Kona Weekend

So I got to spend this past weekend in Kona – lovely trip.  It was actually precipitated by work – I had to go to Hilo on Friday to give two presentations to a conference of the Hawaii State Bar Association.  The presentations went well – the event was held at the Imiloa Astronomy Center which was pretty neat.  The audience laughed at the jokes, applauded vigorously when I was done and had lots of questions – so I guess they enjoyed it.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

Like most trips lately it was not without its travel snafus.  My flight to Hilo was fine but when I arrived Avis had no record of my reservation.  O.K., no big crisis, I plopped my little Avis Preferred card on the counter and asked what cars they had.  "All I can give you right now is a Jeep Wrangler."  Oh.  Windy, noisy, wet (and it was raining, of course), bouncy and generally uncomfortable was my previous experience with the Wrangler.  Fun when you’re on your honeymoon I suppose, but not really what I wanted for this trip.  She checked further and discovered that they had a blue PT Cruiser available – fine.  I took it.

Maureen was supposed to fly in from L.A. and join me in Hilo.  The plan was I’d pick her up at the airport after my presentations, we’d have dinner in Hilo then make the ~2 hour drive around the north side of the island to Kona to the Sheraton Keauhou Resort where we had a room for the weekend.

Well…her Hawaiian Airlines flight out of L.A. was delayed by about 6 hours so she got Hawaiian Airlines to reroute her so that she flew directly into Kona instead.  When my presentations were finished I grabbed a soft drink for the road from the world’s slowest Jack-in-the-Box and began the drive by myself.  I had brought Emma with me but the PT Cruiser (like the Pontiac Vibe I had in Boston) had only one power outlet so I ran Emma off the batteries and used the power outlet for my iPod.  Emma did just fine and a couple of hours later I glided easily into the Sheraton parking lot.  Got checked into the room, did a quick e-mail check, then headed back out to pick up Maureen at the airport.

Her flight got redirected but unfortunately her luggage didn’t.  Her bag wasn’t going to arrive until the next morning.  She was a good sport about it, though, and we headed back to the hotel – both pretty tired but happy to be in Kona.  Our room had an amazing balcony and a great view of the pool and the ocean.

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Exploring the Kohala Coast

After breakfast on Saturday we spent most of the day driving up the coast to Kohala and back.  We had a great time turning onto random side roads just to explore them and see where they went – found all sorts of neat little places we wouldn’t have seen if we’d just stayed on the main road.

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Up in Kohala we wandered the shops and galleries – probably spent close to an hour in the Kohala Book store wandering up and down the aisles.  We probably spent about 15 minutes laughing over a copy of one of Gary Larsen’s books.  I kept waiting for the shopkeeper to wander back to find out what was so funny.

In one of the galleries I found a nice kanji wall hanging that caught my eye (It says "Calm Spirit") and the proprietor showed us these woven wire bowls that are from South Africa, made out of phone wire and crafted by a collective of artists there.  So I bought them. 🙂

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Whales!

Driving along the coast provided some spectacular views of the ocean and as we cruised along at one point those spectacular views included distinctive water spouts.  We decided to pull over and see if we could get some pictures of the whales – alas while we saw lots of spouts a few tails and at least twice saw a significant breach (i.e. most of a whale jumping up out of the water) we somehow managed to not be able to catch much of that with the cameras.  We were always just a second or two too late to snap the photo and all we ended up with is pictures of water and splash.

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What’s "a meal?"

One thing we discovered is that North Kohala has a lot of shops, galleries and closed restaurants.  We stopped into a coffee place and Maureen asked the counter girl if there was anywhere in town we could actually get a meal as all of the restaurants appeared to be closed, at least for lunch.  "A meal" the girl said with a slightly confused smile.  Finally she replied that the place downstairs had food.  Indeed they did.  After browsing their short menu we opted for a couple of Black Angus burgers which were quite tasty. 

The other thing we found in Kohala is the Internet.  In case you, like P, were wondering where it was:

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There are lots of interesting buildings in Kohala, including a movie theater that has apparently been closed for a while and a few curious roadside buildings.

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On the way back from Kohala we swung by Waimea just to see what’s there.  Lucky we did – at the Waimea Men’s shop we found exactly the hat we’d been looking for since Vegas – a stylish dark brown fedora vaguely reminiscent of Indiana Jones.  It was also about half the price of the hats we’d been looking at in Vegas so I bought it on the spot.

Cowboys or Peppers

Back at the hotel we asked the concierge to recommend a local eatery where we could grab a bite.  She recommended "Los Caballeros" (or so I thought) which was just a few minutes away.  Pleased with that suggestion we headed over there and arrived to discover that it’s actually called "Los Habaneros" – I guess I must have mis-heard her.  Well, whatever you call it the quesadilla was delicious and the soft tacos were pretty good.

We grabbed some ice cream on the way back to the hotel and ate it on the great balcony, then enjoyed a nice late-evening soak in the Jacuzzi before calling it a night.

Super Bowl Sunday

On Sunday we got up, had breakfast and went on photo-quest.  Maureen needed to get some pictures for a photography class she’s taking so we spent part of the morning strolling the grounds and gardens looking for good shots.

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Photo-quest completed (at least mostly) we settled into the poolside bar to eat fries, sip some Pina Coladas and watch the Super Bowl.  It was a good game and even though we didn’t much care who won we had a good time watching the game and the small crowd of people who gathered to watch and passed through the bar and were enjoying the pool and waterslide.

Game over it was time for us to head for the airport and return to Oahu.  Our return trip was uneventful and pleasant.

Memorable Moments

  • "National Hysterical Park" – That is one funny-ass park!
  • "I don’t see any manta rays.  I think P is a wacky chick."  "Maybe she made it up to cover the fact that she and John never left the room?"
  • "Hello gecko!"
  • Deadwendys.com
  • "Ugh.  Creepy 40-year-old guy ogling the 14 year old bikini girl at the waterslide."
  • "She’s from Texas." "Dallas or Houston?"  "Hard to say…Dallas probably."
  • "Well…at least he’s not wearing a Speedo."
  • "Hawaii Virgin Show."  "I think it says ‘Hawaii Virgin SNOW’."  "Oh, that’s much different."
  • "Wow, that’s a blue car."
  • "Lick-it or Ticket.  HEY, that’s what it SAYS!"  (Yeah, it did, somebody scratched out the "C")
  • Chocolate-Chip cookies.  (Thanks M!)
  • "Patricia Eddy thinks Ben should put the phone away and pay more attention to M."
  • "If that skirt was any shorter it would be a belt."

-B-

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