It feels like it's really late, but it's only 8:15P local time. So, you'll get a memory dump instead of a beautifully constructed set of observations. Sorry, I'll be more interesting tomorrow.
Most of today was spent in the Honolulu airport, but the last part of it was fun as the Australian contingent began to take over and the general volume and interaction level rose. There are something like 200 folks using tritravel.com.au, with only a handful of us not from Australia. For once, it was fun being the person who dodged oncoming pedestrians in the correct direction.
The flight to Kona was beautiful, with incredible ocean views on both ends. The weather here was overcast, so there wasn't great visibility once we landed. However, the lava is really something - the airport is right in the middle of a small field of it. It's much sharper than I thought, and yet not as purely black, more of a deep brown. It looks like big piles of dark chocolate shavings (I'll come up with a better image to get it across when I'm less tired, and will take some pictures, too).
We piled into the TriTravel bus (both bike and suitcase came!), and rode into Kailua-Kona. The traffic was abysmal, mostly because there's only one lane in each direction.
It was a little bit breathtaking when we first turned onto the "Queen K", and more so when I first saw the energy lab. This is legend territory. Finally, we climbed the last hill into Kona (where Macca saw his dreams come tantalizingly close last year), and desceneded Palani into town. Shane Smith gave a general intro, in lovely Australian "You people who haven't been here before are probably sh__ing yourselves right now". Actually everyone from Tritravel has been great. Ariving at the Kona Islander, I lugged my bags and bike boxes up to my room (third floor, no elevator). We were supposed to wait for the bus to come back from the other hotels for a quick shopping trip, but I was ready to chew my arm off. I recruited a lovely Australian gentleman named Lachlan Deaver, and we headed off on our own for dinner - as another third floorer he had built up a similar appetite helping me get my bike up. We poked our head into the famous Lava Java (wow), but decided we should celebrate our arrival with some sushi and ice cream. We even got to sign an IronMan poster for the owner of Big Island Running (Rigsby beat us to it, so I guess he's here already). Afterwards we walked up to the supermarket ourselves for basic necessities (english muffins, water, etc.). It was a nice walk, and a reasonably cool night. I think the bus folks really missed out. Belinda Granger blew by us on a run, just a very small and dense blur of abdominal muscles. The walk also took us up 'Pay N Save Hill', the first hill right as the run starts. Ouch, it's a reall hill, and deceptively long. Now, safely back in the room, I'm off to bed to try to make up for some lousy jet-lagged sleep last night.
By the way, we're both hoping Lachlan beats me by a good five or six hours on race day, because he's actually in my age group (he got his spot with a 9:59 at Ironman Australia).
Tomorrow morning is my first trip down Alii to the start/finish and Dig-Me beach. Very cool.