Monday, May 13, 2013

March 19 - Waikoloa

In the morning, from our hotel room, I could see Mauna Loa looming over the shoulder of Hualalai. Mauna Loa is bigger and flatter, by far.

Before we left the room, we ate a snack of coffee and macadamia nuts. It would tide us over for a little while.


We took a walk around the resort. At the far end from our hotel building, there was an enclosure with a few flamingos. They weren't too active.

Nene in the Zoo

Another enclosure had a few nene, the local goose. It's the state bird of Hawaii and related to the Canada goose.

Orator's Table

Hilton had also brought in cultural objects from around the Pacific, like this orator's table from Papua New Guinea. Apparently it was used in meetings such that whoever had his hand on the carving could speak and was required to speak the truth (or face divine punishment, I think).

Hawaiian Decor

The resort is a big park. Fish, fish, and more fish swam in the lagoon. Snorkelers, kayakers, and a paddle boarder plied the waters, as well.

Water's Edge

We left the Waikoloa resort for a couple hours, heading up the Hapuna Beach. Sunny. Pretty. Fun.

Eventually we had enough. We got back in the car, but we weren’t ready for the hotel yet. We thus turned up the hill to Waikoloa Village. It’s a golf course resort island five miles from the sea, but there are few houses and a grocery store. We bought sandwiches, sushi, and smoked marlin.

Back down the hill, we stopped briefly at Anaeho‘omalu Beach, but didn’t get out. There was no good place to park and watch the ocean while we ate, so we headed back to the hotel.

On the Disney Canal

Since the canal boat was waiting at the lobby, we took it back to our building.

Arrival at the Palace Tower

Sunset over the Pacific

When the sun descended westward, we ventured forth to watch one last tropical sunset before our vacation ended.

Sunset Buddha

Chunlin and Mark at Waikoloa

Waiulua Rocks Sunset

A couple hours later, at about 8:30, we decided to go have a mai tai or two. This turned into just another walk around the resort, however. At that hour, all the bars in the resort were closed and the restaurant service was glacially slow. We never did get that last tropical drink.

We sat on the grass and stared at the stars, enjoying the warm evening.

At 9:30, Chunlin wanted to watch another movie. I picked _Seven Psychopaths_, which turned out to be a very bad movie for Chunlin to try to fall asleep to. Lots of quiet conversations interspersed with gunfights and explosions. I watched it to the end, as I always do. I get sucked in to movies so easily.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

March 18 - South Kohala

From the tiny town of Puako, we headed down the dead-end road past many homes to a shoreline access point near the end.

Chunlin on Puako Lava

The shoreline here is seemingly endless lava rocks and tidepools.

Puako Tidepools Chunlin

Turtle in the Tidepool

We spotted three sea turtles in the area. One just sat in the shallow water. Another was searching for something. The third was eating off the bottom and swimming back to sea. It would brace itself as the waves came in the narrow channel, then release and go with the flow as the waves went back out.

Urchins of the Sea

A couple local men waved us over to look at two eels that they fed mahi guts. The bigger eel grabbed the guts in a death spiral, keeping the smaller eel away from it. After a minute, both eels scurried under rocks, leaving a lot of food behind.

Back on the road, we headed for our hotel, driving through a red rock area.

At the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, it was unclear where to park to register. I think they prefer if you use the valet parking. At the front desk, we got quite a spiel about the resort. I tried to hurry her along and it took less time than the family in front of us.

I then went to park the car as Chunlin waited, but I lost the parking lot gate key card. Chunlin had picked it up and thought it was her room key. After frantically searching the car near the gate, I drove back up the hill to the lobby building to search there, whereupon I got the card back from her.

Drive to the parking lot, walk back to the lobby building, get on the resort train with Chunlin, and eventually at our room. Whew.


Waiulua Bay Sunset

Little Flames Big Flames

After sunset, we semi-escaped the resort to the local mall foodcourt for dinner. Loco moco, kapua pork, teriyaki beef.

The train at the Waikoloa Hilton is slow. After dinner, we walked the quarter mile from the lobby building to our hotel building and the train probably hadn’t even arrived at the lobby yet. The other train was waiting at our hotel, the north end of the line.

We walked along the lagoon, paused on a bridge. The bright half-moon and a million stars shone overhead. I blocked the few lights with my arms and stared into space. Stars, stars, and infinite stars. Living in the city, I don't get to see stars much anymore. Bummer.

Back at our room, Chunlin drifted asleep while a movie played. I wrote and thought about tomorrow. Last day tomorrow.

Friday, May 10, 2013

March 18 - North Kohala

Honoipu Rocks

Chunlin Spots a Whale!

In the northwest corner of the Big Island, we found a spot called Honoipu. Lovely. Chunlin spotted some whales while I had my eye to the camera.

Mahukona Blue

Driving down the road south by the sea, we could see the green peaks of Kohala Mountain above us, up where we were that morning.

Later, the snow-capped Mauna Kea made an appearance. More whales in the sea.

Pu‘ukohola Heiau Clouds


After viewing old piles of rocks and napping on a bench, we went in search of ibuprofen. We turned off the highway at Puako and stopped at the store. Chunlin felt better soon with pills in her. Gluten doesn’t feel good but she loves the way it tastes.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

March 18 - Driving Kohala, Hiking Pololu

We had a continental breakfast in the motel’s “lanai” that was nothing like a lanai, but just a ground floor room with one tiny window. They had pineapple butter that Chunlin loved, sort of like apple butter. It was from a local source that we can’t find online. Bummer.

Soon, we were on the road. North on the Kohala Mountain Road through sunny rangeland. The ocean sparkled blue in the distance, far below. Mauna Kea was finally visible, as well as Hualalai Mountain near Kona. A couple clouds clung to the peaks. Golf courses and resorts were discernible through the haze below us, patches of green standing out on the red, brown, and black.

We crested the hill. Ironwood trees shaded the road, giving only gaps of views across the fields of grass and cactus.

King Kamehameha of Kapa‘au

We stopped briefly in Kapa‘au to pay our respects to the king.


Keokea Beach Park

We stopped briefly at Keokea Beach to use the facilities.

A coconut tree has many coconuts.

Shortly, we were hiking down to Pololu Beach.

Pololu Trail

Down down down. ...It's not that far, really.

Pololu Beach Below

Chunlin on the Rocks

Beach of Cobbles

Mark on Pololu Beach

And then we went back up up up.

Chunlin and  the Ocean Blue

Hot hot hot in the sun sun sun.

After cooling off, we got in the car and drove back to Kapa‘au for lunch. Pizza!

While we waited for food, a little yellow bird with tiny legs hopped around the parking lot outside our restaurant window. On the tv was a video about taro farming -- the third time we’d seen it (also at the Hilo bed and breakfast and at breakfast at the Waimea motel). When a breeze flowed through the restaurant, it was very nice. I was still sticky from the hike, though.

Chunlin liked the Greek pizza. Both it and the pizza we had in Kona had thin crusts that weren’t crispy.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

March 17 - Hamakua Coast

Breakfast of fruit, bread pudding, fruit smoothies, and a hula, shared with a family just in last night from Boston. Chunlin and I then watched a volcano dvd. Kalapana, Pu‘u O‘o and all that jazz. 9 a.m., time to pack.

We drove north from Hilo along the coast, turning off the main highway at Pepe‘ekeo for a curvy drive through the jungle -- similar to the Puna coast, but a steeper hillside.


At Akaka Falls, we took a little walk through the forest.

Red in the Green

My neck was sore from the night. My whole back felt tight. Not fun. But the scenery was nice.

Akaka Falls Viewpoint

Down Kuhua

At a fruit stand in a farm near Akaka Falls park, we got fresh coconut chopped open for us. Drink and scrape. Fresh papaya, also. Exorbitant prices. We must remember to ask the price before we eat. Although if the food's already eaten, you hold a negotiation high ground for the price, don't you?

Laupahoehoe Point

Next stop, Laupahoehoe Point. Teenage boys played in the waves in the semi-sheltered boat launch. It’s a picnic park. Cloudy by warm.

At Pa‘auilo, we turned up the hill to the vanilla farm, but it’s closed on Sundays, apparently. We took a break there, anyway. I wrote while Chunlin listened to NPR. Roosters crow, birds chirp, someone washes a car (or so it sounds), and insects chirp, too.

In Honoka‘a, we stopped for lunch at a place called Jolene’s. Many shops were closed for Sunday on the old main street. I ordered loco moco -- hamburger, egg, and rice dominated by brown gravy. Chunlin had mahi and short ribs, grilled. Okay, she said. Mine was as expected. I fought the ATM across the street to pay for lunch in cash. Cash-only town. Plenty of people stopped there on the way to Waipi‘o Valley, it seemed. Like us.

Down into the Waipi‘o Valley

A few miles west, Waipi‘o Valley, the Valley of Kings. Now, not so much. Big, though.

Since the road doesn't continue along the coast across the valley (and the numerous ridges and valleys beyond), we drove inland toward Waimea/Kamuela. I took the old highway. Forest, houses, winding road with big trees at the lane’s edge. The wet forest turned to foggy, rolling pastures. Cows, horses. The road keeps roller-coastering up the hill.

We returned to Highway 19 before I saw the horse ranch on the old road that we were thinking of stopping at. Oh well. Too wet for a ride.

Soon we entered Waimea/Kamuela, got a hotel room, and went for a walk around town.

Anthurium Tongues

Bird of Paradise

Just another day in paradise...

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

March 16 - Hilo and Puna

Chunlin at Hilo Honu Inn

We drove by the busy Hilo farmers market, but we didn’t stop because we weren’t in a shopping mood.

We left town for Puna. The forested area, with many cleared fields, and two-lane road reminded me of the road to Granite Falls.

New Kaimu Beach

We found the ocean down by Kalapana.


Ahalanui Ahu

Further up the coast, we stopped at Ahalanui Hot Pool, an ocean-fed, geothermal-heated large pool surrounded by palm trees. Bright sky. Warm water. Families splashed and played. I tried to relax, but found it difficult for some reason. I was in a weird mood that morning. After a while of floating around, I started to feel better. A few raindrops started to fall as we got out of the water.

Lava Tree Park

Back to Hilo, we drove.

From Onekahakaha Across Hilo Bay

4:30 p.m., we were back at the bed and breakfast. Rest time. Shower and tea.

On the Streets of Hilo

Dinner at Ocean Sushi. Popular place. Good sushi. Negative ambiance. We had a Big Island Roll with macadamia nuts in it, as well as some other sushi.

St Joseph's

It was the first Saturday night after Francis was elected pope. The local Catholic church was busy.

And what about the frogs? When we returned to the house, I went frog hunting. I didn’t see any, but I audio recorded their noisy chirping. I got bug-bit for my troubles. The frogs are Caribbean, transported to Hawai‘i by Walmart, so said Gay, our b&b hostess.

Monday, May 06, 2013

March 15 - Around the East Side

We left Kona heading south. We drove through forest, fog, lava fields, and forests again. In the town of Na‘alehu, we stopped for a rest at 10:30 a.m., Hana Hou Restaurant for coffee and baked goods. Sweet and heavy brownie. Rain.

Chunlin and the Turtle

At Punalu‘u Beach, we visited a couple sea turtles on the black sand and rocks.

Sea Turtle on Punalu‘u Beach

Next, up the hill to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to Kilauea Iki, "little Kilauea crater." Through the clouds, the crater floor was visible, but barely. Small plants grow on the lava bed. Many plants covered the crater wall cliffs. Too wet and foggy for a hike.

Down down down toward Hilo, coasting all the way. We passed then took a u-turn to Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. Peered into the factory floor. Bought some nuts. Pulled off the road in the orchard for a close look at the trees.

In Hilo, we head to our bed & breakfast, the Hilo Honu Inn.

Fishies on the Wall

Huge house. 4000 sf or so. Douglas-fir floors, continuous sections the length of each room, even the large rooms. The walls, interior and exterior, are a single thickness of wood, barely 2" thick. No insulation, no framing. A high chair-rail is actually a bracing strap. 4:30 p.m.

Boiling Pots

Up the road/river a few miles we drove to Boiling Pots and distant Pe‘epe‘e Falls. Disappointing. It felt like the interesting part of the canyon was just out of sight downstream. We couldn’t venture far from the parking lot, either, due to guardrails, cliffs, and jungle.

Coconut Island Fronds

We headed back down to the bay and took a walk around Coconut Island and the Japanese garden, over bridges and around ponds. No fish to be seen.

6:30 p.m., we went back to the house. Rested, ate papaya. Watched AFV, Chunlin read financial articles online. No wifi troubles here.

Oh, the frogs!