July 23, 2014

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Exploring The BIG Island on Our Free Day

We take our free day and run with it!

Now, before I begin, I need to remind you that this weekend is NOT the anniversary date of the Hawaii earthquake...nor is there any reason to think that another is due, about to happen, nor a Tsunami striking. (Someone apparently misunderstood and thought their relatives --fellow travelers-- had a tsunami drill. Not!)

But the pattern of this trip to Hawaii duplicates the timing, pacing, and even some of the same hotels and features as another from five years ago.

It was this Sunday morning at 7:07 a.m. and 7:14 a.m. when the big quake hit not only the big island, but also the rest of the island chain, BACK IN 2006...October 15th!  So you can imagine that we were a little tense to see what THIS Sunday morning brought....  only  a prank where one of the two in my room shook the bed to wake the other one at that tie!  LOL!

We rented a car and took off northward, attempting to reach a horse stable that promised range free riding, but also low rates. Unfortunately, our Internet reservation did not make it all the way through...and so the stables were closed today, and also the neighboring ranch was unavailable.  Well, occupied with reservations might be a better expression.

So, we attempted to call them both from the mountain side of Northwest Hawaii, and found the phone service was sporadic. We'd hear a partial ring and then loose signal from our cell phone.  We resolved to drive down to the shore community of Hawi and find a phone, a meal and some diversion.

What we found was the Boomerang... a restaurant in a converted former sugar cane factory building, that features "old Hawaii" charm with today's prices.  We ordered a hamburger and fries with a coke, and a Barbecue Pork sandwich with slaw and a diet coke. Guess how much the bill came to?   $25 plus tax... that's $2.25 per coke without refills...and totaled $26.46.  With tip to the waiter and the hostess... $30 bucks!

But we did get some invaluable info from the hostess... she suggested we travel East to the end of the road about 7 miles... to see the Punalo Valley overlook.  It was spectacular.  A classic view of an Hawaiian cliff and island... a lush green valley.  This part of the island has just wrapped around to be "wet" with regular winds and rain supporting lush growth.

I quipped that it looked like a green valley from Jurassic Park, and a passing hiker who had climbed up from the valley floor shocked me with the reply, "Actually, it was in the movie.  This and two other valleys nearby were shot as locator's scenes for the movie.  You can spot them if you look!"

We did look, as the local rumor was that a large whale had died and washed up on the black sand beach.  With binoculars, we could look down and make out the carcass, rolling and decaying in the surf.  We decided NOT to go down there.  So my wife and I struck off West and began to follow the coastline down to Kona once again.

We stopped at a little state park beach and overlook, and immediately spied several whales jumping, and breaching, and blowing out in the ocean.  It was a sight to behold.  We must have seen three dozen of these appearances on the surface, before we had to leave.

A long drive back to the hotel, and we're ready to score some Subway sandwiches on the end of our day off.  But we spied another couple walking two miles back to the hotel from where the shuttle should have picked them up.

Taking pity on them, we stopped and gave them a lift, and learned that they had not found a decent, cheep pair of shorts for him in the right price range yet this trip.  We turned the car around and returned to downtown Kona an found the Wal-Mart that we passed.

About ten minutes later, he and I are both trying on shorts, and find two pars each for $17 each.  We feel good that we have cooler needed shorts to wear the rest of the trip.

As we pack for tomorrow's jump to Maui, we're sorry to say goodbye to the big island. So many adventures... so much to explore. But this time, no earthquake.

More later-- Kirk

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