20 November 2011
Woke up fairly early and decided to venture forth for breakfast. Last time, I found a cheap place to eat, but their food quality wasn’t so hot, so I decided to try some place different this time.
When I asked about the farmer’s market at the airport, the guy said to turn left at Ken’s Pancakes. Now, as a celiac, I notice pancake houses like never, but this place is an institution, it’s open 24 hours a day (except a few days a year), and it’s close to where I’m staying. Fine.
They had things I could eat, so I had a nice breakfast of corned beef hash, eggs, hash browns (I know, seems redundant, right?), pineapple and coffee. Not bad.
On my flight over, I’d struck up a conversation with a woman who works at Starbucks, and she told me about some of the non-Kona growing regions of coffee on the big island, so I decided to check them out. Essentially, I’d made a pact that I wasn’t going to the west side of the island. Not not not. All the tourist stuff is there, but there’s so much to see on the east side, I’d spend all my time driving around again like last year. Boo.
So one of them was in Hilo, so they were on the way to the volcano. I accidentally passed the place, so I kept going to Volcanos National Park, paid the $10 to get in, and then drove to the steam vent lookout. The area between the parking and the rim is covered with molasses grass, and last year it smelled strongly of sulfur and molasses together (yes, that is weird). This year, though, the molasses grass was mid-thigh height, and the rain minimized the sulfur smell where the dampness made the molasses super-strong. Very neat. I got a half-decent picture of a lehua blossom on an ohi’a tree, so I’ll post that when I get a chance.
It was too wet for me to feel safe going to the Thurston lava tube again, plus I went last year. Just as I was pulling into the Kilauea Iki lookout, the sky opened up, so I continued south along chain of craters road.
You don’t realize how big even a relatively short shield volcano like Kilauea is until you drive the whole thing: it’s about 20 miles from the summit to the shore. Shield volcanoes are deceptively large, like super-big cow pies that make up a big chunk of a large island.
I pulled out several places to take pictures of the destruction one lava flow or another caused, but the sheer vastness of the place was overwhelming, and I was actually volcanoed out (which happens like never) before I was done for the day.
On my way back, I stopped at the coffee place, but it turns out they were closed on Sunday all along. I licked my wounds and went to the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm, which I hadn’t visited on my last trip. There’s 2500 acres of mac nuts, and they are separated by very tall and very narrow Norfolk Island pines. The 2500 acres contain about 250,000 mac nut trees, apparently.
I don’t know what I was expecting — more, maybe? They had a little Maui Divers jewelry store in the shop, and the woman recognized the gold coral necklace I was wearing as one of theirs (since they’re the only purveyors of gold coral). Also, they told me that the pink coral they have, they will not be getting more of it, so if you like it, go pick some up. I’m not that into the pink, personally, so I just filed it away. I will say they take their ecology very seriously, and if they aren’t harvesting pink any more, that’s because there’s either an issue of ecology or economy.
Anyhow, I walked out with the requested macadamia nuts, as well as a small can of the kona coffee-covered ones Just For Me ™, which I have half enjoyed.
For dinner, I went downtown to another place, Café Pesto, which is mostly a pizza and pasta joint, but they do serve local fish and stuff. The waiter knew exactly what I needed when I asked about flour content, got me my ahi just right and all gluten-free. Yay.
I wasn’t tired, but it was wet and dark, so I decided to go to the movies. I really wanted to see the new Clooney flick that takes place on Hawaii, but it’s not showing here. Instead, I went to see Twilight 4 of 5, which was better than I’d feared (given the general bad ratings it’s gotten) and reminded me how much there was in that last volume of the series. They got Carter Burwell back for composer, and this time, they nailed the ending — which is pretty hard to do in the middle of a book.
I’m down to 5% battery on my iPad, so I’m going to call it a night and post this.