Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Hualalai, morning, 7/8/21

This morrning began so clear that we could see the top of Hualalai which is behind us (East). This picture was just before the sun crested the mountain. On every day since arrival, clouds have shrouded the top of the mountain.

I walked down to Magic Sands where a 14 foot tiger shark was spotted on Tuesday. No sharks today. Not many surfers either because the surf is down a bit. Yesterday, the surf was 10-14 feet on West facing shores, Today it is 3-5 feet.

Magic Sands, 7/8/21

The walk to Magic Sands is about two miles. On the way back, I visited each of the Shoreline Access places. By law, there must be a public shoreline access at specified intervals along the coast. I don’t know the exact distance between them, but there are eight in the two mile stretch between our condo and Magics, which makes them about a quarter mile apart. Some of the access points are at beach parks. They are clear and easy to access. Others are more difficult. All are marked by signs, but some signs are obstructed by vegetation or other features. One is so hidden, the entrance is hard to find even with the sign. The path is narrow and lined on both sides with lush vegetation. There is intermittent sunlight. Unfortunately, I disturbed a homeless man who was sleeping in a little depression beside the path. the path ends at some stone steps that bring you to an area of lava boulders and coral rubble.

Public shoreline access, Kona

Another access ended at a saltwater swimming pool cut into the lava. The pool is filled by wave action. Very Cool! Some of the access points cut across private property. On one, I had to walk down someone’s private driveway until I reached the access point at the end. The folks there were friendly, though. Not so the condo next to ours. There the access goes through the condo property, but you have to go through a security gate The gate is posted to open at 6:00 am, but it didn’t open until 8:00. Bunch off scofflaws.

Saltwater swimming pool dug into lava at end of shoreline access path.

Yesterday’s sunset had some amazing colors. The sky was overcast and we were afraid we might not see any sunset, but it appeared at the last minute and left some gorgeous colors.

Sunset, Kona, 7/7/21
Post-sunset, Kone 7/7/21

Hualalai volcano is younger than Mauna Kea and is the third most active volcano on Hawai’i. It last erupted in 1801 and is expected to erupt again within the next century. Given how unprepared and congested the Kona area is, an eruption would be a major disaster. Hualalai is about 300,000 years old and stands 8,271 feet above sea level.

I walked to the Kona harbor this morning just as Kai Opua Canoe Club was launching their canoes. They launched three six-place outriggers and one twelve place double-hulled canoe. Kai Opua bills itself as the oldest canoe club in the Islands. Twenty men and twelve woman organized the club in 1929, according to the earliest records. The club sponsors teh Queen Lili’uokalani Lon Distance Race on Labor Day and has won numerous championsihps, including the Wahine O Ke Kai 40.1 mile race from Molokai to Oahu three consecutive times. Check out their history here. The other pages on their website are also instructive.

Kai Opua double-hulled canoe passing the heiau at the mouth of Kona Harbor, 7/7/21
Kai Opua preparing to launch on the beach at King Kamehameha Hotel, Kailua-Kona, 7/7/21

On Monday, we visited Hilo for breakfast at Ken’s Pancakes. Ken’s is famous for their Sumos, which are gigantic servings, usually of pancakes, eggs and sausage. Grandson tried a Sumo when they were here last week. He ate what he could and took the rest home. It took him three days to finish it all. By the time we were seated, it was nearly noon, so we had lunch instead. Then we toured downtown Hilo and made a stop at the farmer’s market. A pop-up apparel seller across from the market was selling vintage aloha shirts at $20-$35 di=ollars a piece. Michael and I each bought two. After that we visited some waterfalls in the heart of town. This is Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, HI, 7/5/21

Tuesday, we made another visit to Hapuna Beach. The sky was so clear, Maui was visible with Haleakala rising above the clouds.

Hapuna Beach, Haleakala in the distance, 7/6/21

It was Michael’s last day, so we visited Lava Lava Beach Club for late lunch. Here’s Michael at the big kiawe tree at the entrance to Lava Lava.

Michael, Lava Lava, 7/6/21

While at Lava Lava we learned that Henry Kapono will be performing on Friday at 7:30. Lava Lava takes no reservations. Their wait time for a table can be as long as two hours and they have a two-hour time limit. All of which makes it hard to plan to hear Kapono. Even if we got in, we could be so far away, behind people who don’t know who he is and who don’t appreciate him, that we might not enjoy the performance. However, we talked to the server who pointed out that the beach borders the club, which is open air, and the stage is close to the water. He said the best think is to bring our own chairs and just sit on the beach. We will see if Anne and Mike are interested.

Michael’s flight was supposed to leave at 9:05 last night, but because of mechanical problems and other delays, they didn’t get off until 12:30. He arrived in Houston at 10:30 this morning 3:30 pm CDT.

Last night’s sunset was gorgeous, of course, with spectacular colors.

Kona, 7/6/21
Kona, 7/6/21

Kona, Hawaii, 7/3/21

Once again the sunset last night was spectacular. As long as these marvelous sunsets continue, I will keep posting them.

Yesterday we visited Kahalu’u Beach Park. This park is about a mile from our condo, near Keahou. When we first arrived in Kona two weeks ago, the park wasn’t open. The reason, we learned, is that coral were spawning and they did not want swimmers and surfers disturbing the young coral.

The beach here is salt and pepper sand, composed of lava sand and coral rubble. Getting into the water is a little treacherous. You walk in through a channel in front of the lifeguard stand that takes you over slippery rocks. Actually, getting out is harder than getting in. Once in however, there are thousands of reef fish. In the first twenty minutes, I saw hundreds of yellow tang, some convict tang, some humuhumunukunukuapua’a (reef trigger fish), parrot fish, angel fish, raccoon angel fish, moorish idols, and a whole bunch of others I couldn’t identify. Michael spotted a turtle. There are also sea urchins hiding in the cracks. A lot of different kinds of coral. The water is shallow and the bay protectted by a reef.

A group of volunteer protectors of the bay greet you and explain what you can see. They also tell you how to avoid harming the coral, mostly by not standing in certain places in the bay, particularly, the coral formations and rocks out beyond some bouys that mark the entrance channel, and by wearing reef safe sunscreen. They caution against using reef-friendly sunscreen, as some of the products are billed, because these do not protect the reef. I won’t name the reef friendlies because it is easy to figure out that they are the big names in sunscreen and suntanning. Instead, the reef-safe sunscreens are the mineral-based ones such as Raw Elements and All Good. Do I think these will save the coral? Not by themselves. I think reef safe sunscreens are a necessary, but not sufficient, measure to protect coral. We clearly need to do what we can to end carbon emissions. Warming oceans contribute as much or more to coral death as oxybenzone and other pollutants.

The warming climate is obvious in the heat wave in the Northwest, the wildfires in California, and the increasingly intense hurricanes. Even in Hawaii, the global warming is evident. We have not had a day here in more than two weeks, in which the temperature has not reached the mid- to upper-eighties. That was unheard of when we lived here in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Perhaps a day or two a year would reach the mid-eighties. Most days were in the seventies. I remember one day when the temperature at Honolulu airport reached 89 in August, and everyone was aghast. it made the local news because it was a record high. I think we have reached that at least twice on this trip.

We visited the Sack n’ Save in Kona, which claims to have Hawaii’s best poke. Judging from the line at the poke counter, a lot of people agree. We picked up a half pound each of tako (octopus) poke and Hawaiian spicy ahi (tuna) poke. Mary Fran doesn’t care much for tako, so there was more for me. This tako was mixed with kimchee. Of all the things there are to like about Hawaii, poke is at the top. I am not a fan of poke bowls, which have become popular on the mainland (we even have two in College Station as well as at the sushi counter in HEB.) You don’t get much poke n the bowls. They pad it with rice, lettuce, edamame, and avocado. I don’t have any objection to any of those, but what i really want is the poke. You haven’t truly experienced poke until you have sampled all of the varieties in Hawaii.

We also picked up some teriyaki pork to grill. These were thin slices of pork marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was so good served with rice and salad.

Breakfast this morning was papaya and apple bananas from the farmer’s market down the road. We also had avocado from Waipi’o valley, cooked with scrambled eggs.

Speaking of eating, today’s news reported that Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest for the 14th time with a record breaking 78 dogs in ten minutes. Wow. The same news story also said that last year’s women’s champ skipped this year because she is pregnant. Her husband is also a competitive eater who finished high in today’s contest. So many jokes to be made about the marriage of two champion eaters.

Daybreak, Kona, Hawaii, 7/4/21, Independence Day

Hi’ilawe, Waipi’o Valley, Hawai’i, 7/1/2021

We visited Waipi’o Valley, Thursday. Waipi’o is on the Hamakua Coast near Honokaa. The valley is reachable by a steep, narrow, twisting road which only 4WD vehicles can negotiate. We went with a shuttle tour. Guidebooks recount horror stories of people who have foolishly attempted the road on their own.We visited it earlier when the kids were still here, but went only as far as the lookout. Checkout the post from 6/26. Waipi’o Valley extends about seven miles back from the coast. It was formerly populated by Hawaiian royalty and chiefs. Sometime early in the monarhy, Hawaiian commoners moved in and built fish ponds and taro farms. It sustained a sizable population until the tsunami of April 1, 1946 wiped out most of the farms and dwellings. No lives were lost, but few people returned to the valley Now about 40 people live there, mostly farming taro and raising fruits and vegetables. A herd of wild horses make their home in the valley. They are descendants of survivors of the tsunami. At the back of the valley is one of the largest, most powerful waterfalls in Hawai’i, Hi’ilawe. which drops about 1,450 feet into the valley into Lalakea Stream, and eventually into the ocean. Much of the water of Lalakea is diverted for irrigation.

Hi’ilawe i immortalized in a classic Hawaiian song of the same name. It has long been one of my favorites. It’s a standard of the slack key genre and has been performed by nearly every great Hawaiian slack guitarist. Here is Gabby Pahinui’s version.

And here is the first verse with English translation below.

Kümaka ka ‘ikena iä Hi’lawe

Ka papa lohi mai a’o Maukele

Pakele mai au i ka nui manu

Hauwala’au nei puni Waipi’o

All eyes are on Hiÿilawe

And the sparkling lowlands of Maukele

I escape all the birds

Chattering everywhere in Waipi’o

Wild Waipi’o Valley mare and foal.

Sunset last night at Kona:

Kona Sunset 7/1/21
Sunset reflected in a tide pool, Ali’i Villas, Kona, Hawaii, 7/1/21
Daybreak 6/30/21 outside Ali’i Villas, Kona, HI

The kids left on Monday and we changed condos.We are now in Ali’i Villas. This is a gorgeous condo, just down the road from the previous one. Since there are only three of us now, we did not need all the room of the other one. This condo is right on the water instead of across the street. Because of the rocks here, swimming is not as accessible, but the view is spectacular.

Yesterday, we toured the Kohala area on the north end of the Big Island. Kohala is where Kamehameha was born. There is a statue of him in front of the civic center. The statue has a long history. It was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Cook’s arrival in the islands. After casting in Germany, it was transported to Hawai’i, but on the way, the ship carrying it sunk and the statue feared lost. The Hawai’i government used the insurance money to commission a new statue, not knowing that the first one had been found by fishermen. It was eventually returned to Hawai’i, but by tht time the new one arrived and was placed in front of the Judiciary in Honolulu. The first one was then placed in Kohala. You can read the details here:

Statue of Kamehamha, Kohala, Hawaii

The weather was so clear, we could see Haleakala on Maui from the road to Kohala. We left Kohala and stopped at Keokea Beach. To get to the beach, you take a narrow windy road with a steep grade. The beach, itself, is not that great for swimming, but the cliffs surrounding it and the waves breaking on the rocks make for some stunning views. While we were there, a pair of local spear fishermen emerged from the water, each wit a stringer of large groupers, parrot fist, and some others we couldn’t identify.

Keokea Beach Park, North Kohala, Hawaii

From Keokea, it was a short distance t the end of the road on the other side of Waipi’o valley.

Pololu, Big Island, Kohala Forest Preservve

This is the head of the Pololu Trail that takes you to the beach. After reading the warnings about so many ways to die, we decided not to take the trail. We did see other folks, however. One woman was carrying an infant who could not have been more than a few weeks old. I hope they all survived.

Pololu trail

Our last stop befoe coming home was Spencer Park—a beautiful spot near a sacred area. The park, like Hapuna Beach Park, is well-maintained with showers, tables, and ADA accessible paths. I imagine beaches are really hard to negotiate for the handicapped, but both Hapuna and Spencer how thatsomebody gave some thought to the problems.

Kiawe tree at Spencer Beach Park, Big Island

Last night’s sunset from our lanai was another great spectacle.

Sunset, Kona, Hawaii, 6/29/21

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Sunrise coloring the clouds over La’aloa cove, Kona, 6/27/21

To everyone reading this. If you visit the Big Island, you MUST do a snorkel adventure with manta rays. We did it last night. It was the second time for Mary Fran and I, first for the rest of the family. We took the tour with Bite Me Dive Tours, captains Lena and Rory, first mate Will. The Skipper and Gilligan they weren’t, but they did a great job and were fun and informative. We left Kona harbor at 6:00, 3 crew and 18 passengers aboard the fishing boat. A half hour later we arrived at Eel Garden Cove at the westernmost point of the Big Island. We donned wet suit tops, masks, and snorkels, got some last minute instructions from the boat crew and then went into the water. It was a few minutes before sunset.

The basic idea of the manta ray snorkel is that the mantas feed on plankton. Plankton is attracted to light. So, the crew put surfboards into the water with bright lights affixed to them. the surfboards had PVC pipe rails on which we all hung, nine or ten to a board. We had two boards for our boat an two for the company’s sister boat. There were three or four other dive boats at the same spot, so ten or twelve boards were in the water. All circled up to maximize the light shining into the water. We floated for awhile with heads down in the water seeing no mantas. Then a lone manta appeared near the bottom. Shortly after, another appeared. Not until we’d been in the water 20 to 25 minutes did the show really begin. Huge mantas, 15 foot wingspans and more, flew up to the lights, doing barrel rolls, and hoovering up plankton. Their gaping mouths seemed large enough to swallow a person as they aimed for the light. They came so close you could touch then, although nobody did. One ray did strike my son with his harmless tail. The show lasted about five or ten minutes and then we returned to the boat for the return. They are beautiful, graceful creatures and their performance will fill you with awe.

Sunset from the dive boat, manta ray adventure, 6/26/21

Today we visited a snorkel spot near Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (Place of refuge, Honaunau.) The snorkel spot is called Two Step because there are two lava steps into the water. Once in the water, you find coral formation after coral formation, each teeming with tangs, parrot fish, trigger fish, and a whole bunch I can’t name. A pod of dolphins makes the cove home. My son, who chanced upon them while swimming above, said there were ten, including two babies. I saw at least four surface several times.

We followed that with a tour of Pu’uhonua. a national park. Pu’uohonua was a place where people who were ill could seek healing from the gods, where people running from chiefs or kings could seek refuge and forgiveness for crimes, and where warriors would go to recover after battle. The place is filled with ancient heiau’s (sacred sights), stone platforms, and walls, plus replicas of buildings and carvings.

Pu’uohonua o Honaunau

The cover image of this blog was taken at Pu’uohonua o Honaunau.

On the way back we stopped at a fresh seafood stand beside the road and picked up some mahi mahi fillets to grill tonight and some lau lau to celebrate the last night in Hawai’i of the kids and grandkids, who leave tomorrow.

We started out early this morning for Hapuna Beach, in the South Kohala district, about 45 minutes from Kona. Dr. Beach rates Hapuna as the best US beach of 2021. It was gorgeous. The waves were gentle, but not so gentle you couldn’t boogie, albeit short rides. We stayed there all morning.

Hapuna Beach, Big Island, 6/26/21

Is Hapuna the best beach in the US? Who’s to say? Everybody has their preferences. I think this beach rates at the top with the Oahu beaches. Kailua? Waimanao? Hapuna? There’s not a lot of difference between them in rankings, IMHO.

Yesterday, we did Waimea and the Hamakua coast because Granddaughter said she wanted to see waterfalls. Waimea is cowboy (paniolo) country. We drove past vast stretches of ranch land climbing the slopes of Mauna Kea and Hualalai volcanoes. Waimea sits at nearly 3,000 feet and the pastures must have gone up another 3-5K feet. After Waimea, we entered a cloud forest of tall, stately eucalyptus trees fronting an ohia forest. We arrived at Waipi’o valley, a meeting place for Hawaiian ali’i in ancent times. The descent to the valley is treacherous with a 25 degree grade. Ted, with his 4WD Jeep declined. I think that was just good sense.

Waipi’o valley, 6/25/21

From Wapi’o, we passed through Honoka’a on the Hamakua coast. The narrow, twisting highway is flanked by lush, tropical vegetation on both sides of the road. Each turn opens up dramatic ocean vistas. Honoka’a is a quaint up-country town perched precariously above the ocean. The main street is lined with unique shops and restaurants. Not far from Honoka’a is Laupahoehoe point below the town of Laupahoehoe. In 1946, a tsunami wiped out the town and killed 18 students and two teachers. The town, itself was moved topside. A park and a monument are all that remain of the disaster site. To get to the site, you follow a narrow, twisting road. The seas at the bottom are rough and the lava is craggy. It’s a fearsome place.

Laupahoehoe Point 6/25/21

We found the waterfalls at Umauma. They are on private land, and you have to pay to enter. They are not, IMHO, as spectacular as Akaka Falls, but impressive in their own right.

Umauma falls, Hamakua Coast, 6/25/21

We did not make it to Akaka Falls because the grandkids were getting tired. On the way back we stopped at Safeway to load up on tako poke and spicy ahi poke. Because Michael des not like fish of any kind, we got some poke pipikalau, or beef poke. Pipikalau is a type of beef jerky, which isnot as dried as regular jerky. This was marinated in whatever they marinated the ahi poke in and was surprisingly good. Dinner was grilled teryaki beef, poke, rice, kimchi, potato salad, and broccoli salad.

We caught another spectacular sunset at La’aloa Beach.

Sunset, La’aloa, 6/25/21

Here is. the view at daybreak this morning. The seas are calmer than previous days.

Daybreak, Kona, 6/26/21

Tonight, we are set to snorkel with manta rays.

I didn’t post yesterday because the day began early. At 6:30 we got on the road, Ted and his family in the Jeep, Mary Fran, Michael, and I in the Mustang.We headed out to Volcano National Park. We took the southern route through Captain Cook, Kealekekua, and Punalu’u with a stop at the black sand beach. We passed macadamia orchards and coffee plantations, and, of course, miles and miles of lava fields. The Punalu’u beach wasn’t great for swimming. The water was too rough and the sea floor was too rocky, but there were a lot of turtles to view.

Water lily pond near Punalu’u Beach, 6/23/21
Punalu’u Beach 6/23/21

The changes to the volcano since our last visits were interesting. In 2017, we could see the lava lake fountaining in the caldera. Then came the violent eruption in May 2018, which left a huge crater hundreds of feed deep where the lava lake had been. It destroyed the crater rim road and the Jagger observation and education center. We returned to the volcano in October 2019 and stayed at the Volcano House for a couple of nights. At that time, they had been open only two weeks since the eruption eighteen months previously. Service, of course, was very limited. I don’t know how much service they were able to recover, but covid hit in January and in March 2020 they had to shut down again. Hawai’i has only begun reopening in June of this year, so they are still operating with limited service.

Mary Fran, Michael, and I hiked the short trail to the Sulphur Banks and steam vents, and then the short trail to the Thurston lava tube. The sad part of the trip was seeing the dead ohia trees, victim of rapid ohia death (ROD). This disease came into the area in 2018. Nobody knows the origin, but it attacks the ohia trees, which dreate the forest canopy around the volcano. They cannot remove the dear trees because doing so unleashes the spores of the disease. As yet, there is no way to prevent it, but only to contain it.

Mary Fran at Sulphur Banks, 6/23/21

After leaving the park we stopped for something to eat in nearby Volcano Village. The village is a little country town with a couple of scattered convenience stores and cafes. We stopped at one, Eagles Cafe, which is a small addition to the back of a convenience store. No inside dining. Dining was at picnic tables under a canopy. We had to wash our hands before entering. Inside was a tiny area where customers ordered food from a girl behind a counter. They served sandwiches to order, but thee special of the day was laulau plate, which came with a large laulau, big enough to share, a large scoop of rice, and a cup of bean salad. Laulau, for the unintiated, is pork and butterfish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. So ono!

Leaving Volcano, we hit rain which stayed with us down to Hilo and then over the saddle road between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The saddle road is a nice, new highway, but still scary in that it drops from 6000 ft to sea level in a space of about 4 miles.

I have taken a sunrise and sunset picture everyday of the trip. Here is yesterday’s sunset. It was gorgeous, with beautiful colors, but a few clouds at the horizon prevented a green flash.

Sunset, Kona, 6/23/21

Here is the sunrise pic. Kona is on the west side of the island, so it gets great sunsets. The sun rises over the mountains, which are often shrouded in clouds, so sunrises are not spectacular.

Surf at daybreak, Kona, 6/24/21

We cleared out of the condo in Waikiki yesterday and headed to the airport with a stop at Rainbow Drive-in for lunch. Rainbow Drive-in is a local favorite with several locations. We visited the one on School Street in Kalihi, justt down the hill from Kamehameha School. Rainbow serves plate lunches—lots of carbs and protein.

Awesome grindz!
Just part of their menu.—Broke da mouth, as they say in the islands.

Mary Fran and I split the mixed plate. It was more than enough for both of us. Ted and Michael had Loco Mocos. Granddaughter had the chili plate. Couldn’t ask for a better lunch.

Now we are in Kona. I picked up a Mustang convertible and Ted picked up a Jeep.

Last night’s sunset from the deck of the house we are renting was awesome. I saw a green flash and tried to capture it in the photo.

Sunset, Kona, 6/21/21

Here is the view this morning.

Kona daybreak, 6/22/21

Today we head to Kona. this will be our last day on Oahu until August., so here is the last sunset picture on Waikiki. I took this from the Duke Kahanamoku statue, focused on thee Pink Palace, the Royal Hawaiin with the sun going down between the high rises behind.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 6/20/21

Yesterday, Father’s Day, was a calm day. We walked thee beach while the kids climbed Diamond Head. Then we went to the Tropical Bar of the Hilton Hawaiian Village for bloody mary’s and lunch. Afterward, we all napped. in the evening, we strolled Waikiki. We hadn’t been out lon when we came across legendary Hawaiian musician Ledward Kalapana performing on a street stage on Lewers. I didn’t recognize him at first until he performed “Chicken in the Straw” which he performs on one of the albums I own. I got to meet him afterward. He will be one of the instructors in the Kahumoku workshop in August.

Ledward Kalapana, Lewers Street, Waikiki, 6/20/21

We walked through the Royal Hawaiian and visited the statue of Duke. That was as far as we got on Waikiki. Eveybosy was tired and hungry, so while Laura and the kids went back to the hotel, ed, Michael, Mary Fran, and I, visited the Blue Ocean food truck on Kuhio St They have an amazing selection—beef, lamb, chicken, fish, in all kinds of varieties. Unfortunately, they were out of shrimp tempura, wich Mary Fran wanted She settled for chicken pasta. I had mahi mahi. Ted and Michael had Hawaiian beef skewers. It was a long wait in line and even longer to get the food after ordering. Nevertheless, the food was good.

Thinking of Ledward Kalapana, Ledward is a common family name in Hawaii. Ted’ best friend in middle school was a Ledward. There are a lot of them on the Big Island. I don’t know if Kalapana is a member of the family. The Ledward name arrived in Hawaii on the HMS Bounty. Yes, that one. Ledward was the ship’s surgeon. I know this because I discovered Bligh’s journal in the UH library. Ledward stayed with the officers after the mutiny and went to Batavia (Now Jakarta) with them. When the rest went on to England, he stayed and caught a ship back to Hawaii.

So much for history. Here is the last sunrise picture on Oahu for a month and a half.

Sunrise Diamond Head 6/21/21

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