I believe I had yet to address two items, the first of which is this:
Where was I when this storm moved in? Hint: Not inside!
As it turns out, there's really not too much to this story. My friend and I got up super early to catch sunrise from Diamond Head. The thing is, sunrise happened before the park even opens, but we still caught a pretty sunrise, just not from the top of Diamond Head like we were planning. This pictures was taken at the top, as a huge wall of water was moving in. And, yes, it moved in right on top of us. It wasn't really that big of a deal though. It moved through pretty quickly, and it kept us cool on the hike back down. Some things to keep in mind if you decide to hike Diamond Head:
If the park doesn't open until after sunrise, you can still get a nice view from the rest area outside the gate.
It's steep, and there are a lot of stairs.
So, be sure to wear sensible shoes. These are not sensible shoes.
Let me reiterate: Not sensible shoes.
I was happy to have railings to hang onto climbing up and down all those stairs, but they are rusty. When it rains, that rust transfers right to your hands. I would suggest taking some wet paper towels or something with you just in case. Being a grownup, I was able to keep from transferring the rust from my hand to any part of my outfit or the outfit of anyone around me. However, I think if you had little ones with you, this would be a nightmare for you and your summery white shorts.
Finally, hiking to the top of Diamond Head crater was not quite what I thought it was going to be. It's all sort of paved-see pictures above-so it's fairly easy going in that regard, but at the top you have to do this weird little ascent up a ladder and through a little crawl space opening-like crawling up out of a bunker, which may very well be what it is-and then once you get to the very top it's just a series of platforms. The view is wonderful, but there's no real place to just hang out and enjoy it. It's you and 40 of your closest tour bus buddies all trying to get the same picture and then right back down the trail again. This is a tough one if you have bad knees (I know). Or claustrophobia (I would imagine). If you want the great views without all the tourists and a much more serene, respectful setting, try visiting the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Oh, also, if you plan on parking and you go early in the morning, be sure to have small bills with you. All I had was a $20 bill, and as I was disdainfully informed by the booth attendant, they don't have change that early in the morning. Luckily, my friend had change. Otherwise, I guess they just wouldn't have let us in. Seems like that no-change-in-the-morning thing is something they could address, but maybe that's just me.
That bring us to the last of my "Coming Soon" teasers:
And finally, horseback riding 101.
Don't worry, nobody's broken; that's just my husband showing you how relaxed he was at the end of our moonlight ride at Gunstock Ranch. This is an awesome experience! If you ever make it out to Hawaii during a full moon and want to do a horseback ride, it's worth the effort to try to schedule a moonlight ride. They have schedules set up around the full moon, but they were very accommodating and set up a private ride just for us since my friend was flying home before their first scheduled ride. We've done this twice now with our out-of-town visitors and it's been a great experience both times. Sorry I don't have any better quality photos, but my camera doesn't do very well with night shots.
The guides take you around the ranch property, and you'll see cattle wandering around, but mostly you'll just enjoy the country while you watch the light fade and the moon rise on the horizon. We did this the same day that we went to Diamond Head, and what a fabulous beginning and end to the day!
Sun setting behind us at the lookout point.
And the moon rising over the ocean on the other side.