Every flower here is within four minutes of my front door, and every bunch of flowers is from a different tree. A soft breeze is blowing off the ocean this time of year, and it sends the scent of these flowers into my house each evening. Ah, bliss.
I went “up north” to visit this Historical National Park, just north of Kona and slightly west of Costco. My visit to this stunning place served two reasons: for one, well, to actually go after living on this island for 29 years, and two, for a dry run with a small backpack for my upcoming treks in Japan, England and Ireland.
What a knock-out place! I walked miles and miles of trails along the coast, past petroglyphs and ancient fish ponds, under thickets of native woods, through pastures of greenery, and finally across harshly beautiful, shade-less, shoe-eating, foot-tripping a`a flows.
I timed my visit all wrong by starting my hike at exactly noon; I must return when it first opens to catch a softer, gentler light, but I hope these photos give you an idea of its beauty and peacefulness. There were areas filled with tourists (including ones who ignored the numerous signs to leave the sun-basking turtles alone), but away from the sandy beaches I had the trails to myself. What a gorgeous day. I covered almost all of the paths, by my not-quite-Kona-ised skin signaled to me to get out of the sun after 2 1/2 hours, so I still have more trails to explore – hurray!
I hope you enjoy the photos. FYI, it was about 82 degrees, with soft, lovely breezes coming off the ocean, and sweet fragrances wafting through the air . . . true.
Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.
(Lots of words today, and not even a travel post! Feel free to skip to the few photos.)
I’m feeling pretty lucky these days after scoring a small apartment in a small subdivision near small Captain Cook. Here are ten reasons why:
1. It’s wide-open gorgeous around here, the land mostly left in its relatively natural state. I’m assuming that’s because the geography is quite steep and covered mostly with a’a (sharp, pointy, hardened lava), and therefore expensive to develop.
2. It’s quiet and peaceful . . . most of the time. There is one unusual neighbor who once in a while plays music loudly, but s/he also performs weird jazz/ballet/tai chi/acid trip dances in his/her front yard, so, yeah, some free high-quality entertainment. There is also a baby growing up in a nearby home; yes, there is sometimes wailing, but mostly this little one chuckles, coos, and babbles. It is delightful.
3. The ocean is right there. From my lanai, I can see up and and down the coast as well as a wide expanse of deep blue ocean spread out right in front of me, and I can be in the water in a very few minutes. Which leads to:
4. Whales! I’m finding it rather cool to just glance up, and thar be whales.
5. The walking and hiking are terrific. I hope to take some walking trips this year, so I am working to build up my strength and stamina. The subdivision road from the “highway” down to the ocean is on rather vertical terrain, and terrific for building leg muscles – everyone I see walking this road has lean, shapely legs. And the hikes along the coasts are [seeking appropriate adjective that means gorgeous/awesome/breathtaking/spectacular all in one]. Lately the weather has been perfect for walking: around 80, with breezes off the ocean. Plus, it doesn’t rain All The Time, as it does in a place I recently lived . . .
That said, there’s some serious weather around the islands these days; the Civil Defense folks, whom I saw mustering in their fluorescent vests, are texting about “extreme danger”, and urging “Protect your property now” in alerts. Here on the west side, so far we are avoiding the brunt of the storm, but impressive – threatening? – waves are crashing along the shore, sending spray high into the sky. My walk along the coast this morning was so amazing it brought tears to my eyes. That said, I’m glad this house I am typing in is no closer to the coastline than it is.
6. The sunsets. I’d always thought of myself as more of a hey-it’s-a-new-day sunrise-loving type (See Miami Beach photos from the Fall 2017 trip), but the sunsets and green flashes are lovely, I must admit, and go well with a glass of wine (which is not compatible with a sunrise) (again, I assume).
7. The safety. Perhaps because of the steep, scary, only-one-way-out road, my place does not require a locking front door, similar to how things were 45 years ago when I first moved to Hawaii, and unlike a place I recently lived.
8. After spending decades working in a job as an unwelcome minority, I feel like I fit in around here. Is that okay to say?
9. There are no loose, menacing dogs or packs of wild pigs to be on the lookout for when walking (as in a place I previously lived). There are wild turkeys, however. When I first saw one walking down the street, I though perhaps the sometimes-fun shingles drugs I’m taking also brought hallucinations, but no, it was real. Oh, and no mold!!!!!!! Unlike a place . . .
10. Internet access is crap. Hello, books. (And infrequent blog posts.)
Okay, some of these reasons are more anti-my-old-surrounds than pleasing things about my new digs, but still. To my rain-forest loving friends, it takes all kinds, am I right?
I feel compelled, for reality’s sake, to list some downsides of living here: if Mauna Loa goes off, I’ll have maybe 45 minutes to live and breathe; if there’s another tsunami warning, I should have time to evacuate, and will probably lose only possessions, not my life.
Obviously, where I live these days is bringing much happiness (this happiness is NOT due to the shingles drugs!). But there is one more contributor to my peace of mind: last night, when the “extreme” winds were howling and things were going bump bump bump in the night, for the first time in a long while I was not worried sick about the financial implications of damage to the roof over my head!
Here are a few photos for you:
Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.
The next post after Norway was meant to be sent from the driver’s seat of a new RV, parked in some gorgeous park – say, Zion – hiking map and binoculars at my side. But life is what happens after making plans, right? Circumstances changed, and the dream of cruising the continent to explore national parks has been punched back, hopefully not permanently.
I have landed back on Hawaii Island; for how long is a great unknown. But this time, after spending 28 years in the east, I’m on the west side. Only 80 miles apart, the two are vastly different in geography, weather, population, and much more. I have tasked myself with investigating this side extensively: first job is to identify the bird calls outside my window; I’ve never heard these songs before.
My first indelible memory of Hawaii was circa 1972, when my then-boyfriend in California pulled out a map of Hawaii Island to show me where he’d spent many winters. I remember noticing two place names; Captain Cook (which I thought was a silly name, having no idea of its enormous historical significance) on the west side of the island, and Hilo (which I thought was pronounced ‘high/low’, but it’s not: it’s ‘hee/low’) on the east. Little did I know then that I would spend a large chunk of my life centered on the eastern side. And now, all these years later, here I am, in Captain Cook, two blocks from the ocean, watching whales splash in the breathtakingly blue water. I am no longer a creature of the rainy, conservative, Shōgun-like east side. Hello, tanned, beachwear-wearing West Hawaii! You are my new best friend, with your warm air, soft breezes, and nightly green flashes when the sun appears to slip below the horizon. These are the reasons I moved to Hawaii in the first place. How I wound up in rainy Hilo and chilly Volcano is the story of misplaced priorities. Or something along those lines.
Golly, this is a personal post.
Anyway, these photos are from my lanai and the King’s Trail, which I have traveled on only briefly and with only a phone for picture taking. I’m so looking forward to more explorations with my trusty Canon in hand.
One last thing: if you are of a certain age, I implore you to get the shingles vaccination. I did not, and am now in great, constant pain, except for when the dulling pain meds kick in. It’s a serious reminder to myself to live all I can, because things can change significantly in a mere moment.
I returned, as I said I would, to Uncle Robert’s in search of “Middle Eastern” food, which in my opinion, is some of the best food on the planet. What I had last night did not disappoint.
In order to work up an appetite, first I hiked out to the black sand beach that was created 28 years ago when lava covered this area, including many beloved beaches, parks, and homes; the Painted Church was hauled away to a safer spot, and sits there still. It was the summer I moved to Hawaii Island from Oahu. What an introduction.
For dinner I met up with a long-time and very-well-traveled friend. As we ate our dinner, she spoke of the best falafel she’d ever had, in Damascus (they put French fries in the falafel!), although Amman had some decent offerings, too. Hanging out talking about travel and adventure over a good meal with smart friends – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Here are some photos; hope you enjoy them. FYI, there is a strong sentiment of Hawaiian sovereignty in Kalapana. And delicious falafel.
Took a mini break up along the northeast coast, then west, then north to Hawi, the most northern part of the island, traveling deep in horse country and later along whale routes. It was great, although the many changes in terrain apparently muddled my brain: I ordered an $18 sandwich. It was yummy, but yikes!
Here are some images from the day. One mountain is Mauna Kea (hint: telescopes); the other is Haleakalā on Maui. They can see each other.
The graffiti was discovered in a beach pavilion. The dogs had just finished a swim. The horses I met were very friendly. In the case of Truck v Nature, Nature won. The house is an example of disappearing old Hawaii.
Shamefully, after nearly three decades of Hawaii Island residence, last night marked my first visit to Uncle Robert’s celebrated Wednesday night extravaganza. My immediate reaction: I’m going again next Wednesday! The urge to revisit is prompted primarily because I discovered Lebanese food for sale after I’d already ordered something else – I’m a fool for baba ghanoush – and also because the delectable vegan ice cream folks from Pahoa, Nicoco, have a stand there, too. But I also want to go again because next week I’ll include time for a hike to the nearby (relatively) new black sand beach, because the market is a visual delight, and because soon I’m leaving Hawaii for a bit and want to absorb what I can.
A few weeks ago, I said aloha to my privately-situated, day-time quiet, but cold and rainy Volcano home and am now ‘camping in a house’ near the ocean, where it is very not cold. Here I can wear shorts, sleep without layers of clothing and blankets, and listen to the waves break on the nearby cliffs. It is altogether different from my former home. I like it. Very much.
But back to the Night Market. Besides an amazing variety of fruit for sale, I found the expected Lower Puna merch: tie-dye, herbal remedies, and unbreakable smoking pipes. There were fairly lights and countless vegan options, but oddly no patchouli, perhaps a happy result of all the novelty soap available.
Central to the event is live music, complete with Dancing Nancys (no relation). In the crowd, there were many languages spoken and a respectable representation of human body types swaying to the music. Some people wandered happily in their leather kilts or with feathers and sparkles in their hair; there was a huge assortment of food for sale. It got crowded with both ‘local’ people who seemed very happy and out-of-towners who stared bug-eyed at the spectacle before them. I captured some of it with my camera, but the photos don’t do it justice, of course.
One of the groups of performers was comprised of mixed race folks playing uncommon instruments, wearing clothes of seemingly mixed origin, and singing in languages I couldn’t discern. I turned to one of my common-table seatmates and asked what kind of music it was: Vietnamese folk music was the answer. Um, that seemed way off, and the beer I had just finished encouraged me to respond “Are you bullsh*tting me?” He gestured towards to his comrade who was the source of this knowledge. After a lengthy description of the types of instruments being played, the sartorial choices of the performers, and references to Ghana, East Asia, and the Caribbean, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, it’s Kalapana.” That explained all.
Here are some photos of the market, as well as some of the Lower Puna coastline, for good measure.
Hawaii in October . . .
Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.
Sad days. Kapoho used to look like the above photo. Right now it looks like this:
This video is worth a million words: June 5, 2018 Lava Torches Hundreds of Homes
Screenshot from Google maps; photo from Hawaii News Now.
I have heard some pretty amazing statements in the last few days. First, from a contender for either the World’s Calmest or Most Clueless Person: a Hilo-based Hawaii tourism official told a newscaster that it is a “shocker” tourists are staying away because the eruption “is really a normal occurrence.” Wait, what? Lava destroying communities is normal? Would he think it normal if his home was on the street in the picture above? Where exactly on the island does he live? Perhaps in a community of caves with no internet access. I totally get that the local economy (which depends excessively on tourism) is suffering because of the eruption, and that is an awful thing that must be addressed, but if he is going to serve as a public spokesperson, I would suggest he a) become more informed, b) learn new vocabulary, or c) not lie. What is happening in Lower Puna is very much not “normal.”
There are other contenders for the clueless title: the people who refused to evacuate from an area that yesterday was surrounded by fast flowing lava on three sides and the ocean on the fourth. In spite of more than four weeks of drama and warnings, they stayed put. I get not wanting to abandon one’s home. But doing so in sight of a huge advancing wall of lava, um, yeah, it’s, um, insane. First responders had to risk their own safety to rescue those – sorry, I’m going to call a spade a spade here – knuckleheads. Perhaps they are relatives of the tourism spokesperson. Perhaps there is an isolated, cave-dwelling community that I am clueless about. If that is the case, I am very sorry for being unaware of your situation.
How about this: a few days ago a resident told me the eruption is a “really good thing” because it is “cleaning out the cults, drugs, and prostitutes down there.” Yowza. Ok, this is an example of the kind of thing I call a shocker. I can’t think of anywho who deserves this. Nor can I think of anything to say about it other than it is a telling example of what I call “Aloha Spirit, Selective Version.”
In further news, authorities require residents to obtain government-issued placards in order to access evacuation areas and retrieve items from their homes; the checkpoints reduce traffic in case of a rapid flight situation. In a strange instance of entrepreneurship – perhaps suggested by tourism experts? – some residents are using the placards to get by the checkpoints to make money guiding tourists into the heart of the devastation. Other people are burglarizing vacated homes. Other people are shooting or getting shot at. Sadly, there was an apparent suicide near a shelter.
These are very difficult times. Yes, humans are being humans and doing and saying things I can’t understand, but there are, of course, great people doing kind and wonderful things. Most people I speak to are heartbroken and helping out, and I will write about them in future posts. For now, I can say at least one public persona, a Hawaii Senator, spoke movingly and honestly of the loss and change due to the eruption.
I encourage people to come to Hawaii and bring their cash. But please, don’t try to sneak in and gawk at people’s suffering. Make a donation. Stay in vacation rentals and eat at restaurants. Consider volunteering at a shelter, maybe even one that includes addicts, cult members, and prostitutes. Because, you know, aloha – the unrestricted kind.
Photo from Hawaii News Now.
It is not a photo of normalcy.