Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Big Island of Hawaii, September 2011

I’m enjoying my morning coffee before I finish getting ready for a long awaited vacation. It’s 4 am and I’m mostly packed. I still need to gather my bondo kit (makeup bag) but obviously I can’t do that until after I SF&P. I also need to pack up the laptop (which I will do shortly) and my snacks.
Paul is barely packed. First he put his underroos in his suitcase and said “okay, I’m ready”. About half hour later he added his swim trucks. Another half hour he added two or three of other things. Next thing I knew he moved the suitcase off the bed and said “I’ll finish in the morning”. :slacker:
Holy electrical power cords Batman, I need a separate bag for all my chargers! I have my cell phone charger, my company’s cell phone charger, my Kindle charger, my camera charger and my laptop charger. I’m also taking my download (or is it upload) cord for my camera so if I have decent internet access I can post pictures along the way. Last time I didn’t take it and had to do go back and add photos after the fact. Not a big deal but that was 3 years ago, before Facebook. How will my FB friends survive without dailies? LOL

NOTE about my Travel Blog. I keep it running instead of starting a new entry every day. That way when I look back, it starts with day 1 not day 7. Therefore, if you log on and see I’m still enjoying my morning coffee, scroll down because it may have moved on to other things!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

FBS 94
Yesterday we had the easiest travel day ever. Our flight left right on time. It landed right on time. Our luggage came down right away. The shuttle to the rental car arrived about a minute after we got to the curb. There were three people in front of us as we were walking into AVIS and there were three reps so no wait their either. The directions to the resort were spot on.
As we were exiting the airport Kona is not immediately beautiful as it when exiting the airports on Maui or Kauai. I knew there would be lava fields everywhere but there wasn’t a palm tree on site. That changed about 11 miles down the road when we turned off the main highway onto the road to paradise. Our resort is fantastic! Its the Mauna Loa Village in Kona, a Wyndom Resort. It’s incredibly beautiful and well maintained. The girl at the check in desk was amazing (Joshlen). The concierge guy (Harold) was a little too pushy for me trying to convince us to do the timeshare schpeal. We walked into our unit and it’s fantastic. Very large and again, well maintained. I had upgraded to a two bedroom and both bedrooms are master bedroom size. One has a bigger vanity in the bathroom and the other has a larger closet. Best of both worlds. Then we checked out the upstairs. Large living room/dining room and nice kitchen. The balcony overlooks the pool and gardens.
Next we ventured out to the grocery store. Coffee for us. Bailys, beer, nuts, crunch ‘n munch, OJ and ice cream for him. Bananas, fresh cut pineapple, trail mix for me.
We went downstairs to the front office to look at some menus before deciding where to go for dinner. My little cutie girl said “some of those are an hour or more away and some of them are local, maybe 10-15 minutes”. We’ll venture off all week but on the first night we wanted to stay local. We ended up choosing Huggos. She said it’s really nice like a “special occasion” restaurant. I said perfect since we were celebrating our anniversary. She said she’d call for reservations. She asked them for a window table because we were celebrating our anniversary. Then she got off the phone and said “maybe they’ll give you a little something like a free dessert he-he”. So sweet. I wanna take her home.
The restaurant is in the downtown Kona area (I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called but it’s a touristy strip with restaurants and shops). Our table was right on the rail overlooking the ocean and straight down was a little sandy area with rocks and a sand crab scavengering around. Paul ordered wine and I ordered a Tropical Itch (burbon, dark rum, island juice and a back scratcher. Hey, I needed a back scratcher!). The sun was setting over the water as we were ordering. We split a salad with baby arugula, herbed goat cheese, local strawberries and macadamia nuts with balsamic vinaigrette. It was good but a little too much arugula. I ordered Uku which is a grey snapper, flakey white fish. It was grilled served with pineapple salsa, bok choy and purple mashed potatoes. Paul had Mahi Mahi served the same way except he had rice. Then they brought us a complimentary Kona Mud Pie for our anniversary. Cookie crust with Kona coffee ice cream and whipped cream. As we were leaving I decided they should put a warning sign on the Tropical Itch. Only One. I think I was a little giddy. We drove down the ‘strip’ to see what else was in the neighborhood before venturing back to the resort. When we got back I went into the front office to thank Joshlen for making the reservations. The table was perfect and so was the dessert :wink:.

I didn’t sleep very well. I kept being woken up with terrible burning leg cramps. Probably a little dehydration since I didn’t drink much on the plane.
I got up around 5 and went upstairs to make coffee and set up with internet connection. Oy! What a PITA that was. I got the AT&T home page and it had no problem taking my credit card info. I was connected for about 3 minutes before I got an error message and no connection. I called the number provided on my info sheet at check in. Within about 5 minutes he got the connection working. It lasted about 2 or 3 minutes and was out again. I reconnected doing what he had done and it would stay on for a couple of minutes and bomb out. I didn’t feel like calling back. By that time Paul was up and already on the balcony having coffee so I joined him armed with my delicious cup a Kona Joe and flyers and pamphlets and tour books, oh my. I wanted to go for a walk and he wanted to go to breakfast so we got ready and left. Along the way I scoped out the place Joshlen told me was only about a mile from here where I could walk on the beach in the morning. Perfect. Paul said he’ll go with me tomorrow morning. We’ll see. We started off at Island Java Lava for breakfast.
No I did'nt:

Yes I did:

I had the Banana Macadamia Pancakes with coconut syrup. I only tried one bite with the coconut syrup just to get the full effect and then switched to sugar free syrup (I’m allergic to coconut and didn’t want to push my luck). They were good. The banana and nuts were on top of run-of-the mill generic pancakes. I like when they mash the banana into the pancake batter. It came with bacon (not much flavor) and fruit which was good. Paul ordered the Eggs Benedict which was really good. It’s served over croissants instead of English muffins. His breakfast potatoes were de-lish.
After breakfast we went to the Farmer’s Market just down the road which was more like a flea market. They had lots of local fruits and veggies but also a lot of other stuff like jewelry and clothes and artsy stuff. Then we mowsied down the road a little further thru some shops. We went to the ABC store to buy a decent map of the island. There was some canoe racing going on as we looked out to the ocean.
We found a restaurant to try for dinner one night this week. The Kona Inn.
We walked back to the car and on our way out of town, oh look, the Harley Davidson shop. Paul got a t-shirt. We ventured around the island a little to a historical park and then down to the Marina. On the way back we stopped at the International Market Place. Paul sat and read the island book while I walked thru the shops. A lot of them were closed (Sunday) but I still found stuff to buy :wink:. I got a bar of soap for my fairy (guest) bathroom called Filthy Fairy Soap. On the back of the label it says “a dewdrop a day keeps me happy and gay”. It smells really good although I will never use it. The sales girl said it’s made locally. if you’re bored and want to check out some of the other fun stuff. I also bought a pair of earrings and a headband.
We ventured down the road and stopped for Paul to read a few historical markers and then stopped at the store really quick because I forgot to buy water. Can you believe it?
So, back to the room. Paul is napping and I’m blogging. And oh, yes, I had to call AT&T AGAIN because I had no internet access when we got back. He gave me a coupon code and said that should work to connect me all week. We’ll see.

Monday, September 05, 2011

FBS 90
- My favorite morning routine on vacation. ;~) Sitting on the balcony, enjoying my coffee and watching the sunrise. I got up at 5, the coffee made, yesterday’s pictures downloaded and as I was ready to settle into my favorite chair with my laptop and my cup of Kona Joe, Paul is up and invading my space. Again. And my internet isn’t working. AGAIN. Damn it. Yesterday he gave me a coupon code, which worked later in the day, however now it’s not even letting me get to the place to put in the coupon, it’s asking for a password, which I never had to create. WTF?
Anyhow, back to Paradise. After Paul got up from his nap and I ‘almost’ finished my blog (I had a couple more pictures I wanted to post but I’ll add them today), we went for a walk around their beautifully landscaped property. FTM that there are a ton of bikers here. Anyhow we passed a few guys sitting out by the grass drinking brewskies. They were really nice, said aloha, how are you enjoying this beautiful weather, etc. On the way back I asked if it was bike week here. One of the guys said yes, they come here from all the Hawaiian Islands during Labor Day. I’m like “how do you get your bikes here" and he said they take the barrage, but they live in Hilo so they just ride down. They offered Paul a beer, he said no, we started walking off and one of the guys said to come back later and hang out with them and then he said “Aloha” and then another word I didn’t understand (and don’t remember). I said “what’s that mean?”. He said “from the heart” and put his fist to his chest. How sweet is that?
We were going to go to the Kona Ranch Steak and Seafood Company for dinner. I went into the office for directions only to find out they are out of business. Really? I just found them on-line a week ago. Oh well. We ended up going to the Kona Inn which is the restaurant we had found earlier in the day. It was really good. We both had Ono, my favorite Hawaiian fish. Paul had his blackened and I had mine stuffed with shrimp, Cajun seasoning and cream cheese; topped with lobster sauce. Talk about rich and loaded with calories, but it was good. I ate about half of it. So filling that we didn’t even split a dessert.

We walked around the ‘strip’ for a while. We stopped into an ice cream shop but decided against it.
On the way back I said “when we get back I’m going to go hang out with the biker dudes”. He said that’s how people disappear on vacation never to be seen again. Ha! Not that was afraid, but I did not go hang with the biker dudes, I went to bed. Paul said if we’re going to see this Island we need to get our rears in gear and head out beyond our little comfort zone. So that’s the plan today. To head out. We have lots of things we want to see. But first, my walk on the beach. As soon as I get the &^%$#@+ internet connection going AGAIN. ~sigh.
Internet is working so I'll post now while the gettin' is good and add pics later.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011
FBS 102
I’m in my favorite spot ;~)
Yesterday we started off driving a mile up the road to the beach spot my girly-girl told me about. Not very conducive to walking “on the beach” since the coast line is lava rock, not stretches of sandy beach.

People walk and/or jog alongside the road. Anyhow I got my feet in the water and it was perfect. Along came a meth chic and said the water was five degrees cooler there because it’s fresh. Then she said “come on, let’s go find a turtle”. There are turtles right here? So she walked over and started climbing on lava rock and said “here, I see one already”. I carefully walked on the wet rock and low and below, there was a turtle looking for breakfast. I took a few pictures but turtles wear Mother Nature’s camouflage so they are hard to spot in the photos. Then she pointed a little further up and said “and there’s one and there’s one and there’s another one”. We drove a little further up the road where the white sand beach is but beside the volleyball area there wasn’t much of a walk-on-the-beach spot either. We came back to the condo for a quick SF&P (shower, fluff and puff) and hit the road. First stop, Kona Country Club for breakfast overlooking the golf course. Very nice. Then we went to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, the Place of Refuge.
That was on the “must see list” and I agree, it’s a must see. We arrived 5 minutes before the park ranger was scheduled to do a history speech in the amphitheater. Great timing since they only do one in the a.m. and one in the p.m. Very informative, in fact Paul talked to her after the other people left. Then we took the self-guided walking tour of the park. Historical, peaceful and enjoyable. I could write an entire blog just on that but here's the quickie version: If someone committed a Kapu it was punishable by death. A Kapu could be as simple of crossing in the shadow of royalty or as major as murder. If you witnessed a Kapu it was your obligation to kill the person and your family’s obligation to help you. They felt that a Kapu made the Gods angry and they would cause lava flow or title waves or earthquakes. If you committed the Kapu and could make it to a Place of Refuge a priest would forgive you and you could live. They felt if you made it to the Place of Refuge you must have been protected by the Gods and your life should be spared. That's it in a nut shell. We left there and were heading back to the highway when I saw the sign for the Painted Church. I had that on my list of things to see but didn’t realize it was in the same area. Paul turned around and we went back and that was also a great sight to see with its own bit of history.
There was also a beautiful old cemetery but it was locked off so we couldn’t peruse the grave sites. We continued down the south side and turned off where there is the last remaining fishing village on the island, Milolii. The original village was completely wiped out by a lava flow in the 1920’s. The warning sign said “narrow windy road with blind turns”, oh joy. I kept hearing my sister’s voice saying “don’t be funny Jay”. She always says that when we’re on a bad road and she thinks Jay is making it worse on purpose! I took some pictures of the NOT picturesque view. Scattered houses are plunked down surrounded by blackness of lava fields. We went all the way down to the village where I think we were the only white people. Locals filled the picnic tables and the beach area was littered with tents. Children were swimming in the bay. The smells of unidentified food filled the air. Kids playing in the streets looking at us driving by like we must have been lost! We made the trek back to the main highway and continued south. We stopped at the Punalu’u Bake Shop that had a big sign that said “this is a good place to stop, clean restrooms”. We stopped and had ice cream. (We don’t normally eat lunch on vacation since we usually start off with breakfast a little bit late.) Oh ya, biker dudes galore under the big shady area. We continued south towards the volcano (lots of rain along the way) and ended up going to the Volcano Winery. Paul mentioned the diehard bikers would still be riding in the rain. We tried all 8 samples. :tipsy: We bought one bottle of Volcano Red which is fruity but not sweet and has a peppery finish. I bought a t-shirt that has a rhinestone stiletto and wine glass and says “will work for shoes and wine”. As we were leaving I used the restroom and then Paul went in. They only have one. A group of bikers drove up (in the rain) and one lady was doing the pee-pee dance. Poor thing, I felt bad for her. Been there, done that. I think she had her pants unzipped by the time Paul got out! Paul had wanted to go to the volcano but it was already 4 so we headed back. We’ll do that another day and start off heading straight there. It was a LONG ASS DRIVE. The disadvantage to the Big Island is that it’s BIG. There are a few things locally but pretty much you can plan on spending a lot of time in the car if you want to see the island. By the time we got back to Kona it was 6. I was getting cranky and he was crabby. A 10 hour day in the car was a bit much. We decided to just stop for burgers. We went to the Harbor House which is at the Marina and very casual. It got an “ono” (good rating) in the tour book but it said that was for the beer not the food. It did say they had good burgers and that was true. Char broiled and very good. It would have been more enjoyable if we were in better moods. We got back to the condo and headed to the Jacuzzi and then I went to bed and he stayed up doing whatever it is he does when he stays up (cigar, beer and guide book come to mind). I told him that today we should go thru our list of things we want to do and map them out geographically. Like yesterday we should have gone to the volcano and hit the winery on the way back.
He’s up and said this morning we should start off walking down the highway where everyone else walks. This walking with me is new. He’s never done that on vacation with me.
Well, I’m not sure where the day will take us yet but you can be sure I’ll let you know tomorrow.
BTW, still having internet issues. Apparently it's a strength issue at the resort and I have to move around until it picks up a public site. Yes, I will be requesting a refund when I get home. In the meantime, they can seem to get me connected when I call so I'll post now and maybe try to post some pics later. ETA: not worth the trouble. I was able to connect every day - eventually.

Wednesday September 7, 2011
FBS 95

Once again I’m in my favorite spot ;~)
Yesterday’s excellent adventure started off with breakfast at Bongo Ben’s in downtown Kona. I started off with the Best Bloody Mary. Hey, gotta get my veggies. Breakfast, service and view were all excellent. Then we ventured up north along the Kohala Mountain Road to Hawi. We took a little detour to the Pololu Valley Lookout which had an amazing view of a beautiful bay (pictures don’t do it justice).

Then we ventured up to Waimea. Continuing on the books says “on a clear day you can see Maui”. It was a little rainy and cloudy but as soon as we passed the appropriate mile marker there was Maui clear as could be. It’s only 30 miles across the sea. Who knew? We took a tour of Anna’s Ranch. She was the first female cattle rancher. Hard ass farmer by day, fund raising socialite by night. She had plenty of relatives but created a non-profit organization before she passed away at 95 to preserve the heritage. We did a lot of walking there on the self-guided tour.

Beautiful little nugget, not in the guide book. Then we stopped at little shopping center and mowsied around for a few minutes. Back on the road heading back down the coast side. We passed the Pu’ukohola Helau (another Place of Refuge) but the park closed at 4 and it was almost 5. We’ll go back and check that out another day cuz that was only about 35 miles North West of Kona. We turned in at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel to find the Malama Petroglyph Trail which was a 30 minute hike round trip. The park was open for another hour so we had enough time. We parked and ventured down a pathway along a beautiful white lava bay. There were several people frolicking in the water. We got to the end of the trail and no Petroglyph signs. We asked a man and he said that was the wrong pathway. We went back to the parking area and I asked a man who was BBQ’g. We took the path at the end of the parking area. The Petroglyph path is at the beginning of the parking area. By now there wasn’t enough time so we’ll come back and check it out when we go back to the Pu’ukohola Helau. They aren’t far from each other. The book said the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel has an excellent but pricy restaurant, the Canoe House. We decided to check it out. It was almost 6 and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. It was right on the beach and our table had an unobstructed view. Not much interested me on the menu. They had Ono but the way it was prepared didn’t sound good to me. When the server came over to tell us about the specials I asked him if I could get the Ono prepared the same way as the bass. No problem. It was broiled and served with lemon caper butter, black forbidden rice and steamed asparagus. So DE-LISH. We skipped the soup or salad because I wanted to save room to share a dessert. Banana Brown Butter Tart with Black Sugar Ice Cream. I should have taken a picture. It looked like something you would see on Iron Chef. Beautifully displayed on a long thin platter. The Banana Brown Butter Tart was more like the texture of pound cake meets brownie, not tart-like at all. The ice cream was in a spun sugar cup and there was a dollop of whipped cream with a strawberry fan leaning against it. That was really good too. Paul had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and a port with dessert so I drove home. It took about 45 minutes because I got stuck behind “Speedy Shuttle” which wasn’t very speedy. The speed limit was 55 and he was going a steady 50. I was afraid to pass because it was a very dark road and a little curvy so sometimes you didn’t see cars coming until you rounded a bend (and you couldn’t tell a bend was approaching because it was pitch dark). We were in no hurry so no point risking lives. We got back to the condo and opened the bottle of wine we bought at the Volcano Winery. We sat on the balcony and planned our day.
Today is massage day, appointments at 2. After breakfast we’ll head to the Kona Historical Society which just so happens to be at the H.N. Greenwell Coffee Plantation which happens to be on the "best coffee" list in the guide book which happens to be on the way to the massage place.
BTW, the guide book we’re using is Hawaii The Big Island Revealed which Kelly (KELLIS) sent me. The author hasn’t steered us wrong yet. Great book full of hidden treasures we may not have found on our own. Kelly had purchased the new book so sent me her old book. She said the new one was pretty much the same as the old. They only thing we’ve noticed is some of the restaurants have gone out of business in the past 4 years and new ones have cropped up. The scenery and points of interest (obviously) remain the same.

Okay, that’s all for now. Off for another excellent adventure.

Thursday, September 08, 2011
Guess where I am, yep, my favorite morning set up. Balcony, coffee, computer. ;~)
Yesterday morning we headed out to breakfast at a place the guide book called the Aloha Angel Café in the old theater. It is now the Aloha Theatre Café and not very good. We’ve been pretty lucky with restaurants so far but as Paul said “they can’t all be good”.. I’m kind of over it with breakfast food. I eat breakfast everyday but only traditional breakfast food occasionally. I decided to order a sandwich. It looked good but it was terrible and so was the potato/macaroni salad on the side which didn’t have any potatoes at all. It was macaroni with too much mayo and no seasoning. Needless to say I didn’t eat much. Paul ordered the big breakfast which had eggs, potatoes, toast, a pancake and more breakfast meat than should be served in one sitting. Bacon, ham, regular sausage, Portuguese sausage AND spam. Oy! Then we continued down the south side to the Kona Historical Society. That was a pretty fascinating tour about the Greenwell’s. He made his first millions selling, of all things, oranges. Citrus does very well in this climate however we usually associate Hawaiin crops with pineapple, mango and papaya, not necessarily oranges and limes. Anyhow his wife had the bright idea of opening a store which he said he was too busy traveling to tend to and she said she would work it and so would their 10 children as they were old enough to do chores. They were buying coffee from other locals and one day wifey had the bright idea that since they had plenty of land they should plant a few coffee trees and harvest their own coffee. That’s how the now famous (on the island) Greenwell Coffee Co was formed. They produce more coffee than any other farm on Kona, roasting and packaging for many others. They only sell their own label at the farm or on the internet. We finished with that tour and walked over for the tour of the coffee plantation. That was equally as interesting. Yes, we bought a package of million dollar coffee. They are smart marketers. They package it in 8 oz packages which are around $16 to $20 depending on the variety. That way the $32 to $40 per pound doesn’t smack you in the face! One interesting thing he said is that the stronger the coffee the less caffeine. He said people drink espresso thinking the bold flavor gives them the biggest jolt but in reality it has less caffeine than the lighter smoother brews. Hmmm. By the time we finished up there we had about 45 minutes to spare before our massage appointments. We drove down the road and checked out a couple of shops and a restaurant menu. Then we went a little further to the Orchid Antique Shop and killed some time looking around there. I bought a vintage handkerchief. It’s white with some really fine rainbow crocheting around the edges. I’m not sure how ‘vintage’ rainbow thread is but it was pretty and I have a strange attraction to old hankies. Then we found our way to the Mamalahoa Hot Tubs and Massage. Kelly (KELLIS) was right. Best*Massage*Ever. First of all it’s like walking into a tropical rainforest. A bazillion big beautiful plants and flowers and tranquil music lightly filling the air. They greet you with a bottle of water and a big wicker bag for your clothes with a towel and sarong. Then a lady leads you to a very secluded area to your private redwood hot tub surrounded by bamboo screens where the plants haven’t enclosed the area.

I was already relaxed before I got in the hot tub. Anyhow, they go away and 30 minutes later you hear your names being called softly from the pathway saying “your therapists are ready for you whenever you are”. So out of the tub, dried off and sarong wrapped around, we head back thru the jungle to the massage room for the Best*Massage*Ever. We had the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi. “Ancient techniques that revitalize and invigorates the entire body bringing a balanced flow of energy and well being. Lomilomi is the connection of body, mind and spirit practiced in the traditions of ancient Hawaiian healing”. They also offer your traditional Hot Stone, Swedish and Deep Tissue massage but I can get Stoned and Swedish and Deep Tissue at home. When in Rome. I can’t say enough good things about this experience. The ambiance and the masseuse couldn’t have been better and the price was right. $95 per person for the 30 minute hot tub and one hour massage.
We left there at 3:30 and by now I was pretty hungry. We had to stop at Longs so I grabbed a Snickers. Hey, I got the dark chocolate variety so it was good for me, right? We went back to the condo and I reached into Paul’s can and grabbed a handful of nuts (hi Jay), peanuts that is. Okay, not starving anymore. We enjoyed the balcony for a while and decided to go to the Kona Brewing Company for dinner. All the rave reviews are about their pizza. Paul didn’t want pizza but they have a daily special “slice of the day” which comes with your choice of salad. I ordered that with the Strawberry Spinach Salad. Meh. The pizza was pretty good, the salad, not so much. The spinach tasted like weeds and the berries were mushy. It had a few crumbles of cheese and a light dusting of macadamia nuts. The dressing is served on the side. It was strawberry vinaigrette which was way too sweet. I was going to ask our server for a different dressing but she never came back. I ate about half the pizza and picked the topping off the other half. I wanted to save room for the Root Beer Float made with Black Sand Porter and I’m glad I did. We had to wave down the server by the way. Yah, the services pretty much sucks here but the patio area is really beautiful and Paul liked their dark beers. The Root Beer Float arrived and Holy wow, that should be illegal. M-M-Good.

We left there and stopped at Hilo Hatties. No trip to Hawaii is complete without a stop at Hilo Hatties. I had a coupon for a free mug or sarong with $15 purchase. Of course, they had no sarongs. Big surprise.
Speaking of surprises, my FBS was 107 this morning. I kind of peeked with one eye because after the Snickers and the beer and ice cream (float) I was expecting it to be higher. I’ll use that same one eye peek when I get home and get on the scale!
Oh, I checked with the dog watcher and my munchkins are doing great. She said Romeo didn’t eat the first two days (which we totally expected) but now he was just fine (which we also totally expected). ;-)
Sorry about the lack of pictures. Blogger is not very user friendly when it comes to dragging pictures to put them in place and with my internet connection being spotty it’s just a PITA. I think when I get home I’ll remove the text, download photos and then plug the text back in where it belongs. That will be easier than trying to organize them now. I’ve posted a few on Facebook.
Today’s excellent adventure will take us to the Volcano.

Friday, September 09, 2011
FBS 96
Hau'oli lā hānau to me. Woke up to several Happy Birthday text messages ;-) I can’t think of a more beautiful place to celebrate my Birthday. I only wish my Ohana was here to share it with me.
Yesterday we started off with breakfast at the Sheraton. They have a continental breakfast for $17 which includes fruits, a few veggies, toaster stuff like bagels, English muffins and a variety of breads, sweet breads, Danish and hot and cold cereal, juices and Kona coffee (you can’t just say coffee, you have to say Kona coffee) :wink:. The full buffet is $23 and includes all that plus the omelet bar, waffle maker, potatoes and breakfast meats. The server said “if you are going to order off the menu I suggest you look at the buffet first. If you order an omelet off the menu its $16, Kona coffee is 5 and juice is 5. That’s $26 and you can get all that and more from the buffet for $23.” Thank you for doing the math. Paul had the full and I had the continental. The oatmeal was steel cut and just simply delicious. I also had pineapple, watermelon and papaya and a piece of banana bread. Then I went back for a blueberry Danish. The sweet breads and Danish were really small, like two bites.
After breakfast we headed south to the volcano and a day of hiking, hiking and more hiking. $10 entrance fee per vehicle. We aren’t quite old enough for the lifetime National Park Pass but here’s a tip for you seniors or those of us who are approaching senior citizen status. At 62 you pay a onetime $10 fee and it gets you and your carload of peeps into any National Park in the United States for the rest of your life. Off to the visitor center and then down the trail to the Sulphur Banks. Steam is spewing from vents; crystals and crust form on the surface. It smells like, well, sulfur. We continued on that trail and came to a sign that said .5 miles to the Visitor Center to the left; .5 miles to the crater rim to the right. Of course we had to view the rim. Then we headed back thru the trail to the Visitor Center and drove down to the Jagger Museum and Observatory. They were doing some construction so the viewpoints were blocked off at the Museum but we just had to walk down a little way to a lookout point. We continued driving the Chain of Craters Road where there are turnoff spots to view craters. Then we went to the Lava Tube and walked thru that ‘tunnel’ to a trail that looped back around to the starting point.

The tour guide that was guiding the group in front of us said that the lava tube goes all the way to Hilo. Paul said he didn’t believe it could go that far but who knows. We continued down a road that took us to Pu’u Loa, the largest Petroglyph site in Hawaii. That was quite a hike. It said 1.5 miles round trip but I think it was further ;-). The guide book says it’s an easy hike however it was a bit more than easy. You are literally walking on lava rock and pebbles which are of course very uneven and there is no formal pathway. You can kind of follow some footprints in the pebbles but often I would say “I think I lost the trail”. Probably because there wasn’t one. There are piles of rocks that are supposed to be your target that you are going the right way. Anyhow I took a lot of pictures once we FINALLY reached the Petroglyphs which were surrounded by a boardwalk to keep them safe.

Here’s a twilight zone moment for you. The whole time we were maneuvering thru the lava field I kept thinking ‘someone is going to slip and fall and split their head open and the ambulance is going to come screeching down the road’. We were almost back to the car and there flew by a fire truck and an ambulance. We continued down the road which takes you to the sea and sure enough an old man was in the ambulance and the EMTs were talking to his wife (about 70). Paul went to use the restroom and I was standing near them enjoying the waves crush on the lava rock but trying to overhear the conversation. :nosey: The wife said “I told him to take my hand and of course he wouldn’t and the next thing I knew he was falling. I put my hat under his head while someone went for help”. As I passed by them the hat she was holding was covered in blood. I felt so bad for her there all alone while trying to get a grasp on how they were telling her to get to the hospital because you can’t follow the ambulance. So sorry I conjured up that vision. ;-(
Okay, onward and upward we left there and ventured into the town of Volcano for dinner. The restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. There was an internet café and a Thai restaurant but we didn’t want to eat in either one of those places. We headed out of the volcano area and back up the road. It was around 6 pm and there was no place to stop. We got to a little town where there’s a café known for the pie. The menu was sketchy and the place was really run down and they had no beer (horror of all horrors for the hubster) so we decided not to eat there. We finally made our way towards civilization around 7:30 and nothing was open. We passed Annie’s Burgers and Beer which we had been told was very good and “hippie dippy”. Neither one of us wanted burgers but we figured they MUST have something other than burgers. Besides, it was getting late and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and we were both too tired to drive another 30 minutes to downtown Kona so we turned around. It’s called Annie’s Burgers and Beer because that about all they have, besides fries and onion rings. We reluctantly stayed and had burgers. Paul ordered onion rings and they were really good, Tempura style. The burgers were good, if you happened to be in a burger kind of mood, however Paul said his was over cooked. I ate about half of mine and got a chocolate chip cookie to go.
We got back to the condo and sat out on the balcony enjoying a glass of wine and then I went to bed *dog*tired*.
Today I think we are going to go to Hilo. Another long day in the car but I’m sure it will be worth it. We haven’t had a disappointing day yet.
BTW, the Big Island is Paul’s favorite over Maui and Kauai. I think because there is so much to do here and a lot of historical significance.
Aloha Friday.
** I added a few photos but now Pauliaukula is ready to go. More later **

Saturday, September 10, 2011
FBS 98
We started with breakfast at the Kona Country Club (second time there). Paul likes it because it’s not crowded, it has a beautiful view and the food and service are good. He got Eggs Benedict and I got the $5 daily special: one egg, one raspberry pancake and two pieces of breakfast meat [ham]. They even had sugar free pancake syrup. I needed a little helper to finish the pancake. Such a deal. I think Paul's was like $12. They get the vote for most reasonable food with good service and view.

Then it was off to Hilo. We took Saddle Road which runs between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the two largest volcanoes. It was built by the military after Pearl Harbor was bombed and was taboo by rental car companies until some recent road work was done. They say ‘only a fool drives it at night’ so we’ll take the highway back. Once you make your way thru the lava scrub you’re on the windward side of the island so everything is green and lush. Along with the beauty comes the humidity and the mosquitoes. Just sayin’…We made our way to Hilo and stopped for gas. BTW, the gas is less expensive in Hilo than it is in Kona. Kona it’s $4.49 per gallon and Hilo was the whopping discounted price of $4.21 per gallon. I think regular was $3.29 when we left home so about a dollar a gallon upcharge to take it across the sea. Anyhow, we walked around the strip of shops and then wandered thru the farmers market which had amazing displays of fruits and veggies and flowers.

Then we stopped for ice cream (do you see a pattern here) and headed across to the Visitor’s Center. Then we ventured over to the Lyman Museum and toured the Heritage Center and then took a guided tour thru the Lyman House. The Lyman’s were missionaries in the 1800’s. Very interesting tour. Several years ago the government was going to tear the house down to put in a road. The youngest daughter (in her 80’s at the time) got wind of it was NOT happy. She was too old to travel so she sent her three ‘girls’ (then 50-60) to fight the battle. They moved the house back just enough to make room for the road. Not wanting to ever fight that battle ever again they made the house museum to protect its heritage. See, would you have ever known that if I wasn’t a story teller? You just can’t live without this information! BTW, they didn’t cook inside the house. They used a Portuguese (wood burning) oven outside. You are not allowed to take photos in the museum or in the house so only outside photos are allowed. Dunno why. Maybe I need one of these in my backyard!

Then we started our drive back thru a very picturesque area.

We past the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Gardens where plant leafs were as ginormous as the mosquitos. We didn’t take that tour, maybe next time with the recommended mosquito repellent in tow. Then we drove to the Akaka Falls. The first waterfall we saw on the island. We didn’t take that hike either since it was already 3 or 4 p.m. You can walk thru bamboo fields to another waterfall. We’ll save that for next time too. Continuing on our journey we veered off to Laupahoehoe Point.

It’s incredibly beautiful and there is a memorial there for 21 school children and three adults who were swept to their death by a tsunami in 1946. They moved the entire town up after that tragedy. Okay, enough with the sightseeing and into Waimea for dinner. Again, using the recommendations from the guide book we were going to go to Merriman’s for dinner but they were closed for repairs. We took our second choice, Daniel Thiebaut which is now just Daniel’s due to a change in partnership. Same chef but new owner. We sat out on the lanai which the book says “if you don’t like the garden lanai tables (we’ve seen customers ask to be switches to other tables), our waitress told us it’s because a ghost walks those tables. Just thought you’d like to know". I didn’t see or feel a ghost, she/he must have had the night off. They don’t have a liquor license yet so they can’t sell wine but they can give it away, so dinner came with complementary wine. Not a bad deal. It would have been a nice Birthday Dinner but shhhh, someone didn’t remember that it was my Birthday. We both ordered the ribeye which came with mashed potatoes and sautéed carrots with fennel. It was okay, not fabulous. Maybe I'm just tired of eating in restaurants. If I had it to over again I would have ordered a salad and an appetizer instead. We headed back to the condo and sat outside for a glass of wine before turning in.
And now it’s time to pack. Can you believe today is our last day on the island?
~Oh, he JUST remembered it was my Birthday yesterday.
The agenda for the day kind of sucks because we have to check out at 10 a.m. and our flight doesn’t leave until 10:45 p.m. I think we’re going to go back to the Pu’uhonua (another Place of Refuge) and the Petroglyph Trail that we missed during the week because it was too late when we passed thru. That’s only 30 miles north and will take up a few hours of our day. When we’re done sightseeing (aren’t we done sightseeing yet?) I want to take one last swing thru downtown Kona before heading back to the airport to turn the car in at 8:30 p.m. Are we there yet?
I better SF&P and get packin’ so we can make the most of our last day in paradise.

Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday morning we packed and checked out and went down to a little bay near the condo where King Kamehameha III was born. There is a canoe club there and they were just heading out to sea.

Then we headed downtown for breakfast. It was already 11 so that spells lunch for me. We went to the Fish Hopper which was excellent. I had Fish & Chips made with fresh mahi-mahi and Paul had breakfast.

This is kind of funny. I had a Bloody Mary and it was $2.99; Paul had Kona Coffee and it was $6.50. There should be a sign that says “drink alcohol, it’s cheaper”! The Bloody Mary was good but my vote for best breakfast veggies (aka Bloody Mary) is Bongo Ben’s. We left and headed up to Pu’ukohola Heiau. It was built by King Kamehameha in the 1700’s. Well, him and 1,000’s of volunteers who made a human chain miles long to move boulders. Building this Temple was his way to conquer the island and be king. We walked down the path to the bay. Paul was meandering around and I was looking for the next shade tree. Next thing I know he’s waving his arms back and forth and pointing. I thought he was doing a King Kamehameha war dance but he was trying frantically to get my attention to see the turtle on the bay. I hurried back and got pretty close as it was heading to the water. I said “ah come on, I just want to take your picture”. It turned and looked right at me as if it was posing.

As soon as I snapped a couple of shots it hitched a ride on the next wave back out into the ocean. So graceful.

When we got back to the Visitor’s Center I went inside the gift shop for the air conditioning (it was a toasty hike). All week it had been 84 and Saturday it was whopping 88! The ranger lady was looking out to sea with binoculars and said she could swear she could see a shark. I told her about the turtle and the ranger man said he was surprised because they don’t usually come up on land. I showed them the pictures and the lady said it must have been my Kahu. I said what’s that, a lucky charm. The man ranger said “it’s a Hawaiian Family Guardian”. Cool. We left there and drove around checking out a few other roads off the highway and ended up going down to Waikoloa Village where the Hilton (hi Jay) and the Marriott are along with several timeshare resorts. We went to Queen’s Marketplace and walked around the shops. Paul’s watchband was broken so we went into a jewelry store, Kama'aha Diamond Co., for a replacement and he bought me a beautiful charm bracelet for my Birthday. We had some time to kill while they were putting on his band and attaching my charms so we went across the street to Kings’ Shops and walked around. We scoped out a restaurant for dinner. We had planned on going to the Japanese restaurant in the Hilton that Jay had recommended but I wasn’t hungry enough and just wanted a salad. We ended up at Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum. It was really good. Paul had Ebi (local fish) and I had a Watermelon Salad. I wish they had their menu online* because the salad was really good and I can’t remember what was in it except candied macadamia nuts with I think goat cheese and really great dressing. The watermelon was arranged around the edges, not mixed in. We were deciding which dessert to split so Paul told our server he was my Birthday so he was letting me decide. I couldn’t decide between two so I told her to surprise me. She did with cake and ice cream, how appropriate.

*when checking on line to see if they had a website, there were reviews on Tripadvisor which were not good. Apparently they are a new restaurant but must have gotten their shit together because I’m about the fussiest and I thought it was good. The food, service and ambiance were all good. We would go back.
After we ate we picked up his watch and my bracelet and headed to the airport ~sigh.
We returned the car and the shuttle was right there waiting for us. We had to wait for the agricultural scanner because US Airways check-in wasn’t open yet so they make you wait outside. We went thru there in a breeze and the check-in line in a breeze and headed to the gate where we had to wait a while as well. The flight left right on time. As we were walking up the stairs to the plane I looked up and there was a beautiful full moon with a rainbow ring around it. ;~) Normally I don’t have any trouble sleeping on a plane but I just couldn’t get comfy. Our flight landed right on time, our luggage came down in the first dozen and my sissy was waiting outside by the curb when we stepped out. Pretty perfect flight experience, TYJ.

So that concludes my chronicles of the Big Island.

**Check back for a Smilebox (on line photo album) with lots more photos sometime this week. I only took a couple of hundred!
Aloha ;-)

ETA - Maintenance Baby! I usually bring home 2 pounds from vacation but not this time! :happy dance:


Connie O said...

Just imagine, my husband and I just spent seven 10-hour days in the car together! LOL. Of course, we did get out of the car every 1.5 to 2 hours, and we switched driving each time, but still ... I think it's a miracle that we both make it through alive each time.

Your stops all sound interesting & fun, but it's a good idea to plan to get the most out of your driving time.

Patti's Parlor said...

I don't think we would have survived! ;-)
Sometimes I just want to see where the roads take us when we're on vacation, but here it didn't take long to figure out we need a plan since the island is so big and it's not always easy to get from point A to point B.

Connie O said...

I've found that you can position photos in Blogger much more easily by going to the "html" editing tab (instead of, I think, the "compose" tab). Upload your photos, then switch to html view; it's a tab right at the top of your composing box. Cut the long photo tag (it will be right at the top, in angle brackets <>) and then paste it into your entry where you want it to be. When you're done, switch back to "compose" view. The photo might not look quite right in that view, but when you publish the blog entry, it should be exactly where you pasted the tag.

Patti's Parlor said...

Ah-Ha! You are so smart Connie O.!
Thank you. That was super easy. I'll add more photos later. We're off to breakfast (blah) now.

Jay said...

Not sure about the darkness of the roast having anything to do with caffeine content. Espresso doesn't have more by weight or volume than regular grind, that's true. The biggest difference, though, comes with how long the grounds are in contact with the water. With espresso drinks this is brief as the coffee is pumped through at high pressure. With drip it's the opposite and so more caffeine leaches out as a result. Thus a regular cuppa Joe will have more caffeine as an espresso. There's volume as a proper espresso is around 30ml (~1 ounce) versus a mug. Yes, I've read a lot about coffee. If you want a great book about the history of coffee in Hawaii look for "A Cup of Aloha" at Barnes & Noble in Kona. Great read.

L. brought me a bag of Vietnamese coffee home with her. The last time she did that I loved it as their coffee has a distinct chocolatey flavor. That is going to be my weekend coffee this weekend. I think it was €8, so around $11, for an 8 ounce pack.

Patti's Parlor said...

Dunno Jay. We also bought some Peaberry coffee which is an interesting story on it's own. Coffee cherries contain two beans. Sometimes they don't split into two so they used to throw the single (or peaberries) away until they discovered they are the jewels, not the garbage. They are supposed to be sweeter because the sugar layer is trapped inside and can't be removed. Either that or he was telling a 'sweet' story.

Jay said...

The Big Island is my favorite island though I haven't been to Maui or Molokai yet. Not sure why other than there is a lot to see and it's relaxed and casual. *sigh* I really miss it.