Everyone says you wake up early your first day because you are still used to your home time zone. We didn't -- well, not THAT early. We got up at 7:00 a.m. local time.
We hopped in the car and headed north on highway 19 towards the other side of the island. In Waiema we stopped at McDonald's for some "normal" breakfast. (Yes, McDonald's was the first restaurant we visited in Hawaii.)
After breakfast we continued on our drive east towards Hilo. It was a spectacular drive over volcanic mountains and changing terrain. Highway 19 is a two lane highway that encircles the top half of the island. Despite having only two lanes, it is easily traveled having a minimum speed limit, too. The speed limit varied between 45-55 mph with minimums of 30-40 mph. Our elevation changed from sea level to over 3000 feet, up and down again several times. In Hilo we switched to Highway 11 south towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In all, the drive took about 3 hours, but it did not seem like it because the scenery was so beautiful and constantly changing.
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