Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Big Island-Part 3

Monday June 6
We checked out of our hotel and drove down the Mamalahoa Highway along the western shore of the island to the city of Kona.  Along the way we saw massive black lava flows of varying textures from Mt. Hualalai. The International Kona Airport is built upon these lava flows.  The local graffiti is to use white limestone rocks and spell out names, pledges of love, or outright commercials.  We actually drive past Kona to Kealakekua and the Greenwell Coffee Farm and old stone structure of the Kona Historical Society.
We have some Kona Coffee as the docent gives us a blow by blow account of the missionaries that came here, the coffee plantations and the Japanese workers that lived and worked on the plantations. 
The Greenwell family also ran a store which probably resembled most turn of the century general stores.  We then toured the coffee plantation; saw the beans on the trees, the bean drying, and the roasting equipment. One of the Japanese women gave us a tour of one of the simple, but efficient homes and how food was prepared among other activities.

From there we drove toward Kona and stopped for lunch at Teshima’s Restaurant for some traditional Japanese food.

Then on to Kona, now a glitzy tourist town, but was once a place of power for ancient Hawaiians.  King Kamehameha made his home there.  A descendant, King Kalakaua built Hulihe’s Place on the water for his vacations.  We were given a private tour of the palace taking our shoes off to protect the beautiful wooden floors. We walked a short distance to the King Kamehameha Hotel to see another heiau beside it. The heiau and the hotel are being restored due to the damage caused by the recent tsunami off the shore of Japan.
Our final activity on the Big Island before flying to Oahu was to have drinks and Hawaiian pupu at the hotel’s lanai where a group picture was taken of the attending classmates and spouses.
Aloha Big Island

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Big Island-Part 2

The next morning we went to the Waimea Farmers Market where we bought malasadas, a Portuguese imported confectionary which originally came from Madeira.  Lard and sugar were used up before Lent to make them, so you can get the idea of the caloric impact.  There are several bakeries throughout the Hawaiian Islands specializing in them. The one near Waikiki on Oahu where I went on my first visit there had a 15 minute wait to get them.  We washed them down with some good Kona coffee.  There was a large variety of local flora for sale, including things I never had seen before. 
The places the group visited were for the most part, not visited by the normal tourist.  And some of the events were hosted by a classmate who provided special access or inside knowledge of something to see that is not well known.  As a result, I experienced an enriched Hawaii known mostly to local Hawaiians. 

Along that vein, the next stop was to Kawaihae to see the Kamehameha’s Heiau constructed by Kamehameha I in 1790 to begin to unite the islands under one rule.  It is now a National Monument and also a living temple because the Hawaiians use it once a year as a spiritual and cultural gathering.
The park ranger explained that Kamehameha I built up trade with the outside world using sandalwood brought down from the mountains to trade with China who used the wood for incense. In return he received gunpowder and cannons which were much more effective that spears. This gave the king more firepower when he engaged in wars with the other islands. Eventually the trees were all cut down and the being a hard wood, they grow slowly.  This caused permanent change to the landscape. The king did see what damage was being done and halted the trade and began planting, but it was too late to bring the forest back.  It was at this site that his chief rival was murdered after being invited to talk peace.  Some 28 years later all of Hawaii was united under one rule.  
It was very hot this day so we all welcomed lunch at Spencer Beach Park on the Kohala Coast.  We had a generous lunch of local foods at an Oceanside pavilion and were free to spend time at the beach although we passed that opportunity to enjoy our hotel and its surroundings.

We were on our own for dinner that night so we drove south from our hotel down the coast and had an excellent dinner at popular restaurant, Roy’s Waikoloa Bar and Grill.
Sunday June 7
Every island has its wet side and dry side and most tourists only visit the wet side where most of the people live.  Our outing today was along the north Kohala Coast, the dry side, starting with the Lapakahi State Historic Park the site of an ancient fishing village.  The waters here are thought to have special healing powers and it is forbidden for anyone to have sunscreen or insect repellent on their body if they enter the waters.

From there we traveled further up the coast to historic plantation towns of Kapaau and Hawi, then continued on to the restored planation estate and church built my missionary Elias Bond.  The gggrandson spoke in the church to our group and gave a lengthy and very interesting lecture about his family’s history from the beginning of the Elias Bond’s arrival to the present day.  The church has survived earthquakes and lightning strikes and after restoration efforts it remains quite beautiful with its Spartan simplicity.
We drove down the western side of Mona Kea (the highest mountain in the world, if measured from the ocean floor) along a ridge with glimpses of the ocean and coast line, until we reached the winding, descending drop into Waimea. There we visited the Anna Ranch and toured her home before having a big bash there. I had never heard of Anna Lindsay Parry-Fiske before but learned about her contribution to the rich history of immigrant success stories that added to the cultural changes that occurred on the Big Island. She was a woman driven to succeed and she did.  
The dinner/luau was well attended at the ranch and three men sang their hearts out filling requests from traditional Hawaiian songs (most of which I had never heard) and popular early 1960’s tunes.  For sure Elvis songs were included as who could ever forget the movie “Blue Hawaii”.  Judith tells the story of how she wondered into the set during a scene shoot and was allowed to stay.  The King walked right past her on the way to sing his song.  He had dark makeup on to try to make him look Hawaiian.
There lots of songs to sing along with and even some hula dancing by a couple of women classmates.
To be continued.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who Has a 10 Day High School Class Reunion?

 If you graduated from Punahou High School in Honolulu and came to your 50th anniversary celebration, you would have the choice to spend one evening with your returning classmates, or up to 10 days visiting both the Big Island and Oahu.

As you may know, Punahou was founded by Christian missionaries about 175 years ago for the purpose of assuring a quality education to the children of white people who came, from mostly New England, to take advantage of the economic opportunities to make fortunes and/or to transform the highly spiritual Hawaiians away from their religious views to adopt Christianity. It became the home for children of the wealthy and powerful to be educated to assume into their place in society. Nothing was ever suggested during their education that there would be any obstacle too great to fulfill their destiny. They were programed for success, I would say.

Somewhere along the way, Punahou allowed deserving students to receive scholarships which were given to bright children with educational skills and to football and basketball talent. Judy Ann Morgan (my wife) and Barack Obama were two such scholarship students. Every year at the end of the school year, Punahou holds a class reunion for all graduates with those classes in multiples of 5 years being featured. We attended Judith’s 40th reunion just before we got married but only attended the main ceremony, the luau.

The 50th anniversary is a special deal, with the class being invited to a president reception and being ushered to their seats at the luau with the Punahou band with cheers from those already seated, etc... However, it is the tradition for a class, especially the 50th, to hold many group activities before the luau. Usually this means having activities at the Big Island before having some on Oahu. Judith decided this was the time to go all out and attend almost everything. So for 10 days we traveled around the Big Island first then to Oahu to attend places of interest. Not all the places we attended would be on the typical tourists’ to-do-list.

Most of the group on the Big Island lodged in Waimea but Judith research the lodging and decided it was not good enough even though it was more centrally located to most activities. We flew to Hilo, reported to have the most rain of any city in the U.S. and we did get some rain, but mostly showers in the afternoon or night. We picked up our rental car and drove to a very nice B&B, the ”Palm Cliffs” run by a retired couple from Oregon. We were served breakfast on a veranda overlooking the ocean and the morning sun.

We had to drive to Hilo for dinner, a trip on 13 miles one-way and the next day we went to Hilo to walk around a visit the home of one of the first missionaries from Massachusetts to settle in Hilo. It is a museum now of course. The native docent was quite good in describing how they lived and what happens to them and their descendants. Much of the original house and furniture still remain. Although Hilo is not a large town but plenty of churches were in evidence.

The first group activity was on Friday morning at Volcano National Park about an hour’s drive.  At the visitor’s center, we picked up our badges to wear around our necks, divided into manageable groups and drove a short distance to the Jagger Museum on the rim of the active volcano, Halemaumau where the plume continues to spew water vapor, ash, bits of lava glass, and rock dust.  There was a huge explosion in March 2008 as our colorful park ranger explained.  The smoke, fog, and sea mist presents a hazy atmosphere that seems to change constantly and quickly.

Afterwards, the drove across the highway to the town of Volcano where we had lunch and everyone introduced themselves and where they now lived.
Then we drove back to Hilo, picked up our left luggage as Palm Cliffs and took the 2 lane highway up the eastern side of the island where the vistas were sometimes spectacular, with jungle like foliage and small waterfalls. After a couple of hours we turned left and continued on to Waimea. We drove through Waimea, down a twisting downward highway to the Kona coast where we checked into Kapuna Prince.

We hurriedly changed clothes and drove back to Waimea to meet up with some others from the reunion at the Parker Ranch Center and caravanned up to the beautiful new home of classmate Wendy Greenwell Craven high up the slopes of Mauna Kea for a Paniolo BBQ dinner. There was live Hawaiian music.
The hostess showed us her stunning home with local and other exotic woods throughout. The main living space had a high ceiling complete with a large fireplace.

The lanai overlooked green pastures toward the west. Clouds prevented seeing a sunset but the view was pretty awesome nevertheless.
We drove back to our hotel late at night. Fortunately, there were reflectors along the road to guide our way back to our hotel.

To be continued.