Big Island  2005

Now on the "Big Island" of Hawaii.  The condo, just a few miles south of Kona, is wonderful - two full floors, four balconies, view of the ocean in one direction and view of the golf course in the other direction - and full views, not just a squint through the trees.  This condo was designed for someone to live there full time, with lots of closet space and storage, large living room, and large main deck.  The cafe was right on the shore (which was lava rock, not sand). 
Heading south, we toured a coffee factory.  It was surprising to see the amount of hand labor that still goes into the processing of Kona coffee (then selling for around $25/lb).

At the "Place of Refuge" we had a combination of sand beaches at the shore with lava jetties extending out into the ocean.  This is the area where the kings lived, but it also had an area where, if a combatant could make it to the "place of refuge", he was immune from the battle (most of which lasted only a few days).

The turtles seem well accustomed to people - basking in the sun on the sand beaches and swimming in the tidal pools formed by the lava flows. 

Some of the tidal pools had been dammed to make fish ponds so that the kings could always have fresh fish.

Visiting the man-made attractions was also part of the game plan.  The Hilton Waikaloa has the dolphin shows, an extensive display of oriental art, and both a boat and train ride that takes you from one end of the facility to the other (it must be at least a half mile).
The Parker Ranch, which is over 200,000 acres, was the source of meat for the sailing ships going between the Orient and the continental US.  There are still some cattle being raised, but the facilities are now run as a display museum.

We toured the whole island.  From Hawi (prounounced Havi) on the northern tip to the windmills and steep cliffs at the southern end.  That's the remains of a lift to bring supplies up the cliffs from the ships.

In Hawi, there is a quaint old restaurant called Bamboo that retained the atmosphere of the thirties and has good seafood (and hand painted toilet seat lids available in the gift shop - local art).  On the way north, the clouds parted for just a few minutes so that we could see the observatories on the peak of Mona Kea.

The weather finally was good enough to get in some beach time.  In Hawaii, all beaches are public.  The resorts can make it difficult to access the ones near their facilities, but they cannot restrict their use.  So we took a long walk (it might have been as much as a mile) from a public parking area past a number of fish ponds. These had been designed with gates to let fish in, but not out, and to have sorting areas so that each variety of fish was directed to a specific pond. 
Along the trail, there were lava tubes that had partially colapsed.  One of the larger ones had been used by native families in the past for shelter.  Bonnie joked to another visitor that if we stood there too long, someone would come by and try to sell us a time share in the place.

Then on to the beach (those are the fish ponds in the background) for some sun and some swimming.  There were several folks in the water with snorkles and masks, but they weren't seeing many fish.  I was just walking along and saw lots of fish.  Why?  I'm guessing that the fish have learned to associate snorkles with being hunted. 

Some meals out, some prepared at the condo.  Some time in the ocean, some time in the hot tub.  Some time walking on sandy beaches, lots of time walking on volcanic beaches.  Some time admiring the man-made things, but far more time enjoying and appreciating the natural beauty. 

And then it was time to leave for home.

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