Back to The Islands

I need sunshine!  It has been raining here for days.  Yesterday I saw a bit of blue sky and the sun peeked through for a minute but my friends and I at the coffee shop all ran outside to see it and I think we scared it away.  Alas!

After New Years Amoeba and I are off to the Big Island again.  Of course it is a vacation for me but he has to work.  Taking me along makes the trip a little easier on him, too.  Then he doesn’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, laundry and such when he is working 12 – 15 hour days and making charts, graphs and reports half the night.

Still, cooking and cleaning only takes so much time and I’ll have hours I am alone to fill with … something.  I cannot just sit on the beach ad nauseum.  I am a lily-white haole and I will burn to a crisp.  That’s why I decided I should build an itinerary.  I found this great vacation ideas website designed to feed me ideas and detail the best features of vacation destinations of choice.

I also looked up some vacation tips.  I wasn’t looking for the usual “pack sunscreen and take a hat” stuff.  I wanted to know best places to eat — good food, little money — and sights to see.  Funny thing is, I was looking in my hometown rather than Hawaii. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Coeur d’Alene, Idaho featured on the site.  In the course of reading about it I also discovered CdA  appears in Patricia Shultz’s book ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die’.  I always knew my hometown was special with it’s huge blue lake, green mountains and year-round sports options, but I guess it will always be in my heart as the sleepy little mill town it hasn’t been in a long, long time.

Try Wait

If you have spent any time in Hawaii, you have likely heard the phrase, “Try wait.”  It is an admonishment along the lines of “Hold your horses”, or “Keep your britches on.”  I’ve heard the phrase used here a couple times as well.  Yesterday I heard an old lady say it in the grocery store, although she used different words:

There was a little old lady in the grocery store yesterday who responded, “Exact change.” when the cashier asked her how she planned to pay the $63.72.  The little old lady then opened her purse and began counting one dollar bills. “One.  Two.  Three …”

Standing between that lady and I was a tourist.  After the old lady counted 63 one dollar bills, she started on the pennies.  The tourist came unglued.  He snarled, “Lady, I am only on this island until Friday and I don’t want to spend my entire visit in this d@mn line!”

The old lady stared at him for a long moment and then softly said, “Now I’ve lost count.”  She picked up the ones.  “One, two, three …”

Ella & The Luau

We didn’t buy tickets to the luau. Luaus are for tourists. We’re not. Unfortunately, I forgot that Ella was. When the drums started she got all excited. I took her outside on the balcony and told her we could watch it from a bird’s eye view. Oh boy, you should have heard her shriek and whistle when the torch bearers came in.

Sorry the photo is blurry. Ella was jumping around and jostled my arm. I thought for sure she was going to fall off the balcony — or jump! She wanted a closer look at those hunky men.

The torch bearers circled the spectators three times.  Truth to tell, I was enjoying my look at the hunky men, too.  that’s probably why I didn’t notice until too late that Ella was no longer on the balcony.  In fact, she was no longer in the room!   I shot out the door and headed for the elevator.

Of course she had quite a head start on me and was already on th4e ground floor before I got into the elevator car.  I didn’t know what she would do or how she would behave when they wouldn’t let her onto the luau grounds because she didn’t have a ticket.  I needn’t have worried.

She’s an eleven inch tall plush elephant.  She walked right in under the radar.  Problem was, I couldn’t go get her!

She climbed up on a chair, then she climbed up on a table.  Then she started wiggling her ample elephant ass-ets! Oh my! I thought about going back to the room and pretending I didn’t know her.

About that time the bus boy showed up at the table and said no pets were allowed because of the food.  Of course everybody denied knowing Ella.  The bus boy picked her up and escorted her to the gate — where I was waiting for her.   I told her I was going to take Melli’s advice and buy her a leash!

Ella promised she’d be good if I would please let her stay close to watch the luau, so we went to the terrace.

One of the tiki gods was kind enough to share a planter with her. Unfortunately between the shrubbery and the other non-paying watchers standing around, Ella couldn’t really see much and I didn’t get any decent photo opps. Finally she said my idea of watching from our balcony really was the better choice, so we went back upstairs.

We missed the female hula dancers and only caught the end of the men’s performance, and then the luau was over. Ella was pretty upset about that, but I reminded her who it was that wasted all of our time and insisted on going downstairs to see the show. “Oh,” she said. Pft.

Ella & The Hylocereus Undatus


Ella and I were on our way to breakfast.  We had dropped Amoeba off at work and were looking for a little local diner, not a tourist spot.  We headed off the beach strip and up into the hills.  The road was twisty and dense vegetation packed either side, but every other curve or so there was a pull-out and I caught glimpses of a shopping center on the ridge above us.   Just as I turned the last corner, Ella yelled for me to stop.

She was hopping all over the car, pointing out the window and jabbering a mile a minute.  I thought for certain she’d seen a dead body along side the road.  I wondered if I should call 911.  I pulled over and Ella shot out of the car and ran down the road as fast as her fat little elephant legs could move her.  I followed.

I am so glad I had enough sense to grab my camera.  Hylocereus Undatus is generally only seen at night.  Like a vampire, it cannot stand the light of day and withers away when sunlight hits it.

Hylocereus undatus

Thanks to the dense vegetation on either side of the road, the sun had barely made it to this patch, but this flower is already closing up.

Hylocereus undatus

Most of the flowers had 3 or 4 bees in them frantically working to gather the pollen before the blossom closed and wilted away.

Ella & Hylocereus undatus

I got Ella to pause here so I could take a picture of her, but for the most part she was climbing through the prickly cactus like she was on a mission. I asked her what she was looking for.

“Dragon fruit!” She told me. “This is the kind of cactus that produces Dragon fruit.”

Then we both looked, but we didn’t find any. Later I asked Amoeba about it. He said the chances of the Hylocereus undatus creating fruit were slim because there weren’t many fruit bats on Kona to pollinate the plants. I told him the plants were full of bees and asked why they couldn’t do the job.

Hylocereus undatus

Amoeba explained that the pollen is actually too far away from the stamen, which the bees never go near because they have no reason to. If Ella and I had known that, we probably would have hung out on the mountainside caressing flowers and tickling stamens — and I likely would have gotten stung for my trouble. Since I am allergic, it is probably best we didn’t know.

Please Don’t Eat the Orchids!


Of course when the plane landed in Kona the very first thing I did was retrieve Ella from baggage. She was quite refreshed after her nap and didn’t complain too much about the Macadamia Nut Pancakes she could smell all the way from first class.

From the airport we went immediately to collect our rental car.

Orange Mobile

Ella loved the orange color (trust me, it was orange, orange, much brighter than this picture shows). She thought it would be easy to spot in parking lots. However, since 3 different rental agencies bought fleets of the darn things, no matter where we went there was always at least one other identical car. In fact at one point, I deliberately parked between two of them. I do so wish it had occurred to me to snap that pic.

Once in our room, Ella went straight to the balcony. She had to see the view, then she had to have her picture taken for Melli.

Ella View

If you are at all concerned about the fact that I allowed Ella to sit unassisted on a 7th floor balcony, please rest assured that even though you can’t see it, there is a very big flower box behind her. She was in no danger of visiting the lobby head first.

After unpacking and checking out the amenities — no sleep number bed, Ella was sad — we headed for the lobby. We thought we’d explore a bit and see if we couldn’t find some eats.

Ella spotted a sign that got her all excited. She climbed atop it and was chattering a mile a minute. I thought for sure she wanted alcohol and told her no way. She got quite miffed and said she didn’t want the drink. She wanted a little pink umbrella to match her outfit.

Ella Umbrella

The bartender gave her a little pink umbrella and Ella was very gracious, but I could tell she was disappointed. I asked her what was the matter. She said she thought the umbrella would be bigger so she could use it for beach shade.  Even though it wasn’t what she wanted, I am glad she got the umbrella though. It helped us make our Punny Monday.

Since out Macadamia Nut Pancakes had long since worn off, Amoeba and I were quite hungry. We asked Ella what she had in mind for lunch and of course, since she is an elephant, she yelled, “Salad!” Then she hopped down from the sign, scrambled across the lanai, and climbed up on an occasional table in the lobby. It is astounding how fast that little elephant can move.

Ella Orchids

I had a heck of a time convincing her that this wasn’t a gourmet tropical salad, but was instead a center piece for looking at only. She thought that was a horrific waste of perfectly good food.

Finally we convinced her to walk down the block with us to an ocean-side cafe. We sat beneath a big umbrella in beach chairs on the sand and ordered our lunch from a swimsuit-clad waitress. Amoeba and I had Kalua pork. Ella had a tropical fruit salad and a goodly portion of my french fries.