Saturday, March 7, 2020

February 22, 2020 My Travel Style...Wander Aimlessly With A Purpose

As I watched the sunrise from our kitchen window, I thought about why I feel traveling is good for my soul. I've been traveling all my life. I've lived in most of the major cities between New York and Chicago. I've spent most of my childhood traveling to visit family. Some of my fondest memories are of those trips. I haven't lived near any of my family since 1984. So I still love visiting my family and friends. I've joked about still having that childlike wonder of seeing something for the first time. It's true especially when I am traveling. I stood here watching the sun rise like it was the first one I ever saw. I love that I am still in awe of such a simple thing.

This is the view from the back deck of the VRBO house we are staying at in Hawi on the North Shore of Hawaii. The Pacific Ocean view past the old sugar plantation field is one of the reasons we decided to stay here. We are not resort people. Everyone enjoys different ways to travel, I enjoy staying with the locals and learning about the places I visit. Christy and I preferred staying at B&B's or small locally owned Inns over the years. 

When AirBnB and VRBO's became available, we search for a place to stay whenever possible. Here's our house for the next couple of days. The owners live in the house up front and rent out this plantation house in back.

This is our front yard with a hot tub. Apparently Hawaii is paradise.
The only place we have to be today is at the Kona Airport about 12:30pm to pick up our friends,Tom & Laurie. So how does one wander aimlessly with a purpose? We will definitely stop at the Farmer's Market up the street. We love Farmer Markets and like to support them whenever possible. After that, we have no plans except to explore the Big Island.

This incredible tree provided shade over most of the Farmer's Market.
I bought a mango pineapple pound cake, fresh picked carrots and white chocolate macademia nut cookies. While I picked up a liliko'i (passion fruit) lemonade in a mason jar... 

....Chrissy took pictures of the local flowers for sale.

Even though we had to head west and south to get to Kona, we decided to drive east on Route 270 toward the end of the road.
We saw a sign for Keokea Beach Park and followed the winding narrow road down to this beautiful place.

We sat on these rocks and relaxed in the sun...

...and watched the locals having fun.

I have loved the ocean my entire life. It's the sound of waves crashing down and the distinct smell of salt water in the air that makes me feel at home on a beach. 

I could have sat here all day long and it would have been a great day to me.

But it is such a perfect day for photographs, I decided to move along.

I never saw any monk seals but Chrissy did when we went to Oahu.

Just about everywhere we walked in the little park was a great photo opportunity.

These warning signs were on every beach we visited.

There were some locals up at the pavillion above the beach that were gathering to get a petition signed for a bypass bridge along the Akoni Pule Highway. I thought it was so cool that the beach was used for town meetings. 

So if you've been reading this blog over the years, you know I have a fascination with cemeteries.
We saw this one on the way down to the beach and we obviously stopped here on the way out.
This is the Kohala Hongwaji Mission Cemetery on the Keokea Beach Road.

This is a Japanese Cemetery that is part of the local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple.

A little research says that Buddhists leave an offering of fruit, flowers, drinks and burning candles or incense at grave sites.

A Northern Red Cardinal was singing above the cemetery.

Chrissy & I were both impressed with the height of these evergreen trees.

Since we didn't have time to continue to the end of the road. We headed back toward Hawi. But then I saw a Shoreline Access sign and turned down Maluhia Road and ended up at a maintenance garage for the upscale Hawaii Island Retreat. We followed the signs to these cliffs high above the ocean.

I really enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing on the rocky shoreline. 

Chrissy noticed the strange pillowy soft looking pine trees along the access road. So we stopped on the way out to take pictures.

I believe these are Common Ironwood trees also known as Australian Pine.

We still have some time to kill, so we stopped here because it is a snorkeling beach.

This place used to be the commercial harbor of Kohala Sugar Company until 1956. It is a popular snorkeling location due to underwater old mill equipment and a nearby shipwreck.

I'll admit I am a history dork, so I was excited to find this Army Corp of Engineers marker on the dock.

While I was taking pictures of a brass marker on the dock. Chrissy was taking pictures of these wierd looking and freakishly fast moving crabs.

And I continued to take pictures of the historical past on this beach.

The shoreline access signs were everywhere and unfortunately so were the unwanted pets signs. We saw evidence of people ignoring the unwanted pets signs. It appears that assholes live everywhere, even in paradise.

The state allows camping at the beaches. I took this from the campsite side of Mahukona Beach Park.

We headed south and picked up Tom & Laurie who had a longer than expected trip to Hawaii. Their flight from Cleveland to Detriot was canceled. They had to fly to NYC to catch a late flight to LA. Barely had time to sleep and left LA early in the morning for Hawaii. They wanted eat so we headed south for lunch.
Chrissy found this place for real Hawaiian food. To be honest, it didn't look like much from the outside. It was a small building with only 8 parking spots. The inside was like an oversized house dining room with a large kitchen. The menu only had a few options. We absolutely loved this place. 

The staff was incredibly friendly. They knew all the regular customers by name and treated the tourists like family. We had the pork laulau, chicken laulau (both are wrapped in taro leaves) and the Kalua pig and cabbage with rice and potato macaroni salad on the side. We loved every thing we ordered. Then we had the Haupia Sweet Potato Pie for dessert. I'll just say the flight to Hawaii is worth it just for a slice of that pie.
Prepping the laulau in the back.

After lunch we stopped at the Royal Kona Coffee Center. I'm not a coffee drinker but Laurie knew this area has a very special coffee bean.

It was also a visitor center. I took pictures of these panels showing the history and origins of what we believe to be Hawaiian but most actually were brought in from other places. Unfortunately not all the photos are easy to read.

We also toured the grounds here where they process the beans.

I love the colors of tropical plants. Chrissy took most of these flower pictures.

Then we drove up to the Kona Cloud Forest. I had never heard of the Cloud Forest but Laurie knew about it. It sounded like fun so off we went. There was a misty rain most of the drive but we got out to take pictures along the way.

I had no idea that Hawaii has feral roosters and chickens running wild across the island.
The roadside beauty is found quite often around this island.

As we headed north on Route 190 toward Waimea, we stopped at this lava flow to stretch our legs. This was the first time we drove inland on the island. There is a lot more vegetation than along the coast road.

Tom & Laurie doing pretty good with so little sleep.

We didn't find a place to eat in Waimea, that ended up being a cool twist of fate...more on that later. So we stopped at the house in Hawi to drop off luggage.

Then we raced down the west coast to Kapa'a Beach Park to watch the sun set.

Chrissy, Tom & Laurie enjoying a beautiful sunset.

While everyone was relaxing on the rocks, I walked around to take pictures...

...and put my feet in the ocean. The one thing I wanted to do every day was put my feet in the ocean. So far, so good.

Besides picking Tom & Laurie up, I had no idea what we would do today. So we wandered aimlessly and I thouroughly enjoyed myself. The "with a purpose part" was to not only see new places but be a part of the local culture. The fantastic staff at Super J's and supporting local farmers made that easy earlier today. But after the sunset, we had dinner at Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery in Hawi. We sat at a table next to the local musician who was playing before we got there. I love live music and he mixed Hawaiian music with popular music. Then he announced the local basketball team had just won the Hawaii High School championship. The North Kohala school only has 265 students, they beat a school with 1500 students. The younger members of the restaurant staff went outside with banners as the basketball team drove by the restaurant with horns honking and lots of cheering. That excitement put a huge smile on my face for the rest of the trip every time I thought about it. Sometimes I feel like something more powerful than dumb luck puts me somewhere I need to be.

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