Hawaii 2016, one more time! Thursday and Friday, 2/11-2/12
We've had a grand time, these past two weeks, playing at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Now it's time to write some catch-up posts, if I can remember all that we did and saw (which is doubtful ). Since I didn't take notes or fill up a calendar with our activities, I'll have to depend on photos to jog the ol' memory. I'll do my best.
The last time we were here (near Kona) was October 2014, and we were with our Tallahassee friends, Tom and Diane, that time, also. They booked a week's time share and lucky, lucky us to be included again. Think lagniappe! After our week in Hawaii, Tom and Diane followed us to our home in Nevada City for a California week. Seems like the best of both worlds for all of us.
As we did the previous time, Jimmy and I flew out of Oakland Internat'l Airport to Honolulu on a Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 330 -- which makes for a very smooth five-plus hour flight -- followed by a short hop to Kona Internat'l. Above is Honolulu taken from the air on our quick flight to Kona, with Waikiki on the right. We were dismayed at the hazy sky and the closer we came to Kona, the worse the visibility. I figured VOG was the culprit (air pollution from erupting Kilauea Volcano reacting with oxygen and moisture in sunlight). The air reeked of smoke when we debarked. We crossed our fingers that the A/Q would improve as the week progressed.
Our luxurious two-bedroom, two-bath condo was located on the third floor this time, with a large balcony overlooking the lava fields and a golf course. Cats were always hanging around below, and you can guess why ... it's so tempting to throw pieces of cheese or other goodies down to them. They also hung around the front door of the building in the evenings and some were quite agreeable to being petted. They were fun to watch. Bet Waikoloa Village doesn't have a rodent population!
Building 21 (where we're staying on the third floor).
Jimmy and I arrived in the afternoon, picked up a Chrysler Town & Country Minivan rental, bought groceries, and drove to the condo. We picked up Tom and Diane, who didn't get in till about 9:30, and we all crashed soon thereafter. They'd been up for 24 hours or so, flying from the East Coast, and me and Jimmy got up at 3 am for our early morning flight -- so we were all exhausted.
The next morning (Friday), the smell of smoke and haze lingered, but it didn't seem as bad. Our plan for this day was a trip up the coast to the town of Hawi and further on to Keokea Beach Park. Reports said the waves were high and we wanted to see for ourselves. It was warm, not hot, shorts weather, and the A/Q improved a lot as we drove north (away from Kilauea).
The volcanic Hawaiian coast is just stunning, whether sandy or rocky, no matter where you stand. None of us went in the water here; it looked way too treacherous. We took lots of photos of waves crashing on the rocks and walked around the park. We liked being able to drive right down to the park, without hiking a mile!
A Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata) was busy, grass-to-tree, grass-to-tree!
It looks a little ratty, maybe molting?
Diane and I posed on the seawall at Keokea as waves lashed the shore ...
... and then Jimmy and I posed. I think the tide was incoming and we nearly got splashed, as high as we were in this picture. We had to holler to be heard, the breaking waves were that loud.
Hunger drove us away from the park, but we'd noticed an old cemetery on our way in and I wanted to stop on our way out. I couldn't find out anything on Kohala Hongwanji Mission Cemetery, and neither Jimmy nor I could read the tombstone inscriptions as everything was in Japanese (I think). Suddenly a flock of bright yellow birds flew in to drink from a pail filled by a dripping faucet. Maybe 50 birds! These are Saffron Finches (Sicalis Flaveola), and they're mighty pretty.
When we were in Hawi (pronounced Ha·vi) in 2014, we wanted to eat at The Bamboo Restaurant, but it was closed. The concierge had told us not to miss it. Well, we'd tried. But this time we were in luck. And the food was as delicious as we hoped. I had the Kohala Pork Quesadilla (above), while Diane had the Kohala Fish Quesadilla, and we swapped a quarter each (win-win). The avocado you see on my plate had been picked by our hostess that morning and she was pleased that we enjoyed it. We didn't leave a crumb on our plates, but we did leave the restaurant very full ... and happy! The place was packed with a constant waiting line.
Goofy guys (Tom and Jimmy)!
On our way back to the condo, as the sky darkened and a few spits of rain fell, we stopped at this simple, but stylish St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, established in 1884. Seeing Poinsettias in bloom in February in the shadow of waving Palm trees, made me do a double-take. The church door was open for all and any to enter, with one caveat posted on a sign: Please close the door -- cats like to pray too.
Since we weren't in a hurry and wanted to explore parts of the island we hadn't yet seen, we pulled in at every state park sign (or otherwise) that we saw. One of them was Mahukona Beach Park, and I'll talk more about that in a later post. People were in the water here, many snorkeling, and it looked really interesting. Gazing seaward from the park, I spotted the telltale spout -- whales! Mind you, these whales were far, far away and my little point-n-shoot was maxed out in its zoom! As we made our way down the coast to the condo, we saw several more whales, some closer to land. Humpbacks, we believe.
We ended up our day at the Queens Marketplace, where the grocery store is, as well as restaurants and a food court. It's a neat place to walk around, with the Koi Pond flowing thru the main area. Of course, there's lots of shops catering to buying tourists! Or, in our case, looky-loo tourists.
This handsome Black-crowned Night Heron stood stock-still, poised at pond's edge, just waiting, waiting. We saw it blink its eyes, but otherwise, it moved not a whisker. Wouldn't it be nice if all critters remained just so while we took their pictures!
Finally, I'll leave you on this photo of a tropical Breadfruit Tree at Queens Marketplace. We wondered what it was the last time we saw it, and this time we asked someone who knew. Yes, the large round starchy fruit is used as a vegetable, tho we didn't get to taste one this trip. You know what that means, doncha?