Sunday, November 20, 2011

Breakfast= hotel coffee and cold leftovers. Hurrah for hotel fridges!

Today we drove to the volcano. It was really lousy weather out, if you can believe it.  Dreary, high clouds and a Portlandesque wet mist. We drove, listening to one of two stations we could get – an AM station on which we hoped to catch some NFL (mostly they were discussing the Penn state child sex abuse scandals, which had just broke that week) and KWXX the native music channel. At a point the day before, we found a cd on the ground which had a bunch of lousy r&b music on it, but it did have the Cee Lo Green "F-You!" song, but it was the radio edit so it was forget you!

We passed a couple of Hawaiian pheasants which I learned were an invasive species. We also saw signs for nene crossing – the Hawaiian goose which is a native species. Its biggest predator is automobiles. We didn’t see any nene, but we drove passed some animals grazing in a field.

“Moo!” DMV said as we passed a cow.
“He haw!” he said as we passed a donkey.
“Zebra,” he finished as we passed said animal. I laughed. He tried to explain, “it surprised me!”

I learned later that the gardens spoke of in descriptions of our resort from the 1970 must have been where the pool is (between the rooms). Still not sure where the art was, although there were still the huge murals. 

Also, flip flops (or the footwear previously known as thongs) are called slippers here.
The volcano was kinda of a wash – literally. Wet wet wet. We waltzed out passed the closed Volcano House and out to the first overlook of the caldera. Very deep, with a forest at the bottom,  but not much else. We walked a bit further, and Donnie picked up some wild ginger and started chewing on it. The second overlook actually gave us a look at the flat base of the crater, with paths leading off through it. Portions of the paths were closed due to Pele letting escape some deadly gasses. I did see a lady walking with a red umbrella through the trees. No idea how she got down there.

A good thing about the rain? They filter it and have it available for you to fill your reusable water bottle with at the ranger station.

I asked a ranger about a path I had read about before our trip, where a group of people under one of the Alii fighting Kamehameha the Great had been killed by a massive eruption of suffocating gases. Apparently you could still see their footprints in the desert. He was happy to tell me since “it is one of my favorite hikes no one ever goes on.”  Aren’t those magical words to a traveler? Kinda like, “it’s where the locals eat. ”

We scarfed down a few Tiger Milk bars on our hike, which was pretty uneventful, but much dryer than our time on the mountain. There were a few bouts of sprinkles, but mostly it was dry and warm and the sun peeked out. The desert area is very rocky, with lots of chances to view a’a and pahoehoe. There were scrubby little trees that made us feel like we were giants walking over a Lilliputian landscape. Also some packed mud earth, which was what the footprints were encased in. It looked like rock.

The pavilion built over the footprints, or what is left of them, was old and someone disused. There was one interpretative sign that didn’t really tell us much except that the army had been killed in 1790. The footprints are more or less is indentations that may or may not last a few more centuries. A bit forgotten, not very attractive, but thought provoking, and a good way to spend a rainy afternoon when you can’t see anything through the fog.

We did stop at the black sand beach. The sand IS really black. Be careful not to trip over turtles.

Driving back, on a whim we stopped at a cemetery. Didn’t take any photos as I thought it might be a little disrespectful (there were other people in the cemetery). The plots were very interesting though-most all of them were decorated, some even with items as large as surf boards. The oldest date (although not the original headstone) was for Alexander Hutchinson, the founder of the Hutchinson Sugar Plantation. He died when his rowboat capsized while he was returning with two workers who defected.

DMV wanted coffee so we stopped at the Punalua Bakery – “the most Southern bakery in the US!” They make extremely fluffy sweet loaves, including some tinted with taro (purple) and guava (pink). We bought a two pack of coconut buns, which were pretty amazing. Tucked inside a fist sized bun was a coconut center more like a macaroon!

We descended back down into Kona and headed to the brewery. We sat outside and saw everyone ordering pizza, so we followed suit and got the buffalo chicken style and a few pints of beer. The Koko brown ale was slightly sweet with a hint of coconut, and was quite dark. The Wet hopped brew on tap was nice and zingy. Tip – be sure to ask what the seasonal is. We didn’t see that one on any menu.

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