low download caps and having to pay pretty steep fees for each additional gig used. How do you guys handle streaming videos with the download caps?

towniebastard said...

Sorry about the delay in answering this. Internet in Iqaluit is bad, and it's great compared to most places in Nunavut. How do you handle stream video with caps? A couple of different ways:
1. Don't watch the videos.
2. Get ready to pay the outrageous overage fees that go with blowing past your cap.
3. Be lucky enough to be on Xplorenet like I am. They have hourly caps, so when you go past your hourly cap, they slow down your internet speed. It bounces back up after an hour. Imperfect, but better than the other options. Sadly, Xplorenet has really phased back its presence in Nunavut. It's hard for newcomers to get it.

Anonymous said...

No worries, thanks for the reply! Your blog does a fantastic job of describing life in Nunavut -- I find it fascinating. I've seen the technical numbers on Internet service there before, but it's nice to get an idea of what that actually translates into for daily life.