Day 14: April 5, 2017
Old Men Can Fly

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My birthday breakfast was at the Coconut Grill restaurant attached to the hotel. Looks like I'm developing a taste for Portuguese sausage.

Uber took me to the airport for my first helicopter ride. It has only been operating on the Big Island for about two weeks. They cannot pickup at the airport but they can drop off there. Not even regular taxis are allowed to cruise the airport but can only pickup passengers when called by an agent on the grounds. There wasn't a huge difference between today's Uber fare and yesterday's taxi but it sure is more convenient.

I arrived at the Blue Hawaiian counter in plenty of time to check in and get weighed. To balance the helicopter, seats are assigned by a computer based on weight. I flew with a Japanese group of three and two girls from New York. As you can see in this screen capture from the in flight video, it appears that the fat guy seat has the best view.

Are first target was a point about twenty-five miles south where lava is reaching the ocean in a tube hidden beneath a hard crust. I failed to retain much of the information our pilot, Ethan, provided. As I recall, the lava field beneath us is the result of a flow about thirty-five years ago. Road fragments are visible on "islands" not covered by the flow. At night, the glowing lava can be seen entering the water but on bright days like this, only steam is visible.

We next headed to the source of the lava flow. The hardened but still warm lava nearer the source is somewhat silver in color. Two spots with glowing orange lave are visible in the last picture. They are easier to see in this edited version.

Then it was off to see some waterfalls. Some but not all of these falls have names. None of them have names I remember.

We returned to the airport along the same path that my airplane followed yesterday then landed next to the other helicopters. That sure was fun.

I semi-planned on hanging out at the airport for a bit then taking a taxi to the hotel. The hanging out part got scrapped when I found that the airport's only lounge was not yet open. The taxi part got scrapped when I decided to walk. I had expected it to be terrible hot and it was about 80° but there was a good breeze and it was quite comfortable. The only negative was that the nearest watering hole was a mile and a half into the two and a half mile walk and the biggest chunk of that was along divided four lane. I don't think Peggy's gets a lot of walk-ins from the airport.

Dinner was at the best restaurant in the neighborhood, a place called Ponds which advertises "Dining on the Edge".I got the perfect seat with a view of both the bar and the pond although I did have to watch out for the occasional visitor eyeing my superbly prepared opakapaka.

And so ends an excellent day, a pretty good year, and a right tolerable decade.

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