Day 20

The third and final Sabbath of our trip turned out to be a rainy one, as the remnants of the tropical storm lingered. After another delicious meal from our hosts, we headed to the Hilo SDA Church. My parents were excited about seeing old friends from their days of teaching at the school in Hilo.

Of course, the members were very friendly and many remembered my parents. We ate potluck and then got ready for our drive out west toward the Kona side. Unfortunately, the weather made the drive considerably less scenic than I had hoped, but we managed to make a stop at Akaka Falls. The folks stayed in the car as Sara and I headed out Poppins style with our umbrellas. Apparently, the Hilo side was experiencing a drought before we arrived, so we weren’t sure how spectacular the falls would be. But the two days of constant rain seemed to help Akaka get his flow on. A friendly Japanese man was kind enough to take our picture causing me to get my flow on as well. With their outfits so ridiculous Asian tourists so ubiquitous.

After the falls, the trip proceeded to become torturously tortuous. As a result, I became rather carsick and needed constant air conditioning. I felt a little bad that I was freezing everyone out, but I figured it was better than tossing my poi. This experience brought back childhood memories when nearly every long car trip ended with me becoming nauseous or worse. Once again, my family was very understanding though probably a little terrified.

If you’ve ever made the drive from Hilo to Kona you’ll know that the landscape changes dramatically. The east coast is a verdant paradise with abundant vegetation and enough green to make Al Gore giddy. As you move in through the north-central part it becomes a land of rolling hills and cattle land. But once you cross over those hills the scene changes to a postcard for the post apocalypse. Dry, barren, and ugly. On the eastern side, the only thing breaking up the monotony is the coral graffiti left by visitors. But look to the west and you’ll see a beautiful ocean. Amidst the charred remains of lava fields you’ll also see luxurious hotels sitting on picturesque beaches.

We settled into our impressive digs at the Waikoloa Shores, and ventured out to watch a Sabbath sunset. That view pretty much made me forget about the intense nausea I had been feeling a few hours earlier.

After that we took my folks out to eat at Roy’s , a fairly upscale restaurant started by Hawaii’s own, Roy Yamaguchi. Since I’m not too keen on fish, and there wasn’t much vegetarian fare, I tried duck for the first time. I found it to be much different than chicken, not quite as soft and perhaps more like turkey. But the hoisin sauce was scathingly good and I soon got used to the texture. Everyone seemed to enjoy the dining experience and it was nice to give the folks a little thank you for all that they did for us on this trip.

Day 21

Sunday was the day of my friend Lewis’s wedding, but since it was the afternoon, we got in some beach time in the morning. Anaeho’omalu Bay wasn’t really on our list of places to go, but it was right nearby the Shores, so we investigated. As we were waiting for our sunscreen to set in(we went through about 3 full-sized bottles on the trip), we spotted some sea turtles from the shore. I also talked with a guy who said that three of them were feeding on some nearby rocks.

We eagerly headed out and within seconds saw turtles jamming their heads into the rocks, pecking away at some underwater delicacy. One even came up and made eye contact with Sara. After moving on from a pack of about three, we met up with another group and then some more. It came to the point where it was almost difficult to avoid them. After just a few minutes in the water we had probably seen at least 10 different turtles.

Getting our fill, we walked along the beach toward the northern end and swam out a ways. We were hoping to see some bright coral, fish, and more turtles but we never quite found what we wanted. Part of it may have just been raised expectations from earlier exploits. However, when we came back, Sara and her lasik-ed eyes spotted an eagle ray. This was the first time I’d seen one since my days in Micronesia and even then they were rare. Exciting schtuff.

When we got back to our original spot, my parents told us that a turtle was sunning itself on the beach! So we went out to see and sure enough, that guy was having a grand old time. His eyes seemed to be saying, “You know it’s easy out here for a turtle.”

We tried to access another snorkeling spot, but our rental car was not of the constitution to handle the road. We also tried another beach, but the snorkeling wasn’t particularly interesting.

A stop at Subway and four showers later, we headed up to the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the matrimonial event. The facility was amazing with a view of the Pacific and Hapuna Beach. The call of the conch shell began the wedding and in came Lewis. Although he and Robiely have been dating forever, he still looked really nervous. My friend Paul caught his attention with a joking grin and that seemed to loosen up the Big Hawaiian a bit. Once the beautiful bride came down he seemed pretty comfortable. The ceremony itself was short and to the point. It featured many things Hawaiian, including music, prayers, and stories. Two I dos and one kiss meant that the last of my island friends had gotten married.

While the wedding party took their photos, we enjoyed our first experience with a chocolate fountain. We dipped strawberries, pineapple, cream puffs, and marshmallows under the sweet chocofalls. It took awhile for the party to get there, which naturally necessitated several return trips to the fountain.

Eventually, the party arrived and we headed into the banquet hall. As we were waiting to be dismissed for the buffet line, Paul and I got a tad bored. So we entertained ourselves by going up to the wedding party table and tapping our glasses. We ended up being the very last table dismissed causing us to come up with a myriad of conspiracy theories.

The food was good (any meal that ends in cheesecake is pretty good), and it was good catching up with Paul and hearing about his recent fatherhood experiences. We also got to see Lewis and Robiely share their first married dance and see Lewis’s folks light up the dance floor.

It was a late night by the time we left, but we were glad to be a part of it. Definitely brought back lots of memories too. Me likes weddings.

Day 22

Glimpsing Hapuna Beach from the hotel gave us the urge to investigate. In the morning we headed back up. Rated as one of the top beaches in the world, Hapuna offers soft white sand, clean water, and some decent waves that break near the shore. Being without boogie board, I decided to give bodysurfing a try. It took me a couple of waves to get the hang of it, but soon I was getting some of the best rides of my fledgling bodysurfing career.

We returned back to Waikoloa Shores for a lunch with the wedding party. Lewis and Robiely seemed pretty relaxed and I had a chance to talk with Lewis about married life, his former career as a cook, and the state of our respective teaching careers. After sufficient eating and chatting, we headed south for Kailua-Kona.

Originally, we had planned to head down farther south near a famous City of Refuge, but due to time constraints, we ended up at a place called Kahaluu Beach Park. This seemed to be the Kona equivalent of Hanauma Bay with a fairly protected snorkeling area close to the shore. Another similarity was the gobs of people. Although there were quite a few fish, they weren’t particularly colorful and the coral was rather drab a well. Sara and I snorkeled for a little while before we headed out. It was a bummer of a snorkel to end on, but maybe we had just gotten a little spoiled by all we had seen on our vacation.

On the way back, we toured the very touristy area of Kailua-Kona for a bit before dropping the rental car off and waiting at the airport…and then waiting some more. Due to some confusion, we actually were there an hour earlier than we needed to be. I do not recommend being stuck in the the Kona airport. At least we were pretty sure our luggage would get there. Eventually, we boarded the plane and bid aloha to Hawaii.

Although I still think Kauai tops the list of islands, a return trip to the Big Island is definitely on my to-do list.

Day 23

Having packed the previous night, we decided to make one last trip to Kalama Beach. We left pretty early, so there were virtually no people there except for the people on their early morning beach jogs. The wave deities smiled on me that morning, as I got in some excellent rides. My last ride was a 2-3 footer that curled from left to right, allowing me a long parallel ride along the face of the wave before I hesitantly dipped back into the barrel. It’s a good thing that wave came, because I would have preferred to miss my plane than end on a bad wave.

After that, we headed to Maui Tacos for breakfast and feasted on huevos rancheros and a breakfast burrito. It was our first breakfast there. It will most definitely not be our last.

After getting home and showering, I checked the flight information while Sara showered. I had checked the previous night, and things seemed to be as scheduled. But when I checked again, I saw that our flight had been changed. Instead of going from Honolulu to LA to Chicago, we would now be flying directly from Honlulu to Chicago. Since the layover was eliminated, we now had a few more hours to kill. I kicked myself for not checking that morning seeing as how our beach time could have been extended. It seems strange to me now, but since I had showered and already mentally said goodbye to the beach that morning, I didn’t really feel like going back. Instead, we did the unthinkable and headed to the mall.

I know it probably sounds incredibly lame, but we did have noble purposes. My mom had been wanting to get some croc sandals, and since her birthday was about a week away we decided to get her an early present. Our other noble purpose? Purchase the new Harry Potter book for the plane ride home.

So that pretty much summed up our trip to Hawaii. It might be our last trip in awhile, so we decided to make the most of it. How do you think we did? Counting the walk along Kalama when we actually didn’t get in the water, we made exactly 15 trips. If you think that was a cheap way of inflating our stats then I guess we fell a little short. Next time, I’ll have to specify. But regardless of the count I am certain of one thing. I’m already feeling homesick. Aloha.

One Response to “The Aloha State: The Last Days”

  1. […] You all ready for this?  Click on this here link for the overly detailed conclusion. Posted by teachiro Filed in Uncategorized […]

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