More "Primary" Highways: Hawai'i

Well, another Tuesday, and another primary election here in the U.S. This time we visit the state Hawai'i, one of only six states I have not actually visited.

Even though it is disconnected from the U.S. mainland, it does have interstate highways, such as H-1 in the Honolulu area. Hawai'i uses a separate numbering system from the contiguous U.S. states, all prefixed with an “H”. Other than that they are pretty much like any other freeways around a major city:

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Except of course for the cool Hawai'ian place names:

This last photo is from the site Both this site and are great resources for highways of Hawai'i, about which I knew very little before this project.

Of course, the part of Hawai'i I most want to visit is not Honolulu, but rather the “Big Island” of Hawai'i. In addition to being the largest, it is the youngest, and the one that is still volcanically active. Highway 11, which is part of the belt highway around the “Big Island”, passes through some of the most active areas including Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

In addition to their geological significance, these lava flows have a marvelous aesthetic quality. Indeed, the seem quite modern in their fluid geometry and texture, I could easily see a sculpture of similar qualities at the museums I frequent, or as something I would consider for my own collection.

Of course, one must not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about flowing molten rock, which is of a magnitude larger than ourselves or our highways:

Continuing on highway 11, one arrives at the Kaʻū Desert, a spectacularly lifeless landscape shaped by past eruptions, strong windows and “rain shadow” of the nearby volcanoes:

[Click to enlarge]
[Photo by Steve Young]

The Big Island is an amazing study in contrasts, active volcanoes, barren deserts, and also verdant tropical forests. I do need to find an excuse to visit the island some day.

As for the elections, Hawai'i is likely to support Barack Obama, who grew up there (yet another interesting aspect of his geographical and ethnic story). And it looks like he has one the other major contest today in Wisconsin. So he now takes the lead, but it is hard to know whether this contest is over or not. And so we will be back with at least one more installment of this series on March 4 with Texas and Ohio.