Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

What I’m Reading

Five Decembers 

James Kestrel

Hard Case Crime

October, 2021

The location is Honolulu, Hawai’i, the date, a few days before Thanksgiving, 1941. The discovery of the bodies of two young people, one, the nephew of the top admiral in Hawai’i, the other, an unidentified young woman, gives Honolulu Police Detective Joe McGrady his most challenging case. The story is set against the lead-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The whole country knows war is imminent. What McGrady doesn’t know is how the deaths of these two people affected the cataclysm that follows. 

McGrady gets a lead on the killer, but is unable to learn the identity of the young woman. He tracks the killer through the Pacific to Hong Kong where he arrives the day before the Japanese invade and conquer the territory. McGrady is taken prisoner, but is befriended by a Japanese official who helps him identify the young woman and the reason for her death. 

McGrady rides out the war in Tokyo where he witnesses the carnage that US air raids inflict on the populace. He also meets a beautiful woman who changes his life. Returning to Honolulu after the war, he is able to get his old job back, but learns that the case that sent him to the Pacific, has been closed. McGrady, however, believes the killer is still at large and continues to work the case on his own, sparking the ire of his superior.

Once again McGrady returns to Hong Kong to confront the killer and obtain justice for the two young people. He finally completes his mission in the dead of winter, five Decembers after taking on the case.

Five Decembers is a gripping story of heart-rending love and devotion in a time of inhumanity and destruction. It is wrapped around a skillfully written tale of murder and espionage. Kestrel masterfully recreates the setting and atmosphere of pre-war Honolulu and the Pacific. This is an absorbing novel that you will not want to put down and which you will revisit again and again. It will be released in October by Hard Case Crime. It is available for pre-order now on Amazon. A reminder that this year marks the eightieth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This book makes a valuable contribution to the literature of that era.

Like a summer heat wave, the new season of Guns + Tacos is on us. July saw the launch of season three, episode 13, Two More Tacos, a Beretta .32, and a Pink Butterfly. Dave Zeltserman delivers all the noir and all the carnage readers have come to expect from the series while twisting our emotions into tight knots, 

“Lance was the guy to call whenever there was an ugly, festering problem that badly needed lancing.”

That was how he got his moniker. The festering problem? A botched job by a low-level hit man that left a witness in the wind. Lance’s job is to find the witness and eliminate her. All he has to go on is that she is blonde and has a pink butterfly tattoo on her butt cheek. Lance sets an elaborate trap to catch the pink butterfly, but, when he does catch her, what does he do with her? Lance’s solution heats up the streets of Chicago. Once again, everybody’s favorite taco truck purveys the weaponry that gets the action started. Dave Zeltserman has crafted a story that you can’t put down. The twist at the end is both satisfying and disturbing. From Down & Out Books. Also available on Amazon. Do yourself a favor and get the whole season.

Outrigger Canoe, Colony Surf Beach, Waikiki, Sunset, 8/2/21

I’m trying to arrange ukulele lessons while in Waikiki, but it is really difficult with all of the covid restrictions. I had arranged some lessons with Roy Sakuma Studios, but they were canceled because of Covid. Yesterday, I approached The Ukulele Store in Waikiki because they advertise free lessons. However, they have discontinued them due to covid. The shop owner was very appologetic and directed me to Ukulele Hale in Kaimuki. I am waiting on a call-back from them, but due t the caution that is so evident in Hawaii, I am not holding onto much hope. I actually have a nagging fear that the Kahumoku workshop at the end of this month will be canceled. I hope that’s not so, but I can’t shake the fear.

I do applaud the Hawaiian’s attempts to mitigate the virus. You cannot go into any indoor public space without a mask. We cannot leave our condo without a mask. I carry a mask with me on my morning walks and put it on whenever I approach someone else on the street, just as I did in the early days of the pandemic. Most people on the streets are also wearing masks. Mask-wearers can even be found on the beaches. The state has made great efforts to educate people about masks and covid with signs everywhere, even painted on sidewalks. Hawaii has a lot to lose, so they need to cautious. There would be no place to send sick people if the hospitals fill up. Because of the efforts, the infection rate is less than half of Texas’s. I am going to hate to go bak to Texas when this trip is over. By September, I expect the virus to be burning through Texas like a California wildfire.

Music: We have tickets for two performances at the Blue Note. On Sunday, they are having a slack-key guitar festival with some top Hawaiian performers. The week after will be ukulele virtuoso Taimane. Yesterday evening we caught Blaine Kia & Kalei Kahalewai known as KAMANAWA performing free at Waikiki Beachwalk. Also performing hula were members of Blaine’s family.

KAMANAWA at Waikiki Beachwalk 8/3/21. Blaine’s wife and daughters dancing.
Blain Kia’s wife and son performing, 8/3/21

Kaimana Beach, near our condo, is home to a monk seal who has taken up residence there. She shows up every morning before six and leaves about sunset to hunt and forage. She gave birth to a pup a few months ago. The pup has now left on his own. This same seal has shown up here for several years. Monk seals re protected, so whenever she shows (whenever any seal shops up on any beach) an alert is sent out and volunteers appear to rope off the sand for her and shoo people away. I heard a story that a honeymoon couple recently came across a seal. The bride went to pet it and the seal became aggressive. I think the bride might have slapped the seal. The groom got it all on video and, stupidly, posted it to social media. Now the honeymooners are facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Nice way to start off a marriage.

Monk seal, Kaimana Beach

We got ourselves bus passes. The wait was nearly two hours because so many people wanted to purchase them. The passes cost $6 each and are good for a month. Now that we have them, we can go anywhere on Oahu.

I had forgotten how easy it is to get anywhere by walking in Honolulu. This morning, I walked the length of the. Ala Wai Canal to McCully street, which took me out of Waikiki. From there, I walked up to King Street through the Mo’ili’ili area. The small homes there looked just as I remembered from forty years ago. The only change is the market at King and Algoroba is gone. Bob Heath’s Nomos Institute was located in a tiny office above the market when I worked for him as a graduate assistant from ‘77 to ‘79. The University Federal Credit Union next door to where the market was has had a facelift as has the Jack In The Box on the corner, but nothing else has changed. From there I walked to University and King Streets, where Kinko’s was located as was Moose Magillycuddy’s where we hung out after classes at UH. The Moose has moved to Lewers St. in Waikiki. I don’t know where Kinko’s moved to. From there, I walked down University to Iolani School, around the school on a nice jogging path that took me to Kapahulu and back to Kapiolani Park. Total distance: 7 miles, time: about 2 hours.

Sun rising over Koolau Mountains, Kapiolani Park, 8/3/21

Saw this sign on a restaurant on King Street and am really curious what they serve. Tempura BBQ?:

Japanese restaurant, King St. Honolulu, 8/4/21

Out condo is next door to the Outrigger Canoe Club. Most people recognize the Outrigger as the Kamehameha Club run by Larry Mannetti on the old Magnum PI. From our window we can look down on the club’s sand volleyball courts. The club shares a beach with our condo. Yesterday we were on the beach and met Kawika and Eric Shoji, two members of the US men’s volleyball team who had just returned from Japan. They, of course, are buddies with our nephew Murphy, who won bronze with the team in Rio.

Yesterday we brought the Big Island part of our vacation to a close. In six weeks, we saw parts of the island we has not seen before (Some parts had been added since our last visit in 2018, the lava filling in Pohoiki Bay being one f them). We also crammed a lot of activities into our stay. We spent four weeks in Kona on the Western side of the island. Most of that time we had the kids and grandkid with us, followed by my sister Anne and brother-in-law, Mike. We snorkeled, surfed, hiked, swam with the mantas, and toured Waipi’o valley. We filled the period between adventures with gin & tonics and poke.

After the Anne and Mike left, we moved to a condo in Hilo for two weeks, just the two of us. Instead of being close to a beach, as we were in Kona, we were close to tide pools and a tropical rain forest.

Carl Smith Beach Park, Keaukaha, Hilo,July 2021

Hilo, on the windward side, tends to get more rain than Kona. We had rain nearly every day. Some days were intermittent, while other days it rained all day. It was never enough to prevent us from doing what we wanted. Mostly we relaxed, visited the markets, and toured lava fields in Puna. There is a lava museum in Pahoa where we spent an hour and a half looking at the exhibits, learning about the lava flows and the geology of the islands from the curator. In Hilo, we toured the Lyman museum, which is marvelously informative about the flora and fauna of the Big Island. We also learned about the history of the Big Island, and, in particular, the immigration of different peoples to work the sugar plantations. The Hawaiian labor force had been greatly reduced by European diseases. First the planters imported Chinese. They were followed by Portuguese from the Azores. Then came Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos. The planters hoped that by bringing in different groups, they could eliminate labor strife by making it difficult for their workers to organize. It probably worked for a time. but the workers did get together and developed a common language, pidgin english, which is a vibrant creole of Hawaiian, English, and all the other languages.

Music, of course, grew out of the mix. The Portuguese created the ukulele based on several instruments they were familiar with in Portugal. The ukulele, European music, Hawaiian chant, and music traditions from other cultures produce a combination that, like pidgin and like Hawaiian food, is unique to the islands. We discovered the Hilo Town Tavern which had live music several nights a week. We went three times to lear a local group called Kanikapila, who were great. They played all of the Hawaiian standards. Every night, people in the audience would get up and dance, and even join the musicians in performing some songs,

Kanikapila at Hilo Town Tavern with two dancers from the audience.
Hilo Town Tavern, July 27, 2021
Rainbow Falls, Wailuku River, Hilo, Hawaii.

Yesterday, we left Hilo and moved to Waikiki. Our new place on the 20th floor of the Colony Surf, which is at teh Diamond Head end of Waikiki. In fact, Diamond Head fills the view from our window.

Sunrise, Diamond Head, July 30, 2021.
Sail boats off Diamond Head, Waikiki, July 30, 2021.

We have a month here of mostly quiet time, ukulele practice, and visits to museums and old haunts. The temperature here is 82 and breezy so it doesn’t feel like 82. In Dallas and College Station, the temps are 98 and 96 respectively. Why go back?

In previous posts, I lamented that we had not found the good Hawaiian music we had hoped for. One exception was chancing upon Led Ka’apana’s street side performance. Aside from that, we felt that music venues were non-existent or hard to get to. Granted, we didn’t stay long in Waikiki, which has the most music venues, but we had hoped to find some good ones in Kona. Lava Lava Beach Club has a regular schedule, including Henry Kapono, but getting in might require a wait of up to two hours and they put a time limit on your stay. They don’t take reservations, so it is a crapshoot if you can get in for the performance. Huggo’s is similar. We did get into Huggo’s one evening. The performer that night might be up-and-coming, but wasn’t giving his A performance. The entertainment at the luau we attended was actually superior to most luau entertainment, but a luau is a one-off event. So all-in-all, we’ve been disappointed until Tuesday night.

Tuesday, we scored twice. We decided to have dinner at a Japanese noodle/sushi restaurant that looked good. We were not disappointed. The restaurant is small, and, because of covid, operating at 50% capacity, so the wait was long. It was also understaffed because of covid, so service was slow. We understand that and do not hold it against them. We had a hamachi (yellow fin) sushi roll. Mary Fran had the char siu noodle bowl and I had the tan tan noodle bowl. I added a shoyu egg to mine. The noodles were excellent. If you are in Hilo, go to Moms. The long wait and slow service worked in our favor, because we got out later than we intended, just in time to hear a band starting up at Hilo Town Tavern. Had we gtten out earlier, we might have headed directly home without hearing music. We had tried Hilo Town Tavern before, but they had no performers on that night. On this night, however, the performers were a group who call themselves Kanikapila, which means “Let’s play music.”

The group Kanikapila at Hilo Town Tavern, 7/21/21

We had seats almost at the front. As you can see, there was only one table in front of us. The guys in the band gave their names, but I didn’t recognize them. I recognized most of their songs. They did a great job on them. At one point during the performance, they called a young guy up from the audience to join them. He sang some Lena Machado songs. Lena is a long-time performer who was very popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s. She was great at hitting the high registers and this kid was surprising at hitting them too. Then the guys at thee table in front of us left and the server took it a ay to open the dance floor. First the young kid took the floor and did the hula to Hi’ilawe and a couple of other songs.

Solo dancer at Hilo Town Tavern 7/20/21

When he finished, he invited his kumu hula, his dance teacher, to perform. Finally, three aunties in the audience stepped up to perform. It was exactly the kind of spontaneous fun we had been looking for.

Kumu hula, Hilo Town Tavern, 7/20/21
Aunties, Kumu, and the kid, Hilo Town Tavern 7/20/21

They will be performing there again on Friday night and we will be there.

While Mary Fran was getting a pedicure downtown yesterday, I stopped in at the Ukulele and Guitar store on main street (Kamehameha.) I made an appointment for some lessons with the uke instructor at the store.

Hilo has been rainy and, unlike Texas, cool the past two days. The forecast is for more rain and cool temps all week. That’s fine with us. We don’t need to hit the beach everyday. Just looking at the lush vegetation is enough to remind us how lucky we are to be here. The rain seems to be the remnant of tropical storm, now depression, Felicia that is petering out as it nears the islands. Bye, bye Felicia.

Incredible colors in the sky and water just after sunset last night, Hilo, 7/21/21
Maunakea in the distance shrouded in early morning clouds, 7/21/21

We moved over to the other side of the island Saturday, to a condo in Hilo. It’s not a bad little condo, but, as in previous trips, the condo in Hilo is the most disappointing of all. It’s a comfortable, two-bedroom place, but the furnishings are drab and lacking in imagination. The view is very different than the views in the Kona condos. No dolphins playing in the water. Instead, we look out on a tropical rainforest surrounding a series of tide pools. It’s very pleasant and relaxing. Because Hilo is on the eastern side of the mountains, we don’t get to see sunsets. Instead, get to see Hilo streets at night.

Downtown Hilo, 7/17/21

We wen looking for a place to eat and perhaps hear live music. We found Hilo Town Tavern, in the building with the mural of a woman. It’s a dive bar that we were told might have performers. Unfortunately on that night it didn’t. The burgers were big and delicious and the beer was cold, so what more could you ask. The bar is on Keawe St. which has a string of bars and eateries, so we will be returning to it.

One of the reasons we are taking an extended vacation is so that we can enjoy and savor the local culture. When the kids were with us, I regretted that we didn’t have more time to do just that. We were always going here and there to some new sight or beach, which of course was fun, but we didn’t really connect with the locals. Yesterday, Sunday, we spent some time wandering around a huge farmer’s market between Kea’au and Pahoa, the Maku’u market. The market itself covered several acres. It was row upon row of fruit and vegetable sellers, craft sellers, plant sellers, and food vendors. There were Hawaiian, Thai, and Mexican offerings. There were coffee vendors and a guy selling vintage aloha shirts. I had to force myself to stay away from his tent.

Maku’u Farmer’s Market entrance.
Lychee and Rambutan from the Maku’u market

W bought papayas, avocados, bananas, tomatoes, onions, and lychee from a Chinese lady who tossed in some rambutans for free.

It’s easy enough to eat your way across the island. On leaving the market, we passed a stand selling laulau and another selling hulihuli chicken. We stopped for the chicken and bought one whole one we will probably eat all week. The guy was also frying fish, which looked good and smelled even better. i would have bought some, but there was just the two of us. I did buy some lummpia—bananas wrapped in egg roll wrappers and deep fried. They were warm, so we ate them in the car. We stopped at Sack n Save for ahi poke and tako poke.

This stretch of coast doesn’t have much in the way of beaches. Instead, it has beach parks around tide pools among the lava. We have yet to visit the pools, but plan to do so soon.

Tide pools at Keaukaha Beach Park, Hilo. Mauna Kea in background with observatories on the peak.

I walked down the rod and came across some Nene, the Hawai’i state bird.

Nene in Hilo, 7/19,21

We have a tropical forest behind our condo, so the sun rise is hidden by the luxuriant foliage.

Sunrise, Hilo, 7/19/21

It’s been a full week with Anne and Mike. We had our anniversary brunch at Magics near Magic Sands beach. The food was good; the view was better. They had a fancy drink, the Lilikoi Lani that was too sweet for me. The Big Wave Ale is a good fallback when the drinks disappoint.

Mary Fran and Anne at Magics, 7/11/21
Good size crowd at Magic Sands. Moderate waves, 7/11/21

On Monday we toured paniolo country up in Waimea and then headed to Waipi’o Valley and the Hamakua Coast. One thing about a convertible—the front passengers are comfortable but the passengers in back get beat up by the wind. We tried riding with the windows up, which helped a little, but ultimately decided to keep the top up except for some scenic stretches with low speed limits. The other thing we learned is that, at 70 years old, getting out of the car, especially the back seat, can be a challenge. It’s easier to do with the top down, but even so, we are not leaping out of the car like teenagers.

Tex Drive-in in Honoka’a is reputed to be one of the top three places for malasadas on the Big Island. We tried them, but found them disappointing. I think we have been spoiled by Leonard’s Malasadas in Honolulu. We visited Laupahoehoe Point, which we had visited with the kids and then went on to Akaka falls near Honomu. Honomu is a quaint little plantation town that boasts a bakery, an Orthodox church, a Hongwanji Mission, a Roman Catholic church, and a United Church of Christ, all in a two-block stretch of the main street. It’s the kind of town I could move to.

Akaka Falls, 7/12/21

The. next day we spent the morning at Magic Sands, doing boogie boarding and then went to the market for some booze. As might be expected, we bought too much.We still have a lot left over.

Sunset 7/13/21, Kona

Wednesday, we visited Hapuna Beach and then went to a luau at Mai Grille near the Hilton Waikoloa. Most luau’s are held at a beach. This, however, was held at a golf course. At first we were skeptical. It was smaller in venue than other luau’s, a tad more formal (shoes and masks are required.) The dinner was plated instead of buffet style, which also makes for a different atmosphere. The entertainment was great. The musicians were terrific. I talked to them afterwards about ukes and Hawaiian music. The dancers were a delight to see. Thy avoided the schlocky stuff you often see at luau’s where people from the audience are invited on stage to try to hula while everybody makes fun of them. Even the fire dancer was exciting.

Mai Grille Luau dancers, sunset, 7/14/21

Thursday, we toured the volcano and had lunch at Kilauea Lodge in Volcano Village. The lodge is an historic building, having been built in 1938 as a YMCA. It has a huge fireplace made of stones contributed by Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs from across the US and other countries. Mary Fran and I had not heard of it, so it was really a pleasant surprise. We all had burgers, which were fine. Mike had his first loco moco, We shared a bowl of Portuguese bean soup. The volcano, itself, is an impressive reminder of nature’s force. A crater one thousand six hundred eighty feet deep was blasted out of the caldera in 2019.

On this excursion, we made a stop at Punaluu Black Sand Beach, which is home to green sea turtles who frequently bask on the beach. Sea turtles almost never bask on a beach, except fo a few species of green sea turtles and only in a few locations. Hawai’i is one of those places. Hawksbill turtles can be found in the waters, but never on the beach. Sea turtles are protected and people are required tto keep their distance.

Green sea turtle, Punalu’u Beach, 7/15/21

Most mornings this week, we have seen a pod of Hawaiian spinners in the water off our lanai. We are usually alerted to their presence by guide boats slowing down to observe them. After watching these boats all week, I have decided that there needs to be further restrictions on how close the boats and swimmers can get to them. At present, boats are not allowed to pursue dolphins and swimmers are not allowed to try to catch up to them, but only float above them. From what i see, I think too many boats and swimmers are crossing the line.

One aside, Mary Fran thinks the captain of the boat that took us snorkelig, Captain Sharkey, resembles Gardner McKay who played Adam Troy in Adventures in Paradise.

Sunset last night, 7/15/21. No green flash.
Bad weather at sea, 7/16/21

Anne and Mike left this morning, so it will just be the two of us for the next six weeks.

Today is our fifty-first anniversary. We had planned this trip for our fiftieth, but covid interfered and put the plans on hold.

Sunset, Kona, 7/10/21

Last night’s sunset was very different. There were more clouds than on previous nights, which added greatly to the colors. This morning was clear and bright, but clouds and rain are predicted for today.

Daybreak, tidepool, Kona, 7/11/21

The last two days have been snorkeling days. Friday we visited Kahalu’u Beach where we had gone with Michael. The water was full of yellow tangs, black triggerfish (humuhumu’ele’ele), which is a black, blimp-shaped fish with white or blue lines, almost neon in brightness along its dorsal fins.There was also the other type of triggerfish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, which was not as abundant. We had to be careful because the coral was recently spawning. We saw new dollar-sized coral, which the beach volunteer said were probably a year old.

After the snorkel trip we went to the farmer’s market down the road for avocados, tomatoes, bananas, lychee, and papaya. I had forgotten how great locally grown Hawaiian bananas taste. So much better than chiquita bananas. We stopped at Costco and picked up some huge Kaua’i shrimp, which we grilled with shoyu, wine vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Gas at Costco was fifty cents cheaper per gallon than in Kona.

Yesterday, we took a snorkeling cruise to Keaulekekua Bay. The boat left the harbor at 8:00. There were 23 aboard. We stopped partway to the bay when the captain spotted a pod of dolphins. We tried to get in the water to float near them (we are not allowed to chase of swim with them, be we can float). However, I couldn’t see any. the irony is that we were just offshore from our condo. Had we been sitting on the lanai, we’d have had a better view of them. Th image below was taken from the boat. If you expand it, our condo is in the center.

Kealakekua Bay is where Cook arrived on his third voyage. The legend is that the Hawaiians were celebrating the god Lono and Cook’s arrival with his sailing vessels was seen as an omen and possibly a manifestation of Lono. Other’s think he was simply revered as a great chief. He had already been to Kaua’i and Maui, so he could have already been known. After departing Kealakekua, he ran into a storm, which damaged his ship, so he returned. The Hawaiian’s were suspicious of his reasoning. Then a Hawaiian stole one of his longboats, which they burned (or planned to burn) to retrieve the iron nails. Cook went to take a chief prisoner to hold as hostage for the return of the boat. On the way back to the ship, a British solder killed a Hawaiian. The Hawaiians fought back and Cook was killed in the melee. Some of Cooks remains were returned to the sailors, but some of his bones are supposedly buried above the bay.

The bay has the most extensive coral formations we have seen in Hawai’i. The reef is long and el-shaped. Lots of tang, triggerfish, angel fist, parrot fish, and a bunch of other amazingly colorful fishes. We also saw three spotted-eagle rays, which are smaller than manta rays, and which feed on shrimp and crabs. Mary Fran spotted the rays from the boat after we had left the water.

The plan for today is to to have brunch at Magic Sands Grill. Later, Anne and Mike will do the manta ray swim.

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

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