Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 16 - New Kalapana


7:30 breakfast of fresh fruit, banana bread, eggs, Portuguese sausage, and tales of Hawai‘i. Good food. Gay is a friendly hostess.


The Lemon Aren't Yet Ripe

Chunlin wandered the yard, searching for the little frogs that were very noisy the night before, but had quieted by morning. She didn't find any of the little buggers.

On the road by 9, to Puna, the easternmost region of Hawai‘i. We drove to the End of the Road at Kalapana. The lava viewing area didn’t open till 3 p.m. Closer to the coast, at another End of the Road, we stopped at the Kalapana Village Café for a tasty turkey BLT and ice cream.

Kalapana Sentiment

I got a weird vibe around there, like they’re not quite open to outsiders, or maybe that’s just because I expected to feel that way. Uncle’s Café was flying the Hawaiian flag upside down. I presume this was not a mistake, but a “leave us alone” sentiment.


We hiked across last decade's lava to the new black sand beach. No signs, really, for the trail, but just a cinder path into the distance. You'd think this would dissuade visitors, but there were more than a dozen people on the short trail that morning.

The air felt thick and hard to breathe.

Mark on the Trail

Coconut trees are regrowing through the lava, planted by many a local visitor. Just a coconut sitting on the ground will sprout a tree.

Into the New Coconut Grove

Chunlin had fun in the waves.

Chunlin and the Ocean

Mark on Kaimu Beach

The waves never stop coming. Never!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 15 - Our First Evening in Hilo

When we got to Hilo at 2:30 p.m., we hunted down the Kuhio Grille for dinner. It's in a strip mall, but the guide book said the food would be good, local cuisine.


Laulau is meat wrapped with leaves and apparently boiled in a salty broth. Whatever it was, exactly, it hit the spot. Hunger was abated. Chunlin had oxtail soup and wish she had discovered it sooner. Her new favorite.

We headed across town to the Hilo Honu Inn where we had two nights reserved.

Hilo Honu Inn

Baking banana bread is an intoxicating aroma. The bed & breakfast would be full the next night, but we were the only ones there Friday. The hostess, Gay, usually doesn’t open on weekdays unless someone is spending multiple nights (as we were). Chunlin and Gay chatted while I wrote and looked at books and maps. The baking bread and chirping birds put me to sleep.

After checking email, we drove the short distance to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls

It struck me like a small, tropical Palouse Falls.

Tree at Rainbow

Back in the car, we followed the muddy river down to the sea. We walked around the Lili‘uokalani Gardens as the sky darkened and the rain dripped down.

Hilo Bay

Chunlin at Hilo Bay

We crossed the footbridge to Coconut Island, out in the bay.

Coconut Island

A palm tree on the island has bands with tsunami levels on it. 1946 is 26' up. No tsunamis since 1960, thankfully. All the areas wiped out by the tsunamis mid-century, the city turned into parks -- except for a couple hotels...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 15 - Punalu‘u Beach, etc.

It never rains in Kona. Flash flood warning!

Heavy drizzle. Breakfast at Huggo’s on the Rocks. Tiny portions on a paper plate. It's on the rocks, though. Perhaps we should have had the hotel’s buffet. It’s on the rocks, too. Too late now. Time to pack.

Royal Kona

We hit the road. Showers of pounding rain, calm, drizzle, downpour again. But when we got to Punalu‘u Beach on the east shore, no rain!

We walked along the black sand beach and over the lava rocks full of tidepools. After the quiet road, it was a surprise how many people were there.

Edge of the Beach

Chunlin spotted a sea turtle on the rocks, and then one on the sand (with a group of other people about ten feet away).

Drying Out

Nap time for turtle. Don't get too close!


I used my zoom lens, for just about the only time on the trip.

Cracked Seaweed

Chunlin took off her shoes and walked barefoot in the sand. I had my hands full with my camera most of the time, so I left mine on.

Mark on Punalu‘u Beach

Back in the car, I put my sunglasses on, it was so bright out. We drove north and up. The rain resumed. We arrived at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, 4000'+/- above sea level. Fog and rain surround us.


At the Visitors Center, we got out of the rain and watched a movie about Kilauea and lava.

Afterward, it was still raining. We proceeded down the road to the steam vents. Hot and wet! Chunlin liked it. The heat, not the wetness, that is.

Chunlin at the Kilauea Steam Vent

Oh, what an exciting place Hawaii can be!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 14 - Afternoon on the Kona Coast

We were going to go hiking down the hill to the Captain Cook Monument, but Chunlin forgot her socks back at the hotel. We thus drove down to the other end of Kealakekua Bay. We could see the monument across the water, a tiny white speck.

Chunlin at Kealakekua

Not a Nene

A goose wandered around the park. Not a native goose, as far as I can tell. Well, this particular goose probably was born in Hawaii. But its ancestors likely came to the island after mankind did.

We get back in the car and head back up the hill to the highway along narrow, winding Napo‘opo‘o Road. I stopped the car to take photos of this colorful bougainvillea tree.

Napo‘opo‘o Color

The flowers are tiny and white, surrounded by the bright bracts.

Winter in Hawai‘i

There were many other trees in bloom, but none demanded a photo stop like that one. Purple, pink, lavender, magenta, red, yellow, etc.

After a nap at the hotel, we got up and went to the hotel saltwater lagoon. The waves crashed over the breakwater, sploosh! Chunlin just waded in the shallows, but I swam. I kept my cowboy hat on -- that tropical afternoon sun sure is bright -- as I floated around on the waves like a piece of driftwood.

I was wearing sandals, but I managed to cut the side of my foot on the rough rocks.

After drying off, we headed back to Humpy's for dinner.

Chunlin at Humpy's

We had fish tacos and kalua pork (pulled pork with cabbage). And beer and a cocktail and ice cream and berry crisp. Over $100 on food today and how many calories?

Sunset on Oneo Bay

A lot of food, so we walked the mile to the pier again. Dusk fell.

Evening Sail

Night fell. A few drops of rain.

Kamakahonu Concert

We looked to buy a new hat for me, since mine is falling apart a bit, but nothing was quite right. Instead, we bought sunscreen, bananas, and a papaya. Back to the hotel by 8 o'clock. Ready to check out tomorrow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 14 - Kona in the Morning

Breakfast on the beach... Well, across the street from the beach... Well, it was just rocks, not a beach. But the blue waves crashed rather nicely. The overcast was burning off quickly. We got up at 5 in the morning. One hour extra sleep. We'd get on Hawaiian Time eventually.

Kailua Bay Chunlin

Sunlight hit the crashing waves. White and blue. Lots of joggers before it got too hot out. It was too hot out.

Kailua Tree

We walked the length of Kailua-Kona and back. At the north end of town, Ahu‘ena Heiau, King Kamehameha’s royal retreat. Grass and palm trees. A stage for performances.

Kamakahonu Mark

Not much is historical at Ahu‘ena Heiau now, except the kapu temple on a rock platform in the water.

Ahu‘ena Heiau

We played in the sheltered beach between the temple and pier. It's a larger beach than the one on the other side of the pier which is used for the Ironman, but this one’s used for kayaks and paddleboards, not swimming.

We walked across the street into the King Kamehameha Hotel. Air conditioning is nice and needed, even at 9 a.m.

Chunlin in the King Kamehameha Hotel

Later that morning, we drove south to Captain Cook on the slow highway. Feeling hungry already, we got good barbecue at a roadside place called Big Jake’s. Pulled pork and brisket and baby-back ribs. Only a few ribs did we box up for later. I liked the sauce.

Flowers in Ke‘ei

Chickens pecked in the bushes behind the restaurant. A motorcycle roared past at twice the speed limit. I chased a gecko across a trellis and along the gutter till it hid from view.

Big Jake's Gecko

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 13 - Welcome to Hawai‘i!

Maui in the Sky

From the plane, first we spotted Maui in the distance, floating on the sky-blue ocean.

Then we passed over the northern tip of the Big Island, our destination.


We landed in Kona. Warm and sunny. Yay!

Chunlin Arrives in Hawai‘i!

We drove to a hostel (we pass) and down the coast to a hotel (no vacancy). We started calling. The Royal Kona Resort sayid they had a cancellation, so that's where we went. It looked emptier than just one cancellation, though.

After a rest, we ventured forth into the late afternoon heat to find food. Neither one of us was feeling particularly well.

Huggo's Hawai‘i

After sweaty indecision on Ali‘i Drive, we got the recommendation of a local and went to Humpy’s for dinner. Gooey soft-shelled crab and a Greek pizza, plus two beers. Yummy food hit the spot. I felt human again.

Chunlin Back to Work

Sunset from Ali‘i Drive

We wandered back to the hotel. One of the three towers has a fish pond in the open atrium.

Fishy Fishy!

As light began to fall, we headed to the hotel lagoon beach. We were blessed with a perfect sunset on the horizon, with waves crashing into the orange sky.

Sunset Splash

Perfect Sunset

Not quite 7 p.m., but I was tired and sleepy, ready for bed. I needed to buy insect repellent...