Going Back In Time

After touring The City of Refuge, we drove to our hotel to find dinner. If you’re ever in Kona, stop at the Royal Kona Resort to be transported to the past. Here are photos from the bar and Don The Beachcomber restaurant. At times, I thought I was in Disneyland. You can feel how the place used to be the IN spot, probably in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The next day we drove to Hilo, which reminded us of the city of Petaluma in Northern California. A small town feel, but not much to do there. Well, okay, we did go to Big Island Candies and the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory. The weather driving out there was foggy, cold, and rainy. It was 63 degrees at one point near the town of Waimeia. We passed the Hamakua region, known for growing flowers, vegetables and, um, “other” famous Hawaiian crops. (We figured those crops were growing behind the fences that said, “Keep Out”.)

Parker Ranch, a working cattle ranch, owns most of the land around Waimea. (Also known as Kamuela.) I thought the stop signs in the shopping center were a kick. “Whoa”.

Our day ended at the Four Seasons Hotel, just to see what it’s all about. With Balinese-style decor, it is stunningly gorgeous and the sunset was amazing. We wished we could sit on one of the lounge chairs on the beach, but they were for hotel guests only.

We left the Four Seasons and dined at the Kona Inn Restaurant, with its delicious mahi-mahi and super friendly staff. A walk along the bay, back to our hotel, ended our night.

City Of Refuge

After visiting the coffee region of Kona, Mark and I drove to Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau, also known as the City of Refuge.

A reconstructed temple called the Hale o Keawe Heiau sits on the edge of the bay. Back in the 1500-1600’s if someone broke a law (kapu) they could seek refuge here. The photo with the carved statues is the reconstructed heiau.

Next to the heiau is the former palace grounds. Reconstructed huts, games made out of stone, and fishing ponds were built for posterity to get a sense of how royalty lived back then.

As we walked out of the grounds, feeling like we could sense Ali’i from centuries ago, paddlers entered the bay. Were they seeking a sort of refuge in the water?

Kona Coffee

We took another three day trip to the Big Island. This time, we stayed in Kona and went sightseeing over the entire island.

Our first stop was to the Kona coffee region and Kona Joe’s coffee. “Joe” is an orthopedic surgeon from California and friends with my podiatrist in San Francisco. Kona Joe’s closes up early. After leaving the rental car place at Kona airport we arrived at Kona Joe’s at 2:30. No more tour and they were out of free coffee samples.

I bought a few small bags of their Trellis grown reserve. Oh, my. Coffee never tasted so good.

Since we missed out on the tour, we drove on to Greenwell Farms. There is a reason for everything, because the tour at Greenwell Farms was fantastic. Everyone was friendly. The tour guide was local and shared with us his personal coffee experiences from growing up. I’m a coffee fan and I learned much.

Their farm dog came on the tour with us. She laid down when we stopped and walked alongside us when we toured.

After the tour, we sampled 10 different coffee types and two chocolate covered coffee beans. Oh, maybe that’s why the tours end early, otherwise people will stay awake from all the caffeine.

Greenwell is the place to go for a Kona coffee tour.

Photos are of a coffee tree, an apple-banana tree, the farm cat and local coffee growers dropping off coffee beans.

Kama’aina Cookies

I thought I’d share photos of a mural painted at the inter-island terminal at Honolulu Airport. The now defunct Aloha Airlines commemorated Hawaii of old with this painting. It was impossible to show the entire mural in one shot. I love how it shows the important places on each island using mostly images, not words – cities, fishing villages, volcanoes, ranches, flowers.

It’s beautiful and I wish I could have seen Hawaii back then.

But I am in Hawaii of today.

Feeling settled in a new place takes time and certain turning points to establish the “I live here” moment. For me, it happened the day I left physical therapy on Kapi’olani Blvd., drove to the hairdressers to get my hair done and made an appointment to see the dentist. All things I do in a place where I live.

Hawaiians call it kama’aina; a person who lives in Hawaii.

Over on the Big Island, Mark, my sister and her family and I went to dinner at a large hotel on the water. Once we sat down, I handed a box of Honolulu Cookie Company cookies to each of my nieces. They make delicious shortbread cookies in different varieties; coffee, lilikoi, plain dipped in chocolate and coconut, some have fruit in the middle.

After dinner, our waiter, hands full of dishes he had just cleared, nodded to the cookies on the table. “Are those from Big Island Candies?”
I answered, “No, they’re from Honolulu Cookie Company. We live on Oahu and brought them with us.”
He looked at me, lowered his voice and said, “Do you have local ID?”
Mark reached for his wallet. “Why, yes, we do.” I said. “You give Kama’aina discounts?”

The waiter said, “You asked me, right?”
“Right.” I said. “I asked you.”

He returned with our dinner bill and gave us a 12% discount. My brother-in-law loved the fact they gave discounts to locals. Everywhere we stopped after that he’d say loudly, in front of our servers, “You guys must really like living here.” Or to the waitperson, “They live here. Don’t they look like they live here?”

We never got a kama’aina rate after that.

Travel Mates – The U.S. Marines

After spending three days on the beach, I actually have a slight tan. The Hawaiian sun reached me below an umbrella, a big hat and 45 SPF sunscreen. It’s a good start and I didn’t burn. I had joked about my San Francisco fog tan. Irish genetics gave me white skin which freckles.

We flew back to Oahu from the Big Island on a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717. It’s not a small plane, but not really a large one either and we shared it with 50 sunburned and tired-looking United States Marines.

I joked about our flight not needing any Air Marshals.

We sat in front of the emergency exit row with Marines sitting behind us. I heard the flight attendant instructing them on emergency procedures.

Flight Attendant: “You guys okay with assessing the situation for danger, deciding to open the door and helping passengers out?”

My guess is they’re perfectly trained for that scenario.

That’s my little black bag on the conveyor belt at our baggage claim. My bag was easy to find. It looked like none of the others. How often does that happen?

Anyone else remember the Tom Lehrer song, “Send The Marines”?

Big Island Weekender

We DID go to the beach. On the Big Island. For my niece’s 16th birthday. We surprised my sister, her husband and my nieces, who were vacationing there during Spring Break. Here are some photos from the leeward side of Hawaii.

The Big Island is rural compared to Oahu. The weather was in the low 80’s every day and with much less humidity than what we’ve experienced here.

When we first arrived, I took a photo of my niece on the beach and sent it to her. I sent another photo to my other niece. They found Mark and me enjoying a hamburger beachside at their hotel.

Now that I live a five hour flight away from my nieces, I’m taking every opportunity to see them. At sixteen, my older niece will be off to college in two years. Yep, taking every opportunity now.